"He's Turned His Back on God"

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His Turn

"I can't be a hypocrite," said James, 37, a tall, athletic man. "It's not true that I have completely stopped believing in God, but I cannot embrace a church that's a breeding ground for pedophiles. It's appalling that this scandal could have occurred in the first place; that the church then covered it up is even worse.

"I used to be an altar boy, and the priests I knew were great guys. I can only imagine how terrifying it must have been for those poor boys who had such terrible things done to them by the people they trusted most in the world. It's particularly horrifying when you're a parent. As Meghan said, our parish priest was among the accused. Church officials blatantly lied to us. Some of us are furious, but others prefer to just stick their heads in the sand.

"I really struggle with the whole issue of religion. My world changed when my older sister and only sibling died in a car accident on her way to a youth group meeting at church. My mom made a left turn in front of an oncoming car that was doing about 80 miles per hour. My sister died instantly. From that day on, we stopped going to church. We celebrated the holidays, but were just going through the motions. When I questioned how God could allow something like that to happen, my parents told me to think of God working on a needlepoint. When you look at the needlepoint from above, it's a beautiful picture and the pattern is continued clear. But when you flip it over, it's a bunch of tangled threads. The idea that we don't see clearly the plan life has in store stayed with me. It helped me to reconcile my sister's death but it doesn't help me get past this abuse scandal.

"My parents' marriage basically ended the day my sister died. The guilt and the grief must have been devastating. Now that I have kids of my own I don't know how you go on after something like that happens. They stayed married, but there were loud explosions followed by days of silence. I learned to tune out. That's one reason I was so drawn to Meghan and her family. Whereas my parents were emotionally shut down, hers were warm and loving."

"She Has to Let Me Know What She's Feeling"

"Besides being beautiful, Meghan is the most genuinely kind person I have ever met. People who don't know her well sometimes think her kindness is an act, but it's not. She is always thinking of others. If anyone -- friends, her brothers and sisters, someone from school -- asks her to run an errand or watch their kids, she always says yes. And that's a problem: She's too nice. I've told her that just because someone asks, she doesn't have to agree. But she's afraid of letting people down.

"Another problem is that when something does bother her, she'll bottle it up until, out of the blue, she loses it. I'm like, whoa, where are all those tears coming from? I want to make her happy, but she has to let me know what she's feeling.

"This going-to-Mass issue is the only problem she's mentioned in a long time. As for the chores? Mea culpa, I have no excuses. I'm not purposely being a blockhead, but I guess I unintentionally took advantage of Meghan's goodness, too. In my defense, though, the few times I made the bed, she redid it later because she didn't like the way I arranged the pillows.

"I'm committed to doing more around the house. But I'm less sure about how to resolve our religious differences. I am no atheist: Anyone who has watched his child being born can attest to the miracle of a higher being. But that being's earthly representatives have done a royal job of screwing things up."

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn


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