Death by Life Teen
Call me contrarian -- again -- but this is all getting a little ridiculous.
Jo Wessels, a former counselor with Jefferson County Public Schools, said she's troubled by sexual-misconduct investigations into leaders at Life Teen Inc., an Arizona-based youth program that was launched Sunday at Light of the World parish in Littleton, where Wessels is a longtime member.
A letter distributed in Light of the World's church bulletin on Sunday explained that concerns had been raised about the program.
That letter, from Light of the World pastor Rev. Michael Pavlakovich, did not detail the nature of the allegations, stressing only that Life Teen founder Monsignor Dale Fushek and President Phil Baniewicz, are innocent until found otherwise.
"Innocent until found otherwise...." Many of us have forgotten the meaning behind those words in these days, haven't we? And that's called the sin of rash judgment.
But, beyond that, even if Fushek et al. were guilty, so what? They won't be showing up at Light of the World anytime soon, and Life Teen has had a stellar record of effectiveness for being an uplifting, beloved means to engage young people into the life of the church across the country.
Does that not count for anything anymore, or has cultivating the next generation (so I'm not all alone in this church) been sublimated to blocking even the good work of those who might've done something evilin a completely unrelated incident?
Admittedly, I once went to a Life Teen Mass -- celebrated by a priest who, admittedly, later got a 17 year-old pregnant and was promptly canned (but, hey, he was straight) -- and it wasn't my scene. I didn't like the "OK, let's all gather around the altar for the Eucharistic prayer" part. Too cheezy. But oh well, that's just me.
Lastly, I'm too familiar with the Denver scene to not trust the judgment of Archbishop Chaput, Chancellor Maier, and the Curia there. Chaput makes good decisions, pastoral decisions, period. That's who he is, and I wonder if there's a doctrinal gripe going on beneath all this screaming from the pews.
Right alongside that, even though I never met him firsthand, Fr. Michael Pavlakovich, pastor of Light of the World, is a beloved leader and pastor among the youth of the church in Northern Colorado. A very special woman in my life -- one who called me to a deeper dimension of faith and love -- consistently sang Father Michael's praises to the heavens. I have no reason to doubt the Fair Liz, and I have no reason to doubt the good Fr. Michael.
I hate taking all these unpopular stances these days, but it seems more and more than simple justice requires it. And, more and more, it's seeming that the unpopular stances in theory are the right ones in reality.