This just happened recently and I think, sadly, that it is systemic in the Church and probably systemic of other systems of worship, business and government. I have a dear friend going through very tumultuous times right now in her life. She happened to be on retreat this past weekend and happened to bump into the priest who runs the retreat house. He was not the retreat master thankfully. Although she is having many major stresses in her life, inordinate work stress, (banking), a failing marriage, et al: she always ends up in a Catholic Church where she claims to feel better. She is still struggling with her faith right now but that has been the one constant in her life.
This priest who does not know anything about her or her back story noticed that she looked down/sad/depressed at their brief encounter and asked her if she wanted to talk. So far so good. When she told him that she was struggling with her faith right now as well as struggling with the Church his advice was for her to leave the Church. If I were there I fear I would have done him bodily harm.
Since we all have free will I have absolutely no problem with someone who actually knows what the Church teaches and rejects it flat-out. In that instance you should leave the Church. Why would you want to be part of a Church you do not believe in? But to tell a woman who you do not know, who is under tremendous stresses from different aspects of her life, to leave the Church is unconscionable. I am positive that this priest’s suggestion to my friend wasn’t done in anger or malice and he thinks it was actually sound advice. But he is wrong!
The Catholic Church, and I tell her this all the time, have the real presence of Jesus Christ; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist is not symbolic it is REAL. One of the titles of God is the Divine Healer. Receiving communion in a state of grace can not help but be healing.
After talking to her and telling her NOT to leave the Church for the above reason, I realized that if a priest is so ready to diminish the Catholic Church’s understanding and belief in the Eucharist, (the Trinitarian God, creator and then redeemer of the world) either purposely or not, then how could they, (the collective clergy), possibly grasp the almost unfathomable destruction of clergy sexual abuse on a victim. When you take that to the logical next step it becomes a blanket misunderstanding of victims of abuse in general.