We need to talk about David Haas

McCarrick Vanier Haas Abuse

Title: We need to talk about David Haas

Author: Jamie Manson

Publisher: National Catholic Reporter

Date: 30JUN2020

I first heard about sexual abuse allegations against composer David Hass from a Facebook friend in a post last week. “I haven’t heard much talk about this among progressive Catholics,” she wrote. “Maybe our hearts are too broken.”

Since the story first came to light, three of Haas’ victims have come forward, telling Soli Salgado for NCR about the ways they were groomed, forcibly kissed and relentlessly pursued by the lionized composer of well-known post-Vatican II hymns.

The news stunned the progressive Catholic world, whose liturgical soundtrack is filled with Haas’ tracks. His lyrics, so imbued with calls for love, justice and inclusion, earned him a place in the canon of luminaries of the Catholic reform movement.

Not surprisingly, the knee-jerk reaction has been to “cancel” Haas: remove his music from hymnals and stop playing his compositions at worship services. While those actions may be justifiable, my hope is that, rather than rush to eradicate him and move past yet another sad and ugly episode of “fallen Catholic hero,” we do not miss the opportunity to have a crucial conversation about what his alleged abuse reveals.

Since Pope Francis started to get serious about clergy sexual abuse about two years ago, many well-intentioned theologians, commentators and even some church leaders (including the pope himself) have pointed to clericalism as the root of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. But the Haas story demonstrates that there is something even more systemic and more destructive at work in the patterns of abuse in the church.

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