A Time to Sow And A Time To Reap (CCR)

A correction prompted by the May 27 issue of the Kansas City Star which I just read, the day after I viewed the Fox 4 newscast.  The principal of St Patrick’s School, Julie Hess, sent the letter in question to the Vicar General Robert Murphy.  Murphy, according to the newspaper article, met with Ratigan and outlined the parameters of Ratigan’s behavior.  At this point, I do not know what Murphy, Finn’s principal deputy,  communicated to Finn.  I suggest that this Kansas City Star story be read in its entirety.  Friday, May 27, 2011, front page,  Alan Bavley and Glenn E. Rice

 

Friday, May 27, 2011  Fox 4 News  6:00 PM

Bishop Finn, Spiritual Leader and so-called Shepherd of The People held a news conference.  Head down, eyes averted, Bishop Finn read a prepared statement.

I did not attend the news conference so am writing of what I observed on the Fox 4 news.  During this past week, I have written about the Ratigan situation that culminated in the May 27 statement by Finn.  My blogs are summary of articles in the Kansas City Star, The Leaven and my personal reactions to the stories.

In 2008, civil law suits filed against the diocese headed by Bishop Finn, hopefully raising the shepherd’s awareness of danger to the children of his flock.

In May, 2010, the principal of St. Patrick’s School, (where Ratigan had access to the children) wrote to Finn expressing her concerns over Ratigan’s behavior towards the children.  (Correction noted…the letter was sent to the Vicar General Robert Murphy–second in the chain of command.)

The principal worked the chain going to the man expected to take firm action.  Finn admitted to receiving the letter.  Ratigan was not removed at that time.

May 2011  Finn stands before television camera to admit that:

1.  A year earlier Finn had the principal’s letter.  (May 2010)

2.  Six months earlier Finn had the images from Ratigan’s computer.  The diocese returned that computer to Ratigan’s family.  (Dec. 2010)

3.  During those six months, Finn was aware that Ratigan was not adhering to the rules laid down by this shepherd’s monitoring of Ratigan’s behavior.

A reporter attending the news conference asked Finn if he planned to resign.  According to the news story, Finn responded that he was looking towards the future–and then Finn left the room.  (May, 2011)

Perhaps Archbishop Dolan can control that nausea thing and welcome Finn to  New York.  (May 26 blog referencing The Leaven, May 20, 2011)

Perhaps Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann’s concluding prayer gets tweaked a bit to “Pray for” the Catholic People “that they  not grow weary or discouraged” despite the horrors of the ongoing revelations of the abuse and cover-up scandal that allows sexual and physical harm to children to go unpunished. (The Leaven, May 20, 2011)

Perhaps Bernard Law has an opening at the  Church of  Mary Major in Rome.

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A Love Story

Seven months and seven days of  living with a new love, a newly discovered man of depth and richness.  The discovery, layered in moments of that breathless ache, threatened to consume.

When a partner is unwell the shared days and nights become lessons in management, in make-do, in setting priorities, in hiding truth.  Things like house and property upkeep silently slip to the bottom of the list.  Promises to clear out the accumulations of a life time are forgotten.

No more excuses.  The time was mine and I set an auction date, clueless as to what was ahead. Manic with energy  to mask the grief, my mission was clean up, clear out, match the emptiness.

Here, in the clutter of bags and boxes, some dating to 1972, was this man–this man rich in talents and diverse interests.

Dog tags from his time in The United States Army, trophies won for cribbage and dominoes, pilot licenses both private and commercial, helicopter and plane,  log books teaching others to fly, mounds of hand drawn schematics, books to identify birds, wild animals, plants, hunting, fishing, tying flies, building fly rods, wood carving, tools designed and created to match a need, mementos of his friendship with Jack and Russ.  The collection of Heritage House books brought a memory of how he held a book,  any book,  with a kind of reverence.

In a chapter of our personal once upon a time, we made beer and wine.  His records were meticulous right down to the important detail of how long the brew lasted–the truest measure of quality.  Next to that box, I found his collection of daily missals and his letter sweater dating back to Bishop Ward High School days.  Family pictures were in every drawer tucked where he kept reminders.

And then there were the things he collected simply because they were beautiful.  Glassware, pottery, tools, pictures, antiques— all holding the magic of  what came before.

The list of discoveries is a rediscovery of a man I had lost in the passage through  health issues.  Deterioration pushed from all sides.   How very sorry and ashamed I am for letting that man slip away from me, for not always remembering and honoring all that he was.

Robert N. Antonopoulos, 1935 – 2010    I love you.

By Association (CCR)

The Leaven is the diocesan publication led by Archbishop Joseph R. Naumann.  The May 20, 2011 issue had Naumann’s article reprinting and commenting on a March 18 blog by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.  Dolan is the president of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Thought I have met Archbishop Naumann numerous times, it is always the first introduction for him.  I am simply an entity to whom he nods and moves on so I claim no personal connection nor conversation with Naumann.  He is a busy man and I am another face in the current  crowd.

Archbishop Dolan’s blog retells his encounter with an outraged and courageous man, a baptized Catholic, who took advantage of the symbolic collar to confront the sexual abuse.  The man was not accusing Dolan of abuse but was expressing his contempt for the abuse scandal and the cover-up by the church.  In the second paragraph of Dolan’s blog he says, “..left me so shaken I was near nausea”.

Good.

It is good that Dolan was near nausea as are many of us each time we read another recounting of a priest physically and/or sexually abusing a child.  The nausea often gives way to vomit when we further read of Bishops and Archbishops covering for the pedophile.

And the victims?  If only they could vomit away the fire-brand scorching their being as they “…staggered with shame and anger from the damage of the wound…inflicted…”.   (Page 2 Column 1, May 20, 2011, The Leaven)

Memory preserved in stress is often skewed.  Fight or flight alters perception of a very public situation.  Dolan’s reaction was “What to respond?  Yell at him?  Cuss him out?  Apologize?  Deck him?…I staggered with shame from the damage of the wound he had inflicted with those stinging words.”   Flight or flight.

One of the surest and most effective techniques in advertising is the use of the expert, the famous person, the cultural icon as association to the product.  Spread the affirmations and heighten the acceptance.

Upside down displays that ugly underbelly concept.  Guilt shared is guilt diminished.  Teachers, Scout leaders, family members abuse, so abusing priest have companions thereby sharing the guilt.   Searching from earliest memory I have no recollection of confessional moments when a priest asked me if anyone else forgot morning prayer or took an extra cinnamon square from the confectionery on the corner.

In the third column of Archbishop Dolan’s blog, the The Leaven reprints the following:

“Notwithstanding the happy ending, I was still trembling…and almost felt like I needed an exorcism to expel my shattered soul, as I had to confront again the horror this whole mess has been to victims and their families, our Catholic people like the man I had just met…and to us priests.”

Dolan calls the ending ‘happy’ because the Denver airport scene ended with a handshake and a joke about exorcism.  Dolan’s words place the horror …to victims, families, Catholic people and priests…in the same bundle.  With all due respect,  Archbishop, you and your priests only stand at the edge of the hell lived by victims.  You only smell the smoke of the cover-up while much of the church is consumed by that stench.

Archbishop Naumann’s ending comments include a request for prayer for priests “…that we might strive to be shepherd after the heart of Jesus Christ.  Pray that we have the courage and generosity to lay down our lives in love for the good of the people we are privileged to serve.”

The Jesus Philosophy is a thing of richness of spirit while dressed in physical poverty.  The story goes that the man, Jesus, did lay down his life for the good people.  He was laid down in blood and pain, stripped of the meager garment and rope sandals.

Perhaps the good people, the people clinging to hope in their Catholicism, don’t want the death of their priests as evidence of service.  Perhaps  being “troubled”  (Bishop Finn/Ratigan/Troubled? The Bishop Is Troubled? ) isn’t enough.  Perhaps excuses and justifications by associations are bogus enough to be left with the other baggage.

Perhaps privilege to serve demands opening the doors wide enough for good people to be privy to  records, to documentation, to  resources, to  information, to every incident of cover-up.  Perhaps the good people served do not want the death of their priests but rather want their priests to live the life of  the Jesus Philosophy.

Archbishop Naumann concludes:  “Pray for our priests that they not grow weary or discouraged despite the challenges of their ministry.”

How odd.  Once again, the focus is directed towards the priests–their weariness, their challenges, their discouragement.  How very odd.

Pass/Fail

Yesterday a young father spoke about the pass/fail system in his daughter’s school, replacing grades as a measure of learning.  He also spoke about what he perceived as a need for supporting home values in the school setting.

Later in the morning, I asked the daughter about school.  She talked about red, yellow and green days and how she didn’t get enough green days and how she might not get to first grade if she kept getting red days.  My mental visual was a car moving towards traffic lights and a red day was full stop.  The child’s perception was the punishment of repeating kindergarten because she didn’t ‘do good’  with the colors.

Recently, I toured a prospective kindergarten with my daughter-in-law as she made decisions about placement for the fall.  When I asked the teacher to talk about her philosophy of discipline, she responded:  “Oh, you must mean Class Room Management.”  Then she talked about charts, symbols to move for inappropriate behavior, a series of token rewards handed out after a week of non-disruptive behavior.  No.  I did not mean Class Room Management.  I meant Philosophy of Discipline.

Years ago, several colleagues and I stood against many of the self-esteem ‘innovations’ bombarding the classroom.   The idea of always  praising did not match our philosophy of discipline:  Teach a child to love doing what is right, rational, truthful and what matches the definition of good.  For the very young child, the classroom rules were:  Do Your Best,  Tell The Truth,   Be Kind.

At the continued behest of a friend I finally watched a weekly television program designed for high school students.  Whoa.   High school is not this granny’s high school any more.

A local NPR radio program scheduled for today will be a discussion of the media.  Is the media a Pied Piper (my concept) or is the media a mirror reflecting the reality of day-to-day life?

Tying this rant together takes a web, but there is a sticky connection.

The young father’s conservative values hold fast to a very basic conservative tenet–a flawed tenet–the assumption that everyone in the classroom shares a core of values.   He reads Bible stories to his children and that same Bible has no purchase in the lives of  other kids in the class.  Even if the teacher shares the same beliefs as the young father, the teacher can never overtly teach those values unless the setting is a private school based on shared beliefs.

Classroom Management evolved when punishment became a negative.  Punishment could no longer be a consequence of personal behavior.  Self esteem had to be saved at all cost.  No child could be made to feel bad, but still the classroom had to be managed.  Behavior charts ran rampant.

My classroom rules had the same fatal flaw.  Not everyone shared the idea that teaching kids to love doing right would keep them from doing wrong.  Not all family values matched the concept of respect for self and others.

The high school focused TV program bursts with beautiful and talented  actors pretending to be teens, singing and dancing in tune with thousands of dollars spent on years of lessons.  The wardrobe alone would break the bank of many families.   That being said, one of the clear and precise messages was acceptance of diversity.  Perhaps that message is well worth my discomfort at the vehicle of the message.

Pied Piper implies that the media is not a reflection but rather a shove, a lure, a force ever searching for more…more glitz, more sensation, more entertainment value to capture an audience for the advertisers.   Louder, longer, more outrageous, ratcheting against the boundaries, doing whatever it takes to get the viewer to buy the product while convincing the audience that the good life comes along with the product.

Pass/Fail?

Troubled? The Bishop Was Troubled? (CCR)

If you, Gentle Reader, have children or grandchildren the abuse scandal is that bull’s-eye painted on the essence of those children.   Look at the beauty of your young ones and decide if the reaction to abuse would be a horrible bastardized-Jesus-forgiveness or a rage to remove.

Playing the scripture card to justify a plea for forgiveness is ignoring the fact that the story says the temple was  off-limits to the money changers.  Even your Jesus, a man of peace and justice, had limits of acceptance.  If you believe in the hell created for sinners, do you remotely harbor a belief that Jesus/God forgives those in hell?  Loves the sinner, hates the sin kind of rhetoric…loves those in eternal flames?

The Kansas City Star, Saturday, May 21, 2011, front page article by Laura Bauer and Glenn Rice

“One day after prosecutors charged a Roman Catholic priest with possession of child pornography, Bishop Robert Finn said he knew about the ‘very troubling’ images months ago but was told they weren’t pornography.”

Bishop Finn contacted a police officer and described one or more of the images.  Remember, the Bishop was very troubled by the images but decided to describe one or more to a police officer so that the officer could make the judgment as to just how troubling, how close to pornography, how much the diocese would have to reveal and justify.

Bishop Finn also admits that Ratigan was not honoring the restrictions put on him by the bishop.  Ratigan continued to ignore the restrictions.  The bishop continued to admonish him not to ignore the restrictions.  The bishop put Ratigan in a private priest residence and Ratigan continued to celebrate Mass.   Mass.  The Bishop allowed Ratigan to celebrate Mass.

On Wednesday, May 18, the Star reported on the study commissioned by Roman Catholic bishops citing reasons why priests physically and sexually abused children.  One of those reasons was priests were poorly monitored.

The Bishop confesses to being troubled but made the decision to keep his concerns in-house, to ignore the need to contact civil authorities.  The Bishop placed restrictions and Ratigan ignored the restrictions.

Again, I know that Ratigan is legally innocent until proven guilty.  Ratigan, trained and monitored by the church (that church which covered his actions) was allowed to continue under the presumption of innocence?

Maybe there are those who would go so far as to say that the church is innocent until proven guilty.  The burden of proof weighs heavily, to the breaking point.

There are those who would take the guilt off the church (where it belongs) and use the comedic line “The devil made me do it.”

Self-protection, denial, justification and dishonor continue to allow this obscene scandal.

What Are We Suppose to Forgive? (CCR)

“Toleration is amongst the most despicable  fault, as it involves a conscious act of dishonor.

My friend, Two Names, responded to my recent blogs with the words in red.   He chose the blood color, maybe as a visual of the ugliness of the dishonor?
  • His email was a response to my outrage over the nonsense of the Treatise of Excuse:  insufficient preparation, insufficient monitoring and the tumult of the 1960’s and 70’s.  Two-Names cut out the heart of the nonsense with his phrase “A conscious act of dishonor”.  (See the blog titled:  Reasons?  The Church Is Giving Reasons? May 18, 2011)
  •      The Catholic Church consciously dishonored the victims by the cover-up.
  •      The Catholic Church consciously dishonored every good man who happens to be a priest as the Church put resources into  the cover-up , to tolerating men who sexually and physically abused children.
  •      The Catholic Church consciously dishonored every member of that Church as it perpetrated the culture of toleration of gross and obscene dishonor.
  •      What part of this warrants forgiveness?

And The Beat Goes On (CCR)

Tell me again, please, how very concerned the Church is over the harm done to children by priests.  Tell me again how moving an abusing priest from one parish to another works for that protection of children.  Explain the lag time from receiving evidence to handing that evidence to civil authorities.

According to The Kansas City Star article by Glenn E. Rice a priest of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, Shawn Francis Ratigan,  enjoyed the protection of  the diocese for months after pornographic images were discovered by a computer tech. The repair tech did the right thing, but the diocese stayed the course of concealment and protection of the priest.

Granted, innocent until proved guilty is on the table, but the evidence against Ratigan was strong and it was the priest being protected from the police rather than the children being protected from Ratigan.

The Diocese is ‘profoundly saddened’.   About what?  About children damaged by a man ordained to follow Jesus?  About the clay feet of their stand against pornography?  About the institutional protection offered Ratigan is the form of a private priest residence surrounded by the Sisters for whom he continued to say Mass?

Ratigan continued to say Mass, the supreme sacrament of the Catholic Church during which the church believes that the priest changes bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus.  Soiled hands and soiled mind worked that miracle every day under the protection of the church.

Once, many blogs ago, Mark commented about the fires of hell for abusers and for those involved in the continuing cover-up.  My guess is that Mark  believes that hell in an invention designed to create fear in the followers of the inventors.

Wednesday the Kansas City Star reports on the results of a study as to why priests sexually abuse children.  (May 18, 2011)

Friday the Kansas city Star reports on a local priest accused of sexual abuse of children.  (May 20, 2011)

And the beat goes on.