Survivors Defined CCR

As I see it Bishop Robert Finn needs clarification concerning the meaning of ‘surviving abuse”. A survivor, by definition, lives on; sometimes leading what appears as normal life. Young children abused as a seminal point do grow up, become educated, raise a family and often maintain ties to the church that protected and harbored the abuser.

That normal is a facade. The abused child does survive but normal becomes impossible. Trust is destroyed. The world can never again be safe. The abused child can never be whole, is always less-than, looses the ability to be secure in any moment of life. Memory is damaged because the breached trust requires constant vigilance even in the most mundane circumstances. Huge chunks of what should have been happy childhood memories are compromised. Friendships never reach the depth of strength because darkness and pain lurk just below the surface. Ever vigilant, the survivor cannot believe, cannot trust, cannot be whole.

If the abused child of generations ago did speak up, did try to get help from parents or from another priest the overwhelming odds are that the child was not believed, or, worse the child was blamed. “What did you do to entice Fr. So&So to do what you are lying about?” The breach widens. The child slips farther into becoming less-than, soiled, guilty.

In later years, some who have suffered abuse through the immense power of the Catholic Church may test the strength of family relationships. The abused child grown to damaged adult speaks through voice or pen, testing tenuous attempts to believe that family relationships will be loving and suportive. The result can be disastrous to the spirit; shunning, distancing, disbelief and even disgust that the abused has not been able to get-over-it. Clarity is absolute now. The institution that sanctioned and protected abusers is more important than the abused.

I have spent most of my 70 plus years as a member of the Catholic Church, passionate and devoted for much of that time. I believed in the person of Jesus and the message of the teachings attributed to him. True, I have struggled with the secondary position of women in the church and was not pacified by token of lector and server. My life experience taught that the nuns, teachers and nurses, did the real work of Jesus.

The Catholic Church is not alone in gross mishandling of abuse, using the funds of the faithful to defend the indefensible. Other institutions are guilty.

Does mutual guilt exonerate? Does diminished responsibility follow wholesale abuse of power? Speaking out for the victims, demanding an accounting of perpetrators and those who protected the perpetrators in not a condemnation of any good accomplished by organized religion.

Rather, the demand for accountability and justice is an acclamation in the belief of what Jesus is said to represent. The demand for accountability and justice is the only way to restore a belief that the Catholic church lives the message of Jesus and is a belief system organized in honor of that message.

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Donnelly College Scholarship Dinner

Last week Donnelly College hosted the annual Scholarship Dinner. My volunteer duties included time at the reception table and a stint outside welcoming attendees. Actually, the time outside The Jack Reardon Center was disguised as a welcoming gesture while the main purpose was to guard the four reserved parking spots insuring that only certain folks used those spaces. Jazmin, a Block Scholar, and I were asked to identify (how?) those allowed in the front and center slots and to move others quickly on and out. A stretch limo was the no-brainer, but the other choices had embarrassing moments.

Jazmin shivered in the steady breeze, her bare arms shaking as the time dragged and the fourth VIP failed to show. She continued to smile as we welcomed each person in the wonderfully diverse crowd.

We talked of our history in Kansas City, Kansas, the changes along Minnesota Avenue, the scheduled EPA exodus to Johnson County. We talked of the immense value of Donnelly College as a beacon of not only education but a beacon of ethnic diversity and understanding. We talked about the life changing Block Scholar Program. Jazmin had her goal, Civil Engineer, that would be reached because the Block Family understands the value of protecting and nurturing young people determined to pursue a degree.

A small car whipped around the barricades taking one of the reserved spaces. That noisy engine could not belong to the tardy VIP, right?
As I prepared to give my “Sorry” speech, an order priest dressed in the long brown robe, rope belt and sandals jumped from the car, head down, and hurried towards the Center.

Not five minutes prior, The Archbishop of the diocese entered a bit breathless from his long walk. How could I ignore the blatant move by the little car, give priority to Father X when the Archbishop did not command a reserved spot? How could I do that?

In the name of equality, diversity, parity and multiplicity I did that. We were freezing and there was plenty of space if the late arriving VIP happened to show. Besides, Jazmin and I were hungry.

There is so much that could be written about the evening, about the program, about Mr. Block’s caring speech, about tremendous spirit of giving evident during the pledge drive, about the filmed interviews with Block Scholars, their lives opened to the audience, about the attentive and efficient wait staff, and about the hard work that preceded the event.

Rather than those important aspects, I believe that a glass raised to Steven and to Matthew—to their lives, their determination, their openness—is a glass raised to the purpose and order of that evening.

These young men represent the Mission of Donnelly and of the Block Scholar program. Steven and Matthew stand with pride, owning life mistakes and growing successes. They own it all. It is a privilege to know them.

The End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

A rerun of a previous blog, written prior to the legal end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

The United States Military is the most powerful in the world, operated and led by people of experience, intelligence and savvy. Many, maybe the largest percentage, never see front line combat assignments in modern warfare. Retirement steadily removes the oldest members of the highest officers ranks, moving younger people up the career ladder.

Prejudices of my generation, and generations who came before, diminish as younger people see with different understanding. Clearly, there are military people who, with their understanding and conscience, continue to distrust the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Perhaps those well-meaning men and women should trust the power of their organization to handle the death of the DADT dinosaur. Time and honesty will show that good and dedicated men and women have served with courage and respect while being caged in that dark ‘closet’.

The editorial page of the daily paper could consider moving Doonesbury from the comic section giving the military strips full editorial presence when Trudeau writes about DADT.

Admittedly, many church groups supported DADT and cannot let go of their stand on Gay and Lesbian people, the stand that uses God as condemnation, focusing on a few lines in The Book rather than focusing on the Jesus nature of love. Weren’t we taught that The Jesus of The New Testament overshadowed the ‘smite’ part of the Old Testament?

Not being a Biblical scholar, I cannot quote passages to back up a God that is all about acceptance, forgiveness, love, creation mirroring God’s image. Admittedly, I have problems understanding churches that condemn the private nature of homosexual couples while protecting pedophiles and abusers with cover-ups, money, promotions and denial. Whited sepulcher comes to mind— and a subject for another day.

Deliver Us From (CCR)

We humans are a very mixed bag. Two of my sons have expressed a belief that, over-all, the human race is more disposed to ugliness than to civil discourse, compassion, and a genuine search for truth.

Pockets, they say. Pockets. Good people are simply pockets tucked in amidst the preponderance of ignorance and the disregard for justice.

The Kansas City Star has printed many letters regarding the Ratigan/Finn/Murphy situation in the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph. Most of my recent blogs have focused of the physical and sexual abuse of children by ordained men of the Catholic Church and the overwhelming evidence of an institutional cover-up.

I have tried to read with an open mind, an understanding of the perspective of every letter writer. For many years I shared the concept that the Church knew best, could do no wrong and had the Jesus Philosophy dialed.

Obviously, that belief, and the required blind and silent obedience, is no longer a part of my life.

A letter to the editor, Kansas City Star, Thursday, June 30, 2011 taxes my ability to maintain an open-mind. In the letter, Laura Long of Pleasant Hill writes:

“All I see from SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) is a bunch of money-hungry, publicity-hungry folks jumping up and down creating havoc for the sake of havoc.”

Excuse me, but how does a mean-spirited remark like that fit into the Jesus philosophy? “…jumping up and down creating havoc for the sake of havoc.”

Really, Laura Long? Victims of abuse should quietly go away, perhaps being sheep to a flawed Shepard?

Men and women seeking justice following molestation by trusted priests are simply jumping up and down? Priests given honor, prestige and trust violated the victims, their families and the trust of their ordination.

Ordained men who professed the Jesus Philosophy fondled, raped, violated, tortured children and now the children are “…creating havoc for the sake of havoc”?

If the survivors manage to create some havoc in the name of justice I honor that havoc, not unlike chasing those money changers from the temple.

Out Of The Woodwork (CCR)

“You have become a Johnny One-Note. Are there no other topics? Move on. These people come out of the woodwork.”
That one got to me, salted the moral ache that festers. The meaning was clear. “These people come out of the woodwork.” Mistrust of motivation. Blaming the victims. Protecting the abusers by saying that the woodwork people worm out to join the bandwagon.

In defense of this person, there are no TVs, newspapers or news magazines in the home. Current events are the day-to-day drama of over fifty seniors, age 62 plus, living in an apartment building. The outside world is too filled with bad news to allow in–so ignore and pretend it doesn’t exist.

It does exist. It is real. The abuse tolerated, perhaps allowed in the belief that the church required that depth of protection. The cover-up hid the truth and gave permission for abuse to continue.

Mike Hunter of Kansas City is the volunteer director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. David Clohessy of St. Louis is the executive director of SNAPNetwork.org, the same organization. Hunter and Clohessy co-authored As I See It, an opinion piece for the Kansas city Star Newspaper. The final paragraph of their piece offers the only solution that holds promise.
“That’s why we’re desperately hoping police and prosecutors will step up. While our justice system isn’t perfect, it can often unearth the truth in such situations and punish the guilty, thus deterring recklessness, callousness and deceit in the future.”

Soul Weary, Heart Sick and Justifiably Angered (CCR)

Theresa, a Gentle Reader,  took me to task over whether the first or second in command, Bishop Finn or Robert Murphy,  actually read the letter regarding Ratigan.  Now the information about communication referencing Ratigan dates back to  2006.

So what, Theresa?   Does is matter if Finn or Murphy continued the orchestrated cover-up?  Read the Kansas City Star, Friday, June 3, 2011, Front Page.

Soul weary, heart-sick and justifiably angered.

Two articles, Gentle Readers, on the structured and sanctioned cover-up for and by Catholic priests, protecting other Catholic priests and the corruption within the institution are on the front page of The Kansas City Star, June 3, 2001.

Soul weary, heart-sick and justifiably angered.

Perhaps there will be more to say later, but today?  I hope Archbishop Dolan is revisiting the physical reactions to abuse scandals.

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.