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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A Tribute (CCR)

No matter the God image fitting into each belief system…
No matter the depth of belief or the strength of non-belief…
No matter the participation in tradition and ritual…
No matter the distance of desire to be part of organized church practice…
No matter the connection with community…
No matter the intensity of standing alone…

It is time.

We–former Catholics, struggling Catholics, stanch and dedicated Catholics, disgusted and achingly sad Catholics, forever Catholics— owe a debt. It is time to acknowledge the debt and participate in paying the debt.

On Friday, October 14, 2011 the Huffington Post article reported that Bishop Robert Finn and his diocese will face prosecution on charges stemming from child abuse allegations. No doubt the Kansas City Star newspaper will carry the story today. Perhaps this indictment is the gear opening the floodgates to flush the filth, to forcibly
cleanse what has festered beyond believing.

And that tribute we owe the Davids fighting the power and money of Goliath? The tribute to perseverance, to strength, to courage?

No matter the God fitting into each belief system, we owe tribute to an Irish Catholic priest willing to face the Vatican. We owe tribute to the very precious few women and men within the structure of the Catholic Church willing to push against the wall of denial, to fight the barricades set by the network.

No matter the God fitting into each belief system, we owe thanks and support to Survivors of sexual and physical abuse by Catholic priests. We owe the years, the decades, the centuries filled with little boys and little girls grown to hurt and haunted women and men. We owe the pain, the neglect, the life contaminated at the hands of shepherds charged with protection and guidance. We owe for dismissal by family and community. We owe for the ugliness of blaming the victims and covering for those ordained into a society of protection.

Equal Protection Under The Law (CCR)

Defining equal and defining protection are exercises for another blog. For the purposes of this blog accepting some measure of belief in the concept strains credulity when looking at the current situation in the Catholic Church. Bishop Finn and Msgr. Robert Murphy of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are embroiled in yet another cover-up of child abuse by ordained men of the church. Both men appeared before a Grand Jury investigating this latest local incident of sanctioned institutional use of children.

For years, the Catholic Church has defiled children both by actions of ordained men of the church and by concerted and ongoing efforts to keep the problem hidden and out of the legal system.

The Mantra, the song of enforced silence has many verses. We hear them over and over: “God’s Law governs these Holy Men. God’s law comes first. The Church, Our Shepard, know best. The Church offers the protection of these good and holy men. The Church has a process of protection. God protects His people through the men of the church. Civil protections have no place in the abuse situations.” A current favorite is the new/old standard of blaming the victims, labeling Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests as trouble makers looking for a chance to make noise. Somewhat reminiscent of inquisitions of torture for failing to adopt the party line.

Granted, a diocese bankrupted under the strain of legal costs defending the Church, the priests, the bishops, the cardinal involved in one situation. As punishment, the Cardinal left United States jurisdiction to a position as head of Mary Major Church in Rome complete with all the comforts and trappings of his position in the hierarchy.

Granted, victims received money for silence.
Granted, psychological treatment was offered to some victims.
Granted, the abuse of children and the institutional cover-up has cost the Catholic Church in both membership and in revenue.

However, we are looking at equal protection under the Civil Law for victims rather than the cost of abusing, denying, ignoring, hiding, covering up. The Catholic Church has used their arsenal to keep the protection of children out of Civil Court, to avoid the open and honest investigation of the corruption. Lawyers protect the Church while the church works to deny protection of the abused.

We are searching for equal and for protection under Civil Law as we look at photos of Bishop Finn and his lawyers entering the building for the Grand Jury investigation. We see Finn and Murphy enjoying their absolute right–the protection of legal counsel, the hearing before Civil Law, the constant advice of those expert in Civil Law, their day in a Civil Law setting. We see these men of the church availing themselves of the very rights and protections that the church has worked so hard to deny victims of abuse by ordained men of the church.

God’s law protects the children? Civil Law protests the priests? Equal protection?

With Any Due Respect (CCR)

On Sunday, October 2, 2011, The Kansas City Star published a letter by Mary Pat Miller of Overland Park, Kansas. In her letter, Miller shared her thoughts concerning those attending Mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in downtown Kansas City, about protesters outside the Cathedral and about the prayers for “… healing…wholeness…in an environment befitting of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”. To further quote Miller’s letter: “Those faithful sitting in the pews don’t have their heads in the sand concerning the ongoing controversy. They just know that God will not abandon his church if they are faithful to his word.

God will not abandon those faithful to his word?

Are we now facing the devastatingly painful question about what act of faithlessness did thousands of children commit? What sin of childish innocence/obedience created their abuse and the subsequent institutional cover-up of that abuse? Were these children not abandoned by the church of Holy Men of God ordained to teach, protect and walk in the Jesus philosophy?

Healing and wholeness in an environment befitting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Healing cannot happen until the cancer is removed with deep and certain cuts to the core. The Catholic Church has failed to cleanse itself, to monitor, to punish and to excise
those who have abandoned the word of God through their obscene abuse of children. Wholeness may follow this depth of healing only if the Catholic Church abandons the culture of protectionism and accepts the help and the rules of civil authority.

A Little Boy, 1983 (CCR)

A current lawsuit names Monsignor O’Brien as perpetrator of sexual crimes against children, against little boys trapped in O’Brien’s mantel of holy man, man of god, stand-in for Jesus. O’Brien started as Father O’Brien later promoted by his superiors for service to the church.

The lawsuit charges that a little boy, a young teen, could no longer live with the pain inflicted by O’Brien. A boy, probably in puberty, a faithful and believing member serving Mass, abused by a man honored by the church. This little boy could no longer tolerate, the pain. He gave his life away rather than live with what a representative of Jesus did to the boy.

This is the weekend during which we remember and honor the victims of 9-11 who died by an act of terrorism committed in the name of a religion.

May I suggest, Gentle Reader, that we honor the victims of a another kind of terrorism–the horror heaped on child victims sexually and physically terrorized by holy men of god.

A Little Boy, 1983

Consuming (CCR)

Patrick comments: “No one has set a lower standard for humanity than the Catholic Church.”

I have written about the rape and abuse of children, the institutional approval of rape and abuse via the persistent cover-up by those with the power to reassign, offering protection to pedophiles.

The Kansas City Star is following the Shawn Ratigan pornography obscenity, known by church officials and facilitated through failure to act.

Bishop Finn hands off to the Todd Graves Law group, a group specializing in protection of the brand name of corporations. If ever a ‘brand’ name stood wrapped in obscenity it is the Catholic Church and the persistent protection of rapists.

Msgr. Thomas J. O’Brien surfaces again, accused of abusing altar boys in the late 1970’s. Jon David Couzens accuses O’Brien and Rev. Isaac True of Conception Abbey of multiple counts of abuse.

Couzens has disclosed that a young friend’s suicide followed abuse perpetrated by O’Brien. (Reported in The Kansas City Star.)

Some years ago, a priest walked into a large gathering. The response of those attending was immediate. The priest received instant respect by both those who knew him as a man deserving of respect, and by those reacting to the uniform he wore.
He was a priest, a holy man of god, dedicated to the care and protection of the congregation.

At that time, I was a believer even though some life lessons should have taught a different understanding. My Catholic training was thorough. I lived it.
No more.

Bleeding Truth (CCR)

Friday, September 2, 2011 Page 1, The Kansas City Star
Report Faults Diocese In Ratigan Investigation

Friday, September 2, 2011, Page A4 The Kansas City Star
Man’s suit accuses clergy of abuse

In the front page story regarding the handling of the Shawn Ratigan case as well as other abuse allegation, the Todd Graves law firm reports that the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph “…went off track, bungling its own investigation and failing to even follow its own policies..individuals in positions of authority reacted to events in ways that could have jeopardized the safety of children…report lists numerous recommendations for how the diocese can better protect children.”

Under a photo of Bishop Robert Finn, the report says that Finn relied on limited advice before transferring Ratigan and put too much trust in Ratigan to stay away from children. (Bold type is mine.)

There are Catholics who call the investigation of the sanctioned cover-up of child molesters as a vendetta against the church, using child abuse in other churches and venues as proof that Catholics are being held to a higher standard.

For decades, the Catholic Church set this bar, labeling itself as the one, true, holy, catholic and apostolic church. For decades, the Catholic Church set this bar, teaching that baptism in the Catholic Church was the path to salvation.

For decades, the Catholic Church gave the Pope infallibility when teaching on faith and morals. God taught through the mouth of the Pope–even the Popes who fathered children, amassed personal wealth and ignored (sanctioned) abuse.

The high standard, the rules, set by the players themselves, monitored the men of the Catholic Church. The Piper plays a bitter tune.

There are Catholics who label the investigation of the church sanctioned cover-up of child molesters the work of the devil.

Easy out.

Blame the devil for the evil in the abusers and the rest of the church can do the ritual hand washing.

A final curiosity. Why does the Catholic Church require the investigation of a law firm to instruct the men of the church in the ways of protecting children—from the men of the church?

Judy L. Thomas gets the byline on the story about a recent allegation of abuse by a Monsignor Thomas O’Brien and by Rev. Isaac True of Conception Abbey . (For those unfamiliar with Catholic titles, Monsignor is a title of honor, a step up from Reverend, and earned by service to the Catholic Church.) The alleged abuse by O’Brien and True took place in the late 1970’s. O’Brien, after years of allegations of abuse, was finally removed from public ministry in 2002. Isaac True was president-rector of Conception Seminary from 1973 to 1988. Last year the abbey honored True for 50 years of religious life.

Bleeding truth.