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.

Advertisements

Wheat From Chaff (CCR)

Fourteen of my 73 years were well served by the education received in Catholic schools. Nuns were amazing. Their knowledge of subject matter, their teaching skills and their dedication have rarely been matched. In high school and college, priests shared the teaching duties and they, as well as the nuns, imbued the Catholic concept of God into each day. I spent a number of years volunteering and teaching in Catholic Schools, often reviewing the attributes of God as presented by the priests and nuns.

An omnipotent and omniscient Being was the God of the “one true, holy, Catholic and apostolic church”. We were given Jesus as the human aspect of God so we could feel a connection with a part of the Being. We could identify with the human side of God through Jesus.

On Sunday, October 16, 2011, the Kansas City Star published a lengthy and detailed article on the recent indictment of Bishop Robert Finn in connection with the abuse charges against Sean Ratigan, a priest of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. The article quotes members of the Catholic Church, giving their reactions to the charges against Bishop Finn.

A member of the St. Louis Parish on Swope Parkway, Jim Dougherty, expresses his belief in the following quote: “I still believe in a God that relishes and redeems woundedness.” (page A10, fifth column)

A God that is omnipotent and omniscient, a God of one true, holy, Catholic and apostolic church relishes something labeled woundedness? This God relishes the wounds inflicted on children by the shepherds ordained to protect from harm? Or is the relish of God savored and saved for the perpetrators of the wounds? Equal relish for victim and criminal?

A God, a being Supreme and all-powerful, that relishes anything fails the test of credibility.

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?

Never Lonely

The dead are never lonely.
Dead is gone. Maybe in an eternal bliss, no matter the name. Maybe in that down side of bliss. Maybe just gone, no more–dead. Universal destiny, the sure and certain agent of change.

Because death is, life surely must evolve out of pretense, of false pride, of ignorance. Surely we recognize the life requirement to face the mirror with honesty, with a grasp of the reality of death.

This was a drive-around-and-pretend-to-have-a-destination day, one of those days that can suck the good out of the best of work intentions. Air so sweet with autumn, colors random, filled with splash and zest. My favorite season of layered clothing, sun and shadow, wood fires to warm old memories.

Without warning the tears came, blinding me. I was driving. I was not the passenger in his big SUV. Was not reacting to his hand as he reached over, touched my cheek. Such a brief and private moment, one I perpetually took for granted.

My thought was so odd. “Please don’t be lonely. Be OK. I don’t want you to feel like this. Please don’t be lonely.”

So I am grateful. I am. He is dead but he is not lonely. That is a good thing.

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.

On The Father, Joseph Matt (CCR)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 The Kansas City Star, page 1
Headline: Lawsuit alleges priest’s paternity

Granted abusing children is infinitely more debased than having sex with a consenting adult. Granted the consenting adult was vulnerable in the therapy session, transference known to every 101 Psychology student. Granted the woman/mother gave birth to the priest’s child, hiding paternity for many years. Granted the priest may not have presented himself as a trained therapist but simply offered his position as priest and friend. Granted the sexual relationship continued over a period of time, consensual sex.

Many years ago, my grandfather scorned the church because the local priest ‘had a woman’. To my grandfather the “sanctimonious position of the church regarding women and sex was disgusting, especially in light of what Pop believed to be common practice–a priest ‘having a woman’. Pop was born in Missouri in the late 1800s.

John Doe reports (page 9, Kansas City Star, September 27, 2011) that “My lawyer asked Bishop Finn what they were going to do about Joe Matt…And his answer was, well, Joe Matt’s done all these great things, he’s been a good guy, he takes care of his brother. All he did was compliment how good a guy Matt was.” Joe Matt returned to parish work after acknowledging paternity.

Many of my blogs reference the Catholic Church stated position: One True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic…the one true church built on the rock called Peter and based on the Jesus philosophy. Many of my blogs reference my Catholic baptism and my years of sincere and loyal participation. Many of my blogs reference the beauty of hundreds of wonderful people true to the liturgy, tradition and dogma of the church.

I have written on sexual abuse of children by ordained priests, men of position and power entrusted with the welfare of those children. I acknowledge that many other organizations have dealt with abuse issues.

I have challenged the Catholic Church position that women are lesser than–unworthy to function in the roles assigned to men.
I have challenged the Catholic Church position on gay marriage, on homosexual persons created in that ‘image and likeness of God’ part of the creation story. I have supported the repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. I have supported gay marriage and the rights of gay couples to parent children.

A whitened sepulcher is the image that refuses to leave. A magnificent edifice created on the beautiful teachings of a man named Jesus. This man named Jesus taught social justice, integrity, truth, adherence to stated principles. The building is a singular masterpiece until the doors open and the extent of corruption spills out.

Remember the parable of the widow’s mite, the pittance given (and praised). In her great need, the widow gave her money to the propagation of the so-called faith and her story became a part of the yearly calendar of readings. That widow’s mite helps to support a splendid city of pomp and wealth. Maybe Jesus would be shaking the dirt from his rope sandals.