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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Price Tag On A Soul

Rudimentary to a price tag, of course, is that fundamental belief in the immortal soul, a soul that registers consequences backed up against a belief system.

Identifying the belief system is a balance of the famous walk and talk comparison. Stumble along with that murky bit for a while. Then try to sort those quietly held truths vs. so-called doctrines or universal truths. The stumble decreases to stalemate.

“This Great Country of the United States of American…The American People have spoken…The greater good demands…Mama Grizzly.”

Public officials have the research. Pick a word, pick a pair, pick a hot button of most compelling, most able to incite action, most conservative, most liberal, most blah. Name a prejudice and the handbook of electability will furnish the words to exploit. Identify a pork and you can bet a politician is slipping it under the radar.

Our shoulders should ache from carrying that burden. We elected them. We read the history and we turn the page allowing a rewrite; same ideas different names.

Part of the reason that this blog stayed quiet for some time is my inability to process the cover up of the abuse of children. The Church, that was my life anchor for well over six decades, covered for and protected the abusers. The abusing priests were more important that the anguish of the abused.

When recently asked why I thought that the Catholic Church got more press than other organizations who have abusers in their ranks, I didn’t hesitate to answer.

The Catholic Church set itself above all others, named itself as the one true, holy, catholic and apostolic church. From earliest memory, the Catholic Church set itself apart and above, the single pathway to God, the true keeper of the words of Jesus. No other denominations need apply.

Right there on top of the flag pole, waving the flag of a Pope speaking directly from God, unable to err on doctrines of faith or morals. Catholics first, all others diminished, setting a bar that demanded a higher standard. Sow and reap.