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?


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

Eccentricity In Purple (CCR)

By accident, by my pilot error, one of my three decks is now purple. Caught up in one of my manic moments I brushed at dusk, finishing at dark, too tired to pay much attention to detail…like color.

I admit to early warning. Mark made one of his wonderful weekend runs from Colorado. He drives nine hours to do things like clean decks, drive when we look for a house and—-and make me feel both normal and young. He is my first-born son and he brings safety when he comes here.

Mark said the third deck was different wood and the stain would not look as it did on the other two decks. So even if I had a dusk-glimmer of curiosity as I painted, I just blew it off counting down to quitting time.

Maybe the stain label calls it Plum Island, but the eye knows purple. The other two decks are beautiful redwood stain that bead rain like champions. Under the deep shade, tucked back from the Sycamore, eccentricity has arrived. I love the color and I love the sense that something is different, that a threshold opened, that the purple isn’t a color to be worn but an attitude to be cherished.

No longer will there be a twinge of sadness when I write about the Catholic Church. No longer will I balance excuses with this new purple awareness.

For about two weeks, this blog faltered. I gave up facing the truth about the church I once called ‘my church’. Excuses are easy. My words have no power. Some members of my family push farther away with every blog. A drop in the ocean cannot ripple. I don’t have all the facts. Bob’s death has made me vulnerable to wrong thinking.

Weightless air puffs of excuses but they served my purpose, a need for time to grieve, to rage in anger. I have. And my anger is righteous and my church is wrong.

Since October I have grieved a physical death that ended a long chapter of my life. Today I walked into his space, a shed of memories, and it was October again. I wonder at my weakness. Grieving that loss will never end.

With the Ratigan/Finn/Murphy the grieving for ‘my church’ is over.

On Sunday, June 19 2011, the Kansas City Star had a front page photo of 75 Catholics marching in support of Bishop Robert Finn. At least ten of those in the photograph were children. The diocese has 134,000 families and 65 adults declared their support. My guess is that if a man named Jesus had seen the demonstration he might have said that the number supporting Bishop Finn was just about perfect.

On Friday, June 24, 2011 Kansas City Star front page headline:
Ex-monk admits sexual misconduct

Bede Parry is a former Benedictine from a northwest Missouri abbey. He has admitted sexual misconduct while leading the boys choir in the 1980s.

And the beat goes on…

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.”

The Swill Thickens (CCR)

Kansas City Star, Thursday, June 9, 2011 Front page headline:
Once-accused priest now leads church inquiries
Opening sentence: “The Catholic official who oversees sex abuse complaints against priests in Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese has himself been accused of past sexual improprieties.”

With any due respect, with awareness that an accusation is not a conviction, with further awareness that I am not privy to the workings of the Catholic Church protocols when dealing with priests who sexually or physically abuse children I submit that an accused fox guarding the chicken house is not a good strategy for garnering credibility.

Opinion Page, A 17 Headline: ROME FIDDLES WHILE CHURCH BURNS, commentary by Maureen Dowd

Tell me again, please, that the Catholic Church believes their own propaganda that the incidents of abuse are isolated and definitely not handled through deceit and cover-up. In Dowd’s piece she recounts Ireland’s Archbishop Martin’s tearful account of an abusing Irish priest who built a swimming pool, allowing only boys of certain looks and age to enter the garden. Depraved…”and Dickensian treatment of children in the care of the Irish Catholic Church–a fifth circle of hell hidden for decades by church and police officials–the Irish are still angry and appalled.”

Martin, according to Dowd, has been ostracized by fellow bishops and snubbed by the Holy See. Martin’s crime? Speaking out against pedophiles, publishing his findings and begging forgiveness from God and from the victims while praising the victims for the courage to come forward. In Martin’s words: “Nobody could have read what I have read and not did what I did. If I didn’t react to the stories I heard, there would be something wrong.”

There is something so terribly wrong that the mind cannot comprehend the depth of this wrong. How can a church, spewing out its belief in the Jesus philosophy go so deep into the bowels of hell?

The Catholic Church is burning by its own actions, by the depravity of believing in the preservation of the institution, the safety and structure as created by the men of Rome, over any of the teachings of Jesus. It is a Jesus quote about vomiting that comes to mind..

Essential Beliefs

“Our names are labels plainly printed on the bottled essence of our behavior.”  Lynn Pearshall Smith

My radios are all set to 89.3, KCUR so the phrase ‘essential beliefs’ must have come from that NPR station, but I don’t remember the specific program or the context.  I do know that the phrase will not leave my thinking.

Lynn Pearshall Smith’s words are part of the standard signature on emails I receive periodically.  “Bottled essence’ is such a good use of language showing the idea that some essential beliefs are caught in our core, ‘bottled’ in our essence and motivating much of our behavior.   There are times when that essence behavior is spontaneous rather than studied.

I believe that many, if not most, of our values take root in emotion, that what we believe originally comes from what we experienced with deep emotion.   These deep roots are partially responsible for our difficulty in changing behaviors, in requiring baby steps to move away from core behaviors.

For much of our society, reason–the intellect–rules.  We raise our children in the realm of good grades, SAT scores, the best colleges, professionals–the rational and conscious.  We tend to trust what we label as reasoned and downplay what is emotional.  Of course all of these are important.  That is without question.

There is more to us, to humans that our rational selves.  And that ‘more’ is not the instant gratification touted in what passes for entertainment.  There is more than the isolation we have allowed into our lives, isolation of TV, movies, iPods, ear pieces, all that diminishes our interactions with one another.  And there is so much more than either being funny or being outrageous.

Rather than an open mind focused on learning what other real people have to offer, we take in what a small group of entertainment controllers feed us.  The constant diet of entertainment taints our ability to learn from personal interactions and thereby evaluate our bias.

As we move from baby to adult, we learn by observing patterns.  The complexity of life gets sorted as we interpret both the patterns and the reactions to our understanding of those patterns.  We create our essential beliefs.   Parked in front of TV is not parked in neutral.

Much is written about bullying behavior as if it were some new phenomenon.  It isn’t, but bullying is growing rampant.  The pattern we are nurturing is not one of sympathy or understanding.  Rather it is a pattern of Top Dog, Winner, Arm-Pumping Best, In Your Face, Look At Me.

As with many of my rants, I fail in conclusions.  I fail to find answers, to balance the emotional and the rational.  However, I believe we are more than we have allowed ourselves to become.

I believe that we are far out on the arch of the pendulum as we swing away from what we feel to be the harsh restrictions of our past.  I believe we have discarded more of our essence than we have captured in the replacements.  I believe that we have allowed the need for dollars and successes to blot the moments of  deep emotions that transcend—-that allow us to experience the joining of the emotional and the rational—-to be more fully human.

Dull, Duller, Dullest

NPR reports that a scientist ran the numbers, discovering that April 11 was the dullest day of the century. Waiting, I hoped the tag line would not be that a government grant funded that scientific bit of whatever.  However, the report was quickly interrupted by spring pledge break and a non-commercial advertising a law firm doing intellectual property work.  Surely, there is irony here.

Do we keep the tradition alive, subduing any urge to pursue interesting and even relevant thoughts on this April 11, 2011?  In another 100 years, will this day be a follower or perhaps find a way to lead?  Or, in another 100 years, will anyone even care?

Let’s care.

Let’s insist that government leaders find a way to address the budget crises while refraining from over reliance on hot-button emotional stuff.   Priorities require measures that affect everyone.   Some interviewer of soft voice and concerned cadence questioning a Senator about his stand on the funding of international aid programs should find a another line of work.  Unbiased news slips farther and farther from reality, but spinning with an eye to discrediting honest attempts to sort priorities in dishonest and counter productive.

If entitlement programs need cuts in order to sustain the economy we are again faced with the truth that everyone will feel the sting.  However,  those makers of our laws, Congress, would do well to start in their House, to cut their entitlements first.  Again, surely there is irony here.