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.”

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Troubled? The Bishop Was Troubled? (CCR)

If you, Gentle Reader, have children or grandchildren the abuse scandal is that bull’s-eye painted on the essence of those children.   Look at the beauty of your young ones and decide if the reaction to abuse would be a horrible bastardized-Jesus-forgiveness or a rage to remove.

Playing the scripture card to justify a plea for forgiveness is ignoring the fact that the story says the temple was  off-limits to the money changers.  Even your Jesus, a man of peace and justice, had limits of acceptance.  If you believe in the hell created for sinners, do you remotely harbor a belief that Jesus/God forgives those in hell?  Loves the sinner, hates the sin kind of rhetoric…loves those in eternal flames?

The Kansas City Star, Saturday, May 21, 2011, front page article by Laura Bauer and Glenn Rice

“One day after prosecutors charged a Roman Catholic priest with possession of child pornography, Bishop Robert Finn said he knew about the ‘very troubling’ images months ago but was told they weren’t pornography.”

Bishop Finn contacted a police officer and described one or more of the images.  Remember, the Bishop was very troubled by the images but decided to describe one or more to a police officer so that the officer could make the judgment as to just how troubling, how close to pornography, how much the diocese would have to reveal and justify.

Bishop Finn also admits that Ratigan was not honoring the restrictions put on him by the bishop.  Ratigan continued to ignore the restrictions.  The bishop continued to admonish him not to ignore the restrictions.  The bishop put Ratigan in a private priest residence and Ratigan continued to celebrate Mass.   Mass.  The Bishop allowed Ratigan to celebrate Mass.

On Wednesday, May 18, the Star reported on the study commissioned by Roman Catholic bishops citing reasons why priests physically and sexually abused children.  One of those reasons was priests were poorly monitored.

The Bishop confesses to being troubled but made the decision to keep his concerns in-house, to ignore the need to contact civil authorities.  The Bishop placed restrictions and Ratigan ignored the restrictions.

Again, I know that Ratigan is legally innocent until proven guilty.  Ratigan, trained and monitored by the church (that church which covered his actions) was allowed to continue under the presumption of innocence?

Maybe there are those who would go so far as to say that the church is innocent until proven guilty.  The burden of proof weighs heavily, to the breaking point.

There are those who would take the guilt off the church (where it belongs) and use the comedic line “The devil made me do it.”

Self-protection, denial, justification and dishonor continue to allow this obscene scandal.

Eyes Tight Shut, Part 1 (CCR)

In  The National Catholic Reporter, Janelle Lazzo of Roeland Park, Kansas wrote “…as St. Paul made clear, not only does it make no difference if the faithful are “slave or free”, it should not matter if they are “male or female either.”

I have read Ms. Lazzo and know her to be highly intelligent, wise and courageous, especially in matters of social justice.  Her line, “…slave or free…male or female…”, is so powerful, so indicative of my church’s position as anti-female.

Let me make an attempt to sort my observations and to explain why my church, the Catholic Church, operates with eyes tight shut.

St. Paul opens the church to those distanced opposites so easy to identify, slave or free–all are welcome here.  Free people owned slaves,  holding to life and death decisions over the chattel group.  Slaves were synonymous with poverty, owning nothing but an ironclad servitude to masters.  Slaves ate, slept, worked at the discretion of the master.  St. Paul welcomes both slave and free with no distinction, supposedly equal in the eyes of that church.

Something is very wrong here.  Slave and free equal in those eyes tight shut, but not so male and female?  Males make church policy.  Males hold all positions of power.    Males created and maintain the structure of the church, no exceptions.

The Catholic God plays favorites, right?  God decided that men are better than women.  God decided that women have a lesser place than slaves.  God decided that men alone could run the church following the teachings of a poor and ragged Jew named Jesus.  This Jesus, a gentle man who taught social justice, love, forgiveness and equality and thereby recognized that free and slave had equal place in this ministry.

Those words sound bitter and perhaps there is bitterness in the search for an equal place in the church.  Perhaps there is bitterness and disappointment that a community so loved by so many is stunningly exclusive to one half the membership.

Sexual Abuse Scandal In The Catholic Church (ccr)

Originally published:  March 26, 2010, reviewed today after minor editing.

Let’s suppose that a United Sates Congressman stands accused of sexually molesting a young male page serving that government body.   Does saving the face of the institution take precedence over confronting the abuse?  Do the leaders of the Congress stage a cover-up giving priority to saving the government from the scandal?   

When a school teacher or principal stands accused of sexually molesting a child, do other teachers and administrators rally round the accused, protecting her/him from justice?   Does the school system close ranks and move the teacher to another building where the opportunity is fresh and easy? 

The Catholic Church of the  United States, Germany, Netherlands and Ireland are awash in scandal.  The sin of child abuse is grotesquely  compounded by the sin of cover-up, of protecting the ordained men who harmed the lives of thousands of children.    These ordained men were given the power to absolve the sins of penitents.  These ordained men were given the prestige and honor of a sacred position.

Are we not sickened?  Does not system-wide obscenity, tacitly condoning child molestation, sicken us enough to break through the silence?  Where are we?

The last weeks have shown anger and threats over health care.  Demonstrations pro and con are constant.  Threats of bodily harm come to Congressmen on both sides of the aisle.   This piece of legislation is extremely important and the activism is justified, a reaction to vital issues.

The March 24 issue of the Kansas City Star newspaper has the following front page priority stories:   the closing of a coffee plant, a college coach’s photo and story,  a population decline story, and a Steve Kraske story on threat made to Congressmen over the health care vote.

Page A 18 of the same issue carries a story from Munich about the abuse scandal cover-up.

In the diocese where I live and worship, the current policy is to investigate every allegation of abuse, even if the accused died years ago.  Some monies were reportedly paid and counseling services provided.  My experience tells me that every abused life is scarred with deep and horrible pain.  It also tells me that the ways of blaming the victim, though often subtle, are alive and well.  Families are wedged apart by dealing with abuse.

If the allegations of cover-up by the current Pope are accurate, then what?  What of the blind loyalty to church where child abuse scandals have bankrupted diocese, closed parishes and  destroyed lives?

In the words of Jesus, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”

In The Interest Of Balance:My Catholic Connection (ccr)

Many of my blogs are vehemently anti-abuse of children by Catholic priests and vehemently anti-Catholic Church cover-up of that abuse.   (Some of that writing will be reviewed in the coming days.)

I have opposed the church teachings on homosexuality, on the role of women in the church, the opulence surrounding the church, especially in the Vatican. My inbox had more than a few comments accusing me of being anti-Catholic, of not being part of the Catholic Church, of lacking understanding because I knew nothing of the church. .

My baptism took place in the Catholic Church before I was two weeks old.  During my elementary and high school years, my sister and I attended daily Mass.  My elementary and high school education was in the hands of  the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.  The Benedictine Sisters guided my first college years.

Reams could be written about these amazing women.  The nuns were the unsung heroes of the church, giving their lives, their devotion, their intelligence and their talents.  From first light to late night, the Sisters directed every minute to the teachings of Jesus through their students.  My working years were primarily as an elementary  teacher affording me even more respect for the Sisters.  They did so much with so little.  Or perhaps their vocation gave them so much more with which to work.

Over the past days, I have reviewed older blogs attesting to my personal Catholic connection: In The Shadow of The Steeple, Lent In RetrospectRings on my Finger, Marathon Guilt.   Our book, Four Ordinary Women, contains a chapter called “Spiritual Beliefs”.  These are not anti-Catholic writings.  Rather they are writings about a cherished part of my life.

If opposing sexual child abuse were anti-Catholic Church, wouldn’t the pews be empty?.

If opposing the cover-up of sexual child abuse were anti-Catholic, surely the Vatican would be vacated.  Who would not oppose such evil?  Isn’t it part of the mission of the Catholic Church to oppose evil and protect the children?   How can anyone view such opposition as anti-Catholic?

The opposition is anti-evil.  The opposition must come from the soul and heart of Catholics who want the church to be Jesus on the earth.  Opposition to covering the evil of the priests is opposition to a good-old-boy-network that protects its own.  Opposition challenges institutional evil that covered the actions of ordained members of the institution.

How is anti-evil equated with anti-Catholic?

Slip Sliding Away, Part 1 (ccr)

Those might be words from a song carried in my mind from the 1950’s or 1960’s.  Might even be a Bob Dylan phrase.  The words are perfect, slip sliding away.

My struggle is just that–my struggle,  but voicing my concerns might encourage others to speak to the ironies of holding a good man, Jesus, as the foundation of Christianity while behaving as if power and authority were the foundation of His Church On Earth.

This is not comfortable.  I carry the fears and prejudices of many years of belief, love and acceptance of what has been my church, my spiritual home.  As a young child through high school years, I attended daily Mass and Communion.  My dedication was complete.    By any measure, my life is winding towards the end and it puzzles me that the wisdom came so late.

How can I love and honor a church that is anti-gay?  How?  If the Church believes that man is the image and likeness of God (omniscient and omnipotent), how can the church be anti-gay?  We do not choose our sex or our sexual orientation.

The Church has at least covered clerical homosexual activity and at most condoned that activity.  Fine.  Consenting adults.  What need for hypocrisy?

How can I love and honor a church that excommunicates Sr. Margaret McBride because she approved an abortion to save the life of a mother of four?  Why is expulsion a weapon designed to protect unity?

How can I love and honor a church that is so anti-women, refusing them the right to fully participate in all levels of Church activity?  Why must Bishops and Archbishops continue to affirm the subjugated status of women?

How can I love and honor a church that continually covered the sexual and emotional abuse of children by ordained clergy.  Overwhelming and absolutely damning evidence continues to mount. Purging  towards justice has not happened.

A Visitor From What Planet Calls Sexual Abuse “Petty Rumor”? (ccr)

petty:  adj/ synonyms:   little, inconsiderable, insignificant or unimportant

rumor:  noun/ synonyms:     gossip, hearsay, scuttlebutt

abuse: verb/  synonyms:  exploit, debase, desecrate, profane, to treat without compassion and in a hurtful manner,  damage, harm, hurt, injure, oppress, do violence to , dirty, odious

On Good Friday, commemorating the death of Jesus, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa reportedly  compared anti-Semitism and  violence against the Jewish people to the criticism of the church in the sex abuse scandals.

Easter Sunday, the holiest of day in the Catholic Church, Cardinal Angelo Sodano spoke in defense of the Pope,dismissing the  claims of cover-up as ‘petty gossip’.  Pope Benedict embraced Cardinal Sodano at the end of  Sodano’s remarks.

Bernard Law  moved  to, and now resides as priest in a Vatican Church having been removed from a diocese in the United States because of abuse and the  cover-up of that abuse.

David Clohessy, an advocate for sex abuse victims, and Barbara Blaine, President of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests  would, no doubt, take issue with ‘petty rumor’ when describing abuse of children by men in moral authority and the attempts to hide the abuse by other men in moral authority.

One child, one little boy, one young girl…one innocent child abused, desecrated, damaged by an ordained person given authority over that one child is too much.  One child sexually abused by a man protected by his church is too much.  One child exploited, and that exploitation hidden, is too much.   Sexual abuse is never, ever petty.  Institutional acquiescence can never be considered petty.  Calling the situation ‘rumor’ is ludicrous.

Reconciliation?  How?  I don’t know.  But I do believe that open, truthful confession to Catholics, and to the world, could be a beginning.  I believe that separating any false allegations from documented abuses cases is vital.  I believe that any and all cover-up trails must be followed, no matter who is responsible.  I believe that the Catholic Church has much to gain from following the doctrines of confession, penance and reparation.   I  admit to grave doubts regarding absolution and forgiveness.  But it might be possible if the church speaks mea maxima culpa and brings all fault to the light.