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This is the second in a series of posts on the tactics in play from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and its apologists (the Catholic League of Extraordinary Idiots comes to mind).
There is Nothing We Can Do About It
The church is using these tactics to wash their hands of responsibility for the actions of their priests, nuns and lay people who have used their positions and stations to commit physical and sexual assaults on children and vulnerable adults.
This is the plausible deniability strategy practiced by the church in their attempt to shut down victims or organizations within the church who are looking to hold the hierarchy to account for the crimes committed, literally, in the name of God.
1. We’re sorry, but the statutes of limitations have passed. Lawyers are quick to point this one out on behalf of the diocese. “We would love to talk to you, ease your pain, express our deep condolences and regrets, but I see that the SOL’s for both criminal and civil actions have expired. Here, have a mass card and a copy of our Notice Regarding Sexual Abuse of a Person Under Eighteen Years of Age by Ordained or Lay Personnel of the Diocese. Please leave through the side door and consider a donation to our annual fund drive to support our retiring vocations!” Bottom line here is that once the statutes of limitations has run out, they have no vested interest in working with victims or their families. There is no acknowledgement past the “credible report”. There is no investigation, there is no review under Canon Law. There is no consequence. It is like it never happened.
2. The alleged crimes took place before our policy was in place. Bummer Dude! I hear what you are saying about Father (insert name here). But what happened to you happened before our policy came into effect. We can’t retroactively give a damn about your particular instance. If we did that, we would have to pretend to care about all the other victims of all the other priests we have
hidden retired. That Notice Regarding Sexual Abuse of a Person Under Eighteen Years of Age by Ordained or Lay Personnel of the Diocese information we gave you as we hustled you out a side door in number 1 (see above), sorry buddy, you predate that. So, too bad. Please do not disturb the senior citizens coming into the cathedral, church, or chapel who have bequests for the church written into their wills. We would prefer that they remain oblivious to what is going on. The bishop does need a new Chrysler, the current car is almost 3 years old (gasp).
3. He’s dead, he can’t defend himself against these charges. Inevitably, a victim of abuse who has remained silent for decades will come forward. Often, even if the claim is credible, parishioners and the hierarchy of the church will attack the victim for “trying to soil the good name of Father (fill in the blank). “Why don’t you let him rest in peace!” “You are only going after someone who cannot defend himself”.
In my case, my perp (what do I call him?) died in May. In June I received the first volley of the “let him rest in peace, you are trashing the reputation of a deceased man of god” email. It starts! Suspend the fact that he was a prolific abuser/molester/rapist. Forget the fact the Diocese of Scranton had him locked away for a dozen years. Forget that he was sent to “rehabilitation” and he started grooming his next victim as soon as the backs of his handler were turned.
The variation on #3 is the “he is an addled old man suffering from (insert malady of age here)” who cannot remember what he did”. The diocese, in my case, wanted to garner sympathy for him with me because he was suffering from dementia. Sorry, sympathy is not a commodity I offer wholesale.
The culture of this institution is such that no change is possible as long as the hierarchy is not held accountable. Either from within the church or from civil authority. This morning, word from a courtroom in Philadelphia was that Monsignor Lynn was sentenced to 3-6 years for his crime of failing to protect a child from sexual crimes committed by a priest known to the diocese as an abuser (not the word I really want to use). This is a start. Justice came at a heavy price to the victims and a heavy price to the parishioners whose donations (even if they didn’t know they were footing the legal bill) funded the $11 million + defense costs.
I have been asked if I thought the sentence was reasonable and I think it was. I have to believe in the justice system, the alternative is just not acceptable. That said, Monsignor Lynn should pay for his complicity, but he is taking a bullet for those who wear purple or red. I would like to see the bishops and archbishops who have been playing a shell game with pedophiles for decades to have a day in court and, if a jury convicts, sentenced accordingly. I recommend that Bishop Timlin, late of the Diocese of Scranton be moved to the front of the list. This country needs to send a message that Roman Collar Crime will not be tolerated in any form.
While glancing at my WordPress.com dashboard I noticed that this will be my 200th post on this blog. I am amazed I have stuck to it this long, although my posts have been less frequent as events in my personal life demand my attention. For this post I am beginning a series on the Catholic playbook. These are the strategies that the Church and its apologists use to downplay the sex crisis that continues to play out around the world. I have been keeping notes over the last five years on reactions to media stories, blogs similar to mine and message boards. There are too many to do in one sitting so I will try to do them in installments. I think you can safely say that these strategies are employed by any organization that takes a risk management approach of covering up and denying instead of being proactive and forthright. The RCC has been using these tactics for centuries. (That’s right, this sex crisis is not the result of Vatican II as the very conservative zealots will have you believe).
Here is installment 1 of the RCC Hierarchy Playbook:
It is in use again. The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) hierarchy is pulling out their playbook on how to spin their position on the myriad of crises in which the church is embroiled. The good old boy network has been fostering corruption, scandal and criminal activity for centuries. Why would it be any different in the 21st century.
In the wake of the conviction of Monsignor Lynn in Philadelphia, the hierarchy’s public relations goon squads are trying to minimize damage in the media, isolate other potential “crisis hotspots”, and brainwash “the faithful” that all is well and that the one holy catholic and apostolic church is on solid footing, just as St. Peter placed it. You can keep coming to church and filling the collection plates.
The playbook is predictable and predatory. It can be broken down into several broad categories. We start with: ( I shouldn’t have to say this but… sarcasm runs amock in this post). (If you are a Diocesan Spokesperson, try to keep up, I try use a lot of one syllable words, if you get confused you can use the google machine.)
Paint the Victim as a Predator
1. Victims are only looking for money! Greed is one of the deadly sins. The hierarchy of the church must have people believe that the victim of sexual crimes committed by priests, nuns or lay representatives are only out for a quick, large payday. Gloss over the damage done by the predators who enjoy the top cover of the church while targeting victims for their own pleasure, that is not relevant! Father “Fill in the Blank” is not called to account for his actions, crimes and deceptions. No, we can’t have that. Let’s go after the victim who has carried his/her great terrible secret of violation for years or decades. We lurk in the shadows for years for the opportunity to litigate and force the church to pay for sins it did not commit. The victim is the bad guy in his/her search for justice.
2. Victims will bankrupt us. Ignore the palaces, art work,massive princely mansions, the expensive cars, summer retreat spots, first class flights to Italy and land used to hide pedophiles in Catholic minimum security facilities. Ignore the vast resources of the Catholic Church worldwide. Wealth that is beyond the comprehension of most mortals is not to be considered. Cardinals and bishops have had the audacity to claim poverty in the face of claims that substantiate their complicity it protecting pedophiles in their attempt to protect the church from scandal. Dioceses have attempted to use this tactic in court but have failed. They will cry out that they have to close schools and parishes to pay for settlements and awards to victims of predators that they have shielded. Funny, it would seem that the best way to avoid scandal is to not create one! But I digress. Has it ever occurred to anyone in the hierarchy of the church that predator priests, by their actions and in total disregard for the good of the church, continue to prey on children and vulnerable adults and open that organization to scrutiny, penalty and sanction? Can I have a big “DUH” from the congregations?
3. Victims of sexual abuse are likely to be abuser as well. Make me the new monster! There is no proof of this, but the church and their apologists take this out for a spin on a regular basis. Paint me as the new threat to children and vulnerable adults! Once again the church needs you to suspend belief in the overwhelming evidence of institutional cover ups and re-victimization. Never mind that priests, nuns and lay members of the church have abused their positions of power and were given refuge, financial support and the institutional blessing of the church while victims were ostracized and painted as monsters. Urges, surely the victims have them and seek the same carnal pleasures that they were forced to comply with. Really?! Again, the church is lying to protect its treasure. It relies on the blind stupidity of the parishioners who believe everything they are told.
AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE:
4. The Priest is only guilty of being seduced. No kidding! You would be amazed at the number of times this has been thrown at me by “Good Catholics” and priests. It was my fault that he raped me. I tempted him, I led him down the path to this. Let’s for a moment suspend belief in reality that sexual activity with a minor under the age of consent is, at a minimum, statutory rape. Let’s for a moment suspend the logical notion that children who have not gone through puberty are generally not sexual creatures. Let’s suspend belief that an adult man is unable to distinguish between right and wrong. These acts, in my specific case, were not tender, passionate acts. They were brutal, criminal acts that resulted in injuries to my person, my well-being, my psyche. They stole my innocence, my faith, my trust and my ability to deal with the everyday world around me. At age 13, I assure you, I did not seduce a priest. He raped me, repeatedly. They were acts of violence. Acts of intimidation, dominance and depravity. Anyone who can embrace the idea of a child seducing an adult in this manner has, in my opinion, a seriously flawed thought process.
The next installment will be: “There is nothing we can do about it”
If you want to add to the discussion, feel free to comment…