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There is a great article on the opulent lifestyles of the “princes of the church”.  The Lavish Homes of American Archbishops is running on the CNN website.

Funny, they keep saying that they are bankrupt and that there are no resources for the victims of sexual crimes committed by their clergy!  They complain that people like me are just looking for an easy payday.  And yet, they will spend parishioners’ donations to live in splendor.  Makes you wonder where the hierarchy of the church lost its way!

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…

This weekend in over 30 locations around the country, survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members will be gathering in solidarity with victims of abuse in Ireland and around the world. Organized by SNAP, these vigils are intended to bring awareness to the ongoing problems of Catholic Clergy preying on children and vulnerable adults.

The events will be held at the following locations:

CA – Rancho Mirage, Sunday, March 14 at 3:00 PM
Whitewater Park, 71-560 San Jacinto Drive (Major Cross streets are HWY 111 & Bob Hope Drive)
Contact: Dave Price, 760-219-3635

CA – Los Angeles, Sunday, March 14 at 10:45 AM
Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, 555 W. Temple St (at N Grand)
Contact: Carlos Perez, 818-723-8016

CA – Oakland, Sunday, March 14 at 12:00 PM
The Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison Street (Between 21st & Grand)
Contact: Melanie Sakoda, 925-708-6175

CA – San Diego, Sunday, March 14, 2010 at 12:30 PM
Cathedral of St. Joseph, 1535 Third (corner of Third and Beech)
Contact: Paul Livingtson, 619-677-7133

CA – San Francisco, Sunday, March 14 at 9:00 AM
St. Mary Cathedral, 1111 Gough Street (Between Ellis & Geary)
Contact: Melanie Sakoda, 925-708-6175,

CT – Hartford, Sunday, March 14 at 11:30 AM
St. Joseph Cathedral, 140 Farmington Ave (corner of Farmington and Sigourney)
Contact: Beth McCabe, 860-335-8187 & Kathy Rector, 860-384-4372

CO – Colorado Springs, Sunday, March 14 at 9:15 AM
St. Mary Catholic Cathedral, 22 W Kiowa St.
Contact: John Murphy, 719-322-6597

DC – Washington, Saturday, March 13 at 6:30 PM
Irish Embassy, 2234 Massachusetts Ave. N. WE
Contact: Becky Ianni, 703-801-6044 & David Lorenz, 301-906-9161

DC – Washington, Sunday, March 14 at 1:00 PM
German Consulate, 4645 Reservoir Rd. NW
Contact: Becky Ianni, 703-801-6044 & David Lorenz, 301-906-9161

FL – Miami, Sunday, March 14 at 10:30 AM
St. Mary’s Cathedral, 7525 NW 2nd Ave
Contact: Barbara Dorris, 314-503-0003

FL – Orlando, Sunday, March 14 at 11:45 AM
St. James Cathedral, 215 N Orange Ave. (at Robinson St.)
Contact: Robert Keane, 386-676-0298

FL – Palm Beach Gardens, Sunday, March 14 at 1:30 PM
St. Ignatius Cathedral, 9999N Military Trail
Contact: Barbara Dorris, 314-503-0003

FL – St. Augustine, Sunday, March 14 at 11:45 AM
Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine, 38 Cathedral Place
Contact: Kristine Ward, 937-272-0308

FL – Venice, Saturday, March 13 at 4:15 PM
Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave West
Contact: Barbara Dorris, 314-503-0003

IL – Chicago, Saturday, March 13 at 1:00 PM
German Consulate, 676 N. Michigan
Contact: Barbara Blaine, 312-399-4747

IL – Chicago, Sunday, March 14 at 1:00 PM
Holy Name Cathedral, 730 N Wabash
Contact: Therese Albrecht, 708-263-3050

IL – Peoria, Sunday, March 14 at 11:15 AM
The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, 607 NE Madison Avenue (at Hancock St)
Contact: Jeff Jones, 815-985-9441

IL – Rockford, Sunday, March 14 at 10:00 AM
St. Peter Cathedral, 1243 N. Church St.
Contact: Kate Bochte, 630-768-1860

IL – Springfield, Sunday, March 14 at 9:30 AM
Immaculate Conception Cathedral, 241 E. Lawrence
Contact: Jeff Jones, 815-985-9441

IN – Fort Wayne, Saturday, March 13 at 6:00 PM
Immaculate Conception Cathedral, 1100 South Calhoun
Contact: Therese Albrecht, 708-263-3050

IN – South Bend, Sunday, March 14 at 9:30 AM
St. Matthew, 1701 Miami Street
Contact: Therese Albrecht, 708-263-3050

KY – Louisville, Saturday, March 13 at 5:15 PM to 6:45 PM
Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. 5th St. (between Muhammed Ali and Liberty)
Contact: Colleen Powell, 502-479-0246

MA – Boston, Saturday, March 13 at 1:30 PM
Federal Building, 55 New Sudbury St.
Contact: Ann Webb, 617-513-8442 & Robert Costello, 781-414-1178

MD – Baltimore, Saturday, March 13 at 12:30 PM
Office of the Chancellor, 320 Cathedral Street
Contact: Dave Lorenz, 301-906-9161 & Frank Dingle

MI – Detroit, Sunday, March 14 at 10:30 AM
Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, 9844 Woodward Ave
Contact: Barbara Blaine, 312-399-4747

MO – Columbia, Sunday, March 14 at 11:30 AM
St. Thomas More Newman Center, 701 Maryland Ave., (corner of Turner Ave.)
Contact: Judy Jones, 636-433-2511

MO – St. Louis, Sunday, March 14 at 6:00 PM
St. Louis Cathedral, 4431 Lindell (corner of Lindell and Newstead)
Contact: Peggy Fitzpatrick, 314-845-9438

NC – Charlotte, Saturday, March 13 at 5:00 PM
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 1621 Dilworth Road, East
Contact: David Fortwengler, 704-562-4529

NY – New York, Sunday, March 14 at 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Ave. & 49th St.
Contact: Mary Caplan, 917-439-4187 & Glen Echevarria, 646-763-4260

OH – Columbus, Sunday, March 14 at 11:15 AM-12:30 PM
Across the street from St. Joseph Catholic Cathedral, 212 E Broad St
Contact: Carol Zamonski, 614 447-2084

OH – Dayton, Sunday, March 14 at 11:45 AM
St. Joseph’s Church, 200 2nd St.
Contact: Ginny Hoehne, 973-726-9360

OH –Toledo, Sunday, March 14 at 12:00 PM
Holy Rosary Cathedral, 2535 Collingwood Ave
Contact: Barbara Blaine, 312-399-4747

PA – Philadelphia, Sunday, March 14 at 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM
St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, 100 E Wynnewood Rd., Wynnewood, PA 19096
Contact: Karen Polesir, 267-992-9463

RI – Providence, Saturday, March 13 at 11:00 AM
Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, One Cathedral Square
Contact: Ann Barrett Doyle, 781-439-5208 & Ann Webb, 617-513-8442

TX – San Antonio, Saturday, March 13 at 1:00 PM
San Fernando Cathedral,115 Main Plaza
Contact: Barbara Boehland, 210-725-8329

WI – Madison, Saturday, March 13 at 9:45 AM
Diocese of Madison- Pastoral Center, 702 South High Point Road (at Donofrio Dr.)
Contact: David Clohessy, 314-566-9790

I will be attending the event at the Irish embassy in Washington D.C. on Saturday at around 6:30 PM. If you can support one of these events, please do so. It seems that the “discovery” of abuse and cover ups are not declining, but are actually increasing as victims come forward and civil authorities are finally taking the claims of survivors seriously and investigation not only the criminals who committed these crimes, but the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that has protected these monsters for decades.

You need only look at the widening crisis in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and the United States to see that the Catholic Church has been criminally complicit in covering up the crimes of its priests and other religious.

I have been in Houston all week for a work related training seminar.  As a result I have been off the radar and not posting on this blog.  But tonight, the perfect combination of a stable internet connection at the hotel (who knows how long that will last), prediction of rain and no “homework” from the seminar this evening has allowed me to catch up on the blogs I normally review regularly.  One article caught my eye in particular.

A group in the Washington DC area has started a website that is dedicated to “outing” gay Catholic Priests. The site, ChurchOuting.org states that the “site was created to provide you with the opportunity to save LGBT youth from the hypocrisy of priests in the Archdiocese of Washington who are socially, romantically or sexually active gay men, yet stand silent while Archbishop Wuerl and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops increase their dogmatic war against gay families.”

I fully support any effort to arrest the abuse of anyone by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  Hypocrisy in the church,  in whatever form it takes, should be exposed.  I think that the Bishops should be held accountable for their actions and for the actions of those who do their bidding.  I also think that Bishops are fair game if they are demanding a certain behavior of their parishioners and are not applying that same standard to themselves or their subordinates.   I am not fully on board with the idea of outing priests (gay or not) who are faithfully and compassionately ministering to members of their parishes,  no matter what the sexual preferences of those parishioners may be.  To do so would be the equivalent of inflicting the same emotional, spiritual and physical abuse meted out by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  I don’t see this as holding the high ground.

I am left looking at the hierarchy of the Catholic church and seeing just how intellectually and spiritually bankrupt they are.  Compassion and ministry have gone by the wayside.  The church, seems so lost and unwilling to embrace the theology which they purport to preach.  The targeting of homosexuals by the church is an abomination.  For these “men”, these bishops to sit in judgement of anyone is beyond reason.  I wonder how many bishops sitting in the  meeting in Baltimore earlier this week are gay. Should that even matter?   Whether they are sexually active or celibate, they should focus on their Christ’s message of love and acceptance instead of embracing a policy of intolerance and targeting a segment of their parishioners.

These are the same men who allowed pedophiles to prey on children and protected those predators from prosecution.  This is the same church that blamed the pedophile problem on gay priests.  These are men who have lost touch with the basic tenants of their own religion and lost their humanity because they have been seduced by the trappings and treasure that come with position and favor.

The Catholic church is on a course charted to its own demise.   The spiral will continue as long as these old men are blind to the needs of their flocks.  As long as parishioners support these Dioceses that embrace the targeting of any group, the active persecution of those who do not curry favor with the hierarchy will continue.

Is the solution the outing of gay priests?  I don’t know. I am thinking that will make headlines, but it will not make headway.  Casting that net will catch innocent priests along with those who truly are hypocrites.  I am not sure the collateral damage is worth it.   I recommend that parishioner let their pastors know where they stand by cutting off the flow of money into collection plates and saying “No” to the annual donation drives sponsored by the various diocese across the country.  Cut off the money and the head will die.

Abuse is abuse and there should be no room for church sponsored bigotry in any Christian denomination.

Copyright

This site is copyrighted by my statement.
Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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