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I wrote a blog post in February, 2013 titled “Is there a Survivors’ Community” in which I was looking for answers from survivors about our community, our way forward and who speaks for us. In May,2013 I expressed my frustration in another post, “Crickets, Silence on the net…” that I did not hear from anyone in the survivor’s community. According to the analytics I see on this blog, plenty of people read the original but no one offered their thoughts.
Here we are again and I am wondering why we can’t move forward. I am wondering what the factors are in keeping us separated, unorganized and losing ground in efforts to change legislation and have society take the problem of sexual abuse and rape of children and vulnerable adults seriously.
A reporter contacted me a while back on a story concerning a priest accused of molesting a young boy. He had already published the story but wanted my feedback. He had used a quote from SNAP for the article, the same inane drivel that the National Director of that organization generically applies to any and all cases of abuse on which he is queried. It made me wonder.
What is it going to take? What would it take to get a coherent message from the survivor community to articulate the message that children and vulnerable adults are at risk from predators who enjoy a certain level of top cover from institutions who are more concerned with a risk management strategy than with the protection of those who need it most? Is there a way that the message can be successfully crafted and articulated? Can it be molded into a strategy that allows for the development of stronger laws to protect victims and enable the predators and their protectors to be held accountable both criminally and civilly? Can we develop a voice that is institutionally agnostic and not narrowly focused on the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of American, Penn State or any other notorious institution with a history of child sexual crimes?
The other side of this argument is well-organized and well-funded. Despite the fact that organizations like the Catholic League are notorious for spewing lies and portraying victims as predators or being responsible for the abuse inflicted upon them, we have no credible organization, at the national level, that can present a coherent case for the need for change in legislation, education, institutional culture, and society in dealing with predators who prey on children. We have no credible counters on Fox News to the Bill Donohues of the world.
We don’t need shrill fundraisers who only seem to hang around looking for the next donation to pay the salary or travel expenses for the next hit and run media opportunity. (It must be convention time again.) We need serious people who can step up and credibly do the work. We need to actually network the survivors of child sexual abuse, their supporters, law enforcement, the criminal justice system and the legislatures in all the states to move in the direction of making the punishment so vile for crimes of this nature for both the predator and the institution that protects the predator that there is no where for the predator to find a safe haven.
As with many stories, the public eventually gets weary and loses interest. That is what institutions like the Catholic Church want. They want everything to blow over, go away, disappear. The predators want that as well so that they may return to the business of grooming their next victim. Perhaps it is time to find our national voice, our national strategy, our universal calling to actually effect a long-lasting change. The shrill voices from Chicago and St. Louis have proven that they are not up to the task. Who will step up?
Are you still out there?
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…
I am just amazed at the antics of the President of the Catholic League, Mr. William Donohue. The more I read and watch the more I am convinced that the Catholic Court Jester has hijacked the press podium for the Catholic Church in the United States. In addition to his latest rants on Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and the all out assault on Nuns who made the mistake of thinking and seeing the world through a lens not necessarily endorsed by a bunch of old men at the Vatican, this guy seems to be declaring war on the survivor community at large (Remember, we are not all card-carrying members of SNAP).
I am sure he is going to say that I am a godless, liberal, money seeking, “alleged” victim. He is a bully and that is what bullies do. But for the record, I generally a conservative who was brought up in an Irish Catholic family in New York and Pennsylvania. The difference, well one of many, between Billy and me is that I don’t blindly support the Catholic Hierarchy. I also don’t make a living kissing the ass of the Archbishop of New York, amongst others.
Bill has a habit of running his mouth without verifying content before hand. His rant on the front page of the Catholic League (which, surprisingly, not the governing body for Diocesan secondary school athletic teams) about SNAP is an excellent point in case. The You Tube Video and the accompanying “paper” on his undercover expose of the SNAP convention last year struck me.
If you read his epistle you will notice his article lacks any definitive substance to back up his assertions. He relies on character assassination and belittling individuals instead of engaging in thoughtful discourse. All his attacks are meant to divert attention from silly little annoyances like nuns with brains, trials in Philadelphia, Bishops who lie and protect predators, huge numbers of Catholics leaving the church.
Why don’t we take a stroll through the epistle of St. Billy to the world concerning the SNAP Convention. It is about 9 pages of ranting and raving, but I recommend you take a look to get a glimpse into this guy’s mind. In a nut shell, everyone is at war with the Catholic Church. EVERYONE! My contention, based on my 16 years of Catholic
confinement education, is that the war is not being waged on the Catholic Church, it is being waged on the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. You know, the people who have been covering up and deflecting attention away from the sexual abuse crisis that has been going on for decades, centuries even!
Bill sent undercover Catholic League operatives to the convention to infiltrate the organization. He did so because there is “nothing so salient than the precarious state of due process for priests”. He calls these undercover operatives who have impeccable credentials who were there. Who were they? He can’t reveal his sources, just wink and go along with their “impeccable credentials”.
Bill then delves into the meat of his “treatise”, character assassination. Since Bill’s arguments tend to be emotional and unsubstantiated, he resorts to the tactic in debate that is a clear indication of a poor position argument, attack the individual. (I was Jesuit trained, that is what I was taught).
His targets were William Spade, a former District attorney from Philadelphia. He dismisses Mr. Spade because he has an “eclectic” relationship with the Catholic Church. Let’s not discuss the ongoing criminal case and Grand Jury reports about organized Roman Collar Crime and the cover up of criminal activity in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Lets not confuse evidence of criminal activity and conspiracy because the person speaking has an “eclectic” relationship with the Catholic church. Despite the voracity of the message, the person delivering it is just not to Bill’s tastes.
His next target is Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota attorney who has been involved in litigation on behalf of victims. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I am not a client of Mr. Anderson.) He was raised a Lutheran! MY GOD! He became a Catholic! SAY IT AIN’T SO! Then he became an atheist! (Seems like a natural progression to me.) Bill then goes on to call Mr. Anderson a “Hippie” (page 3) and makes a comment about his “diminutive 5’4″ ” stature. BILL DONOHUE HATES SHORT PEOPLE! Bill also makes mention that Mr. Anderson is a recovering alcoholic. BILL DONOHUE HATES RECOVERING ALCOHOLICS! So what we have learned here is that short recovering alcoholics are not to be believed. Of course Mr. Anderson is only in this racket for the money. I understand completely. Just like the law firms and public relations firms on retainer with American Dioceses who have made billions defending the indefensible on behalf of the Catholic Hierarchy. Ask your Diocese about the amount of your donations that goes to lawyers, public relations firms and mouthpieces to attack, humiliate and demean victims of predator priests. (I will wait while you email your Bishop, Chancellor, Diocesian Comptroller…)
You can also take a moment here and understand his underlying theme that all victims of sexual assault at the hands of Catholic religious are out for only one thing… a big fat payday! (time to reach for the sarcasm meter key, it is right next to the “any” key on your keyboard) Yes, I plan on getting rich off of the fact that a Catholic Priest took a shine to my hot 13-year-old ass. As he was slapping me around, threatening me, telling me the lie that my mother approved of my “visits” and that God thought this activity was alright, I was thinking that 40 years down the line I would be getting a big ass payday! Keep drinking Bill, you may actually see this post as proof of concept.
Bill Donohue is the face of the Catholic laity. If you are a Catholic and you are not screaming for this moron’s head, you are allowing the rest of the world to believe that zealots and clowns are protecting the faith. Good men and women must be in short supply in the pews (oh, I forgot, Catholics are fleeing the church in droves) or they have stupidly clung to the lies of the Bishops that “all is well”. Bill Donohue is the personification of the Catholic faithful, whether they like it or not. This guy is proof to the world that Catholics are asleep at the switch.
If you want to have a conversation Bill, give me a call. I doubt your style of personal attack would survive very long against a Jesuit trained survivor. Bring it on Billy! Bring your buddy Dolan along. Leave the nuns alone, they are way out of your league (Catholic or otherwise). It will be a battle of the wits and I will be fighting a half armed man.
You know what they saw about grumpy Irish men who rant on and on about how horribly they or their causes are being treated! Oops, there I go reading the Catholic League playbook again.
I inquire as the health and well-being of my perp, Robert J. Gibson, periodically. I did so last month to the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Scranton. Admittedly, the email to Joan Holmes was pretty sarcastic. I asked the question “Is the monster still alive?”. I did edit out the adjective I used initially.
As is the standard operating procedure of the Diocese, Ms. Holmes wrote me a wonderful little email in reply, passing my questions to the new chancellor. What I felt most disturbing about Ms. Holmes email dated on 7 April during Holy Week (For victims of sexual crimes committed by priest that week of 2012 is known as the first week in April) was the passage that read:
“As for the trial in Philadelphia, it fills me with sadness and compassion for the victims. At this time during Holy Week, I look at Jesus crucified and I see both priest and victim, so I pray also for the Church He founded.”
You see the priest crucified? Really?! I can see a church official seeing the victim crucified. That makes perfect sense. The church seems to be crucifying us on a regular basis either through their lawyers, PR Firms or through the wonderful (check the sarcasm meter) people of the Catholic League. I guess it is symptomatic of her being sympathetic to the hierarchy of the church that both pays her salary and protects predators in roman collars. There is really no doubt as to where the “Victim’s Assistance Office’s” loyalty falls.
I need to reiterate to the people out there who were victims of sexual crimes by religious or laity in the Diocese of Scranton, the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator’s office is not there to help you. It exists to collect information for the Diocese so that a defensive strategy can be established and the victim of the crime can be marginalized, sidelined or silenced. This office is not an advocate for the victim. If you are looking for assistance in Pennsylvania, I would recommend you contact the local police department or district attorney and the Foundation to Abolish Child Sexual Abuse (FACSA). The Diocese will not offer anything more than lip service to assist you.
The second response to my email came from Ms. Teresa Osborne, the current Chancellor for the Diocese of Scranton. Her email was the official response for several of my questions. Let the record show, they are mostly non-answers.
In regard to the question of whether or not “the monster” still draws breath, her answer was ” Robert Gibson is alive and continues to reside in a secure residential facility for priests in the state of Missouri.” I will have to assume he is in the Catholic Church’s minimum security location for incarcerating predator priest in Dittmer, the St. John Vianney Renewal Center. (and people are worried about Sharia Law? The Catholic Church has been running an underground “jail” network for years!) Funny, last time they were adamant about the fact that he was an old man suffering from dementia in a long-term medical facility in Dittmer, a hospital. They had previous told me he had been moved out of the Vianney Center. OOPS! Someone should have coordinated the response (lies) from the Diocese to make it consistent with earlier reports (lies, half truths) to me.
I am driving west to an event at the end of the month. Maybe I should swing by Dittmer and pay a visit on Robert Gibson and get a first hand look at what kind of condition he is in. Will he be in a room or on the golf course? I will just plug the address (6476 Eime Road, Dittmer, MO 63023) and let my Garmin direct me on the most efficient way to get to the “secure residential facility”. Anyone up for a road trip?
In response to my question about why I was never interviewed, the Chancellor said “From the time your allegation was brought forward, the Diocese of Scranton accepted what you said as true”. Still, I think it odd that the Diocese did not interview me for purposes of a canonical proceeding. It was not odd, I later found out, because they did not refer the case to the Vatican. The Chancellor goes on to say “… Robert Gibson’s status was recently re-evaluated by the Diocese and a referral of his case to the Vatican was initiated.” That is about as non-committal as responses come. Did the Bishop order a an action? What was the action requested? When was the action forwarded to the Vatican? Why have I still not been interviewed? If her goal was to appease me with her email, she fell short of the mark.
As expected, the Diocese has done essentially nothing. They will continue to do nothing. I think I need to program my Garmin GPS unit and start my trek across I-64 heading west towards Dittmer, Missouri. “Recalculating…”
… William Donohue, President of the Catholic League.
Mr. Donohue is incensed that the Empire State Building, a privately held property, will not light up the top of the building in brilliant red for the elevation of the Archbishop Dolan of New York to the esteemed rank of Cardinal. Mr. Donohue, the mouth piece for the apologists of the Catholic Roman Collar Crime Syndicate in the United States, went on FOX News on February 26th to vent his frustration with the Empire State Building Executives who also had the audacity not to light the building up in blue for Mother Teresa’ birthday recently. Shocking!
The energy and outrage over this incredibly lame issue is almost as stupid as his attacks on victims of sexual abuse by priests. Lets call a spade a spade here, Mr. Donohue is being a bully. Of course, that is what he gets paid to do.
Mr. Donohue, perhaps if you would turn your organization’s energy and considerable resources to protecting children and vulnerable adults from predator priests or rooting out the hierarchy of the Catholic church who have given either passive or active approval to the continuing rape of children, people would be more amenable to lighting up the New York Skyline.
Mr. Donohue, it seems that your head is so far up your ass that you must be experiencing breathing problems and a lack of oxygen getting to your brain. You have said on TV that the sexual abuse crisis is over. Really!? Perhaps they should light up Empire State Building in red light for all the Catholic priests indulging their sexual desires for children (boys and girls), vulnerable adults, prostitutes and seminarians. You have stated publicly that a small number of priests (140?) are responsible for 25% of the cases of child sexual crimes committed against children by priests. How many are responsible for the other 75%? It seems to me that you have a lot of inside information on this.
Get your eye back on the ball, Mr. Donohue!