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“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.”

Socrates

An article on the Vatican Radio’s Website  reported on  a request from Pope Francis for forgiveness for the priests who committed sexual crimes against children.  During his prepared remarks to members of BICE [International Catholic Child Bureau] whom he received on 11 April 2014 in an audience at the Vatican, he deviated from the prepared text.  That deviation for his text was captured in the  English translation of  the Pontiff’s prepared statement provided by Vatican Radio:


…. I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children. The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children…

Before I start this conversation I am being mindful of my fellow survivors and their families, some are no longer here because of the damage caused by predator priests.  We have been subjected to endless promises of reform and lies about accountability.  This is important to me as  survivor of rape by a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. At the risk of appearing to be hopeful enough that these questions will somehow come to the attention of Pope Francis, I will address my questions to him directly.

Your Holiness, I have some questions I must ask so that I can understand the meaning and intent in your words.  Holy Father, from who are you asking forgiveness?  An honest question, I promise you.  I am convinced of your sincerity when you say you “feel the compelled to personally take on all the evil”.  If you do so, why do you qualify your statement by saying that the number of predator priests are “quite a few” in number but not when compared to the total number of priests?  YourHoliness, you start off by marginalizing the depth of the crisis.   Why should I trust what you go on to say next?

Are you asking survivors/victims for forgiveness?  Are you asking your Church? Are you asking us to forgive those who committed such heinous acts of depravity that destroyed our trust, our faith and injured our beings?  Or are you asking us to forgive those that hid and protected these monsters?  Are you asking us to forgive those, both religious and laity who have expended the treasure of the church to support evil and attack us, as if we were the cause of the crimes committed against us?  They  painted us as monsters or opportunists looking for an easy pay out.  Are you asking for forgiveness for the marginalization of our suffering, the suffering of our families, the lost potential of our shattered lives?   Are you asking for forgiveness for the irreparable damage  and damnation of those who chose not to right a wrong but to isolate and vilify the survivors?   Are you asking forgiveness for those who put the comfort of the church ahead of the safety of children?

Holy Father, it does not matter if there are a relatively small number of predator priest relative to the total number priests in the church.  It does matter that many of your Bishops chose to mitigate risk and protect predators instead of maximizing justice and protecting children.  You say the church is aware of the damage and that you cannot take one step back.  Until you take one step forward your Church will remain aware but ineffective and uncaring. Until you take action to cut the cancer of protection for predators from the ranks of your bishops your Church will not be stronger.

You speak of sanctions.  You want to take action to deal with the problem.  Your Holiness, with great respect I ask you, what are you willing to do?  My Catholic education instructs me that forgiveness is earned through acts of contrition.  The words are hollow if they do not come with action, with change and with the will to live a life that is true to the values and faith that you profess.

Words are important.  Words have meaning.  Holy Father, please show me that your words are sincere  and that you will finally take the action necessary to protect children and vulnerable adults.  Unless there is an accounting, unless the truth is more important than the comfort of those that have protected predator priests, your words will be lost on the wind.

Show me your committment, your actions, the meaning in your words.

 

 This post was picked up and reposted on: Catholic4Change. Thanks Susan!

 

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The Holy Vader

Scary, isn't it?

From the Death Star (Vatican): Emperor, oops, POPE Benedict XVI  has issued a pastoral letter to the people of Ireland concerning the findings of two reports commissioned by the Government of Ireland.  The letter was meant to be a way of communicating with  the faithful in Ireland on the never-ending sex crisis in the church.  Pope Benedict, who bears a striking and oddly appropriate likeness to Emperor Palpatine (of Star Wars notoriety), is hoping that this letter will be a salve on the wounds in the church in Ireland.  

The pastoral letter did not really accomplish it’s mission. People in Ireland have not been receptive to the “his Holiness'” advances (pun intended). Instead of a letter that is contrite and makes a statement of the committment of the Holy See to take immediate and decisive action to weed out perpetrator priests and the bishops that hid their actions and victimized the survivors, the pope (or his subordinates) developed a rambling passive aggressive missive that, at the end of the day, does nothing to correct the wrongs committed by priests in Ireland or anywhere else. The way the letter was crafted is telling. The passive voice is used throughout, almost qualifying each statement. He carefully lays blame for the crisis firmly within the borders of Ireland, “I must also express my conviction that, in order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children.” The Vatican is not complicit in any of this…

 “In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values.” It is not a church problem, it is the heathen secular society in Ireland that allowed this situation to manifest itself.

 “On several occasions since my election to the See of Peter, I have met with victims of sexual abuse, as indeed I am ready to do in the future. I have sat with them, I have listened to their stories, I have acknowledged their suffering, and I have prayed with them and for them.” Come sit with me for a while. Virginia is nice this time of year. I would love to bend your pontifical ear for a few hours. You may have indeed heard what you were told, but did you listen? You have acknowledged suffering, WOW! What is missing in the letter is the passage that says (and this is what I wish I saw, not what was written): “I have removed from ministry all credibly accused priests, deacons, nuns and laity in the church to protect children. Where there were substantiated instances of abuse, I removed the offending perpetrator from church service and turned over to the civil authorities all evidence held by the local Diocese or by the Holy See relevant to the case, regardless of the statutes of limitations. I have directed (ordered) bishops to go to the parishes to seek out other victims and inform the parishioners of the predator that was in their midst, even if it was 20, 30, 40 years or more ago. I have removed from positions of authority all representatives of the church who enabled the predators to continue to target children by either ignoring credible reports, hiding evidence, unduly influencing or coercing victims, moving predators from parish to parish or moving known dangers out of one diocese to another to stay one step ahead from law enforcement.”

 This from the man who headed up the Congregation for the Dorctine of the Faith during the papacy of his predecessor, John Paul II. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the arm of the Vatican that, among other things, investigates Sex Crimes committed by priests under its mandate to oversee matters of canon law. More importantly it is the propaganda arm of the Vatican. The spin on the sex crisis is mastered from the office once held by Cardinal Ratzinger, now the successor to the See of St. Peter.

 We will see this “expression of papal sympathy” again and again. Coming soon to Germany, perhaps? One must wonder about then Cardinal Ratzinger’s knowledge of predator priests in the Archdiocese of Munich. It will also manifest itself in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Western Europe, Africa and South America. This is a global crisis that will not be dealt with effectively as long as the Papal strategy in dealing with the crisis is based on trying to get people in the pews for the Sunday Morning Magic show, money in hand for the offering plate. It will not be solved until the Pope takes immediate and decisive action to remove predators and all the bishops and high level officials that have had a hand in covering up the criminal activities of predators in priestly garb.

 This crisis will not end until civil authorities take criminal and civil action against predators and their protectors. As long as civil authority bows down to the church and allows them to “deal” with the predators internally, the environment of secrecy will prevail, the abuse will continue and church will go merrily down the path of denial, distraction and deception.

 Oh by the way, if the Pope or his advisors are reading this, I would still like to nominate St. Rita as the Patron Saint of Victims/Survivors of Church Sex Crimes. Thanks….

Since the Catholic Church is unable or unwilling to do the right thing when it comes to the victims of sexual crimes perpetrated by pedophile priests, it is obvious that we need someone looking out for us. What we need is a patron saint who is suited to intercede against the powers the inhabit the residences of bishops and archbishops around the world who are too obsessed with maintaining their power base and safeguarding their treasure from being used for good works.

Saint Rita

Saint Rita

This person would need to be strong, impervious to the earthly power from the Vatican (and other church leaders) and willing to suffer endlessly in hopes that something good will come of the current Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal. We need a true victim’s advocate interceding with God in order to allow grace to pass to those who are in positions to expose  predators and allow truth to prevail.

The choice is obvious. I nominate Saint Rita. Appropriately, she is currently the patroness of impossible cases. With her intercession, the bishops who continue to protect pedophiles will return to a life of obedience and charity. With any luck she will be able to silence the noise from lawyers, accountants, lobbyists and politicians to allow bishops to hear the voice of God. Perhaps then they will realize that what is needed is action and compassion rather than adherence to policies that continue to damage those who have already suffered enough.

Saint Rita, pray for us! (Her Feast Day is celebrated on May 22nd.)

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Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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