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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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How long are we going to have to deal with these “revelations” dribbling out of the various religious orders or diocese across the country.  It seems that there is no end to new reports of past abuse.  At some point, can we actually get a District Attorney, Commonwealth Attorney or a Federal Prosecutor to start a comprehensive review of what was known by the religious orders and diocese?

An article in the Scranton Times-Tribune and a notice from the President of the University of Scranton have revealed yet another predator priest who once operated in the Diocese of Scranton at a number of churches and at the University of Scranton.

The text of the announcement of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) reads:

An Announcement from the Maryland Province

The Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus is seeking information about possible abuse of minors by one of its members, Neil McLaughlin, S.J., during his ministry in Scranton, Pa. This inquiry results from recent information about possible victims in the Scranton area and a credible allegation from an adult female who contacted the Jesuits in 2008 regarding an abusive incident she suffered as a young girl in Scranton in 1963. People who believe that they are victims of abuse by McLaughlin should contact their local civil authorities and then call the Maryland Province Jesuits at 443-921-1326.

When the allegation was made in 2008, McLaughlin had already been removed from ministry by the Province. That action was taken in 2006 when the Province re-examined an allegation that had been made against McLaughlin in 1990 and recognized the steps taken at that time were inadequate under the policies adopted in 2004 with regard to allegations of abuse against members.

Today McLaughlin resides in a Jesuit community where he has limited access to members of the public and his actions are monitored. He has disclosed that there may be other victims of similar sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Scranton.

The Province is informing all of the dioceses and institutions where McLaughlin served to alert the Catholic public about these reports. The locations where McLaughlin was in ministry follow:

1953-1954. Prior to ordination, while a Jesuit scholastic, he taught at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia.
1954-1956. He taught at Loyola Blakefield High School in Baltimore.
1959. He was ordained to the priesthood.
1961-1983 and 1985-1986. He taught at Scranton Preparatory School.
1964-1965. He resided in and assisted at St. Paul of the Apostle Parish, Highland Park, N.J.
1965-1983. He worked part-time as a chaplain at Georgetown University Hospital during the summer.
1971-1995. He celebrated weekend masses at St John Bosco Church, Conyngham, PA.
1985-1986. He served as the Assistant Director of Campus Ministries at The University of Scranton.
1985-2006. He held various administrative jobs with the Alumni Association at The University of Scranton, including Alumni Chaplain from 2002-2006.
1990’s. He celebrated weekend masses at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Scranton.
1996-2006. He ministered part-time at St. Thomas More Church, Lake Ariel, PA.

The President of the University of Scranton issued a statement to the University Community on the University’s website 

11/30/10

Members of the University Community,
The University has been informed that the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus is seeking information about possible abuse of minors by one of its members, Neil McLaughlin, S.J., during his ministry in Scranton, Pa. We have been told that this inquiry results from recent information about possible victims in the Scranton area and a credible allegation from an adult female who contacted the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in 2008 regarding an abusive incident she suffered as a young girl in Scranton in 1963.
The Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus and the Diocese of Scranton are working together to ensure that communication is made to all the parishes and institutions where Neil McLaughlin served. Notice of this situation will be posted in The Catholic Light, the newspaper of the Diocese of Scranton, and in parish bulletins throughout the Diocese. I am writing to the University community and posting this information to the University’s website in order to share the information that we have received. The Province is asking people who believe that they were victims of abuse by Neil McLaughlin to contact their local civil authorities and then call the Maryland Province at 443-921-1326.
I ask you to join me in praying for all those who may have been affected.
Sincerely,
Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.

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Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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