Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bill Donohue And Irish Abuse--It's All Hysteria

May 20, 2009--Catholic League

After nine years of investigation, Ireland’s Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse has published its findings. More than 30,000 children, most of them delinquents, passed through one or more of Ireland’s Catholic-run institutions from the 1920s through the 1980s. (This is absolutely untrue. The vast majority were not delinquents.)
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the report today:

Reuters is reporting that “Irish Priests Beat, Raped Children,” yet the report does not justify this wild and irresponsible claim. Four types of abuse are noted: physical, sexual, neglect and emotional. Physical abuse includes “being kicked”; neglect includes “inadequate heating”; and emotional abuse includes “lack of attachment and affection.” Not nice, to be sure, but hardly draconian, especially given the time line: fully 82 percent of the incidents took place before 1970. As the New York Times noted, “many of them [are] now more than 70 years old.” And quite frankly, corporal punishment was not exactly unknown in many homes during these times, and this is doubly true when dealing with miscreants. (Richard Sipe called Donohue a bozo for these statements. I have a different opinion. See below.)

Regarding sexual abuse, “kissing,” and “non-contact including voyeurism” (e.g., what it labels as “inappropriate sexual talk”) make the grade as constituting sexual abuse. Moreover, one-third of the cases involved “inappropriate fondling and contact.” None of this is defensible, but none of it qualifies as rape. Rape, on the other hand, constituted 12 percent of the cases. As for the charge that “Irish Priests” were responsible, some of the abuse was carried out by lay persons, much of it was done by Brothers, and about 12 percent of the abusers were priests (most of whom were not rapists). (The amount of projection Bill is engaging in is truly mind boggling.)

The Irish report suffers from conflating minor instances of abuse with serious ones, thus demeaning the latter. When most people hear of the term abuse, they do not think about being slapped, being chilly, being ignored or, for that matter, having someone stare at you in the shower. They think about rape. (Most people define abuse as getting viciously exploited, as you are doing here, once again, to the victims.)

By cheapening rape, the report demeans the big victims. But, of course, there is a huge market for such distortions, especially when the accused is the Catholic Church.


This is a classic piece of work. I strongly suspect that Mr. Donohue was himself a product of one of those households in which the rod wasn't spared, heat wasn't always available, and food was hit or miss. That he can pass over all that as 'insignificant' may say more about his childhood than it does the veracity of the Ryan report. There is a great deal of projection leading directly to out right lies in Mr. Donohue's assessment. I seriously doubt he's read anything other than the Times account of this report. I guess he doesn't need to in order to prop up his fantasy world about Catholicism.

On the other hand, I'm glad Mr. Donohue weighed in on the Ryan report the way he has, because I think it might demonstrate just what the fatal flaw is in Institutional Catholicism. It seriously suffers from a collective case of Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD is the result of abuse, neglect, repression, and abandonment at critical times in child development. This then seems to function as a retardant on personal emotional maturation. In the adult it really does manifest as a series of behaviors which are far more akin to those of a scared defensive child, than a rational adult. The adult then has an adult intellect coupled with the emotional maturity of a hurt and abandoned child. It can be really frustrating and confusing for a normal adult to attempt a relationship with a Borderline. For these Irish children it would be impossible.

In the article I've linked to the anonymous author, (who paints with a true brush) has this to say about relating with a Borderline:

When a BPD person is an adult (in age anyway) and engages in a serious relationship with someone, a relationship that should be based on mutual adult love and sharing, it isn't long before child-like relationship aspects arise and cause problems. The BPD person is only capable of limited love but needs endless love, the same as what a child expects with a parent. The significant other person in this relationship becomes the parent replacement; available on demand to meet all the personal, emotional, and circumstantial needs; but, gets very little deep mature love and consideration in return. What this person usually experiences in this relationship is what a parent does with a child/teenager; 1) sometimes genuine love; 2) sometimes casual indifference; 3) sometimes sarcasm, smart-ass attitude, picking, provoking, moodiness, and irritability; 4) sometimes withdrawal and depression. Part of this behavior comes from simple immaturity and part comes from the threat that the significant other person represents the capacity to hurt, betray, and leave.

The Ryan report graphically portrays what can happen when hurt and abandoned children are placed in the control of systematically enculturated borderline adults. You get horrific and systematic abuse. When the emotional retardation also involves purposeful sexual emotional retardation, you get systematic sexual abuse where the perpetrators rarely understand there is a difference between inappropriate sexual touching and outright rape. It all becomes the same and it's treated as if it was all the same. It's all covered up, unpunished, and the perpetrator becomes the victim.

Why is that? Again, here's a take from the linked article:

Children either can't accept responsibility/accountability for certain aspects of themselves, certain overwhelming experiences, or don't want to be punished for bad behavior (even internally by feeling guilty), so it's a convenience to displace responsibility and put the blame on someone else. This is very obvious behavior in a child but takes on a little more sophistication in an adult because the mature intellect becomes a factor which has a greater capacity to manipulate/rationalize circumstantial factors.

A child will deny bad behavior or transfer it to someone else, even if a parent/adult is completely aware or witnessed what actually happened. Nevertheless, a parent/adult usually dismisses the incident anyway as childish nonsense. However, it boggles the mind to witness an adult do the same thing; it isn't normal mature behavior. When an adult projects, what usually ensues is some kind of argument on what actually happened and who actually did what. The truly amazing part, though, is no matter how you confront the projecting adult, they will deny everything, the same as a child does. This truly is childish behavior - and it is one capacity of a child or a BPD adult. (This whole phenomenon is played out every time a bishop lays the entire blame for abusive clerics soly on the clerics, as if the bishops had nothing to do with it.)

If a BPD is emotionally stressed, they are automatically in the "trapped child" zone of their psyche. In this area, they can't see themselves as anything but a victim. Their behavior is always in response to an encounter, not the provocation. The other person is always the bad guy and is always at fault. (We have seen this scenario as the standard response from our bishops with nauseating regularity.)

I don't know how many times I've read something about one of our bishops or clerics and thought to myself, 'this is so childish.' This kind of behavior works when the laity is not well educated, not well rounded, or products of abusive families or cultures. That's not true in the West anymore, and this kind of mindless borderline behavior doesn't work anymore. It looks selfish, defensive, and childish. The problem is normal adults just can't believe borderline adult behavior. They don't know how to deal with it. Normal adults generally get fed up with the relationship and exit stage left. They give the borderline their biggest fear and abandon the relationship.

The state of the Church in the West can legitimately be seen as one of adults leaving a church whose hierarchy are functioning like adult borderlines. And just like borderlines, the hierarchy is blaming those who have left for leaving, and then pretending they haven't felt that rejection by clinging to a small loyal contingency as if that contingency represents the 'good' church.

This is all unhealthy behavior indicative of an unhealthy culture. The Ryan report just delineates and defines the devastating outcome when an unhealthy church was colluded by a nation/state raised in the same psychological dynamic. Bill Donohue's response delineates just how powerfully this dynamic still plays out in the righteous remnant and why they are so defensive for 'mother' church and her wayward 'fathers'.

As long as the hierarchy and houses of religious refuse to look at the psychological dynamics of their culture, there will be more Ryan reports and more abuse scandals and more adults will leave the Church. This is a fundamental rot out of sinc with what modern society understands about healthy human functioning. Instead of forcing humanity to conform to an outdated understanding of humanity and constantly condemning modern social movements, maybe it's time the Church at least stopped the condemnation long enough to listen to the voices of those they are condemning. Had they done so previously they might have avoided a huge amount of grief.


  1. Bill Donohue needs to read the entire report.

  2. I can hardly even read this man's name without feeling ill.

  3. Colleen, I hope your analysis of the link between borderline personality disorder and the hierarchy's behavior gets a wide reading. It's illuminating.

    As you know, I have encountered a BPD in the workplace, and the scars from trying to deal as an adult with someone whose behavior is determined by the wounded child within are fearsome--when that adult has power in the workplace.

    Or the church. There's an interesting pattern I have noted in many church officials with whom I've interacted over the years. This is the total inability to hear constructive criticism as anything other than a broadside attack.

    As a result, many clerics respond to even mild criticism with nuclear bomb-type defensiveness, when they have the power to do so. And in the institutional church, they almost always do have such power.

    And in my view, that's the real root of the problem.

  4. Bill, in the final analysis it's still indicative of the emotional child being in control of the adult response.

    It's no accident that so much of the Church's institutional abuse was directed at children or powerless indigenous populations who were seen to be children.

    This scandal is in a very real sense, emotional children in adult bodies bullying and abusing real children and justifying it in the name of Christ. The Church described by the Ryan report is not the Body of Christ, it's a psychologically immature and sick human enterprise. The sooner this is acknowledged the sooner we will see real change in how Catholicism does business.

    The problem is we are praying and hoping the sick institution will recognize it's sickness and heal itself. Like that ever happens in the real world.

    There will be no hope as long as the bishops who run the show don't find enough personal integrity to call a spade a spade. If Cardinal Brady is that appalled by this scandal, perhaps he should resign and refuse to be a part of an institution and a hierarchy that knowingly let this happen. I doubt I'll see that any time soon anymore than we've seen the head honchos on Wall Street give up their own power and excessive financial gain.

    Bullys and power junkies don't let go of their power to exploit until it's taken from them. Expecting them to self correct is pure folly. See Dick Cheney.

  5. People with BPD have dogged me all my life in my family, in the workplace and now in the Church. I always was left with the feeling after encounters with BPD's that the world belongs on my shoulders and that I should fix it but at the same time told that I can not or am not worthy enough to do so.

    Bill, I can relate to what you are saying with encountering a BPD, "the scars from trying to deal as an adult with someone whose behavior is determined by the wounded child within are fearsome--when that adult has power in the workplace."

    Such BPD persons are able to twist and distort reality and events and others to such an extent, which is fueled by their mental blocks and denial, that they are able to convince others of their false projections through the curved circus mirror they conceive as a true image that is in truth a false image. They force one into a defensive posture. That very defensiveness can become a snare.

    As someone with anorexia looks in the mirror they see a fat person, even though they are very very thin. Even though they are malnourishing themselves they insist that they are fat or even obese. BPD persons have a distorted perception of reality and they see reality, events, history and others through a curved circus mirror of projections.

    Here is an example of a BPD encounter: I was in a car and a BPD person was driving and at an intersection the BPD cut someone off while making an abrupt left turn. The BPD fully denied cutting anyone off and claimed that they were cut off. When I said that she cut them off, which was not even mild criticism, but the truth, I received a thorough ballistic verbal thrashing that you would think that I was not only a liar but not in my right mind. I'll never forget that experience. One still cannot express a view that would be contrary to her own view about anything without being thoroughly ripped up and destroyed. I have a very limited relationship with this person anymore. There can be no discussion at all about anything. One has to always agree with her, even if one knows deep inside that they are wrong, in order to avoid being verbally attacked unmercifully. A lot of people in the workplace do put up with such people just to keep from losing their job. Testimony from others with similar encounters with this BPD elicit the same or similar type of response. In order to avoid any confrontation with the BPD, they are silent about a host of issues that truly need addressing but are never addressed for fear of relentless and unmerciful attack.

  6. You commentary & professional explanation of BPD is wonferful, and very much aids in understand the root cause of all this.

    It is very sad; the 'blind leading the blind & training them to be blind"!

    An attorney once defined the three types of lawyers for me:

    1. The lawyer who either works for a law firm or independently. They must constantly be on their toes, proving their worth & sharpening their skills in their profession.

    2. The corporate attorney who works for the law dept. of some corporation. These are the ones who can't make it in the "real world":) of #1.

    3. The 'one-client attorney", otherwise known as a Mafia Consigliere:).....who is not fit for either of the above categories.....

    I leave it to the reader to determine which category Donohue belongs to; but you can guess my opinion!

    The Catholic League is little more then an Opus Dei front operation. Positing itself as the 'guardians of the US Church'. They operate by tilting at windmills with WMDs. Overkill, as exemplified by Donohue is their mode of operation. As if they were BPD personified......

    As to the Opus link to the League, go to their website & look up who is on their board. Start with Raymond Arroyo.........hint, hint:)

  7. Colleen, following your formula, we have emotional children acting as adults in leading the church. They have the ability to make all the decisions because they are ordained. The adults they lead, who have often educated ourselves and worked through some of the issues these emotional children were unable to work through due to seminary training, have to stand by and let them tear everything up, simply because they have all the power.

    And the church tells us this is how Christ wanted things to be set up?! Your insights are really powerful here, and deserve a lot of consideration.

  8. The NCR referred to Donahue as a Bozo. To do so is to defame the good name of a good clown!

    Donahue is a BAD witch, not a good clown.

    Jim McCrea

  9. Jim, I had to laugh. Personally I preferred Howdy Doody to Bozo the clown.

  10. After reading the Ryan Report - FULLY reading it that is - it's patently obvious that the delinquents in these institutions WERE the Religious Orders. They starved, enslaved, battered, belittled and raped the children.