Monday, May 6, 2013

The Winds Of Change Are Stirring More Strongly

The effects of clerical sexual abuse on the Church have been this bad.  "Francis, repair My Church" is more relevant than ever.

The following is the petition begun by Australian Bishops Geoffry Robinson and William Morrison.  For me this is another indication that the election of Pope Francis has freed some of our bishops and cardinals to speak that which could not previously be spoken.  If there was one area, among many, that sorely disappointed me about the previous two papacies it was their inability to really grasp the causes and damage clerical sexual abuse has done to the Church.  Even to this very day there are bishops like Meyers and Finn who still think they are above both church and secular law, that from their positions as bishops their judgment is above accountability.  Lay Catholics have for too long sat back and let the hierarchy dictate the response and solutions, which have included neither valid responses nor any real solutions.  Here are two bishops who are willing to bring the laity into the discussion.  I encourage readers to read Bishop Robinson's post, the letter being sent to Pope Francis, and please sign the petition.  We can not let a third papacy continue to failed policies of the last two.

Pope Francis, The Vatican: For Christ's Sake Stop Sexual Abuse.... for good!

Sexual abuse within the Catholic Church has been nothing short of an epidemic of catastrophic proportions. The devastation of victims, the ruination of priests and religious, the damage to a major world religion and its faithful are horrendous and incalculable.
Australian Bishops - Geoffrey Robinson and Bill Morris call on the new Pope to seize the opportunity of his appointment to not only sweep the Church clean but to put His /God’s house in order for all time.
Bishop Robinson identifies three major tasks to be performed in eradicating sexual abuse from the Church: identifying and removing all offenders; reaching out to, and assisting, all victims and survivors; and identifying and overcoming the causes of both abuse and the poor response to abuse by the Church’s hierarchy. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating the first two of these tasks however it does not have the scope or power to make the changes necessary to ensure that systemic sexual abuse NEVER happens again in the Catholic Church.
Bishop Robinson has considerable expertise, having been involved in these first two fields for eighteen years. He and Bishop Morris firmly believe there is a desperate need to address the third element: preventing abuse from happening in the first place . . . for good! He is calling for nothing less than a Council of the whole Church, inclusive of the laity, to confront the issues that contribute to the causes of systemic sexual abuse.
There are many people and many groups around the world seeking change in the Catholic Church. Though they may have slightly different emphases, there are a number of changes, common to all groups. These groups are calling out for:-
1) Greater Inclusiveness – a Church that is as much for women as for men, for laypeople as for clergy, for the marginalised as for those in the mainstream.
2) Greater Openness – if there are scandals, it is better to bring them into the light and confront them rather than seek to conceal them.
3) Greater Participation – not taking away the power of the Pope, but asking for greater participation and consultation, so that the whole Church may have a more active role in the mission of the Church.
4) Greater Sense of Mission – a greater concentration on the person and mission of Jesus Christ rather than on authority, laws, obedience and theological conformity.
Bishops Robinson and Morris believe it’s time to unite as one voice that the Vatican can no longer ignore.
This global petition will give Catholics a collective voice. It will let the new Pope know the intensity and solidarity we feel in relation to the sexual abuse issue. It will show him that the whole Church wants to help him, to work with him on this issue of paramount importance. We want the new Pope to lead the Church into a future he and all Catholics yearn for -  and the world needs.
By signing this petition you are assisting every Catholic group calling for change. You are helping to create something very special: - the voice of the faithful. You will be helping to create a church for the future, free of sexual abuse, full of participation and inclusiveness–, a Church where loving God, through Jesus Christ makes us proud and full of the Holy Spirit. This is the voice we want the Vatican to hear. .
So if you are Catholic and believe that it’s time for the Church to listen to its people; if you’re a Catholic who wants to stamp out sexual abuse from ever occurring again please sign this petition.
For Christ’s and our Church’s sake encourage your family, friends and fellow parishioners to do the same. Together, as Catholics we can make a change.
For more details on Bishop Geoffrey Robinson’s action plan to end sexual abuse¬- for good, read his latest book, For Christ Sake: End Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church…for good.

Pope Francis, The Vatican
We, the undersigned members of the Catholic Church, have been sickened by the continuing stories of sexual abuse within our Church, and we are appalled by the accounts of an unchristian response to those who have suffered.

When so many people either offend or respond poorly, we cannot limit ourselves to blaming individuals, but must also look at systemic causes. The situation is so grave that we call for an Ecumenical Council to respond to the one question of doing everything possible to uproot such abuse from the Church and produce a better response to victims. An essential part of this call is that the laity of the whole world should have a major voice in the Council (for it is our children who have been abused or put at risk), and that the following subjects be included:

1. The continuing influence of the idea of an angry God
2. The immaturity that arises from passive obedience in adults
3. The teaching of the Church on sexual morality
4. The part played in abuse by celibacy, especially obligatory celibacy
5. The lack of a strong feminine influence in every aspect of the Church
6. The idea that through ordination the priest is taken above other people (clericalism)
7. The lack of professionalism in the life of priests and religious
8. The unhealthy situations in which many priests and religious are required to live
9. The constant placing of right beliefs before right actions
10. The passion for secrecy and the hiding of faults within the Church, especially in the Vatican
11. The ways in which the protection of papal authority has been put before the eradication of sexual abuse
12. The provision of structures to make a reality of the ‘sense of faith’ (sensus fidei) of all Catholic people
13. The need for each Conference of Bishops to have the authority to compel individual bishops to follow common decisions in this matter.


And again, here is the link to the petition:

Although I am aware that previously the Vatican has blown off all such efforts, seemingly to prefer single anonymous letters from right wing traditionalists, I have a feeling under Pope Francis this time things might be different.  He said over this weekend that sexual abuse of children has to stop.  I can only hope he understands fully that sexual abuse of children will not stop on any level if real change is not implemented in ALL the areas which contribute to clerical and Catholic family sexual abuse.  If he does nothing else during his papacy, really attempting to solve this issue would precipitate serious reform.  For Christ's sake, Amen.

Update:  This link is to a story coming out of Africa that I have been following, but not writing about because it was hard to substantiate in the American mainstream press.  Now however, the LA Times has written about this very courageous priest.  Should anyone think Africa will not be the next pressure cooker to blow over clerical abuse of children, they need to read this article.  Clerical abuse is global, systemic, and the hierarchy responds the same everywhere.  It has to stop. 

If you have the time, check out some of Fr Musaala's Utube videos.  He has a real gift. 


  1. This is interesting and will either lead good places or to more schism. Don't know which, but there are very powerful people that will attempt to marginalize these Bishops as out of the mainstream and scandalous to the Church. We as the People of God should be calling for nothing less than the resignation of well over 1/2 of our Bishops who have perpetrated such an outrage. The are nothing less than common criminals and it is time for us to understand that. I have signed this petition because it is a first step and I think a sane step but it does not go far enough to solve sexism, clericalism that would lead to a more authoritative leadership rather than to the current authoritarian structure.

    Some suggestions: Election of all Bishops from the diocese and all people to participate; term limits for Bishops of no more than seven years; much more of a direct election of the pope from the People of God in every Catholic parish and term limits of no more than 7 years; A method of recall of any and all bishops including the Pope; end the war on relativism and modernism--- it has already been lost and well it should; Demand the resignation of any Bishop involved in the sex scandals that have produced such a crisis and that would be well over half of the current Bishops at least in the US; Stop the war on gays; Stop the war on women; Stop mandatory celibacy and realize that only a very few people are cut out for this schizoid life---- perhaps to be reserved for much older men and women; Promote the study of sexuality its spirituality that bonds and binds people; Forgive people who find that they must divorce; Use the scientific definitions of Abortion; Encourage Birth Control to prevent Abortion. Realize that Abortion is not the same as murder; Accept the rulings of the hospital ethics committees; quit attempting to Episcopal triage of hospitals; Obey strict Church and State separation; Never support candidates from the pulpit or from official church leadership; Rid the Church of the Vatican Bank and use only secular Banks; understand that other communions other than the RCC are both valid and licit.

    These are a few more suggestions that need be considered to prevent the schism of catholics that just refuse to support this Church (lack of) leadership. dennis

  2. This is an important list and proves to me that any kind of reform is going to open a Pandora's box of change that really needs to happen if Catholicism will have any kind of future in coming generations. Evolution is in the genes of creation and to ignore that ignores that fact Jesus Himself was an embodiment of a form of evolution.

    One change, a conversion if you will, Catholicism needs to undergo is the one which takes us past fear motivating everything towards one where hope motivates everything. It's what the Resurrection is all about.

  3. Signed. Bravo, Bishops Robinson and Morrisson

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this story Colleen. It was incidents such as those that Fr. Musaala was aware of that had informed a bit of my last posting before the Conclave. But, because of the stigma, I hadn't heard of any specific examples to speak of. But, the wider phenomena is a very present reality. Let's hope that awareness and knowledge will one day lead to reformation and accountability -- instead of fearful repression.

  5. Phillip, maintaining hope sometimes gets very hard. Fr Musaala has a great deal of courage and where there is courage there is hope.

  6. I would add to this list the need for a healthy, multi-faceted understanding of women's experiences is necessary for the health of the Church and our theology. For too long the only valued experience of women has been as mother. This has kept women from fully contributing to our understanding of God but it has also kept men infantiel. I think especially priests bear the brunt of this. Married men at least have to contend with a real woman at home and daughters. Priests often get fixated on their mom and then Mary as the only way women can be. Then there is the creepy pre VC2 way of seeing Mary as a very young teen / mom, which I wonder if that vision of Mary as very young added to the warping of sexuality of some priests which allowed them to think of twelve year old girls as sexual partners. This is one reason I have hopes for Pope Francis. He has sisters who are alive (who do NOT act as his housekeeper.) And as far as I know he has nieces and nephews who have families. This is a vast change from the last two popes who did not have a growing family around them.

  7. Coleen, I hope that everything is OK with you. I have missed your blog and you are in my thoughts and prayers. dennis

  8. Thanks Dennis. I'm OK, it's just that my schedule at work got changed and things got out of kilter. It was a case of making changes for the sake of making changes and I was not particularly happy about it, nor was anybody else.

  9. I have self-published a book "From Illusions to Illumination. The Itinerary of a Franciscan Priest from Catholicism to Atheism". Recently I created a blog ( to offer complementary reflections for the target-audience of both the book and the blog : believers on the brink.

    "Bred and buttered at Botany Bay", I am an Australian theologian with degrees from the Institut Catholique in Paris, a former Diocesan Director of Religious Education and a former Professor of Religious Pedagogy in a Catholic university in Vermont. I have been an atheist for thirty-five years. I respect non-atheists but not their beliefs. I know I cannot get them to ... see the light, but hope to provide encouragement for those who have already begun to have serious doubts about faith and religion.

    In my book I applaud Bishop Robinson for his "admirable courage and sincerity" (page 66), but express my regret that he states that he believes in Mary's Assumption "because that is what my mother told me as a child and I have always believed it" (page 255 of his "Contemplating Power and Sex in the Catholic Church").

    While the Church struggles with its sexual and other scandals, some Catholics may wonder whether it is built not on rock but on the sands of credulity. Even if Pope Frank the First (at one time I thought I might get the job myself) manages to "repair the Church", it will remain an institution where the blind continue - for the most part "in good faith" - to lead the blind. Believers on the brink ought to look beyond the current scandals which are rotting the barque of Peter, abandon ship, and discover the truth that will make them truly free.

    Frank O'Meara, a.k.a. Frank O'Phile

  10. G'day, Salut, y'all !

    I'm the Aussie Frenchman formerly from Tulsa, Oklahoma and now resident in L'Isle-Adam, France, who posted a note here several months ago. Since then I have completely revamped and renamed my BLOG ( You might like to comment on one or other of the many recent postings. Just remember Cato, Carthage and my signature mantra : "Delenda Religio".

    Frank O'MEARA, alias Frank O'Phile