Saturday, May 31, 2014

About This Upcoming Meeting With Clerical Abuse Survivors

SNAP will continue to be needed as long as enablers in the clergy keep their frocks....and their futile strategy to keep the laity as religiously immature as they were at ten.

I took a break, again, because I had to put a huge amount of energy into my real job.  After four weeks of top of the heap stress, there was a huge turn around and it now looks as if things are going uphill in a big way.  I wish I could say the same for the clerical abuse crisis.

There were a lot of Catholic stories in the past month I could have written about and didn't.  It wasn't because I wasn't interested or they weren't important.  Many of them were important.  Many of them revolved around the Vatican and the CDF and the Vatican and the IOR and everywhere and always, Pope Francis.  However one story kept changing spots and that story is still the most important story hanging over the Church:  the clerical abuse crisis.  I have lately been thinking this story won't go away because the Vatican is terrified of it's real solution and that solution is completely revamping the theology of the priesthood.

I have spent the last day or so commenting on the National Catholic Reporter article written by Margaret Gail Frawley-O'Dea.  She states in this article that she views SNAP as counterproductive in regards to the upcoming meeting Pope Francis announced on the plane as he was flying back from a highly successful trip in the Middle East.  This was a trip in which he garnered great international press coverage for the Vatican and himself.  His sudden turn around on meeting with abuse survivors struck me as an attempt to hide a change of tactics behind the fog of universal positive press coverage.  As usual the Vatican's chief spokesman Fr Frederico Lombardi restated things the very next day.  There will be a meeting between the Pope and survivors from around the globe but not in the next week.  Maybe in a couple of months.  At this time there are no American survivors invited and no date set.  Cardinal O'Malley will work out the details.

SNAP took an assertive and somewhat cynical approach to this meeting with the Pope.  After all this is the same Pope who after the first less than positive meeting with the UN more or less stated that no other institution had done nearly so much as the Catholic Church on this issue, so why all the finger pointing?  But now, after a second less than positive take down by the UN, a meeting in which the Vatican claimed it had no jurisdiction over any clergy outside the Vatican City States,  the same Pope wants to meet with survivors and celebrate his daily Mass with them and claims that the impotent Vatican is never the less investigating three bishops for something related to abuse.  Most Vatican observers think these three bishops are involved with clerical abuse themselves, and include the Polish diplomat Jozef Wesolowski, Scotland's Cardinal Keith O'Brien, and Chile's Cristian Molina....none of whom committed clerical abuse in the confines of the Vatican City States.

It would have really been healing for some survivors if the name Bishop Robert Finn had been mentioned because it is very often the betrayal from the people and institutions who should have cared and did just the opposite that causes the most long term damage in survivors.  I think this message is not getting out in any way that people are getting their heads around.  Frawley-O'Dea's article did not help one little bit in helping the rank and file understand this fact.  Every time a bishops acts as callously and deceitful as has Milwaukee's Listecki, or Minneapolis's Neinstedt, or Kansas City's Finn it destroys the kind of relational trust survivors need to forgive the enablers.  It's one thing to forgive the 'sick' puppy who raped you,  it's another entirely to forgive the supposedly healthy adults who wouldn't believe you and wouldn't act to stop the abuse.

So I think SNAP is dead on with their cynicism about this upcoming meeting and right to caution survivors about the damage this meeting could do in the long term.  There is one thing about Francis that truly has bothered me and unfortunately he keeps doing nothing but furthering my angst.  He seems bent on keeping the laity religiously infantilized and dependent on the clergy.  Allowing married clergy does nothing about the religiosity, much of it surrounding the priesthood, that keeps laity infantilized.  Fixing the IOR does nothing about this, and his continual references about the devil and Holy Mother Church only serves to reinforce the infantilization.  And I can't even let myself get started on the CDF.

Sometimes I think the only really adult voices in the Church come from victims organizations like SNAP, the victims themselves and their few supporters.  Unfortunately that doesn't say much for meaningful reform in the Church.


  1. Good to hear things are going up for you lately.

    This statement of yours jumped out at me; "I have lately been thinking this story won't go away because the Vatican is terrified of it's real solution and that solution is completely revamping the theology of the priesthood." How I wish that would happen. It's the evil clericalism or as you would say; "boys club". I can understand the boys are afraid to open that door.

    I am thinking that it is not only the theology of priesthood, but also more fundamentally the church's theology of sexuality that needs revamping. I find so much lacking in the traditional catholic theology of sexuality which is based solely on acts, and one bad act in the area of sexuality is a mortal sin which will send you to hell. The church's theology of sexuality makes no attempt to integrate sexual acts with a relationship. You can do the "wrong acts" and be in loving relationship, but that will get you fired in some dioceses. That seems to comprise the church's ideal of life long loving relationships that well, are sexual. I've given up on expecting the church to have anything helpful to say on matters related to sex. In it's present state, I think the church's theology of sexuality is itself abusive. I wish Pope Francis would deal with that.

    I have one final thought. I think SNAP has done a service in advocating for victims' rights. Lately it seems to me that SNAP at times has distorted issues for their cause.

  2. Things are a mess up here in Minnesota as far as the diocese goes. Neinstedt is a lame duck. Everyone I talk to, liberal or conservative catholic, is appalled by this man. He has virtually thrown everyone and anyone who could reasonably advise him about clerical abuse in MN under the bus. He seems sad a befuddled, dragged down by the multitude of skeletons in his closet. The communities that somehow seem the least negatively impacted by the fallout of it all are those that he dismissed or chased out years ago when he first came on board. There just simply moving forward beyond the clerical model...

  3. Bingo! Another bullseye. Ignoring the reality of SNAP and what they stand for is senseless.....but then one must look at the hierarchy's track record and it does not take long to sort out the probable and possible motivation behind the move to meet with victims. I fear it will be like the meetings B16 had...all carefully orchestrated and all involving people who would not challenge the pope or any of the prelates around him.

  4. Thanks for defending SNAP's position. After decades of experience dealing with the institution - still unchanged under the current regime - they know what they're talking about.

  5. Wild I totally agree the theology of sexuality also needs revision and have frequently written it should be based on relationship...and real science. However, I don't think that can happen as long as a celibate clergy needs such act based theology to partly justify it's existence. Plus I don't think there is another aspect of Catholic teaching that is so useful for the priesthood as we know it, as the sexual theology that keeps people at an immature spiritual development dependent on clergy to 'license' their sexuality.

    Even Harry Potter got to grow up eventually, but it doesn't seem the Church has the least bit of interest in letting their clerical Harry Potters grow up.

  6. That's too bad Jamez and yet it was so predictable. Neinstedt came on like a tank driver from day one and gosh darn it, when a tank gets stuck it's really hard to get it unstuck. I think there is a real message here though for his fellow clerics. Screw up clerical abuse and you unify both right and left against you. At that point you need to resign and maybe spend the rest of your life advocating for change in the system that you allowed to eat you alive.

  7. That's my fear too, that the people chosen will be dependent personalities who wouldn't dare challenge the pope or any of the other prelates around him. I think it's interesting there won't be any Americans. At least as far as we know at this point.

  8. Exactly Betty, who knows the Machiavellian tendencies of the hierarchy better than SNAP and the equally vilified Jeff Anderson.

  9. I too read Frawely-O'Dea's article and was uncomfortable with it but couldn't quite say why. Thanks so much for this clarification.

  10. It's pretty grotesque that you would hijack even so important and distressing a thing as sexual abuse in support of your old hobbyhorse of 'clerical reform'.

    You have never yet set out your reasoning as to why it is that you think this sexual abuse occurred because of our concept of the priesthood, in the face of the evidence that sexual abuse of minors occurs to an equal or greater extent in Islam, Judaism, the Protestant religions, schools, youth clubs, and families.

    ...because in that light, it.seems as ugly truth that you are in fact exploiting the suffering of those people to further your own ideology.

  11. BaptizedBabyBoomerJune 2, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    Frawely-O'Dea's article was a big put-down of SNAP. I guess that NCR feels they should cover different views. I don't have an issue with covering other views, however, I think they should have included the view that SNAP actually has. I do have an issue with their contributing to more confusion than to any enlightenment on this issue & how to address it in a way that the Church might grow from the experience.

    I'm very disappointed in Pope Francis. He is appearing to look more like his predecessors, Pope Benedict & JPII.

    The comments section to Frawely-O'Dea's piece was very informative which included a priest who also was clearly on the bandwagon against SNAP. His comments were not pastoral at all, even to survivors of abuse who commented. If Catholics read those comments in that article they might gain a little more sense or understanding from the survivors perspective.

    SNAP should be commended for the work it has done in helping survivors and I think Frawely-O'Dea's article was over the top in being negative towards SNAP, and/or clueless as to the bigger picture for the health and well-being of everyone in the RCC.

    I think if Pope Francis truly wanted to meet with the survivors and truly do something to stop further abuse, he'd meet with SNAP too. I can understand why survivors of abuse would not want to be around a lot of priests and meet with the Pope, especially when Pope Francis still has someone like Bishop Finn in office. It's a matter of trust.

    Sad to say that I have never had a positive experience with a priest. As a woman I cannot stay in this Church. It has been causing more problems than in resolving anything.

    The RCC is very abusive to the laity and has been for way too many years. It seems that when it is convenient, when more and more people expose the damaging affects of teaching a sexual theology which constrains, restricts, prohibits a loving relationship, as well as family planning, that maybe in a few hundred years the RCC might in hindsight, as it often does, realize its ignorance and arrogance. It seems just a big political power play for Pope Francis to not really make any kind of real positive change for the RCC. The teachings about sex and sexuality and the Catechism have not blessed people with happy marriages and the divorce rate continues. Pedophile priests and their enablers, murderers, thieves, liars, cheaters just strut on into the confessional and all is forgiven. Not the same for those divorced and remarried. The RCC as it now stands is from what I can see ALL about abuse.

    Oftentimes I hear some Catholics saying that the RCC is not the only Church with pedophiles and other denominations have the same problem. Such a statement seems to indicate that there should be more people involved in SNAP. It is also an indication that the world is increasingly more misogynistic.

  12. There you go again Invictus even if your comparisons were true, that there is "equal" or "greater" abuse elsewhere, it still does not excuse this soul murder in the RCC perpetrated by the clerical class. Since some fundamentalist Catholics are found of criticizing the Episcopal Church, I can say that we have a lot to learn by the way they handle abuse. The faithful kick out the priests and pronto….

  13. I am not exploiting abuse survivors. Many other folks share the opinion that the exalted status of the priesthood within Catholicism was a contributing factor because it allows the perpetrator a level of access to families and their unquestioned trust that other professions generally don't enjoy.

    Secondly, to protect the mystique of the priesthood and the good of the Church--church in this instance meaning institutional church--we have a massive coverup that seems orchestrated and virtually universal. The only other place I've seen a similar pattern of behavior is in Orthodox Judaism, and again, this is a case of males having an inordinate amount of religious authority that goes unquestioned by believers. When a man is conflated with the god of the religion he represents, that's a problem and a recipe for disaster when it comes to abuse issues.

    For the record, I see the exact same phenomenon in operation with orders of nuns who used the same kind of unquestioned authority over lay Catholics to abuse kids in their charge. In this case the abuse was mostly emotional and physical, but it could also include sexual. Unchecked, unaccountable religious authority backed by early indoctrination is a recipe for all kinds of abuse.

  14. "soul murder"? Why, I don't even.. what? Um. Yeah. Anyway, moving on..

    I'm not criticising anyone other than the OP.

  15. Blah, blah. You're ignoring my point.

    Instance of child abuse is not positively correlated with the Catholic notion of the priesthood. The data is very clear.

    Ergo, your blog post calling for a rethinking of the priesthood is not logical or helpful, but rather it is just taking an atrocity and using it as a misleading argument for clerical reform. (Which is a horrendous thing to do.)

  16. Back to poke the bear, Unconquered? The "very clear" data I believe you are citing is from the John Jay report and subsequent studies. I will point out to you once again that those figures are from the bishops themselves. In the U.S., when secular authorities have forced the real data to the surface, nine out of nine times there was woeful underreporting. The bishops hide the numbers from their own committees. Nine of nine lying. Batting a thousand, or actually zero.

    Your data is false. The correlation of enforced priestly celibacy to child abuse is anecdotal, neither proven or unproven. I think Coleen is onto something that jives with my own experience.

  17. Matt, even in the John Jay report their are dioceses whose abuse statistics involve 10% or more of their ordained clergy and this is way beyond the level for any other profession, including religious clergy of other denominations.

  18. I'm going to try one more time. Clergy sexual abuse has been part and parcel of the priesthood for over a millennia and in numbers higher than other vocational pursuits. If one adds in adult victims the abuse is much higher. When it comes to the priesthood, the built in power differential between laity and the priesthood means a great deal of clerical sexual activity is abusive..even between adults. In my experience the most stable, least damaging form, is between priests who hold the same rank and those relationships established with other religious. The Church has many marriages between women religious and priests.

    Clerical abuse will not stop until the theology of the priesthood is re thought. The Church, as it evolved over the centuries, is no longer built on Jesus Christ, but on the ordained priesthood and that has proven to be a very cracked foundation. Never the less, it is still the foundation and because it is, we have to replace it or the edifice comes tumbling down.

  19. Not quite. Abuse has been a part of humanity. And priests are humans. Thus, there is a statistical certainty that some priests will abuse.

    Abuse by clergy is appalling, but it can only be used as a stick with which to beat people's opinions toward your preferred reforms if abuse by clergy is statistically more common than other groups of people in other religions or other positions of respect and authority.

    It is not. By pretty much all the studies ever done, it is not.

    Therefore, you should just knock it off and stop misbehaving.

  20. I've not heard of that report yet. I'm referring to the overall pattern of findings.

  21. I agree. In our diocese, the new bishop came in and commented that our numbers were higher than most in the country (over 10 %). He started talking about research to figure out why. Then he went to Dallas for the meeting. He came back and said he was going to walk with his brother bishops, gutting a pastoral document so it would match the Dallas charter. No research here. And, as anyone who does diocesan service now knows, the only power is held by the all-powerful bishop. That's why lying bishops can stay, convicted bishops can continue spewing their garbage. I think this man was sincere when he started, until he was shall we say chatechized.

    As I said, I think you are on to something. I'd love to have some science behind it, but the data stream is polluted for now. I remain hopeful, especially because it is so hard to hide on the internet.

  22. Read the John Jay report.

  23. BaptizedBabyBoomerJune 4, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Here is another abuse that is still coming to light that you should know about too. The abuse of women and children. The idea that there is a separate class of people within the Church of "religious" and Laity and that some rule over others with tyrannical control and that no one dare question their authority is abuse also. Here, read this, in addition to the JJR suggested by Colleen:

  24. Your post brings up what is always my problem with church "Listening" sessions. The people in charge may actually listen. It could happen. But the kicker is that listening never leads to action. Male bishops say they want to "listen" to women and families. But have they the courage to change ANYTHING based on what they heard? Have they any real reason to from their point of view? They would be excommunicated if they so much as breath a word of support for women priests. The people have spent 50 years speaking against Humana Vita and yet none of them will out and out say it is a failure as a document /theology along with most of the rest of the pro-life/ anti woman agenda. The bishops say they want listening sessions. But they want to neither listen nor act.

  25. "Clergy sexual abuse has been part and parcel of the priesthood for over a millennia and in numbers higher than other vocational pursuits."

    That's absolutely false Colleen. It has neither been part and parcel of the priesthood, nor in numbers higher than other vocational pursuits. Definitely not for a millennia. Perhaps since the liberalization of the Church in the years leading up to and especially since (if not because of) Vatican II. The Church has no marriages between women religious and priests, as such "marriages" are both null and void and cause both parties to incur excommunication. You're not going to find religious who take their vows seriously being joined in unholy matrimony - you only find progressive UNcatholic "religious" doing so.

    The theology of the priesthood has nothing whatsoever to do with clerical abuse, else none of our Protestant ministers or Jewish rabbis would be engaging in such activity- and they are, in percentages equal to the modernist catholic priesthood. If we want the clerical abuse to stop, the only thing that will work is to rid the priesthood and the seminaries of those who are not suited for it; namely progressives, and restore the theology of the Church to what it was before it's liberalization. The laity needs reforming too.

  26. So many half truths and jumps in logic here that I can't get to them all. We agree that the numbers are not clear, as I've said below. However, when secular force makes the hierarchy show true numbers, they indeed are higher than the average. Nine times in nine cases in the USA.

    As for the rest of what you've written, I call that hypnosis. If you keep repeating it, you can trick your mind into believing it, and boy do you keep repeating it. But Peter Claver wrote in the 1100's I believe, and the sins were named long before that. The abusers of the 1940's and 1950's are quite prominent in the list of evildoers. Your timelines are way off, and you are tilting at windmills. Both conservatives and liberals abuse. Both conservatives and liberals are needed to stop them as well as renew our people, the church.

    Oh yeah, you are correct that priests and nuns don't marry. So there's that.

  27. Good you should move on!

  28. I'm not sure what you mean when you mention half-truths and jumps in logic. I disagree and feel my logic is sound.
    I did not say that abuse never occurred before the liberalization of the Church, which, by the way, began decades before Vatican II. What I took exception to was the notion that sexual abuse was part and parcel of the priesthood.
    I believe you meant to say St. Peter Damien, who wrote the Book of Gomorrah in the 11th or 12th century.
    As a result of his book and his efforts to expose what was then a rare set of circumstances, confined to a particular region of Italy, if my recollection is correct, the Church established, and other guidelines to stamp out clerical sexual abuse. Proper formation of priests was of utmost importance, as was transparency. The popes of the time were of the opinion, and they wrote extensively to express their view, that the worst thing the Church could do was to attempt to cover up any wrong doing by its clergy. How many popes have quoted St. Augustine: "It is better that the truth be known than that scandal be hidden"?
    None of the most recent popes and bishops to be sure, partly because they don't focus on Augustine, Aquinas and the other great doctors of the faith, but instead focus more on de Lubac, de Chardin and other modernists whose theology was condemend.
    The Catholic Church punished priests who were found guilty of sexual perversions. First a priest was ceremoniously defrocked, then the tendons in his hands were severed to prevent him from offering Mass (per the pre-Vatican 2 rubrics), after which he was turned over to the government for secular punishment, which included the death penalty for child molesters and rapists. All of the measures taken by the Church and civil governments have been largely forgotten over the centuries. In the modern church, guilty presbyters are often seen as victims by their bishops, and the real victims, children mostly, are viewed as trouble-makers.
    I mentioned the "years leading up to Vatican II." I wasn't refering to just the 1940's and '50's; the liberalization of the Church had been going on long before then. Thus you'll find the courageous efforts of Pope St. Pius X and his many encyclicals and Bulls at the turn of the century. You will find the core of the liberal theology, which the Vatican II "periti" adopted in the so-called "reforms" of Vatican II, condemned by Pope St. Pius X and others. You will find, written in the pages of history, the dire predictions of holy men and women who described a Church in Eclipse should the liberalizing "reforms" of the modernists take root, and in those predictions you find exactly the church of scandal we have today.
    Let me add that there is very little difference between a liberal catholic and a conservative catholic, save that one group is simply more liberal than the other. Conservatives believe that liberals misinterpret the "reforms" of Vatican II, while liberals don't think the destruction has gone far enough. Contrast them both to Traditional Roman Catholics who reject the so-called reforms because most of the doctors of the faith, popes, and saints rejected the heresies of the liberals throughout the centuries. After all, the heresies of the modernists aren't new; they are simply the recycled heresies of heretics from every age.

  29. Ok, now we are getting somewhere. Thanks for correcting my St Peter error, and of course you are correct. I appreciate this answer.

    You've distinguished Traditionalist apart from conservative and liberal. Let's keep that, but I wonder if you could agree that some liberals are trying to re-establish true tradition. For example, there is at least some evidence that women led the early-on home churches. If so, then a clergy status for women would recapture tradition, even though it would feel radical to you and me.

    You have characterized our clergy as not Traditional enough, too steeped in the 20th century to know the previous nineteen. I would take a look at Peter Damien's punishment for priestly abusers. Can we agree that cutting off their hands was a cultural response, that maybe the guidance of the Holy Spirit was more fully interpreted later? Do you believe we can learn, can grow, can become closer to God as a church? I do. I think we see that in the response of the faithful to the hierarchy's (traditional) disdain for a group of gay people that have rejected promiscuity and wish to love as family. Correction of that hierarchical response (which ignores God's science) is faithful, loving, a proper distillation of Jesus and the Word.

    More than once, history shows a corrupt hierarchy was only redeemed by a faithful people. Restated, the faith was passed on by the people despite the corrupt hierarchy. I think you and I both believe that is happening today, but disagree on how. My only answer that I've come up with, instead of your adherence to tradition, is observation. "By their fruits you shall know them." So, assuming you are a person of good works, we need to find our way to the altar to worship together.

    Finally, recycled heresies. We'll have to disagree there, too. I think new and creative ways to disregard Faith are invented in each age. Fortunately for both of us, we won't be judged on that. As Aquinas finally called his work so much straw, I think he means that predicting God or heaven may be helpful but ultimately must serve learning to love as God does. Being "right" at all costs becomes an egoism, a heresy if you will. I think we are learning the paramount importance of love over rules as a people, slowly as usual. I think the Spirit leads us there. And if I'm sincere but wrong (again), I count on the lovingkindness of God to see through my errors.

  30. I think you might be right. Then again, I think you might be wrong.

    I pretty much know I'm wrong (and the little voice inside my head says "I know I'm right about that." The little bastard.)

    "True love of neighbor urges us to point out his erroneous ways, to admonish him to serve God on God's terms...." That's where you lose me. It all sounds so nice, the right answers and all. But this presupposes that you are with God, and therefore to oppose you (at all) I am not. My church, the Catholic one, proves so many times that we have so much to learn, so far to love. And yet they literally "wish their way to heaven', secure in the perfection of Catholicism. Sorry to correct you out of love, but that's what has you caught. You have to deny some of God's reality to give Her what is due. I think the reality is God's, and I remain free (and wrong) to call what I see, happily ready to be forgiven for such impertinence.

    You have to be right for your rulebook to work. I have to be loved and forgiven. Which does Jesus offer? Which does God demand? Which one scares you more, requires more selflessness? And why would you or I deserve to be right?

    PS Pope Joan? You put me in with Pope Joan believers? No wonder context is non existent with strawpersons like that. Your disdain is showing.

  31. Anyone going to mention the fact that the "Nuns on the Bus" (or their orders) have been accused of abuse and haven't addressed it?
    Celibacy is as unnatural as starvation.