Priest abuse hitting close to home


In March an allegation was brought forth against a diocese priest of sexual abuse 38 years ago. Another allegation in a different local also came to light. So there are two different investigations in two different jurisdictions. Because the first allegation was 38 years ago I have had at least one person say to me that they do not believe the allegation.  Of course everyone is innocent until proven guilty.  That said I told her that it was 22 years before I came forward.  I did not tell her that circumstances forced me to come forward before I was ready and it was another five years before I was ready to deal with it in therapy.

I really don’t know this priest and I really don’t know how he was as a priest/pastor to congregants or as a boss. That said, 38 years is really not that long when you factor in the shame and stigma of being abused. (I wonder if he was waiting for his parents to die), I have worked with older women who first had abortions in 1973 when it became legal.  They bought into the lie that it was easy and the right thing to do. They kept their shame secret since then.

As someone who has suffered clerical sexual abuse when I was informed by the diocese of this case, all priests were e-mailed, the first thought I had was, this will never end…then I felt sad for the alleged victim, the priest and for me. I try very hard not to get into the, ‘poor me’, mindset and when I realize that I have indeed gone there I try mightily to get out of it. (Even after all this time I get sucked into that destructive mindset.)  That is just one of the things that makes sexual abuse, in fact all abuse, so insidious.  The effects of the abuse are never really gone.

Some of the people that are in the parish of the accused priest are unhappy with the bishop.  They see his actions as throwing this priest under the bus.  What was he supposed to do? He has his own skeletons in the closet, one of them became a Netflix miniseries, not doing anything would be imprudent on his part…just another skeleton to deal with.

And so it goes…another priest accused, if abuse took place, another person scared, another skeleton exposed and more agita for those of us who have struggled with the effects of our own abuse. Around and around and around it goes…

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Keep your mouth shut: advice given by a priest in reference to a predator priest.


First allow me to preface this with a true story. When I was a seminarian studying for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I reported a priest for inappropriate behavior towards myself and another seminarian. When I took this back to the powers that be at the seminary it was suggested that this was a good time for me to keep my mouth shut. This episode happened before the Attorney General’s Grand Jury Report had been released. Meanwhile the priest that I turned in was outed as the first sexual predator in the archdiocese. He was eventually defrocked, and latter passed away. Was I protected? No. Did anything happen to him after my stepping forward? No. How about me? Well I’m not a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Men and women who keep their heads in the sand like ostriches concerning this issue…well…I can’t think of a nice way to put it. Those men and women are a huge part of the problem, not admitting that presently there is a problem in the Church caused by homosexual predator priests and other priests and bishops covering up for them. I will never forget the words spoken to me that it would be a good time for me to keep my mouth shut. (It was a threat that came to fruition.)

I thank God, (literally), for the ability to keep my faith and pursue my vocation to the priesthood despite numerous setbacks. (I was untouchable to other diocese in the immediate aftermath, even this one.) Five years later Wilmington did accept me.
I am here to tell you that it doesn’t matter how long it takes for a person to come forward after they have been sexually abused by a priest. It doesn’t matter that the priest may be dead. What does matter is the havoc that abusive priests caused in the lives of their victims. What matters is that children and post-pubescent boys who were abused meant nothing to most bishops. Alas, a majority of children and young adults who survived these demon priests have left the Church. A lot of other people have also left because of the hypocrisy of this scandal.

It is lucky that we are blessed by God with the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. That is what we need to cling to. That is what will get us through this.

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Bishops ‘bring sense of urgency’ to Baltimore, REALLY!


Early morning raids on chanceries across the country…allegations that some bishops are not handing over to the authorities ALL the names of perpetrators and alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse…the false notion that any sex with a priest could be consensual despite the disparity in power involved…and lastly…bishops policing themselves, (because that has worked so well in the past), are more NOTHING!

More nothing from the Church, more nothing, and just in case I’m not being clear, more nothing.  Thank God, and I mean that both literally and figuratively, that secular authorities are now starting to do something. (Of course this is after decades of collusion with the Church.)  I’m going to paraphrase something Oprah Winfrey said about if there was a bad apple in her employ. She said that she certainly would see that the person in question would get help but she would no longer employ them.  One of the reasons that it seems profound is that is the exact opposite of what has been adopted by the men of the Church.

The Wilmington Diocesan news paper has a tiny section on the front page along with a tiny picture of the bishops at their meeting in Baltimore with a blurb: Bishops ‘bring sense of urgency’ to Baltimore, then it directs you to page 7. The issue is only 12 pages and the 12th page is an advertisement for hospice. The fact that the paper decided to  print that the bishops have a sense of urgency now in 2019 belies their lack of urgency in 2002.

What is making them all-of- a-sudden have a sense of urgency?  Could it be early morning raids on chanceries across the country…allegations that some bishops are not handing over to the authorities ALL the names of perpetrators and alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse…the false notion that any sex with a priest could be consensual despite the disparity in power involved…and lastly…bishops policing themselves. Could the urgency have to do with possible prison time?

The entirety of Theodore McCarrick’s debauchery caused his own demise in the Church…after many, many years and many, many protectors.  And what happened next?  NOTHING, unless you consider inertia something. Victims of predators, all predators, suffer for life. The residual trauma is always present. It is akin to original sin washed away at baptism, the effects of original sin is still there. That’s why we sin. The effects of abuse are always present. That is why we don’t trust others. And then the Church reinforces that mistrust by their actions and inaction.

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Everything right now is calm in the Church…well…relatively calm.


Calm. Everything right now is calm in the Church…well…relatively calm.  Just to remind everyone that this is a blog that is specifically about the sexual abuse in the Church and how incompetently and really un-Christian/Catholic it was, and is, being handled.  Yes there are individual priests who have not abused and are very good and holy men but they are not the subject material for this blog.

A few of the things that are said to me that really…well…disgust me are people, (some are priests and bishops), who say they understand then really demonstrate by their actions  and their words that they are clueless. Another thing that I find disturbing is that people just want this to somehow magically go away…and not be talked about. Ain’t happenin.

If the priests, bishops, cardinals and even the pope really do understand this issue like they say that they do then why is this still a problem? When did the Boston Archdiocese crap come to light? How many years has it been? And look, nothing is substantially better. Bishops are still asked to police themselves and their own priests…and we all know how great that worked out.

There is a fear at calling it what it has been, (at least for the most part), as a homosexual problem.  Those prelates who say, Oh no, it’s a sin of opportunity, (notice how it is not called a crime), did the abuse of girls who serve at the alter spike?  Or, (and this is mindboggling to me), it is blamed on clericalism. What?  That doesn’t even make sense.

No matter what the reason for the sexual abuse is, priests are celibate and we are all, every Catholic, every person, called to be chaste.  It is not easy sometimes but it is not impossible. And chastity should never be violated with those who are underage. As for those devils or just plane stupid people who are constantly shoving down our throats about consensual sex…it is NEVER consensual when there is a power differential.   That standard applies to everyone not just prelates.

Priests who have a lover who are adults, male or female, or other priests and living a double life are another and different subject. That issue should not be allowed to muddy the waters of abusing minors or abusing power. They are separate but parallel issues. A   fall with another adult and not living a double life is yet a different issue

You reap what you sew. Last summer has been dubbed the summer of shame. This summer the moniker could be the summer of our discontent. Keep Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament as your focus.  He will help you be content, not accepting of this, but content.

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Bankruptcy; both cash and morals


On October 18, 2009, the Diocese of Wilmington filed for bankruptcy because of sexual abuse claims.  It was a way that the powers-that-be could avoid the rigors, (and perversities), of many trials.  Fast forward to now. How has this effected the priests of today? (I am aware that some people will not give a hoot.)

We have medical insurance, very good medical insurance.  It is a different insurance plan than all of the lay people who work for the diocese have. Their plan is good but not as good as the clergy plan.  Except the clergy plan will not exist soon because we will all have the same, not quite as good as the clergy plan, plan in order to save the diocese money.  Okay, I see how that can be considered a good thing but that is not the point.  And I don’t think I’m being petty, I hope I’m not, although I’m annoyed I’m just using this as an illustration.

The bankruptcy declared in 2009 is effecting priests in 2019.  In the back of my mind I knew the bankruptcy would effect all of us but the reality of it all is a kick in the teeth.   Every year each parish is assessed a “goal” for the annual catholic appeal. By goal I mean that if parishioners don’t  meet the seemingly arbitrary goal, set by the muckety-mucks in charge, with pledges of their own then the parish will be billed for the shortfall.  And that money will come from the Sunday collection.  Either way the people get fleeced.  Where does that collected money really go, and how much is it?

There is also a money grab for the support of retired priests. Since we do not have a retirement home for priests, (we are on our own…I plan to live in a box under an overpass), in this diocese we do get a pension.  So is that where this money goes? How much is collected every year diocesan wide?    How much is distributed, and to what?

I know that the diocese is trying to build up their reserve that dissipated with bankruptcy an all of sexual abuse claim settlements. The irony, at least to me, is that if the sexual abuse had been handled in a godly and timely manner there never would have been a need to declare bankruptcy.

There are people, like me, who didn’t come forward for many years out of fear and shame. There are also people who told their families and they were not believed. There were people who told their families, were believed and then their families confronted the bishop. That is when it should have been handled and not by a priest transfer and/or a signed confidentiality agreement.

Secracy, cover-up, a stated desire not to cause scandal…lies by both omission and comission. Recalling my childhood catechism lessons I do recall who the father of lies really is.  Has he infiltrated the Church?  It sure looks that way. But also from my childhood catechism lessons I know he will not prevail.

 

 

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More of the same with Church Sexual abuse


Nothing has changed. The pope has changed nothing with his Motu Proprio. Bishops are charged with being in charge of sexual abuse in their own dioceses. That worked out so well in the past…ask Mr. Theodore McCarrick.

Priorities are askew. Dogs, cats, family members are not aloud to live in rectories…at least in my diocese…technically lovers, (men or woman), are not aloud to live in the rectory either but that seems to be consistently overlooked. (If your lover is your dog or cat, that’s a whole other blog.)

Where do we as a Church go from here? (To hell in a hand basket?) This issue, sexual abuse, isn’t new in the Church.  That doesn’t make it okay. It does make it even sadder for those of us in the Church. What does one say to angry parishioners?  I let them know that I am angry too. I also let them know that we should not be part of the Church because of sinful men but because of a sinless God who we receive body, blood, soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.   Sometimes that seems to be all we have. Luckily that is enough.

So we plow forward.  What choice do we have? God does not change. We need to be in this for God and God alone.

 

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No More Words; the Church and abuse


I was sent a meme that sums up what it is the Catholic laity would like as well as a majority of clergy.  It says, “we’re not accepting verbal apologies this year, only changed behavior” I for one am tired of apologie after apologie and no change of action from the men who run the Church both universally and on the diocesan level.  

There was a song when I was young sung by the group Berlin titled, “No More Words”, a  song written by John Buckner Crawford.  Some of the lyrics apply. “Remember when the words were new/ they carried a meaning a feeling so new./…No more words (and no more promises)  That is all we are getting from the Church’s talking heads. ENOUGH! We need changed behavior because words and promises have been proven meaningless.

A few resignations and a slew of laicization’s do not help people who were sexually abused by priests or in anyway help the laity who have been thrust into this filth and oftentimes forced to choose sides.

If I knew the answer to this conundrum I certainly would share it.  Throwing money at victims does not work. That action neglects the laity in the pews.  Laicizing clerics does not help the laity or the abused. Theodore Cardinal McCarrick is now Mr. McCarrick…big deal.  And now because this filth has gone on for so long both the laity, who are victims of this filth, and the actual people who have been molested have not been served well by the Church.

We have a pontiff who is big on the mercy of God and on surprises of/by the Holy Spirit, so surprise us and like the meme says, “we’re not accepting verbal apologies this year, only changed behavior” 

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