Covid-19 and the Church Abuse connection

The Church has had a profound MISS with the Covid-19, China Virus as well as the Sexual Abuse Crises. The common issue is control. (Let’s pretend that the powers that-be in the Church are not thrilled that priestly sexual proclivities are out of the news for now.) And still the Church is desperately trying to control the flock.

One of the issues that should be obvious to ALL Catholic clergy is how the so-called vaccines are tainted by the death of children in the womb. The Johnson & Johnson shot has a direct cell line of an aborted infant in it. The Pfizer and Moderna shots are tainted by abortion because aborted baby cell lines were used in its testing. I learned in moral theology that is cooperation with evil. And yet we have some priests and bishops, (some are even Cardinals of the Church), pushing this to the point of penalizing some people who choose not to get the shot. Careers/jobs are threatened, going to school is threatened and receiving the Sacraments of the Church is threatened.

I am fully aware and fully believe that this virus is real. I also believe that it can and has been deadly to some of the people who have been infected by it. But, and there is a really significant but, it doesn’t rise to deadly crises status. Most of the people who get it do not die. Yet we have many people in the Church trying desperately to couch it in love of neighbor. That is a guilt trip tactic that goes hand in hand with the fear mongering that has been done by the press and politicians. It does not and should not be forced upon anyone. It does not matter how one feels about President Biden or former President Trump what matters is the connection to abortion that all three of the current shots have and the fear porn that is being propagated about this virus. I do have a co-morbidity so if I get the virus I will probably die from it. Even though that is scary for me, and I really do not want to die, I also do not want to cooperate with the evil of abortion.

When this shot was first offered it was offered as a panacea that would get our world back to normal. Booster shots are now being talked about because some of the people who got the shot still got the virus. We were told to wear masks because masks work. A CDC report came out saying masks don’t work. Yet that is another threat being used against us. Social distancing that I loved and embraced has been found in yet another study to not be effective in preventing the spread of the virus. So…everything we have been told and have been doing hasn’t really helped. And now we are being told we need to resume doing all of those things that have not been helpful. That is called psychotic.

Let me be clear here the Church is not the only entity doing this. Politicians, the media, and the public have all jumped on the shaming and demoralizing band wagon.
With the sexual abuse crises, the Church blamed others, called victims and their families names, advised that going public with these allegations against a priest is a sin…the Church slandered many. That and name calling were the modus operandi of the men of the Church.

So now what? Truth seems to be slow in coming both about this virus and also the abuse issue. It has been very telling watching the men in the Church twist themselves into pretzels over this issue, the same way they try to shirk any responsibility for the abuse in the Church. It seems that all weak people can do is lie, blame others, slander, call people names and then lie some more. God help us all.

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Betrayal by my diocese

Betrayal is a hard thing to incorporate into your life. People who have been abused in any way have been betrayed. Unfortunately, if you have been abused by an employee of the Church you are automatically set up for even more betrayal. Sad. My own timeline of betrayals illustrates that.

Betrayal – Sexual abuse by a priest.

He had been the first person I told I thought I had a vocation. I went into the seminary right after high school. It was a disaster. I left.
I re-entered after college and work.

Betrayal – A priest supervisor behaved inappropriately toward me and another seminarian.

Betrayal – After bringing it to the attention of the powers that be I became the problem.

I got no support. I kept being told that I was overreacting. The priest psychologist at the seminary said that they were under-reacting.

Betrayal – I was told to resign or be thrown out.

For the next five years I worked at a home for…how shall I say this…intellectually challenged, medically fragile children. Then I went back into a different seminary for a different diocese.

Betrayal – The earth-shaking revelations about the Boston Archdiocese Clergy Sexual Abuse issue.

At this point no one knew that it was a priest who sexually abused me. Once I had made the off-handed remark that I should sew because of what I had been put through in Philly. Someone told Bishop Michael Saltarelli.

Betrayal – The bishop asked if it weren’t punishment enough that the former priest supervisor had been laicized for homosexual molestation?

He had not even an inkling of how this effected victims.

Betrayal – I was not voted to be ordained a priest.

Granted I was barley keeping it together. Everything that was due was late and I no longer got to chapel early to pray. I couldn’t even sit up straight in chapel. Depression is a mental illness. I couldn’t help myself and no one helped me.

Betrayal – School drama.

Not being ordained I was sent to a parish with a school. I would be there a year. Once in a while I would go to visit the kindergarten kids. I made sure a teacher was always present. Because of the climate of the Church at that time, (that’s my guess), a teacher went to the principal,(there were three classes), the principle went to the pastor and he, in a tizzy, came to me. My response was, ‘The teacher was in the room!’ There was no accusation just paranoia. I won’t go into a school now unless it is to say mass.

Betrayal – As an ordained priest while dealing with molestation.

During my assignment as a hospital chaplain the grand jury report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Clergy Sexual Abuse was released. Both my abuser and the sleezy supervisor I had in the seminary were in it. I read the report twice. It devastated me. I demanded a transfer. I was told I’d have to meet with the bishop. I took it as a threat although I did not feel threatened by the bishop.

Betrayal – The meeting with the bishop.

I had already decided to reveal my molestation to the bishop. The start of the meeting was contentious. After revealing my molestation, it became a different meeting…caring and empathetic. I wondered why it wasn’t like that at the start.

Betrayal – Lies of a new bishop.

At his installation Bishop W. Francis Malooly said a lot of pretty words about how he cared about the abused in the Church. Not true. I don’t even remember the issue, but it was in the paper. He responded in what seemed to me was a knee-jerk reaction. I wrote him a strongly worded letter. In it I did say his response sounded petty and he isn’t a petty person. (I have revised my opinion.)

Betrayal – Funeral fiasco and no support.

A funeral I presided at became a defining event in my priesthood. A man came into the sacristy and said, ‘We’re ready’. This was witnessed by the permanent deacon who was with me. We both thought he was from the funeral home. He was from the deceased’s family. We started. The funeral director became apoplectic. After the funeral he yelled at me on the street. This was in front of the deceased’s family and the permanent deacon. I wrote him a letter saying in no uncertain terms that he was out of line and a bully. The letter was strongly worded. I did not threaten him, I did not threaten his family and I did not threaten his business. He took the letter to the bishop who sided with him against me. Turns out he is a big donor to the diocese.

Betrayal – Priest Personnel Board.

It was time for a transfer, and I had to go in front of the priest personnel board. Not a problem. The head of the bored had a copy of my letter to the bishop. I was not intimidated, in fact I thought, but didn’t say; You can wave that paper around until you take off and fly around the room it does not take away my right to say what I said. I think that the fact I was not intimidated caught him off guard.

Betrayal – The blame game at a priest gathering.

At one point in his pontificate Pope Benedict XVI told priests and bishops to stop blaming others for the clergy sexual abuse crises. He was pretty clear that it is our problem. And lo and behold Bishop Malooly got in front of all the priests of the diocese and started blaming the press. Two things here, as a sexual abuse survivor I was terribly insulted that once again everyone was being blamed but the priests who did it and the bishops who covered it up. I was also bothered by the facts being ignored and also ignoring the pope. At the comment session later that day I spoke, calling on the carpet the bishop I said a few things. The pope said not to blame others. Journalists would have nothing to write about if priests and bishops were living what they are supposed to live, what they proport to believe. Also, if Bobby is molested by his baseball coach although tragic it is worse when it is a priest because of the power we have and the life we are supposed to be living. (I also chose to ignore the low but audible groans coming from the older priests, also a betrayal.)

Betrayal – Being slandered by the bishop to other priests.

Such things always get back to a person, even if it takes a while. And it explains some of the things that other priests have said to me or reactions to me because of not fitting into the lies that were told about me. He’s gone. AMEN.

This, of course, is not an exhaustive list nor does not take into account the Universal Church and all the ways they have betrayed victims, the laity and both good and bad clergy. When I was in the seminary I could not fathom why or how someone goes through all of that, gets ordained, then leaves the priesthood. I would never do that, but I understand. That is really sad.

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Bone heads

On a zoom call yesterday I was able to witness first hand how at least one catholic diocese does not get the issue of abuse. (All abuse.) My volume had been disabled, good thing, and the moderator of the meeting did not have her phone with her. Obviously God was with us because I called her and I was angry! One of the participants whom I could hear but could not see…I don’t even know how to say it…said something akin to, the beatings won’t stop until morale improves.

Here is a little background; An organization called, Gather My Lost Sheep, founded for the sole purpose of making abuse survivors or those with mental illness feel that they have a place in the Church. That they indeed are loved by Jesus and the Church is a welcoming and safe place for them. I am on the board.

The bishop of the diocese of the founder tapped her to help implement this for anyone with mental illness. Of course she ran into trouble right away. A permanent deacon downloaded three videos she made and distributed them without compensating her. Now this is a non-profit not a free service. She put a ton of work into this project and deserves compensation.

One of the gentlemen at this meeting kept saying to her that she should be happy that she has been instrumental in helping others. Of course that doesn’t address compensation, put food on her table or a roof over her head. That is a perfect example of a person not getting the abuse thing. I was very angry.

And of course it brought to mind all the people in my life who really do not understand including my current bishop. The scariest thing is that these people think they actually do understand.

This is what victims are up against, people who do not get it but think they do and saying things like compensation for work doesn’t matter. (That priest only molested five boys in his first parish before we moved him. or The Boy Scouts of America had a worse problem with sexual malfeasance among their ranks.)

However this meeting was not about the clergy sex scandal it was about understanding people who have been traumatized and/or people dealing with mental illness. How can a safe space be created when you have people saying bone headed things.

I told ‘C’ to get out of that diocese and away from those toxic people. That takes money and she doesn’t have any. She keeps tapping into her retirement savings to make ends meet…but she should be happy.

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I thought, Good God I have Become Unbelieving Like the Bishops

Recent developments in the Church are the same old same old. There was nothing new or even changed in the new pronouncements issued from Rome in the ongoing disgrace of priest sexual abuse or homosexual behavior. There are priests who actually teach and preach the gospel who are being persecuted by their bishops. And now this…

I know this is on a local level but, using the word of the moment, it is systemic. I was at dinner the other night with four other priests when one of them decided to excoriate victims of clergy sexual abuse. This priest said that he has had four different people come to confession to him and admit that they made up allegations of abuse by dead priests because they needed the money. What? Where is my money?

Of course I did not believe him. Then I wondered why he was telling us something that was said in confession. This priest is not assigned to a parish because he is on sick leave so these people either sought him out or just happened to be in parishes where he was being paid to hear confessions. If true it cannot and should not be used to dismiss allegations of priest/clergy sexual abuse but that is what it was used for.

UG! On reflection on this conversation I thought, Good God I have become unbelieving like the bishops. Whether this confessional revelation happened or not is not the point. The point is the dismissal of all allegations based on four people, (if they even exist), and their revelation that they lied. And really the implication is that I have lied. Why would anyone put themselves through the hell of coming forward with sexual abuse allegations? That is one of the reasons I do not believe this priest. A payout of one million dollars would not be enough. Money can never replace what has been taken away from me or compensate for what I have been through.

To cheapen and/or dismiss allegations against priests sexual proclivities seems to me that, like Abel’s blood crying out from the earth to God, a steep penalty will be incurred in eternity. Also anyone bringing false allegation against someone, even if confessed, will incur a steep penalty even if it is not hell.

I advise everyone to pray for clergy sexual abusers, the clergy sexually abused, anyone making false allegations and anyone spreading lies about the heinousness of clergy sexual abuse with the intent to minimalize it or dismiss it.

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Grave sin

Look at the state of the Roman Catholic Church, Sacrilegious Holy Communion, blessing sin in sinful sexual relationships, sexual abuse by priests, priests who actually teach and preach the true gospel of the one true God being persecuted by their own bishops, bishops acting as CEO’s and not as shepherds seemingly not caring about the salvation of souls forgetting that being a great shepherd will inevitably lead to great success in their dioceses.

Going back to the whole sexual abuse by priests issue. Looking at the dire state of the Roman Catholic Church world wide, is it a wonder when some bishops and some priests aren’t following the real and true teaching of Jesus Christ?

Here is the reality, or what should be the reality, today’s priests should be preaching the same gospel that was preached by Saint Paul over 2000 years ago. And we need to remember the words of Saint Paul in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings…”

So many people have embraced diverse and strange teachings including some priests and bishops, not only embracing them but spreading them to the detriment of souls. I understand that the baptized are effected by the residual effects of original sin. ALL OF US ARE SINNERS. Wallowing in our sin is anathema to God. (We ALL need to repent of our sins.) You cannot repent of your sin when you embrace your sin.

Clearly sexual predator’s have embraced their sin. They can freely choose not to sin, (a struggle, sometimes called a cross, but still possible), just as serial killers and serial rapists really can choose not to kill or rape. We always have the choice. Once we make the incorrect choice, choosing sin, one time it makes choosing sin much easier the next time.

As a result we have a Church in the state that it is in.

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Sexual Abuse and Me, Excuses don’t Wash With God

While ministering to a man who is getting ready for his trip into eternity I said something to him that was not only exceedingly brilliant, (so obviously it was God and not me), it took my breath away. This man is having a lot of anger issues with his ex-wife, his current wife, his daughters, his current wife’s daughter, his granddaughter and a myriad of other people. I told him that it did not matter what they did or didn’t do because at his judgement he will be alone with God and excuses don’t wash. Lightbulb!!!! So I cannot wallow in the sexual abuse I experienced, (not that I do), at the hands, and other parts, of a priest.

Of course that hasn’t taken away bad reactions to triggers or anger caused by do nothing, lying, victim blaming bishops, priests and laity. But it did offer me a new perspective in my struggle into eternity. Excuses don’t wash with God.

The healing that I seek can only be brought about by God and my cooperation with his grace. Programs like Grief to Grace are a great jumping off point but even as I was going through it, (and it helped immensely), I knew that wasn’t the end. As I get further away from that immense help that Grief to Grace provided me I have come to realize, even though I knew it all the time, That not only was I not abandoned by God but only God can make me whole again. I will always be damaged but that’s not an excuse.

Now let me relate a little story from many years ago. I was celebrating the Lord’s Supper. In the congregation I saw a man who looked sort of, kind of, like the priest who molested me. I knew it wasn’t him. My intellect was quite clear on that point. But, and it’s a big but, seeing this man still triggered a panic attack in me. I didn’t suffer paralysis and I finished mass but it was a quite uncomfortable and a somewhat scary moment.

Ultimately it will be God who heals me. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to speak up when members of the Church are being bone heads in regards to the issue of abuse. Their eternal salvation might depend on it, and so might mine, so they need to be called out and corrected.

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I’ll continue to flatter myself and fantasize that I am above all this corruption in the Church…and I’ll continue to hope and pray for all of us.

Pondering my own abuse in the Church and pondering so many other’s abuse, and the fact that we are still seeing that nothing is really, truly, being done to address the pain and loss of faith that has overwhelmed so many people. I asked myself, what would I have done if I were a bishop? I like to flatter myself and say that I would have made sure that it would never have reached critical mass. I also like to flatter myself and think I would have listened with empathy and compassion to victims and their families who are also victims.

I am pretty sure I would not have been hateful, arrogant and aloof. Maybe a kneejerk reaction, at least with the first report, would have been horror and disbelief. The horror would NEVER go away. Any disbelief would move from victims to a disbelief that a priest could ever engage in this activity and yet has.

Again, I like to think that I would do the right thing and not be hateful to victims and their families. The operating of some in the Church out of hate belies their own distance from God, not a made up god of their creation, but the one true God. For the moment I’m not angry I’m sad. It is a sadness for everyone who is involved. It is a sadness that dwells in the very depth of me. And, of course I wait for the next time that betrayal comes to me from within the Church, (it has on numerous occasions, even as a priest), and I have to wonder will the anger come gushing back. I sincerely hope not. Dealing on a daily basis with the arrogance of some bishops, priests, deacons and lay-people is difficult. Right now it makes me sad but it’s better than overwhelming anger.

I’ll continue to flatter myself and fantasize that I am above all this corruption in the Church…and I’ll continue to hope and pray for all of us.

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We love God by doing what he says. That makes us a part of the flock that the Good Shepherd talks about

We have had many gospels lately, as well as other readings and commentaries in the life of the Church, on the Good Shepherd. This is what I get out of it based on my life experience and more in depth reading. The Good Shepherd, Jesus, out of LOVE has laid down His life for us, his sheep. Who are his sheep? The answer is NOT everyone but only those that love him, Jesus the Good Shepherd. How does one prove their love??? By doing what God says to do. So if you are bucking against God and his teachings/commandments by the definition of the love of God you are not part of the flock…you are not one of he sheep. (One has to love the true God and his teachings not a god of our own making.)

Okay, so far so good. Of course we are all sinners and all have the residual effects of original sin after baptism. That is why we sin. But we are still supposed to strive to love God and follow ALL of what he has left us. As Roman Catholics this is both scripture and tradition. (No matter what non-believers say tradition NEVER contradicts scripture.) We prove that we are one of God’s flock by loving God. We love God by doing what he says. Remember the transfiguration when God says that this is my son do what he says. We are commanded to do what he says…not make it up as some do.

Okay, we love God by doing what he says. We are a part of the flock that the Good Shepherd talks about. We pay attention to scripture and tradition and realize when we sin we need to get back with God. ( We have turned away from God when we sin but turn back to him when we repent.) The flock is world wide.

That leads us to the saints and most specifically the martyrs. The martyrs perfectly imitated the Good Shepherd. Remember, the flock is universal so even if a martyr dies alone, (Maria Goretti), or in a group, (Isaac Jogues & companions, [the North American Martyrs]), They died as part of the flock so they died for us also. Ergo, if we are a part of the flock and we die for Jesus Christ we have also died for the flock. The martyrs are our friends even if we never knew them in this life, even if they have died long ago. They laid down their lives for their friends, the flock, imitating the Good Shepheard.

How does this tie in with clergy sexual abuse? Abusers were never in the flock. They are the wolves talked about in scripture. Their abuse has more times than not scattered the sheep. Abusers are stealing from the flock. And yet the Church has done very little. They protect wolves and neglect the sheep. Again by definition if you protect wolves and neglect the sheep you are really not a part of the flock. Sad. We love God by doing what he says. That makes us a part of the flock that the Good Shepherd talks about.

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Money loving bishops are not the truth. Jesus is truth.

Let me start by saying that I have mulled this since the death of my sister. When that happened, of course, my brother-in-law was distraught. As families often do when we were gathered together planning the funeral we talked. My brother-in-law said something that I knew was important but since I too was morning I just filed it away in my mind. My brother-in-law said that whenever he was having a really bad day and would come home when he was hugged by my sister all the bad stuff, the bad day, just melted away.

That should be what happens in our relationship with God. So why hasn’t that happened to me surrounding my molestation and other trauma that has been inflicted on me, some of it by the Church herself? Pondering this and praying about this I have come to the conclusion that the issue is to great to be melted away…not the bad stuff mind you because God can do anything…but the issue itself. The issue of priest abuse needs to be confronted still.

Here is a little story, a true story, about non-sexual priest abuse, well bishop abuse. Once upon a time I was celebrant at a funeral mass. So far so good. I was told by a man who actually came into the sacristy that “they” were ready. The deacon witnessed this also. So we started. It turns out that person was from the family not the funeral home. Mass for the deceased still got said and all spiritually was well. Then, on the street in front of the deceased’s family and the deacon the funeral director yelled at me about starting. The fact we were in public apparently did not matter. Nor did the fact that I was directed to start. This particular funeral director is a blowhard and a bully. I sent him a very strongly worded letter saying as much.

Now remember my background of sexual abuse and all the baggage that goes with that. Needless to say I was set off. My letter to him was strongly worded and did point out that his behavior was inexcusable. (After the fact I wondered what happened to him to help shape his blowhard, abusive personality.) The letter did not threaten him, his family, his business or anything. I even passed it trough my therapist who agreed it was strongly worded but a good letter none-the-less.

What happened? Bishop Francis Malooly got ahold of it and sided with the funeral director and not me, one of his priests who got yelled at on the street. SPINELESS. I found out later That the funeral director was a large donor to the diocese. AHHHH, it now made sense. It turned out money was more important than the truth.

That is just like the sexual scandal, money is more important than the truth. I look around at the bishops and archbishops and what I see mostly is men that will let evil slide if money is involved. That makes them cooperators with evil. I am very aware that these feelings are colored by the sexual abuse I suffered but they are also colored by what I have experienced in the Church. Is it a wonder that laypeople are leaving in droves? The truth means nothing to the institution or the men who run it. Truth can be relativized when money is involved. But they, and we, need to remind ourselves that Jesus is truth.

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Mental illness does not disqualify you from sainthood

St. Augustine, St. Flora of Beaulieu, St. Ignatius of Loyola,  St. Jane Frances de Chantal,  St. Noel Chabanel, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), these are just some of the canonized saints who suffered depression, a common mental illness that can be persistent or intermittent. It is what they did with their particular difficulties brought on by their depression that has made them canonized saints in the Catholic Church. Yes they can be seen as mentally ill but they can also be looked on as inspirations to all of us as examples of what we can accomplish with God and in spite of mental illness. Sanctity is in the struggle. We are all called to be saints and we all have our own struggles. Why do I bring that up? If you are the victim of priest sexual abuse somewhere down the line you probably have had depression. Self medication with drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping/spending money or whatever you choose as your coping mechanism does not and will not help. Suicide also will not help nor will homicide. The saints did not choose either of these because they choose perseverance and to struggle against their natural, (or unnatural), inclinations. Sanctity is in the struggle.

How many people who were abused by priests chose suicide? How many chose homicide? How many chose to deaden their pain with drugs and alcohol? It is telling that the Church then turned around and pointed out that the individual coping mechanisms victims use to survive the trauma makes the Church discount the validity of the abuse. They seem to discount their own culpability. See that person is a drug addict or alcoholic so the problem is with them. See that person committed suicide so obviously they are crazy and we can dismiss what they have to say. I could go on… In our society today we here the term cancel culture a lot. Sadly the Church did that early on to victims of abuse. I guess the thought from the Church is if you can silence victims or cancel them then there isn’t really a problem. You can’t be believed if you are not heard. The trouble with that is once the problem reaches critical mass it explodes into the consciousness of the world. What was done in the darkness is brought into the light.

That is my theory as to why this scandal is still going on in the Catholic world. Pray!!!

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