This is an e-mail sent to my bishop in response to a letter about the dioceses bankruptcy he sent via e-mail.
I was encouraged to read in your letter that was e-mailed to priests; “These non-monetary provisions are designed to further promote healing and reconciliation“. Can I have an explanation of how that is going to work? I do have some thoughts about how to approach the known victims. It has to be done on an individual basis. The abuse happened individually so the approach should be individual. The only reason people have been lumped into the “victim” pool is because the problems that should have been handled on an individual basis were not. Victims had to pull together in order to be heard and not be dismissed as so often happened. As a victim I do appreciate when I am addressed as a person and not as a group.
Something else for you to consider, know about, understand, in a case like ___ ____who needed to approach the diocese to pay for his Grief to Grace retreat…how can I put this delicately…it is not the job of the diocese to get clearance from an individual’s therapist to find out his/her status in therapy even if it is in the interest of doing less harm. It feels invasive, it feels controlling, it places a person who already has little or no trust of Church officials in a bad place. It is a trigger and feels like abuse. Even though technically it is your business it is really none of your business. I do not know about how other organizations promoting healing and reconciliation operate but Grief to Grace makes it a part of their application process to get clearance from a therapist. Professional therapists should deal with their own. A diocese official/employee should have no part in that.
You know that it has been eight years since the Archdiocese of Boston’s clergy sexual abuse problem explosively became public. For all of that time blame for the breadth of the scandal was placed on the media, then on lawyers of victims and the victims themselves. Until Pope “Benedict on May 11 said that the “sins inside the church” posed the greatest threat to the church, adding that “forgiveness does not substitute for justice.” In placing the blame for sex abuse directly on the church, Benedict appeared to distance himself from other church officials who have criticized the news media for reporting on the sex abuse crisis, which they called attacks on the church.” [from the New York Times] But the damage had been done and now we are faced with a laity, (some laity), who blame/hate the victims and cannot grasp that the issue is beyond monetary compensation. I was even told by one of our parishioners that she did not care if a victim lost their soul over this. She said this in reference to my saying that there needs to be healing and the pursuit of healing is not cheap. Honestly her mind-set scares me.
Filing for bankruptcy only added to the animosity. When lay pensions were thought to be in jeopardy several people I know blamed the sexual abuse victims. They cannot or do not want to face that the scandal and its scope are Church made … not media made … not victim made… not lawyer made… I myself have spent much of my time lately trying to defend victims, and have had to point out that the gospels DO apply in this situation, that out of LOVE we need to help victims, that out of LOVE we cannot wish harm, (read death), on priests who abused, that collective constructive anger is not bad and in fact can help get things fixed and changed, (Jesus in the Temple). Frankly it’s getting old and is making me crazy. And really the focus needs to be on promoting healing and reconciliation. I sincerely hope that is the goal of the diocese too.