Yesterday I had a meeting with the bishop about the way that the priest sexual scandal is being handled by the Church…(not well). In my opinion the meeting went well. It was in no way contentious but informative.
Speaking of my own experience as a victim and how things are presented by the diocese to the public I often find things said and/or reported to be hurtful. And even if that is not the intention it is the reality. I will say, for good or bad, that as a victim and also as a priest I am very sensitive to what is being put forth by the diocese and the Church as a whole. Some would say hyper-sensitive.
I asked about the settlement and the simultaneous announcement of the closing of a school. Some of the money from the settlement came from an account that helped keep the school open. It was never propagated that there had been talks about closing the school for several years. So it WAS NOT the settlement with victims that was responsable for the school closing but the two were connected even though they are in no way connected. The result is that parishioners think that the victims are the villains when in truth the villains are past bishops and sexual molesting priests. It is accurate to say that everyone in the Church is a victim of what was and what was not done.
Another of the problems are priests themselves, (at least some of them). The behavior that I have witnessed reinforces the parishioners attack on victims. There has been a tendency, and I have been present for this, for some priests to latch on to one abuse complaint that might seem weak to them, say that victim is only in it for money and then jump to a dark, cynical place that ALL victims are in it for money. That way of thinking just reinforces the seeming hatred that the parishioners have for victims.
The bishop told me that there are only a handful of allegations that have been brought forth that are a little dicey but have still been found credible and none the less have to be treated like the vast majority of cases. I found myself telling him to tell his priests that information.
Progress? Fingers crossed.