February 10, 2009

Forget the Red Herrings, The Church Is At Fault

This past week brought yet another story of yet another clergy sex abuse settlement in this Archdiocese-this time against the Crosiers. Yet, another disgraceful story of clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. We’ve been hearing these stories for, oh, nearly 20 years now? We were one of the first but, as we all know, by no means the last.

I’m just sick when I read these stories of abuse and incompetence.

It’s not for me to question the legitimacy of each individual case or the motives of the attorneys involved in bringing these cases to court. Do I think that some of them could be bogus? Sure. There is a risk in ANY court case that it could be based on faulty information. Do I think some of the attorneys are in it for the money or to bring the Catholic Church down? Both? Sure, but as there are always principled attorneys there will be attorneys who are not so principled. Do I support an extension of the statute of limitation for these cases? Absolutely not. I would not support such an extension for any case. The further away from the alleged event, the weaker the availability of evidence and witness testimony.

Do I think the press reports with glee the failings of the Roman Catholic church in the matter of clergy sexual abuse? Sure. But, I think they seize any opportunity they can to make us look weak, irrelevant, or terrible whenever they think they can spin it as such and this is just one more story that provides grist for their mill. I think we all know the anti-Catholic bias of most of the media.

Over the weekend, Ruben Rosario, a columnist for the Pioneer Press weighed in with his thoughts about the Crosier settlement. You can read Mr. Rosario’s column here

I know there are folks who immediately say: “Well the Catholic Church is not the ONLY entity to ever sexually abuse! Look at the great numbers of school teachers, school bus drivers, Episcopalians, and Hare Krishnas arrested for the same crimes”

Yes, it’s terrible. It’s all terrible. All those organizations should be ashamed and I’m sure they are.

At the end of the day, throw all the smoke bombs, red herrings and diversions you want. It happened. Our Church did it. Mentioning all the other outfits that also had sexual abuse is pointless if your primary reason for doing so is to make us one of a long list of many. I don’t even care if you think the press picks on us, Catholics, more than them. So what? It still is a disgrace. Even if there was only ONE documented and proven case of Catholic clergy sexual abuse, that’s still one too many.

We will never heal if we don’t own up to the fact that there were Catholic priests who DID sexually abuse young people. I don’t care (and here’s another red herring usually thrown around) if it happened because all the offenders were closeted homosexuals or pedophiles or because our seminaries were bad. It still happened.

Our Church is responsible.

We need to make sure the clergy sexual abuse stops happening. We know about our history. The USCCB and the Vatican has made enormous strides is examining our seminaries and priestly formation as well as trying to ensure that lay people employed in our parishes and Catholic schools have had background checks. There may be much yet to be done but their start has provided a roadmap that even other denominations and private corporations are following.

Because clergy sexual abuse happened it does not suggest to me that there is anything wrong with our Faith or our hierarchical structure. (“Keep the Faith, Change the Church” folks I’m talking to you here). We are flawed. Even if we changed our church structure to something else, there would still be flawed and sinful people running it. We are as flawed as we’ve been since the Fall. A few Bishops and Superiors listened to the wrong advice and trusted that just talking with offenders or moving them around would solve the problem. Maybe they were stupid, maybe they protected their own, maybe they were naïve…maybe we’ll never know. Still, it happened and we are shamed.

Shame on us. Honestly, who cares about the money. If we don’t get our collective Church act together and learn from this disgraceful history, we’ll be paying more than money in the next life.


Blogger Sanctus Belle said...

Cathy, I must say I'm surprised at your blanket "we are responsible" ergo " we are all to blame" statement. I cannot for the life of me see how the average lay Catholic, sitting in the pew at Mass, giving when the basket comes around - Joe or Mary is in any way to blame or responsible for the evil that is priestly sexual abuse.

How does one blame the sheep when the shepherd leads them off a cliff? Unless one is knowingly complicit in priestly pederasty I fail to understand the culpability - except if you blame all church members for not praying enough for priests, but that does not negate the free will of the priest who abuses, nor the director of vocations of seminaries, nor the heretical teachers/priests who formed these monsters....etc.

I also believe any parish nor even the diocese ought to be held liable for one red cent unless the bishop or someone entrusted by the bishop knowingly reasigns an abusing priest - an analogy: If I as a health care provider willfully commit an act intending to harm my patient, I and I alone will pay the price in dollars and/or jail time. Not even malpractice insurance will pay one penny for what I have done. My employer is only on the hook if they know I'm incompetant and keep me on, or try to cover it up, or if I am not found to have willingly/purposefully caused harm, that is to say I make an honest mistake which causes harm. If I act criminally, no one will pay but me. I have then passed out of the realm of malpractice, and into the realm of criminal assault.

You can't tell me an abusing priest does not know for one second they are acting criminally so the parish/diocese ought not be held to pay. That of course is my opinion alone which of course means little to nothing, but that is another matter...:)

February 10, 2009 5:16 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Sanctus Belle: If we are all One Body of Christ don't we all hurt or fall when a member does. That's what I mean. Maybe responsibility is a poor choice of words.

What the main point of this diatribue of mine was, I'm tired of us raising the issue of "Oh, other institutions do it too" as a cover. Among other things.

I don't know. Maybe I should take this post down.

Of course, your opinion matters, SB. You are very wise and I value your insight very much.

February 10, 2009 6:22 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

I changed some of the wording from "we" to Church but I'm wondering does that even matter. Isn't that still "we"?

Where do you or can you (should you) seperate the hiarachy's actions (or laity) actions from the Church as a whole. Can you? Would we want to?

If that makes ANY sense.

February 10, 2009 6:33 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Cathy, thank you for this blog. I hope you don't take it down, as I do feel that it is needed to be read.

Here are my "rambling thoughts" on this matter.

As a "new" Catholic, I am reading this with an open mind and great interest. When friends and family questioned my joining the Church because of this very subject, I was quick to point out that I was joinging the church because of it's teachings, it's traditions, it's theology. I also ackknowledged that I believed while the Church leaders have made mistakes and mishandled this matter over the years, that "The Church" was taking good strides in working to rid the church of this horror.

And yes, I also suggested that "The Church" is not the only organization that draws pedophiles... I pointed out they are everywhere.... schools, other churches, and any youth type organizations. I even pointed out that on one of the "Dateline" stings, there had been a Rabbi arrested. And now, thanks to Cathy's blog, I understand how these comments do not help "The Church".

Am I myself responsible? No... Yet I have joined the Catholic community.... knowing and very conscious of this problem. I love this community... despite it's flaws. And I do think it's healthier to acknowledge that "yes there is a problem". I think that in doing so, in holding our heads up high, and not buried in the sand, that if we can all do this, that it's a major step forward in the healing process.

February 11, 2009 9:47 AM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

When I go to a new parish--and i used to move around a lot--I just made sure to mention that the next priest who hits on me gets punched in the nose.

The 1983 code of canon law removed automatic excommunication for hitting a priest.

It's not just kids, although kids are the evilist of it. I'll be 50 next month, and the last time was 4 years ago.

February 11, 2009 8:08 PM  
Blogger Belinda said...

Red, I am suprised that anyone hit on you. What with all of those Nun's protecting you with those guns - over on your blog.

February 26, 2009 10:27 PM  

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