Saturday, March 19, 2011

They wouldn't have amounted to much, anyway

"Because so many victims have spent their early lives in the care system the church has argued that as adults they wouldn't have amounted to much anyway."

That's a quote from a British attorney, Richard Scorer, who represents victims of abuse by Catholic priests. He was referring to compensation claims, which he says "don’t seek to punish the wrongdoer, but to put the victim in the financial position they would be without the abuse."

Many of the victims were in the church-run care system, which apparently was not terribly successful if most of the children who came out of it didn't "amount to much." I don't know which is more disturbing, the fact that they're implying their care systems were substandard or that they continue to place so little value on the lives of the victims.

To read the entire article:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When Suffering is Glorified

One of the reasons the Roman Catholic Church has not acted more aggressively to end the rapes and sexual assaults of children and young people by clergy members is because they believe suffering brings a person closer to God. (The more spiritually-oriented believe this; for many bishops and other higher-ups, the church is simply a business.)

When I received a letter from the bishop apologizing for the assault I experienced by a priest in his diocese, the bishop said, "You have suffered much." The statement felt less like an apology than a compliment. Like, you have earned a jewel for your crown, my child.

So when I found this story in an article about Mother Teresa's charity, I felt it was applicable to the clergy sexual assault crisis.

Even patients in unbearable pain were refused strong painkillers, not because the order did not have them, but on principle. `The most beautiful gift for a person is that he can participate in the suffering of Christ,' said Mother Teresa. Once she had tried to comfort a screaming sufferer, `You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you.' The sufferer screamed back, furious, `Then tell your Jesus to stop kissing me.'......

Indeed. Let's sit back and let the hierarchy enjoy the Jesus kisses for awhile, as they wrestle with a world far less willing to accept their abuse than in generations past.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm Sorry But... They Made Us Do It

When Pope Benedict spoke to the cardinals gathered in Rome, he actually had a few good things to say about the Roman Catholic clergy sex crime scandal. He told the cardinals the church needed to examine what was wrong in its teachings that it had "allowed such a thing to occur" and spoke of the church's responsibility to help the victims. I experienced a brief and fleeting moment of hope. I really should have known better.

He undid any good he might have done by casting part of the blame on that ole' devil, Secular Society. Secular Society looks lightly on pedophilia, you see.

"There exists a market of pornography regarding children that seems to be increasingly accepted as normal by society,” he said.

Accepted as normal? We must travel in different social sets, the pope and I, because I can't think of a single friend, acquaintance or business associate who would say s/he thinks child porn is "normal" or anything less than appalling.

As Margaret Kennedy of the Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors group, said, “He is trying to say that the modern world is corrupt and sexually rampant. It is blaming society for what is actually their responsibility,” she said. “No one in any age has ever thought that adults having sex with children is right.”

And he blames the '70s. Apparently there were some scholars in Secular Society who taught pedophilia was okay, and that's where it all started, this business of priests raping children and bishops covering up for them. Which tells me this pope is still not willing to tell the truth, because survivor blogger Kay Ebeling has printed many scanned documents that tell the story of Father Gerald Fitzgerald, who ran a center for pedophile priests in the '50s and '60s. Fitzgerald's center was, at one time, located on an island, Tortola, kind of a Guantanamo Bay for rapist priests. He wanted to keep them there indefinitely but was ordered to return them to a mainland treatment center in New Mexico. From there, they were funneled to more unsuspecting parishes located at great distances from where they had previously "served."

Fitzgerald's communications reached the highest echelons of the church hierarchy, so it's completely false to state this situation was caused by the wild and crazy '70s, or that they did not know it was going on. Heck, even Dante wrote about priests who raped youth, way back in the 1300s. In his classic work, "Inferno," there was a special circle of hell to which they (and the hierachy who enabled them)were consigned.

One can only hope.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Previous governor acted to assist child-raping priest in Wisconsin

Predator priest, whose strange case revealed how deep the reach of hierarchy in political world, scheduled for trial
SNAP Wisconsin

Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director — CONTACT: 414.429.7259/

State of Wisconsin criminal justice officials are to be commended for their persistence in keeping behind bars Fr. Norbert Maday, whose strange case illustrates how deep the reach the catholic hierarchy has in the political world but also, fortunately, how civil and criminal law, when fully and aggressively used, are keeping children safe. ...

Mayday was convicted in the mid 1990s’ for bringing grade school children from his Chicago parish to Wisconsin for purposes of sexually assaulting them. At the time, he was also convicted for intimidating a witness, when he threatened to kill a victim’s older brother if he testified. Hardly, in other words, a model priest and citizen.

Yet, that did not stop, in a truly bizarre act of political favoritism, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, in 1997, at the personal request of Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, from ordering his legal counsel and state corrections officials to arrange to have the body of Maday’s mother transported from Chicago, across state lines, to the Fox Valley Correctional Institute so the priest could have a private viewing and service before her burial. State law prohibits imprisoned felons from attending funerals, which can be videotaped. So, Thompson brought the body to Mayday.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blue Bloods off my Must-View List

I've gotten hooked on the new CBS show Blue Bloods. Normally I'm not into police dramas, but, like most women of a certain age, I've got a little crush on Tom Selleck, who's still just as compelling as years back when he played Magnum PI. The entire cast is very talented in their portrayal of an Irish-Catholic police family living in New York City. Their involvement in law enforcement goes back three or more generations. While I've really enjoyed the show up to this point, I'm not sure I'm going to continue watching it.

Last Friday the show involved kids in a Catholic high school selling drugs. The clergy staff members were reluctant to cooperate with the police, but Selleck's character, Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, told the priest, "You don't want to sweep another problem under the rug."

I had a little hope.

But later in the show, Reagan met with the bishop. He couldn't have been more nauseating, with the "your excellency" and the kowtowing. Selleck's character suggested the cardinal give a press conference to address the issue and said he would stand beside him, "just like he has stood with the Reagan family."

This hits too close to home, as I know of far too many cases where the linkage between abusive clergy and law enforcement has been, indeed, a fine blue/black line. Cases where law enforcement's reluctance to arrest clergy for the most egregious crimes makes me wonder what exactly is behind this unholy alliance.

The priest who assaulted me, Patrick McElliott, was well-known to law enforcement in Waterloo, Iowa. Several officers went to the bishop and insisted the bishop send him away after he assaulted one too many young girls in that city. Of course, he went on to the next parish after a short stop at rehab and continued committing crimes against children and young people throughout his career and into retirement.

My mother had a saying she used, usually when discussing situations I didn't understand when I was little. She would be talking about people who were supposedly upstanding members of the community, and she would shake her head and say, "They're thick as thieves." I didn't get it: weren't thieves bad guys whom the good guys (cops) put in jail?

Far too often, abusive clergy and corrupt law enforcement operated together to prevent justice from being served. I've suddenly lost a lot of respect for Commissioner Reagan, fictional character though he is. And Blue Bloods has lost a fan.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Anne Rice on Clergy Abuse Crisis

The following is a section of an article in about author Anne Rice's decision to leave Christianity "for the sake of Christ." I am thankful that Rice states what so many survivors have felt: that far too many Catholics are still complicit in the sexual assault crisis.

In answer to whether she will miss Catholicism, Rice addresses that too:

I will probably miss the ritual, the liturgy, going to Mass, going to holy communion, but I really couldn't go anymore...I was too angry. I was too confused. That clergy abuse scandal, the defensiveness of Catholics about that scandal, their anger at not wanting to hear about it, not wanting to know what had happened with priests abusing people sexually and then being transferred to parish — from parish to parish, I mean all of that was too much. I was — I was sitting in church in a beautiful environment with beautiful music wanting to pray and I was too angry and too confused to be there. I had to leave. It was coming between me and God to be in that church. And the church should be the place that helps you get close to God.

Read more:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Child Welfare Not a Priority for Catholic Church

The Vatican's Child Rights Report to the U.N. is 13 years overdue, according to this A.P. report:

While you might wonder how much value should be placed on a children's rights report from an organization known to have callously disregarded said rights, you might be heartened to hear "a paragraph will be dedicated to the problem of child abuse by Catholic clergy," according to Vatican spokesman Hubertus Matheus Van Megen. Gee, a whole paragraph. Knock yourselves out, will you.

And then Van Megen told the U.N. an out-and-out lie.

"While many speak of child abuse as pedophilia, it would be more correct to speak of ephebophilia, being a homosexual attraction to adolescent males," he told the rights council, claiming critics had misrepresented the situation. "Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80-90 percent belong to this sexual orientation minority, which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the age of 11 and 17 years old."

That is a blatant lie. In the United States, at least 30% of the victims have been female, which would mean the rest of the cases could not possibly be more than 70%. I do not know the numbers, but I do know a significant amount of abuse involved children younger than 11. If that number was only 10%, we would now be down to 60%, which is statistically quite different from "80-90%."

The Vatican continues to try to frame this as a gay issue. It's not. Even when the assaults involved young seminarians, men in their late teens and early twenties, the imbalance of power is such that the real issue is abuse, not sex. It's about men in power using their authority wrongly. It's about deceit, dishonesty and an unwillingness to own responsibility for wrong-doing, while at the same time trying to present themselves as a moral authority.