Thursday, April 15, 2010

An Un-Holy, Holy Week

Imagine for one moment that the Cover-Up scandal involving Catholic bishops was about superintendents of schools instead of bishops. What if it were grammar school teachers who were pedophiles? Imagine the offending teachers being transferred from one school to another and parents/guardians being given financial settlements with provisions that effectively prevented the victims from making public statements regarding the abuse. Can you imagine what would happen to the Superintendent of a school district who obstructed justice? How long would it take before the local District Attorney pressed criminal charges?

Here is where the analogy fails. Unlike the Public School System, Roman Catholic Diocese are corporations. Corporations enjoy all the legal rights of individuals without the legal responsibilities of individuals. Add to that the social/political clout of the bishops and their extensive financial power and you begin to understand why not one bishop has been prosecuted for obstruction of justice in criminal cases. These are not “white collar” (no pun intended) financial crimes, but crimes in which minors have been sexually abused.

This is why the Cover-Up is actually as bad as the pedophilia itself. The Cover-Up not only is an obstruction of justice in which victims and their families are marginalized and left to fend for themselves. The Cover-Up actually facilitates new case of abuse because bishops/superiors who knew of the abuse transferred the pedophile to new parishes. In several cases, the pedophile was moved across international boarders, thereby undermining any judicial action. All of this has been done to protect not the pedophile priest, but the institution and its reputation and wealth.

In a truly disgusting display during Holy Week, the Vatican has attempted to cast itself as the “victim” in all of this comparing itself with those who suffered the Holocaust. Cardinal Angelo Sodano then dismissed countless legal cases as “rumor.” As if the testimony of thousands of victims and the judicial proceedings of many countries are comparable to coffeehouse and locker room gossip.

The latest insult is an attempt by Cardinal Bertone of the Vatican to scapegoat gays for the pedophilia scandal. This despite psychological evidence to the contrary. However, the Vatican is not primarily interested in Science, or in the pursuit of the truth. They are; however, very desperately interested in pinning responsibility for their horrific crimes on anyone else. Hmmm, perhaps this last Holy Week was in fact the most honest commemoration of the original Holy Week in that sense.


M.T. said...

i'm tired of getting emails telling me i should pray for the pope, as he is being persecuted. that's not supporting the pope, it's just adding to the problem. the pope already has too many yes men telling him he's being persecuted. i pray for the pope, but i'm praying that he'll realize that yes men are careerists who will say what's good for their own advancement. the pope has nowhere higher to go. he should close his ears to them, practice some discernment, and do some things that would be truly helpful right now: refuse to accept the smokescreen arguments that he and the church are victims, admit either poor judgement or poor oversight, stop blaming innocent gay men and journalists (who have done a great service to the church by exposing the cases of abuse), and lead. 'cause he ain't leading now. that's my novena for the holy father.

Mareczku said...

Hi Father Geoff: I hope that all is well with you. I just got off from the California Catholic Daily. They have another picture of you posted and people are sitting in judgement. How did you ever put up with bigots for all those years? How can people call themselves Christian when they are filled with so much hate. Keep the faith, my friend. God bless you.

Leonard said...

With full respect to the Roman Catholic Church (and I do love it) I find the ¨unfortunate¨ TRUTH you describe above has only one solution...the Pope must beg, not ask, for forgiveness for/from ALL those he has harmed and deceived through his ill-handling of a decades long sexual abuse far we have seen no humility of the personal kind necessary to have compassion for him, so far we have seen deflecting, arrogance and blameshifting by his´s is hard for me to imagine any other healthy solution in a world where HONESTY must thrive...he ought repent his deeply entrenched bad judgment or step down in disgrace...sooner rather than later as this exposed situation is burning way out of control and nobody will forget the blame and the shame until he asks for forgiveness, that would relight the passion for Christian belief...surely there are wholesome Bishops and Cardinals of good will/standing who can fill the duties of leadership at the Vatican in a FLASH...the old mens club must renounce their conniving ways, resign, retire and serve out their various ministries on the fronts of poverty and need in various parts of the World troubled by disaster and will be a cleansing process no doubt and a inspiration to the ages.

Lord hear my prayer

Sebastian said...

We should pray for the pope, and all bishops and priests - but this does not mean that we should pray that they be left off the hook. We should pray for their illumination, we should pray for their conversion, we should pray that they grow pairs of cojones and learn to act as if they believe the Gospel and fear God, not men. We should pray for the victims, and we should pray for ourselves. Many of us are faced with the prayer of Ester this Easter season: "O Lord, Our Kink, you alone are God. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand." Esther C:14b-15

Matthew said...

I especially liked your last sentence. It reminded me of an interpretive stations of the cross that I did years ago. At one of the stations you only see the backs of people, not their faces. A participant asked why you could not see their faces. The response was something like because if you saw their faces, one of them might be you.

Frank said...

One thing that could begin a healing process would be a sincere, meaningful and severe public act of penance in done in humility by the Pope himself. I don't think anything short of that would be sufficient.

jamez said...

As someone who has experienced the path of familial sexual abuse, I can tell you that all members of the Church need to seriously examine our consciences, make amends and transform ourselves as a Church in order to set ourselves aright enough to become credible heralds of the Gospel again. This is a very difficult and sordid thing to do as on a scale of 1 to 10, the Ick factor in all of this is about 100 or more.
We need to stop rallying around the perpetrators. It does them no good. It will wither their path to wholeness and transformation and the system will not be healed. You can love someone who has perpetrated but would you place your vulnerable ones in their path after finding that they have done such things? We cannot just entrust this process to the USCCB or to the Vatican. We must disenthrall ourselves from our Egyptian sweat pots and take it upon ourselves to form the leadership parameters needed to set these relationships right again and ensure that it Never Happens Again.