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On sex abuse, Francis - alas - sings a familiar tune

If there's an area in which Pope Francis has been a disappointment, it's in responding to the sex-abuse crisis. In most ways he strikes me as a hierarch who is unusually aware of how the Church is perceived by the broader world, and he has done a lot indirectly to repair the damage to the church's credibility that resulted from the sex-abuse scandal. But he has said and done little about the scandal itself, despite his refreshing frankness on so many other issues. And now that he has spoken about the issue, in the interview just published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, his take is not exactly encouraging.

Here's the relevant excerpt, as reported in Vatican Insider's account:

Speaking about the horrific abuse of children by priests, Francis said “the cases of abuse are terrible because they leave very deep wounds”.  Benedict XVI “was very courageous and opened a road, and the Church has done a lot on this route, perhaps more than all others”, he stated. He noted that the statistics reveal the tremendous violence against children, but also that the vast majority of abuse takes place in the milieu of the family and those close to them.  The Church is the only public institution to have moved “with transparency and responsibility”, he said; no one else has done as much as it, “but the Church is the only one to be attacked”.

Oh brother.

Francis is not the first defender of the church to speak as though it's obvious that sexual abuse is rampant in any organization you can name, and we just don't hear about it because the media hates the Church. There have been revelations of abuse and cover-up in other institutions: scouting, private schools, Hasidic communities. But it isn't just distorted perspective that makes the church's sex-abuse problems stand out: it's the scale of the abuse and the mishandled response, the persistence of the problem, and the lack of transparency and responsibility that has made the church's scandal such a mainstay in the media for so long. Then, too, there's the fact that the church is a church, which ups the conscience-shocking factor. And it's a church with a very strong, very visible authority structure, so when leaders commit crimes -- or fail to admit mistakes -- it reflects badly on everyone and everything.

If the church's leaders have responded with compassion, transparency, and a willingness to reform -- and some have, but not everywhere, and not consistently -- it was only after decades of foot-dragging and an understandable but regrettable impulse to downplay from the enormity of the problem. The extent to which the Catholic Church today represents a threat to the well-being of children is often exaggerated, and the subject of sexual abuse is exploited by people eager to discredit religion in general and Catholicism in particular. It's frustrating. But it's a situation we brought on ourselves, and complaining about it now is no way to fix things. And make no mistake: things haven't been fixed. I'm hoping the pope knows that, or will soon speak to someone who can tell him so.

Speaking of missed opportunities:

Asked why he doesn’t speak about the so-called “non-negotiable values”, particularly in the field of bioethics and sexual morality, Pope Francis stumped the interviewer by telling him, “I have never understood the expression ‘non-negotiable values’.  Values are values. Full stop! I cannot say that among the fingers of a hand there is one more useful than another. So I do not understand in what sense there can be negotiable values”.

If only he had thought to ask George Weigel about that when he met with him earlier this week!
Surely Weigel would have been happy to explain.

About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an associate editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.

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Sad - but his history is not remarkable in this area.  IMO, unless he dares to deal with this issue honestly, openly, and directly his achievements will be limited and marred.

He needs to approach this issue in the same way that he has dealt with the Vatican finances.

Abused victims are also the poorest of the poor' they are on the periphery - and to repeat the tired, old memes gets us nowhere.

 

I agree with Bill. It is somewhat perplexing. Mixing columns, that's the reason why we continue to need "Frontline" programs.Would that there be that showing at the Vatican...

And I can't bear to see one of the next Weigel columns that will celebrate "at my meeting with the Holy Father..." Agh!

Very sad.

I am in the middle of composing the Closing Prayer for VOTF's national assembly in Hartford next month. My approach changes in one day. Part of me says, what a fool to have hoped otherwise from Francis or anyone at the Vatican; the fresh air was invigorating while it lasted.

Robert Mickens had it right in that Frontline interview: Bergoglio's record in Argentina was certainly lacking; the implication being, it's not promising. So, what's changed?

But please, transparency and accountability by the Church are without parallel?  Francis needs to learn about Nienstedt for one, or does he really want to know? Will someone get him to read this for starters?

http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/02/24/catholic-church/mother-of-wehmey...

(JO'Leary linked to it.)

Better yet, lock Francis in with Jeff Anderson for a week to learn the reality of episcopal conduct and mendacity.

Oh my gosh, it's the same old-same old!    I wonder what he means when he says that "the Church has done a lot...perhaps more than others."   As a DRE I've spent the last 12 years doing safe-environment education with kids, parents, catechists and other volunteers.  Never saw a bishop close to this kind of work, nor discerned a bishop with any interest in it.   It's a little too close to reality to have to figure out ways of presenting this kind of material that educates without alarming the people it's aimed at.  And even then, given that sexual abuse is so under-reported, there have to be among our adults, people who have suffered sexual abuse as children and buried it.  So my programs push painful buttons and some of these folks object to talking about the subject at all.  Very understandable and a continued block to really doing ground-breaking work in this area.   So, the Holy Father is not well informed at all about the wide array of realities impacted by what the Church is "doing."   And what has the church  been  "doing" for victims of priests beyond making their lives hard?  Check out the latest manifestation of that at Minnesota Public Radio!

I find it perplexing that Francis has not really confronted the abuse problem. Dolan has used the same tack that there is much more abuse within families. But that is not the issue. The issue is the cover-up. Monumental with Maciel in the face of a ton of evidence. The transfer of the funds by Dolan to the cemetery in his former diocese.  On and on. The pope's record seems to be clear in his former diocese. (The accusations proved to be without merit). It is troubling that he is slow on this issue. Maybe  he wil tie it in to contraception. Or the Synod witll address it. We shall see.....

I giess this isn't really surprising, though it's pretty depressing.  His record on this subject before he became pope wasn't great  ...  http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/pope-francis-was-often-...

And he's been disappointing on the subject of women too.  Those are different areas, of course, but you can't really compartmentalize people.

John Allen:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world/2014/03/05/pope-francis-critics-sex-abuse-both-sides-have-point/bbFKfVEb7WFSaKdR62ZSjI/story.html

note:

As time goes on, however, he’ll likely be pressed to acknowledge that he sees the critics’ point too. If he seems indifferent, it could mark a pivot point in the honeymoon the new pope’s enjoyed so far.

By meeting critics halfway, Francis also might be in a position to help repair the trust deficit the church and the Vatican often face, which means that even when they try to do the right thing they encounter skepticism

One looming test of Francis’s commitment is likely to center on a new papal anti-abuse commission, which was announced to considerable fanfare in early December by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston in Rome.

After three months the Vatican still has not unveiled the leadership or staff for the commission, nor made clear precisely what its mandate will be. A legal document giving it formal status is said to be in the works.

Especially in light of Francis’ comments today, observers will be watching closely to see how quickly that announcement comes, and how convincing it is when it does.

Crystal, 

Let's at least read the articles we reference. Here is a quote from the one you gave the url for:

"There is no evidence that Bergoglio played a role in covering up abuse cases. "

 

You and the tone of the article knocked him when it is clear that he was not part of any cover-up. 

I didn't say he covered up sex abuse.  I said his record wasn't great when he was in Argentina, and it wasn't ... here's another article on that subject:  http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142412788732364660457840430414...

I had hope for so much more from Papa Francesco.  But, I suppose that these comments reveal that he too is a creature of the very corrupt clerical system that raised Bergoglio to the rank of cardinal-archbishop,  and now has made him pope.

It was probably too much for us to expect that Francesco could embrace new ideas and policies eventhough those new directions are considered subversive by the very men who just a year ago elected him pope.

Perhaps Francesco is showing us the political limits he can go given the alienated, irrelevant and corrupt hierarchy that surrounds him?  

Perhaps reconciliation and healing for the survivors is not what Francesco has decided is within his pastoral mission for his papacy?  

Perhaps Francesco is only a transitional pope who will lay the groundwork for some future true-reformist.

I know that many survivors of abuse and exploitation had high hopes that Francesco would be possessed of  a new understanding and approach for their struggle for justice and wholeness.

I think I will Twit Francesco Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail where he wrote:  "Justice too long delayed is justice denied."

The pope certainly has no need for me to provide explanations for the priorities he has established, But could it possibly be that he has good reason to walk cautiously in dealing with this issue, that it is not as amenable to a comprrehensive solution as Vatican finances are? That it is as complex as the issue of laws against homosexual activity in some African countries?

That Pope Francis acts with deliberateness is no indication of lack of concern or interest. So the pope's clock is not set to the same set of issues that some people here would like does not establish that he is derelict. He's been pope for just about a year. Some people here sound just like Fox News commentators. They have their own priorities and anyone whose priorities don't square with theirs gets accused of obtuseness, moral fault, dishonesty or what have you. They sound like ecclesiastical "Tea Party-ers."

Crystal, 

John Allen answered this in April of last year.Repeat his record was fine. Are you going to go on unproven stuff.  I can't believe how so many on this thread are citing urls which are unproven. People have even quoted Allen who exonerated Francis. Not just on this area but others. We can wonder about the delay. But there is zero in his record that proves he was part of any coverup. What are we becoming?

Four points help round out the story.

First, the original version of the Journal piece did not note that Bergoglio's term as president of the Argentine Episcopal Conference (CEA) ended in November 2011, so at least technically, responsibility for missing the Vatican deadline resides with his successor as president, Archbishop José María Arancedo of Santa Fe.

Second, the bishops say a set of guidelines is close to being finished. A draft will be discussed at a meeting of the conference Monday then forwarded to the Vatican for review, according to Bishop Sergio Buenanueva, auxiliary bishop of Mendoza, who's overseeing the process.

Third, the bishops say one reason it's taken time to finish the task is because they wanted to wait for a February 2012 summit on the abuse crisis at Rome's Gregorian University, which was organized in part to help conferences that didn't yet have guidelines to pull them together. The idea was to give conferences the information they needed to ensure that their policies are consistent not only with Vatican expectations but with best practices in other parts of the Catholic world, such as Germany and the United States.

That's basically a credible claim, given that representatives of several other conferences I spoke to at that event said much the same thing. Buenanueva said when the guidelines are finished, they'll embrace a "zero tolerance" approach along the lines of the American model.

Fourth, Oesterheld said another reason the process has taken longer than expected is because during his term as president, Bergoglio was "very respectful" of the fact that each bishop has a direct relationship with the Vatican and the desire not to "supplant" that autonomy may be part of the reason it's taking time to hammer out common policies.

 

http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/hard-questions-about-fran...

I always appreciate Bernard's thoughts, though I hope I'm not part of his "Fox commentators!" And I'm not sure any of theh commentors here are. It seems true however,  that this whole issue so complex and multi layed that it is not as easily addressed as finances  ! Right?!

I have had the thought however, that his approach to this whole sexual abuse issue and especially the episcopal cover-ups may be in developing the peer- bishops to speak up as well, that is, that this commission will represent a shifting center of power and discipline in which it is not simply the pope chiding or punishing brother bishops, but a change of culture to a more collegial approach in which others would likewise call each other to task. Thus, in this scenario, the day will arrive when this commission or metrpoloitan or some person and group besides the pope says to a bishop "What you did was wrong. As brothers, we lovingly tell you it is time to go," and then resort to the pope aas necessary... a new model really...

But perhaps that's just wishful thinking....

David Pasinski, thanks. I trust that I am on the same page as you are. What you sayexpresses well what I hope.

Bill,

I'm *not* saying Francis covered up sex abuse when he was in Argentina. I read John Allen's article and he works very hard to explain away the criticisms  made of Francis ... maybe he's correct in his assessment.  Whatl I said was that Francis' recoed wasn't great - he certainly was no heroic advocate for victim's rights back then and he still isn't now.  Why has he punished not a single church official who has been known to have covered up sex abuse ... Law, Beady, Finn, Mahony, et al?  Why does he say that the church has done more than anyone else to protect children and that the church is being unfairly attacked on sex abuse ... both these allegations are ridiculous in the face of decades of facts.  I'm sorry - I realy want to think the best of Francis - but I find his words and actions on the sex abuse problem very disapointing.

What Francis needs to understand and understand well is this:  all the good will he has built up over the last year can be destroyed by making statements such as this.

I feel sorry for all the people who are counting on,pope Francis.

This scandal has been roiling since 1985 -- for 28 years.  Yet the likes of Cardinal Levada is still a power in the Vatican, Bishop Finn is still bishop in Kansas, and Archbishop Nienstadt in Minnesota is still whitewashes his own misdeeds, to mention only three of the worst of the pseudo-shepherds who call themselves bishops.  By this time there is no excuse for Pope Francis' allowing these disgraceful people to stay in place unless he is in fact ignorant of just how rotten they are.

I just looked for an email address at the Vatican site which might allow ordinary people to write to the pope.  There doesn't seem to be any.  However, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, who is a member of the Group of 8, does have a blog where we can post messages.  He needs to know that many of us are losing heart, that we think Pope Francis needs to read about some of worst cases for himself..

Cardinal Seán's Blog

I'm going to write to him and ask that he forward to Pope Francis the recent account from MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) cited by Fr. O'Leary,  "Mother of priests' victims reveals family pain, more abuse, and church's rebuke".  I still hope that Pope Francis just doesn't realize that situations like this STILL go on.    

 

www.mprnews.org:story:2014:02:24:catholic-church:mother-of-wehmey....webloc

 

If enough of us started expressing our outrage to people such as Cardinal O'Malley who have Pope Francis' ear, Francis might finally get the message.  Would that there were a site at the Vatican we could all write to.

 

I feel sad that just as my initial skepticism about him had melted I am now forced again to see how inadequate he is about women, gay rights, and clerical child abuse, and I do fear that many will face sharp disillusion.

Do you think that the recent UN report contributed in any way to his defensive posture on abuse? 

I would have liked to have seen some concrete reforms on sex-abuse by now.  Is there a concrete proposal directed to the Vatican by any of the survivors' groups that the rest of us can sign on?

 

I appreciate Bernard  Dauenhauer's phrase: "ecclesiastical Tea Party-ers." I plan to use it (with proper attribution, of course).

As this and other threads, here and elsewhere, illustrate: more than one choir "sings a familiar tune." They chant: there are no "nonnegotiable values" -- save our own.

On zenit we can read what appears to be the full question and answer on sex abuse. (I was hoping that the Vatican Insider's report had omitted to quote some more hopeful sentences.) The question, on has to admit, is tendencious i its wording. But the answer is no better than the quotes selected by the Vatican Insider.

The scandals that perturbed the life of the Church fortunately are now in the past. On the delicate topic of the abuse of minors, philosophers Besancon and Scruton among others, asked you to raise your voice against fanaticism and the bad faith of the secularized world that doesn’t respect childhood much.

Holy Father: I wish to say two things. The cases of abuse are terrible because they leave very profound wounds. Benedict XVI was very courageous and opened the way. And, following that way, the Church advanced a lot, perhaps more than anyone. The statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are shocking, but they also show clearly that the great majority of the abuses come from the family environment and from people who are close. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that moved with transparency and responsibility. No one else did as much. And yet, the Church is the only one being attacked.

I started having doubts about pope Francis' stance on sex abuse when he went to Brazil and did not meet with sex abuse survivors. For him, who loves to go out and meet people and listen to them and understand problems better by going directly to the source, I thought that was surprising. It's also a step back: pope Benedict did it frequently, until, I think, he himself became accused of having made poor decisions back when he was archbishop of Munich. He stopped his efforts around that point, and I almost wish we had left that episode alone. 

There is nothing fresh in the words of pope Francis on sex abuse, nothing indicating an extensive personal meditation. No colorful image, no talk of "filth". This is the perspective he received from people around him, and he hasn't gone out to the margins and learnt better.

His response on the role of women, although, unlike the one above, it does denots some personal reflection, is also not what I would want to read:

How will the role of women be promoted within the Church?

Holy Father: Casuistry doesn’t help in this case either. It’s true that women can and must be more present in decision-making posts of the Church. But I would call this a promotion of a functional type. And with that alone, one doesn’t advance much. Rather, we must think that the Church has the feminine article, “la”: it is feminine by origin. Theologian Urs von Balthasar worked a lot on this topic: the Marian principle guides the Church by the hand of the Petrine principle. The Virgin is more important than any Bishop and any of the Apostles. The theological reflection is already underway. Cardinal [Stanislaw] Rylko [president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity], together with the Council of the Laity, is working in this direction with many expert women.

I think of the role of women as being justified (if it needs a justification!) because God is feminine as well as masculine, not because Mary was giving support to Christ and to the Apostles. If that's the way his thoughts are taking him, then we'll have just one model, a single saint which all women should aspire to imitate. Such an approach severely limits our potential action in the Church. But my model is Christ, not Mary. He is the way, not her. She's just a saint. She's a good model for those whose personality lean in that direction, but that's not all of us. If the theological reflection he is encouraging is going to propose that women should only follow Christ through the imitation of Mary, then it's going to make the situation of women worse by even more firmly putting them in a box.

 

 

I wish I could edit and correct typos.

Irene,

Re your comment: “Do you think that the recent UN report contributed in any way to his defensive posture on abuse?”

John Allen in his recent column (3/5/2014) seems to think so. 

“In the wake of a recent United Nations report blasting the Vatican for its record on child sexual abuse, Pope Francis issued a strong defense both of the Catholic church and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday, saying ‘no one has done more’ to combat exploitation of children.”  

I guess the honeymoon is beginning to be over. But, I am not ready to seek any annulment. (Would lack of due discretion be grounds?)

Warning to Bill Donohue:  Don’t start Irish jigging for joy, you might break a leg and not be able to parade on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC.

Bernard writes: "Could it possibly be that he has good reason to walk cautiously in dealing with this issue, that it is not as amenable to a comprrehensive solution as Vatican finances are? That it is as complex as the issue of laws against homosexual activity in some African countries? That Pope Francis acts with deliberateness is no indication of lack of concern or interest. So the pope's clock is not set to the same set of issues that some people here would like does not establish that he is derelict. He's been pope for just about a year."

The pope announced the creation of a commission on sexual abuse in December. Should it take months to name its members? Why announce its existence without appointing its membership? Do you think the people here are the only ones who wonder what's taking so long? Whether filling out the roster is high on the pope's list of priorities? I don't. It sends a signal. 

Of course the sexual abuse of minors by priests is a complex issue. But that doesn't excuse the defensive pose Fracis takes at the end of his answer, nor does it explain his tacit acceptance of the question's false premise. The scandal is not over. And then he made matters worse by adopting the defensive crouch of many curial denialists--the men who, for example, blocked the investigation of the church's most notorious pedophile, Maciel, beloved of and promoted by the soon-to-be canonized John Paul II. Those men doubtless took comfort from the fiction that the scandal was a creation of the media. At the price of keeping children in harm's way.

As Bob Dylan said;"How many years must a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea"?After all the mea culpas, the apologies,  the taking responsibility,the exposes, the reforms taken to dismantle the culture that allowed the abuse to be rampant and covered up for so long, after all the prosecutions,the convictions and defrocking of priests, after all the steps taken to ensure children are protected going forward,what more do people want regarding this issue?Yes The world is filled with shocking evil.Yes  it's shocking and evil that harm was done against children by those they trusted most. The work is being done to care for the victims.Humilty ,contrition has set in, The church like it or not, like the rest of society, did not have adequate  knowledge about pedophlia, homosexuality,and sexuality in general as we do today..That's just true and with the knowledge we have today ,with the reforrms for transparency and lay input in the working of the church,there is no legitimate reason to be fixated with the crimes of the past.At this  point the question arises; is this about accountability for crimes of the past or just sheer anger at the patriarchal hierarchal structure of the church? The church is working to  be  more feminine,more inclusive ,more horizontal.If this is about sheer anger that the world contains much evil,then that righeous anger could extend to evil that occurs today.Yes we can be deceived by evil,we have been as the scandal exposed. We're up against a fallen world,and we ourselves are fallen. To rail like that cannot be ,or cannot be for US; in the church, is; for ADULTS still railing about their past, a form of prissiness, or pride;a refusal to accept the human condition,a  denial practically of our need for God. 

Rose-Ellen: take the case of bishop Finn. The people of his diocese need him to be relieved from his position. This is the present, not the past, and action is needed now.

I too share the disappointment in Francis on the issue of sex abuse and women.  I had hoped he was simply putting the sex abuse issue on the back burner while he dealth with the financial corruption. But it seems he is just as defensive as all the others, and, perhaps, too loyal a member of the club to have the courage to hold fellow bishops responsible and accountable. It may be true that he, like Benedict, does not have clean hands himself on this issue, as there were reports that he did nothing to hold anyone accountable in Argentina and also refused to meet with victims.

As far as putting women in a box, that is another vestige of a patriarchal church - run exclusively by male celibates. These are men who almost always have had few or no relationships at all with women as their equals. They are surrounded by other men, predominantly male celibates also, and many of the bishops and cardinals have been in this environment since they were in junior seminary. They have a lot of trouble interacting with women at all, but especially with women who do not fear them nor seem themselves as somehow "less" than their equal. All too often they also hold an idealized and limited understanding of "feminine genius". Since their primary love relationship with women has been with their mothers and grandmothers and they have fond memories of maternal care, they want to limit women to a maternal understanding - including vowed religious women. 

I would love to know the names of the "women experts" that Rome is working with.  How many are married women with children? The church does very much need the feminine genius - that is the number one reason women should be eligible for all seven sacraments. The church operates with the masculine mind only even though God made them male and female in God's image. The church is trying to operate with half a brain. It will never be whole, never more fully image God until it stops shutting women out of the only role where they can impact both doctrine and governance.  If they can't quite make themselves treat women as fully equal to men, then at least start by giving women the traditional behind the scenes influence by dropping mandatory celibacy.  At least then women could have influence as the "power behind the throne" until such day as women are allowed to stand on altars themselves as priests, and be eligible to sit on the "throne" of Peter also. 

Claire, 

Did you miss that Francis said that the quest for women's ordination is clericalism What he meant was that Ordination is not superior to everything. So seeking that for women only perpetuates the clerical myth. Secondly, the Mary presented by Elizabeth Johnson. "Truly Our Sister" is an example we all can follow. Finally, there is a commission that Francis has set up. Can we wait. And he has removed pedphile bishops see  below. 

 

David Gibson reported in December, http://www.religionnews.com/2013/12/04/pope-francis-ignoring-clergy-sex-...

      " On Tuesday, a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, issued a sharp retort that rapped critics for “lying in wait” to ambush the pope on this issue. In a detailed statement, Rosica said that Francis has endorsed the stricter policies on abuse implemented by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, and said he is working, often behind the scenes, to bring about a “massive change” in both “mentality and behavior” in the church to prevent abuse, as well as to foster other reforms.

“The entire world has witnessed over the past nine months his concern for those who suffer in any way,” Rosica said. “High among his list of priorities are certainly those who have suffered sexual abuse in their lives. He will continue to address the issue with clarity, transparency, firmness, justice, direction and compassion.”

Other church sources also said that in fact the pope does take the abuse crisis seriously and aims to tackle the most sensitive outstanding issue: holding bishops accountable.

Case in point: The Vatican’s lead prosecutor on abuse cases, the Rev. Robert Oliver, told the National Catholic Reporter last month that Rome is “well aware” of the problem of prelates such as Bishop Robert Finn of Missouri, who remains in office despite a conviction last year for failing to report an abusive priest to authorities. Oliver said accountability for bishops is part of “a broad conversation” that is happening in Rome now that he hopes will result in new measures.

Others note that Francis also sent a bishop as the designated successor to Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., who is under fire for his handling of clergy abuse cases, and in September the pope removed two prelates in Latin America – one the Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic and the other a low-ranking bishop in Peru — for child abuse allegations."

 

 

Francis to Dutch Bishops,

 "Very particularly, I would like to express my compassionand assure my prayers to each of the victims of sexual abuse, and their families. I ask you to continue to support the painful path of healing they have started, with courage.”

Bill: Thank you for your comment. I did not write anything about ordination for women. For the rest, point taken. Let's say that I am ready to be disappointed.

 

Grant, I recognize that many people raise the same questions you are raising here. I also recognize that the issue in question, namely the inadequacy of the hierarchy's response to clerical sexual abuse, deserves prompt address. What I find unwarranted is the "mind-reading" that you and some others are apparently engaging in here. You and others are imputing motives to the pope that you canot possibly have enough knowledge to warrant. Bill Mazzella has introduced some relevant information. I don't have any inside knowledge of my own. But nothing in the bearing of the pope or in documents like "The Joy of the Gospel" supports the view that in this issue he is just saying and doing the "same old thing." You may turn out to be right. I don't know. But I do not see that you have anywhere near the necessary evidence you would need to warrant the criticisms of the pope that you are making.

I do not doubt that Pope Francis  has on his agenda to address strongly the clerical abuse scandal.

But with repect to his defensive posture which seems to be provoked by the UN Report, we know now his hot button.

@ Jim McCrea 3/5/14 - 10:30pm:

Amen, brother!

The Vatican seems to be recognizing the fallout -- Zenit reposts Fr. Lombardi's email to Nicole Winfield of the AP, who had one of the strongest takes on the pope's remarks:

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/fr-lombardi-church-is-committed-to-prot...

Fr. Lombardi said that although reforms within the Vatican bureaucracy are taking time, he had no doubt that the commission will arrive soon.

“I’m waiting for it, and I hope with all my heart (and I know that qualified experts have been contacted in an exploratory way to see if they would be available),” he wrote in the email. “And I hope that the commission will also be able to propose to the Pope initiatives adapted to give a true broad impulse in the Church for the active protection of minors.”

Regarding what has been described as the Pope’s “defensive” tone, Fr. Lombardi said that it was a recognition of the fact that while the Church has been committed to repairing past failures, it has “not been recognized objectively.”

“At the same time,” Fr. Lombardi noted, “it is clear that there is still an immense task to do for the past, for the present and, even more so, for the future. The Pope knows this well.”

Bishop Finn,Bishop Finn. Maybe Bishop Finn covered up for abusive priests because he did not know what we know today regarding recidivism for sex crimes.Or  that great harm was done to victims.He's a product of his time as they all are.Was it wilful ignorance or naivete?Were nuns who hit or humiliated children willfully ignorant or naive about the harm they were doing?That has to be addressed and adjudicated. Why hold him to todays  standards that are the result of new knowledge? In any lay criminal proceeding ,the intent,the mindset  of the acussed is as much a factor in determining guilt and penalty as the actual act.Real transparency means really acknowledging that fact ,as unpalatable as people angry at the church  find it.

The Vatican appartchik speaking for the Vatican (not at all to be confused with the Church btw), is carrying on a tradition of never taking responsibility, blame, failure, or contrition for any of its many sins of both commission and ommission. This is Lent and should be a time of collective penance for sins. Look at the reaction to Benedict's prayer at the station of the cross or even John Paul II's document on the purification of memory.

But I will end there as I have my own penance to do as well.

@ rose-ellen caminer 3/6/14 - 9:18am:

Where does one begin with all these incoherent ramblings?  This posting is a real piece of work.  But, since these words demonstrate some of the real attitudes of too many uninformed Catholics, they demand a response.

After all the mea culpas, the apologies,  the taking responsibility,the exposes, the reforms taken to dismantle the culture that allowed the abuse to be rampant and covered up for so long, after all the prosecutions,the convictions and defrocking of priests, after all the steps taken to ensure children are protected going forward,what more do people want regarding this issue?

What people want is justice, not forced apologies from hierarchs designed more to mitigate legal and financial liability for sexual assault and exploitation of children by priests than reconciliation.  As any parent should understand, justice demands real consequences as a deterrent against future abuse.

The work is being done to care for the victims.Humilty ,contrition has set in, The church like it or not, like the rest of society, did not have adequate  knowledge about pedophlia, homosexuality,and sexuality in general as we do today

If this were true, then the hierarchs have spent $millions hiring hot-shot lawyers to go into court and re-assault survivors seeking redress of grievances for nothing - a waste of money.  From my own experience, the hierarchs went "doctor shopping" to get sympathetic mental health professionals who would confirm the sick narcissistic ideology and mythology that the perpetrators and the hierarchs are above the law that applies to the rest of us, but not to them.  Are you suggesting that hierarchs - who are supposed to be moral and pastoral shepherds - didn't understand that rape and sodomy of children is morally wrong in all circumstances and also criminal?  What delusional denial are you talking about?

[W]ith the knowledge we have today ,with the reforrms for transparency and lay input in the working of the church,there is no legitimate reason to be fixated with the crimes of the past.At this  point the question arises; is this about accountability for crimes of the past or just sheer anger at the patriarchal hierarchal structure of the church?  The church is working to  be  more feminine,more inclusive ,more horizontal. If this is about sheer anger that the world contains much evil,then that righeous anger could extend to evil that occurs today.

Where are all this supposed "transparency" and "lay imput?"  Francesco's words reported yesterday seem to align him with the masters of complicity JP2 and B16.  And why are we Catholics going through with this canonization of JP2 with what we know of his close involvement with criminals like serial child abuser Marcel Marciel and Legionaires of Christ?

"Fixated with the crimes of the past" - Really?  Fixated is what clinically you would say about celibate hierarchs' obsessive attention to human sexuality and their on-going attempts to control especially women's reproductive health care.  The survivors of rape and sodomy when they were children by their priests are NOT suffering from a fixation - it is a symptom of post-tramautic stress disorder (PTSD).

This statement really takes the cake:

To rail like that cannot be ,or cannot be for US; in the church, is; for ADULTS still railing about their past, a form of prissiness, or pride;a refusal to accept the human condition,a  denial practically of our need for God. 

Rose-Ellen, you have swallowed the hierarchs' Kool-Aid completely.  Snap out of it!  Are you suggesting that priests raping and sodomizing children are part of the human condition?  That is not only outrageous, but twisted.  You need to re-read the parable of the Good Samaritan:  It was the Samaritan who acted with the compassion and love of God toward the man left in the ditch by the side of the road [like priests did to the survivors of their assaults] - not the priest or the Levite who passed by unaffected by the pain and misery of whom Jesus considered their "neighbor" and "brother".  Get a clue.

How  anyone can say that the Vatican[PART of the church,point taken] is carryng on a tradition of never taking responsibility, when all these reforms are in place, when they've  acknowledged the evil they caused to flourish by covering up for offenders, and  when out reach to victims continues to take  place,  baffles me. If you do not believe the sincerity of the Vatican's professed contriton, that's your opinion. But it is obviousl that objectively the Vatican has acted and continues to act to acknowledge the scandal as evil and  the Vatican as partaking in the evil, both by failure to recognize the harm being done to children and/or  covering up for the offenders even when it was clear to them children were harmed.The Vatican has enacted  reforms to change the culture that permitted the evil to go unstopped for so long.If you want them to say they knew all along that pedophlia was  an incurable addiction  then that may never happen because the facts are that no one knew that then.Yes they sinned when covering for a priest[s] who raped or abused  a child[ren]. They have admitted the sin of taking care of their own over the vicimized children.People sin.That's not flippant but you can't undo the past. The scandal happened because ,people WERE ignorant about such sexual matters  as   pedophia, and recidivism,and ignorant  perhaps of  the harm done to children  in non rape situations AND because even when/if  they knew harm was done to children people were willing to cover up, to sin to protect their own.Both facts have been admitted by the Vatican.What more do you want?There's nothng else there.[I'll go read Bendict's prayer and John Paul 2's document].

Bernard: Where exactly did I attempt to read Francis's mind? I criticized what he said in the interview, and the strange delay in naming the members of his commission on sexual abuse. "But nothing in the bearing of the pope or in documents like 'The Joy of the Gospel' supports the view that in this issue he is just saying and doing the 'same old thing.'" Leaving aside the distinction between mind-reading and bearing-reading, the problem with that part of the interview is precisely that he said the same old thing. So I'm afraid I can't agree that I lack the "necessary evidence" to criticize what the pope said. Because he said it.

Ms. Caminer - before making statements such as:

 "Maybe Bishop Finn covered up for abusive priests because he did not know what we know today regarding recidivism for sex crimes.Or  that great harm was done to victims.He's a product of his time as they all are.Was it wilful ignorance or naivete?"

would ask that you do your homework.

Please read this link to the historical documents of this case:  http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2011/05_06/2011_06_07_Scalia_BishopFinn.htm

Amazed - you must live in a bubble to not be aware of this case and thus make the foolish statement above.

Highlights:

- did you know that Finn upon becoming bishop of KC wrote a diocesan paper about online pornogrpahy....so, yes, he did know about this.  And, your statement appears to assume that Finn has lived in a bubble - no awareness of high profile cases and bishops since 2000 e.g. Boston, LA, Chicago, STL, to name a few.

- "Julie Hess, St. Patrick’s principal, was able to fuse a mosaic of apparent non-events into a coherent picture of pathology. In May of 2010, she reproduced this picture in a 28-paragraph report (pdf), which she sent off to the diocese.

[Finn] sat on a summary given him by Msgr. Robert Murphy, his Vicar General, until several months later, when he learned that Ratigan possessed pornographic images of children. Even then, he declined to inform police for several more months until Ratigan violated his orders by consorting with minors. By pre-2002 standards, it was a B+ performance; by today’s, a D.

Bishop Finn — who says he was never given the actual report and had based his earlier decisions on a summary report that did not reflect the urgency of the issue — has made an apology — actually he has made several, now — for his foolish errors"

I wrote on Cardian O'Malleys Blog for him to explain why no appointees were made to the commission yet. I suggest that all of us do the same. http://www.cardinalseansblog.org/2014/02/28/attending-the-consistory/#re...

Granting that he is not everyone's cup of tea, and prominently in his own thinking, is no longer a Roman Catholic, I found Rod Dreher's post a few days ago on the opening of Lent in the Orthodox calendar to be interesting.  Dreher attended the opening Vespers of Forgiveness, with his Metropolitan taking the lead in prostrating himself to ask for the forgiveness of, first, his fellow Believiers.  It is a powerful image, not least in regard to this thread's issues.  And not least at the opening of Lent in our calendar.

Of course, form is not all that is needed, but for those who subcribe to a Sacrametal vew, it is important, indeed.  Suffer the little children ....  (and, in this context, the adults who were so deeply injured as children. Let every Bisop, starting in Rome, prostrate himself  before them, and all of us, also.  Surely they are - and were at the time - part of the Body of Christ?  How have they - let's keep the focus - been served by their Church?  How are they being served?  Untl tey ae served as they wuld ha beenserved by Jesus, can we be Reconciled?

Mark L.

Now we know where Pope Francis stands on the issue of the sex abuse of children within the Catholic institution, and it hurts. He states: "The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No other has done more. And, the Church is the only one to be attacked"-------

His defensive words are very hurtful to so many thousands of victims who were hoping that, just maybe, Pope Francis might be different. That maybe he really does care about protecting innocent children.

Sadly the pope is badly misinformed about the church officials being responsible and transparent. Or he is just following the same old archaic rhetoric that the previous popes have done. Child sex abuse and cover up by the clergy under his power does not seem to be a big deal to him. Francis words could make a person cry, if we had any hope at all that he might take some decisive actions to get this horrific abuse and cover up stopped.

Tragically the sex abuse and cover up within the church hierarchy throughout the world is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they are still not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called "zero tolerance" policy is not being followed by the bishops who created it. They don't have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their image and the institution rather than protecting children.

Child predators need to be kept far away from kids forever. So silence is not an option anymore, it only hurts and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

Judy Jones, "SNAP" the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,

 

As Francis said if  you make him superman then you are lying in wait for him to fail. “Like when it is said, for example, that I leave the Vatican at night to go to distribute food to the homeless. It never crossed my mind. Sigmund Freud said, if I am not mistaken, that every idealization is an aggression,” he said. 

While I am eager to see Francis do more, our approach should be to apply pressure until all options are exhausted. So i agree with grant while cautioning those who are drawing definitive conclusions so soon. 

rose-ellen--

The case of Bishop Finn is NOT an old one.  The evidence against the offending priest was discovered in 2010!!   The scandal blew up in Boston in 2002, and that, apparently, was when most of the American bishops had the scales fall from their eyes.  They finally realized the results of their cover-ups and did something (though not enough) to change their culture.  Apparently, however, Bishop Finn's blindness persisted, and he was convicted of the crime of covering=up the priest-perps' crimes (pl.).  Therefore, Bishop Finn should be removed from office because of his gross incompetence if not for his sins. But he's still there, the Pope must know it, and has chosen to leave the criminal there. 

Why do you keep making excuses for such people?  Yes, it's sad for Bishop Finn if he was acting according to his own (distorted) conscience.  But what about the children he has failed to protect?  What about justice for them?  Why is he more important to you than a vulnerable little child is?

About what Francis said on women, I too found it disappointing, especiallyhis  reference to Hans Urs von Balthasar ... von Baltjasar once wrote a complementarianist paper (http://www.womenpriests.org/classic3/balthasar.asp) on why women couldn't be priests. And all the Marian stuff seems very patronizing to me. The pope doesn't seem to get that giving women some managerial jobs at the Vatican will not at all address the women's ordination issue. I'd say most women want to be priests for the same reasons most men want to ... they feel called by God ... it's not about getting a management level job. As Francis Clooney SJ oncew wrote ...

This issue -- does God call women as well as men to ordination? -- seems likely to remain one of the great divides in the Church of the 21st century, and we all, men as well as women, are, or should be, suffering through the experience. That the Vatican has definitively ended the discussion does not make it less likely that many will continue to have hearts rent by the issue. I am sure God hears many a prayer, many a day, on the topic. But no matter what we think, there is room for quiet lament, and particularly those of us who are ordained should feel this sadness mingled with the joy appropriate to anniversaries of ordination. The priesthood is, as I have said, a great gift, and I know how very sad it would be to have been barred from it, from the start or along the way. I can only try to imagine the sentiments of a woman who has experienced, with humility and conviction, this calling, faced as she is with the prospect of the Church’s insistence that it is incapable of ordaining women -- as if to say: "Even if God calls, the Church cannot."

 - http://americamagazine.org/node/124078

If you do not believe the sincerity of the Vatican's professed contriton, that's your opinion. But it is obviousl that objectively the Vatican has acted and continues to act to acknowledge the scandal as evil and  the Vatican as partaking in the evil, both by failure to recognize the harm being done to children and/or  covering up for the offenders even when it was clear to them children were harmed

Rose-Ellen: the church hierarchy has lied many times before on this subject, so we cannot believe what is said if it's just words. We need to see actions. You say that the Vatican "has acted". I acknowledge that, nowadays, whenever an accusation of abuse becomes public, the Vatican immediately suspends the accused (even if he is an archbishop) and, if the case is clear, promptly laicizes him. That's action, and it's progress, but it's not enough. What more needs to be done? At least two things, one of which is sometimes done, sometimes not done, and the other one is never done: first, do not sit on accusations but pursue them appropriately. Finn (recently!) failed to do that, and the bishops' record in that regard is very uneven. Second, bishops who have covered-up abuse must be removed from positions of responsibility, and so far that is not done at all. 

  

What Ann wrote.

Grant et al: Why should anyone suggest that the pope is less interested in responding appropriately to the clergy sexual aabuse issue than he or she is? In the light of what I have seen of the pope, such a suggestion is implausible. Why should I or anyone else think that we know exactly what the pope should say and do to deal effectively and with proper diligence to this issue?

It does not follow that I ought not to express concern, to implore, to urge the pope to take action. The new NCR editorial about this does a good job in this respect. But that doesn't entail that there may not be very good reasons for the pope not to act exactly when and as I would have him act. For me to claim that he is morally at fault for not doing as I would want him to is, in my view, a rash judgment.

So I suggest: Think mercy and forgiveness toward the pope, just as you and I need mercy and forgiveness every day. Without unconditional fogiveness as our basic disposition we are all too likely to be destructive rather than constructive.

Bernard --

Let's say that a man has 5 kids, and his wife dies.  He asks his younger bachelor brother to come help share some of his fatherly duties.  After several months, one of his sons comes to him and says that his uncle has abused him, and pleae stop him.  The father goes to his brother, tells him about the accusation, the brother promises it won't happen again.  But it does -- a second son reports the uncle to the father.  The father keeps the brother in the house.

What would you think of that father?  And how, if at all, does he differ from Pope Francis and his brother bishops such as Finn, Myers, and Nienstadt?   

 

 

Are there people who should be prosecuted  for either sex crimes or for  covering up for sexual predators, within the statutes of limitations, who are  still not being prosecuted ?If there are get the wheels in motion to have them prosecuted. if there arn't ,basta ja!. 

In the US civil justice system, Bp. Finn was prosecuted and convicted. He has negotiated an agreement in which his work is supervised monthly at least for the next couple of years.

In the church, what were the consequences of his negligence and of the subsequent actions of Fr Ratigan? None. Bp. Finn keeps his position, power, authority. Everything in the church is continuing as if nothing had happened. 

 

So he WAS dealt with by the criminal justice system.Convicted too. He's in no danger to the children now,he's under supervision.What more do you want from the church? The church is called to forgive!

Bernard, you write: "Why should anyone suggest that the pope is less interested in responding appropriately to the clergy sexual abuse issue than he or she is?" I haven't suggested that. I have criticized his answer to a bad question about the church's response to the worst crisis it's known in modern times. You ask, "Why should I or anyone else think that we know exactly what the pope should say and do to deal effectively and with proper diligence to this issue?" This is a curious formulation. Should the pope not have advisers? If so, what would qualify them, in your estimation? 

You continue: "For me to claim that he is morally at fault for not doing as I would want him to is, in my view, a rash judgment." Not my claim. He gave a bad answer, poorly conceived, strangely out of date, and dangerously comforting to those who would protect the status quo. 

I'm not calling for the pope to do penance for this gaffe. Silence is not always the best expression of mercy.

Ann asks me: "And how, if at all, does he differ from Pope Francis and his brother bishops such as Finn, Myers, and Nienstadt?"

Ann, if you can see no difference between Pope Francis and these bishops, I doubt that you's find anything I could say of any value.

For my part, let me say to Ann and the other sharp critics of Pope Francis on this thread that I think you are playing right into the hands of the right-wing critics of Pope Francis's efforts to bring critically needed reforms into the Church. I question the political good judgment of these critics. They seem to have their own "non-negotiable demands."  In decent politics, you always start with the presumption that your opponents love their country just as you do. Here, however, in Church matters, the "non-negotiable" crowd sounds like they are not prepared to grant that Pope Francis loves the Church, understood as the People of God, as much as the critics do.

I do not doubt that these critics love the church. But I do fear that they appear less than willing to presume that Pope Francis also deeply loves the Church.

What more do you want from the church?

The church has done nothing. Everything was done by civil justice. I want more than nothing. I want the church to not leave in a position of authority someone who cannot be trusted to have sound judgment in matters of sex abuse. His recent failure in that regard is precisely the reason why he is being monitored monthly. It makes no sense to me to leave someone in a position for which he has demonstrated incompetence. It has nothing to do with forgiveness but with respecting the office of bishop. 

 

Bernard: the comments by pope Francis highlighted in this post show that regarding the important question of sex abuse he has a blind spot. Should I refrain from criticizing his perspective on that question, just because he is so uplifting on other subjects? Is it like a war against the right-wing, where we all have to rally behind our leader, support him always and never point out his flaws? 

Maybe you're right that it's better church politics to politely ignore the pope's inane comments on sex abuse. That we should never criticize him, given that in the main he is forging ahead with a intoxicatingly lovely vision of the church, and given that he has powerful critics who will try to prevent him from implementing the reforms that he advocates and that we support. But it's not about "mercy", "forgiveness", etc. It's about politics. 

It's not just the people posting comments here who are upset ...

"A Pew Research Center survey of American Catholics last year showed that 70 percent thought addressing abuse should be the top priority for the new pope, but in a follow-up report released this week only 54 percent gave Francis high marks for addressing it." ...  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/pope-francis-criticized-...

One thing he could do that would make an immense difference would be to fire those bishops who are known to have covered up abuse.

He like  many others was incompetent in matters of sexual abuse.That was part of the reason the scandal lasted so long.The other reason was yes, perhaps [though only God knows  our hearts] a willingness to sin, by covering for their own even at the expense of known harm to children and at the expense of justice.Since he himself is not a pedophile there is no reason to believe he cannot and has not aquired the right information,the right competence  regarding  sexual abuse.And no reason to believe  that he is  not contrite for sins he may have committed in that regard.He's being monitored so there is no reason to not allow him to continue in ['Im assuning here] his other wise competent office as bishop.He has been punished by being tried and convicted.The office of bishop is respected by respecting the reality that a person can go from being ignorant to being knowledgable.The bishop is not God[as Pope Francis says about the cult of clericalism which the laity abhors on the one hand, yet then thows up as a barrier to reconciliation with the Vatican for crimes, sins, iincompetences,ignorances of the past].The Vatican is not in the punishing business;there is no reason it should punish him more then the criminal justice system has.

I am not aware of evidence that he has acquired the right competence regarding sexual abuse. "There is no reason to believe he has not acquired it" is not good enough. I want reason to believe that he has acquired it. He said he's sorry, but words alone do not mean anything. He said porn is wrong, but he had said it before the events: that's part of what makes this case infuriating. His words before the events did not match his inaction when faced with the priest's actions. So, what we learned about him is that his words cannot be taken at face value. Are you saying that we should believe him anyway? That makes no sense to me.

On the other hand, maybe you're right and we just sbouldn't pay any attention to bishops and to what they say. That would solve the problem of Bp Finn remaining in office.

Oh, and one more thing: removing him from office is not a punishment. It's not done in order to punish him. This is not about punishment, mercy, forgiveness, etc. Being a bishop is not like having a medal of honor! It's a job, and this is just about ability to do the job properly. 

So let's grant it;that a whole lot of these clergy,would never have gotten through seminary,with the knowledge we have today about sexuality.O.K.? But they're here now, as bishop and priests. Going forward the church is taking steps that a different sort of person will be responding to the call to the priesthood. We can't just discard all these people of  another mindset .They too are the people of God,in need.Not that all were /are like this but let's cut them some slack here, as they were part of the clergy culture of the times and of the wider culture.The times have changed.Let's be grateful for that and even  see them as victims of ignorance,repression etc., too.

"Ann, if you can see no difference between Pope Francis and these bishops, I doubt that you's find anything I could say of any value."

Bernard --

Oh, I see huge differences between the Pope and those bishops.  In fact, I love the Pope dearly because of those differences.  But I wasn't comparing the Pope and the bishops.  I was comparing *how the Pope is handling his failed brother bishops* and how the father in my hypothetical case *handled his hypothetical brother* and, indirectly, how they protect or do not protect their children. 

I'll repeat one of my mantras: a person can be a saint without being perfect.  And, yes, I reluctantly have to admit that I have begun to think that Pope Francis has a blind spot when it comes to his brother bishops, and the longer he puts off acting removing some of them from office, the more certain I'll be.

To all of my critics: It may be that I turn out to be wrong about asking that Pope Francis be accorded the presumption that the priorities he has set for dealing with the Church's problems  make good sense.  From your comments, I take it that since he has not done what you  think has to be done by now we have good reason to call him on the carpet. I know about his comment about what the Church has done in this matter has left you unsatisfied. If that is all he has to say I too would be dissatisfied. What I object to is the impression that some of you give that the pope, regardless of anything else, should play the role of the Avenging Angel with people like Bp. Finn. Two points: I'm not interested in having Avengin Angels as popes, sweeping in to right all wrongs just as they see fit to do so without considerable consultation. Second, could it be that his critics here take it that the needs of the U. S. Church have such priority that his devoting attention to naming cardinals, preparing for a large and important synod, dealing with Vatican finances, etc. shows bad judgment opn his part?

Suppose, for example, the pope lops off the heads of some U. S. prelates. Would that be enough to satisfy his critics? Suppose he were to insert a few canons into Canon Law. Would that do the job? Grant, Claire, etc. spell out the minimal he has to do to show his good faith. Until you do, you are rather like Republicans, saying Obamacare is a mess and offering no specific remedies. Just canning some bishops is no policy.

Let m add to the list of the pope's accomplishments in this his first year. He has served as an admirable model of what a diocesan bishop ought to be, am model that our local ordinary, wholly free of any taint in the sex abuse matter, seriously need, but is unlikely to notice.

Pope Francis is a a man and a sinner, someone prone to faults and mistakes. It's too bad that his critics are spending so much time and energy showing that he's not the answer to their every prayer instead of  showing gratitude for the blessings we have received through him. Yes, criticize. But show some sense of your own fallibility. Again, show that your critiques are the critiques of people who themselves always need criticism.

Sorry for preaching. I've got no licesne for doing so. I know that I'm no better than any of you are,but I've got to say what I think. If you find it offensive, I ask your pardon. Nonetheless, it is, for better or worse, what I think.

To anser Bernard's question, this is what I think Francis should do ....

1) I believe the main cause of the sex abuse problem in our church is madatory celibacy -  I think it tends to attract a certain number of people to the priesthood who have sexual/emotional problems.  This would explain the disparity between abuse in our church and other churches.  Francis should make celibacy optional, allowing men who are or will be married to become priests.

2) he should fire or demote those bishops who covered up sex abuse.  So far he has not even made mention of them.  As long as they persist on their positions of honor (some are cardinals!) it will be very hard to believe Francis cares about justice for sex abuse victims.

I've said from Day One that Pope Francis will not change any delicate doctrinal issues facing the Church of Rome.  To date, I've been given no reason to change my mind.  That said, I think he's one heck of an improvement over his two predecessors in style if not in doctrinal thinking.  I can only hope he's a transition pope to a Vatican II-oriented papacy open to revisiting some of our *tired old doctrines*.

Three things not to say when asked about a scandal within your organization:

  • it's worse elsewhere
  • we're doing more than those other guys
  • you people are meanies for bring it up all the time

Until you have those non-talking points down pat, don't give interviews.

Bernard -have not given up on Francis despite this interview.  Still suspect this Jesuit has some plan of action (not just papal action but action that would involve episcopal conferences and be integrated into canon law). 

So:

-  he has modified the abuse laws of the Vatican state and will host the first high profile case (Polish bishop stationed in Puerto Rico).  Whatever precedent this starts, may be used going forward and sends a message (this is an exception since this bishop was part of the Vatican diplomatic/state department and thus directly reports to Rome)

- he has announced a committee (yet to be named)

- he has had various dicasteries and conferences host high profile sexual abuse discussions in Rome

- he is still collecting what Benedict/Scicluna required from every national episcopal conference

We really don't know what else may be going on internally and behind the scenes. 

- other issues.....realize that some countries could manipulate laws to use against clerics but to go slow or to not develop better sexual abuse policies for the world church is like letting the tail wag the dog.  Make exceptions for certain countries/episcopal conferences but move forward around the 1st/2nd world.

- suspect he is trying to develop lays that give episcopal conferences the rights and duties to make and enforce policies (over the curia and able to apply to any specific bishop rather than every bishop appealing to canon law and thus independent from episcopal conferences)

- if he is successful in this, then episcopal conferences can develop policies and take action against folks such as Finn rather than a Vatican fiat (which can be seen as negative; etc.)

Rose:

Below is Benedict's meditation in 2005 which was a clear allusion to the crisis in the church. And here is Pope John Paul II's document, Memory and Reconciliation. I remember, at the time, apologists falling all over themselves saying qualifyng it because it pointed out to the sins of the Church and this was just sins of the church of the past. But this was an important document that acknowledged that yes, indeed, the church, could and has sinned. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_...

 

 

NINTH STATION
Jesus falls for the third time

V/. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R/. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Book of Lamentations 3:27-32

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when he has laid it on him; let him put his mouth in the dust -- there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults. For the Lord will not cast off for ever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

MEDITATION

What can the third fall of Jesus under the Cross say to us? We have considered the fall of man in general, and the falling of many Christians away from Christ and into a godless secularism. Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall! All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison -- Lord, save us (cf. Matthew 8: 25).

PRAYER

Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all.

John:

 

Yep. Crisis Managment 101.

"Claire, etc. spell out the minimal he has to do to show his good faith". I propose that he should regularly meet with sex abuse survivors and listen to their stories. Maybe he could also ask pope emeritus Benedict to teach him what he learned when he was prefect of the CDF.

Then he would not say that the church is a model of transparency (!) and responsability (!!).

"he's not the answer to their every prayer" - in fact wanting the pope to deal with sex abuse is not merely one among many prayers. It was my number 1 priority when Benedict was pope, and it was my number 1 priority for his successor. 

 

Claire:  I think you meant:  "I feel sorry for all the people who WERE counting on,pope Francis" !.

 

And this bit or reality needs to be mentioned: 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/us/francis-has-changed-catholics-attitudes-but-not-their-behavior-a-poll-finds.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%230&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%23%2Flaurie%2Bgoodstein%2Fsince1851%2Fallresults%2F1%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F&_r=0

 

Francis Has Changed American Catholics’ Attitudes, but Not Their Behavior, a Poll Finds

By LAURIE GOODSTEINMARCH 6, 2014

I see that the NCR editors have the same suggestion: http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/editorial-francis-you-must-meet...

Thanks to all who have spelled out what they would have Pope Francis do about clerical sexual abuse. This is a start on thinking about policy. Can we now agree that it's in the nature of policy formation that doing it well requires serious and extensive consultation, that whatever policy is adopted, it islikely to   need of adustment in the course of its implementation, and that almost no policy can satisfy all of the reasonable deisre of those affected by it. If we can agree on these points, then our discussions will be far more likely to be constructive.

One question for John Prior. Would you have had the pope respond to his interviewer "no comment?" Or should he have put this topic off limits? Or refrained from giving interviews? I agree, in hindsight, that the pope's answer left much to be desired, but I think it is very good that he has been so accessible. As he has said, go out into the streets, even if you make mistakea and get your hands and feet dirty and come back smelling like the sheep.

I am one of those whose feelings range from disappointed to devastated over Pope Francis's words on child abuse. One of the themes that disturbs me in this correpondence so far is the reference to a time in which' we did not understand' the 'long term effects' - whether of  priests abusing children and young people or of the way the Brothers' or "Sisters' treated children and [ young women] in their 'care'. The Catholic Church teaches everyone -or so I thought - that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong;that even some forms of sex within marraige is wrong; that even to sexually pleasure  oneself when alone is wrong.  The sexual use of children, young people, and women who are a part of a priest's 'flock' is herefore in itself outrageously wrong: "full stop; end of..."   Nobody should have needed to know the long-term effects of anything of this kind to guide their behaviour, whether of abuse  itself or covering up for the abusers.  And the idea that some people in the instituions  - I know most about  those in Ireland - would not have behaved as they did iif they had realised the 'long-term effects 'is like believing a torturer would  say "Oh gosh, I would not have done  that if I'd have known about possible  long-term effects".  Those reports are not describing physical punishments regarded as 'normal for the time' but horrifying  and systematic  acts of humiliation and sadistic  abuse.   I do not believe there is a disconnect between the Ryan and the Murphy reports. My fear is that if Pope Francis continues in this attitude  of finger-pointing at others and saying "Well they did it too; they re just  as bad or worse" - the part of what he said that I find most distressing - there will never be serious  attempts to understand how people who had 'given their lives to God' who lived surrounded by religious imagery,  - which includes wearing it - who presumaby prayed daly, who had access to spiritual guidance, and who knew the Bible, could not hear either - "Insfar as you did it to the least of these... ", nor warnings about millstones, necks and sea.  There is a saying that what we don't remember we are condemned to repeat. I think that first verb should include the verb 'understand' . We do not learn to understand by pointing the finger at others, or by the 'confession' "We are all sinners" which has a way at times of sounding too easily self-forgiving and therefore  somewhat  smug and queasy.  To use religous privilege and its cultivated trust and to use situations of ritual and the confessional is to add a dimension of wrong beyond that of 'non-religious' abusers. That should not be soft-soaped away by pointing at others that are not world -wide institutions preaching divine revelation and salvation.  

Bernard D.,

It's twelve years now since this scandal burst into view, and it is certainly not surprising that an interviewer would ask about it. It is strange that a man who seems so fresh and current on many other topics would be so poorly prepared to handle this one that he had to fall back on the lame language and excuses he used. I hope he'll do better in the future. 

We're seeing the usual sorts of comments here that we expect from Commonweal readers:  impatient with the pace of reform, yearning for Vatican Three, disenchanted with the outward, public face of Cathollcism (as if Catholicism were not a sacrament--an outward and visible manifestation of a sinful Pilgrim People, lurching along the path God wants us to travel, sinning along the way, led by sinful men.)  

But of course the thread of truth in so many of these predictable comments is that the bishops, perhaps given tacit permission by John Paul II, (who seems not to have been able even to acknowledge priest abuse of minors) have lurched along--slouched along is perhaps a better word--doing too little, too late about the abuses and even in oh, so many cases acting as enablers.  

What of Pope Francis?  I think we can simply take Father Lombardi at his word, that the pope is moving forward on reforms, reforms that will be substantial.  What the hierarchy has still not grasped, however, is tempo.  The tempo at which the public, Christian and anti-Christian, gets ahold of new information and new ideas is rapid.  Rome is still moving along at approximately the pace of a snail.  Tempi are important.  

Few generals and few politicians grasped the astonishing increase in the tempo of warfare that Hitler's generals had brought about in the 1930s, and so in the early years of the Second World War whole armies and whole nations were crushed by the tornado-like speed of Blitzkrieg.  So it has been for the Church, at least the outward, public face of the Church's leadership, and disastrous defeats will pile upon defeats, multiplying, until Rome gets a move on and ups the tempo of response to sexual abuses and everything else.  

In the dicastries we need men like Cardinal O'Malley, the moral equivalent of Marshall, Eisenhower, Montgomery and Zhukov.  Whether the Church Militant realizes it or not, she is in a struggle to the death with anti-Christian forces, some of them occasionally making little sallies on this blogsite.

rose-ellen, your last comment seems reasonable and yes, you don't throw everyone away, but you also don't put those who have demonstrably failed in charge.  That's the issue.  That Finn is still part of the church community is not really the question -- the question is, why is he still in charge?  Why was Bernard Law, in effect, promoted after such spectacular failure to show right and good judgment?  And that doesn't even begin the implications of, in effect, ceding authority to the civil justice system to get the response to even relatively simple issues of sexually based offenses right.  What does it say about the overall judgment of people like Finn on the whole spectrum of sexual ethics, that his understanding is so clouded he can't even figure out the proper response to a priest who is taking lewd pictures of the four year old children of parishioners?  Why shoud anybody listen to him?

But as for these interviews -- the Pope should be better prepared, and should not make excuses, no issue with those comments, but I absolutely despise the "tea leaf reading" culture that surrounds this pope and others -- trying to glean his thoughts and plans from how he answers certain questions.  It's just corrosive and demeaning, that he can't say what he means in a more forthright way, and I mean this apart from the more official documents that are more theologically oriented.  Handling sex abusing priests is not a theological dilemma, or at least, I hope it is not.  Maybe he should have a weekly address like the president. 

i am disappointed by Francis' response so far. It was quite a defensive statement. Maybe it is the way the UN only singled out the Catholic Church when all faiths have similar or worse problems. By any measure the UN statement was ill time. Mainly because it came out a time when there is a Bishop of Rome who is in sync with the UN' goals for the poor. Maybe they resented the attention Francis is getting while he reacted from their assault. That dynamic seems to be in place. 

As I said before I am betting on Francis. We shall see.

^ Is that true, that "all faiths have similar or worse problems"? How similar? For instance, is there a faith with a similar sort of top-down, umbrella hierarchy that has been struck by the same problem to anything near the same magnitude?

 

It is time to give this new Pope time! Is there anything in his official writings, sermons or official actions as Pontiff that people "jumping all over him" in these blogs find objectionable? Perhaps he may have to be a bit more discreet with the openness he has shown with the media. It opens him up to the sort of criticism we find here. But where is the criticism, if any, of his official pronouncements and actions? So, he has been slower to take some actions many seem to think he should be taking on the sexual abuse question. Not sure I agree; but even if I did, would not the fact of his need to govern a universal Church with billions of members facing scores of serious problems all over the world which he is trying to address as best he can and as fast as may be wise, give us pause so not to jump all over him for his alleged delay here. It seems there is a pent up "anti anything the Catholic hierarchy does" fury that has been at least temporarily stymied because of all the good this humble, honest, hardworking man has been doing this past year that now seeks an outlet. I went to a seminar a few weeks ago at a Franciscan College in in which a balanced but generally very positive evaluation of his pontificate so far was presented by a Theologian and a Church Historian. When questions were entertained from the audience, the first question asked was "When do you think the honeymoon will be over?" Indeed, it seems for many posting blogs here, and for the author herself, that honeymoon is over. In my opinion, it should not be.

The longer the honeymoon, the worse the UTI.

A lot of people have mentioned that they think it is very important that the pope meet with victims.  I don't know; I am trying to put myself in the shoes of someone who has suffered abuse at the hands of a priest or other representative of the Church.  I suppose it would be a nice gesture.  But I can't help but think that it would feel hollow at best. It seems to me that the people who are most able to assist  victims in their healing process are those closest to them. It would be very important to be believed and supported by family and friends. Unfortunately many victims did not experience this belief and support.  Sometimes the abuse happened or was allowed to continue because those closest to the victim were deep in denial. If we know someone who has been abused, we need to listen and offer support however we can. We also need to understand when they are dealing with their pain their own way; for instance refraining from judging them if they find it too painful to be part of the Church at this point in their journey.

I believe that Lorna Crossman in her comment has touched on something important when she said, "The Catholic Church teaches.... that sexual activtiy outside of marriage and even some forms of sex in marriage are wrong..."  In fact traditionally the Church has taught that any sexual sin was a mortal sin, from an impure thought to rape.  I feel that this black and white duality has contributed to the abuse problem, and in particular its cover-up. Because few among the clergy, or anyone else, for that matter; could truthfully say that they had never sinned against chastity, at least in their thoughts. Making them as guilty as anyone who actually acted on the temptation; "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

I was thinking of meetings with sex abuse survivors primarily for the benefit of pope Francis, for his education. He's a good listener. 

Abe --

About which church has been the worst -- the last figure I read (don't remember where, but it was recently) is that the Catholic Church in the U. S. has proportionally had 6 times the number of offenders as any other church.  Possibly their scandals have yet to emerge more completely, but so far the RCC's record has dwarffed all others.

Abe --

About which church has been the worst -- the last figure I read (don't remember where, but it was recently) is that the Catholic Church in the U. S. has proportionally had 6 times the number of offenders as any other church.  Possibly their scandals have yet to emerge more completely, but so far the RCC's record has dwarffed all others.

the tone of many comments here re Francis and his stance on the sexual abuse scandal in the church reveals a disturbingly self-righteous attitude, as if  Francis is there to make THEM happy with his actions and therefore how disappointed they are because he apparently does not see things the way they do.  they are so convinced that they are right about Francis that they cannot even entertain that they may be wrong.  more rottweilerish than Benedict XVI indeed!  the mindset of the holy inquisition seems to inhabit some of those who think they speak for the rest of the Church because they think their intentions are pure.

I am with Bernard Dauenhauer. The clerical sex abuse issue is so multi-faceted that it calls into question so many church teachings about grace, forgiveness, the broken nature of all mankind, power in the church, gender-sterotyping. I could go on. From what I have seen and heard about Pope Francis he is not a Polyanna (Everything is going to be all right!), nor is he a dry metaphysician. I believe he is a practical man who has drawn up a "must do" list and he methodically going it as best he can with the men & to a lesser extent the women at his disposal. He has to hasten slowly and he is not going to make promises he knows that neither he nor his bishops can keep.

I worked in a civil hierachy for over thirty years getting any bureaucrat to admit he that he might be wrong; that he is faced with a challenge he is incapable of coping with, is close to impossible. I pray to the Holy Spirit that He help the Pope to appreciate the situation of clerical sexual abuse in its entirety and that his Bishops rally behind him in dealing with it. God help us all. God help the helpless children.

Autocracy can act faster than democracy. Although the Church is far from the latter, if we are hoping it moves in that direction, it may be messy for awhile, but I hope that Francis is developing a sense that he's not just the Papa bear.  Will his Jesuit expereince assist that? I hope so.

Now I'm really confused about Bishop Finn and the accusation that he showed bad judgement.Did Father Ratigan ever actually molest a child? Was there a hint that he did?If he did then his superior Msgr. Murphy had that in his report from the principal.And it was he[or even the principal] who should have notified the police. From what i'm understanding, Ratigan posessed pictures which showed him to be attracted to children but the initial batch of pictures were not legallly pornographic. Father Ratigan WAS removed from the parish,based on that report  and prohibited to be around children because he's obviously attracted to children even if he has  these technically non pornographic pictures.He then,violated the prohibition of going near children and when called before the diosese,attempted suicide. Only after that attempt were the real pornogrphic pictures found.Why would Bshop Finn call the police to report Ratigan when no evidence of a crime was presented to him?He saw no urgency because Ratigan was separated from children and because no report of actual molestation had been made[if i'm reading the account accurately]Had things proceeded without the suicide attempt,an in depth investigation would have resulted anyway but there was no urgency at the moment as no crime had been alleged to have been committed.They knew they were dealing with a pervert attracted to children and he was removed, However a crime had not been alleged at that point.Simply the possibility that needed to be investigated because they were dealling with someone caught with pictures of children. It was Finn's superior Father Murphy who had the report and the report he Finn read did not show any urgency;no actual child abuse allegation and no actual pornographic pictures.How could he call the police where no actual crime was evident in the report he got?Perhaps Bishop Finn reasoned that Ratigan may be a pervert but since he had at least up to then not actually molested a child ,he possessed good judgement,good ethics, and self control.There was no imminent urgent need to go call the police on him while a full investigation was in the works .   Anyway it's just a matter of time now until the reforms are made that allow for the laity to appoint bishops and i guess priests and where they have oversight . So it would be more fruitful to put energy into that effort then into this ongoing demand for justice about coverups. There is such a thing as cognitive disossance[sp] .People can know objectilvy what they do is wrong and harmful and subjectivly  ignore  or deny the harm or rationalize what they do. it's not simply a matter of bad judgement or that people  are callous necessarily but that they partake of a culture where people compartamentialize  around issues that they are repressed about or overwhelmed about like a sex drive ;in a celibate culture that called homosexuality a perversion and where[of course] pedophila is taboo.This cognitive dissonance  was the problem with the sex abuse scandal coverups.Inndulge as if there is no harm being done to the victim. Cover it up and  it does not exist.Like talking about cancer years ago.The victims who repressed the memory of it for decades or who believed whatever the abusers said even though objectively they knew it went against everything else they were taught [your parents will go to hell if you tell anyone,for example] are part of that cognitive dissonance also[overwhelmed by a lack of  context of the experience].Pope Francis says the church is a hospital. That includes psychiatric. Part of being a christian,a human is at some point we become psychologists                                                                                                                                                              

rose-ellen,

You think that pornographic pictures of little children imply no child abuse?  Even if someone has not snapped the pictures himself, he has colluding with the creeps who did take them.  Fr. Ratigan got 50 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography.  He had taken some of the pictures  himself.  His sentence allows no possibility of parole -- that's how serious the judge thought his crimes were.  If I remember correctly, some of the children testified at the trial. 

Bishop Finn knew for six months that Fr. Ratigan had the pictures.  He was by law a designated reporter, but, with self-absolving aplomb, he said that since others knew about the problem he didn't think he had to tell the police.  He failed the children of his diocese dreadfully by letting Ratigan run loose for 6 more months, allowing for the possibility that there would be more abuse.

You really should consult the bishop accountability site before venturing opinions about facts you haven't checked out.  The site includes references to newspaper accounts a well bishop accountability reports.  Or just try googling a bunch of sites.  You won't like what you find.

BishopAccountability.org - Documenting the Catholic Sexual Abuse ...

 

Tony de Castro: which comments are you referring to? Your remark is too vague and too general for a response to be possible. 

Joseph Quigley: " The clerical sex abuse issue is so multi-faceted that it calls into question so many church teachings about grace, forgiveness, the broken nature of all mankind, power in the church, gender-sterotyping. " Many of us have been patiently waiting this year to see how pope Francis would act against sex abuse. If his reasons were rooted in the complexity of the issue, it would be perfectly reasonable and we would continue to wait hopefully. But what you said is not what he said. His reasons, as John Prior summarized, are that the majority of abusers are elsewhere, the church has been a model of transparency and responsibility, and the negative perception comes from an anti-catholic campaign in the media.

I do not think it is self-righteous to say that the pope has the wrong perspective on clerical sex abuse. 

I'll read that later.It looks to me right now from what i understand that the initial pictures were not pornographic. Hence because the Bishop is NOT a district attorrney,there was no urgency to call the police about the fact that the priest is attracted to children.THAT is not a crime. The pictures he had were not illigal.The priest was prudently removed from being around children because the pictures though not pornogrpahic raise the  flag that he is attracted to children and potentialy will target children or even has in the past.But there was no smoking gun of a crime  at that point.Being attracted to children does not mean he lacked empathy,judgment, self control regarding abusing them.It certainly means that he should not be around them and he WAS removed from being around children and prohibited from going near them.That's prudent. Nothing more was morally required of Bishop Finn  till he read the report because no allegation of a crime had been made and an investigation was in the works[the report].,What was the hurry to read a report? If the report comtained allegations of abuse then whoever made those allegations and/or wrote   the report had a responsibility to notify the police.Which Bishop Finn knew too.So the fact that the police had not been called by those who made the report means that there was no allegation of an actual crime. Why would or should a bishop stop everything to read a report?The priest was away from children, no allegation of abuse was made .It was only after he violated his mandate to not go near children that his house was investigated and real pornography[illigal] was found.AND btw, we still can't say for certain that going near children he was attracted to meant he would molest them.Is there evidence to this day  he lacked empathy,judgment, self control, ethics about  harming children?If the law is that any priest with any picture of any child [s] has to be reported to the police, immediately, it's a bit absurd but if that is the law then that has to be made explicit and why is it only the bishop who has a responsibility to call the police? Why not the principal of whoever caught him looking at NON prnographic pictures of children?There is room for alot of hysteria here and bishop Finn did not want to succumb to hysteria as he had no evidence of an actual crime.[pornographic pictures or allegations of molestation]He acted prudently.He's not a DA.

Ms. Caminar - you appear to still not understand both the timeline nor the reasons for why Bishop Finn was found guilty of criminal behaviors.

To some of your inaccurate points stated above: 

http://www.kansascity.com/2012/09/06/3800269/bishop-finn-verdict-guilty.html

Note:

- A June 2010 conversation between Finn and Ratigan, in which the bishop told his priest that “we have to take this seriously,” after a Northland Catholic school principal complained to the chancery that the priest was behaving inappropriately around school children.  (please, Finn knew about the principal's letter/details and met with Ratigan to discuss (this was not just a failure of Monsignor Murphy - nice try - and yes, Finn basically lied about this encounter)

- A chancery computer manager’s determination in December 2010 that only four or five of the hundreds of lewd photos found on Ratigan’s laptop had been downloaded from the Internet. The rest appeared to have been taken with a personal camera. (Almost all the photographs were taken by Ratigan - often at homes of parishioners; at the dinner table, etc.)

- A statement from a Pennsylvania psychiatrist, who found that Ratigan was not a risk to children, which appeared to support the priest’s contention that he was the victim of mistreatment by a school official who complained about his conduct around children.
• A note that Ratigan’s “treatment” with the Pennsylvania therapist in early 2011 consisted entirely of telephone conferences. (note - Finn shopped for this psychiatrist to obtain the most favorable assessment of Ratigan and his actions - this psychiatrist was later to be connected to Opus Dei and other attempts to whitewash clerical abusers)

- After Ratigan's release from the hospital, Finn arranged with the local Vincentian Mission House for Ratigan to reside there and say mass for the convent next door.  Unfortunately, Finn never told the Vincentians about Ratigan, why he needed to reside there, etc. and Ratigan wound up accessing a Vincentian computer to find more pornorgraphy and he broke Finn's rule and viisted with familes and the parish school (again, the Vincentians were never asked to provide oversight of Ratigan nor why Ratigan needed oversight)

-

Finn’s statement at a meeting with other priests after Ratigan’s arrest that he had “wanted to save … Ratigan’s priesthood” and had been told that Ratigan’s problem was only pornography.
The stipulation also explained Murphy’s decision to call authorities in May 2011. Murphy complained that he was not receiving direction from the diocese’s lawyers and had misgivings about the diagnosis of “loneliness” from the Pennsylvania psychiatrist. Murphy said he had become “horrified” of the prospect that the photographs were not merely downloads from the Internet but were images of children that Ratigan had abused.
“I thought this is just moving along with no direction, and I thought I have got to do something,” the documents quotes Murphy as saying.  (Murphy had to report this to his police friend because Finn refused to take action)

- fought over in Missouri courts, but final ruling was that Finn did fall under the mandatory reporting laws of the state of Missouri  (another item that you are confused on) 

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/09/06/3800269/bishop-finn-verdict-guilty.html#storylink=cpy

Finally, previous post on Commonweal - https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/bishop-finn-guilty

 

"I'll read that later. It looks to me right now from what i understand that .  .  ."

On the other hand:

 "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Here is the bottom line Ms. Caminar: Parishioners' children were the subject of lewd photographs taken by a priest in the diocese and the priest's interests were shown more considerations than those of the children by the man who was and still is in charge.  That man is Bishop Finn, who was also found guilty specifically for failure to report the priest.  You have pounded so many nails in in the coffin that now every excuse you make is like a shovelful of dirt fin the cemetery of accountability.  You have dug a pretty deep grave so far.

I read your link and the above timelne.I'm still not getting it.Did Ratigan actually take PORN pictures of young girls or NOT?Was Murphy horrified at the prospect that he had-or that he could have or might? If Murphy knew he had -then Murphy knew Ratican had committed a crime and so he Murphy did do  the right thing in notifying the police.. Why should  Finn after talking to Ratican which was by right a private matter pre-emptively   notify the police that Ratigan had done anything illigal when he did not have evidence to support that claim?He was right to be looking out for Ratican as all he had was a principal saying he behaved inappropriately-which is subjective and Finn cannot just go call the polce based on someone saying that.That apparrently the law says he should have is to me rather chilling. Finn did take the matter seriously when [months later?] Ratigan admitted  liking porn pictures of young girls[pre pubescent or young teens, i wonder, which also is significant or should be in determining what a pedophile is,but that's another issue,Though if young teens then Finn may have factored that into his impulse to want to  look out for Ratican]..For which he was remanded to a shrink and removed from contact with children and prohibited from being around them Why should Finn tell theVincentians that Ratican was sent there because of his sex addiction to porn?I'm sure they probabaly realized that  he was sent there for a sex problem reason.. He Finn was looking out to do the least harm to Ratigan as Ratigan was, so far anyway deemed to be having a problem with porn involving young girls -but that was as far as it went.Had the principal caught him commiting a crime she would have called the police.So perhaps Ratigans claim that she was out to get him was true?Though she accurately perceived he was attrcted to young girls.Why should Finn second guess the shrinks assesment that Ratigan though attracted to children was not a danger to children?He was removed from being with them and that seemed suffiecient as the chancellors investigation was proceeding.It could very well be accurate that his problem stemed from lonliness and  he had anough sense and ethics to never harm a child.Unless i got it wrong-has he ever actually molested children?Taking a picture ,unless it IS porn is not illigal.Lewd is not porn.These distinctions matter when someone's freedom,there whole future   is on the line. Though it turns out he did posess illigal porn pictures  and that is why he's in prison.it still seems to pan out that Ratigan did not abuse children himself.Unless i'm wrong and Ratican actually TOOK PORN pictures of girls. Again if the principal had evidence of illigal pictures they should have called the police .Acting "inappropriately" warrants action and Finn took appropriate action[IMO] .There was no reason after talking to Ratigan to believe the principal more then Ratigan who said she had it in for him.The pictures had not surfaced.He was letting the chancery do their investigation.What was the hurry?I'm still not clear what child abuse he Ratigan engaged in that got him convicted[was it taking porn pictures, lewd,pictures, downloading porn pictures, actual physical sex abuse?]

What does it take for the scales to fall? 

Finn: “I regret and am sorry for the hurt that these events have caused.” Not that “my inaction” caused.

All was blamed on “process and procedures;” by whom is never specified in his statement. Two priests asserted that after his conviction, he denied he did anything wrong. I have the link to NYT 12-2-12, but worry about exceeding my limit here for links.

Maybe some interesting history:

By having a judge rule on the charge of failure to report, a trial requiring witnesses to testify was avoided. No chance for the IT person to testify about her deposition that she somehow recanted a month before the expected trial:  

“In her deposition, Creech recounted a meeting with Finn about the diocese’s response to the discovery of hundreds of lewd photographs of young girls on Ratigan’s laptop.

‘He did indicate that, you know, sometimes priests do things that they shouldn’t, and he said, you know, he said, ‘Sometimes boys will be boys,’?” Creech testified., Creech recounted a meeting with Finn about the diocese’s response to the discovery of hundreds of lewd photographs of young girls on Ratigan’s laptop.

“He did indicate that, you know, sometimes priests do things that they shouldn’t, and he said, you know, he said, ‘Sometimes boys will be boys,’?” Creech testified.”

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2012/09_10/2012_09_01_Morris_RecantedDeposition.htm

The Diocese paid $600,00 to the family whose two-year old daughter's crotch was a subject of Ratigan's photos. Are those being dispersed today on the internet?

See the Ratigan page on BishopAccountability to get an easy to follow timeline:  http://www.bishop-accountability.org/assign/Ratigan_Rev_Shawn_Francis.htm

The interchanges here are fascinating cameos of peoples' views. 

Ms. Caminer: " I read your link and the above timelne.I'm still not getting it.Did Ratigan actually take PORN pictures of young girls or NOT?

YES, Ratigan took porn photos on many occasions. Please excuse the caps; they seem necessary. Kudos to BishopAccountability for their invaluable resources and the time they spend to present countless cases in an easy-to-use format.

Read about each count in his indictment:

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2011/07_08/2011_08_10_Kendall_C...

Read the Ratigan page link I sent above and use the handy links to access the back-up pages on :

Kansas City

 In May 2011 investigators discovered a CD withpornographic images of a 3 or 4 year old girlaccompanied by a receipt dated 4-30-2004. The CD was in an envelope marked "S. Ratigan."

Easton

 Images of child pornography were found in May 2011 on a computer Ratigan had used while at this parish.

 Ratigan was accused in a Sept. 2011 lawsuit of taking pornographic pictures of a girl beginning in 2008. The girl was a student at St. Joseph's school; he often visited her and her family in their home between 2006-2011. Among other things, Ratgan is said to have posed the girl in sexually explicit ways while she was sleeping. Ratigan is said to have uploaded the pictures onto his computer, and then to the internet.

Kansas City

 Dec. 16, 2010 a computer repair person found child pornography on Ratigan's computer. The repairman told church officials, who gave the computer to the diocese's computer expert to review.

 Diocesan officials were warned of Ratigan's inappropriate behavior with children by St. Patrick's school principal in a five-pagememo in May 2010. This was a year before the diocese filed a police report. The memo included, among others, concerns about Ratigan's picture taking, his obsession with a fifth grade girl, and that a parent found a pair of girl's panties in a planter in the priest's yard.

 In a June 2011 lawsuit Ratigan was accused of engaging in sexually explicit conduct with a 2 to 3 year-old girl from 2006 to 2010.

 Ratigan was accused in a November 2012 lawsuit of engaging a girl in sexually explicit conduct from 2009-2011, when the girl was 10-12 years-old.

Independence

 Ratigan was accused in a Nov. 2011 lawsuit of taking photos with his cell phone of a 10 year-old girl underneath the table while having dinner with her family in their home. Members of St. Patrick's parish, the family reached out to Ratigan after learning of his carbon monoxide "accident". They said the diocese asked parishioners to pray for Ratigan, but did not say that child pornography had been found on his computer, or that he had attempted suicide. Ratigan is said to have contacted the girl via Facebook, which led to the family inviting him to dinner.

 Ratigan was accused of having takenpornographic photos of a 12 year-old girl on Easter Sunday, 2011. Federal prosecutors in Aug. 2011 said Ratigan had vicitmized this same girl when she was 6 years old by photographing her crotch with her panties pulled aside.

 In an Aug. 2011 lawsuit, Ratigan was accused of taking sexually explicit photos of a girl attending an Easter egg hunt, that Ratigan hosted, on the Sisters' property in April of that year

Well you made the case Carolyn against Ratigan..That he uploaded the picture on the internet is pornography traficking.For that alone he deserves inprisonment. 

rose-ellen  --

And Bishop Finn was rightly convicted too.  Surely you must see now that a man who resists facts as pig-headedly as he has done should be removed from his position of trust so that he can't repeat his terrible mistakes.  

Agreed, Ann, but I am not holding my breath.

Finn has a bevy of legal and PR talent behind him who orchestrated it all very well for him. He continues the bishops' PR strategy developed early on --- by Binder Associates, as I recall, before Dallas in 2002.

I believe that psychiatrist was very carefully chosen; is not board certified if memory serves. I suspect he is certainly out of the mainstream of evaluation and treatment by any general understanding. I consider his inability to see through Ratigan is instructive.

What our AG found applies broadly to Finn and other dioceses: willful blindness, conscious ignorance and flagrant indifference to the dangers of abusers. Finn was focused on "saving Ratigan's priesthood" and his problem was "only pornography" to quote Msgr. Murphy about Finn's comments to him. That's the same Finn, who wrote a special paper on the dangers of pornography. And recall his comment to the IT manager that "boys will be boys."

No wonder those priests reported Finn told them after ihs conviction that he did nothing wrong. More disturbing is that he probably genuinely believes that of himself. IMHO, such limited capacity for insight!

Grant did an outstanding job of deconstructing the rationalizations of Finn and his supporters, but I am out of energy to find the link. The end, for me. Thank you to so many for commenting. I am very appreciate\ive for a note today from a priest who is a survivor currently in ministry. Bless him, and also those survivors and family members in Finn's diocese who came forward under such difficult circumstances.

Carolyn --

Thanks to you, dear one, for your many years working to correct these problems and for your courage in speaking out clearly when others didn't dare. 

If anyone here doesn't know about Carolyn's great work, check out this article in the Nashua Telegraph

Disco wins honor - NashuaTelegraph.com

www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/.../disco-wins-honor.html

 

"Snap out of it!"That's exaclty what in my fantasy I'd love to hear someone say to the now adult sex abuse club,I means " survivors group".I'd love to hear them being told that maybe their "post traumatic stress disorder" could be alleviated if they were to channel it by having enounters with today's children ,who are todays victims of wars, atrocities such as refugees have experienced,have been witness to, such as children in lthe Congo forced to become child soldiers,children in cancer wards ,children in North Korean prisons etc.yes it's right and good that justice be done  about their past  abuse and the church's crimes.it is being done and it is right that they have a voice in the reforms .However ,enough with this preocupation with their past with the way the church was corrupt then.Yes thanks to them and their courage in coming forward  reforms and a change of culture is taking place.The problem was so extensive that perfect justice, routing out every person who ever covered up ,is not necessary and makes us at this point  hateful if not  petty, and obsessivly vindictive. We all experience the powerlessness in the face of reality,of evil.That it happened to them years ago by the church  is a scandal and needed to be exposed and called  out for justice.Enough with cries for justice for every person who may  have done the wrong thingand covered up  in the past. Evil happens to day, to children,horrible atrocities are ongoing in many parts of the world,children suffer in cancer wards,children suffer  profoundly today   and it is their suffering their ongoing suffering  that these survivors should reach out in empathy to, in solidarity with.This preoccupation with being a survivor of past sexual abuse is inauthentic.

The snap "out of it" line was a respone to a previous post:page 1,march 6,11:37a.m.,by J. Jenkins.That's where I thought my above  post would appear. 

Rose-Ellen, you should go and listen to sex abuse survivors. 

 

Ms. Caminar - sorry, what you wrote is sad from many different stances.  Talk about lack of mercy, forgiveness, understanding, etc.

Sexual abuse by a cleric is also, at times, described as *soul murder* which is what some victims experience (whether you agree or not).

Your caricature of sexual abuse groups is also sad (do you believe everything that Bill Donohue states?).

So, let's apply your remedy to your own words and response - *Ms. Caminar, just get over it*

Doubt you will read this but page 15 highlights why your comment is both insensitive and ignorant:\

http://www.awrsipe.com/Philly_Grand_Jury/grand_jury_report.pdf

Ms. Disco - found the article about the psychiatrist, Richard Fitzgibbons.

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/11/16/3270664/psychiatrist-who-examined-ratigan.html

He is a member of: 

Opus Bono Sacerdotii - the nonprofit organization provides services to accused and imprisoned priests, including financial, legal and emotional support.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/11/16/3270664/psychiatrist-who-examined-ratigan.html#storylink=

Ms. Caminar - as you say: "Enough with cries for justice for every person who may  have done the wrong thingand covered up  in the past.".   So, does this also apply to this group?

Finally, you say - "That it happened to them years ago by the church  is a scandal and needed to be exposed and called  out for justice.  This preoccupation with being a survivor of past sexual abuse is inauthentic."

- Ms. Caminar - it didn't just happen in the distant past;  it is still happening every day!!!  *Inauthentic* would be for victims to do what you advocate - you obviouly don't have a counseling background.

               

 

 

 

It's quite possible that the Holy Father has room to grow in his appreciation of the nature, scope and urgency of the sex abuse crisis.  I suppose some impatience on our part is understandable.

So what to do about this?  If I may, I suggest we frame our response in such a way that it's clear that Francis is *our* guy, and that we are stakeholders in his getting this right.  I don't think the right response on our part is to blast him for not measuring up to our standards, wash our hands of him and his papacy, and stomp off grumbling into the night.  Certainly, some people will react this way.  Without disputing that such folks have a perfect right to react this way, it seems to me that such a reaction essentially says, It's not our problem, it's their problem.  Francis and the church become them, rather than us.

I would guess that many of us, in adulthood, have had experiences with our own parents as they age, in trying to help them understand and cope with something that is difficult or puzzling in contemporary life.  Our parents can be fonts of wisdom on many, many topics and yet still not know how to turn on the HD channel for the football game, or know how to renew their drivers licenses online.  And so we help them, without loving them less, but recognizing that they have gaps and need our help.  That may be how it is with Francis on this topic.

Just my own line of thought.

 

Of course my" snap out of it "comment does not apply to abuse against children happening today.Whether clerical or anywhere else.That is my point; these adult  survivors should channel their memories of their traumatic past experiences by focusing on children today who are suffering from all kinds of evil including sexual abuse.That could bring them out of their neurosis as experinecing empathy for children suffering today  and working to stop it might replace there railing at their past,And  at the church for not having "brought to justice" every sngle person who in the past covered up..Of course an orgainization that helps prisoners or people awaiting trial is warranted.Clergy as well as laity.To not see the difference between an orgainzation that is helping people who are in prison or who face a trial that could convict them to life in prison, and an organization that irails about the fact that bad things happened to them long ago. shows disordered thinking. 

rose-ellen --
You need to take very seriously what William Faulkner famously said in his Nobel Priize speech: "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past".

Ouch, my tongue hurts from biting it; not taking the bait,.

 

Thank you, Jim P.

Robert Mickens wrote something hopeful.

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/features/2/1689/reform-rebuild-and-renew 

Jim P.,

I am by no means giving up on Pope Francis. He still seems like fresh air after a long time in a stuffy room. But I very much hope that he will hear about the negative reaction to this portion of the interview, and that he will take it to heart. I don't have a mandate to advise popes, but there are many people who have a solid understanding of what has been happening. I hope he will speak with them and read what they have written; then pray for guidance. And since he clearly likes to be among his people and bring what comfort he can to those who are suffering, I hope he will seek out some of the victims of abuse and listen to their stories and their anguish.

It is no good being defensive or trying to minimize what has happened. A great stain and shame has come upon the Church, and it has come from within. That must be fully owned and acknowledged.

The first action, I think, must be to take every reasonable measure to assure that the abuse has in fact stopped and will stay stopped in every Catholic parish and diocese in the world. Only the pope has the reach to insist on that. Then let the Church's care for the abused be ungrudging and generous.

Within the Church, a careful and courageous examination of clerical culture is in order to see if some weakness in the selection or formation of candidates for the priesthood, or in the expectations placed upon them, has contributed to the problem. It certainly—but sadly—is past time to discard the naive assumption that it's okay to leave one child alone with one adult as long as the adult is called Father. And bishops should examine their motivations singly and in conference, paying special attention to the utter disaster that has come from trying to protect the Church by hushing up or downplaying sexual abuse.

Nothing is more important for the Church right now than dealing humbly and forthrightly with this great sin.

John  - right on, on every single point.

Carolyn, thanks for referring us to the Robert Mickens article.  It's more than hopeful.  Fwiw, the article seems to have moved to a different URL since you provided the link.  This one worked for me:

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/features/2/1689/0/reform-rebuild-and-renew

 

The past may not be dead but once the victims have been heard, their suffering acknowledged,the sins of clergy admitted and mea culpas expressed,once  many  abusers have been brought to justice[,not all of course but we have  statutes of ilmitiations for everything except murder,if we did not then anyone can say anything about anyone at any point and life would be made hell for everyone],the persistent need to uncover every possible past  abuser,as opposeed to current,of course, now proably old ,sick or dead,,every possible cover up, becomes no longer about sufferings of the past  and the legitimate need for justice but is now about inauthentic refusal to acknowedge reality.Tthe initial legitimate demads have been met; acknowedging the crimes, meeting with victims, apologies ,prosecutions and reforms.The victims' refusal to believe that the church has turned a new leaf, is inauthentic. It's ideological.Nothing will ever saitisfy these people because the sex abuse scandal is their life, it gives meaning to their lives, and whatever the church does to make amends cannot satify them because then they would have to cease that fight.It's hard to move on when your whole life has been about one thing;a monumental scandal,involving sex, power,abuse, cover up , the noble  David going up against the   Goliaths in the name of justice.Being a David is  noble.They want to be davids even when golliath is being dismantled and defeated. it's all they know.and all they want to know as that gives meaning to their lives;a ready made neverending war and they're the noble  warriors fighting  evil.The war is over ;the church has recognized and taken on the reality of its past crimes;it's criminal culure, against children but they refuse to admit that and will not rest till every person who they suspect covered up gets thrown out of office or prosecuted.That could mean just about everyone[ if you go fishing in a past  culture that has admitted it 's policy was to defacto cover up],a scorced earth policy  in the name of "justice",no mercy.The refusal to see that the war is actually  over in todays  reformed,contrite church heirarchy is self serving; inauthentic.

You state:

"..... but once the victims have been heard, their suffering acknowledged,the sins of clergy admitted:

Well, that's the point.....they haven't been heard even today.  Have you been reading about the archdiocese of St.Paul-Minneapolis and Archbishop Neinstendt.  Example - just this past month, diocese finally revealed a current priest who has been abusing for decades despite numerous victims coming forward (earlier excellent posts/timeline here at dotCommonweal via Grant Gallicho); have you been keeping up with the Australian Royal Commission that is in hearings right now - yesterday, Cardinal Pell admitted that victims had rights to sue, etc. but it had been quashed by the church and that victims had been silenced; one could go on and on and on

"......mea culpas expressed,once  many  abusers have been brought to justice...."

Again, mea culpas are meaningless if there is no accountability or responsibility - it is merely words.  Again, the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis is a prime example of meaningless mea culpas and that abusers have not been brought to justice.  Again, many other examples could be brought forward.

"statutes of limitations" - unfortantely, this only refers to criminal charges - then, we have civil suits; we have the church's responsibility to continue to protect children (no matter what the SOL is).  Your statement reveals real confusion on the various levels.

"....legitimate need for justice but is now about inauthentic refusal to acknowedge reality"  Obviously, victims are not going to feel like there has been any type of legitimate JUSTICE if folks merely dismiss the issues using SOL as the convenient excuse.  Would suggest that the inauthentic refusal to acknowledge reality lies more with many bishops and dioceses - not the victims.  (example - Pell finally admitting that victims can sue the church after 25 years of stonewalling - talk about inauthentic refusal to acknowledge reality)

"Tthe initial legitimate demads have been met; acknowedging the crimes, meeting with victims, apologies ,prosecutions and reforms."    Really, do you know how many of the 280+ current bishops have met with victims?  How many have publically apologized?  You do know that the 2002 US Bishops Child Protection Policy says nothing about the behaviors of bishops; refuses to hold them accountable, etc. Why have less than 25 US dioceses posted the names of all confirmed abusers?

"The war is over ;the church has recognized and taken on the reality of its past crimes;it's criminal culure,...."   Again, reality shows that the war is far from over - - you sound like what the German chanceller said about Putin and Uknraine - "he is not in the real world"  Actually, would suggest that in the face of known facts, your continued denials and ignorance are the real inauthentic and self-serving statements. 

I do not support Bill Donahue I cringe when he speaks.I believe I do not lack mercy or understanding of victims.I know they suffer  now .I do believe however that their suffering today is not the result of abuse ,Though intitially the suffering was about abuse. It then became the lack of  being heard,their sheer invisibility as they were powerless and up against a formidable instituion. They had no voice.Reality was deniied by the perpetrators not by them..Once  the church acknowedged the  reality,their sins,the vctims wanted  accountability for the perpetrators.Those were  legitimate  needs that these victims had and for which they suffered at not having these autehtic needs met. Today however their suffering is not about that. it is more about the fact that  their role as victims crying our for justice is actually  being met albeit not perfectly becuse the crimes  was so extensive and covered so much time and place,  and they have not found a new role for themselves.The only way out of that is to cling to the old role;to tell themselves and the rest of the church that they will not rest till every abuser or every one who covered  up is hunted down and thrown out of office or prosecuted.But  that will not alleviate their suffering because that is no longer the reason they suffer. If every person were thrown out of the heirarchy they would still not be satisfied.They suffer today from being a warrior still fighting a fight when their opponent has surrendered.They cannot and will not see that because this fight gives meaning to them.The suffering is real but it is about their inability to stop feeding the beast.[their maginary enemy that continuously must be fought]].The beast has grown because they feed it.not because it wants to harm them.I do feel bad that they suffer,I think they would suffer less if they would channel their suffering to more contructive endevors like working with todays victims or working with the hierarchy for church reforms that interest them I think that's good psycholgy as well as living a Christ centered life.

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/bill-donohue-stands-his-man

You incessantly repeat your meme:  "I do believe however that their suffering today is not the result of abuse ,Though intitially the suffering was about abuse. It then became the lack of  being heard,their sheer invisibility as they were powerless and up against a formidable instituion. They had no voice.Reality was deniied by the perpetrators not by them..Once  the church acknowedged the  reality,their sins,the vctims wanted  accountability for the perpetrators."

Reality - you twist the facts just like Big Bill Donohue.

 

 

I'm sorry I'm being put in the same league with Donahue and His Catholic League whose  paranoid  gripes and greiviences against the secular culture from day one   I found even more petty,and inauthentic then todays sexual abuse survivors neverending gripes and demands of the heirarchy.Though if I tried I'm sure I could find that even  he can say something true too.

The fact that they've changed the culture by taking reforms so that going FORWARD these abuses and coverups will not be tolerated [turning over a new leaf] and the fact that there have been priests tried and convicted and bishops no longer presiding over a dioscese  and that  many met with abusers, and popes and bishops have expressed contriton and apologied, should suffice.So now it's about every bishop meeting every victim?You keep coming up with NEW demands.Which shows the warring nature of the survivors. When they apologize you don't believe them.Yet then demand more bishops apoliogize.The pope has just  spoken  out and you're raking him over the coals already.You complain about centralization yet demand every diocese have the same policy of publishing names of abusers.As if your conscious is the only one with any validity.And of course the published names can be gotten by anyone anywhere.Not all parisheners of all disocese have the same perspective you do about publishing bishops names.You want to dictate.Why would a policy about child protection going forward include anything about bishops accountability and failures of the past?And no document can reasonably ever say that going foward  one person automatically is /will be  responsible for another persons behavior.That demand itself highlights  the warring   nature of those making these  demands.Do you  want more trilals?Going back  decades?You're in the real world of the PAST and won't accept that yes there are bishops who covered up and because that was part of the culture of the time, are not going to be removed.The sins,the crimes  have been admitted to, The reforms are in the works and until a new crop of bishops come through the ranks, most likely appointed by the laity such as abuse survivors themselves,, there will be bishops with a past in place.We all have a past;as  people,as sinners  in the church The church is not the state.But if  I'm Putin you're the inquisition.Or the communist purges of China and Russia.[just kidding]IThey're not hiding behind the statutes of limitation,they're abiding by them.That shows mercy for the bishops yes.Once the criminal culture  has been admitted to ,that is appropriate.The church heirarchy has done that.That's what we the  church is called to do.Victims and abusers alike are called to be merciful.Our model is not the state.

The fact that they've changed the culture by taking reforms so that going FORWARD these abuses and coverups will not be tolerated [turning over a new leaf] and the fact that there have been priests tried and convicted and bishops no longer presiding over a dioscese  and that  many met with abusers, and popes and bishops have expressed contriton and apologied, should suffice.So now it's about every bishop meeting every victim?You keep coming up with NEW demands.Which shows the warring nature of the survivors. When they apologize you don't believe them.Yet then demand more bishops apoliogize.The pope has just  spoken  out and you're raking him over the coals already.You complain about centralization yet demand every diocese have the same policy of publishing names of abusers.As if your conscious is the only one with any validity.And of course the published names can be gotten by anyone anywhere.Not all parisheners of all disocese have the same perspective you do about publishing bishops names.You want to dictate.Why would a policy about child protection going forward include anything about bishops accountability and failures of the past?And no document can reasonably ever say that going foward  one person automatically is /will be  responsible for another persons behavior.That demand itself highlights  the warring   nature of those making these  demands.Do you  want more trilals?Going back  decades?You're in the real world of the PAST and won't accept that yes there are bishops who covered up and because that was part of the culture of the time, are not going to be removed.The sins,the crimes  have been admitted to, The reforms are in the works and until a new crop of bishops come through the ranks, most likely appointed by the laity such as abuse survivors themselves,, there will be bishops with a past in place.We all have a past;as  people,as sinners  in the church The church is not the state.But if  I'm Putin you're the inquisition.Or the communist purges of China and Russia.[just kidding]IThey're not hiding behind the statutes of limitation,they're abiding by them.That shows mercy for the bishops yes.Once the criminal culture  has been admitted to ,that is appropriate.The church heirarchy has done that.That's what we the  church is called to do.Victims and abusers alike are called to be merciful.Our model is not the state.

The story in 2002: going forward from the Dallas charter, these abuses and cover-ups were not going to be tolerated. 

Taking stock of reality twelve years later: (1) if a bishop chooses to not tolerate abuses and coverups, then they are not tolerated. (2) If the bishop commits abuse, then it is not tolerated by the Vatican and he is suspended. (3) If the bishop tolerates abuses and participate in coverups, then nothing happens.

Example of (3): Bp. Finn. Moreover, Bp. Finn wrote an incendiary letter against porn, then covered up for a priest guilty of porn. Bp. Finn said he was sorry etc., then said in private that he had done nothing wrong. Bp. Finn was tried and convicted of coverup, then the Vatican left him in charge of his diocese. Bp. Finn is an examplary case that a new leaf has not been turned and that bishops have expressed contrition but not been actually contrite.

Rose Ellen, you do not appreciate what PTSD is.  It is a brain injury and when triggered, has more to do with a convulsion (involuntary) than thoughts and/or feelings.  It is NOT a psychological disorder---it is neurological.   "Snap out of it," does not compute in such a universe.  "What's going on?" and "How can we help?" are functionally responsive questions.  

I had a relative, an academically brilliant and socially promising young man, who fought in WWI. We don't have the details of his war experiences, but shortly after the war one day he got his gun out and started shooting at Germans on sight. He then spent the next 50 years of his life (until his death) with a round-the-clock nurse. I knew him a little when he was old and I was a little child. If his wife had only thought of telling him to "just snap out of it" -those memories from the now distant past-, she could have spared herself and himself a lifetime of suffering!

I believe PTSD exists for experiences of physical violence such as  of war, or of  any situation of prolonged extreme non physical,psychological abuse. I do not believe PTSD exists for childhood experiences of sexual contact.Excluding [violent] rape of course.Though sexual molestation  is experienced as traumaic to a child, once a child reaches adulthood and is awakened sexually him/herself ,the previous nameless, experience ,that lacked context, understanding ,words ,is recognized .The now  awakened  sexual adult can look back on the experience and be angry at the deceitful abuse by a  perverted adult that violated him/her.And angry at the powefful instituion that  added insult to injury by refusing to recognize there was a  victimi That is cause for legitimate anger and rage against such people and the  system and drives victims  to want  justice .But that is not PTSD.The memry of the experience itself is remembered as having been  traumatic but i do not believe it is activated as real flashbacks on par with a PTSD response that causes mental illness.The memory  now has a context  for the now adult victim,a mitigating of the experience;what was then namesless and beyond the pale of the childs normal world,,now is given words ;the perv was getting off sexually .he's  a perv"a dirty old man" meme, I was his victim.The now adult   knows what that experience means,is;sexual gratification.That is different from the abject  horror of purely physical violence people experience in war ,accidents even, and violent abuse, including [violent ]rape.There is no mitigating experiences of physical violence,no ;this is about that;It's irriducible.In childhood sexual molestation what was happening,even though it was wrong and traumatizing it has context; sexuality, which the now adult recognizes and is not horrified of.Sexuality perhaps is also irriduclble  but it is not abject horror like physical violence iinherently is. If  they claim they are experiencing PTSD about it, it is because of other mental illnesses.That's my take .I don't care what the shrinks say about it.We're all psychologists if we live long enough.And we all experience flash backs of experiences that for whatever reason impacted us. We all can have visceral responses[neurological as you say] that are the result of past experiences.That's part of living.But yes; "what's goin on,how can i help" is always appropriate to any suffering .

Gee whiz, rose-ellen, I'm 83, and that's not what my non-academically certified psychology has taught me. What qualifies your experience as superior ro that of most other old people, the old, highly experienenced law enforcement officers, social workers and journalists, not to mention all those parents of abused children? You must have known many adults who were abused as children. How many confided in you enough to make you deviate from the (according to you) so-called
experts? Tell us the facts.

Rose-Ellen, here is a page that might be an interesting read: http://www.snapnetwork.org/what_to_do_when_your_priest_is_accused_of_abuse

Excerpts:

1) Remain open-minded. 

2) Pray for all parties involved. 

3) Let yourself feel whatever emotions arise.

4) Remember that abuse, sadly, is quite common.

5) Don't try to "guess" or figure out who the accuser is.

6) If you do know the victim(s), protect his/her confidentiality.

7) Understand that abuse victims often have "troubled" backgrounds (i.e. drug or alcohol problems, criminal backgrounds, etc.)

Instead of undermining the credibility of accusers, these difficulties actually enhance their credibility. (When someone is physically hurt, there are almost always clear signs of harm; so too with sexual abuse. The harm is reflected largely in self-destructive behaviors. One might be skeptical of a person who claimed to have been run over by a truck but showed no bodily injury. Similarly, one might be skeptical of an alleged molestation victim who always acted like a "model citizen.")

8) Don't allow the mere passage of time to discredit the accusers. 

9) Ask your family members and friends if they were victimized.

10) Mention the accusation to former parishioners and parish staff now living elsewhere.

11) Contact the police or prosecutors. 

12) Don't allow other parishioners to make disparaging comments about those making the allegation.

Remember, the sexual abuse of children has terribly damaging effects. As a Christian, you want to help prevent such victimization. And you want anyone who is in pain to get help as soon as possible. Critical comments about those who make allegations only discourage others who may have been hurt. Such remarks prevent those who need help from reaching out and getting it. Show your compassion for abuse victims. Tell your fellow parishioners that hurtful comments are inappropriate. Remind them that they can defend their priest without attacking his accuser.

13) Educate yourself and your family about sexual abuse. 

14) Support the accused priest PRIVATELY.

15) Don't be blinded by the pain you can see.

16) Try to put yourself in the shoes of the alleged victim.

17) Use this painful time as an opportunity to protect your own family.

18) Turn your pain into helpful action. 

19) Keep in mind the fundamental choice you face.

20) Ask your pastor to bring in an outside expert or a therapist who can lead a balanced discussion about sexual abuse.

21) Urge your bishop, pastor and other diocesan or parish employees to follow these guidelines too.

 

How much cash do you need?

  You are correct.  Words alone mean nothing as long as these multi-million dollar cash awards are dispensed.  You want this scandal to end?  Stop giving these people money!

If the Pope cannot defend the Church, it's time to appoint a new one.   The only way that this "Scandal" will end is when the Church stops giving these people money. 

I've always admired Carolyn Disco and VOTF members who contnue to "keep the faith" while trying  to "change the church."

After several years in VOTF, I left the church becaue I was tired of being angry.  My faith in God is stonger than ever thanks to  retreats and daily meditation practices, but I don't ever want to belong to an "institution" again.

I'm praying for Francis but agree with Tom Doyle's opinion piece in NCR -  the last  thing clergy abuse victims need is another commision led by a bishop. 

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