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(an entry for Random Acts of Journaling)

14 June 2002

Most of us have "hot button" issues that are guaranteed to provoke an impassioned response. What are yours?

As I was reading the suggested topics for the Random Acts of Journaling collab, Ann Curry was sitting in a chair on the Today set interviewing several survivors of abuse by Catholic priests.

The news had just talked about the gathering of Catholic bishops which is taking place today to "decide what to do about the issue of pedophile priests" (many of whom are straight--let's not forget that the church is also trying to scapegoat scores of celibate, dedicated, good gay priests in order to shift blame from pedophiles to homosexuals).

Anybody who has read this journal for any length of time knows that a real hot button for me is the issue of gay rights and the injustice that is done to members of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered community. I have ranted about it at length many times.

But the current crisis in the Catholic church has become an equally hot button issue for me.

There are so many levels on which this whole thing disgusts me, but the one which gets my stomach churning (as it is doing even as I write this) is the total lack of accountability, the total disregard, unconcern and sometimes downright accusatory attitudes toward the victims by what appears to be most of the people in authority in the church when it comes to the victims.

The most ridiculous thing I've heard lately is that parents were accused of being partly to blame for their child's abuse because they permitted the child to engage in Church youth activities.

I grew up in an atmosphere where children knew that when all else failed, the person they should run to was their priest.

Listening to the interview with Ann Curry this morning I could see exactly the same betrayal in all of these people who were abused by the person they had always been told they could trust above all others.

Compounding the horror of the abuse is the number of times when these victims were not believed and were condemned for daring to speak against the priest. One man talked about how he was put into a psychiatric facility for a month, and then sent to a home for troubled teens because nobody believed his story.

The Dallas Morning News yesterday published a database of all the bishops in the United States and what their record is with the issue of pedophilia. The article states that two thirds of the bishops allowed priests to continue working after a report of sexual abuse. I was disheartened to discover that even John Cummins, whom we knew as a priest in Berkeley, is not totally innocent, though his hands are not nearly as bloody as those of Boston's Cardinal Law, who seems to have been at least tacitly responsible for the abuse of a shocking number of children and adolescents.

As a former Catholic, I ask: where is the apology? where is the concern? Where is the accountability?  Why are these guys so intent on their legal rights that they have abandoned those to whom they promised to minister?

They say that the Bishops are dealing with this "complicated" issue today. What's complicated about adopting a one strike and you're out policy? If my neighbor abuses a child, what happens to him? He's hauled off to jail. It doesn't matter if it happened once or not. But these "princes of the church" are debating what to do about abuse that happened only once. Would they debate about murder which happened only once?

These pedophiles have committed spiritual murder. They have murdered the souls and the spirits of hundreds of children and adolecents. They have robbed them of their childhood. They have plunged them into a lifetime of psychological residuals. And yet the "princes of the church" feel that it is a "complicated" issue to handle.

Fire the bastards, do what you can to make amends to the victims, and be done with it. Nothing complicated about that at all.


Hot button? ....did someone say "hot button" ?

Quote of the Day

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


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