DON'T PUSH THAT
(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
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
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
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
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
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" ?