National Review Board Urges Need to Broaden the Scope of the Charter to Include Bishops; Lay Panel Urges Reform to Improve Transparency and Enhance Accountability

November 13, 2018

BALTIMORE—On Tuesday, November 13, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ independent lay advisory panel on the protection of children and young people delivered a special report to the body of U.S. bishops regarding the abuse crisis in the Church. In an address to the bishops who have gathered in Baltimore for the annual fall general assembly, National Review Board Chairman Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., outlined key reforms and urged action. The report calls for broadening the scope of the Charter on the Protection of Children and Young People to include bishops; the publication of complete lists of credibly accused clergy in all dioceses; improving the audit process; and enhancing accountability for bishops regarding cases of abuse.

 

My thoughts:

If I report my neighbor for sexually assaulting my child, I don’t expect the decision to pursue the accusation to depend on the opinion of a group of his friends and co-workers. No one would deem that a reasonable, moral, appropriate way of pursuing justice, or caring for the victim.
Why is it then that Catholics blithely accept that bishops should be the ones to decide if accusations against their fellow bishops and their priests are credible and if any action should be taken.
Why is it that the news media don’t question this incredible procedural flaw/insanity?
  • It is time for good Catholics to stand up to their bishops.
  • It is time for good bishops to stand up to their peers.
  • It is time for District Attorneys to step up and demand that accusations be brought to them.
The Catholic Church should not wait until there are two “credible accusations” against an abuser. Do we wait for an accused non-clerical rapist to repeat his actions before we investigate his crimes? Separation of Church and State should not be a shield for clergy, enabling them to hide beneath the cassocks of their superiors and avoid criminal charges.
Yes, I am angry. Yes, I was a Catholic. Yes, I was sexually abused by two priests who were moved around and re-assigned. I even taught high school religion for 27 years, until the revelations of 2002-2006 highlighted a systemic dysfunction, dishonesty, and moral pollution in the church, and a cadre of bishops who continued to subvert the pursuit of truth and justice.
The above news item again describes a system of reporting to the bishops about the bishops. We have heard repeatedly over the last few years that the bishops have not been following their own Charter for the Protection of Children. What makes Catholics think their bishops have suddenly adopted a moral backbone?

See article here:

https://buffalonews.com/2018/11/13/catholic-bishops-who-ignored-sex-abuse-should-resign-adviser-tells-them/

Full National Review Board Special Report here:

http://www.usccb.org/about/child-and-youth-protection/upload/National-Review-Board-Special-Report-to-the-Body-of-Bishops-November-2018.pdf

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Journal Entry  9/6/2018 #2

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Men in black, together.

Do they talk about me

and lick their figures and touch themselves?

Waiting to get me alone.

Waiting for my daddy

to bring me.

Little lamb, to the slaughter.

Journal Entry, 9/6/2018

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The Shadow Man

There’s a shadow man

he lives in the shadows

appears; disappears

you don’t know where he is

then suddenly, silently, he’s there

and pulls you in.

 

You can’t get out

like in a nightmare when you try to wake up

you try really hard

but you can’t.

 

And no one comes to save you

because they haven’t noticed you’re gone.

No one misses you

you just disappear.

And when they think they see you

it’s not you at all

because you are gone and only a shadow remains.

 

 

 

 

PTSD the Return!

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I am being so triggered by the Philadelphia revelations.

Nightmares. Hyper-vigilance. Tremors. Dissociation. Intensified startle reflex. Insomnia. Anxiety. Irrational fears.

Not fun.

I write Letters to the Editor; I journal; I read newspapers, then wish I hadn’t. It feels strong to respond and challenge people, but it makes me more paranoid about the Church sending priests in black cars to “come and get me,” to kill me for telling their secrets.

I keep telling myself, “I am safe. I am safe.” But then I journal and don’t feel safe any more.

 

The Shepherd and the Sheepdogs

imageThere once was a sheep farmer with a very large flock. So large he had to use lots of sheepdogs. His sheepdogs were trained to guard his sheep, guide them in for branding and shearing, and protect them and their offspring from predators – especially wolves. The sheep had come to love and trust the farmer, and because of that they accepted the role of the sheepdogs and came to love and trust them also.

Yet, as hard as the farmer and his dogs tried to protect them, every month there was always one or two lambs found with their throats torn out, their mothers bleating noisily at their side, trying to lick away the blood and make their babies whole again.

One spring the farmer had a visitor who wanted to evaluate his farming methods. The visitor’s name was Tom. Tom spent days and nights watching, taking notes, compiling his report. When he was done Tom presented his report to the farmer. Tom had concluded that the lambs were not being killed by wolves at all, they were secretly being killed by sheepdogs. Well, the farmer got angry when he read this and just tore up the report. “That’s nonsense!” said the farmer, “I know my dogs; I trained them well. They wouldn’t hurt a lamb. Never!”

In his report Tom also revealed that the farmer had not only known these facts to be true but also had previously sold to other sheep farmers any sheepdog he found with evidence of bloodshed on his muzzle. And furthermore he had done so without revealing to the new farmer the danger the sheepdog posed.

The farmer sent a letter to Tom’s boss and Tom was fired.

Besides revealing the covert behavior of the sheepdogs, Tom also reported that after each lamb was found slaughtered by the “wolves” the carcass was cut up and the bones were fed to the sheepdogs, whose blood lust was thereby further aroused.

Black

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Why do they have to wear these long robes, the men in black? Why now, after decades without, are the young ones, the new priests, reverting to these garments? Does it give them a sense of greater dignity, greater separation from regular folks? Is the collar not enough these days?

I wish that they’d stop. I wish they’d just wear a suit. Would they stop if they knew? If they knew that was how he dressed, that was where he kept it, his secret that I had to kiss, soft and salty, peeking out from his black dress that smelled of smoke and drinking and something else I smell in my nightmares.

Holidays and Grieving Loss

HolidayBluessnowman1

From a talk on Grief and Loss I gave in December:
Change = Loss = Grief; any major change brings loss and therefore
grief.

You never completely get over grieving a profound loss – such as your parents divorce;
the death of your parents, child, spouse, pet.

I would add here for this audience: the loss of your church; the loss of your faith.

Healing is about befriending grief. But before we can get to the healing there will be the “normal” responses to any major loss. Since the abuse you may have experienced – denial, anger, avoidance, sadness, depression … and each of them for long periods of time and recurrently.  I was in denial about some of my abuse until very recently. And I am talking over 40 years since the events took place.  I am just now really getting into some anger. It wasn’t possible while I was in denial. I have dipped into it occasionally in therapy, usually in the hospital, then worked hard at stuffing it back down so I could function in my daily life and work.  So my healing goes in cycles, I bring something up, work through it a little, try to accept it, and then put it aside for a while.

I have to remind myself of what I told the people at my talk: we never get over our losses, we just start managing to get along with them. And as we process our losses the intensity of the pain changes and becomes more manageable.

I am sad every Christmas because of the loss of the Catholic Church to me. My husband and son and I go to Christmas Eve mass together (my husband is still Catholic), and for me it is just a poignant reminder of the magical thinking of my childhood and the sexual abuse by the men I was taught to believe were ontologically superior human beings: “God’s presence among us.”

Despite the grief, sadness, and depression, I have survived both the abuse and the losses, and I will continue to heal.

And that is my prayer for each of you.

Blessings.

Mona

(Below is a handout of self care tips I prepared for the hospital where I serve as a chaplain.)

HOLIDAY BLUES