National Review Board

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

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.

Hope for the Future

John’s passage describing his “revelation” succinctly explains the perspective of the Church and the reason why things have been so slow to change.

Catholics4Change

Click here to read: “I Was Once a Victim,” by John Salveson, class of ’77, ’78 M.A., Notre Dame Magazine, Summer 2013

Excerpt:

Slowly, eventually, I figured out the reason for the lack of progress within the Church. It really was simple. I had long believed the Roman Catholic Church considered the child sex-abuse crisis to be a moral issue. So I expected clergy to care about the victims and to do the right thing.

But the simple truth I had learned over time was this: Much of the Catholic leadership does not view this as a moral issue. They view it as a risk-management issue. The focus is on managing settlements, keeping the topic out of the media, telling the faithful everything is taken care of and, most of all, doing everything humanly possible to ensure none of these cases ever make it into a court of law.

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Catholic guilt; Catholic shame

Guilt and shame. Staples of a Catholic education in the 50’s and early 60’s. The very foundation of Catholic moral instruction in this era, especially in the area of human sexuality.

So how is it that the priests themselves did not seem to feel the guilt and shame they preached?

Young boys were tormented with threats of hell if they masturbated, but chasing altar boys was the topic of dinner time jokes in seminaries and rectories. For teenage boys touching yourself was a shameful and guilt ridden exercise in self damnation; but for priests, touching young boys was an exercise in power and control.

What about when they were found out? The boy victims were beaten by their fathers or by another “Father.” “How could you say such lies? You are going to hell for such sins.” And the priests were told by their bishops “We will pray for you, my son, that you can overcome this temptation from the devil. Remember he strikes hardest at the holiest among us.”

Oh, so if priests are tempted that is a sign of holiness; If young boys “give in” and “allow” themselves to be touched, that is a sign that they are agents of the devil. The shame and guilt is theirs. The priests deserve our support, our pity, our prayers; the victims deserve our condemnation.

So, the problem lies in the lack of shame and guilt on the part of the priests, and their bishops. And their complete lack of compassion for young children molested, raped, and sodomized by members of the clergy.

We won’t get anywhere in the search for justice unless the Church begins to teach its priests about shame and guilt.

Philly grand jury recognizes the truth

Too many times victims are re-victimized by the victims advocate. The Philly grand jury clearly understands why church sponsored advocacy doesn’t work.

“….the present process is burdened by misinformation and conflict of interest. The Archdiocese’s “victim assistance coordinators,” for example, mislead victims into believing that their discussions with the coordinators are protected by confidentiality. That is not the case. In Pennsylvania, licensed rape counselors are indeed required by statute to maintain confidentiality, like lawyers. The church’s victim assistance coordinators, however, are not licensed counselors to whom the statutory mandate applies – and they do not keep victims’ statements confidential. They turn the statements over to the Archdiocese’s attorneys, who of course have an ethical obligation to protect their client from potential civil and criminal liability.”

Their recommendation:

“First, experience now demonstrates that programs for aiding victims of clergy sex abuse cannot be operated by the church itself. Victims should be assisted by the state Victim Compensation Board, or by a completely independent non-profit organization that is not subject to Archdiocesan control. In either case the church must provide the necessary funding. The church, through its lawyers, is of course entitled to defend itself against civil or criminal claims; but it can no longer try to play both sides of the fence with its victims.”

Cardinal Law leaves Rome!

“The Vatican says the Pope accepted Law’s resignation from Saint Mary Major Basilica.” Did his birthday party upset the leaders in Rome? Was it too much bad press? I would have thought that Rome was immune to bad press by now. But maybe not?  Read the whole article here:

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/11/21/disgraced-ex-boston-archbishop-cardinal-law-leaves-rome-job/

Cardinal Bernard Law partying in Rome with the “good ol’ boys.”

Party Boy in Rome

“Who, me?”

VATICAN CITY — (As reported in the Boston Herald on 5 November 2011) Cardinal Bernard Law was treated to a lavish birthday party, the company of high-ranking clerics and even the music of a mariachi band in a four-star Italian hotel. Bernard Law’s guests rolled up in Vatican Mercedes sedans and left singing the praises of the fallen prelate, promoted to his Vatican post after decades of covering up clergy sex abuse back home in Boston….

For the complete post visit blog, Another Voice.

For Boston Globe article click here.

Collateral damage

“Collateral damage is damage aside from that which was intended.”

There are many ways in which collateral damage has been and continues to be caused by the bishops of the Catholic Church as a secondary effect of its treatment of victims:

  • When the Church acts like a sexual offender, re-abusing innocent victims in its attempt to avoid more court cases and settlements
  • When bishops attempt to silence victims through lies (by applying the doctrine of “mental reservations”), intimidation, or threat of prosecution for court costs
  • When they protect, defend, and re-assign credibly accused and even admitted sexual offenders who cannot be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations
  • When they refuse to follow the guidelines they themselves have

… when they do any of these egregious things, they hurt not only the victims, but many, many others.  

First of all there are the victims families, whose trust in the Church and in God is violently assaulted not so much by the original abusive behavior of one sick priest but by the ongoing systematic, cold-blooded, legalistic, un-Christian, sometimes illegal behavior of the organization which purports to be led by God’s representative and to be Christ’s presence in the world.

Then there are our friends, our co-workers and our clients, these people all become personally, if indirectly, exposed to the evil perpetrated by the Catholic bishops and the  Vatican . They all become part of the collateral damage. If they remain faithful to the Church they will feel a conflict of loyalties, and may find it necessary to cut us out of their lives. If they are family this will cause a fracturing of the family unit. On the other hand if they are Catholics and remain faithful to us, they may find their support of and participation in the Church becomes untenable and their faith in God questionable.  They may, like us, suffer spiritual trauma.

What happens when you rip the soul out of someone’s life? What happens when you destroy someone’s hope in a loving God? What happens when you tear someone from their support community, from their rituals of comfort and consolation, renewal and restoration? What happens when you emotionally or physically lock someone out of their spiritual refuge?

What happens is that people die — from the inside out.

Their soul shrivels, their hope disintegrates, their sense of belonging evaporates. It feels as if the hand of God that was holding them through life’s trials and losses is withdrawn, and they can fall into an abyss of depression, alcohol and drug abuse, relationship-destruction, self-destruction.

There have been many physical deaths among the community of victims and victims’ families, but there are many more spiritual deaths. One aspect of survivor support needs to be a spiritual outreach of some kind. We need to find ways to foster hope, dialogue about our understanding of God, share rituals of renewal and enrichment. We need to combat the spiritual death that is part of the collateral damage of the sexual abuse crisis.