I spoke of my anger surrounding the recent Catholic sexual abuse scandals in my previous post, but anger without rational, compassionate, prayerful action causes nothing but further destruction.
Anger does not help victims. Anger does not bring justice to the guilty. Anger does not prevent the next attack.
If that last sentence surprises you, I beg you not to not fool yourself as Catholics did in 2002.
Unless Satan suddenly gives in, which no rational believer foresees, there will be more attacks on the innocent and on the Church itself. Care, justice, and prevention must be the main focus of today’s Catholics. To do that, we must move beyond anger to action.
Separating Emotion & Facts in Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandals
The Catholic sex abuse scandal is atrocious, horrifying, disgusting, heart wrenching. I have no words for the churning my stomach does when I think of this nastiness and the abuse of poor innocent souls. I wish I could un-know what I know, but that is not possible. More importantly, it is not Good.
[tweetshareinline tweet=”Turning a blind eye to victims has gone on too long both in and out of the Catholic Church.” username=”aA#L9SBt6L(xYZCuNYhgvyJ%9tRnzbqi:1:1″]
To deal with our new awareness, we must take ownership, look at facts as they are, and speak plainly. We must do our best to leave emotions and agendas behind.
I am not even sure God can do that here.
I am certain He wept witnessing each attack, holding each child’s hands in their darknesses, collecting unseen tears, sobbing as so many turned away from the Church and His Love. I am certain God alone walked paths with these children as their sweet innocence was mocked and left in ruins. He alone reached out hoping they would allow Him to comfort them while their understanding of Love was being warped beyond recognition.
God must have been waiting patiently, with carefully controlled emotions, for His people to rise up.
God’s People Rise Up!
Finally now, God’s people are rising up. Some are priests, bishops, cardinals, and religious. Most are laity. These are folks like you and me called now to lead and follow in a dance that has spiralled out of tune with God’s rhythm.
To get back on beat, we must simplify our melody. We must act in accordance with the Song God sung when He first breathed life into our world. We must conserve energy for what is Truth and speak Truth plainly.
Words have power; we must strive to use wording that most accurately tells of the horrors experienced by victims without over generalizing or projecting. To do less brushes off their experiences and re-victimizes them. It squeezes them into boxes designed by those with ulterior motives. It may seem beneficial in the moment, but longterm it hides the reality of suffering and causes greater injustice to those who need justice far more than we do.
We must not re-create music, lyrics, or dances to fit our tunes. We must simplify and speak facts.
Facts Behind the Pennsylvania Catholic Sex Scandal
I’m hesitant to include some of my thoughts because I know they could be seen as sympathizing with the abusers. As an abuse victim myself, I promise this is not the case. To extract justice and attempt to make sense of the unthinkable however, we must make an effort to understand facts. This is the sole purpose for including the next several paragraphs.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League wrote a piece debunking many of the myths surrounding the Catholic sex scandal. Despite leftist claims, Donohue does not say the abuse is “the gay’s fault,” as one crass left-wing publication accused; however, he does point out that that many of the accused are homosexuals rather than pedophiles. In fact, few of the cases involved prepubescent children, which defines pedophilia.
Cases of priest abuse are atrocious, but to classify these attacks as entirely pedophilia is not entirely truthful. Attacks are generally categorized by the type of attack and the age of the victim. This when a child is attacked sexually the term used is pedophilia. It means when a teenage girl is raped, the term used is rape not molested by a pedophile. When a teenage boy is sodomized by an adult male, the term used is rape or sodomy, not molested by a pedophile.
This is true except when the attacker is associated with the Catholic Church. Then he is given the additional label of pedophile and the entire institution is looked at with suspicion.
Rape of any age victim is pure evil. It may seem as though I’m overlooking damage done by making the above distinction. I am not. To begin to repair damage, we must know exactly what we are dealing with. Attacks on children need to be studied one way. Attacks on young adults need to be studied another. I will address this more later.
I will not credit the publication misquoting Donohue because it is yet another example of how Catholic-bashing is encouraged when other minorities would be defended against such inaccuracies. In addition, getting caught in a he said/she said battle takes focus away from where it needs to be: on care, justice, and prevention.
When Addressing Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests, It Does Little Good to…
At this point, it does little good to point out that the vast number of priests are Good and Holy men with the purest of hearts. It does little good to state that 4% of these priests had credible accusations but of those only about ½ were found to be substantiated. It does little good to state that in America, where trial by jury is a right promised to all, many of the priests named have been presumed guilty without evidence or trial. It does little good to state that many more completely innocent priests have been found guilty by association by a public out for blood.
One substantiated accusation of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest is one too many.
It does little good to show 300 priests acted over a 70 year period or that these cases, which are presented as recent by the media, reach back to the 1930’s and most occurred before the 1980’s. It does little good now to point out that many of these priests are dead or no longer in ministry.
It does little good to point out that many psychologists believed (and many still do!) that sexual deviance and abuses like pedophilia could be cured. It does little good to point out that some bishops sent abusive priests for “treatment” or that, on the advice of psychologists-playing-God, some bishops believed abusive priests were cured and could return to ministry in a different office or capacity. This may account for some (but by no means all!) of the “shuffling” of abusive priests.
It does little good to point out that the claims against the 300 men vary widely in scope. In other circles, some cases presented might be classified as extra marital sexual affairs with fully adult women while other attacks should be classified as full blown homosexual pedophilia. It does little good to point out that these men have all been branded with the same scarlet letter regardless of the severity of their encounters.
It does little good to point out that, in non-Catholic circles, a man who has an affair is not in the same class as a man who rapes a little boy in the name of God.
At this point, the public is outraged and rightly so. One case of abuse it one too many, especially when it comes to our innocent children and especially when it comes from those who bear the name “father” and claim the ability to Shepherd us toward Heaven while secretly putting children in Hell.
Put innocent children and criminally abusive priests together and the crime becomes almost unspeakable.
Except we MUST speak of it. We cannot remain silent. We must look at what happened and why it happened so victims are finally given a voice, to bring a degree of justice to the guilty, and to lessen future attacks. To do that, we cannot study the sex abuse reported in Pennsylvania’s AG document in isolation. We must look at the big picture.
Male & Female He Created Them
No honest discussion of the Catholic sex abuse scandal would be complete without beginning at the beginning. In the Book of Genesis, we learn God created man and woman. He did not create man alone or woman alone. He created them to be together, complimentary, joined as one flesh. He created man to love woman and woman to love man. He created them as partners to serve Him and one another.
God did not create man and man or woman and woman. He did not create anything other than male and female. He did not create one gender greater and the other less. He created them unique and complimentary out of Love for each of them. He created them to be celebrated individually and in unity.
That has not changed. Men and women are still created differently. Their bodies are designed to look, feel, and perform differently. They act, talk, think, care, love, and pray differently. This difference is GOOD!
Sadly, many see differences and think our differences need to be mastered. They do not see the beauty God intended but the reality man has created. Internal and external struggle ensues.
Since the fall of man, humans have experienced power struggles. We have struggled to dominate our land, animals, weather, children, bodies, and desires.
When Adam and Eve fell and refused to accept responsibility for their actions, they preferred instead to point fingers at each other, at the serpent, and even at God. Perhaps this made for an inevitable power struggle between man and woman.
Even alone, relying on the cooperation of one another and the Mercy of God, banished from the Garden and thrust into the wilderness, the first man and woman must have had human feelings of resentment, shame, anger, bitterness, regret. Even knowing they needed one another, there must have been some power struggle as each defined new roles.
The sins of the father are passed on for generations. Over time, negative feelings Adam and Eve may have experienced toward one another would have become more pronounced as men and women drifted further away from God, separated not just in understanding but in time and proximity.
As industry advances, science develops, and life gets “easier,” it seems men and women have less need for one another. This further separates humanity from God and one other and results in an undefinable emptiness. There is a longing we cannot explain and a desire to be filled with something we cannot identify. We experience emptiness but struggle to power over it using our ways rather than God’s ways.
In modern efforts to be inclusive and promote equality, we attempt to redefine gender and/or make male and female the same rather than equal. We have watered down differences between male and female. This does not celebrate diversity as we proclaim. It corrupts our missions and confuses our purpose and our plan. It weakens both sexes.
There is beauty in our differences – always has been, always will be.
It seems even the highest members of our clergy have forgotten this at some points. As the presence of feminism and a desire to make people feel good rule over the desire to make people want to do good increases, we see it also increase in our Churches, both in our laity and in our clergy.
We see clergy reaching out to the supposed marginalized, but today we see few reaching out as Jesus did in Love and courageous Truth. Many high profile Church officials are unwilling to risk a loss of influence for the hope of winning a lost soul. They reach out in tolerance which leads to acceptance which leads to normalization which leads to a loss of Truth which leads to an openness for a faith dependent on what feels good over what is Good.
It leads to a faith based on subjective, experimental, me-based truth rather than objective, time-tested, Love-based Truth.
We see this dependence by our clergy on what feels good rather than what is Good coming out in recent reports. We see evidence of the effects of normalizing self serving, feels-good-to-me-so-I-have-a-right-to-it sexual activity. We see what happens when society and our Church act outside the range of God. We see the corruption of the psyche on what should have been some of the greatest shepherds of our day.
From the beginning, God did not create man to know, love, and serve himself yet that is often what we are doing. That is what these bad priests did to an extreme degree. We know only periphery details of victim sufferings.
Have no doubt, Justice will be served, and it will be plentiful.
Misconceptions of Sex & The Breakdown of the Family
God gave Adam and Eve to one another. They were designed to fit together, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually. No one was to come between them. Together with God they were all they needed. Sexual intercourse would have been a gift of one to the other given freely for pleasure and with God’s Blessing. They roamed naked in the Garden with no shame. They had nothing to hide. They gave themselves in Love when Love was understood and was therefore truly enough.
Today, we have come far from that Garden and those shame-free, bare-all days. Today, shame is left behind, but not in the pure, holy, loving way of the Garden. Shame has been replaced by humiliation, pride, demands, and self-satisfaction, and baring all is crass and redefined rather than beautiful, sensual, pure, and generous.
What was once shameful has become the norm. What would have once caused bad feelings and a desire to change a bad action has led to a desire to change bad feelings and keep bad actions. Small steps in any direction add up over time. Eventually, you discover you are so far from where you began that you cannot remember how good the beginning was, and it seems the only way forward is to continue in the same direction.
I used to see this in my SAT students. A downfall of top test takers is to get caught up in the time they’d already invested in a question and the temptation to spend “just a few more seconds” on it. This is done despite knowing their limited time ticked away and they’d be better off turning from the question to something new.
This is where we are today.
We have invested so much time, money, energy, and belief in “normalizing” sexual immorality and broken family structures, that we cannot imagine anything different. It seems the only path we can choose is to continue normalizing more deviance from God’s plan.
The Church is not isolated from society. What happens in society where our clergy is raised, affects what happens in our Churches. God designed us for fellowship, not to be islands. When we do not prepare, arm and constantly refresh ourselves in Truth and Love based Catholicsim, we fall to the ways of the world.
We do not want people to feel bad so we tell them what they are doing is okay. Others see this and follow suit. Before we know it we have a society of fatherless homes, children being raised by part-time dads, and loyal parents (both male and female) left to carry burdens alone that are intended for two. Society belittles the pain, overwhelm, confusion, and brokenness. It invalidates suffering because, well, you know…this is the new normal and if you have a problem with it, you are the problem, not the normalized brokenness!
We have disconnected sex from giving of oneself and from commitment, child bearing, and sacrifice. We have made sex about pleasure seeking, instant gratification, and freedom. We have ignored warning bells that tell us that pleasure seeking is temporary and requires a greater “fix” next time, that instant gratification is cheap and downplays the excitement of anticipation and the glory that comes from building what is hard and time consuming, that freedom is never free, and that sexual freedom, while allowing us to do with our bodies what we like, can have dire, life long consequences that enslave rather than free.
We must remember that with commitment comes compassion, empathy, and love. We must let others know that with child bearing comes personal growth, an understanding of what it means to give of oneself, and a joy that comes from passing love to generations that will inhabit the world long after you are forgotten. We must bravely and hopefully arm ourselves knowing that sacrifice is where we align ourselves with Christ on the Cross and discover who we were created to be and what we are capable of.
We cannot forget that in our sacrifice our emptiness is filled.
We have tried to make gender and sex something we created and thereby something we control rather than offer.
In reality, we cannot separate sex from Marriage, Marriage from the Sacrament, the Sacrament from creation, creation from male and female, male and female from children, and children from needing our love and protection. All are woven together in a beautiful and intricate pattern only God sees perfectly. When one strand is pulled, life itself begins to unravel.
Over the past several decades, we have done all of this and are shocked and hurt when our leaders personify the ugliness in which we dwell.
The Role of the Father in Preventing Church Sex Abuse
You may wonder what the breakdown of the family has to do with Church sex abuse. It has a lot. The father is the leader, protector, and provider of his wife and children. A part time father can never protect his children the way a full time father can. A father’s mere presence, even if he is uninvolved, provides safety for his wife and children.
Here’s just one scary divorce statistic:
- A child in a female-headed home is 10 times more likely to be physically hurt or murdered. (The Legal Beagle, July 1984, -The Garbage Generation)
I could go on.
Among other things, children in divorced homes are at an increased risk of sexual abuse. Single mothers are overwhelmed and financially almost always far worse off than single dads. These women are desperate for childcare, financial assistance, and emotional and spiritual support. They desperately want their children to break cycles fathers perpetuate or put in motion. Priests seem to be the most natural way to make this all happen.
Single moms reach out to their churches for support; in some cases, this reaching out endangers their children.
Fathers love and play with their children differently. Fathers are more physical. They rough house and teach children to take an appropriate hit. They show boundaries between good and bad physical affection. Even without speaking, fathers teach children where lines are drawn. They give children the confidence to stand up for themselves, defend themselves, and hit back when needed. Strong fathers tend to raise strong, confident, feminine women and masculine men.
Children who are on the path to being strong, confident, feminine women and masculine men are less likely to be abused. Today, we are lacking those fathers in our homes. We have been on this downward cycle since WWII when many of the recently reported abuse cases began.
The industrial revolution and even more so WWII began a time when men worked outside the home. Prior to these periods, most men worked in family businesses. They saw their wives and children, not only every day, but several times throughout each day. They would have been more likely to notice someone paying attention to those in their care. They would have been more likely to notice changes in their loves ones’ behaviors and patterns.
After this period, going to work sapped men’s time, energy, and concentration. Without knowing it, the “better life” men provided their families cut them off from their families. It left families vulnerable.
Even intact families can fall prey to abusive priests because levels of trust are so high and fathers, although physically present, are often absent in vital ways. Fathers who work outside the home often come home still thinking of the jobs they left. They think of coworkers, clients, and business associates when they should be focused on loved ones. They are torn between two disconnected worlds.
This leaves some dads who are physically present, emotionally and spiritually unavailable.
Both scenarios gave predator priests access to children. Neither gave children access to genuine faith, love, or people who would help.
Homosexuality & the Crisis of Manhood
Men are created to be leaders, protectors, and providers. Women are created to be nurturers, care takers, and helpers. These are not weak roles. Both roles require sacrifice, commitment, dedication, and selfless love. There is no weakness in either. There is beauty in both.
Unfortunately, misunderstandings of womanhood led females to be considered “less than” in some circles. (Maybe this dates back to the struggle between Adam and Eve?) This led women to seek a much-deserved balance of power. However, as often happens when the oppressed rise up, scales tipped too far. Society rode roughshod over “balance” to the persecution of men we see today.
The breakdown of the family, a failure to appreciate differences, an arrogant pride in believing science and progressive thought can create life better than God, and the persecution of men results in the crisis of manhood we have today.
It has become fashionable to tear apart husbands, fathers, brothers, neighbors, and even bosses. Television portrays men, especially white men, as inept, incompetent, and less valuable than their female counterparts. Hollywood’s portrayal of “real men” presents viewers with men who are physically fine, but who don’t match up to their predecessors.
We now have the delicate features of Brad Pitt where the brute ruggedness of John Wayne once captured our attention. We have political leaders going from Abraham Lincoln who fought for unity to Barak Obama who promoted division. We have athletes going from Jackie Robinson who took a stand to Colin Kapernick who takes a knee.
Throughout history, men in power looked and acted powerfully. Today, men in power look and act weak, whiny, and condemning or who are crass, abrasive, and quick tempered. In an effort to promote women, manhood has been repeatedly diminished, and the result has been disastrous.
Today’s men do not know how to be men.
Men do not know what affection is, but they need affection. They do not know what love is, but they need love. Society confuses love and sex and many boys grow up doing the same. They become men who do not know how to give love but know they need something. They settle for sex without realizing they are settling because they have never tried real Love.
These boys age to manhood and reach out for sexual gratification in whatever form they can get it. Little boys who do not receive the love of a father in their home are more likely to seek the love of a man outside of the home. Little boys who grow up to seek the love of a man are more likely to become homosexual.
Priests are little boys who grow up to be men.
Which brings us back to the homosexual sodomist vs. the pedophile.
With the vast majority of attacks noted in the PA report being on post-pubescent victims, it is hard to claim this is solely a crisis of pedophilia. This is also a crisis of the breakdown of the family and a crisis of manhood evident but still ignored in our culture and now obviously evident but too long ignored in our Church.
In order to address this crisis, sooth victims, and prevent future attacks, we must vet our clergy and volunteers and be sure they do not have a misguided view of God’s design for sexuality. We must be certain, beyond any doubt, that the men and women leading us to Heaven are living lives as chaste as we ask all unmarried people to lead. We must be sure that they not only lead such lives themselves, but require and demand in Love that ALL their parishioners do the same regardless of sexual orientation.
It is only when we return to an understanding of chastity that reaches far beyond how one feels in the moment and challenges us far beyond sexual penetration that we can hope to address the crisis in our Church, heal our victims, and prevent future attacks.
Wrapping It Up
There are those who can go much deeper into Cannon Law and Church history than I can. They will give you a much more scholarly and well versed analytic approach to what happened here. I urge you to read what they say. I don’t have their Wisdom. All I have is my simple way of seeing things and the gift of being able to see how life and sin and love are all connected. This is the lowly vantage point I bring to this issue. I hope it provides some value scholars may not have articulated yet.
What happened in the Catholic Church is no small thing, and it did not happen overnight. While the Pennsylvania Attorney General report came out in a flash of white hot light threatening to burn the Church down and crucify every Catholic, priest, bishop, cardinal, and lay member, it is the result of a fire that has smoldered 70 years. It has probably burned secretly for more than 7,000 years.
Sin is part of man’s existence. It is a curse we deal with daily. What we choose to do with our sin and how we choose to act on it or not act on it, is our challenge. For too long, Catholics have let life slide by. We have been, understandably, caught up in our own lives. This report is a call for us to make major reforms, not just in our Church, but in our homes and in ourselves too.
As a single mom my children are at greater risk for abuse and for falling away from God simply because of my marital status. This makes it extremely important for me to study what is happening here and to be a mouthpiece for others in my situation. I cannot wait for someone smarter or more well-versed to speak up. We have seen what happens when we don’t each take an active interest in our world. This is our time to lead not leave. This is our time to stand, not sit passively wringing our hands.
My next post will talk about what I think we can do right now to help build our Church. I am angry, but I am not above looking at myself and knowing God has called up great Saints in times of crisis. This is our time of crisis. This is our time, not to move away from the Church but to draw closer to it and act in faith, hope, and above all Love. This is our time to become great Saints. I hope you take up that challenge!
Diagnosing What Happened – Sex, Lies, Predators, & “Fixing” the Catholic Church
What Now? – Sex, Lies, Predators, & “Fixing” the Catholic Church
Why Remain Catholic? – Sex, Lies, Predators, & “Fixing” the Catholic Church
I am Catholic, which means universal; I know the gates of Hell will not prevail even when fires burn close.
Yes, I am angry, but I am not without Hope.
I am at a loss, but I am not afraid to seek, find, and be found.
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