Saturday, June 11, 2005

God-Awful


In Covington, KY, it was $120 million. In San Francisco, it was $21.2 million. In Seattle, $1.7 million. And, that was just this week!

We're not talking lottery winnings. These are settlements in the latest round of clergy sex abuse cases.

Today's headlines add it up: $1 billion to date.

That's One Billion Dollars!

My heart goes out to the victims. They are innocent people who were violated by religious men they trusted, and should have been able to trust. They should be compensated. They deserve every penny. This rant is not aimed at them.

This pisses me off. The behavior of these priests, and the priests and bishops and cardinals and popes who covered for them is god-awful.

As a Cafeteria Catholic, I wrestle with a lot about the Church. This is one of the things that's at the top of list for me.

Would I work for an organization that had employees that behaved in such a manner?
Certainly not.

Would I buy products or services from a company that repeatedly broke the law, denied it, berated the victims and their families and protected its criminal employees?
Absolutely not.

Would I invest in a company that had $1 billion in sex abuse settlement claims on the books in the last three years and more waiting in the wings?
Nope.

Would I give money to a charity that pulled this shit?
No. And, I don't.

Then, WHY -- I'm asking myself today -- do I remain in a religious community of these people?

I don't know. But, today it feels like the wrong thing to do.

How about you?

3 Comments:

At 4:41 AM, June 12, 2005, Blogger Steve Bogner said...

This is a biggie for me. My wife stopped going to mass for a few years because of this. It has caused turmoil and anxiety in our family. She was sexually abused as a child, and was going through the 'anger' phase of her counseling for it right about the time the priest sexual abuse scandals starting making the news. Imagine throwing gasoline on a fire.

I wrote our archbishop (Cincinnati) to urge him to do the right thing - be up front, don't drag this into the courts, be open and pastoral about it. He wrote me back a short letter basically saying it was more complex than I realized. He continued to be a jerk about it and eventually pleaded guilty in court on behalf of the archdiocese. We're still finding out about things he and his office hid and lied about. Only 4 more years until he reaches 75 and has to retire; though he ought to resign and should have had jail time for covering up what he did.

I knew someone from a family whose boys were abused by one of the local priests, and I know how the archbishop and the church handled it. It's disgusting. And I know this family hasn't set foot in a Catholic church for almost two decades now.

I was parish council chair at a church that previously had an abusive priest. The new priest was not told of the abuse that happened before he took his new assignment there. The archbishop told him there had been some 'problems' but that they were all worked out now. I think he found the truth when it hit the local news.

I want to see church governance change, and I want to see the priest sexual abuse situation handled in an open, pastoral and sensitive way. That's why I joined Voice of the Faithful shortly after it was formed.

Why am I still in the church? A couple reasons. By far, the majority of priests are good men who give their all to all of us in the church. Yes, there are some sickos and the governance is often corrupt, but most every one of these guys on the front lines is a good guy with good intentions. They're not perfect, but who is? And they could use our support too.

I found a parish that wasn't shy about about speaking the truth. And when some folks decided to start a local VOTF affiliate, the pastor supported it, and he still values the group's contribution to the parish and the church community.

This is my church too, and I have rights & duties. It's not a church that is simply 'owned and operated' by the clergy. WE - you and I and a billion other Catholics - are the church. We have a right to good governance and a duty to play our part in bringing the church to perfection in holiness. For me, withdrawing to the sidelines is not an option. I'm a very persistent person (though my wife calls me stubborn - it's all in how you look at it ;)

Well, that was long-winded! But that's my story on why I'm still in the Catholic church.

 
At 11:43 AM, June 12, 2005, Blogger CafeCath said...

Steve -- Thanks so much for sharing your personal experience.
I am so grateful that my experience growing up Catholic didn't include sexual abuse. The clergy I have known throughout my life have been caring, supporting professionals. I know we're talking about a few (though quite a few) bad apples here.

I have never been one to sit on the sidelines. There's a part of me that is feeling called to stir things up from within. (I'm looking into VOTF for that, too!)
And, right now, there's a part of me that is really, really pissed.

Your story inspires...me and others. Thanks again!

 
At 8:34 AM, August 26, 2005, Blogger Elena said...

Then, WHY -- I'm asking myself today -- do I remain in a religious community of these people?

Well for starters because every organization has a few bad apples and that if you're looking for utopia, that's probably not going to happen in this lifetime!! Probably also because it was only a very small percentage of the clergy in this country involved in the problem, so why throw out the baby with the bath water!?

 

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