Thursday, March 18, 2010
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN!
Well, it's happening again. First Canada, then the United States, then Australia, then Ireland, then Germany, Austria and other parts of Europe, Brazil and other parts of South and Central America. Victims of sexual abuse by priests have been emboldened to come forward with their horror stories. Much of the abuse in all the the countries mentioned occurred more than a generation ago, decades ago. The code of silence, the culture of secrecy has been broken. I think the internet has played a huge role in this phenomenon. I think the culture of secrecy and silence needed to be broken and all the puss that is running out now may well be necessary for eventual healing of victims and a reorganization of how the Church supervises her personnel, clergy, religious and laity. But more importantly, the Church can now become a beacon of sanity for other institutions in society which still maintain a code of secrecy and silence. Their victims have not been so bold as to come forward as in the Church. Pray for the healing of victims and that our Church, bishops, clergy, religious and laity will rise to the task of on-going reform that has been occurring for the last two decades.
But with that written, I do think as Catholics we need to view all this negative news through the proper lens. The cases in Europe have been reported in Macon's newspaper for the past four days. Last night CBS Evening News carried a story. Much that is reported in the mainline media is distorted and sometimes I believe maliciously so. In the same sentence as sex abuse, Pope Benedict's brother was mentioned as embroiled in the scandal too. But the extent of his involvement is that he doled out "corporal" punishment to his choir students. I wonder how many teachers from the 1960's, 70's and 80's in both Catholic and public school doled out similar corporal punishment before it ceased relatively recently by mandate? Corporal punishment and sex abuse are not the same!
As well, the reporting of victims coming forward very seldom points out that the abuse occurred decades earlier. It is reported as if it just happened. What just happened though was the victim came forward after 50 years.
As well the mainline, anti-Catholic media wants to paint Pope Benedict as part of the problem and not its solution. So they are digging into the time he was archbishop of Munich, 1968-71 to see how he handled cases back then, over 40 years ago. I wonder how society in Munich dealt with it in general back then--no context for that in the media.
The media and those who hate the Catholic Church have seized on the abuse of minors by clergy as the Church's Achilles heel. It is not. It is a wound to the Church brought about by the Evil One and personal sin and mismanagement. Victims can receive justice and hopefully healing. The Church can recover and reform and be even stronger, but all this by the power of the Holy Spirit. This will take time. Where bishops have mismanaged their dioceses and inflicted harm on the faithful, penance must be done. Resignations should be sought in the most grievous of cases. Resignation should be seen as a penance leading to sacramental forgiveness and reconciliation and healing in the Church at large.
We need to keep things in proper context. As much as victims' groups hate when the Church asks for context, we cannot allow them, even in their well meaning rantings, to seek revenge on the Church or to victimize the Church herself. Enough with victimization! Sometimes we wonder too if these victims' groups have other agendas against the church apart from helping those victimized.
The percentage of sexual abuse is about equivalent in Protestant, Catholic and Jewish clergy/rabbis. For Protestants and Jews, females are more frequently the victims, thus societal lack of concern for girls leads to the under-reporting of these crimes. Obviously these clergy are married and thus don't have the mystic of so-called "celibate" clergy. In the Catholic priesthood, there is a higher percentage of abuse towards teenage boys. Much of it has to do with access. Most parents would not allow their daughters to go over night with a priest on any sort of trip, but they did allow their boys. Trust is betrayed, but the parents would have not trusted their girls with priests overnight. Common sense prevailed in terms of girls.
Look at those who are convicted of crimes of child/teenage sex abuse. The vast majority in prison today are not single males. They are married men who have sex with both children and adults. The overwhelming majority of people convicted of these crimes are not Catholic priests or celibate or homosexual.
The majority of abuse now occurs in the home, with natural fathers but now with live-in boy friends and step fathers. Mothers sometimes participate in sexual abuse too. That phenomenon is less reported and when it is reported, women who molest are glamorized by the media.
As it concerns the Church we must acknowledge the "smoke of Satan" in all of this. He will be around to tempt, oppress, influence and even possess members of the Church until the Lord's Second Coming. There is spiritual warfare going on my brothers and sisters and if you don't understand that as a Catholic, then you just don't get it.
Finally, we need a new hermeneutic for those who do abuse that leads to treatment and healing. For true pedophiles there may be no adequate treatment except for chemical castration or prison. But for those who abuse teenagers, the possibility of successful treatment can be documented. As well, those who have been victimized must seek healing which includes moving beyond feelings of revenge to the difficult task of forgiveness. That is our Christian hope. God bless you.