Thursday, November 10, 2011
PENN STATE AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Now the press just might recognize that the horror of sex abuse against children and teenagers is not just a priest problem, it is a society problem that afflicts all institutions, public and private schools, scouts and sadly families.
The conspiracy to silence and cover-up is not just a Catholic problem but a universal phenomenon. Sex abuse within families and from family members, fathers, brothers, uncles and yes mothers, aunts and sisters to a lesser extent is quite common and unfortunately more common than we suspect as families have had a conspiracy to silence and cover-up too.
Do you wonder why? Because a mother who suspects her husband is abusing their children fears divorce and financial instability not to mention public scandal, arrest and prison time for her husband and maybe the removal of her children from the home. It is better to live in denial than to complicate the family's life by public humiliation. Of course who suffers the most here? It is the child being abused and who also fears telling anyone probably for the same reasons as the mother.
It is no secret that the bishops of the Catholic Church and worldwide have an abysmal record in handling sex abuse by clergy or even other bishops. They have exacerbated the scandal by covering it up, covering for each other and fearing what has come to pass through their flawed polices, public scandal, humiliation and the disintegration of their moral authority and accelerating godless secularism in the world which is also anti-religion. These "leaders" have fueled the fire of godless secularism worldwide by their secrecy and inaction with how they managed the sex abuse crisis in the Church.
Is Penn State the new role model for how to deal with the president (bishop), coaches, (priests) and other enablers? The Board of Trustees have taken decisive action. They have fired all the principle players in this scandal including just last night the iconic Joe Paterno and the well-like and very competent president of the university.
But just like the Catholic bishops who kept things silent to save face and avoid public scandal and humiliation (which in the long run exacerbated that 100 fold)the Board of Trustees was saving face in another way by their decisive action. It's all about saving face!
We live in a get-even, you're fired, divorce driven society. Is that the best way to go? To be honest, as it regards the Church, I am conflicted and I wonder if there isn't a better way to go that challenges revenge, litigiousness and the divorce mentality while at the same time recognizing the devastation sex abuse visits upon the young which remains with them a life time and the need for legitimate justice. But somehow Divine Mercy must also be in the equation.
The scandal at Penn State is very serious. What has happened in many Catholic Dioceses is more serious and more scandalous as abusers and enablers were Catholic bishops and priests who represent God, Divine Truth and moral/ethical certitude. For children abused by these people was like God abusing them. For the abusers it is better to have had a millstone tied around their neck...
The only perpetrators punished thus far in the Catholic Church and only because the National Catholic Reporter and then the secular media exposed it for what it was, in particular The Boston Globe, have been priests.
Only a small handful of bishops have been "fired." Many priests are now "defrocked" and serving prison time for their crimes. I know of no bishops in a similar situation due to this scandal.
I think it is too much for the pope to micro manage bishops, although there should be universal canon law to protect the innocent and to make clear what the procedure should be to seek justice in situations that we have experienced in the Church and Penn State is experiencing.
Is Penn State's secular model the answer?
Should the regions of bishops in various countries have a "Board of Trustees" that would meet to make decisions concerning the fate of incompetent bishops or bishops who have not acted as they should?
Should statutes of limitation be dropped retroactively? Should bishops be in prison?
I believe that statutes of limitations are in civil law precisely because in American Law due process must be observed and fair trials must be conducted. How can a fair trial be conducted when events of crimes occurred 30, 40 and 50 years ago, witness can't recall or are dead?
Policies in dioceses concerning the fate of priests in terms of sex abuse seem to be good today because the media forced bishops into developing these polices and there are boards to assist bishops in making decisions now and for the same reasons.
But the bottom line is that if anyone knows for sure that a cleric is abusing a child and is an eye witness to it, like the case at Penn State, the first course of action is to call the police. I think that is the lesson learned. Don't deal with it in house first. Call the police.
But then is there a scandal just waiting to be reported concerning the police, lawyers, judges and the like? Will the press expose that corruption too?
The Extraordinary Form of the Mass makes clear that we are miserable, grievous sinners. There is the Confiteor for the priest and another one for the laity during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. There is the Lord have Mercy and another Confiteor in missals prior to 1962 before the laity's communion. There is the "Lamb of God" and "The Lord I am not Worthy" said three times right before Holy Communion.
The reformed Mass marginalized our grievous sinfulness by eliminating what was called "useless repetition." But was this repetition really useless? Maybe we need to revisit it.
At least the corrected English translation of the Mass has recaptured the Latin's original Confiteor with these "useless?" repetitions:
"...I have greatly sinned...Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault!"
But also recall the words of the Easter Exultet:
"O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam that gained for us so great a Savior!" Divine Mercy is waiting for those who receive Jesus!
The press doesn't understand the scandal of forgiveness nor do godless secularists.
Do you detect the different theologies concerning the Mass and the acknowledgement of the grievous nature of our sinfulness in these two photos? Should the Church put on the "sack cloth and ashes" of the first photo and do away with the reform that has led to the diminution of the state of our grievous sinfulness in the eyes of so many Catholics?