Abandonment of the Mystery, Acknowledge the Truth, Aggressious, Among the harshest words, Becoming the beloved, Betrayal of trust, Criminal and morally reprehensible abuse, Magnified and compounded abuse, No betrayal like religious betrayal, Shame and sorrow, Suffer not the child, Truth and Reconciliation, We showed no care for the little ones we abandoned them, Widespread cover-up
It has been a Summer for the Child. Both, “The Longing to Belong” and “Invitation to a Mystery” speak to the profound status of being a child – to being ever childlike in God’s presence – and to understand oneself as God’s beloved child in Christ.
It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.
These are among the harshest words Jesus ever spoke in response to the betrayal of trust against a child. The aggressios-ness of the betrayal is magnified by the fact that those who perpetrated the abuse were ostensively “men of God” who were charged with the care of their flocks. It is further compounded by Bishops who covered up and moved Priests rather than deal with the rot that has been shown to permeate the systemic decay found among too many.
There is no betrayal quite like religious betrayal; no more evil a person than a religious evil person.
Colin Dwyer writes:
… after a Pennsylvania grand jury released its roughly 900-page report on sexual abuse by clergy, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church has penned a letter condemning the alleged misconduct and pledging repentance.
“The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity,” Pope Francis wrote in the letter Monday, which is addressed to “the People of God”:
The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands.
The “atrocities” Francis refers to were laid out in harrowing detail by the grand jury report, which used the church’s own records to conclude that more than 1,000 credible victims had been abused by some 300 “predator priests” across eight decades in Pennsylvania. What’s more, the report explained how the church apparatus enabled and covered up the abuse, often responding to complaints with cursory investigations and leniency toward the alleged abusers…
“But,” it added, “all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.”
Until the church ceases to protect — and even in some cases promote — accused priests, “we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal,” the report’s authors concluded.
Francis’ personal response initially was silence, instead allowing a Vatican spokesperson to offer the church’s public response in the days that followed. And it was a particularly blunt one, noting that church officials feel “shame and sorrow” over the “criminal and morally reprehensible” abuses it revealed.
The spokesperson, Greg Burke, stated “the Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”
Francis spoke in similarly stark terms:
“With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives…”
We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.
The Catholic church has felt the lingering repercussions of its decades of alleged wrongdoing in court and in its wallet lately. As NPR’s Tom Gjelten points out, dioceses and religious order in the U.S. have had to pay more than $3 billion in lawsuit settlements with abuse victims since the allegations came to light…
While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit.
If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history.
Become like a Child
Criticism to the Pope’s response has been: “too little, too late,” and, “not one concrete action.” But I think in reading this letter we are witnessing a sea-change in the Catholic response to self-perpatrated wickedness. It comes with breath-taking speed and bluntness: a letter of a mere 2000 words fitting for the 21st Century.
I suspect solidarity in the deepest and most challenging sense means becoming like a child; to feel the vulnerability; to know the unconditional love and care; to be repulsed by betrayal and abandonment; and to know oneself as beloved.
For more see: “Becoming the Beloved“