Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vices and Virtues: When the Church Cleans House, Try Using a Broom of Humility

Every time I attend Mass, I have to ask myself my motivation for being there. I know I can no longer look to a charismatic leader as justification for attendance. I had better be there to see Jesus, and no one else. And as much as I like my own pastor, I don't know if I trust any other priest is what they claim to be. Bottom line, priests are human, no matter what they think of themselves.

When I was a little girl, it was tantamount to a mortal sin to believe a priest was capable of sinning. Grandma said we were supposed to pray for them, because they are shepherds for Christ. The past few weeks, nay, the past few decades, these shepherds have shown to be subject to the same human weaknesses as the rest of us. In some cases, much worse. And when they weaken, the whole flock is put at risk.

Canada, Belgium, the U.S. and now Ireland have seen unbelievable atrocities committed "in the name of Christ." Some include physical violence, but most were of the sexual nature. Everyone is asking how this could have happened. I can tell you in one simple word: Power. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely. The clowns running the show at the top were either unable or unwilling to force the clowns running the show at the local level to clean house and get their act together. So rather than clean up the mess, they brushed it under a rug. However, it didn't change the problem. The dirtbags were still there...just not as visible to the people attending the show.

I just discovered a 'secret' Vatican document (not so secret because the BBC has it posted and available at BBC News expose. ) So, way back in 1962, probably before most of us were born, Cardinal Ottoviani, approved supposedly by John the 23rd, put forth a letter, basically threatening the faithful with excommunication for discussing any sexual abuse they endured at the hands of a priest:
Lawyers representing victims of sex abuse have claimed that in 1962 Ottaviani wrote a policy that stated that anyone speaking out about sexual abuse (or attempted abuse) by priests could be expelled from the Roman Catholic Church.[6] The Crimen sollicitationis document imposed absolute secrecy on the conduct of investigations of priests, even after it had ended and its verdict, favourable or unfavourable.

The 69 page document was titled, On the Manner of Proceeding in Cases of the Crime of Solicitation and was stored in the "secret archives" of the Vatican. It was discovered in the Vatican's archives by a lawyer pursuing cases on behalf of victims of abuse by Catholic priests.[7] The document instructed Bishops to pursue these cases "in the most secretive way...restrained by a perpetual silence...and everyone (including the alleged victim) to observe the strictest secret, which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office...under the penalty of excommunication."

No wonder Grandma silenced me. She was of the mindset that to discuss anything that would lead the world to think priests weren't perfect would lead to excommunication! Great. Well, now we know. Ultimately, Cardinal Ottaviani was single handedly enabling every pedophile priest on the face of the earth, in perpetuity. Remind me to thank the jerk when I see him on the other side. Better yet, I'll pray for his soul. I hear Purgatory is lovely and warm this time of eternity! Now, in fairness to the Cardinal, he referenced a plethora of documents on the handling of these and the "Worst Crime" (homosexuality) that were dated from 1867 onwards. What in Hell??? You mean to tell me we've been hiding this muck in the Church for THAT long????

OK, now my blood is BOILING! Remember Fatima, Medjugore, Lourdes and all the other places where the Blessed Mother appeared? Were these Church guys NOT getting the message, or what? Hellooooo???!!!! If your mother comes all the way from the OTHER side of eternity to tell you to get your shit together, and you ignore it, what do you think is going to happen to you when you finally DIE? How much more important must it be to listen if it is the Mother of Jesus Himself??? Is He gonna be real happy with your idiot reason "But we were trying to keep it secret to protect the image of the Church" as an answer to the THOUSANDS of souls destroyed in the process? Bear in mind, this is the same guy who told us how He would leave the entire flock of sheep to go looking for the one lost sheep. That is how much each lamb means to Him. Do you seriously believe He's going to buy your answer? SHEESH!!!

Now, let's put this all into perspective, shall we? The Church dealt with the longstanding problem of pedophilia by mandating secrecy, and now the top dogs are surprised when the flock dwindles and those who abandoned the Church start talking? Better yet, they all act 'shocked' when they see the report in print, despite the fact that Pope after Pope since 1867 have had to address it in documents! Where have they been? On Mount Ararat looking for the Ark? In other words, a Pope paved the way to silence witnesses and protect the abusers. Now they are all backpedalling to look like they were on top of the problem all along. Talk about the biggest bullsh*t stunt in history! If you believe that, I have some beachfront property in Death Valley, California to sell you!

So what do we, as the REAL Church, do with the muck that has surfaced? Frankly, cleaning house, as John Waters eloquently wrote this week, is the only way to prove we really believe Jesus is coming back. (Frankly, I hope it is a long way off, because if He comes back now, He's going to be pissed!) Pope Benedict the 16th has the right idea. He is not going to sit back on the Throne of Peter (by the way, the original one was a simple, wooden chair...not very regal) and wait for the political Church hacks to come up with an idea. He announced he is taking a hands on approach (code for 'he's not buying the con job') and is going to monitor the actions of the Church in Ireland.

I have a couple ideas for His Holiness, if he's even slightly interested. First, think it through. Jesus allowed His Mother to address the issue. Perhaps what you need more of within the hierarchy of the Church is a mother's perspective. Stop hiring all the academia types to 'advise' you on how to deal with these child rearing issues (pun intended.) Hire a few moms with kids (preferably those with more than 3...any less is not enough experience) and get THEM to find the right solutions when this crap happens.

Second, don't make it secret. Encourage the victims to report it to the police. It is NOT your job to judge it. Your job is to teach the world about Jesus. Jesus told the apostles in the Great Commission to "go forth, teaching all nations, baptizing". No mention of acting as mediator between victim and perpetrator in criminal cases. Keep to your own job.

Third, consider allowing married priests in the Western Church. The Eastern Rites have had them since the beginning, and I don't recall hearing of the same volume of pedophile priests on that side of the aisle. I am only guessing, but it might be due to the influence wives tend to have on their spouses to keep them honest. That, and a priest with his own kids is going to be less likely to inflict sexual aggression on children because he wouldn't want it for his own kids.

Finally, tell the Bishops in Ireland to stop hobnobbing with Robin Leach and his Rich and Famous. Get back into the business of shepherding the flock. If power and riches weren't so much of a distraction, maybe the "Princes of the Church" would have more time to notice when the children are being raped by their priests! (Ok, that was a stretch. They all knew it was going on, based on the documents. They just didn't want to do anything about it.)

In other words, LIVE among the lowliest, not just among the wealthy! Get rid of all the palaces. If I recall correctly, Jesus didn't even have a place to rest His head, much less a palace. Make the hacks that claim to walk in the footsteps of the apostles actually try WALKING. Get rid of the chauffeurs, plush carpets, personal chefs and expensive furnishings. Give each of them a chair (wooden preferably...if it was good enough for Peter, it's good enough for them!) a desk, a small bed (like the small bed the Pope uses) and simple food. I've seen a bishop around here enjoy the pleasures of a good meal. It seems to be required if you want his attendance for anything anymore. That should NEVER be the case. (Hint, hint!)

Note to all Bishops: While you're at it, get your rugs outside and start shaking out ALL the dust that is under them. You won't win any brownie points from God because you intimidated people to keep silent when CRIMINALS were molesting and beating children. (However, you might get a nice cell in hell with a guy who wants to make you his girlfriend.)

Humility is a wonderful virtue. Unfortunately, the fastest way to obtain it is through humiliation. (Take it from one who knows!) Get a good dose of it before you try to pass the Church off as being rehabilitated.

As Saint Teresa of Avila said, don't beat yourself up over your flaws....CHANGE!


Anonymous said...

And you still go to church why?

Hope you don't support them financially - because then you'd be buying all those 'extras' dontchaknow.

MamaMaria said...

Yep, I still go to Church...especially now. History is full of examples where people stayed and made a difference...St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena (both these women had more cajones than the Church hierarchy of their day...and let them know it!)

Reform can only come from within. Once you leave, it becomes sour grapes.

And there are lots of ways to support a parish, other than with money. Time is one. I give my money to people I trust. As the Bible says, "Let your alms sweat in your hands until you know to whom you should give." (Didache, ch. 1) This is appropriate since I know lots of good and holy religious people (Capuchin priest, Sisters of Mercy that I personally know) who would qualify for this.

Richard said...

Mama Maria

As a former Catholic who once studied for the priesthood and was nearly ordained, now Eastern Orthodox, I can only echo your concerns. I carry it a little further, however, as I believe the problem is systemic. The Roman Catholic Church has been drifting from sound teaching (as exemplified in the early councils) for years. What we see to day is the final rot that has set in from centuries of drift.

Thank you for your strong condemnation of these issues. I only wish I believed it would stop.