Kristine Ward of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition in an NSAC editorial about the revelations regarding coverup of sexual abuse cases in the Los Angeles archdiocese (re: which I blogged on Tuesday):
We stand this day to say that we believe Catholics should come home – fighting mad, indignant, and with Gospel strengthened spines demanding that the Church rid itself of those who hid criminal actions and on the threshold of certain public exposure chose to clothe themselves as Cardinal Roger Mahony did in the costume of naïveté. Better to be seen as naïve than seen in prison garb.
Mahony does not indicate that he will do anything now, “sorry” as he is, to use his considerable contact list, his public voice, or his position which is still valuable to many who collect and use people of influence – to find the fugitives from justice for whom he opened the doors, or truly accept responsibility in truth for what he did nor challenge his Church or his Pope to come clean about what they did.
This is not religious leadership.
This is not good example.
This is not protecting the innocent, the weak and the vulnerable.
This is not defending life.
This is cowardice.
It is cowardice coupled with conceit and muscled with money.
The line above about Catholics "coming home" is, I believe, a reference to the recent national media blitz of the Catholics Come Home group, inviting disaffected Catholics to return to the Catholic church. As Kristine Ward and other survivors and advocates for survivors recognize, stories like the ones now breaking in Los Angeles have everything to do with why many Catholics have now distanced themselves from the church.
And so to the extent that these expensive, media-savvy "come home"campaigns ignore the abuse crisis in the Catholic church, and do not call for a direct, honest response to the abuse cover-up by the church's hierarchy, they're hardly facilitating the coming home process for many Catholics. They're, in fact, facilitating the cover-up.
I like very much how Kristine Ward puts the point: it's time for Catholics to strengthen our spines and come home to gospel values. To stop making excuses for the rotten behavior of church leaders like Roger Mahony and an endless procession of other names of top Catholic leaders who have covered up abuse, names that have flashed across our television and computer screens in the past decade.
She's exactly right about this, I think.