Thursday, August 13, 2015

SNAP's Q and A on Pope Francis and Abuse/Cover Up Crisis: Highly Recommended

And speaking of the upcoming papal visit to the U.S. (I just did so in my previous posting, didn't I?), SNAP has published a very valuable Q and A written by David Clohessy, on Pope Francis and the abuse/cover up crisis. I highly recommend this document to you. It does an outstanding job of arguing that the so-called "Francis effect," in collusion with an adulatory media, give many of us the impression that Pope Francis has done something substantive to address the issue of child abuse by clerics in the Catholic church.

When he has not done so . . . . Not yet, at least.

Here's an excerpt from the Q and A's conclusion, in response to the question, What would you like to see Francis do?:

Turn over every document about clerics who commit and conceal child sex crimes to law enforcement. Insist that bishops lobby for, not against, secular legislative reforms to protect kids. And quickly, publicly and harshly fire dozens of complicit bishops. 
(Note: on 3/7/13, we listed 20 steps Pope Francis should take in this crisis. 
Put the phrase "Francis should" – in quotes – in our website search box and find 28 statements outlining what we'd like to see him do.) 
With lightning speed, Francis ousted a German bishop who mismanaged church money. But with glacial speed, Francis ignores bishops who endanger children and protect predators. 
He's making major strides in improving church finances, governance, and morale. But he's posturing on abuse and cover ups. He's making nearly no meaningful strides to actually prevent abuse and cover ups. 
If anything, Francis' popularity has perhaps made children more vulnerable in the church, because so many people wrongly assume that since Francis seems to be an activist, he must be taking action to stop abuse and cover ups. But he's not.

If anything, Francis' popularity has perhaps made children more vulnerable in the church, because so many people wrongly assume that since Francis seems to be an activist: that seems absolutely correct to me, and I suspect that much of the media spin emanating from the Vatican, where former Fox News correspondent and Opus Dei member Greg Burke is the spinmeister at the center of the web, is designed quite precisely to give us the illusion of change when no change has taken place. Not in this area, at least . . . .

Which leaves the rest of us with the obligation to be vigilant and informed, when our media will not do that job for us, but are willing to accept spin as reality and to project image as substance . . . . 

As Robert Blair Kaiser notes in his book Whistle: Tom Doyle's Steadfast Witness for Victims of Clerical Sexual Abuse (Thiensville, WI: Caritas, 2015), some 40 convicted priests are now sitting behind bars in U.S. prisons, but not a single bishop:

If two criminals rob a bank, the driver of the vehicle is as guilty, by law, as his partner is. In the Catholic Church, the driver of the car goes free (p. 271).

Why have bishops been untouchable? Kaiser supplies a compelling answer to that question:

The cover-ups, the secret re-assignments, the failure to report crimes to civil authorities and attempts to coerce victims into silence have not been exceptional reactive behaviors but evidence of a pattern and policy that was and is part of the clerical culture . . . . Not the exception but the norm. The bhsiop;s made it clear by the divergence between their public expressions or regret, sorrow and apology and the way they were actually treating victims that whatever the response to the growing problem was to be, it was on their terms (p. 205).

None of this will change until the system itself is changed. None of this will change until the clerical culture that is at the very heart of the abuse crisis changes — until, in the view of many of us, it is dismantled to the ground, and a governance polity in the Catholic church more consonant with the teaching of Jesus and the vaules of the gospel is built from ground up. Spin won't change anything. Media adulation won't make a single child safer.

Only radical change of the system that gives absolute power to the ordained and none at all to the laity, which restricts ordination to ostensibly celibate males and excludes women and married people, will produce the kind of change in the clerical culture of the Catholic church that is necessary if the abuse/cover-up crisis is ever to be addressed effectively.

I find the graphic at a number of blog sites, but with no clear indicator of its origin.

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