Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Survivors of Clerical Sexual Abuse Respond to Bertone: SNAP's Press Statement

*Again, it’s absolutely crucial that we hear the voices of survivors of clerical sexual abuse first and foremost as we discuss the church’s current crisis.

As I’ve noted in numerous postings at Bilgrimage, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has repeatedly and consistently combated the attempt of some Catholic officials and their defenders to divert the discussion of the real roots of the abuse crisis to the red-herring issue of sexual orientation.  Follow the link “clerical sexual abuse” beneath this posting if you want to track my previous postings about this, which link to SNAP statements and show SNAP’s rationale for coming to the conclusion that the interjection of sexual orientation into the discussion is a deliberate diversionary attempt to side-track the essential conversation: about the responsibility of the church’s pastoral leaders, from the top of the church down, for this crisis.

Today, Barbara Dorris of SNAP released a statement about Cardinal Bertone’s recent attempt to equate homosexuality and pedophilia as an explanation for the abuse crisis.  Tom Fox at National Catholic Reporter has published SNAP’s statement.

Here’s part of what Barbara Dorris has to say:

Bertone's statements rub even more salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of hundreds of thousands of men and women who have been assaulted by clerics and betrayed by bishops, especially women and girls. They deny and minimize the deep devastation felt by hundreds of thousands of women and girls who are suffering and have suffered because of pedophile priests and corrupt supervisors.

This alleged pedophilia-ephebophilia "distinction" is like a bank robber minimizing his crimes by claiming he pointed a small pistol at the innocent patrons and took only $50 bills, not $100 bills.

Meanwhile, Austen Ivereigh is reporting at America’s “In All Things”  blog that the British bishops deplore Bertone’s statement.  Father James Martin critiqued Bertone’s claims yesterday at an “In All Things” posting.  And Michael Sean Winters published a piece at America earlier today following up on Jim Martin’s posting which looks with a cold eye at the attempt to play the homophobia card in American politics in general. 

I linked in my last posting to a very valuable statement of Grant Gallicho at Commonweal contrasting Bertone with Pope Benedict on the homosexuality-pedophilia discussion.

If anyone doubts, though, that a great deal of educational (and evangelical) work needs to be done in the American Catholic church to challenge deplorable and vicious gay-bashing, however, follow the discussion threads that are continuing to develop after all these postings.  Many of my fellow Catholics seem to belong to the “don’t confuse me with facts” school of logic, and to be altogether too quick to offer analysis of the abuse crisis that continues to exclude the voice of survivors themselves, which ought to count first and foremost in these discussions.

To paraphrase Mr. Frost, we have miles to go before we sleep in trying to make a dent in the mis-education of many American Catholics during the restorationist phase of church history.

* And I meant when I posted this earlier today, to link to another wonderful statement by a reader of Bilgrimage whose insights I cherish.  TheraP, a trained psychotherapist, responds today to Bertone’s “Vatican power play,” as she rightly names it, at her TPM blog.  What she says is eloquent and speaks for itself, and I won’t summarize it.  I do encourage readers to read TheraP’s impassioned plea for religious authority figures to stop ignoring the all-important evidence of psychological professionals when they make ill-informed statements linking homosexuality and pedophilia.