Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Peter Isely on the Resignation of Bishop Finn, Abuse Survivors, and Persephone's Pomegranate Seed

A valuable piece of commentary from Peter Isely of SNAP Wisconsin, in his Facebook feed recently, about the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn and the pomegranate seed: Peter notes that the leaders of the Catholic church are divided into two teams, team Benedict and team Francis, one the "traditionalist tough guy" team, the other the "moderate" team. And because teams vie to be winners, making other teams losers, and because winners and losers continuously shift, there's a whole lot of politicking and image-making and face-saving going on.

And then there are the survivors of childhood clerical abuse. And there's justice, which these win-lose political games are almost never about:

Justice is something altogether different than this kind of two party politics. Justice doesn't have teams. It doesn't take the side of the exploited, the oppressed, and the dispossessed because justice is the exploited, the oppressed, and the disposed. They are not a team. They are those without a team. Any true social change originates in them. They are the part of the system that has no part in the system. They occupy the empty place of the system, the social and political space where the law has been annulled, vacated or subverted. That is why survivors, paradoxically, who represent no one, no faction, no particular interest are, unknown to them, the universal church, which has no place for them and does not know what to do with them.

Survivors are Persephone's pomegranate seed, the biblical pearl in the field, the grain of mustard, overlooked and ignored by those playing the big-boy games — the survivors, who sometimes change things in unexpected ways simply by being there. And by refusing to get caught up in the push-shove games of the ever-shifting teams of victors and losers . . . .

And as many of you probably now know, the latest unbelievable breaking news in the Finn story: as Rick Montgomery reports for Kansas City Star on Monday, Finn will be presiding at several ordinations next month in the diocese he (formerly?) headed — a decision that Yael T. Abouhalkah rightly calls "repulsive, reckless and yet a par-for-the-course decision by the local Catholic hierarchy."

But, of course, it's not just the local Catholic hierarchy (though it surely is a decision being driven by that level of the hierarchy). Such a decision would never have been made without the full knowledge and full complicity of the men at the very top of the church.

The ones playing those dysfunctional winner-loser, politicking, image-making, and face-saving games that treat survivors of childhood clerical sexual abuse as if they aren't even there, as if they don't count in the least . . . . For both sides, in the Catholic hierarchy, it's about never appearing to take a single step at the behest of the people of God.

Who don't count, even though they happen to be the church.

I find the picture of pomegranate seeds at a number of sites online, including this Weiku page, but find no indication of its original source.

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