Monday, July 30, 2018

Mary Hunt on Next Phase of Abuse Revelations: "Adult Women Who Have Been Sexually Involved with Priests Represent the Third Element of This Complicated Problem"

What Mary Hunt says here is so critically important to be heard, as the hateful, homophobic Catholic right works overtime — once again — to frame the abuse story in the Catholic church as a narrative that's all about homosexuality, in light of the McCarrick story:

The Academy Award-winning movie "Spotlight" offered a summary of the first part of what I predict will be a Catholic trifecta of disgrace. "Spotlight" showed priests abusing minors and clerical higher-ups covering for them, making for a grim, ongoing tale of betrayal and corruption. 
The second aspect came into sharp focus in Laurie Goodstein and Sharon Otterman's recent Pulitzer-worthy article, "He Preyed on Men Who Wanted to Be Priests. Then He Became a Cardinal" in which they spell out the dastardly deeds of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The authors made clear that McCarrick's sexual exploits were many, widely known, and just as widely ignored on his way to a red hat. 
The third leg of this trifecta remains unexplored, but I predict/believe it will soon explode onto the scene: some priests' use and abuse of women. 
The first, we can call it the "Spotlight" phase, is now well documented. It cost several billion dollars, ruined many young lives, took other lives, and left a trail of destruction through generations of believers. The second moment, just opening in the public forum, is the chronicle of how priests preyed on (not prayed for) one another in a hierarchal system with few checks and balances against such abuse. Apparently getting ordained and promoted was not just a matter "who you know," as it were …


Adult women who have been sexually involved with priests represent the third element of this complicated problem. Until and unless their stories are told and the implications parsed, I doubt that the abuse of young people and of employees will be solved. 
Here's why: The abuse of minors and the utilization of underlings are variants on the systematic abuse of women rooted in an ideology of female subordination to male power. To have that top-down schema recapitulated with young and vulnerable men is totally consistent with the patriarchal logic on which it is based. 
As long as that ideology remains in place, there is little hope for much-needed changes in priestly behavior and ecclesial structures. There is little hope for the whole church.

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