Wednesday, February 20, 2019

"Everything in This Spreading Crisis Revolves Around Structural Mendacity"; "Poland's Most Senior Nun Has Been Banned from Further Media Contact": Talking Abuse

Talking abuse, Catholic context and Southern Baptist context: good things I've been reading and want to share with you:

The Southern Baptist Church upholds gracious submission as godly and relegates the abuse as "satanic," casting them into different realms. Yet, submission and abuse should not occupy spaces so far apart in our theological imaginations, because they work together. When leaders demand unquestioning obedience from women and girls, it sets up the perfect environment for predation to occur.

It's correct that Southern Baptist churches are autonomous, unlike Catholic churches, are not under the authority of a hierarchy. And yet, claims that the denomination's hands are tied in this matter will come as a shock to the many churches that have been censored or kicked out of the denomination due to their acceptance of LGBT people, ordination of women, or more progressive interpretations of the Bible. The denomination does actually possess the power to impose standards on its member churches, but heretofore protecting children from sex predators hasn’t been prioritized to that level.  ... 
In addition to addressing all of the systemic and institutional components that contributed to this scandal, the denomination must also be willing to have an honest conversation about the way patriarchal power functions to protect those at the top. Critics claim that the church's theology creates an environment where women and children have limited agency and there is often a culture of silence where challenging (all-male) leadership is seen as inappropriate and disrespectful. Ideas have consequences, and Southern Baptists must honestly explore whether their theological roots are bearing rotten fruit.

Everything in this spreading crisis revolves around structural mendacity, institutionalized lying. For years, bishops proclaimed the sanctity of life in the womb while playing musical chairs with child molesters. High-dollar lawyers facilitated church officials' stiff-arm response to survivors scarred by traumatic childhood memories.  
The media narrative of survivors seeking justice has cut a jagged trail through the mind of the church. The concealment strategies, unearthed in depositions and church documents, show how bishops and religious order superiors, sometimes paying "hush money" settlements to avoid scandal, controlled the fate of the priest and kept the closed system operating. "Convinced that they know the truth — whether in religion or in politics — enthusiasts may regard lies for the sake of this truth as justifiable," writes Sissela Bok in Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life. "They see nothing wrong with telling untruths for what they regard as a much 'higher' truth.

Francis' credibility took a serious hit by refusing to say why he did not remove McCarrick sooner. But popes famously do not criticize previous popes. McCarrick got his red hat from John Paul II, and a free pass from Benedict, landing at Francis' doorstep to become a scandal. 
In 2009, under Benedict, McCarrick presided at the televised funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy. That was two years after two New Jersey dioceses paid settlements to a former priest who claimed that when he was a seminarian, the then-bishop coerced him into sleeping with him, and that McCarrick molested him.

The pattern is clear. Rome's instinct in such instances is to minimise. Later this week a major Vatican gathering will address the issue of child safeguarding in the Church worldwide, 35 years after those first clerical child sexual abuse cases emerged in the US. 
It is 25 years since Sr Maura O’Donoghue alerted the Vatican to extensive sexual abuse of nuns by priests. It should not take Rome another 10 years to address that issue.

Massimo Faggioli, "The Sex-Abuse Crisis Is Global":

One has to see the sexual-abuse crisis as a global crisis because the church itself is global, but also because its various parts are increasingly interconnected. The presence in the U.S. and Australian church of priests, religious, and lay people from other parts of the world is more and more visible, and the scandal has not yet emerged in many of the local churches from which these people are coming. As we have all learned the hard way, unconsciousness of the crisis is one of the things that perpetuates it. Rules governing the formation of American-born priests will only go so far in a U.S. church that relies heavily on foreign-born priests with a different formation. American bishops who import priests from abroad are taking a big risk by ignoring the global dimension of the sexual-abuse scandal.

Research at Baylor University shows that clergy sexual abuse of women is common across denominations, and that it's devastating because of the religious status that clergy hold. The major study found that 3.1 percent of the 3,559 women surveyed reported that they had been the target of clergy sexual misconduct at some time in their adult lives (often by married clergy). That meant 1 in 33 women who had attended services within the past month reported that she'd at some point been the object of a religious leader's sexual advances. The principal author of the study, the late Diana R. Garland, wrote elsewhere that it appears clergy sexual abuse of women is more prevalent than clergy sexual abuse of children.

One such opportunist is Steve Bannon, the former strategist and campaign chairman for U.S. President Donald Trump who confirmed to The Daily Beast that he will be in the Eternal City for the summit this week. Bannon is an ardent supporter of Pope Francis' most vocal foe, American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is not listed as an attendee. 
Together they can be expected to use the sidelines of the summit as an opportunity to rail against what they both say they believe is the root cause of clerical abuse: gay priests. And, while doing so, they will hint that Francis' perceived leniency toward gay Catholics somehow enables the abusers.

People must stop using homosexuals as scapegoats for the sexual abuse of children, two male survivors of abuse by priests told reporters. 
"To make this link between homosexuality and pedophilia is absolutely immoral, it is unconscionable and has to stop," said Peter Isely, a survivor and founding member of the survivor's group SNAP.

The most effective solution to evangelical abuse will be for young people—and people of conscience of all ages—to continue to abandon the SBC and other evangelical denominations. The rot goes to the core, and the internal responses are destined to fail. 
What makes me so sure of this? In a nutshell, the SBC (and white evangelicalism writ large) continue to cling to (white) Christian supremacism and patriarchy, which they justify with reference to a doctrine of "biblical inerrancy" that just happens to function primarily to uphold straight white male authority over women, children, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community.

But I'm bothered and even a little scared. Whatever Martel's intent, "In the Closet of the Vatican'"may be less a constructive reckoning than a stockpile of ammunition for militant right-wing Catholics who already itch to conduct a witch hunt for gay priests, many of whom are exemplary — and chaste — servants of the church. Those same Catholics oppose sensible and necessary reforms, and will point to the book's revelations as proof that the church is already too permissive and has lost its dignity and its way.

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