Thursday, October 31, 2019

"It's Not All in the Past": Commentary on Abuse Stories in the News Now, Across Church Lines and National Lines

Let’s look at the institution behind the priest making the moral judgment on the former Vice President. 
"The names of 42 Catholic priests with South Carolina ties and who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse or misconduct with children were made public late Friday afternoon by Diocese of Charleston, which oversees all Catholic churches in South Carolina," as the State put it. 
Forty-two pedophiles that are definitely identified are quite a number and we know there were likely many more. There were close to 150 victims identified. 
Did Father Morey ever refuse any of his pedophile cohorts Communion we wonder? … 
It is precisely this type of reality distortion that has destroyed the reputation of the church across so many countries. The attempts to be holier than thou while covering up the blackest of all secrets is what will ultimately cause the Church to lose all credibility.
Denying Communion to Joe Biden must be seen for what it is, a hypocritical act by an individual from an institution that has no place making moral judgments on anything.

I'd like to commend Father Morey for the discretion with which he conducted his holy office, making sure that the local newspaper was informed of his act of public piety. Well done, Father. I expect we will soon be seeing commercials on the television advertising your services like one of those personal-injury law firms. This was a political act and, as such, with a clear sin of pride, profaned the sacrament worse than any vote Joe Biden ever cast. 
Every time a Catholic runs for president, we get this. It's exactly what people thought would sink Jack Kennedy in 1960. Today, though, we have the backdrop of an institutional church that configured itself—and continues to configure itself—as an international conspiracy to obstruct justice. For example, at the moment, the leading bishop in the state is caught in the now-customary clerical litigation. ...
Last April, this very bishop released lists of 42 priests against whom credible abuse complaints had been made in South Carolina, or who had served there but were accused elsewhere in the country. Frankly, the institutional Roman Catholic Church should stay away from this kind of performative political piety for, oh, I don't know, maybe a century or so. 

Darren MacDonald reports on a court award of $2.5 million just handed down to Rod MacLeod, who was sexually molested by Basilian Father William Hodgson Marshall in Canada. MacDonald's article is entitled "Historic judgement against Basilian Fathers means easier road to justice for all abuse victims." 

Appended to the article is a trailer for the film "Prey," which is about Marshall's years of abuse of minors, as the Basilian Fathers moved him from place to place. The film will be available in its entirety and free on the internet starting 19 November.

In the trailer, these words really ring loudly for me: 

At the end of this case, let's take some of that money they've [i.e., Catholic institutions like the Basilians] amassed and put it back where it really belongs — into the hands of the victim of Father Marshall. That's what punitive damages are for — to denounce and deter that type of misconduct.

As I say, the Basilians moved Marshall around for years, knowing he was molesting minors, and putting new, vulnerable minors within his net. It's heinously wrong, and the cover-up and lies that go with this behavior are also heinously wrong. And court judgments like this are right to address that heinous wrong vigorously and unambiguously.

Emily McFarlan Miller, "Jules Woodson: Andy Savage's reported return to pulpit is 'not OK',"reports on the latest in the story of Andy Savage, who sexually assaulted Jules Woodson, a member of his church when he was a minister at Woodlands Parkway Baptist church in Houston. I blogged about this story in the summer of 2018.

As Miller notes, Savage has announced plans to start a new church in Memphis, after having admitted to his wrongdoing in Jules Woodson's case, and Woodson is not in the least happy with this announcement. I stand with her in her response to the announacement. Here's my own commentary on the story" 

With stories like this, a certain cadre of Christians always push a mantra of forgiveness and grace: it's not Christian to withhold forgiveness from Andy Savage and his ilk, they shout. 
But that's gaslighting. That misrepresents what these stories of instant, easy forgiveness and cheap grace for men, especially heterosexual ones, are all about. 
The same Christians calling for forgiveness and grace for Andy Savage do not want to offer such free grace and redemption to women (who are stigmatized as sluts deserving their rape, when they are sexually assaulted) or for queer people. 
What do forgiveness and grace mean when they are withheld from everyone but straight males, and when they are dispensed by straight males and those who uphold the dominance of straight men over everyone else in the world? 
What kind of church is built around such a cheap concept of grace?

(A note of thanks to Steve Sheehan and NSAC News for featuring several of the articles above in today's email edition of that newsletter. For further information about National Survivor Advocates Coalition and subscribing to this email list, see here.)

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