Don’t Bother Raising Your Hand: It’s Time to Rally


The second grand jury report underscores the need for change within the Catholic Church. Before some folks start screaming leftist radical Church destroyer at me, let me explain what I mean and don’t mean by change.

I don’t mean to change doctrine.

We need to change the way Church leaders deal with the laity on important issues. We need to create a system of meaningful communication between the laity and Bishops.

Around the world, millions of Catholics are outraged by the handling of sex abuse cases involving clergy. How do we make our voices heard? How do we demand action? What is our recourse?

I don’t want to stop putting money in the collection basket. While it might hurt the archdiocese, it would also hurt my parish and those closest to me. I believe in supporting the services it provides. I don’t want to pull my children from their school. I believe in Catholic education. And I don’t want to walk away from my faith. I believe in God.

Is this what the Church leadership is counting on? If so, they should read the comments on this site. Others are not as torn. And I don’t judge anyone’s reaction to this complicated situation. I can understand them all. We need to hear each other.

There is no “Comment, please” box in the back of Church. Too many letters to the archdiocese have gone unanswered and too many meaningless letters from the Cardinal have been read. Time and time again I hear from all of you, “They just don’t get it.”

In Catholic school, we had to raise our hand if we wanted to speak. Then, you waited to be called on. By this point, I think we’ve all realized the Cardinal isn’t calling on us.

That’s why I created this site – to give everyone a place to speak out. And boy have you! I’m amazed and affirmed. To think a few short weeks ago I thought I was alone in my anger. We’ve begun the conversation; now let’s find the solution.

Join us in the first step. Meet me on Friday, April 1st at noon in front of the Archdiocesan administration building at 222 North 17th Street, Philadelphia. Create signs and invite friends. I’ll have extra signs, too. As advocates for all laity, Catholics4Change will join and support the victims advocacy groups that regularly hold vigil there.

I know this is difficult for some, but it’s time to protect our children and the future of the Church. This will be my first protest, but probably not my last.

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18 Responses to “Don’t Bother Raising Your Hand: It’s Time to Rally”

  1. Thank you. I echo your sentiments. I will join you on Friday, and I will bring a friend, and it is also my first protest.
    I only ask of our Church Heirarchy: “What would Jesus do?” They know the answer, just as we do….and that is what is so frustrating.
    Thanks again.
    Kind regards,

  2. As a survivor of sexual abuse by priests of the Phila. Archdiocese, I support your cause and understand your feelings. Regardless of our different views, we need to stand together for this just cause.

  3. Susan, well said! I believe that most of those demanding Bishop accountability are not radical liberal Catholics. Instead, they are traditional Catholics who realize that the Church’s teachings of love, service, meekness, social justice, etc. are the antithesis of the hierarchy’s behavior. We only want Bishops who practice what they preach.

    Jesus’ own words apply precisely to many of the Bishops leading our Church: “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.” Matt. 23:1-4.

  4. This problem has a very easy solution; let priests marry. The current selection process to become a priest is biased to favor those who do not have normal sexual desires. Pedophilia will continue until this changes.

    Until I see some radical changes, I will vote with my feet (and wallet). My family worships at a church that allows women to be priests and both men and women may marry. I do not need to fight for what is right and for what God has intended – I already have it and can focus on what God’s vision and mission is for my church, my family and myself.

    Truly, truly cannot grasp why people continue to support a system which is inherently broken and the leaders are completely deaf to hear what the laity desires.

    • People who are married and supposedly have a normal sexual relationship are also pedophiles. Being celibate does not cause you to be a pedophile. It’s a deeper emotional issue than that. It’s similar to a man who chooses to rape a woman…. it’s about the authority and power they have over the victim!!

      • However if their were married priests in the heirarchy, child abuse would never be swept under the rug and encouraged by transferring them to another pariah to do it again

  5. good luck with the protest in phila. i would definitely be there but will be in pitts for the weekend. please let me know if you have another gathering – maybe locally at different parishes in the west chester area. thanks, carole siskind

  6. Carole, Thank you. I’ll keep you posted of upcoming gatherings.

  7. Susan, thank you for your chutzpah. It is only right to call the hierarchy on their actions because our children deserve nothing less. I’ll keep you and all who gather on Friday in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. Susan,

    I really question whether things just aren’t beyond the pale. At times this desire to “dialogue” with the hierarchy resembles little children hoping that daddy will someday notice and love them. It deeply sdaddens me.
    There are times to change things from the inside and there are times when the inside is so devoid of life that nothing can grow.
    The earlier Scripture refernce from Lawrence sums it all. After 60 years of devout membership in the Church I’ve yet to hear anyone preach on any of the many Scriptures that warn against those who uphold the letter rather than the spirit of the law.
    Having said all this, i will be there Friday.
    Peace

  9. I would like to know when being innocent until proven guilty was transposed to being guilty until proven innocent. The last 21 priests who were targeted were all previously cleared, but there is no great outrage from the pews or the Archdiocese that they have been unjustly removed from their parishes. Why has no one come to their defense? I agree that it is quiet out there but I think the faithful need to speak up and support the priests of their parishes who were banished. Especially since the Archdiocese has chosen to stand by and accept this hideous act which has only ruined reputations. This is the most devastating event to happen to our church in Phila.

    • I welcome your comments and perspective. I do believe in innocent until proven guilty. However, In any other situation (Boy Scout troop leader, coach or teacher), the accused would be removed by superiors until the courts decided a verdict. It’s just the wise thing to do – regardless of fairness. The U.S. Bishops Conference has offered the statistic that only about 2 percent of all the cases nationwide have been proven to be false accusations. The Archdiocese has not acted in accord with standards they set for themselves or by the U.S. Bishops Conference. The priests were not cleared by the former assistant DA the archdiocese hired or by their own review board. The board didn’t even receive all the cases and in other cases the Archdiocese refused their recommendation. On what would you base your trust that he would handle this accordingly? The past indicates no basis for trust. I hope we can change the future.

  10. Hi Susan,
    I understand what you are attempting, and all perspectives are valid.
    However, in my opinion, the focus, and priority need to be on, protecting children, supporting victims,encouraging those who were raped as children to come forward, and exerting pressure on politicians, namely Ron Marsico to take up HB 832, and HB 878 which chairman Marsico is currently ignoring due to intense lobbying efforts by the Pa Catholic Conference. Your legitimacy lies there.

  11. For Jim Rowley who correctly describes “….this desire to “dialogue” with the hierarchy resembles little children hoping that daddy will someday notice and love them…”, I offer the following for consideration:

    For those wondering whether or not the Philadelphia Archdiocesan leadership, both lay and religious, will voluntarily act responsibly and courageously on behalf of their most innocent parishioners, the young children of the archdiocese, the following statement is presented from the Northeast Times from late September 2005 (one week after the release of the first Grand Jury Report and Investigation):

    Further, according to an attorney for the archdiocese, C. Clark Hodgson of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, church officials were not obligated by state law to report sex-abuse cases to civil authorities unless the actual child victim notified the church personally. If the child’s parent filed the complaint with the archdiocese, however, church officials did not have to notify police.

    I think that statement, conduct and decision-making by archdiocesan counsel gives a very clear picture of where our leaders stand when it comes to protecting our children.

    To add insult to injury, Mr. Hodgson was subsequently awarded the St. Thomas More Society Award in Philadelphia, honoring the patron saint of lawyers. The best part is this: St. Thomas More was martyred for his faith and noted most particularly for adhering to the “spirit of the law, not the letter of the law.”

  12. I pray that somehow the laity can make a difference on friday. My personal experience has always been that you must hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. We live in a democratic country. We have a say regarding the laws that govern us and the people who represent us. Our church is a dictatorship, making it much more difficult to affect change. I remain skeptical because when Cardinal Bernard Law was forced to resign after sixty-five parishes closed in Boston and he was facing a Grand Jury investigation; he was appointed to, and still holds, a very prestigious post among the College of Cardinals in Rome. Though past the age of retirement, he will live out his days within the protection of the Vatican. What message does that send to us? More importantly, what message does that send to our children who are the future of our church? How interesting that the PA Catholic Conference can lobby when it suits their purposes, but we have absolutely no say as members of the Catholic Church within our own Archdiocese. I, too, feel that I will not go down without a fight. But I must admit, that I am discouraged.

  13. If you want to protect your children, keep them away from priests. If you want them to grow up and learn to live a Christian life, you can’t do it in today’s Catholic Church.

    You have to fight the church and fight the church to get them to do the right thing. At what point do Catholics realize that this is no longer God’s Church, and that if He wanted it to be, He wouldn’t continue to let them lie and cover up child rape, which their priests have committed to over 10,000 children in the US alone.

    The entire leadership of bishops, cardinals, and popes should resign, but they never will.

    I have a question I’ve asked everyone since this started 10 years ago – name one program the church has to help the children that were raped by their priests. There isn’t one. If they had any sense for “What Jesus Would Do”, that would have been step 1.

    Instead, they silenced the children (see “Crimen sollicitationis”), they lied, they covered up the truth, and they ignored the raped children. They are an institution with despicable leadership, and God knows it. And if you support them, God will have a long conversation with you before he’ll allow you into heaven.

    People should invest their energy starting up a set of alternative Catholic Churches, worshiping in gymnasiums if necessary, and develop leaders who don’t have to be taught the basic concepts of truth, respect for the afflicted (like the children they raped), and the basic fact that you can’t rape children and get away with it.

    My new rules:

    1) Never let your children alone with priests.

    2) Never donate to this church. Its the only language they know.

  14. HI SUSAN,
    I WILL PRAY FOR ALL OF OUR CHILDREN IN
    CATHOLIC SCHOOL NOW…I HAVE TWO GRANDCHILDREN THERE AND US AS PARENTS AND
    GRANDPARENTS HAVE TO START PROTECTING OUR
    CHILDREN…IT IS SO SAD FOR THE GOOD PRIESTS
    THIS SHOULD HAVE STOPPED WHEN THE FIRST PRIEST BACK YRS AGO DID SOMETHING BUT NO ALL
    THEY DID WAS TRANSFERRED MANY OF THEM TO MANY
    DIFFERENT PARISHES AND SUBJECTED THE CHILDREN THERE FOR MORE ABUSED…THE PROBLEM IS THE HIGHER UP AND THIS IS WHAT I
    AM ANGRY ABOUT. WHEN IT BEGAN YEARS AGO THESE PRIESTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AND SENT FOR HELP BUT NO THEY JUST TRANSFERRED THEM…THIS HAS AFFECTED MY LIFE FOR MY OWN SON WHEN HE WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL I FIND OUT THAT HIS PRINCIPAL WAS AN
    ABUSOR AND TRANSFERRED 4 TIMES…THIS IS WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES…IT WAS ALWAYS COVERED UP…I LOST MY BIG PRAYER GROUP BECAUSE A WONDERFUL PRIEST WAS ONE OF THEM
    25YRS AGO WHO COVERED UP FOR AN ABUSOR AND I AM SURE HE WAS TOLD TO DO SO…HIS PICTURE WAS PLASTERED ALL OVER THE PAPER NOT THE ABUSOR AND HE HAD TO LEAVE FOR HE WAS SO HUMILITED AND WE LOST OUR BEAUTIFUL
    PRAYER GROUP OF MANY YEARS…I ALSO GREW UP
    WITH A PRIEST AND HE WAS ONE OF THOSE NAMED
    LAST WEEK WITH THE 21…THIS REALLY TOUCHES
    HOME AND IT HAS TO STOP. MY VISION OF A PRIEST NOW IS ….IS HE ONE OF THEM…IT BREAKS MY HEART AND MANY OF US HAVE SACRIFICED TO SEND OUR CHILDREN TO CATHOLIC
    SCHOOLS AND MY DAUGHTER SACRIFICES NOW FOR HER TWO..ONE GRADUATING FROM 8TH GRADE AND ONE WILL BE A SENIOR IN SEPT…I WISH THEY WERE BOTH OUT OF THERE SAD ISNT IT…I VALUED MY CATHOLIC EDUCATION AND CHURCH BUT
    NOT NOW…I AM READY TO LEAVE IT AND CHANGE
    IS IT TOO LATE…I DONT KNOW…WILL IT CHANGE…I DONT KNOW…ARE THEY HEARING US..NO THEY DONT GET IT…I PRAY ALL YOU
    ARE DOING AND OTHERS AND MYSELF CAN MAKE IT CHANGE…IN JESUS’S NAME GOD BLESS AND WATCH OVER OUR CHILDREN

  15. Sorry to say that I only found out about today’s rally too late, please keep me posted on future events. By joining the website/blogs hopefully will be kept up to date on future gatherings.

    Thank you for all of your great work in raising awareness.

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