Clarification of Church Boycott


I would like to make an important clarification to a call to action made in the FOX 29 10 p.m. news broadcast.

I asked that Catholics who can’t make the rally this Friday, attend Mass on Saturday and leave the churches empty on Sunday. We want to create a very visual statement (empty pews) that the Church leadership is pushing people away from practicing their religion. (If you have any doubt this is happening please read the comments on this site.)

I would never suggest skipping Mass altogether. We need the Eucharist more than ever.

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22 Responses to “Clarification of Church Boycott”

  1. Sounds like a great plan – wish I could be in Philly to participate.

  2. I think skipping Mass entirely is fine! We need them to see that if NOTHING changes, the Churches will be empty. And gone. As Tom Doyle said, “Sell the Vatican to Disney or the Mormons and start over.” I truly believe the Roman Catholic Church in this country needs a wake up call to ACTION!

  3. Susan,

    Please do not encourage people to jeopardize their souls and boycott Sunday Mass. If your intention is to have them attend the Saturday vigil Mass you should be very specific. As an approach, I find it problematic that you would hold Our Lord hostage in this way by limiting the praise and glory given Him in our weekly worship. He is the solution not the problem. It is a dangerous tactic to make your point. For example, I immediately dismissed your mission when I heard this as part of the report. Coming to your website and reading your post has not persuaded me to change my mind. I would encourage you to prayerfully consider other ways to pursue your mission.

    • Are you serious… jeopardize their souls and boycott Sunday Mass.hold Our Lord hostage in this way by limiting the praise and glory given Him in our weekly worship.

      Last time I checked one can worship the Lord any day of the week and one can do that at home, work or even at play.. One does not need to go to church to be a good Catholic. Not only do I agree with not showing up I would suggest you hold back your $$$ on Sunday. WE, as Catholics need to force the changes…

  4. Thank you very much for this clarification. After checking out your site, I agree that the way in which this whole situation was handled was inappropriate, and continues to be an issue, but I was concerned that boycotting mass and as a result seemingly refusing to receive the Eucharist wasn’t the answer. Thanks for this clarification.

  5. I would like to offer an opinion regarding the priests being put on administrative leave. It is my understanding, through reading the available information, as well as personal knowledge of 2 of the 23 priests, that these priests have been investigated and “cleared” of the allegations against them. While I can understand the Grand Jury’s concern regarding the process by which they were cleared, and while I understand that sadly there is a chance that some of these allegations will be confirmed, it is in FACT the case that some of these allegations are simply allegations. Not all of the accusations are with regards to sexual abuse or misconduct. Some may be “boundary issues” where a priest may have innocently and publicly shown the love of Christ to a child through a hug or something and a parent – wishing the best for the priest reported it to a pastor in order for the pastor to remind the priest of the position he’s putting himself in – and the pastor was forced to report it.

    My point is not to excuse any priest who has committed a serious crime against God and the Church, but rather I think it’s sad how the media and some individuals automatically label the priests involved in this situation as “guilty until proven innocent”. My heart goes out to those individuals who have suffered at the hands of priests, however my heart also goes out to those priests who are being mis- represented and their reputations ruined.

    It is a sad day, in my opinion, where, as a Father myself, I have to tell my kids, “Don’t give Fr. a hug or kiss because he could get in trouble.” Priests are one of the most visible signs of Christ & his love in this world, and now I feel as the result of this scandal, we are beginning to ask “Fathers” to no longer to express their love to their “children”. I’m not they shouldn’t be held accountable, nor am I suggesting that there aren’t certain “appropriate expressions” that should be used, but rather my point is merely to continue to pray for the victims of this situation: the individuals involved & their families, the priests, and the whole Body of Christ.

  6. Paxfish,
    What is the “available information” which has cleared the credibly accused priests?
    If you are concerned with fairness, you may have a point, but it is a result of a massive cover-up which has brought us to this juncture.
    It is the church which has caused the appearance of what you may consider to be a rush to judgement.
    To blame the media is tantamount to shooting the messenger.
    Have you read the Grand Jury reports?

  7. To the last comment from paxfsh…..would you care to share with the rest of us where we can read this information that clears the names of these preists? I happen to think the most visible signs of Christ and his love in the world, are the precious children we create through him, bring to mass, put through these schools, and teach as parents every day of our lives. They are the future of the church. How about teaching them to be the future of a church that isn’t steeped in the tradition of lies and cover ups? The deceit has been going on far too long. Look at Boston, all innocent? How about California, all innocent? How about Ireland, all innocent? All are taling about forgivness of sins. Acknowledgement of said sins are necessary in order to repent, then be given the grace of forgivness.

  8. JH, I think you are correct in calling the focus on my concern “fairness”. My point is not to dismiss ALL involved as “innocent” as Dee seems to suggest. I will admit to not having read the entire grand jury report, nor have I been actively investigating the history of the so called “cover ups” that have been broadcast over the past decade. I come simply as a lay person with a love & respect for the institution of the priesthood and wish to defend it where it ought to be defended. I don’t want to make a blanket statement and say all are innocent, but I feel like the “messenger” in this scenario has (purposefully or not) made the blanket statement that all are “guilty”. Perhaps it’s not entirely the media’s fault, however the picture that appears to me to have been painted is one of accusation, allegation, and one of “guilty until proven innocent”. You may argue that the Church put itself in that situation b/c of all the cover ups, but I would still persist in calling upon Catholics to stand behind their priests and support them where they need to be supported.

  9. Paxfsh,

    I didn’t suggest anything. I merely asked you to share with us this information that you calimed to have through “reading available information and personal knowledge”. What is it? The something you may have read, I didn’t. The personal knowledge you have, I wouldn’t know about. This is what is so sad to me about the situation. You did nothing, I did nothing, our children did nothing to create this current situation. But Catholics are turning on each other. I am a very basic person. I believe that nothing good comes from secrets and lies. I ask that we all support each other in opening up communication, airing out the issues at hand and go forward together to find the truth. But I beg of anyone reluctant to see the truth of what is happening…PLEASE READ THE GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION REPORTS, AND ALL THAT IS AVAILABLE TO YOU. Those of us who have read these, and are horrified, are NOT making this information up to disgust and scare the rest of you.

  10. I have read the grand jury reports and almost every piece available on the internet – even from other dioceses where Philadelphia bishops have been assigned. I am horrified by it all. NOTHING will be gained by boycotts of Sunday Mass or ANY Mass. I agree with Maryanne’s message finding it problematic that one would hold Our Lord hostage by limiting the praise and glory given Him in our weekly worship. HE is the solution not the problem. I also agree with Dee – Catholics are turning on each other. Isn’t this exactly what the devil wants and what is written in the Bible!

    • Dottie –

      I would ask that you put your horror aside and see if what you fear is what is being proposed, #1, and that you tell us what your alternative would be for the horrors you have read in the grand jury reports & the other information available on the internet, #2.

      What I understand, and support, is the proposal to attend Mass at one of the vigil services rather than on Sunday. I do not see that a in any way a horrible suggestion. To me, it seems like a reasonable way for the laity to say to the Church’s leaders, we are horrified by what has gone on during your watch and the watch of your predessors, and we want significant action to be sure that it stops and that it never happens again. What could be wrong w/ that?

  11. It is my understanding that the 2 priests whose names were recently released were brought forward by Gina Smith who has been investigating the abuse claims against priests FOR the Archdiocese. I do not believe that Ms. Smith would have recommended these names be released nor that Cardinal Rigali would have ALLOWED them to be released, if there was not very substantial evidence.Therefore, I would not worry about fairness too much in their cases. I’m SURE the Archdiocese is being MORE than fair with these priests. Their history of unfairness is not to the accused priests, but to the victims and, quite frankly to us, the laity.

    Any priests’ names they LET come out, you can bet, have some clear allegations.

  12. I am glad that you are not abandoning your faith. I believe that all of this is to undermine our Faith because the media is a “faith-less” community.

    For the record, I am a mom, I also believe in accountability. Crime against children should carry the maximum punishment. I also believe that we tend to be carried away with hearsay and the slightest notion of impropriety. I don’t want to become a Hyper-sensitive person.

    One last thing. Susan,you personally know Father Givey,(from the videos on Fox) can you AUTOMATICALLY CONDEMN him? Would Jesus do that? Did he exhibit behavior that was improper around you or your family? Before you feel “betrayed”, be certain to get all the facts.

    • Grace, These aren’t the slightest notions of impropriety. These are the results of extensive examination by the Archdiocesan review board. Other cases have been dismissed. This one wasn’t. My heart wants him to be innocent. I feel betrayed by the Church Leaders who haven’t been transparent in regard to the allegations. I think that’s a fair reaction. Father Dave is innocent until proven guilty. I will not speculate on the allegations. But my experiences don’t invalidate someone else’s.

  13. One problem in dealing with the press is that one does not have control over how a story will be communicated. Susan has CLEARLY stated that she did not say any of us should skip Mass and she did not say this on the news either. The REPORTER (I’ll assume mistakenly) MISSTATED Susan’s words at the end of her report. It is quite clear now that all Susan was suggesting is that, if at all possible, we attend Saturday evening Mass (which my family and I will be doing) and let the Churches on Sunday seem emptier, so that we can make a statement. That’s all it’s about and Susan CLEARLY communicated that.

  14. Grace,

    These allegations are not ‘made up by the media’ or because the media hates the church. I am so tired of hearing this. Did you read the Grand Jury reports? You’re a mom. Haven’t you been upset when your child is injured? Or doesn’t get invited to a birthday, or if another child is mean to him/her? Can you only IMAGINE having them molested, groped, RAPED by someone they/you trusted? Some who gave you/them communion, confession, council, or taught you/them? How would you feel if this happend to YOUR child? SERIOUSLY people, what are you not getting here? I could understand this denial if these were the first reported cases of abuse in the Roman Catholic Church….but they aren’t! Read, watch documentaries, please.

  15. I am completely dismayed at the posters who continue to defend the church and the priests. I am sooo tired of hearing about the poor innocent priests. Why is there not one priest who stands at the pulpit and rails against this cold and callous response to the vast amount of people and families who have been destroyed. Why are these leaders of men silent ? I believe if any man be it a priest or not, does not have the wherewithal to stand up against injustice then they are are not deserving of praise. Posters on here who discuss the innocent ones well maybe the innocent ones should do more to get the victims justice, more to hold the leadership accountable. They are suppose to be selfless men but it seems to me they are all in self preservation mode. At the beginning we had martyrs willing to die for their church, now we have people who toe the party line and look the other way.

  16. Susan, I think it would be helpful for everyone if you outline in your next blog how exactly these allegations were handled by the “Church” and how the priests were eventually removed. I think that might help people better understand the process that is taking place (since the news media isn’t).

    On another note, the big issue here (IMHO) is that there is NO transparency by the church. They don’t want to share why these priests are removed because they don’t want to be any more culpable than they already are. Let the people guess – by making accusations at each other, we’re doing exactly what they want – taking the focus off the real issues at hand.

    Don’t shoot the messenger people. Susan is just sharing the info. She isn’t accusing anyone of anything. She has provided a forum for all of us to share how we are feeling. And she has EVERY right to feel betrayed by Fr. Dave. I feel betrayed for her – especially since I was her maid of honor.

  17. What a great idea. I will certainly attend 5pm Sat Mass – even if I have to miss the Final 4 for March Madness!!!

  18. Guys and Gals,
    Please understand that the church cannot be influenced by symbolic gestures.

    This problem is, tragically, much more insidious than the typical grievance.

    People have taken their lives, other lives have been shattered, the church itself has paid almost 3 BILLION DOLLARS to settle cases across the U.S.(source:bishopaccountability.org)

    The Phila. Arcdiocese has the first cleric ever on trial who is not charged with directly harming a child, but for his role in the cover-up. He faces 28 years.

    Susan herself has to consider that this credibly accused priest was close to her family, and that one of them may have been his victim.

    As in many cases these perpetrators choose a victim, ingratiate themselves with the family, groom, and strike.

    Please read the three grand jury reports to further understand the gravity, and depravity of these crimes.

    (The reports and a wealth of pertinent information is,and are available on bishopaccountability.org, abolishsexabuse.org, snapnetwork.org, and roadtorecovery.org)

    This church that you are railing against now is complicit in the cover-up of crimes involving the repeated rape of children.

    Can that be overstated?

    They are not swayed by whether or not you go to a vigil Mass, or a Sunday Mass, or if a few pews are empty.

    In fact, they are most likely pleased if you are bogged down by minutiae, so as to miss the true heart of the matter. Namely, lawsuits, and legislation.

    It is there where the church is focusing its attention.

    Nearly $3 billion has been paid out across our nation, but here in Pennsylvania, hundreds of thousands of more dollars have been alloted to opposing House Bills 832, and 878 through the lobbying efforts of the PA Catholic Conference.

    Would they spend that money if the legislation was not a threat to their interests?

    In their view, though, the money is well spent, since those bills may never see the light of day. They are currently being shelved by Representative Ron Marsico, the chairman who controls whether or not the bills are taken up at all by the committee.

    Apparently, there are close to two hundred other legislative submissions of more importance.

    If you want to get your church’s attention, work to have those bills taken up. I guarantee you that they will notice.

    Contact your state representative, as well as Chairman Marsico, and inquire about the bills. Representative Marsico’s phone number is 717-652-3721.

    If you are unsure of your local state rep, a good source is the Committee of Seventy here in Phila. Their website will assist you.

    Only by a concerted effort on the part of the disparate groups involved in this disgusting affair will we be able to join together, and deal with this complex issue.

    We don’t have to agree on what the church should look like, vis a vis, women priests, or whether or not to contribute to the collection, or even to drop our faith altogether, but what I would hope that we all agree on is the fact that the victims need our support, the children need our protection, and that the church cannot continue with business as usual.

    In addition, those of us truly concerned with this issue must attempt to understand the complexities involved in a victim’s decision to come forward.

    Those who have had the courage to do so will attest to the fact that it it a decision agonized over for as many as 20 years, or more.

    Which would seem to indicate that there are undeclared victims out there right now, posibly monitoring this debate, who, I beleive, need to feel that they would be coming forward at a time of maximum understanding and acceptance.

    Is that where we are now?

    I’m sure that the victims appreciate your interest in “changing” the church, but their interest is in healing, and justice.

    They can’t “change” what happened to them. They, if I am reading them accurately, want to know that we care, and that we are focused on preventing it from happening to any other kids.

    Can we say that without the passage of new laws?

    Can we assure them that we care if we bicker with one another?

    Can we present a climate of compassion and acceptance to new victims who may be considering coming forward if we do not afford each other the same courtesy.

    These are not utopian ideals. These are the attributes which we must display if we are to conquer this deparavity, and corruption.

    The victims/survivors have been fighting this sad, painfull, battle for many years, albeit with the notion that they were alone in the struggle.

    My sense is that most of us in this discussion today are relative novices to the debate.

    My hope is that we defer to those suffering from these horrific crimes, and ask them what they need from us.

    As much as it may seem to be the case we are not the direct victims. We have only been indirectly affected by this sordid mess, which should have been nipped in the bud many years ago.

    In my opinion, it is an affront to the victims of child rape to debate how to get Rigali’s attention, when they are the injured in this case.

    In fact, Susan did attempt to get his attention, and from what I understand he is out of the country. To respond in the vernacular I would say, “How’d that work out for ya?”

    The rank-and-file priests will tell you that they do not have his ear, he must only wrly smile at the notion of parishioners stomping their feet for attention.

    Forgive me if I appear harsh, but it is truly my heartfelt opinion.

    A word regarding the priests. After reading the grand jury reports, it is clear that certain priests attempted to blow the whistle on these crimes, only to be rebuffed by their bosses downtown.

    Conversely, in another account, the report describes one particular principal at Cardinal Dougherty who threatened a female victim to remain quiet or she would be expelled from the school.

    My feeling is that they are culpable to a certain extent, but to disparage each and every one without evidence is patently unfair, and such judgements lack an understanding of the nuances of the organization under which they operate.

    They have no say, and they know it. Not an absolute defense, but only time will tell in this matter.

    However, Gentlemen, we need to hear from you now. What did you know, and when did you know it?

    Why adhere to convention, when those practises do not serve you very well in light of these crimes.

    Throw off the Omerta, even the mob doesn’t adhere to that anymore.

    History will judge all of us who are here in Philadelphia in the Spring of 2011, regarding these crimes against our children, and the subsequent, unconscionable cover-up.

    I believe strongly that the committed catholics are uniquely positioned to join this fight, but will do yourselves a disservice if you do not carefully consider the intricate dynamics.

    In twenty years, if a victim comes forward who is being created now, which is entirely possible given the fact that two more priests were named yesterday after yet another assurance from Rigali, that this was it; I want to be able to say that I did what I could, and if I ruffle a few feathers so be it.

    We will get over it.

    The victims will not.

  19. WOW! JFH – what a letter! I don’t know why I have never seen this before, but I am BUMPING IT UP!

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