Catholics vs. Catholics


Priest Sex-Abuse Scandal Pits Catholics vs. Catholics, by John P. Martin for the Philadelphia Inquirer, May 2, 2011.

Catholic League vs. Voice of the Faithful. Which group represents your thoughts? If neither does, how are they missing the mark for you as a Catholic?

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11 Responses to “Catholics vs. Catholics”

  1. Susan
    The best response I have to this very important question is the essay I wrote a few months ago.

    Test of Faith
    March 3, 2011 by Susan Matthews 13 Comments

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    By Kathy Kane

    When the first wave of clergy sex abuse in Philadelphia was exposed a few years ago, it changed something in me forever. How could even one child of God, let alone hundreds, be harmed by those who were proclaiming the Gospel message. It distanced me from my Church, however I remained. I stayed even though I had found that some of the same priests who have abused children, have ministered to me throughout my life. I have received the Holy Eucharist from hands that have violated children, and confessed my sins to those whose own sins were simply inexcusable. A priest that had a profound impact on my life as a child was identified as someone who did not report a fellow priest who was a notorious serial abuser. This charismatic priest who always encouraged children to try to do the right thing, when put to the test did not do so himself.

    Finding out some of these truths has been like a sucker punch, I didn’t see it coming. Why would I have? My Catholic faith taught me that the children of God were one of the most treasured parts of his Kingdom. The Church was to take these young minds and by example, show them the way, the truth and the light. Instead some, who claim to be representing the Gospel message, have taken these children and assaulted their mind, body and soul.

    We hear so much in recent weeks of these sexual assaults against children that we can almost become numb to the phrase. Children were fondled, raped, sodomized, it is an image we don’t want picture, a place we don’t want to go to. Instead we focus on things such as civil law, canon law, statute of limitations, anything other than the real subject at hand. In doing so we can almost treat the matter in a cold and insensitive manner, just as we would any other legal issues or story of the day. The truth is that what lies underneath all of these legalities and technicalities, is that children were abused, their childhoods taken from them.

    In the past few weeks I have had many conversations with friends and fellow Catholics. There is anger, disgust, betrayal. A friend now sits in the pew right by the aisle, ready to leave should she hear any lies from the altar concerning the sex abuse scandal. Another has had to explain to her children that we put our faith in God, not the men of the Archdiocese. A story a friend tells of a family member who has long been a strong financial supporter of the Archdiocese and now is feeling embarrassed by his association.

    So many feelings, so much confusion, a flock in turmoil. Our leadership has been relatively absent other than a few carefully worded statements statements and video messages.

    When I was a child in Catholic school, an image of Jesus was often portrayed where he was above us with his arms outstretched. It was a comforting image, the message that Jesus is always with us. I told a very devout friend that this is the image I picture when I think of the victims. Jesus is above them and they are safe in his outstretched arms. My friend stated that Jesus is also with the Archdiocesan officials who have allowed such evil to take place. I protested that Jesus is not with these men but my friend reminded me that Jesus is always with us, even when we have fallen.

    Maybe Jesus is indeed with us all, but in my mental image now, he is weeping. He is heartbroken that the children, the most treasured part of his kingdom, were violated by some who claim to be the teachers of his message, the most devoted of his followers.

    It is a true test of faith, to try to remain in the Catholic Church knowing all that has happened, not only in Philadelphia but throughout the world, with clergy sex abuse scandals. It is like everything I once believed, has been turned upside down, inside out.

    The trust that has been broken is almost too great, the betrayal runs so deep. As a child I was taught to look towards the clergy as an example of what is good and holy, and now I find that I have had to tell my children to look away.

    I was taught from a young age that as a Catholic, I needed to be careful to not fall prey to the corruption and evil that exists in the secular world around us. But this time the threat comes from within the Church. The problems of the outside world have never shaken my beliefs the way the Church itself has done in recent years.

    I was also taught to speak out against injustice and all that is wrong, and so I do, however it is against all that I have ever known and believed. So for now I remain, wanting to walk away, but in doing so feeling like I would be abandoning all that the Church has destroyed.

    I recently used the term of “Catholic Orphan”, to describe my status in the Church. I feel that I have no leadership, no trust, the hierarchy continues to mislead and tries to put a spin on a vile situation. A friend recently said that in her anger, she refuses to let them take her faith from her. In a way she clings to it more now than ever, her relationship with God more personal, less dependent on man. Maybe that is the way it was always supposed to be.

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  2. It is my belief that Bill Donohue and the Catholic League have little credibility in the eyes of those of us who follow the RRC sexual abuse scandal.

    I’m still wondering who hired him, or does he own the organization?

    He purports to defend the Church; but whenever I see his statements, I believe he alienates many more people that he converts.

  3. For Mr Donohue to characterize the clergy sex abuse crisis as “outdated” and the criticism coming from “angry, old Catholics”, leads me to conclude that Donohue, in fact, is creating division of the very church he claims to defend.

    Donohue is really in it fo the money and not, in the least, interested in healing our church from the scandal of his century.

    What Donohue nicely does not mention is that it takes thirty to forty years before an abused victim has the courage to step forward. Yes, many of the current cases are from years ago but there are plenty of newer cases and the placement of “credibly accused priest” in parishes is a scandal that rightly needs to be voiced by the People of God.

    Bill Donohue, I invite you to debate me on this isssue.

    Educator and Advocate for the People of God

  4. I’m ex-Catholic,so predisposed; however here is my .02. I don’t suggest that the Inquirer article is valid in its assumption of conflict; however, Those who would “side” with Donahue, I’d call the “enablers.”
    Those with SNAP or VOF are the “reformers.”

    Perhaps “interventionists” is more apropos than “reformers.” This situation has reached critical status in my estimation.

  5. To Mr. Donohue I would say, “If you would call the twenty, thirty and forty something parents of young children in Catholic schools today who are mortified by these crimes against innocent, trusting children and are seeking to protect their own from the same transgressions, ‘angry, old Catholics’ then, yes, indeed , we are.”

  6. ….in Bill Donahue’s world there is no such thing as an errant priest.. sort of like my father(RIP)..had I attempted to tell my father I was molested by a priest I would have been slapped across the mouth before I got halfway through my story.. sad indeed..

  7. Kathy… your essay represents my thoughts and feelings. I’ve written of myself as a “catholic in exile”… similar to the orphaned Catholic you describe so well.

    I sat in church yesterday, praying and contemplating. A few images came to mind – not necessarily connected, but it is how I process things.

    One is of children fighting over a toy… each wanting complete possession of what they desire. I see our fighting among each other to be similar… that each side wants to be the “right” side. Somehow, there needs to be a pastoral response that we are all part of this same faith, that there is room for each other. That we need to listen and work together in Christ.

    The other image I had was that of the bleeding woman who was healed by Jesus. The woman had bled for years… had been cast out as shameful by those around her, had spent money on doctors for healing that failed. Her belief, her faith, that she could be healed by Jesus by simply touching his cloak was rewarded. More than that, she was *noticed* immediately by Jesus who was joyful at her faith in Him.

    Through this reading, we learn that faith as embodied in the bleeding woman can exist in seemingly hopeless situations, and that through belief, healing can be achieved. When the woman is healed, Jesus tells her: “your faith has healed you.” [John R. Donahue, Daniel J. Harrington 2005 The Gospel of Mark ISBN 0814659659 page 182]

    I stay in the Church to reach out to Jesus, to have faith that healing will take place through God. It is not easy, as some in the Church will say that I am not “true” or wish that I simply go away. But I do not believe that I am called to do that. I believe that I am called to be present, and to speak up for the change that is needed for healing. That I am called to be witness to the bleeding woman, and to lend my voice for her healing.

    I pray for the strength and courage to do just that.

    • I love the Catholic Church and if the victims were treated with the compassion of Christ and the system was corrected to protect children there would be not be as many lawsuits presently.People don’t want to go to court after having been raped or molested unless they have to(lost work days,mental health issues, protect other children). I know my husband and I did it last year. We are still suffering the affects of it but we had to protect every child this predator came in contact with. While we are Catholic his offender was from another denomination. I wish the church would learn this lesson. If they did the right thing they might not be sued as much as they think or for as much money(maybe then the priests and bishops would not be as frightened to reach out). It is painful to have to sue one’s church and also painful to relive the events that happened to them.Many abuse survivors suffer post tramatic stress and if I did not witness it first hand I would have never believed how badly this can affect ones life. I wish every priest would spend a month with an abuse victim. We are not in it for the money( the only money we got was for counseling). We want to protect children. We have couseling bills and lost days at work. Some days victims and even spouses are so depressed we can’t get out of bed. We are vulerable and then to try to fight evil…….the only way I could function some days was through Christ Jesus especially when going to court. When you have to look head on at horror, lies,denial and evil only Jesus can get you through it.

  8. The previous comments have rightly castigated Bill Donohue. He is “faithful” to those disgraced hierarchy, but not faithful to Jesus Christ and His Church.
    Voice of the Faithful is so much closer to representing my thoughts that I have been a member for several years. VOTF has supported abuse victims and the faithful priests (who are the overwhelming majority). Most of the reforms they have advocated are in synch with those offered on this website and those reforms are sorely needed.
    Susan, keep up the good work.

  9. Archbishop Dolan of New York, now head of USCCB, blogged a glowing endorsement and encouragement of Bill Donahue in December, praising the “high value and necessity of his [Donahue’s] efforts”. He ended up with “Keep at it, Bill! We need you!.”
    Curiously, he noted in passing that Donahue had been “denounced as a “blowhard,” “a self-appointed censor,” “right wing publicity mill,” a “bully,”  “American Taliban” and one who “immediately and opportunistically seized” an occasion for self-promotion. Odd comment from a friend.
    http://blog.archny.org/?p=931

  10. Bill Donahue is a Catholic who cannot see that our Catholic Faith is strong enough to withstand the force of evil. Those of us who know that the sins of the abusers is dwarfed by the sins of those who would deny, cover up, and extend the purview of the abusers, want an end to secrecy and denial.
    We have no problem with civil involvement in abuse cases, and we believe that good people doing good work will end the attitude of arrogance that characterizes the role of the clergy of today.
    Catholic parents are no longer willing to stand by and allow their children to be treated criminally by their teachers, priests, nuns, or bishops. Young parents of children in Catholic schools and in other programs in Catholic churches are organizing and will actively monitor how well the clergy are responding to their demands for the protection of children.

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