Bishops Break Promise Despite Clear Needs of Church

“Bishops Won’t Focus on Abuse Policies” by Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, June 14, 2011

My take on the info in the above linked article: Are they for real? My daughter graduates from Catholic grade school this week. The Bishops and the Holy See have more than let down her wonderful teachers, the parish priests and fellow classmates. Parents who work hard to raise their children in the Catholic faith deserve so much more.

Their refusal to hold each other accountable will endanger children. Their refusal to be transparent on this issue will push families away from Catholic schools and churches. I am beyond disgusted. A new fire is lit.

Excerpts from NYT article (link above):

“I have never seen the anger as deep and widespread as I have seen and heard and felt it these last three weeks. It’s coming from people that I know of as very conservative, very devout, especially younger people.”

“In both of these dioceses, the bishops never informed their sexual abuse “review boards” about the cases. In his two years in the diocese of Gallup, N.M., Bishop James S. Wall never met with his review board even though the diocese was supposedly conducting a review of abuse cases, a situation first reported by the Gallup Independent newspaper.”

“The question of what to do about bishops who do not follow the charter is not addressed in the revisions. The charter says only that bishops should apply “fraternal correction” to one another.”

31 thoughts on “Bishops Break Promise Despite Clear Needs of Church

  1. The NCCB is basically just a glorified retreat for bishops twice a year. They have no real power since everything must be approved by the Vatican anyway. Even the Dallas Charter had to be sent to Rome for final approval. The NCCB is an administrative arm of the pope.

    What is needed are the people to react forcefully and demand change. Rock the boat as hard and as frequently as we can and must do. Our priests must step up. I also suggest that everyone withhold donations to the church and publicly, like this blog site, communicate our alarm at their behavior.

  2. My daughter too, is graduating from Catholic middle school this week. And the general consensus at our parish, even with the unprecedented arrest of the pastor (for allegedly covering up abuse), is that nothing is wrong. Very sad indeed. Certainly has cast quite the shadow, at least for me and my family due to our vocalizing our disgust and disbelief over the handling of all of this, at every level.

    But, the sad reality is this; if parishoners don’t speak up, and priests don’t speak up (and the ones I have spoken to seem to think there is no problem or there is nothing they can do about it) and hold the bishops accountable and demand more from them, it’s just business as usual in the Catholic Church. Meaning no one has to answer to anyone for anything. The level of arrogence is unfathomable to me.

    1. What could Cardinal Rigali possibly say to our graduates? “Oops. My bad. I meant to put your safety and spirituality first. It just didn’t happen. Continue to trust in your Church even though at every opportunity we’ve let you down. Go forth to your Catholic high schools and then colleges. Continue to be good Catholics and give us your money. You won’t get a say in protecting your own children either, but please send them here.”

      If a letter from Cardinal Rigali is read tonight. I will get up and leave. My daughter won’t be embarrassed. She has already told me that I’m doing a good thing. She appreciates everyone who has helped build C4C. She knows it’s for her and every other kid out there.

      1. Hear, Hear, Susan! My heart is filling up because Finally, people like yourself are finally realizing what we as survivors have known for years in dealing with the archdiocese. They have managed to hurt us even further by turning away from us when again we sought help. They really don’t care and that continues to give me such hurt, my mistake was expecting more from them.

      2. Are people interested in protest/vigil in front of the cathedral or Archbishop residence yet? In the middle of the day during the work week is rough but how about a time when more people can make it? I am tired of these bishops lack of compassion and basic intergrity.

  3. The only effective remedies to the abominable and immoral lack of accountability on the part of U.S. bishops is:

    1. For the laity to altogether STOP financing the Church!
    2. For priests to unify and emphatically reject all ties with their bishops.

    Unfortunately, for a host of reasons that defy logic, ethics and common sense, neither group can quite pull it together…

    And we call ourselves Catholic.

  4. THE reason the “fraternity” cannot correct itself:

    “The psychologist Irving Janis coined the term “groupthink” to refer to the tendency of cohesive groups to get increasingly out of touch with reality. Janis found that the social pressures that develop in cohesive groups, particularly the desire to preserve friendly intragroup relations, lead such groups to develop an us-versus-them mentality that gradually distorts their ability to evaluate their situation realistically. Symptoms of such “groupthink” include an illusion of the group’s invulnerability; a belief in the inherent morality of the group and its activities; collective rationalization that discounts any outside information that might conflict with the group’s assumptions; stereotypes of outsiders and critics as weak, stupid, or evil; direct pressure on dissenters within the group; self-censorship that leads each member to discount his or her own doubts about the group’s beliefs and assumptions; the illusion of unanimity within the group; and the emergence of self-appointed “mind-guards” who protect the group from any contrary outside information that might shatter their comfortable assumptions.” (Velasquez, Manuel. Philosophy: A Text With Readings. Wadsworth. 2008)

    It’s uncanny how our bishops suffer from ALL of the symptoms of “groupthink”!

    1. This quote explains the Catholic cleric’s propensity to groupthink:

      ‘A man without a wife to puncture his pomposity, without children to challenge his authority, in relations carefully structured to make him continuously eminent, easily becomes convinced of his superior wisdom.’

      -Garry Wills

    2. This defination seems to fit exactly with how the holocaust happened, except in this case, its children having horrific things done to them in the name of God. Silence breeds this kind of thought process, , stop, and think about this, how similiar it all is.

      1. very insightful, Vicky. The difference, to me, is that if you opposed the Holocaust, you would be killed. If you oppose this, you are fighting for child safety and for victims of horrible crimes. I still can’t figure out the people on the other side.

  5. The conference is being broadcast on EWTN starting at 1 o’clock today and will broadcast over the next few days. I can’t sit and watch this charade take place but am going to DVR the broadcast to skim through to see if any of the fraternity of brothers call out each other for the violations that have taken place. Doubt it.

  6. Kathy,

    My daughters 8th grade graduation ceremony is taking place tonight, and rumor has it, there will be a letter read by Rigalli. I don’t think I can handle watching any of this (even if I wasn’t working/busy with kids tonight…). I’m just hoping for no unseemly outbursts (from myself, it’s been a trial enough this year for my 13 year old daughter), when I hear what he has to say. But then again, I’m sure Donna Farrell or someone else will have written it. Keep us all posted on the conference, not expecting alot out of it really. Please keep in your thoughts, because if we are asked to collectively pray for Msgr. Lynn (again), I’m not quite sure how I will handle that one…

    1. This may be off topic, but I would be very interested to hear what a 13 year old’s perspective is on this now that they can learn about this online without the approval of the church (or you, for that matter).

      1. Patrick
        In the words of an 11 year old “I want to take these priests who hurt kids and all the priests who lied and hid them,put them in a rocket and blast them to the moon”.
        Now we just need NASA to cooperate!

      2. Patrick, That’s a fantastic idea. Wish I had thought of it. I think it would be really interesting to hear from older kids. I’ll ask my daughter if she and her friends have spoken about it. I’ll also invite her and her friends to write about it (with their parents permission). Kathy, would you ask your son? Margaret and Deidre, too? Let’s see what we get back. I invite anyone with a middle school or high school age child to participate. Use the private contact form to send it to me and I will just print age & gender along with their editorial.

      3. When I attended a rally a few months ago,my kids made some signs for me.One of the signs read “No more questions,we want answers” This generation of kids today is not the “pray,pay and obey” of generations past.
        There are no grey areas with children.If you ever try make an excuse to a child,they see right through it.Can you imagine the bishops meeting with a group of children and trying to explain the actions/mistakes that have been made? Can you imagine them discussing the technicalities of the Dallas charter with them? The legalities of the statute of limiatations? The reasons for not cooperating with law enforcement?

  7. Here is an idea: Humor!
    Last night I was watching David Letterman. He was doing a bit, pretending to take a picture of his privates, a la Congressman Weiner. “Is this the behavior of a Congressman”, Letterman quipped. “No, it is the behavior of a priest.” I roared laughing. I’m wondering if the Catholic League will get after Letterman?

    Frankly, I’m going to write Letterman to ask him for more jokes about the RCC and what is going on! I think that we MUST make the whole world aware of the problems we face. We must make the RCC hierarchy the laughingstock that they would be were it not for the tragedy they have created.

    Remember, dear friends, that it is not the sins of the priests that we truly abhor, rather it is the cavalier way their sins have been dealt with by the hierarchy. Priests have been abused; children have been harmed, many unto death.

  8. Deidre
    The letter was read at my son’s graduation last night.I can’t say that I even know what it said-I completely tune out anything like that.Happy to see the kids graduate and all the other stuff that goes with it-Just try to focus on your daughter,her friends and the good times she had. Don’t let a form letter from the cardinal ruin your night.
    I try to look at it as one more thing I won’t let them take from me

    1. We were spared the letter tonight! I didn’t have to make a scene by leaving. Instead our pastor gave an incredibly meaningful homily and during the ceremony gave a wonderful statement of his own. It was a night that reflected the best of being Catholic. If only the Bishops could get on board. But they won’t. I’ve accepted that after the EWTN coverage of the conference. Required viewing for the skeptic! It’s a three ring circus.

  9. Elizabeth-I watched the first session of the Bishop’s conference today and all I could think of was what you said about humor.There were times I felt like I was watching a Saturday Night Live skit. Today was just the initial presentations of the various committees.Bishop Cupich spoke about the findings and some revisions to the Charter For Protection of Children. Good news! The charter works – is what they found!!!!
    A few Bishops asked questions of clarificarions on some revisions and spoke in what may as well have been a foreign language.One bishop asked for a clarification about removal from ministry when an allegation is made vs.removal from ministry when an allegation is found credible.Bishop Cupich was then going to refer to the canonical attorneys for an answer to that question. The last Bishop who asked a question was elderly and shuffled to the microphone to ask if we are a “Church of forgivenenss has there been any thought given to forgiving the abusive priests and returning them to full ministry.” Thats right forgiveness will keep kids safe and a simple confession can negate the jail time that the rest of society who commits heinous acts against children must adhere to.

  10. While I’m no longer Catholic, I came by this website because I frequent a site for families affected by clergy abuse.

    I wanted to see what those within the church are saying. For years, I’d shake my head and wonder how all those good people in the pews could betray my husband and my family with their complacency and silence.

    May you never be silent again. Thank you for speaking up on this issue.

    As far as the bishops’s conference…they will NEVER give themselves severe consequences for not doing the right thing. And fraternal correction…a complete joke. It doesn’t exist. What…some brother bishop is going to say, “naughty, naughty bad boy…you should have done this instead of that.” And what does that mean? NOTHING. They are hopeless group of the blind leadin the blind. I’ve seen the inner workings of our diocese, archdiocese…it’s corrupt and the only way they will change is to have outside sources pressure them to do so.

  11. No it was the generic-go forward and do good things etc…. I zone out and completely do not listen to these type of things but since we are talking about it on the site,I asked some others what the letter even said.It’s probably posted on the AD homepage if you want to read it.

  12. Susan,

    We were not spared “the letter”. At least no one clapped, that was very helpful. But I think that is also because so many in my parish feel Lynn did nothing, and any wrong doing is layed at the door of Rigalli, soley. My belief is that both are culpable.

    I would love for my daughter to add some comments here. I just think it is too personal for her because she has been directly effected. (all the more reason though). And please, for those of you who would take my words to mean that what I have experienced is anything like those that have suffered at the hands of abusive priests, it isn’t. I know that. My heart breaks for anyones child, even if they are an adult, and have the trapped broken child within them, who was abused particualry at the hands of supposed trusted people of God. I just can’t tell you how sad it was to see how different things are for her now, how different our family is treated because of our speaking out. It is almost like a shunning by some, to a degree. I don’t why it is this way, other than the fact that I have just been flat out honest in my not supporting Lynn.

    As any parent knows, watching your child learn hard lessons it really tough to take. Especially when you have no answers for them.

    Michele- the letter had nothing to do with the abuse. I don’t think our church even talks about it. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t been able to attend regular mass there since reading the GJ report released this past February. I’ve been dealing witht the guilt of having not read it, and beleiving what I was told back in 2004. My only excuse then is that my father had been gravely ill, I was a stay at home mom then with two small kids, and helping to take care of my father. He passed away December of 2004. That and some personal experiences have not made my church a place of prayer, peace and solice for me. I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t go into the Lords house with anger and disgust on our minds….

    The letter just addressed all that the kids had been through and really just a lot more fluff words. The anouncement that it was Rigalis letter came after it was read (at least at our parish). I honestly heard words being spoken, but didn’t really hear them, if you know what I mean. I was busy having a tough time dealing with not liking a place where I have been a memeber of for 15 years, teaching
    prep, volunteering, having my children recieve all of their sacraments, and wanting to celebrate the 9 years that my child went to school there.

    Your church should be a welcoming place to all, not just to those that put enough money in the collections basket, or just for those that (during a time of financial crisis for many) decide they want to build a multi-million dollar church, or just for those who will accept everything they are told, at face value. Though I am far from perfect, I expect more from my church than what I have seen lately.

  13. The coverage today of the Bishop’s conference was even worse.Cardinal Szoka protested that the wording stating that the Bishops were “obliged” to report sexual abuse claims was too strong a wording.He felt it would be better to say they “should” . He did not feel “obliged” was appropriate,Cardinal Cupich responded that although their is no canonical obligation to enforce the charter their is a moral obligation.This would have been the perfect time for a power point presenation to be given to teach the Bishop’s what a moral obligation entails.A moral obligation means someone has a heart, a conscience and the desire to protect children.
    Archbishop Hurley again stated today that he believes that because we are a Church of forgiveness we need to include reconciliation to embrace the abusive priests in the process . This whole idea of reconciliation with no consequences for criminal acts is news to me.When I went to confession I didn’t realize that I could confess losing my temper,taking the Lord’s name in vain and child rape all in the same category.

    1. And since when is forgiveness and punishment mutually exclusive. You can serve your time and be forgiven. Being allowed to return to ministry as a pedophile has nothing to do with forgiveness.

  14. Kathy,

    This is all I was told when I spoke to the principal of our school, when my daughter experienced backlash in February. All I heard, in addition to Lynn being a victim himself, was that we are a church of forgivness.

    I maintain that you must still repent; acknowledge sin or wrong doing, pray, and hope for the grace of forgivness. Did I get my lessons wrong, have I been missing something all these years? It’s kind of like respect, it usually earned, not just given.

    An interesting point I heard someone else make while discussing how easily the forgivness of raping and covering it up, of children could be. How about how hard the church makes it on divorced (consenting adult people who have decided to end their marriage) to remarry? Not saying anything either way on the issue of divorce, but just bringing up that as Catholics, we are a church of rules and regulations….until it comes to the clergy? It just comes back to the same thing, every time. They will come up with an excuse or an answer for everything. Yet if you question them, it goes ignored, or worse.

  15. Couldn’t agree more Deidre,there are so many rules and regulations.
    As for forgiving priests who have abused children,that is why prisons have chaplains.People can ask forgiveness of God while sitting in a jail cell fulfilling the punishment that society deems fit for their crime.

  16. Kathy, Diedre, and Susan,
    Something survivors and their families have known all along…it’s why so many cannot and will not come forward…they KNOW they will be shunned and ostracized…something you and your family are getting a small dose of when you decided to speak up. I am sorry you are experiencing the “loss” of what you thought you had. It reminds me of the poster that was on my high school religion class wall…”Stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone.” The irony of it all. You aren’t alone though…so many in the pews feel the same as you, they just may not have the strength or courage to say it.

    As far as forgiveness of abusive priests…my husband has forgiven the very sick man who abused him in a confessional years ago…the abusive bishops and cover up has been more difficult for me to forgive because it continues. Nothing surprises me about a retired archbishop suggesting forgiveness and a return to ministry for an absive priest…again, more about the priest than about the victims and the protection of children. Tht should be lightning bolt to every Catholic that NOTHING has changed for them. And where was the fraternal correction for that error in judgement?

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