by Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) Chair
Pope Benedict has been called many things in his six year tenure as the Supreme Pontiff but not until yesterday had he been called a Yenta.
Archbishop Charles Chaput chose the imagery of an arranged marriage with Pope Benedict as the matchmaker to describe his view of his new position. (link to the complete text of the homily http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/)
There was laughter in the cathedral when the Archbishop made this reference. Maybe it played better in the cathedral but we find the choice of words poor if not disturbing.
It seemed insensitive at the very least to use a marriage metaphor as a homily context at this installation when the overriding issue in Philadelphia is the latest Grand Jury report, the pending court cases, the “if” of the testimony of Cardinal Bevilacqua, the wonder about reinstatement of priests who were removed by Cardinal Rigali after the Grand Jury report revealed 31 remained in ministry in violation of the Dallas Charter principle of zero tolerance.
Insensitive because of the mounds of heartache, pain and sorrow that has lived in and ruined marriages of sexual abuse victims raped and sodomized by priests and nuns. Spouses, children, in-laws and any manner of extended families suffered and continue to suffer in tandem with the pain of the survivors. Marriages entered into in love were and are twisted and strangled by the tentacles of molestation.
So rarely is marriage spoken of in a homily context it adds to the oddity of the choice of this imagery in the installation ceremony of a scarred and hurting diocese.
We call our readers attention to the tight tie of bishop to pope that Archbishop Chaput drew in using this imagery. Without the action of Pope Benedict Archbishop Chaput would still be in Denver. He’ll give a required report of his “arranged marriage” to the matchmaker (or his successor) on regularly scheduled ad limia visits to Rome. The other partner in the “marriage” will not be invited. Bishops are hardly autonomous or independent from Rome. We ask our readers to keep that image in mind when the dissembling begins in legal action and Rome knows the “locals” not.
Archbishop Chaput did not speak directly of the sexual abuse crisis in his homily but he did say” This Church in Philadelphia faces very serious challenges these days. There’s no quick fix to problems that are so difficult, and none of us here today, except the Lord Himself, is a miracle worker. But it’s important to remember and to believe the Church is not defined by her failures. And you and I are not defined by our critics or by those who dislike us.”
We hope Archbishop Chaput knows the same holds true for victims of sexual abuse: they are not defined by their critics nor those who dislike them.
As forced love is an oxymoron, love by arrangement seems a cold beginning indeed.
Contact: Kristine Ward, 9347-272-0308, KristineWard@hotmail.co