Catholics4Change – One Year Later


This blog was born one year ago in the wake of the 2011 Grand Jury report on clergy sex abuse. So much has unfolded since then and yet so little has changed.

It started with my grief and anger and continues with the concerned and committed people who comment here and share my outrage.

More than two dozen priests were removed from ministry (their fates yet to be determined). These priests, despite undisclosed allegations and serious concerns, had been left in ministry by leadership until pressed by the District Attorney’s office. One of those priests was a life-long friend of my husband. He was my first boss at The Catholic Standard and Times. He also married us and baptized our children. This was the second blow to the family. The first came after a 2005 Grand Jury report revealed Father Peter Dunne, another family friend, had been a known pedophile to the Archdiocese since the 1960s. Yet, he was made chaplain of the Boy Scouts and director of Camp Neumann in the 70s.

But it’s not just personal. Almost every area Catholic I know has been impacted by this cover up. It’s soul crushing for all – especially the victims. Speaking with them about their abuse has taken me to dark places. The difference is I can leave and go back to “normal” life. They can’t. All I can do is shine a light on the truth.

Globally, the crisis took on epic proportions this past year. The Noble peace-prize-winning Amnesty International named the Vatican as a human rights abuser for its cover up of clergy sex abuse in its annual report. Hello, Catholics! Are we awake yet? No. Not yet.

Kathy Kane and I explained that our goal was to inform Catholics so we could all as a Church insist the Archdiocese fulfill the recommendations of the 2011 Grand Jury report. We asked, “What would Jesus do?”

Silence.

One year later, we are very much in the same place. My faith is now in God and the justice system. Based on all that I now know, I do not trust the hierarchy. They do not represent Jesus in any way. I struggle to define and live my Catholic faith without a religion.

On this anniversary, I ask C4C readers to pray for God’s grace to guide the upcoming trial. Pray for a reawakening of Catholic faith in action.

Here is my original post from one year ago.

My Lost Saints

by Susan Matthews

My son told me how much he enjoys Mass. I knew my little guy liked Bakugan, Star Wars and loud music, but Mass? Instead of being happy that Catholic school tuition isn’t wasted on him, I had a sinking feeling. It was then I realized how much I’ve lost in the wake of the continuing Catholic Church pedophile scandals. I had, as Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “lost my saints.”

When I was his age, the Catholic saints were my action heroes. Their brave lives and gory deaths fascinated and inspired me. They stood up for their beliefs against all odds. I’d even played Mass. My little brother and stuffed animals lined my makeshift pew as I read from the Bible. It didn’t occur to me that I’d never seen a woman priest.

After college, I took a job as an editor with The Catholic Standard and Times, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. This was during the 90s when so much of the abuse was being covered up. I had no idea at the time, but I had plenty of other concerns.

My boss, a priest with a doctorate in theology from the Vatican, explained the distinction between doctrine and tradition. Tradition with a capital T, he said. Also, celibacy for archdiocesan priests was a promise rather than a vow. While I respected his honesty and devout belief, the information tugged at me. For years, I wondered about confession, birth control, the role of women in the Church and the indictment of gays. Now I understood much of our practice of religion had nothing to do with actual doctrine or vows. Throughout history, evil, greed, sexism and bigotry shaped much of what now constitutes Catholic “T”radition. I still needed to believe the Church was holy and good. Who was I to question?

Then came the sickening discovery that a priest, who had taken my husband, his brothers and other boys on childhood camping trips, had been a pedophile, known as such to the archdiocesan administration for decades. While my husband and his brothers were unharmed, so many others were not so lucky.

The Church hierarchy, and now possibly even the Pope, have allowed a legacy of depression, suicide and depravity. I find that to be as evil, if not more so, than the priest pedophiles.

It is our God-given right and responsibility to question. In politics, I’ve always thought one shouldn’t complain unless participating in change. But this isn’t government. This is my soul. With whom do I register my complaint? Where do I vote? What do I do here and now if I want to actively take part in reforming my religion? Where are my saints?

It seems contradictory, but I will continue to send my children to Catholic schools. I have no doubt God is present in what they and Catholic charities accomplish. I’m friendly with several priests and two of my great aunts are Sisters of St. Joseph. I have tried to separate my faith from my religion, as my mother suggests. My father argues that Catholicism has endured centuries just fine.

But I find that lack of spiritual evolution unacceptable and I can’t sit in Church as if nothing is wrong. I’m by no means suggesting that other religions have it over Catholics. Having written for The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Living Religion section, I covered many faiths. Some people believe any organized religion becomes corrupt. Where does that leave society?

There’s a desperate need for faith and organized religion. Yet, church pews are emptier and fewer people are entering religious orders. Apathy, rather than reform, has taken hold. So much competes for our attention and, yes, sometimes we are lazy.

Instead of walking away from organized religion, we need to fix it. I just don’t know how. It’s not the sins of the past and present Church that concern me — it’s the Church of the future, or the lack there of. I want my children to experience the peace that comes with belief. I don’t want to rob them of their faith. The Church may do that soon enough.

My son deserves more. He deserves his saints — the ones I’ve lost.

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63 Responses to “Catholics4Change – One Year Later”

  1. Happy Birthday, Susan and Kathy. On the contrary, a lot has changed for the better this past year and you two are among the reasons why. Your children may have seen you move out of a comfort zone, but with each passing year, they will realize your moved into the Light and they will always respect and treasure that.

    You two have made a big and positive difference in the lives of many, few of whom you actually know other than as searching Catholics that we all are. The Church will be a better place for your children (and for each of you and your husbands) thanks to your courage and tenacity.

    Where would Philly Catholics be if all that confronted them were the Bevil Devils?

    Thank you for being there for all Catholics worldwide!

  2. I certainly want to strongly second Jerry’s comments and add a few.

    Susan, there may be another C4C somewhere, but I sure haven’t found it. What I think you have really done, is to provide a place for…and I am checking the ‘hits’ as I write this for 273,215 responses to the very issues you identify above!

    Who else has done that?

    More than that C4C is an open arena, sometimes a bit contentious, where folks can speak and learn or quietly just read along.

    C4Cs issues are profoundly serious, the protection of innocent children, from vile abuse….Jesus was very clear about that, and again….who else has opened that discussion up?

    You may not have, or ever get the immediate satisfaction of that earlier gentler and happier Church that we all loved. Rahner said that post Council church was entering a ‘winter’ period.
    But I sure hope you and Kathy take a lot of comfort in the knowledge that you have helped make that ‘winter’ an open season….with a lot of folks participating!

  3. Michael Skiendzielewski Reply February 29, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Let’s have a real big birthday party and contrary to the style of our Church leadership in the Philadelphia archdiocese, we’ll make it an inclusive event. We’ll be sure to send out invitations to our dear friends, Bishop Cullen and Bishop Cistone. I’m sure that they can’t wait to get back here in the City of Brotherly Love to celebrate with the faithful.
    Rumor has it that a Saginaw church attorney has been spotted in the downtown Philadelphia environs ! Wonder why ?

    • What I am wondering is why the faithful in Saginaw have not been heard from???

    • Cistone should have been removed temporarily from the Saginaw diocese… pronto, like yesterday, like last week when the story broke! The fact that he remains bishop there, today, follows the typical and unending pattern of the hierarchy to protect its own kind. Really, it’s shocking that he hasn’t been asked to step aside while his involvement is the shredding incident is explored and clarified.

      • Cistone is another in the seeming endless list of Priests that I am quite sure was considered “one of the good ones” by his parishioners. For once, can a Priest protect the innocent and not the guilty? I just read today, there is evidence he saw this “list” years ago (as C4C readers knew intuitively). How many of the Priests we have all known in our lifetimes…put our children in extreme danger by not reporting this garbage? My guess is the number eerily high.

      • This is the first press piece that I have seen on Cistone, he is represented by counsel, willing to come to PA, …his counsel notes that Judge Sarmina did not allow defenses motion which mentioned him…Jerry where are you?

        http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2012/02/philadelphia_priests_trial_sex.html

      • Joan,
        In reference to your article about Cistone. It says he does not think he did anything wrong……………if nobody did anything wrong …….Archbishop Bev., Riagali etc etc……………then how on Earth did we ended up with so many children that were sexaully abused……….it goggles my mind…………plenty of people did the wrong thing………we need to fix the system and help the survivors…………

  4. Dear Susan, your leader article was so in touch with the reality of all of us who struggle with you. At present, I am reading Bishop Robinson’s book “Love’s Urgent Longings” in which he too is looking for and longing for community, b/c he says “we are all in this together.” Your blog to me is like you and Kathy have lit a candle in the midst of all this present darkness. Thank you, on behalf of all on this blog, who, because of both you and Kathy, we have together accepted a challenge which would have perhaps been unthinkable a year ago. As Jerry said, “thanks to your courage and tenacity.”

  5. On this first anniversary of C4C, we must remember that while we have come a long way, critical work remains to ensure children are protected, victims are healed, and our Church rises from the ashes to be an institution worthy of humanity.

    Thank you Susan and Kathy for your commitment and hard work. Thank you to everyone in the C4C community. You are all excellent, wonderful and brilliant companions on this journey in search of truth, justice and reform. I am honored to be among you.

    • It is a great site for information, some venting, and hopefully… justice and change. I wish I have stumbled across it sooner.

  6. Your words are accurate, concise, brave, and correct. Thank you for your courage, and your honesty. What we have seen is the tip of the iceberg, there is much more that will be revealed. I would like to add two links here, to videos that you may find of interest. This young man, an art expert named Michael Calace, has a web site named Rape of the Soul. He has produced numerous videos that can be seen online for free. I believe he is onto something important. I hope you will watch these two videos; he has many more on the same topic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YXi565i-Jk and here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh12tEoGFXw&feature=related

  7. Thank you for shining a light. People across the country are paying close attention to what is happening in Philadelphia. Many of us have experienced the soul crushing grief and incredulity you describe. Wishing you peace and ongoing courage.

  8. I wish I had stumbled across this site earlier.

    Thank you Susan and Kathy!!! Happy Anniversary! C4C is not in the same place it was a year ago…there is a shift in the climate. One by one, parishioner by parishioner…change is happening.

    Thank you for your courage to create this space for all sides to share their perspectives.

  9. Once again it is two women who have demonstrated the courage, convictions and principles to risk ridicule, alienation and separation because both of them believed the must do something rather than nothing. You both have my respect and admiration for what you have done and accomplished rather than merely voice your complaints and criticisms. Would that we had priests like you, in fact we should!

  10. I pray that Catholics wake up and take their heads out of the sand and come to terms with the truth. You’ve done good girl – I’m proud of you 🙂

  11. Only one year ago?
    Haven’t you achieved so much, I was only think upon that when seeing how many comments have been recently posted.
    Your setting your children a great example whether you have considered this or not.
    To stand up for what is right without fear or favour.

  12. Just two nights ago I went back in the archives of C4C and in the process of searching for something or other, I wound up going back to.the very beginning few months of posts and accompanying comments. What struck me were the sense of betrayal, anger, and loss at the very beginning; the “finding our way and voice” that came with shared comments from survivors who helped keep or focus on the children and the abused, as well as comments from those with experience in legal matters, legislative process, and those who have been challenging the Church hierarchy for years on their handling of abuse.

    C4C has evolved into a focused forum… and I fully believe it is making a difference for survivors and children in the Philadelphia archdiocese and beyond.

    I call myself a struggling Catholic these days. I am so very grateful fir this forum, for those voices that I read after each post who feel like friends. I am grateful for this community… to paraphrase Jesus, Whenever you are gathered in My name…” Christ is with us, my friends. Let us continue to follow His call.

    Kathy and Susan, thank you for all that you do for the mission of C4C. May God bless you both.

  13. Maybe we all have been looking in the wrong places for saints. Probably sainthood has more to do with living life in the world in a moral, ethical way, a way in which the least among us is as respected as is the richest and most powerful. Probably sainthood has more to do with changing what we can change and learning the difference between what can be changed and what cannot be changed–do these words sound familiar???

    Susan, you and Kathy are walking the walk of what it is to be alive and aware in the world today. You admit that something is terribly wrong in the RCC and have given it to those of us who blog in response to your excellent prompts to say what is wrong. We have said that hunger for power and position is what is wrong, but none of us know how to fix it. We blog, and we blog, and we avoid what we know has to happen.

    Bishops need to be tried in civil courts, cardinals need to be tried in civil courts–and it may turn out that the pope himself needs to stand trial in civil courts…THE RCC IS NOT ABOVE THE LAW!! The smallest victim is more important than all of these great men. Please God this trial in Philadelphia will help to shed light on the terrible things the hierarchy of the RCC have done in the name of preserving their domain. May God help us all to be strong in this terrible time.

  14. In the midst of the corruption happening all around us, it has become difficult to pinpoint where the real holiness exists. Well, Susan and Kathy, this is one place where I believe it does. This is a place where victims can be heard, believed and valued and where everyone has a voice. Here, Jesus’ influence is visible. Here, healing, justice and protection of innocence is the priority, not the afterthought. Thank you for shining a light in the darkness.

  15. To think C4C is a year old and I have just now discovered it. I am glad to find a place where others are outraged and want to see change. I am from Kansas City and we have our current problems but I have been aware of the abuse going on in our diocese since the 70’s. It has slowing been coming out, but again, where is the outrage? How the Bishops can go off on contraception and religious liberty and totally look away from the elephant in the room. Thank you for giving us a place to vent.

  16. Susan and Kathy,470 folks have read this blog since I posted about 5 hours ago…And commenters are uniformly grateful…..

    Like Laura, I went back and read the postings for the first few months of C4C’s life. It was a tenuous start…I am pretty sure I found the blog, where Kathy first contacted Susan…Kathy had had the very good judgement to let some friends of hers know about C4C and you both agreed to meet…’offline’….We are glad you did!

    The number of comments those first few months were small, and the number of posts, likewise….but the gratitude for C4C’s existence was very similar to comments on today’s post.

    I want to end with a thought or two about the ‘quiet readers’….I often think about them when I comment…sometimes I go into more detail on a subject, hopefully for their sakes….(perhaps they would rather I didn’t?).

    I hope they feel very free to speak up if they wish.

    Happy Birthday, you brought forth a very acceptable and rapidly growing baby!

  17. I share your grief and your concerns.I too don’t know what to do,either.This sex abuse problem seems to be in every state and every country where there are catholics.Itis at epedemic levells and is ingrained in the catholic system.The corruption is very overwhelming.The pedophiles and the coverups appear to be in every diocese. Maybe we need to pray for the reincarnation of the catholic church.

  18. Has it been a year? I originally came on this site to see what be could done to change the heirarchy , the treatment of our survivors and to protect other children. Ironically this site has also changed me for the better which I had not planned on. What moved me the most was the stories of the survivors and their families. I admire the intelligent, thoughtful and compassonate people I have heard from on this site. I will even go a step further you all have been a Blessing. Thanks Kathy and Susan for caring enough about your “neighbor” to create this site. Peace.

  19. Sometimes as we grow older our saints become replacements for fairy tales. I was a “Cradle Catholic,” but no longer. Years ago, during the first years of the Charismatic Movement in the United States (the late 60’s) I had an experience which replaced my saints: I experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, I had a hunger for the Word of God and the Holy Spirit enriched my “Christian Experience,” rather than just “My Experience being Catholic.” Regarding prayer, I discovered the words of Jesus found in the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” I no longer needed any saint to intercede for me! I had my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

  20. Congratulations! Well done!!! You’re bringing change daily!.

  21. Susan and Kathy, I hate to say “happy 1st birthday” to C4C. It’s a shame that this type of forum even needs to exist, but I am so grateful that it does. You have given us the opportunity to have a gathering place to share information, our thoughts, feelings, our anger, our sadness and our hopes.

    Susan, in your original post, you wrote that you didn’t want to walk away from your religion, but you wanted to fix it but didn’t know how. Well, from where I sit, you have done a remarkable job at working on that fix. This forum has shone a light on what has happened. Feelings and emotions are expressed, but you provide the facts and information that is up to date and reliable. I sincerely appreciate that this isn’t just a forum for bashing.

    Change doesn’t happen overnight. This is a horrendously enormous crime that is taking a very long time to correct, but it is happening. Slow but sure. Prayers for Judge Sarmina – I think she was handpicked by God to help us work thru this scandal. So as you said, let’s put our faith and prayers in God and the civil system.

    Congratulations on a year of making a difference. Let’s hope by Year 2, we can look back and see that more change for the better has occurred.

  22. Susan and Kathy:

    I’ve been following your work from across the state in the Diocese of Pittsburgh since you began and never commented before. It’s time to say thank you. You are giving hope and support to victims of abuse by bringing their horrific suffering to light and giving concerned Catholics a means to join that hopeful and supportive effort. I have appreciated the comments of so many of your “regulars” at this site. You and they have become a remarkable instrument of change in just one year.

    Most importantly, each day all of you send a courageous and clear message to the current administration of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, to every diocesan administration in the U. S. and to their leaders at the USCCB that the abuse of children and young people and the deliberate, calculated cover-up of that abuse is a crime which will never again be tolerated, excused or ignored.

    Clerical arrogance, obfuscation and the construction of issues cleverly designed to divert attention from this scandal have become useless tools in the hands of hapless criminals intent on saving themselves and their culture.

    Change comes slowly but when informed and courageous Catholics like all of you get to work, change does happen.

    Well done, Indeed.

    Judith

  23. DearSusan and Kathy, how can we ever thank you enough for this wonderful site. C4C is a masterful development, what John Henry Newman would have called the “Infallability of the Laity”. One can understand that the present day ecclesiastical structure would follow the thought of St.Paul and we would hear “women should not speak in the gatherings”. You have given so many people a real voice to express their pain, their anger and their grief on this issue. A few days ago on your blog I was told by someone that I should be ashamed at what I had written. I can say that I am truly ashamed. Ashamed that it took me so long to rreally speak out, Ashamed that as a priest, I had kept silent so long. Ashamed at hierarchs who lie, deceive and cover up abuse and have allowed so many wondeerful people to be harmed in this horrendous scandal I am ashamed of a Pope who relies on cardinals”birds of a feather” to advise him and really refuses to listen to victims, always afraid that there maybe some legal ramifications. Today’s readings of the liturgy present Jonah , a very cynical prophet who does not want Nineveh to repent. Jesus is more than the prophet Jonah and he challenges his hearers, the religious of his time to change their hearts and minds.

    As one more prophetic witness to our time, may I say, beware you hearers and religious authorities, the temple is coming down.

    • Father, with all due respect to your priesthood, I once again state that you should be ashamed of your comments.

      It’s not up to you to critcize your brother priests, the bishops, let alone the Pope himself. How do you know that the Pope refuses to speak with victims? Do you have an inside track to the Sistine Chapel?

      Have you forgotten about your ‘promitto’??

      Prophetic Witness to the ‘temple coming down’? I really doubt it.

      • What does it have to do with his priesthood to call out his brothers who are in sin? Who made up the ridiculous little “rule” that you can’t tell the truth about your brothers and superiors even when they are committing crimes?

        So, it’s ok for everyone else to hold the hierarchy accountable, but not the hierarchy itself? Joe B., how does that help the priesthood if everyone on the “inside” lies and covers for each other? Your comments to pressure a priest to remain silent reminds me of the priests who told their victims to say nothing. yuck.

      • survivors wife, I thought the exact same thing. A priest is not allowed to have an opinion? Especially when the thoughts are concerning crimes against children and cover up. The silence,the obedience,the brotherhood is what has contributed to this problem.
        Let’s call out the judge for a comment, let’s tell a priest to be ashamed for voicing his thoughts ,but on the evidence from the Church of shredding of documents…no comments about that from Joe B or others.

      • Spiritual Works of Mercy

        Admonish the sinner
        Comfort the afflicted
        Instruct the uninformed

        Which of these has Father W.not done? The last thing my husband’s offender (not a priest)said to me was “don’t tell anyone’…….that was the last thing he said to me before he went to jail. SW you are so right.

      • Father – last comment (I promise)

        Promittis mihi et successoribus meis reverentiam et oboedientiam?

        Electus:

        Promitto.

      • joe, in the language of my kids…’give it a rest’

      • For real Joe? Obedience in the face of crime,rape of children? There you go -that was half the problem right there.
        I had a conversation with a priest a few months ago about people who blindly follow clergy . The priest said the clergy refers to them “priest collectors” I have always referred to them as “priest groupies” .
        Carpe diem Jerry,Joan and SW.

      • “Reprimand publicly those who do sin, so that the rest also will be afraid. I charge you before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels to keep these rules without prejudice, doing nothing out of favoritism. First Timothy 4 20-21 stated to the first priests………I didn’t say it……………

    • Last comment, Joe B, I promise. Anathema Sit!

  24. Very nicely put, Susan. You and Kathy have done a great service with this site. You said there has been silence. But not from you and many like you who have faith, but also have questions that demand answers. I was told a year ago from my parish, Lynn’s parish, that no one cared anymore about this situation, that I must move on. I know I have mentioned it before here. It was one of the meanest things anyone has ever said to me. This blog, and what has happened over the past year is proof positive that people do care about this horrible issue. People do care about kids, all of our kids. And they care very much about the crushed souls who have been most effected, the victims. Congrats to you both on doing something, in a situation where many of us felt/feel powerless. This site has given a voice to many who otherwise wouldn’t have one.

  25. I first discovered C4C around this time last year; and begin each day reading, learning, and becoming more enlightened. Thank you Susan and Kathy for your courage and tenacity. Thank you for allowing me to voice my concerns, hurt, disappointment and hope. Thank you for helping me to realize that God is everywhere. Thank you for freeing me from the fear of burning in hell if I miss mass on Sunday, while allowing me to see that God works through me. How I act, what I do, what I say, and how I say it are paramount to fulfilling the message of Jesus when He said “Do unto others….”. My life is forever changed. At first, it terrified me; because I have always known but refused to accept the truth about my church. Now, I am almost through the year-long grieving process, and am emerging into calm acceptance. I have not lost my saints. Rather, I feel them with me now more than ever. They walk among us…………….

    Susan and Kathy, Jesus is working through you to finally help all of the victims, past and present, to have a voice that will not be silenced! The “false prophets” will not be hiding behind their robes forever. God bless you.

    Donna

  26. Eve McFarland, LCSW Reply February 29, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Thankyou Susan! I appreciate your heartfelt, well conceived, well written efforts. Just found out you are Chris Mathews niece. I believe sincere, honest and well done reporting runs in the family! You are finding in the Catholic leadership and some followers, just what I have found here in Eastern Oregon…denial and disbelief that the abuse and its coverup are soul killing. I read that now Cardinal Dolan called it “that’s just life.” We have a lot of work to do if that is their belief. Thankyou again for your emails. As a nearly 80 year old social worker, my experience tells me your effort will pay off in the long run. Change seems glacial but it DOES happen. Eve

  27. So where to begin. A year ago at this time,I sat in my house furious,betrayed, so many emotions but where to channel the anger,where would my voice be heard? Shortly after the Grand Jury report an apology was issued in the Catholic Standard and Times -it was my tipping point. It was an apology with a “But”, the worst kind of apology. More children had been harmed, priests left in ministry that put children at risk. Please ,no more apologies,no more “praying for the evil that has occurred” -no more empty words. That might placate some people -not me. I had read the “apology” a few days before and for some reason googled it to read one more time -but this time the first thing that popped up on the search was catholics4change. Susan had included the ‘apology” in her links in her post entitled. “Don’t Apologize for Me” I read her few posts that were on the site at that time including “My Lost Saints” and knew I had found my home .
    “People find each other,they just do”. These words spoken to me by a pediatrician when my children were young and just starting school and I had the typical worries all Moms have about their children making friends,finding a comfortable group to fit in. “People find each other” so true about my experiences over the past year. I found Susan, and then over the course of a few weeks found so many more local people sharing the same outrage. Then as the site grew, found so many more people from all over the US and other countries sharing the same anger, betrayal and profound sadness about what had happened to children.
    We have had so many experiences over the past year,so much of our involvement taking place off site. Attending meetings, vigils, communicating with people in private emails. So many people,so much pain.
    We have been called just about every name in the book. Priest haters,anti catholic -we have seen it all. Some in online comments in newspaper articles we were featured. My children have read some of those comments. Go ahead -it won’t stop me. If being anti catholic is standing up for children and refusing to be silent -then guilty as charged.
    I think of all the people we have met, so many people’s life experience bringing them together. Even in the midst of tragedy and pain,the gift of meeting so many good people. Last March I attended my first vigil. I went as an angry,betrayed Catholic and left an advocate for victims and children.
    I recently attended a Mass where the priest spoke to the kids about their Mothers. He said in scriptures, Jesus was the authority simply because of who he was. He said the same is true of their Mothers. He told the children “She does what she does, and says what she says, because she is who she is”. That is all that Susan and I have ever claimed to be, two mothers who said ‘enough ” “no more”. No more children harmed,no more children put at risk.
    In the beginning we tried to engage the Archdiocese,maybe we could help bring about change. No seat at the table for us, no input wanted . Somehow for all the efforts we have made for child protection and our work with victims, we remain persona non grata. At this point I would rather be on the outside because that is where truth, justice, mercy and compassion still has a chance.

  28. Dear Kathy, a heartfelt and realistic response. You LAST sentence says it all.

  29. Susan and Kathy, you will never know the identity of your readers, how they have been changed by this “place,” and how those changes stimulated actions that made differences, big and small.

    I appreciate you starting this site. You do a remarkable job of facilitating an open dialogue. You manage boundaries (with a light hand), keep us focused on the children and now adult children, and encourage respect in our conversations.

    When they call you names, hear Thomas Merton’s words:

    “Do not depend on the hope of results … you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself … you gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people… In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.” Thomas Merton

    Struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people… personal relationship saves everything.

    Susan said: “My faith is now in God and the justice system. Based on all that I now know, I do not trust the hierarchy. They do not represent Jesus in any way. I struggle to define and live my Catholic faith without a religion.”

    On a personal note, you have given me a place to connect with fellow Catholics that does not exist for me anywhere else. I am grateful to all who bring themselves to this site. I now have this place for support to help me figure out how to live my Catholic faith. If only I had a place to go to Mass, as I write these words, I physically feel my heart ache. I cannot convey the severity of this loss; few would understand.

  30. Dear Martin, hope this quote from Thomas Merton’s “Thought in Solitude” may speak to your pain. “I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and, the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But, I believe the desire to please you does in fact please you. And, I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And, I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, i will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost, and, in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and, you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

    • Two Merton folks, why does this not surprise me? On C4C…..it just makes sense.

      Consider me a third….no quote though….when I get really discouraged with the Church or whatever, besides prayer…I go to back to Merton…have been known to read my way right through him chronologically…when things are particularly unpleasant.

    • Wow, how comforting……….

      • I’d like to revisit the Merton issue for a bit.
        Kathy shares her journey on C4C, with the story of C4C and some attendant pain, Martin quotes a lovely Merton passage for Kathy, and expresses some deep personal pain of his own.

        Theresa quotes Merton , in yet another Merton passage, to comfort, Martin.

        So why Merton, why now?

        Thomas Merton is probably the most consequential Catholic in the twentieth century, a Trappist monk, and mystic who wrote about his relationship with God, in detail, in depth and in volume!

        His first book, Seven Story Mountain, was published in 1958, about 5 years before Vatican 2. And it was an exciting time for the Church with a huge amount of potential.

        Fast Forward to 2012. We still have Merton’s works, and others who have followed the same path, including Richard Rohr, a modern day Merton, with a thoroughly pragmatic streak!

        It however, is not a happy time in a beleaguered Church. And yet for folks on C4C, Merton is being quoted.

        I think we need these men, especially now when institutional church has behaved so horribly. Thats why Merton, why now?

  31. Oops, sorry Seven Story Mountain was published in 1948.

  32. Dear Joan,
    You have great taste in contemplative writers, as well as Richard Rohr. Recommending a book I just finished entitled “Love’s Urgent Longings” by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson from Australia, who, by the way is speaking at Chestnut Hill College on Sun. March 11 at 1 PM in the East Parlor supported by VOTF. Hope to see you and other members of C4C there.

    • Theresa, I’d love to be there but it is geographically impossible, I will get his book. (Any Merton fan’s recommendation ranks high in my view)!

      A word about Richard Rohr. A few months ago, I spent the weekend listening to him, on the topic of his new book, Falling Upward,… Which is available for purchase, not only through Amazon , but in our parish office, as our pastor is a Rohr fan too. Many priests, I know, are.

      I had found C4C and thought it very important as I was really concerned about abuse and the ways victims had been treated by institutional church. But the victims and survivors stories were making me very angry…and I was concerned about the anger.

      I talked to Rohr about it at a break….he said it was a good thing that I recognized the anger…and suggested two things, one that I stay with the social justice issue, and two, pray more!

      just a thought….Joan

  33. Dear Joan and Beth, Thanks for the recommendation of Prayer. Love this quote > “Prayer doesn’t change things; it changes people, and people change things!”
    (also why Rohr wants you to stick with social justice!)

    • Why has C4C grown exponentially in a year?

      My best guess is, that C4C fills a huge need in a huge void, on behalf of both victims, and survivors. And, in a somewhat restrained fashion, points out the institutional Church behaviour that so desperately needs to be ‘fixed’. It also offers a place for folks to comment on these issues…that has been sadly lacking!

      Susan and Kathy, deserve a lot of credit. But so do the folks who both comment and just read this blog.

      This is a subject that could so easily devolve into ‘bashing’ …..

      And yet, it hasn’t.

      I credit the Holy Spirit, and the the folks who comment with a commitment to ‘facts’..and an enormous concern for the protection of innocent children.

      And I thank them for it.

  34. Joan, I absolutely agree. We provided the forum – everyone’s comments, links, thoughts, and most importantly input from survivors and their family members, made C4C what it is today. I often think of the line from Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come”

    • Kathy, you and Susan did more than ‘just provide the forum’ you kept us honest, when emotions overwhelmed judgement. And that is no small accomplishment!

  35. Write/right on Joan! Your comment above to Kathy is spot on!

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