Nothing Will Change Until Cover Up Bishops Face Consequences

Click here to read: “Pope, prelates must punish sex offenders,” column by Elizabeth Eisenstadt-Evans, Lancaster Online, Jan. 23, 2014


While secular authorities have moved to punish offenders, Catholic church higher-ups haven’t moved to impose consequences on its own members, according to Susan Matthews, founder  of Catholics4Change a hub for conversation about reform.

“So far there hasn’t been a pope or someone within the hierarchy that has … called out the bishops in any way,” she said. “There is no accountability within the church.”

She’s hopeful that Francis can show the Catholic church is still relevant to young people taken aback by “do what I say, not what I do” hypocrisy, Matthews said. At the same time, there can’t possibly be a long-term solution to problems within the denomination “until the truth is exposed and accepted, there is accountability … and bishops are removed.”

26 thoughts on “Nothing Will Change Until Cover Up Bishops Face Consequences

  1. You really hit the nail on the head, Susan, when you refer to the practice of “do what I say, not what I do. ” Ever since all of the horrors of this scandal became known to me, I have found it next to impossible to take anything seriously that a member of the clergy preaches. Even if there are particular clerics who might truly “walk the walk”, how do I know anymore which ones they are? Their words just don’t have any legitimacy to me anymore. Broken trust is hard to get back, especially when they’re not really trying very hard to get it back.

  2. I totally agree that accountability is needed to solve these problems. Unfortunately our model of governance is the monarchy (from time to time, we still refer to bishops as “princes”! This is far from Jesus’ view but we are human.

    In human society we have seen separation of powers – legislative, executive and judicial– as a systemic way to create an accountable system. In our Church, so far, we have seen little willingness to consider a systematic change. Our only other model is the voice of the prophet, calling the priestly group to account. Voices like this, and deep prayer, are what we need.

  3. “Nothing will change until cover up bishops face consequences.” But, more importantly, cover up bishops will not face consequences until the entrenched culture of the priesthood is transformed. Literally, it is the culture of the priesthood that arrests the removal of, or the imposing of consequences on, cover up bishops. Both are utterly antithetical to the clerical culture.

    We can whine ad nauseam about, say, Finn. But no amount of reason, begging, praying, and pleading will get Finn punished or removed. We are talking about a dangerous and bizarre brand of loyalty that altogether supersedes reason and justice. The fact that cover up Bishops have not been removed simply defies organizational best-practices and reason. Yet, for clerics, they do not flinch. The loyalty is Other.

    How can we change this irrational and immoral Other? I think that is the question.

    1. Kate, how do we change this irrational and immoral Other when all of their rules and training and changes are from within their own dysfunctional culture? Everyone outside of the clerical culture has little to no authority when it comes to shifting this culture. There is influence, pressure from courts and vocal laity, but ultimately, all formation of this culture is determined by it’s own.

      They don’t need to flinch because they know they are untouchable. No one can make them do anything they don’t want to do. Who would be attracted to and stay in this culture except immature, emotionally/socially/sexually stunted men?

      Who is Susan to say a bishop needs to be punished? Who is my husband to say it (different media source)? Why should anyone believe a victim or someone advocating for change? No offense meant to you Susan…it’s just that you land with hundreds of victims and advocates who have beat this drum for over 20 years. What’s the end goal? To get these men to police/punish their own? They don’t have to. They make their own rules and the only way those rules will change is if they want them to. It won’t be because a victim said it, or an advocate demanded it, or the laity leave in a mass exodus (Ireland).

      Hierarchs don’t blink an eye unless they are humiliated in the media or hit in the wallet.

      Kate, how do you propose that change happens when all decisions are insulated by the clerical culture itself?

      1. Survivor’s wife,

        Corrupt and dysfunctional cultures are largely invisible to those inside them. Therefore, members of sick cultures must be brought to awareness and recognition. Interestingly, however, this is not the case with the priesthood and the clerical culture. Clerics are fully aware of their culture of privilege and how, under religious and theological pretenses and protections, they are free to control, manipulate, and exploit human beings, laws, and society. Indeed, they flaunt their unconscionable powers. Catholic clerics have operated accordingly for centuries. The culture is the most ingrained one on the face of the earth. The faithful faithfully foot the culture’s humongous bill. The result is a Kingdom of Untouchables in Persona Christi. The “Persona Christi” part shields clerics from the disgust resulting from modern minds and consciences.

        No money, no culture. That’s the bottom-line truth of it. But the reality, and clerics know this best, is that as long as they are perceived by the faithful as integral to salvation, the money will come. The clerical con game is utterly despicable but unquestionably here to stay.

        Clerics cannot and will not change their culture. Working with it or stepping into it with the intent to change it is impossible. Advocating against it is useless. But draining an already stressed institution of candidates is possible if a concerted effort were made to reach men considering the priesthood, and their families, with secular knowledge, information, and counseling pertaining to the truth of the priesthood and its culture.

        On this cite we speak a lot about “grooming” as it pertains to sexual abuse. In the clerical culture there is another kind of grooming that goes on between clerics and men considering the priesthood and often their families. It is formidable, powerful, and intoxicating. It is also extremely insular, private, one-sided, cultish, and secretive. Trained clerical groomers promise vulnerable candidates everything from love, to an identity, to positions of prestige, to a supportive and loyal community, to travel, to education, and to material things– they promise the clerical culture! It is nothing short of brainwashing and everything short of the truth. There is nothing in place to counteract it. Nothing. Candidates fall into the arms of it and their families exude delight.

        A healthy and informed man would not enter the priesthood considering its culture. A healthy and informed family would not support a male family member entering the priesthood considering its culture. There should be a well orchestrated, secular, global effort to promote the health and inform the minds of candidates and their families. A secular “intervention” of sorts intended to counteract the clerical grooming of vulnerable candidates and their families.

        The draining of candidates to the priesthood would either lead to its deserved demise or a re-articulation of its culture.

        1. Kate, I just read this to my husband….a former seminarian.

          “Brilliant! Completely on target!”

          I will add…Amen!

        2. Kate, as a survivor, your post, the words you so beautifully expressed is the most honest explaination regarding the crimes of the catholic church. This level of truth touched me deeply. I derive such comfort when I see or in this case read how someone like yourself “gets it” on this deep level. What wisdom! I have been saying this for a long time on these posts, that nothing will change because the culture will never change. I expect nothing from this institution, in that, I have found a level of peace.

          1. Vicky,

            …”nothing will change because the culture will never change. I expect nothing from this institution…”

            You’re right Vicky. It has been well over a decade since the scandal broke in Boston, and all you have to do is go to
            and there’s another case of abuse almost daily.

            Catholic culture has not changed enough for the average Catholic to stop deferring to immoral bishops and priests. It’s still “yes Father, no Father,” when it should be “#$%^ you Father!”

            What do the clerics have to offer the Lay People of God when it comes to living a moral life? They have nothing to offer. Stay away from them, and certainly keep your children away from them!

            I expect nothing but more abuse from the institution, and subterfuge from their lawyers and PR people. Collectively they’re worthless.

          2. Vicky,

            Regarding clericalism, “it takes two to tango.” There would be no “dance” were it not for the laity and their infantile attitudes, beliefs, psycho-emotional needs, theological ignorances, and money.

            While the clerical culture may never change, we can force it further and further into oblivion by learning to recognize it, by refusing to fuel and engage in it, by confronting the theology and the sacramental nature of the faith that support it, by incarcerating clerics for crimes resulting from their culture, and by advocating for a democratic Church inclusive of women.

            I agree that there is a level of peace in expecting nothing from the institutional priesthood. But I will be the first to admit that my passions get the best of me and my equilibrium is upset by a laity that, time after time, disappoints me.

            I’m so happy to have heard from you, Vicky. Thank you.

          3. The reason the laity upsets me is because they are adults, parents, nurses, accountants, social workers, teachers, financial analysts, lawyers… Their lives, educations, occupations, and experiences naturally present to them knowledge, information, best practices, and so on. They conduct all of the facets of their lives based on reason and what they know to be true. Were their work places, financial institutions, schools, organizations, governments, etc., to have cultures of sickness, it would provoke outrage in them. Yet they sleep through the culture of clericalism. How a typically rational and informed person can compartmentalize a sick culture and sedate himself or herself to it is beyond my comprehension.

          4. Vicky: In an earlier posting, I asked Kathy Kane about her expectations three years ago versus her expectations today. To paraphrase, she stated that when she started on this blog with Susan her expectations were that the Church would change simply because it was the right thing to do., the morally just thing.She no longer has those expectations. I would suppose many of us shared those earlier expectations. We were raised in a Church and school that taught us daily about living to a higher moral standard. What we have learned is that some of those who taught us were not living to that standard themselves.It is difficult, even for those of us who were abused to accept that scenario. But of course you are right. There have been changes since the crisis gained national attention from the crisis in Boston and then here in Philadelphia. But those changes have all come about because of pressure from outside the Church.Media pressure, court pressure, some pressure from victims and their supporters but nothing from inside the Church. I believe you are correct. Waiting for the Catholic Church to change from within is a useless waste of time and energy.The culture is simply not capable of it. It is too busy protecting its ass setts .

        3. “Clerics are fully aware of their culture of privilege and how, under religious and theological pretenses and protections, they are free to control, manipulate, and exploit human beings, laws, and society. Indeed, they flaunt their unconscionable powers” (Kate).

          Indoctrination is extremely powerful in molding the human mind. As a result, the clerics hold all the cards. Try deprogramming a billion people. It took me years to just deprogram myself.

          1. Dr. Who, thank you for your response to my blog. I have found a level of peace in the realization that this church will not change, I too, had hope when I first approached the church in 1993. It was becoming abusive when I would hear from Fr. Lynn that my concerns and needs were moving forward when in fact they were not. The constant disappointments and lies were impacting me deeply. I felt that the church just wanted me to go away. I so loved the church at one time. I was very involved on almost every level. It has taken me years in therapy to “deprogram myself” and finally face the truth and not my illusions. It has been a painful journey but in the end I was truly blessed. I found my spiritual center and my oneness with God.

  4. I can start of by saying Pope Francis should accept the resignation of Francis Cardinal George of Chicago right now and give the Archdiocese of Chicago a new Archbishop. Cardinal George turned 75 three years ago and by Church law was required to give a letter of resignation. The Pope must can accept it when ever he wants. In Los Angeles and Boston things have improved for the better. We need to keep the pressure up.

  5. They bring them into the world and abandon them, they steal them from their mothers and traffic them and they abuse them, where would you like them to start?
    It’s a little like Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory.

  6. Pope John Paul II made a huge mistake by not forcing Cardinal Law to stay in Boston and face the music. It looked just awful for the Church.

    1. That’s our Saint folks! Makes one proud to be a Catholic right, right? Please tell me I’m right; it’s God’s Will because the Church tells me it’s so, infallable in matters of faith and morals, right?

  7. Jesus attempted to challenge the temple hierarchy and the priesthood of his day. They were colluding with Rome to keep the “masses” quiet and in control. These religious leaders were “robbing” the people by selling them animals to be sacrificed in the temple to placate the God whose name no one would utter. It was a sacrilege to speak “The Name”.
    Jesus confronted the hypocrisy as the prophets of old. “it is a change of heart not sacrifices” the prophets of old had spoken.
    Jesus understood their meaning and he challenged the hierarchy at any opportunity he was given. He did not change their hearts nor their actions. It took the Roman Army in 70 AD to come and destroy the temple and their hierarchy and their priesthood. Never again would sacrifice be offered in the temple and High Priest and priesthood were disbanded.
    Jesus Died, not for the “sins of the people” nor as a victim of reconciliation for “sin”. He died because he challenged the injustice of the hierarchy and because he made the temple officials afraid that he might raise an insurrection against Rome. “He makes himself a king” as the authorities told Pilate, the procurator. Jesus died as an insurrectionist.

    The wonderful people on this site are truly acting in the name of the “prophetical Jesus”. All they can do is to challenge and charge the evil which has been allowed to “tear down this temple” of the church. There is such an evil here in the collusion and lying that most of the political deviances of politicians pale before the atrocity that has been covered up in this institution.
    Change the Church?? I doubt that this will happen in our day. Remember the Reformation of the 1500s. Significant challenges by some intelligent people and sincere believers yet they also were “burned” and tortured to “protect the institution and the “God of Love”.
    I love Pope Francis but we can only hope that even his presence will have some power. But powers always wait until the “turbulence blows over” and then they come out of their holes to gain control once again.

    1. Yes, Reverend John, and it bothers me now when our leaders invoke Jesus’ name as if in representation of him. I, too, believe he’d be challenging this hierarchy were he walking our Earth today, not supporting the actions of their leadership.

Leave a Reply to Survivor's wife Cancel reply