U.S. Bishops: Not Shaken, Nor Stirred

By Kathy Kane

It had been a long day of travel, prayer and protest for the Mom Squad from the Philadelphia Archdiocese. A stroke of good luck had enabled us to book the very last room available at the pricey Marriott Waterfront where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was being held.  Accumulated travel points covered our one-night stay, a rate so high it would have cost the average Catholic a few months of donation basket envelopes. A very nice hotel employee upgraded us. This gave us access to the 31st floor concierge lounge where free food was available along with beautiful views of the Baltimore harbor and skyline. Somehow, on a shoe string budget we managed to live like Bishops for a night.

The first person I recognized when we walked through the Marriott lobby bar on Tuesday night was Bishop John Mcintyre, an auxiliary bishop from Philadelphia. 

We hadn’t been sure we would see any clergy during our stay. A church insider told me that most clergy would be laying low, at least for optics sake. That made sense due to the prior day’s news that depicted a hierarchy reeling from the Vatican directive to delay reform along with the eyes of the world watching in the wake of the McCarrick case, PA grand jury report and PA federal investigation. 

Instead, the atmosphere was what you might expect at any corporate convention. Priests and bishops circulated throughout the public areas of the hotel as well as the lay employees with their USCCCB lanyards.  Everyone looked healthy and not too malnourished from all the fasting. All seemed to hold their liquor well too despite that drinking on an empty stomach can be a disaster.

There were clergy in the concierge lounge, some grabbing a bite to eat, others enjoying a glass of wine or evening cocktail.  One Bishop with a booming voice and swagger of a CEO, talked loudly on his cell phone.  At the dessert table a lay employee took it upon herself to loudly identify each dessert to a bishop, treating him like a helpless man child.   

A Study In Contrasts

There were clergy in the main lobby throughout the day, talking and enjoying each other’s company. In contrast, protestors came in from the cold whipping winds of the waterfront to warm up for a minute or use the bathroom. Security was polite but ever present. Protest signs were forbidden and the Mom Squad had to conceal them or risk those losing their stay and accumulated travel points.

Tuesday, Theresa and Beth attended an event where they heard a survivor named James speak. He had been abused by the former Cardinal McCarrick. 

I connected with Father Chris Walsh, who came to Baltimore with a busload of parishioners and friends. This energetic crowd was interviewed by local Philly press outside of the hotel. They were passionate about children and the Church. Bob Hoatson of Road from Recovery was also out in front of the hotel on Tuesday. His calm presence and friendly demeanor was the opposite of the indifferent vibe inside.

Our Mom Squad had deep conversations throughout the day and into the evening.  We asked each other, Do they believe what they preach? How can one believe and at the same time have allowed such crimes and cover up? Do they fear death or a final judgment? Why don’t the ones not involved in crime or cover up speak up louder and tear down the wall of clericalism? What if the ultimate “fraternal correction” awaits them all in the afterlife – where there are no teams of attorneys at their beck and call. 

We struggled through conversations about our devout parents and disillusioned kids, trying to makes sense of how we ended up at this corporate convention of Christ protesting a hierarchy that allowed and covered up crimes against children, crimes against humanity. None of us would have predicted as Catholic kids that we would be here at this moment.

What happens when a bishop and three moms walk into a bar….

By the time we went to the lobby bar Tuesday night we had solved the Church’s problems 10 times over in our conversations. That’s when I saw Bishop McIntrye sitting nearby with a group of clergy. I signaled to our waiter and asked him what the man a few feet away in the blue sweater was drinking. “Cointreau on the rocks.” The Mom Squad immediately nicknamed the group “Top-Shelf Bishops.” I sent Bishop Mcintyre a drink compliments of Catholics4Change but somehow that message was bungled by the waiter so we changed it to sent from “Moms from Philly” and that got his attention. 

He came over and I introduced myself as did the other members of the Mom Squad. I told Bishop Mcintyre it was nice to meet him but that I was disappointed that emails to him in the past had gone unanswered. This is not an issue isolated to Bishop Mcintyre, the hierarchy simply ignores whatever mails they don’t want to answer.  Actually, at this point even the Archdiocesan staff ignores C4C emails.  I told him maybe now that we have met in person and I bought him a drink, it would ring a bell if I emailed him in the future. He thanked us for the drink and made an exit.

That night as the Mom Squad bunked together in our accumulated travel points hotel room, we talked in the darkness into the night. Theresa said, “I always think of the survivors.”  We agreed and added the families of victims who have have died are always on our minds. Beth spoke of how the abuse took so much from so many, so often leaving someone abused and without the faith that many lean on in crisis, because the leaders of their faith actually caused the crisis.

The next morning Theresa departed early, Beth and I took a walk outside and found Siobhan O’Connor and her friend down by the waterfront standing in the cold with signs in hand. Siobhan is the whistleblower lay employee from Buffalo who recently appeared on 60 minutes. The irony of the person who protected children being relegated to the sidewalk is a story repeated over and over in every Diocese, this time at a national conference.  How is it that victims, survivors, and advocates are the “outsiders”? Siobhan is a truly lovely woman with a heart as big as her conscience.

The Mom Squad lives on in a group text as we have kept in contact to sort out our feelings about the trip. Before she left Baltimore, Theresa drove by a Church where many years ago a relative had been the pastor. She texted that she was in tears as she headed toward I95. She was thinking about the hardship and sacrifice of those who brought the Catholic faith to the U.S and how it has been destroyed by the leadership in the past few decades. Beth texted that she went to adoration to talk to Jesus and told Him that she found saints outside the hotel at bishops’ conference. 

You never know going into a trip like this what each person’s takeaway will be. For me, the one thing I am sure of, is that the next time I need to email the hierarchy in Philadelphia, the subject line will read “Cointreau on the rocks.” Nothing else has gotten their attention.

Maybe cocktail diplomacy is the way to go.

27 thoughts on “U.S. Bishops: Not Shaken, Nor Stirred

  1. September 26, 2019

    Put that date in your calendar, it is the 75th birthday of Charles Chaput. Maybe, just maybe, we could ring the Liberty Bell on that day along with all the church bells in the city, starting with those he closed.

    I have been wondering about the wisdom of starting an online group to nominate successors. After a lifetime of bureaucrats, politicians, doctors of the law, and culture warriors, Philadelphia desperately needs a pastor.

    Martin Leahy

    1. DON’T WAIT THAT LONG! The Women’s March will be protesting in Philadelphia again January 19, 2019. BEFORE THE MEETING WITH THE POPE! I went last year with my two signs – The photo of Brave Girl with the caption “I am NOT worse than a pedophile simply because I am female!” & “the PA Bishops blatantly lied about anti-pedophile PA Bill 1947. Both public and private entities could be sued.” I stood on the pathway to the speeches right outside the cathedral. I will either return this year or see if the trip to Washington would include a diversion to the papal nuncio or the USCCB

  2. How did you hear about the function you went to? I was asking for days before I went down and didn’t hear of any. My experience was to be treated as vermin to be removed at the hotel.

  3. Thank you, Kathy Kane, for your writing and thank you for communicating your inner strength. Your strength appears to allow you to choose to overcome obstacles and come back stronger. You appear to have the ability to stand up for what is right and the will power to resist whatever pressure may be put on you. What I appreciate about you is your ability to assert yourself. I appreciate your self-confidence and what appears to be your enormous will power. You appear extraordinarily effective in your ability to affect the environment and is your strength.

    I also do not feel you are needing to prove your strength and using this challenge to achieve self-promotion. Rather your strength appears to be from your faith. Your faith feels like the sun. Your faith is supportive and you make us feel we are a part of it. Your faith communicates this unshakable confidence and you show the support of your faith cannot be harmed. Your faith is your guide. Your faith is whole and complete and is a Holy Faith.

    From your confidence to assert yourself and from your Holy Faith this appear to give you strength. This offers hope and your hope offers a whole flow with life. It allows this unfolding rather than this black hole of life being drained out. The clergymen cannot recognize this black hole, other than it is a source of torment to them, and because it is black, they cannot see the alienation they have created. Therefore, your faith appears to allow you to rest in hope and allows a Presence that is unfolding. This confidence to rest in Holy Hope offers us this profound connection with Presence, whereas the clergymen have spent too much time teaching people the mystery around them and to Presence. Holy Hope is more of a journey with Presence, it is stabilizing, and is where a relationship with Presence is created.

    Holy Faith and Holy Hope is with and more than a church teaching to Presence. This being expressed, with Presence appears to be your stage of consciousness and is where the light shines in you. It is a value not in a particular achievement but the depths of your heart liberating us from this black hole called hopelessness. This liberation is a healing, part of this path with Presence, and this profound spiritual event in its own right. What a gift you are, simply and genuinely, within your Holy Faith, Holy Hope, and Holy Love.

  4. Addressing the order from Pope Frank to not vote: The Pope said ‘Jump’ and the Bishops asked ‘How High?’ It is doubtful ( in my opinion) that they didn’t want to address the situation and jumped on the great excuse. Is there anyone left who believes in ‘Pay, pray ( prey?) and obey? The ‘shephards’ are wolves in shephard’s clothing.

  5. Susan and MOM Squad,

    I am so happy there was room at the Inn for you. I wonder though in a presumed act of kindness did you get a return drink? I know a couple bishops that would share their peanut butter sandwich with you because they are so kind. I believe that not all bishops or priests are part of this.

    Let’s not be too disappointed with the USCCBs’ inability to vote on anything. All their votes in 2002 did not stop the direction that followed the next 16 years. Pope Francis has quietly and without explanation to anyone voiced his authority over the bishops. I kind of like his style. It seems to reflect Jesuit training and spirituality.

    I absolutely think Francis will deal with things on an international level. Things need to change systemically and so his prayerful planning and careful timing is needed.Maybe he is bracing himself to lead the church out of this crises.There is another force involved in the church that is resistant to his leadership. We are seeing how the conservative movement is infiltrating the PA Senate, our legal systems, diocesan and parish life.

    Francis walked into this crises and he will lead us out. Similarly, President Obama walked into the financial crises and healthcare crises and led us out. There may be a few Canon Laws that need to change in order to protect young people over 16, Also, a look at bishops who are bishops forever may not end up being not be so autonomous.The USCCB just can’t operate on that level. Civil Laws need to pass so that predators and their protectors (not all bishops or clergy) are held accountable.

    Thanks for all you do to help survivors and those who care about them get through this.

    Carole

    1. Considering the – We are a nation of pedophiles! – speech that Francis gave the UN, I’m not holding my breath. It is in the Canon Law Reference.

      entitled “Canon Law – A Systemic Factor in Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.” (free download from National Catholic Reporter) written for the Australian government. The second is the lay version “Potiphar’s Wife.” (buy on line for real money) . I verified the information with a friend of the author and the legal firm from the movie Spotlight. A third is “Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church; An Interpretive Review of the Literature and Public Inquiry Report” another free download through the Center for Global Research; School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT

    2. Hi Carole, No, just like my emails to the hierarchy are never replied to there was also no complimentary drink sent in return and it would have been a bargain because I am sure that my Miller Lite was half the price of the $13.50 Cointreau on the rocks that Bishop McIntryre was drinking

      I wish I shared your optimism about Pope Francis maybe having a plan, but I think all “sides” within the hierarchy are complicit getting us to this point, both progressive and conservative . To be honest I think they are just trying to figure how how not to have the house of cards fall.

  6. Problem is, to the priest perpetrators and their bishop enablers, these heinous acts are sins, moral lapses, failures of virtue, the “effects of original sin”. Meanwhile, victims such as myself at age 11, can NEVER trust ANYONE again, can NEVER really believe in God again, and, in spite of decades of therapy, go to bed each night thinking about killing themselves.

    1. Gerard, I, to am a survivor of priest sexual abuse. Please NEVER give them the satisfaction of hurting yourself. The little boy inside of you needs you to be strong and protect him. The damage done to you is the act of the priest, he is the one who USED God as an excuse to commit the unspeakable crime against you. As survivors, we cannot give up hope and for many of us God is our hope. Do not hand over your power to them. You made it through as a child, you are strong enough to make it through as an adult. My heart goes out to you!

      1. Gerald….I understand your feelings. The pain and distrust NEVER GOES AWAY!!! I struggle on a daily basis to keep some kind of door open for the Lord to show me the way b/c I am lost.

    2. Gerad: Thank you for trusting us with your story. Do not give them the satisfaction of hurting yourself. Causing pain and suffering is the point of their miserable existence – Just ask the Dubias.

      You can also vent on the Atheist Republic and receive support there. Even if you can’t believe in God, follow the teachings of Rabbi Yesua. Saving Jesus from the Church is also a helpful book.

    3. “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteous. But what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.But, now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life.For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans ch 6 verse 21-23 God is all Holy, Good and Pure. Nothing unholy or impure can stand before him. We must be in a state of grace to be in his presence. To be in a state of grace we must be fully repentant of our sins. Repentance is sincere remorse and regret. I have yet to see a bishop that seems sincere in his remorse or regret. I have yet to see the bishops”become slaves of God”. It is clearly written in the Bible “For the wages of sin is death”. Sex abuse is a sin but also a crime. Both are serious consequences of their actions and inactions. In their pride they believe they are above both God’s law and man’s law. By their lack of true repentance they damn themselves.

    4. Gerard, I don’t think even half the bishops believe in hell. It sounds like what you are living is almost a hell on earth. I use to believe in God because of what I was taught as a child and that most people are good. I now believe people have the capacity for both good and evil. It’s their choice to make which path they follow as it is for me and you every day. I now believe in God more then ever because I have witnessed the presence of the devil. God , Truth and Goodness is what the devil fears most because he knows Jesus has won in the end. Please never give up hope because you are truly loved more than anything and your life has meaning and purpose. Possibly even to help those reading your comments. I pray a wave of peace of mind and heart comes to pass over you and I ask in Jesus name the devil stop tormenting you and that you know the love and comfort only God can bring to us.

      1. Many clergy live much better than the laity. They travel extensively, eat at the finest places and are surrounded by an air of entitlement. This is well known. Most of us to not get to live lives like the clergy! Yet, there are priests like Fr. Chris Walsh who live what they preach. Entitlement and clericalism are the root of the problems with this Church. We make sacrifices; they don’t because they don’t have to. What a sad testimony!

      2. The concept of hell is a later addition to theology. Jesus references to the “fires of Gehenna” is the garbage dump in the valley outside of Jerusalem WHERE CHILDREN WERE SACRIFICED TO FALSE GODS.

        Having your body tossed their would have been the worst insult/punishment imaginable.

  7. Beautifully written! Your persistence and faith will prevail over the vanity and false pride of these very earthy wanna be’s. Blessings, Eve

  8. So much for a church for the poor when they live off the fat of the land or rather collection of parishioners. Why can’t they meet. In a less expensive venue. Always the best for them rich food and drink. Follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Don’t be silly. After what they have allowed to happen they should be on dry bread and water and sackcloth and ashes. Well done ladies love from Queensland Australia

    1. The bishops practice poverty, sickness and chastity BY PROXY. Look at how they shame impoverished, unhealthy married women for wanting reliable contraception to save their own lives, already born kids and marriages! Meanwhile, the pampered palace bishops cavort and abort as they please. We haven’t yet heard much news about all the secret abortions, infanticides and abandoned children of nuns and priests, but just wait. The media has largely ignored this and Vatican collusion with Nazis. As for Vatican wealth, Poop Frankie won’t return millions stolen from Jews and Serbs during WWII. Vatican banksters are the biggest money launderers on earth.

    1. The “pro-Life” movement is a sham. It’s result is to INCREASE the number of dead unborn babies and their mothers. Just research the statistics. The number of unborn babies killed by violence against the mother is roughly equal to the number lost to abortion. The whole message is – Only MEN have the right to murder unborn babies and their mothers while they are at it. If you complain, we will restrict access to health care and REALLY rack up the death rate. That’ll learn you to get uppity.

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