America Magazine published an article based on a talk given by Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich at the Latin American Congress on the Prevention of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church. It didn’t leave me warm and fuzzy.
Cupich begins his talk with the story about assisting a clergy child sex abuse survivor. Upon request, the Cardinal arranges and attends a meeting between the man, now in his mid-50s, and his abusive childhood pastor. The priest does not deny the abuse. Cupich notifies law enforcement and the Holy See, which he says eventually led to the priest’s removal from ministry.
He and the survivor visit the former parish and share the news with the congregation. Afterward, Cupich leads parishioners to the vestibule and they remove the former pastor’s photo.
Cue the sound of cheering and add an uplifting movie soundtrack.
This all sounds like a common sense and bare minimum response. Apparently it took this direct interaction with a victim to inspire Cardinal Cupich. Empathy is in demand.
But sadly, Chicago seems to be a step ahead of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Photos and tributes can remain on parish website’s and walls until Kathy Kane calls. And, some of these removed priests have been seen and photographed at events and Masses.
Don’t worry. The Cardinal offers the priests in attendance five ways to end clerical abuse and purify the Church.
“It is at the level of profound vulnerability that we must connect with those who have been harmed. If we do not, then we will be tempted to relate to victims at worst defensively or at best dispassionately, as an inconvenience to be endured.”
Excuse me? At best, Church leadership relates to victims offensively and at worst, energetically stomps out their faith, hope and life. The U.S. Bishops invest a fortune on lobbying against legal reforms for survivors.
2 – Synodality
Cupich says there should never be the suggestion that victims need to get over it or that it’s all in the past. He asks the priests to walk the journey with them.
“Only when Thomas accepted his Lord and touched his wounds could he and the other disciples understand what it means to follow the risen Lord.”
Captain Obvious, I mean Cardinal Cupich, explains that victims are a manifestation of the risen Lord and should remind them what it means to be his disciple. Advocates have been embracing this for decades. Why is this a difficult concept for the clergy?
3 – Repentance & Conversion
“Cheap purification gives priority to saving face, thinking that procedures alone are enough. Cheap purification fails to correct the distorted view that protecting the church from scandal means protecting the people of God from the truth.”
The hierarchy wants to save face and protect itself from scandal but I’m not so sure that falling into procedural complacency is their problem. Instead, we’ve witnessed strategic procedural lapses.
4- Costly Purification
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is stuck in the free-of-charge purification phase with no accounting needed. Kathy has been advocating for one basic procedure for several years now. We think the Archdiocese should be required to inform the parents of students who have been directly impacted by a boundary violation. There’s zero administrative urgency, which is likely to prove costly for children.
5 – Authentic Purity
You can read Cupich’s close at the link below. His words are eloquent and the examples are applicable. Instead of comforting, I find them horrifying. Do our priests need Jesus 101? If so, the Church is dead on arrival to this issue.
Yes, priests have to content with their own humanity but their bigger battle is with Vatican powers who encourage clericalism.
Ultimately, canon law and Tradition (with a capital T) regarding clergy child sex abuse determines the outcome. Let’s hear a transparent address on this ugly truth with no aspirational anecdotes. That would be authentic purity.