Wednesday, May 12, 2010

So what did we learn?

I spent some time looking over the discussions here for the past couple of weeks on the sex abuse scandal and I wondered, did we learn anything?

The biggest shock waves for me happened back in 2002 and 2003 when the story broke, and revelation after revelation kept popping up in the newspaper, radio and t.v. Digging deeper and reading books like What Went Wrong With Vatican II: The Catholic Crisis Explained and Goodbye, Good Men: How Liberals Brought Corruption Into the Catholic Church were certainly educational and cleared up a lot of the mystery of the scandal and also things I had experienced as a young Catholic coming of age in the 70s and 80s. Nothing that has happened in these past few weeks of discussions has equaled those experiences.

I'm also not surprised when the scandal keeps popping up in different parts of the world, and I am always  expecting to hear  a new variation on the theme at Easter and Christmas.  It's almost predictable.

I'm not surprised to have it come up during discussions and debates as a little ad hominem surprise or a poisoning the well fallacy. This has happened so many times that sometimes I won't even mention that I am Catholic, just so that the discussion will concentrate on the topic at hand instead of giving opponents ammunition to shoot me down.

Perhaps what was surprising, but not unique, was inability or unwillingness of the other side to take a fact or an apology or a new program or an investigation or policy change at face value as evidence that the church is sorry, is repentant and is trying to "sin no more."  Those are, after all, very biblical concepts - to recognize sin, be sorry for the sin, repent and then build from there. And perhaps what was the most surprising for me at least, was to see that somehow, to point out the growth that has come, or to mention the apologies, or to speak to specific facts of the case was to somehow oppress, condemn, or victimize the victims.  As I said in a comment yesterday, it seemed as if nothing short of calling for the prosecution, persecution and execution of everyone in the hierarchy from the pope down was acceptable.  And indeed it seemed from the discussions that there is disbelief and perhaps even disgust that loyal devout Catholics aren't willing to do just that - and because of that, we must be as bad as the 4% of priests who decades ago, (when I was a kid and Kelly wasn't even alive!) performed unspeakable sexual acts against impressionable youth.

What I learned, I guess, is to save my breath. Those with an ax to grind against the church will not be appeased, and I'm not sure that it is my role, as a Catholic lay wife and mother to even try to explain and defend.  Not against that.  And that is hurtful.  The best I can do is explain it to my own kids and have a ready answer for sincere inquiries.

This is an example of how the sins of a few have consequences that hurt many, and that injury will continue for decades to come.

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Jennie said...

I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know, or that hasn't been said in these discussions (I haven't followed much of them) when I say that breaches of trust between individuals or within organizations take many years to heal, if they ever do, even after apologies are made and changes are instituted; effects on the victims can keep surfacing for years, and only continued dependence on God can fully heal the victims and the perpetrators. The fact that these kinds of abuses happen is bad enough, but the cover-ups and failure (by those who should have known better) to deal with the perpetrators has been a breach of trust between not only the parishioners and the church, but between the entire world and the church. As I said in an earlier post on the other thread, the world expects a higher standard of behavior from the church, and will not forgive a fall from that.

Jennie said...

And unfortunately even though healing and correction may happen, the rest of the world will tend to look at explanations and apologies by those from within the organization as either ignorance, complicity, or as the ostrich hiding its head in the sand. That is human nature, and inevitable.

Dr MikeyMike said...

Very good post, Elena.

Jennie said...

I'll add that what I said applies to other churches too. If you want a break from thinking about your own church's problems go over and see the Baptists going on about Ergun Caner, who for some reason (celebrity?) was made president of Liberty University, and is now on the hot seat for misrepresenting himself for years.
Liberty's problems go even further back than this. I've been disgusted with Falwell since I found out he took money from antichrist Sun Myung Moon to bail out Liberty university.
I say this to show that no organization of men is 'the church' and that all churches and believers must listen to the voice of Jesus Christ in Revelation 2 and 3 when He reveals their sins (and also praises the things that please Him) and warns them to repent. There is much corruption in leadership, much complacency in members, and God's name is being blasphemed because because of these sins in His people. He's going to start judgment first with His house and then the whole world, and I believe it will be very soon.

Moonshadow said...

The biggest shock waves for me happened back in 2002 and 2003 when the story broke ... Nothing that has happened in these past few weeks of discussions has equaled those experiences.

That's because as the old WWI song put it, it's happening "Over There."

But, if it feels different to you, you're either ignoring the spectacle of Fr. Maciel ... or the previous experience hardened your heart. Because even our pope considers this "terrifying."

This is an example of how the sins of a few

The few, the liberals? Catholic men who entered seminary in eighth grade - liberals are rarely so devoted - and consequently never matured emotionally? Listen to the priest in Deliver Us From Evil. He's emotionally stunted, operatively 12 yrs. old. Why aren't the reactions of the kids he's molesting enough to make him stop?

If this crisis is a referendum on conservative vs. liberal, liberalism is the clear winner. But I wouldn't dream of reducing the crisis to such a petty choice. Can't really say I'm glad you found validation in it.

Elena said...

I am ignoring Father Marciel and although I don't think my heart is hardened (some would disagree) I am protecting it. I have enough heart ache and personal trauma to deal with thank you.

And by the few I was referring to the 4% referenced in the John Jay Study as offending priests.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Benedict is seeing the light:

Moonshadow said...

Thanks for reading along, madgebaby.

Look, I don't mean to be insensitive to your recent loss. You don't know I've had loss, too, because I don't wear it on my sleeve.

Protect your heart, that's fine. We can only bear what we can bear. Maybe we aren't all called to bear this, however I actually feel called to grow a little more by this than I did the first time around.

And contrary to Scripture, I think God is capable of giving us more than we can handle (John 16:12; 1 Cor. 10:13).