I’m watching, what I believed was a tremendous opportunity, for the Catholic church to finally redeem itself. Taking ownership for the grave damage imposed on the lives of the victims that were sexually abused by its clergy, but I was sadly mistaken.
For me, the equation is simple. Abuse is abuse is abuse. If anyone of those men were not in a robe, they would be charged and incarcerated for their crime. But somehow the organization they’re associated with has not only kept this secret quiet for years but has protected the perpetrators in the shadow of the crucifix and at the cost of the victims. The administration is governed by Canon laws which is a system of legal principals within the Catholic church making it complicated to prosecute those that have committed a crime. They are implemented by the senior officials to define that which regulates its organization towards the mission of the church. How ironic. With confessing not on their agenda, I suspect there can be no repentance for their deception. What the church has not done, is rectify the situation by coming up with a solid plan. It’s created nothing more than a bastion of safety for these perpetrators. Today the Vatican wants time to assess this situation that is principally, ethically and morally wrong. If memory serves, I believe they call that sin.
I have a few axes to grind with the Catholic church, and I’m entitled to all of them as they are rooted in equality, sensibility and humanity. Just a few things it doesn’t fully subscribe to and might consider. I not only grew up in a strict Catholic upbringing but I eventually worked for the Archdioceses until I got fired. Thank you, God. Suffice to say I couldn’t succumb to an archaic and suppressive ideology that didn’t serve anyone except themselves. A compelling argument of why organized religion is flawed. It’s not supposed to be ‘us’ and ‘them’ but rather ‘we.’ Perhaps it was something in the wine they drank because I experienced a diet of hypocrisy and rhetoric that was too rich for my blood.
Growing up, the fear of God was ingrained in me by the nuns, priests and even my mother. No matter what I did, I could be spited at any moment. In hind site, it felt like I was living in Franz Kafka’s book ’The Trial.’ I didn’t do anything, but I was on trial by some clandestine group of men who had created a case against me in secrecy. I had no manner in which to defend myself because I could not question, access or understand the system, that laid deep beneath the catacombs and housed those who held the charges that opposed me. I was guilty until proven innocent.
My father was the only one that taught me to question the business and politics behind the church as they are fundamentally different from the faith. His experience with betrayal happened during the Second World War with priests disclosing to the Nazi’s those working for the resistance which they were hunting mercilessly. My father one of them.
With the pressure of two grandmothers, deeply ingrained within the Catholic faith I agreed to their grandkids attending Catholic school with the caveat of not drinking the holy water. They were going to have some kind of faith. If they went in this direction, then they needed to know that they had our support to challenge it. They were taught that they were free to communicate with God/The Universe/Life, without a middle person. Ultimately, they graduated more in integrity then if they had aligned themselves with the rhetoric of their school. We backed them any time they had the grace and grit to challenge beliefs that were imposed upon them without resonance. Beliefs birthed from a place of force, not power.
I don’t know Jesus, but I’m guessing he’d be livid to see his faith harming the exact ‘flock of sheep’ that Catholicism proclaims to be loving and nurturing. I believe that if Christ were to return the first people he’d save, would be the Atheists. They didn’t sell the church or its beliefs. They didn’t pretend to speak on behalf of God, especially not in politics. They weren’t grandiose around any of it. Instead, they walked away, opting out, bringing harm to no one.
My Consciousness teacher has taught me many things, the most significant being that we are all created in the inherent beauty of the light of God/The Universe/Life. With that, the notion of treating others, as we wish to be treated, without exception. It’s not only a golden rule but a sacred and karmic one as the dignity of a human being is non-negotiable. From what I can see, the church hasn’t been unconditional in supporting that idea. A timely opportunity for them to finally demonstrate, and fully own their wrongdoings at the cost of their reputation. A reputation that is so severely bruised and damaged they are blind to it. The vast decline in attendance a testament to how their brand is sinking. Until they can take responsibility, initiate the retribution to those that instigated these cruel violations and genuinely acknowledge all the lives that these crimes have altered, then they can’t proclaim to be a faith intrinsically filled with compassion or love. When they are void of precisely that which they otherwise profess themselves to be.
The movie ‘Spotlight’ which won for best picture at the Oscar’s in 2017 brought attention to this tragedy. The poignant list at the end depicting all the places abuse was uncovered was stunning. Having had experience working with sexually abused children, I felt the pain, agony and blatant violation of the trust of those believed to be safe only to become victims. With the church demonstrating they have no deliberate agenda in handling the abuse within their organization is evidence of not being in integrity. It’s cowardliness and fear, and fear is the opposite of love, not hate as fear is about separation, Love is about unity.
The sacredness of life has no opportunity to show up in the fabric of this current type of Catholic existence. You can’t preach about love when you’re bringing harm to those that trust you. What I see is an organization run like a private institution that has access to close the doors to truths that belong to those outside those doors.
I’ve been a long time proponent of radical change within the church as it is grossly overdue. Having women perform mass, Priests and nuns being able to marry, welcoming the LGBTQ community and the list goes on. The fact that there exists no balance when it comes to female energy within the church, something that is vehemently resisted within this organization, is another compelling argument as to what something can look like when it’s entirely out of balance and how perverse it can become. Balance brings with it beauty, strength, roots and compassion consequently making it sacred and solid. Unfortunately, the church has a great distance to go to find that balance and until they do they will continue to spiral into a dark abyss that has no going back. With attendance dipping dramatically and no line up for those wanting to become priests, this is a very different time. The deck no longer is solidly held in the hands of the Vatican as it once was. It’s in the hands of the people. The idea of guilt, suppression and shame that were tenents imposed on the parishioners are ironically tenents that now emanate from the church itself.
From where I’m standing the church remains where it was decades ago. It has no solid action plan nor is it being proactive in righting a deep-seated wrong. Yes, they are establishing ’21 Reflection points.’ But zero tolerance doesn’t show up in any of them and therein lies the point. The guidelines are general and continue to lean in favour of the church’s interpretation.
The Pope always had the ultimate authority to get rid of and call the authorities on those that have violated and that has yet to happen. My concern is until there is a solid plan of action, what happens to the kids today and tomorrow who are as likely to be abused as those that already have. Without clear direction, vague accountability not to mention no transparency it’s past being called out, it’s now time that law enforcement is called in.
Abuse is a “worldwide phenomenon,” Pope Francis said, but it is “all the more grave and scandalous in the church,” incompatible with its “moral authority and ethical credibility.” I couldn’t agree more to which I would add, and Karma’s a bitch.