Many of the writers are themselves Catholics, even priests. They urge the laity to either leave the church, and/or fight it with ‘righteous anger’ until it is cleansed.
I agree: if you still stand by the Catholic church, if you donate to it, or volunteer your time, if you work for it, if you use its myriad services, you are complicit in the rape of children and its coverup.
Only you, the church’s foot-soldiers and customers, the backbone of it’s earnings, have the power to force change. Stop waiting for those who have continued, and continue to benefit, from the current situation, to do the work for you. Stop waiting for the Pope to take the lead. Act now, and act fiercely.
It’s up to you.
Quit or continue in complicity
“The most important takeaway from this truly disgusting scandal — the thing that every human being should be screaming from the rooftops — is that it’s time to quit the Catholic Church. This is not new. This is not a surprise.
“If you stand by the Catholic Church, if you donate time and money to this organization, you are complicit. There is no way around it. This will not be the last report. It will not be the worst report. It’s just the latest in a long line. And we all know this to be true. If you still support the Catholic Church, you are complicit in the rape of children and its coverup. If you think that is too harsh, start thinking about the victims instead.”
Demand, insist: politeness does not work
“People will say that there is still holiness in the church, that there are many priests and bishops with good and pure hearts, and they are right. But there are times when the sin is so pervasive and corrosive that it is irresponsible to talk about anything else, and this is one of those times. My once-polite requests for incremental reform have morphed overnight into demands that church leaders voluntarily relinquish their place at the head table.”
Kathleen Sprows Cummings (@ksprowscummings) is an associate professor of American studies and history at the University of Notre Dame and the author of “New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era.”
End the silences, excuses, denials
If the kid is over 7, it’s their fault
Bishop Robert Cunningham of the diocese of Syracuse, NY doesn’t think priests should take all of the blame for decades, if not centuries, of sexual abuse against young boys. According to Cunningham, the “age of reason” in the Catholic church is seven, so those boys are culpable for their actions.
The shocking statement came during testimony that was recently released from a deposition for a federal lawsuit. Charles Bailey, a survivor of a priest’s abuse, asked then-Bishop James Moynihan whether the church held children victims partly responsible for sexual abuse from priests . “(Bishop) Moynihan said that right to my face – ‘The age of reason is 7, so if you’re at least 7 you’re culpable for your actions.’
If they didn’t stick their dick in, it’s not rape
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League was doing his best to “debunk” the report.
Donohue published a document that disproves “myths” around the grand jury report, insisting multiple times that the Pennsylvania attorney general just “wanted to shame the Catholic Church” with the report.
One of the myths he debunked was the idea that children were raped.
“This is an obscene lie. Most of the alleged victims were not raped: they were groped or otherwise abused, but not penetrated, which is what the word ‘rape’ means,” Donohue wrote.
He also called out the “myth” that the priests here are pedophiles. Instead, he wrote, they are gay men.
“There have been two scandals related to the sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church. Scandal I involves the enabling bishops who covered it up. Scandal II involves the media cover-up of the role played by gay molesters,” he wrote.
Demand the church admit guilt and end legal fights
The church has lobbied fiercely against changing the statute or opening a window for lawsuits. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, whose president is Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg, one of the dioceses covered by the grand jury report, argues that the proposal would “force the people who make up an organization like the Catholic Church today defend themselves against a crime that was committed in their parish, school, or charitable program years ago.”
That claim has found support from the president pro-tempore of the State Senate, Joe Scarnati, a Republican who opposed the retroactive provision and has said it was unconstitutional.
Several former members of Mr. Scarnati’s staff and the wife of his current chief of staff work at a Harrisburg lobbying firm, Long, Nyquist and Associates, whose clients include the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the church’s statewide public policy arm.
“The church is literally spending millions of dollars buying up politicians here and making sure every avenue victims take are shut down,” said State Representative Mark Rozzi, a Democrat from Berks County, who said he was raped by a priest when he was 13. Mr. Rozzi has become a tireless advocate for victims of church sexual abuse. “It’s been a battle from Day 1,” he said.
Most other states have already extended or abolished statutes of limitations for criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse felonies. Some states, including Minnesota, Delaware, Massachusetts and Hawaii, have also restored victims’ expired rights to file civil suits. But Pennsylvania has not.
“The barrier is the bishops’ extraordinary power over leading Republicans,” said Marci Hamilton, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who founded Child U.S.A., which researches and proposes policies to address child sexual abuse.
Attempts to extend statutes of limitations have fallen short in some states, including Maryland, New Jersey and New York. But New Jersey has no criminal statute of limitations for sexual assaults, and New York has no restrictions for first-degree felonies of any kind. New bills on the issue are pending in both New York and New Jersey.
The F.B.I. spent a year investigating sexual-abuse allegations against the former team doctor for the national gymnastics team, Larry Nassar, and the United States Senate conducted an inquiry into the case. But there appears to be little political appetite in Washington for any comparable federal scrutiny of the Roman Catholic Church, even though abuse of minors by priests has been exponentially more widespread and has been documented in 10 previous reports by grand juries and attorneys general, according to the research and advocacy group BishopAccountability.org.
Delay delay delay
AMY GOODMAN: Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro emphasized how the Catholic Church delayed taking action on reports of priests engaged in child sexual abuse in order to prevent criminal charges from being filed.
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH SHAPIRO: The pattern was abuse, deny and cover up. The effect not only victimized children, it served a legal purpose that church officials manipulated for their advantage. The longer they covered it up, the less chance law enforcement could prosecute these predators, because the statute of limitations would run. As a direct consequence of the systematic cover-up by senior church officials, almost every instance of child sexual abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted.
ROBERT HOATSON: Well, I was 40 years an insider in this church. I was 23 years in the religious life and 14 as a priest. So I saw it from the inside. I was sexually abused by three different men in the religious life. And I knew what was going on on the inside. And it was just abject corruption from the get-go. This church is a criminal enterprise, that actually covers up the massive sexual abuse of children for centuries.
Governor Frank Keating resigned as the chair of the first National Review Board and said, “This is exactly what the Mafia is like. It’s dealing with the Mafia.” And that’s what we’re dealing with. And we have to make sure that Catholics now take back their church and insist that these people are eliminated, fired. And that’s what the pope has to do. He has to have mass firings of bishops, and the leadership has to change.”
- Bob Hoatson is a former Catholic priest, co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, which assists victims of sexual abuse.
- State Representative Mark Rozzi, a Democrat from Berks County, who said he was raped by a priest when he was 13, a tireless advocate for victims of church sexual abuse.
- Shaun Dougherty was molested by a priest from Altoona-Johnstown diocese in Pennsylvania for three years, starting when he was 10 years old.
Stop being obedient and subservient to criminals
Find and use your righteous anger
In the Gospels, Jesus is described as angry many times, a stark contrast to the portrait many have of him as a doe-eyed man of peace. Jesus excoriates the disciples for their lack of faith (“You faithless and perverse generation!”). Most famously, he makes a “whip of cords” and chases the “money changers” out of the temple in Jerusalem, upending their tables in a dramatic act that helped to lead to his execution by Roman authorities.
Anger is an important part of the life and ministry of Jesus. And so anger should be part of the Catholic life — with Jesus as a guide.
Jesus’ anger is always a righteous anger, never on behalf of himself, but in reaction to how he sees others being treated. Even as he is dying on the cross, he refuses to be angry with the Roman soldiers who have crucified him, choosing instead to pray for them: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus’ anger is, in a word, unselfish and constructive, intent on doing something, effecting a change.
Those Catholics who are feeling angry today are, in the Christian worldview, feeling God’s anger. This is, as I see it, God’s primary way of acting in the world: through our human emotions. How else would God act, how else would God intervene, how else would God move to change things, other than to rouse in us a burning desire to upend the tables of the clerical culture and chase out all those who have defamed and abused the trust placed in them?
What can Catholics do? Listen to your anger. Let it inform you. Let it move you to act in whatever way you think will most protect children and root out the clerical rot that gave rise to these crimes. I can only suggest a few specific actions: Speak to your pastor, write to your bishop, express your anger to the Vatican’s nuncio in this country. Most of all, work in any way that you can for real change, even at the cost of being seen as a troublemaker.
But more important than my suggestions is what each Catholic feels moved to do.
Buried within one of the central texts of the Second Vatican Council, “Lumen Gentium” (“The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”), a document of the highest teaching authority, promulgated in 1964, is a vivid call to arms, addressed to laypeople. The laity are, the Second Vatican Council said, “by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.”
Today their strong emotions should encourage them to follow the call of their church. In fact, their anger obliges them to do so.
The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, is the editor at large of America magazine.