It is jihad for me.
Laura was the first child born on April 5, 1891 to Senora Mercedes Pino and Jose Domingo Vicuna, a soldier who belonged to a noble Chilean family. A civil war broke out and Senor Vicuna had to flee his country. A few days after the birth of the second child Julia Amanda, Senor Vicuna, worn out physically and mentally, died, leaving his wife and children alone.
Seeing that she could not survive, Mercedes decided to leave the country. She finally found work at a large “hacienda” owned by Senor Manuel Mora. He was a typical Argentine “gaucho”, a dreamy Latin lover and a shady character. Senora Mercedes let herself be won over by his promises of help, and accepted his protection. His financial support would allow her to enroll her two girls as pupils in the Salesian Sisters’ school in Junin, but at what price!Laura was very happy living under the serene guidance of the young missionary Sisters. She discovered God, His love, and allowed herself to be surrounded by it. God’s love stimulated her to love in return. Thus Laura made herself all to all, helping them in any way she could. She was a leader and everyone’s friend.Laura accepted God’s love. Laura was fascinated by the ideal of the Sisters and secretly hoped to consecrate herself to God in the service of her brothers and sisters. “I wish Mamma would know you better and be happy”, she often prayed before the tabernacle.Laura was distressed about her mother’s situation with Senor Mora; her mother was indeed far away from God and Senor Mora was the cause.The struggle for living and providing for her daughters had wearied her. In a moment of stress and discouragement, she had given in to his sexual demands.Twice, while home from school, Mora had beaten Laura. She had fend off his sexual advances toward her, too. Once Mora caught her and beat her unconscious. She was finally forced to flee the house to avoid him. She was only just over ten. He stopped paying for her school, but the Salesian sisters stepped in and gave her a scholarship. Laura would do her best to give her mamma God’s friendship once again.Love is stronger than death, love creates and maintains life. Deeply believing this, Laura said to the Lord: “I offer you my life for that of my mother”.
The winter of 1903 at Junin was extremely severe, with persistent rain and dampness. Laura became weaker with each passing day; she was wasting away with pulmonary tuberculosis. Although her mother took her home to Quilquihue where the climate was more pleasant and helpful, there was no improvement in her health.Laura knew she would not recover. God had accepted her offering-her self-immolation. Senora Mercedes remained day and night at her bedside, surrounding her with every care and attention. Laura kept looking at her tenderly. Now it was time to reveal her secret. “Mamma, I’m dying, but I’m happy to offer my life for you. I asked Our Lord for this”. Senora Mercedes was appalled. She fell on her knees sobbing. She understood everything in a flash. “Laura, my daughter, please forgive me…O dear God, please forgive my life of sin… Yes, I will start again.”
Blessed Laura Vicuna, pray for us.
Pray for those most abandoned and alone.
Pray especially for those children who are victims of sexual abuse, violence, and neglect.
Pray for those survivors who continue to suffer and mourn. Amen.
-Cuzco School, Peru, “Saint Joseph and the Christ Child”, late 17th-18th century. Oil on canvas, 43 x 32 1/8in. (109.2 x 81.6cm), Brooklyn Museum
In the Litany of St Joseph, one the titles of honor given to him is Terror of Demons. Due to his unshakeable faith, his assiduous perseverance, his admirable purity and his exceptional humility, and given the nobility and grandeur of his vocation – the protection, sustenance and care of the Blessed Mother and Our Lord Jesus Christ, as head of the Holy Family – we can expect that God also endowed him with an equally proportional grace to carry out such a lofty mission in life. And certainly we can picture him as a sublime icon of manliness and a pillar of strength that would sow terrible fear among the powers of darkness given his noble task. Would God allow/accept anything less for the earthly foster-father of His Son?
In Catholic iconography, St Joseph is pictured holding a staff from which a white lily grows. This is due to Catholic hagiography which states from reliable, albeit non-scriptural, sources near to the period, when the holy priest Simeon gathered all the young men of Jerusalem from the house of David at the temple to choose who would be the rightful spouse of Our Lady, he was inspired by God to give each man a dry rod. After a period of prayer asking for the manifestation of the Divine Will, pure white lilies – the symbol of purity – blossomed from St. Joseph’s staff and a white dove, most pure and brilliant, hovered over his head giving Simeon the sign that he was the chosen one.
Hence, St. Joseph is the epitome of a pure man: pure in thought, pure in heart; pure in body and soul – destined to be the most chaste spouse of Mary Most Holy conceived without sin. In face of such sublime purity and holiness, it would not be farfetched to believe that the ugly, filthy infernal spirits would cower in petrified fear in his presence.
I have a special intention I am entrusting to St Joseph, in addition to so much I have already entrusted to him. Pray for me! St Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us!
-The Denial of Saint Peter, by Caravaggio, circa 1610, oil on canvas
H: 94 cm (37 in) x W: 125.4 cm (49.4 in), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
When I joined Voice of the Faithful two years ago, I did so with trepidation, for a number of reasons. What followed was an in depth, profound, overwhelming and disturbing education in the subject of pedophilia and pederasty.
I drank information from the fire hose in emails, new articles, and more recently, published works and media. I have met and talked intimately with countless survivors, befriended many, attended conferences, listened to expert speakers on the topic, participated in protests and “actions” drawing attention to the matter, and watched trials, heard heart ripping victim impact statements, and the sentencing of dissociated, unrepentant perpetrators. I have written to one priest in jail offering the kindness of correspondence, a breviary, or rosary. I never heard back.
This work is not for everyone. If someone asked me today about joining VOTF, I would respond to them, “How strong is your faith? No, REALLY, how STRONG is your FAITH!?”
It has been and continues to be an education I never wanted and still do not wish I had or wish to continue receiving. But, I have grown in my awareness and knowledge of how this crime is perpetrated, what the danger signs are, what the effect on the victim is and what it takes to survive this horrific betrayal and violation of trust, and how long that can take to come to terms with so much, and never fully. I want Mara, our future children, God willing, and every other child to grow up in a safer world and Church. That is why I do it. Jesus will ask me, in my particular judgment, I am absolutely convinced, what I did about this, and I am intent on having the best answer I can.
Witnessing the psychology of my fellow lay Catholics during this period of my education in this sin has been equally troubling and profound. “Isn’t that over? Isn’t that somebody else’s problem? What does that have to do with me? I didn’t do anything? You’re a troublemaker! You hate the Church! We don’t want your kind in ministry! How can you call yourself a Catholic? Those people just want money! Don’t ruin my Sunday happy time/place!” and so on.
Everyone I know in Voice of the Faithful were/are some of the most dedicated, passionate Catholics you could hope to find. Every VOTF member held every title in the Church you can think of, yes, even bishop. But, as well, now every member of VOTF bears another title even before their prior ministerial one, “former”, and rarely by their own choice. It is an odd and ironic feeling I have during the Prayers of the Faithful when as a Christian community we pray for the downtrodden, the maligned, those in misery, those treated unjustly, the unfortunate, and I think to myself, “Hey, I just left them an hour ago!”, and it usually was the official church, laity or ordained, who did the mistreatment? What Twilight Zone have I wandered into now? And, Fr. Rod Serling just gave the homily.
Every one of the victims was sure the Church would “do the right thing” when they shared their pain. They were, instead, victimized all over again. A friend of mine, Rick, a survivor, showed me the window of the room in rectory where it happened when he was a child, one day when we were driving by. He wasn’t even Catholic to begin with. He was a Lutheran boy, but got so excited about the beauty of the Mass, he believed it all had to be true. Rick is an old man now and not in good health. He drives a cab. Rick will die in his cab, I am sure. He is a hero and a friend of mine. I am so blessed. This is not a Catholic problem. It is a human sin.
I have heard so many rationalizations in hopes of not having to deal with the truth of it all from my fellow Catholics, I could not number them for you. I have heard the equivalent of the below many times before. Recently, another hero of mine, Deacon T, put what he heard in an email. I get THE BEST emails!:
“A meeting of the deacons of the Archdiocese of Chicago was held Sept 9th. Mostly a non-event as most of the meetings are with a set agenda. It was devoted mainly to the new evangelization effort in the Archdiocese called Catholics Come Home.
At the end of Bishop Rs’ remarks he opened to questions. Benign questions from the deacons. As the last question to him I asked, “Since we deacons received, in our email boxes, copies of talking points regarding the Bishop G’s deposition, and the recent law suit alleging racial discrimination against black abuse victims, should we expect more letters from Rev. C on sex abuse matters?”
The question seemed to catch him flat footed and he paused for quite some time. He said the letters were to counter the media coverage of these events and to clarify the truth on the issues. He didn’t elaborate beyond that. I didn’t think it appropriate to debate fallacies in the letters with him in that forum.
However, as the meeting concluded, Deacon J, the vicariate king deacon, commented on the Catholics Come Home program. He said we must not be afraid of tough questions from lapsed Catholics who come forward. He specifically expounded on divorce/annulment issues. Then he spoke about clerical sex abuse. He teared up when he said he himself was abused when he was 7 by a coach. He then expounded on how to deal with angry Catholics’ questions about abuse:
This could not go unchallenged. As the meeting closed I went to him privately and expressed sympathy for the abuse he suffered. I asked if his statements to the group are the answers we should give to questioning Catholics. I said we look like fools if we say the Protestants are worse than we are. I said that dog doesn’t hunt.
He pointed out (like reading from the talking points) about how much more we know now than we did in the 60’s, 70’s… I mentioned all that went out the window with the McCormack matter. At this point he was visibly shaken, though honestly this wasn’t my intent. I mentioned to him my personal and diaconal experiences in sex abuse matters in Tulsa, Ft. Worth and here in Chicago and said things haven’t changed that much.
He said there were “mistakes made”. I reminded him (though I’m not sure he knew) that man over there, pointing to Bishop R, who was still in the room, withheld information from the Cardinal that would have prevented further abuse, according the Cardinal’s own testimony, “I was not aware.” The people are angry with the hierarchy. At that point he turned to others who were waiting to talk with him, and I don’t know if they heard what we were saying.
Net-net, deacons are in denial or unwilling to confront what they know is wrong. They are uninformed to any depth on this subject and are not challenged to learn the complete truth. Bishop R doesn’t want to talk about it.
As I walked out I went to Bishop R and introduced myself and reminded him I’ll be seeing him again on 9/20 at the St. Thomas Becket 40th anniversary Mass, where I’ll be his deacon of the Mass.”
May God have mercy on us all! Our Lady of Sorrows, come to our aid!
I am reading the above book – surprise. Powerful. Profound. Truthful. Wrenching. Joyful. Hopeful. Haunting.
Dawn Eden, raised Jewish, describes how in her own journey the lives of the saints have given her hope and aided her spiritual healing after childhood sexual abuse. According to the CDC, one in four American women and one in six American men report having been sexually abused during childhood. “My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints” is a wonderful resource. Dawn is studying for her doctorate in theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. The world is a small place. This book provides a much-needed resource for spiritual healing from the isolating effects of these wounds. Dawn gives an excellent account of the understanding of Christian suffering.
In my too rare and too few privileged moments with survivors of clergy sexual abuse, I have struggled to come to terms with their personal tragedy and the continuing communal tragedy within the Church. I realize I will never understand their suffering in the way they do. They lived and live it.
Pope Benedict XVI in his “Letter to the Catholics of Ireland”, 3/19/10, stated “…(we) have obscured the light of Gospel to a degree not even centuries of persecution have succeeded in doing.” How true. We continue to do so. Kyrie Eleison.
“This failure to protect a child’s innocence reverberates throughout a victim’s entire life. In my knowledge, a victim of sexual abuse often struggles, even as an adult, to conquer the relentless temptations of self-condemnation.”
-Mother Mary Agnes Donovan, S.V., Sisters of Life, Psychololgist & Author of the Forward for the book. Christe Eleison.
Dawn writes, truly, “I share the anger and grief (ed: and outrage and shame and humiliation and disorientation and profound, painful doubts & fresh disillusionment, cynicism budding anew, the deceptive whispers of the Enemy) of my fellow Catholics over those who have betrayed their sacred office.” Just like Judas, with a “kiss”, betraying the Body of Christ.
I found Dawn’s reflections on St Ignatius of Loyola particularly poignant. Anyone familiar with Jesuit spirituality will have encountered the Suscipe.
“Suscipe, Domine, universam meam libertatem. Accipe memoriam, intellectum, atque voluntatem omnem. Quidquid habeo vel possideo mihi largitus es; id tibi totum restituo, ac tuae prorsus voluntati trado gubernandum. Amorem tui solum cum gratia tua mihi dones, et dives sum satis, nec aliud Quidquam ultra posco. Amen.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will. All I have and call my own, You have given to me; to you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only Your love and your grace. That is enough for me.”
In her book, Dawn poses the “taking of one’s memory” not as a surrender of something good and valuable as a sacrifice or oblation, but, rather, the taking of memory by God as a balm, a salve, a healing compassion for those who have suffered trauma.
And of St Sebastian, Dawn writes, “Artists typically depict him shot through with arrows. The image is deceptive, for the assault on him by the Emperor Diocletian’s archers is not the most interesting part of his story. The most interesting part is that he survived.”
Dawn does an excellent job of comparing the stigmata, even “invisible stigmata”, experienced by some of the saints to the ongoing trauma suffered by survivors of childhood sexual abuse at their most vulnerable and innocent stage of life. Heart of Jesus, be the comfort of those afflicted and suffering. Kyrie Eleison.
I highly recommend this book. Please pray for those who have suffered, do suffer, and will suffer. Be there for them. Believe them.
As “eloquent icons of innocence”, as so described by the Fathers of the Early Church, and recall Heaven can see all our actions through eyes of an icon, “maxima debetur puero reverentia”. (Mt 19:14/Mk 10:14)
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
“God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with.”
-Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 39, quoting the ancient maxim.
Awardee, John Paul the Great Scholarship, (not normally given to 1st yr graduate students!) Ave Maria University.
Very Rev. Douglas L. Mosey, C.S.B., Ph.D., President and Rector of Holy Apostles College & Seminary, and the entire Holy Apostles community are pleased to welcome Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein to the On Campus faculty in the Fall of 2017 as an Assistant Professor of Dogmatic Theology. She joins Holy Apostles from St. Mary’s College, Oscott, the seminary of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England, where she currently serves as a resident lecturer in Dogmatic Theology. Dr. Goldstein’s teaching credentials include having taught at Allen Hall in London, which is the seminary of the Archdiocese of Westminster, and at Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, England. Last year, she served as a featured lecturer for the John Paul II Forum Summer Workshop.
Dr. Goldstein received her Doctorate in Sacred Theology, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of St. Mary of the Lake. She holds the distinction of being the first woman ever to be awarded that degree from St. Mary’s. She holds her STL, Magna Cum Laude, from the Pontifical Institute of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies.
Additionally, Dr. Goldstein is a noted author under the name Dawn Eden. Her works include Remembering God’s Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories, My Peace I Give You, and The Thrill of the Chaste. She has also written articles for the New York Times, L’Osservatore Romano, and many other publications.
The Holy Apostles College & Seminary community is proud to have Dr. Goldstein join our Mission to Cultivate Catholic Leaders for Evangelization.
“The summer before I entered religious life my cousin gave birth to her first child, Owen. Later that summer the proud mother hosted a party at which the main pastime was holding baby Owen. As everyone took his or her turn with the newborn, I noticed something astonishing: all of the men held him in precisely the same way, and all of the women in another.
As my sisters, my aunt, and my cousin held Owen, I noticed that each held him in both of her arms, allowing him to lie horizontally on his back. When it came time for the men to hold him, we took a different approach: we each held Owen in a vertical posture, with his body parallel to our own and having him rest on our chest. Without exception, each of the men instinctively held Owen in this position.
As I reflected on this event, I realized that the manner in which a man holds a child manifests something about his role as a father. A man holds an infant in a way that raises the child up to his own perspective. A father does this as if to say, “Son, you are now a part of this world. I will teach you how to navigate its paths.”
A father is responsible for much more than providing food and shelter, for he also has a vital role in educating children in the faith and how to live uprightly in the world. The Second Vatican council states explicitly that “the active presence of the father is highly beneficial to their formation” (Gaudium et Spes 52:1). This “active presence” of the father begins with his leading of the family. If the father is a leader in the home, then the Catechism’s statement, “the home is the first school of Christian life and a school for human enrichment,” has particular import for men (CCC 1657).
In order to navigate the paths of human life one has to address the totality of the human person. Human flourishing is accomplished only when the body and soul are integrated, and not separated. A man is not more authentically masculine when he focuses only on the physical things of the world. Rather, he denies part of his masculinity because he ignores part of his humanity. A man neglects one of his primary roles as a father if he fails to teach his children the importance of the spiritual life. This does not mean that he must be a spiritual master and write brilliant theological treatises. But what he is called to do is to witness to the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ, and love as Christ loves (cf. Ephesians 5:25).
Even if a man tries to distract himself from this task it still remains as an intrinsic part of who he is. It is so innate in him that the very
manner in which he holds a child testifies to it. The task of leading the family, or the domestic church as the Catechism calls it (CCC 1655), has been entrusted to men. Again, the home is the “first school of Christian life and a school for human enrichment.” In other words, it is the foundation on which society is built. If a father desires to have an effect on the world and make it a better place for his family, he must be a man devoted to the spiritual and human development of each member of his “domestic church.” He cannot give what he does not have, and he cannot teach what he does not know. Thus, he must be a man who is firm in his own faith in Jesus Christ.
We learn from the Divine Teacher how to teach those around us. The greatest act of teaching was the crucifixion on Mount Calvary, when He taught us what an act of love looks like. Christ gave His life for us so that we may have life eternal, and our efforts to imitate His act of love can be manifest in the most menial of our daily tasks. The constant changing of diapers, driving the kids to soccer practice, cooking dinner, working long hours at the office, setting time aside for prayer, or even simply laying an infant tenderly in his bed, can be transformed by grace into acts of love.
Acts of love are not reserved to things that are difficult; they may also be the joyous things in our life: playing catch, attending Mass, family vacations, or a well-executed surprise anniversary party. The love that animates these acts is the same that was poured forth from the cross. Our faith is not empty and it surely is not the mere uttering of creedal statements. When the spiritual is joined with the physical, the fullness of the human person is engaged, and faith is shown to be authentic. As the Letter to James says, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith” (James 2:17).”
Daughter of Laurent Cousin, a farm worker, and Marie Laroche, who died while Germaine was an infant. A sickly child, Germaine suffered from scrofula, which is tuberculosis of the skin. She was afflicted with unsightly inflammation of the lymph nodes in her neck usually contracted from unpasteurized milk from infected cows, and her right hand was deformed.
Ignored by her father and abused by her step-family, she was often forced to sleep in the stable or in a cupboard under the stairs, was fed on scraps, beaten or scalded with hot water for misdeeds, real or imagined.
At age nine Germaine was put to work as a shepherdess, where she spent much time praying, sometimes using a rosary she made from a knotted string. She refused to miss Mass, and if she heard the bell announcing services, she set her crook and her distaff in the ground, declared her flock to be under the care of her guardian angel , and went to church; her sheep were unharmed during her absences. It is reported that once she crossed the raging Courbet River by walking over the waters so she could get to church.
Germaine was so poor it is hard to imagine she would be able to help
others, but she was always ready to try, especially children whom she gathered in the fields to teach a simple catechism and share the little food she had. The locals laughed at her religious devotion, and called her ‘the little bigot’.
Once in winter, her stepmother, Hortense, accused her of stealing bread by hiding it in her apron, and threatened to beat her with a stick. Germaine opened her apron, and summer flowers tumbled out. Her parents and neighbors were awed by the obvious miracle, and began to treat her as a holy person. Her parents invited her to rejoin the household, but Germaine chose to live as she had.
In 1601 she was found dead on her straw pallet under the stairs, and she was buried in the Church of Pibrac opposite the pulpit. When accidentally exhumed in 1644 during a renovation, her body was found incorrupt. In 1793 the casket was desecrated by an anti-Catholic tinsmith named Toulza, who with three accomplices took out the remains and buried them in the sacristy, throwing quick-lime and water on them. After the French Revolution, her body was found to be still intact save where the quick-lime had done its work.
Documents attest to more than 400 miracles or extraordinary graces received through the intervention of Saint Germain. They include cures of every kind (of blindness, both congenital and resulting from disease, of hip and of spinal disease), and the multiplication of food for the distressed community of the Good Shepherd at Bourges, France in 1845.
“Dear God, please don’t let me be too hungry or too thirsty. Help me to please my mother. And help me to please You.” – prayer of Saint Germaine
O Saint Germaine, look down from Heaven and intercede for the many abused children in our world. Help them to sanctify these sufferings. Strengthen children who suffer the effects of living in broken families. Protect those children who have been abandoned by their parents and live in the streets. Beg God’s mercy on the parents and adults who abuse children. Intercede for handicapped children and their parents.
Saint Germaine, you who suffered neglect and abuse so patiently, pray for us. Amen.
by John L Allen Jr on May. 29, 2010
When the innocence of children is “trampled upon, broken, sullied, abused, and destroyed,” then “the earth becomes arid and the whole world sad,” the Vatican’s top sexual abuse prosecutor said this morning in Rome.
Monsignor Charles J. Scicluna indirectly critiqued the clerical culture in which abuser priests were routinely given second chances.
Christian friendship, Scicluna said, is “submitted to the law of God,” so if a member of the church is an “occasion of sin,” then a believer “has no other choice … but to cut this tie.”
Weeding out abusers, Scicluna implied, is a form of “divine surgery” intended to save the body by amputating a diseased part.
Scicluna, a Maltese priest who serves as Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spoke as part of a service of reparation for abuse committed by priests and for healing within the church organized by students at Rome’s pontifical institutions. The service took place this morning in St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Altar of the Chair of Peter.
Scicluna delivered a homily for the service. Widely considered the Vatican’s top expert on the sexual abuse crisis, Scicluna rarely speaks in public – making his comments this morning all the more significant.
Tapped by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, today Pope Benedict XVI, to handle the canonical response to charges of sexual abuse against priests, Scicluna is widely seen as the architect of the more aggressive approach to the crisis which emerged in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith after 2001.
This morning, Scicluna delivered a largely spiritual meditation on the relationship between Jesus and children, saying that “the church, the spouse of Jesus, has always had a special care and solicitude for children and the weak.”
According to the fathers of the church, Scicluna said, a child was “the eloquent icon of innocence.”
In that light, Scicluna argued, destroying the innocence of a child makes the entire earth “arid” and “sad.”
Quoting St. Gregory the Great, Scicluna suggested that such sins are especially heinous when committed by priests.
“After having taken a profession of holiness, anyone who destroys others through words or deed would have been better off if their misdeeds had caused them to die in secular dress, rather than, through their holy office, being imposed as an example for others in their sins. Without doubt, if they had fallen all by themselves, their suffering in Hell would be easier to bear.”
Scicluna contrasted the innocence of children with arrogance and careerism in the church.
“How many sins in the church [have happened] because of arrogance, insatiable ambition, abuse of power and injustices committed by those who abuse their ministry to advance their career?”, Scicluna asked.
He denounced the “futile and wretched motives of vainglory.”
The remedy to such scandals offered by God as the “Divine Surgeon,” according to Scicluna, is to “cut out [disease] in order to heal,” and to “amputate in order to restore health.”
Beyond such drastic measures, Scicluna also proposed the “preventive medicine” of solid formation for future priests, calling on them to be on fire with the faith, making them salt and light for the world.
This morning’s service of reparation included an hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a period of guided prayer meditation led by Scicluna, and concluded with a solemn benediction. Students who organized the event said they decided to do so “in the wake of the media attention given in recent months to abuses perpetrated by priests, and in response to the Holy Father’s call to penance in his Letter to Ireland (http://www.zenit.org/article-28701?l=english).”
As an activist for the protection of children, I have spent the last three years reading and hearing the unreadable and the un-hearable. I will wish I had not read it, or heard it until I die. I can understand how someone unfamiliar with the subject would not understand. Tragically, ignorance does not heal the afflicted. I have observed how different countries have responded. Archbishop Martin, it is my strong opinion, has responded in a more open, honest and healthy way than the Church in the US continues to do so.
I still meet and speak with the ordained here in the US who “don’t get it”. They should spend more time with the survivors of clerical sexual abuse, if those survivors could tolerate their presence. I can tell you from much personal experience, those survivors are a blessing to me. They reflect God to me, more than defensive denial or minimization ever could.
We must relearn the words and the meaning of the words as Catholic Christians, “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”. Every one of us. And beg the mercy of God and the forgiveness of survivors of offenses by the Church. The Lord is a just judge. (Psalm 7, etc.) We must also remember the judgment of the Lord will be harsher upon those who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders, therefore a sacrament most grave.
I strongly encourage you to read the article in its entirety:
As I reflected, the first emotion that came to me was one of anger:
• anger at what had happened in the diocese of Cloyne and at response – or non-response – that was made to children whose lives had been ruptured by abuse;
• anger at the fact that children had been put at risk well after agreed guidelines were in place which were approved by all the Irish bishops;
• anger at how thousands of men and women in this diocese of Dublin must feel, who have invested time and training to ensure that the Church they love and hope can be different would truly be a safe place for children;
• anger at the fact that there were in Cloyne – and perhaps elsewhere – individuals who placed their own views above the safeguarding of children, and seemingly without any second thought placed themselves outside and above the regime of safeguarding to which their diocese and the Irish bishops had committed themselves.
Paradoxically, appealing somehow to their own interpretation of Canon Law they had put themselves even above and beyond the norms which the current Pope himself has promulgated for the entire Church.
Some years ago I was criticized in some Church circles for speaking of strong forces still present in the Church which “would prefer that the truth did not emerge”. “There are signs”, I said, “of subconscious denial on the part of many about the extent of the abuse which occurred within the Church of Jesus Christ in Ireland and how it was covered up. There are other signs of rejection of a sense of responsibility for what had happened. There are worrying signs that despite solid regulations and norms these are not being followed with the rigour required”.
Much has, thank God, been undertaken within the Catholic Church to address the facts of the past and to improve safeguarding procedures. The Catholic Church in Ireland is a much safer place today than it was even in the recent past.
Much is being said, on the other hand, that despite words the Church has not learned the lessons. Both statements are true. At our liturgy of lament and reconciliation I stressed that that event was only a first step. “It would be easy for all of us”, I said, ”to go away this afternoon somehow feeling good but feeling also ‘that is that now’, ‘it’s over’, ‘now we can get back to normal’”. I repeat once again what I said on that occasion “The Church can never rest until the day in which the last victim has found his or her peace and he or she can rejoice in being fully the person that God in his plan wants them to be”.
That is a challenge not just for bishops and Church leaders. It is a challenge for all. Obviously in this diocese it is a challenge to me personally. I know my own inadequacies and I do not wish to present myself as being better or more expert than anyone else. Like all of us, I need to have the courage to address my responsibilities with the utmost honesty day by day.
All of us need to have in place systems of verification and review which help us to identify mistakes made or areas where more can be done or things can be done better. We need to continue to build a cooperative climate where all the institutions of the Church work in a constructive way together and with the institutions of the State, which bears the primary responsibility for child safeguarding in the country.
I thank the priests and lay persons in this diocese who have committed themselves to implementing our child safeguarding policies and I appeal to them not to be become frustrated or indifferent. The Church needs you.
However, those in Church and State who have acted wrongly or inadequately should assume accountability.
What is at stake here is not just the past, but the future of our children and our young people and the need to foster a healthy environment across the board in which our upcoming generations are cherished and can grow to maturity. This is a huge challenge and cannot be addressed in a patchwork manner. The early results of the most recent census indicate that there will be a significant growth in the numbers and the proportion of children and young people in our population in the coming years. This will inevitably require significant investment.
While recognising the challenges of our current economic crisis, our long-term economic planning cannot overlook the need to provide not just protection but also vision, hope and opportunity for this future generation.
As believers we know that in the long-term Christ who sows the good seed in our midst will work tirelessly to see that those forces “that provoke offence and who do evil” will not prevail but will face judgement on their lives.