Category Archives: Protection of Youth

Survivors’ Voices: What I want to say to Catholics

“The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops” – ST. ATHANASIUS
“The road to Hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts” – ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM.
“The road to Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” – ST. JOHN EUDES
“I do not think that there are many among bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish.” – ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, EXTRACT FROM ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, HOMILY III ON ACTS 1:12
“The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” – ST. ATHANASIUS, COUNCIL OF NICAEA, AD 325.
“It is better that scandals arise than truth be suppressed.” – POPE ST. GREGORY THE GREAT.
“It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate, even publicly” – ST THOMAS AQUINAS, SUMMA THEOLOGICA II, II q.33

“Mercy detached from Justice and the Truth about Good and Evil, quickly disintegrates into mere sentimentalism, irrationality and a gross inability to think logically and clearly about right or wrong – or anything at all.” -Paige

“Who’s going to save our Church? It’s not our bishops, it’s not our priests and it is not the religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that the priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and the religious act like religious.” – Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen


-by Sara Larson

“Friends, I am truly honored to share this post with you today, the first in what I hope will be a long-running series lifting up the voices of survivors.

…I have received responses from 21 people who have experienced sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and agreed to share their voices in this way. I am grateful to be able to include a diverse collection of perspectives – from women and men, young and old, those who were abused as children and those abused as adults, those who have remained Catholic and those who have left the Church (and every gray area in between).

Full disclosure: Right now, this Survivor Voices Panel does not accurately reflect the demographics of survivors as a whole. I have more personal connections with female survivors, so the panel has a heavy bias towards women’s voices. Also, the majority of these respondents are people who have remained Catholic, which is by no means representative of all survivors. Finally, this panel only includes the voices of three people of color, which I recognize as a deficit, especially as we are coming to understand the underreporting of abuse in historically marginalized communities. I hope to continue to add voices to this panel and create more balance over time.

If you have experienced sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, I would be honored to include your perspective in this “Survivors’ Voices” series.

For July, I asked the Survivor Voices Panel to share responses to this question:

What is one thing you would like to say to Catholics about the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church?
This post contains responses directly from 12 survivors (some of whom shared more than one response). Each of these survivors speaks solely for themselves and their particular experiences. I have only made minor edits for spelling, grammar, and clarity. More responses to this question will be included in Part 2, which I will published next week.

Without further ado, here is what these survivors had to say:

      • I’d like Catholics to know that the response to survivors is NOT what it seems; I’ve received nothing in terms of help. And worse. This is despite Vos Estis Lux Mundi, the Pope’s (supposed) bill of rights for survivors. I know for a fact that I’m not the only survivor in such a situation, and I suspect people like me are in the majority.
      • I believe clergy sexual abuse is greatly under-reported. Most victims I know have never reported. The climate is still not safe to disclose these secrets.
      • Within the sexual abuse, there is often spiritual abuse, which has been incredibly difficult for me to come to terms with. The name of God was used as a weapon, and many beautiful Bible passages were used to manipulate and control me. It has greatly affected my faith, and made me feel, in a way, that I was abused by God. My head knows that this is not true, but it wasn’t just my body that was violated, it was my soul as well.
      • The problem is not fixed. Some strides have been made, but the default is still to protect the priest or bishop and to silence the victim.
      • Despite the fact that the abuse is not the fault of the victim, we still carry guilt and shame. Although many people think that clericalism is getting better, it is still alive and well, even if we choose not to see it. I have found I have received more empathy and compassion from those that have experienced deep pain or loss, or have themselves been victims. The most judgement and condemnation has come from scrupulous, conservative Catholics, many of whom were people that I was close to; that in itself was another form of betrayal.
      • Most abusers are charming and well liked. Do not assume your priest “could never.”
      • Please take safe environment stuff seriously and hold to a culture of accountability. Abuse can happen anywhere, but it’s more likely to happen in places where safe environment rules aren’t in place. It’s definitely the first thing I notice about a parish now – whether or not they apply this consistently, or whether certain people are the “exception.”
      • Priests and parishioners quickly jump to “Church-haters” as the reason this issue comes up. The truth is too much to bear, so they jump to denial.
      • Throughout history, the Catholic Church has had soaring highs and deep lows. This crisis has truly been a new low in its broadness and scope. Pray to Jesus to heal the wounds of the victims and of the Church as we continue to move forward toward revision and accountability.
      • The responsibility of every Catholic is to be vigilant; if you see something, say something. Report to law enforcement.  C-A-L-L T-H-E P-O-L-I-C-E!!!
      • One problem is that the sexual abuse is perpetrated by a man ordained in-the-person-of-Christ, another-Christ, a man referred to as “Father,” a person within a self-governing, powerful faith institution entrenched in history. For decades I cowered under this enormous mountain of impossible darkness. As a child the conflict, terror, and shame sent my soul hiding, my mouth silenced, my brain spinning in confusion and guilt, and my gut unable to function properly at times. To deny the negative effects of doctrine and praxis that link god too closely with select humans is a problem.
      • Victim isn’t a bad word, and victims aren’t people to be afraid of. We aren’t something the Church needs defending from. As we learn in the Tenth Station [of the Cross], the Body of Christ is herself the body of a sexual abuse victim. Jesus Himself suffered this abuse; He does not want you to look away from that, He needs you to love Him in that.
      • The root of the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is abuse of power and clericalism. The power and authority a priest has over those entrusted to his spiritual care can easily become a weapon when a priest possesses evil intent. Clericalism leads to the pedestals so many Catholics blindly place priests upon, which enable sexual predator priests – both in their actions and in keeping their victims silent.
      • The reality of the response of the Catholic Church to survivors, is that “Your Mileage May Vary.” Things vary for survivors according to when and where you were abused and, in my case, who witnessed your abuse and their current position in the hierarchy of the church. Vos Estis was supposed to solve this problem, but it’s not being enforced, despite my pleas to the Pope.
      • I would like Catholics to know that helping survivors should not have a “one stop shop” approach. It is not enough to have an office of protection or resolution. The laity and regular churchgoers have to be compassionate. The priests, other clergy, nuns and religious have to also welcome those in need of support. There has to be an end to slamming the door in the face of those in need, for when this is done, it is done to Our Lord, as He said in Scripture.
      • Part of the problem is that priests are accountable to no one but themselves. A priest has no wife or family to question him about unexplained absences, inappropriate behavior, flirtations, unhealthy relationships/boundaries, and it’s rare that a well-meaning parishioner would address it because “he’s the priest.” This gives a priest with evil designs prime opportunity to manipulate and take advantage of a vulnerable person he sets his sights on. This is not a problem of the past, this happens today.
      • Do not remain silent. If you see injustice towards survivors in your community or parish, say something. Silence from fellow Catholics is exquisitely painful for survivors. Educate yourselves on the effects of the trauma experienced as a result of sexual abuse by someone in the Church. Be gentle with survivors; we aren’t perfect. We are striving to find our way in the midst of a great deal of pain. The place that was once safe for us turned into a place of physical, emotional and/or spiritual torture; coming back to that requires immense trust. We need gentleness, empathy, mercy, and love. Defending priests/parish staff who don’t handle abuse well is not helpful. While praying for survivors is definitely a gift, we need action along with your prayers.
      • The crisis is not over. There are still untold numbers of victims who have never disclosed.
      • Abuse in the Catholic Church is unlike abuse in any other institution: home, family, school, work. We can flee from those places and those people to the safety of our loving God, to our church, the body of Christ. When abuse occurs within our religious tradition, our faith – our one place of refuge – suffers a wound like no other.
      • THE COVER UP. I want people to know it’s real and it’s still going on. Everything I was taught about Catholicism – when I was a boy and I wanted to be a priest – has been shattered. For example, the Catholic Church continues fighting against victim compensation for their own criminal acts of sexual abuse. That’s the complete opposite of the values I was taught in CCD and decades of attending church.
      • Priests do not become child molesters. Child molesters become priests.
      • I had a priest tell me on and on about how abuse victims are: Church-haters, money-grubbers, etc. I finally stopped him and said, “Father, you’re talking to one right now.” He was completely thrown off. Confused. Finally he said, “That’s not possible. You love the Church.” I said, “I do love the Church. And I am one of the victims.” It shifted his thinking, what he thought he knew. We’re still friends but have far deeper conversations.
      • Pope Francis and Pope Benedict have NEVER taken responsibility for their part in the sex abuse scandal. They both knew it was happening and stayed silent.
      • [When I reported my abuse], I felt as if I was seen as a problem that had to be dealt with, carefully, and at a distance. When in reality, I was the women at the well, drowning in my shame. I was the hemorrhaging woman, grasping for the hem of the Lord’s cloak, desperate for His healing, but also, desperate for the Lord, in His Body, to come close. To see and hear me. To accept me as I was, even as I was in shock from all that had been lost, and to show me first how to stop the bleeding, and then to sit with me while I grieved, and finally to help me find a way forward.
      • As victim-survivors we often have to make choices that others will disagree or find fault with, such as whether or not we can attend Mass. For many of us, Mass is a trigger, and we need to learn to be gentle with ourselves by avoiding those activities, actions, or people that cause us to be triggered. Being told that we are in the wrong for making these choices only hurts more. Please support our decisions rather than judge them or judge us.”
      • It took me a very long time to find a support group, and I have found that to be very helpful. Where I live, there is no support offered at all. I had to go look for it, and I had to go far away to find it. Isolation is a big problem for victims in the church, and I also feel it is a tool that is used to keep this quiet. I know many people still suffer in isolation and in secret, and I found that having a voice and being met with empathy helped to diminish the shame that we all carry.
      • I spent, and wasted, a decade of my life being bouyed up by the talk that would come from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope Francis – hoping that THIS TIME they would help me, or they would force my archdiocese to help me. Only to see that things never got better, only worse. I’ve come to understand that the Catholic Church, as an institution – and especially the hierarchy and its enablers – is simply incapable of doing the right thing, of helping people. I’ve finally wised up and have taken ownership of my recovery. Fortunately, that has allowed me to go and talk directly to lay Catholics, in whom I do see signs of hope. If Catholics do fix the problem, it will be as a result of lay Catholics helping survivors – and vice versa.
      • I participated in a Grief to Grace Retreat. Some great beginnings of healing and facing the fullness of the abuse began there. This retreat offered a safe place to share, listen, and reflect on God’s presence in my process of healing.
      • Priests who compassionately listen to my story of abuse and simply sit with me in my suffering. I am reminded of St. John who was the only apostle to remain at the Cross during Our Lord’s Crucifixion, bearing witness to the agony of Christ. Priests who have simply witnessed the fallout of abuse remind me a lot of St. John at the Crucifixion. While some priests have been like the other apostles and run away from my suffering, I am so incredibly grateful for those who have remained with me during my suffering.
      • Recognition. Childhood abuses robbed me of knowing I was good and valuable. My value as a catholic child was tied up in being an object the god/priest used to gratify his sexual urges then to dump the guilt/sin/shame on. In my forties, when I began to heal, I was lifted when catholics, especially catholic leadership recognized my goodness and my value. I needed a whole lot of people to recognize the good and value in me before I began to believe it of myself.
      • I’m especially grateful for the people who didn’t judge me and spoke truth into the lies that swarmed all around me in the early months of my healing journey. I’m also grateful for those people who never gave up on God and didn’t give up on me. Walking with victims of clergy abuse is not for the faint of heart. There are many ups and downs. I’m grateful for those who never abandoned me.
      • I think the most helpful thing for me has been being able to share my story with other victims and hear their stories. I got so much affirmation in seeing how many similarities there were between their stories and mine. I also found reading books on clerical sexual abuse and spiritual abuse very helpful, but also triggering. I have really needed to know that we CAN get through this, and that healing will come, in time.
      • For my personal healing, I found therapy to be absolutely vital.
      • One of the things I found helpful in healing from being raped by a priest is slowly getting to know a few good and holy priests and sharing my story with them. It was really healing for me to see those in the priesthood who would get angry for me and be compassionate. This went a long way in healing my relationship with the Church.
      • Friends who listen and are willing to wrestle with stuff with me. I have a couple friends who haven’t been through abuse but are still willing to listen and talk to me about what I’m struggling with. I’ve learned that this is rare; most people give me a deer-in-headlights stare, awkwardly say “I’m sorry,” and then change the subject as quickly as possible.
      • A local prayer ministry. Their prayers and love kept me grounded in the midst of the tsunami of the reporting process. The game-playing, cruelty, and beatdown by the diocese was devastating. The ongoing harassment to silence me was pure torture. When I showed up sobbing and sat there sobbing, this prayer ministry took me in as I was. They sat with me in my pain.
      • My primary act of recovery as I continue to heal from my wounds of childhood sexual abuse was telling my wife my story. Initially, I thought she would think differently of me as her husband and father to our children. She responded to me with compassion, love and understanding. For me, healing started at home.
      • Telling the pastor of our parish was my second act of recovery which has been helpful to my healing journey. I was anxious about sharing my story because I thought he might think I had a problem with him or was questioning his good ministry or his good character. He listened to me, and he heard the depth of my sadness and pain.
      • Grief to Grace Ministry and its healing retreat for sexual abuse survivors. It got me started in therapy and helped me discover where God was in the midst of the storm.
      • I know opinions about EMDR therapy vary, but it’s honestly the only thing that ever helped my PTSD symptoms after nearly a decade of trying different things. I’m grateful to the clerical sexual abuse survivor I met around the time of my own assault, who saved me a lot of grief and struggle by telling me: “Don’t go to the church for help. Go to therapy, and your community, and maybe the police. But not the church.”
      • Sharing the story of my abuse. In 40+ years I had only mentioned it to four people. Sharing the story has lifted the shame and fear of people finding out what was done to me.
      • What has been most helpful to me in my healing journey has been the immediate and continued support of priests in the positions of authority in the chancery office of my diocese. If I had received different treatment from these men in the chancery when I came forward, it’s doubtful I would be alive, much less been able to remain in the Catholic Church. Being treated with care and concern throughout the reporting process by representatives of the church was definitely the foundation of my healing which God has continued to build upon. The second most impactful part of my healing has been meeting and talking with other survivors.
      • Mother Nature. I couldn’t speak of the atrocities to any human for nearly four decades. When among the trees, in the garden, breathing sunshine, hiking cliff banks, paddling deep water, wandering cedar swamps, and held in the stillness of the air, I was, and still am, loved, cared for, part of, included, nurtured, teachable, humbled, free, whole, and restored.
      • One thing that has been helpful in my healing journey, sadly – and paradoxically – is coming to understand that my archdiocese will NEVER help me. That eventually freed me to look for help in unexpected places and to take ownership of my recovery, to save myself.
      • The love and support of my family. Every one of them understands, as far as one can without actually being a survivor. In order to receive family support, that meant I had to tell someone the secret.
      • Empathy and patience from those within the Church who have allowed me the freedom to heal at my own pace and without a hidden agenda. People who have stayed with me in the midst of mind-blowing rage, gut-wrenching sadness, suicidal ideation, and overwhelming despair/hopelessness – and didn’t try to rush me through the process of those painful emotions which are a normal and healthy part of the healing process.
      • The most helpful thing is knowing that I’m not alone. Having support groups (even/especially virtual groups during COVID) has given me a place where I don’t have to defend myself or worry that I’m the one at fault.

Lord, have mercy,
Matthew

The Catholic Echo Chamber

I am praying for relief from the Catholic echo chamber. I first heard it at Donald McGuire‘s sentencing hearing. Although in a prison orange jumpsuit and wheelchair, he began speaking the Catholic tape in his head, and all the Catholic nods starting nodding. Chilling. His family was there. The victims were there whom I sat with. No Jesuits. Telling. I recently heard it on a Word on Fire podcast where the priest and the interviewer just kept nodding at each other. Chilling. I hear it from those who have been institutionalized all their lives, the capacity for independent thought outside the echo chamber is gone forever. Smell like the sheep. In order to smell like the sheep, you have to be one.

It is this echo chamber which allowed the continued abuse of children and it’s cover up. I think Catholics are more dismayed, angry, frustrated, now devoid of faith by the way the Church treated the victims more than the crime itself. The echo chamber is alive and well. Clericalism is not dead. All the old structures which lead to tragedy still exist as they did before. Leading us further into tragedy. The one thing the Catholic Church does NOT do is…Listen.

Love & reform,
Matthew

Diocese of La Crosse, WI

1/18/20

The Diocese of La Crosse released the names Saturday of more than two dozen clergy who have faced a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse.

The diocese said none of the accused are now in public ministry. Many are listed as deceased. The list comes from an independent review of clergy files dating to 1868 by the audit firm Defenbaugh & Associates Inc.

Established in 1868, the Diocese of La Crosse serves nearly 200,000 Catholics in 19 counties: Adams, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Marathon, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Portage, Richland, Trempealeau, Vernon and Wood.

Those identified are:

Bruce Ball

Raymond Bornbach

Albert Sonnberger

James Stauber

Patrick Umberger

Raymond J. Wagner

Two were identified as being from another order or diocese, but whose allegation occurred while service the Diocese of La Crosse:

Timothy Svea

Bogdan Werra

Five more were identified as non-diocesan clergy whose whose names appear on a list in another diocese or religious order. The Diocese of La Crosse has no specific information relating to the allegations.

Those clergy are:

Dennis Bouche

Daniel Budzynski

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/usccb/natureandscope/dioceses/lacrossewi.htm

“The statistics for the Diocese of La Crosse reveal that, out of 705 clergy who have served in the diocese between 1950 and 2002, there have been 10 individuals (including one who was not a priest of the diocese) with substantiated allegations against them. The result is that only 1.4 percent of the total clergy population in that time period had substantiated allegations.

Accused Clerics: 28 (of which allegations were substantiated against 10; of that 10, one was not a priest of the diocese)
Total Priests: 705 (of which 478 diocesan priests, 187 religious order priests, and 40 deacons)
Allegations: 58 (of which allegations against 3 were “withdrawn” or the priest was “exonerated”; 24 were unsubstantiated)

On January 6, 2004, the Diocese of La Crosse released its statistics regarding sexual abuse of minors by clergy.”

2/5/20

“The Diocese of La Crosse has released the names of seven more priests who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

These additions, made Wednesday, include two priests who held assignments in La Crosse and four who worked at a now defunct Jesuit boarding school in Prairie du Chien.

They are:

At least five of the priests have died, and the other two were long ago dismissed by the Society of Jesus. It is unclear whether Cannon (dismissed in 1997) and Haller (dismissed in 1982) are still alive, still working with children or still serving in religious roles.

Though they served within the boundaries of the La Crosse diocese, none of the seven priests were official diocesan clergy or directly overseen by the bishop.

Wednesday’s disclosure came less than three weeks after the diocese released the names of 20 priests who were credibly accused of child abuse while serving in the diocese.

The list included J. Thomas Finucan, who was president of Viterbo University in La Crosse from 1970 to 1980.”

God is merciful. God is just.

Love,
Matthew

“Woe to you scribes & pharisees…” -Mt 23

Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo, congregational leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, attends the third day of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 23, 2019. Sister Openibo told the gathering that clerical sexual abuse “has reduced the credibility of the church when transparency should the hallmark of mission as followers of Jesus Christ.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SUMMIT-OPEN-OPENIBO and SUMMIT-MARX Feb. 23, 2019.  Please click on the image for greater detail.
Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo, congregational leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, attends the third day of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 23, 2019. Sister Openibo told the gathering that clerical sexual abuse “has reduced the credibility of the church when transparency should the hallmark of mission as followers of Jesus Christ.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SUMMIT-OPEN-OPENIBO and SUMMIT-MARX Feb. 23, 2019.  Please click on the image for greater detail.
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago and Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo, congregational leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, attend the third day of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 23, 2019. Sister Openibo told the gathering that clerical sexual abuse “has reduced the credibility of the church when transparency should the hallmark of mission as followers of Jesus Christ.” (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SUMMIT-OPEN-OPENIBO and SUMMIT-MARX Feb. 23, 2019. Please click on the image for greater detail.

Church credibility ruined by silent hypocrisy, sister tells summit

-by Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

2.23.2019 6:25 AM ET

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The hypocrisy of Catholic leaders who claimed to be guardians of morality yet remained silent about clerical sexual abuse has left the church’s credibility in shambles, an African woman religious told bishops at the Vatican summit on abuse.

“Yes, we proclaim the Ten Commandments and ‘parade ourselves’ as being the custodians of moral standards-values and good behavior in society. Hypocrites at times? Yes! Why did we keep silent for so long?” asked Nigerian Sister Veronica Openibo, congregational leader of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

Addressing Pope Francis and nearly 190 representatives of the world’s bishops’ conferences and religious orders Feb. 23, Sister Openibo insisted the church needed to be transparent and open in facing the abuse crisis.

In a poignant yet powerful speech, the Nigerian sister reminded the bishops of the church’s universal mission to be a light for the world and a “manifestation of the Christ we know as both human and divine.”

However, she said, the “widespread and systemic” sexual abuse of children by clergy and the subsequent cover-up have “seriously clouded the grace of the Christ-mission.”

Clerical sex abuse, she said, “is a crisis that has reduced the credibility of the church when transparency should be the hallmark of mission as followers of Jesus Christ. The fact that many accuse the Catholic Church today of negligence is disturbing.”

She also called out bishops, particularly in Asia and her native Africa, who dismiss the abuse crisis as a Western problem, citing several personal experiences she confronted while counseling men and women who were abused.

“The fact that there are huge issues of poverty, illness, war and violence in some countries in the global South does not mean that the area of sexual abuse should be downplayed or ignored. The church has to be pro-active in facing it,” she said.

Church leaders cannot think they can “keep silent until the storm has passed,” Sister Openibo told them. “This storm will not pass by.”

Outlining steps the Catholic Church can take to move toward true transparency and healing, she suggested beginning with the admission of wrongdoing and publishing “what has been done since the time of Pope John Paul II.”

“It may not be sufficient in the eyes of many, but it will show that the church had not been totally silent,” she said.

Along with clear and comprehensive safeguarding policies in every diocese and devoting resources to help survivors heal from their suffering, Sister Openibo said the church also must give seminarians and male and female novices a “clear and balanced education and training” about sexuality and boundaries.

“It worries me when I see in Rome, and elsewhere, the youngest seminarians being treated as though they are more special than everyone else, thus encouraging them to assume — from the beginning of their training — exalted ideas about their status,” she said.

Religious women also are susceptible to a way of thinking that leads to “a false sense of superiority over their lay sisters and brothers,” she added.

“What damage has that thinking done to the mission of the church? Have we forgotten the reminder by Vatican II in ‘Gaudium et Spes’ of the universal call to holiness?” she asked.

Looking toward Pope Francis seated on the dais near here, Sister Openibo spoke directly about his initial denial and subsequent about-face regarding the abuse crisis in Chile and accusations of cover-up made against bishops.

“I admire you, Brother Francis, for taking time as a true Jesuit, to discern and be humble enough to change your mind, to apologize and take action — an example for all of us,” she told the pope.

Transparency, she said, also will mean treating equally all clerics who abuse children and not shying away from acknowledging the names of abusers, even if they are high-ranking churchmen or already have died.

“The excuse that respect be given to some priests by virtue of their advanced years and hierarchical position is unacceptable,” she said.

Of course, “we can feel sad” for clerics whose offenses are being brought out into the open, Sister Openibo said, “but my heart bleeds for many of the victims who have lived with the misplaced shame and guilt of repeated violations for years.”

By protecting children, seeking justice for survivors and taking the necessary steps toward zero tolerance of sexual abuse, she said, the Catholic Church can fulfill its mission to preach the good news, announce deliverance to the captives and “proclaim the Lord’s year of favor.”

“This is our year of favor,” she said. “Let us courageously take up the responsibility to be truly transparent and accountable.””

Lord, have mercy,
Matthew

Litany for Abuse Survivors

-by Mary Pezzulo

“Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven Who created all people in His image, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Who descended to earth to suffer with us, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, who carried the Son of God as an exile and a refugee, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins who was suspected of adultery and nearly divorced by Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saint Michael, defender of the children of God, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel, consoling angel of Gethsemane, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the healer, pray for us.
All you holy angels and archangels, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist who was imprisoned and murdered, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, protector of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Holy Abel who was murdered by his brother, pray for us.
Holy Patriarch Noah who was sexually humiliated by his son, pray for us.
Holy Patriarch Isaac who was bound and nearly killed by Abraham, pray for us.
Holy Matriarch Hagar who was abused by Sarah and Abraham but the Lord heard her cry, pray for us.
Holy Patriarch Jacob who fled from being killed by his brother, pray for us.
Holy Matriarchs Rachel and Leah who were forced into conflict and suffering by their father and husband, pray for us.
Holy Dinah who was raped and then sold by her father, pray for us.
Holy Patriarch Joseph who was sold into slavery and imprisoned on false charges, pray for us.
Holy Jochebed, the mother of Moses who saved him from genocide, pray for us.
Holy Prophet Moses who was separated from his mother and left in the Nile to save him from a genocide, pray for us.
Holy Hannah who was mocked for being childless, pray for us.
Holy Prophet Elijah who fled to the wilderness, pray for us.
Holy Prophet Jeremiah who was thrown into the cistern, pray for us.
Holy Queen Esther, victim of a forced marriage to a violent man, pray for us.
All you holy matriarchs, patriarchs and prophets, pray for us.
Saint Peter, crucified upside down by Rome, pray for us.
Saint Paul, beheaded by Rome, pray for us.
Saint Andrew, crucified by Rome, pray for us.
Saint James the Greater, put to the sword by Rome, pray for us.
Saint John the Beloved, exiled by Rome, pray for us.
Saint Thomas, murdered in India, pray for us.
Saint James the Less, crucified in Egypt, pray for us.
Saint Philip, crucified by Rome, pray for us.
Saint Bartholomew, skinned alive, pray for us.
Saint Matthew, murdered at the altar, pray for us.
Saint Simon, sawn in half, pray for us.
Saint Thaddeus, murdered with an ax, pray for us.
Saint Barnabas, murdered by Rome, pray for us.
Saint Luke, dragged to death by horses, pray for us.
Saint Mark, strangled to death, pray for us.
Saint Mary Magdalene, equal to apostles, who was disbelieved and ridiculed when she preached the Resurrection, pray for us.
All you holy apostles and evangelists, pray for us.
All you holy innocents, murdered by genocide, pray for us.
Saint Agnes, dragged naked through the street, pray for us.
Saint Agatha, mutilated to satisfy Quintianus’s lust, pray for us.
Saints Felicity and Perpetua, separated from their children, humiliated and murdered for Roman entertainment, pray for us.
Saint Lucy, tortured and blinded, pray for us.
All Holy Early Martyrs, who were raped and sexually tortured in their martyrdom, pray for us.
Saint Grace of Lerida, betrayed by her brother and murdered, pray for us.
Saint Charles Lwanga, and his companions, murdered for resisting homosexual molestation & pedophilia, pray for us.
Saint Dymphna, murdered for fleeing molestation by her father, pray for us.
Saint Gerebran, murdered for protecting Saint Dymphna, pray for us.
Saint Maria Goretti, murdered by a rapist, whose story was exploited to shame rape victims, pray for us.
All you holy martyrs, pray for us.
Saint Monica, victim of domestic violence who could not escape and thought it was virtue to submit to abuse, pray for us.
Saint Patrick, who was kidnapped and enslaved, pray for us.
Saint Francis, who was abused by his father, pray for us.
Saint Clare, who escaped a forced marriage, pray for us.
Saint Rose of Viturbo, who was thrown out by the Poor Clares, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Sienna, who was abused by her mother, pray for us.
Saint Joseph of Cupertino, rejected by his mother and humiliated by his brother Franciscans, pray for us.
Blessed Margaret of Castello, who was neglected and abandoned by her parents, pray for us.
Blessed Laura Vicuña, beaten by her stepfather, pray for us.
Saint Joan of Arc, who was burned to death as a witch, pray for us.
Saint Rita of Cascia, victim of domestic violence, pray for us.
Saint John of the Cross, imprisoned and tortured by his brother Carmelites, pray for us.
Saint Marguerite Mary Alacoque, mocked by her fellow sisters, pray for us.
Saint Bernadette, mocked and gaslit by her fellow Catholics, pray for us.
Blessed Lucia of Fatima, beaten by her mother, pray for us.
Saints Jacinta and Francisco Marto, psychologically tortured by the police, pray for us.
Saint Mary MacKillop, slandered and excommunicated for reporting child abuse, pray for us.
Saint Martin DePorres, mocked and humiliated by racists, pray for us.
Saint Josephine Bakhita who was enslaved, pray for us.
Saint Edith Stein, stripped naked and gassed to death in a genocide, pray for us.
All you holy men and women of God, victims of violence by those inside and outside the Church, pray for us.
From the belief that the abused are lesser Christians than we are, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From the belief that abuse by fellow Catholics makes us lesser Catholics, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From cycles of domestic violence and child abuse, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From the belief that being a victim is shameful, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From the belief that being victims of sexual violence makes us dirty and unworthy, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From the belief that spiritual abuse inflicted on us was loving and somehow merited, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From clerics, religious and spiritual leaders who believe their vocation gives them the right to victimize, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From the shame of telling our stories, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From the idolatry of clericalism and the worship of celebrity Catholics, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From the trauma that has come down on us through others’ sin through no fault of our own, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From the shame of believing we brought it on ourselves, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
From the belief that God despises us because the Church does, Lord, deliver us, we pray.
That all of us in the Church may protect the victims of violence and abuse, Lord, we ask you, hear our prayer.
That all of us in the Church may have the courage to tell the truth, Lord, we ask you, hear our prayer.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, we ask you, hear our prayer!”

From the agony and suffering of soul murder caused by pedophilia, Lord, deliver us, we pray.

Love,
Matthew
BOLD = emphasis mine

Nov 3 – #AllSurvivorsDay


-PLEASE click on the image for greater detail

“And I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” -Rev 20:11-15

Help Us Celebrate Survivors on #AllSurvivorsDay 2020

“All Survivors Day, November 3, is an international opportunity to raise awareness of sexual abuse, stand in support and recognition of survivors, and to come together to change the culture that surrounds sexual violence. Whether you are holding an in-person event in your local community or will be adding your voice using the #AllSurvivorsDay hashtag, using social media can help spread the word about the day and get people on board with the cause….

..In 2018, the All Survivors Day coalition brought together survivors in 35 countries across 3 continents for the purpose of bringing attention to the issue of sexual violence and showing collaboration in creating a world in which all survivors are recognized, believed, and supported.

In 2019, we are looking to build on this success and spread the word about All Survivors Day even further, and especially on social media. We are hopeful that on November 3, 2019, organizations that participated in ASD 2018 will be willing to participate in this social media campaign. This year, we will be focusing on sharing ways that the public can support survivors and help protect children from abuse. Those ways include:

Advocating for public policy that benefits survivors and helps prevent abuse, such as statute of limitations reform, increased funding for prevention programs and education, and mandatory reporting legislation.
Demanding federal and state leaders take action to prevent future cases of sexual abuse, such as by opening state AG investigations or convening federal working groups to address the issue of sexual violence in any sphere, public or private.
Supporting organizations and causes that promote healing, prevention, and change…

* All survivors deserve to be heard and believed. Learn how you can help support survivors and protect children from abuse today at SNAPNetwork.org/take_action.
* We believe survivors. SNAP stands in solidarity with all those who have been sexually abused worldwide. We thank you for your bravery and courage to tell your stories and speak truth to power. Learn more at AllSurvivorsDay.org.
* On average, there are over 320,000 victims of sexual abuse in the U.S. every year. Survivors are everywhere! If you’re feeling alone or need support, we are here for you. Speak with someone in your area today SNAPNetwork.org/snap_locations.
* Sexual violence hurts all of us and can be prevented. Learn how to play your part SNAPNetwork.org/take_action.
* Supporting survivors of sexual abuse is easier than you may think. Visit SNAPNetwork.org/you_can_make_a_difference to learn steps you can take to support your fellow survivors and prevent future abuse of others.
* #AllSurvivorsDay aims to create a world where it’s easier for victims of sexual abuse to find the help they need to heal and come forward.
* Silence is complicit with sexual abuse. Kids are safe, abusers are exposed and parents are warned only when victims are able to report their crimes and only when we are able to have conversations about sexual abuse and the ramifications that come with it. Learn ways you can diffuse the silence at SNAPNetwork.org/take_action.
* Talking with your children about sexual violence is an important yet difficult conversation to initiate. However there are many benefits to having this communication early on. Visit SNAPNetwork.org/talking_to_kids_about_sexual_violence for tips on how to have these conversations in open and age-appropriate manners.
* Talking about sexual abuse with your friends, family and even your children, can be difficult. Learn ways to navigate this conversation at SNAPNetwork.org/take_action.
* 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18. November 3 is #AllSurvivorsDay, a chance to stand in solidarity with the women and men who have been abused in homes, churches, military bases, sports teams. Help us bring awareness, healing and hope for survivors and learn more about #AllSurvivorsDay at allsurvivorsday.org
* Sexual abuse happens more often than you think. Join us November 3 for #AllSurvivorsDay as we stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual abuse and work together to find healing, justice and solutions. allsurvivorsday.org
* We support #AllSurvivorsDay because we #BelieveSurvivors and stand in solidarity with all those who have been abused, whether it occurred in the home, a church, in the military, a school, or in sports. Learn more about All Survivor’s Day and what you can do to get involved: allsurvivorsday.org
* Sexual abuse is more common than you think. On #AllSurvivorsDay, we are bringing attention to the men and women who survived their abuse. If you are a victim of abuse and need somewhere to turn, visit allsurvivorsday.org to find a list of our partner organizations. We are here to help.
* We recognize the brave men and women who have spoken up about their abuse at the hands of priests, nuns, and other religious figures on #AllSurvivorsDay. We also know that it’s not just a burden for survivors to bear – we ALL can help prevent sexual abuse. Learn what you can do to help at allsurvivorsday.org.
* #AllSurvivorsDay is a chance to recognize the women and men who have suffered in silence, shame, and pain. You are believed. You are loved. We are here for you. Get the help you need at allsurvivorsday.org.
* 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be a victim of a sex crime before they turn 18. On #AllSurvivorsDay, we recognize the brave men and women who have come forward to tell their stories of abuse, hold perpetrators accountable, and make the world a safer place for children.
* Stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual abuse on November 3 for #AllSurvivorsDay! Band together with local supporters outside your cathedral or state capitol to show support for survivors and to push (Church/State/School) officials to take sexual abuse seriously! Learn more here: allsurvivorsday.org
* On November 3, we’re uniting to call attention to the barriers survivors face when coming forward, finding support, and fighting to hold perpetrators accountable. *Join us as we recognize #AllSurvivorsDay and learn how you can show support in your own community – allsurvivorsday.org
* Survivors of sexual abuse often have to stand up and speak out alone. On #AllSurvivorsDay, we are standing with them! Join us in Philadelphia for a public display of support for all victims of sexual abuse and assault, included those abused in churches, universities, their own home, military or sports settings, and more. Join us – allsurvivorsday.org
* All survivors need support – join survivors of sexual abuse and their allies from around the world as we stand in solidarity on November 3 in front of churches, state capitols and more for #AllSurvivorsDay. Learn how you can get involved and show your support here: allsurvivorsday.org
* On November 3 we are standing in support of those who have been victims of sexual abuse by parents, clergy, teachers, military, sports teams and more. Join us on #AllSurvivorsDay as we honor those who share their stories and speak for those who can’t. allsurvivorsday.org

Love & healing & being believed,
Matthew

2020 UPDATE!!!!!

Dear Matt and Kelly —

Many words could be used to describe 2020: weird, challenging, and whirlwind are a few that we’ve seen. But when it comes to our movement and SNAP’s efforts to protect the vulnerable, heal the wounded, and prevent abuse, we have another word for 2020: banner.

Over the past year we have seen great strides made in transparency and accountability, and that progress is due to the impressive and tireless work of victims and their supporters, as well as advocates, across the globe. Here are some highlights from 2020 that we think helped push our movement forward:

Growing our Survivor Network

In 2020, more than 2,200 new survivors and supporters joined our network and we held more than 390 support groups this year. Thanks to the tireless efforts of SNAP volunteer leaders, we were able to transition our support groups from in-person to online, helping keep attendees safe but connected despite quarantine and stay-at-home orders.

We are so grateful to all those who helped lead or co-lead a group this year and hope those who joined these groups got the support and understanding they needed.

Amplifying the Voices of CSA Survivors

In partnership with the great people at The Army of Survivors, Darkness to Light, and Together for Girls, SNAP helped with the first-ever Child Sexual Abuse Survivor’s Town Hall. This effort, part of the larger Survivor’s Agenda movement, helped ensure that the voices of those who were hurt as children would be heard and that steps to prevent the abuse of children in any context will be included in the Survivor’s Agenda action plan.

A special thank you to our very own Brian Toale, volunteer leader of SNAP New York, for participating in the town hall and to Kevin Bourgeois, volunteer leader of SNAP New Orleans, for facilitating the support group at this event!

Reports Released: McCarrick, Colorado, Florida, and more

From the bombshell investigation into Theodore McCarrick’s rise and fall to reports released by attorneys general in states like Colorado, New York, Michigan, and Florida, more and more facts are coming to light about how cases of abuse are mishandled and covered up within the institutional Catholic Church.

Of course, not every report released has equal value, but the more information that gets into the hands of parents and the public about clergy abuse, the more people can educate themselves about the reality of this ongoing scandal. In 2021, we are looking forward to the release of information from states like New Jersey and Illinois and we will be continuing to push for an investigation in every state and at the federal level.

New Zealand Sets a Model for the World

To show an example of the power that nationwide investigations can have, look no further than New Zealand. The New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions released a report this year that goes into significant detail about the extent of abuse within institutions in their nation.

The numbers in this report are stunning. Nearly 50% of those placed into government care were abused, and 40% of those victims were abused by religious institutions entrusted with that responsibility, helping demonstrate the truth that we all know too well: child sexual abuse is a problem in every faith-based institution.

Jewish Survivors Gather and Organize for Change

SNAP is honored to have played a small role in assisting two new organizations this year as they expand their advocacy efforts into the Jewish community. ZA’AKAH, led by Asher Lovy, is advocating for survivors from within the Orthodox Jewish community and JSHAN is a survivor network of Jewish survivors who experienced harassment and abuse and are coming together for healing in a mutual group setting.

The more allies that get involved in the movement for justice and dignity for survivors of sexual violence, the better! We are glad to support the efforts of ZA’AKAH and JSHAN and encourage you to learn more about these organizations and their important work.

Twenty-Four Arrests – a Harbinger of More to Come

We keep hearing about “historic” abuse, as if the Catholic Church had miraculously changed its playbook. However, at least twenty-four clerics and Catholic staffers in the US were arrested in 2020 for contemporaneous sexual violence. Some, like Fr. Francis Trauger and Fr. Manuel LaRosa Lopez, were even tried, convicted, and sentenced to jail. Because so few children report (the average age to report is 52 years old), this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Each of the brave victims who came forward in these cases deserves credit and recognition for helping prevent future cases of abuse. These survivors are truly making a difference and helping keep the vulnerable safe.

Survivors Gather Virtually Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our 2020 SNAP Conference was a little different since we couldn’t be together, but we are proud of our first-ever virtual conference and are thrilled that more than 500 survivors and supporters from our network registered for this first-of-its-kind event. If you missed it, you can catch up by watching some of the keynotes and workshops here!

In 2021, SNAP is going to build off the momentum of this virtual conference and will be sharing details soon about the “mini-conferences” that we will be holding throughout the year.

National Media Brings New Attention and New Faces to the Fore

In 2020, national media outlets shared powerful stories of trauma, resilience, and the power of survivors in many significant and moving pieces. From the story of how two impoverished black survivors in Mississippi were mistreated by Catholic officials and advocated for by our very own Mark Belenchia to the disturbing revelations from USA Today and the AP on how many perpetrator Catholic priests remain hidden among communities to the extensive research done by ProPublica to map transparency efforts, the media really helped our movement.

To see some of the stories that we liked this past year, check out our News of the Day page on the SNAP website.

Much, much more happened in 2020, and through it all, survivors and advocates were leading the way. We are honored to have joined with you to make these strides and help create change just as SNAP has done for thirty years, and we look forward to making many more strides in 2021.

We have exciting projects in store for next year including expanded outreach to the Spanish-speaking community, further expanding our digital footprint, and partnering with more organizations and advocates than we have before. We appreciate your support of these initiatives and hope you will continue to partner with us next year.

Goodbye, 2020. Here’s to an even better 2021!

Sincerely,

Your friends at SNAP

SNAP
http://www.snapnetwork.org/

Language of the Body

“In a recent debate on my Facebook page, a woman stated her view on sex: “There is no universal purpose, beauty, or reason to sex—that is up to the individuals to decide for themselves.” Trent has also seen this attitude in a recent documentary he filmed that asked college students, “What is sex for?” The most popular answer was: “That’s up to each person to decide for themselves.”

This is a common belief of millions who claim that sex isn’t “for anything” in particular. Sex can be for pleasure, or recreation, or stress relief, or even a cure for boredom. It can be no more significant or meaningful than eating ice cream!

The best way to get past this “feelings-based” approach to sex is by applying the natural law principles we learned in chapter two.

Remind your teens that they should ask what sex “is for” and use the answer to that question to guide their moral decisions.

Designed for Marital Love

If sex is “just for pleasure,” then why do so many people become distraught when their “significant other” has sex with someone else? This pain—universally understood and documented in literature, songs, and poems throughout millennia—is a huge hint that sex isn’t as casual or meaningless as some people claim it is.

Others say that sex is the way we express a deep emotional connection with another person. But we can have a deep emotional connection to many different people (friends, siblings, parents, children) with whom it would be wrong to have a sexual connection.

So, what distinguishes sexual relationships from all other kinds of human intimacy?

The answer is found in the design of the body.

When we look at the body, including the sexual faculty itself, we see that sex is ordered toward a life-long consequence, i.e., the conception of a child. This truth is like a signpost that men and women should not engage in sex before they’ve made the life-long commitment (marriage) that provides the foundation for the fruit of that act (a baby!).

Of course, many people will say that these consequences can be avoided by contraceptive use (which we will address later), rendering sex outside of marriage “no big deal.” But even if contraception didn’t fail often (and boy, it does), pre-marital sex would still be morally wrong with grave consequences. Why? Because it turns people into liars of the highest order.

Let me explain.

Deceptive Body Language

Your teen will probably agree that, in general, the words we speak should be honest and truthful. But we can also “speak” with our bodies to express ideas. For example, a handshake can mean “pleased to meet you” and a hug can mean “I am here for you.” When people use their bodies to communicate what is not true, they often experience discomfort.

Think about the uneasiness you feel when you’re forced to stand too close to a stranger on a bus or subway. Your bodies are expressing the language of social intimacy because they are so close together, but that intimacy is a lie—you don’t even know each other!

Similarly, sex outside of marriage expresses the intimacy of a permanent one-flesh union, but in a relationship (no matter how long it’s been going on) that has no such commitment.

It is a lie, told through the body, that speaks louder than words.

So, when it comes to sex, a teen girl may feel this discomfort when she doesn’t want the guy to see her naked. She may want to “get it over with” in hopes that sex will lead to a fulfilling relationship. Or, she may be sexually willing, but feel crushed when the boy does not contact her again. Boys, on the other hand, may resist being affectionate after sex or even refuse to talk to the girl they’ve slept with, because they don’t want to express with their hearts the deep, marital love they expressed with their bodies.

This discomfort is not some culturally induced guilt from a bygone era; it’s a strong signal that this type of vulnerable intimacy is only appropriate in the safety of a life-long, exclusive commitment. Sex outside of marriage is wrong because the body turns a beautiful truth (“I reveal and give my whole self to you in an irrevocable gift”) into a selfish and harmful lie. When your teens ask, you can give them a simple, reasonable answer:

Sex exists for the expression of marital love. Sex outside of marriage uses the body to express a permanent, fruitful union of love that doesn’t exist between unmarried couples. Sex outside of marriage is a lie, and we must never lie to the people we claim to love.”

Love & truth,
Matthew

Nice words

Fernando Karadima, Chile’’s most infamous pedophile priest, sits in court before testifying in a case that three of his victims brought against the country’s Catholic Church in Santiago, Chile, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The Vatican ordered Karadima to life of penance and prayer in 2011 for abusing three young boys. A local judge determined the abuse allegations were truthful but absolved Karadima because the time limit had expired for prosecution. The three victims who filed the suit accuse the Chilean Catholic church of a cover up.


From left James Hamilton, José Andrés Murillo and Juan Carlos Cruz

http://www.lastampa.it/2018/05/02/vaticaninsider/karadimas-victims-the-pope-asked-for-forgivgeness-now-exemplary-actions-needed-kUfgAvkSFdkJlNjuDffMgI/pagina.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karadima_case

A Wounded Church

Truth

“I fear that for many, arguments in favor of the claims of Catholicism have not been tried and found wanting; they have been found inconvenient and left ignored.

And yet, this is a curious thing since every human being intrinsically desires the truth; that is to say, they wish to conform their minds to reality in order to live in the real world. No one wakes up in the morning hoping to be on the receiving end of lies and deceptions. No one loves to be lied to. Nobody craves delusion. We naturally desire to live in “the real world” preferring the real and the true to the fake and the false. No woman seeks a lying husband, and no employer is looking for dishonest employees. If there are objectively-binding traffic laws then naturally we want to know what they are (imagine a world where “your traffic laws are your traffic laws, and mine are mine”).

By knowing how things really are, we can act and react to them as they really are. We desire truth because we desire to live in the real world. We are, after all, what Aristotle called “rational animals.”

Our desire for truth stems from our desire to act rationally. Therefore the desire for truth is a deeply human thing. In the words of philosopher Robert Sokolowski, the desire for truth (or what he calls veracity) “is very deep in us, more basic than any particular desire or emotion…We are made human by it, and it is there in us to be developed well or badly.”

Seeking Truth

As humans we cannot choose whether or not to desire truth; that is inherent in our nature as humans. We can, on the other hand, choose whether we are going to act on—and cultivate—that desire.

St. Augustine understood the human person’s innate desire to know the truth of things. In his Confessions he reflected that he had “met many who wanted to deceive, but none who wanted to be deceived.” And can’t we confirm this truth about human nature by looking inside of ourselves?

Our interior experience confirms that, in the long run, we want the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Why?

Because truth leads to order; and as Augustine observed in The City of God, peace is the tranquility of order. So truth leads to order, order to peace, and ultimately, peace to happiness. In other words: truth fosters happiness. So if happiness matters then truth matters; and we have no good reason to doubt that happiness matters to all people. Aristotle, reflecting on “the highest of all goods achievable by action” observed that “the general run of men….say that it is happiness, and identify living well and faring well with being happy.”

But you cannot live well and fare well if you are not planning and living out your life in accordance with reality.

Insanity is not the way to real, lasting happiness.

What then if Catholicism is true?

What if being a devout believer really can lead to greater sanity and greater happiness—or even the greatest sanity and happiness?

The Catholic faith does not just offer a more complete vision of reality. The central promise of the Catholic faith is the everlasting fulfillment of all of our desires through union with God.

God promises—on the Catholic view—to prepare us in this life for the fulfillment of all our desires in the next. In other words, Catholicism offers a way—the Way—to everlasting happiness. For God promises to fill and complete us, to make us like him or what the New Testament calls “partakers of the divine nature.”

In other words, God wants to bring to fulfillment what it means to be made “in the image and likeness of God,” and He wants to do it in the fullest and most complete sense. And that is why we can agree with Pascal that to be saved by God and enter into eternal life in Christ is to “win everything.”

Some may reel at such incredible claims, thinking it rather arrogant for the Catholic Church to position itself as the “pillar and foundation of truth” and the one religion through which people can best realize happiness in this life and total fulfillment in the next.

What a claim!”

Love & truth,
Matthew

Sin of indifference

Can we find the happiness we seek in this life?

Man’s sin-damaged nature has something to do with religious indifference.

One person who understood this profoundly was the physicist and mathematician Blaise Pascal, who has often been referred to as the father of probability theory. He could also be justly called the father of modern Christian apologetics.

Few Christian thinkers have thought more deeply and written more astutely about the problem of religious indifference than he. He begins his reflections in the Pensées by beginning with human nature and the fact of our wretchedness without God. We are, to put it bluntly, never satisfied—even to extent of being miserable.

We are broken; and that is why we are always chasing happiness.

And yet we never quite find it in this life, do we?

We can never rest with anything. Although we are never satisfied completely, the closer we become to God the more satisfied we become.

The only antidote to our misery, Pascal concludes, is religion; that is, a relationship—an intimate friendship—with God. We accomplish that most readily by seeking to know and love Jesus Christ since “there is salvation in no one else.”

Only by knowing Jesus can we make sense of life and death, God and humanity. The problem is however that our individualistic modern era wants to resist the antidote. “Men despise religion,” writes Pascal, “[T]hey hate it, and fear it is true.”

And it is because of this fear and loathing of religion that men turn to two distinct strategies of avoidance: diversion and indifference.

Our current concern is with indifference—the end result of diversion and a distinct problem in and of itself.

Whereas diversion involves an effort to distract oneself, indifference involves a lack of effort to sincerely seek a relationship with God.

Pascal is rattled by man’s indifference toward the search for God because, as he rightly sees, how we should best live hinges above all on whether or not eternal happiness is truly possible. “All our actions and thoughts,” he writes, “must follow such different paths, according to whether there is hope of eternal blessings or not….” And yet, man is indifferent. Sin has taken hold, and he could not care less to remedy the effects.

Sin is both the cause and the effect of religious indifference.”

Love & truth,
Matthew

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP