I did a post in April 2009 on determining who an appropriate patron saint for the victims of pedophile priests. The post entitled “Patron Saint Nomination for Victims of Sexual Abuse by Priests “ was meant to be a tongue in cheek stab at the ridiculousness of the Vatican and their inability to actually deal with the continuing child sexual abuse crisis within the church.
Just this week I was reading an article on Key Ebeling’s City of Angels blog about a canonization going on in Australia this weekend ( October 17, 2010)
Little did I know that the boys in Rome were, indeed, working on coming up with a patron saint for victims. An appropriate use of their time considering the inability of the Catholic hierarchy to actually deal with the real problem of real priests, nuns and Catholic lay leaders who have committed sexual crimes against the most vulnerable of god’s children.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce Blessed Mary MacKillop. An Australian nun of Scottish descent who founded an order of Catholic nuns in Australia. She and a number of other nuns were excommunicated by a Catholic Bishop with a really bad attitude after one of the nuns (not Mary herself) uncovered and reported a pedophile priest. The exposure embarrassed the diocese. (Hmmmm, why does this story sound familiar?) On his deathbed, the bishop vacated the excommunication.
Sister Mary went on to live a holy life of service. All of which is very well and good.
Here is my problem with all of this. If the boys in the Vatican had time to do all this work on Sister Mary and commend her and her merry band of sisters for exposing pedophile priest over 100 years ago, why haven’t they taken a moment to deal with the ongoing crisis of sexual crime in the Catholic church? Why are they not investigating credible allegations of abuse and taking decisive action to identify and remove from ministry the predators in the church? Why are they not turning these monsters over to civil authority for prosecution? Why are they not assisting survivors and their families deal with the damage caused by these monsters? Why is this still a problem hundreds of years after the Vatican identified the problems of priests who get a thrill from little boys or little girls?
The church solution is to give the survivor community a patron saint to whom we may pray to intercede for us with god. SWEET! Pope Benedict and the boys are making a dead Australian nun into god’s answering machine for victims of sexual abuse by priests and other Catholic religious. Considering the fact that our voices are falling on deaf ears with local clergy, bishops, cardinals and “Benny 16 himself”, it seems the Sister Mary (god rest her soul) is the best we have.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am sure Blessed Mary MacKillop was a pious, kind and virtuous woman. I have no doubt that she is deserving of being made into a saint by the church. My problem here is that we are here 100 plus years after this woman’s passing and the sexual crime crisis continues unabated. If the best the Vatican can do is give us a patron saint to pray to, it is clear that after all the documented cases of crime, cover-up, obstruction and re-victimization of survivors the Vatican remains blissfully ignorant of the magnitude of the crisis.
How about we find a deceased victim of clergy sexual abuse and beatify him or her? A reader made a comment to that effect on my April 2009 blog post on naming a patron saint. We can attribute the successful prosecution of a pedophile priest or the release of diocesan documents as miracles because the hierarchy of the Catholic church continue to deny, obstruct, attack and abuse. Better yet, we should all pray for excommunication, it seems to be the path to success.
Note to the Vatican: You have alienated so many survivors, many of whom no longer pray. The hotline to Sister Mary in heaven is probably not going to get the prayer volume you may desire. How about giving us a live warm body to talk to who can possibly get something done here on this planet?
Postscript: I am off on a two week long adventure for work. I will check in when I can.