In just a few days, a Billion $ pledged to fix a church.

But no pledges to fix “The Church.”

The fire at Notre Dame de Paris was a cultural tragedy.  The cathedral is iconic to Paris, to France, to the world. The loss of over 850 years of work by carpenters, stone masons, painters, sculptors, stain glass makers, metal smiths, and untold numbers of other artisans who lent their talents to create this magnificent Gothic Cathedral is nothing short of catastrophic.

 

Sparks fill the air as Paris Fire brigade members spray water to extinguish flames as the Notre Dame Cathedral burns in Paris
The Cathedral burns in Paris, April 2019

 

I realize the significance of this cathedral to the national identity of France and to the people of Paris.  I have had the opportunity to see it myself while traveling in Europe during my years in the military.  I was impressed with the dramatic lines of the Gothic architecture as I approached.  I marveled at the art, tapestries, sculptures, and attention to detail inside.  It was truly amazing. And to think that this cathedral survived almost 900 years through good times and bad.  It survived the French Revolution, World War I and World War II relatively unscathed.  It seems that this fire was started by an electrical short during renovations. A small pop, a short circuit and so much was lost.

Within hours of the fire devasting Notre Dame, money was being pledged to restore the cathedral.  A core group of wealthy French families had already pledged almost $700 million to restore the building.  Within just a few days that number soared over $1 Billion.  I tell you, those Catholics can sure come together to tackle a problem like repairing a church.  It is just a damn shame that those same Catholics can’t band together to restore THE church.  You know, get rid of the dysfunctional hierarchy that is in denial about everything from priests raping children, priests raping vulnerable adults, priests fathering children (the next big crisis is coming!), misuse of funds, and lying to the laity? Anyone?

All through my youth, in catechism class and in countless homilies I heard that the church is not the building.  The church is the people worshiping together as one.  I am amazed that the worldwide outpouring of support was so immediate and tangible.  But, that outpouring is for a building.  Granted, it is a cultural heritage asset.  But still…

If Catholics would take a moment to step back and look at the overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing by priests and other church officials who enjoyed protection from a flawed Catholic hierarchy willing to do anything to protect itself.  They are shameless.  Cardinal Dolan of New York took the opportunity when interviewed on the Paris fire to make a plea for funds to help pay off the renovations in St. Patricks Cathedral.  I had to laugh at his blatant attempt to raise money. Nothing like a good cathedral fire somewhere else to fill some of the local coffers in New York.  A couple of days later, a man walked into St Patricks with gasoline and lighters.  A security guard stopped him before he could light the place up.  The guard was able to get some backup from members of the anti-terrorism task force that was just outside of St. Patricks.  One question, why was the anti-terrorism task force just outside of St. Patricks?  I wish I had that kind of protection when I was 13 and Father Gibson was attacking me.

The Catholic church, as I understand it( “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.*” blah blah blah), is still burning.  The hierarchy keeps putting fuel on the fire, and they are willing to sacrifice the innocent on the altar to keep the gravy train going. They blame, and they deflect, and they keep fleecing the sheep for all they are worth.

Notre Dame will be rebuilt.  I would argue that we should let the Catholic Church, in its current form, continue to burn to the ground.

 

*Matthew 18:20

 

 

 

Indifference

I saw a couple of quotes by Elie Wiesel that are relevant to the discussion on the continuing sex abuse crisis and the inability of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to do the right thing.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor,  never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)

I think I could say this until I am blue in the face. Abuse thrives in an atmosphere of secrecy.  If you are silently standing on the sidelines waiting for the “Church” to do the right thing, you are complicit in the cover-up of sex crimes committed against children and vulnerable adults.  If you continue to tithe to the church, fill the collection plate and fund the diocese, you are lending material support to leadership that is actively campaigning to prevent justice for victims of abuse.  If you are not challenging your bishop, your pastor or your parish council about the damage inflicted, for decades, upon the most devout and vulnerable families of the church you are silently in solidarity with the people who have allowed these crimes to be covered up.

What hurts the victim the most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander.

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)

I have heard all the excuses.  People are supporting their own parish, not the bishops.  That is really not the case, and if that is your position, you are lying to yourself.  Change can come from within. If that is the case, why hasn’t it happened?  We don’t have that problem in our church! Are you sure about that?  Isn’t the “church” more significant than just your parish backyard?

An editorial by the National Catholic Reporter released on 9 November is worth the read.  You can find it here:

Open letter to the US Catholic bishops: It’s over

If you are not standing up now and demanding that the bishops be held accountable and responsible, what is it going to take?  Or are you siding with the Bishops?

 

 

Lifestyles of the Rich and Pious

There is a great article on the opulent lifestyles of the “princes of the church”.  The Lavish Homes of American Archbishops is running on the CNN website.

Funny, they keep saying that they are bankrupt and that there are no resources for the victims of sexual crimes committed by their clergy!  They complain that people like me are just looking for an easy payday.  And yet, they will spend parishioners’ donations to live in splendor.  Makes you wonder where the hierarchy of the church lost its way!

The RCC Hierarchy Playbook, Part I

While glancing at my WordPress.com dashboard I noticed that this will be my 200th post on this blog.   I am amazed I have stuck to it this long, although my posts have been less frequent as events in my personal life demand my attention.  For this post I am beginning a series on the Catholic playbook.  These are the strategies that the Church and its apologists use to downplay the sex crisis that continues to play out around the world.   I have been keeping notes over the last five years on reactions to media stories, blogs similar to mine and message boards.   There are too many to do in one sitting so I will try to do them in installments.  I think you can safely say that these strategies are employed by any organization that takes a risk management approach of covering up and denying instead of being proactive and forthright.   The RCC has been using these tactics for centuries.  (That’s right, this sex crisis is not the result of Vatican II as the very conservative zealots will have you believe).

Here is installment 1 of the RCC Hierarchy Playbook:

It is in use again.  The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) hierarchy is pulling out their playbook on how to spin their position on the myriad of crises in which the church is embroiled.  The good old boy network has been fostering corruption, scandal and criminal activity for centuries.  Why would it be any different in the 21st century.

In the wake of the conviction of Monsignor Lynn in Philadelphia, the hierarchy’s public relations goon squads are trying to minimize damage in the media, isolate other potential “crisis hotspots”, and brainwash “the faithful” that all is well and that the one holy catholic and apostolic church is on solid footing, just as St. Peter placed it.  You can keep coming to church and filling the collection plates.

The playbook is predictable and  predatory.   It can be broken down into several broad categories.  We start with: ( I shouldn’t have to say this but…  sarcasm runs amock in this post).  (If you are a Diocesan Spokesperson, try to keep up, I try use a lot of one syllable words, if you get confused you can use the google machine.)

Paint the Victim as a Predator

1. Victims are only looking for money!   Greed is one of the deadly sins.   The hierarchy of the church must have people believe that the victim of sexual crimes committed by priests, nuns or lay representatives are only out for a quick, large payday.   Gloss over the damage done by the predators who enjoy the top cover of the church while targeting victims for their own pleasure, that is not relevant!  Father “Fill in the Blank” is not called to account for his actions, crimes and deceptions.  No, we can’t have that.   Let’s go after the victim who has carried his/her great terrible secret of violation for years or decades.  We lurk in the shadows for years for the opportunity to litigate and force the church to pay for sins it did not commit.    The victim is the bad guy in his/her search for justice.

2. Victims will bankrupt us.  Ignore the palaces, art work,massive princely mansions, the expensive cars, summer retreat spots, first class flights to Italy and land used to hide pedophiles in Catholic minimum security facilities.   Ignore the vast resources of the Catholic Church worldwide.    Wealth that is beyond the comprehension of most mortals is not to be considered.   Cardinals and bishops have had the audacity to claim poverty in the face of claims that substantiate their complicity it protecting pedophiles in their attempt to protect the church from scandal.  Dioceses have attempted to use this tactic in court but have failed.   They will cry out that they have to close schools and parishes to pay for settlements and awards to victims of predators that they have shielded.  Funny, it would seem that the best way to avoid scandal is to not create one!   But I digress.  Has it ever occurred to anyone in the hierarchy of the church that predator priests, by their actions and in total disregard for the good of the church, continue to prey on children and vulnerable adults and open that organization to scrutiny, penalty and sanction?   Can I have a big “DUH” from the congregations?

3. Victims of sexual abuse are likely to be abuser as well.  Make me the new monster!  There is no proof of this, but the church and their apologists take this out for a spin on a regular basis.  Paint me as the new threat to children and vulnerable adults!   Once again the church needs you to suspend belief in the overwhelming evidence of institutional cover ups and re-victimization.  Never mind that priests, nuns and lay members of the church have abused their positions of power and were given refuge, financial support and the institutional blessing of the church while victims were ostracized and painted as monsters.    Urges, surely the victims have them and seek the same carnal pleasures that they were forced to comply with.   Really?!  Again, the church is lying to protect its treasure.  It relies on the blind stupidity of the parishioners who believe everything they are told.

AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE:

4. The Priest is only guilty of being seduced.  No kidding!  You would be amazed at the number of times this has been thrown at me by “Good Catholics” and  priests.  It was my fault that he raped me.  I tempted him, I led him down the path to this.  Let’s for a moment suspend belief in reality that sexual activity with a minor under the age of consent is, at a minimum, statutory rape.  Let’s for a moment suspend the logical notion that children who have not gone through puberty are generally not sexual creatures.  Let’s suspend belief that an adult man is unable to distinguish between right and wrong.   These acts, in my specific case, were not tender, passionate acts.  They were brutal, criminal acts that resulted in injuries to my person, my well-being, my psyche.  They stole my innocence, my faith, my trust and my ability to deal with the everyday world around me.   At age 13, I assure you, I did not seduce a priest.  He raped me, repeatedly.  They were acts of violence.  Acts of intimidation, dominance and depravity.  Anyone who can embrace the idea of a child seducing an adult in this manner has, in my opinion, a seriously flawed thought process.

The next installment will be: “There is nothing we can do about it”

If you want to add to the discussion, feel free to comment…

William Donohue, Catholic Hater in Chief!

The bar must be open!
The always coy Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League.

I am just amazed at the antics of the President of the Catholic League, Mr. William Donohue.  The more I read and watch the more I am convinced that the Catholic Court Jester has hijacked the press podium for the Catholic Church in the United States.  In addition to his latest rants on Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and the all-out assault on Nuns who made the mistake of thinking and seeing the world through a lens not necessarily endorsed by a bunch of old men at the Vatican,  this guy seems to be declaring war on the survivor community at large (Remember, we are not all card-carrying members of SNAP).

I am sure he is going to say that I am a godless, liberal, money seeking, “alleged” victim.  He is a bully, and that is what bullies do.  But for the record, I generally a  conservative who was brought up in an Irish Catholic family in New York and Pennsylvania. The difference, well one of many, between Billy and me is that I don’t blindly support the Catholic Hierarchy.  I also don’t make a living kissing the ass of the Archbishop of New York, amongst others.

Bill has a habit of running his mouth without verifying content beforehand. His rant on the front page of the Catholic League (which, surprisingly, not the governing body for Diocesan secondary school athletic teams) about SNAP is an excellent point in case. The YouTube Video and the accompanying “paper” on his undercover expose of the SNAP convention last year struck me.

If you read his epistle, you will notice this article lacks any definitive substance to back up his assertions.  He relies on character assassination and belittling individuals instead of engaging in thoughtful discourse. All his attacks are meant to divert attention from silly little annoyances like nuns with brains, trials in Philadelphia, Bishops who lie and protect predators, vast numbers of Catholics leaving the church.

Why don’t we take a stroll through the epistle of St. Billy to the world concerning the SNAP Convention.  It is about 9 pages of ranting and raving, but I recommend you take a look to get a glimpse into this guy’s mind.  In a nutshell, everyone is at war with the Catholic Church.  EVERYONE!   My contention, based on my 16 years of Catholic confinement education, is that the war is not being waged on the Catholic Church, it is being waged on the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  You know, the people who have been covering up and deflecting attention away from the sexual abuse crisis that has been going on for decades, centuries even!

Bill sent undercover Catholic League operatives to the convention to infiltrate the organization.  He did so because there is “nothing so salient than the precarious state of the due process for priests.” He calls these undercover operatives who have impeccable credentials who were there.  Who were they?  He can’t reveal his sources, just wink and go along with their “impeccable credentials.”

Bill then delves into the meat of his “treatise,” character assassination.   Since Bill’s arguments tend to be emotional and unsubstantiated, he resorts to the tactic in the debate that is a clear indication of a weak position argument, attack the individual.  (I was Jesuit trained, that is what I was taught).

His targets were William Spade, a former District attorney from Philadelphia.  He dismisses Mr. Spade because he has an “eclectic” relationship with the Catholic Church.  Let’s not discuss the ongoing criminal case, and Grand Jury reports about organized Roman Collar Crime and the cover-up of criminal activity in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Let’s not confuse evidence of criminal activity and conspiracy because the person speaking has an “eclectic” relationship with the Catholic church.  Despite the veracity of the message, the person delivering it is just not to Bill’s tastes.

His next target is Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota attorney who has been involved in litigation on behalf of victims. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I am not a client of Mr. Anderson.)  He was raised a Lutheran!   MY GOD!  He became a Catholic!  SAY IT AIN’T SO! Then he became an atheist! (Seems like a natural progression to me.)  Bill then goes on to call Mr. Anderson a “Hippie” (page 3) and makes a comment about his “diminutive 5’4″ ” stature.  BILL DONOHUE HATES SHORT PEOPLE!  Bill also makes mention that Mr. Anderson is a recovering alcoholic.  BILL DONOHUE HATES RECOVERING ALCOHOLICS!   So what we have learned here is that short recovering alcoholics are not to be believed. Of course, Mr. Anderson is only in this racket for the money.  I understand completely.  Just like the law firms and public relations firms on retainer with American Dioceses who have made billions defending the indefensible on behalf of the Catholic Hierarchy.  Ask your Diocese about the amount of your donations that goes to lawyers, public relations firms and mouthpieces to attack, humiliate and demean victims of predator priests.  (I will wait while you email your Bishop, Chancellor, Diocesian Comptroller…)

You can also take a moment here and understand his underlying theme that all victims of sexual assault at the hands of Catholic religious are out for only one thing… a big fat payday! (time to reach for the sarcasm meter key, it is right next to the “any” key on your keyboard) Yes, I plan on getting rich off of the fact that a Catholic Priest took a shine to my hot 13-year-old ass.  As he was slapping me around, threatening me, telling me the lie that my mother approved of my “visits” and that God thought this activity was alright, I was thinking that 40 years down the line I would be getting a big ass payday!  Keep drinking Bill, you may actually see this post as proof of concept.

Bill Donohue is the face of the Catholic laity.  If you are a Catholic and you are not screaming for this moron’s head, you are allowing the rest of the world to believe that zealots and clowns are protecting the faith.  Good men and women must be in short supply in the pews (oh, I forgot, Catholics are fleeing the church in droves) or they have stupidly clung to the lies of the Bishops that “all is well.”  Bill Donohue is the personification of the Catholic faithful, whether they like it or not.  This guy is proof to the world that Catholics are asleep at the switch.

If you want to have a conversation Bill, give me a call.  I doubt your style of personal attack would survive very long against a Jesuit trained survivor.   Bring it on Billy!  Bring your buddy Dolan along.  Leave the nuns alone, they are way out of your league (Catholic or otherwise).   It will be a battle of the wits, and I will be fighting a half armed man.

You know what they say about grumpy Irish men who rant on and on about how horribly they or their causes are being treated!   Oops, there I go rereading the Catholic League playbook.

Silence on the net…

It has been a while… 

I have been struggling with some major issues in my life as of late.  Matters involving my family and what is best for them, my job situation, and my own personal happiness are the priority.    The blog  just did not make the top of the priority list (or the middle for that matter) lately.

Like some of my blogging compatriots, I have been questioning whether keeping OFF MY KNEES going is really in my best interest.  I have  been asking myself if this is moving me forward or if this is helping me sort out the mess I have created in my life.  I don’t think it is.  As a result, the number of posts on this blog have slowed down considerably.  I do not know if I will be pulling the plug on this, but it is a definite possibility at this point. 

I have to sort out the path to normalcy and happiness for myself.  No one else can do that for me.  I need to chart my own future and put down what is not working for me.  People close to me have been telling me to get rid of the things that are not making me happy.  An article I read not long ago recommended that on your 50th birthday you should let go of the 50 things that are not working in your life.  The universe is telling me to change.  It is almost beating me on the head at this point.  I am listening, finally!

I have pissed off a lot of people with this blog.  Some of them I care about.  Others (read as the apologists for the Church, the people who cannot see what is in front of their upturned noses and those that should have done something to deal with the crisis and did not) could fall off the earth tomorrow and it would not mean a thing to me.   

People in the Victim community (and by victim, I mean those who will not move forward but just sit wringing their hands waiting for someone else to save them) are mad at me because I dared to question the leadership of  SNAP and their methods.  (OK ,Bob from SNAP MN, you can start the hate mail again, I need a good laugh, you would not believe how bad I need to laugh at one of your ridiculous epistles.).  Others are focused on reforming the Catholic Church.  News Flash—- THAT IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN! 

I have read the hate mail, read the threats of legal action or bodily harm.  I have been called delusional, deeply disturbed and crazy.  Not only from those who zealously and blindly defend those in their church who have enabled pedophiles but from the lemmings in the victim community who support a national leadership that has proven to be nothing more than a self licking ice cream cone (keep those donations coming, folks). Catholics seem to be particularly adept at writing the kind of vitriol that can only serve to prove that they will punish or attack anyone who dares to questions their leadership failures. 

The Catholic Church and other organizations that prey on the victim community for their livelihood are going to continue to try to maintain control and separation over survivors in order to either preserve treasure or create it.  The only way forward is through the state legislatures and the courts.   I would love to see the day when Federal prosecutors raid every diocese to get the files of the predators and expose the full extent of this crisis.

For years I have said that the only way to make the Catholic Church do the right thing (because as a religious entity, they are incapable of showing compassion, doing the moral thing, and following their own teachings) is to hold them to a legal standard that will punish them so severely and devastate their war chests so completely that they will have no choice than to do what is right and just. 

Sad, isn’t it?

So for now, I will leave the light on here.  The plug is not being pulled yet.    I will check in on the blogs of my fellow survivors and I will support the effort to change the laws of this country to allow for harsh punishment for all sexual predators who prey on children and vulnerable adults.  I will support and campaign for all legislation that allows for the prosecution of all those that had information on credible allegations and failed to report them (to include lots of jail time), I will support the stripping of non-profit tax benefits to any organized religion, let them pay into the communities that they are willing to destroy.

If given the opportunity, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or the States of New York or Florida, I will sue the Diocese of Scranton for the truth on Father Gibson and those that protected him and allowed him to prey on me and many more.  (Note, I did not mention money, I want the truth)

For Gibson’s other victims, please contact me.  Stay in touch.  There is hope and power in numbers.  Just please understand that I cannot solve all this with a blog.  I am not the answer, I am just one survivor asking questions, seemingly in the dark. 

None of this will ever be fixed while everyone sits on the sidelines.  So what are you doing?

Bishop “Nicky the Don” DiMarzio of Brooklyn

By:  Michael Baumann

Bishop “Nicky the Don” DiMarzio, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn, New York is staying true to his support of those things that are neither Catholic nor Christian.  The New Jersey transplant and “wannabe mobster”,  has decided to record a political phone message in support of Assemblyman Vito Lopes who is in the midst of a tough reelection campaign. Taking a strong political stand and putting the tax exempt position of his Diocese at risk, the Bishop is supporting a proponent of many issues that are  in direct opposition to Catholic positions.

“Nicky the Don” is openly supporting the Assemblyman Lopez who was instrumental in defeating an attempt in the New York State legislature to pass window legislation that would allow adult victims of sexual abuse as children to seek a civil remedy for the crimes committed against them.  The Bishop, obviously a great man of god, opposed the bill because the Diocese is potentially still harboring pedophile priests who preyed on children and would have faced law suits for protecting the predators instead of handing them over to authorities. This is all a matter of political payback.

Nicky has decided to prostitute himself by supporting Vito Lopez.  Mr. Lopez has championed the rights of gay couples to marry and supported the liberalization of abortion laws in New York State.  Both of these issues are obviously high on the list of issues that the patriarch of the Catholic Church in Brooklyn embraces even though they are not supported, as a rule, by the Catholic Church.   It must be nice for the Bishop to be able to pick and choose which moral issues he can embrace and which ones he can cast aside as politically inconvenient.

“Nicky the Don” is showing his true colors as a bishop who would subjugate the official policies of the Catholic Church to his own political agenda.  That agenda is focused on making sure that justice is denied to people who were abused (sexually, physically, and mentally) at the hands of Catholic priests over the years.  He is showing just how beholden he is to those that supported his desire to derail justice to victims of priests by supporting the same legislators who support killing the unborn and permitting same-sex marriage.

Bishop DiMarzio shows a moral and ethical defect in supporting a man who champions patently un-Catholic and un-Christian policies.  Yes, the Bishop is comfortably in bed with the devil so he can have his cake and make his flock choke on it.

All of this is more proof that this worm of a cleric is nothing more than a New Jersey carpet bagging hood who is more interested in his own personal advancement than standing up and supporting the bedrock issues upon which the church is built.  What a great example he sets!   In effect, he is telling his flock in Brooklyn that his example is one of religious bankruptcy and personal vanity.

This from the same Catholic leader who threatened to shut down the parishes and schools in districts where support for the New York Child Victims Act and opposition to abortion and gay marriage are hallmarks of the Catholic populace.   Do you need more proof that this is yet another example of a spiritually deficient Catholic leader?

I guess for Bishop DiMarzio the initials “WWJD?” stand for “Who Wants Jelly Donuts?”  He doesn’t seem to know or care how his “savior” would want him to lead his flock.  He is just another morally and ethically corrupt hack.

Support the New York Child Victims Act.  Sign the petition here.