When Life Gives You Demons

It has been six months since my last post.   Much has happened for me, but nothing has changed as far as the Diocese of Scranton is concerned.  Everything remains a risk calculation for the boys on Wyoming Avenue.  We are no closer to the truth, no closer to the Bishop taking responsibility for his actions, not anywhere near an honest act of contrition. And now Bishop Bambera is under consideration for appointment to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, another corrupt bastion of Catholicism.  Yes, sports fans, Bambi is perhaps in line for a red zucchetto.

The bishop is calculating the victory lap he thinks he will take when the accountants come back with the final tally from the Individual Survivors Compensation Program (ISCP).  It will be a ledger of payments, pennies on the dollar, intended to make survivors go away.  There is no actual admission of wrongdoing, no real penance.  It is a business transaction.

One of the downsides of having this blog is the email from “ordinary Catholics” who are pissed at me for having the audacity to call out the hierarchy of the Catholic Church for the coverup of decades, perhaps centuries, of sex crimes committed by priests against children.  The most recent, received last week, comes from a man who initially sent me an email insisting that I call him.  He included a phone number with a southeastern Pennsylvania area code.  (Note to potential email correspondents to this blog, saying you “would like to speak to me,” and providing a phone number is not going to get me dialing my phone.)  No context, no explanation, just an expectation that I will drop what I am doing and dial the number.  On the outside chance that the email could be from a survivor, I responded.  My experience also shows that other survivors who are unsure how to start “the conversation” will make the same request, provide a number and ask me to contact them or request that I provide my digits.  The sole reason I respond to any of these emails is the possibility that the originator is a fellow survivor.

After more than a dozen years working on this blog, it is easy to spot a militant “protectors of the faith” in a follow on email.  Often they are trying to ambush me into a lecture.  Sometimes, if I politely decline, it gets more aggressive with accusations that I hate the church, I am making up stories, or I am tarnishing the reputations of “godly” men.  You get the picture. 

Last week I saw a spike in visits to the blog.  Because I have not posted since last June, I was surprised to get an email from WordPress telling me that my stats were booming.  The next day brought an email request for my phone number.  I thought it odd and stated so in my reply when I asked for the reason he wanted to speak to me and for an introduction.

His reply began with a quote from my blog:

The Catholic Church is a huge multinational business, run for a purpose.  It has a goal to collect money, to perpetuate itself and to avoid scandal. They want to attract the “faithful” to fill the seats for the Sunday morning magic show in order to keep the collection plate filled.  This will allow the monsignors, bishops, cardinals and even the Pope to continue living in opulent excess.  It has long ago stopped being about god, charity, faith and truth.”

My first thought was, “here we go!”

The second paragraph was: (my comments in bold italics)

“I am an ordinary Catholic living near Allentown, PA. (So?) I have been in Scranton several times. (as if this lends geographic credibility to what is to follow)  I read your history on the blog “Off My Knees” about the abuse you suffered by a Catholic priest online (thanks for the page views?!). You stated that you no longer consider yourself a Catholic (I don’t), and you don’t believe in God in the traditional Catholic of Christian construct (Yup, I said that too)(And then we get to it…) I want to talk to you about why you don’t want to belong to the Church, your attacks and hatred of the Church,  and why I believe the Church is being (sic) unfairly treated by the mass media and abuse survivors like you.”

I am curious, why is my desire to have no relationship with the Catholic Church any of your business, Mr. “Ordinary Catholic living near Allentown?”  My criticism is directed at the hierarchy of the church for reasons that are well documented.    My hatred of the church?  You lept to that conclusion all on your own.  Show me where I ever said I hated the church.  Hate is a powerful emotion, but it not the opposite of love.  The opposite of both love and hate is indifference.  I am indifferent to any institution that has a culture where prominent leaders rape children, their higher-ups cover up the rapes and encourage followers to enable those crimes through collections, tithing, and donations.  My question to you, Mr. Ordinary Catholic, is why aren’t you?

I  don’t care (there is that pesky indifference again) if you believe the church is being unfairly treated by the mass media and abuse survivors like me.  Imagine how unfairly treated the victims of sexual crimes committed by priests and covered up by the hierarchy of the church feel.

On the outside chance that this was a Festivusairing of grievances” from Whitehall, PA. I would suggest that you now move on to the “feats of strength” activities.

Merry Christmas and an Excellent Festivus to us all!

 

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?