|Voices of Reason|
More and More Voices of Reason from rank and file Catholics are speaking up about the sex abuse crisis. These people are speaking from their personal pain and experience about the duty of bishops and priests—and their past and present failure—to take responsibility for dealing with clergy abuse that is still a crisis. The reports generated by the National Review Board, The John Jay Survey, and a dozen Grand Jury Reports all point to the fact that “bishops effectively lacked accountability.” Even in their 2002 Dallas meeting the bishops failed to account for themselves, and stated that “fraternal correction” would be applied to any failures of bishops. The bishops then put Robert Brom, bishop of San Diego, in charge of that committee. Brom allegedly abused a seminarian when he was in Minnesota. So much for oversight.
The four voices recorded here, that of monsignor Harry Byrne, a survivor Dave McGuire, Jim Jenkins former Chair of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Review Board, & Thomas Doyle are voices worth listening to.
A.W. Richards Sipe
THE DISHONORING OF MY REGIMENT!
My formerly honored regiment of Catholic priests has been disgraced by an infiltration of pedophiles into its ranks. My colleagues and I bear that dark shadow to this day. It’s cause: the failure of many bishops to obey Canon 1395. Yes, it’s that simple! The canon orders punishment for a priest, who sexually abuses a minor. Punishment, not therapy! Much less secret reassignment with damage to more children! Furthermore, no bishop has been punished by his superior, as required by Canon 1389, for failure to enforce Canon 1395. Regardless of good intentions, bishops and their superiors are responsible for the effects of what they do or fail to do under their job descriptions. A tiny minority of priests abused children; an estimated two thirds of the nation’s bishops secretly reassigned abusers.
Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor, John Paul II, has on visits here apologized for this shameful abuse. But neither has shown that he understands the problem. If a problem is not understood, it cannot be solved. Both popes see the problem residing in individual priests. No finger is pointed at a bishop. Benedict in Australia recently declared, “I ask all of you to support and assist your bishops in combating this evil”. Sorry! Benedict has it backwards. He should ask the bishops to listen to and work with the laity. They understand the source of the problem; our bishops, for the most part, do not! In his trip to the US, Benedict on April 15, 2008 apologized for the pain caused by the sexual abuse phenomenon. He declared that it had “been badly handled”. Use of the passive voice enabled him to avoid saying by whom it had been badly handled.
John Paul II also seems to have had it backwards. On April 23, 2002, addressing the US cardinals, who had been summoned to Rome, he spoke of “how the Church will help society to understand and deal with the crisis”. Its arrogance, unintended as it may be, betrays the depth of his misunderstanding: it was society through its media, district attorneys, and trial lawyers that had forced the Church to face its own problem! Later he would reward Cardinal Bernard Law, driven from Boston by his priests and people as poster-boy for those bishops reassigning abusers, to a prestigious church in Rome, with a six-figure salary, and seats on nine governing commissions!
John Paul spoke of “the great harm done by some priests…”. Regarding their superiors, he said, “…many are offended at the way in which the Church’s leaders ARE PERCEIVED to have acted…”. In the Pope’s mind, in the clericalism cast of mind, he and bishops are immunized from direct criticism. John Paul then proceeded to call for “a purification of the entire Catholic community”. Pardon me, please! Do not dare to try to deflect blame on the Catholic community. It belongs on the few miscreant priests and the many miscreant bishops. It is these latter who have been judged responsible, not just by the press, but by our civil courts and judicial system to the tune of $2 billion, not the bishops’ own money, but the contributions of the faithful!
The clerical mentality - trying constantly to project an ideal, even if false, image of Church - is the underlying cause of thousands of young people damaged, $2 billion shot, three dioceses bankrupted, and now, in the latest phase, innocent priests becoming victims of allegations of incidents two or three decades past, inadequately investigated by their bishops.
The US Bishops’ Dallas Charter has been a great success in its programs to protect children by vetting personnel and developing educational and awareness programs. As to its provisions to remove allegedly abusive priests, it has been severely criticized by the bishops’ own National Review Board, Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ and eminent canonists for its lack of proportionality - a pat on the bottom treated equally as serial rape, the “one strike, you’re out” rule, and the abandonment of any statute of limitations. The bishop is constituted arresting officer, prosecutor, judge, and appellant bench - an unworkable combination of conflicting roles. Many instances of innocent priests being removed from ministry are now surfacing. Appeals to the US Conference of Bishops have been made, without success, to revisit and amend the Charter’s flawed, purportedly judicial structure. Do the bishops fear that the Church would appear to victims’ groups and the public as backing off its initial determination to reform? If so, here again, clericalism’s cast of mind puts a desirable Church image ahead of the reality of truth and justice.
The Church will begin to solve its problems and resolve its tensions, when, and only when, clericalism and its adherents reverse priorities and place truth and justice ahead of institutional image.
Survivor Dave McGuire Responds
As a survivor of clergy sex abuse in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, I appreciate the spirit of your message and want to thank you for that. I would, however, like to add my observations … with all due respect. I do so with an intention of bridging the gap between you (a NY Catholic Insider) and me (a NY Catholic Outsider).
The spirit of accountability you express in your message is most uplifting to me and long sought after. The observation of upper administration’s finger pointing to the individual priests rather than the Bishops is a good point. You also defend the community at large and absolve them of responsibility in this crisis. This is where we part ways.
The priests, monsignors & bishops who chose to not control their sexual desires and abuse minors are at the core of the matter. The Bishops who minimized the issue and re-assigned the offenders thereby spreading the disease of molestation are offenders in their own right. In addition, I would assert that priests and lay Catholics who had knowledge and suspicion of the abuse are also to blame and should be held accountable. These are the people who can make a difference today.
As an illustration of this point, I will make you aware of my truth. I was sexually abused by Rev. Eugene Vollmer at St Thomas the Apostle in West Hempstead from approx 1980 – 1982. This priest is now secreted away in some undisclosed location where I’m sure the surrounding community has no idea of his proclivity for prepubescent boys. At the time of my abuse, Fr. Bob Smith was also a priest in that parish. While sharing a meal one Saturday afternoon, I blurted out a disclosure of the sexual relationship Fr. Gene & I had. Fr. Bob Smith is now a Pastor of St. James Parish in Setauket and continues to deny any knowledge of my abuse. He has done so directly to my mother who has asked him that direct question.
I hold myself accountable as well for not facing my fears at the time and standing up to the community to speak the truth about my abuser and possibly protecting his future victims. There is nothing I can do to change the past but I can create a past I can be proud of by speaking my truth today.
Msgr. Byrne – I find any member of your regiment dishonorable who is not doing everything in their power to get the truth out now. By this, I specifically mean that any person who is not actively supporting Assemblywoman Margaret Markey’s bill is dishonorable. Any person who is not actively calling for full disclosure of records is dishonorable. Any person who had knowledge of the abuse and is still holding that truth secret is dishonorable.
As an abuse survivor I will not be satisfied with anything less than a repeal of the current NYS statute of limitations for sex abuse including a window for old cases. I believe this will be the only way the public will be given full knowledge of how far the protection of child molesters within your organization goes. Until there is FULL DISCLOSURE there will be dishonor. Anyone, ordained or otherwise, who does not call for such action today is dishonorable.
I thank you for your sentiments in this message. I also thank you for what you’re doing to change a broken and diseased system. I want to encourage you to do more and to keep in mind that until the law changes, molesters are being protected. Please keep in mind that children are currently being abused because the truth has not been fully disclosed.
Dr. Jenkins Takes Exception
Dr. Jenkins Takes Exception
Jim Jenkins takes strong exception to Msgr. Byrne’s claim about the Pope Benedict’s true understanding of the crisis. Jenkins is a clinical psychologist practicing in the San Francisco Bay area. He writes with the authority of an insider. Dr. Jenkins was chair of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Review Board under Archbishop (now Cardinal) William Levada. Cardinal Levada has succeeded Pope Benedict’s position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Office of the Holy Inquisition).
Does The Pope understand the Sexual Abuse Crisis?
Pope Benedict (ne Joseph Ratzinger) has been the point person in charge of the church’s response since the time when the true dimensions of the abuse scandal first came to the attention of the Vatican curia back in the 70’s and 80’s.
Benedict understands very well the threat the sexual abuse scandal represents to the ruling oligarchy of the church (i.e., the bishops). And he has always acted consistent with that understanding.
We now know that Ratzinger essentially ran the Vatican for the last decade of the sickly John Paul’s life. It was undoubtedly one of the major factors in Ratzinger’s ascension to the papacy.
While I was chair of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Review Board, Archbishop, now Cardinal, Levada, previous long time acolyte of Joseph Ratzinger in the Holy Office of the Inquisition (CDF), was summoned to Rome with two other hand-picked American bishops to respond to “objections” of the curia to the so called, “Dallas Charter.” (At the time, Ratzinger was running the show!)
It seems to me that the Vatican devised a strategy where they essentially cut priests loose to fend for themselves against allegations of abuse, in a sense throwing them to the wolves –in other words, every priest for himself. But circle the wagons when it comes to their “brother” bishops, cardinals and even popes.
Bottom line, defend clerics to the extent it protects the corporate business interests of the church, which it seems is the real “higher calling” of the bishops.
All these claims by the hierarchy about concern for “innocent” priests wrongly accused of abuse are nothing more than crocodile tears. So far, I believe, the strategy has worked pretty well for the bishops.
As related to me by Cardinal Levada, the major points of concern for the Vatican were:
1. The Charter provided for review boards where clerics and their conduct would be subject to the scrutiny and supervision of laymen, specifically women. The purview of the Review Boards needed to be tightly controlled and curtailed as much as possible given the public’s adverse attitude toward the church’s past inaction.
2. The Charter’s scope needed to be limited to the alleged assaults upon “minors” leaving the inappropriate sexual behavior of clerics with other adults beyond the jurisdiction of the review boards.
3. The Vatican wanted the definition of who is a “minor” to be according to canon law (females 14 y.o., and males, 16 y.o.) and not the American legal standard of 18 years old being the age of majority.
4. The Vatican wanted the definition of “sexual abuse” in the Charter to be narrowed, more in compliance with the archaic understanding in canon law, discarding the operative Canadian bishops standard which the Charter originally adopted.
5. The behavior of bishops and cardinals was off-limits to the scope of any investigation by any archdiocesan review board.
6. A new, secret tribunal would be established in Rome to adjudicate the most “notorious” of the clergy abuse cases from around the world, ensuring tight control of the really dangerous assaults to the church’s leaders and authority.
7. All the protections in canon law afforded clerics must be strictly observed. In other words, canon law should trump American legal standards.
As far as I know, the Vatican got everything it wanted in modifications to the Charter from the American bishops. To Levada’s credit, he was able to dissuade them from rejecting the common standard American understanding of what is a minor (objection #3). Levada related to me that he felt that the American public would never understand, nor accept rejection of that standard.
What this all meant to me is that management of the church’s response to the abuse scandal was indeed controlled from Rome. The dominant message would be: “Give the impression that things are changing. Soon, when the furor dies away, we can go back to things as usual.”
American bishops were going to be kept on an even shorter leach for this issue. Joseph Ratzinger would still call the shots, especially with his trusty confident William Levada now ensconced at the Inquisition.
The Dallas Charter was essentially a “limited hangout” to use the metaphor of the message control folks in the public relations industry. Give the appearance of a more open, more compelling response to the abuse crisis, but continue to play hardball in the American courts with survivor lawsuits.
(In Los Angeles, Cardinal Mahoney employs at a princely sum of money the same public relations firm that promotes the Academy Awards and celebrities who engage in antisocial public behavior! Do you still think your donations to the Sunday collection goes to support the corporal works of mercy?)
The phrase of “One Strike, You’re Out” was just a marketing, public relations tool for the benefit of the American public and media. Practically, operationally, it would have no real meaning. The Vatican and American bishops were counting on the short attention span, bumper-sticker mentality, of the public.
It seems to me that the Vatican and the bishops made a good bet.
Jim Jenkins, Berkeley, CA, August 14, 2008
Thomas Doyle Reflects on His Regiment
I became part of the “regiment” as a Dominican priest in May, 1970. I first became aware of the reality of sexual abuse of minors by priests before I was ordained through rumors and stories about certain priests in the Order who “liked altar boys.” I never knew that “liking altar boys” went far beyond touching until after I was ordained. I learned the disgusting extent of “liking altar boys” in 1984 when I was working at the Vatican embassy and first became involved with the whole issue of clergy sex abuse. That was when I was asked to manage the file of Gilbert Gauthe, the notorious priest from Lafayette LA. My direct involvement increased with each month and each year and continues today.
Let me start out by offering my conclusion. The “regiment” truly is dishonored. It is dishonored in part by the thousands of priests who have raped and abused innocent boys, girls, men and women…..and in doing so have ravaged their souls and the souls of those who loved them. But the regiment is dishonored even more by the bishops, archbishops, cardinals and popes, who have enabled, covered up, lied, manipulated, ignored and responded in anything but a Christian manner. They have really dishonored the regiment because they have knowingly turned their backs on that which the regiment is really all about, namely following the example of Christ. They can’t fall back on the excuse that they suffer from a sexual disorder or are impaired by substance abuse. Their impairment is a moral impairment and there is no excuse for that. Two recent examples: the first I will cite is the total lack of hierarchical integrity in Chicago! Cardinal George is a criminal and a traitor to the regiment……but will the members of the regiment who are so concerned about its honor step up and call him on it? No! Why not? Fear, timidity, irrelevant respect for the office? Pick one. They are all irrelevant to the facts. The second example is the famed Msgr. Wally Harris is New York. The hero of Harlem was interviewed by the John Jay Study people and complained about the number of false accusations…..all the while knowing he was guilty himself.
The regiment has also been dishonored by the thousands of priests who knew that others were abusing children and did nothing. It is dishonored by the thousands who looked the other way and failed to speak out in support of the victims. It is dishonored by the many priests who stood by in silence while their bishops ran roughshod over victims, lying to them, lying to the public and lying to the clergy because of their obsession with their image and their power.
The regiment is dishonored by those priests who have spoken out but only to voice their self-centered concern about priests’ rights and the tarnished image of the priesthood brought on by “a few.” It is dishonored by those who have complained about the bishops’ lack of concern for priests, manifested in the provisions of the Dallas Charter and their on-going lopsided response but who have never complained about the bishops’ dishonest, unchristian and criminal response to reports of the denial of the victims’ rights. The regiment is dishonored by the priests who whine and complain about the shame brought on them by the minority of abusers. The shame is not only from them but from the silence and complacency of the majority.
The regiment is dishonored by those priests and bishops who keep trying to shift the blame to anyone but themselves with idiotic claims such as that of Madison’s Bishop Morlino who recently announced that the whole problem was caused because people didn’t obey the 1968 anti-birth control encyclical Humanae Vitae.
I’d like to share some of my own experiences which have led to these conclusions. When I first became involved in this issue in 1984 I was shocked to learn that former priest Gil Gauthe had raped dozens of children but I was even more shocked, scandalized and confused as I quickly learned that the US Catholic Conference and the bishops who knew about the abuse were only concerned about covering it up. When cover up was impossible due to the lawsuit filed and the criminal charges against Gauthe that came as a consequence, the response from the leadership of the Bishops’ Conference was as if this was a nuisance that would go away much more quickly if I stopped pushing it. A couple priests on the embassy staff told me that it would be best if I back off because “we don’t air our dirty laundry in public.”
The Gauthe case and the others that came to light back then did not go away. I don’t remember anyone at the time showing any concern for the victims with the exception of Fr. Mike Peterson. No one from the Bishops’ Conference or from the embassy staff ever mentioned the victims. All they worried about was containing the problem and managing the negative publicity.
After I left the embassy I was approached by the media several times. I spoke honestly and shared as much as I knew. I was criticized by priests because I opened up the brotherhood to dishonor as one put it. I still recall being at a Canon Law convention in Florida in the late eighties. Just prior to it I had given an interview that was widely quoted. At the convention I was attacked by several priests and was accused of betraying the brotherhood. Not one priest asked about the truth of the matter and no one was concerned about the problem itself or about the victims……they were only concerned about the bad publicity for the “regiment.”
In spring of 1986 I had organized an all day seminar in the Chicago area. Presenters included psychologists and attorneys who would provide information on responding to the problem and to the victims. We invited bishops and chancery officials from around the U.S. Not long before the event Cardinal Bernardin called me and urged me to cancel the event because he felt it would draw undue attention to the problem and would “sensationalize” it, to use his words. I refused. We held the seminar to a full house but not one priest from Chicago attended. Why? Because the Cardinal had let the word out that it was to be boycotted. Best to let the problem get worse rather than dishonor the Chicago branch of the regiment.
In 1992 I attended the first major gathering of victims in Chicago, the Vocal (later LinkUp) conference. I met three priests who were there because they had been ministering to victims. All three had spoken about the evil of clergy sex abuse from their pulpits and all three had been silenced and disciplined by their bishops for drawing undue attention to what one bishop referred to as a “minor problem.” I might add that since then there have been annual gatherings of victims sponsored by the two main support groups, LinkUp and SNAP. The clergy have never flocked to these gatherings to show their concern or support for victims. True, a few brave men always show up, but never more than a few. Only one bishop has ever attended and stood in solidarity and support of the victims, Bishop Tom Gumbleton. Where were the others?
In 1988 Bishop A.J. Quinn of Cleveland wrote to my former boss, the Vatican ambassador or nuncio as he is called, and complained about me. He was upset that I was magnifying the problem by speaking to the media. He told the nuncio in his letter that the “pedophile nuisance” would soon go away. To his credit the Vatican ambassador, Cardinal Laghi, sent me a copy of the letter and told me that he did not agree with Quinn’s statements.
Between 1984 and 2002 I do not recall a single instance where a priest or a group of priests spoke out publicly in support of victims other than the outstanding speech Andy Greeley gave at the 1992 conference mentioned above. I do not know of any who have publicly criticized the way bishops were responding. I don’t know of any priests’ senate ever saying anything publicly. The Canon Law Society of America had a couple seminars about the issue but has never done anything worthwhile other than express concern over priests’ rights. Nothing about victims or victims’ rights!
I recall when I was on active duty with the Air Force being called by a priest who worked at the Archdiocese for the Military Services. He advised me to stop speaking to the press and also told me that the archbishop was considering issuing me an order to stop testifying on behalf of victims. He assured me that they were concerned about the problem but that there was a better way to handle it. My response…….don’t waste your time and effort because I am not going to stop.
Many priests have told me over the years that if the church had only followed Canon Law we would not be in this mess. Nonsense! Canon Law is what the bishops want it to be. It has never been effective in protecting the rights of lay people. It has been totally useless in bringing justice to victims. It’s not that the canon law system lacks the provisions for action. But law has to be applied to mean anything and the people in charge of making Canon Law work are the bishops. Need more be said?
After 2002 things changed and people were speaking out all over. For the first time the National Federation of Priests’ Councils, an independent group, started making noises. They were concerned about priests’ rights in light of the Dallas Charter and the zero tolerance policy of the bishops. They had never said anything before this and expressed concern only about themselves and not about victims. They still have done nothing to help the victims.
Since 1988 I have reviewed several hundred priest-personnel files. In my work as a consultant and expert witness in civil cases and grand jury investigations I have also reviewed several hundred depositions taken from cardinals, bishops and priests. Many of these are available for all to see on several websites. In most of these depositions when asked about their knowledge of sexual abuse by accused clerics, the deponents either could not remember or they simply denied the abuse. While there were certainly cases when these clerics did not in fact have any direct or indirect knowledge, in most it was known from other sources that they did know about the abuse in question. How can one explain the denials and the memory lapses? My conclusion was that these clerical deponents either suffered from some form of cognitive disorder, or brain damage in plain English, or they were lying. Either way, these clerical deponents could have assisted in the search for the truth and supported the victims. They did not. They covered for the abusers even under oath. They chose to bring dishonor to the regiment.
The Knights of Columbus take great pride in their loyalty to the Church and to the bishops. They regularly show their support for priests and announce their love for the Church. They shell out barrels of money to the Vatican, to bishops, to seminaries and to other causes in support of priests. The Knights of Columbus have totally missed the boat. They have supported priests and bishops in their moral bankruptcy and in their destruction of the bodies and souls of the victims of abuse. They have said and done nothing to support the victims. Remember the words of Jesus: “If you do this to the least of my brothers you do it to me.” It looks as if the Knights and the bishops they protect have somehow missed that verse.
In the early days Andy Greeley spoke out publicly in support of victims. Over the years several priests have reached out to victims and survivors and some have even stuck their necks out, going public with their criticism. They were punished by their bishops and usually hammered or isolated by their “brother” priests. Since 2002 I have become aware of a small number of heroic priests who have placed their Christian commitment before the “brotherhood” or the image of the regiment and in so doing this small band of brothers has brought honor to the regiment. I’d like to name a few because these are the men who really live what Christian pastorship is all about: Ken Lasch, Bob Hoatson, Bruce Teague, Dave Hitch, John Bambrick, Gary Hayes, Jim Scahill, Tom Gumbleton, Geoff Robinson, Pat Powers, Pat Collins, Ron Coyne, Don Cozzens, Walter Cuenin, Bob Bowers……to name some but not all. Some quietly support and others provide direct pastoral care. Ken Lasch and Bob Hoatson, through Road to Recovery, have provided more pastoral care to victims in one day than all the bishops combined in 20 years. There are others whose names I cannot recall right now.
There are also the 58 priests from Boston who signed the letter asking Bernard Law to step down. In the clerical world, where priests are often treated like indentured servants, that was an incredibly brave act.
There are priests who complain about the many false accusations and the lack of legal representation and due process for accused priests. In the first place there are very few false accusations….10 that I know of out of thousands of cases. Those who make this charge have produced no credible evidence beyond rumor and hearsay. There is however truth to the complaint that there is little effective canonical-legal representation for accused priests….just like there has NEVER been any canonical-legal representation or due process for the victims of clergy abuse. Why is this so? Because the bishops do not believe in objective due process for anyone but themselves.
Perhaps the most sickening charges use the words “Catholic-bashing, priest-bashing or anticlericalism.” If there is shame attached to being a priest today it’s because the priests and bishops have brought it on themselves. If any group is responsible for anti-Catholic sentiment it’s the bishops. Their self-serving response to the victims of abuse is about as anti-Catholic as one can get. If being a good and orthodox Catholic means essentially being a good and faithful Christian, then the bishops are the largest single group of dissenters and unorthodox heretics in the Catholic Church. They have sacrificed charity for image and institutional power. They have redefined orthodoxy to mean mindless obedience to their obsession with themselves and their power.
There is nothing magical or mystical about the priesthood that justifies any special treatment in the face of committed crimes. If we look at the gospels we find nothing that even remotely justifies setting priests on a pedestal or granting them “above-the-law” status. On the contrary there is abundant evidence that Jesus showed plenty of anger towards the church men of his time because they had lost their way and abused the people whom they were supposed to serve. There is ample scriptural evidence to justify a priesthood that would devote itself to the care of the marginalized, forgotten, abused and rejected. In our era the marginalized have been made so by the very clergy who have been ordained to protect them. Why then does it seem that the hierarchy and so many of the priests are so adamant in defending a priesthood that looks and acts more like a latter-day aristocracy in an anachronistic monarchy?
Perhaps one reason is that priests are formed from the beginning into a clerical culture that teaches them that God wants a “regiment” that is set apart and special. Perhaps yet another reason is that priests are formed in a culture that rewards docility, unquestioning obedience, intellectual mediocrity and total loyalty to the papacy and hierarchy while it dismisses and even punishes originality, creativity, independence or loyalty to one’s conscience.
I have heard more than one diocesan priest describe his state as “economic servitude” while complaining that the bishop held him in total captivity with the power to suspend his salary, health benefits, retirement, residence and ability to work. It is pathetic but true that fear is major component in convincing many priests to stay loyal to the brotherhood.
In spite of what appears to be a very bleak picture, I believe it is unfair and inaccurate to write off the entire priesthood as uncaring, weak or dishonest. In my travels I have either met or heard about many men whose essential loyalty is to the mission and ministry of Christ and not to the adulation of the papacy or the hierarchy. They serve unselfishly and often among those whom they serve are the victims and survivors of sexual or spiritual abuse inflicted by priests or bishops.
On the other hand it is dishonest and destructive to try to minimize the incredible damage that has been done by dismissing it, saying it is the result of a minuscule number of “bad apples.” The actual numbers are certainly not minuscule. Far more shameful is the fact that the number of bishops who have lied, covered up and enabled is not a minority but the majority. Priests and bishops have to wake up and face reality. There has been immense dishonor and shame brought to the “regiment” because the “regiment” has been subjected to self-delusion. Its members, at least some of them, have actually believed they were part of some sort of elite fraternity and in so doing have lost sight of the fact that it’s not a “regiment” at all but a group of men whose calling is not to be “special” but to be compassionate reminders of the compassionate Christ.
One final shot and it’s at the nuns who have arrogantly and stupidly tried to frame sexual abuse as a “male” or “clergy” problem. Sex abuse by nuns has been covered more deeply and has been more difficult for the general public to swallow…but it is a major element of the overall nightmare. The dishonor to their regiment and the ruination of countless boys and girls, men and women brought about because of the physical, emotional and sexual abuse by women religious has been just as horrific as that perpetrated by the clerics. The nuns’ major organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, has responded to the victims with just as much arrogant and imperious disregard as have the bishops. The nuns have shown themselves to be just as clericalized as their male counterparts. They have brought just as much dishonor to their regiment as the clerics have to theirs.
Together the priests, bishops, nuns and brothers who have sexually abused minors and adults and those from these ranks who have looked the other way, denied, lied, covered up, re-victimized and enabled constitute a disgusting, sorry mess that has brought great dishonor not only to their respective regiments but to the Body of Christ.
A Response and Reflection by Thomas Doyle, August 16, 2008