Now we have one priest who has been shot and a couple of priests who have killed themselves. What do you think all of this means? Is the church being judged?
Hi Lina, and welcome!
Those are kinds of consequences you allude to, for sure, but I don't think they qualify as judgments of the Church--not from God, for sure!
Say a little more about this if I've misunderstood.
Now we have one priest who has been shot and a couple of priests who have killed themselves. What do you think all of this means?
A couple priests have killed themselves? That�s not making things any better. But it certainly shows their lack of faith and belief in God. For only now, when their crimes have been exposed to other people, do they cringe in shame. It may not be God�s judgment but surely it�s symbolic: a part of the Catholic Church must die; the part that values control, reputation and power over the lives of people.
You're absolutely right - the most important thing is to help the victim: First protect it from further abuse and then help the deep wounds in the psyche heal. I focused on the abuser only because it seemed to me that the focus in the forum was on the abusers - the priests.
If you are interested you could read my two posts about helping victims in the Forum 'K-Pax and Buddhism' (I don't know why the discussion turned up there!).
Unfortunately I can't tell you what was done to help the little girl. I do my part by assuring her of my love (sadly from thousands of kilometers away) and the promise that she could come to me any time when she is old enough to do so without getting anybody's permission. When I meet her I would have to first find out if she has developed any psychological problems at all and only after that can I decide if I can help her in any other way. Right now she sounds like a happy well adjusted child who is doing well in school and in sports. The other members of the family must be keeping a keen eye on her situation and doing their best. Why burden a child with information when it has worked out other means of dealing with the abuse that it does not yet recognise as abuse?
The focus of the law enforcement agency is to deal with the abuser and to stop him by bringing him to justice. The focus of the child protection agency and the professionals dealing with the victim is to do what is best for the child. In a case of abuse at home, opinions are divided as to what is best for the child. If the abuse cannot be stopped, everyone is agreed that the child must be taken away, but if there is a chance of stoppping the abuse and keeping the child at home, that is the way some professionals feel is the best for the child. The loss of everything and the loss of identity if it were brought up in some institution can be quite hard on the child. The child protection agency has no easy task making their decision in the best interests of the child. The shame of having a father who is convicted of child abuse is also a heavy burden for the child to bear, the disgrace falls on itself too although it is only an innocent victim. That is why the whole thing is so complicated and everyone are confused about many aspects of the solution.
The problem with helping pre-school victims is that the child does not understand it as abuse, especially if the abuser is one that the child loves and trusts, which in almost all cases it is. So how does go about convincing a child that it was abused at some point (especially if abuse has stopped)and help it deal with a trauma that it is too young to understand as trauma? It is usually when the child reaches puberty that it knows what happened was wrong. That is when the conscious pain begins. Some develop psychological problems but cannot recall the abuse that is the cause of it. Convincing the victim that nothing was its fault is the most vital step. Rebuilding self-esteem is the next.
The role of the Church and its healing ministry through the power of Jesus can play a decisive role here - to restore the sense of dignity and self worth that was shattered as a result of abuse. That is precisely why I find the hand of God in this crisis that the Church is facing. There are many many silent victims in families out there that the church can help. But it can work more meaningfully only after it has understood the nature of the evil present even among them.
We all need to pray that the Church will not only deal with the abusers but will also work out ways to be a real haven and source of complete healing for the victims but extending all the help it can and by mobilising all the resources of its church members.
You are right Wanda, we ought not to forget that it is about the protection of potential victims and the complete healing of those who are already wounded.
Hi again Wanda
I wanted to add a word about the cop. One is told that 75% of abusers were themselves abused as children. In the case of the cop, as opposed to the priests who turned pedophiles, one notices a difference in the way they dealt with their own abuse. The cop is still suffering but he chose to help people through his profession but the pedophile priests and other pedophiles who are not priests, decide consciously or unconsciously to pass on their pain. Could it be that the victims who turn abusers do so because they never gave themselves a chance to feel their own pain and helplessness when they were abused? The chance of healing of an abuser takes place only when he can feel his own pain and the pain of his victims. Unfortunately very few abusers are really able to do that!
I read someone express the opinion how important it is to understand that the abuser was abused himself in most cases and feel sorry for him. Well the paradox is however that it is precisely the ones who are not suffering because of their childhood abuse, who have managed to turned their pain outward, who couldn't care less for the suffering of the innocent victims, who turn into abusers themselves. One feels sorry that the abuser has forgotten his own pain and helplessness because if he didn't wouldn't he know better than anyone else how terrible it is for the victim?
Love the sinner and hate the sin - help the abuser by stopping him; love the victim and don't forget its untold suffering - help the victim by offering any help that is essential to its complete healing by removing its sense of guilt, shame and worthlessness.
Some suggestions as to what can be done at a concrete level to prevent abuse and help those who are already victims?
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: A proper sex education is the first step in prevention. It should be begun as early as possible.
ANONYMOUS TELEPHONE COUNSELLING SERVICES FOR VICTIMS, NON-ABUSIVE MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY, OTHERS WHO ARE SUSPECT ABUSE AND WOULD LIKE TO HELP: Seeking help in cases of abuse becomes a terribly complicated issue because the law enforcement agency must be immediately informed. So victims themselves, if they are too young and would hate to lose all the non-abusive members of its family as well, would hesitate to seek help. People who would like to help fearing to get caught up in the legal aspects shy away too. An anomymous service answers this need and gives the victim and those who want to help a chance to grapple with all the issues involved at their own pace and get help, emotional support and guidance while they are working things out. The church could set up such an anonymous telephone counselling service staffed by well trained and dedicated Christians (who ARE NOT abusers!).
THERAPY FOR VICTIMS BASED ON CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES
Am I sounding too preachy and tough on the pedophile?
In my attitude towards the pedophile, who does suffer from a mental disease, I find it helpful to remember that the man still has the image and likeness of God in him, no matter what he may have done to mar that image. Therefore not violating the human dignity of the pedophile is just as important as restoring the human dignity of the victim. There is after all more to the pedophile than his pedophilia. It is possible to hold the man accountable for his actions without destroying his spirit and human dignity. As the Church continually reminds us, let's not doubt God's mercy and compassion for the pedophile and God's power to restore him to mental health and a meaningful and productive life, even if he cannot be put in a ministry/profession that has anything to do with children.
'But for the grace of God, there go I'.
'Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone'.
Love the sinner but hate the sin.
We need to stop counching what these priests have done in terms of sin and forgiveness. That is a matter between themselves and God and the Church Hierarchy. The major problem here is no the abusing priests, but a church system that protected them from the justice demanded by the law. These were felony acts that were committed and when the law is broken - punishment made be meted out. God himself would not violate this standard and indeed set Christ to pay a penalty created by our transgressions. No less valid is the laws claim for justice on behalf of the victims and the church prohibited the law from performing its protective role in society. The church by adding and abetting these priests has become and accessory to the crimes committed!!
Priya, I think your posts on this topic have been just fine. I think you're right on, including your point about treating the pedophiles as human beings and not destroying their dignity. If we really do believe that pedophilia is an illness akin to alcoholism, this kind of compassionate consideration is called for.
At the same time, pessimist, you make a good point about accountability to the law, and it is here that the Church has been remiss. I'm not sure this has been motivated by malicious intent so much as ignorance of the pathology, but it's clear that henceforth, full disclosure needs to be the rule, and that offenders ought to be held accountable to the law.
Good standard, Phil. Openess about this issue would have definitely prevented it from becoming so widespread (preventing abuse in some cases)and such an immediate crisis.
There are another group of victims here that little had been said about. I had an interview with a priest today for a position I am considering taking which would require that we work extensively together. He felt it necessary to bring up the issue of abuse and to assure me that he is not a pedophile. It was an incredibly sad moment. This is a cloud that has been cast over all members of the clergy and in a very real way they too are victims.
It certainly would be nice if we could somehow give our priests, pastors, etc. a public vote of confidence... if the media would for once put aside the sensationalism and print/state the truth.
Sorry... had to unload there a little.
OK, here is my vote, voice of confidence for our pastors/priests/clergy. Despite a few rotten apples the majority of clergy thatt I have had contact with in my lifetime have been the sincerest, humblest, most God-fearing, loving and caring individuals I have ever met. I know the heart of every true shepherd is consumed with care and love for his flock and it is very unfortunate that the actions of a few have so clouded the character of the many!
Wanda, that is a pathetic situation you describe! What else will not only priests but other professionals feel obliged to "confess" when making agreements? Just want you to know, M'aam, that I'm not a pedophile, member of Al Qaeda, accountant for Arthur Anderson, and I'm not in any way suspected of Chandra Levy's murder. Just thought you'd like to know.
Good vote of confidence for clergy in all religious traditions, pessimist. I wholeheartedly agree. If one really puts the pencil to these pedophile incidents in Catholicism, it will be seen that they're no more rampant than in other professions that deal with youth. Were it not for the "cover-up" aspect (which wasn't even always that at all), it wouldn't even be in the news. Or, maybe it would; we are talking about Catholicism, here, and so anything the media can find to throw up at us, well . . . (you fill in the blank).
Sorrowfully, I found out yesterday that a priest friend whom I actually worked with for several years has been accused of molesting a teen. The charges are sketchy, but he has resigned his position and is expecting the worse. He denies that the contact was inappropriate, but of course his word is mud. I don't know what to believe; seems very out of character, knowing my friend.
'PERFECT MATCH' - Jodi Picoult (Allen & Unwin)
Jodi Picoult comes up with a provocative fiction in which the parent of a sexually abused child takes the law into her own hands and guns down the priest at his arraignment. Part thriller, part courtroom drama and part family portrait, 'Perfect Match' is an intriguing "what if". Objectivity is all very well in a civilised society, but what if someone ignores conventional mores and commits an act of evil against your child that will scar them for life? Does that give you the right to commit evil upon the perpetrator? And whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? And what if they were innocent all along?
(Reviewed by Keith Austin)
Why did your priest friend resign in such haste? Why didn't he give himself a chance to prove his innocense, if he is innocent?
What's to become of us? Are we to become a sterile society of people who are afraid to extend a loving touch of healing? This is a scary thought to me. In the scripture we are told to greet each other with a holy kiss...to embrace in a holy hug. Is it coming to the point where these actions will not only be suspect, but be completely forbidden? A part of me is angry that a number (though a small number) of our Pastors/Priests/Clergy have fallen to temptation or engaged in perversion, but a bigger part of me is sad because of the same and because of the fall out that all people will suffer because of it.
Victims and abusers as well are in my prayers. I do hope that all people who have a wonderful Christ-filled leader will not be afraid to tell them so and to make SURE they do extend that holy hug. And I hope that all people who know a victim will do the same in order to begin some type of healing process within them.
Priya, my guess is that my priest friend's hasty resignation wasn't exactly voluntary. The bishop of the diocese he was in preached at the Masses at that parish the weekend the incident broke, which speaks of a pretty high-level intervention.
What's to become of us? Are we to become a sterile society of people who are afraid to extend a loving touch of healing? This is a scary thought to me. In the scripture we are told to greet each other with a holy kiss...to embrace in a holy hug. Is it coming to the point where these actions will not only be suspect, but be completely forbidden?
This is good question, Terri, as yet another priest friend was sent off for counseling for three months after a woman complained that he kissed her on the cheek during a sign of peace at a prayer meeting. She also said he hugged her a little too tightly. He denied none of it, but said it was pretty much how everyone was sharing peace at that meeting (some of you know the type, I'm sure)--a strong hug and, in some cases, a kiss on the cheek. He acknowledged that, in reprospect, he could have been more reserved, especially with a stranger. But with the woman's husband threatening a lawsuit, the diocese had to show that it was taking action. The serendipitous part was that the priest was feeling a need for a sabbatical anyway, and was much renewed by the time off.
Without in any way wanting to minimize the seriousness of pedophilia, nor take away from the harm done to victims, I've become deeply concerned about the issue of false claims. What's to stop anyone from saying they were abused by a known abuser, especially when a generous cash settlement is likely? How does one prove or disprove an incident that happened 10, 20, or 30 years ago? If, as in the case of my friend who was accused of inappropriate behavior with the teen, it comes down to the teen's word against the priests, and that's all we've got, how does that get resolved? It seems that in this present climate, the one who is accused is considered guilty simply because the presumption is that a victim is not likely to make such a claim unless it really happened. Is that assumption valid, however?
BTW, I'll be closing this thread shortly as the file size has gotten really big. We can carry on in another.
Phil, what you describe with the woman and the kiss and hug is exactly what I had in my mind. WHY should we have to be reserved if we are brothers and sisters in the Lord? Now, I know that the popular answer would be that we have all this illicit stuff going on...but really...there's a HUGE difference between a hug and kiss of fellowship and a solicitation. And you raise a very good question about the lawsuits and the money and all. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, my family has personal experience with this and let me tell you, if the person accused had not had access to some money for a good lawyer, he'd be rotting in a jail cell right now....or better yet, he would've had to pay the accuser a big settlement. This was my brother in law and he was involved with a woman who made a habit of doing just such things in order to acquire money. Because he DID have access to some funding for his defense, her scam was exposed and she left with nothing, but it did tremendous harm to his trust of anyone....I doubt he'll EVER touch a child with a hug anymore...sad, very sad. And you're correct also in that the accused are presumed guilty from the start and, like you, I don't mean to downplay the pedophiles attrocities or any of that...but boy oh boy there'd better be some wisdom with the judgements and investigations of these things. And the saddest part????.....these parents that are using their children in this manner!! Awful!!
Re-visiting an old topic:
see this report.
You can see that after Vatican II, the pressure was released, and dysfunctional priests who had been "toeing the line" now felt less restrictions. Reports began to rise up until the mid-70s, when the Diocese of Lafayette, LA suffered a huge lawsuit. This wake-up call moved dioceses to make changes long before the recent scandal hit the media.
Look at figure 2.3.3 on the report! Around 10% of all priests accused between 65 and 75. What an awful stat!
Phil said: You can see that after Vatican II, the pressure was released, and dysfunctional priests who had been "toeing the line" now felt less restrictions.
W.C. said: Vatican II, in my schema, would symbolize this shift, where harsh, shame-bearing constraints on behavior are lifted, but without a social structure actually supporting/nurturing what is necessary to generate the natural morality/individuated psychology of an internal locus system.
I suppose the simple story here would be that as our culture is liberalized, the fewer restraints there are for people to do what they "should do". Heck, from the age of one, as children, we're constantly looking for loopholes in the external rules. Watching my nephew grow up I no longer wonder why there are so many lawyers in the world. We're all natural lawyers. I'm also reminded of JB's firecracker incident, if you remember that. It seems we need restrictions and focusing forces to become something more than just beings who follow every impulse without thought. Yet we struggle so with these imposed shaping forces because it seems that quite often they are imperfect and are instituted for reasons other than producing the optimum human being. We're driven by reason and justice to always improve our rules yet we have to face the fact that they're never perfect, never perfectly "pure" rules, and thus we should never lose sight of this fact lest we create something much worse by giving too much benefit of the doubt to slackened rules whose only claim to fame is that they have yet to be shown to be as imperfect as the rules they replace.
There is more disillusionment during the long period of transition than even before, as people are left to grope (no pun intended) for their sense of identity. We have the ideas to define the values, but not the infrastructures to manifest them in concrete ways.
How do we respect and nurture individuality without it becoming a cult of nihilism? I guess that is my continuing question. I guess I think the answer is that as we rightly free people to more and more think for themselves (in theory � not sure where or if this is happening) we must not nurture blind skepticism, postmodernism, or any other "ism" without the balancing knowledge of their counterparts. Out with the old, in the new may make us feel very vital and on the cutting edge, but if we believe in truth, if only in our modern truths, then on what basis do we make that distinction and how can we know for sure that old truths no longer have value?
w.c., I don't think the increase from the early 60s on reflects a change in reporting; people were really reluctant to report such abuses even up to these times. It does seem like certain inhibitions were lifted, allowing dysfunctions that had been repressed to pursue different avenues of expression. It should be noted here that these are not all reports of pedophilia; they do include the more common forms of sexual abuse/harassment.
From Brad: How do we respect and nurture individuality without it becoming a cult of nihilism? I guess that is my continuing question. I guess I think the answer is that as we rightly free people to more and more think for themselves (in theory � not sure where or if this is happening) we must not nurture blind skepticism, postmodernism, or any other "ism" without the balancing knowledge of their counterparts. Out with the old, in the new may make us feel very vital and on the cutting edge, but if we believe in truth, if only in our modern truths, then on what basis do we make that distinction and how can we know for sure that old truths no longer have value?
Regardless of one's religious beliefs, I think basic manners and boundaries need to be taught. One's freedom of expression ends where it impinges on another's. That the basis for the negative expression of the golden rule: "do not do unto others what you do not want them to do unto you." The emphasis on individual rights is wonderful--largely a fruit of Christianity, imo. But it should never be forgotten that an individual exists in community and is part of community; that's always been basic in Christianity, but it can be taught in other contexts as well without degenerating into a destructive kind of collectivism.
Part of the problem in the west, imo, is not the absence of individual rights, but their exercise without regard for the environment and the larger community. Our behavior produces consequences, not just for ourselves, but for others and even for generations to come. It also produces consequences for the environment which supports our life. We're largely anesthesized to these consequences and quick to complain when our precious rights are being infringed upon. Rightly so, at times, perhaps: sometimes, however, for the greater good. I'm quite sure that business and industry would not hold themselves to the highest environmental standards without the intervention of government; same goes for certain laws which necessarily restrict individual expression. Defining that line where individual rights yield to the common good is not easy, but holding the tensions in our mind and heart is a good and necessary thing.
Put into the context of this thread -- there are destructive boundary violations taking place when clergy act out sexually. Even when this is done by consenting adults, the context is just inappropriate, considering the vows and promises that have been made.
I agree with what you are saying here pessimist.
I found out 2 months ago that 3 of my nieces (all one family) were molested by a Deacon of the Roman Catholic Church.
According to my niece the priest of the church @ the Diocese got up on the stand & vouched for this Deacon. He got off free & clear. This was in the late
60's. One of the police took the family aside & told them to watch out for this person because the next step would be
for him to go after the girls with a knife to kill them. It was a while later that he attempted this with my oldest niece. She was older then maybe 11 & easily able to out run him. He was almost blind by that time & called her over to him. He said I won't hurt you. I just want to show you something as he showed her a knife. She ran away.
This was someone the Church protected. The police saw a very dangerous profile in him & with their warning was able to warn them
possibly saving my nieces life.
Things have changed by now, 2017, but this was not right of the church to protect this man. The church did not believe them, did nothing to help heal from all this. They did nothing to protect them from this person. I have been in for shock for 2 months & now just raw.
Sorry to hear of this incident, Mary Sue, and I hope you get over your shock. Hopefully, you're describing a very old incident, as the issue of pedophilia and other forms of sexual abuse has been thoroughly addressed by the Catholic Church since we were having this online discussion -- over 16 years ago, I see.
Sexual abusers always have their enablers in the church and outside of it. Last year, we found people excusing Donald Trump's behavior, and there are still some who deny that Bill Cosby did anything wrong. As I write today, there's a raging scandal with an AL senatorial candidate, Roy Moore, who has been accused by 5 women, who claim he abused them when they were teens -- one only 14. Moore is still way ahead in the polls. Go figure!
Phil, everything you have mentioned in your opening statements applies to what i'm presently addressing. I wonder
what type psychological belief system the mental-health professionals may have used in making their recommendations.
I know this was a long time ago Phil. Would you happen to know. I remember Freud was popular back in the 60's.
These recommendations came from Priests as well as others professionals outside the Church? Thank you.
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