The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


“There is no better time for repentance” — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee
“The crisis of authority endures. There has been some accountability for the abusers, but not nearly enough for the bishops who enabled them. And now the shadow of past sins threatens to engulf this papacy.

Popes do not resign. But a pope can clean house. And a pope can show contrition, on his own behalf and on behalf of an entire generation of bishops, for what was done and left undone in one of Catholicism’s darkest eras.

This is Holy Week, when the first pope, Peter, broke faith with Christ and wept for shame. There is no better time for repentance.”

Ross Douthat, March 29, 2010.
UPDATE: George Weigel has added his two cents to this ongoing story.  

UPDATE II: Douthat has added some more thoughts on the subject over at his blog:

Call out bad reporting, by all means; defend yourself against unjustified allegations, definitely. But don’t spend too much time complaining about a double standard, or griping about being unfairly targeted. Because, after all, the church is the church — not the public school bureaucracy, not the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, not the American juvenile detention system or the Scientologists or any other organization that you might not be surprised to discover has a problem with sexual abuse. Catholic scandals are worse even when they’re the same as everybody else’s, because it’s Catholicism’s business to be better. And the church is a target because it asks to be a target — because it aspires to set a higher standard, and answer to a higher master, than princes, governments and civic institutions. Because it still claims, in an age of religious relativism, to be the one true faith, the new Israel, the only Christian body entrusted with the “fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery.” Because its size, its antiquity, its intellectual, theological and artistic patrimony, and the power it exerts over millions upon millions of souls tend to buttress these extraordinary claims. And because extraordinary claims will always, and should always, attract extraordinary scrutiny, from inside and from without.

You’ll want to read the rest.



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Klaire

posted March 29, 2010 at 8:45 am


I really like Ross Douthat, but think he’s being a bit unfair to Pope Benedict on the Germany case, where the facts strongly suggest that Benedict was not in the loop. Furthermore, when Pope Benedict finally DID “get it”; early in his papacy, he immediately called for the cleanup of FILTH in the church. I suspect his concern also had much to do with his visit to America, where he dealt with the abuse straight on and with great compassion.
As for the WI case, that is a clear no brainer; a 20 year old case with a dying priest AND an investigation at the time of the local authorities which turned up NOTHING.
Over the weekend I read that some authority in Switzerland would like the list of pedophile priests to “protect the children.” There has to be a special place in hell for these phonies who hide behind the “protection of children for justice”, starting with some of our own politicians.
I say, “Bring it on.” Let’s make the pedophile lists, but let’s be sure and include everyone, starting with teachers, psychiatrists, protestant ministers, rabbis, and home abusers. And while we are at it, let’s also make note of the sexual preference of the offenders.
The evidence will clearly show that not only is the abuse the LOWEST among the Catholic Church, but that most of the abusers are dead, as the majority of these cases are 20-40 years old, unlike the teachers, weird uncles, and non Catholic clergy where abuse is current and in some case in the twenty percent range (the highest in the priesthood was 3%, now almost zero).
So let the facts speak the truth. Let’s make the list, but let’s be fair. Sexual abuse is indeed a serious problem in this country and worldwide. It’s time everyone is held accountable.



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Klaire

posted March 29, 2010 at 8:52 am


I found this on Michael Brown’s website the other day. I supsect it will be a wake up call to some who thing this problem is unique to celibacy and “Catholics.” This list is a start, but it’s only for protestant ministers, doesn’t include rabbis, teachers, etc.
===========
http://www.reformation.com/
Welcome to a collection of news reports on ministers who have sexually abused children:
ALL Protestant denominations – 838 Ministers
147 Baptist Ministers
251 “Bible” Church Ministers (fundamentalist/evangelical)
140 Anglican/Episcopalian Ministers
38 Lutheran Ministers
46 Methodist Ministers
19 Presbyterian Ministers
197 various Church Ministers
*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is available here without profit to people who want to read it for research and educational purposes. If you quote from this, please check (if possible) and acknowledge the ORIGINAL source. *** This service is provided by volunteers for non-profit.



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hlvanburen

posted March 29, 2010 at 9:23 am


“I found this on Michael Brown’s website the other day. I supsect it will be a wake up call to some who thing this problem is unique to celibacy and “Catholics.” This list is a start, but it’s only for protestant ministers, doesn’t include rabbis, teachers, etc.”
Matthew 7:3-5
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
When the Catholic church is clean itself, it will be fit to call into question the problems elsewhere in society. Until then, it needs to focus on its own holiness.



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Holly Hansen

posted March 29, 2010 at 9:55 am


Our church must not go into it’s “bunker” mode and finger pointing won’t help either. Remember when you point a finger at someone else there are three pointing back at you.



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Magarito

posted March 29, 2010 at 10:00 am


Wait a minute! Klaire is not pointing fingers at anyone, but just sharing a resource for more info on the issue. “Has anyone comdemned you? Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”



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Kate

posted March 29, 2010 at 10:01 am


I am deeply disappointed in the last several posts made to this blog regarding the sexual abuse scandal in the church. With all due respect, Deacon, I submit your views and those of several commenters responding to your posts are part of the reason why this problem continues to plague and dog the church. Let’s be clear here: sexual abuse by anyone to anyone is morally wrong, reprehensible, and repugnant. Period. We have come to realize that people who abuse others in this way cannot be rehabilitated. Given the opportunity and access, almost all such people will abuse again. Our society, justice system, laws, and psychiatric folks are starting to catch up to the facts and come up with better ways to protect our most vulnerable – our children, the disabled, and others.
Now, I want to be crystal clear here. It doesn’t matter where the abuser is from or what he or she does, when they abuse it’s wrong. So let’s all stop parsing, pointing fingers, telling about how others are worse than we are and so on. It’s a problem, a big one, and one that is insidious where conditions exist that foster and permit such things to occur. In fact, the number one place where sexual abuse is most likely to occur is in the home and in the family. Such cases are prosecuted and tried but rarely, with families engaging in the twin activities of denial, cover up and enabling. The reason why the Catholic Church has become such a lightning rod for this issue is because it has acted in much the same way as a typically family responds when such abuse occurs. But there’s more to it than that. The Catholic Church acts as a moral arbiter of sorts, telling people what moral behavior is and exhorting its followers and others to act accordingly. The church holds itself to a higher standard because of its words and teachings on morality, sexuality, family life and so on. The words may be the right ones, but the actions of the church, both of abusers in its clergy, religious, and laity and of those who covered up for and enabled them to continue, belies anything the church says about any of those things and has eroded faith and trust in the institution, its teachings and the hierarchy.
That in a nutshell is the issue here. Pointing fingers and saying “hey, we aren’t the only ones” or “see, we aren’t even the worst” offenders is ugly and offensive. Even one abuser in the church is too many. Parsing pedophilia, ephebophilia, homosexuality, celibacy, married priests and the like versus the age, stage and status of the victim is morally reprehensible and disingenuous. That needs to stop, period. It devalues and denigrates the victims all over again, and is akin to reopening their wounds and compounding the harm done to them. So many discussions around here lately manage to just deteriorate into this and only makes those who participate complicit and part of the problem. It sure hasn’t lessened any of the victims’ sufferings, that’s for sure.
The church has a massive credibility problem, not an image problem. Jesus warned us about shining the outside of the chalice and forgetting to clean out the filth within. As I posted here before, resignations aren’t enough anymore. Saying I’m sorry isn’t enough. Repentance, and a real change of heart and doing business need to occur. Those responsible for covering up and enabling abuses to continue on their watch need to face justice. The church’s response until now has been concern for its image and reputation. It has done nothing punitive at all to those who allowed this to continue. Cardinal Law resigned, but was rewarded with a promotion and diplomatic immunity, courtesy of the Vatican. I’m sure that any other prelates who resign will certainly not lose their titles or perks and benes either. Penance? I’m not seeing it. Putting victims and their families first? I’ve not seen that either. Any conversation about this issue in the blogosphere and beyond, wherever Catholics congregate online or offline illustrates our continued failure to do these things. We need to stop being defensive about the church, take responsibility and acknowledge the evil that was wrought, and fix it concretely, qualitatively and quantitatively. Clearly the system is broken and needs to be examined and fixed. Nothing less will do.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted March 29, 2010 at 10:24 am


Kate…
Amen.
Dcn. G.



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brian

posted March 29, 2010 at 10:30 am


Well said, Kate. Anyone who abuses children should go to prison. Anyone who knew they were abusing children and did nothing to stop it (telling the authorities) should go to prison, whether they are Catholic, Protestant, or atheist. They should, in no way, be rewarded. The finger pointing needs to end, and I’m talking about the people on all sides of this. The only way to get this under control is by punishing those who commit these horrible crimes. It’s God’s job to judge, but it’s all of society’s job to get this problem, which stretches far beyond the Catholic Church, under control.



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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

posted March 29, 2010 at 10:40 am


I agree with Kate, except for her comment about Cardinal Law. He was removed from one of the largest diocese in the United States and given a post as cardinal rector of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome – hardly a step up. However, as a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, I was still deeply offended by his transfer. In my opinion, he should have been removed from his post in Boston and assigned to a monastery to live a life of penitence.



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cathyf

posted March 29, 2010 at 10:50 am


Parsing pedophilia, ephebophilia, homosexuality, celibacy, married priests and the like versus the age, stage and status of the victim is morally reprehensible and disingenuous.
I just posted this over on the other thread, and I will repeat it here: When I parse the statistics, they show that 35% of victims were post-pubescent males, 20% were female and 40% of victims were boys before or at puberty. The reason that I parse the statistics is that there is a widespread belief, and an active campaign to further the belief, that the “vast majority of victims were post-pubescent males,” and thus “the problem is homosexuality.”
The reason that I parse the statistics is that people are spreading false ideas, and those ideas are dangerous. Anyone who succeeds in convincing the public that heterosexual men are can be presumed “safe” by reason of their heterosexuality, or that boys who haven’t finished puberty are “safe” until they get older, or that girls are “safe” because “the problem is homosexuality” are setting themselves up as the enablers and accessories to future sexual abuse of children and adolescents.



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Kate

posted March 29, 2010 at 11:46 am


Thanks, Deacon Kandra and Brian.
Paula – Fair enough. I still think he’s been kicked upstairs as it were and is certainly shielded from US justice. That monastery idea is more along what I wish he had to live out for the rest of his days. I’d favor that for the lot of those in authority who covered up, shielded, and enabled abusers, if they don’t face state justice and prison time. Cardinal Law sits on a Vatican commission that helps select future bishops and cardinals. That’s not right. He also got to help elect Pope Benedict. That’s not right either.
Cathy F. – Point taken. I had in mind those who’ve been posting, blaming all this stuff on gays in the clergy, or somehow diminishing abuse by saying it was older boys, that’s not so bad, or implying that boy victims suffer more than girl victims or children suffer more than women, for example. Abuse is abuse and it is wrong. Obviously, we agree on this. The cause, which is what I think people who post on this kind of thing are concerned about, is so much more complicated and multifaceted than just blaming gays. Sexual abuse is about more than sex, it’s about power, just like rape. What’s more, the actual abuse is heinous enough, but all too often it gets compounded by the victims’ families, friends, associates and anyone else who finds out. Then there’s the standard blaming of the victim game that I’ve seen played out over and over again in families. Now, I see it in the church. Ugh. It was your response that prompted me to reply again to this discussion. I wanted to thank you for clarifying your reasons for posting the info you did and for clarifying your views. I’m sorry you felt attacked by my comments. I certainly did not have you in mind when I wrote them. When I posted my comments to the post “Now there is a loss of trust in the church…” I made similar remarks because that discussion was headed in the kind of direction of which we both have been critical. All that kind of discussion further harms the victims and does nothing to redeem the church. I hope I’ve further clarified my intentions for you here. I think reading the comments from that post will further establish the context for my comments here.



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pagansister

posted March 29, 2010 at 11:55 am


PGRohrbacher:
You have every right to be offended by what the RC did with Law. I can’t imagine what you went through. Law is living a very good life in Rome, reporting only to the Pope. What kind of Punishment is that for a man who allowed the abuse to continue for so long without doing anything! Why is he allowed to continue to work as a cleric at all? Some hard life he’s leading! Great example set by the Pope in this case.



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Klaire

posted March 29, 2010 at 12:04 pm


Sorry Kate, but if we really care about stopping abuse, we have to call attention to all of the abuse out there.
By no means is the CC innocent, but as the witch hunt by the NYT, MSM, and anti-Catholics goes into full gear once again for Holy Week, let’s really be fair to the abused and hold all accountatble, and finally make a real effort to clean up the filth (as Pope Benedict rightly did).
To ingore the “unreported” as you suggest is to be part of the problem.
I also wrote what I wrote in defense of all of the good and holy priests out there. This website has a special affinity for priest haters it seems, and wanted to post some real facts before the predictable Catholic bashers took their slug at celibacy and “all priests are child molesters.”
As someone who was sexually abused for 5 years by a non-Catholic, let me tell you that no one outside of my family or the CC has ever cared about the details of my hell or about getting justice. Truth be told, it was the Catholic Church/Eucharist from which I was finally healed.
Maybe I’m just a little too close to the hell of being abused, so sorry Kate that you think “pointing fingers is ugly and offensive.” Try being abused for 5 years out of your childhood and maybe you will finally get a clue as to what “offensive” really is. I thank God that after thousands of dollars on useless therapists and years of mental anguish, I finally found my peace and healing from within the Catholic Church.
There can still (and needs to be complete justice), in the CC without tearing down the whole church. Most certainly the guilty within the CC should be held accountable, but being that most of them are now dead, I suspect they have been.
Between our billion dollar porn culture, from the White House to most likely a neighbor on your street, this county is a cesspool when it comes to sexual filth.
It’s time all the “Holier than thous” and media hypocrits face the facts and hold ALL accountable, Catholic or non-Catholic.



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Kate

posted March 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm


I have a similar story, too, Klare. In my case it was two different family members, both of whom have been protected — by the family. In fact, most of the female members of my family have had similar experiences. We’re talking about a multigenerational family problem in my case anyway. In fact no one knew anyone else had ever been victimized until we were much older. Of course, nothing has ever happened to any of those perpetrators and in a court of law it came down to “he said, she said” and anyone’s private life and sexual history would be fair game, not to mention the expired statute of limitations (this was before this kind of stuff became such a public issue). Now, how is that fair? How does that make me “holier than thou?”
In fact, the very first person I ever turned to about what happened was a priest. He told me it wasn’t my fault, cried with me and prayed with me because I was so upset. This same priest, was himself an abuser of children, and had targetted one of my sisters, but she was wise to him and managed to not be hurt. That wasn’t true for some of the other parish girls, though. Father was a nice guy, great priest, good to talk to, but for all his good deeds, he (and the diocese) hid a dark side. He was transferred several times, and finally just disappeared. Then the stories came out. Talk about ugly.
I can tell you this. I agree ALL ABUSE needs to be stopped and ALL abusers brought to justice and not just in the Catholic church. But this is a forum/blog that discusses Catholic issues and has a Catholic focus. And to be honest with you, I think the Pope has tried and made efforts. But it is still not enough. I doubt we will ever, ever get to the bottom of the story and really ever know how deep and far this problem ever goes.
You know, the Church has done a pretty fair job of stopping current abuses. There are background checks, every year where I live. I’ve seen accused priests removed quite promptly. I’ve seen accused laity removed quite promptly as well. There’s still more to be done about past abuses, over a number of decades now, spanning back to well before Vatican II. I’ve seen the system not respond well or fairly to people wrongly accused, both the legal and church systems. I’ve known at least 2 priests in such circumstances. And, yes, the hierarchy threw them under the bus. I want the hierarchy to acknowledge their part in this and take responsibility. I’m sorry if you don’t like that or the way I say it. But note well, I say we, not they. “We are the Church.” Since I am a lay person, I only have my voice and pocketbook to let the powers that be know what’s going on needs to be addressed. So far, and it’s been since 1993 with the explosion of the James Porter case in my neck of the woods, they still have not gotten the message and the coverup, denial, minimization, and defensiveness still continue. This will NOT go away until it is confronted honestly, acknowledged and dealt with. Period. And if we Catholics say nothing or do nothing except get defensive about the church, we are part of the problem. We then leave it to others, like the New York Times, like the legal system, the courts, and prisons, the National Catholic Reporter (which broke all this stuff beginning in the 1980s) and other non-Catholics to deal with what we refuse to ourselves. That’s what I want, we the church to handle our business.
I want a church that’s safe for my children and their children. I want priests to get the support they need to live out their vocation with integrity. I want sexual abuse to stop everywhere, period. So, I have started with my home and with my family. Predators in my family are NOT welcome at my home, around me and my children. That’s what I am doing in my life right now to help stop this self-perpetuating cycle. I am teaching my children healthy attitudes about their sexuality and how to handle various situations. For me, part of doing my part now is to speak up and speak truth to the powers that be and to protect and defend my children.



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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

posted March 29, 2010 at 1:08 pm


Quite an interesting discussion. Just for this week, however, even though the news is so distracting, I’m going to observe Holy Week, try to stay rooted in my faith in Christ and the Paschal Mystery and to remember why, as difficult as it is, and has been since the age of 11, I remain a believing, faithful Catholic Christian.
I wish everyone a blessed Holy Week, Triduum and Easter.



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Klaire

posted March 29, 2010 at 2:28 pm


Kate, first I am sorry for your abuse, and I mean that sincerely.
I disagree that you, and all victims of sexual abuse, only have our “purse and pocketbook.” As Catholics, we have much more Kate, and that “much more” is a hugh cross to unite with Christ for the redemption of souls and salvation of others, including the abused and the abusive. To be honest, sometimes I even wonder if Chirst is allowing such abuse within the church to also be used by the victims in the “redemption.” Who abused could deny such a heavy cross? I’ve come to realize, properly understood, sexual abuse is as much of a great blessing as it is a hugh cross (not that I would wish it on anyone or do anything within my power to prevent it).
Could you even imagine if all the abused, especially the Catholic abused, would instead of “settling the score”, demanding large monitary settlements, and living in bitterness, would instead just pick up the cross and unite it to Christ? Who knows, maybe the sexually abused are all called to be the “Simons” of these very hard times of the church.
Before JP II died, he wrote one of his finest books, Memory and Identity, clearly explaining how “evil is consumed by suffering.” What a paradox if as I believe, abuse “suffering” is to be used to consume the evil that caused it. That’s how I get my peace Kate, between giving it all to Christ on the cross and the Eucharist. Most of all, it’s how, by thy “Holy Cross”, I have been healed.
Lastly, I think we do a great disservice to the 97% or more of holy, self sacrificing priests when we fail to recognize the difference between a witch hunt and real justice. Again, I am certainly not saying that the guilty should go unpunished, but for goodness sakes, give it a rest and focus on the people who are ALIVE and doing the abusing.
If we added up all the child abuse just in the US, I’m still telling you the lowest number (proven by objective studies) would be/is among Catholic Priests. I don’t say that to ‘absolve’ the guilty, only to point out to ask “Where’s the public outrage” for the 95% or greater that are not being held accountable? Being that there is little to none, outside of the Catholic priesthood, one can only conclude that this is more about discrediting the CC than it is about protecting innocent children, or in many cases, collecting large settlements.
For anyone reading who truly suffers from the horror of child sexual abuse, trust me that your only real healing is within the Catholic Church, and there are plenty of holy priests willing and able to help you.
While the church also has it’s sins and sinners, there is no safer place for a kid these day. Everyone who works with kids are required to have background checks, and many of the “watchdogs” are the formally abused; certainly a lot more that can be said for our homes and schoolrooms.
As Bishop Sheen often said, “There is no bigger waste in the world than wasted pain.” If the pain of sexual abuse in this country was truly united to the Cross of Christ, who knows, it might just be enough to “consume all evil.”
God Bless



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Your Name

posted March 29, 2010 at 4:27 pm


While the church also has it’s sins and sinners, there is no safer place for a kid these day. Everyone who works with kids are required to have background checks, and many of the “watchdogs” are the formally abused; certainly a lot more that can be said for our homes and schoolrooms.
Every child-serving agency or school I have worked with or for has called for one a series of background checks per state regulations. The Church recently and VERY MUCH to their credit implemented similar checks. If not, my child would not be attending a parochial school nor be involved in any activities there.
But for you to seriously claim that children are safer with the church than in their own homes is highly offensive to me as a mother and shows how radical your views are. You seem to continue to defend and deny the problem to extreme lengths.



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Klaire

posted March 29, 2010 at 4:55 pm


I’m sorry if you are offended “your name”, but rightly so. Statistics clearly show that the number one place for child abuse is in the home, the lowest place is in the Catholic Church. I wish my parents were still alive so I could introduce them to you, as they were as clueless as you seem to be, never imagining in a million years that two of their kids were being molested by a step grandfather. In fact, my mother would have probally written the same comment that you just did.
Only having experienced it can one understand how it “could go on” and parents never know. Chances are your kids are safe at home, but for you or any parent to assume so is simply foolish and more evidence of the perils of ‘political correctness’. Child abusers know how to keep kids quiet.



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Your Name

posted March 29, 2010 at 5:32 pm


Klaire you are crossing the line. First off, I was molested as a child by a classmates father so how dare you call me clueless or put any label of political connectedness on me. I know exactly what can go on but my parents believed me and we reported the person and it was taken care of through the correct LEGAL channels. My brood is well cared for – I am sorry you were not.
You are clearly a disturbed person.



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Dana MacKenzie

posted March 29, 2010 at 6:08 pm


OF COURSE the sex abuse scandal within the church is horrible.
But this pope has done more to address this problem, offer healing and justice to the victims than anyone else.
This idea that the pope should “resign” is frankly meant to destroy the church. If he WERE to resign, there is not a churchman in a red cap who won’t be hunted down as having “at one time decades ago” possibly heard a whisper about something or someone, somewhere” and did not “do enough” about it.
The point isn’t to somehow “get Benedict to resign and then everything will be great, and we’ll all hold hands and be healed.” The point of these people is to get Benedict to resign and then get the next pope and the next pope and the next pope to resign, until either the church ceases to exist, or they finally get a pope in there who can “Obama-ize” the church.
Make no mistake. All of you people who are entertaining thoughts about Benedict resigning are actively entertaining thoughts about destroying the church. His resignation would not heal anything. It would simply create chaos in the heart of the Christian world.
And the devil loves chaos. That’s how he moves.
And the press and the “educated, compassionate” ones always try to screw with the church on Holy Week. They knowingly or unknowingly do the work of the father of lies, every Holy Week. In 2006 it was “the Gospel of Judas.” A few years ago it was “we found the grave of Jesus!”
Pray for the Holy Father he is under a great deal of attack, and I write that as someone who was sexually abused, and understands about it.
Also, a question for some of you. What was your feeling about Roman Polanski? You okay with him still having a career after raping a child? The pope certainly didn’t do that.
Or do you subscribe to the Whoopi Goldberg opinion, that that wasn’t “rape, rape.”



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pagansister

posted March 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm


Pick up the cross and unit with Christ, Klaire? You must be kidding! If I had been molested by a priest, I’d have that dude in court and have him presecuted to the fullest extent of the law and gleefully watch him hauled off to jail…where I suspect his life might be a litte difficult, since it would be known that he molested children.
Dana, your “devil” has already invaded …years ago…and they were called priests who couldn’t keep their hands off children. Polanski?…jail would be good.



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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

posted March 30, 2010 at 2:12 am


Klaire – I’m sorry to disagree with you, but I must tell you that I have never considered being sexually abused by a priest to be a blessing in any way, shape or form. And to suggest that Jesus allowed my abuse to happen as a means to my redemption is hurtful in the extreme. If you would like to know how the abuse affected me and my family, you can read my testimony to the U.S. Bishops in Dallas in 2002.
I have never been a proponent of demanding monetary settlements and have not done so in my own case. I have chosen to live in love and hope rather than bitterness.
I love and am faithful to the Church, but I know that my healing comes from God and God alone. This is my Via Dolorosa. I was not put on this path by Jesus, but by an evil man who used me for his own pleasure and purpose.



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Klaire

posted March 30, 2010 at 11:07 am


Dear Paula:
We are all on different places along the spiritual journey, and I certainly respect where you are. Perhaps you misunderstood, as you also mention that your abuse is your “Via Dolorosa.” I tried as best as I could to make it clear that I wouldn’t wish sexual abuse on anyone or not do anything to prevent it. Consequently, for those of us who have lived it, how can it not be a cross?
It sounds Pauls like you have accepted it as your cross, but can’t imagine how Jesus could have “allowed” it.
I’m no great theologian, suffering is a deep mystery, but I do know this: The reason God allows suffering is ALWAYS for a greater good, ALWAYS (ESPECIALLY for those who love him Romans 8:28). Look no further than Jesus being nailed to the cross; man kills the Creator (Deicide); suffering redeems the world! Didn’t God our Father have to allow the death of Jesus? Of course God had to allow it. The death of Jesus is the greatest suffering in all of the world, even greater than our sexual abuse, and we both know how horrible that was.
The point being, nothing could be a greater suffering than the death of Jesus Christ, which is why at least for me, I believe that if he could allow my 5 years of hell, then he must of “needed” it for something. John Paul II, having known a bit of deep suffering himself, did some great writing on redepmtive suffering. Bishop Sheen taught much about it, as does Father John Corapi (all 3 are priests/writers whose writings I have studied at great length). And of course, redemptive suffering is a great teaching of the Catholic Faith, it just isn’t that talked about or taught anymore, especially in a culture that runs from the cross.
I certainly don’t want to be insensitive Paula, just making the case that suffering, especially from souls in grace who love God, has GREAT redemptive value, which is why I now view my sexual abuse as a great blessing. Not only do I always know Jesus is with me in the suffering, but I also know it’s His will for me that I unite it to Him, at the most powerful place in the universe; the foot of the cross!
What could be a bigger “blessing” (other than pro creation), than to be allowed to participate in the redemption of souls? It’s what all the saints knew, and their sufferings, as hard as it is to imagine, were great joys.
St. Theresa of Availa once said that when we get to heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be at best, like a bad night in a hotel. St. Theresa of St. Joseph is quoted as saying, “The only joy heaven won’t have is suffering.” Another saint, I think Theresa of Liseaux, said IF we could have regets in heaven, the one we would have would be that we didn’t have more suffering on earth.
Ok, maybe too deep for me/us, as I am no where (not even close) at the level of these saints or St. Paul to say, “I rejoice in my sufferings”, but I am at the place where I know not only that it’s God’s will that I unite my abuse and sufferings with him, but also, that I know (despite it being a great mystery) it has great power in the redemption of souls. Our Catholic Faith teaches us that.
God Bless you Paula. I will keep you with all of the sexual abused in a very special place in my prayers.



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Klaire

posted March 30, 2010 at 11:12 am


Dear Paula:
We are all on different places along the spiritual journey, and I certainly respect where you are. Perhaps you misunderstood, as you also mention that your abuse is your “Via Dolorosa.” I tried as best as I could to make it clear that I wouldn’t wish sexual abuse on anyone or not do anything to prevent it. Consequently, for those of us who have lived it, how can it not be a cross?
It sounds Pauls like you have accepted it as your cross, but can’t imagine how Jesus could have “allowed” it.
I’m no great theologian, suffering is a deep mystery, but I do know this: The reason God allows suffering is ALWAYS for a greater good, ALWAYS (ESPECIALLY for those who love him Romans 8:28). Look no further than Jesus being nailed to the cross; man kills the Creator (Deicide); suffering redeems the world! Didn’t God our Father have to allow the death of Jesus? Of course God had to allow it. The death of Jesus is the greatest suffering in all of the world, even greater than our sexual abuse, and we both know how horrible that was.
The point being, nothing could be a greater suffering than the death of Jesus Christ, which is why at least for me, I believe that if he could allow my 5 years of hell, then he must of “needed” it for something. John Paul II, having known a bit of deep suffering himself, did some great writing on redepmtive suffering. Bishop Sheen taught much about it, as does Father John Corapi (all 3 are priests/writers whose writings I have studied at great length). And of course, redemptive suffering is a great teaching of the Catholic Faith, it just isn’t that talked about or taught anymore, especially in a culture that runs from the cross.
I certainly don’t want to be insensitive Paula, just making the case that suffering, especially from souls in grace who love God, has GREAT redemptive value, which is why I now view my sexual abuse as a great blessing. Not only do I always know Jesus is with me in the suffering, but I also know it’s His will for me that I unite it to Him, at the most powerful place in the universe; the foot of the cross!
What could be a bigger “blessing” (other than pro creation), than to be allowed to participate in the redemption of souls? It’s what all the saints knew, and their sufferings, as hard as it is to imagine, were great joys.
St. Theresa of Availa once said that when we get to heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be at best, like a bad night in a hotel. St. Theresa of St. Joseph is quoted as saying, “The only joy heaven won’t have is suffering.” Another saint, I think Theresa of Liseaux, said IF we could have regets in heaven, the one we would have would be that we didn’t have more suffering on earth.
Ok, maybe too deep for me/us, as I am no where (not even close) at the level of these saints or St. Paul to say, “I rejoice in my sufferings”, but I am at the place where I know not only that it’s God’s will that I unite my abuse and sufferings with him, but also, that I know (despite it being a great mystery) it has great power in the redemption of souls. Our Catholic Faith teaches us that.
God Bless you Paula. I will keep you with all of the sexual abused in a very special place in my prayers. I certainly didn’t mean to be “hurtful.” Please know that even the Blessed Mother wasn’t spared the cross.



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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

posted March 30, 2010 at 11:43 am


Klaire – this is my last response, then I will get back to Holy Week.
Jesus neither allowed, nor caused my or anyone’s abuse to happen, nor did he intend it to be a means to my redemption. My abuse was a crime (sadly, unpunished by the Church or civil authorities). My abuser continues to live his life unscathed. I am fully aware that I share in the sufferings of Jesus and his Blessed Mother, and do not need quotes from St. Teresa of Avila or St. Theresa of St. Joseph to remind me of this.
I’m glad that you are healing in your own way from your childhood.
I think we need to quit taking up so much room on Deacon Greg’s blog and let this discussion end.
Have a good Holy Week, Triduum and Easter.



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NM

posted March 30, 2010 at 11:46 am


Sexual abuse is never “a great blessing”. To assert such a thing is to dehumanize and insult victims of abuse and to gloss over the crimes and sins of their abusers.
For some of us, Klaire, the Church was where we found abuse, not healing from abuse.
If you were truly abused, I don’t think you would be saying such stupid and ignorant things.
No victim of abuse thinks sexually molesting children is handing down a great blessing the victim will be grateful for some time in the future.
That is deeply, deeply disturbed and dangerous thinking — especially from someone who also claims the Church is the safest place in the world for kids today. Safe for abusers, maybe, when people like you are praising them for the, er, “blessings” they heap on children…



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NM

posted March 30, 2010 at 11:52 am


Also, if Jesus intends for and plans the rape of children as part of His plan, there’s no such thing as sin any longer.
A god who predestines children for rape and abuse as part of some redemptive plan is no god I want any part of.
And “it’s a mystery” is not a valid excuse, explanation or defense for child sexual abuse — or any other crime or sin.



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Klaire

posted March 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm


NM you pretty much destorted everything I wrote, but I digress. God gives us free will, consequently, “sin happens”, and “God allows” it.
Paula Jesus has to allow EVERYTHING that happens, good and bad. We could blink an eye without Jesus/God “allowing” it.
Look I certianly don’t want to ignite your pain. I was only trying to make the point that Bishop Sheen made so often that one of the great tragedies of the world is “wasted” suffering. We can’t “undo” our sufferings, but we can certainly make our sufferings meaningful.
Being that this is Holy Week, what better “to get back to?”
For anyone who does want to know more, I suggest this $2 dollar download from Scott Hahan (often found at the back of Catholic Churches on the Lighthouse stand). It’s based on Colossians 124 and is the most “simple” explanation I’ve ever encountered.
https://www.lighthousecatholicmedia.org/store/products/making_sense_out_of_suffering
Lastly, Scott Hahn says it well when he asked the question: “Why would Jesus “allow” his mother do be at the foot of His Cross?”
Answer: She HAD to be (Scott will explain why, obviously far better than the job I seem to be doing).



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NM

posted March 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm


No, I didn’t distort what you wrote. I don’t think you understand how deeply disturbing and offensive your words are to myself and other victims of abuse at the hands of a priest.
Your words are not helpful here. You’re merely fanning the flames of the anger, suffering and pain of those who were abused by priests.
Your intent is clear — to excuse the grievous sins and hideous crimes of the priests who abused children and the bishops who gave them free rein to abuse over and over again, while at the same time pretending to be a victim in the hopes that will give your words greater weight.
It doesn’t. The only thing you’re accomplishing is showing the world that the Church is still a dangerous place for children and that it wasn’t just bishops who gave priests a pass — it was people like you as well, and as long as people like you are still in the Church, eager to excuse and gloss over and place the blame elsewhere, there is no reason for anyone to believe this won’t all happen again.



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