13 April, 2010

A way out of this mess for the Canadian Church?

If the Vatican has been paying for Public and Media Relations services, it should sue for breach of contract! I can hardly remember a time when one organization has been so resolutely fixed in the cross-hairs of such critical media coverage for such an extended period of time.

We've reached the point where it is evident that ripping this bandage off the Church 'bit by bit' is having horrendous consequences that have warped any attempted strategy into the media version of Chinese Water torture.

Would it be any worse if the Church were to open itself to a complete audit and disclosure of all reports of alleged offenses and offenders currently known by any Bishop or Diocesan administration?

This need not be a 'public' event. Organizations such as the Children's Aid Societies have effectively investigated all claims of any form of child abuse for many decades and are eminently qualified to confidentially determine the truth in a manner that protects the innocent and brings offenders to the appropriate legal authorities. Inviting these experts to examine all relevant Church files may be an effective first step in winning back souls washed away by a seemingly endless set of waves of media reports of unctuous acts by clerics of different ranks and office IN YEARS PAST!

Somehow the Church has been unable to get this particular detail into the public record, that these are not crimes which have been hidden or unknown from the public square . They have been part of the public record  for over 30 years. So, why are they now provoking such a fever pitch of condemnation and castigation of the Roman Catholic Church and its Pope?

To those of us old enough to have lived through the days of Watergate, Richard Nixon and the media firestorm of that time, today's attacks on the Pope are eerily all too familiar. The constancy of the media drumbeat of bad news stories - beginning with the public revelation of a handful of offenders, to now where journalists have literally 'followed the money' up the chain of command to the very foot of the Chair of Peter.  Repeated scurrilous attempts to ensnare Benedict XVI through the use of re-cycled cases to pollute again the well of public opinion.

No doubt about it: if the Vatican is  paying someone to help them present a positive image to the world through the global media...  it's entitled to its money back!

Fr. Tim

13 comments:

  1. Children's Aid Societies... impartial?? Don't think so. There may well be some merit in having a third party acting as ombudsman in this situation but I rather doubt CAS is the outfit to step in.

    Unfortunately while much of this stuff is in the public record, it is to the advantage of anyone prosecuting a civil case against the church to release documents to the press in order to influence juries and any settlement.

    Most people respond to these issues viscerally and emotionally making them quite susceptible to manipulation and control. This is the sort of thing that has allowed Tim Trow of the Toronto Humane Society to funnel donations to his lawyers. People do not care about either truth or justice... they simply want to feel good. This makes them prime targets for anyone who wants to control them.

    Make no mistake about it... this has never been about truth and justice but about who has the best public relations.

    Here's my prescription for a way out of this...
    1) Fire all the lawyers
    2) Decline to participate in any civil trials
    3) When they come to take your property, give them the keys
    4) When they come to imprison you, go willingly
    5) When they show you your cross, embrace it

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  2. "This need not be a 'public' event."

    Yes, it does, Tim. If you want to clear the air properly and silence the critics, you have to show them that nothing is being hidden. I'm not saying that such an examination needs to happen under the glare of television lights broadcasting everything live, but any audit needs to be performed by someone who is trusted worldwide, and who will publish the results.

    Most people seem to need an illustrated chart of some kind that will show them who did what, and who said what, and who answers to whom, and what was done or not done and when and how and why or why not.

    Give it to them. That's the only way to facilitate the healing process.

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  3. Sorry... openness and transparency will not work. This is one of those situations where someone can always counter with "Yes, but..." and point to something being kept confidential. There will always be something confidential and suspicion that confidentiality is being used to hide something.

    Let's face it... the only reason we believe the apostles is because all but one of them sealed their witness with their own blood. The only reason we were not wiped out in the first centuries was because generations of martyrs died. This is the only witness anyone will believe.

    I remember reading The Ratzinger Report many years ago (1984) and one of the things I remember is that he envisioned a church that was smaller, leaner and far more committed in the future. There are forces in the world that would like nothing better than to destroy the Catholic Church. Perhaps it might be best if we let them try...

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  4. Freyr, you cannot have confidentiality if you're going to be open and transparent. Your opening paragraph makes no sense.

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  5. Freyr,

    "Let's face it... the only reason we believe the apostles is because all but one of them sealed their witness with their own blood. The only reason we were not wiped out in the first centuries was because generations of martyrs died. This is the only witness anyone will believe."

    I don't really see what that has to do with sexual abuse issue in the RCC and the media coverage about it. Surely you're not trying to link the media coverage of the sexual abuse issue with the martyrdom of the apostles.

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  6. Your lack of understanding of the Catholic Church is the problem. The seal of the confessional is absolute. It is not subject to law and any priest would go to prison rather than break it.

    Under these circumstances there would always be people who say this is being used to shield criminals. We cannot give people what they want without ceasing to be who we are.

    No... the place for the church in these times is at the foot of the cross.

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  7. The confessional isn't really sealed. Any Christian can confess anything to God anytime, anywhere and be forgiven for it. Priests do not have any special powers of intercession or communication with God that any sincere individual, in prayer with their creator, doesn't already have, just ask Tim.

    The only possible reason that the church has, to require confession to a priest, is to gather information to better manipulate and control the flock, in preparation for shearing and slaughter. As such, the confessional has no special place in God's eyes, only those of the church.

    It is of no value to require priests to divulge information from the confessional to prosecute civil crimes. Priests are not honest or trustworthy citizens of any secular state. Any oath they swear is entirely without validity. Upon ordination, their highest allegiance is to the Pope and only the Pope. They will dissemble in any manner necessary to anyone at all, to preserve that allegiance because the Pope in return, promises to share the riches of the church with them and use all of his power and authority to protect and defend them.

    Normally, I would make nasty comments about the priesthood at this juncture of my commentary but what's the point. Their behavior says all that needs be.

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  8. "Your lack of understanding of the Catholic Church is the problem. The seal of the confessional is absolute. It is not subject to law and any priest would go to prison rather than break it."

    I understand it perfectly; it's the seal that's the problem in these cases. And if it is not changed voluntarily to get in line with the laws of the land, then the Chruch will be in even bigger trouble than it is now!

    The movement has begun to force compliance with the law. No more "special status."

    "We cannot give people what they want without ceasing to be who we are."

    Then you will cease to be "who you are" and become someone else. But whose fault is that?

    "...the place for the church in these times is at the foot of the cross."

    Be careful that your intransigence doesn't put your church on it!

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  9. Maybe those who hide crimes under the guise of a so-called seal should be charged with aiding and abetting criminal behaviour.

    The Bible commands all to obey the civil authorities. The doctrine that Rome is above civil authorities is not taught in the Bible and in fact is contrary to Romans chapter 13.
    "Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God." Romans ch13 vs1. Saint Joseph's Edition RC NAB

    God has ordained civil authorities to keep law and order.

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  10. STG: You are at least correct in saying that those who hid these offenses should be investigated and where appropriate charged. The very fact that there is a paper record means that the information was not given to the Church in a confessional setting.

    I will go to prison before I violate the seal of confession. However that is not an issue in these cases.

    Couple of other points:

    - bishops do not hear the confessions of their priests so that the priest cannot put him into a bind in such a situation - thus confessional seal not an issue
    -every jurisdiction in Canada has mandatory reporting of child abuse. Since the allegations could not come directly from confession, there is no question of privilege
    -doctors have rights of privilege, lawyers and ministers/priests as well

    Hope this puts things into a better context for everyone.

    Fr. Tim

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  11. Tim, perhaps part of the problem lies with the impression that someone who commits a crime feels safe in confessing it to his priest, because the priest cannot reveal to a third party what is said to him in confession. Therefore, the criminal can ease his own guilt and still not have to satisfy any legal requirements to pay a penalty of some kind.

    This both puts the priest in a bad spot and infuriates the non-Catholics who don't have such a safety valve for their own consciences. And from what I know of people, a priest's withholding of absolution until the law is satisfied does not necessarily have any effect on the criminal. More often than not, he'll say to himself that he's confessed, and even if the priest doesn't absolve him, God will forgive -- he has to; that's his job.

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  12. Lady Janus: You wrote "And from what I know of people, a priest's withholding of absolution until the law is satisfied does not necessarily have any effect on the criminal. More often than not, he'll say to himself that he's confessed, and even if the priest doesn't absolve him, God will forgive -- he has to; that's his job."

    I think that you are in error.

    If a criminal did confess anything, then it demonstrates that at some level, he is acknowledging that he has done something evil. He is desirous of being forgiven. The simple act of confessing, if he did not receive absolution does not bring a satisfactory resolution to what he is seeking. To use a tawdry example, someone starved for sex might satisfy himself with an 'inflatable companion' - and maybe for a short time he might think he is satisfied... but quickly that illusion falls away when one realizes the emptiness of what he is doing. It's the same in your example - perhaps we could call it 'penitence interruptous' - an incomplete and unsatisfactory resolution to a human need.

    Don't underestimate the power of that need for forgiveness. Confession can be a very POWERFUL tool to bring people to take responsibility for their actions. I've seen it too many times to question the power of that encounter between God, priest and penitent.

    Now, if the penitent is a psychopath or sociopath... then your example might have some merit. Thankfully, such people are few and far between.

    Fr. Tim

    P.S. I have not forgotten your kind gift. I will continue to make good use of it, especially on Friday. Thank you.

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  13. "I think that you are in error."

    Frankly, I hope so. But I don't really think so.

    Criminals might see themselves as wrongdoers, but they don't see themselves as evil. And if I can figure out that only God can forgive, any criminal smarter than the average preteen shoplifter will have it figured out long in advance of needing it. I'm talking about criminal activity, though, not merely naughty activity with a balloon doll.

    The process of confession and redemption might be a good tool for those who want to take responsibility for their actions. But it won't work at all for those who flatly refuse to do so, and most criminals fall into that latter group. They will use it as a personal stress reliever, but that's as far as most of them will go with it.

    And from what I've been able to find out from mental health professionals, psychopaths and sociopaths would never look for forgiveness. They do not distinguish between right and wrong. As long as they get what they want, it's all good to them.

    Watch yourself on Friday. The convenient thing about that gift is that as long as it's being used, it constantly renews itself.

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