01 July, 2010

Amid Church Abuse Scandal, an Office That Failed to Act - NYTimes.com

The prosecution states its case... A summary and culmination of the various news stories and scandals printed in the NYT. As damning as it is of the Vatican, and Pope Benedict XVI in particular, it does make clear one thing that I have been repeating in response to this sad affair: that the Bishops of Canada, USA & Australia (the first english-speaking Churches scorched by the sex abuse scandals) in fact HAVE changed their ways, and that reports of abuse are now being properly handled and reported to the appropriate police authority.


Everyone is aware that such evil as is inflicted by child abusers on innocent victims will always be a scourge to be fought. It was spoken of in the Bible 2000 years ago, it's still here today. No doubt it will be with us until time comes to its end. It is not so much the fact that there are priests who are predators that harmed the people's faith. It's the cover-ups which demonstrated such a callous disregard for the victims, and for the welfare of the subsequent children whose innocence was stolen because these predators were still in ministry... that's what has so grievously struck people's confidence in the Church, leading them to reject its voice in their personal moral or 'spiritual' affairs.


The Church has been here before and emerged renewed and invigorated. It will do so again. I simply mourn, to the depth of my being, the souls lost to the Church and perhaps to God due to the sinfulness of her members. I pray too that the good work and witness of faithful of Catholics, both clergy and laity will win back the confidence of as many as possible. The establishment of a new office of Evangelization is proof that at least B16 is willing to give it a try.


May God guide our steps in defense of the Church, based upon the values of human liberty, faith and charity and evidenced through our prayer, love and good works.


Fr. Tim

Amid Church Abuse Scandal, an Office That Failed to Act - NYTimes.com

12 comments:

  1. Father Tim
    i do not believe that any souls will be lost to God because of the sinfulness of others...a few minutes pondering the message of the Cross tells me that....it will be harder for them to love God and others ...my prayer is that they will someday know the healing power of God's love and forgiveness.

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  2. Fr. Tim said:
    "As damning as it is of the Vatican, and Pope Benedict XVI in particular, it does make clear one thing that I have been repeating in response to this sad affair: that the Bishops of Canada, USA & Australia (the first english-speaking Churches scorched by the sex abuse scandals) in fact HAVE changed their ways, and that reports of abuse are now being properly handled and reported to the appropriate police authority."

    Fr. Tim, it was only months ago you told us that YOU went to the police with information about a case. In that situation shortly after, you were summons to go and see the Bishop of the Pembroke Diocese. You were told you should have went to him(Bishop) first as I recall.

    I am only speculating here but you knew in your heart going to the Bishop first would had hindered the process so you took the chance(saturated in prayer) and did the right thing in favor of the victims. That took courage. Good for you Fr. Tim!

    I hope things will change for the better.
    I also believe those in the clergy from priests, monsignors, all the way up, may well become more clever in their deceits.

    If certain procedures are followed and it does make it harder and tougher for a clergy member to get away with abusing/molesting a person, that is good. Before things get better it will get worst that's for sure.

    Nevertheless, sad at it is losing many folks that leave the Catholic Church plus dealing with more church closings you priests/clergy that are left with lots of extra time on your hands can bring back the old tradition of the past, 'the parish visits'. You can visit your small group of parishioners and still have time: to pray, golf, fish, hunt, go for long walks, surf the internet, etc..! (grin)

    Lina

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  3. Lina: You are part right and not right. The facts are as you say, but I did not think that the current bishop would have stopped me in any way. I simply owed him the respect of informing him of my action prior and not after the event. In failing to do that, I opened up the possibility that he could have been blindsided by the media.

    I pray that I have not given you the impression that our ordinary would not have complied with the stated policy of the Canadian Bishops. He most certainly would comply and ensure that the proper civil authorities were notified.

    Can't say that every Bishop I worked under would have done the same, but our current one would do the right thing.

    As to your last remarks, I really don't know how to take them. I'm unsure of you're just mocking me and my brother priests or not. I have certainly done nothing to receiving such a brutish remark (if that how you intended it to be) and am left somewhat perplexed. I would appreciate a clarification of what you are trying to say. Thanks.

    Fr. Tim

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  4. "I simply owed him the respect of informing him of my action prior and not after the event. In failing to do that, I opened up the possibility that he could have been blindsided by the media."

    Not sure I understand his objection, Tim. You say he's a good guy, and that he would not have stood in the way of your reporting to the police what you knew, so how could he have been "blindsided" by it?

    "I would think it more fitting to call these gestures "crimes" and not sins. There's no doubt in my mind that many perpetrators thought their deeds sins - so they went to confession only to be given a clean slate to offend again."

    Absolutely agree, Anon. Demoting the torture and abuse of children from crime to mere sin is simply adding to the abuse, I think. And, while church officials will likely protest that "sin" is the more grievous offense, that is strictly within the boundaries of the Church, and the rest of the world does not agree. When civil law is broken, it becomes a crime, and not all sins are crimes.

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  5. Your situation with your Bishop is your business. I was just recalling what you said about being summons to his office. I may have read more in your post or just did not understand it clearly enough.

    As for the remark about more closings of churches and people leaving the Catholic Church well I do not have all the statistics. I am just going by what is happening in the last or so decades in my area in a couple of local churches. Less Masses being said, less priests, many empty pews, etc...

    As for the remark not knowing if I was mocking you or your brother priests that left you perplexed.

    I was trying to lighten up the situation but I see it is not a laughing matter to you or to your brother priests. Especially, when it comes to all those loss souls that you spoke about. I believe God is big enough to deal with these loss souls better than you and I.

    If I came across strong I am sorry you got confused or peeved. I am just stating in my post what I thought. You do have the freedom to disagree and that is alright by me.

    No hard feelings!

    Lina

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  6. Lady Janus: There was a period when the Police requested that I not discuss the allegation with the Bishop (needed to ascertain whether they would need to interview him first). If the matter had become public (as these things do sometimes 'leak' to the media, bringing forward a new bounty of evidence and allegations) during this intervening period (which thankfully was only for a couple of days) it would have caught him unprepared for the media onslaught that follows such an allegation. The recent release of correspondence, between a former bishop of the diocese and the Vatican by the London law firm representing victims of Bernard Prince, caught all of us completely unprepared for the global media spotlight that came in its wake. I keep saying: we are as small a corner of the Catholic Church as you will find in this world. Including the Bishop, the entire staff of the Chancery Office amounts to 2 full time clergy and a three lay employees. Of the clergy, one full time position is split between a retired priest and the lad who's the curate at the Cathedral! All of the people who worked in the Chancery are either dead or one of the accused priests...Msgr. R. Borne! Quite literally, no one seems to know if there are other 'skeletons in the closet'. I give Bishop Mulhall full marks for his grace under pressure; he has been a true shepherd in reaching out to his priests. However it cannot be pleasant to be appointed as Bishop to a diocese where no one can assure you as to what is true or false in these legal attacks upon its resources.

    I appreciate that these events took place after my involvement with the Borne case, but I offer them as evidence of the wisdom that unsettled me.

    NO ONE WANTS to be in the position of disquieting ones 'boss', no matter what the institution or company.

    As to your point about sin/crime: you are playing a semantic argument. One does not 'bargain down' from a crime to a sin. Rather the weight of sin is added to the seriousness of the crime. Confession does not permit anyone (priests included) to evade ones legal responsibilities. Absolution is usually conditional upon a penitent reporting himself to the appropriate authority IF they have committed a crime as heinous as sexually abusing a child. "Stole a stapler from work?" "Throw an equivalent amount into employers 'coffee' of 'staff fund'. "Rape a kid?" "It's off to the police to take responsibility for your actions!" Not all crimes are as severe as others. I do not know ANY priest, ANYWHERE (and certainly not in my diocese) who would not impose a similar obligation on a brother priest who confessed such a crime.

    So not, sin is not a diminuation of responsibility. It is an additional burden and responsibility on top of his crime.

    Fr. Tim

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  7. Lina: Thank you for understanding. There are days when I most definitely could have my 'spirit lightened'. I appreciate the kindness.

    Fr. Tim

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  8. Would it maybe have helped the situation for your bishop if you had taken him with you to the police interview so they could have spoken to him at the same time?

    I think the problem here is possibly one of whose perception of the situation needs to be seen more urgently -- your bishop's view that he needs to be prepared, or the police view that he remain unprepared. The police, who are investigating a crime, sometimes use "leak" tactics to shake loose more information and judge reactions to the leak. Had your bishop been warned of your reporting to the police, in the eyes of the police, whatever he knew or didn't know -- along with all his sources, including you -- would then be suspect.

    Much as I sympathize with the extra stress on you and your bishop and everyone who works there, I have to side with the way the police are handling it.

    But regarding the crime/sin thing: I'm not trying to engage in semantics. But again, it's a matter of perception, especially to those who are not Catholic. For the world that is not Catholic, or even Christian, "sin" and "crime" are two separate degrees of something called "wrongdoing." And most of the time, "sin" is way down on the priority list of "wrong" for most people -- even those who are Catholic or otherwise religious.

    Equating a crime (viewed as serious) to a sin (viewed as not so serious) is something that press agents and spin doctors do to deflect the weight of consequences for such actions. Because, while sin is a wrong against a religious tenet, with which not everyone agrees or can be brought to account, crime is a wrong against a civil law -- something that affects everyone, no matter what his religion.

    And, while I'm aware that absolution is contingent upon "doing the right thing" legally speaking, there is still the view that "sin" is not so serious as "crime" because sins can be forgiven but crimes need to be paid for.

    I may not be making myself as clear here as I'd like. But, like everything else, if I chew on it long enough, sooner or later, I'll get to the bone!

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  9. Fr. Tim, it is highly unlikely a pedophile/molester priest would go to you or to another priest and confess the sin of rape/molestation he did to a child/children/youth. I believe he does not think what he did is wrong. That is what is so unbelievable, sick & scary! Why confess it this evil if he doesn't see it as a crime or a sin for whatever reason.

    It is more likely he would know other priests/clergy that are like him or are more likely sympathetic towards him to cover up for him because in their minds they think they are doing their brother priest a favor, hoping things will change(praying for a miracle) or they may even think it is a good to so call help him....anything for the betterment & advancement for the Holy Roman Catholic Church. That would be more realistic because we are living with this sad proof of this today.
    -----------------

    As for your response to my post:
    "Lina: Thank you for understanding. There are days when I most definitely could have my 'spirit lightened'. I appreciate the kindness."

    That is alright Fr. Tim.

    Here is one that should make you smile.
    Once in a confessional, I admitted to a priest that I was sorry that was involved in some gossip with other folks about priests. He replied & admitted to me, him & his fellow priests had to endure the butt of many bad jokes because of all the Church scandals. It is certainly not easy for them. I came close to telling him Fr. Tim, BUT I DID NOT I repeat I DID NOT say this but I was ONLY THINKING about saying this to him:

    'Father,..I am the one that is confessing here, not you, but if you want to trade places with me I would gladly listen to you for awhile. If somebody called you a pervert Father just do not listen to them.'

    That priest is not busy when it comes to confession time. He has no long line up to speak of.

    Have a great evening Fr. Tim!
    Lina

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  10. Lina: You have a wisdom beyond your years! (and I don't know how old you are!!)

    You may well be right about the attitude of a predator priest re: confession. It is a mark of virtually all sexual abusers of children that they are in a profound state of denial as they have so warped their conscience as to believe they are actually helping their victims. As a CAS Social Worker I would not confront the offender with a direct allegation of sexual harm. Instead, I would confront the individual with allegations of neglect of the child, resulting in the ever present 'acting out' behavior of the victim. This was truly offensive to them as they were so convinced of the 'good' they were doing, that they would eventually trip themselves up trying to prove to me how 'special' his relationship was and how beneficial it was to the child. Working with the Police, we gathered a great deal of evidence from such interviews which eventually crumbled his defenses.

    If a priest was feeling sufficiently remorseful for what he has done to the degree that he would seek out another priest to confess, he probably would have already made the decision to go to the Police.

    G'Night.

    Fr. Tim

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  11. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2 vs38

    It says nothing about needing to confess to a priest and nothing about penance.

    "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Acts 2:21

    I did so and believe the Lord saved me. Bible-believing christians are not working to earn their salvation; they are working because they have already be saved by the grace of God. Praise God. Jesus did it all.

    Furthermore, if a christian falls into sin, he has an advocate at the throne of grace in heaven, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is our advocate to the Father. This is far better than trying to rely on earthly mediators to try to atone for one's sins.

    "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John ch1 vs9

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  12. I do not know if I deserve that compliment about being wise beyond my 56yrs. but thank you for saying it.
    There's 2 situation in my life I came across that are similar in what you spoke of in your post.
    First, a female relative took pity on her only brother. His wife had left him with their children. One day she caught him doing evil things to her little girl. Like her hands were tied up, I think you get the picture? Her brother would not admit the wrongs even though with all the evidences pointing to sexual abuse. He was in denial like you describe in your post about certain abusers. He died a few years ago. She told me her brother never said sorry needless to say no tears were shed for him by her. She had no closer. As far as her child she did get help but still lives with certain problems. I did not ask her what problems her child is suffering to this day because my cousin did not want to share those details with me. I respected her wishes.

    Another was a childhood friend to my children. I knew this lad since he was little.
    One day after Mass this young man's Mother ask me if I would pray for her son. He was involved with a woman and it is not a good situation he is in. I did pray.

    Later, this 18yr. he DID NOT go in details with me but told me he did not like what he did to this woman's little boy. He JUST COULD NOT LIVE WITH WHAT HE DID. Fr. Tim he did what you said in your post. HE went and talk & confess to a French priest. He and the priest went to the police. This 18yr. old volunteered to the police what he did. He was arrested. He never did jail time but his name is in the registry. He did have a parole officer he had to see. He went through some programs, I do not know what it was. Sometimes he would call me, he would say things like he did not like looking at some pictures these professionals would show him, etc...
    I am no expert in this field Father. I just listened to him. He admitted to me once he did not know why he did it. I took a chance and ask him. 'If your grandmother, your Dad or even me were there with you in that room would you have done those awful acts. Without hesitating he said: 'Of Course Not'.' I said God was there, God sees everything. He became quiet.' He also said he was molested by a relative in a swimming pool when he was 4yrs. old. 'It was terrible and bad what this 14yr.old did to you. I am sorry this happened to you.' Then with a heavy heart I said to him:..you are an 18 yr.old adult and you did this evil act on a helpless child that trusted you when you were suppose be taking good care of him when you were babysitting him.'
    Again he became quiet. I told him I was proud of him that he took responsibility for what he did.

    Fr. Tim this 18yr.old still had somewhat of a conscience. He did take responsibility. He continued with whatever program he had to go through. He loss many good potential jobs because he could not be near children. This happened, well he is in early 30's now. I spoke with his Mom around the holidays last year and she said he is doing well after all this time. He's with a wonderful woman that knows all about his past. I do admit I was fearful when I learned he had fathered a male child with this lady. I pray that all goes well.

    Lina

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