Tuesday, February 9, 2010

POWER, PRIVILEGE AND INJUSTICE

We the People are the Church. Since that is so, then why are we allowing our so-called leaders to herd us out of the forest and into the swamp? Each time a priest is accused of sexual misconduct, each time a priest goes to prison without any proof of his misbehavior, each time a million dollar payment is made to an accuser and to a contingency lawyer, we, the People, allow our Church to be dishonored in the worst manner. We the Church have become the “victims” of greedy lawyers, liars, and thieves, as well as the hateful groups trying to bring down the Church in order to create one in their own warped image. This is what power is and what power does.

Much of what the bishops do is done behind closed doors and little if anything is communicated to the rest of us, we the Church. They seem to be even above the Pope. When the U.S. bishops decided to do away with canon law and conduct their own inquisitions of accused priests - even to the point of sending directives to the Vatican that a priest be “laicized” and have it done - the genie was out of the bottle.

Our priests are kicked out of Church properties and the guilty along with the innocent are left to stand in the dock with only a public defender as their voice. The wife of one public defender was in court to hear her husband’s case, and she said to the priest being tried, “I don’t know why we’re here. My husband knows you’re guilty!” Unfortunately the priest was too befuddled to report this comment to the judge. A mistrial might have been declared. In most cases the accusers don’t have to produce any proof, not that they would be able to anyway. The lack of having to prove one’s case is something new in the history of the American justice system.

More and more priests are simply summoned to the bishop’s office where they are faced with the bishop and his minions. The priests are not allowed to have even one trusted person accompanying them. They are told there is an accusation against them, usually of some 40 or 50 years ago, told to vacate the rectory, and sent on their way. Where is he to go? A priest in Ohio who was kicked out of his rectory had suffered several heart attacks and a kind parishioner took him in. For her good deed she received a blistering letter from her bishop condemning her for what she had done. The woman saved the priest’s life. He had nowhere to go except under a bridge or a homeless shelter. What manner of bishop would want that on his conscience?

Yes, this is what American priests are facing. Who in his right mind would become a priest during the reign of such bishops? This is the ultimate act of betrayal of our priests. We the People allow the bishops to behave towards our priests as if they are beggars at the table of the bishops. They serve at the pleasure of the bishops. What about the pleasure of the Church, we the People? Not one iota of thought is ever given to the good name and reputation of that priest? The parishioners are left stunned and without a beloved priest.

A few weeks ago Cardinal Sean O’Malley in Boston gave six elderly priests in a residential home orders to leave immediately because somebody popped up on the radar and said they remembered being abused by those priests. These men had served the Church well with no accusations and without one whit of proof – Cardinal O’Malley ordered those elderly, sick men on the streets. Two of the priests died from the shock and horror of being kicked while down by their bishop, and two others are missing and feared stranded somewhere or dead. Is that the behavior of a good shepherd? Shame on Cardinal O’Malley who is so proud of his Order that he always wears his Franciscan habit; he of the Franciscans who preach that “fraternity with all creatures is fraternity with all men”; he whose Order takes care of their own in prison and thereafter; he, the proud Franciscan bishop who orders the old and infirm diocesan priests out of Catholic residences and into the mean streets. What spiritual strength it must take to muster the nerve to flaunt both the Franciscan Order and God Almighty. For more on Cardinal O’Malley see Carol McKinley’s blog: http://throwthebumsoutin2010.blogspot.com (The Civil and Canonical Rights of Roman Catholic Priests in Boston). It sends a chilling message.

More and more parishioners are standing up for their priests. They must! The priests have nobody else – just us, the people, the Church. We cannot allow them to be kicked out of OUR Church on the sole word of an accuser, with no proof. Our priests have no protection. They are human. They are men. They sin. They are forgiven by God, by some of us, but it seems never by the Church. We are the Church, are we not? The shepherds of the Church have disappointed me to an insurmountable degree. They have cast out some sick priests and many innocent priests on the sole word of some seeking only to enrich themselves at the cost of the lives of the accused. Priests are held to a higher standard than other men, but bishops are held to an even higher standard and they are failing.

The Holy Father’s theme for Lent is justice. The definition of justice he said, “implies ‘to render to every man his due.’ […] In reality, however … what man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law.” What priests need most are bishops unafraid of hateful groups and contingency attorneys, both of whom have made suing the Catholic Church a livelihood. Priests need bishops unafraid to speak out about the injustice and unfairness now rampant. Early on there probably were some genuine victims, but now anybody without a conscience and with a need for greed can accuse any priest.

Has anyone asked himself why decent, caring bishops don’t speak up, and stop the nonsense of pushing good priests into tragedy? We know there are good and holy bishops out there who work quietly to help accused, rejected and dejected priests. Their voices can only be heard in the background now because the power grabbers make the most noise. But someday soon the decent bishops will be called upon to restore faith in the Church. We the People wait and pray for their time to come. When the Church is completely bankrupt, or when there are no more priests to accuse, or when married priests are brought back into the Church, or when women are…gasp…ordained as priests, maybe then, just maybe, some errant bishop will stand up and say, “Maybe we made a mistake.”

As for power, privilege and injustice, I wonder if Pope Paul VI had the current crop of bishops in mind when he said the “smoke of Satan has entered the Church.”

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5 comments:

  1. well...what is left to say about such an
    institutional crime!....i sit with mixed emotions
    running from anger, to sad, to helplessness, to
    ranting about the "culture of victimhood", victims seem to be kept victims for money, healing only takes place with forgiveness, so the
    Lord take us..."forgive us our trespasses as we
    forgive those who trespass against us", "you
    with out sin cast the first stone", "compassion",and on and on....thank you,
    Charlene, for your challenge to the heart...and
    conscience......
    dee crowley

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  2. Coming from a background of parochial school education, in South Boston, my memory is of wonderful priests who cared about and for the children. I remember Cardinal Richard Cushing, who when my brother was diagnosed with Spinal Meningitis at the age of three, came to the Carney Hospital and sat with my mother until Billy was out of danger. The hospital was on Telegraph Hill then, quite a way from Brighton and the Chancery.

    Yes, there were some curmudgeons, but very few, and the many were caring, shepherds of souls, as I'm sure Jesus intended of his priests.

    I am apalled, angered, and quite incensed at the way our priests are being treated today, by the very ones (Bishops, etc.)who are supposed to be their mentors and guardians. It seems that for the sins of the few, all are being punished, without regard for their spiritual, emotional, or physical welfare.

    The monies given by the PEOPLE for their care, is mismanaged, misappropriated, spent unwisely, and then our heirarchy sends out another request to the PEOPLE........oops we goofed, give us some more. No accountability !

    We the PEOPLE are fed up with dishing out our hard earned money time after time (we think it's doing God's work, but it's doing Satan's instead),and then seeing that same hand, palm up, again and again and again.

    Our Church has literally GONE TO THE DEVIL. If we the PEOPLE don't stick up for our priests, who will?

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  3. I was unaware of the problem of abandoned priests until a priest friend of a friend (who is based in the US) was suddenly and recently accused of one alleged event decades ago. I do not know this priest and would normally have just assumed guilt, but have heard such wonderful accounts of him that I began to wonder. I then found sites describing the general situation in the US and am becoming greatly concerned for his chances of receiving justice and for other poor priests who have been 'cast out'. I have no idea about the situation of priests in similar situations in this country (the UK) and do not know how to find out?

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  4. StevieD, thank you for your comment and your question. To get information on the situation of priests in the UK I would suggest that you begin by searching your local newspapers online. Or do a Google search specifically for the UK.

    charlene

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  5. Obviously it is time for Bishops like those in Boston to resign since they treat priests like trash and appear to be such holy and generous men themselves. When the Church also loses the ability to forgive, then it denies what Jesus has done and is no longer the true church--when Bishops appear to be holier than thou--look out!

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