[See the comments in red which follow below in order to see what a farce this is both in text and at the end.]
Pope Francis has responded to new reports of clerical sexual abuse and the ecclesial cover-up of abuse. In an impassioned letter addressed to the whole People of God, he calls on the Church to be close to victims in solidarity, and to join in acts of prayer and fasting in penance for such “atrocities”.
Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis: To the People of God
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons [What about the bishops?]. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike. Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated [What bishops have done and continue to do.]. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults. [At least there is mention of minors instead of pedophilia. This was always and almost exclusively a homosexual crisis. This is not admitted here, and I think that such an omission tells us just how lacking in seriousness this all is. There is a mafia-like protection of homosexual bullies. Why is that? Why was this kind of document prepared for Pope Francis to sign. This letter is so cynical, and laughs at the real victims of abuse once again.]
1. If one member suffers…
In recent days, a report [from the Grand Jury in Pennsylvania] was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. [So, in other words, even though there is by definition zero due process that happens with a Grand Jury, even though priests were forbidden[!] to defend themselves, even though no trial is possible (thus making this felonious conduct for the judge), ALL priests are held to be guilty based on accusations going back more than a lifetime so that accusations are evidence. In other words, mere accusation is held to be absolute proof of guilt. And huge amounts of money change hands. That’s the definition of abuse of power. So, what’s this all about except to make bishops look like tough heroes. Self-absorbed. Promethean. Neo-Pelagian. Creative of the darkest of existential peripheries.] Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the [alleged] victims. We have realized that these [alleged] wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these [alleged] atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these [alleged] wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching [alleged] pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity. The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands. [Don’t think our Lord Jesus is unconcerned about a total lack of due process. He Himself was falsely accused. Those who trash due process in hopes of being heroes are not those held to be heroes by Mary Immaculate’s Son Jesus.] Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history. For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: “he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53). We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite. [In that case, promote due process. Otherwise this is all hypocrisy, total hypocrisy cynically using the sufferings of real victims to promote instead one’s own heroism for being tough by denying due process.]
With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them. I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed:
“How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood [and the episcopacy?], ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).
2. … all suffer together with it
The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. [I don’t for a second believe it until the past lack of due process for the sake of episcopal self-hero worship is confessed and a promise for due process is made and brought about.] And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228). Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person. A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption. The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for ‘even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165). Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). [And is any of that directed at the bishops? No? Really?]
I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children [this reference to “children” is edging on the pedophilia references around the world which are used to cover up the homosexual crisis. Relatively speaking, there’s no there there for pedophilia. This is about bully homosexuals. NO ONE will admit that. Why is that? I note that the Pennsylvania fake news thing comes on the heals of the McCarrick fiasco, because that referenced homosexuality and no one wants to mention that…] and of vulnerable adults [I’m thinking of a case involving a past chairman of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, but that’s not mentioned, is it? No. I guess that guy would be friends of certain people in Rome…], as well as implementing zero tolerance [with no due process] and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable [chancery rats? Still no mention of bishops]. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future. [Due process would stop the whole thing in its tracks. It’s true. No one permits due process. Why is that?]
Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does. For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: “If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49). To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. To do so, prayer and penance will help. I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command. This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.
It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives. This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”. Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism. [Note how bishops have escaped once again. It’s those priests! As Bill Donohue points out this past two years, the average for abuse by priests is… is… 0.005%. Meanwhile, pretty much all bishops have been in cover-up mode or in no provision of due process mode, a terrible abuse of power.]
It is always helpful to remember that “in salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6). Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within. Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change. The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel. For “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11). [Try due process. This isn’t hard. What’s with all these fluffy obfuscations? It’s simple: DUE PROCESS.]
It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable [“mission of watching over”: like what, the mission of teachers? Bishops escape again.]. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.
Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils. May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. [So, there it is, the distinction of children from young people. So this is about perpetuating the fake pedophilia narrative instead of admitting that this is about a homosexual crisis.]. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. [No mention of due process.] A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience. [On abuse of conscience, even innocent priests were sent to treatment centers for mere accusations and had their genitals hooked up to electrical sensors to see what arousal level they would experience with different kinds of porn, including child porn, which is all sinful and in the case of child porn a felony. This was countenanced by bishops and by the Holy See. Priests are given an ultimatum: “Go to the treatment center run by people who have done this to priests, or be dismissed from the clerical state.” Yep. If anyone ever tried to do that to me they wouldn’t live to tell the story. Yes, that is a threat. I don’t countenance rape. And that is what the bishops were doing to their priests all these years. This isn’t about protecting kids. This is all about homosexual sex. Really. I bet it was all filmed, and watched.]
In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation. Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross. She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side. In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life. When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319). She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice. To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.
May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them. [I would be careful about claiming Jesus and Mary and the Holy Spirit as backers when what is said leaves out, say, let me think…. due process.]
Vatican City, 20 August 2018
=== My own comments follow on what a farce this is. ===
[What follows are my original comments:] I note that priests and religious are pointed out repeatedly, but when it comes to mentioning the bishops, which is what this is all about, we hear only euphemisms such as the mention of “all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable,” which phrase can also refer to, say, teachers. Sorry, but this whole thing is a smokescreen. It’s BS. Just to say, it’s nice to cite that bit from the famous Stations of Cross of Cardinal Ratzinger (at which I was present), but that also refers to the priests, but to the bishops, not so much.
I also note that there is absolutely zero mention of any due process, which tells me that the self-hero worship of the bishops, their abuse of power, will continue. To date, upon any accusation a settlement is made by the diocese over against any priest to the accuser. There has been no due process. Accusation equals proof to date. That’s all absurd. It’s only about what great heroes the bishops are and continue to be regardless of how unjust they’ve been. This was obviously written by someone like O’Malley and perhaps reps of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group.
Here’s the deal: the abuse of power that can abuse kids is the same abuse of power which can hush things up, which is the same abuse of power which can transfer problems around, which is the same abuse of power which, when found out, can all of a sudden make accusation into proof of guilt, and therefore make immediate settlements without the knowledge of the accused, and which can claim heroism by “taking a hard line,” when all the while what this abuse of power does is simply start the cycle again. How’s that you ask? Glad you asked. Here we go:
When bishops are in full abuse of power, self-congratulatory, “I’m a hero!” mode, will they not do anything to protect, say, a good record, so that, say, in a diocese where no abuse accusation has come about since 2002, and where perception is held to be everything, will not the bishop be tempted to hush things up, to transfer problems, to make accusations into proof, to pay settlements to make due process impossible, to make themselves look like heroes taking a hard line? Yes. Abuse of power of any kind, lack of justice and due process of any kind only promotes more abuse.
This letter written for Pope Francis to sign is already well on it’s way to keep the bishops protected at all costs.
Moreover, the Pennsylvania thing has been utterly debunked. Thus, this letter written for Pope Francis is a last ditch effort to take the spotlight, if you will, off the bishops and but it back on priests. But as Bill Donohue points out, the rate of accusations over the last two years against priests is 0.005%. Compare that to any other public school or group or whatever. There is no comparison. There’s no there there. This is about the bishops, but this letter has skirted that totally, hiding behind Pope Francis. For shame.