I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately on how much the Catholic Church is doing to repair the damage to it’s public image. They wish to show us how repentant they are over what they have been doing to our children. There are conferences in Rome where bishops listen to survivors and a really great press release by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin who actually seems to “get it”.
Now, this morning , there is a particularly nauseating press release out of New York by His Excellency Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Mr. Dolan reports on his conversation with NY Governor Cuomo regarding a bill to extend the statute of limitations on child sex abuse five years until age 28: “And the governor listens. He’s a good lawyer. He reminded us of his allegiance to classical jurisprudence that would see a great benefit in the protection of the statute of limitations to see that the innocent of protected and that justice is done.”
Dolan also said the bishops have been “contrite” in admitting the church has handled molestation scandals poorly, but is trying to do more now — and isn’t getting credit for that: So it does bother us that the church continues to be a “whipping boy”…
Really? In arguing against a five year extension of the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse Mr. Dolan describes The Church as needing protection and justice because as hard as they try, they are still just a “whipping boy”? Interesting turn of a phrase if you ask me, and very skillful use of vocabulary to make The Church out to be the victim, in all the child sex abuse claims. Are you serious? After decades of child rape, deviant torture, beatings and destruction of human dignity, life and the theft of souls of helpless children “His Excellency” wants us to view The Church as the victim? And just to top it off he ends the press conference with “Last year when I was here, there were some refreshments up on that shelf, what happened to them?” aka; what happened to the booze?
The next news item on the Catholic Church involves the oldest group I know of working to support survivors is Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP. Here is who SNAP is. They offer support in person, (via monthly self-help group meetings in chapters across the country), over the phone, online, and twice-a-year at national meetings.
They also provide a safe and productive outlet for the passion many survivors feel toward preventing future abuse. Their website exists to provide support and knowledge to all victims of clergy abuse, to help educate the public, and to help ensure that in future generations, children will be safe. They help the survivor know that they are not alone and recovery is possible. In 2010 their total revenue was $353,000.
What is the leadership of the Catholic Church doing to help these people who are trying to help victims of abuse by their priests and The Church? They are dragging them into court and trying to force them to produce documents. A subpoena asked SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy turn over all documents for the last 23 years that mentions repressed memory, any current or former priest in Kansas City, or the diocese. Although The Church claims they are not working together in this attack, a nearly identical subpoena was served in another case in another city. Not a corporate strategy by The Church? Hm, I wonder?
Director Clohessy was deposed for over six hours and most of the questions were not about the case but about the network — its budget, board of directors, staff members, donors and operating procedures. “The real motive is to harass and discredit and bankrupt SNAP, while discouraging victims, witnesses, whistle-blowers, police, prosecutors and journalists from seeking our help” says Clohessy.
As an individual I have been here. When I sued The Church over my abuse, their attorneys tried to subpoena anything I had ever written, diaries, all correspondence, or articles I had read on abuse for the last forty years. They also wanted a mirror copy of the hard drive of my computer. Information gathering or harassment, you decide.
Is this the behavior of an innocent religious organization who is being targeted as a “whipping boy”? Or is it the behavior of a club of self-serving elitist men who give each other titles like “His Excellency” and go around bullying kids and then acting the innocent when they get caught?
If the Catholic leadership wants to show me how Christian they are and how much they care, they can start by testifying in favor of victim/survivor legislation and include organizations like SNAP for support with Catholic Charities. That’s when I’m going to know they are serious about their faith, healing for victims and safety of our children.