Tuesday, 11 December 2018

There's No Room For Heaven Here

There's No Room For Heaven Here
- Lyrics: John Budd,
- Music: Stuart Watts, 1965

The sad thing about this song is that nothing seems to have changed. Prejudice is still alive and well.
The song makes good material for an Advent meditation.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Catholic Bishops, It's Over

Today the National Catholic Reporter published

Open letter to the US Catholic bishops: It's over

There are applicable parallels with the Church in Canada - the timing and very title of the recent CCCB publication, "Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse: A Call to the Catholic Faithful in Canada for Healing, Reconciliation, and Transformation" being an illustrative case in point. Who do non-theologically trained Catholic lay people think this is addressed to when they read "A Call to the Catholic Faithful"? Certainly not to the bishops themselves nor even the clergy, even if the bishops and clergy do come under its purview. 

Cardinal Ouellet
As another case for Canada, I think of the then Archbishop of Quebec (the illustrious Marc Armand Ouellet PSS) who in 2010 fought all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to have the case against Fr. Lachance dropped, not because he was innocent, but because Quebec's equivalent of a statute of limitations had expired (Shirley Christensen, Appellant and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Qu├ębec and Paul-Henri Lachance, Respondents). When the Supreme Court decided that it should go back to a lower court for more evidence, the Archbishop caved in and came to an out of court settlement.

I think there is much food for thought in this open letter even if we are not Americans. "Protecting Minors" states: "... in addition to serving the demands of justice and ensuring public safety, the Church requires that offenders make amends for the harm they inflicted and scandal they caused. In seeking forgiveness, they are asked to express sorrow and contrition and to undertake appropriate acts of penance."

So much language focuses on those who directly committed sexual abuse. It seems patently clear to me that the bishops still cannot acknowledge that they themselves, and fellow priests, have participated in this sin by protecting and covering up for their fellow clerics (clericalism), thereby enabling them and others to continue unabated. The reference in the letter to Cupich is apt: Bishops must "cede authority," he said, to allow for greater accountability to outside authority. He also said that "privilege, power and protection of a clerical culture" have to be "eradicated from the life of the church" or "everything else is a sideshow."

Cardinal Burke and his capa magna
Enough from me, I encourage you to read the open letter if you have not already done so.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Talking About Sexual Abuse

A little while back I received an email about a 'safe environment policy' from one of the organisations that I belong to. I opened it, expecting to read something along the lines of occupational health and safety hazards. To my surprise, it was actually good, common sense guidelines on interacting with youth to prevent sexual abuse or any possible perception of inappropriate behaviour.

All well and good, but the covering email introduced the document thus: I will start off by saying this is a very delicate topic… 
and concluded: Thank you for your understanding of this very delicate subject…

In my opinion, treating this as a 'delicate' or 'sensitive' matter is, I think, precisely one of the things that has enabled abusers to get away with inappropriate behaviour for so many decades, perhaps centuries. It makes it the elephant in the room that everybody feels 'uncomfortable' talking about and leaves victims with feelings of guilt or shame and having to take the responsibility for protecting the others around them from feelings of embarrassment or discomfort. I know, because I was a victim from age 10 to 14 years old. It was only after being able to talk about it 15 years ago, or so, that healing began.

Don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting our conversation should get into the gory and sordid details of who, what, how, etc. But I have come to understand that the last vestiges of a Victorian approach to talking about sex still hang on the topic of sexual abuse of children. Telling people that this is a delicate or sensitive matter, to my mind, sends a signal that they should take note but, please, let's not talk about it lest somebody becomes uncomfortable or even offended.

The only people we should worry about hurting or offending are the victims or potential victims.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Wednesday, 25 October 2017