I’m angry. I’m disgusted. And I don’t like being played for a sucker.
The Requirements I Must Meet
As a Catholic school teacher, I’ve been required to take several “safe touching” classes. I’ve had to sign document after document in which I agree to abide by Church teaching. I am prohibited from being in a room alone with a student, to transport a student, or to have any private contact with a student. I am required to be careful about everything I publish on the web.
If an employee of our Diocese publicly defies Church teaching, I understand (and support) Church policy which may require termination of that employee. We represent the Church to all with whom we have contact, and we must always support her teachings in words or actions.
I’m happy to abide by these requirements. I am proud that our parents can be assured that our pastor, principal, and fellow teachers want to provide the highest level of protection and safety for our students. I love our Church teachings and hope to exemplify them in every aspect of my life. Jesus truly does make my joy complete.
Everybody Not on the Same Page
As a Catholic, I assumed that everyone working for the Catholic Church had to fulfill the same requirements that I did. Certainly, all our parent volunteers, CYO coaches, employees, and even our Pastor followed suit. I could proudly tell friends who were skeptical about the Catholic Church’s progress against sex abuse that we were taking the lead in this field. Everyone was on the same page.
Everyone, that is, except our “shepherds,” the bishops themselves. The Dallas Charter of 2002, by which the Church’s current policies against sexual abuse were instituted, does not apply to our Bishops.
Bishops, why did you exempt yourselves from the rigorous requirements under which the rest of your flock were placed?
- Perhaps you didn’t think you needed it—that all of the sexual abuse issues had been rooted out. Well, the recent news about now Archbishop McCarrick certainly indicated that is not true. While McCarrick’s sickening behavior primarily occurred before the enactment of the Dallas Accord, the news would have been much more palatable if we knew that he was going to get the same punishment as anyone of us would have: firing (laicized) and immediate submission to secular authorities. Instead, he was permitted to resign. That he is not being handed over to the police is unjust. (While the statute of limitations may have run out for criminal or civil actions, it would be just to require him to publicly face his victims.)
- Perhaps you didn’t want non-bishops judging you. But isn’t that an example of sinful pride of the first order? If you are “our shepherds” who should be so close to us that you “smell of the sheep,” you wouldn’t mind being held to our same standards. In fact, as Jesus Himself was, you would want to be held to a higher standard of behavior. Jesus washed our feet; He didn’t hold up his nose to us.
- Perhaps you just felt that the rules shouldn’t apply to you.
I sense the true answer is all of the above, and all point to hypocrisy of the highest order.
Next Steps for the Bishops
Now, Bishops, if you really care about us, you have some important work to do. Notice I didn’t say talk—work, which means actions.
- You must apologize and make right any abuse by bishops or cardinals, including so-called “consensual” abuse between adults. As people in powerful positions, you know that there is no consent when the powerless person feels compelled or coerced to cooperate. Come clean and admit the sins of your brother Bishops.
- Clean house. Laicize all bishops who took part in abuse or who hid the abuse. We can do without them, and then put honorable men in their places. This includes any bishop who is not abiding by his vow of celibacy in any manner—heterosexual or homosexual. The Church correctly teaches us to all be chaste, and our shepherds need to lead the way. If we have to start from scratch, so be it. Jesus cleaned the Temple and we need to do the same.
- Amend the Dallas Charter to apply to all clergy, all the way up to the most senior cardinal. Then put in place the same educational and contract requirements and consequences as we lowly teachers have.
Finally, don’t forget who we are, Bishops. We are the Body of Christ, we are the Church, and we have so many good priests (God bless them) in our parishes who will lead us at Mass and provide our Sacraments and continue to be examples of Christ to us. This Church will never be destroyed by the evils of men.
Repentance, Redemption, and Oscar Wilde
And we are also the Church built upon the radical love of repentance and redemption. My anger is tempered by the knowledge that I, too, am a sinner, and, through the cross of Jesus Christ, I have been forgiven.
The Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, when he was imprisoned for homosexual activities, asked for a copy of St. Augustine’s Confessions, works by Cardinal Newman, and the New Testament written in Greek to read in jail. Father Cuthbert Dunne, the priest who visited Wilde as his final weeks before death, stated, “He turned to God for pardon and for the healing grace of the Sacraments in the end, and died a child of the Catholic Church.” Indeed, Wilde was the fulfillment of his own prescient quote:
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
Let us pray for those who suffered at the hands of Archbishop McCarrick and his accomplices. May those deeply injured souls find the peace and understanding that only the crucified Jesus can give, and some satisfaction in knowing that the truth has been exposed.
And let us pray for Archbishop McCarrick and those who were accessories to his terrible deeds. My they truly repent and seek God’s radical forgiveness. Amen.