Monday, April 07, 2008

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month ... (and Defend-Your-Church Month Too, It Seems)

Today on my way to other things I stumbled on this post by "The Anchoress," in which she explains with eloquence and fire exactly why, in the wake of the scandals, most devout Catholics did not leave the Church (though they may well have changed parishes if it turned out that theirs was once of those affected by the predatory scorge).

On Friday, Catholic Exchange will be running an article I wrote about the USCCB declaration of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. As you might anticipate, seeing as I adopted two children out of the foster care system, this is a topic I take very seriously ... and found myself defending in two separate quarters, one more expected than the other.

While I was not the least bit surprised that various disillusioned Catholics would find the bishops' pronouncement the height of hypocrisy, I was more than a bit put off by a second camp -- those Catholics who remain in the pews, and seem more put out by the "liturgical guides" that might raise the spectre of abuse within the liturgy (presumably during the prayers of the faithful) than that the scorge of abuse continues at all (though its form is somewhat different now).

I'm not sure which is more off-putting.

I was grateful that The Anchoress took it upon herself to address (as I found myself doing more than once this week) why Catholics simply don't leave the Church when it disappoints them. I liked this quote especially, in connection with the Obama-Wright fiasco:

So Obama may be asked “why did you not leave your pastor,” and a Catholic may be asked “why did you not leave your PARISH” - if the parish was one involved with the shameful priests or pastors. It is quite a different thing to ask, “why did you not leave your church.” If the writer does not understand that distinction then his whole point is unmade. Believing, as Catholics do, that the source and summit of our faith is the Holy Eucharist, which we believe to be the Real, Physical Body and Blood of Christ, “walking away” is not an option. You don’t “leave;” you fix the problem.
Amen, sister.

You don't leave when otherwise level-headed church family members get peevish when confronted with the fact that such abuses continue (most often from an altogether different quarter, including some much closer to home).

You don't leave (or turn tail and run) when otherwise reasonable cyber-buddies start their convoluted laundry lists of "Why no one in their right mind should still be calling themselves Catholic."

You don't leave even though for the first thirty years of your life, you switched churches for far less serious reasons -- sometimes simply for a change of scenery.
You don't leave when the extent of the abuse is publicized.

The reason is simple: Nowhere else in the world can you receive Jesus -- all of Him -- the way we receive Him in the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.

Thanks, Anchoress, for the reminder.


john said...

Whats this predatory scourge? Maybe I am new in this bloggin world. There is no scourge that I know of, at least not in the Catholic Church. I talked to a lawyer in Detroit who was asked to represent some of these alleged predators. Out of about 300 he dealt with he is pretty certain only one was guilty of anything. Meanwhile these poor priests lose everything just because someone made an anonymous phone call about something they thought might have happened 30 years ago! YEESH! Why do people believe what they read in the newspapers!? Perhaps if people read the fine print they will notice that most cases involve willing teenagers,,,hmmm Could these be cases of Gays being let loose in the sanctuary!? Statistics show that there are a lot more perverts in the medical profession, but you won't be reading about that. . If any of these poor accused priests read this please write to me, because I would like to tell your story. I am sick of hearing from the media about these victims and the memories that their therapists have dug out. What does this do to the real victims of abuse? Does anyone remember the "scourge" in the USSR about 50 years ago? Thats the first way they got rid of you and sent you to the Gulag, accuse you of being a pervert! Well thanks for letting me not too sensitively vent about a sensitive issue. I better go back to reading about St Faustina and Divine Mercy, we are all gonna need it in these dangerous times.

Heidi Hess Saxton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heidi Hess Saxton said...

I agree that the problem was not as widespread as the press made it out to be ... Nevertheless, there were both predators and (what is worse) those in higher positions of authority who did not respond appropriately. I do not think it an overstatement to call the fallout -- both in terms of lives ruined and dollars spent lining the pockets of lawyer-leeches -- a scourge (e.g. something that wastes or ravages) of the most heinous kind. In the words of a good priest friend of mine, "Purification is painful, but necessary."