Rubbing Salt into Deep Wounds

In his first hours as the new head of the church, Pope Francis made a self-effacing joke, carried his own luggage, rode on a bus, paid his hotel bill and asked his flock to bless him.

Then, he visited Cardinal Bernard Law.

I’m not a sophisticated or well educated person. And while much of the world’s problems seem complicated to me, I’m sure I too often see too much in “black and white.” But when it comes to sex crimes against kids I can’t help it. It’s seems very simple to me: we ought not to celebrate or honor or promote or praise adults who enable predators to hurt children.

And so to me, whatever good will Pope Francis may have begun to engender with his humility and his ‘common touch’ was immediately erased by his visit with the prelate who is the most disgraced Catholic official in the US.

(Granted, LA’s Cardinal Roger Mahony may have stripped Law from that title in recent years.)

I’m sure the Pope didn’t intend to further hurt already wounded victims and already betrayed Catholic. But I’m sure the same could be said of Ireland’s Cardinal Brady or Germany’s Archbishop Mueller or Kansas City’s Bishop Finn or any of the other thousands of prelates who have enabled child molesting clerics to molest more children – they didn’t intend to let more boys and girls be raped and sodomized.

But does that matter? More crimes took place. More lives were wrecked. More callousness and deceit and reckless was hidden. More wrongdoers were emboldened. And these men could have prevented this devastation.

If the visit with Cardinal Law was somehow inadvertent, where’s the apology? If some aide “slipped up” and schedule the trip to Law’s basilica but forgot that Law was there or likely would be, where’s the explanation?

It seems the entire history of the dealings between abuse victims and Catholic officials can be summed up in six words: Hopes raised again, hopes dashed again.

Honestly, I personally didn’t have real hopes for this pontiff. But I certainly would have expected that he might have avoided rubbing salt into deep wounds in his first real day on the job.

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  • Yvette Warren
    commented 2013-04-23 11:11:56 -0500
    I have one message for the pope to promote healing: Matthew 15:18-22, all the priests to go public and offer themselves up to the law and the community that they harmed, as did the thief crucified with Jesus.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2013-03-17 13:35:41 -0500
    dear christine, i’m so sorry that you were abused. it is precisely because as a child, you never “gave” them the power to hurt you, and because i have grandchildren baptised in the c. church, that i have stayed involved this long.

    i’m sure i could not stay, if i myself had been abused, particularly if it had happened many years ago when it seems nearly no one would speak of these crimes, publicly. but, i am equally sure that if i had been abused, i would need all the compassion and understanding i could receive, and all the strength that with help of sympathetic adults i could garner, to survive it!

    oh, the vulnerable…how sad

    I have believed in God and Christ and the Holy Spirit, my whole life. First, though, I believed in Christ from the time I was a very little girl, I did believe from the time i identified with “doubting Thomas” and had the reality of Christ explained to me, I believed. And, I don’t want this church to make me feel as though there will very soon be no church on earth that will be free of pedophile clergy and safe for people like me and you and my children, to continue to believe, and go to pray and be with other Christians. I can see how all victims of pedophile catholic clergy and laity would quit the church, and it makes me even sader that they have had to do so. SHAME ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. SHAME!!!
  • Tina Johnson
    commented 2013-03-17 12:36:38 -0500
    by leaving the catholic church many years ago after horrible abuse by california jesuits and cover up by archdiocese of los angeles.i no longer suffer the pain that comes from them “rubbing salt into our wounds”.. i just watch and am thankful i no longer give them the power to hurt me..
  • Kay Goodnow
    commented 2013-03-17 00:48:20 -0500
    We do not actually know what Francis I said to Bernard Law. We may never know. This new pope appears to be more reticent about jumping up and proclaiming all the good he does (like Finn did in KC when he ‘settled’ 47 cases in 2008). I am not planning on returning to the ‘church’ in the immediate future, but I would like to take the time to observe what he does. As a survivor of priest abuse, the priority for me will always be the children.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2013-03-16 21:14:00 -0500
    Dear Mr. Clohessy,

    Please remember your own advice earlier last week, of not jumping to conclusions (or entertaining premature conclusions) that this new pope would be, or is in fact any better than the last pope.

    Personally, I was disappointed about many things having to do with this particular conclave. I for one, did not want roger mahoney to be able to participate. And two things really struck me as being “negative” and lent a foreboding to my sense of it all, when this pope now called francis, was elected: first, that the conclave only took two days to vote in a new pope, and second, that this new pope is still, literally, an old pope.

    Seventy-six years old, is not young, it is not even middle-aged. And, in his case, it looks like it’s not even “spry”.

    It seems to me that it is very possible that any priest or pope as old as this new pope is; any priest having been ordained in his youth, in this recently past century in the Americas at least, would by now, have had so very many, many YEARS of mental and actual physical evasion and denial of priest pedophelia. Which is a sad phenomenon.

    It also seems that any new pope “worth his salt”, either could and would institute immediate changes in the catholic church OR, sadly for the rest of us, he could, and maybe he would continue tenuously along an ever thinning “ice”, “fence” or “line of demarcation” trying to keep an imaginary balance between the good and evil people existing in the clergy of the catholic church today.

    You know? It seems that as many of us think that the steps required to put an end to pedophile priests being in the clergy and to put an end to the catholic church not only being a magnet but a “haven” to pedophiles, would actually be easy. The plan you have presented over and over in these last 20+ years is not so mysterious or difficult. It is neither difficult to comprehend nor, difficult to enact. PERIOD!!!

    Still, I was hoping and praying that this change in popes, would be better for all decent catholics; and most importantly, better for those who have actually survived being abused by catholic priests and laity.

    I am going to take this opportunity to put here in my “reaction”/comment section, put here on the SNAP website, a copy of something another person has written about what being raped by a priest is like for a very little boy:
    “They think they are being anally stabbed to death by “Christ on earth”, because that is what Catholic priests call themselves. The pain is excruciating. They think Christ is trying to kill them, and God won’t help. They feel grunting, and groaning, and violent movement.
    Then the pedophile priest typically tells them it is their fault, and that they will get in trouble if they tell anyone, and that no one would believe them. They believe they are going to hell, and don’t know why.

    They (a child victim) have more psychological pressure than anyone could endure, let alone an undeveloped 7 year old.

    The pedophile priest goes to Catholic confession, is forgiven, and forgets about it.”

    Once, you believe that catholic priests have been predators and perpetrators of sexual abuse of children, you cannot stop believing it. At least, I can’t. For a while, I was persuaded by my other catholic friends that there weren’t many pedophile priests after all and that the public in general had many more, than were in the catholic church. They tried to persuade me that our children weren’t any more vulnerable being catholic and attending catholic schools, than being in any other organized religion or any other children’s group, e.g. boy and girl scouts, youth soccer, etc. I can’t believe that anymore. Not, because there aren’t pedophiles in all walks of life, but rather because nowhere else does it now seem to me, (a heretofore, catholic mother and catholic grandmother), no where else is it that pedophiles are in fact, encouraged in their crime, aided and abetted and accepted into and kept in the clergy.

    Now, because of all the hard work actual survivors have managed to do and done to bring this travesty in the catholic church into the light, out in the open, I no longer can agree with my friends. I now believe the church must reform itself or be reformed. Once the church fully acknowledges the current account, the current state of affairs of the whole catholic church, it is, in my opinion the same as the devil incarnate if it in fact refuses to change.

    Again, I ask all of you, what sane and loving parent would, once knowing of these abuses and atrocities, once knowing of pedophile catholic priests and laity preying on children of and in the catholic church, what parent would stay in this church as it currently is, stay with their family. I tell you, no sane and loving parent, would. There are in fact, some sins that cannot be forgiven.

    Still, Mr. Clohessy and all the SNAP members, I encourage you to persevere for a little longer (with this pope). I say that only because I see that your efforts do in fact have effect, even if it seems painstakingly slow. Efforts by you and other people like you, your efforts have quite likely and possibly helped cause Benedict to vacate the papacy, and perhaps to have caused the cardinals of this conclave to have unwittingly chosen someone who although they themselves may hope will die in the not too distant future without acting on this heinous situation and thus give the offending prelates some more time to “circle their wagons”; but in fact, he MIGHT turn out differently. He might be different than even any of them expected, as well. Wouldn’t it be fun to imagine that when this new pope did meet with Bernard Law, he actually chastised him and told him to “get out” and go home and stop aiding and abetting pedophile priests? And, for all we know, God might have better plans for us all with regards to the catholic church, and this may actually be the time that God and the Trinity, will intervene on all our behalf, now, and in our lifetimes! I truly do pray so. Amen.
  • John M Shuster
    commented 2013-03-16 17:19:04 -0500
    Business first. Survivors somewhere down the line of priorities. Let’s stay the course as they change figureheads.

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