The following was written from one of my non-blogging brothers who was moved to write his thoughts on the abuse crisis. Definitely worth a read:
My brothers are Catholic bloggers: I am a struggling, practicing Catholic. Yet I feel that unless the usually quiet members of the faithful step up and demand a change we are in danger of losing the Church. I am personally tired of letters from our pastor and a video from our bishop extolling accountability using platitudes and focus group tested drivel that says nothing and accomplish even less. It is funny that today’s epistle was about works without faith and faith without works as these letters and videos are the epitome of words without action. It is pretty clear that at some point the leadership of the Catholic Church in America decided to confront the abuse crisis as CEOs rather than as clergy concerned with the physical well-being and souls of the flock. The moment that bishops engaged in liability management the world changed. So, to return the church to its rightful focus it is time for the faithful to speak the language of the bishops.
I propose that for the entire month of November that we all stop putting money in the collection basket. I mean zero. A month will send a strong message that this lack of accountability and loss of focus on the mission of the Church will no longer be tolerated. Once people get used to not giving in the collection plate and find better places for their charitable contributions it will be difficult to return to the old level of giving. I know some will immediately say this is too harsh and the poor will suffer. So, lets all give generously to food pantries in our parishes to help those in the most need. Others will say there are bills to pay and we can’t do this. I say no one is going to close a church because of some late payments. (The cynic in me says tell them to sell a statue or two.) There is a choice to made here between reclaiming moral authority and balancing the books, but I believe that without moral authority there soon will be no books to balance.
But what is it that we want the Church to do.
(1) The Church needs to commit to turning over every past, present or future allegation of abuse to local law enforcement by the end of 2018. These are not moral failings that require prayer and penance but are the most heinous of crimes and law enforcement is equipped to investigate crimes. I am not naive, and I understand that some allegations will be false, and some will be fabricated to gain a lucrative payday. That seems to be the price to regain the position of moral authority.
(2) Going forward any member of the clergy that doesn’t report an allegation of abuse will be de-frocked. Period
(3) Every bishop in America needs to be reassigned so that no bishop will be in the position of covering up crimes that committed on their watch. Additionally, each newly reassigned bishop must review with every parish or institution under their supervision all past records to insure there are no more Pittsburg-like time bombs waiting to go off. If this results in new crimes and identifies more cover-ups, so be it. Report them all to law enforcement and de-frock any member of the clergy that didn’t report the incidents.
(4) Much of Archbishop Vigano’s letter had an under-current that much of the crisis can be blamed on homosexual priests. This is not a gay or straight crisis but a predator crisis. Let’s rid the Church of the predators before we attach evil to a sexual orientation. Fittingly, today’s gospel was about casting out Satan and that is what we need to do here. This is pure evil and that is Satan. It seems that the military and law enforcement do extensive screening to avoid giving guns to psychopaths. The Church needs to implement some new screening processes in its seminaries to identify and cull out predators. As with law enforcement some will beat all the screening but as a Church we need to do much better than we are currently doing.
This is the point where some will say a boycott is in order, but I think that is exactly backwards. Now is the time for all Catholics—the observant, the practicing, the Christmas and Easter only crowd, lapsed Catholics and those who self-identify as Catholics and don’t even know where their parish Church is anymore Catholics- to return to Church. The reason Catholic churches are so large is the need to accommodate large crowds twice a year. Let’s all make an effort in November to have the largest attendance with no cash being given and send a clear message to our Church leaders—fix it while you still can or there may not be a Church to save in the future.