Monday, September 9, 2013

You want to see a grown man cry?

If you come over to my place right now, you might get lucky.

I've just been reading the latest report about the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

The orders the Rev. Carlos Rodriguez got from his religious superiors after he confessed to molesting a 16-year-old boy just hours before were swift and decisive: Leave immediately. Check into a motel. Don't tell anyone where you are going. Wait for further instructions.

Rodriguez, then 31, picked up cash at a Catholic retreat center and waited by the phone. The next day, the regional leader of his religious order called and told him to book a plane ticket out of state. By the time the victim's family went to police, he had checked in at a residential treatment center for troubled priests in Maryland.

"I felt like a fugitive. But what else could I do under the circumstances. I had no other choice but to follow orders," he wrote years later in an essay that was included in his Vatican petition to be defrocked.

The essay was part of a 330-page confidential personnel file on the priest that was released Monday along with files for five other priests who were also accused of molesting children while working for their Roman Catholic religious orders — the Vincentians, the Norbertines and the Augustinians — while assigned to parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Rodriguez's file stands out among the dozens of priest files that have become public in recent months because it includes a candid and detailed autobiographical account of his actions and the steps his religious superiors took to shield him from the family and civil authorities.

The file also makes clear that officials with Rodriguez's religious order, the Vincentians, and the LA archdiocese worked together to intercede. Both the order and the archdiocese knew of Rodriguez's confession, but no one spoke with police until the boy's family filed a police report a month later, according to the file.

"The thing that Carlos Rodriguez does is, he lays out the truth, the underbelly, and exposes that for all that it is," said Ray Boucher, a lead plaintiff attorney in the clergy litigation who secured the release of the files.

There's more at the link.

How in the name of everything that's holy could any priest - much less a Bishop or the superior of an order - countenance such conduct?  How could they betray God and His people so blatantly, so knowingly, so utterly 'I-don't-give-a-damn-about-morals-or-God-or-anything' cold-bloodedly?

I gave my life to the Church . . . and they betrayed me, and every faithful priest they had, and basically threw us into the septic tank, by covering up ghastly sins like this, and then silencing us when we objected (including, in some cases, threatening the pensions and retirement living of older priests who objected).  My life has never been the same since the scandal broke.  I've written about it at length before (see my four part article, particularly Part 2, plus others in the sidebar), but I thought I'd been able to put it behind me.  This latest news just reopened the floodgates.

The scandal isn't over.  It won't be over in human terms until every single priest who betrayed his people and his calling so obscenely has been defrocked and put in jail.  It won't be over until every religious superior or official or bureaucrat who helped to cover up such crimes, as described in the article above, is also defrocked and punished for his crimes.  It won't be over until every Bishop and Archbishop and Cardinal who turned a blind eye to such goings-on, or helped with the cover-up, or (God help them) even ordered the cover-up, is defrocked as well.  It won't be over until all those who perverted the selection of candidates for the priesthood and their seminary education have been punished, and removed from any office from which they might continue to exercise their pernicious, evil influence.  Right now, only the first of those groups of the guilty has been punished - and not all of them.  Those in authority who covered up the scandal are largely still in office, or safely retired on a comfortable pension.  Most of them haven't suffered the consequences of their actions and decisions at all.  They probably never will.

(And, of course, the scandal won't be over until all of those who were its victims have died, and can at last find peace - even if it's the peace of the grave.  For many of them, they've been too badly scarred to know peace until then.  I can only imagine, and shudder at, their feelings over this latest revelation.)

I know the Church claims to be the Body of Christ, founded by Christ Himself, Divinely ordained to accomplish His work on earth.  I believed those claims, and once built my life around them.  But, when one runs headlong into this . . . filth . . . again, and again, and again . . . how can anyone possibly regard her authority, in human terms, as anything but irredeemably compromised?  May God forgive me, but I can't.  My gorge rises (literally) at the thought of submitting to such flawed authority again . . . and what that thought must induce in those who were the victims of this atrocity is something I hope and pray I never have to feel myself, because it might make me suicidal.  It has driven some of them to suicide.  Their deaths are blood on the hands of the Church that did and/or tolerated things like this.

May God have mercy on His Church, and on me, and on us all.



Murphy's Law said...

As a non-Catholic Christian on the outside looking in at this very sordid, very public and very damaging business, I can only shake my head in sympathy with the victims and every other Catholic damaged by the actions of a few priests and their superiors. It's a tragic one, and we all hurt together, Catholic and Protestant alike, as it give our critics so much ammunition and turns so many would-be converts away from our doors.

Rev. Paul said...

Peter, you've poured your heart - very publicly - into the facts about this problem. They, on the other hand, continue to double down & make things worse.

My heart just breaks for all those whose lives have been ruined by the sins, the lies, and the cover-up. But I repeat myself.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

It is not just Catholics the whole religion has failed.

lotta joy said...

I cannot imagine the fear and confusion of small altar boys helping Father into his robes, knowing that before (or after) Mass, this man of God will do unspeakable things.

The parents sit and marvel that their boy is serving the Lord.....

Protestant or Catholic: it happens, has always happened, and always will. There IS no end to it, just replacements coming into the fold.

Rolf said...

And THAT is why I generally have great respect for good people of faith, and not so much for organized religions. Like any bureaucracy, it tends to corrupt people inside its power structure, and the organization becomes more important than the mission.
You have my sympathy.

BenC said...

Peter I think your answer is in your own statement "I gave my life to the church" Now I am sure for you that you gave your life to God first but for to many in the catholic church(especially the higher ups) I think the church has become their god and religion. So any thing that hurts the church is evil and anything they can do to protect the church is good

Anonymous said...

We haven't even scratched the surface of this one.

The article is old but, given the time lag between abuse and reporting, there is no telling how many female victims there are out there.

Better yet, the Catholic Church talks a great story about abortion unless the father is one of their own priests - then they call in the fixers.

And it gets much worse than the article suggests - the coverups extend far up the heirarchy. Very far.

Able said...

A question. Here in the UK we have had similar scandals come to light. A much (infinitesimally) smaller number involved the abuse of young girls - these instances were treated very (very) differently. Why is that do you think?

Peter said...

@Able: I wasn't in the UK to see the unfolding of the scandal there, so I really don't know. I understand that there have been such cases in the USA as well, but there's been much less publicity about them. Perhaps it's because of the 'shock value' of homosexual seduction, as opposed to 'normal' seduction, that makes the news media treat them differently? As for how the Church handled them, I've no doubt it did just as bad a job, irrespective of the sex of the victim . . .

Anonymous said...

Able, if I've got to guess why there are relatively few scandals involving young girls it's simply a matter of timing. As the article I linked commented, there is a significant lag between the time of the abuse and the time the victim comes forward. Since girls didn't get to serve in the same role as altar boys until relatively recently (and so far they are fewer in number) it will take time.

DaddyBear said...

Amen, Peter.

It would have been much better for the church, decades ago, to defrock these scum and cooperate with the authorities than to have to continue the exploitation of their children. Better to take the hit then and put out the message that those who would betray Christ in such a despicable manner need not apply to the seminary.