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A Church In Disarray

A Church in Disarray

Making Sense By Michael Reagan

The resignation of Oklahoma's former Governor Frank Keating from his post as head of the National Review Board, an all-lay panel charged with keeping track of bishops efforts to rid the priesthood of sexual molesters has shown that the scandal is not going away.

And the reason it's not going away, Catholics say, is the state of the Roman Catholic Church in America -- a church in disarray.

Writing in the New Oxford Review, a conservative Catholic journal, Dr. Timothy P. Collins, M.D., a Chesapeake, Va, convert to Catholicism and a Fellow of the College of American Pathologists revealed the current state of the Church:

"Today the American Church is known for its internal dissention and frank disbelief. The list of organizations whose members are in full communion with the Church and call themselves Catholic, and yet promote patently anti-Catholic positions, seems endless. The causes these organizations support include homosexuality, abortion, female priests, gay and lesbian priests, divorce and re-marriage, sex outside of marriage, and a panoply of 'women's issues.' These organizations flatly reject the teaching authority of the Magisterium, and evidence of these organizations' influence, whether pamphlets, members, or invited speakers, can be found in virtually any parish one randomly enters. These dissenting groups didn't appear out of nowhere. They find their origin, direction, and support in the American catechetical and theological establishments. These are the academics and professional educators who shape the minds and consciences of American youngsters and adults."

That state of affairs, many devout Catholics say, is the fault of the bishops here in America. It could not exist if they were fulfilling their responsibilities as shepherds of their flocks.

As Keating said "To resist grand jury subpoenas, to suppress the names of offending clerics, to deny, to obfuscate, to explain away; that is the model of a criminal organization, not my church." He also told the Los Angeles Times: "To act like La Cosa Nostra and hide and suppress, I think, is very unhealthy. Eventually it will all come out."

The blame for the Church's problems lies squarely on the bishops for tolerating, and in some cases encouraging, the state of affairs described by Dr. Collins. What they fail to understand, for example, is that far more than monetary damages, victims of priestly sex abuse want an admission that it was the priests who were wrong, not themselves.

As a victim of abuse by a day camp counselor when I was a child, I know that victims blame themselves.

We who were abused are the ones carrying the burden of thinking we've done something terribly wrong. All victims want is for somebody to say 'No. You haven't done anything wrong. It was us.' There is no accountability, and until the Church accepts responsibility and says 'We did wrong to you,' there will be no accountability.

Kids are looking for affirmation, especially today when both parents are often absent from the daily lives, and when they are approached by a respected figure such as a priest who begins by offering them the affirmation they seek their sense of betrayal once the abuse begins is horrific. An honored father figure has done the most unspeakable things to them and it is a memory that will haunt them all their lives.

This is what the bishops must face up to and admit their guilt for allowing this scandal to fester and grow for decades. What bothers me most is their utter failure to understand their incredible mis- or non-feasance in the matter of the hideous crime of pedophilia. I have seen not one whit of evidence that the bishops understand the lifelong damage done to a child who has been sexually molested, especially by someone as respected as a Catholic priest in whom they had placed total reliance.

Their sympathy has almost universally been directed at the priestly molesters, their exposure to financial penalties, and only incidentally, to the victims who will carry the psychological burden of their abuse until the day they die.

Until they face up to this and accept the guilt they bear, they will fit Keating's description that they "act like La Cosa Nostra and hide and suppress --" the truth.

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