Feb 26, 2013

Cardinals: When Will Abuse Victims Stop Whining?

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Say what you will about Cardinal Keith O'Brien. He may have made unwanted advances on young priests. He may not have. He may be a hypocrite -- publicly condemning homosexuality while privately pursuing dalliances with men. Then again, he may simply be a bigot. He deserves his day in court. But whatever the case may be, at least he had the good grace to step down. It appears he saw the wisdom in bowing out of the upcoming conclave given the cloud of suspicion over his head. And the Scottish Catholic Media Office also gets mad props for this little turn of phrase:

Given the imminent Vacant See, the Holy Father has now decided to accept the said resignation definitively.

Vacant See... vacancy... get it?

Although I have to admit, I have some lingering concern that the expediency of this decision had more to do with O'Brien's having wandered way off the farm when he said that the celibate priesthood is "not of divine origin" and that it might be better they should marry. We all know by now where illicit sexual behavior falls on the list of priorities as compared to publicly breaking with the Church's most regressive doctrines. Leave say, I wish I could have been a fly on the Vatican wall for that discussion.

Be that as it may, Cardinal O'Brien has acceded to mounting public pressure to recuse himself from the selection of a new pope and graciously stepped aside.

The same cannot be said of Cardinal Roger Mahony.

Faced with a petition signed by nearly 10,000 Catholics, the disgraced cardinal is as defiant as he is self-pitying. Once again, he has taken to his blog to vent about the injustice and indignity of his being expected to face any consequences whatsoever for conspiring to protect and enable pedophile priests.

He has also taken to his Twitter account.

Wow... indeed.

The prolific cardinal set the Catholic blogosphere ablaze with a post entitled "Tough Lenten Challenge."

But Jesus calls us to something far different and much more difficult:  we are to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us.  In today's world, to follow Jesus and his Gospel message means to "be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."  That's a really high bar for all of us, and certainly for me.

My daily prayer list includes both loved ones/friends, as well as those who dislike or even hate me.  One prayer group involves those suffering from cancer and other illnesses, those who have been sexually abused by clergy and others in our Church, those who can't find a decent job, those in danger of losing their homes, our immigrants who live in the shadows of society.

But another prayer group includes individuals who cannot forgive me for my past hurts or offenses, those in the media who constantly malign me and my motives, attorneys who never focus on context or history in their legal matters, groups which picket me or otherwise object to me, and all those who despise me or even hate me.

If I don't pray for all of these people, then I am not following Jesus' specific discipleship demand.

What strikes me is how hard Mahony is finding it to feel the necessary Christian compassion for these "enemies." And he wants us to know it. This compassion thing Jesus demanded is really hard work!

However difficult it may be, Cardinal Mahony can find it in his heart to pray for his "enemies" who "persecute" him... just because he participated in a criminal conspiracy to avoid reporting abusive priests and then spent millions of dollars preventing disclosure of damning internal communication long enough for the statute of limitations to run out.

My favorite line is in an earlier graph where he complains about "gossip" and pre-judgment with "no regard for other people who may be harmed." It's kind of funny -- well, darkly comic -- because he helped serial abusers avoid prosecution with no regard for how many other children might be sexually abused with such criminals on the loose.

See, the problem with Mahony's outrage over people not getting the "real facts" is that, despite his years long efforts to hide "the facts," the records were unsealed. What's upsetting people is not so much rumors as it is his own words, in context. And it's not like he's denied the substance of the complaints. He has admitted his many mistakes. But now that he's apologized, everyone needs to move on, and if they can't, they're "enemies" who "persecute" him.

In both this post and the open letter to Archbishop Gomez, who relieved him of his duties in the Los Angeles Diocese, he just seems stunned at the prospect that there should be any consequences -- that he should have to give up a single privilege -- now that he's acknowledged his wrongdoing and apologized. It's all just so terribly unjust!

Cardinal William Levada, who raises tone-deaf commentary to an art form, has come to Mahony's defense. Says this other embarrassment in red representing the US in Rome:

"There are some victims groups for whom enough is never enough, so we have to do our jobs as best we see it."

So... yeah... wow.

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