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“‘A Day of Reckoning and Justice’ for Abuse Victims”

Mar 29, 2011 — Categories: , ,

This was the front page headline that greeted me Saturday morning in my local paper, The Seattle Times. The quote is from Clarita Vargas, 51, of Tacoma, WA, who was abused as a child at an Indian Boarding School run by the Jesuits on the Colville Reservation. She is referring to a settlement in which 500 adult survivors will receive $166.1 million from the Northwest Jesuit Order.

This was the front page headline that greeted me Saturday morning in my local paper, The Seattle Times. The quote is from Clarita Vargas, 51, of Tacoma, WA, who was abused as a child at an Indian Boarding School run by the Jesuits on the Colville Reservation. She is referring to a settlement in which 500 adult survivors will receive $166.1 million from the Northwest Jesuit Order.

Perhaps more important to these adult survivors, the Jesuits agreed to stop referring to the victims as “alleged victims,” to write apologies to each survivor, and to enforce new policies to prevent abuse. These small victories offer more justice to survivors than does the money.

In western culture, the meaning of the English word “victim” is revealing. Webster (1987) defined “victim” as:

1. A living being sacrificed to a deity or in the performance of a religious rite; 2. One that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent, e.g. one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment.

Our very understanding of the word “victim” is tied to religion: a sacrifice to a deity and one who is harmed by another. Sadly, this formal definition sums up the experience of thousands of indigenous children in residential schools in many countries, schools established and run by the church and/or governments. These were children often taken from their families to be stripped of their culture and assimilated into the dominant culture. As the lawyer for the survivors in this case said, “The victims represent some of the poorest and most vulnerable children in the Pacific Northwest.”

Who is this deity to whom these children were sacrificed? The god  of patriarchy, of clericalism, of corruption and cover-up. The god who doesn’t care about Indian girls and boys because they don’t matter. The god who accepts the sacrifice of living human beings.

This is not the God I serve.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute
www.faithtrustinstitute.org

For more information about the treatment of Indian children in residential schools, check out
A Century of Genocide in the Americas: The Residential School Experience.

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A day of reckoning

Posted by Rev. Marvin Eckfeldt at Mar 29, 2011 06:17 PM
A-men and thank you Marie. - Marvin Eckfeldt

why cover up pedophilia

Posted by Debra Michels at Mar 30, 2011 01:39 PM
Does anyone understand why the higher-ups to these pedophile priests responded to information about their crimes against children with cover-ups and sending them here and there, rather than putting them in jail? I don't understand why an organization that is supposed to set a moral tone and educate people could become so lying, untrustworthy - aiding and abetting criminals. Does anyone more experienced or knowledgeable explain this to me, please? Write debrasmichels@aol.com, please. I'd really like to understand why the church hierarchy took the side of the criminals, against their "flocks," or victims.

Day of reckoning...

Posted by Gale at Apr 05, 2011 12:48 PM
That's not the god I serve either. Because there's only one God!