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Dear Pope: Off Track Again?

Jun 29, 2010 — Categories: ,

I realize it has been a bad week for you and the Vatican. First, the Belgian police raid the offices of the Belgian Council of Bishops and remove records of sexual abuse investigations. You condemn this action by the police, expressing concern for the confidentiality of victims’ records. With all due respect, is it really the victims’ records you are worried about or the accused priests’ records?

I realize it has been a bad week for you and the Vatican.

First, the Belgian police raid the offices of the Belgian Council of Bishops and remove records of sexual abuse investigations. You condemn this action by the police, expressing concern for the confidentiality of victims’ records. With all due respect, is it really the victims’ records you are worried about or the accused priests’ records?

Then you reprimand Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna and one of the few bright lights in the upper echelons of the Roman Catholic Church, for his frank criticism of church efforts to cover up sex abuse by priests.

And now the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to grant the Vatican legal immunity from being sued by a survivor of clergy sexual abuse in a case brought in 2002. So this lawsuit against the Vatican can go forward in U.S. courts.

All of this combined with the elimination of the Italian soccer team from the World Cup must mean that the guys at the Vatican are pretty depressed.

So let’s review:

  • We don’t yet know why the Belgian police raided the Bishops’ office. It does seem a bit heavy handed, but let’s wait and see why they stepped in. Maybe they had a good reason.
  • Then your reprimand of Cardinal Schoenborn. Really? By all accounts, this is one church leader who seems to get it and is willing to step up and raise critical institutional issues that need attention. When you reprimand him publicly, it kind of makes you look bad . . . like once again you don’t really want to change anything. Instead I suggest that you consider promoting him to be in charge of the Vatican’s Special Office on Clergy Sexual Abuse.
  • Then the U.S. Supreme Court reminds you that the Vatican is not above the law, at least not in the U.S. Specifically, this case alleges that Fr. Andrew Ronan was an employee of the Vatican “acting within the scope of his employment.” This means he was one of yours and you may be responsible for his misconduct.

Just an all around bad week. All I can suggest at this point is why not invite BP CEO Tony Hayward over for a cup of tea. He’ll understand.

Then call me. I’m still available to help out.

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

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yes of course, because it's an institution

Posted by K at Jun 30, 2010 06:41 PM
Institutions may have a mission, but generally it is standard for the mission to become secondary to the priority of the institution protecting its own survival at all cost, usually at the expense of both logic and the viability of its mission. (It's not about logic, it's about control.)
A retired Rev. told me this month, "The worst mistake Christianity ever made was when it committed to church buildings" -- because the prime mission then becomes survival, not mission. Christianity is so entrenched in the institutional model that it does not realize that Jesus' message was anti-institution (that is, preaching both a compassion and an understanding of real power, both of which are oppositional to the institution of legal and social laws set by the Jewish leadership and the Roman Empire which perpetuated suffering and persecution of the poor and lower classes), and Christianity also does not realize that the Church is not modeled on the example of Jesus (who never built a church ... he never told Peter to undertake raising a building or an institution: 'Peter ... Feed my sheep.' / 'Peter ... you are a rock and upon such will *****I***** gather my community.').

Given such dysfunctional foundations, it should not be surprising that a religious institution will operate at odds with its own mission message. What is odd is that the majority will not only go along with such dysfunction but defend it even in the midst of the suffering.
Control is not only an illusion but a symptom of mental disruption.

Power

Posted by J at Jul 01, 2010 01:02 PM
I believe it was Lincoln that observed that the way to judge a person's character was to watch how they act when they have power. He observed that everyone seems to cope with distress and difficulties and even cope with the lack of power. But to see the true character, watch what happens when the person has power. Our U.S. founding ancestors knew this and we can thank them for including all sorts of checks and balances in our Constitution. They were people of power and yet, they knew the temptations to abuse others. The Church with unrestrained and unchecked power, with no way to hear grievances or deal with dissent, will be tempted to abuse others without power. It has nothing to do with buildings. It has everything to do with Sin and our desire not to even allow God to limit our power. J

your pithy & pointed calls to action

Posted by Dianne Juhl at Jul 01, 2010 01:02 PM
Marie,

I've been reading your series lately, and your clarion "call to action" has me sitting at attention. Thank you.

I'm reminded to share with you this quote: "The well-resolved mind is single and one-pointed." - Bhagavad Gita

I simply cannot wait for the Vatican, the Pope, and "the guys" to call you. When and if it you do receive that call, absolutely call me too. FTI has my phone numbers. I'll spread the good news far and wide, and I have a bottle of fine sparking champagne that is ready to burst open and celebrate that momentous occasion.

Keep the faith, and keep up this good writing and always relevant work.

Abundant regards, Dianne Juhl