Catholic Agitator - Los Angeles Catholic Worker
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Catholic Agitator - Los Angeles Catholic Worker

BETRAYED: THE CHILD SEX ABUSE SCANDALFLYNN, cont’d from p.2a drowning man’s life. He nevermade headlines for his achievements.He simply and humbly overcamethe odds that were stackedagainst him and made the worlda better place. He was, I think, anoble man.When I say ‘noble’ I mean a genuineperson who transcends suffering.When I looked up nobility in thedictionary, to my disappointment Ifound that ‘noble men’ and ‘noblewomen’ over the centuries havebeen defined by such superficialelements as inherited title, wealth,property, privilege, prestige, rarejewels, fine clothes, silk purses.Peacock feathers and snuff.Kings, queens, lords, ladies, evenbishops and popes have a history ofpresenting themselves in speciallydesigned wardrobes to distinguishthem from the common masses, elevatethem to a ‘nobler’ status.Even in this day and age, we stillgo gaga over the low-cut silvergowns and black tuxedos of moviestars, and the diamond laden goldcrowns of queens. More disturbingand dangerous, we exalt theself-appointed ‘nobles’ of our erawho grasp at the illusions of power,politics, money, and militarism atthe expense of others.In my dictionary, right underneaththe words describing ‘Nobility,’ is theword ‘Nobody,’ said to mean aperson of no public importance,influence, or social station.I believe that truly noble men andnoble women more often than notare found among the ‘nobodies’ andin the lowest places. “A high stationin life,” says Tennessee Williams,“is earned by the gallantry withwhich appalling experiences aresurvived with grace.”They are always down there if webother to look—there in the shadowplaces—the unwashed and unloved;those who live in the obscurity oflow-income housing, shelters, asylums,jails and prisons; who hold“I am hungry and homeless” signson boulevard corners or wait forrides at freeway entrances wearingtattered backpacks, hanging on totheir mangy dog or their stringlessguitar; those who stand in unemploymentlines and food lines, whosit ill and weary in county clinicsand limbless in veterans hospitals;who die alone and forgotten in convalescentcare facilities and AIDShospices and on the streets.Growing up, Michael and I hadfamilies that rated among the‘nobodies.’ And Michael was thefirst, and for a long time, the onlyfriend, with whom I shared confidencesabout the shame of growingup in an alcoholic household wheremoney was scarce and tempers ranhigh. No one…I mean NO ONEin high school dared disclose suchsecrets to their schoolmates. But Idid to Michael.Then one day, Michael entrustedme with the traumatic story of hisown childhood…how, soon after hisfather abandoned the family—whenMichael was a little guy of six-yearsold—his mother went up to her bedroomand shot herself. He foundher dead. It would have been understandablefor Michael to becomea haunted, violent, vengeful adult.Yet, instead, he grew into a lovinghusband, gentle father, compassionateneighbor, loyal friend, quick wit,grateful for life itself and for opportunitiesto love others.So then, yes. Cancer claims lives.Despair claims lives. War claimslives. Street violence claims lives.Even so, I am part of this wearyworld for better and for worse.I have had a few fleeting noble momentsin my life where I havejoined with others in the Catholicpeace movement, crying out propheticallythat it is time to repent,that there is blood on our hands andbrokenness in our world, and thatwe must work with God to restorethings to wholeness. Really though,more often than not, I am angstridden, hiding in bed, hurting andafraid, wanting so much to wash myhands of the whole mess and runlike blazes out of Dodge City, asthough planet earth was a Westernfacade on a movie lot. As though Icould escape responsibility.Dark months of despair, like theone I experienced last month, dogrip me on occasion. Yet hope prevailsin spite of those times. As aCatholic woman, I know deep downthat I will cling to Catholicismbecause of the example of nuns andother courageous Catholic womenwho—though denied access to thepriesthood—nonetheless prevent theworld from blowing to smithereensthrough the persistence of theirprayers and good acts.And I know I will cling to U.S.citizenship because of ragtagclusters of Catholic Workers andother peacemakers who, by standingvisible in prophetic witness andinvisible inside of jail and prisoncells, call us all to nonviolent actionand merciful justice.Finally, I know I will cling to myhumanity because of the noble ‘nobodies’who transform my life. Greatsouls like my friend, Michael. ΩToni Flynn is a longtime friend ofthe Los Angeles Catholic Worker.BLAINE, cont’d from p.3could happen. The problem is, thatfor individual survivors the hurtdoes not go away and it is hauntingand it stays with us for decades. Infact, for most victims the pain is alifelong experience.Agitator: You talked earlier aboutsomeone who was homeless for awhile. Does he attribute that to apoor sense of self-worth due to theabuse?Blaine: Yes, poor self-worth.Also, people often get into selfmedicating.Survivors have difficultiesfrom the moment the abuseoccurs in our youth. Without evenunderstanding, we do not do wellwith people who are in positions ofauthority over us. And if you do notdo well with people in authority youprobably do not do well in school,and if you get a job you might notbe able to keep it, or you might notget the promotions that other peoplereceive. We survivors have difficultieswith intimacy, and I do notmean just sexual intimacy.We have difficulty allowingother people to get close to us andlove us, so we have lots of brokenmarriages. We have trouble gettingalong with parents, siblings, andour own children. We experiencemental illness, post-traumatic stressdisorder, anxiety, depression. Andunfortunately, and this is one ofthe heartbreaks, many of us do notsurvive at all.Agitator: What do you mean bythat?Blaine: Many victims commitsuicide. I think it is unusual to havesurvivors who have not experiencedsuicidal ideation, planning,or attempts. This is so prevalent inSNAP. We have family members ofover 300 suicide victims. A momcame to our support group in Chicagolast October; her son had takenhis life in September. This is justone of the many cases that Churchofficials just allowed to fall throughthe cracks. This young man was inhis early 30s, married, and in hissuicide note he tells about sexualabuse by the priest and how hecould not cope with it and aboutthe horrible response he got fromthe diocese of Joliet, who did notbelieve him. His mom said thatno one reached out to her from thediocese, so she came to the supportgroup meeting looking for answers,looking for consolation. And ofcourse we do not know how to bringher son back, but she was sayingif he had only found us maybe hewould not have taken his life…it isutterly heartbreaking.Agitator: One would really hopethat someone would finally takeresponsibility and say, “I am sorry.”But that does not seem to happen.Blaine: Well, actions speak louderthan words. There have been loftystatements, even by the previouspope, and I expect the new popewill make some statement of sorrow,but a statement without someaction showing the sorrow, showinga change, is absolutely meaningless.We do not see anything different inthe Church today. Church officialscontinue to cover up; they do notcriminalize the behavior or put thechildren first, so from our perspectivewe do not believe there has beenreal, substantive change. We believethat children remain at risk today.A grand jury report from the dioceseof Philadelphia was releasedin 2011, and remember, that wasthe third grand jury to investigate.They found, in 2011, not a dozen,not two dozen, but 27 accused predatorpriests working in the ministryin the Philadelphia diocese. If theydid the same kind of investigationin Chicago or Los Angeles, I betthey would unearth the same kindsof numbers. However, those kindsof thorough investigations are notbeing done in other places.Agitator: I imagine a survivorwho has tried to access some kindof redress and reform and has beenrebuffed would feel a tremendoussense of betrayal.Blaine: There is no question; itwas a huge betrayal. You understandhow devastating sexual violenceis for an individual and thatlifelong healing from it is somethingyou get to work with every singleday. Yet many victims describe,and I think for me this was true aswell, that it was even more devastatingto come to terms with the factthat church officials were lying, thatthey did not care about the victimsor their families or about protectingother children.The bottoms line is that their priorityis backwards. Their priority isto protect the institution. You askedme about this earlier and I want tobe clear, that priority comes fromthe Vatican. There was a document,and the Latin term was CriminusSolicitamus, which refers to solicitationwithin the confessional. Thatdocument was promulgated in 1962and sent to all the bishops and headsof religious communities. The prioritywas in keeping these incidentsconfidential; even victims and theirfamilies were required to keep thisconfidential. The punishment fortruth telling is excommunication.Agitator: Does the document saythat it is a violation of the sacramentof penance to make public revelationsof these things?Blaine: That really is not clear tome, but it seems to say that abusehappening within the context ofconfession is somehow worse, butthat it had to be kept quiet.Agitator: In Los Angeles, oftentimesadministrators could notmake the distinction between beinga confessor and being a churchadministrator, so all of these revelationswere understood to be underthe seal of confession.Blaine: Cardinal Mahony convenientlyplays that as if there weresome kind of legal distinction inCalifornia that information revealedin the confines of confession arerespected by the law, but the bottomline is that most predators do notgo to confession for their abuse.Most predators are so sick that theydo not believe that they are doingsomething wrong; they justify orrationalize it that the child is enticingthem or that it is what the childwants or that they are not hurtingthe child, they love the child. Mypoint is that not that many are confessingtheir behavior.In 2003, Cardinal George here inChicago met with a small group ofus victims and told us that he andCardinal Bevilacqua had agreedthat they had never encountereda false allegation of abuse. Thatwas told to us privately and laterhe would not publicly admit that hehad said it. But he certainly did.Agitator: Richard Sipes states inhis book that this is the most devastatingscandal in the Church sincethe fourth century. Do you want tocomment on that?Blaine: I think there is nothingmore far-reaching and insidious andevil than to have, not just sexual assaultof children by the clergy, butalso the concealment and cover-upthat allows the abuse to continue.The lack of response and inadequateresponse by Church officials insuresthat the abuse continues and the violencecontinues. They do nothing tostop the violence. ΩWISNIEWSKI, cont’d from p.4of U.S. Latin American policy. Ifyou are looking for a concise yetinformative source for inspirationon living prophetically in thetwenty-first century, I recommendthis booklet. In the midst of all thescandals and crises affecting theChurch and society, this booklet illustrateshow one person can make adifference. How each of us has theresponsibility to move from silenceto solidarity. ΩMike Wisniewski is a Los AngelesCatholic Worker community memberand an editor of the Agitator.KAYSER, cont’d from p.5too much ‘nothing’ during those 50years.I understand that by deciding notto do ‘nothing’ I have put myself atrisk. I understand that perhaps thosewho have been commissioned by thestate to make such judgments maydeem it necessary that I be punishedwith imprisonment for refusing todo ‘nothing.’ I am prepared for this,as I cannot in good conscience payfines that will ultimately supporta system that defends the rights ofwar-makers at the expense of peacemakers.I am prepared for whateversentence might be passed down, butI am not prepared to do ‘nothing.’ ΩTheo Kayser is a Los Angeles CatholicWorker community member.“You have been toldwhat is good and whatthe Lord requires ofyou: Do Justice, LoveKindness, andWalk Humbly WithYour God” (Mi 6:8).6 / APRIL 2013

JOIN US FOR OUR MOST FUN-FILLEDEVENT OF THE YEARCATHOLIC WORKERSEDER OF LIBERATIONSunday, April 14 • 3:00 - 8:00pmAll Saints Episcopal Church—Highland Park—5619 Monte Vista St., L.A. 90042Please call 323-267-8789 to reserve a seat and sign up to bring either a salad or dessert.A DAY AT THE PARKWE NEED YOUR FINANCIALASSISTANCEDuring the summer we rent buses to take our homeless friends on an old-fashioned picnic.However, we need your financial assistance to make this enjoyable experience a reality.Please help with a generous donation. Thank you. Many blessings.HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAYOn May 1, the Catholic Worker movement will celebrate its 80th year in existence. In 1933,Dorothay Day and Peter Maurin began this magnificent movement of radical gospel living,choosing solidarity with the marginalized, and resistance to empire. We give God thanksand praise for the gift of this movement and pray that, as long as there are poor among us,the movement will have the grace to continue to comfort the afflicted and afflict thecomfortable being the prophetic voice calling for a more just order that peace may prevail.HELP NEEDEDVeterans for Peace, who each weekend, just north of the Santa Monica pier, set up Arlington West, a stunningand moving memorial for U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, desperately needsvolunteers to help erect and take down the thousands of crosses and other symbols and memorabilia that rememberand honor the dead. Please consider giving some of your time for this meaningful and momentousproject. See: for more info.C A T H O L I CAPRIL 2013 Vol. 43/No. 2SISTER HOUSE NETWORK:LOS ANGELES CATHOLIC WORKER:http://lacatholicworker.org1. Ammon Hennacy House of Hospitality632 N. Brittania St., Los Angeles, CA 90033-1722(323) 267-87892. Hospitality Kitchen821 E. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90021(213) 614-9615ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY500 W. VanBuren Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89106(702) 647-0728ISAIAH HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY316 S. Cypress Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92701(714) 835-6304SADAKO SASAKI HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY1321 W. 38th St., Norfolk, VA 23508(757) 423-5420SR. PETER CLAVER HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY430 W. Jefferson St., Philadelphia, PA 19122(215) 232-7823HOUSE OF GRACE CATHOLIC WORKER1826 E. Lehigh Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125(215) 426-0364PETER MAURIN CATHOLIC WORKER1149 Crestwood St., San Pedro, CA 90732(310) 831-3480KIERAN PRATHER HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY672 2nd Ave., San Bruno, CA 94066(650) 827-0706BEATITUDE HOUSE4575 9th St., Guadalupe, CA 93434(805) 343-6322ST. BENEDICT HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY4022 N. Cheryl Ave., Fresno, CA 93705(559) 229-6410 — lizaOSB@aol.comHIGH DESERT CATHOLIC WORKERP.O. Box 3157, Apple Valley, CA 92307(760) 247-5732 - sbremser@charter.netCASA COLIBRÌ CATHOLIC WORKERhttp://casacolibrimx.blogspot.com011-52 - 386-744-5063 - jmhe76@gmail.comHALF MOON BAY CATHOLIC WORKER160 Kelly Ave., Half Moon Bay, CA 94019(650) 726-6621 -

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