Person of the Year

EDITORIAL

MEN and WOMEN of the YEAR

TIME magazine named Pope Francis its Person of the Year for 2013.

We believe it’s important for the advocates who receive NSAC News to write to TIME magazine.

It’s impossible not to see the groundswell of good feeling for this pope – from believer and non-believer alike — and the attraction to simplicity and the projecting of the human desire that the Pope and the Church actually be as good as what Popes and Churchmen say in public pronouncements.

What worries us is the effect on the survivors and their families.

If it worries you, and if you are a subscriber to NSAC News we believe it ought to, we think you should write to Time magazine.

We thought about saying we urge you to write to Time magazine but we don’t think the people who subscribe to NSAC News need urging – you get it – children and minors shouldn’t be raped and sodomized by priests and nuns under a tent of cover-up by bishops, cardinals, popes, chancery and Curia officials – what you need is reminding.

It’s a busy time of year. Consider this your reminder.

When the talk at holiday parties, around Christmas cookie swaps, at church, in the concert ticket line, and the checkout line, and with the folks riding in a car with you,  turns to how wonderful Pope Francis is and how all the Church’s troubles have been forgotten, God’s in His heaven and all is right with world – please consider this a reminder to say it is not.

When it’s inserted in the conversation that Francis has established a commission on sexual abuse and the problem’s solved, please say it is not.

Please remind your family, friends, fellow party-goers that the Vatican commission exists to the world only in the words spoken by Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

A Pope that cold calls whomever he wishes, friend and stranger, who makes dramatic statement through his actions regarding his living arrangements, his payment of bills, his apology to parishioners inconvenienced by the trappings of his office, has said nothing publicly about his commission.

A Pope who cold calls whomever he wishes hasn’t placed a phone call to convicted  Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, Missouri.

A Pope who raises his voice in warning about the idolatry of money shouldn’t worry then about – or stand for Catholics bad mouthing — settlements to survivors to whom only money is left now to be a measure of justice.

He should provide clear and rich directives to bishops to end their legal battles with survivors and cease and desist from paying lobbyists to thwart statute of limitation extensions or removal.

He should make sure dioceses eschew the going into bankruptcy court route to hide from providing justice to survivors and all the while blaming survivors for their escape routes.

Advocates should keep in mind that the day Cardinal O’Malley spoke to the press about the establishment of the commission that doesn’t exist on a day that:

  • the Archbishop of Minneapolis-St. Paul was under fire again – this time with the public exposure that the Archbishop had withheld names from a list of accused priests – 7 of them – surfacing for the first time last Thursday,
  • the Vatican was receiving criticism for its response or lack thereof to the UN Treaty of the Child questions,
  • the Australian Royal Commission inquiry was still roiling
  • word had leaked out in the news media that a Legion of Christ media superstar who had fathered a child was marrying the mother of his child – after taking a year plus to think about it after his fathering of the child became public – and the mother of the child is the daughter of a former Vatican ambassador
  • and the Legion of Christ announced that there was “no reason to doubt” a sexual abuse allegation involving its US instructor of novices from 1982 to 1994.

Interesting timing, we think, for Cardinal O’Malley to have a chat with the media and drop the commission item into the conversation.

The end of the Council of Eight Cardinals meeting some would say was the reason O’Malley took to the media avenue. But after other Council of Eight Cardinal meetings there were no announcements say for the indications of a next meeting.

What needs to be kept in mind by advocates as well is that Pope Francis may have a bully pulpit in the world at large but in his Church he has power – and that’s an understatement.

Bishop Finn remains a bishop with jurisdiction because Pope Francis wants it that way. If Pope Francis didn’t want it that way, Bishop Finn wouldn’t remain a sitting bishop, it’s as simple as that.

If Pope Francis wanted the names of all priests and nuns who had abused children and minors  released from the files of dioceses and religious orders throughout the world, all the names would be released.

If Pope Francis wanted the Vatican to come clean about how the Church has not lived up to protecting children as a signer to the UN Treaty of the Child, it would have. Instead it retreated to specifics – a place it rarely goes in the sexual abuse crisis – and spoke in the narrow realm of the 31 children that live in the Vatican City State – not the hundreds of thousands of children that belong to the family of the Roman Catholic Church and who were raped and sodomized because they did.

If Pope Francis wanted to end the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church the crisis would end.

The turn of the phrase “pastoral response” in regard to the commission of which O’Malley spoke is quicksand that should be disquieting at the very least to any advocate’s ear. Pastoral is the place to which the Church and its bishops and priests retreat as a vast, marshmellowy place of perceived but not calculable goodness and light free from the specifics of law, medical care, psychological assistance and a genuine solving of the crisis.

We believe the men and women of the year are the survivors.

Not all survivors are strong enough because of the effects of their abuse to speak up against the onslaught of wishing and hoping that if the survivors would just go way, forgive and forget, become healed so that everything would slip back into that wonderful place where all was right with the world – and magically children would be protected.

Advocates need to speak up.

In an Internet world, it takes only will and commitment and very little time to make your voice heard, your opinion count, your reason for being an advocate to take concrete form.

Here is the link to submit a letter to the editor of Time magazine:

http://ideas.time.com/submit-a-letter/

Survivors are the men and women of the year.

Advocates, step up.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, KristineWard@hotmail.com

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