Friday, May 22, 2009

Roman Catholic Womenpriests: Ireland devastated by Government Report on sex abuse of children by priests and nuns from 1934-1990

According to an Irish Government panel, thousands of children were sexually and physically abused by priests and nuns in Ireland from 1934-1990. According to the report rape and sexual assault were prevalent in boys institutions... "A climate of fear; created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys." The commission found that girls also were subject to horrific physical abuse as well as emotional abuse. In some schools "a high level of ritualized beating was routine." One of my Irish cousins received harsh treatment at an institution for girls, and has left the Catholic church as a result of its cruelty. Another relative left Ireland years ago and never returned. I was stunned at the cruel treatment of young pregnant women portrayed in the movie, "Magdalene Laundries". But apparently, it was just the tip of the iceberg. In the past families did not know where to go to find help to stop the violence. The church and state at that time in Ireland were in collusion. They controlled everything.
This report blamed the Vatican stating that the hierarchy failed to protect children out of fear of scandal.None of the abuser names was made public because of a prior arrangement. The Christian Brothers who ran the majority of residential homes for boys in Ireland, sued the commission in 2004 to keep the names from being publicized. The victims groups were outraged at this omission and called it a whitewash.
I was born in Ireland and attended St. John of God School in Rathdowney, County Laois. When I was in first class, Sister would raise the ruler and pow, right across the hand if I gave a wrong answer. No wonder I was a nervous wreck! My 84 year-old Dad, who grew up in the 30's, often told stories of brutal beatings of boys in his school in Ballyroan. Dad said "if you missed a catechism question, you got a box on the ears." I wonder how many Irish people have similar horrible memories. My guess is, sad to say, this was the standard operating procedure in all Irish schools during that time.
This panel's report is a indictment of the Roman Catholic Church and the Irish government. The institutional church put its reputation and fear of scandal ahead of pastoral care of children and truth-telling about its failures. Jesus, who gathered the children in his arms, would weep!
What can we do to correct this tragedy? Pray and unite in working for real change.
Pray for healing for all survivors of clerical abuse, especially the Irish people who have endured so much humiliation and degrading treatment at the hands of those who were called to serve them.
But what is needed now is people-power. We need to join hands and hearts to work together for a reformed, renewed church. In Ireland and elsewhere, law enforcement and elected officials must put their responsibility to the people first, not their deference to any religious institution including the Catholic church. We the people must make it happen.
In my view, Catholics in Ireland and around the world need to work together to transform the power structure and mindset that puts the church's reputation and fear of scandal over its responsibility to God's children. We need to take steps to change the up-down, pyramid model to a more circular model -- a community of equals- each with different gifts, all working to build up the Body of Christ. We are companions on the journey, partners in ministry, and we need to build together a more accountable, caring, pastoral church. We can join with other reform-minded Catholics to support one another in this endeavor. One way is to form intentional Eucharistic communities, another suggestion is to support the Survivors Network(SNAP) for those abused by priests.
In addtion, we need to reclaim the church's earlier tradition of married priests and women priests. For twelve hundred years, women were ordained in the Catholic church. The good news is that in grassroots communities Roman Catholic Womenpriests have already begun to work with others to shape these kinds of Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered communities.
May St. Brigit of Kildare, St. Patrick and all the holy women and men of Ireland intercede for all victims of abuse especially the people of Ireland as they go forward into a new day of justice and healing.
Bridge Mary Meehan
The sexual abuse crisis is a worldwide one, and has devastated the Catholic church in the United States. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 5000 priest have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors. 12, 000 Americans have reported sexual abuse by priests. The lawsuits have cost the church over 1 billion and several U.S. dioceses have filed for bankruptcy.
(Source: Washington Post, Mary Jordan, "Pupils Abused For Decades in Irish Schools", May 21, 2009.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reactions to President Obama's speech at Notre Dame

On Sunday, May 17, 2009 President Obama received an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana and addressed the class of 2009. In his commencement speech Obama called for both sides of the abortion debate to stop demonizing each other. He implored the graduates against
"reducing those with differing views to caricature. Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words. It's a way of life that always has been the Notre Dame tradition."
He cited the civils rights legacy of Fr. Ted Hesberg, former president of Notre Dame and Cardinal Bernadine, now deceased, as examples of men who transformed the debates of our time by bringing people together to seek common ground.
See article: