Saturday, February 9, 2013

Petition to Ask President Obama to Investigate Child Sexual Abuse by Priests

"As a retired Harvard trained international lawyer and lifelong practicing Catholic and a grandparent, I am convinced the obscene sexual violations against children by priests, reported currently in Los Angeles and in the HBO documentary, “Mea Maxima Culpa”, will unacceptably continue unless and until the U.S. Federal government steps up. No one else has as much clout to stand up to the power of the Vatican. Local prosecutors have failed for decades to prosecute bishops for enabling predatory priests to attack more children. The cynical reports that Los Angeles law enforcement is re-examining criminal priest child sexual cases there appears to be just the latest political public relations ploy.
Many from all faiths and no faith all across the USA, and even worldwide, including some of those harmed by the abuse of the deaf victims in Milwaukee, have already signed my petition calling on President Obama to step up. They have indicated they have had enough with the domination of local prosecutors and legislators by the Catholic hierarchy and its well paid apologists and lawyers. More signatures, including yours, will help accelerate the establishment of the U.S. national investigation commission.
We all have a moral obligation to protect children and signing a petition is a simple, yet potentially effective way, towards meeting that obligation. Please take a minute and sign it at:
Please, as well, ask those you respect and who value children to sign it also. If you are active in an advocacy group, like SNAP, CTA, VOTF, ARCC, Dignity, CORPUS, WomenPriests, ask your leadership to support the petition. Similarly reticent, so-called progressive Catholic voices, like the National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal, seem dumbfounded by the positive prospects of President Obama establishing a U.S. national investigation commission.
What are they all waiting for? Blogging, talking and prayer, however admirable and well intentioned, have not influenced the Vatican clique and their subservient U.S. Bishops to date and will not likely do so, certainly in the near term as more children are raped by priests.
I have separately proposed that President Obama consider appointing First Lady, Michelle Obama, to chair the new Obama commission. She is well respected as a Harvard lawyer and devoted mother. She would be an ideal choice with her established credibility if she were willing to accept the appointment.
The First Lady of the USA could consult with another effective former practicing lawyer, Julia Gillard, Australia’s Prime Minister, who just established a national investigation commission that already has the Catholic hierarchy and the Vatican running for cover.
Prime Minister Gillard recently disclosed that the tipping points in her decision to call for a national commission were the numerous disclosures that the Catholic Bishops, as part of their cover-up, moved predatory priests to avoid prosecution to other states and even other countries, where the predators continued their sexual abuse of more trusting and innocent children. The multistate and multinational dimensions of the crimes against children apparently convinced Prime Minister Gillard she had to take action at the Federal level.This moving of predatory priests interstate and across national borders has, of course, happened repeatedly in the USA as well, necessitating a Federal response in the USA as well.
If the First Lady would oversee this, President Obama would still be able to focus on his many other priorities, including resisting the Pope’s and his plutocratic Republican contributors’ unrelenting and opportunistic efforts to derail Obamacare over contraception insurance and immigration reform over gay marriage.
U.S. voters recently made clear their rejection of the Pope’s lobbying efforts to deny marriage equality for gay U.S citizens. Now the Pope appears to be trying to deny it for gay immigrants. As to his relentless and futile anti-contraception crusade, the Pope’s longtime colleague, 79 year old conservative Cologne Cardinal Meissner, just approved a “morning after” pill of the type that, only a few months ago, many U.S. Bishops were condemning President Obama for helping U.S. women gain affordable access to. Does the Pope understand how contraceptive pills work? Does the Pope understand that President Obama has been re-elected? Is it time to bring back the married butler parent?
If there tragically were not over 200 million “unplanned” children living miserably in countries where Vatican lobbying effectively denied their parents access to affordable contraception, a dispute between a 79 year old celibate and an 85 year old celibate over permissible forms of contraception would make good Saturday Night Live copy! But sadly, the Pope’s anti-contraceptive efforts, apparently mainly to please his plutocratic Republican donors by keeping family planning wedge issues in political play, will very likely only fail again, while these efforts continue nevertheless to burden families and children.
Does the right hand talk to the left among Cardinals and the Vatican clique? Do the unprecedented, selective and well orchestrated shaming by an Opus Dei Archbishop of Cardinal Mahony, and the unexpected support from Cardinal Meissner of contraception that is reportedly starting to stir up German Bishops, indicate a Cardinals’ revolt is brewing before the likely imminent next papal elections? We may soon find out.
For more analysis of the powerful political influence of the Catholic hierarchy operating here, please see my remarks at "

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vatican Applauds Media for Watchdog Role/Sincere or Damage Control?
Bridget Mary's Response:
When the sexual abuse allegations against priests first hit the fan, the Vatican blamed the media, now they have come full circle.
What has changed?
Over 2 billion in payouts in the U.S.
More damaging reports from national commissions in Ireland and elsewhere of a cover-up that leads to the present Pope's door.
In the U.S., Cardinal Mahony's efforts to keep records sealed by years of legal manuvering, resulted in more money( millions?) squandered.
Cardinal Law after the clergy in Boston called for his resignation, awarded a cushy job in Rome.
Cardinal Rigali? Has he been held accountable?
The lists go on and on...

Now all of a sudden the media is a hero in this story according to the Vatican!
It gives one pause for thought! Is it spin or damage control?
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp


Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community (MMOJ) Celebrates Eucharist in Sun City Today

Katy Zatsick, ARCWP, co-presided with Patrick Cooney at a Eucharistic Celebration in Sun City in the home of Patrick  and Elizabeth today. The MMOJ Sun City Community  celebrated Katy's birthday. They have been celebrating monthly liturgies for the past three years. I felt like it was a contemporary experience of the early church. Four of us came up from Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota to be with our sister community in Sun City. Reminds one of Paul and the apostolic teams who visited one another's community in the Church of Corinth, Ephesians, Rome. etc.
Here are some pictures of this joyous event.
Katy is seated in circle, (red shirt), Patrick and Elizabeth, our co-hosts are standing on right.
Katy cuts birthday card at celebration after liturgy
Elizabeth, Bridget Mary and Patrick

"Imagine a Church that is loved as a Woman Loves" Response by Michele Stopera Freyhauf to Pope's Theologian

"I came across one of the most abhorrent displays of ignorance Saturday when reading an article quoting the Pope’s theologian, Dominican priest Wojciech Giertych, on why women cannot be ordained. This man is in charge of reviewing speeches and texts submitted to the Pope to ensure that they are free of doctrinal error. Once you read this, I am sure that many will have the same thought that I do ranging from – that explains a lot, to – we are in serious trouble!"

..." Seriously, what kind of Church would we have if priests with a deep faith and deep prayer life, with the ability to draw from the mystery of Christ, and, not to mention, the ability to understand God that is “special” and unique to women!

He continues:“the mission of the woman in the church is to convince the male that power is not most important in the Church, not even sacramental power.”

This statement seriously contradicts his reasons women cannot be ordained. Moreover, I think that I can state with great confidence that women as well as men (even ordained men) are reminding men all the time that power even SACRAMENTAL power is not the most important thing in the Church. However, when people do speak up or act, they are excommunicated.

In his concluding remarks, he tells a bizarre story about a “contemplative nun” who stated to him “oh, wouldn’t it be horrible if Jesus were a woman?” This statement revealed to him that relationships of love and attachment, as well as spousal relationships, are easier for women than men.

I guess I don’t understand how ordaining women would be a bad thing, based on his very own words. As I conclude this post, I leave you with a thought to ponder:

Imagine a Church that is loved as a woman loves and nurtured as a woman nurtures. Imagine a Church that can enter into a special relationship with God and provide special access to Jesus’ heart. What kind of Church would we have?

Michele Stopera Freyhauf is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University. She has a Master of Arts Degree from John Carroll University in Theology and Religious Studies, performed post-graduate work in History focusing on Gender, Religion, and Sexuality at the University of Akron, and is an Adjunct Instructor in the Religious Studies Department at Ursuline College. Her full bio is on the main contributor’s page or at Michele can be followed on twitter at @msfreyhauf

"And I can be a priest" I know how to ordain women priests and I am a woman bishop.
I know how to ordain women priests and I am a woman bishop.

Bridget Mary Meehan, Bishop, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bridget Mary's Response to Father Giertych, Pope's Theologian, "And I Can Be A Priest"
(TV Interview with Father Giertych)
 Interview with Pope's Theologian: Father Giertych:
..."According to Father Giertych, theologians cannot say why Jesus chose only men as his Apostles, any more than they can explain the purposes of the incarnation or the Eucharist.
Bridget Mary's Response:
Surely Father Giertych, you jest! Mary Magdala was the first witness to encounter the Risen Christ in all four Gospels and was called by the Risen Christ to be the apostle to the apostles. As the Biblical Pontifcal Society concluded in 1976, there is nothing in scripture that prohibits women's ordination. So please do not make this false argument that your own scholars have discounted long ago! The church must follow Jesus' example and treat women as equals.

"In the mystery of faith, we need to be on our knees toward something that we received," he said. Nevertheless, he said, theology can help illuminate the "internal coherence and beauty of the mystery which has been offered to us by God."The son of God became flesh, but became flesh not as sexless humanity but as a male,"
Bridget Mary's Response: So what? This does not mean that women are not created in God's image! Jesus surrounded himself with female disciples who bankrolled his ministry. Luke 8:1-3

 Father Giertych said; and since a priest is supposed to serve as an image of Christ, his maleness is essential to that role.
Bridget Mary's Response: Men and women are equal images of God by baptism, Read Galations 3:28. Males are not the super-sex, ergo more worthy to be priests! Father Giertych, this argument does not have legs in the 21st century. It's only use is to justify centuries of sexism in the RC church! Please view photos of women in pictoral response to your homily. "And I Can Be A Priest"/

Reflecting on differences between the sexes, Father Giertych suggested other reasons that men are especially suited to the priesthood.Men are more likely to think of God in terms of philosophical definitions and logical syllogisms, he said, a quality valuable for fulfilling a priest's duty to transmit church teaching.
Bridget Mary's Response: Are you saying women are incapable of logical thought? Pleazeee! There are hundreds of women theologians and pastoral ministers who
contradict this sexist premise! And being logical is only one helpful attribute for priestly ministry, there are many more such as intuition and reading between the lines!

I keep wondering as I read your thoughts here, you have got to be kidding! (I hope!)

Although the social and administrative aspects of church life are hardly off-limits to women, Father Giertych said priests love the church in a characteristically "male way" when they show concern "about structures, about the buildings of the church, about the roof of the church which is leaking, about the bishops' conference, about the concordat between the church and the state."
Bridget Mary's Response: Really, women fix leaky roofs, faucets, toilets in their homes and could certainly do so in church. Women priests meet at bishops conferences by phone, email and in person, , so what's the beef here? We don't have a concordat between church and state, so please don't fret over diplomatic relations. And you do know women , at least the ones I know, are experts in relationships so I think we can handle any concordats that come up! Settling arguments between family members are bread and butter issues for lots of women women every day of their lives! Ever see a two year-old throw a temper tantrum! No problem with diplomacy, Father, communication and problem solving is something many women do well. You could say it is programmed in our DNA!

Father Giertych acknowledged that a Catholic woman might sincerely believe she is called to the priesthood, but said such a "subjective" belief does not indicate the objective existence of a vocation.
Bridget Mary's Response:
And what would you say to the guys who come forward with a "call." Sign here, fast and head right to the seminary, you are in! Any male that walks through the door could be on the fast track quicker than you can blink an eye!! It is called desperation in a growing male, celibate priest shortage. Women today in growing numbers are being called to serve the church, some say perhaps, help "save" the church as it spirals downward. We want to be partners and equals because we love the church and our beautiful sacramental and social justice tradition.

None of which means that women hold an inferior place in the church, he said.
Bridget Mary's response:
Oh really! Sounds like a separate but equal policy to me. Did you ever hear of Rosa Parks , the civil rights activist, who refused to sit in the back of the bus. Well meet the cheeky Roman Catholic Women Priests.We are ordaining women in apostolic succession as an issue of justice for women in the church.

"Every baptized person, both male and female, participates in the priesthood of Christ through the sacrament of baptism, drawing the fruits of the paschal mystery to one's own soul," he said. "And maybe in some sense we could say that, in this, women are more apt to draw from the mystery of Christ, by the quality of their prayer life, by the quality of their faith."
Bridget Mary's Response: Are you arguing that women are too Christ-like to be ordained? Now I must admit that is a new Vatican argument I have never heard before.

Women are better able than men to perceive the "proximity of God" and enter into a relationship with him, Father Giertych said, pointing to the privileged role played by women in the New Testament.
Bridget Mary's Response: Wow, you are really saying that we are too close to God to be priests! I always thought that priests were supposed to be Christ-like and loving, prayerful and kind. I would think that these are qualities that we need in our modern day priests. By the way, have you started an appeal to reverse the women priests' automatic excommunication? Or better yet, you could begin the case for our canonization! Pope Benedict canonized two formerly excommunicated nuns. So there is a precedent!

"Women have a special access to the heart of Jesus," he said, "in a very vivid way of approaching him, of touching him, of praying with him, of pouring ointment on his head, of kissing his feet."
Bridget Mary's Response: Now Father, it appears that you are arguing that women are closer to Jesus than men! Wow, that appears to me to be putting down men who love Jesus!. Surely, you could not mean this in all earnestness! If you do, you are going to be in big trouble with the Old Boys' Network especially with your friends in the Vatican Curia!

"The mission of the woman in the church is to convince the male that power is not most important in the church, not even sacramental power," he said. "What is most important is the encounter with the living God through faith and charity."
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp, at recent litugy at MaryMother of Jesus Catholic Community in Florida
Bridget Mary's Response: Here Father Giertych, you hit the nail on the head! Clerical power is vested in Power over vs. empowerment. One of the reasons that the institutional church is in free fall today is the abuse of spiritual power by the male celibate hierarchy including the cover-up of sexual abuse and rape of thousands of Catholic youth that goes all the way to the Vatican. Women priests are a "holy shakeup" in our church today because women priests at the altar remind everyone that women are equal images of God and a renewed priestly ministry is about serving in a community of equals where the gifts of the baptized are called forth to celebrate the sacraments and witness  justice on the margins.
"So women don't need the priesthood," he said, "because their mission is so beautiful in the church anyway."This special relationship, the theologian said, is essentially related to Jesus' maleness."I remember once a contemplative nun told me, 'oh, wouldn't it be horrible if Jesus were a woman?' And it dawned on me that, for a woman, the access to Jesus in prayer is easier than for us men, because he's male," Father Giertych said. "The relationship of love, of attachment, the spousal relationship to Christ is easier for the woman."
Bridget Mary's Response: A variety of names and images for God will enrich our spiritual lives as no one image says it all for any of us and while male images may bless the soul of a contemplate nuns, feminine images of God can do so as well, not only for women but also for men. God is neither male nor female so why Father, do we only use masculine images of God.
The Bible and our mystical tradition is broader than this, even St. Bernard referred to Jesus as mother! I wrote several books on praying with feminine images of God. If you forward your address, I will send you some for your contemplation or you can check them out on amazon.

Your Sister in Christ,
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests,

"Convenient Morality" by Frank Bruni/NYTimes/ Life begins at Conception for RC Church Except in Lawsuits Against Church!

..."The hospital’s lawyers argued that the woman’s death couldn’t have been prevented. As to whether proper medical attention might have yielded the delivery of two healthy baby boys, lawyers argued that the question was ultimately irrelevant, because wrongful death can apply only to people and, legally speaking, fetuses aren’t human lives. This isn’t how the Catholic Church is supposed to see things. It’s the opposite. The church staunchly opposes abortion, holding that life begins at conception, and has even raised concerns about the morning-after pill. And the fetuses inside Lori Stodghill, 31, were four weeks past what’s generally considered viability.

Lawyers by nature use the best strategies available to them, in a brutal arena where failing to do so puts clients at a disadvantage. And the Colorado litigation is just one case involving one Catholic hospital, which may not have gotten any green light for its arguments from high-ranking church officials. In fact, Colorado’s three Catholic bishops on Monday released a statement that articulated their objection to the hospital’s legal approach and said it should be abandoned henceforth. But the hospital isn’t some random outlier. It’s run by Catholic Health Initiatives, which operates 78 hospitals in more than a dozen states. And a habit of clinging to a religious identity one moment and abandoning it the next is visible beyond this case, especially in the church’s management of its child sexual abuse crisis.

We’ve been getting a fresh and galling peek into that with the court-compelled release of documents from the Los Angeles Archdiocese, which engaged in a pattern of willful blindness and outright cover-up so egregious that the current archbishop, José Gomez, took the shocking step last week of publicly reprimanding his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony.

The documents show that Mahony and his lieutenants repeatedly failed to report allegations to law enforcement officials and urged accused priests to leave or stay out of the state, lest they face prosecution. They decided, in short, that the church’s representatives and reputation mattered more than justice: that the church could hold itself above laws that governed everybody else.

This was hardly isolated behavior. Around the country, the church has beaten back lawsuits by priests’ victims and tried not to furnish information about priests’ wrongdoing by claiming that such scrutiny violates the free exercise of religion, said Jeffrey Anderson, a Minnesota lawyer who has represented hundreds of victims over three decades. “It’s audacious, it’s bold and it’s across the board,” he said.

But the church has simultaneously reserved the right to behave just like any other institution, leaning on legal technicalities, smearing victims and demonstrating no more compassion than a tobacco company might show. “In the name of Jesus,” Anderson told me, “they do things that Jesus would abhor.”

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Catholic Secrets! (on the lighter side)

This information is for Catholics only. It must not be divulged to

non-Catholics. The less they know about our rituals and top secret

code words, the better off they are.


The only part of a prayer that

everyone knows.


Your receipt for attending



A group of people whose

singing allows the rest of the Parish to



A liquid whose chemical

formula is H2OLY. Created by boiling the HELL out of



A song of praise usually sung

in a key three octaves higher than that of the congregation's



HYMN: The last song at Mass often

sung a little more quietly, since most of the people have already



Holy Smoke!


An order of priests known for

their ability to find colleges with good basketball



The original 'Jaws'



When kids have kids of their



KYRIE ELEISON: The only Greek words that most

Catholics can recognize besides gyros and baklava. (for you

non-Catholics it means Lord have mercy)



The most famous trio to attend

a baby shower.



Where Mary gave

birth to Jesus because Joseph wasn't covered by an HMO (The Bible's way of

showing us that holiday travel has always been rough.)


A medieval

torture device still found in Catholic churches.


The ceremonial

formation at the beginning of Mass consisting of altar servers, the

celebrant, and late parishioners looking for seats.


The ceremonial

procession at the conclusion of Mass led by parishioners trying to beat

the crowd to the parking lot.


People who have

been going to Mass for so long, they actually know when to sit, kneel, and



important Top Ten list not given by David Letterman.


The only people

in the parish who don't know the seating capacity of a


Little known facts about the Catholic Church in Las Vegas

There are more churches in Las Vegas than casinos. During Sunday services at the

offertory, some worshippers contribute casino chips as opposed to cash..

Some are sharing their winnings - some are hoping to win. Since they get

chips from so many different casinos, and they are worth money, the

Catholic churches are required to send all the chips into the diocese for

sorting. Once sorted into the respective casino chips, one junior priest

takes the chips and makes the rounds to the casinos turning chips into

cash. And he, of course, is known as The Chip Monk. (A repeat

Source: Unknown, a member of our local Sarasota Community shared this humorous piece with me.)

Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,

A Sunset is a Reminder of God's Loving Embrace

Book on Sexual Abuse in Catholic Church in Poland Report Victims Afaid to Speak Out

The Irish Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Book claims victims of clerical abuse are afraid to speak out
"Polish victims of clerical abuse live in a climate of fear and are afraid to speak out against their maltreatment, a new book has claimed. The book, Be Afraid: Victims of Paedophilia by the Catholic Church, examines 27 cases of alleged abuse and accuses Catholic bishops of ignoring abuse allegations.Warsaw-based Dutch journalist Ekke Overbeek said Polish abuse victims were afraid of going public because of the continued prominent place the Catholic church occupies in Polish life. Slowly the issue is being addressed in the Polish media Overbeek said it took a “lot of patience” to convince his interviewees to speak out. “You have to have a lot of courage to talk about it, especially in small towns. I saw for myself how two victims were treated. It was not pleasant.Polish bishops hit back at Overbeek’s book, saying it was “like Swiss cheese: full of holes”.
Bridget Mary's Response:
The Catholic Church's hierarchy blames the media, the victim, then when the bishops are sued, they pay out enormous amounts of money in settlements. The local diocese declares bankruptcy, parishes close, schools close. And so on. ,But neither the bishops nor the Vatican wants to deal with the elephant in the living room! At the heart of the entire debacle is the spiritual abuse of power that is rooted in clericalism, a special system of priviledge and deference to the priests and bishops that associates them with power over the holy and power over the people. We need a major structural change and a renewed church where all the baptized are called forth to use their gifts in service of the church and world. Women priests and married priests in egalitarian, inclusive communities are one part of the answer to the enormous change that is needed.
 Tragically, in the case of pedophilia, we have witnessed a pattern from the top down of cover-ups of sexual abuse including the horrendous crimes of rapes of children and youth all over the world. Civil authorities and Catholics in the pews have been reluctant to hold the hierarchy accountable and to challenge the bishops for their intimidation and abuse of power. The press has reported the scandal. The Vatican has resisted changes that would bring accountability and transparency. We must be the movers and shakers in our faith communities. Living Jesus and the Gospel today demands no less of us. Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,


"Nostra Maxima Culpa" Commentary on Child Rape in the Catholic Church Documentary by Andrew Sullivan/Vatican is Responsible

"Alex Gibney’s new documentary on the child-rape epidemic in the Catholic Church that raged for decades (and maybe centuries), Mea Maxima Culpa, debuts tonight on HBO. I’ve watched it twice. It is both an inspiring testament to faith and truth – as well as a devastating indictment of pride, power, and lies. The former come from four boys who attended St John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee in the 1970s. The latter comes from the Vatican and everyone in its power structure then and ever since. It really is a story about how the real church finally stood up to a hierarchy that has betrayed us and committed crimes of such gravity and magnitude they beggar belief.

The story begins as long ago as 1974 when four boys put fliers on the windshields of the cars in the parking lot of the church run by the man who raped them. They simply said “Wanted” with the priest’s name (the more explicit flyer in the video above came later). Instead of being listened to, the kids were disciplined. Eventually, in Murphy’s psychiatric record, Gibney finds Father Lawrence Murphy confessing to raping over 200 boys over a long period of time. He raped them in their dorm rooms; he raped them in the confessional, using the small window as a glory hole and granting absolution based on rape or masturbation. The detail I cannot quite recover from is that he picked out for abuse those deaf boys who had parents who could not use sign language – so that even if the boys had the courage to say what had happened to them, their parents would not understand. It’s things like that that simply chill you, haunt you, force you to confront the pre-meditated, profound murder of human souls that the Catholic Church, from the Pope on down, enabled, perpetuated, and lied about for so long – and still hasn’t been held fully accountable for.

And what this documentary proves beyond any reasonable doubt (like Gibney’s examination of the Bush-Cheney administration’s decision to torture prisoners in “Taxi To The Dark Side”) is that all of it was known throughout the hierarchy for decades. There is even a network of Church-operated “psychiatric” clinics for serial child rapists that doesn’t use traditional psychotherapy or report criminals to the cops or sequester the rapists from the public (let alone defrock them). These clinics simply enforce spiritual discipline and then recycle the priests to rape more children. We know from public documents that as far back as the 1940s, pedophile priests were showing up at these centers. Father Gerald Fitzgerald founded the order. And he was not yet corrupted by the Vatican’s insistence that no scandal ever become public and no priest sacrificed for the sake of mere children. As early as 1947, he is writing letters to his superiors about the problem:

“I myself would be inclined to favor laicization for any priest, upon objective evidence, for tampering with the virtue of the young, my argument being, from this point onward the charity to the Mystical Body should take precedence over charity to the individual, [...] Moreover, in practice, real conversions will be found to be extremely rare [...] Hence, leaving them on duty or wandering from diocese to diocese is contributing to scandal or at least to the approximate danger of scandal.”

Or in 1957, this letter to his Bishop:

“We are amazed to find how often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with the cura animarum (guardian of souls).”

The systematic rape of children was then obviously not a function of some kind of major cultural shift in the 1960s and 1970s, although that era might have sent a permissive signal to the global network of child rapists the Vatican was already hiding and enabling. It has been a core problem with the “celibate” priesthood in the US for decades, and every single bishop and every single Pope knew it. Fitzgerald personally met with Pope Paul VI to try and get him to act. Yes, the good folks in the church tried to do something as early as the 1950s and were stopped in their tracks … by the Vatican. The number of souls murdered by child-rape in the coming decades would not have happened if all the Popes since Paul VI had acted with more moral sense than most maximum security murderers. (Even the worst prisoners regard child-rapists as the lowest of the low. Popes? Not so much). We’re not talking about priests who are drunks, or priests who fall in love or break their vows in fallible, victimless ways; we’re talking here about priests committing one of the most heinous felonies imaginable: the systematic rape of children using the authority of the Church as cover.

John Paul II emphatically cannot be somehow removed from this picture. He personally protected one of the worst offenders, Marcial Maciel, who was a serial rapist, drug trafficker, bigamist and rapist of his own son. In fact, John Paul II elevated Maciel to the highest honors of the church – backed by the theocon wing of the American church, from Richard John Neuhaus to Bill Bennett and Mary Ann Glendon. They all adamantly denied that Maciel was anything but a living saint – and he was never prosecuted, merely allowed a gentle retirement from running his order, The Legion of Christ, which continues.

Joseph Ratzinger, when he was Archbishop of Munich, personally signed off on sending a priest to therapy, after that priest had raped several children, never notified the police, never told the parents of the children at the parish the priest was then assigned to, and because of this negligence, was, in my view, complicit in the rape of several more children before the priest was finally caught, arrested and sent to jail. Let me repeat that: the current Pope enabled and abetted the rape of children – and his only way out was to blame a lower official, who subsequently said he’d been pressured. More than that, no one else in the church knows more about this long record of child-rape than Ratzinger. From 2001 onwards, all cases of child rape or abuse were ordered to be sent to his personal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. And all of it had to be kept completely hidden from the outside world. In the words of Hans Kung, Ratzinger’s former modernizing ally in the Second Vatican Council,

Ratzinger himself, in a letter on “grave sexual crimes” addressed to all the bishops under the date of 18 May, 2001, warned the bishops, under threat of ecclesiastical punishment, to observe “papal secrecy” in such cases.

He knew everything – and had the goods on every Cardinal, in whose dioceses thousands of complaints had been filed. And one wonders why it was a surprise he was elected Pope. When you’re the J Edgar Hoover of the Vatican, who is going to challenge you?

If those of us are asked why we still believe in the salvation of Christ in the Catholic community, in the midst of all this, we do not have a good answer. All we can say is that we are, in some ways, trying to live in a parallel church, finding those many, many good priests who have been unfairly tarred by the pedophile brush, and living by one simple moral standards that the Pope himself does not agree with and has not done: if you find out someone is raping children, you call the cops.

But, for me, the most powerful moments in the documentary come from one simple fact. The four primary victims are deaf. They are grown men now and when they express themselves on film, they do so with sign and sounds of anguish and grief. One of the victims, now dead, sat down in front of a video camera and laboriously recounted every single act of abuse Father Murphy committed against him. He knew he was dying, and wanted to leave a record of the crimes and the corruption. Then in the most riveting raw footage of the film, he goes to confront the mass-rapist, whose crimes were by then beyond the statute of limitations. He finds him in the backyard. He signs and yells as coherently as a deaf person can; the priest seems utterly unmoved, telling the man he serially raped that “That’s all over now.” And disappears into his modest house, with a deaf-house-cleaner who had previously worked at St John’s. In the Catholic Church, mass rapists get retirement homes with maids. She confronts the rape victim. She keeps asking him: “Are you a Catholic?” He keeps replying that this has nothing to do with Catholicism and everything to do with rape. She just comes back at him with rapid-fire repetitions of “Are you a Catholic?” “Are you a Catholic?” “Are you a Catholic?“

It’s a good question.

I can hear my devout Irish grandmother – who also worked as a cleaning lady for priests, scrubbing heir floors day after day till they looked like glass – asking the same question whenever I questioned ecclesiastical authority. It’s a question that simply tells you: do not disobey a priest; do not malign a priest; do not question a priest. And it is that deference, that lingering, profound subservience to the priestly office that also allowed this to happen. Where, after all, were the nuns at St John’s School? Did they seriously not know what was going on? Where were the parents of the deaf boys, when they warned them about Father Murphy as early as 1974? Where are we now as a church if we vaunt one of the biggest enablers of child-rape, John Paul II, to the status of sainthood without a thorough investigation of these matters.

For me, Jesus must always be with the victims. He is the victim. When a priest rapes a child, Jesus is raped. When an archbishop covers up the crime, Jesus is raped. When successive Popes are told of the problem and assign total secrecy to it and fail to prevent future abuse of children, Jesus is raped. And there is a particularly appropriate ending to the tale of Father Murphy: faced with the possibility of a church trial for a canon law crime which has no statute of limitations – abusing the sacrament of reconciliation by raping children as absolution, he appealed to Pope Benedict XVI himself. And this Pope granted him a reprieve because of failing health. We have the documents to prove all this. Many argue – and it is undeniable – that this Pope has done more than any predecessor to investigate the horror. But he did so only as the abuse stories began to break into the open and his first response was to blame the media. This quote is from 2002 when Ratzinger was head of the CDF:

In the church, priests are also sinners. But I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower. In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than one percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information or to the statistical objectivity of the facts. Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the church.

Again, you notice one thing: his first priority then and now was to protect the institution, not protect the children. This is not an old story either. Just last week, the former Cardinal of Los Angeles, Roger Mahony, was stripped of his duties for enabling and abetting the rapes of countless children. This was proven by key documents finally pried out of the church’s hands by a legal case. What we need access to is the entire Vatican archive of priestly sex abuse of children. But perhaps, case by case, we will begin to understand better the nexus of authority and accountability that made this global conspiracy to hide and abet rapists so durable and so horrifying.

There was a slogan in the years of AIDS. It was Silence = Death. What is unforgettable about this documentary is that the loudest voices come from the most vulnerable of all – deaf children who are now deaf adults. The loudest voices were those who could not speak. If I have hope for my church – and I sincerely believe Jesus will never finally abandon us, however corrupt and sinful we become – it is because of this fact. The power of the powerless is what helped stop this mass murder of souls. The change came not from the top, which remains foully corrupted, but from the very margins of the margins: the consciences and courage of those who cannot hear evil, but who were surrounded by it.And spoke up.

When will the rest of us do the same? When will we Catholics insist in the prosecution of this Pope and this hierarchy for what can only be called – given its duration and gravity and sheer scale – a crime against humanity. When will we lose the deference to a clerical elite that has become its own self-perpetuating clique of sexual dysfunction, that has lost even the most basic moral authority, that even now refuses to hold itself to account.

What, one wonders, would Jesus do? My answer to that ultimately unanswerable question is simple: listen to the survivors. Even those who can only speak in silence and sign:

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. "

Monday, February 4, 2013

St. Brigit of Kildare- Prayers for Celebrating Her Spirituality Today

Celtic Spirituality Liturgy- Feb. 2, 2013


On Feb. 1st we celebrated the Feast day of St. Brigit of Kildare whose inclusivity reminds us that we all belong at the Banquet of Love, the heavenly feast. A table blessing of St. Brigit gives us a glimpse into the heart of Celtic spirituality:
Phil Garrison, Bridget Mary Meehan, Jean Brgant, Teresa McEache,
Mary AL Gagnon

“I should welcome the poor to my feast for they are God’s children. I should welcome the sick to my feast for they are God’s joy. Let the poor sit with Jesus at the highest place, let the sick dance with the angels.”

Pastor Phil Garrison shared insights from his Celtic Spiritual Journey in Ireland with MMOJ Community on Sat. Feb. 2,2013

Opening Prayer:

O God of compassion and healing,

You gave Holy Brigit to us as a sign of your love.

You caress us with the warmth of the sun,

You encircle us in love’s embrace.

You are behind us and before us.

You are above us and beneath us.

We consecrate all that we are to you.

Creed from Iona Community

Presider: Let us affirm our faith.

All: We believe that God is present

in the darkness before dawn;

In the waiting and uncertainty

where fear and courage join hands,

Conflict and caring link arms

And the sun rises over barbed wire.

We believe in a with-us God

Who sits down in our midst

To share our humanity,

A feasting God.*

We affirm a faith,

That takes us beyond a safe place

Into action, into vulnerability,

Into the streets.

We commit ourselves to work for change

And put ourselves on the line;

To bear responsibility, to take risks,

Live powerfully and face humiliation;

To stand with those on the edge;

To choose life

And be used by the Spirit

For God’s new community of Hope. Amen.

from Iona Abbey Worship Book by The Iona Community


Loving God hear our prayer

That we may give as gift the gifts we have received, I pray….

That we may care for our marvelous planet with its animals and plants, we pray…

That we may share my food, clothing, home and time generously, we pray…

For what else shall we pray….

Closing Prayer:

St. Brigit, you were a woman of peace.

You brought harmony where there was conflict.

You brought light to the darkness.

You brought hope to the downcast.

May the mantle of your peace

Cover those who are troubled and anxious,

And may peace be firmly rooted

in our hearts and in our world.

Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all

God has made.

Brigit you were a voice for the wounded.

Strengthen what is weak within us.

Calm us into a quiet inner listening that heals.

May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit. Amen.

(Solas Bhride, Kildare 1997)

Saint Brigit’s Blessing

May Brigit bless the house wherein you dwell.

Bless every fireside, every wall and door.

Bless every heart that bets beneath its roof.

Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy.

Bless every foot that walks its portals through.

May Brigit bless the house that shelters you.

(Prayers and blessings from Praying with Celtic Holy Women by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver)