Better the Millstone: On the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

Better the Millstone: On the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report August 14, 2018


I’m at a loss for words. I’m a professional writer, I write 800-2000 words per day, and I’m struggling to find anything to say.

I have not read the whole Grand Jury report on the sexual abuses and subsequent cover-ups committed by Catholic clergy and dioceses in Pennsylvania. I’m not even close and I don’t think I ever will be. I keep reading excerpts from it and summaries of what it contains, and then pausing to do something else because it enrages me. It makes me physically sick.

Over 300 priests. Three hundred. More than a thousand victims. One thousand.

I keep going back to an event in the Diocese of Scranton. Father Thomas Skotek raped a young girl and then arranged her abortion. The bishop, James Timlin, sent a letter of consolation and sympathy, not to the victim but to the rapist.  Try blaming that one on some kind of secret gay cabal. And I keep coming back to one of 99 reported cases in Pittsburgh– a case where priests tortured their victims to make sadistic pornography. Or the Diocese of Allentown, where Father Michael Lawrence molested a boy so hard it caused physical pain but the diocese claimed it was “not necessarily a horrendous trauma.”

There are over one thousand such cases. Over three hundred priests as vile as the ones I’ve mentioned. Better over three hundred millstones than that it should come to this.

And this is just the state of Pennsylvania. There is no reason in the world to assume it isn’t just as bad everywhere in the United States.

I am a Catholic mother. I was married in a Catholic Church less than an hour’s drive from the diocese of Pittsburgh, in the big “traditional” church with the Communion Rail and the choir loft. I had my daughter baptized in the church I was married in. I’m raising her in the Faith because the Faith is what I believe. The Catholic Church is not just some club I belong to with meetings on Sundays; she is Someone I believe, the mother of my spirit whom Christ designated to lead me on the path to Heaven. And it is part of my vocation and my path to Heaven to raise Rosie in this same faith. It’s my vocation to be a mother, as much as it’s a priest’s vocation to be a priest and a bishop’s to be a bishop. And I also have to protect my daughter from priests, because bishops will not. I don’t even know how to begin to do that. There is no adequate way to describe this betrayal.

Our shepherds have failed us. They have sinned horrendously. They have sinned, and if they don’t repent they will burn in the pit of hell, and that will be nothing more than justice for them. And they did it over a thousand times.

I don’t know where to go from here.

I’m supposed to have some kind of heartening thing to say, but I don’t.

I think it would be appropriate, for a start, for everyone above a certain level in the dioceses named to resign. It’s not enough, but it would be a beginning toward restoring trust. If they won’t resign they need to be removed by Rome. Every priest involved needs to be laicized.

I hope that similar Grand Jury reports are released all over the country, so we can see exactly how far this Satanic crime ring extends.

I want to remind all of my readers that if they have been abused or witnessed abuse by clergy, they ought not to go to the bishop; they ought to go directly to Law Enforcement and anyone else who will listen. Tell everyone. Go to the local news if you can. Because if you tell the bishops, the bishops will just help the priest to abuse someone else.  I keep thinking of the Bible verse “there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.” And I think in this case, it’s less of a prophecy and more of a command. Reveal what has shamefully, sinfully been hidden until the abusers have nowhere to hide. Cry out with a thousand tongues.

As long as there is even one bishop in this church who values the reputation of the diocese and the comfort of priests above the safety of his flock, this will continue happening. It’s going to happen again and again, any time a Catholic believes that it’s more important to make the Church LOOK as if it’s Christlike and sweet to the casual observer instead of demanding that her representatives on earth ACT like Christ– and demanding suitable penalties when they don’t.

(image via Pixabay) 










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