For a Moment, it was All About the Victims

For a Moment, it was All About the Victims August 29, 2018


I am glad that everyone finally believes in sexual abuse.

This is a new development, you know.

When the #metoo movement began last year, certain people who claimed to be very devout “traditional” Catholics didn’t believe us. They wrote off the victims as immodest and asking for it. They claimed that modesty and chastity were somehow magical talismans that would cause men to treat women with respect. They worried that a man might have his reputation ruined if anybody took all the hussies seriously.

When bloggers and reporters broke the stories on sexual assault cover-ups at Christendom College and Franciscan University, they still didn’t believe. They claimed it was all a liberal conspiracy to discredit faithful Catholic institutions and make the Church look bad. The victims of sexual assault from Christendom are still suffering from harassment to this day– harassment from devout Catholics who want them to admit they made it all up to persecute the Church.

Just about two weeks ago when the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was released, I blogged about my outrage. And I was told that it was all a conspiracy to make the Church look bad– the victims weren’t really raped and even the ones who were were a long time ago. I was “bitching and moaning” if I was sickened by the report. It’s all a fuss over nothing.

Then our Holy Father Pope Francis had a finger pointed at him. I don’t know if the allegations are true or not. I hope they aren’t true, but on the other hand it’s not hard to believe that the Church’s abuse epidemic runs straight to the top.  I know that the more that comes out about Archbishop Vigano, the skeevier he sounds. I know that Pope Emeritus Benedict’s own personal secretary has stated that Benedict did NOT confirm the National Catholic Register’s story– last I checked the Register had doubled down, and I know whom I think is a more reliable source of information about the Pope Emeritus. As for everything else, I’ll wait and see.

And now, everybody’s on board. All the grouches who were just sure that sexual abuse was a fantasy made up by immodest women and anti-Catholic media want to do something about it. They want the  corruption in the Church rooted out. They want the whole Church cast into upheaval to make it happen. The Pope has to resign, they say. The very man who wrote an article claiming that this is all a  conspiracy mere months ago, has just written an article about how the Pope must answer his accusers or else the president should punish the Vatican by withdrawing his ambassador. I don’t know what Pope Francis will do without  Mrs. Gingrich the Third there by his side– once he notices she’s gone, I mean.

For a moment, it was all about the victims. Not people who dislike the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite or people who believe conspiracy theories, the actual victims. People who were raped or molested and then shamed into silence because it was more convenient to pretend they were lying than to work for justice.

Then the people who didn’t care about the victims found a way to make it all about them, and what they want the Church to look like, and how much they hate Pope Francis.

And I’ve heard barely a word about the victims since.

I have no idea whether the Pope should resign. It seems that most bishops and Cardinals ought to at this point, though I don’t think that’s going to happen and I don’t think it will make abuse magically go away if it does.

I know that, whatever we do about any of this, it ought to be all about vulnerable people and the victims of abuse.

If we want to heal the Catholic Church, we have to be thinking about justice for the victims of abuse, measures to prevent such things from happening again, and specific plans to stop it when it inevitably does. Because the fact is, any institution, secular or not, as large and influential as the Catholic Church, is going to have instances of powerful people abusing less powerful people. That is one of the things we know about organizations of human beings. Since we are the Body of Christ, we need to repent of our sins and do everything we can to overcome this sinful tendency, and since we are a Body made up of fallen human beings we’re going to have to keep struggling. We can never presume that because Christ is among us and the sacraments are valid, we must be perfect already. We’re not, not by a long shot. And the struggle has to be about preventing abuse, protecting the vulnerable and healing the victims.

This isn’t about a high-ranking Vatican official’s burn book. It’s not about people who wish Francis hadn’t been elected. It’s about people who were sexually abused and harassed by the very leaders they ought to have been able to trust the most, and then re-victimized when the bishops wouldn’t do their jobs but instead protected the abusers. It’s about their pain and suffering and what we can do to help them, and to make sure others don’t end up in this kind of pain. What happened to them is real. Their suffering and the wrong done to them is what this is all about.

You do believe that really happened, don’t you?

(Image via Pixabay) 


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