Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ten Reasons Why Priests Haven't Responded to Sexual Abuse Survivors

by Pauline Salvucci

1. They're afraid of what their bishop will do to them.

2. They're afraid that parishioners will think them unloyal and disobedient to their bishop.

3. They're afraid that the weekly collection basket will return more empty than full.

4. They're afraid their fellow priests will scoff and reject them.

5. They're afraid to speak out on behalf of survivors because Silence is the number one "Golden Rule" among clergy.

6. They're afraid their families and lay friends will think them "radical dissenters" within the church.

7. They're afraid to support survivors because doing so is a sure ticket to no advancement within the clerical hierarchy.

8. They're afraid to support survivors because they believe that reconciliation and forgiveness of clerical perps takes precedence over compassion and justice for survivors.

9. They're afraid because they believe that revealing additional sexual abuse scandals will destroy the church.

10. They're afraid because they are more concerned about themselves than those they are ordained to serve.

Pauline Salvucci of Maine is a former religious sister who now advocates for church reform and accountability.


Jesus as Pastor
by Rev. Thomas Doyle

The Catholic theological tradition has portrayed Jesus Christ as the Eternal High Priest, the epitome and model of the priesthood and the archetype upon which all priests should model their ministry.

Hence we would expect that every priest, when faced with any decision that involved the spiritual welfare of believers, or a dilemma over whether to follow a gospel imperative, would ask the question that has almost become a mantra for some: "What Would Jesus Do?"

Yet it is ironic that in his three years of public life, Jesus did little if anything that a traditional, clerical priest does.

He did not conduct services. He did not chair committees. He was neither a fund raiser nor an administrator. He was not worried about his career progression nor was he concerned about the quality of the robes he wore. He did not have an office and he was hardly worried about whether his style of ministry with the people pleased or displeased the leadership of his church.

Anger, whether expressed by Jesus or directed at him was always from or about a single issue: the abuse of power by the religious leaders of his day and their failure to respect the believers.

Jesus did little that the priest, a clerical "organization man" does.

However, he imprinted on history, by his life and actions, the authentic model of priest as pastor.

He took the incredible risk of looking beyond his own security in order to fulfill his mandate to make real the love of his father for all, especially the disenfranchised, the marginalized and the powerless. He incurred the anger and even rage of the religious leadership of his time because he risked everything to call them to account. He completely confounded and perplexed them because he was in it, not for himself, but totally for others, a concept totally alien to the religious establishment of the time.