#CatholicMeToo – Where Does It End?
Many Catholics, God knows how many, have signed on to the #CatholicMeToo movement. Many more will in the days ahead. What is it? Simply put, it is a twofold effort to bring pressure on the US Catholic bishops, so that true and genuine reform will take place in the US Catholic Church on the issue of clerical sexual abuse of minors and sexual harassment of adults. Most of this sexual abuse (approximately 80%) is homosexual in nature, involving persons over the age of twelve. The percentage of adult sexual harassment is not known, but reports indicate it’s mostly homosexual in nature. Indeed, all sexual harassment that goes on in seminaries is, by nature, homosexual 100% of the time.
A few things need to be made clear, as the mainstream media doesn’t often do a very good job reporting these things. First, when it comes to the case of sexual abuse of minors, the overwhelming vast majority of it happened in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. In fact, the current rate appears to be equal to, or less than, that which occurred in the 1950s…
The number of abuse cases spiked in 1960, just before the Second Vatican Council, and continued to rise at a time when fewer and fewer men were entering the seminaries. It did not begin to fall until about 1980, when Saint Pope John Paul II put Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (future Pope Benedict XVI) in charge of hunting these abusers down and getting rid of them. Today, there appears to be fewer reported cases of sexual abuse of minors than there were way back in 1950. This is good. It means two things. First, it means that the Vatican (via Cardinal Ratzinger) was working on cleaning up the mess all the way back in the early 1980s, and that he had significant success. By the time the 2002 sex scandal broke in the United States, the abuse rate of minors was already equal to, or below, the 1950s threshold. The public only learned about this bell curve after-the-fact. Two, it also means the child protection act put forward by the U.S. Bishops in 2002 is working, and continues to work, as the abuse rate of minors continues to remain low.
None of this includes the sexual harassment part of the problem though, particularly in the seminaries, where the problem is 100% homosexual in nature. The Dallas convention in 2002 did not address this problem at all, which leads us to a much bigger problem the Dallas convention failed to address.
In 2002, the bishops in Dallas voted to exempt themselves from any investigation of sexual abuse or cover up. That should be telling, and sadly, that is exactly what has led to the scandal and crisis unfolding in the US Catholic Church right now. By failing to include themselves in the scrutiny that would fall upon all priests, deacons and lay staff, the 2002 Dallas charter set up everything that we see in the news today.
What the 2018 sexual abuse scandal and crisis is really about is not so much the sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church. (Though I am by no means diminishing their suffering and pain for which they rightly call for justice. If anything, I’m putting myself out here for them.) For the most part, at the parish level, that problem has been dealt with. The problem we have now centers not around the abusers, but rather the cover-up perpetrated by bishops during that time.
The bishops exempted themselves from investigation in 2002. Now “the chickens are coming home to roost” as the saying goes. This is what #CatholicMeToo is about. It’s about bringing justice to the bishops, and about forcing accountability among their ranks. The #CatholicMeToo movement calls for two things…
- Victims of sexual abuse as minors AND victims of sexual harassment as adults, should come forward and tell their stories. It is not your fault. You are not to blame. You have NOTHING to be ashamed of. You were abused and/or harassed. ChurchMilitant.Com has provided a “hotline” to make this easy, simply by emailing: MeToo@ChurchMilitant.com. Now this “hotline” doesn’t bring the perpetrators to justice, but it does give you an outlet, a way to tell your story, if you feel ready to do so.
- Regular faithful laymen and women should withhold their donations to their bishops, and give it to their parishes instead. This includes all bishops, both the good with the bad. The purpose of doing this is to bring financial strain on the bishops and force them to act. (Now, I think there is a bit of a flaw here with this second point, and I’ll elaborate below.)
Now before I go on, I must clarify something. Nobody is calling for people to stop giving money entirely. Nobody is asking for that. Not Church Militant, not this blog, and not anyone I know. Failing to materially support the Church is a violation of the 5th Precept of the Church, a violation of canon law, and a sin. Catholics are required to give something of material support to the work of the Church. Neither the Catechism nor canon law tell us exactly HOW we are to give, but it does say that we must give. This is why #CatholicMeToo is calling for Catholics to REDIRECT their funds away from the bishops and toward their parishes, not cut off all funding entirely.
I want to make this crystal clear. If you want to remain a Catholic in good standing, you MUST give to support the Church. You MUST. In some way, somehow, you MUST give. You don’t have to support something that you know is wrong — obviously — but we all know there are good parishes, with good priests, who are doing good things. They can be supported, and they should be. It’s a sin not to.
That being said, we cannot risk the temptation to let our righteous anger on this cloud our judgement. There are good bishops out there too. There are bishops who have nothing to do with this scandal. There are bishops who deplore what is happening just as much as we do. There are some bishops who haven’t even been bishops long enough to have participated in the 2002 Dallas conference. This is why we have to make a clear distinction. understanding that most of these new bishops agree with us. They agree that bishops should be held accountable for cover-up of sexual abuse of minors. So, I am revising my previous stand on this as follows…
If some bishops are willing to say so publicly (along with us) that bishops who cover up sexual abuse (for the good of the Church) ought to resign, then they should be exempt from the #CatholicMeToo movement. They shouldn’t need to be specific or name names. They just need to let us know that they are opposed to the cover-up perpetrated by some of their episcopal brothers. They can easily do this by publicly calling for the resignation of all bishops (generally speaking, and for the good of the Church) who willingly and knowingly participated in the cover-up of sex crimes in the United States. If a bishop does this, publicly, then I see no reason why funds should be withheld from their dioceses or chanceries. It doesn’t make any sense.
You see, there is not much bishops can do to stop other bishops in other dioceses. That is the domain of the pope. Only the pope can hire and fire bishops. What good bishops can do, however, is make a stand for justice (as I outlined above), and then use our donations in good ways, to do positive things that counter the actions of the bad bishops. For example, if a good bishop is sending his young men to a seminary, where homosexuality is a problem, he can turn around and say “no, we’re going to make our own seminary now, and send our young men there instead.” But he can only do this if he has the money to do it. Do you see what I mean? If a good bishop is standing for justice, then he can work to counter the influence of the bad bishops, but only if he has money to do it.
At this date, there are not many bishops who have publicly done this. I do hope that in the days ahead more will come forward with public statements calling for (either directly or indirectly) the resignation of all bishops who covered up sexual abuse of minors.
It’s important that we don’t punish our allies in this fight, especially if our allies are willing to stand with us in our cries for justice. That is, after all, the only thing we are asking for. The US Catholic Church must be reformed, not scorched, and that is what we’re really trying to accomplish here.