Oct 3, 2009

The 3 Wise Monkeys, Sexual Abuse and the Prada Red Shoes

This is the famous 17th century carving over the door of the renowned Tosho-gu shrine in Nikko, Japan, which gave birth to the famous maxim: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil.  As Wikipedia remarks, "In the western world the phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by looking the other way, refusing to acknowledge it, or feigning ignorance."

I was reminded of this phrase while reading a series of brilliant articles on the sexual abuse crisis  in the Catholic Church, written and posted by William Lindsey at his blog, Bilgrimage. In my opinion, these penetrating, truthful exposes belong on the front page of the New York Times. In a powerful section of his most recent post, William remarks:

This final statement resonates so powerfully - "As if they do not make being Catholic well-nigh impossible today." If you have absorbed the full horror and implications of the sexual abuse crisis into your being (which can really only be done through prayer and contemplation), then nothing the hierarchy has to say on any subject at this point in history has any credibility. They have lost their credibility completely and we should not be listening to them until they have acknowledged the full scale of the sexual abuse crisis, recognized and publicly confessed their own scandalous culpability, revealed the full extent of the cover up and their continuing abuse of those victims who dare to speak up  and made appropriate penance and restitution. Wearing sackcloth and ashes for ten years and carrying a sign that says "I am a sexual abuse enabler" for twenty years would not even come close to an appropriate form of purification for the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Instead we get this:

Catholic culture at this moment, especially in the United States, is in a profound state of psychological denial and the pathology runs deep, very deep. As William Lindsey has pointed out in substantive detail here, (and by Terence Weldon at Queering the Church) the Hierarchy's present strategy is to blame others, gay men in the ministry in particular, for the current crisis instead of seeing the crisis for what it is, an evil in the Church that has been spawned by the abuse of hierarchical power. We need to use this theologically resonant term more often until the full force of the word is felt in the depths of the psyche and the soul. What the hierarchy has done (in collusion with the perpetrators) and is continuing to do regarding the sexual abuse crisis is an evil act committed upon the victims themselves and upon the whole  body of the community called Church. More than simple penance and restitution is called for. The crisis will not go away until the Catholic faithful themselves remove the blinders, recognize the full extent of this destructive pathology, and call for a thorough reformation of the governing structure of the Church. Until such a thorough reformation is undertaken, and firm structures of accountability put in place, we will simply continue to have more victims and the body of the Church will remain in a state of putrefaction.


(Photos taken with a heartbreaking sense of tragic irony at Stara Boleslav, sight of Pope Benedict's recent Mass in the Czech Republic)

And the hierarchy's and Centrist Catholics' response:


William D. Lindsey said...

Jayden, thank you--not for linking to my posting, but for engaging it and taking it seriously. I often feel, as I discuss these issues, that no one wants to listen or talk about them, to take them seriously.

And that is a painful recognition, when they are issues that, for those dealing with the aftermath of childhood abuse by religious authority figures, strike right to the center of the soul.

The question before us is how those of us looking at all of these religious issues from the margins--women, people of the developing world, gays and lesbians, and so forth--can make our voices heard, when the center does all in its power to shut us out. We need some ways, based in wide solidarity across various marginalized groups, to speak and act together. Only then will those at the center begin to take what we have to say seriously.

I love your final illustration. You have a real gift for finding the--well, what's the phrase equivalent to "mot juste," when it comes to a photograph?

Thank you for all you do through your blog. I value your collaboration very much.

Jayden Cameron said...

I suspect you have many more listeners than you realize, Bill. I signed up for one of these one week trial subscriptions to a statistics counters - then canceled it within a week (way too much information) when I discovered that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had checked in to the blog for an hour after I posted the bit about Archbishop Burke and (shock, horror)The Vatican City State checked in for about an hour during the Pope's visit. While most visitors were anonymous, just the thought of some bureaucrat in the Vatican siting behind a computer checking all the Catholic blogs (mine because of my location obviously) was very unnerving. I thought at first, "Oh my god, I'm going to be sued. Then I thought, "Oh my god, I'm going to be excommunicated" - which would have been fun, since I've already excommunicated myself. Fun or not, I removed the counter off of my blog. No thanks. Your blog, on the other hand, is probably being checked every day!