Fuck the Catholic Church. And Catholics.

I’m sorry, was that offensive?
Please…

I just finished watching Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.

It reminded me of another documentary in the same vein I saw a few years ago, Deliver Us From Evil. (You can stream the film here.)

The subject matter of these films is offensive.

It is unfathomable, incomprehensible, and unforgivable to me, to have any connection to or association with the Catholic Church. The amount of information that is available today about the systematic and systemic abuse, cover-up, lack of responsibility and accountability that the church has taken for decades, that extends from the individual churches right up and through the very top of the Vatican, is mind boggling and infuriating. The actions, or in-actions, of the church, as well as the moving of abusive priests instead of the removing of abusive priests and turning them over to the proper authorities, is as reprehensible as the raping, molesting, sodomizing acts of priests themselves.

These are accusations that come not only from the victims, the police, the courts, but by those inside church itself. It is not only the victims who are horrified by the church, but by people inside the church.

Richard Sipe, mental health counselor and former Benedictine monk of 18 years who worked within the church as a  clerical sex therapist and mental health counselor, makes a powerful statement in Mea Maxima Culpa:

The system of the Catholic clergy, for which I have great respect and to which I have give many years of my life, selects, cultivates, protects, defends, and produces, sexual abusers.

This isn’t someone on the outside lobbing shots at the church. This is from one of their own, with intimate knowledge of what takes place.

If you are a person of the Catholic faith, I ask, I dare you, to try and watch these documentaries and defend your position or allegiance. How anyone can continue to support an institution that has engaged in all this? I think any justification is such a deep denial of the victims and what they endured. Not in your parish? Not your priest? Not your children? What do you think the parents of the thousands abused thought? What is the rationale of continuing to support the institution either financially, through paying school tuition or when the basket is passed during service, or in practice by attending church? How do you defend your choice? Years ago someone may of been able to write it off as a “bad apple” here or there. But what the reports and lawsuits over the past 10 years have shown is that it was a pervasive and endemic issue. And one that shows various popes were not insulated and had knowledge of what was taking place.

In fact, it is right here in Philadelphia that the church’s “Secret Archive files” are housed.

The files prove what many have long suspected: that officials in the upper echelons of the church not only tolerated the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests but conspired to hide the crimes and silence the victims.

One of the things I find to be most bewildering is that those who defend the church, or their commitment to it, suggest the widespread and rampant accusations are not founded. It is not merely a case of he said/ she said. It is well documented.

A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States, commissioned by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reported there were approximately 10,667 reported victims (younger than 18 years) of clergy sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002:

  • Around 81% of these victims were male.
  • Female victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests tended to be younger than the males. Data analyzed by John Jay researchers, shows that the number and proportion of sexual misconduct directed at girls under 8 years old was higher than that experienced by boys the same age.
  • 22.6% were age 10 or younger, 51% were between the ages of 11 and 14, and 27% were between the ages to 15 to 17 years.
  • A substantial number (almost 2000) of very young children were victimized by priests during this time period.
  • 9,281 victim surveys had information about an investigation. In 6,696 (72%) cases, an investigation of the allegation was carried out. Of these, 4,570 (80%) were substantiated; 1,028 (18%) were unsubstantiated; 83 (1.5%) were found to be false. In 56 cases, priests were reported to deny the allegations.
  • More than 10 percent of these allegations were characterized as not substantiated because diocese or order could not determine whether the alleged abuse actually took place.
  • For approximately 20 percent of the allegations, the priest was deceased or inactive at the time of the receipt of the allegation and typically no investigation was conducted in these circumstances.
  • In 38.4% of allegations, the abuse is alleged to have occurred within a single year, in 21.8% the alleged abuse lasted more than a year but less than 2 years, in 28% between 2 and 4 years, in 10.2% between 5 and 9 years and, in under 1%, 10 or more years.

It’s worthy to point out that’s 10, 667 reported victims in the survey. I wonder what percentage that is of all those abused.

(One thing I wanted to mention is that besides the two documentaries at the beginning of the post, I make no reference or link to any news media reports. It is too easy for someone to try and hide behind the defense of “media portrayal,” or claims of an “agenda.” So instead, the link above brings you to a collection of the findings of various attorneys generals, grand juries, individuals, commissions, and organizations. Including the church itself.)

One of the things I try to do is not take things at face value, and to look into and read people and positions that contradict and are opposite from my point of view. Obviously with such a controversial subject and topic as these, there are a wealth of defendants of the church with oppositional viewpoints.

Sex, Lies, and HBO Documentaries takes on the film. A few points.

While the film certainly recounts the victims’ episode with Milwaukee police, the film ultimately gives law enforcement a pass, even though an arrest and conviction of the abusive priest would have halted his crimes against children immediately.

So… It’s law enforcement’s fault? Not Father Murphy or the school, which had previously been made aware? (Joe Paterno/ Penn State anyone?)

 

However, a review of events suggests something entirely different: a swift and firm response by the archdiocese to the wretched stories of abuse by Murphy. The contentious meeting with victims took place on May 4, 1974; the May 18 issue of the archdiocesan newspaper was already reporting that Cousins had relieved Murphy “of all teaching and pastoral duties as they relate to the students” at St. John’s. And by September, Murphy was gone from St. John’s completely.

Why did it take so long to believe the victims to begin with? And if Father Murphy was finally removed for this, why were the police not informed by the school?

 

The archdiocese gave Murphy no formal assignments, although it appears that Murphy assisted in some capacity at some local area parishes, which violated the restrictions that the Church had placed on him.

Mea Maxima Culpa argues, nevertheless, that the Church could have done more to punish the abusive priest. Specifically, the film laments the fact that the Catholic Church never formally laicized [defrocked] Father Murphy.

However, the film ignores a very important aspect of the act of laicization. Had the Church laicized the abusive priest back in 1974, or even earlier, it would no longer have had any control over Murphy’s life activities whatsoever. With the police already having decided not to pursue criminal charges, Murphy would have been as free as any regular citizen to go and work wherever he pleased. The man would have been free to prey indefinitely on unsuspecting, innocent boys.

So the idea is that by not defrocking Murphy, they were able to keep an eye on him, while they admit that he violated the restrictions? That seems a little contradictory, while also reeking of self-serving justification.

 

But contrary to claims in the media and in the film that the Church was indifferent to the plight of victims, Brundage reports that the archdiocese “pushed hard” to punish Murphy and that they had done “everything within Canon Law” to sanction the abusive priest. Unfortunately, Murphy’s passing in 1998 meant that he “escaped [laicization] by death.”

So if everything within Canon Law, doesn’t that beg the question of what is wrong with, “the body of laws and regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority (Church leadership), for the government of the Christian organization and its members?” And if he was removed from the school in 1974 as mentioned above, and died 24 years later in 1998, how exactly did he “escape [laicization] by death?”

The piece also goes on to attack others who appear in the film, including “dissident priest Tom Doyle, former monks Patrick Wall and Richard Sipe…” It neglects to acknowledge that Wall and Sipe would therefore have a unique perspective and insight into the church. If someone without first-hand knowledge or experience of the church makes a statement, they are cast off as someone who wouldn’t know. If they were a part of, but no longer are, they are dismissed as no longer being associated with. However if they are still a part of the church, as Doyle is, they are portrayed as a “dissident.”  A list of some of  Doyle’s “transgressions” are listed on the conservative website TheMediaReport.com. (Interestingly, the author of the “Sex, Lies and HBO Documentaries” article is a writer for TheMediaReport.com.) Essentially, when someone on the inside dares question or disagree with the establishment, someone who thinks independently, you are labeled as a dissident. Despite five master’s degrees, including one in Canon Law.

That was just one of the rebuttals I read. If anyone has any others they would like to suggest, I am open to reading those as well.

So my challenge to those of the Catholic faith: can you refute what has come out? Can you provide factual documentation that disproves what is now well documented and widely accepted? Not that it took place, but to the degree it took place and the church’s complicit role in letting it happen and continue to occur?

Here is the gauntlet I throw down. Watch these documentaries. I am a fast reader and have time to watch movies. So give me books or movies that provide documentation that refute the evidence that is put forth and what is claimed in these films, then we can talk. It is silly to debate without educating or informing yourself about the opposing view. I am willing to do that. Are you?

So yeah, some of my friends, and families are Catholic.
They might be upset for this post. I’m upset at their continued allegiance to such a horrific and monstrous institution. If you are ok with your implied or implicit endorsement of an institution that creates, and covers up rape, molestation, sodomy and sexual abuse of children, I am ok with offending you.

So in case there is any confusion:
Fuck you.