I learned that the clergy was full of liars in 1994.
We had a pedophile priest in our parish. His name was Ted Llanos and in 1994 he was accused of sexual abuse of a minor by a person connected to my family in such a way that we knew the accusations were true.
Two days later, I sat at a meeting in our parish hall, facilitated by Monsignor Timothy J. Dyer from the Los Angeles Archdiocese. When he was specifically asked the question “Has this happened before?” he said no.
My dad leaned over to my mom and said “He’s lying.”
It would be two years and dozens of victims coming forward from parish after parish before the lie could no longer be sustained.
Over the next ten years, the American Catholic Church instituted diocesan child protection plans that are too stupid to be believed. Background checks for the parent volunteers? Yes. Gnarly video with lay pedophiles who went to prison (making them different from their clergy brother pedophiles)? Yes again. Parents voicing their guilt and shame that their children were abused by priests? Trifecta.
Victim blaming because God forbid the church take the full and complete blame for any sin it has ever perpetrated in its 2000 year history.
In The Archdiocese of Portland, there have only been two incidents of alleged abuse since the institution of these programs. But that has everything to do with awareness and nothing to do with the clergy.
Now Pennsylvania proves to us that the clergy have not repented. The last 16 years have been a tap dance for the public. The church still keeps secret files. The church still pays lawyers to defend statutes of limitations. The church still lies—Vigano, I’m looking at you—to protect the priests over the children.
Enough already. And not like 16 years ago when all the words were right but the intentions were not. For reals this time. Real shame. Real accountability. Real penance. And until the clergy walk this road to Calvary of their own making, the rest of us HAVE TO STOP RECOGNBIZING THEIR AUTHORITY.
Yes, we need the man in the collar to make the Eucharist. It is his ordained spiritual gift. But we are all ordained through our sacramental vocations. He is different from a husband or a single man. But the idea that he is better is how we got here.
My pray-pay-obey sisters and brothers, listen up. You are a huge part of this problem. I know you live in the penance-punishment construct because you like to believe you are dirt on the bottom of God’s shoe, but here’s the thing: that’s NOT Gospel. And when you preach it and practice it—mostly against others, don’t think we haven’t noticed—your mental/emotional illness is showing. You have to cut it out because God really does loves you AND IT MAKES YOU COMPLICIT IN THE SEX ABUSE.
Yes, it does. Your sadistic Christianity requires an authoritarian regime and the wily and ambitious among the clergy were happy to volunteer. You gave them absolute power and we all know what Lord Acton said about that.
They are a brood of vipers but you are tending and defending their nest and that has got to stop. Same with Church Militant, FOCUS, Conservative Catholic America, EWTN and so on. They actively support clericalism and THEY ARE COMPLICIT AS WELL. Stop sending them money. Stop tuning in. Read your dang New Testament once in while in between sacrifice beads and daily fasting. Repeat after me: The children are more important than my addiction to feeling like a bad person all the time.
Here are the other things that need to happen:
- The church should work actively to reform the selection, formation and ordination of the clergy. The system is broke. Fix it already. Stop ordaining the mentally and emotionally ill.
- The church has to root out clericalism. Like, yesterday. Offer a stark choice: Accept your humanity with humility or turn in your collar.
- John Paul II—he knew. He called the accusers “enemies of the church”. He is complicit and should be stripped of his sainthood.
- Pope Benedict—he knew. He needs to say he knew and repent. He was the man in charge of investigating abuse cases and for the twenty years prior to his elevation as Pope, he opened not one investigation. He is complicit.
- OPEN THE FILES because the truth will set us free.
Which brings me to my point: Why do I stay?
The answer is simple: I have walked away from God and my faith, and that’s a fastpass to no good. I have been to other churches and while the people there are lovely, they are not my faith tribe.
The people kneeling next to me celebrating Eucharist are my faith tribe.
This is my beloved church. I will write, fight and pray.
But I will not cede it to the vipers.