THE BELLS ARE RINGING — IN ROME, DUBLIN, PHILADELPHIA, BOSTON AND
BRUSSELS……AND RIGHT HERE IN RIVER CITY
IT’S THE CATHOLIC HOUR
AND TODAY’S PROBLEM
AND YESTERDAY’S PROBLEM
AND LAST YEAR’S PROBLEM IS THE SIN OF ABSOLUTE AND ABUSIVE POWER.
Catholic institutional sin, like cancer, starts small; but it grows and flourishes as it penetrates and generates supportive networks. Destructive little devils, they invade the
body and then disrupt and destroy. Today’s – and yesterday’s — Roman Catholic sin is ABUSIVE POWER.
Part of this sin-laden condition comes from our human situation….what we call original sin. The specifically Roman Catholic institutional sin of abusive power, however, is something our institutional leaders picked up early the life of our church. An inheritance from Imperial Rome.
Over the centuries, popes and bishops and some “lower clergy” have enjoyed and glorified power, and self-righteously glorified themselves as holders of power.
Abusive Power — THE Roman Catholic institutional sin — reinforces power-brokers at every level in the church: from the Vatican on high to the aberrant rectory resident on the other side of town.
Abusive power rapes little boys and girls, promotes arrogant bullying, justifies bishops who lie publicly and privately, and it flourishes in an institutional climate of secrecy and deception. Abusive power creates qualitative classes of people: superior people who control inferior people. The inferiors — women, gays, the children of gays, the divorced and
separated, for example — must of course be controlled and put down. They raise uncomfortable thoughts and ask uncomfortable questions. They challenge and threaten the self-serving world of the power-holders.
Where there is sin, there must follow confession and repentance.
Where there is confession and repentance, there must be conversion, penitential reform and rebuilding of the institution – at all levels.
This indeed is our contemporary Roman Catholic challenge.
A MEDITATION ABOUT CURRENT EVENTS
A CONTEMPORARY ROMAN CATHOLIC CASE STUDY
THE SITUATION IN CLOYNE……
Bishop John Magee: Case Study — Catholic Power Abuse
This summer in Ireland, on 13 July, the Cloyne Report was issued. The Cloyne Report scrutinizes how both the Catholic Church and Irish State authorities handled allegations of sexual abuse against 19 priests and the local bishop and vicar general in the County Cork Diocese of Cloyne.
The Irish Voice of the Faithful responded immediately to the report by asking: “How can Catholics ever trust these lying bishops again?” It’s a good question. It painfully goes to the heart of our contemporary Catholic malaise.
The Cloyne Report confirms that Bishop John Magee, former Bishop of Cloyne (who resigned his episcopal seat on 24 March 2010) lied to survivors and lied to the Irish National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. Bishop Magee also lied to public authorities investigating child safety in his diocese and he lied to his people. The Bishop of Cloyne deliberately misled another inquiry, and his own advisors, by creating two different accounts of a meeting with a priest-suspect: one for the Vatican and another for diocesan files.
John Magee has a colorful Vatican history. In 1969 he was appointed secretary to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome, and was chosen by Pope Paul VI to be one of his private secretaries. On Pope Paul’s death, he remained in service as a private secretary to his successor, Pope John Paul I, and also to Pope John Paul II. As private secretary to three Popes, Magee is the only man to hold such a position in Vatican history
The former Bishop of Cloyne relied on his vicar general, Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan, to handle virtually all aspects of sexual abuse of children by priests in his diocese. The vicar general considered the national guidelines promulgated by the Church and State in Ireland to be misguided, and he substituted his own poorly documented and ad hoc procedures in their place.
As a result of the actions of Magee and O’Callaghan, and others who colluded with them, sexual abuse perpetrators have gone unprosecuted, victims have gone unsupported; and the people have been left bewildered and angry.
The actions of the former Bishop of Cloyne and his collaborators between 1996 and 2009 are an outrage. Bishop John Magee and Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan acted only to protect what they saw as the interests of the Church.
These men acted as they did because they belong to a power structure that does not value transparency and accountability. They thought they knew better than everyone else what was in the interests of the Church in Cloyne. There was no one who was in a position to contradict them.
Absolute power and absolute abuse. The contemporary Catholic problem…….
THE UPSIDE-DOWN PYRAMID
Jesus called His disciples said to them, “You know, those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them. Their great ones exercise authority over them. Nevertheless — it shall not be so among you.
“Whoever desires to become great among you must become your servant. Whoever desires to be first namong you must be the slave of all. Not even the Son of Man came to be served. He came to serve. To give his life for others.”