March 19, 2010

Forgive And Forget?

On yesterday's Bilerico, Father Tony wrote an insightful editorial about the recent pedophilia scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church in South America, Ireland, and now Germany—which involves the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI. The entire subject is disturbing and Tony's view as a former Vatican insider is worth reading. I responded with the following lengthy comment:

Forgiveness is very complex. Having managed finally to forgive most of the people who have hurt me, I can attest to its power to release me from a stranglehold of resentment, anger or hurt. To forgive takes away the power of the act. It does not make me immune to future hurt, and because of that I cannot forget, I must not forget. I alone can protect my heart.

Having said that, I look at these men in power, and I see no repentance. I see corruption of power, which is what child abuse is all about. I know that we can forgive whether or not a person is repentant, and I have done so; but it is also where I fail.

I have not been able to forgive the man who molested me when I was a child. My experience was relatively benign compared to many I’ve heard. I cannot find it in my heart to forgive the man who made the sight of duct tape a trigger for someone [a friend] who will never recover from the horrific childhood that man inflicted. I cannot forgive the father of another friend who berated, beat and sexually abused a beautiful little boy who still exists terrified inside a man who finds no worth in himself. There are more stories with which I am intimate. These monsters are the only people on whom I wish revenge.

Obviously this has struck a nerve.

Forgiveness or its lack does not negate consequences. The priests who used their position of trust to gain power over children—whether those children were willing or not—must be held accountable in civil courts. The men who allowed them to continue to abuse must be held accountable in civil courts. The organization that protects itself must be held accountable.

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church believes that it is the church. They are wrong: the people they serve are the church. (And neither one is God; another post.) When the leaders understand and exemplify the concept of servant leadership, the church will have returned to its Christian roots. Physician, heal thyself.

6 comments:

Rox said...

Birdie, you are the most eloquent and well-spoken person I've never met. Your capacity to love and forgive is amazing to me.

Ur-spo said...

it is all such a mess; I am glad 'truth will out' remains so.

Jeff said...

I certainly lack Tony's insight and religious instruction, but I was also struck by the lack of remorse and the failure to accept responsibility.

Instead I saw a long history of all the wonderful things the Church has done for Ireland, as if that somehow offsets the horror of child rape, and a detached Pope speaking of his shock as if he were describing another earthquake, not a carefully secreted series of crimes perpetrated by his own subordinates. Deplorable.

Birdie said...

Jeff, Benedict closes the pastoral letter with "I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland." There it is: his goal is to save the church.

Blobby said...

Trust me, the church would like it to be "forgotten".

But they ask for forgiveness and yet have done really nothing to punish the offenders.

The Pope & Co. rally against same sex marriage, but are ok with (or at least look the other way) same-sex sodomy amongst their own.

They can rot in hell, which is what I truly believe will happen. Or at least hope so.

the hobbit said...

Preach, honey! Yes!

Horrible, horrible people who have done wrong, who have been found out, and who now want to (understandably for them) minimize damage.

It is my dream that the damage will be so maximized that the Vatican will be turned into the most gorgeous museum in the world and that Benedict, who seems to me like a seriously conflicted, closeted man, gets "fired" by God.

This whole world needs to *repent* of its treatment of women, children, the helpless and disenfranchised. It is silly to except Hitler Youth Ex Cathedra to have led the way.

Indeed, they have apologized, but where has been the sincerity, the profound humility of a consciousness enlightened to wrongdoing and honest struggle to reconciliation been seen? Dare we ever hope?