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.
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: