At age five, 1954, "the Bishop" (Chicago's Cardinal Stritch) stood over me and said, I had to "stop babbling" about what the priest did to me. It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Today, I babble.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

By Tom Economus, an editorial from 11 years ago, but it could have been written today

(We are running this Winter 1998 editorial from the Linkup quarterly newsletter here at City of Angels, so we can all reflect on how little things have changed in eleven years, and that maybe doing the same thing over and over again is not making much difference. Also to revisit eloquent writings of Tom Economus, a founder of the pedophile priest survivor movement, whose premature death truly set all of us back. Read on.)

Papal Embargo Against Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse: I would like to have started 1998 with a positive column on the healing of victims-survivors and how individuals are beginning to reclaim their lives and move forward. And then the Pope touched down in Cuba and embraced Fidel Castro.

As I watched in total dismay the Holy Father hugging Castro and his genocidal regime and begin his five-day campaign for human rights and dignity, I could not help but think about the thousands of children who have been sexually molested around the world by his priests. Nor could I ignore the embargo that has been initiated by the Vatican against victims in the Roman Catholic Church who seek the same social justice, human dignity that the Pope so eloquently spoke of on behalf of the Cuban people.

(And there was Nancy Pelosi kissing the Pope yesterday in the news.)

Once again we see this Pope, this religious leader of hundreds of millions of Catholics, embracing a dictator who is responsible for the pain and suffering of thousands upon thousands of his own people and the direct cause of human genocide. The same Pope, who in the past has embraced other such dictators and regimes, yet he has never embraced a victim or survivor of sexual abuse by his own priests.

(UPDATE: Since April 2008, the Pope has spoken personally to the four[?] who got what was it, 20 minutes of face time, during his tour through the USA.)

John Paul is famous for his fervent style in condemning abortionists and those who impede human rights. He passionately urges his bishops to expand the dialog process, demanding greater liberty while defending church teachings and embracing all who suffer. Except, that is, for the children who have suffered at the hands of his clergy.

He speaks out against communism, war, euthanasia. domestic violence, political imbalance, capital punishment but also against dissenting theologians and women as priests. He has intervened on behalf of a convicted murderess asking for clemency while appointing Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionnaires of Christ, to a special diplomatic position in Rome to the bishops and then praised him as an "efficacious guide to youth." This in the face of allegations of sexual abuse brought by nine men from Spain, Mexico and the US.

Deja Vu all over again.

This is a Pope who created World Youth Day, hugs and blesses children from all walks of life, sends out encyclicals on how we should conduct our lives and live a moral existence. He has become the self-proclaimed champion of the underprivileged and those less fortunate but remains silent on the issue of children victimized by his own regime.

Victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse and the global clergy abuse crisis have never been fully addressed by this Pope or Vatican officials. The only time time the Pope has spoken on the issue of clergy sexual abuse was in Denver in 1993 while attending World Youth Day.

He claimed at that time that the present lack of family values and morality of and by the American people had contributed, if not created the opportunity, for priests to make mistakes. A few weeks later, the Vatican released the statement that clergy sexual abuse was an American and Canadian problem only.

In August this past year, the Pope did speak out against child prostitution in Asia and the Philippines, blaming their governments, big business and poverty as the culprits. And he even called upon his priests in Belgium to take control of the child sexual abuse crisis there, when high-ranking officials were indicted.

As a result of the Pope and the Vatican's inaction and lack of moral leadership on this issue, American bishops have failed as well. Over 3,000 clergy have some form of sexual allegation against them, and yet we continue to wait for this church to step up and take responsibility.

It is clear that the current thought process in Rome suffers from the same belief the North American bishops once held that if they ignore it, the victims and the crisis will go away.

However, that has not happened.

If I had an opportunity to talk with the Holy Father, I would simply ask him: Have you ever looked into the angelic faces of the children abused by your priests and seen their pain? When you take a stand against human genocide, do you equate those atrocities with the damage done to children by your silence on this issue?

Is the murdering of innocent souls, souls that have been entrusted to your church and the scandal and the cover-up by your bishops, any different than the behavior of the dictators that you have so compassionately embraced? Is it easier to hug a murderer than a hurting child?

Is the guilt less felt when one speaks out against other regimes and faults not one's own? And finally, when will victims of sexual abuse by your priests, religious brothers and nuns be embraced by your church on the same Vatican steps as Castro was?

— Missing Link, Winter 1998

Tom Economus would have been 53 years old on the last day of February. . .



Anonymous said...

"Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope, do you think he's a fool?"___Black Sabbath

To answer that question, I don't believe in capitol punishment. Having said that, I wouldn't mind seeing the pope doing life in Folsom.

The pope has got to be the biggest hypocrite on planet Earth. He not only gives a pass to child molesters, he employs them and he pays for their legal defense by allowing bishops to retain the most expensive lawyers in the country.

The pope is responsible for massive suffering. As the leader of the RCC he could begin to stop it all tomorrow if he chose to do so, but he doesn't. As it is, the pope is quite content to continue to allow dioceses across America to spend millions to fight victims.

This makes the pope one evil man. Why is he allowed to get away with this? There has to be a reason. One wonders if it might not have something to do with the rite of confession. They don't have that ritual because they really care about your soul, I promise you that.

Anonymous said...

I got to meet tom a long time ago, my mother in law(ex) Holly was his secretary or whatever during that time I never got the whole story, she got some kind of settlement nondisclosure deal and that was that. Before that maybe a month or so before that I can't be sure i met tom who happened to live a few doors down on balmoral from another woman who led a survivors movement of her own ALANON. Amazing in my life i would be so blessed to have these wonderfully passionate people influence me; tom with his vision and marie with hers. Their legacy lives on in the memory and struggle as their voices reach out to inspire and motivate!