Monday, August 20, 2012

Parallel Purposes

There has been much improvement in Orthodoxy with respect to sex abuse. But until victims are seen the way an Archbishop in Ireland sees them, things will not change to where they should be.

Yesterday there was a rerun of a 60 Minutes episode that featured an interview conducted by Bob Simon. The man interviewed was the Archbishop of Dublin. This is a stand up guy! He has blown the whistle on abuse in the Catholic Church. Here is how the episode opened:  
Diarmuid Martin has provided tens of thousands of pages of evidence against specific priests, and his words and actions carry extraordinary weight. That's because Diarmuid Martin is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. 
The way descriptions of how the church has handled abuse in the past made me think of the parallel situation in our world. Examples: 
There's overwhelming evidence that the Church hierarchy was not only aware of the sexual abuse, but did little about it....  (W)e were surprised that there was so much cover-up. You know? So much hidden. So much children, so many abused. You know what I mean? To me and I would say maybe to the parish there was too much cover-up and that was a pity.
Simon: Why was there this cover-up?
Polly: They cover it up because the priests were supposed to be perfect. They had an image of what they should be and they kept to that image rather than the reality...
Patsy McGarry is the religious affairs correspondent for the Irish Times. He says other high-ranking figures in the church have been directly tied to the cover-up.
[Cardinal Sean Brady: We must admit that grave errors of judgment were made.]Including Archbishop Martin's superior, Cardinal Sean Brady. When he was a young priest, Brady interviewed two teenagers who'd been abused by a priest. Twenty years later, when one of them sued the Church, it was revealed that Brady had ordered him to remain silent.
McGarry: He met those young people, he believed those young people, he swore them to secrecy as part of the canon law investigation process. He never informed the police, he never informed the health authorities. He informed nobody in civil society. 
These excerpts sound awfully familiar - almost identical to what we’ve become used to hearing in our own community. If one were to substitute rabbi for priest and rabbinic leadership for church hierarchy one could have written a very similar story.

Why is this Catholic Priest so outspoken? The following part of the interview in which Archbishop Martin tears should explain it:
Simon: When an abused child comes to you, archbishop, what do you say to him or to her?
Martin: I usually meet them when they're many, many years later. That's when they come forward. What I try to do is imagine what they looked like when they were a child.One man told him he had been assaulted when he was only 8 years old.
Martin: Basically he had been raped, you know, and he'd been raped in a sort of chapel, which makes it even more, more, heinous.
Simon: Can you reveal what you said to him?
Martin: I don't say much. I listen.
The archbishop was so traumatized by this man's story that when he visited a school the next day, he asked to see children the same age as that child raped in that chapel.
Martin: And the teacher said, "Where would you like-- would you like to see some of the classes?" And I said that, "Okay, I'd begin-- I'd like to see 8-year-olds." And he must have thought I was crazy. But if you went in on the day of the opening of a new school, where you know, when the archbishop and the minister are coming, and the 8-year-olds are all dressed up and with their hair combed and so on. It's devastating.
Simon: You couldn't imagine it?
Martin: It's just, you know, what do you say? You know, you just see-- you see the-- you know, you see that-- you know, to-- it was just somebody like that that was-- I mean, a grown man is one thing. But when you actually see a child, you need to do that.
When will someone in the hierarchy of Orthodoxy with the clout to change things do the same?