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opinion/commentary View Comments

Make Things Right!
By Susan Hines-Brigger
Source: American Catholic blog
Published: Friday, March 25, 2011
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I work really hard to keep my Irish temper in check, really I do. But there are some things that just make that really hard sometimes. This is one of them.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I have spent every month for 9 years covering the fallout of the clergy sex-abuse crisis for St. Anthony Messengermagazine. I have covered it faithfully and honestly as a reporter, because that’s what good journalists do. Just the facts, right?

But for right now I’m done being a journalist. I’m writing this as a mom and as a Catholic. I am hurt. I am angry. No, make that furious. And I am fed up.

In an attempt to get the whole story, I made the mistake of reading the grand jury report from Philadelphia. What I read made me physically sick and made me think things for which I’m absolutely certain I have to go to Confession.

In 2003, a grand jury released a report chronicling sexual abuse by clergy. It was unable, however, to press any charges becuase of the statute of limitations. Now in 2011, in the overview section of the latest report, are the haunting words, "much has not changed."

The things allegedly done to children, according to the report, are unfathomable. Children--you know the ones about whom Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Is this how we treat them?

Obviously, something’s amiss if nine years out these stories are still capturing the headlines. Nine years!

Make Things Right

I’ve heard all the apologies, but as I constantly remind my kids, “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do something to try make things right. I know, I know, the Church has instituted changes like the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. For that they should be commended.

But did you know that the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, refuses to take part in the yearly national audits of how dioceses are implementing child protection programs? And we're O.K. with that? Do you know if your diocese was found to be compliant? Have you checked? Do you care? You should.

Did you know that Cardinal Bernard Law, who stepped down in 2002 for his handling of the sex-abuse debacle in the Boston Archdiocese, simply relocated to Rome where he currently serves as archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica? That's acceptable?

The conclusion of the Philadelphia Grand Jury report states:
“In light of the Archdiocese’s reaction to the last grand jury report, we expect that some may accuse us of anti-Catholic bias for speaking of these painful matters. We are not church-haters. Many of us are church-goers. We did not come looking for “scandal,” but we cannot close our eyes to the powerful evidence we heard. We call the church to task, to fix what needs fixing.”


This mom wholeheartedly affirms that call, and I have four very good reasons why. Their names are Maddie, Alex, Riley and Kacey. They are Catholic, they are my kids and the Church owes it to them.


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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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