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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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Joseph Calasanz: 
		<p>From Aragon, where he was born in 1556, to Rome, where he died 92 years later, fortune alternately smiled and frowned on the work of Joseph Calasanz. A priest with university training in canon law and theology, respected for his wisdom and administrative expertise, he put aside his career because he was deeply concerned with the need for education of poor children.</p>
		<p>When he was unable to get other institutes to undertake this apostolate at Rome, he and several companions personally provided a free school for deprived children. So overwhelming was the response that there was a constant need for larger facilities to house their effort. Soon Pope Clement VIII gave support to the school, and this aid continued under Pope Paul V. Other schools were opened; other men were attracted to the work and in 1621 the community (for so the teachers lived) was recognized as a religious community, the Clerks Regular of Religious Schools (Piarists or Scolopi). Not long after, Joseph was appointed superior for life.</p>
		<p>A combination of various prejudices and political ambition and maneuvering caused the institute much turmoil. Some did not favor educating the poor, for education would leave the poor dissatisfied with their lowly tasks for society! Others were shocked that some of the Piarists were sent for instruction to Galileo (a friend of Joseph) as superior, thus dividing the members into opposite camps. Repeatedly investigated by papal commissions, Joseph was demoted; when the struggle within the institute persisted, the Piarists were suppressed. Only after Joseph’s death were they formally recognized as a religious community.</p>
American Catholic Blog The Church’s motherhood is a spiritual reality that profoundly affects the lives of believers. In fact, the famous convert to Catholicism Cardinal John Henry Newman once said that it was through his reading and encounter with the Church of the Fathers that “I found my spiritual Mother.”

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