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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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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog When we go through pain it is easy to feel abandoned or forgotten, but suffering doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us, He does. Even Jesus suffered, and He was completely without sin.

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