“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”― C.S. Lewis
Years ago, I was in a group of typical evangelical women. The topic of Catholic clergy abuse came up. The women, in typical fashion, said something to the effect of “They abuse children because they can’t get married.” I couldn’t contain myself. I said, to their shock, ” A normal priest, who wants to break his vows, doesn’t say “Gee, I want to have sex. I need to find myself a 5-year-old child. He finds himself a consenting adult” I then explained that the priests who abuse children are pedophiles, just like the married pastor/preachers of the Protestant type who abuse children. They huffed and puffed, seemingly refusing to believe that their favorite pastors would participate in such activities.
My friend, Eric Bonetti runs Anglican Watch and you can read about him here. I was impressed with his interview with Fr Mark. Today, there was much going on behind the scenes with Julie’s story, as well as ACBC, who posted a disturbing article on schizophrenia. I will be discussing this soon. I may have some news on Julie in the near future. So, I’m punting this evening and featuring Eric’s interview.
I start his interview and then link you to the post on Anglican Watch so you can see what is going on over there.
Eric.: We recently had the opportunity to interview Fr. Mark White, the Catholic priest who has been suspended from parish ministry due to his criticism of the church’s handling of sexual abuse. Here are our questions and his responses. We believe his thoughts are important to all who are concerned about abuse in the church, both sexual and non-sexual, and hope that persons of conscience can provide him with support and encouragement during this difficult time. His excellent blog is here.
- My understanding is that the Vatican has essentially taken a pass on your complaint. Where does this leave you? How do you spend your days? And what are your next steps?
Yes, it appears that the Vatican will let Bishop Knestout’s decisions stand. This leaves me suspended from public ministry indefinitely, for no good reason. I continue to celebrate Mass and the Divine Office, with the good Lord and the denizens of heaven for company.
Since it appears that this strange situation will likely stretch on, I have been busy lately trying to set up a long-term place to live. Once I get that settled, I will return to writing daily, which seems to be the ministry that divine Providence is giving me at this point.
- The public has read your story with interest. From your perspective, what is the biggest issue in your dispute with the church?
I think there are two inseparable issues involved in my case. One, honest accountability regarding sex-abuse cover-ups. Two, freedom of speech regarding Topic 1.
- Is the larger issue perhaps with power, and how it is used in the church, versus the still appalling issues with sexual abuse?I think that sex abuse by clergy, especially bishops, and episcopal abuse of power are two sides of the same evil coin. According to my limited understanding of it, clergy sex-abuse does damage, above all, by abusing the sublime power of the sacerdotal office. The abuse wounds the victim’s most-important relationship—with God. The wound comes not solely, or even primarily, through the physical violation of the body, but by the manipulation—and crushing distortion—of the victim’s interior religion. Clerical abuse of power—even when no sex is involved—does the same damage, in the same deep region of the soul.
- How do you respond to those who say you should have just stayed quiet and let things sort themselves out?
I have lived through enough cycles of the recurring Catholic sex-abuse scandal to know that the problem will never “sort itself out.” Rule by self-interested Mafiosi never ends on its own. People who want a better kind of society have to take risks, make powerful enemies, and seek the truth no matter what it costs. The Catholic Church, considered as a human society, is a community ruled by self-interested Mafiosi, at this point in time.