Sunday, January 22, 2006

Finally, my post on the SNAP Crowd

On October 13, 2005, I posted the first in my irregular and ongoing periodic rant series about the duplicity of the clergy abuse plaintiff's bar, specifically mentioning Kansas City attorney Becky Randles. To regular readers, my take on the whole mess is not news: whatever horrible things the shepherds have done, and whatever justice might be their due, there's no justification for ravishing the flock because of it. That's exactly what's happening as contingent-fee personal injury lawyers line up, claiming to "pursue justice and healing" for their victims by pocketing assets held in trust by the bishops, not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the whole church. This is going on all around the country--probably in YOUR diocese, unless you live someplace like Lincoln--but of course, it's most evident in Spokane and Portland, where the foolish bishops there elected to file bankruptcy proceedings and voluntarily subject the temporal goods of Holy Mother Church to the ravages of the out-of-control secular federal court system and the anti-Catholic judges that populate it.

It's pretty clear when you think about it, instead of just "feel" about it, as the media would have us do. Justice may be served by the economic ruin of the individual priests and bishops who were diddling, or knowingly permitting the diddling of, teenage boys (or in the unusual case, prepubescent boys and girls), but it's a further injustice for the victim and his lawyer to direct such ruination against the whole Church, and to try to take for their own personal benefit the patrimony that our grandparents, parents, and we have given for the use and benefit of our parishes and the whole Church--not to Bishop Bigshot or Father Giggles--but to the whole church. While, to begin with, a victim of those reprehensible perverts and their facilitators has my utter sympathy (as such victim has also suffered physically and emotionally what we've all suffered spiritually under such men), that sympathy evaporates moment the victim, or his lawyer, claims a right to a payout, not from the men who did the wrong or tolerated it, but from innocents, many of whom suffered alongside. In an instant (or however long it takes to send a demand letter or write a court petition), the victim becomes just another enemy of the Church and her faithful.

Well, anyways, beginning on December 16, somebody from the enemy camp actually noticed my October 13 post. I was contacted, by email, by some guy claiming to be the local SNAP leader. He went on about the horrors of abuse (a given, and a serious thing of course, but not relevant to the narrow point of my post) and he described Ms. Randles as an "angel." The substantive paragraph of the email was as follows:

I spent years trying to find an attorney who would Handel these cases . She has spent uncounted hours and personal time when she could have devoted it to profitable cases ,yet she has made little or no money on any sex abuse victims.For you to consider her as a money hungry attorney is a travesty, she is an angel sent from god to help over come a hierarchy and help helpless people find some kind of justice. You should wake up to what real Christian values are.
My email response was that the horrible nature of what happened to a victim isn't at issue here--it's granted, but the real question now is "who should pay?" Then I made the point that the property they were trying to take from the church came, not from the bishop or his pederast priests, but from real and innocent people, and taking that property away from the people in the pews who suffered alongside them wasn't just, and that Christian values didn't include dispossessing the innocent of their property in such a manner.

Then it got even more interesting. Some woman from Lenexa who runs her own little mail list crusade sending clergy abuse clippings around the country (I've apparently been added to that mail list, and I get a dozen of them in a typical week) sent me an email damning me for not having my real name, address, and telephone number on my post (and then she gave me her name, address and telephone number, as if I wanted to go have coffee with her or something!). Here are a couple of excerpts:

I have often wondered why the fine Knights of Columbus have not come to the aid of survivors. I have often wondered why the sheeple close their eyes and ears to the horrors that have been inflicted by your "church" for centuries. I would love to meet with you because I am interested in your convoluted thinking: how do you justify rape as a 'good' thing? Do you sleep nights, or do you stay up all night fighting windmills?


You appear to be a member of the Corporate Roman Catholic Church, yet, you have absolutely no concept of the message brought by Christ. You are a coward.

My reaction? Um, yeah. I don't think you're building credibility, ma'am, by broadening this from the present scandal to the gratuitous "horrors over the centuries." Like I suggested of that clueless law professor, Marci Hamilton, you appear to be getting too much of your information from Dan Brown novels. And I don't suppose I have to explain why I think "rape is a good thing" until some point after I make such an assertion. No ma'am, you are right that I don't sleep much at night. I ought to give up blogging and give up breeding, too. This little hobby, and my newborn, do make it hard to sleep. I hate to disappoint you, though, because as a traditionalist, I'm shunted far, far to the margins of the "Corporate Roman Catholic Church." The Corporate Roman Catholic Church, such as it is or may be, has been run in this country these last decades by the various spiritual successors of Cardinal Bernardin--the great liberalizers that are trying to make the Church precisely the progressive vehicle you think it should be, and you have those men to thank for the current situation, not traditional lay work-a-day Catholics like me. As for your allusion to the message taught by Christ, I will point out that he drove the money changers out of the temple, which may have some bearing on this topic, and he didn't think much of the Pharisees as a body (i.e., the lawyers). As for my cowardice, I'd rather think myself prudent, or even sly, rather than cowardly. Remaining anonymous lets me get far, far closer to the enemy than I otherwise would. Heh, heh, heh.

Well, I answer her, in so many words, along the general lines above. So then, the Lenexa crusader circulates my post among her fellow enemies of the Church, and I get this from someone else [names and specific locations redacted, as these people aren't "public figures" in my book]:

Dear _______ and the person to whom your letter is directed (curmudgeon)..
I have to say that i have never felt prouder to know you (_________) than i am right now. Confronting Catholics who are delusional is something that mirrors what christ did in his day to the religious authorities and political authorities he called hypocrits and a brood of vipers..
Mr or Ms curmudgeon.. is a pathetic example of the slime of the catholic church.. the insane thinking of them and their refusal to accept responsibility and accountability for the crimes against humanity and the planet inflicted by THEIR church, religion and relgious authorities.. it is this very laity who i see as co rapists and co molestors of the millions of children and adults abused by catholic teaching and clergy through out history...
i applaud you _____________.. you are truly a fine, honest person..
from another ex catholic and survivior of abuse of jesuits priests
_________, Hawaii

Hmm. A co-rapist and a co-molester. That's pretty far out there. Again, I don't see much of a call for justice and healing here, just a lot of anti-Catholic frothing at the mouth, directed at me ( suppose I should feel ashamed, rather than fortunate, that none of the three priests now removed from ministry that I used to serve Mass for never tried anything on me).

Another one was from a person using the moniker "Davince" who was not so brave as the Lenexa crusader (no name or address, which I don't care to have anyways) and who appears, from the choice of moniker, to have been rather even more influenced in her views by reading Dan Brown novels. She says my diatribe smacked of "ignorance of the law, especially of civil law and the history of sexual abuse against children."

OK, perhaps I'm ignorant of the civil law. I'll let others judge whether I am or not. But I find it rather shocking to be accused of being ignorant of the history of sexual abuse of children from the very camp which, while making so much noise about the scandal, denounces the Church for rather plainly addressing, in one 5-page instruction, the sexual disorder that is associated with about 80% of the claims (i.e., the charges of inappropriate conduct between priests and post-pubescent boys, i.e., homosexuality in the priesthood).

It's interesting that "Davince" uses the same coined word, "sheeple" to describe the faithful in the pews, as did the Lenexa crusader. If this person knew her enemy, she'd realize that faithful Catholics aren't offended by being called sheep. If you want to tick us off, call us "lemmings" or somesuch thing. Anyways, Davince tells me in bold letters that the bishops and priests are making us pay for this (which of course, is obvious, but not responsive to the issue at hand--i.e., why, at a temporal and practical level (which is the only level most would acknowledge) is it just that the cost fall on us "sheeple"?) , and Davince ends with a poem of about 50 lines called "Who Stained the Collar," the literary merits of which I do not presume to judge.

Since then Davince's message (which I never got around to responding to) I've receive over forty additional emails (mostly forwards of news articles) from the Lenexa crusader. I emailed the Lenexa crusader my comments on Prof. Marci a couple of days ago, and her response to me was that she didn't want to correspond with someone who wouldn't give his real name. Naturally, I didn't figure she had such a standard, given the fact that she has sent me over 40 emails.

What's my objective in posting on these excepts and raising this issue once again? Why am I batting at a hornet's nest? Well, partly because I said I would do so long ago and in my new year's blog resolutions, but mostly to make a point: when looking at complex issues like the Scandal, one must think them through, reflectively and rationally, rather than respond to one's feelings out of hand. Anger at the cause of an injustice clouds our ability to reason towards a just resolution.

Of course, we've all suffered spiritually because of the chaos the Church has been immersed in for the last few decades, and naturally, our hearts go out in a special way to those who were singled out for particular physical and mental suffering at the hands of the predators in the priesthood. We all must recognize the magnitude of the problem, and we must all recognize that this chastisement, is just on a theological level (see St. Robert Bellarmine on this, or maybe it's St. Alphonsus Ligouri--I'll find the quote and update this)

On the other hand, at a temporal level, we can't let our feelings override our reason, and our compassion must be balanced with judgment. When a legitimate or purported victim wins a court judgment that is paid out of assets that we or our ancestors gave in trust to the Bishop of the Pastor for the use and benefit of the whole Church, that victim is taking something he has no moral right to take (and, if we had a system that worked on natural justice, rather than devilish emotions, he would have no legal right to). The victim, when he comes in need of charity, should be treated with utmost Christian charity. But the victim, when he takes, by force, money from Church coffers, is not receiving charity. Nor is he receiving justice. He is doing a new injustice, and as painful and unpopular as it may be, for the good of those that come after us, we must stand up against him. Charity involves giving of ourselves, but charity does not require--nay, it does not permit--us to let others be taken.


Todd said...

One problem with the extreme end of your line of reasoning is that many Catholics would gladly support the needs of people victimized by clergy predators and bishops tainted by exceedingly poor administrative judgment.

I confess I quit reading your post when you arrived at quoting your SNAP foils. People can make a good or poor argument (relatively speaking or in actuality) but it doesn't change the justice (or lack thereof) in the base cause.

We Catholics take care of clergy. There's not a convenient way to hold individual priests and bishops responsible without damaging someone's pet notion of the Church, be that some moral high ground or material possession.

About twenty to forty years ago, the Church was in a position to tell victims, "This priest was evil. We screwed up. What can we do to make things right?" And it was likely this approach would not have broken the bank.

As I've said before, I can't get excited about your issue here, my friend. I think you're pretty much going it alone.

Curmudgeon said...

Perhaps the appropriate response to Todd's comment is silence. But I'm not much for silence (except during the Canon of the Mass, of course).

Obviously Todd missed the last paragraph, where I conclude that Charity involves giving, but charity does not require--nay, it does not permit--us to let others be taken. At some point I'll take the Good Samaritan hypothetical and we'll extend and test it against the Scandal and its fallout to make my point.

Todd since you didn't read my post and you refuse to believe that the Enemy is using these litigious victims and their lawyers, as much as he's using the perverts who violated them, in his attempt to destroy the Church, I'll paraphrase my points:(1) we must approach the problem and its solution with the reason God gave us, so that emotions don't cause us to act rashly and facilitate a greater harm to society by crippling the Church and (2) we should and we DO help those who are suffering, but when the Church herself, and not just the perps, are attached, we must run to her defense. Recall (as I've discussed before) that Luther's revolt, and Henry VII's, were made on the pretext of reforming corruption. Recall, also, that the there are three parts to the church: militant, suffering, and triumphant, to which I'd add in this context the Church Anticipated, our descendants. Those you speak of as "most Catholics" are a small subset of only the "Church Militant" subset who are answering questions framed by the Enemy.

And, Todd, as for you not getting excited, well, you've surrendered yourself to modernist relativissm (if I hadn't screwed up my comments when I modified my template a couple of weeks ago, I'd point you to your comment justifying gay adoption from a while back, which you haven't recanted from).

I won't say there's not a Catholic argument to the contrary of mine, and I invite someone to make it but I will say that you don't make it--you just regurgitate the line that's coming from the City of Man.

More on this later, but I have to get to the office and attend to mundane matters of commerce.

Ian Andrew Palko said...


You're right on the money in my book, if that helps at all.

I don't see how one can say that it is "justice" to take millions of dollars from people who never harmed them, in order to "compensate" for an evil doen against them.

The dioceses should and do have a moral obligation to offer spiritual help, financial assistance and even counselling for their wrongs and the wrongs of their priests. But having someone go in and demand (or sue for) millions doesn't repair or even start to make reparations for the wrongs done to them. It simply punishes the diocese and the other Catholics of the diocese.

I'm all for taking the bishops that allowed such things and priests and putting them in some ecclesiastical prison, some monastery where they would be confined to silence, prayer, meditation and penanace for the rest of their lives.

Stealing money from innocent people, even if it is done by a court system, is just as bad as the initial wrong. And two wrongs don't make a right.

CS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Curmudgeon said...

CS, let's not give anyone any ideas!!!

CS said...

Oops, thinking out loud...

Curmudgeon said...

Looking back, I see the following from Todd: "There's not a convenient way to hold individual priests and bishops responsible without damaging someone's pet notion of the Church, be that some moral high ground or material possession."

Someone's pet notion of the Church? Someone's pet notion of the Church? How ridiculous. Look at Book IV of the current Code of Canon law. Is that someone's pet notion of the Church?

CS said...

The pet notion of Canon Law or that of the Law of Legal Lawlessness...I heard in ME, I think, someone proposed a bill that would force priests to reveal certain things they hear in the confessional...

Anonymous said...

CS someone did propose this law in Kansas. Of course, it got no where. I do know that the lawyer for the dioceses who testified suggested that if you want to make priest mandatory reporters then you need to make mothers mandatory reporters. The statistics show that a very high rate of mothers cover up for boyfriends and step fathers. Never ever are they sued or generally prosecuted when it is found out about the cover up.