Monthly Archives: December 2013

Good Works

Minimizing the impact of child molestation and other forms of abuse is a way of self-protecting that can lead victims to self-blame and self-hatred.  Negative self-image is often reflected in our inner thought life by an ongoing dialog such as, “I am worthless. No one could love me.”

That we may know on an intellectual level such statements are untrue will not necessarily reduce the power with which we invest them or the frequency with which we engage in them.

Though as abuse victims we may “feel” defective, the truth is that we remain God’s handiwork. He knew before time began the suffering we would be required to endure. Yet He entrusted us with good works – often arising from our very abuse experience – in complete certainty that we would accomplish these.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2: 10).

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Mangers

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2: 4-7).

Every day 2715 children are born into poverty in America alone [1]. And every day 22,000 children across the globe die from poverty-related illnesses and deprivation [2].

We are surrounded by mangers. Surrounded, yet 2000 years after that first Christmas we still decline to see. Why spoil this festive season? Isn’t there another sale, another party somewhere? Pile those gifts high! We need no encouragement to put Saturn back in Saturnalia. We can manage that all on our own.

If pressed on the point, many of us would echo Scrooge’s sentiment: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” Who brought all these children into the world anyhow? Why should we be saddled with their upkeep? Who gave them the right to impose on our comfortable lives?

“…[W]ho made lame beggars walk, and blind men see[?]” to use Tiny Tim’s words. As Christians we ought to know the answer to that. We ought to live the answer to that every day. If we did, no billboards would be necessary urging that we put Christ back in Christmas. He would already be there.
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[1] Children’s Defense Fund, Research Library, “Each Day in America,” http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/each-day-in-america.html.
[2] Global Issues, “Poverty Facts and Stats,” http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Christianity, Poverty, Religion

Landmines

Anxiety is one of the many scars typical of childhood sexual abuse. It is the feeble attempt to control our circumstances by worrying about them. Many things in this world, however, are beyond our control. This is not a sign of weakness on our part, even if we experience it that way.

Boundary issues (the diminished ability to protect ourselves, as a result of abuse) are another typical scar.  Recurrent unwelcome incursions can feel like defeats to us, “proof” that abuse victims are defective on an ongoing basis. But that is not the reality either.

Anxiety and boundary issues – like other long-term abuse scars – are evidence that the abuse actually did occur; that it was no mere figment of a disturbed imagination, but rather a profoundly harmful violation and a continuing threat to the victim, in the same way that landmines remain a threat long after the conflict has resolved.

This is what Jesus had to say about anxiety, vulnerability, and the cares of this world:

“ ‘Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?…Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow:  they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these…’ ” (Matt. 6: 25-29).

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Legion

Jesus asked him, saying, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Legion,’ because many demons had entered him” (Luke 8: 30).

Christians (and those calling themselves Christian) can be their own worst enemies. The Legion of Christ is an illustration.

Marcial Maciel, the Catholic priest who founded the infamous Legion, fathered three children despite his vow of chastity [1] and sexually abused seminarians.

William Izquierdo, a Legion of Christ supervisor who oversaw the training of priests, is acknowledged to have molested at least one minor [2].  In total, thirty five Legion priests have been accusing of raping children (nine of these found guilty at internal church trials).

Another prominent Catholic priest in the Legion of Christ, Thomas Williams, also, fathered a child.  Despite this, Williams — a moral theologian — had no compunction about authoring a book titled, “Knowing Right from Wrong:  A Christian Guide to Conscience”.

Williams’ superior was aware of the child, but took no action. Who else in the Catholic Church hierarchy may have known is unclear.

There is one more twist to this sordid tale. Mary Ann Glendon, an advisor to Pope Francis, and former US Ambassador to the Holy See, defended the Legion of Christ in the face of credible reports about the pedophilia. It is Glendon’s daughter who gave birth to Williams’ child, a fact one suspects may have colored the Ambassador’s opinion of the Legion.

The public can hardly be blamed for finding all this revolting. It has been grounds for many to turn away from organized religion.

Devout Christians will tell you that mankind’s tendency to sin is the very reason we need a Savior. Many so called Christians, unfortunately, wrap themselves in this principle the way some people wrap themselves in the flag:  to cover negative motivation.  For them it represents expiation, albeit without repentance.

Those two – expiation and repentance – cannot be severed from each other. Forgiveness is dependent on contrition (Luke 17: 3-4)…something that for many years seems to have escaped the leadership of the Catholic Church [3].

[1] A large number of people look down upon the vow of chastity today. But having committed to a state of celibacy before God, Catholic priests are under an obligation to adhere to their oath.

[2] The vow of chastity does not “exempt” child molestation. Nor is it a justifiable motive for child molestation.

[3] Pope Francis has announced that a commission will be formed on the sexual abuse of children by priests.  The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) views this commission as a diversion.  SNAP takes the position that exhaustive documentation on abuse by priests already exists which the Catholic Church has not turned over to civil authorities.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Justice, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Headlines

The supply of child abuse cases seems endless. Here are just a few examples, from recent headlines:

• In September of this year, Fr. Jeffrey Paulish, was caught in the act of molesting a 15 year old boy in a vehicle on the campus of Penn State University. Paulish first attempted to say the undressed boy had sought counseling from him. The abuser met the teen through the “casual encounters” section on Craigslist.

• In October, one of Fr. Robert Brennan’s victims died of an overdose. Brennan, age 75, is alleged to have molested more than 20 children during the 15 years he was transferred from parish to parish, when complaints of abuse were made to Catholic Church officials.

• The same month, a Pennsylvania school bus driver acknowledged having repeatedly molested an 8 year old boy from 2002 – 2004. The driver had passed a criminal check prior to being hired. Only a small percentage of predators ever fail criminal background checks.

• In November, Leon Watson, a Philadelphia youth football coach was charged with having raped two boys.  Neighbors were stunned.

Some abuse survivors will feel re-victimized on hearing such reports. The past rises up like a spectre, and we feel the familiar shame wash over us. Taste again the bile in our throats. Other abuse survivors will respond with anger that this depravity should persist.

The majority of us will instinctively pity the victims, even if reminded of our own pain. Chances are that those who remain unmoved are still so close to their trauma that identifying with other abuse victims poses too great a “threat” to their emotional stability. Distance feels safer.

A small number of abuse survivors will feel contempt for other victims, viewing them as “weak” and blaming them for the abuse inflicted. Rather than being an accurate assessment of other victims, this criticism betrays the feelings of helplessness the critics, themselves, experienced and are now desperate to deny.

There are few hard and fast rules for recovery from abuse. There is no timetable. We move forward a little, then fall back. Some lessons have to be re-learned, over and over, particularly those about the right of self-defense.

However far along we may (or may not) be toward healing, let us strive to keep faith with one another, and to bear witness to the truth of our ordeal.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Justice, Sexual Abuse