My Pope Post

I realize a lot of the points I’m about to make have been made by now. And this is not a blanket condemnation of Catholics, Catholicism, or organized religion. This is about admitting you’ve made a mistake, correcting it and making amends to those you’ve hurt.

When I was researching my book about the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad, I was interviewing a chief and I glanced down at his desk and there was a picture of a recently captured pedophile. VERY UPSETTING PART COMING UP: In the picture, you see a grown man about to stick his dick into a little boy who is crying and terrified.

I almost threw up when I saw that picture and I have never recovered. If that man had suddenly appeared in front of me and I had a gun in my hand I would have shot him. This picture, I mean the size of this guy, and his dick, and this tiny little boy, I’m shaking just typing about it. His erection was like a third of the size of the child, it was horrifying.

The idea that there are people who learned that something like this had happened and then didn’t do everything in their power to make sure this never happened again, blows my mind. It is inconceivable to me actually. Inconceivable. I will never ever get that for as long as I live. You should have seen the picture I saw. To let someone like that anywhere near children again, how could they?? Why didn’t they turn the priests over to the police? And why aren’t they being charged with aiding and abetting now, for not turning them over to the police? Why haven’t police gotten search warrants to look at the records? It must be a statute of limitations thing. I’ve posted on my Restless Sleep blog about how I feel the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children.

I also just don’t get how they could fail to go to the children, the victims, and then spend the rest of their lives doing everything they could to help them heal.

So when I read things like this I become enraged:

“VATICAN CITY (Reuters) — Pope Benedict, facing one of the gravest crises of his pontificate as a sexual abuse scandal sweeps the Church, indicated on Sunday that his faith would give him the courage not to be intimidated by critics.” In another piece he was quoted as saying “From God comes the courage not to be intimidated by petty gossip.”

I couldn’t believe I was reading this. You are not the victim here, Pope Benedict. And “petty”? Petty?? You’re calling these matters petty?

And you see yourself as courageous? Really? This is what courage looks like? And then I read this:

“A senior Vatican priest speaking at a Good Friday service compared the uproar over sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church — which have included reports about Pope Benedict XVI’s oversight role in two cases — to the persecution of the Jews, sharply raising the volume in the Vatican’s counterattack.”

My head exploded after that one. Even the church decided it might be best to distance themselves from those comments. I will say again, I am blaming individuals, and aspects of the system which protected the guilty and must be corrected, and not all Catholics (my family is Catholic) or Catholicism.

The proper response to this crisis is not whining but full cooperation. Period. You hurt everything that is good about religion and the many good people in service to it by this response. Your behavior is criminal. And I’m not speaking metaphorically. Full cooperation and paying for your sins, that is what courage looks like.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

10 thoughts on “My Pope Post

  1. The Vatican should be leading the charge, handing over their records and encouraging prosecution, but their closets are too stuffed with skeletons, and they all fear the consequences. They’ve gathered tightly and will continue this see-no-evil bullshit until they’re all in jail…where they will continue to wail about how persecuted they are. (Except it’s pretty darned clear that’ll never happen.)

    Sorry, I think they’re all evil.

  2. Amen, Stacy–I agree with your entire post. I’m thoroughly disgusted by what people are able to get away with in the name of religion, as if being “men of God” precludes them from scrutiny or admonishment.

    I’m also curious… why would a chief have that photo and why would it be in plain view on his desk?!

  3. His detectives were working that case and I am sure he was not aware that it was there. It was a L shaped desk and the file was on the part of the desk furthest from him and nearer to me. Maybe they had or were going to have a meeting.

  4. Great post.

    Actually, comparison to persecution of the Jews is pretty apt. During WWII, many officials within the Catholic church turned a blind eye to at best and actually HELPED at worst some of the Nazi brethren.

    And one of the biggest reasons that the Church avoided doing anything was that they knew that someway, somehow there would be financial consequences to this scandal. Keep it quiet and keep your money was the MO.

    This scandal — and its abusive mishandling — is one of many reasons I am no longer a practicing Catholic.

  5. Sometimes we have a little disagreement on political issues. Not on this.

    I have read 2 or 3 good books on the pedophile scandals, some written by Catholics. And as unbelievable as this is going to sound, some of the stuff that has gone on is so crazy that even people who have been keeping up with the media would find it unbelievable.

    If it weren’t for the ordinary people in the pews, this scandal would never have come to light. Revelations and outrage have been entirely on the part of the ordinary Catholic. Had it been strictly up to the hierarchy, nothing would have ever been known. I have deep gratitude to the ordinary Catholic out there whose burden has been to deal with this horrendous issue.

    In theology and philosophy there is a study called theodicy. It essentially tries to understand how evil has come into the world.

    In simplest terms, it says God is all good, God is all-knowing, and God is all-powerful.

    So if something horrible happens, then it has to mean that a) God was not really all good, as he let it happen; b) God was not really all-knowing, because he didn’t see it coming; or c) God was not really all-powerful because he couldn’t stop it.

    In this case, the idea of apostolic succession has been tremendously wounded.

    How can one say that Jesus Christ could consecrate bishops knowing full well that that bishop will let priests get away with destroying little children?

    How can a priest be consecrated by Jesus Christ, who knows that this priest will ruin some child and not do anything to keep it from happening?

    Leaving aside the deliberation about the metaphysical reality of Jesus, I would have to say that apparently nothing is going on in the consecration ceremonies that causes the priest or bishop to somehow be singled out for some special grace.

    Naturally, I will be very pleased if the Catholic hierarchy completely eliminates this problem from any existence. A good way to begin would be don’t turn men into priests who have not become sexually integrated and mature. Stop turning homosexuals into priests. And at least consider the viability of marriage for the priesthood. (Protestants have not had nearly the amount of trouble with this, largely because Protestantism for the main part is a heterosexual scene.)

    You know, in prisons child molesters are sometimes killed by other prisoners. So the fact is that the most heinous among us find child molesters to be too horrible to be in their company.

  6. Stacy:
    I am completely in agreement with you about the horrors of pedophilia. It is a crime that makes me disgusted and angry like no other. To hurt a child in any way is inexcusable, and for someone in a position of trust to do so is beyond bad.

    I am a practicing Catholic and love being Catholic. Trust me, no one cringes more than me anytime another one of these stories come out. I am completely disgusted with the church’s response to these crimes and have been ever since I became aware of them. They need to stop being cruel idiots and start apologizing and trying to fix and making amends for what happened. Then they need to move forward and find ways to make sure it never happens again.

    Pedophiles are not found just in church–they are found everywhere (I know this from working in a public library–where sex offenders of all types like to hang out all day because they can), and particularly where there are children. They can be found in many helping professions–education, police, social workers. Other professions have done what they can to screen such workers–the Catholic Church needs to take a big lesson.

    But first they need to apologize, and stop acting like a boys’ club of defensive idiots. I am so sad for my church. The same church that gave us Cesar Chavez and Dorothy Day should be a refuge for the poor and the defenseless and those without hope–it SHOULD NOT be creating victims.

    I know you’re not blaming Catholics. Thank you for the post. I am very vocal on what the church needs to do in my circle of family and friends, but you have inspired me that I should try and be one of the people in the pews who makes a bigger stink about this issue.

  7. I don’t want to criticize the Catholic religion as I am not of the faith and it’s not my place, but as an institution I find it curious that not only are these pedophiles in the clergy not prosecuted, they are not even ex-communicated which I find most baffling. The church doesn’t even try to shame them (or deter them) with the threat of ex-communication!

    Imagine all those divorcees and Friday carnivores who are sitting in Hell right now shaking their heads at that one …

    By the way, the notoriety that Sinead O’Connor endured back in 1992 was for this very issue. When she tore up the photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, that particular gesture was, in fact, a misguided attempt to draw attention to this silent epidemic of abuse by the clergy in Ireland that was continuing to be ignored by the Vatican. And although she went about it entirely the wrong way, I think history has proven her to be a noble messenger for a problem that has only gotten worse.

    Apparently as recently as last month she spoke publicly about the Pope’s recent “apology”, albeit with more age and wisdom, and credibility that she does know of what she speaks. Time will show the wiser.

  8. Sometimes – if not ofttimes – noble messengers must resort to “wrong” ways. Civil rights, the Viet Nam war. Where would we be today if we had waited for “age and wisdom” to prevail? If there is hypocrisy, if there is protection of those who would do evil to children; if there is an effort to hide behind the skirts of God, pursue, lambaste, ridicule, condemn, humiliate, commit whatever sacrilege is at one’s disposal. Timidity and good manners have no place when going after pedophiles or those that protect them – even if the Pope is Catholic.

  9. This important post has generated thoughtful responses. What you saw was awful and I can’t help but wonder if it was purposefully left out as some kind of test – knowing that you would see it. I hope not, but I am naturally suspicious.

    A young girl named Sarah Foxwell was raped and murdered here in MD and her body was found on Christmas Day. They arrested the man who had a long history of pedophilia – over the Delaware line just a few miles away. So there was no “legal requirement” for anyone to be notified or warned. There’s no doubt that it was him. Why was he not shot while “resisting arrest”? With all the innocent people who are shot by the police every year (all those who were “reaching for a gun” and then found to be unarmed), how can he be allowed “his day in court”? Does delayed justice somehow prove our humanity? As a result of this case our cowards in the state legislature debated, seemingly endlessly, increased punishments for pedophiles and public notifications for the last 3 months before finally passing a bill yesterday – on the last day of the session. Does anyone think this will deter pedophiles or is it about votes in November?

    There is apparently no cure for pedophilia. At what point does the safety of the innocent justify doing what we know must be done? Castration, lethal injection, whatever is necessary. No special treatment for priests. Didn’t Dante say that the floor of hell was lined with the heads of priests? The Church should turn them all in themselves and leave the good priests to serve without the cloud of suspicion.

  10. Amen.

    Also, I’m sorry but I can’t let the comment about homosexuals stand. If gays want to be priests they should be priests. This is not a gay issue or problem, it’s a pedophilia issue. But priests should be allowed to have adult sexual partners. That would have to help, I think.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap