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Meaning # 1
A 2010 movie starring Sylvester Stallone and other over-the-hill hit men.

Meaning # 2
Children.
In different ways all over the world children are the Expendables:
They work in sweat shops.
They are sold as sex slaves.
They star in porn movies.
The are used as bartering chips in divorce proceedings.
They are an investment for a larger government handout.
They are collateral damage in the Catholic abuse scandal, where the priorities are institutional image, the brotherhood of the priests, the good old boy network of the bishops, the protection of assets.

According to an article on JSpace.com about children of the holocaust who were abused by those who hid them from the Nazis, “the pain of sexual abuse often impacts childhood survivors far greater than other losses and traumas endured during the Holocaust.”

This is the kind of information that Catholics need to hear: from the parents of victims who refuse to believe their children; to those who think they should just get over it; to the bishops and priests who continue to shield their friends and deny the abusers’ guilt and their own culpability and continue to minimize the criminal nature of child abuse.

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Mark Mueller at the The Star-Ledger has been following the Fr. Fugee / Archbishop Myers story. This is what the Archbishops’s spokesperson has had to say:

Priest who admitted groping boy appointed to high-profile position in Newark Archdiocese
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/02/priest_who_confessed_to_gropin.html
The Rev. Michael Fugee, who is barred from unsupervised contact with children under a binding agreement with law enforcement officials, has been appointed co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests, the archdiocese recently announced in its newspaper, the Catholic Advocate.

….. Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese, called Fugee’s new role an administrative position based in the chancery office in Newark. Under no circumstances, Goodness said, will Fugee be alone with children.

“We have every confidence in him,” the spokesman said.

———-

Newark archbishop allows priest who admitted groping boy to continue working with children
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/04/with_approval_of_archbishop_pr.html

But Goodness denied the agreement had been breached, saying the archdiocese has interpreted the document to mean Fugee could work with minors as long as he is under the supervision of priests or lay ministers who have knowledge of his past and of the conditions in the agreement.

“We believe that the archdiocese and Father Fugee have adhered to the stipulations in all of his activities, and will continue to do so,” Goodness said.

Even if Fugee heard private confessions from minors, those supervising Fugee were always nearby, Goodness said. “The fact is, he has done nothing wrong,” the spokesman said. “Nobody has reported any activity that is inappropriate, and I think that’s important to know, especially given that he’s a figure whose name is public and whose past is public.”

———-

Priest at center of Newark Archdiocese scandal quits ministry
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/newark_archbishop_monmouth_cou_1.html

Earlier this week, The Star-Ledger reported Fugee had violated that agreement, openly engaging in youth group activities at St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck. Fugee is longtime friends with the church’s youth ministers, Michael and Amy Lenehan.

Since the disclosure, Goodness has argued that Fugee did not violate the agreement because he was under the supervision of the youth ministers or other priests. Tonight, the spokesman sought to clarify his statements, saying that while it was “good” Fugee was under supervision, the priest did not seek permission from the archdiocese before participating in youth activities.

“He engaged in activities that the archdiocese was not aware of and that were not approved by us, and we would never have approved them because they are all in conflict with the memorandum of understanding,” Goodness said.

————


Priest admits violating ban on ministry to children, says actions are ‘my fault alone’

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/priest_admits_violating_ban_on.html

“In conscience, I feel it necessary to make clear to all that my actions described in recent news stories were outside of my assigned ministry within the archdiocese,” Fugee wrote. “… My failure to request the required permissions to engage in those ministry activities is my fault, my fault alone.”

The archdiocese released the full text of Fugee’s letter yesterday in an apparent effort to quell a public uproar over Myers’ handling of the priest, who signed the agreement with law enforcement in 2007 to avoid retrial on charges he fondled a teenage boy.

For days after The Star-Ledger’s report, a spokesman for the archbishop
Insist Fugee’s interactions with children were within the scope of the agreement, arguing he was under the supervision of lay ministers and other priests.

But amid mounting public pressure, calls by elected officials for Myers to resign and a criminal investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the archdiocese reversed course Thursday, acknowledging Fugee violated the agreement and saying he acted alone.

Myers’ spokesman, Jim Goodness, reiterated that stance in a statement yesterday.
“The archdiocese only learned about two weeks ago when approached by a reporter that Fr. Fugee had engaged in other activities or ministries,” Goodness said. “Had the archdiocese known about them at the time, permission to undertake them would not have been granted.”

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Photo taken on a Pilgrimage in 2010. Fugee was convicted of sexual abuse in 2003. Facing retrial in 2007 because of a technicality regarding his self-description in his confession, he instead signed an agreement with law enforcement barring him from unsupervised contact with children.

I don’t know if I can call myself Catholic any more, in fact I think I am embarrassed to do so. Yet, as a victim of sexual assault by a priest, I feel I can have more impact if I remain Catholic and continue to speak my truth within the Catholic community.

I get very angry about the assumption that all victims are Catholic haters and no longer part of the Church, as if being raped by a priest is an excommunicable offense. Or perhaps it’s just telling the truth about it that is unacceptable: victims must be liars. But can that be it? Since when has lying been an excommunicable offense?  Is it the fact that we are accusing priests, then? Is that the unforgivable offense? If so, then the problem is with Catholics who believe that priests cannot be predators, who assume that a priest cannot be both loving and compassionate in ministry and also calculating, predatory, and criminal in their sexual behavior. Such naive beliefs are fed by the archaic view that priests are higher human beings by virtue of their ordination, that a transformation takes place in that sacrament raising priests closer to God than ordinary mortals will ever get!

These beliefs must be challenged. They are based on a magical view of priesthood and the sacrament or ordination that needs to change, and who better to challenge it than victims – especially ones with divinity degrees. So I struggle to hang on to the Catholic community, to remain within its borders, searching for wisdom among Catholic writers and enjoying the occasional gospel mass where the priest doesn’t look like my abuser and panic attacks remain at bay.

(Edited.  Apologies for the previous version; it was a comment in process that became frozen in cyberspace and I didn’t realize it had “defrosted.” I need to visit my blogs more regularly!)

When the church authorities and parish Catholics treat abuse victims as the enemy it allows them to rationalize their hateful behavior. If only they could recognize us as Catholics too -members of the same faith family, disaffected, disillusioned, no longer comfortable at table fellowship but still part of the family. We did not choose to be abused, sodomized or raped by our Fathers but we were. The abusive priests are the enemy – not us. We are just the adult versions of the 3 year old, 4 year old, 7 year old, 11 year old us that was hurt – hurt so badly we can’t seem to let it go. Hurt so badly our faith was torn along with our tender bodies.

And when we need our Faith Family the most they turn away, call us liars, reject and verbally abuse us.

I find the people praying for Monsignor Lynn at the Philly trial to be unconscionably disinterested in the real victims and I cannot understand it. Have they not read the Grand Jury reports? Who do they really think Jesus would be defending, praying with, healing? The cowardly, corrupt, callous prelates of the Church?

Their piety and blindness sicken me. I despair of a just outcome to this case.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI insisted on Saturday that all of society’s institutions and not just the Catholic church must be held to “exacting” standards in their response to sex abuse of children, and defended the church’s efforts to confront the problem.

In last year’s Christmas message to Cardinals and Vatican officials the Pope suggested child sexual abuse was considered normal in the 70’s.  Certainly, we are all familiar with the popular refrain that sexually abusive priests were the result of the sexual revolution of the 60’s and the moral relativism of the 70’s.  But this year, in remarks to visiting US Bishops, the Pope reminds us that abuse happens in every institution. It’s the “everybody else is doing it too!” response.

There is a problem of historical amnesia here. Concerning the 60’s and 70’s excuse, documents from Church Councils back in the first centuries and through the Middle Ages  make reference to the abuse of boys by clergy. And of the victims I personally know, some now in their 80’s, their abuse occurred as early as the 1940’s and 50’s.

And what about the “clerical culture” issue? Some priests have suggested that it is the very culture in which priests are trained that is the cause of the widespread sexual abuse crisis and cover-up.

Yes, child abuse occurs in every institution, culture, and generation. But even the Penn State debacle can’t hold a candle to the institutionalised cover-up that has protected criminal Catholic priests for centuries. Only in the Catholic Church are there documented rules demanding secrecy from victims, often weighted with the threat of excommunication or eternal damnation.

Let’s all pray during this Advent Season for the power of the Holy Spirit to break open the Catholic community and give courage and energy to those who are still convinced that there is value in being Catholic and a reason to resist the dictatorship of the Curia.

 A new report from Amnesty International has  concluded that the sexual abuse of children by priests and church run  institutions in Ireland, amounted to torture.

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Amnestys-report-finds-Irelands-clerical-sexual-abuse-was-torture-130597558.html#ixzz1ZDUde6ds

Yesterday, two US organisations, SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and religious) and The Center for Constitutional Rights (a New York-based nonprofit legal group) appeared at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, to request that the Pope and three Cardinals of the Catholic Church be investigated for crimes against humanity. To put this in perspective, the ICC is currently hearing cases of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, particularly against civilians.

Should the officials of the Church be held responsible for the spiritual genocide of thousands of children perpetrated by “officers” of their organisation, who used their “uniform” and authority to elicit dread obedience from children ranging in age from kindergarten through high school for the purpose of sexual gratification?  Perhaps not, you think? After all, the criminals were each responsible for their own crimes.

But…

Should the officials of the Church be held responsible for creating and/or enforcing of directives that established protocols for a response to victims that relied on threat, intimidation, and the enforcement of oaths of secrecy?

Should the officials of the Church be held responsible for creating and/or enforcing directives that established protocols of mis-representation and re-assignment in the treatment of accused and/or admitted pedophiles and ephebophiles in the priesthood?

Should the officials of the Church be held responsible for ignoring or undermining the directives established by the USCCB and other national Catholic bodies for the protection of children from the criminal behavior of sexually predatory Catholic priests and religious?

Without a doubt!

Will bringing this case solve the problem? No.  Will it make a difference? Simply by the enormity of the public scandal, yes.

An Open Letter from One Catholic Priest to All Other Catholic Priests

Regarding the Need for the Revelation of Truth Concerning the Priest Sexual Abuse Scandal

December 6, 2010

Dear Brother Priests,

Soon after Christmas 2009 a group of priests here in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee met to begin what has become an effort to provide some pastoral outreach to victim/survivors of sexual abuse of minors by priests. Quickly we expanded our group to include some victim/survivors and others who support them. Together we initiated an ongoing series of simple candle vigil services for prayer and talking. The effort is making a difference.

A question that is asked by some victim/survivors is where have all the good priests been? No doubt our presence now is warmly appreciated, but this challenging question has caused me to reflect on my own accountability. During my homily on the weekend of November 13 & 14, I explained that I had not been where I should have been. I was not standing with people in pain who needed the public presence of a priest. I had been inattentive when I should have noticed. I apologized. Of course, I cannot reverse time, I told my parishioners, but I can be different going forward, especially by standing publicly with those who seek the revelation of the complete truth regarding the priest sexual abuse scandal in the Church. The reaction of my parishioners has been powerfully supportive.

Surely, everyone wishes that this crisis would be resolved for the good of all. Unfortunately, however, I find that some people are saying that the victim/survivors should simply forgive and move on with life. Yet such an expectation overlooks what seems to me to be the necessary sequence of events for forgiveness and peace to happen: (1) knowing and understanding the whole truth; (2) doing justice based on the whole truth; (3) allowing healing to blossom over time; (4) then granting forgiveness that releases one from bondage; and (5) finally welcoming the peace that comes from healing and forgiveness.

What has caused me to be more attentive now to this scandal and crisis? Listening to and being moved by the stories that I hear. These stories can be discomforting but they are part of the truth needing to be revealed and understood. Here is some of what I hear.

1. Sexual assault is violent, at times causing bleeding. The word blood captures me. However, what is more captivating is to hear victim/survivors say that as agonizing as the assault was, the reaction of the Church has been more traumatic. They loved the Church and were involved in the Church (which probably is why they were available to be preyed upon), but the Church wasn’t there for them in their need.

2. Many people, from victim / survivors to parishioners in the pews, have left the Church because of the priest sexual abuse crisis, and that is true scandal. Moreover, some of these people who are disconnected from the Church would like to be reconnected, but the absence of truthfulness and accountability stops them.

3. Many victim/survivors “lost their voice” and can’t speak about what happened. They depend on others to speak for them and to cry out on their behalf.

4. Some victim / survivors and their families not only were not believed they were tormented by some clergy and laity such that the families decided to move to a different parish (if they remained in the Church), or even to a different city.

5. A prevailing question is why is it so difficult for the Church to reveal the truth?

I see four positive results coming from the complete truth being available to all people.

1. The truth would complete the puzzle so that the picture can be seen clearly, both validating the stories of the victim/survivors while also clearing the names of the innocent.

2. The truth would help create accountability for what happened.

3. The truth would empower the laity and the clergy alike to become the seedbed from which can come forth justice, healing, forgiveness, and peace. This effort needs the people in the pews but first they need to know the truth.

4. The truth would provide the energy to generate necessary changes in the Church.

My brother priests, obviously the revelation of the truth is not forthcoming easily, but we can be the catalyst for change. We have been sent into the Lord’s vineyard with a mission to provide voice and witness to all that Jesus Christ is about. I trust that you will do all that you can to help bring about a grace-filled resolution to this crisis and scandal. And, as I say, we need to do this in a vocal and public way.

I suggest that this Christmas season we raise our united voices in calling for the necessary sequence of truth, justice, healing, forgiveness, and peace, regarding this most difficult challenge in the Church. Indeed, doing so in this season of peace would provide a route to peace for all who suffer in any way because of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Let us always embrace the words of the Lord: fear not; the truth will set you free.

Sincerely in Christ,

Rev. James Connell

Sheboygan, Wisconsin

According to Tom Reese SJ, on the America Magazine Blog, at the installation the new Cardinals will take an oath of fidelity and obedience to the pope and his successors. Text below: 

I [name and surname], Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, promise and swear to be faithful henceforth and forever, while I live, to Christ and his Gospel, being constantly obedient to the Holy Roman Apostolic Church, to Blessed Peter in the person of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, and of his canonically elected Successors; to maintain communion with the Catholic Church always, in word and deed; not to reveal to anyone what is confided to me in secret, nor to divulge what may bring harm or dishonor to Holy Church; to carry out with great diligence and faithfulness those tasks to which I am called by my service to the Church, in accord with the norms of the law. So help me Almighty God. [Translation by Zenit.]

One comment on the blog already raises the question about the appropriateness of such an oath given the fact of the scandal regarding abusive priests. Surely a greater scandal was caused by the secrecy regarding the protection of molesters and rapists and their multiple re-assignments which led in so many documented cases to multiple new victims. As a victim myself I have often reflected on the fact that my abuse, even the abuse of my siblings, was not enough to rob me of my faith in the Church, it was the scandal that came to light regarding the official policies of the ecclesial authorities that caused the greatest damage:

  • the systemic and documented policies of support for the perpetrators
  • avoidance of the truth (!) when asked about the personal histories and personnel files of individual priests
  • protection of the perpetrators from criminal charges
  • imposition of silence on the victims under threat of excommunication or removal of support
  • funding of aggressive lobbying against the removal of statutes of limitations

There are, as so many commentators have pointed out, sex abusers in every religious and social organisation and in many families. Finding evidence of abusers in the Catholic Church was not surprising, finding evidence of organized sanctioned cover-up was devastating. 

I am in mourning for my faith in my Church.

Washington Post,  November 8

Pope Benedict XVI has summoned cardinals from around the world to a day-long summit in Rome next week on the clerical sex abuse scandal and other issues facing the Catholic Church, the Vatican said Monday.

The Vatican called the session “a day of reflection and prayer” that also will include discussions on threats to religious freedom, relations with other religions and procedures for disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church. Five Church of England bishops announced Monday they were converting to Catholicism following Benedict’s invitation to disaffected Anglicans.

Really? Sex abuse, religious freedom, ecumenism, and Anglican ministers joining the church … all in one day? Is this just a publicity gesture? Certainly, prayerful reflection is an important tool for Catholic leaders to utilise — would that more of them had used it in the past.  But what is the point of identifying so many issues as the focus for a single day? Nothing substantial can possibly be achieved in one day, except the eliciting of agreement on already formed papal opinion. Is that what the church needs right now — more yes men?  We can’t even get a decent English translation of the New Missal. How can we expect any real growth on the issue of abuse unless the pope is willing to actually address it with meaningful investigation, prayerful reflection and input from professionals in such fields as medicine, law enforcement, psychology, psychiatry and criminal law.  And by “willing to address it” I mean a month or a couple of weeks not a couple of hours, however prayerful.

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