Saturday, February 2, 2013

As it is Done in Heaven Or What I Would Do With Cardinal Mahoney

A friend of mine, who I will call Emily, lost her job when she was in her fifties.  It is hard to a job when you are a fifty plus year old woman.  Emily struggled with despair and hopelessness.  Her friend recommended that she visit a psychic she knew, suggesting the psychic might be able to give her some insight and comfort.  The friend gave her reason why.  She had gone to see the psychic herself.  She was sexually abused by her father, but she had not disclosed this fact in public.  The psychic instructed her sit with her in stillness and quiet while she meditated.  After a while the psychic began speaking. 

She said, “I see your father.  He is in hell.  He has hurt many people.  I see him sitting in a chair.  He is surrounded by mirrors.  In every mirror he sees the pain he caused in other people.”
So personnel files were made public and it was revealed that Cardinal Mahoney tried strenuously to silence abuse victims and keep abusive priests in ministry.  Why am I not surprised?  Probably if personnel files for accused abusers across the country and the world were released, we’d see a similar pattern and many cardinals, archbishops and bishops would be relieved of their remaining duties.

Doubtless many people would like to see Roger Mahoney go to prison, but prison is expensive.  I’d rather spend the money on therapy and drug and alcohol treatment for survivors of abuse.  I think the better solution would be to surround Roger Mahoney with real life mirrors of the abuse he facilitated.

First, I would train Roger Mahoney and a group of his staffers and supporters who sit in the pews on Sunday mornings in Compassionate Listening.  (Please note that I, Virginia Jones, studied Compassionate Listening with The Compassionate Listening Project and have adapted their listening skills for my work with survivors of abuse).  One day a week, I would arrange for Roger Mahoney, his former staff and friends and supporters listen to survivors with compassion.  These listening sessions would be facilitated by someone not employed by the Catholic Church.  For  the other five days a week I would have Mr. Mahoney work in a variety of jobs that would bring him in contact with people struggling with the consequences of abuse.  For example, he can make and serve food in soup kitchens, help people dying of AIDS in hospice with their activities of daily living (ie. bathing, toileting, dressing and eating), he could work as a janitor in a not for profit drug and alcohol treatment center that serves low income clients, and he can work as the night host in a shelter for homeless families with crying babies.

Why all the homeless oriented activities?  I have read about various studies.  Figures vary in different studies but I have seen figures that between 1/4 and 3/4 of homeless people have suffered from one form of abuse or another.

I want to offer my Catholic parish as a place that Roger can begin his new ministry in service to survivors of abuse.  Ascension parish here in Portland, Oregon, hosts homeless families once every eleven weeks.  I have worked in this shelter on and off for 5 years and have met a number of child abuse and domestic violence survivors.  Usually my children and I work as evening hosts, but there is one hosting job that usually lacks volunteers -- overnight hosts.  You have to sleep on the couch and cope with babies crying in the middle of the night.  I think it is the perfect retirement volunteer job for Mr. Mahoney.  He will see the consequences of abuse and be reminded of the need for children to have loving and stable people care for them. 

Just a note about psychics: The Catholic Church does not accept the work of psychics.  However it accepts Near Death Experiences as personal revelation.  It is very common in Near Death Experiences for people to to go through a life review in which they relive their lives through the experiences of the people around them.  If you cause people pain, you experience their pain.  If you give care and joy to other people, you experience their happiness.  I spoke with this to a Catholic priest who said it reminded him of the Catholic doctrine of purgatory.

It says in the Lord’s Prayer that we are to do what is done in heaven.  Why don’t we do just that?  My way, Mr. Mahoney can serve his time in purgatory or hell on earth and make amends for his actions in the process.  

2013 (c) Copyright Virginia Jones

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  1. It is in service to others that we gain our humility and I believe Cardinal Mahoney may need a good dose of humility.

    My husband struggled fromt he effects of clergy abuse for nearly 50 years. I think it would do Cardinal Mahoney a lot of good to labor during his retirement since abuse survivors generally don't get a "retirement" from their abuse.

  2. I appreciate the comment and agree. I think Cardinal Law and all the others should do the same thing.