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Tuesday, April 28, 2015
All Are Welcome......Except Clergy Abuse Survivors and Their Advocates
These are reflections I wrote down after attending Mass about five ago. I need to add that I have not attended Mass on a regular basis for more than a year. I was thrown out of my parish in 2004, after handing out newspaper articles about clergy abuse in my parish. I tried to remain a faithful Catholic, but after 10 years of rejection by many parishioners and many in leadership, I decided to stop trying. Going to Church was like hitting my head against a wall or beating a dead horse. It doesn't hurt the horse much.
Well anyway, this last Sunday I was sitting in Mass. My wanders too much. I try to pay attention to the Bible readings. Sometimes I hold onto the word of God more easily through the music.
The Psalm that was sung, not spoken in church this week was, “If today you should hear God’s voice, harden not your heart.”
I’ve heard the voice of God saying, “I love you Mommy.”
God was speaking through my child. That’s an easy one.
But what about the guy in the car who cursed me for riding through a stop sign on my bicycle. I didn’t come to a full stop. I was sitting there wobbling on my bicycle at the stop sign as I looked around to make sure it was safe to go. I guess I was supposed to put my feet on the ground and come to an absolute stop.
If that was the voice of God, then God has a problem with swearing just as my 14 year old son does.
Or maybe it was the voice of God.
Could God have been telling me to watch out more for cars when I ride my bike so I can be around to hear God tell me, “I love you," through my child?”
Some times God’s voice may not be so easy to hear.
Sort of like that homeless drunk lying in the gutter on a winter’s night might actually be an angel. St. Paul said you never know when the stranger you meet is an angel But how many of us mortals treat homeless people as though they might be angels?
And Jesus said something about when you give food to the hungry, you are feeding Him. Or when you visit the person in prison you are visiting Him.
So, could it be that God voice unsettles us? Which leads me to the next song I hear in Church that inspires me, a song that we sing at the beginning of Church .
“All are Welcome, all are welcome in Gods name.”
They played that song in my former parish one Sunday eleven years ago not long after I was thrown out of the parish after I handed out newspaper articles about clergy abuse survivors.
My friend ML sang the song and thought, “But not all are welcome. Virginia is not welcome because she advocated for clergy abuse survivors.”
That’s the painful part. We humans keep writing exceptions into the words of God.
If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart unless the person speaking is a clergy abuse survivor or an advocate for survivors, then will you please be quiet and go away and not bother us.
(Honestly, my gay friends and divorced and remarried friends and women priest and married former Catholic priest acquaintances would probably add themselves to the list.)
Maybe the way some of us practice our religion the words of the song would be changed to “All are welcome, All are welcome except clergy abuse survivors.”
We Catholics really need to practice our beleifs the way they are written in the Bible.
So next time a clergy abuse survivor hands out leaflets by your parish, walk up to him or her and take the pamphlet and say, “Thank you.”
I suspect Jesus would say you just greeted Him and showed Him welcome.
P.S. I am really grateful that Bishop Finn of Kansas City resigned after Marie Collins and Peter Saunders met with Cardinal O'Malley. Lets hope for more in this vein and that eventually clergy abuse survivors will be greeted with compassion by all or at least most Catholics.