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What About the Other Victims of Abuse?

Michael J. Matt POSTED: October 5, 2010
Editor, The Remnant  

There was a time not so long ago when a man's apology meant he was actually sorry for having caused harm or injury to another. Even a child knew that it didn’t do much good to apologize just because he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Eddie Haskell-types may have given it the old college try but that was the joke: “Gee Mrs. Cleaver, I’m really sorry and that’s an awfully nice dress you’ve got there!”  Real world parents, like real world judges, knew that a defendant’s expression of deep regret was typically part of his plea bargain, not his defense. 

That’s not quite how it is anymore. Everyone these days seems to be demanding apologies front, left and center. The world’s become like a gigantic kindergarten, in fact, where Teacher (usually the media) spends most of her time extracting apologies by demanding little Johnny say he’s sorry to little Mary or else, and little Susie and Billy do likewise

Even the Pope is expected to deliver one of these highly publicized apologies every time he lands in a new country. But hasn’t he already apologized, over and over again? How many times must he repeat the apology? And who decides when enough is enough? These apologies are becoming the media centerpiece of papal visits, seemingly designed to parade the sins of the Church up one side of the street and down the other, crippling her moral authority in the process. 

Granted, the offenses perpetrated by a comparative few Catholic priests over the years are reprehensible beyond words (as are the chancery office cover-ups that inevitably followed) and the Holy Father clearly wishes to do the right thing.  But demanding this endless papal apology has obviously taken on a political dimension.  It's like sticking a TV camera in a politician’s face and shouting: “Are you sorry for beating your wife?” If he answers yes he’s just as guilty as if he answers no, and nobody’s actually going to investigate whether the woman was even beaten in the first place.  It’s not about her. It’s never about the victims so much as the political mileage that can be gained from the forced apology and public humiliation.

Nevertheless, when the Holy Father visited the UK he issued the prerequisite apology to victims of clerical sexual abuse, even as hordes of protestors staged one of the largest anti-Pope protests in London’s history. You could have cut the irony with a knife. Here we had protestors carrying signs blasting the Holy Father’s “homophobia” when their outrage was supposedly the result of the Church’s failure to properly prosecute the crimes of mostly homosexual predators.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, touched on this at a news conference in Chile back in April: “Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated…that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true. That is the problem.”

So, according to our protesting friends in the UK, the Holy Father is evidently homophobic for being too lenient with homosexuals.  Go figure!

Added to this absurdity is that most of the protestors identify with the campaign to lower (or even eliminate) the age of consent in the UK, arguing that the “freedom of sexual expression is not only a matter of choice which is fundamental to the individual – it is also particularly important to young persons as they proceed through the stage of adolescence into young adulthood. Age of consent laws place artificial limits on this freedom.”

Yes, these characters are shocked—just shocked!—to learn that the Catholic Church didn’t do quite enough to protect the young from the sexual advances of adults.

So what’s really going on here? A massive campaign to discredit the Catholic Church, of course!  Why?  For a whole host of reasons, not the least of which are the Holy Father’s stand against women priests, condom distribution and homosexual acts.

But the Holy Father, ever conscious of the sufferings of the victims and their families, elected to again apologize rather than risk further scandal. Thank God for Benedict’s wisdom in dealing with the militant secularists and their storm troopers in the media. His humility undermines their wicked machinations every time.

Speaking of victims, there is one group that could stand a spare apology here and there from the Catholic Church. I'm thinking of the millions of disillusioned and even disenfranchised Catholics who were left spiritually maimed and emotionally scarred for life by errant churchmen over the past half century of revolution in the Church.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger expressed sympathy for those who've suffered at the hands of churchmen when he wrote the following on the occasion of the death of 30-year Remnant columnist and undisputed lay traditionalist pioneer, Michael Davies: “I have been profoundly touched by the news of the death of Michael Davies. I had the good fortune to meet him several times and I found him as a man of deep faith and ready to embrace suffering. Ever since the Council he put all his energy into the service of the Faith and left us important publications especially about the Sacred Liturgy. Even though he suffered from the Church in many ways in his time, he always truly remained a man of the Church…”

We all know Catholics who have similarly “suffered from the Church in many ways” in their time. I remember one old gentleman, for example, who, Sunday after Sunday, shuffled into the church of his baptism he could no longer recognize because the “renovators” had torn out the Communion rail, smashed the high altar, sold the venerable statues, ripped out the confessionals—removed all the things for which he, his father and grandfather had paid dearly at the collection plate for nearly a century.

To add insult to injury, his 7 children all apostatized after having gone through 12 years of “progressive” Catholic education which he also paid for on his laborer’s salary. Nobody ever acknowledged his suffering.  Quite the contrary! When he attempted to kneel to receive Our Lord on the tongue, exactly as he’d been taught to do by the nuns when he was a little boy, his pastor was known to give him a tongue-lashing for being “disruptive” to the service. This was the same pastor, by the way, who would refuse him a traditional funeral Mass when the old man passed away. It was his last request. 

No apology for him.  Why not?

I know a lady who’d spent years teaching her five little ones to love Jesus and practice careful reverence for Him in the Blessed Sacrament. She would sometimes express regret when her lessons were expertly undermined every Sunday by the chitchatting "gathering rite" before Mass, the gaggle of Eucharistic ministers handing out Hosts like they were cookies, and boisterous choristers crowding the sanctuary, refusing to kneel even during the Consecration. 

Deprived of a Catholic example even in church, disillusioned by the shenanigans that went on in the Catholic school, robbed of their father by an annulment he was granted by the diocese— all her children save one eventually drifted out of the Church.

Where’s her special victims’ outreach program. Oh, that’s right, she left the Church a couple of years back. She’d endured it all and managed to keep the Faith—until the day her mother lay on her deathbed. Twice she called the parish priest, and twice he’d promised to stop by the next day.

The next came and went, and so did the day after that, but no priest came.  Finally, the telephone rang: “Did you want me to stop by and see your mom today?”

“Don’t bother, Father, she passed away last night without the Last Rites.”

That was the last straw. She left the Church the following week. 

How many millions of similarly disillusioned Catholics left the Church after the Mass was Protestantized, the schools liberalized, the nuns feminized, and the priests modernized?  Are they not victims of an abuse nearly as traumatic as that suffered by victims of sexual abuse? Separated from their children and spouses, they were given stones rather than bread, and eventually off they went in search of something more. 

Today, thousands of Catholic homeschoolers stand in silent witness to the sense of utter abandonment felt by the Catholics that stayed on.  Mothers and fathers who can’t even trust Catholic schools to teach the Faith, are forced to take on a job that once required the talents and education of entire orders of nuns and priests. They’re on their own because all too many Catholic schools can’t (or won’t) teach the Rosary, the basic prayers of the Faith, even sound doctrine—preferring instead to scandalize students with obscene Theology of the Body classes and other sex-ed programs that cry to heaven for vengeance.  

Many Catholics find themselves driving hours across town just to find a Mass on Sunday morning that’s reverent, that doesn’t scandalize their children, and that resembles the Mass of their childhood. They’re not renegades! They were taught by Catholic nuns and priests in Catholic schools. They were quite literally indoctrinated with the tried and true ideas about reverence at Mass, kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament, genuflecting before the tabernacle, revering Sacred Music and Gregorian chant (rather than piano music and guitar riffs), receiving communion on the tongue and while kneeling (rather than in the hand while standing)—all those “medieval trappings” of a Catholic identity that was still being instilled in Catholic school children even as late as the 1970’s—the very same rubrics, prayers and rituals that were insisted upon even by the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.

Catholics born in the 40’s and 50’s can well remember the confidence they once knew in a Church that, like Christ Himself, would be the same today, tomorrow and forever. The Mass was the rock, offered by priests who faced God in the tabernacle, exactly as priests had done for a thousand years and throughout the whole world; Mass was heard and seen and prayed exactly as every saint, martyr and pope had heard and seen and prayed it back to the days of the Apostles.

For Catholics—not just in the Middle Ages, but in living memory—the Holy Father was infallible, the Mass was in Latin, the priest was in the confessional, scapular enrolment was universal, rosaries were lifelines, nuns were in cloisters and classrooms, mothers were in the homes, families were made up of numerous children, Christ was in the tabernacle, and the Catholic Church was the shining city on the hill.

And then one day it all blew up—sabotaged not by a visible invading army but by forces from within who thought they knew better. The Mass of all time was thrown out and replaced by something utterly foreign to every Catholic who'd ever lived. The nuns threw off their habits and became agents for “social justice”. The priests rejected the sacrificial symbols of their holy office and became our buddies. Women invaded the sanctuaries while men abandoned the pews. The seminaries and churches became laboratories for pop theology and experimental psychology. Catholics had declared war on themselves. 

If you wanted to pass out Holy Communion, reject Humanae Vitae, hold hands at the Our Father, shake hands at the kiss of peace, or belt out the latest ditty that’d replaced Sacred Music—you could stay on.  But if you didn’t want all that, but preferred instead to continue to practice the Faith as you'd been taught in Catholic school and as your father and mother had always done, you had to make sure not to let the door hit you in the backside on your way out.

Some stayed and suffered like Magdalene beneath the Cross. Others went along with the madness. Most walked away, never to return. And today much of the remnant of the Catholic faithful  is either white-haired and fading away or, bereft of any Catholic identity whatsoever, cheering on Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.

Young people from the best families may continue going to Mass for a few years, at least until they’re 16 or so.  They may even show up for weekend retreats and overnights when the idea of getting out of the house on their own is still appealing. But soon enough all too many of them will join the rest of the “Catholic Christian” community today that quite simply is losing the Faith. If they're unfortunate enough to attend a Catholic college or university, it's a slam dunk!

According to a new poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life forty-five percent of Roman Catholics don’t even know that the consecrated bread and wine of Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Clearly, the fort has been betrayed.

A few Traditionalists remain, of course, but we’re partly “divisive”, mostly “in schism” and entirely “uncharitable”, so we don’t count. One way or another we’re all on our own—forgotten victims of a Church whose human element is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the lives and souls of what’s left of the faithful.

While most of us were never sexually abused by our priests (thank God!), nearly all of us can empathize with those that were.  We’ve all suffered the loss and humiliation of the scandal. We’ve all become damaged goods. And unless Tradition is restored and the Great Experiment abandoned, the only hope any of us has is that what’s left of our faith after all this time will not fail us when we need it most.  Death, after all, comes to us all, and, as it approaches, we can only look on in disbelief as our churches close by the dozen, our priests disappear or are sent to jail, our children grow restless with the Faith of their fathers, and our Pope is forced to apologize over and over again for the sins of Christ's Church.

Who are we anymore?  What are we? Without the priests and the nuns and the schools and the Mass and the orthodoxy and the universal Catholic infrastructure—can we still pass on the Faith to our children? Is our survival as Catholics even still possible when so many of us stand naked and defenseless in a pasture so vulnerable even our own Shepherd admits to his fear of the devouring wolves that are closing in on us all?

To the victims of abuse Pope Benedict offered the following comforting words during his UK visit: “I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives. I also acknowledge with you the shame and humiliation that all of us have suffered because of these sins and hope this chastisement will contribute to the healing of the victims, the purification of the church…”

Indeed, let us hope and pray for that intention, and for all the victims of abuse (in whatever form) in the Church today—that our faith will not fail us. And in the meantime, there is only one thing to do: restore the old Traditions, reclaim the old Mass, recapture the old Faith! Everything else is stuff and nonsense.

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