The Front Against Child Sex Abuse Expands to the Family: Josh Duggar, the Duggars, and What Every Family Should Know About Incest

May 29, 2015


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I thank Marci Hamilton for her leadership, this piece, and for the email she sent me about the piece.

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MAY 28, 2015


The Front Against Child Sex Abuse Expands to the Family: Josh Duggar, the Duggars, and What Every Family Should Know About Incest

The war against child sex abuse received an infusion of weapons and power when the Boston Globe revealed the pattern of the cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy in 2001. With horror, the world witnessed secondhand the bishops shuffling pedophiles among parishes and fresh child victims. That same pattern has emerged in state after state, like Pennsylvania, where Philadelphia District Attorneys Lynne Abraham and Seth Williams put together thorough documentation in 2005 and 2011 Grand Jury Reports, and Minnesota, where statute of limitations reform has opened the door to the justice system that in turn has revealed the specifics of the cover-up. The unfolding story has also been told in Australia and Ireland.

These revelations painted a paradigm of adults letting children be abused by other adults. I call it “adult preferentialism.” As adults, we are persuaded that our interests (e.g., reputations and jobs and relationships) are much more important than the needs of children. We worry about the long-lasting effects on our reputations, but expect the kids to “get over it.” It is shocking when revealed, but that paradigm has played itself out in one venue after another since 2001, including (1) multiples of religious organizations from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to the ultra-Orthodox Jews, and (2) sports programs from Penn State football to Olympic swimming andspeedskating.

Then elite private schools like Poly Prep and Horace Mann came into the spotlight, as well as public schools. Horace Mann is in the news this week because a coalition of alumnae and experts like Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, Charol Shakeshaft, and I banded together to find a way to make sure the serial abuse at Horace Mann and the institution’s hardhearted response did not happen at any other private schools. The Horace Mann Action Coalition issued a scathing report this week, replete with important guidelines for private schools.

The Irony Underlying All of these Revelations About Child Sex Abuse: Most Abuse Happens in the Home

While we learned about, discussed, and reacted to the abuse in all of these “safe” venues, the abuse that occurs the most remained unspoken: Incest. There was a time when all sex abuse discussions were taboo; that taboo has persisted with respect to family-on-family abuse. Incest is the last frontier for child sex abuse.

These victims are in many ways the most vulnerable, because they rely for the very roof over their heads and the food on their tables on family members who are either perpetrating the abuse or not rescuing them from it. Not to mention the love of family: We have a cultural expectation (for realists, a hope) that children are in safe, loving homes. That is obviously not true when a parent or both are alcoholics or drug addicts. But when the issue is child sex abuse, it usually remains undercover, often quite literally. The child does not understand this is not a normal childhood, suffers shame and humiliation, and the abuse persists right in front of the people closest to the victim.

The Duggar Moment of Public Education on the Reality of Incest

This week, the Duggar family of TLC reality show infamy became the vehicle for the public to start focusing on sibling (and other familial) incest. The Duggars are part of the Christian Patriarchy movement, which counsels that men are the heads of the household, birth control is prohibited, and women should bear as many children as their bodies can stand. In addition, they deliver pious instructions to their young people that suitors may not engage in intimacy—of any kind. (A “side hug”, however, is not considered intimate.)

In this context, Josh Duggar sexually abused five of his sisters. While that is bad enough, that was not the sole issue the public needs to examine. In addition, his father, Jim Bob, covered it up, and the family faith counseled the traditional, religious, and victim-shaming response to such crimes: Forgive and forget.

The hypocrisy of the Duggars’ no-intimacy-before-marriage message after Jim Bob and Michelle knew that their son had sexually abused his sisters in their home is breathtaking. I feel abidingly sad for these girls. The Duggar parents said show after show that girls who have intimate relations with boys before marriage are dirty and unattractive. It reminds me of the abused girls in ultra-Orthodox Jewish homes, where girls have been treated like damaged goods because they were abused. In both communities, girls are trained to believe that marriage is the highest goal, and purity is a pre-requisite to the best marriage. What is a girl to believe in that context?

Moreover, the “forgive and forget” theme is precisely the wrong message to victims, and to young perpetrators like Josh. Studies show that appropriate treatment of an abuser before he or she reaches age 18 radically increases the odds that the abuser will never do it again. The same is not true for youthful abusers who do not receive this treatment.

This was not the first brush this movement has had with sex abuse recently. LeaderBill Gothard was involved in sexual harassment misconduct that involved underage girls and had to step down. Rule of thumb: Male-dominated institutions where men are unaccountable (e.g., Catholic bishops, ultra-Orthodox rabbis, the prophets of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, and men in the Christian Patriarchy movement) mean more suffering for women and less safety for children.

From a public education perspective, the important moment in the Duggar scandal is this: It is the first time that major national media publicity has spotlighted revelations that a brother sexually abused multiple girls in his own family. This time, the focus has lasted long enough for the millions of family victims to hear that their abuse and suffering need not be secret forever. Finally, the public has been shown the reality that abuse happens in families, that they cover it up, that public declarations of “purity” can be false, and that the victims can remain voiceless and faceless as they have with the Duggars. I hope that this reality does not sit well with the public.

Every Victim Who Speaks Can and Often Does Embolden Another

One constant in these ongoing revelations and public education about child sex abuse has been that when one victim stands up or when the public learns about abuse in a new setting, other victims are often emboldened to step into the light from the shadow of shame and humiliation. They hear and see that we as a society blame the perpetrator and institution, not them. They deserve our sympathy and support, not the judgment they have unconsciously expected. In short, it was not their fault. They were kids.

While the Duggar girls have every right to choose when to speak about their abuse, if ever, other survivors are taking this moment to speak up. Accordingly, it is good to see the #CallThemOut social media movement; survivors are increasingly refusing to keep secret the abusers in the inner circles of their families and classrooms.

I expect that the Duggar disclosures will stir many among the millions of incest victims in the United States to step up. When they do, they may well protect the next generation of children, because the child abuser who starts with one family member not infrequently moves on to another, as Josh Duggar apparently did. This can go on sometimes for generations. Adult abusers don’t age out of their abusive tendencies, and they rarely disclose if they can avoid it.

Sadly, the justice system did nothing to redress what Josh Duggar did, in part due to the inadequacies of the Arkansas statute of limitations. A court has destroyed the records, and the report was made too late for prosecutors to go forward, according to them. Instead, the Duggar family profited from the secrets kept while Americans were misled into thinking that their “purity” was real.

What good can come of the Duggar story? We can’t help victims we cannot see. The paradigm of covering up abuse in religious and educational institutions can now be seen in the family. The public needed to hear this message, as well as the message that being righteously religious does not guarantee child safety.

I hope that many more will now be able to see the incest victims silently situated in their abuse and find ways to help them. It is on each and every one of us to ensure the safety of children across all faiths, cultures, jurisdictions, and, yes, even families.

Marci A. Hamilton is the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, and the author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Libertyand Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children. She also runs two active websites covering her areas of expertise, the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, www.RFRAperils.com, and statutes of limitations for child sex abuse, www.sol-reform.com. Professor Hamilton blogs atHamilton and Griffin on Rights. Her email address is hamilton02@aol.com.


“The Milwaukee situation is the most insidious and openly destructive one I have seen in 31 years…”, said Dominican Fr. Thomas P. Doyle recently.

May 29, 2015

Received by email from Gerald Slevin, 5.28.2015

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Hello All:

“The Milwaukee situation is the most insidious and openly destructive one I have seen in 31 years…”, said Dominican Fr. Thomas P. Doyle recently.

Tom Doyle gives the reasons for his concern and outrage in his recent full remarks below. There he addresses the horrendous and ongoing mistreatment, indeed “re-abuse”, by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee of local survivors of priest sexual abuse, including some of the more than 200 deaf boys who were abused a single priest. See the related HBO Emmy and Peabody Awards’ winning documentary, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God , and here .

This abusive Milwaukee priest was protected for decades by unaccountable cardinals and bishops, including ex-Pope Benedict and his Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone.  For years, these defenseless deaf boys tried to tell of their priest abuse in Milwaukee, to little avail.

This Catholic hierarchical cover up of a “one-priest” sexual abuse tsunami and of the related “re-abuse” of survivors are outrageously not unique, as is evident from the recent grilling by the Australian Royal Commission of Fr. Gerald Ridsdale, who was protected by his close ties to Cardinal George Pell, whom Pope Francis nevertheless promoted to a top Vatican position.

Most of the Risdale allegations had been well established and publicized before Pell’s promotion. Almost 75,000 people in just a few days have signed a Change.org petition calling for Pell — the Vatican’s financial chief and former Archbishop of Sydney — to answer questions under oath in Australia, despite Pell’s initial efforts to duck giving testimony there on new matters. Pell, in effect, under oath earlier also admitted to “re-abusing” abuse survivors with cruel and punitive legal tactics, for example, in the so-called Ellis case, like the Milwaukee Archbishop and Cardinal Timothy Dolan also apparently have similarly done.

A Vatican confidante reportedly spoken to by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia confirmed Pope Francis was personally aware of the allegations against Cardinal Pell, but was treating them as just that — unconfirmed allegations. Unconfirmed beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, perhaps. But in my experience over three decades as an adviser to top leaders of multinational organizations and corporations, not one of them would ever have promoted Pell like the pope did in light of the well known, widespread, multiple and plausible allegations against Pell. Indeed, Pell admitted before moving to the Vatican under oath to, in effect, using ruthless legal tactics to punitively “re-abuse” abuse survivor, John Ellis.

Of course, Rupert Murdoch appears to be very close to the Vatican and Pell, and also apparently to a top Pell supporter, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and to the indicted Adelaide Archbishop, the first Catholic archbishop ever criminally charged in a priest child sexual abuse cover up case . And the pope and Murdoch also appear to be partnering to elect a “low tax” Republican as US president next year, possibly Jeb Bush with Big Oil backing.

If the pope were really sincere and serious about curtailing priest child abuse, he would forthwith fire the Archbishop of Milwaukee, as he should have long ago fired, not promoted Pell, and replaced Pell with a woman executive .

It seems evident now, to me at least, that Pell fled Australia to try to get the benefit of the Vatican’s immunity protection from prosecution, with Pope Francis’ full knowledge and support, as Cardinal Bernard Law did earlier under Pope John Paul II.  Please see “Australia’s worst pedophile priest’ ” , and “Cardinal Pell is ‘weak and ineffectual’ and not very smart” .

While Pope Francis talks often publicly of “mercy”, his US bishop subordinates privately practiced, and still practice, cruelty, including New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, relating to, among other matters, the Milwaukee priest sexual abuse scandal . Even many college students at a NY Jesuit college recently showed their disgust with Cardinal Dolan and his abuse cover-up hypocrisy when they protested Dolan’s addressing them at their graduation.

Tom Doyle is a Dominican priest in good standing with a doctorate in canon law and five separate master’s degrees. He worked in the early 1980’s for the Vatican’s top US official shortly after then Argentine Jesuit provincial, now Pope Francis, was under the direction of the same official. Tom sacrificed a rising career at the US Vatican Embassy, and a likely bishop appointment in due course, to become instead the world’s most outspoken advocate for Catholic Church abuse victims. For this prophetic and courageous choice, Tom has endured much pain at the Vatican’s hand.

Since 1984, when he became involved with the issue of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy while serving at the Embassy, he has become the world’s top expert in the canonical and pastoral dimensions of this problem—working directly with victims, their families, accused priests, bishops, and other high-ranking Church officials. Doyle has interviewed over 2,000 victims of clerical sexual abuse in the U.S. alone, and has been the only priest to provide expert testimony in over 200 cases as to the legal liability of the Church. He has developed policies and procedures for dealing with cases of sexual abuse by the clergy for dioceses and religious orders in many countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Significantly, Robert Blair Kaiser’s final book, Whistle: Tom Doyle’s Steadfast Witness for Victims of Clerical Sexual Abuse, is due out in a few weeks. Kaiser left the Jesuits after a dozen years and covered the Second Vatican Council for Time magazine and was later a writer for The New York Times. He was until his recent death a well known author of a half-dozen insightful and unapologetic books on the post-Vatican II Catholic Church.

Kaiser was particularly proud of having written The Politics of Sex and Religion, the definitive history of Pope John XXIII’s joint lay and clerical commission that called for the Church to change its official teachings on birth control and to approve of artificial contraception.  Kaiser generously in 2012 republished this classic as a free e-book (click here) .

Pope Francis inexplicably and inexcusably failed to appoint Tom Doyle to the pope’s “go lightly and slowly” abuse commission, which just confirmed finally the low priority the pope gives to protecting children and the high priority he gives to protecting unaccountable bishops and their wealth.

The many continuing and new priest abuse scandals and bishop cover-ups, as reported 365 days a year by journalist stalwart, Kathy Shaw, at Bishop Accountability.org’s  ABUSETRACKER , just confirms the pope’s smokescreen strategy on curtailing priest child sexual abuse and on holding bishops accountable for covering up for the criminal priests.

The recent charges, and the pope’s related inaction, by Philadelphia Monsignor Lynn’s family that lay his abuse crimes on Cardinals Justin Rigali and Anthony Bevilacqua, just further confiems this.

It is abundantly clear, to me at least, that Pope Francis was picked as an interim place holder to change the subject with papal platitudes about mercy, capitalism and the poor and distractions like papal media junkets, absurd “celibate men only Family Synods”, gratuitous and amateurish climate change, capitalism and other vague and tw0 sided encyclicals and statements, countless photo ops and the like.

Francis’ selection may have given some incurable and docile Catholics temporary hope after the regressive last two popes, but  the recent Irish vote makes clear by almost a two one margin that Catholics, even in the world’s most Catholic country in recent centuries, are no longer buying any pope’s self interested and secretive acts any more.

The Catholic Church has only one choice to survive — by democratizing its structure to provide for bishop selection only by the entire People of God as was the case for over three centuries in the Church Jesus’ own disciples, including women, left behind. Francis could implement this structure only by a widely representative (including women) general council, that includes the laity and not just bishops and cardinals .

Pope Francis is unlikely to convene such a council, so prosecutors will have to force the Catholic hierarchy to reform. Either way, the top down Vatican hierarchy is on “life support” as the Irish just showed. Amen!!!


Here are Fr. Thomas P. Doyle. O.P. ‘s recent full remarks:

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by Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C.    May 26, 2015

Recently a prominent psychologist with over two decades of intense experience helping clergy abuse victims said that the most morally compromised group of people he knew of were the attorneys who represent the Catholic Church in the abuse cases. The recent pronouncement of Francis LoCoco, lead lawyer for the Milwaukee Archdiocese, confirms this opinion. “Let’s spend the money” he is quoted as saying, in reference to the 56 million dollars that Cardinal Dolan illegally and immorally tried to divert in the notorious Milwaukee bankruptcy proceedings. Lest the lawyers bear the brunt of the blame, the main culprits are the present archbishop, Listecki, and his predecessor, Dolan.

The squadron of attorneys work for them and not the other way around.

When abuse survivors call attention to the stonewalling tactics and often-vicious attitudes of the Church’s lawyers, its not uncommon for the bishops to plead innocence, claiming that it’s the lawyers doing their job. But the lawyers are hired by and work for the bishop and not vice versa. The disgusting charade going on in Milwaukee was cooked up by and has been sustained by Dolan and Listecki. Thus far the Milwaukee lawyers have spent over $20 million dollars to stonewall the victims.

Some bishops and church cheerleaders in this case and others have regularly tried to blame the victims and their lawyers, claiming they are only in it for the money. This is nonsense. The Church lawyers get paid by the hour, win or lose. Victims’ lawyers are paid on the contingency that the case will end in favor of the victim. I have known lawyers who represented victims who took major cuts so that their clients would end up with some respectable compensation.

How many of the Church lawyers work sex abuse cases pro bono? The money the archbishop is encouraging his lawyers to squander comes from the People of God of the archdiocese.

The bankruptcy process was initiated over four years ago, on January 4, 2011 to be exact, two days before the archbishop was scheduled to be deposed. The church’s lawyers are challenging each and every claim of the 570 victims who have come forward. Many of the claimants were among the 200 deaf boys sexually violated by Fr. Lawrence Murphy at St. John’s School for the Deaf. These victims have been fighting for decades for some form of justice and what they have received instead has been vicious, dishonest and certainly unchristian revictimization.

The archbishops of Milwaukee going back to Cardinal Albert Meyer have all played a key role in making the Milwaukee Church unique in its hypocritical and narcissistic response to the havoc caused by its priests. Meyer was told about Lawrence Murphy way back in the mid fifties and sent him on retreat for a month. The Redemptorist priest who reported Murphy to Cardinal Meyer also reported his behavior to the Apostolic delegate in Washington so the Holy See effectively knew about Murphy way back then.

Archbishop Cousins, whose tenure lasted from 1958 to 1977, knew about Murphy and not only did nothing, but he threatened one of the deaf boys who reported Murphy and forced him to sign a letter of retraction.

Rembert Weakland was archbishop from 1977 to 2002. He was faced with reports not only about Murphy but several other Milwaukee priests. Weakland’s track record in responding to victims is far from stellar but at least he tried to get Murphy laicized with no success, thanks to former Pope Benedict and his cohort, Cardinal Bertone who refused Weakland’s request and allowed Murphy to live out his days in the dignity of his priesthood while his victims lived out their days in the agony of his abuse. Then came Dolan in 2002.

Dolan tried to deal with the sex abuse nightmare primarily with his “hail fellow well met” personality but his rhetoric and back-slapping fell flat in the face of what he was really up to. Bankruptcy was being used by some bishops as a way to avoid trials and the revelation of the truth that comes with them, as well as a way to limit the compensation given to victims.

Although he would be gone when the bankruptcy process started Dolan obviously knew where it was all going. He diverted approximately $56 million dollars into a cemetery trust in 2007. When accused of trying to hide the money in 2011, he lashed out at victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson and accused him of spreading “groundless gossip.” Dolan’s lie was discovered when a letter he wrote to the Vatican in 2007 came to light….a letter in which he sought permission to transfer the $56 million to a restricted trust. Why? To quote his own words “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from and legal claim and liability.”

A local judge, Rudolph Randa, ruled that the transfer was protected by the first amendment and that “removing some or all of these funds from the trust and placing them in the bankruptcy estate would undoubtedly put substantial pressure on Archbishop Listecki to modify his behavior and violate his beliefs.” Over two years later a federal appeals court ruled that Randa was not only wrong but should have removed himself from the case. The $56 million was back on the table.

Now LoCoco and his fellow lawyers have declared that they plan on spending it all in litigation. Is this protracted and obscenely expensive process about achieving justice and assuring fair compensation for victims, as Archbishop Listecki has claimed in attempting to justify it? Not by a long shot!

In his narcissistic arrogance Listecki openly invited all who were sexually abused to step forward: “nothing will prevent me from making every possible effort at moving forward toward healing and resolution with those who have been harmed.” His real plan was to get them all to step up so that he could have his lawyers do everything possible to have their cases thrown out of court.

The best comment on this comes from one of the victims: “These victims have already been betrayed by the Church in the most damaging ways imaginable. How could the archbishop, a man of God, then proceed to try to throw each and every one of their cases out of court? This action in effect re-abused and betrayed these fragile victims yet again.”

Judge Randa said that putting the cemetery trust millions back on the table would put pressure on Listecki to violate his beliefs. What beliefs? There is nothing even remotely Christian or even Catholic about the travesty he is presiding over. He’s a civil lawyer himself so he knows well that the millions spent thus far represent countless billable hours for the lawyers defending his strategy. This is tons of money they will take home whether they win or lose.

The only belief that seems to be in danger of violation is the belief that the victims whose lives have already been severely damaged by the negligence of his predecessor, must now be pounded into the ground and defeated once and for all.

The Milwaukee bankruptcy has been a mockery of the American judicial process. It is an unconscionable abuse and subversion of the legal process, using it as a weapon to punish and further traumatize the victims. It has surely justified the pessimistic and negative image of civil attorneys and it has also made a mockery of the office of bishop. It is an example of the virus of clericalism at its virulent worst.

What Dolan, Listecki and the phalanx of attorneys have completely lost sight of, in addition to the objective meaning of justice, is what this is really all about: several hundred young boys and girls who were believing and trusting Catholics and who were betrayed and violated in the worst imaginable ways by the very men they trusted. As their lives unfolded they had the courage to take the risk of confronting the Archdiocese.

Rather than act like the Body of Christ, the leaders of this Church have come at the victims with every resource available to punish them for having had the audacity to demand that which their Church incessantly preaches about, justice and charity.



Meditation on Moving from Victim to Survivor to Thriver: Inspiration From a Walk Near Smith and Bybee Lakes…by Virginia Pickles Jones

May 28, 2015


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From Facebook.

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Click on the link above for better rendering of photos.


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MONDAY, MAY 4, 2015

Meditation on Moving from Victim to Survivor to Thriver: Inspiration From a Walk Near Smith and Bybee Lakes

by Virginia Pickles Jones

I find metaphors for healing all around me.  Walking in nature slows me down and gives me time to contemplate and meditate.  The beauty of the place and the moment soothe me and uplift me.  One of the most inspiring places where I love to walk near Portland, Oregon, is Smith and Bybee Lakes.


More than two hundred years ago when Lewis and Clark and the Corp of Discovery paddled canoes by here on the Columbia River, there were no levies, no roads, no warehouses, no electrical lines—just acres and acres of wetland.  The Columbia River flooded the seasonal lakes in winter.  By September, sun and summer drought left behind swaths of cracked mud along their edges.  Fish and Tree Frogs and the Western Painted Pond Turtles thrived in the virgin landscape.  Native grasses grew around the shores.  Rushes and sedges grew in the shallows.  Mule Deer and Pronghorn Antelope came to browse the grasses and brush and to sip water along the shore.  Bushtits, Brown Creepers, Robins, Tanagers, and many other song birds made homes and raised babies in the branches of the cottonwood and alder trees.  Swallows swooped low over the lakes and grasslands.  Ducks and geese, Great Blue Herons, egrets, and avocets found refuge and fish and frogs and insects to eat in the shallow waters.  Bald Eagles and Osprey flapped and glided high above, also watching for fish or frogs to feast on.

Life teemed in this pristine landscape.  But everything lived in balance.  The Bald Eagles never took too many fish.  The fish thrived despite the occasional depredations of the eagles and herons.  Deer and antelope browsed but never enough to denude the shrubs and grasses..

And then the white settlers came.  First one family and then another …. building a house here, a house there….and filling in lakes with dirt for farm fields.  They brought cattle which devoured the tender native grasses.  Weeds from the Old World that evolved tough stems from generations of grazing by cattle, thrived crowding out native grasses.  Still the landscaped teemed with life, even if there were small changes.

As the 20th century loomed, people built houses and roads and burned coal and drove cars that burped fumes from gasoline engines.  They shot the deer and antelope and built too many houses, too many roads with motor cars, and too many fences for the antelope to survive.  They built dams upriver that changed the seasonal ebbs and flows of river water through the wetlands.

As humans thrived and built and consumed, they began to dump their 20th century refuse at Smith and Bybee Lakes: Old automobiles leaking oil, leftover pesticides, plastics, household debris….

The poisons leaked into the water and sickened the fish, the frogs, the turtles, the ducks, and the herons.  Invasive European grasses and blackberries and starlings choked out the native grasses, shrubs, and birds.  English Ivy climbed trees, tapping them and sapping life from them.

Smith and Bybee Lakes became a damaged landscaped, barely surviving.

Fortunately some people realized the damage that we humans imposed on the land.  They closed the dump and removed the garbage and the toxins.  They built water control mechanisms to mimic the pre-dam ebbs and flows of water.  Other people came and removed the invasive grasses and ivy and blackberries, and planted native grasses and native blackberries.  But these people, volunteers mostly, have to keep coming back to Smith and Bybee Lakes and coming back and coming back to remove the persistent invasive foreign plants.  Many native shrubs thrive, but some native grasses are not able to re-establish themselves. They can only survive when carefully tended season after season.  The Western Painted Turtle survives, but Smith and Bybee Lakes is one of the few places they survive.

Some damage is permanent.  Some losses can never be repaired, but some damaged places can be restored to health.  Despite generations of abuse, Smith and Bybee Lakes has recovered enough to teem with life again and provide a place of beauty and peace for ducks and geese and eagles and osprey and songbirds and for us humans too.

Questions for meditation:

How did Smith and Bybee Lakes heal?

What parallels exist in the lives of survivors of abuse to the story of the restoration of Smith and Bybee Lakes?

Which wounds can you heal fully or in part?

Are there losses you cannot restore?


What can a victim of abuse learn from the history of Smith and Bybee Lakes?

How do you feel when you are out walking in nature?

Journey alone; journey with friends.


Follow the path through challenges.

Find space for beauty.


Cultivate a sense of wonder.


Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area is located at 5300 North Marine Drive, Portland, OR Take the exit to Marine Drive West from I-5.

© 2015 Virginia Pickles Jones


Confidential Meeting Seeks to Sway Synod to Accept Same-Sex Unions

May 28, 2015


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I thank George Bouchey for this link.

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This piece is from the National Catholic Register, a conservative paper, not the National Catholic Reporter, a liberal paper.


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Confidential Meeting Seeks to Sway Synod to Accept Same-Sex Unions

NEWS ANALYSIS: Around 50 participants, including bishops, theologians and media representatives, took part in the gathering, held at the Pontifical Gregorian University.



Comments (160)

Cardinal Reinhard Marx


ROME — A one-day study meeting — open only to a select group of individuals — took place at the Pontifical Gregorian University on Monday with the aim of urging “pastoral innovations” at the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Family in October.

Around 50 participants, including bishops, theologians and media representatives, took part in the gathering, at the invitation of the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of Germany, Switzerland and France — Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Bishop Markus Büchel and Archbishop Georges Pontier.

One of the key topics discussed at the closed-door meeting was how the Church could better welcome those in stable same-sex unions, and reportedly “no one” opposed such unions being recognized as valid by the Church.

Participants also spoke of the need to “develop” the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and called not for a theology of the body, as famously taught by St. John Paul II, but the development of a “theology of love.”

One Swiss priest discussed the “importance of the human sex drive,” while another participant, talking about holy Communion for remarried divorcees, asked: “How can we deny it, as though it were a punishment for the people who have failed and found a new partner with whom to start a new life?”

Marco Ansaldo, a reporter for the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, who was present at the meeting, said the words seemed “revolutionary, uttered by clergymen.”

French Biblicist and Ratzinger Prize-winner Anne-Marie Pelletier praised the dialogue that took place between theologians and bishops as a “real sign of the times.” According to La Stampa, another Italian daily newspaper, Pelletier said the Church needs to enter into “a dynamic of mutual listening,” in which the magisterium continues to guide consciences, but she believes it can only effectively do so if it “echoes the words of the baptized.”

The meeting took the “risk of the new, in fidelity with Christ,” she claimed. The article also quoted a participant as saying the synod would be a “failure” if it simply continued to affirm what the Church has always taught.

The closed-door meeting, masterminded by the German bishops’ conference under the leadership of Cardinal Marx, was first proposed at the annual meeting of the heads of the three bishops’ conferences, held in January in Marseille, France.

The study day took place just days after the people of Ireland voted in a referendum in support of same-sex “marriage” and on the same day as the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops met in Rome. Some observers did not see the timing as a coincidence.

The synod council has been drawing up the instrumentum laboris (working document) for the October synod on the family. Integrated into the document will be the responses of a questionnaire sent to laity around the world. Those responses, particularly from Switzerland and Germany, appeared to be overwhelmingly in favor of the Church adapting her teachings to the secular world.

Why the Lack of Publicity?

No one would say why the study day was held in confidence. So secret was the meeting that even prominent Jesuits at the Gregorian were completely unaware of it. The Register learned about it when Jean-Marie Guénois leaked the information in a story in Le Figaro.

Speaking to the Register as he left the meeting, Cardinal Marx insisted the study day wasn’t secret. But he became irritated when pressed about why it wasn’t advertised, saying he had simply come to Rome in a “private capacity” and that he had every right to do so. Close to Pope Francis and part of his nine-member council of cardinals, the cardinal is known to be especially eager to reform the Church’s approach to homosexuals. During his Pentecost homily last Sunday, Cardinal Marx called for a “welcoming culture” in the Church for homosexuals, saying it’s “not the differences that count, but what unites us.”

Cardinal Marx is also not alone, among those attending the meeting, in pushing for radical changes to the Church’s life. The head of the Swiss bishops, Bishop Büchel of St. Gallen, has spoken openly in favor of women’s ordination, saying in 2011 that the Church should “pray that the Holy Spirit enables us to read the signs of the times.” Archbishop Pontier, head of the French bishops, is also known to have heterodox leanings.

The meeting’s organizers were unwilling to disclose the names of everyone who took part, but the Register has obtained a full list of participants. They included Jesuit Father Hans Langendörfer, general secretary of the German bishops’ conference, who has been the leading figure behind the recent reform of German Church labor laws to controversially allow remarried divorcees and homosexual couples to work in Church institutions.

Father Schockenhoff

Among the specialists present was Father Eberhard Schockenhoff, a moral theologian. Faithful German Catholics are particularly disturbed about the rise to prominence of Father Schockenhoff, who is understood to be the “mastermind” behind much of the challenge to settled Church teachings among the German episcopate and, by implication, at the synod on the family itself.

A prominent critic of Humanae Vitae (The Regulation of Birth), as well as a strong supporter of homosexual clergy and those pushing for reform in the area of sexual ethics, Father Schockenhoff is known to be the leading adviser of the German bishops in the run-up to the synod.

In 2010, he gave an interview in which he praised the permanence and solidarity shown in some same-sex relationships as “ethically valuable.” He urged that any assessment of homosexual acts “must take a back seat” on the grounds that the faithful are becoming “increasingly distant from the Church’s sexual morality,” which appears “unrealistic and hostile to them.” The Pope and the bishops should “take this seriously and not dismiss it as laxity,” he said.

Father Schockenhoff has also gone on record saying that moral theology must be “liberated from the natural law” and that conscience should be based on the “life experience of the faithful.”

He has also insisted that the indissolubility of marriage is “not seriously called into question” by admitting remarried divorcees to holy Communion, writing a book to push his thesis in 2011 entitled “Opportunities for reconciliation?: The Church and the divorced and remarried”. He has further proposed that the term the “official Church” should be done away with because of a growing gap between the institutional Church and the Church of the faithful.

Also present was Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Sant’Egidio lay community; Jesuit Father Andreas Batlogg, professor of philosophy and theology and chief editor of the liberal periodical Stimmen der Zeit (Voices of the Time) — the journal has devoted its June issue to same-sex relationships and the synod — and Salesian Msgr. Markus Graulich, prelate auditor of the tribunal of the Roman Rota, one of very few Curial officials to attend. Some of those participating, such as Msgr. Graulich, took part in the previous synod.

Media Participation

Also noted were the large number of media representatives. Journalists from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, German broadcasters ZDF and ARD, the Italian daily La Repubblica and French-Catholic media La Croix and I-Media were also present. Their presence was “striking,” said one observer, who predicted they will be used to promote the agenda of the subject matter under discussion in the weeks leading up to the synod.

Monday’s meeting is just the latest attempt to subtly steer the upcoming synod in a direction opposed by many faithful Catholics. A statement on the study day released by the German bishops’ conference May 26 said there was a “reflection on biblical hermeneutics” — widely seen as code words for understanding the Bible differently from Tradition — and the need for a “reflection on a theology of love.”

Critics say this, too, is undermining Church teaching. By replacing the theology of the body with a “theology of love,” it creates an abstract interpretation that separates sex from procreation, thereby allowing forms of extramarital unions and same-sex attractions based simply on emotions rather than biological reality. Gone, say critics, is the Catholic view of marriage, which should be open to procreation.

The statement, which conspicuously failed to mention sin, ended by saying that “further discussion on the future of marriage and family is necessary and possible” and that it would be “enriched by a further, intensive theological reflection.”

This, too, is code for wanting a change in teaching, giving the impression that the doctrine in these areas is open to change. But for the Catholic Church, it is a settled issue.

“Imagine if the Church accepted homosexual relationships,” said one source speaking on condition of anonymity. “Ultimately, that is what these people want.”

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/confidential-meeting-seeks-to-sway-synod-to-accept-same-sex-unions/#ixzz3bOy615fs



11-year protest in Catholic church faces moment of reckoning, at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Roman Catholic Church in Scituate, Mass.

May 27, 2015


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I thank Maryellen of The Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini, Inc., for this link.

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11-year protest in Catholic church faces moment of reckoning

Associated Press

By PHILIP MARCELO, Associated Press, 6 hrs ago


© AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Barbara Nappa, of Scituate, Mass., left, sits with Jon Rogers during a vigil at the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church in Scituate, Mass., Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Parishioners occupying a closed Catholic church for nearly 11 years may be at their end. A state judge has ordered the Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini, which has occupied the church day and night since October 2004, to vacate by May 29.

SCITUATE, Mass. (AP) — Outfitted with Wi-Fi, cable television, snacks and comfortable armchairs, the vestibule at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Roman Catholic Church could easily be mistaken for someone’s living room these days, if not for the brilliant stained glass window that takes up an entire wall.

The confessional area and sacristy, where priests vestments are traditionally kept, have been converted into cozy sleeping quarters complete with beds and nightstands.

Ten large, handmade “protest” quilts hang on the walls of the vaulted-roof sanctuary — one for each full year a group of rebel occupants have been taking turns squatting night and day in this long-closed Roman Catholic church.

“I find it beautiful,” says Nancy Shilts, an 82-year-old former parishioner, as she settled in recently for her regular afternoon shift. “Mostly, it’s quiet. I go for a walk around the inside of the church, so that I get my exercise. I watch TV. I do a lot of praying.”

The 11-year protest by Shilts and others, which has already spanned the tenure of three popes, may be nearing an end.

A state judge has ordered the protesters to vacate by as early as Friday. Protesters said this past Friday that they had gotten a temporary reprieve, but the Boston archdiocese, which is expected to oppose such a delay, has declined to comment.

Organizers say they have no intention of leaving until the Boston archdiocese restores their parish’s standing or sells them the building outright. They say they are prepared to be arrested as trespassers, if necessary.

“This is our spiritual home,” says Jon Rogers, a lead organizer. “We’ve been taught for years that this is our church and that it’s our responsibility to care for it.”

The impasse places the Boston archdiocese, which took the group to court to push them out, in an uncomfortable position. Images of peaceful former parishioners being led away in handcuffs would bring unwelcome attention to an archdiocese still recovering from a clergy sex abuse scandal that, to a degree, began in Boston before exploding globally.

The archdiocese has declined to say what it would do if protesters refuse to leave. Spokesman Terrence Donilon said it just wants the protesters to respect legal decisions and end their vigil.

“We understand the difficulty one faces when they lose their parish,” he said in a statement.

The protest’s longevity is a testament to the group’s faith and determination, if nothing else, said Thomas Groome, a Boston College theology professor. Theirs is the last of six church occupations launched in 2004, when the archdiocese shuttered 70 worship houses.

“In a sense, the church is reaping what it sowed, because they taught these people they belong to a particular parish and that a particular parish belongs to them,” Groome said.

Rogers said the protest is also about taking a stand against the sex abuse scandal, despite the archdiocese’s best efforts to separate the issues.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church was among the churches where priests abused boys, he said. It’s also a valuable asset. The 30 largely undeveloped acres are worth over $4 million, the group said.

“What the archdiocese has done is sell off our beloved churches to replenish coffers depleted by the sexual abuse scandal,” Rogers said. “We’ve drawn a line in the sand and said this needs to stop now. How many communities need to be destroyed?”

The archdiocese says its finances have improved since the tumultuous early 2000s. But plummeting attendance and a priest shortage remain intractable.

Rogers, the protesters’ leader, worries their window is closing. He’s not sure how much more the group can withstand financially, especially if the archdiocese moves to have them fined each day for trespassing.

Rogers estimates protesters — thanks to donations and their own personal fortunes — have spent more than $80,000 on legal bills and tens of thousands more on building upkeep. The archdiocese still pays for the electricity and heat, as well as the occasional landscaping and snow plowing.

“Anything is possible,” Rogers says. “We don’t want them to come arrest us. The last place I personally want to be is in jail. But we’re prepared. We’re ready.”


 A makeshift donation envelope for a legal fund, with the wording of Easter offering crossed out, sits atop of a collection box at the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church in Scituate, Mass., Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Parishioners occupying a closed Catholic church for nearly 11 years may be at their end. A state judge has ordered the Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini, which has occupied the church day and night since October 2004, to vacate by May 29.

1 of 5 © AP Photo/Charles Krupa



Catholic Church Ponders Future After Same-Sex Marriage Vote in Ireland

May 25, 2015


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This piece traces recent Irish social history. Recommended.


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Catholic Church Ponders Future After Same-Sex Marriage Vote in Ireland


Gerry Adams, head of the Sinn Fein, greeted supporters of same-sex marriage at Dublin Castle on Saturday. The referendum was passed with 62 percent of votes. 

Credit Paul Faith/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

DUBLIN — The morning after Ireland learned it had become the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote, Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, looked out at the future of the Roman Catholic Church.

It could be found at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral here, in downtown Dublin, as two rows of children awaited confirmation before him in the lofty, column-lined church.

“Boys and girls, I made my confirmation 60 years ago,” he told them, adding, “Your world is different from mine.”

Not far away, the streets were quiet after a long night of celebrating. Revelers filled the bars, beeped horns, waved rainbow flags and drank Guinness after the result was announced on Saturday. The size of the victory energized supporters, with the referendum affirmed by 62 percent of the electorate and passed in all but one of Ireland’s 43 districts.


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After the votes were counted, the carefully planned and executed campaign by activist groups seemed as much about putting behind a past entrenched in theocracy and tradition as it was about marriage for gays and lesbians. And it underscored how different Ireland is today for the young, who turned out in droves to vote. In a little more than a generation, Ireland has both distanced itself from the church and sharpened its secular identity.

Same-sex marriage supporters celebrated at Pantibar, in Dublin, on Saturday.

Credit Paulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times

At St. Mary’s, the results of the referendum, as one might expect, did not come up — the archbishop instead quipped about his first experience with a cellphone. But afterward, speaking at a house next to the church, he conceded that much had changed.

“The church needs to take a reality check,” Archbishop Martin said after the Mass, repeating a comment he had made Saturday. “It’s very clear there’s a growing gap between Irish young people and the church, and there’s a growing gap between the culture of Ireland that’s developing and the church.”

The country’s cultural evolution reflects a blend of disaffection with the church, and Ireland’s willingness to embrace a wider vision of itself in the world. As the church lost many people in its scandals and its unwillingness to yield to sexual freedoms, the European Union found itself with a willing and eager member.

The shift didn’t happen overnight. After Ireland broke from Britain in 1922, it was a virtual colony to the Vatican, a theocracy in all but name.

John Charles McQuaid, the longtime archbishop of Dublin, played acentral role in drafting Ireland’s Constitution before he became archbishop, hewing to conservative church doctrine and closely involving himself in details as small as the placement of commas in the document. That kind of unchecked dominance by the church continued for decades.

In 1979, more than one million people turned out for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Dublin, a staggering crowd in a country with a population of about 3.4 million at the time. In 1983, by a two-thirds majority, Ireland hewed to church teachings and passed a referendum outlawing abortion except in cases where a mother’s life was at risk, after a divisive campaign.

When Same-Sex Marriages Became Legal

About 20 countries have already legalized same-sex marriages. Here is a list of when each did.

2001 The Netherlands 
2003 Belgium
2005 Canada and Spain
2006 South Africa 
2009 Norway and Sweden
2010 ArgentinaIceland and Portugal 
2012 Denmark
2013: BrazilEngland and WalesFranceNew Zealand and Uruguay
2014 Luxembourg and Scotland
2017 (Law becomes effective.) Finland

But signs of resistance had already been showing. In 1971, women’s rights activists organized a “condom train,” going over the border to Belfast and bringing back condoms to a country that outlawed contraception.

Tony Flannery, a priest who was suspended in 2012 because of his criticism of the church’s views on women and homosexuality, said contraception was a seminal issue for a generation that became the parents of today’s youngest voters.

And it “was the first time that Irish Catholics first questioned church teaching,” Mr. Flannery said. “That opened the door, and after that they increasingly began to question a whole raft of Catholic sexual teaching, and then the child sexual abuse scandal came along which destroyed church credibility in the whole area of sexuality.”

Even the reputation of Archbishop McQuaid, who died in 1973 after more than three decades at the helm of the Dublin archdiocese, crumbled in the tide of child sex scandals. In 2009, his role in covering up abuse was excoriated in a report commissioned by the Irish government and the headline of a commentary in The Irish Times likened him to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. By 2011, abuse allegations surfaced involving him.

“The people have changed their relationship with the Catholic Church because they’ve been disappointed and let down,” said Christina Breen, 54, who visited Dublin Castle on Saturday to see the results of the vote, a show of support because one of her sons is gay.

Or, as Mr. Flannery put it, “The day when the church had the power to influence social debate in Ireland, or to swing it, is gone.”

A celebration at Dublin Castle as Ireland became the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote.  “Your world is different from mine,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told children awaiting confirmation on Sunday. 

Credit Paulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times

The legal system began to chip away at the laws restricting homosexuals. In 1988, a lawyer named Mary Robinson successfully argued a case in the European court system challenging Ireland’s law that made homosexuality a crime. Five years later, after Ms. Robinson became Ireland’s first female president in 1990, she signed a law decriminalizing homosexuality.

At the same time that the church’s moral authority was flagging, the Irish were finding a new identity within the European Union. They share the euro, and are more willing to take advantage of low-cost airfares for weekend jaunts to the Continent and beyond, broadening an outlook that for their parents and grandparents had been molded by the church and Britain.

The country’s economic road has been more fraught. The Irish economy boomed in the 1990s, cratered after the global financial crisis and is now recovering. Unemployment this week dipped below 10 percent for the first time since the crisis began, though economic output is still below its 2007 peak.

While young people are still emigrating for opportunities elsewhere, they are not as inclined to leave for good, as previous generations had. The return of thousands to vote showed a connection to their homeland that had been largely lacking in earlier emigrants.

An influx of young people from Eastern Europe and elsewhere has made Ireland more diverse. The Irish political scene has largely avoided the toxic anti-immigrant rhetoric that has surfaced in much of Europe. In large part, that is because Sinn Fein, the opposition party that was once the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, has gained ground by attacking austerity instead of immigrants. The same-sex marriage referendum had broad support across the political parties.

“The biggest change I see is the young people,” said Annie Dillon, 58, who works for a community-based health organization.

“I’m thinking of my 20-year-old nephew; it was like a no-brainer for him,” she said. “He was like, ‘Of course, why wouldn’t we want to be including everybody?’ That seems to be the prevailing attitude.”

Ms. Dillon said that when she came out, at 21, “you had to have a dual existence almost.”

“It was easy to be out when you’re with other people who were gay, but I came out to my brothers and sisters gradually,” she said, adding, “I never talked about it much to my parents.”

Even as it widely celebrates the change that the same-sex marriage vote indicated, Ireland is not entirely beyond the kind of cultural battles that have led to far more contentious political campaigns in the past. Many believe there will be a much more fierce cultural debate over legalizing abortion.

With the vote for the same-sex referendum going nearly two to one in favor, Archbishop Martin said Sunday that the church needed what he called “a new language that will be understood and heard by people.” Many young people, he added, “go in today and find a church that is for the like-minded,” as opposed to being inclusive.

But he did not offer a solution for attracting young people back to the church, and reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“For many, and I’ve said this before, inside the church becomes almost alien territory to them in today’s society,” he said. “If the leadership of the Irish Catholic church don’t recognize that, then they’re in severe denial. Have I got a magic formula? Certainly not.”

Douglas Dalby contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on May 25, 2015, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Church Contemplates Its Future After Same-Sex Marriage Vote in Ireland. 




Commentary on the Irish Vote by Dr. Robert Moynihan

May 25, 2015

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Received by email.

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Moynihan is as staunchly Catholic and conservative as they come.


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