Friday, October 14, 2005

USCCB 2002 Speaker in a Snit...tries to pull a "Priests' Forum" trick on O'Malley

This, uh, lady evidently spoke at the U.S. Bishop's Dallas Show in 2002, and is now in a snit. Her villain? Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley. Why? Well, let her tell us. (Thanks to Dom...I shamelessly reprint the whole letter here.)

Question: where do the USCCB get their speakers??? By the way, I wrote about the conference 'way back when here.


Dear Pastors of Boston,

Please read this letter to Bishop O’Malley. I hope you will reflect on it and decide to support Walter Cuenin and others like him. Look at how many of you there are. If you stood together for one another, no bishop could abrogate power the way O’Malley is doing in Boston.

Blessings on you,
Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalyst
Speaker, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dallas 2002
Speaker, Annual Assembly, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, 2002
2617 Cadagon Court
Charlotte, NC 28270
(704) 814-6612

October 1, 2005

Dear Archbishop O’Malley:

It is the eve of Walter Cuenin’s reception and the march that will take place on his behalf.

I met you at the Annual Assembly of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men in Philadelphia in August 2002 where I spoke about the long-term consequences for victims of sexual abuse by priests. Interestingly that day, despite your acclaimed affinity for Franciscan garb, you were sporting clericals, complete with pectoral cross. Travel clothing perhaps.

In the three years since my speech to the bishops in Dallas and to the provincials in Philly, I have immersed myself in research and discourse about the multiple underpinnings of the Church’s sexual abuse scandal. My conclusions will be available in my forthcoming book, “Perversion of Power and Sexual Scandal in the Catholic Church.”

As the book title suggests, sir,—and as many others have opined - it has become clear that the responsibility for the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of minors, as well as the succeeding scandal, rests squarely with those least willing to shoulder it. To wit, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, from the Seat of Peter to chanceries throughout the world, have labored long and hard to structure a Church dedicated too much - much too much - to the preservation of their own power. It is the power born of homosocial monarchy and it is frightening. As your recent actions make clear yet again, great woe befalls sexual abuse victims/survivors, laypersons, and especially priests who, in order to follow Gospel teachings, poke at the hierarchy’s assumed power and authority.

With great hope, the Archdiocese of Boston - my childhood Church home - welcomed you. While quickly settling the pending sexual abuse lawsuits - at what turns out to have been bargain basement per victim prices - you have brought enormous pain to this old and richly traditioned Christian community. You, sir, have evidenced yourself as a Pharisee cloaked and secreted in monk’s clothing. The Pharisees, you may recall, were primarily concerned with their authority and they twisted the greatness of the Torah to suit their own lusts for power. You too, sir, have embarked on a spree of serial spiritual soul murders, wiping from your path those men and women who, truly following the Nazarene, challenged their leaders’ twisting of the Gospel. Your misogynistic refusal to wash the feet of women insulted the dignity of we the children of Eve, Sophia, Mary, and the Magdalene. Your closing of vibrant parishes without consulting the People of God involved in them bears scant resemblance to the Galilean’s devotion to and inclusion of the masses. Most egregiously anti-Christ in nature, and glaringly reminiscent of the Pharisees, however, is your exiling of priestly “friends of God and prophets (Elizabeth Johnson, theologian at Fordham, “She Who Is and Truly Our Sister.")” Is there such a log in your eye that you truly do not apprehend the meaning of your rejection of the contemporary true and courageous “other Christs” who have lifted their voices to teach you - to help you refind your way? Do you not remember that Jesus, knowing that his disciples would disavow him at his most horrific hour, loved them still and returned to them, retaining them in ministry as beloved disciples?

In Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” we meet Smeagol/Gollum, once a sprightly creature engaged with life. Upon finding the ring of Sauron, however, his soul became twisted and his capacity to love and be loved was lost as he became more and more enthralled by the dark draw of the ring, with its seductive promise of great power. Once, I am sure, you and your episcopal colleagues were boys who played in the sun, loved, and were loved. Your “Smeagol” humanity still can be detected in ministerial efforts that are safe and unthreatening to your authority. When challenged by Gospel voices unadorned by papal or episcopal garb, however, you become “Gollums,” obsessed with the power dangled by red hats, croziers, pectoral crosses, and newly forged, golden versions of the ring.

Almost surely, if Jesus returned today to St. Peter’s Square (or Holy Cross Cathedral), he would do so as a tattooed, multiply pierced individual wearing jeans and an old camouflage jacket. He (or she) would dine with gays and lesbians, bless the children born in test tubes, and gather unto him the sea of sexual abuse victims. He would, as he did, spend his time lifting the marginalized and powerless of today’s world while taking down the arrogant who teach with forked tongues. He (or she) would remind the modern day Pharisees - you and too, too many of your episcopal brethren - that people are more important than rules or accoutrements of power. As before, almost surely, the Swiss Guards would call the Romans to remove the disruptive truth teller from the temple. Sound familiar?

Last week at Villanova, a woman took to the microphone and told Justin Cardinal Rigali that he is a phony. Harsh truths sometimes require harsh words. You, sir, in my opinion, also are a facade of the Christ follower.

May you receive greater mercy than you have shown to others during your assaultive march through the vineyards of Massachusetts.

Very truly yours,

Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, Ph.D.