Monday, January 21, 2008

How many words is this worth?

This picture just captures something about my life right now, something that defies expression but is somewhere in the direction of my dissertation going to the dogs. Anyway, it makes me laugh. I like how this somehow reverses our life together; it seems as though I have disturbed her in the middle of her reading.

Of course, the picture I really wanted was ruined in finding the camera: dog sleeping on book.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

NPR weighs in

As most of you know, I'm not blogging much as other writing must take precedence right now. But I do have a couple of things to say quickly.

Some of you may have heard it, but if not, NPR did a story on the Dominicans and the alleged pedophile they placed at our parish for a while. You can find both text and audio here.

Check the October archives for some of my earlier commentary. I have a couple things to add. The Dominican provincial has really been trying to do right by the parish, and has been in residence here (more or less) since the week before Thanksgiving. He can preach and he strikes me as a holy man and a good priest. I'm afraid, though, that he will fail in the end to really do right by the people his brothers have hurt. I mean not simply the (alleged) pedophile but also all the folks who lived with him, who supervised him, or who had administrative responsibilities for him. The pattern I see is a tendancy to protect the brother and the Order, even at the expense of children, the truth, and the Gospel. It actually saddens me greatly. I think I have more respect for this man than for most priests, most people, I have met. And yet I think he has been a part of the problem and I think he will likely--despite intentions to the contrary--remain so.

Let me be clear: I do think that there is a very real desire to deal with the problem of pedophilia. But what I have seen in reading some of the depositions attached to the legal proceedings related to Fr. Cote indicates to me that there are very deep patterns of prioritizing a brother's input and needs and marginalizing lay persons and their concerns. I think there is a system which (contrary to the stated aims of religious life) encourages one brother to look the other way in the face of his brother's shortcomings/issues/sins, because, after all, then he can look the other way if (when!) he notices those of the first. I think the good friars, like the rest of us, find it hard to live Christian community in this age of "live and let live."

In the depositions it was clear that there were a few friars and a few lay persons who really tried to step up and say something. And there were friars, diocesan staff, and lay persons who ignored the stated concerns, missed the warning signs, amd dismissed or marginalized the folks who spoke up.

I wish I could somehow bring together in the same room some of my friends who think I should leave the Catholic Church and/or the Dominican institutions I've associated myself with over all of this with some of the good Dominicans I know. I wish that they could see how deeply this shakes their credibility, how important it is that they respond not just with the "justice" that the legal system demands but with that deeper justice which is enlivened by charity. I want to see them give all involved their due, but more than that, I want to see their love of the Gospel, their love of the people they are called to serve (especially the children), and their willingness to do something radical to show that love. I'm not sure what that would be, but I sure do wish that the responses (on all sides) to clergy sex abuse involved more love and fewer lawyers.