Religion, Faith and Sprituality

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tax-Exempt NY Archdiocese Church Publicly Endorses Mitt Romney--In Writing.

We are Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, but on this question we are united in faith and in action. We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.
Such sentiments are not all that unusual to hear lately. The "Catholic vote" has been in the news and there has been much waxing prosaic on the partisanship of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

But these are not the words of some Catholic individual on the stump. These exhortations were published (and widely circulated) in the weekly (September 2nd) bulletin distributed after each mass at St. Catherine of Sienna Church in Manhattan. Hit the link and see for yourself (Click 9/02 bulletin.) before Timothy Dolan's legal muscle forces the parish to take the online version down.

I, who have, of late, had much to say about Dolan's more subtle campaigning for Romney, am at a loss for words.

Except to say that this parish has clearly broken the law.

For those of you who do not attend Catholic mass weekly as I do, the church bulletin is a reliable constant in Catholic worship life. Even in the days of electronic connectedness, the paper bulletin remains the prime means of communicating with Catholics in the pews. Each parish has one. They have a uniform design --and Catholics read them. St. Catherine's is also available online.

So far Timothy Dolan's electioneering for Romney has been very thinly veiled. There's been a push for the appearance of partisanship of late, a push which I believe is a response to his fear that he is concerned about losing his diocese's tax-exempt status. I think also his show of non-partisanship has to do with a desire to hedge his bets and hold onto progressive Catholics.

There is nothing thinly veiled about this campaign speech which was disseminated, most probably, after each mass celebrated at St. Catherine of Sienna Church last weekend, and authored by one John Farren O.P., a priest affiliated with St. Catherine's Church, who cites a letter written by six former Ambassadors to the Holy See:
The Former Ambassadors write: "Fellow Catholics, "We are all called to advance the moral teachings of Christianity in the life of our country. Where the stakes are highest - in the defense of life, liberty, and human dignity - we have a duty to act that is greater and more urgent than allegiance to any political party. "In the election of 2012, this conviction has united all of us - each a former ambassador of the United States to the Holy See - in support of Governor Mitt Romney's candidacy for president. Whatever issues might dominate the presidential campaign from now until November, our concerns lie with fundamental rights, beginning with religious liberty.

"While the current administration has brought our first freedom under direct assault by imposing government mandates that completely disregard religious conscience, Governor Romney believes that freedom to live one's faith is essential to liberty and human fulfillment. And he has pledged himself to removing those federal mandates immediately.

"While the current administration has now put its weight on the side of those who propose to redefine the meaning of marriage itself, Governor Romney has stood firm in defending this sacred institution. In the White House, just as he did in the Massachusetts State House, he will defend the institution of marriage before the Congress, the courts, and the country.

"Where the current administration has shown its sympathy for the pro-abortion lobby, Mitt Romney will be a faithful defender of life in all its seasons. And he understands the special duty of people of faith to serve in this cause. As Governor Romney recently said, "From the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man. Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action."

"These are the words of a man we believe can be a great force for good in this nation. We are Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, but on this question we are united in faith and in action. We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States."
Is this an endorsement for a political candidate or is it just my imagination?
Tax-exempt organizations are prohibited from endorsing candidates.
The Internal Revenue Service should investigate the Archdiocese of New York for this violation.
And the funny part is, all this risky Catholic behavior is for the benefit of a presidential candidate who won't lift a finger to revere Roe v. Wade.

Follow Michele Somerville on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NYpoet

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Prelate and the Dirty Pol--Nicholas DiMarzio and Vito Lopez: Thick As Thieves


I recently posted a piece about the not quite kosher alliance between the disgraced Democratic party kingmaker Vito Lopez and Nicholas DiMarzio, the bishop in charge of the Brooklyn-Queens Roman Catholic Diocese, in the "New York" section of the Huffington Post. It's a local politics story, but, there is an alarming religious (Catholic) aspect to Vito Lopez's fall from grace--so to speak. For years Vito Lopez and Nicholas DiMarzio have been thick as thieves. In the Brooklyn and Queen Diocese, wherein I do most of my worshipping, Vito Lopez has enjoyed liberal use of at least a few of DiMarzio's priests.
No, Vito did not slide his hands up their thighs, as he did with young women in his offices, but he has been credibly accused of using Catholic priests to electioneer on his behalf in senior citizens operations he (Lopez) managed, and both DiMarzio and the monsignor who works as his "spokesman" have openly shilled for Lopez. Given the relationship that existed between Lopez and DiMarzio and the way things are generally done among priests (who are required to obey their bishops), it is unreasonable to assume that a priest instructing elderly folks living in Lopez's housing to vote for him would not do so without the bishop's blessing, so to speak. I write "existed" and not "exist" because it is now unlikely that the relationship between the prelate and the pol will survive Lopez's tribulations. DiMarzio will no longer be kissing that pol's ring.
In one case, a few years back, a pastor was informed just before the 12:00 mass that DiMarzio's spokesman/assistant Kieran Harrington, a monsignor, would be celebrating "the twelve" that day. As mass ended Harrington electioneered for one of Vito Lopez's pet candidates from the pulpit. As mass let out, parishioners were recruited to leaflet on church grounds on behalf of the candidate, whom Harrington had earlier described as being "good for our church." Obviously neither the leafleting, nor the campaigning from the pulpit were lawful. Although I did not speak with the priest about this virtual hijacking of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass those congregants in attendance with whom I did speak seemed to feel that the blind-sided priest scheduled to say the mass had been made an offer he couldn't refuse.
It is a bit ironic that this despicable incursion into a sacred space on the occasion of the Christian Sabbath was not even necessary. The candidate, Steve Levin, was a sure favorite in that race. The bishop had nothing to gain by sending his flak monsignor into the church on to commit this transgression, nothing, that is, beyond shame and distrust. DiMarzio's (unlawful) choice to publicly campaign for Lopez that same year tells us much (DiMarzio recorded "robocalls" for his strange bedfellow Vito Lopez.) about the kind of "shepherd" DiMarzio really is.
DiMarzio closed or shuttered four poor parishes in one area of Brooklyn a few years ago, due to lack of funding while simultaneously giving his imprimatur (allocating funds) to rebuild a gargantuan cathedral-sized church in a neighboring area. The restoration of this (St. Joseph's Church) is uncommonly extensive and and costly, and it has the added godawful feature of being conducted in a part of Brooklyn wherein many of the poor have been pushed out of their homes by mammoth real estate interests and gentrification. The pastor of this cathedral-esque church in the making is the aforementioned Harrington, DiMarzio's mouthpiece/assistant/accomplice, who very much hopes to be the next bishop of the diocese, and the hope is that the church will attract the new affluent young people whom the new, luxury housing in the area will attract.
Parishioners in parishes shuttered for their inability to cough up the diocesan vigorish, put money in the basket each week up until the time their parishes were closed. Some of that money found its way to the diocese where it is likely enough some of it paid for a few of the bricks and some of the mortar the bishop's new church, the church his flunky monsignor runs. All this anguish and expenditure despite the fact of the diocese's actual cathedral, St. James Basilica, which sits a mile away from where DiMarzio's colossus-in-progress is located. One priest with whom I spoke (not for attribution) explained the bishop's decision to approve this costly project while so many churches in its vicinity were closing: "He thinks the cathedral isn't big enough. Twice a year it isn't big enough. DiMarzio wants a bigger church for ordinations." It would seem the bishop of Brooklyn learned well from his long collaboration with Vito Lopez.
In one dispute between a community organizer priest and Vito Lopez, DiMarzio threw his support to Vito, and his priest under the bus. Lopez attempted to develop real estate in poor the community (not far, again, from the de facto-cathedral in the remaking) wherein the priest, Reverend James O'Shea ministered and worked as a community organizer. Father O'Shea challenged team Lopez-DiMarzio and wound up without a church; shortly thereafter the tag team Lopez-DiMarzio closed the church he had run.
With help from Vito Lopez, the passage of the Child Victims Act in the Assembly was blocked. Knowing what we know now, it is easy to conclude that Lopez was probably soft on abusers and not merely trading favors with the bishop. DiMarzio's decision to collaborate with Lopez in fighting legislation (for a price, on the basis that it would "bankrupt the diocese") that would protect the lives of people who were violated as children by priests is its own latter-day variation on Judas and his thirty pieces of silver, and tells us a good deal about who the man governing Roman Catholic churches in Brooklyn and Queens really is.
As a Catholic and a Christian who puts credence in the teaching of Jesus, I find it hard to square strong-arming tactics with Christian teaching. In most cases, cozying up to developers at the expense of the poor flies in the face of everything for which the Jesus of the Gospels stands.
My Temple will be called a house of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves!
(Matthew 21:13) 
For more information on Lopez and DiMarzio, read "Grabby Vito Lopez and the Bishop in His Pocket" and"Bishop DiMarzio Wants Your Lunch Money" on Huffington Post.


Follow Michele Somerville on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NYpoet

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Child Victims Act: Justice for Victims of Child Abuse Requires More Time

I agonized a while over what I felt about the Child Victims Act New York Assemblywoman Marge Markey has been sponsoring for almost five years. Why wouldn’t I, a teacher and mother of three, not leap with all possible alacrity to support legislation (against which the Roman Catholic Church in New York is currently lobbying hard) that protects the victims of child abuse?
Because I did have reservations. I know people who claim to have been falsely accused of molestation. I hate the idea that the life of a dedicated teacher or minister might be ruined by false accusations. I learned as a girl, ironically enough from my father, a white, uniformed New York Police Department cop (now deceased who retired as a lieutenant) who worked in some of the most “high crime" areas of New York City, that the rights of the accused must be safeguarded even when emotion says otherwise, for our honoring them announces to the world our (state’s) commitment to justice. I work with families in which a parent is or has been incarcerated. I visited a prison for the first time recently. I think the jails are too full and that the corrections system in our nation is corrupt. 
But I have been giving the Child Victims Act much thought thought over the past five years and I have come to believe that justice demands that we extend the statute of limitations for reporting sex crimes against children, and that those whose attempts to charge their abusers have been thwarted by current the current statutes deserve their day(s) in court.
It is a statement of the obvious to say that when the welfare of innocent children is involved, attendant questions of freedom can become hard to untangle. It is not unusual for even the most ardent of First Amendment defenders to favor of limiting a purveyor’s freedom to publish lewd photographs of children, for example. Child Protective Services removes children from dangerous homes in the absence of due process. We go that extra mile for children because they are innocent. United States Americans tend to agree, whatever our other differences are, that the welfare of children demands extraordinary vigilance. 
I have been trying hard to wrap my head around the idea that there is so much support, especially in my own (Roman Catholic) church for failing/declining to prosecute adults who rape children. Reading about the trial of Penn State’s assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and the Vatican sex scandal’s manifestation in the diocese of Philadelphia yesterday reminded me that normal vigilance in this is not enough. So warping is the problem of sexual abuse of children that the top bishop in the United States feels no special urge to comment with specificity on claims that he may have paid pedophiles to leave the priesthood expeditiously — instead of seeing to it that they were charged possibly. Mike McQueary, A witness to Sandusky’s brutal crimes spoke, under oath, on the stand, of declining to tell Joe Paterno the details out of fear of offending the legendary coach’s sensibilities. What about the sensibilities of the 14 year old boy pushed up against the shower wall? According to the N.Y. Post one of his victims tried to report Sandusky: 
Victim Number One eventually broke the scandal open by telling his mother and then a doubting school guidance counselor about what he’d experienced. He said the counselor didn’t want to alert authorities at first because, she said, Sandusky “has a heart of gold.”
Especially when I consider these crimes (sins) through prism of my Roman Catholic sensibility, I am astonished by the readiness of so many adults who claim to care about children to wash their hands of the abuse of juvenile victims of sex crimes. How much is more evil, really, than delivering children into the waiting arms of those who would rape them? 
The pedophile who commits a sex crime acts out of profound illness and compulsion. The witness or superior who fails to report such crime, however, generally commits such a transgression in the interest of self-preservation, or for economic reasons — not out of compulsion. I believe those who protect these rapists may be more diabolical than the rapists themselves.
Last week’s reports about Timothy Dolan put me in mind of the Kitty Genovese aspect of this. Here’s a hypothetical, a test: 
You’re coming home from a dinner in restaurant on Saturday night. It’s dark. On the way to the car you see a 13-year-old kid being raped by an adult. How do you respond? 
a) You drive the attempted rapist to another parking lot. 
b) You give him a 20-dollar bill and tell him to “get lost.”
c) You get as good a look at the “perp” as possible, call out “Fire.” Call 911 and do what you 
can to comfort the child until the police arrive. 
We know New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan may think “b” is the correct answer; because he appears to have paid pedophile to leave. We have no details regarding whether these perpetrators were reported — I like to imagine they were — but we do not know. What we do know is the cardinal feels no explanation is necessary. We know also that his Holy Father in Rome supports Dolan in thinking that the church does not really need (or deserve) to be told in specific terms how these payments were handled. 
We do know that pedophiles do not stop molesting children until they are stopped. We do know that many bishops and superiors did the equivalent of “a”; they transferred pedophiles to other parishes. We do know that taking a teaching position or a Roman collar away from a man who sexually violates children decreases his opportunity, but does not put an end to the predation. We know that for men who are abused by priests and teachers, it often take decades for them to even speak of their trauma, and we know that among them there is greater incidence of depression, substance abuse, sexual dysfunction and suicide. 
Yet, in the State of New York, we close the window (on his neck) if a victim older than 23 tries to charge the man who raped him. 
Justice requires more time. 
Some states don’t even have statutes of limitation for sex crimes; they recognize the extraordinary mitigating psychological factors involved, ones which are unique to sex crimes against children. 
The Child Victims Act of New York does not call for the statute of limitation be thrown out. It creates a one-year window for those who have, thus far, been constrained, by an unreasonable statute of limitations, from seeking just outcomes through the courts. And it extends the period of time for reporting future cases to age 28. 
At present, in New York State, a man who was raped as a child by a trusted cleric or coach must report the crime by the time he is 23. A young man or woman of 23, especially one who has been traumatized by rape, has barely cleared adolescence. As Dr. Richard B. Gartner points out in his June 8th opinion piece in the New York Times, so crippling is the shame, psychological damage and emotional paralysis such abuse causes, that it often takes decades for men to come forward. 
It is no secret that throughout the nation Roman Catholic leadership has lobbied aggressively to block this legislation. One of my own bishops (I worship in the Brooklyn/Queens and New York dioceses.) Nicholas —DiMarzio, bishop of Brooklyn/Queens publicly threatened — amid a spate of parish closings - to shutter parishes that failed to vote for the candidate who was sponsoring counter legislation. Since the bill was introduced, DiMarzio has used his weekly column to warn Catholics that passage of the Child Victims Act would bankrupt the church, and has advised his religious to spread the word in their parishes.
Some church officials and their mouthpieces are fond of pointing out the ways in which the Child Victims Act discriminates against Catholic pedophiles in particular. Often their defense of Catholic abusers takes the form of elaborate indictments of public school teachers and alleged rapists like Larry Sandusky. In what bizarro Christian world might such reasoning be persuasive? The rape of juveniles is too big to boil down to the size of two sibling children bickering at the dinner table over what one gets away with. Stopping children from being violated, not insulating predators and their accomplices, should be the priority. 
The damage sex crimes against children does has a long shelf life and can ruin lives. A single pedophile can commit a hundred of counts of sex crimes against children. Sending a predator to a parish five miles or five states away is not a proper moral, ethical or Christian response, because children live almost everywhere. 
How does Jesus figure in to all of this? As Christians, we must assume He would love the sinner. 
But we must also know, as Christians, that Jesus would not support the sacrifice of innocent children for a price. 
What would Jesus do about this the Child Victims Act? It’s a no-brainer.


June 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Are Catholics Still Bankrolling Bishops Who Are Soft on Child Rape?

The March 13th a New York Times report concerning the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy's decision to menace two sex abuse advocacy groups is alarming. As a Catholic, I am appalled by these tactics. As a mother of children, I find unthinkable that a church hierarchy would use collection dollars to bankroll efforts to intimidate an agency which offers support to people who were raped as children.
According to the Times piece, lawyers representing priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have subpoenaed SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) over thousands of pages of materials -- not all of it pertaining directly to the cases of their clients. These records very likely contain sensitive information relating to alleged incidents of child rape and the sexual abuse of minors. Marci A. Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University and an advocate for victims of clergy-committed sex crimes, has said what anyone who has followed the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse crisis already knows: 
If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced... it definitely would be SNAP. And that's what they're going after. They're trying to find a way to silence SNAP.

Punishing Catholics for reporting incidences of clergy rape and abuse is nothing new. There is a long tradition in the Roman Catholic Church, of penalizing/re-traumatizing children who come forward with accounts of sexual abuse, but this has improved dramatically in the US and Europe in recent years. It is likely, however, that In the developing world, children raped by priests are not quite so lucky. Some church workers and priests inform me that the problem goes unchecked in regions of India and in African nations where the church has strong presence.
I was surprised, at the time of Timothy Dolan's (recent) incardination, to learn how few New York Catholics knew that Dolan, who was packaged and sold as a priest with a relatively clean record on clerical abuse, bankrolled a countersuit against a man who had come to him, in a troubled state, claimning to have been raped in childhood (in a home for troubled boys). According to court records, this priest (who sued his accuser with Dolan's help) denies having raped boys, but admits to having slept in his rooms with them.
Tim Dolan's willingness to smile for the cameras while playing hardball gave him a leading edge in his ascent to two very powerful positions: cardinal of New York and president of the United Conference for Catholic Bishops. If Ratzinger is God's Rottweiler, Timothy Dolan is God's "Beabull" -- a cross between a Bulldog and a Beagle. Dolan has a congenial countenance and turns in a fine performance as a man who cares, but Ratzinger would never have elevated a man with the appropriate degree of compassion for victims of sexual predation to the position of cardinal.
It is possible Ratzinger believes in earnest that insulating Mother Church from financial ruin is a far greater good than that of the more temporal good of healing victims of clergy rape and sexual assault. His argument might be that the foundations of church with its reliably unchanging doctrines and dogma (which change all the time and have evolved steadily over the course of 2000 years!) must be preserved at any cost for the good of humankind. Were the foundation of Mother Church to fall apart, the rationale goes, the instrument for doing Christ's work on earth would cease to exist; in its absence the world would experience more starvation, more rape, more violence, more warfare. Rape, brutality, child abuse would increase, and eternal salvation would elude all but the pious few. It's not the worst argument ever --
Ratzinger et al know that the rape of children is evil, but they view the collapse of the hierarchy as a greater evil. Thus, sacrificing victims raped by priests becomes morally justifiable, and the forsaken victims become holy martyrs in a church which happens to hold its martyrs in very high esteem, to say the least. Suffering brings people of faith closer to God. The bloody lamb is one of the many symbols of Christ. The raped altar boys are bloody lambs whom God will reward in the afterlife.
If this sounds twisted, it's because it's twisted.
On a more earthly plain, there is the fact that a priest doesn't give up his legal right to due process the day he dons a Roman collar. A falsely accused priest has a right to clear his name. As in all rape cases, the rights of the accused must be balanced against a rape victim's right not to be re-traumatized by invasions of his or her privacy. For those who treasure our nation's commitment to the rights of the accused, supporting a priest who seeks to clear his name in the aftermath of a false accusation is not necessarily an ethicallyincorrect way to proceed.
However, it flies in the face of everything we know about Jesus of the Gospels.
Another complication is The Vatican's lack of transparency. Whenever large groups of people are accused of crime, false accusations get made. The clerical sex abuse scandal has left a taint on all priests, and the Vatican's erstwhile and continuing fervor for hiding these crimes makes it difficult for those who are falsely accused to clear their "good names." The Vatican's unscrupulous handling of abuse cases has compromised any confidence Catholics might once have had in the hierarchy's capacity for policing itself. Because for so long we have been unable to trust the Roman Catholic hierarchs to identify predators, we (Catholic and otherwise) no longer trust them to clear priests are falsely accused. A liar will be dishonest in any direction. The Vatican has no credibility in the matter of clerical child rape. Hence, the need for priests who have been charged and cleared to resort to secular legal means for making their innocence known.
While I feel sorry for SNAP, an organization which, though, not perfect, has been healing the butchered souls of people for two decades on a limited budget, I feel a certain optimism the developments at hand. I think this crazy-time raid may prove to be a victory for SNAP and groups like it. Never have "the bishops" seemed more squirrelly.
The truth is that few Catholics on any point on the Roman Catholic degree-of-orthodoxy spectrum are soft on child rape. One would be hard-pressed to find a Catholic anywhere who would wish to see his or her child's medical, psychological and police records unsealed in in the aftermath of a rape. Fewer still would wish to see such intimidation made possible with help from their generous contributions.
And the clownish fringe group Catholics who make light of the rape of altar boys, in God's name, are not merely perverse. They're bad for business. Self-appointed papist clowns who pretend to speak for Catholics make it too easy for people inside and outside the church to forget that the church exists to embody (to whatever extent is humanly possible) the character and work of Jesus on earth.
Catholics are called in concrete, clear ways to love the imprisoned, to minister to the injured and to love their enemies. We all fall short sometimes, but the systematic punishment of people for the non-transgression of reporting criminal behavior is a grave sin. Especially when such intimidation is undertaken for economic gain.
Another (page 25) Catholic report appeared in the New York Times on March 13th, a piece on Dolan's meeting with governor. 
Dolan criticized a legislative proposal that would, for a year, drop the statute of limitations for filing civil claims for sexual offenses, allowing for lawsuits by people who say they were abused long ago. The cardinal said he was concerned that a flood of lawsuits over abuse by priests could drain the church of money it is using for charitable purposes.

If Dolan is so worried about cash, why does he not object to the paying lawyers to work over agencies that minister to survivors? Are settlements for survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic clergy not "charitable" expenditures?

"I think we bishops have been very contrite in admitting that the church did not handle this well at all in the past," he said. "But we bristle sometimes in that the church doesn't get the credit, now being in the vanguard of reform. It does bother us that the church continues to be a whipping boy."

How does one reconcile the crippling of SNAP with being into the "vanguard of reform"?
Ordination, at least in theory, increases the obligation of a person to be Christ-like. Priest are, (again) in theory, called to teach Catholics to be more like Jesus. Priests who do this -- priests who emulate Christ on a daily basis -- do exist. But they are very much under siege.
As children preparing for First Eucharist, we Catholics learn to envision Jesus as "the Prince of Peace," yet we have a hierarchy that is very much at war. Catholic priests who are not interested in making war live in a states of constant frustration and embarrassment over a hierarchy whose greed, bigotry, bellicosity and lust for power have gotten the best of them.
Obviously a Catholic man or women who falsely accuses a priest of having raped him or her in childhood is deeply troubled, yet it may be that even in those cases, a priest has an obligation to minister. This is not easy to do, but there can be no doubt that waging war against the weak -- against those who, in confusion, madness or torment, make false accusations -- flies in the face of Christ.
It was easy to see the harassment of SNAP coming. In New York, the bishops lost the equal marriage rights battle. Despite concessions from the president, the Roman Catholic hierarchy is losing the battle against contraception - not just in the courts, but in the pews. SNAP is helping the CCR (Center for Constitutional Rights) build a Human Rights case against the Vatican (CCR and SNAP have already filed.) in the International Criminal Courts. This case gets stronger with time, and when the lid comes off the clergy abuse crisis in Roman Catholic churches in the developing world, this case will become stronger still.
The Roman Catholic hierarchs are furious and jittery. They're on a tear. Catholic bishops have never taken crusading lightly.
It is currently Lent. Most active, practicing Catholics observe Lent in some way or another. Lent is a time to take inventory, a time to improve oneself, a time to increase one's own virtue, a time for almsgiving. How are the bishops commemorating the trials, tribulation and death of Christ on the cross? By using collection dollars to pay lawyers to muscle agencies that do Christ's work. Can we (Catholics) hold on to any shred of moral authority while paying attorneys to help us re-traumatize adults who report incidents of child rape? Yes, we can.
If we stop paying for it.
I recently heard a Catholic priest, a moral theologian, give a talk about the recent changes in the Roman Catholic Mass. Like most priests, the theologian didn't like the new translation, but his chief objection was not so much to the language itself, but to the way the changes were implemented. The theologian felt that the Vatican had failed to work collaboratively (in keeping with doctrine and canon law) with "the bishops" on the changes. In his view, the Vatican had big-footed his own bishops. I later described this wonderful thinker and speaker to a friend as a "prop theologian," because he held up a little brown basket at the conclusion of his talk.
"Stop putting your money here!" he said.
If you are Catholic, and you have no problem with underwriting the intimidation of groups that seek healing and justice in child rape cases, go ahead and drop that envelope in the basket at on Sunday.
The Vatican's shysters will be grateful. 
Follow Michele Somerville on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NYpoet