Sunday, January 10, 2016

Boston vigil for clergy abuse victims ends because Pope Francis protects criminals

Jane Braunsky (right) spoke to Paul Kellen after she attended Mass on Sunday
In January 2002, after the Boston Globe Spotlight Team published the first story detailing the church’s attempt to cover up the abuse of children by priests, a dedicated and courageous group of people started a 14 year vigil for the abused children.

Every week, in in sleet, snow, rain, and heat, members of the group were there outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston – they never missed a week. They protested the Catholic Church’s poor response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

“I’ve decided that, after 14 years, the church is not going to change,” Kenneth Scott, 76, said as he staged his final protest with five others huddled under umbrellas.  He will still support and help the victims but will find other ways. 

Brian Harlow

 Brian Harlow, a 41-year-old North Cambridge resident and survivor of clergy sexual abuse, came Sunday to express his gratitude to the protesters, who stand silently on the sidewalk and hold signs displaying the photos of abuse victims. “I’m just so grateful,” he said. “They didn’t have to do this. They just care. They’re the most amazing people you’d ever hope to meet.”

The protesters decided to quit after Pope Francis praised American bishops in September for their “courage” in dealing with the abuse scandal – causing outrage from victims for his insensitive and cold comment.  Francis supported all the bishops still working for the church and still unpunished for their criminal cover ups of pedophile priests.

“The pope’s message last fall was disheartening, discouraging, dismaying,” said Paul Kellen, a 79-year-old from Medford, “I don’t see any hope.”

What do the parishioners at the cathedral, which serves as the mother church of the Archdiocese of Boston think about the protesters? Some shout at them, some thank them. But too many just don’t get it:  the fact that children are still in harm’s way, pedophile priests are still being moved from parish to parish and molesting children every day, that bishops are still covering up for their criminal clergy, that all over the world millions of victims lead lives that are ruined – all at the hands of a church, of a pope, that hides behind God and does the work of the devil.

Here is a typical parishioner, Kim Curry, who said to the Boston Globe reporter,  Michael Levenson, that she sees the protesters after Mass and is not sure why they are demonstrating. “We’re all aware what happened,” she said. “What is it that they want done?”  How about putting all the criminal clergy and their enabler bishops in jail!

Another parishioner, Jane Braunsky, said she, too, is not sure what they want. “Apologies have been made, bishops have made them, both popes have made them, the cardinal has certainly mentioned it during his sermons, if they had listened,” she said. “I’m not sure what more can be done. So, if they’re Christian, they should say, ‘OK, we’ll take that as an apology and go forth and live.’”

Does an apology take away the memories of being raped by a “man of God”, of being beaten and smothered into a coma by nuns – like I was? Does it bring back my brother who committed suicide because of what they did to us.  Does it take away a lifetime of disability, of lost ability, of daily flash-backs?  Does it help other victims who became alcoholics, drug-addicts and committed suicide?  If these parishioners are really Christians, they will demand justice for the abused and protection for the children now being abused by a church and a pope who do nothing to stop it. It’s time to show the Holy Cross protesters that their years of trying were not in vain.  If the church won’t do anything to help then tell it what to do by walking away with your contributions in your pocket – not in the church’s bank account where they will use it to bail out criminal clergy.