I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Power to change the world

Brrr! Frosty cold leaf
I took that picture during our Friday hike and was impressed with the pretty designs made by the frost. It was so strange to be exposed to warmth and sun, at the same time as we walked through these little depressions filled with cold frosty air. I kept putting on my gloves, then taking them off again as we emerged into the sunlight. Although we were outside for many hours, these spots had not changed at all when we returned to them much later in the day. There are places where the sun doesn't reach when it's so low in the sky at this time of year, and with a temperature inversion and no wind to scour out the cold air, I couldn't resist taking pictures of the phenomenon.

Yesterday my friend Judy and I went to see an unusual movie, Spotlight. It's a new movie about the coverup by the Catholic Church of the sexual abuse scandal that was revealed in 2002 by a group of four journalists at the Boston Globe newspaper. Both Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo deliver outstanding performances. I was actually surprised when I realized that it wasn't until 2002 that the first articles about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church were written, since it seems like it was much earlier that I first learned about it. But no, it was only a few years ago. The team of journalists won the Pulitzer Prize for their work, but to me the greater accomplishment was to finally expose the awful truth and have it finally be believed.

I had no idea that there were so many priests involved in pedophilia. Of course I guess I've always known that the possibility for abuse was there, but to find out that up to 6 percent of all priests have abused children, well that seems almost impossible for me to take in. After coming home from the movie and getting online to confirm these statistics, I have to say I am astounded at what I've learned. I was a little surprised a few years ago that a sitting Pope would just resign, but it seems it was related to the discovery that even Pope Benedict knew about all this abuse and helped to cover it up.

Well, I have to say that my estimation of the Catholic Church in this country has fallen to new lows. For so long I thought it was one of the greatest institutions around. As someone who was raised in a family that didn't attend church, I was free to discover my own path, and as a young woman I joined the Episcopal Church because I liked the services, the sermons, the rituals. They are similar (or were back then) to the Catholic mass, but they seemed more accessible to me. And the clergy could all marry, and that seemed sensible, rather than keeping priests celibate. Well, apparently fewer than HALF of all Catholic priests observe celibacy, and many of them use children under their care to satisfy their sexual needs. How simply awful all this is.

I woke this morning thinking about the Seven Deadly Sins, thinking how almost every one of them were broken by these sick priests. Do you remember learning about them? I had to find a website to remind me, but they are: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. It's interesting to find out exactly what is meant by some of these, but I think I could find a way to consider that those who abuse children to be guilty of all of them. Well, maybe not sloth, but when I consider it to mean being lazy about one's spiritual life, then all of them.

Do you think that the old adage that power tends to corrupt, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely is true? It makes me wonder, because those priests didn't all come into the priesthood with the idea that they would become predators. They are supposedly emissaries of God to their parish, right? I no longer attend church, but if I still did, it wouldn't be the Catholic Church, now that I've learned how deep the corruption goes inside it.

Or am I overreacting? I tend to see things in terms of black and white when it comes to abuse of any sort. Someone abusing a child, or an animal in their care, just seems impossible to see any other way than wrong on every level. And someone allowing it to continue when they become aware of it also seems wrong. In the movie, when one of the lawyers for the Church was confronted by a reporter with the sheer number of priests who had committed these crimes, the lawyer finally said, "What took you so long?" And it does seems almost impossible to believe that once it was uncovered, the scope of this problem was revealed to be worldwide and of long standing and huge.

It reminds me that things are not always as they appear, and that just a few dedicated people can change the trajectory of the entire world by standing up for justice. I see that effort every day when I turn on the news, and now I realize that many of these people are unable to stand by and watch abuse around them happening. Would I be so brave? As far as I know, most of my immediate world is free of it, but maybe I just don't see what's right in front of me. I do hope that if I were to discover someone abusing another, I'd stand up too.

Well, this has turned out to be a very different sort of musing for me during my usual Sunday morning pondering. It's all because of that movie, which really got me thinking about seeing what's around me with new eyes. I think next Sunday I'll probably be back in my usual groove, thinking more about my own surroundings and less about the larger world. And I do hope that it hasn't upset anybody too much that I used this time to consider what's on my mind right now.

Until next week, I hope that the world around you is safe and that you will hug your loved ones and allow love to fill your heart. I'll try to do the same. I know I left that love lying around here somewhere. Yep, there it is, right next to me in my sleeping partner. Be well until we meet again.


Linda Reeder said...

I woke up too early to a foggy, frosty world. I looked for your Sunday post, but you hadn't checked in yet! Now, all warmed up from my hot shower and ready to take on the day, I am happy to find you where you are supposed to be on Sunday mornings.

I long ago became aware of the power the Catholic Church had over it's parishioners. I guess it was through reading novels at first, and then it was confirmed through traveling in Europe. Where did you find all of the wealth and art and culture? In the cathedrals, which the poor paid for through their tithes and offerings, in hopes of attaining heaven and escaping hell.

The church certainly did handle sexual abuse poorly, but by all means it was important to protect that power. Now that they are exposed, people still come for their spiritual needs, but hopefully without harm. The church still has a lot of cleaning up to do, but this newest Pope seems to get that the church is to serve the people, and not the other way around.

The Broad said...

Your picture of the frosty leaf, which exposes to the eye the exquisite fragility of nature -- of all of us coincides to me with the subject of your post. The all powerful Catholic church has been exposed and the fragility of its reputation lay bare for all the world to see. Your post is excellent and thoughtful and I thank you for it.

Marie Smith said...

This morning my cathedral was in nature and not the man made structures where such corruption was rampant. I lived in Newfoundland where the abuse by brothers and priests was disclosed in the early 1990s. Long ago I gave up the traditions of my youth and early adulthood when I worked with young people who had been abused by clergy. The hyprocrisy made it impossible to remain in the pew. The cover-up was wide spread and the circumstances terrible. I will see this movie but it will be difficult to watch. The suffering of young people and their families will be etched in my mind. It has found a dark corner where it lives now, but I fear it will be front and center again. However, giving it the light of day again may ensure that we are ever vigilant.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I probably won't see that movie. The Catholic Church did not police itself well, and there should have been charges brought much sooner like back in the 40's and 50's. It is unfair that children are not safe in a church..and it is really sad too. I have a real hard time with any kind of abuse...no one should be abused...sexually, physically or emotionally. NO ONE :(

Elephant's Child said...

It was a world-wide cover up too. And a world wide sin.
The cover up/minimising still continues too. And the damage is irreparable.
Thank you for this post. And I hope your week/life is full of love and laughter.

Red said...

You cover a very horrible issue and have done your homework. I am also a non church attender and intend to keep it that way. Now I find it interesting that 6% of priests were baddies. I wouldn't paint all the others as baddies. I've met many very dedicated priests who serve their congregations well. Now I'll go back and read all the other comments.

Rita said...

Seems like I had always heard of the priests either having sex with boys or nuns or loyal church members. The Catholic Church has had power issues of all kinds for centuries. Yes, I think power can corrupt. More easily than one might think. I have seen even small doses of power over a little group of people corrupt and bring out such ugliness. There are times I think humans are like crowded chickens. Just enjoy that vicious pecking order a little too much, you know? I will definitely watch the movie. I love when persistence breaks through dark walls. :)

Friko said...

leaving love lying around somewhere, what a lovely image that is. Provided, of course, that you pick it up and hug it close to your heart.

I went to a Catholic school and was baptised a Catholic, not that my branch of the family was religious at all. I had no experience of child abuse, perhaps it went on, perhaps it didn’t in my school. It is time that the whole question of celibacy is looked at in all seriousness. There’s nothing normal about repressing that most natural of human urges. Child abuse is the most horrendous way of satisfying such needs.

Information about past child abuse is everywhere nowadays, we hear about it all the time. The establishment was rife with it; there must have been a time when it simply didn’t strike people as an abhorrent crime and knowledge of it was widespread yet still kept secret.

Sally Wessely said...

You do have a heavy topic for your Sunday morning post. I is truly abhorrent to read about the sexual abuse that priest have inflicted on innocent children. To think how it was covered up for years makes it all the worse. I think that when anyone abuses a child sexually, it has nothing to do with normal sexual desires. It is abnormal and abusive. My heart breaks for all those innocent children abused by the priest, or by any other person in a position of power or authority over the child.

Anonymous said...

Pedophilia was one of the reasons why I dropped out of the Catholic Church. Now I am an atheist and like it better.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

What has always been a major flaw in catholicism is the celibacy issue. I left the church when I was 16 and realized I didn't believe a single word of any of it. I think this movie goes on my list!

Marty said...

I'm still trying to decide whether I want to see that movie, with such a horrific subject. Hard to make an argument for religion, when so many unspeakable acts are committed because of it.
I will say that if the definition of effective art is to make us think, this movie would fit that description.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I am a little late in getting around to this week's edition of Eye on the Edge. After reading about how you felt after viewing the movie Spotlight I thought your comment on my post today was generous. :-) When I posted the old postcard of Saint James Cathedral I really didn't give much consideration to the current controversy facing the Catholic Church. It is such a sad commentary on one of the world's most prominent organized religions. In any event the Cathedral is a gorgeous building and I do recommend checking it out next time you have an opportunity to do so. Your post here is very well written and that photo at the top is just a beauty with the frost on the leaf. Thanks, as always, for sharing!

Rhapsody Phoenix said...


Yes like life there are certain things that the sun doesn't shed light on much like leaves that still hold the frost of snow fall the Catholic Priest Pedophiles held tight to the cloak of silence that allow them to fulfill their deviant desires.

I'd like to say that it only occurs in the Catholic Churches but unfortunately it is more prevalent than not and it is not exclusive to Catholic churches, the Anglicans, Protestant, Evangelicals, Church of Christ, Baptist, Episcopal, Jehovah’s, Mosques, temples all have their hands in the same sickeningly depraved dirty trade for wherever "man" is the potential for debauchery exists. Like prostitution pedophilia is one of the oldest form of depravity to get swept out from under the decomposed degeneracy rugs. Worst than the pedophiles their selves who unfortunately share their victims are the ones who knowingly turn a blind eye or participate in the cover-up and unfortunate perpetuation of opportunities for these predators to continue the defilement of the body, spirit, minds and souls of the innocent.

Peace to you and yours
Have a blessed weekend

One Fly said...

It makes no difference what "religion" one is. There is belief in something that does not exist. Many knew these rapers in robes were raping children long before it was wrote about but back then you didn't dare criticize jeebus let alone religion. And now it's a war against the ones who can never be wrong or questioned.

"Oh the new poop is sooo much better" - ya right. I admit it's a step up from Benny the Rat. Priests are still raping and women are on the same rung of the ladder.

We are in deep trouble around the world and especially here and it's because of an invisible sky being that does not exist. Little respect as non is deserved.

I choose Reality over the other. Google the Church of Reality.

They never got me and opted out at an early age - like five called bull s___ on what was being done to me being raised catholic. What they do to children is a crime. It was at times pure torture growing up in that atmosphere.

Got here from Teresa's place.