Words of Mother Catherine McAuley

•May 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Words to live by…

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Finding Solace in “A Comfortable Cup of Tea”

•May 8, 2014 • 1 Comment

The words of Catherine McAuley have been an encouragement as well as a comfort to me since I was 7 years old and first was introduced to her by the Sisters of Mercy who taught me in Queen of Angels School in Long Island City, NY.  They are all the more today as I mourn the death of my relationship with her sisters whom I loved so innocently in my youth, even as a novice myself, even when I was betrayed by one of their own, Sister Mary Juanita, and until they ignored me for 10 years after they were notified of her sexual abuse.  Life has never been the same… I turn to Mother McAuley for solace, and take her own advice upon her death bed, to have a comfortable cup of tea when she was gone.  Sister Juanita is gone and I mourn so much of this entire life event.  It calls for a comfortable cup of tea and a tremendous amount of prayer–and then the work of support for other victims, and the healing of abusers.

I am only one person, but I’m not the only person calling for attention to this issue.  The issue of abuse by Sisters is still ignored by the LCWR.  They figure it will go away.  But it won’t and those who care will keep this topic alive until these women address it honestly and save other children and youth from the wrath of Khan–venting on another generation. 

Today I thought, if 40% of nuns have been sexually abused–there are almost 40% of them hiding it and the fact that such abuse leaves its scars which then surface in life, in stress, in depression, in rage, and we have all heard the stories.  Generally 30% of abuse victims aim that rage at others, repeating some abusive behavior on other vulnerable creatures.  Such patterns are NOT just about sexual abuse, but about rage which is expressed in various forms, and many a child can testify to this, even if sexual misconduct was not the presenting problem. 

So, what of it?  Well, 30% of the 40% of abused nuns = 12% of the nuns out there won’t want this topic addressed.  And it’s not getting addressed.  Who wins?  Absolutely nobody wins, but many lose big time, very seriously.  Where are the Christian values in that?

Articles like this one ->  http://www.vaticancrimes.us/2013/05/sexual-abuse-in-roman-catholic-church.html  discuss these statistics, but only considering the numbers, the population of nuns in 1996 and beyond (when the study was conducted).  The great number of abuse cases came from much earlier times in the 60’s and around then, when the population of nuns was more than twice as large as now–so the percentages involved refer to far larger actual number of religious women.

Those who have suffered abuse are normally reticent about talking about it UNLESS THEY DO THE HARD WORK OF HEALING,because it is so painful.  After working on it in therapy and with spiritual support, after growing stronger and finding their voice to reclaim their mental and spiritual health they are anxious that no body else should suffer the same abuse.  MANY are supportive of victims then, and a healthy cycle begins.  If 40% of the nuns have been abused where are the ones who have done the hard work of healing?  They are silent!  Where are they? 

This, I believe with all my heart, is why the LCWR is silent.  I would love to be proved wrong.  Please, Sisters, prove that the 40% who admit to being abused are all healed…that the normal 70% of that group, who DON’T go on to abuse others, actually are similar to the general population in that category–and are appalled by repeated abuse by the other 30%.  Prove me wrong please. Please.

Shh! It Couldn’t Be True!

•May 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Everybody’s pissed, it seems, that the LCWR just got taken down a peg by the Vatican..AGAIN, that the Vatican dared to criticize the good sisters!  Nobody cares much when the good sisters pose as prophets of our day and criticize the hierarchy.  Life is funny that way!  I’m not pissed about it.  Some of my liberal Roman Catholic friends or those who sympathize with them are very annoyed that I continuously write about the moral hypocrisy of the LCWR.  I don’t care though.  They obviously were not raped, or had their parents, siblings, or children raped enough to care about the issue of sexual abuse by nuns being ignored by their leadership–those supposedly touting social justice, etc.  IMO, the LCWR are every bit as hypocritical as many of the bishops have been regarding sexual abuse of minors by people in their ranks.  Worse!  LCWR has the bishops’ history to use as examples of what NOT to do.  They just ignore that example, repeating the same arrogant stand, because, after all, they are the good sisters, and NOBODY suspects them of hiding criminals and sick women in their ranks.  That makes them as deliberate as the bishops and so, worse after all these years of horrible examples of what not to do!

 

Tikkun Daily Blog, associated with the Network of Spiritual Progressives, covered this last August…Nuns Who Commit Sexual Abuse and the Annexation of Mercy.  Yet liberal Catholics refuse to hold their liberal “sisters” to the same standards to which they hold the bishops.  Strange agenda all around!  I wrote to Pope Francis begging him to hold the LCWR accountable for ignoring victims of sexual abuse by nuns when SNAP continuously tried to engage them.  I begged Mother Clare Millea and Cardinal Rodé at the Vatican to do the same during the Apostolic Visitation of the American Nuns.  I was assured they would.  I doubt very much they did because if they did they are being ignored, as are victims of sexual abuse.  Maybe sexual abuse was not as important as obedience to Rome.  There’s a novel thought.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t much care about the internal politics (and THAT is what much of this shite is about, nuns vs male clergy–I remember it from when I was a novice myself) of the RC world.  I care about victims (some of whom kill themselves or live a drunken life numb to their pain–or, worse yet, those who go on to commit the same soul-murder as their abusers) being ignored and thus treated as though the good name of nuns is more important than attending to this issue.  I was just chastised myself yesterday for naming my own abuser, on this blog, after she died cause golly gee that’s just wrong because she’s not around to defend herself! (BTW She was named 20+ yrs ago and ever since, but laity cannot deal with the vestal virgins being called on this, read out, as it were!)  HA!  Forgive me for LMAO at such a “thick” but obviously his loved ones were not raped nearly enough for him to “get it!”  NOTHING will inspire me as much to continue harping as those who will defend the nuns despite the suffering of victims of their sexual abuse.  NOTHING!  My previous blog was clear that I believe sexual abusers are sick bastards, and victims themselves.  I’ve spelled that out in various ways, based on the findings of the commissioned study of sexually abused nuns.  Abusers are sick, and often were themselves abused. That is NOT an excuse, it is a reason that explains why some do what they do to harm others.  THEY are not my only, or even my greatest concern, and I speak as a person who has lived through all the victimization associated with them.   My greater concern is the monsters who ignore, defend, and thus protect those they refuse to believe are guilty.  THEY are the ultimate abusive population in the Church (or anywhere this happens), and they inspire me to never shut up about this.  Not holding abusers accountable for their acts encourages and enables them.

My abuser, I pray, has met her maker this past weekend after dying suddenly, and discovered what being loved is all about.  It will have been, I am sure, a total shock.  I’ve been at peace with all this for quite some time, having done enough inner work for many years to filter through what is important to me about all this, and what keeps my spiritual and mental health intact.  I reject vengeance and I do not believe God sends anyone to hell, especially those poor sick bastards who’ve lived in it during earthly life in any of so many ways.  My God is Love–Love Almighty, and so that’s not the issue for me either–waiting and hoping to see abusers punished by God!  My agenda is about healing both victims and abusers (who themselves where frequently victims as well). THAT is how we create heaven here on earth…how we respond to Christ’s prayer “Your kingdom come…Your Will be done on Earth as in heaven…”   The LCWR needs to take this bull by the horn and shut up about the bishops and clergy who’ve abused kids and vulnerable adults causing a sex scandal in Catholicism.   The LCWR needs to address their own scandal and get some real humility in this matter and give up the nunny-bunny sweet arrogance they put out there to dupe the world.  Strong women are healers.  Strong women admit their wrong and acknowledge what needs to be done, and do it.  There are too many abuse victims (40% of their population) in the convents to get this done–or so it seems until they prove otherwise.

Pope Francis!  Again, I beg you, please do something about this.

She’s Dead

•May 4, 2014 • 2 Comments

This afternoon I received a phone call from Sister Sean Foley, RSM the liaison between the Sisters of Mercy and me.  She wanted me to hear it from her, rather than read it or hear it through the grapevine.  Sister Mary Juanita Barto died suddenly last night in her home, surrounded by her religious community of retired sisters.

I wept.  I didn’t just shed a few tears, I wept bitterly.  And, I don’t think I’m done yet.

Why?

Well, the little girl in me wept because that kid had longed for Juanita to be a spiritual mother to me…that’s how I loved her, as a mother.  See, even now, I can’t seem to get my first person and third person detached enough to be cold.  The little girl, that kid, mother to me…  I remember when I met her I thought she was so smart and holy, oh yeah, and funny.  Wrong.

The adult me, the old adult me (I just turned 63 years old recently) wept bitterly because I am a Christian by choice, by conviction, by devotion.  I did already, and will continue to forgive.  I wanted with all my heart a personal confrontation with her (that sounds like a harsh word or event… but it has not been a harsh intent on my part), but that was not to be.  I realize she could not.  She was not strong enough for that, physically or spiritually.  I hardly was, but I wanted it.  I did not need it, I wanted it.  It had to do with accountability, yes, at first.  But there was even more to it than that.

Now, all you who have been abused don’t go off on me for these feelings, because really I don’t give a shit what any of you thinks of my reaction here.  I have lived as a victim.  I’ve done my time.  So has my dear family living with me…broken.   I have carried pain of betrayal, confusion over human nature–sick and broken human nature, and rage at it all, rage at her, at the Sisters of Mercy, rage at the Church–all of whom I loved deeply from my youth, broken and fucked up as they were and remain.  Upon the excellent advice of Richard Sipe I harnessed that anger and allowed it to give me the courage to face all I needed to face and to reclaim my independence, my spiritual and emotional and mental health, to reclaim my very life and live in joy.  Long ago I read Roberta Nobleman’s book:  VICTIM, SURVIVOR, CELEBRANT.  That was my own journey, and I have come full circle, returned to reclaim my innocence and celebrate my Faith in God and in humanity, fallen as it is, and redeemed by Love Almighty.  So, if you don’t like it that I have sorrow over the death of the woman who abused me for so long, for years, shut the fuck up and keep it to yourself.

I grieve a broken life–hers, not mine.  I grieve that an innocent child was born into this world, an infant who, according to my own Irish spirituality, had the face of God, only to be hurt so badly along the way as to become an amoral soul-murderer seeking control over another innocent.  Amoral yes!  Not immoral because she too was a victim, and I do not believe, even with her religious vows and convent life, that she ever absorbed what a true moral life was or demanded.  She was too distracted and broken and obsessed with total control.  She had no benchmark in her head to create that morality.  Young people don’t know anything about such things.  Adults are all supposed to be mature and safe, and in religious life, in the world of Church and God–they are supposed to be good and holy.  But that can be faked, to survive and pass in a life where that is demanded.   Sadly for me, that was what she passed off as motherly affection at first.  Sadly for young me, I had no clue about psychological screw-ups, and the woundedness that is cyclical until Grace–that Life of God that is shared with us through truly loving people, family and friends, strengthens and heals a victim allowing survival, then the impulse to love rather than to use or harm another.  That Grace only comes through love, exposure to great love, and I have known and still know great love!  I wept because she did not.  Her sense of self was bolstered by controlling all around her and that included me as a youth.  Her sense of self was not bolstered by the experience of such love that heals old wounds.  I wept for her because that is the spiritual sickness, the mental and emotional sickness she carried through life, and now–to her grave.

Tonight I give God thanks for my family.  For my mother and father whose love I never doubted and always knew I would have.  I thank God for my grandparents, especially for my grandmothers who loved me through my youth.  For my brothers who treated me as a princess.  And oh, for my best friend and husband, Joe and our good and kind daughter who are my life.  I have known and do know such love.  I did not deserve it more than Juanita.  We were both born innocent babes entrusted to this world by God to be loved.  THAT is what God wanted for each of us.  I was not better or more deserving of love than Juanita.  Without the Grace of Love Almighty given to me by my family I would have repeated the cycle of abuse as she did.   It was nothing on my part, I just passively received tremendous love from good people which in the long run, out weighed the abuse I suffered from her.  God have mercy on the poor soul of Juanita Barto, whose impulse was to use and abuse, to control me and her surroundings, rather than love.  I believe with all my heart and soul she was sick and truly knew not what she did because she didn’t recognize her amoral lack of love.  It was not a rejection of love and goodness on her part, it was a lack of recognition.

Tonight she is in the conscious presence of Love Almighty.  I pray for her healing, a purging of whatever pain that kept her from knowing God and what that meant about loving others, especially vulnerable innocent youth in her charge.  I have no doubt such healing is what happens when one comes face to Face with Love Almighty.  As the author, Father George Maloney, wrote in his beautiful book on grief, THE EVERLASTING NOW, I believe that is what the purging is about that Catholics refer to as Purgatory–A HEALING THERAPY–offered by Love Almighty to help us find our way Home.

God rest her soul.

God have mercy on mine because to whom much is given, much will be required.  May I begin to embrace my own salvation by total forgiveness.  Forgive me my sins as I forgive those who sin against me.   Amen.

 

 

 

Suscipe

•April 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Religious Sisters…women vowed to Chastity harbor sexually abusive members within their convents.  That is the hard cold truth whether people want to know or believe it.  Victims of sexual abuse by nuns yearn for healing…which does not come from the good sisters…but from God alone.

This poem is a take on Mother Catherine McAuley’s own “Suscipe”, her prayer to let nothing come between her and God. 

She was a good woman.  The Sister of Mercy who abused me needs to get to know her…

Suscipe

 

Suffer nothing to sorrow me but sin,

nothing to delight me but the hope of Your glory!

Nothing to sorrow me but sin,

nothing to delight me but Love. 

Abused at a tender age

by those she trusted so!

Early years that set the stage

’til she learned to say “No!”

 Drawn to God for purity

believing the ideal.

Hurt by the reality,

creating more to heal!

She sought out sanctuary

with God’s pure holy ones

but holiness can vary

even among the nuns.

Suffer nothing to sorrow me but sin

nothing to delight me

but the hope of Your glory!

Nothing to sorrow me but sin,

nothing to delight me but Love. 

So she shared her brokenness

with one more than the rest

but the nun would not confess

that passion was her quest.

So those she loved and trusted

she knew not they’d abuse.

How could she know they lusted?

How could she dare accuse?

Children blamed for adults’ sin:

“You wanted it” they scold!”

Let nothing sorrow me but sin.

“The Mercy prayer, we’re told.

 Suffer nothing to sorrow me but sin

nothing to delight me but the hope of Your glory!

Nothing to sorrow me but sin,

nothing to delight me but Love. 

As I cry out for Mercy

My soul longs to be healed.

And will they love or curse me?

True natures are revealed!

Suffer nothing to sorrow me but sin

nothing to delight me but the hope of Your glory!

Nothing to sorrow me but sin,

nothing to delight me but Love.  

© 1995 Cait Finnegan

 

 

Vestal Virgins

•April 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I wrote to Pope Francis last week.  I asked him to look at this issue of sexually abusive nuns being harbored by their communities while the Leadership Conference of Women Religious simply refuse to deal with victim/survivor groups.    I told him about…

 

Vestal Virgins

Vestal Virgins cheating on the side

Mocking their vows they can’t abide

Sleeping together, courting young girls

Keeping their facade before the world.

 

Giving up men was not their plan

but to hide from the world and hide from man.

Mocking the holy ones who give their lives

Who give up children and their role as wives.

 

They prey in their convents

They prey in their schools

They prey in their churches

They prey upon fools.

They prey upon children

They prey upon girls

These Godless women

Whose passion unfurls!

 

Yet hidden they stay protected by those

whose goodness would blind them to their victims’ woes.

They say “How could this be? Not one of our own!

Oh we would have stopped them had we only known!”

 

The temple needs purging of lust and of lies

that the Church might now heal the victim who cries.

Begone Satan’s dear ones while innocents pray

for your souls and your victims. It’s Christ you betray!

 

Copyright 1995, Cáit Finnegan

 

 

I pray the pope will tell them to step up to the plate regarding their moral obligation to victims of sexual abuse by their own.

Good Ways and Bad Ways for the Church to Respond

•February 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

American nuns, particularly the LCWR could learn a few things rather than focus on their own agenda for power in the Church. Who wants women like them ordained anyway? Don’t we have enough clerical abusers about?

 
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