Busy week! We hosted the Called and Gifted workshop at our parish this week, with much success. I have a ton to blog about, including the fact that when I picked up one of the speakers at the airport, she said "do you by any chance have a blog?" Yikes! It never did become clear whether or not she really had seen my blog, but I have, I'm sure, mentioned their Institute before, so if they are in the habit of self-googling, they could certainly have come up with this little rag. Anyway, there's my brush with fame. (Hi Sherry!)
The workshop was wonderful, and has people in the parish intrigued, inspired, and wanting more. But an equally interesting part of the week for me was hearing from these mid-and western-ers, their observations about Boston; as a town, and as an Archdiocese. It was a little bit like bringing friends from college home with me on break, and suddenly seeing my family through their eyes.
The first night, I went to dinner with Fr. Mike, one of the directors of the Institute, and one of the things he asked me was how the Archdiocese is doing since the Scandal. I told him that basically we all are in a state of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- we've all gone on with our lives and ministries, but nothing really is untouched or un-influenced by what we went through. There is still a real sense of paranoia, which makes every church employee aware of how whatever they're doing, might be construed by someone, as inappropriate. This, among other symptoms, is the legacy of our Scandal.
But as the week went on, I thought a lot about his question, and what he and Sherry, the other Siena Director, might be observing and thinking about us. I started to wonder- is it just me? Am I the only one with this paranoia? Am I the only one who flinches when I hear the Archdiocese mentioned on the news?
At the end of the week, and out to dinner again with our speakers, the topic came up again. I said "I think it would be shocking to anyone around here, to know that people who lived away from here during the height of the Scandal, don't realize how traumatic it was." It seems to me that people who lived elsewhere considered this an awful thing in the news, terrible to consider, but they don't seem to have that PTSD that we have. The other dinner companions confirmed that it really was traumatic in the midst of it, and that the legacy continues for us. Sherry, on our way out of the restaurant, admitted that she was surprised to hear the lingering pain. She said "I guess I kind of figured that people around here would be over it." Really, a shocking statement to me. I guess only those of us who went through it know how little actual healing work was done by the Archdiocese, back then and since then. But I told Sherry that it's an important reality for people to know about if they're going to work in the area.
At dinner that night, Fr. Mike said something about how, to be fair, the Bishops were responding to the "experts" who told them that the abusers would be fine. I acknowledged that we all knew that to be true, and that we know things were different back in the 60's, that we know much more now... but what I wish I'd said was this: be careful about how quickly you settle on that as an excuse. Every horrible stage in history, every movement that victimized people, had experts who said things were okay. But at some point, leaders have to take responsibility. Ours should have. The fact that times were different back then is true, but not a good enough excuse.
The week still has me thinking about this, still looking at our lives from the outside perspective and wondering, is it just me? Is this feeling of PTSD just something that parish ministers are feeling? Am I just holding grudges? I'd love to be "over it." Am I the last one to feel the legacy of the Scandal?