Monday, February 18, 2013

Cardinal Mahony Ready to Forgive Victims of Abuse: Narcissism and the Failure of Top Catholic Pastoral Leaders

While Michael Sean Winters throws yet another of his tired tantrums at the "anti-Catholic" bias of the New York Times (and of Catholics Maureen Dowd, Garry Wills, Frank Bruni, and John Patrick Shanley), here's how the real world increasingly sees the Catholic church. This is how the world outside the precious (and tightly controlled) parameters of the centrist Catholic tribe looks at the Catholic church--and what the world sees is not pretty:

Cardinal Roger Mahony still doesn’t get it. In a blog post Thursday mostly focused on himself and his feelings, the disgraced former archbishop of Los Angeles who was deeply implicated in the cover-up of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church wrote that he has “experienced many examples of being humiliated” amid the scandal. Still, despite feeling sorry for himself, Mahony notes that he’s ready to forgive those who are angry at him over his role in concealing the rape of children.

Cardinal Mahony, who covered up child sex abuse in the archdiocese of Los Angeles for years, stands ready to forgive those raped by priests. For being furious that he covered up their abuse and protected pedophile priests. Mahony writes

In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated. In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people. I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage—at me, at the Church, at about injustices that swirl around us. 
Thanks to God’s special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them. 

The cardinal is ready to forgive those who suffered childhood sexual abuse due to his pastoral malfeasance. He is "called to humiliation." Andrew Sullivan responds:

He is forgiving the victims of child-rape, and those who speak up for them? Words fail. Anger overwhelms me.

As Tracy Bloom notes in the commentary to which the second link above points, in the preceding statements at his blog site, Mahony displays a "narcissism and insensitivity" that show him totally removed from reality--from the world in which most of us live much of the time.

From the world about which the New York Times, with its purported anti-Catholic bias, reports--so that you'd think Catholics interested in the future of the church would be interested in knowing what that real world, beyond our tribal boundaries, is really like. And how we can interact fruitfully with it. And how it perceives us.

As the originating Greek myth stresses, the problem with narcissism is that it can see nothing but its own face in the mirror. For an institution whose primary mission is to see the face of the other--of God, of human beings hungering and thirsting for the divine embrace--the narcissism of the institution's leaders and of journalistic epigones who prop those leaders up is destructive at the most fundamental level possible: narcissism thwarts the ability of the church to fulfill its mission by focusing on someone and something other than itself and its own needs.

The graphic: Michelangelo Caravaggio's "Narcissus," from the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome.

No comments: