We hope with all our hearts that the aggravation and outrage that Catholics have poured into emails, letters and any other avenues of speaking up and out they used in Atlanta are the beginning and not the end of their involvement in what ails the Roman Catholic Church.
In a statement describing his ineptness, Atlanta's Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, caught in his plush plans for a $2.2 million residence, backed down saying:
"While my advisers and I were able to justify this project fiscally, logistically and practically, I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility with the people of God of north and central Georgia," he wrote. "I failed to consider the impact on the families throughout the archdiocese who, though struggling to pay their mortgages, utilities, tuition and other bills, faithfully respond year after year to my pleas to assist with funding our ministries and services.
First off, if these "advisers" really did provide these kinds of justifications they should be fired.
Secondly, Archbishop Gregory's apology should not be limited to the Catholics of central and north Georgia. All Catholics are hurt by his actions. Just as they are by the actions of the bishop of bling in Germany, the Archbishop of Newark John J. Myers' weekend and planned retirement $800,000 home, as well as the Camden's Bishop Dennis Sullivan's $500,000 home and Archbishop of Cincinnati Dennis Schnurr's half million home - and the list, of course, doesn't stop there.
This planned opulence prior to Pope Francis, during Pope Francis and after Pope Francis is not the message of the Gospel.
So how is it that the "teachers" can't get the lesson plan right from the basic text which would, of course, be the Scripture?
It is disappointing to see Catholics get their backs up in large numbers over money but not children - but at this stage in this long running crisis we'll take it and hope it can be a building block.
We hope with all our hearts that these Catholics can see their way clear to take their aggravation and turn it into action so that children can be protected from rape and sodomy and that those who cover up the criminal actions of priests and nuns who rape and sodomize children are held accountable.
If their aggravation and displeasure can only encompass the money items, then we hope with all our hearts they can use the money door to get involved to end the sexual abuse crisis in the Church because, indeed, plenty of money is being spent by the Church on attorneys' fees and public relations to keep from holding the hierarchy responsible for crimes.
If Catholics can only get aggravated in large and productive numbers about money and bishops' homes then hopefully the Catholics of the Atlanta Archdiocese will send letters in the fine tradition of St. Paul to the Newark Archdiocese's Bishop John Myers who also lost his "pastoral" perspective.
Maybe in so doing, they will have a road to Damascus experience that will lead them to an uproar for the children's sake.
We would hope for fraternal correction from Archbishop Gregory to his "brother" Archbishop Myers but this is the same Archbishop Gregory, who as the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) who in 2004 characterized the crisis as "history."
We'd rather put our hope where there is more than a snowball's chance in hell for it.
- Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) Kristineward@hotmail.com