This month’s VIRTUS training material reviewed the clever, demonic, and crushing role of silence in the crisis of sex abuse and its cover-up. Especially striking was this description of grooming:
I have heard perpetrators euphemistically refer to the “relationship” they shared with their victim. These were not relationships—they only resembled relationships. They were grooming behaviors carefully orchestrated by a perpetrator to get closer to a child and his or her family. Grooming confuses both the children and the adults in their lives to create a more hospitable environment to commit a vile crime. Any other words soften the reality.
I wish more bishops were aware of this.
Their perpetrator priests are not who they thought they were. They only resembled sons, colleagues, and ministers of the Gospel. In reality, the wool was pulled down tight over many mitres.
The grooming of bishops and other allies in the hierarchy has confused the whole Church. Church leaders experience moral confusion when they harbored predators, shielding them from accountability, and believing the lies about sin and reform and penitence. And protests of innocence. And placing the blame on victims, the media, the faithful laity and priests who were watchdogs on the wolves in the fold.
The more I think about it, the more Bishop Robinson’s urging makes sense to me. Liam’s also. The bishops lack the credibility, knowledge, awareness, wisdom, and perspective to conduct Vatican III on child abuse. A council, if inclusive of the laity, and probably run by us, would go a long way to restoring lost credibility. I don’t think the bishops could possibly accomplish anything in the current climate.