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They Didn’t Pick Up the Phone

July 19, 2009

These are Tim McMahon’s last days as Missouri provincial, and I am noticing things, looking back.

No one picked up the phone, even if just to say “How are you doing?”

When I found the province had broken the pastoral/legal agreement in April, McMahon chose to lie about it (easily proven) instead, and no one contacted me.

This is the same province of Jesuits that already found me credible — that magic word — six years ago.

It struck me that the Missouri province has policies and it probably has “certification” from one of the companies that sprung up in ’02-’04 to give the church credibility.  They’re supposed to have a victim’s advocate, they have a board of people that advises them, they have a Jesuit appointed to “handle these cases”, they have a provincial in charge, the provincial has consultors.

There’s a whole industry.  (Don’t ask me to call it a ministry.)

No one asked, “How are you?”  N o b o d y.

And I got to thinking about what would have happened if instead of deliberately breaking the agreement, Tim McMahon had picked up the phone and asked what I thought.   “Would it be okay to break the agreement?   It’s his 50th, and he needs this.   How does it sound to you?”

Here’s the thing about the Catholic church in 2009:   It still treats clergy abuse survivors badly.   I don’t think the church wants to do better.  Maybe, too, it doesn’t have the best people doing it, and it should.

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