A Rebel’s StanceBy Charlie McCormick | April 1st, 2012 | Category: Important Stuph | Comments Off
The August 1st, 2012 deadline for former students of the Christian Brothers, a.k.a Irish Christian Brothers, to make a claim of abuse is just around the corner.
Students who suffered physical or mental abuse must file a claim by August 1st.
I find it pretty disappointing that most mainstream news organizations in the metropolitan region have given little – if any – press coverage concerning the bankruptcy of this 200+ year religious order.
Below is a short synopsis of what I think the Christian Brothers should be doing…and why….
The Christian Brothers:
The situation with the Christian Brothers, their impending end, and the host of scandals that have plagued the order with decades of abuse being documented – this situation reminds me of the debate between faith & works.
The debate between faith and works I think has been over debated. The idea that faith alone can lead to spiritual salvation is pretty cheasy, unless put in the context of “satori”. If one has a moment of enlightenment at the end of a nasty, miserable life of meanness, than I think it’s pretty miserly not to acknowledge it. But going around acting like an asshole one minute while professing your faith the next should earn you a place in hell.
The Christian Brothers, in individual cases and as an organization, certainly were acting in ways more associated with Satan than with God. I think now, with this bankruptcy and these unending accusations of abuse, I think they need a moment of satori….They need to make themselves right with God.
The religious order is dying, literally, in 1997 there were only 1,800 brothers worldwide – half of them in Ireland. There are less than 200 now in the United States.
Their relevance, and the ideals of Edmund Rice, will soon be found only in the archives of the Catholic Church unless they take a rebel’s stand and fight to save them. Fight not to defend the past corruption, nor excuse it, nor make generalized apologies, but fight with the zealousness of a convert for the ideals that founded the organization.
Salvaging a name, salvaging an organization, these are temporal goals. Salvaging the ideals are more important, more doable, and more pragmatic.
The Christian Brothers, like many Catholic organizations that have been crippled by lawsuits and a dying membership, are seeking a path to protect a “name” an “entity”, and fail to see the potential in saving both by focusing on the ideals.
My advice is that they take a rebel’s stand, and break from the modus operandi of mitigating damages and legal manuevers. Take the hit associated with the ugly history of institutionalized abuse, and not merely apologize to those who “may have been abused” – but ask for their help.
Ask for the victims help in an effort to make the world a better place. Through openness and transparency, let a new generation learn from the past mistakes. Don’t fight against the victims, but empower them, raise their voices, and take a rebel’s stance.
Rebel against the established strategy of denying, stonewalling, and defending…and that path…the path of the rebel, can lead to a whole new beginning.
I went to Catholic schools my whole life, from kindergarten through University. It was okay. Not having experienced public schools myself, I can’t make a comparison – but I’m comfortable saying that Catholic schools are okay.
Okay meaning, they ain’t all that. I think that parents who send their kids there are probably more involved in their academic life, so the schools start off with an edge. I think parents are much more responsible for what their kids learn, how they learn, and inspiring a love for learning.
Parents also teach values. Anyone who abdicates to a school responsibility for their kids value system, well those parents are probably on drugs.
While I was never subject to either the physical or sexually abuse recounted by other former students, I have to say that Bergen Catholic did not regularly teach the same values I was taught at home. There was physical abuse and psychological abuse. Humiliation and embarrassment were commonly accepted classroom tools, perhaps nothing major enough to leave psychic scars – but nothing to encourage respect, to encourage learning.
I remember seeing kids get humiliated or abused, and just thinking, “If they ever did that to me I would kill them.”
I was well aware of the fact that I was not that big, and probably could not kill them, but there was no moral argument to stop me from trying my best to kill them….. And be more than prepared to justify it before God.
When one spends a lot of time trying to apply logic to the Trinity and to the pope being infallible, and to the concept of transubstantiation, one becomes very adept at logic. If you can apply logic to those subjects, you can apply logic anywhere.
So, logically, I would be morally bound to try and kill someone who would abuse me.
While my parents would have been disappointed with me being charged with murder and/or attempted murder…. they certainly would neither approve, nor allow, a member of our family to denigrate another person in the manner some teachers made a daily ritual.
I remember one day, sophomore year, day-dreaming in class, not talking to anyone – just lost in my own thoughts. A book was thrown at me and smacked me hard in the side of the head. I was, to say the least, startled and pissed off, I took the book and immediately whipped it at the teacher’s head.
Funny thing is, it wasn’t the teacher who threw the book…That’s very funny….. But obviously I had been in the school long enough to immediately think that it was the teacher. It was actually my classmate who was laughing at me from across the room, rightfully so…especially since he accomplished the task without being caught.
The teacher immediately told me to leave the classroom, and then took some pity and told me to sit down again.
It’s a funny story, but does show some underlying problems when relying on a culture of intimidation, bullying, and abuse to achieve order.