Friday, August 31, 2018

15 Ways We Can Protect Against Abuse Right Now

A few of us ladies wanted to *do something* about the sexual abuse scandals and we wanted to make sure what was done included the needs and desires of Byzantines as well... so we went ahead and made the petition ourselves!

We included only issues all can agree on in the hopes of getting a huge number of signers. 

Facebook gave us a $30 boost credit but then they rejected our ad for being "political or of national importance." Go figure.

We need you to sign and share! Please note signees may choose to hide their names from view. It does not show their name to me or the public. Please let your priest and religious friends know that!

Add your voice by signing at The Petition Site: 15 Ways We Can Protect Against Abuse Right Now

FYI: It's a non-partisan platform. They don't rent/sell/loan your info. They know how to keep all your content safe and legal. All while being free. That means the small annoyance of having to click an almost invisible "more" text button in the lower right to reveal the full content was a worthwhile trade-off. Just in case you have any difficulties seeing it all, the full text of the petition is posted below.

Please click through and sign!

In response to deplorable revelations in the ongoing sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, we, concerned laypeople, seminarians and aspirants, religious, clergy, and people of good will recommend these 15 points of immediate change to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

These revisions to the Church's Safe Environment protocols are a first and immediate step toward addressing some of the more nuanced points that recent scandals have highlighted as problematic in the Charter's current state.

While additional and difficult work will be required in reconciliation and repentance, all people of good will can agree on the immediate and necessary implementation of these 15 actions.

As such, we call on the hierarchy to immediately make these amendments in the Church's policies and practice as we work to bring mercy and justice to all affected by abuses within the Catholic Church:
  1. AUDIT: An impartial external audit will be conducted in order to identify the areas and mechanisms of corruption, along with avenues for rehabilitation and prevention, in order to align the Church's institutional culture and practices with Catholic doctrine, morality, and its members' state of life.
  2. VULNERABLE ADULTS: In addition to protecting children and the elderly, the definition of vulnerable adult will be expanded to include seminarians and religious aspirants; employees and subordinates; those being threatened or coerced; those with a large mental or developmental disparity by age or by ability; those who were previously victims or trauma, neglect, or abuse which made them susceptible to grooming or other forms of coersion; those for whom a large disparity of wealth, access, or resources presents a situation of intimidation and coercion; victims of human trafficking; those who are unfamiliar with the culture or its norms and safeguards due to immigration or language barriers; and when the accused has a relationship of spiritual authority over the victim.
  3. SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY: We will recognize that clergy and religious have a relationship of spiritual authority over all who know them to be clergy or religious and they are, therefore, representatives of the Church in all such relationships.
  4. ALL ADULTS ARE EQUAL: All adults (and those functioning in adult roles such as teens providing independent supervision of children), from volunteers through hierarchs, will follow the same Safe Environment protocols while acting in the name of the church.
  5. LAW ENFORCEMENT FIRST: A report of sexual or other criminal abuse is to be properly reported to the civil authorities with notification given to the church.
  6. GOOD FAITH REPORTING: Any report of sexual abuse or other criminal activity that is only made to the church will be reported to law enforcement by the church herself.
  7. TRANSPARENCY: All reports of sexual or financial abuse--including the expanded definitions of vulnerable adults above--which were not previously turned over to law enforcement will now be voluntarily turned over to law enforcement by the church.
  8. VICTIMS' ADVOCATE: A victims' advocate will be available to all reporters of violence and abuse to compassionately act in the interest of the alleged victim as he or she navigates the reporting, testifying, and healing processes. If allegations or findings of abuse are made public, the advocate will arrange for the spiritual and psychological support of the scandalized. The advocate must have appropriate training, qualifications, and resources to act in this role.
  9. CLERGY FAMILIES: Advice on provisions specific to married clergy and their families will be sought from affected stakeholders in order to allow clergy families the highest degree of protection, flexibility, and freedom from onerous burdens.
  10. DUE PROCESS: A measurable system of due process will be instituted in order to protect the good name and reputation of the workers who labor ethically in the vineyard of the Lord, that they not have cause to fear the repercussions of any false accusations.
  11. THIRD PARTY REPORTING: A report of sexual, financial, or criminal misconduct by a third party will be able to initiate an investigation (ie someone who learned of the allegations indirectly, such as the catechist of an informant).
  12. WE'LL ACT EVEN IF YOU DON'T: A church investigation along with findings and recommended actions will be done to its fullest extent following a report of mismanagement or abuse even when the alleged victim, accused, law enforcement and/or other key players do not cooperate with the church's investigation.
  13. VIOLATION OF INNOCENCE: The classroom training given to minors and vulnerable adults through the Safe Environment program will be updated to catechize them in their Christian identity, biology, vocation, and community in a way that helps them to have healthy relationships, boundaries, and a Christian worldview without violating their innocence by introducing inappropriate or fearful thoughts, images, or abuses.
  14. IMMORALITY: All clergy and religious who have a pattern of immoral behavior concerning chastity appropriate to their state in life, financial mismanagement, or criminality will be permanently removed from all teaching, preaching, and public ministry.
  15. SANCTIONS: The bishop will publicly release the names of those who by internal investigation or legal proceeding are found to have likely or positively abused others, and/or when sanctions are placed on a person's preaching, teaching, confessing, traveling, or other aspects of public life.

    Friday, August 3, 2018

    Where to Find Me

    I am really bad at that "networking" thing. I would say I'm not a natural salesman but I won awards during my short stent wandering around Sears getting people to sign up for siding installation. They gave me a bonus for every person who confirmed the appointment with a phone call so I had a nearly 100% phone call rate, before the days of cell phones even. I'm told that was a highly unusual skill.

    There's a difference, though, between that kind of one-on-one salesmanship and making connections for their own sake. Maintaining connections as a social fabric. The kind of skill used in social networking. In maintaining multiple platforms to be where the people are.

    I love and appreciate the Sir Ken Robinsons of the world who can tuck morsels of truth into lighthearted, relatable banter. Have you seen his multi-tasking joke about the difference between men and women? It's at 13:47. Isn't he hilarious? And yet so seriously real?

    To be funny, I'd say the frying an egg portion describes me to a T. To be real I would say my multitasking is not so much external (though I do the same as any other woman in that regard) but an internal work of organizing people and ideas. I intuitively see the root needs undergirding the superficial presentations. While most people focus on the means, I focus on the end. It is hard to then add the everyday maintenance of the superficial or fleeting on top of that.

    I'm the kind of person people seek out when they're hurt or troubled, seething or confused. The kind who can be fully present, discussing the hopes and challenges of our human existence. Troubleshooting ways to meet their own goals. The ultimate realist. I'm told I paint a picture in my writing that makes others feel like they're there. That I can organize and clarify in a way that is unparalleled. And I'm also told that I'm a dreamer, an optimist, someone who defines our existence not just by where we are but also by what we are called to be.

    I start at the end and work back to the present. That isn't how most people think. "I didn't know where you were going with this and was a little overwhelmed and scared at first, but now I'm following and am on the same page," is a sentiment I frequently hear if I do not spend a great amount of time editing to be able to start a conversation with the now.

    There's a place and a need for voices like mine because we speak for the vulnerable who have entrusted their most intimate reality with us and we say to that inner self reflected in all of us that there is more, there is a way, there is hope.

    To my great sadness, being an introverted counselor-manager type doesn't garner many dinner party invites. You aren't ever likely to find a crowd gathered around me laughing uproariously like they did with Sir Ken's talk. Even when I put alcohol in others' hands, they somehow feel disinclined to drink. My presence, it seems, is a reminder of our end point, our telos in Christ.

    I struggle, though, with communicating this perspective when the modern methods to do so require that social networking skill. If I update Facebook regularly, I'm not on Blogger. If I'm on Blogger, I'm not on YouTube. If I'm on all three, I'm irritable and short-tempered with my family because I cannot also be present with them. I multitask ideas easily but it is frying-an-egg-serious when I'm with a person or his or her needs.

    Where have I been? With my family. They've needed me. People are being born, people are dying. It's that stage of life.

    It's a beautiful and worthy use of my time. But it is also steeped in the tedious ephemeral of the now. Without the opportunity to connect with others on a deeper level that grounds us in history and unites us in purpose, I am not able to return to those who need me replenished with a grounding of self.

    So I am online as well. But I am told that's not enough. I can't only be on Facebook. Or Blogger. Or YouTube. There's also Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and Google Plus. They all have dimensions and algorithms that need to be optimized. They want a picture. A story. A package. Unique presentations refined for their core demographics. Networking.

    The tedium only accelerates my burnout.

    People like me tend to be renewed through academic or professional circles. Circles they typically built before family life. I built no such circles then, when our society facilitates such things. None that lasted, at least. You might be shocked to learn that I was the kid who started the Catholic campus ministry at my university. And that it was not a move welcomed by the school's social or scientific staff who actively thwarted the work. Or that the priest assigned to campus ministry turned out to be highly troubled, driving people away and causing us to disassociate from the Newman network before his removal from public ministry the following year.

    I struggle to find the place for a person like me in this networked world. This world that archives everything you say and do and produce. This polarized world that guarantees vitriol that is ready to be slung at you, your spouse, your children, your friends. I feel a great need to protect my family and to guard my heart, to stay focused on God, and yet to do so not in the future but in the now. The ever-present now, which is all we really have. The now that has my to do list torn from my notebook and trampled on the floor that also holds laundry from the trip we just returned from too sick to address, videos to edit and relish and share, letters to write, meals and curricula to plan, doctors and medicines and therapies to organize, and so many people to love.

    You don't need me on Blogger, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, email... You just need me to be present. And I need the same from you.


    My Facebook page often features information on the faith, travel, education, planning, inspiration. It rarely features politics or popular news.

    The Byzantine Catholic Facebook group is the most popular Facebook group in which I regularly participate (and help moderate). I'm also at Lynne Drozdik Wardach's Great Fast Meals and ByziMom.

    Your Word From the Wise YouTube Channel has interviews and other inspiring wisdom from others. It is updated when I get someone to give an interview. I do not produce content for it's own sake so there are no duds. It's asking the questions you want answered and then usually following through for a deeper understanding of the response. You'll need to subscribe to be notified. If you're connected to a larger Eastern Catholic network like a parish or eparchial or social network page, please share these wonderful nuggets so I'm free to just produce them.

    Rómen Catholic YouTube channel has videos from my travels. (The title is a play on words as Rómen means "of the east" in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.) Churches, monasteries, hikes, museums, travel trailer/RV life, conferences, that sort of thing. It will ebb and flow based on my travels. Brand new with under 100 subscribers, it is not yet eligible for a custom URL. So hit that subscribe button to help me out!

    Your Word From the Wise Facebook page has basically the same purpose of this blog and my news feed, except it is more refined to Eastern Catholic social content. Which in Facebook algorithm means not enough interaction for posts to be shared to the newsfeeds of those who don't ask specifically for notifications from it. It's a double-edged sword. I need more followers who engage to be able to get my content shown to them but can't get followers without people already present and engaged. This is why people have a whole career out of SEO.

    Catholic Means Universal is a project I want to see come into fruition. Check it out! It builds local intra-church awareness (Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Oriental Catholic, FSSP, Anglican Ordinariate, dioceses, eparchies, seminaries, parishes, schools, religious houses, monasteries...) and promotes respect among everyday Catholics and our leaders by holding a joint procession called This is Our Cross. It's the perfect opportunity to encounter one another in love, united in Christ. And it is so easy to implement on a single day. Contact me if you want to see it happen, too!

    I also make informational graphics. Things like prayer sheets, Confession guides, instructional or curricular text, that sort of thing. I make them available free of charge in response to an expressed need. Much of this work is not online as it is too unique to be of general value. For example, I made a year's curriculum based on the names of the students in a class, teaching them the faith through their patronal saints. Awesome but not useful to others, and potentially violating children's privacy to share their names online. I'd like to eventually re-work some of my guides to be able to offer a convenient purchase option for those who'd like to just buy a printed, laminated copy.

    I was asked last week to begin the process for what I hope could turn in to a huge project. It's a little daunting by its size but it is needed and I think my abilities will uniquely improve the work that could potentially affect every Catholic in our nation. I am humbled and determined to stay in the present, leaving any worry about the future to God who provides. I'm likely to share what I learn if the project flourishes. Please pray that it does so only because of the great need it would address.

    And then there's me, my family, our parish, our life. I don't share that online but it is full and blessed.
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