Abusers in a Social Network

As we progress in healing, one thing is learning more and understanding a broader context. We grow in wisdom even if it requires an unflinching awareness of the way abusers protect each other – consciously and in some strange highly compartmentalized subconscious way.

Recall that the Pulitzer Award-Winning Spotlight series published in The Boston Globe in 2002, which catalyzed (thank you) the reforms in the U.S. Catholic Church over two decades. One of my questions and that of many others was how such abuse could be reported but go unpunished by local authorities.

While I have been a vocal critic of the Philip Lawler take on the Catholic abuse scandal in the United States and the world, his book The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston Catholicism[1] is one of the only good first steps into understanding the social and political web that was comprised by people vested in the secrets of abuse within the Church remain unrevealed.

In April this year (2021) The Boston Globe (Article: Andrew Ryan, April 10, 2021) covered the story that despite 1995 evidence, Boston Police union president was a child molester with multiple victims. The model for a systemic institutional corruption here, like other places, indicts a societal or cultural ambivalence or toleration toward child abuse.

This Boston Globe article is a great step to round out the fuller picture of the network that sustains abuse – and what reforms in the Church are up against as they progress.

[1] I found the Lawler read annoying for its parochial lack of awareness of the realities of abuse, but his research almost inadvertently reflects how many areas of the power structure in the “very Catholic” Boston power elite were working together. It was very good if not the primary or even secondary theme at all. Be forewarned: a quick take on Lawler’s thesis, which he has been restating in articles for years now, is that Cardinal Law was the one-of-a-kind flawed (and liberal) ordinary whose ideological inclination worked like a disease in his judgment. The actual nature of abuse was not discussed in the book or any article by Professor Lawler I have read, except in the rare marginal reference to sexually active homosexual priests and the loose morals of the 1960s. No effort to square with the incidence of abuse that preceded the tumult of the post-war generation has been, to date, made, nor to account for the nonsexual nature of abuse as domination, not sexual exploration.

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