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"What Happened to the Bishops?

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Message Debby Bodkin
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"What Happened to the Bishops?
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - June 2006

As a cradle Catholic, it was always a mystical time when a visiting Bishop would celebrate Mass during confirmations or special Holy Days. Even now, as a 51 year old Catholic wife and mother with 4 children attending Catholic schools and colleges, we are still excited with the thoughts of any opportunity to dialog with Bishops. Afterall, not often does the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meet in Los Angeles, California, while in the midst of the horrific clergy abuse crisis and the need for justice and healing.

Many of us struggle to understand the why's and how's relating to the clergy sex abuse crisis. Is it naive to expect that Bishops, their legal advisors and government leaders are also struggling with the sex abuse crisis? This weekend revealed a clear picture, and it wasn't peaceful. Why not? You decide.

* A Survivors Quilt with hundreds of pictures of clergy sex abuse survivors was handmade and placed on display for the Bishops to view sometime during the 3 days they were in Los Angeles. Yes, an invitation was delivered with the hope of some type of dialog or communication with Church Bishops and leaders. However, not one Bishop, of the approximate 300 Bishops attending the USCCB conference, found the time to walk across the street to view the Survivors Quilt, meet the survivors, supporters and families that anxiously awaited a visit from one of the Bishops. What happened to the Bishops?

* Several members of support groups, A Coalition of Truth, Survivors of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Voice of the Faithful, Stones of Silence and many other support groups, committed to a 48 hour vigil in honor of the survivors, their families and the faithful in the pews. We shared a common faith that this weekend could be the first step toward open dialog and communication with Church Bishops. No such luck -- not one Bishop visited the faithful who were waiting across the street, not once in 3 days. Shockingly, a city agency that issued a 3 day permit to assemble in Pershing Square during the Bishops' conference, made an arbitrary decision to pull the permit, which cut the 48 hour vigil short. What happened to the Bishops?

* Friday evening, the Bishops celebrated Mass at Our Lady Queen of the Angels Cathedral, Cardinal Roger Mahony's home, parish and church. With hope and faith, we brought the Survivors Quilt to the Cathedral hoping to portray the importance of open dialog and awareness. We truly believed if the Bishops could just see the beautiful shining faces of children who were victims of Soul Murder, change would follow and healing would immediately begin. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the Cathedral, each and every door, fence or opening to the Cathedral was blocked, not even a glimpse of one of the Bishops, was possible before, during or after the Mass celebration. What happened to the Bishops?

As an advocate for nationwide legislation that would return civil due process in a court of law to all survivors of past sex abuse crimes, most of the past few years have been spent writing letters to editors, government and religious leaders. I am not alone and the efforts of so many were alive and present this weekend. However, what happened to the Bishops?

We are taught to pray and believe that we are one holy and apostolic Church -- What happened to the Bishops?

Debby Bodkin
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As an amateur writer, mother, wife and legal secretary for the past 25 years, my passion for the courage of clergy sex abuse victims, their families and mandated reporters, who made a choice to protect children, before their own career security and (more...)
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