Power of Definition and Church Abuse:* Where are the victims?



To bishop Bernt Eidsvig Can.Reg., (Bernt.Eidsvig@katolsk.no), and  Klassekampen.
This will also be translated into English and sent to
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests  (http://www.snapnetwork.org/),
And both language versions will be published in  http://freudfri.blogspot.com/
October 20th, 2011
   
Open letter to The Catholic Church in Norway
and bishop Bernt Eidsvig
 We are sisters, both of us have been sexually violated within The Catholic Church, and we have informed the Professional Ethics Council of these violations. 
Yet we were not informed that The Catholic Academy was going to deliver “A review, summation and analysis of the abuse cases in The Catholic Church” ** until we read it in “Klassekampen” four days before the meeting was to be held. That was too short a notice for us, we did not wish to arrive to a meeting like that without time to prepare.
Now we have some questions:
Will the lectures that were held on October 18th be published on katolsk.no, http://www.katolsk.no/, and open to evaluation? And will it be possible to read a transcript of “Discussion, questions” there?
The Catholic Church knew about us, and asserts that almost no one in Norway has informed of sexual violations. So why were we not invited to take part in this “review, summation and analysis of the abuse cases in The Catholic Church”? *** There is only a bishop, a deacon and a journalist on the list of lecturers. We do not see a representative of the Church’s victims there. Who has the power of definition in this situation?
Was the intention that The Church’s abuse victims could speak during “Discussion, questions” after the lectures? We did not think it would be feasible to communicate logically under these conditions and on such short notice, without knowing anything about the contents of the lectures.
Why did not the Church’s Ethical Council respond to our questions and suggestions?
(The correspondence is translated here:
Our final email from the Ethics Council ends like this:
”Is there anything further that The Ethics Council can do about this case? Do you wish to receive an apology from the Church for what happened?”
Here is our answer: This choice of words places responsibility on the victim. A genuine apology is given spontaneously and shows clearly that one knows what one has to apologize for. We are not holding our breath.
Kari-Anne Pedersen
and Ingrid Johanne Vaalund
***
This open letter was sent to Bishop Eidsvig on the day it was written,
with the following email message:
Subject: Power of Definition and Church Abuse

We enclose our response to “A review, summation and analysis of the abuse cases in The Catholic Church”, appending a copy to the essay and debate editor of Klassekampen.

And we eagerly await The Church’s response. 

Yours,

Kari-Anne Pedersen and Ingrid Johanne Vaalund
The next day we received this reply from the bishop: 
Kari-Anne Pedersen and Ingrid Johanne Vaalund,

Thank you for sending this directly to me. I realize that we have weaknesses in our routines, even though I – probably not unexpectedly – have reservations about the conclusions. [the latter is a direct translation of “reserverer meg mot konklusjonene”]  During the last 18 months I have had [the Norwegian word, “ført”, while correct in this context, can also mean “led”] a series of conversations with people who have been subjected to abuse from Catholic priests, and I hope there will be an opportunity for a conversation with you. 


Friendly greetings
Bernt Eidsvig.
***
Our temporary conclusion is that we have decided to leave the bishop’s response on the back burner for a while and give ourselves time to think about this whole situation.
ETA Oct. 22nd:  I found the bishop’s lecture on katolsk.no and have written to correct some factual errors. 

FOOTNOTES:

*
We prefer the term ”church abuse” to ”priestly abuse” because integrity violations that are committed by an authority figure within an authoritarian,  international organization can have added power to harm.
**
Norwegian information about the meeting on the church’s web site.
I have only translated the pertinent information, which is bolded:
Katolsk Akademi 18. oktober om overgrepssakene i Kirken
A review, summation and analysis of the abuse cases in The Catholic Church
TIRSDAG 18. OKTOBER
Kl. 18.00 – 21.00
Introduction and review – what happens now? 
by bishop Bernt Eidsvig Can.Reg.
A theologically and deaconally(?) anchored assessment of the contents and handling of the case, by study deacon (?)Tormod Kleven, Høyskolen Diakonova
The role and actions of the press. A professional assessment
By editor Jon Magne Lund, Vårt Land (a Lutheran newspaper)
Discussion, questions
Sted: Mariagården, Akersveien 16, Oslo
Påmelding på grunn av enkel servering: akademi@katolsk.no

A correspondence with the Catholic Professional Ethics Council

Email correspondence with the Professional Ethics Council
of the Catholic Church in Norway

Translated from Norwegian

Copy sent to SNAP:
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests


På norsk her
On April 14th 2010 I wrote:
Subject: Information about (very old) violations  
I wish to inform formally that Father XX SJ sexually violated my integrity in the 1960s.
He never worked in Norway, but violations also happened here, when he was visiting my parents in Ottestad, and when he visited us in Rome, Italy.
Father XX was the priest who gave me my first communion and confirmed me. That was in India, when he was a teacher at XX School in Darjeeling. He was later transferred to Canada, and I now wonder if that could have been in connection with sexual violations at the school where he worked. 
Over the years Father XX sent me many pornographic letters, which I now regret having burned a long time ago. I have been more interested in  healing the damage he and The Church caused than in accusations and documentation, but now I want to be yet another number in the Church’s statistics.
I am attaching an essay I have written about what I consider to be the background for the Church’s acceptance of sexual violations of children’s integrity. If you wish, I can send an English translation when it is done. *
I will also be sending you a description of the violations and my viewpoints as to why Church violations are so harmful. But it is going to take time to process and write this.
Thanks for the last time [direct translation]. You held the funeral mass for my mother.
Greetings
Ingrid
I received a reply the very next day:
Thu, 15 Apr 2010, Arne Marco Kirsebom wrote:
Hi,
I thank you for your openness and for your letter that you attached. It is useful support for being able to learn. [direct translation, doesn’t make much more sense in Norwegian] I think it is completely horrible what molesters do and I agree that The Church has not yet understood the seriousness to the victims. [direct translation again] I take the liberty of giving you a link to some thoughts that I formulated on my blog just before Easter: http://arnemarco.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/overgrep-og-judas/. [contains bible quote about millstones and “cause to sin”]
You write that the violations are very outdated. But is there anything you want the Professional Ethics Council to do for you?
I remember the funeral and the gathering afterwards.
With friendly greetings
p. Arne Marco Kirsebom
           
I sent a reply on the same day:
Thu, 15 Apr 2010
Thank you for your quick response, your link and your offer to help.
And I do actually need help with some bible research. There is an expression in your blog post that creeps me out, and I would very much like to know what the original wording is.
I’m thinking of “caused to sin”. **
[The expression in Norwegian is “leads to fall”] This has overtones of “sin” that are completely misleading and places yet another millstone onto the burden of guilt and shame that victims of Church violations already bear. ***
Sexual violation of a child’s integrity is not a question of being caused to sin, it is a question of CAUSING HARM. One is just as actually harmed as if one had been hit by a car … and it would not occur to anyone to say that a traffic victim was “caused to sin”.
In English I have found these translations:
“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin”
and
 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me”
So the translations are very different.
Apart from that, there is nothing that the Professional Ethics Council can help us with. But my sister and I are willing to meet with the council, if it thinks that our experiences and viewpoints can be useful.
And I strongly suggest that the council gets in touch with The Support Centre Against Incest in Oslo and asks for guidance. There are many similarities between incest and church violations, and the victims’ problems later in life are the same. So the Support Centre can help you with valuable expertise on how to meet children and others who inform of church violations.
Greetings
Ingrid
(Copy to Kari-Anne and a separate copy to The Support Centre with an explanation)
***
My sister and I did not get a response to this.
We did not get an answer to our Bible question
The Catholic Church’s Professional Ethics Council was not interested in our experiences and viewpoints.
The Catholic Church’s Professional Ethics Council did not get in touch with The Support Centre.
And we had not become numbers in the statistics when bishop Eidsvig was interviewed on national TV on April 16th 2010.
On February 10th 2011, almost a year later, P. Arne Marco Kirsebom wrote:  
Dear Ingrid Johanne Vaalund,
I am appending a text that we now have received from the Jesuit Order about p. XX. As you see, he died 20 years ago.
Is there anything more that the Professional Ethics Council can do about this case, do you want an apology from the Church for what happened?
With friendly greetings
P. Arne Marco Kirsebom
Here is the appended text:
(I have XXed out some names to protect privacy)
This is Fr. Ignacio Echarte, S.I.
Secretary of the Society of Jesus
I reply to your request, which we have received through our webpage, about Fr. Francis XX.
Francis G. XX, was born in XX,  on the 17.10.1910
Joined the Society on the 05.02.1931
He was ordained on the 21.11.1943
He made his last vows on the 15.08.1946
He died on the 23.01.1991, in XX
Sincerely yours,
Ignacio Echarte S.J.
Segretario S.J.
secretarius-sj@sjcuria.org
tf. (+39) 06 689 771
We knew that Stalker Priest had been born, had died and where he had lived. We had not asked for this information. And this unasked for and unnecessary information came in an email two days after I posted a critical essay on “The Catholic Church in Norway” in this blog. [Not yet translated.] 
In time I will use this correspondence with the Ethics Council as a starting point for an article on cognitive dissonance and religious gaslighting. For now I just need time to assimilate the attempts my sister and I have made to communicate with The Catholic Church in Norway.
Footnotes:
*
This has not yet been translated
**
When I was checking  Matthew 18.6 today, I came across a translation that would have made my life easier when I was a child, even if the millstone would still have caused problems:
“And everyone who commits an offense against one of these little ones who believe in me, it were profitable for him that a donkey’s millstone would be hung around his neck and he be sunk in the depths of the sea.”
***
In another context I am going to explain why Matthew 18.6 kept me from saying anything when the violations were ongoing. The short version is  that not only was I convinced that I had sinned, I also knew that Stalker Priest did not deserve to have a millstone hung around his neck and be drowned at sea. I only wanted him to leave me alone, and it never occurred to me to ask for help in protecting my borders and integrity. As I see it, one of the biggest failings of The Catholic Church has been and is its blindness to children’s borders and integrity and their fundamental need and basic right to protect them.