Friday, April 2

My grandfather, a german bishop and a revelation

News has broken today that a number of people have filed statements which say that they were habitually physically abused and denigrated while they were children at an orphanage during the 1970's and early 1980's. The priest, one Walter Mixa (at right), was in charge of the home and is a friend of the pope, who elevated Mixa to the episcopate in 2005. Bishop Mixa is known to be controversial and outspoken conservative who has ascribed the outbreak of sexual atrocities within the Church to the liberalization that occurred in the late 20th century, specifically the second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and the sexual revolution of the 1960's. You may recall the story about Georg Ratzinger (brother of His Holiness) who admitted to hitting choir boys when he was a choral director in Regensburg and the horrifying physical abuse suffered in Ireland that came to light last year.

What I try to do when I hear about something which is substantively outside my experience is to attempt to understand the individual and their motivations. This is not to dismiss, lessen or mitigate what has been done, but rather to make sense of it all and, if possible, find compassion for those who have done such terrible things. This leads me, in an odd way, to my grandfather.

In the first, I should mention that my grandfather was a loving, caring and generally wonderful man who taught me a lot of valuable lessons about life. He was also a rather unmitigated racist. It took me a long time to reconcile these two facets of his life. Pondering this, I realise that he grew up in a small town in the 1930's where there simply weren't any blacks. For his time and place, his prejudices about the inferiority of blacks and the rightness of segregation were considered socially acceptable and, by the time when social changes made it no longer acceptable to have the aforementioned opinions, he was unable to adapt.

This sort of 'being left behind' by rapidly advancing social change is almost endemic to our present western society. Putting the focus back onto Bishop Mixa, Monseigneur Ratzinger and their ilk, I would point out that what was once considered 'stern discipline' (repackaged as 'tough love') is now considered to be child abuse. The "spare the rod, spoil the child" thought process, combined with the legendary discipline of the 'old RC' priests/nuns at private schools would easily be imbued into these men and others like them.

It is no surprize, then, that these people would reject the 'radical liberal ways' of Vatican II and the post-60's social culture as 'decadent and soft'. Further, it would go far to explain why these people seem to have no substantive remorse over their actions. In the context of the society and the religious upbringing they were raised in, they have done nothing wrong. Indeed, they have done what they were taught was right! *sighs*

Again, I point out that I am, in no way, condoning the behaviour nor attempting to minimize the pain and suffering that has been caused. Rather, I am trying to understand them so that I may better find compassion for them.

"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you."

Damned hippies and their free-love crap. Oh, wait.

1 comment:

  1. And Thus is true compassion and forgiveness possible. Forgiveness does not condone. Forgiveness is understanding why a person did what they did.