Church" is presented as an essay in 3 parts:
Part One: Protecting the Faith, the
the People and the Leaders
Part Two: Accountability
Part Three: Making the Change
December 31, 2001
(Last updated July 22, 2002)
FAITH, THE ORGANIZATION, THE PEOPLE AND THE LEADERS
Victorious America is a handbook for reformation.
It provides the parishioners and clergy with a guide for the
actualization of enlightened religious institutions which can embrace
the emergence of a perceptive and discerning populace by establishing
the ideals found within free democratic societies that function as the
standard for protecting their
institutions. Victorious America provides an analysis of the present
conflict within the church with respect to erroneous organizational procedures
that have become endemic. We present a clear understanding of how the
procedures that support unchecked authority have become an accepted standard in religious institutions by the
parishioners and the hierarchy alike and how such deep-rooted systemic
flaws are at the root of what is plaguing the church today
and have recently come to light by virtue of the sexual abuse scandals.
Victorious America champions the institutionalization of a new system with the implementation of one fundamental principle to
inaugurate a new beginning. We have designated this principle the cornerstone.
If implemented, this
principle would transform the problems that have been plaguing the church and
enable the Catholic people to take the steps to create the correct balance to unite, nourish and protect
both the clergy and the laity in order to achieve the ideals of faith together
as a family of believers.
This article is not being written so you can take up my cause with the SGI, a world-wide religious Buddhist organization of 12 million people, whom I am remonstrating with, but so you understand the same fundamental principles that have governed the SGI for over 40 years is mirrored in the institutional structure of the
church. Victorious America, the web site that I founded,
began as a remonstration with the SGI and has evolved into an in-depth study of the omission of the one fundamental principle of human rights in religious and secular institutions. It imparts a perfectly clear understanding of this phenomenon and utilizes the SGI organization as the prototype of a structure that produces an unholy alliance for those who wish to cover up their abuses of power. It also presents the solution for change to protect the people and their faith of choice. Therefore, we chose to present this article as the introduction of a handbook for religious reformation inside the church.
In laying the foundation of Victorious America, accountability to an empowered people became its anchor, the bedrock to judge what is credible. We believe this one principle is
the cornerstone, the universal deterrent, and the essential factor to be utilized by the people for their protection against
unjust behavior of authorities. This one principle when established provides an all-embracing format to maintain and protect the individual's dignity and credibility, even in the face of power of the most prestigious class.
The current conflict in the church shows that direct accountability to the worshippers, which is an essential component to protect them and their families, has been habitually omitted by the hierarchy. It has become clear that the only tool left for the worshipers to keep those in positions of authority in check must now be instituted
through this principle. If you look carefully enough at this idea of a fully empowered congregation and read thought the essays in
Victorious America, I am confident you will find the solution to this conflict. In the end, I believe, the answer to your prayers will be found.
I am of another faith, Buddhist. In my faith, I have carried this banner of accountability directly to the membership for over five years, along with a few others, in order to stop the cover-ups of the institutional status quo
that I've witnessed for over 30 years. Regrettably, I have been branded as treacherous and evil by the higher leadership for even the suggestion to exercise such an agenda. As a leader
myself, I was denounced many times as a parasite and discredited by
vicious lies for only trying to protect the members I was responsible for. My own leadership status was undermined for helping them to stand up to
the abusive behavior of self-serving leaders.
I am writing this article because both the organizational institutions of the
Church and the SGI have omitted the implementation of this one essential procedure of direct accountability of the
authorities to the lay believers. The full empowerment of the worshipers to become the decisive factor in the decision making process regarding abuses of power should be written into the
by-laws of the Church. "By-laws" is emphasized because the implementation of this basic procedure in writing
in the by-laws or charter is essential for the consummation of such a process. I would like to quote from examples in the essay "Victorious America" to clarify this point.
"The empowerment of the people goes hand
in hand with the need for a mandate in concrete form. Why do people who
are fully aware and empowered need to be mandated by written decree? The
answer is that in any organization there are rules and procedures to
sustain its level of social intercourse between people. Those rules set
the standard and represent the values of that organization. This must be
so that each individual's rights and responsibilities are protected
under the mantle of the by-laws of the organization. As an example, in
the case of segregation, it was not until the people set the standard by
written law that they became fully empowered and it became part and
parcel of our value system.
Of course, people gain courage from faith so
they can empower themselves, but until their rights are written into the
system only then will it become an acceptable standard. Only then we can
say that we have crossed the bridge to a fully empowered people, a fully
Direct accountability is essential to maintain the dignity of the individual, and at the same time, it is the source from which the democratic ideal arose. Its function is equally essential in both religious and secular institutions and therefore it rises above both in significance.
Consider if this one vehicle had been instituted in religious institutions long ago, all those individuals whose lives were crippled through abuse and cover-ups could have been prevented. I hope and I am praying that you read "Victorious America" thoroughly. At times I may sound enraged but the sacred and holy are ground that must never be used to cover-up emotional or sexual abuse.
If the church leadership has courage enough to form committees made of priests and worshipers from each congregation and at the end of the day, the final accounting will be in the hands of the people, then the cover-ups and the abuse scandals will stop. If they won't implement this change, then it's up to the Catholic people to take matters into their own hands to demand change. Nothing less than this change will do, or the cover-ups and scandals will continue with a new face.
Remember, the purpose of the church is based on the fact that priests are committed to the sacred privilege to serve their worshipers in the name of God. Not as a commitment to serve in order to silence the parishioners when cases of their own abuses of power come to light or in order to rule the church in their names. The church belongs to the people as a place to give their praise to God. The worshippers must be able to protect their families. God trusts them with this responsibility to protect their children and their families in his name or why would they have children and bring them to church. The church must honor this responsibility in their institution in order to protect the children.
This principle of accountability is the cornerstone to maintain civility between those that have the honor to serve the people and the people themselves. As I mentioned in my writings, it is the very cornerstone of democracy as well. It also acts as the universal principle that is essential to protect the individual rights of both the lay believers and the priests as well, thus maintaining the dignity of all without exception. Therefore this one principle must never be denied to the lay believers by the hierarchy.
It must never be denied arguing that such empowerment is secular and breeches the boundaries of Church and State. This is absolutely false. Accountability is the only cornerstone for legitimacy in any realm and it has nothing to do with Church and State issues. If this faulty reasoning is used to exclude such a principle from being established within the church, the results on the foundation of the church and the faith itself would be tragic, if irreparable. If this were the case, you would risk the loss of a healthy future generation of believers who have moved past passiveness in the face of abuse and would never accept such restriction on the priest's accountability.
A bishop who protected a pedophile priest announced to the other bishops in Rome that if it were not for his actions to protect this predator, the changes in the church would never have occurred. This faulty reasoning is the same as saying that "I am your hero, you should honor me, since I protected these rapists for so many years for your sake".
This change must be expeditiously instituted in the by-laws, not gradually over the course of one, two or five years. If not, the sexual abuse scandal will emerge again and continue in a different arena.
For me, the Church or the SGI organization is supposed to function for the service of the people only in the name of the founder of the faith. Both Jesus Christ and Nichiren Daishonin in Buddhism, preached directly to the people for their salvation and enlightenment, respectively. Therefore the lay believers in the church and the SGI are in reality given the ultimate responsibility to look over its affairs especially if the authorities are delinquent in their responsibilities to serve their people.
The intention of this article is not to prove whose faith is superior, it is about the protection of one's chosen faith. It is an article based on compassion and reason, based on a work in progress day and night for the last four years to demonstrate the immediate need for reformation of religious institutions in order to protect the people. It is not an attack on the church, only the evil that has attacked it from within through a misguided process in the organizational structure.