They are finally taking down the makeshift memorial to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. The memorial has taken up a corner of Copley Plaza since they reopened the place nine days after the incident in April. I went down a few weeks after because I wanted to see it before the rains came. The rain we had then, the soaking rains we've had since, has not stopped the memorial's growth. But so much of the memorial consists of handwritten notes that I wanted to see them before they were washed away.
I am just absorbing the news articles outlining the results of the long-awaited study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice regarding the causes and contexts of clergy sexual abuse. Both David Gibson of Religion News Service and Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times have detailed pieces on the study, which will be released today.
My first thought is how incredibly valuable this study will be to help us understand what caused the scourge of clergy sexual abuse, both in understanding what creates an abusive priest and what kind of culture protects him.
The RNS piece states: “The ‘situational’ nature of the abuse by clergy is comparable to that of police officers who brutalize people, the authors write. The stress of the work, the perils of isolation and a lack of oversight are factors that contribute to ‘deviant behavior.’”
My great aunt Edith described what it was like in Boston's old Scollay Square at the end of World War II. The details were of a scene just like the iconic LIFE magazine photos of Times Square -- an unknown sailor kissing an unknown nurse in a spontaneous show of life and celebration.
I understand the hand-wringing about the celebrating that went on in front of the White House, at Ground Zero in Manhattan, and across college campuses across the country. I've seen the Biblical quote "Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and when he stumbles, let not your heart exult." (Proverbs 24: 17).
It is worth noting that the next lines from Proverbs are:
Allow me, if you will, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War to borrow a title from poet Robert Lowell. Lowell wrote in 1964, nearly 50 years ago, about the commercialization of downtown Boston in contrast to the revered Robert Gould Shaw memorial, which still stands at the top of Beacon Street.
My lament is literally for those Union dead, the men who perished fighting for the cause of the Union. In our current climate, they are usually no longer even afforded the privilege of being an afterthought. At most times, they seem to be barely thought of at all.