Two Sides of the F-Word

F page of dictionary
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When my kids were little, I remember one of them tattling on the other for using the S-word. A bit stunned, I asked for more information. It turned out the S-word was shut up. I had to smile.

That day, I learned there are different interpretations for some of the abbreviation we use for words that some find vulgar and offensive.

The D-word, for instance, might mean damn to one person yet darn or doggonit to another. It’s all a matter of interpretation. What some people find offensive, others may not. It’s a prickly little world out there. Each of us are coming from different places, having had different upbringings and personal experiences that make us who we are.

Yesterday, while at the Chicago White Sox game, a man sitting directly behind my husband, my son, and me started throwing around the F-bomb like there was no tomorrow. Finally, Frank turned around and gave him a look while shaking his head as if to say, “C’mon. That is not appropriate here”. The man apologized and cleaned up his language. Some grown-ups just don’t seem to have much common sense on their own and must be guided as if they are children raised in a jungle.

That wasn’t the first time I heard the F-word last week. In fact, I heard or read the F-word more than usual during the past several days. However, this F-word isn’t the one most people would first think of.

The F-word I am talking about here is Forgiveness.

Two abuse survivors and an advocate peacefully protest outside the Chicago Archdiocese HQ
The priests who sexually assaulted Therese Albrecht and Rick Springer (center and right) were never arrested and never repented. Yet, the survivors are often advised by Catholics to “Forgive and move on”.

I was taught that forgiveness is the real F-word by some survivors of clergy sexual abuse. You see, many Catholics – clergy, laity, employees – are quick to tell adults who were raped or molested by priests or nuns as children to “forgive”. When it comes to responding to survivors of clergy abuse, “Forgive” and “Move on” are the mantras many Catholics still chant. 

Mind you, the vast majority of survivors of clergy sexual abuse never saw their perpetrator arrested much less imprisoned or fined. They never received an apology or any kind of reparations from their perpetrator. Many victims and survivors had to file a lawsuit and suffer through graphic depositions during which they had to re-open their wound and relive their trauma all over again just to get some lame “I’m sorry that happened to you” excuse for an apology by an insincere bishop.

The Roman Catholic Church requires its members to confess their sins to a priest regularly. It used to be Catholics had to have their sins absolved every Saturday in order to receive Holy Communion on Sunday.

What if the pew-sitters simply used the F-bomb on the collared-men in the confessional? What if they went in, knelt down, and said, “Just forgive me, Father. I’m not going to apologize, or express remorse, or take responsibility for my actions. But, forgive me anyway because that is what you and the Church want from the survivors of child-rape-by-priest. No repentance; just forgiveness. No justice; just forgiveness.”

The only time the Roman Church calls for forgiveness without true repentance is when it is the men of the holy priesthood who are at fault.

That is the definition of hypocrisy.

News headlines of Boston Marathon bombing
Which F-word do you think these victims and first responders were thinking? (Photo collage from The Daily Beast)

Now, because of the bad teaching and example of the hierarchy and others in leadership roles within the Church, ordinary Catholics have also been infected with this false and offensive notion.

Less than an hour after two bombs were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last Monday, one Catholic woman was already calling for forgiveness for the bombers. Of course, at this time, the two brothers were still unidentified, still at-large, and totally unrepentant. Indeed, they were still on a rampage – robbing, car-jacking, and cop-killing. Yet, at least one Catholic felt it appropriate to start throwing around the F-word.

Here is that tweet from 4:31 pm CST on Monday, April 15, 2013:

Don’t forget to pray for the people responsible for the bombings in Boston. #prayforyourenemies #forgiveusasweforgiveothers

“Repentance is a condition of forgiveness,” so said Karol Wojtyla, otherwise known as Pope John Paul II. Therefore, it was inappropriate and highly offensive for anyone to even mention that F-word so soon after the Boston bombings, thereby shifting the burden of responsibility onto the innocent rather than the guilty where it belongs.

The uncle of the brother bombers, a resident of Maryland, also used the F-word last week but in a much different sense than the tweeting Catholic mom.

Instead of urging the shocked and wounded public – or victims  and family members of those murdered – to forgive his murderous and terror-causing nephews, Ruslan Tsami urged them to turn themselves in and ask for forgiveness from all of those to whom they had done harm. In other words, he put the onus of reconciliation and justice on the perpetrators, not the victims.

Once again, the Roman Catholic Church has flipped right on its head and has got it all wrong.

Upon reading the Catholic mom’s tweet, I couldn’t help but use the S-word:

Shut up!! YOUR loved ones weren’t killed!!

She responded:

As a Christian I’m required to pray for my enemies. Take it up w Jesus–& it could have been my family–they were at the scene.

To which I replied:

It’s offensive to victims of violent crimes to publicly promote “forgiveness” for perpetrators while blood is still gushing.

Stressing forgiveness before repentance is putting the cart before the horse. Maybe Catholics who do such are unfamiliar with Luke 17:3-4:

“Be on your guard. If your brother does wrong, correct him; if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times a day turns back to you saying, ‘I am sorry,’ forgive him.”

It seems to me the uncle of the two brother bombers, a Muslim, understands Christianity better than many Catholics.