Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dr. Theresa Burke recommends the anti-Catholic film The Magdalene Sisters

The Catholic League, several years back, issued a statement against the film "The Magdalene Sisters," referring to it (rightfully) as "anti-Catholic propaganda.  In the September, 2003 edition of the Catalyst Online, we read:

"'The Magdalene Sisters,' a film about the alleged abuse of wayward girls by nuns in Ireland, opened at theaters over the summer. It is the creation of director Peter Mullan and it was distributed by Miramax, a company run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein.

Louis Giovino, director of communications for the Catholic League, saw the movie and provided Catholic League president William Donohue with a report on it. His report found its way into the following news release on the film:

It was not coincidental that Peter Mullan and the Weinstein brothers should join forces by delivering ‘The Magdalene Sisters.’ It was destined to happen. Mullan has admitted that his movie ‘encapsulates everything that is bad about the Catholic Church’; so much so that he compares the Church to the murderous Taliban. His honesty is appreciated. Less candid are the Weinstein brothers: they still maintain they are not anti-Catholic even though they have given Catholics such gems as ‘Priest,’ ‘Butcher Boy,’ ‘Dogma’ and ’40 Days and 40 Nights.’ Now they have given Catholics their new prize, ‘The Magdalene Sisters.’

If someone were to do a movie called ‘The Weinstein Brothers,’ one that focused on their legacy of anti-Catholicism, and sold it as being representative of how Hollywood views Catholics, it would be dishonest. This is exactly what Mullan and the Weinsteins have done in ‘The Magdalene Sisters.’ They have focused on cruel nuns, who surely were atypical, and presented them as being prototypical. That is the gravamen of the Catholic League’s complaint. This is a game that can be played with any demographic group and with any institution. Just gather all the dirty laundry, pack it tightly, and present it as if it were reality.

When the film was first released, two members of the board of directors of the Venice Film Festival called it anti-Catholic propaganda. They were right.

To demonstrate how deep anti-Catholic prejudice is today, consider that several movie reviewers of 'The Magdalene Sisters' took the opportunity to make patently Catholic-bashing remarks. A critic for the New York Daily News even admitted that the movie was 'an overloaded melodrama,' but this didn’t stop him from saying that the Catholic Church 'deserves the scorn' anyway.

The reviews were so sensationalistic that we couldn’t resist providing reporters with a useful thought experiment. Here is what we said:

'Imagine an anti-Semitic director who admits he packed into one movie every anti-Semitic theme he could draw on and then gets an anti-Semitic duo to distribute it. Next imagine film critics taking the anti-Semitic propaganda at face value and then offering anti-Semitic remarks in their reviews. Fat chance.

For example, there will never be a movie about Jewish slumlords in Harlem or Jewish managers of black entertainers in the 20th century. If there were, and if it were to present a wholly one-sided portrait of the worst excesses of how some Jews exploited blacks, the ADL would be up in arms. And rightly so. But luckily for Jews, this is not likely to happen. Catholics are not so lucky—they have to endure Catholic-bashing directors like Peter Mullan shopping his anti-Catholic script to anti-Catholic distributors like Harvey and Bob Weinstein, only to have it reviewed by anti-Catholic critics.'" See here.

Apparently Dr. Theresa Burke, Founder and Executive Director at Rachel's Vineyard Ministries, a ministry of Priests for Life, agrees that the Catholic Church "deserves the scorn."  Today, on Facebook, Dr. Burke wrote:

"Its a new day right? The rain, lightning and thunder stopped. Kevin is up at Priests for Life in New York tending to business as usual….. Life goes on -- and Im still alive despite the obituary! Did you know in the domestic church – a woman’s husband is supposed to be her Bishop? I always thanked God I never took a vow of obedience as a religious person – because so many people in church leadership and religious institutions & political organizations do not have the interests of God’s precious children at heart, but covering their own crimes and keeping their jobs -- its all about money, control and power. My husband has always tried to love and protect me – so I was happy to be obedient to him.... I was the missionary -- he was my bishop - always in a state of healthy tension. However, I am not employed to protect Bishops and I do have an ethical and professional obligation to report abuse. I will lose my license if I don’t – and hey – Im just trying to do my job like the rest of the world and protect my business and ministry interests so I can pay for 5 colleges, medical expenses and all the extra expenses and private tutor for my high maintenance special needs 13 year old precious child of my womb…. But some people do hate conflict. Believe it or not – I have always been one of them!!!! and Kevin is too -- but I have never been afraid to address conflict with the brave and courageous - and sometimes we get pushed over the edge and have NO CHOICE right????

But anyway – a bit ADD from trauma in the present moment – I have taught about that for years – which is hard for me because I am so focused – like a laser, but not since I broke my foot last year – and was pushed over the edge by all the never ending shut downs of Rachel’s Vineyard which have been going on since I started the ministry – but we grew all over the world anyway and the Lord seems to inspire and uphold our leaders who also endure similar torture from those in the church who are ambivalent, indifferent or guilty of so much of their own personal moral compromise, they want to make sure everyone else feels the same rights to be sinful. No talk of redemption and healing JUST COVER-UP. But hey, I’ve been in the thick of such controversy my entire career…. In graduate school, with politics, with trying to publish politically incorrect books, and trying to provide healing for those who can’t live with their trauma and act out in the hurt and pain – see my book Forbidden Grief – The Unspoken Pain of Abortion and visit our website for healing abuse Grief to Grace

So pardon the ADD and pray that too is healed -- and I’ll get back to Bishops and Lawyers and other pointed hats…. When you involve lawyers in anything it’s a shark fest to be sure – but no one gets more hurt and wastes more money than the victim who pays a lawyers to get a divorce or the church who pays a lawyer to cover-up abuse and aggravate mentally ill obsessions of those in pwer with liability concerns!! Better to deal with the trauma and heal -- Couples and children and the church are the biggest loosers!!!! The only winner is the lawyer – who gets to buy vacation houses, invest in church real estate from needing to sell and close up the faith as the victims endure the legal abuse of our country and Catholic church hierarchy and all the expensive but silly advice of the USCCB – truly brilliant blokes down there!!!!! We performed a very funny play which I wrote for my own traumatic mastery which I hear was recorded for posterity – or perhaps for the inside secret edition of highly confidential secret RV ministry meetings – which are always open – because we have an open door policy of communication – not SHUT DOWN of ministry and the people trying to live their faith. So we all slug along – being REVICTIMIZED by legal and institutional abuse – whatever happened to the Gospel of Jesus Christ???? Do our shepherds forget seeking the lost till they are found, the old millstone around the neck scripture???

Anyway, thanks for all the compassionate responses to my midnight ramblings Last night! I suppose we have been Catholic for too long -- the church teaches us to suffer in SILENCE -- and if you do tell secrets, you really do become victimized again and again. You’re as sick as your secrets – is that a quote from John Bradshaw??? Im not trying to change the church or my husband -- just speak the truth for justice and hopes for reform – I’d do that for any stranger -- and if our job is to help our spouse reach heaven... according to Catholic teaching -- we need to challenge and find that find balance between torturing the other person "for their own good" like the nuns in that movie The Magdalene sisters and risking it all to speak the truth and to escape abuse. I highly recommend this movie! By the way I know its true because I read hundreds of pages of every grand jury report done in Ireland (since I work with abuse victims and have been working with church leaders in Ireland-- they say some 30,000 women lived in them!!!"

Dr. Burke then promotes a review of The Magdalene Sisters which may be found here.  And then she continues with her Facebook posting:

In the meantime, gotta keep the faith and learn to speak the truth in love, like I always have before my broken foot and whopper case of RSD (caused by sleep deprivation – which I will teach about) … and let God heal me first for that to happen. In the meantime – none of this is MY PROBLEM – only God can fix this mess – and he uses those who have healed to help him!!!!! Praise be Jesus Christ!!!...Many blessings and many crosses – you cant have one without the other – and that is the TRUTH – because the truth is a person – Jesus Christ… and his father would not have it any other way!"

Dr. Burke has shown that she is willing to engage in broad generalizations as she paints much of the institutional Church as being broken and corrupt - anxious only to cover-up abuse.  Yes, there have been Bishops who attempted to cover-up abuse.  Yes, there have been priests and religious who abused others.  But this number is statistically small when compared with the number of cases across society.

Dr. Burke's Facebook comments are most inappropriate.  And especially disturbing when one considers that her apostolate is directly connected to Priests for Life.  Several years ago, in an article for The Catholic Register entitled "Put the blame where it really belongs - on the abuser," Dorothy Pilarski wrote, "Of course sex abuse is evil and hideous, but using it to attack the Church is, in my mind, a tactic of the devil. I suspect there are priests and bishops right now in hell or purgatory because of their lives on Earth. But I am sure that there are many, many, many holy priests who do not receive the love and respect they deserve because of the transgressions of their brothers in Christ."


Anonymous said...

Paul, I saw that post on FB. I too find it ugly and way too judgmental toward the Pastors of the Church in general.


Michelle said...

Does Priests for Life know about this? This is horrendous. The movie review which Dr. Burke promotes is utterly vile and just frightening. The reviewer claims he had to re-evaluate his faith after watching the film. Is this what Dr. Burke wants? For us to reconsider our Catholic Faith?

Regina said...

I too was shocked at Theresa Burke's facebook entry. There is no reason to support or recommend a film that is blatantly anti Catholic. I was also offended at her attack on the USCCB. I am sure that she is in need of our prayers, since she has done such good work in the past.

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