I am often compelled to apologize for the actions of Christians, and especially my own Roman Catholic Church, for the trauma they have caused others. Unfortunately the Church can be a cause of direct PTSD through clergy abuse, but also indirect PTSD by failing to serve those who have souls wounded with PTSD. The Church should be a haven for those who suffer both physically and spiritually. At times I experience two Churches, the one that helps and the one that hinders those who suffer. In my own concerns about the soul wounds of PTSD this concern returns me to back to the perennial question I experience in the United States: Why should I care about PTSD? (Part One concerning Why Should I Care about PTSD and Compassion Deficit Disorder was an earlier post)
If I want to help eliminate the additional trauma of adultery, pornography, sexually transmitted diseases, you name it, then I should care about helping to alleviate PTSD. If a person really cares about Family Values, and not just as a campaign slogan, then they should care about healing the souls wounded by PTSD – regardless of how a person got PTSD.
Is My Suffering Worthy?
I have watched so-called Christian activists criticize people with PTSD because they did not approve of how that person got PTSD. They decided if the person had worthy suffering or not. In one case, these so-called Christians drove the PTSD person away from seeking treatment. PTSD can often infantilize us as we begin to do childish things as we seek to cope. When these so-called Christian drove this person away from treatment it is as if they kept a child away from Christ. If they know their Bible, then they can think about mill stones. Lucky for them that God will even forgive a self-righteous so-called Christian.
In the New Testament Jesus heals the afflicted without asking for a co-pay or a deductible. There is no questioning about prior conditions or if their suffering is worthy of his attention. Jesus does not ensure that there is a “Free Market” that rations healthcare only to those people who can afford it instead of those who need it. He never asks for money or even gratitude. Yet, Jesus does ask the people he heals to reform their lives and live in better relationships. Perhaps healing people’s wounded souls is the Christian thing to do because it is the right thing to do. It alleviates suffering, it preserves families, it preserves life.
Healing PTSD is a Pro-Life Action
If a person proclaims they are Pro-Life, then they should be interested in rescuing those afflicted by PTSD, regardless if they have acquired it through military service, clergy abuse, or are victims of sexual assault, bankruptcy, post-abortion trauma, or an auto accident. PTSD does not care how we got our trauma. PTSD just wants people to be righteously indifferent to the suffering of others. The more righteous they are the more indifferent they are (think of the plastic patriots, chickenhawks, and hypocritical Christians).
This righteous indifference to suffering makes it easier for the PTSD-Identity to drive us into isolation and kill us. Later, the Pro-Lifers can say how much they miss us and “oh my, what a tragedy.” If I am Pro-Life, then I care about all life, including those suffering from PTSD.
Stop Caring and Wait to be Saved by Science?
I am reminded of a man who suggested I not pursue the spiritual care of PTSD wounds until the scientists have completed all of their studies. Sorry, I can’t wait.
If you see a toddler walk into the freeway, you don’t wait for a university study to show that toddlers experience higher mortality when left on the freeway. I am still amazed at the number of people who object to the recognition of traumatic soul wounds and that we all bear a responsibility to care for one another. True, if I care I will perhaps exhibit (or even experience…Yikes!!) compassion, I may start to model my behavior on that Jesus of Nazareth fellow who told us to pay our taxes and care for the poor and forgive our enemies.
For those who have read my Disclaimer, it is clear that I value the positive aspects of science and medicine. I am just not ready to abdicate helping others while I wait for the mythical scientific silver bullet that will save humanity from itself. People often try to hide their compassion deficit disorder under the guide of saying wait for science, more studies…wait! Wait!! WAIT!!! If acknowledging other people’s suffering and trauma makes them uncomfortable, the best way to mitigate that suffering is to attempt to heal it, not to hide from it.
But Having Compassion Could Raise My Taxes or Cost Me Time!
Those folks with compassion deficit disorder won’t want to spend their time, taxes, or goods on helping someone who may have nothing to give them in return but gratitude. In the cases of sexual assault victims, clergy abuse survivors, and military veterans: Well, golly, we have nothing to give back to those who help us. If someone helps us, let it be because, it was the right thing to do and not because they are looking for a tax write-off, or want to be in the limelight and seen as a gracious helper (If I had a quarter for every person who said in public that I should ask them for help, but then refused me in private, I could pay off some of my medical bills).
As I continue on this rant…I recall one Christian who became angry with me when I suggested we should do charitable acts because it is the right thing to do, not because we expect some divine reward or congratulations.
Has the Catholic Church Harmed You?
I cannot write you any compensation checks but I can sincerely tell you that I apologize for any actions of the Christian Church, and the Roman Catholic Church in particular, that have harmed you. You deserved better than you got. If I have personally harmed you, and there are those whom I have harmed, I apologize to you as well.
There are still Churches and Parishes that follow the Pauline injunction from Galatians that we should “carry one another’s burdens.” If moronic, self-absorbed, or just plain ignorant Christians have driven you away, please know you can find a different Church or Parish.
So why Care About PTSD?
We care about PTSD because life has value. Our relationships have value. We are meant for happiness and not endless isolating suffering. To be indifferent to PTSD is to be Anti-Life or Pro-Death. If you have PTSD, know that you have value and that your life matters. Semper Pax, Dr. Z