Factual opinion piece from the NYT. He doesn't refer to the most recent report of the Bishops on sexual abuse by priests/employees that showed only 6 offenses in the year 2009 and only 65 cases in the years 2004-2009 involving minors that year . This blog report is based on the John Jay Report released some years ago.
Ross Douthat: Evaluations March 30, 2010
The Pattern of Priestly Sex Abuse
Reproduced below is a chart from the John Jay Report on sexual abuse in the Catholic priesthood, commissioned by the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, showing the number of credible accusations of abuse across the last half-century. It’s part of the basis for my column’s claim that something in the moral/cultural/theological climate of the 1960s and 1970s encouraged a spike in sexual abuse, and also for my assertion that we’ve since seen the church come to grips with the problem, at least in the United States.
It’s important to note that most of these incidents were reported in the 1990s and 2000s, years after they took place. This raises the question of whether the low numbers for the 1950s reflect a real difference between the rate of abuse in the Eisenhower era and the rate in the decades that followed, or whether it’s just that fewer of the victims from the ’50s have come forward with their stories, because of advanced age, greater shame, etc.
There’s no way to be completely certain about this, and clearly there was abuse in the church, and horrid cover-ups as well, going back decades and centuries and more. But the John Jay data suggest that something significant really did shift, and escalate, in the years around the sexual revolution.
For one thing, the rate of so-called “short term” incidents — cases where the priest’s abusive behavior reportedly lasted less than a year — remained relatively constant from the ’50s through the first decade of the 21st century.[A large number of the priests were charged with only one offense!] The prevalence of longer-term abuse, on the other hand, followed the same pattern as the overall data, going way up in the ’60s and ’70s and then dropping off after 1980 (see pp. 39 of this report for the graph). The same discrepancy appears when you look at the type of molestation: male-on-female versus male-on-male, and true pedophilia versus so-called “ephebophilia” (the abuse of pubescent teenagers). To quote from the National Review Board report, which analyzed the John Jay data:
The incidence of sexual molestation of a minor under eleven years of age did not vary as greatly throughout the period as did the molestation of older children. In addition, the incidence of abuse of females did not change as dramatically as did the incidence of the abuse of males. There was, however, a more than six-fold increase in the number of reported acts of abuse of males aged eleven to seventeen between the 1950s and the 1970s.
If the abuse in the ’50s (and earlier) followed roughly the same pattern as the abuse in the ’70s, and just remains more underreported today, you would expect the ratios of different types of abuse — long-term versus short-term, male versus female, pedophilic versus ephebophilic — to remain relatively constant across the decades. But they don’t: Instead, the post-1960 period shows a dramatic increase in reports of long-term sexual misconduct with teenage boys, and a substantially smaller increase in other types of abuse.
This data informs the conservative Catholic argument that the post-Vatican II exodus of straight men from religious life and the spread of a sexually-active gay subculture within the priesthood is the abuse scandal’s “elephant in the sacristy.” Liberal Catholics might counter that the priesthood has always been disproportionately homosexual, and that the sexual revolution probably just encouraged psychologically healthy gay priests[Is that an oxymoron considering that actual male homosexuals shorten their life spans by at least twenty years according to the Communicable Disease Center?]to give up on the church entirely, leaving behind a clerical population tilted toward repression, self-loathing and the dysfunctions of the closet. Whichever narrative you prefer, though, it’s hard to deny that something changed in the 1960s, and not for the better.
Pope Benedict XVI has been maligned and slandered in a rash of recent articles based on false reports and deliberate misrepresentations.One in the Pioneer Press (“What did the pope know and when?”), went as far as to suggest that his papacy will be ruined or that he will have to resign.This is nonsense and reflects the animus against the Church in the mainstream press.
At the Vatican, Benedict was not in a position of authority concerning offending priests until 2001, when Pope John Paul II assigned him that responsibility.Several authors point out the strong and relentless way in which Benedict went after priests who molested children after 2001.Keep in mind that from that point on, Benedict reviewed and acted on offenses from all over the world, not just the United States.
We must ask ourselves “what is causing this flurry of hatred?”Why are all these admitted events that took place from 30 to 50 years ago being regurgitated with the seeming attempt only to embarrass the Church?
Yes, there have been bad priests.Yes, there were bishops who moved abusing priests around, partly to avoid bad publicity, but also because they were assured that the offenders had undergone successful therapy and rehabilitation.We have learned a lot since about the futility of such therapy.
We have also learned that similar abuse has been at the hands of doctors, teachers, ministers, therapists, and lawyers, not to mention the horrors which have gone on within families, with relatively no outrage from special interest groups or the media.
And we know that there have been many false allegations against priests, most notably in Minneapolis and St. Paul against the late Bishop Paul Dudley.
Benedict has been recently defended, however.For example, John Allen has had two articles explaining the background and context of Pope Benedict’s actions, one in the National Catholic Reporter (a publication regularly critical of the Church despite its name), an op-ed piece in the New York Times, an now one in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. His points include:
·In truth, Ratzinger did not have any direct responsibility for managing the overall Vatican response to the crisis until 2001, four years before he became pope.
·That aside, here's the key point about Ratzinger's 2001 open letter: Far from being seen as part of the problem, at the time it was widely hailed as a watershed moment towards a solution. It marked recognition in Rome, really for the first time, of how serious the problem of sex abuse really is, and it committed the Vatican to getting directly involved. Prior to that 2001 motu proprio and Ratzinger's letter, it wasn't clear that anyone in Rome acknowledged responsibility for managing the crisis; from that moment forward, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would play the lead role.
·Elsewhere Allen has made the point that “the Church’s efforts to come to grips with this problem within the household of faith — more far reaching than in any other institution or sector of society — have led others to look to the Catholic Church for guidance on how to address what is, in fact, a global plague.”And again: As another doctor, Paul McHugh, an international scholar on this subject at Johns Hopkins University, remarked, “Nobody is doing more to address the tragedy of sexual abuse of minors than the Catholic Church.”
Here is the assessment by Archbishop Dolan of New York:
Pope Benedict XVI himself has expressed hurt, anger, sorrow, and contrition. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now as Pope, he is seen as one “who gets it” when it comes to the horror of clergy sexual abuse, and who has placed the full force of the Apostolic See, the Vatican, behind efforts to reform. Who can forget his forthright references to this scourge at least half-a-dozen times in his visit to our country nearly two-years ago, and his moving meeting with victim-survivors? And now we have his blunt, realistic Pastoral Letter toIreland on the crises there. He must be asking, as we all do, “When will it all end.”
Lastly, consider Pope Benedict’s recent statement:
Jesus Christ “leads us towards courage which does not allow us to be intimidated by the chatter of dominant opinions, towards patience which supports and sustains others”.
. Over these last days, you've seen many responses by top clerics regarding Pope Benedict's actions as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, all criticizing the reporting of the record as printed in the New York Times.
The New York Times and Pope Benedict XVI: how it looks to an American in the Vatican
By Cardinal William J. Levada Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
In our melting pot of peoples, languages and backgrounds, Americans are not noted as examples of “high” culture. But we can take pride as a rule in our passion for fairness. In the Vatican where I currently work, my colleagues – whether fellow cardinals at meetings or officials in my office – come from many different countries, continents and cultures. As I write this response today (March 26, 2010) I have had to admit to them that I am not proud of America’s newspaper of record, the New York Times, as a paragon of fairness.
I say this because today’s Times presents both a lengthy article by Laurie Goodstein, a senior columnist, headlined “Warned About Abuse, Vatican Failed to Defrock Priest,” and an accompanying editorial entitled “The Pope and the Pedophilia Scandal,” in which the editors call the Goodstein article a disturbing report (emphasis in original) as a basis for their own charges against the Pope. Both the article and the editorial are deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major media reporting.
In her lead paragraph, Goodstein relies on what she describes as “newly unearthed files” to point out what the Vatican (i.e. then Cardinal Ratzinger and his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) did not do – “defrock Fr. Murphy.” Breaking news, apparently. Only after eight paragraphs of purple prose does Goodstein reveal that Fr. Murphy, who criminally abused as many as 200 deaf children while working at a school in the Milwaukee Archdiocese from 1950 to 1974, “not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims.”
But in paragraph 13, commenting on a statement of Fr. Lombardi (the Vatican spokesman) that Church law does not prohibit anyone from reporting cases of abuse to civil authorities, Goodstein writes, “He did not address why that had never happened in this case.” Did she forget, or did her editors not read, what she wrote in paragraph nine about Murphy getting “a pass from the police and prosecutors”? By her own account it seems clear that criminal authorities had been notified, most probably by the victims and their families.
Goodstein’s account bounces back and forth as if there were not some 20 plus years intervening between reports in the 1960 and 70’s to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and local police, and Archbishop Weakland’s appeal for help to the Vatican in 1996. Why? Because the point of the article is not about failures on the part of church and civil authorities to act properly at the time. I, for one, looking back at this report agree that Fr. Murphy deserved to be dismissed from the clerical state for his egregious criminal behavior, which would normally have resulted from a canonical trial.
The point of Goodstein’s article, however, is to attribute the failure to accomplish this dismissal to Pope Benedict, instead of to diocesan decisions at the time. She uses the technique of repeating the many escalating charges and accusations from various sources (not least from her own newspaper), and tries to use these “newly unearthed files” as the basis for accusing the pope of leniency and inaction in this case and presumably in others.
It seems to me, on the other hand, that we owe Pope Benedict a great debt of gratitude for introducing the procedures that have helped the Church to take action in the face of the scandal of priestly sexual abuse of minors. These efforts began when the Pope served as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and continued after he was elected Pope. That the Times has published a series of articles in which the important contribution he has made – especially in the development and implementation of Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, the Motu proprio issued by Pope John Paul II in 2001 – is ignored, seems to me to warrant the charge of lack of fairness which should be the hallmark of any reputable newspaper.
Let me tell you what I think a fair reading of the Milwaukee case would seem to indicate. The reasons why church and civil authorities took no action in the 1960’s and 70’s is apparently not contained in these “newly emerged files.” Nor does the Times seem interested in finding out why. But what does emerge is this: after almost 20 years as Archbishop, Weakland wrote to the Congregation asking for help in dealing with this terrible case of serial abuse. The Congregation approved his decision to undertake a canonical trial, since the case involved solicitation in confession – one of the graviora delicta (most grave crimes) for which the Congregation had responsibility to investigate and take appropriate action.
Only when it learned that Murphy was dying did the Congregation suggest to Weakland that the canonical trial be suspended, since it would involve a lengthy process of taking testimony from a number of deaf victims from prior decades, as well as from the accused priest. Instead it proposed measures to ensure that appropriate restrictions on his ministry be taken. Goodstein infers that this action implies “leniency” toward a priest guilty of heinous crimes. My interpretation would be that the Congregation realized that the complex canonical process would be useless if the priest were dying. Indeed, I have recently received an unsolicited letter from the judicial vicar who was presiding judge in the canonical trial telling me that he never received any communication about suspending the trial, and would not have agreed to it. But Fr. Murphy had died in the meantime. As a believer, I have no doubt that Murphy will face the One who judges both the living and the dead.
Goodstein also refers to what she calls “other accusations” about the reassignment of a priest who had previously abused a child/children in another diocese by the Archdiocese of Munich. But the Archdiocese has repeatedly explained that the responsible Vicar General, Mons. Gruber, admitted his mistake in making that assignment. It is anachronistic for Goodstein and the Times to imply that the knowledge about sexual abuse that we have in 2010 should have somehow been intuited by those in authority in 1980. It is not difficult for me to think that Professor Ratzinger, appointed as Archbishop of Munich in 1977, would have done as most new bishops do: allow those already in place in an administration of 400 or 500 people to do the jobs assigned to them.
As I look back on my own personal history as a priest and bishop, I can say that in 1980 I had never heard of any accusation of such sexual abuse by a priest. It was only in 1985, as an Auxiliary Bishop attending a meeting of our U.S. Bishops’ Conference where data on this matter was presented, that I became aware of some of the issues. In 1986, when I was appointed Archbishop in Portland, I began to deal personally with accusations of the crime of sexual abuse, and although my “learning curve” was rapid, it was also limited by the particular cases called to my attention.
Here are a few things I have learned since that time: many child victims are reluctant to report incidents of sexual abuse by clergy. When they come forward as adults, the most frequent reason they give is not to ask for punishment of the priest, but to make the bishop and personnel director aware so that other children can be spared the trauma that they have experienced.
In dealing with priests, I learned that many priests, when confronted with accusations from the past, spontaneously admitted their guilt. On the other hand, I also learned that denial is not uncommon. I have found that even programs of residential therapy have not succeeded in breaking through such denial in some cases. Even professional therapists did not arrive at a clear diagnosis in some of these cases; often their recommendations were too vague to be helpful. On the other hand, therapists have been very helpful to victims in dealing with the long-range effects of their childhood abuse. In both Portland and San Francisco where I dealt with issues of sexual abuse, the dioceses always made funds available (often through diocesan insurance coverage) for therapy to victims of sexual abuse.
From the point of view of ecclesiastical procedures, the explosion of the sexual abuse question in the United States led to the adoption, at a meeting of the Bishops’ Conference in Dallas in 2002, of a “Charter for the Protection of Minors from Sexual Abuse.” This Charter provides for uniform guidelines on reporting sexual abuse, on structures of accountability (Boards involving clergy, religious and laity, including experts), reports to a national Board, and education programs for parishes and schools in raising awareness and prevention of sexual abuse of children. In a number of other countries similar programs have been adopted by Church authorities: one of the first was adopted by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in response to the Nolan Report made by a high-level commission of independent experts in 2001.
It was only in 2001, with the publication of Pope John Paul II’s Motu proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (SST), that responsibility for guiding the Catholic Church’s response to the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clerics was assigned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This papal document was prepared for Pope John Paul II under the guidance of Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Contrary to some media reports, SST did not remove the local bishop’s responsibility for acting in cases of reported sexual abuse of minors by clerics. Nor was it, as some have theorized, part of a plot from on high to interfere with civil jurisdiction in such cases. Instead, SST directs bishops to report credible allegations of abuse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is able to provide a service to the bishops to ensure that cases are handled properly, in accord with applicable ecclesiastical law.
Here are some of the advances made by this new Church legislation (SST). It has allowed for a streamlined administrative process in arriving at a judgment, thus reserving the more formal process of a canonical trial to more complex cases. This has been of particular advantage in missionary and small dioceses that do not have a strong complement of well-trained canon lawyers. It provides for erecting inter-diocesan tribunals to assist small dioceses. The Congregation has faculties allowing it derogate from the prescription of a crime (statute of limitations) in order to permit justice to be done even for “historical” cases. Moreover, SST has amended canon law in cases of sexual abuse to adjust the age of a minor to 18 to correspond with the civil law in many countries today. It provides a point of reference for bishops and religious superiors to obtain uniform advice about handling priests’ cases. Perhaps most of all, it has designated cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics as graviora delicta: most grave crimes, like the crimes against the sacraments of Eucharist and Penance perennially assigned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This in itself has shown the seriousness with which today’s Church undertakes its responsibility to assist bishops and religious superiors to prevent these crimes from happening in the future, and to punish them when they happen. Here is a legacy of Pope Benedict that greatly facilitates the work of the Congregation which I now have the privilege to lead, to the benefit of the entire Church.
After the Dallas Charter in 2002, I was appointed (at the time as Archbishop of San Francisco) to a team of four bishops to seek approval of the Holy See for the “Essential Norms” that the American Bishops developed to allow us to deal with abuse questions. Because these norms intersected with existing canon law, they required approval before being implemented as particular law for our country. Under the chairmanship of Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and currently President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, our team worked with Vatican canonical experts at several meetings. We found in Cardinal Ratzinger, and in the experts he assigned to meet with us, a sympathetic understanding of the problems we faced as American bishops. Largely through his guidance we were able to bring our work to a successful conclusion.
The Times editorial wonders “how Vatican officials did not draw the lessons of the grueling scandal in the United States, where more than 700 priests were dismissed over a three-year period.” I can assure the Times that the Vatican in reality did not then and does not now ignore those lessons. But the Times editorial goes on to show the usual bias: “But then we read Laurie Goodstein’s disturbing report . . .about how the pope, while he was still a cardinal, was personally warned about a priest … But church leaders chose to protect the church instead of children. The report illuminated the kind of behavior the church was willing to excuse to avoid scandal.” Excuse me, editors. Even the Goodstein article, based on “newly unearthed files,” places the words about protecting the Church from scandal on the lips of Archbishop Weakland, not the pope. It is just this kind of anachronistic conflation that I think warrants my accusation that the Times, in rushing to a guilty verdict, lacks fairness in its coverage of Pope Benedict.
As a full-time member of the Roman Curia, the governing structure that carries out the Holy See’s tasks, I do not have time to deal with the Times’s subsequent almost daily articles by Rachel Donadio and others, much less with Maureen Dowd’s silly parroting of Goodstein’s “disturbing report.” But about a man with and for whom I have the privilege of working, as his “successor” Prefect, a pope whose encyclicals on love and hope and economic virtue have both surprised us and made us think, whose weekly catecheses and Holy Week homilies inspire us, and yes, whose pro-active work to help the Church deal effectively with the sexual abuse of minors continues to enable us today, I ask the Times to reconsider its attack mode about Pope Benedict XVI and give the world a more balanced view of a leader it can and should count on. Whispers in the Loggia
. Recent accusations against the Vatican deserve a response.
• Fr. Lawrence Murphy apparently began his predatory behavior inWisconsin in the 1950s, yet the victims' families never contacted the police until the mid-1970s. After an investigation, the case was dropped.
• The Vatican did not learn of the case until 1996.
• Cardinal Ratzinger, now the pope, was the head of the office that was contacted. There is no evidence that he knew of it. But even if he did, he would have had to allow for an investigation. While the inquiry was proceeding, Murphy died.
• The Times questions why Murphy was never defrocked. But only the Vatican can do that, and since it never learned of the case until he was dying, it was never a realistic option.
• The Times says the Vatican's canonical inquiry was done in secret. Correct. The proceedings of internal investigations—even in organizations like the Times—are never shown on C-SPAN.
• The Times says repeatedly that Church officials did not report accusations of abuse to the police. The common response of all organizations, secular as well as religious, was to access therapy and reinstate the patient (I prefer the term offender). Today it is obvious that a more hard-line approach is necessary, though therapy is still popular in many quarters.
• The Times continues to editorialize about the "pedophilia crisis," when all along it's been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.
Here's what's really going on. The Times has teamed up with Jeffrey Anderson, a radical lawyer who has made millions suing the Church (and greasing professional victims' groups like SNAP), so they can weaken its moral authority. Why? Because of issues like abortion, gay marriage and women's ordination. That's what's really driving them mad, and that's why they are on the hunt. Those who doubt this to be true need to ask why the debt-ridden Times does not spend the same resources looking for dirt in other institutions that occurred a half-century ago.
Bill Donohue President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights May 30, 2010
This Op-Ed piece appeared as a paid advertisement on page A23 of the NYT on Mar 30. The Homosexual Alliance that runs that example of Yellow Opinionated Journalism did not give the Catholic League free space to respond to their lies and accusations. But they were happy to take his money.
I've been following the weekly internet journal "Spiked" from England for several years. Basically, it is an "atheist" journal that covers current events, social, political and economic. I believe it used to be a Marxist journal, but they had to shut that down after having lost a libel lawsuit a dozen years ago or so in the British courts. England has a very strict libel law.
But it's an "atheism" with some real thought behind it. I don't always agree with what they say, but I do agree with more than a little, except of course, their rejection of the concept of God. But those arguments rarely, if ever, appear in the journal.
In a way, you can say that Spiked has an "edgy", non-theological devotion to Natural Law. And their thinking process is worth reading. Give this article a shot! Emphases in red mine, in black, theirs
The reaction to the paedophile priest scandal is as guilty of scaremongering, illiberalism and elitism as the Catholic Church has ever been.
With all the newspaper headlines about predatory paedophiles in smocks, terrified altar boys and cover-ups by officials at the Vatican, it is hard to think of anything worse right now than a sexually abusive priest. Yet today’s reaction to those allegations of sexual abuse is also deeply problematic. For it is a reaction informed more by prejudice and illiberalism than by anything resembling a principled secularism, and one which also threatens to harm individuals, families, society and liberty.
When considering the problem of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, it is important to distinguish between the incidents themselves, some of which were of course horrific, and the way in which those incidents are understood in today’s political and cultural climate. The acts of sexual abuse themselves were no doubt a product of various problematic factors: the Catholic Church’s culture of celibacy, its strange views on sex, the fact that in some institutions priests were given ultimate authority over young boys and girls. But the way in which those acts are understood today – as supremely damaging to individuals and the inevitable consequence of people ‘deciding it is a good thing to abandon any commitment to fact and instead act on faith’ – is powerfully informed by two problematic contemporary trends: the backward cult of victimhood and the dominant ‘new atheist’ prejudice against any institution with strong beliefs.
With all the current claims about Pope Benedict XVI himself being involved in a cover-up of child abuse by an American priest and a German priest, and newspaper reports using terms like ‘stuff of nightmares’, the ‘stench of evil’, and ‘systematic rape and torture’, anyone who tries to inject a bit of perspective into this debate is unlikely to be thanked. But perspective is what we need. Someone has to point out that for all the problems with the Catholic Church’s doctrines and style of organisation – and I experienced some of those problems, having been raised a Catholic before becoming an atheist at 17 – the fact is that sexual abuse by priests is a relatively rare phenomenon.
Even in Ireland, whose image as a craic [fun]-loving nation has been replaced by the far-worse idea that it was actually a nation of priest rape, incidents of sexual abuse by priests were fairly rare. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, which was launched by the Irish government in 1999 and delivered its report last year, intensively invited Irish-born people around the world to report on incidents of abuse in Irish religious-educational reform schools, where the majority of clerical abuse is said to have occurred, between the period 1914 to 1999. For that 85-year period, 253 claims of sexual abuse were made by males and 128 by females. It is important – surely? – to note that these are claims of sexual abuse rather than proven incidents, since the vast majority of them did not go to trial.
The number of sexual abuse claims in these institutions fell for the more recent period: for males, there were 88 claims from the pre-1960s, 119 from 1960 to 1969, 37 from 1970 to 1979, and nine from 1980 to 1989. The alleged sexual-abuse incidents ranged in seriousness from boys being ‘questioned and interrogated about their sexual activity’ to being raped: there were 68 claims of anal rape in reform institutions for boys from 1914 to 1999. Not all of the sexual abuse was carried out by priests. Around 65 per cent of the claims pertain to religious workers, and 35 per cent to lay staff, care workers, and fellow pupils.
Of course, one incident of child sexual abuse by a priest is one too many. But given the findings of Ireland’s investigation into abuse in religious-educational institutions, is there really a justification for talking about a ‘clinging and systematic evil that is beyond the power of exorcism to dispel’? As Ireland is redefined as a country in recovery from child sexual abuse, and the ‘scandal of child rape’ spreads further through Europe into Germany and Italy, it might be unfashionable to say the following but it is true nonetheless: very, very small numbers of children in the care or teaching of the Catholic Church in Europe in recent decades were sexually abused, but very, very many of them actually received a decent standard of education.
The discussion of a relatively rare phenomenon as a ‘great evil’ of our age shows that child abuse in Catholic churches has been turned into a morality tale – about the dangers of belief and of hierarchical institutions and the need for more state and other forms of intervention into religious institutions and even religious families. The first contemporary trend that has turned incidences of sexual abuse into a powerful symbol of evil is the cult of the victim, where today individuals are invited not only to reveal every misfortune that has befallen them – which of course is a sensible thing to do if you have been raped – but also to define themselves by those misfortunes, to look upon themselves as the end-products of having being emotionally, physically or sexually abused. This is why very public revelations of Catholic abuse started in America and Ireland before more recently spreading to other parts of Western Europe: because the politics of victimhood, the cult of revelation and redefinition of the self as survivor, is more pronounced and developed in America and Ireland than it is in continental Europe.
In Ireland, for example, the state has explicitly invited its citizens to redefine themselves as victims of authority rather than as active agents capable of moving on and making choices. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse discusses at length the ‘debilitating’ impact that abuse can have on individuals, to the extent that many of Ireland’s social problems – including unemployment, poverty, drug abuse and heavy drinking – are now discussed as the products of Ireland’s earlier era of abuse rather than as failings of the contemporary social system.
This, I believe, is why claims of sexual abuse in Ireland’s religious-educational institutions were so much higher for the period of 1960 to 1969 (nearly half of all claims of sexual abuse against boys during the period of 1914 to 1989 were made for that decade). It is not because priests suddenly became more abusive in the 1960s than they had been in the far harsher Ireland of the 1940s and 50s, but because the people who attended the institutions during that period were in many ways the main targets of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. They would have been in their mid-40s to mid-50s when the commission began in 1999 and many of them had suffered long-term unemployment, health problems, and other disappointments. Reporting their misfortunes to the commission offered them the chance, not only of getting financial compensation, but also of validating their difficult life experiences as a consequence of their having been abused. In a grotesquely convenient marriage, the state redefined social problems as consequences of Catholic abuse and the individual redefined himself as a sufferer from low self-esteem who did not bear full responsibility for the course of his adult life. In such a climate, not only are incidents of abuse by priests more likely to surface, but they are also more likely to be heavily politicised, turned from undoubtedly distressing and possibly criminal acts into modern-day examples of evil capable of distorting society itself. Thus did the contemporary cult of victimhood ensure that Catholic abuse was blown out of proportion.
The second contemporary trend that has elevated something quite rare into a social disaster is the rise of the ‘new atheism’.[Remember, the author of this article is himself an atheist!]Now the dominant liberal outlook of our age – in particular in the media outlets that have most keenly focused on the Catholic abuse scandals: the New York Times, the Irish Times, and the UK Guardian – the new atheism differs from the atheism of earlier free-thinking humanists in that its main aim is not to enlighten, but to scaremonger about the impact of religion on society. For these thinkers and opinion-formers, the drip-drip of revelations of abuse in Catholic institutions offers an opportunity to demonise the religious as backward and people who possess strong beliefs as suspect.
Many contemporary opinion-formers are not concerned with getting to the truth of how widespread Catholic sexual abuse was, or what were the specific circumstances in which it occurred; rather they want to milk incidents of abuse and make them into an indictment of religion itself. They frequently flit between discussing priests who abuse children and the profound stupidity of people who believe in God. One commentator wildly refers to the Vatican’s ‘international criminal conspiracy to protect child-rapists’ and says most ordinary Catholics turn a blind eye to this because ‘people behave in bizarre ways when they decide it is a good thing to abandon any commitment to fact and instead act on faith’.
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, unwittingly reveals what draws the new atheists towards the Catholic-abuse story: their belief that religion is itself a form of abuse. ‘Odious as the physical abuse of children by priests undoubtedly is, I suspect that it may do them less lasting damage than the mental abuse of bringing them up Catholic in the first place’, he argues. He admits that physical abuse by priests is rare, but only to flag up what he sees as a more serious form of abuse: ‘Only a minority of priests abuse the bodies of the children in their care. But how many priests abuse their minds?’ In this spectacularly crude critique of religion, no moral distinction is made between being educated by a priest and raped by one – indeed, the former is considered worse than the latter, since as one Observer columnist recently darkly warned: ‘We have no idea what children are being taught in those classrooms…’
If ‘bringing a child up Catholic’ is itself abuse, there can only be one solution: external authorities must protect children not only from religious institutions but from their own religious parents, too. One new atheist has proposed an age of consent for joining a religion: 14. In an Oxford Amnesty Lecture popular amongst new atheists, a liberal academic argued that children ‘have a human right not to have their minds crippled by exposure to other people’s bad ideas’, and parents ‘have no god-given licence to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally choose’. Here, a simplistic leap is made from protecting children from paedophile priests to protecting them from their own parents, since in the new-atheist view strong beliefs and freedom of religion – which, yes, includes the freedom of parents to bring up their children as they see fit – are the real problem. They exaggerate the extent of Catholic sexual abuse in order to strengthen their prejudicial arguments.
Whatever you think of the Catholic Church, you should be concerned about today’s abuse-obsession. Events of the (sometimes distant) past which nobody can change are being used to justify dangerous trends in the present. A new kind of society is being solidified on the back of exposing abusive priests, one in which scaremongering supersedes facts, where people redefine themselves as permanently damaged victims, where freedom of thought is problematised, and where parents are considered suspect for not adhering to the superior values of the atheistic elite. Seriously, radical humanists should fight back against this.
Holy Week is time when Catholics worldwide feel the pain of dying in Christ.
It comes this year as media reports bring up heartrending, often previously published, stories with a new twist – how the Vatican handled the cases. Efforts to link stories to culpable inaction by Pope Benedict XVI cause reasonable people anguish given all that the pope has tried to do to address this crisis.
Since 2002, the church in the United States has had a policy of zero tolerance, which means a priest or deacon who has admitted to or been found guilty of sexually abusing a minor can no longer engage in public ministry. Likewise, the church has developed screenings and processes to ensure that the children in its schools and religious formation programs today are not subject to abusive behavior, whether by a cleric or lay person. This has solved one problem by excising child abusers from parishes and dioceses.
Yet another problem has emerged. Society is finally seeing that sexual abuse of a child is a sin, a crime and often a sickness. Now we ask with hindsight why those in authority did not act more quickly in addressing the problem, more stringently in dealing with offenders, and more compassionately when hearing the victims. It is little comfort that many in charge acted with woefully inadequate knowledge, the same inadequate knowledge that has bedeviled psychology, law enforcement, even families for half a century or more. It is not an excuse – some things, such as not harming the weak, you should know instinctively. However, it is a fact that all of us now know more now than we did 50, 40, 30, 20, and even 10 years ago. We treat physical and mental illness today in ways different from how we did in the sixties. The police who once for the sake of peace in the precinct took a “Get out of Dodge” approach to many crimes no longer practice such expeditious law enforcement. [The police chief in a city in which I used to work had a "discretionary fund" given to him by prominent local business people to use to purchase bus tickets and even taxi rides to communities near and far from us]. And while we still believe in the power of prayer, no one in the church thinks a 30-day retreat and a firm purpose of amendment can cure a sexual abuser.
New knowledge means new obligations for church leaders, of course. Not knowing is no longer acceptable. Inaction will no longer be tolerated by law enforcement, fellow clerics and the Catholic community. Signs of such realization have been shown, for example, by Pope John Paul II who declared “there is no place in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm the young” and Pope Benedict who said bluntly: “I am ashamed and will do everything possible to ensure that this doesn’t happen in the future.”
For many, the emphasis of Holy Week is on Good Friday, a day that’s good not because Jesus died a terrible death that day, but because the death led to His subsequent resurrection. It holds deep meaning for Catholics now who seek meaning from the tragedy of pedophilia.
Pedophilia has had terrible effect on many and reminds us of sinful humanity than is around us and within us. It has made a long Good Friday for many, especially those victimized by this sin and crime. But as the church has learned while dealing with these wounds, as it did with the crucifixion of Jesus, the pain can lead to a church purified of sin.
With the current spate of news stories about inaction in the face of pedophilia, Catholics rightly feel numbness like that of Holy Saturday when the Apostles and followers of Jesus were stunned by the events around them. The message, however, is that Jesus’ death led to new life. The Church is still learning through its pain. The comfort of Christ awaits, which is something victims/survivors need and deserve and something the entire Church, from Pope Benedict to the newest baptized child, can take hope in.
It was enough. Faith carried me. I carried the Cross. When I could. I dropped it sometimes. Sometimes I fell. Sometimes I did not get up right away.
It seemed like things may never get better, but, they did.
I made it. The Lord provided. My prayers were answered. I was made whole again. This Lent has been tough. A year later am I back to where I was?
Not alone. All of us who share allegiance to the Church founded by Christ are shaken. It’s been a tough week.
I can hardly stand to pick up the paper. Every day on the front page is some new accusation.
Flawed people are in the church. I prove this every time I go to Mass. Who am I Lord?
Terrible injustices have been perpetrated in the name of Christ. They are false. They may never answer to our courts but they will answer.
If I write to Bill Gates do I expect that Bill Gates will read my letter? Yet, there are those who expect a Cardinal or the Pope to read all the correspondence addressed to him. Apparently, Santa also reads and answers all his own mail as well.
The same crowd who accuse the Pope of micromanaging are now upset that he does not. The head of the Church is not the Pope, it’s Christ. Does that mean the Pope should resign? If it is the bosses will he will.
Don’t look to the media for answers to faith. The media does not understand what priesthood is any more than some sinful priests do. Thou art a priest forever…there is also no level of Hell lower than the one reserved for priests who have misused their office. Forever. Hell.
They will answer.
Everyone is trying to pile onto the quarterback while he is down. He will rise again. We know it.
The Church is dying. The Church dies each Lent. It always rises again. Be there. Watch and wait. Have faith. Sometimes we have to carry the cross.
. Sadly, St. Bernard's will be shutting down it's high school at the end of this year. Apparently their intention is to sell their "Bulldog Lodge" dining facility at the State Fairgrounds that has been a fixture there for very many years.
Quite recently, it has also served as a home for the "Theology on a Stick" group that brought archdiocesan priests and young people together to discuss the Church and its teachings.
Does anybody know what's happening with regard to a possible sale of the facility?
Wouldn't it be nice if a bunch of Catholics, parishes, organizations and companies got together and pooled their funds and purchased the Lodge and kept it open for meals and more Catholic teaching.
The State Fair attracts hundreds of thousands daily from throughout the state and the upper midwest during the ten day run. Wouldn't it be nice to have a facility there to feed and talk to those people?
. Today's front-page story in the New York Times suggests that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), under the direction of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, failed to act against a Wisconsin priest who was accused of molesting scores of boys at a school for the deaf.
Is the story damaging? Yes. Should the Vatican have acted faster? Yes. Should the accused priest have been laicized? In all probability, Yes again.
Nevertheless, before assigning all blame to the Vatican, consider these factors:
1. The allegations of abuse by Father Lawrence Murphy began in 1955 and continued in 1974, according to the Times account. The Vatican was first notified in 1996: 40 years after Church officials in Wisconsin were first made aware of the problem. Local Church leaders could have taken action in the 1950s. They didn't.
2. The Vatican, following the standard procedures required by canon law, kept its own inquiries confidential. But the CDF never barred other investigations. Local Church officials could have given police all the information they had about the allegations against Murphy. Indeed they could have informed police 40 years earlier. They didn't.
3. Milwaukee's Archbishop Cousins could have suspended Father Murphy from priestly ministry in 1974, when he was evidently convinced that the priest was guilty of gross misconduct. He didn't. Instead he transferred the predator priest to a new diocese, allowing him to continue pastoral work giving him access to other innocent young people. And as if that weren't enough, later Archbishop Weakland made sure that there was no "paper trail." There was certainly a cover-up in this case. It was in Milwaukee, not in Rome.
4. Having called the Vatican's attention to Murphy's case, Archbishop Weakland apparently wanted an immediate response, and was unhappy that the CDF took 8 months to respond. But again, the Milwaukee archdiocese had waited decades to take this action. Because the Milwaukee archdiocese had waited so long to take action, the canonical statute of limitations had become an important factor in the Vatican's decision to advise against an ecclesiastical trial.
5. In a plea for mercy addressed to Cardinal Ratzinger, Father Murphy said that he had repented his misdeeds, was guilty of no recent misconduct, and was in failing health. Earlier this month Msgr. Charles Scicluna, the chief Vatican prosecutor in sex-abuse cases, explained that in many cases involving elderly or ailing priests, the CDF chooses to forego a full canonical trial, instead ordering the priest to remove himself from public ministry and devote his remaining days to penance and prayer. This was, in effect, the final result of the Vatican's inquiry in this case; Father Murphy died just months later.
6. The correspondence makes it clear that Archbishop Weakland took action not because he wanted to protect the public from an abusive priest, but because he wanted to avoid the huge public outcry that he predicted would emerge if Murphy was not disciplined. In 1996, when the archbishop made that prediction, the public outcry would--and should--have been focused on the Milwaukee archdiocese, if it had materialized. Now, 14 years later, a much more intense public outcry is focused on the Vatican. The anger is justifiable, but it is misdirected.
This is a story about the abject failure of the Milwaukee archdiocese to discipline a dangerous priest, and the tardy effort by Archbishop Weakland--who would soon become the subject of a major scandal himself--to shift responsibility to Rome. Phil Lawler, Catholic Catholic Culture
. Articles appeared today in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Duluth News Tribune, the Star Tribune and many other newspapers and internet sites reporting on the subject of this press release from the Diocese of Superior. In this press release, the Diocese of Superior denies that Father Lawrence Murphy was ever attached to the Diocese of Superior.
Diocese of Superior
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information Contact:
Mr. Richard Lyons
Director of Administrative Services
March 25, 2010
Statement of the Diocese of Superior in Response to the 3/25/10Duluth News Tribune Article
On behalf of Bishop Christensen, we are sharing some information with you.
As noted by Bishop Christensen, “Of course, any news regarding inappropriate sexual behavior of a priest is distressing and scandalous and, obviously, contrary to the teaching of the Christian faith.”
In light of recent articles on Lawrence Murphy, it is our understanding that he went on temporary sick leave from his assignment at St. John'sSchool for the Deaf in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in September, 1974. That same year he took up residence at his mother's home near Boulder Junction, Wisconsin.He was never formally associated as a priest of the Diocese of Superior and was always the responsibility of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Consequently, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has and will be addressing the issues regarding Lawrence Murphy.A statement released today by the Archdiocese is included below.
Given the mandates clarified by the Charter for the Protection for Children and Young People which was established in 2002, no priest, deacon, sister, brother or lay person will ever be allowed to serve in the Diocese of Superior who in any way is known to have abused any child, anywhere, at any time.
Following is the statement released by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee:
Statement of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in Response to the 3/25/10 New York Times Article
The case of Lawrence Murphy has been well documented since the mid-1970s when allegations were first reported to civil authorities, although criminal charges were not filed. A chronology of Lawrence Murphy is available on the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Web site at www.archmil.org .
Murphy’s actions were criminal and we sincerely apologize to those who have been harmed. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee continues to reach out to victims-survivors who were harmed by Lawrence Murphy, and encourages them to report any abuse they suffered.
Most importantly, today, no priest with any substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor serves in public ministry in any way in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
A public record of all diocesan priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor is also available on the Web site at www.archmil.org.
As more pedophile priest scandals blow up across Europe we should be ashamed of the offenders and those who sheltered them and oppressed the victims. The guilty should be weeded out, removed from office and handed over to the civil authorities where they are guilty of crimes. Systems to avoid abuse must be established and rigorously maintained, and victims should be justly compensated for their suffering.
However, Penn State professor Philip Jenkins (who is not a Catholic) has written the most objective book on the subject, and he summarizes his arguments in this excellent article. In light of his work, we should remember some basic facts and principles:
Priestly celibacy is not the issue - married men are more likely to abuse children than unmarried
Most child abuse takes place within the home.
All religious groups have pedophile scandals, and the Catholics (while the largest religious group) are at the bottom of the list statistically.
Child abuse is prevalent in all areas of society: schools, youth organizations, sports, etc.
Statistically, of all the professions, Christian clergy are least likely to offend. Doctors, Farmers and Teachers are the professions most likely to abuse children--not clergy.
Among clergy offenders Catholic priests are least likely to offend.
Catholic cases of pedophilia make more headlines because of anti Catholic prejudice and because the Catholic Church is bigger and more lucractive to sue.
Pedophilia and Euphebophilia are different problems. The former is sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. The latter is attraction to teenagers. Most cases branded 'pedophila' are actually 'euphebophila.'
Most of the cases of euphebophilia are homosexual in nature, however the politically correct do not want this problem to be associated with homosexuality.
The number of Catholic priests guilty of pedophilia is very small.
What we now call 'cover up' was often done in a different cultural context, when the problem was not fully understood and when all establishment organizations hushed scandals. They did so for what seemed good reasons at the time: protection of the victims and their families, opportunity for rehabilitation of the offender, the avoidance of scandal to others. It is unfair to judge events thirty years ago by today's standards.
When lawsuits are looming people smell money. We must be wary of false accusations.
The accused must be entitled to a fair hearing. The church should insist on hard proof of the abuse, and for the sake of justice, ensure that the innocent are not prosecuted.
When guilt is established the offender must be punished, not sheltered.
Distinctions must be made between types of abuse. Some offenses are worse than others. Verbal abuse or corporal punishment during a time when that was acceptable, while lamentable, is not the same as sexual abuse or extreme physical abuse.
Sexual abuse of an adult, or a sexually experienced older teenager is wrong, and damaging, and should be punished, but it is not the same as the sexual abuse of a younger, innocent child.
Number of offenses must be considered. One lapse is not of the same seriousness as repeated, persistent and premeditated offenses.
I am in no way wishing to be soft of pedophiles and those who covered for them, however justice and truth demand an objective analysis of the facts. Father Dwight Longenecker
. In 1790, most of the world was congratulating France for what seemed like a successfully completed revolution. The hated King had been brought to heel, and change had swept through an oppressed nation, offering hope for a brighter future under better government.
Newspapers, then coming into their own, proclaimed the dawn of a new era of peace and prosperity while proto-pundits compared the change of rule to England's Glorious Revolution of 1688.
One observer however, English statesman Edmund Burke, wasn't fooled by the triumphant images produced by revolutionary PR teams; he saw gathering clouds for the darkest storm yet. His first clue that the Revolution had yet to run its course? The sustained hostile attacks on the Catholic clergy.
After the National Assembly diminished the authority of Louis XVI in 1789, anti-monarchical literature dwindled, but fierce accusations against Catholic clergy for misdeeds past and present increased. Isolated cases of clerical immorality were magnified to make depravity appear endemic to the entire priesthood (ironically, in an age where sexual libertinism was running rampant). The French propagandists labored night and day, dredging the past for old scandals whether decades or even centuries distant.
In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in 1790, Burke, a Protestant, asked the French, "From the general style of late publications of all sorts, one would be led to believe that your clergy in France were a sort of monsters, a horrible composition of superstition, ignorance, sloth, fraud, avarice and tyranny. But is this true?"
What would Edmund Burke make of the headlines of the past few weeks, as stories of a clerical sex abuser in Germany a quarter century ago, made front page headlines and top TV stories in US news? What would he think of the insistent attempts to tie this sex abuser to the Roman pontiff himself through the most tenuous of links?
In 1790, Burke answered his own question with these words: "It is not with much credulity I listen to any when they speak evil of those whom they are going to plunder. I rather suspect that vices are feigned or exaggerated when profit is looked for in their punishment." As he wrote these words, the French revolutionaries were readying for the mass confiscation of Church lands.
As the present sales of church property to pay settlements swell the coffers of contingent-fee lawyers and real estate speculators, one has to credit Burke for a profound and historical sense of human nature.
The salacious reporting on clerical sex abuse ( as if it were limited to only Roman Catholic clergy) has been given a prominence greater than the massacres of Christians happening right now in India and Iraq. Moreover, the term "clerical sex abuse" is often misleadingly equated with "pedophilia" to whip up even more public outrage. It doesn't take the political acumen of an Edmund Burke to wonder why the Catholic Church has been singled out for this treatment.
While no one denies the wrongdoing and the harm caused by a small minority of priests, their misconduct has been used to undermine the reputations of the overwhelming majority of clergy who live holy quiet lives in their parishes, tending to their flocks. These good men have been smeared with the same poisonous ink.
The brutal reality is that there are an estimated 39 million victims of childhood sexual abuse in the United States today. Of these, between 40 and 60 percent were abused by a family member (for the most part uncles, cousins, stepfathers and live-in boyfriends). Carol Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan have produced a study showing that 5 percent were molested by school teachers, while the New York Times published a survey showing that fewer than 2% of the offenders were Catholic priests. But to read the papers, it would seem that Catholic clergy hold a monopoly in child molestation.
Burke's explanation for the furious anti-clericalism of yore could have been written today: The denigration of the clergy was "to teach them [the people] to persecute their own pastors....by raising a disgust and horror of the clergy."
If Burke were alive today, he would perhaps discern another motive behind the selective assaults on Catholic clergy, besides designs on Church property: namely to destroy the credibility of a powerful moral voice in public debate. The most recent example concerns the heated battle over the health care reform bill. The vocal opposition of the United States Bishops' conference (particularly in regard to tax-payer -funded abortion) has proved especially annoying to the proponents of the legislation. As the final vote approaches, the clerical sex abuse drumbeat has risen to a frenzy.
The record number of participants in January's Pro-Life March; Bishop Tobin's rebuke to Rep. Patrick Kennedy for his pro-abortion positions; and the success of the marriage movement in the United States, indicate that the voice of the bishops is indeed resonating with people. To silence the moral voice of the Church, the preferred option has been to discredit its ministers.
Within three years of Burke's Reflections, his dire predictions proved accurate. The Reign of Terror descended in 1793, bringing hundreds of priests to the guillotine, and forcing the rest to swear oaths of loyalty to the State over the Church. To Burke it was clear that the anti clerical campaign of 1790 was "only to be temporary and preparatory to the utter abolition.... of the Christian religion," by " bringing its ministers into universal contempt."
One hopes Americans will have the good sense to change course long before we reach that point.
The Telegraph[in London] offers this by Gerald Warner (Gerald Warner is an author, broadcaster, columnist and polemical commentator who writes about politics, religion, history, culture and society in general.)
My emphases andcomments:
Catholic sex abuse scandal: time to sack trendy bishops and restore the faith
It has become fashionable to claim that the sex abuse scandal currently afflicting the Catholic Church is “its biggest crisis since the Reformation”. Oh, really? Tell me about it. The abuse issue is just a small part of the much larger crisis that has engulfed the Church since the Second Vatican Catastrophe and which is more serious than the Reformation.[And we’re off…!]
Abolish clerical celibacy? The last thing a priest abusing altar boys needs or wants is a wife. There is no compulsory celibacy in the Church of England, but that has not prevented vicars and boy scouts furnishing gratifying amounts of copy to the tabloid Sunday papers for the past century. Celibacy goes against the grain of today’s “unrepressed”, “non-judgemental”, let-it-all-hang-out attitude to sex; its continued existence is a reproach to the hedonist Western world;[actually… everything Catholic is that… not just celibacy…] so Rome must be persuaded to abolish it [not "persuaded", but "intimidated", "beaten-down", "badgered"] – likewise its condemnation of divorce, abortion, contraception, homosexuality and all the other fetishes of liberal society. Dream on, secularists.
“Irish abuse victims disappointed by Pope’s letter.” Of course they are. They were disappointed by it before they had read it, before it was even written.[NB:] Any other response would diminish the power they find themselves wielding against the Church.[!] Have they a legitimate grievance? In most cases, yes. They have a ferocious grievance against the “filth” (Benedict XVI’s term, long before he came under public pressure) who defiled them and treated them like animals.
How could clergy transgress so gravely against the doctrines of the Church? What doctrines? These offences took place in the wake of Vatican II, when doctrines were being thrown out like so much lumber. These offenders were the children of Paul VI and “aggiornamento”.[Aggiornamento, literally meaning "bringing up to date," was one of the key Italian words used during the Second Vatican Council both by bishops and clergy attending the sessions, and by the media and Vaticanologists covering it. It was used to mean a spirit of change and open-mindedness.]Once you have debauched the Mystical Body of Christ, defiling altar boys comes easily.
The “neglected” sacraments and devotional practices that the Pope says could have prevented this did not just wither on the vine: they were actively discouraged by bishops and priests.[This is where I need to intervene. I am sure that some of the more traddy stripe are crowing as they read. I would remind them to supress that reptilian brain-stem a little and recall – before reading the next self-affirming quote – that we are all in this together. When clergy and lay people of the Church fall down, every one suffers. The whole Church needs to help the fallen to rise again. We need to do that by raising the level of holiness, of penance, and worthy worship, just a rising tide raises every boat. Read on, now, and feel that affirmation…] In the period when this abuse was rampant, there was just one mortal sin in the Catholic Church: daring to celebrate or attend the Latin Tridentine Mass.[And that is pretty close the the truth!] A priest raping altar boys would be moved to another parish; as for a priest who had the temerity to celebrate the Old Mass – his feet would not touch the ground. [They were – and in some places still are – treated in much the same way.]
There was a determined resolve among the bishops to deny any meaningful catechesis to the young. That is the generation, wholly ignorant of the faith, that in Ireland achieved material prosperity in the “Celtic Tiger” economy. Initially it still attended Mass (or what passed for Mass) out of social conformity. Then the sex abuse scandal gave Irish post-Vatican II agnostics the perfect pretext for apostasy: tens of thousands who had never been abused, nor met anybody who had, found an excuse to stay in bed on Sunday mornings.
The abusive priests are not the only hypocrites.[This is so common today…] “I am so shocked by the abuse scandal I am leaving the Church.” Right. So, the fact that some degenerates who should never have been ordained violated young people – in itself a deplorable sin – means that the Son of God did not come down to earth, redeem mankind on the cross and found the Church? This appalling scandal no more compromises the truths of the Faith than the career of Alexander VI or any other corrupt Renaissance Pope. [Tell that to people with increasingly thin critical thinking skills and who are slaves of the mass media.]
Should bishops be forced to resign? Oh yes – approximately 95 per cent of them worldwide.[!] These clowns in theirpseudo-ethnic mitres and polyester vestments with faux-naïve Christian symbols, spouting their ecumaniac episcobabble,[whew!] have presided over more than sexual abuse: [here it comes] they have all but extinguished the Catholic faith with their modernist fatuities.[Do I hear an "Amen!"?] They should be retired to monasteries to spend their remaining years considering how to account to their Maker for a failed stewardship that has lost countless millions of souls.
Benedict XVI should take advantage of a popular wave of revulsion against the failed episcopate to sack every 1960s flared-trousered hippy who is obstructing Summorum Pontificum. It is a unique opportunity to cull the hireling shepherds and clear away the dead wood of the Second Vatican Catastrophe. It is time to stop the apologies and reinstate apologetics; to rebuild all that has been destroyed in the past 40 years; to square up to liberals and secularists as so many generations of Catholics did in the past; to proclaim again the immutable truths of the One True Church that, in the glory of the Resurrection, can have no legitimate posture other than triumphalism.
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
Okay! I am sure you are all ready to suit up and ride into battle now.
And that is a good idea.
But the triumphalism he suggests will be empty unless we all do penance, also for the sins of others.
We must also have a revitalization of HolyChurch’s worship. What we have been doing for the last few decades is not working.
Something of my "manifesto" after the Notre Shame Debacle could be relevant here.
I urge all priests and bishops who read this blog with any slight quaver of resonance or benevolence, to consider this with care:
If you sense that something quite serious and important is going on right now, for the love of God rethink your approach to how you foster HolyChurch’s proper public worship .
Do all in your power and through your influence to foster a worship of God which conforms not to worldly goals – as praiseworthy as they may be in a world still dominated by its dire prince – but rather to the real point of religion: an encounter with mystery.
Our worship must become more and more focused on the one who is Other. Seek what is truly above in your rites and raise people to encounter mystery.
You will be challenged and reviled, blocked and attacked as you do. You will be worn down and afraid under the weight of resistance.
But I think that to save the world we must save the liturgy.
The Church’s enemies, the Church’s deeply confused, can’t compete with the fullness of Catholic liturgy and sound preaching.
Reforming the liturgy along the lines Pope Benedict has proposed may be the most loving and effective option we have in these ever hotter times.
People will have to keep working very much in the sphere of the secular. Of course! Our inward Catholic Christian identity must find outward expression and bring concrete fruits.
But I think the real work now – where we will make some effective headway – must be done at the level of our public worship.
In the present circumstances, we are not going to argue most people out of danger or error. But together we can draw them in and along and back through worship.
So long as we remain doctrinally faithful and active in works of mercy both spiritual and especially temporal, if we get our public worship together we will have a strong bastion against error.
Holy Catholic worship will be an attractive force for conversion.
We need to foster worship which stuns, which leaves the newcomer, long-time practicing Catholic, above all the fallen-away simply thunder stuck. Worship must at some point leave people speechless in awe. We need language and music and gesture which in its beauty floods the mind with light even while it swells the heart to bursting.
The more people encounter mystery through liturgy, the more hollow will clang the false or incomplete messages of those who have strayed from the good path, either to the left or to the right.
Our goal must be that which is good and beautiful because it is true, that which reflects what is of God, not man’s image merely. Give us mystery, not fabrications smacking of the world, fallen and transitory.
Fathers, and you Reverend Bishops, if anything of alarm has sounded in your hearts and minds of late, rethink your approach to our worship. Examine your approach with an eye on the signs of the times. Take a new approach.
The approach we have had least last few decades isn’t getting it done. Really … it isn’t
Going neither left nor right along the road toward the Lord, even as He comes to us, take the flock now deeper, now higher on that path, but always to encounter the mystery which distinguishes truly Catholic liturgy… and therefore true Catholics.
Lines are being drawn, sides taken, choices made.
More than ever we need what Christ, the true Actor of our liturgy, desires to offer us through HolyChurch’s worship.
When we start hearing such honesty from some of our bishops, perhaps a solution will be closer at hand.
Comment by Henry Edwards — 22 March 2010 @ 4:02 pm
3.“Irish abuse victims disappointed by Pope’s letter.” Of course they are. They were disappointed by it before they had read it, before it was even written”
Correct. As I predicted on Damian Thompson’s blog the day before it was released: “the letter will almost certainly be greeted with bitter disappointment by the Irish Times’ rent-a-victims – namely Colm O’Gorman, Andrew Madden, and Marie Collins. The same ’survivors’ keep being interviewed; we never hear from the rest.”
We must always worry about the extent to which self-appointed “spokespersons” are representative of their ‘community’. It is a common tactic of the media to repeatedly interview the same people in order to whip up a consensus. They also tend to give preference to those most ‘extreme’ in their views.
This report in the Guardian is a good example. The journalists asserts that victims were disappointed by the Pope’s letter. He quotes the ‘survivor’ group One in Four (also interviewed on BBC) to back up his assertion. One in Four was founded by Colm O’Gorman; I believe he still effectively runs it. O’Gorman is also leader of Amnesty International Ireland and is a homosexual. He seems to get quoted on almost any development concerning clerical abuse of children.
NOT quoted in most reports were the welcoming of the letter by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and the Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA), which represents victims in industrial schools. SOCA welcomed the Pope’s letter as “an unambiguous acknowledgement that the Irish Catholic church sinned most grievously against the young over many decades”. SOCA co-ordinator John Kelly said the Letter represented a ‘possible step to closure’ and said “we are heartened by the pontiff’s open acceptance that the abusive behaviour of priests and religious were criminal acts”.
4.Ok, this is simply awesome stuff. Fr.Z’s point well taken.
I wonder, though, if I should: speak, calmly, but clearly to our new pastor, who loves telling stories during his homilies (85% stories, 15% vague doctrine), who rides rough-shod over the rubrics (“Good morning”, “thank you” at times when only the black should be said, winging an absolution in Confession, etc.). He seems Pro-life, and Pro-Benedict, but it’s all watered down RC. He was ordained in ‘70. I sometimes think it would be uncharitable to complain.
6.Yes, Vatican II was really more catastrophic than the Protestant Reform
because the heretics of VII still are in the Church while those of the Reform left.
Fortunately there is a new generation of new priests who no longer care about the council since this is an hollow word with no meaning in their mind. Unfortunately they are owing obedience to their bishops who are clinging to it desperately while at last some of them are beginning to understand that the spring, the new pentecost of the Church they dreamed as
the fruits of the council never will come from that side.
7.“The abuse issue is just a small part of the much larger crisis that has engulfed the Church since the Second Vatican Catastrophe and which is more serious than the Reformation. [And we’re off…!]”
This puts this whole mess in perspective. Loss of faith, loss of morals. All kinds of everything.
“Have they a legitimate grievance? In most cases, yes. They have a ferocious grievance against the “filth” (Benedict XVI’s term, long before he came under public pressure) who defiled them and treated them like animals.”
Read the reports of the victims; it’s just absolutely horrendous. How these priests continued to be moved from place to place by bishops and religious superiors aware of their crimes continued this is ghastly.
“Once you have debauched the Mystical Body of Christ, defiling altar boys comes easily.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. If you’re “god”...why are you concerned with the moral order?
“The abusive priests are not the only hypocrites.”
And this is the the “rub”...there are all kinds of abuse going on everywhere that is somehow “pushed under the carpet”...within families, within the school systems, in the medical/psychiatric professions…it’s a pandemic today.
“Should bishops be forced to resign? Oh yes – approximately 95 per cent of them worldwide. [!]”
Don’t know about that; but there are many in positions of authority who have much to account for…Jesus, have mercy on us all! Bring us to true repentance and justice for the innocent and vulnerable!
Thank you, Fr. Z. for this post and your commentary. Absolutely on target in all ways.
8.I returned to the Church in 2000 after about 42 years wandering in the Protestant wilderness. I had no memory of ever having attended a traditional Mass – yet, 2 years later, when I attended my first one, I sat there in tears for most of the Mass, knowing (!) that this was the true Mass.
Annoying questions immediately began popping into my mind: what then was that other thing I’d been attending every week? Why had the Church replaced this one? Why was it relegated to only one, old, out-of-the-way parish in a run-down neighborhood? Why did Archbishop Pilarcyyk and his intelligentsia dismiss it as “mere nostalgia”?
I have pretty fair answers to those questions now. Gerald Warner has even better ones – and if you think he writes compellingly well, you should hear him speak!
I like your take on the restoration of triumphalism, Father Z, but please note that this is how the SSPX views itself: as a lifeboat pulled alongside a sinking Church.
11.I just read today that, in 2001, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, issued a letter to all bishops of the church urging them to keep the sexual abuse scandal secret. Most shocking, it threatened the VICTIMS of sexual abuse with excommunication. [I think you have been the victim of the abuse called misinformation.]
There have been numerous shocking allegations that have come from the continued sexual abuse crisis in the church. This one, however, seems to be the most repugnant. I cannot imagine how the victims of sexual abuse must have felt to have the Church not only pass off their cries, but to actually find themselves threatened with excommunication.
I do not see how his papacy will survive this stomach-turning revelation. I hope he made an appointment with his confessor soon afterward.
Comment by gloriainexcelsis — 22 March 2010 @ 5:04 pm
13.I take note of many good points that Mr. Warner makes but where the FRACK does he get the authority to take Bishops (his superiors in the Church) to task? I used to be like this when I was with the SSPX, infact the one thing that does annoy me about my current FSSP lot is that they still backbite about Bishops (I was told on the 1st Sunday of lent that all I need to know about Bishop Hollis is that he and Bishop Lang (a little fuzzy but essentially good Bishop) are good mates).
The good padre who ministers to the students at my university dislikes the traditional movement for exactly that reason, along with a gnostic attitude about being TLM Catholics, the fact that some parents there seem intent on making sure that their kids become priests/religious (I thought that that is between each person and God) – which by the way it seems was at least partly responsable for the problem in Ireland (having a preist/religous in the family was seen as a status symbol).
By the way I disagree that the whole thing can be traced back to Vatican 2, if there were problems with the council is was because a problem was already there that would have happened regardless if there had been any council – at worst the council merely gave modernists an opportunitiy.
there I have said my peiece, let all the rad-trads nail me to the tree
17.J.H.: They’ll have to nail an awful many of their compatriots to the tree, methinks…
lhw.: Care to direct us to the source of this allegation? At face value it sounds like media-fabricated levels of spin on something like a pastoral urge that abuse not be a public spectacle. (And yes, I’ve seen the media spin things to the point that they’re fabricating the bulk of it, on matters as grave as salvation or excommunication.) But to accurately assess it, I’d have to have an accurate version of the claim.
I agree with you: Our current problems can be traced back further than V2. At the beginning of V2 the conditions were ripe for what happened to happen. Regardless whether you trace it to V2 or prior to V2, it’s the same animal: modernism and liberalism.
As far as bishops, there are some bad ones, and I firmly disagree that they are not to be criticized. You will note that Warner doesn’t judge any particular bishop as having committed any particular crime, but simply says (basically) that bishops, being in charge, are to blame for letting things get out of hand, and that a lot of them did it on purpose. I have seen enough evidence of this that I have no trouble believing it. I have personal friends and loved ones who have taken classes to become certified diocesan catechesis, and the classes made a concerted effort to avoid teaching any essential content whatsoever. If the catechists are not being taught any doctrine by the diocese, what makes us think their students are being taught authentic Catholic doctrine and morals? This can’t be laid at anyone’s feet but the bishops’.
And if catechists are not being taught the faith, and therefore are not teaching it, and the same bishops who are responsible for the lack of content in catechism class, are also in charge of training priests… Well, what follows?
Your diocese may be different, and if so you’re blessed. But in many places it’s been an uphill climb for faithful priests and laypersons to even hold the line on orthodoxy, let alone promulgate it among the faithful.
21.There is no point is mincing one’s words in the Telegraph. Its readers would be very disappointed.
Vatican II and its reforms certainly contributed in very large measure to a liberalism which had thitherto not existed or was churning away underground and then sprang forth once thedoors were unbolted.
Looking at individual causes of scandal is not really enough. I strongly believe that liturgical reform was a huge catalyst in the auto-destruction of the Church. It was largely uncalled for (except by the bakstage cliques) and was unnecessary. Its restauration will not put the genie back into the bottle, but it will help.
Having read in this blog and elsewhere Fr Amorth’s (the Roman exorcist;s) view, I think we are speaking of a real, concerted, satanic attack on the Church over the last 40 years or more. You couldn’t invent the awful things that have come to light. I do not mean to sound alarmist. The Church will (and is) prevail(-ing). But we must face facts and see things for what they are.
Holiness and faithfulness are key. A few Bishops falling on swords would be a useful and honourable: collegiality had largely emasculated them anyway.
Yes, we are all to blame in one way or another. The Church is all the baptised, but the leadership has manifestly failed and needs now to get a grip. Our Chuch depends very much on the quality and holiness of its clergy. That is its thermometer of good health, so a failure of such proportions as thr Irish scandal does maximum harm and loses souls.
It is after all the vast majority of good and holy priests who have allowed us to survive thus far and I grieve to think of the effect on them. They need our prayers and real support, not to allow dispair or the sheer burden of it all to overwhelm them. The Devil cannot be allowed to win and he won’t, but it takes an effort to fight not sitting on the fence in the vague belief that we can stagger on as we are.
Cath: Henry Edwards, thanks for the link to Fr. Shelton’s blog. Excellent
I’m glad you followed the link. For the others, a few extracts:
“In too many countries we have seen the subversion of the Council, whose call for renewal proposed a deeper embrace, not a Satanic reordering, of the Sacred Liturgy, doctrine, morality, evangelization, penance, devotional practices and discipline.
“That lay Catholics in these countries so gullibly accepted instructions from their priests, issued with deceitful and unfounded reference to the holy Council, to banalize the Holy Mass, to lay aside their devotions, to forget their catechisms, …… Who told you to stand and take Holy Communion into your hand and pick up the Savior with your fingers for your mouth? ….. Why don’t Catholics know their parts of the Roman Mass in Latin as the Council instructed? .....
“The clergy responsible for dismantling the faith and tradition of the WesternChurch are members of the generation whose perversion has poisoned the mission of the HolyChurch. ….. What’s needed now, brethren, is a new generation … that will flush away the horrors, deceptions, impiety, irreverence and scandals of the ‘hippie’ catastrophe that has marked the recent decades of the Latin Church, a generation that will discover anew the work of the Holy Ghost in the documents of Vatican II, leaving behind the so called ‘spirit of Vatican II’—the spirit of Satan, and help the Church discover for the first time the wisdom and promise of the holy Council, which is the wisdom and promise of 2000 years of faith, hope and charity.”
Note that Fr. Shelton identifies Vatican II as the solution rather than the problem.
Comment by Henry Edwards — 22 March 2010 @ 5:49 pm
23.The BBC is apparently going to air a hatchet job against the Holy Father tonight. The corresponding article is here. Be forewarned that it, and the comments afterwards, are quite distasteful.
(Although I did chuckle in wonderment at who this “Thomas Ratzinger” is that they were talking about.)
They are desperate. The Holy Father is a rock when it comes to theological truths and moral teaching. They cannot shake him. They cannot get him, as the natural extension of and visible head of the Church, to compromise the Truth, or to bow to public or modern pressures. So they are going after his own morality and ethics, trying to undercut the message by making personal attacks against the messenger. It’s shameful, it’s misleading, and it reeks of a desperate attempt by the devil to damage a man who is trying to and succeeding in doing so much good. We must all stop and pray for Pope Benedict, and continue to keep him in our prayers. Pray that he be strengthened to stay the course and fight the good fight. It does not escape my notice that these attacks are coming so close to our remembrance of the Passion of the Lord.
I can’t remember the exact quote, but hasn’t the Holy Father made the comment to the effect that as long as he’s being criticized and attacked, he knows he’s doing the right thing? I pray that he remembers that.
May the Lord bless and protect our shepherd, Pope Benedict XVI.
25.AMEN, AMEN, GERALD WARNER ROCKS He is a must read. “His feet would not touch the floor” This should be forwarded to every bishop in the United States. Diocese of Fresno, CA., take notice.
Comment by Central Valley — 22 March 2010 @ 6:03 pm
26.I must say that, despite the extreme tone, I couldn’t help but agree with a lot of what Mr. Warner had to say.
My favorite lines:
“Should bishops be forced to resign? Oh yes – approximately 95 per cent of them worldwide. These clowns in their pseudo-ethnic mitres and polyester vestments with faux-naïve Christian symbols, spouting their ecumaniac episcobabble, have presided over more than sexual abuse: they have all but extinguished the Catholic faith with their modernist fatuities. They should be retired to monasteries to spend their remaining years considering how to account to their Maker for a failed stewardship that has lost countless millions of souls.”
I have gotten to the point where I am so distrustful of bishops I almost think they need to be interviewed ahead of time before they are asked to accept an appointment. Archbishop Dolan, a man for whom I had very high hopes,, has turned out to be a supreme disappointment when he publicly stated that he would not refuse Holy Communion to politicians who supported abortion and that he was “following the lead” of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. This is perhaps the most dangerous example “ecumaniac episcobabble” I have encountered in a long time.
27.What an excellent entry here! Clearly the beginnings of the scandals were at least present pre 1962. It seems so unreasonable to accuse the Council itself of error, without dismissing the promises of Christ of an infallible church/magisterium. How could one make such claims without assuming a gnostic superiority?
OK, so I have to strive to become holy and pray more. Thanks, Father Z.
Comment by Christopher Gainey — 22 March 2010 @ 7:00 pm
28. I've had Gerald Warner near the top of my must read blogs. We’ll always need an England, if only to have them come up with phrases such as “pseudo-ethnic mitres and polyester vestments with faux-naïve Christian symbols, spouting their ecumaniac episcobabble” to bolster our spirits.