The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


“The old Vatican needs new blood”

posted by jmcgee

This week, in her Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan looks at all the men crowding the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and says, in effect, “Enough”:

Once, leaders of the Vatican felt that silence would protect the church. But now anyone who cares about it must come to understand that only speaking, revealing, admitting and changing will save the church.

The old Vatican needs new blood.

They need to let younger generations of priests and nuns rise to positions of authority within a new church. Most especially and most immediately, they need to elevate women. As a nun said to me this week, if a woman had been sitting beside a bishop transferring a priest with a history of abuse, she would have said: “Hey, wait a minute!”

Tellingly, Noonan doesn’t flat-out say, “Ordain women.” She’s talking about “elevating” them.  She also seems unaware that the “younger generations of priests and nuns” are decidedly more tradition-minded, more orthodox, more conservative in their outlook — and less inclined, I think, to want to construct “a new church.” 

But she does raise some very good points about the role of power and secrecy in this whole sorry mess.  Read the rest and see what you think.
   



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Holy Cannoli

posted April 16, 2010 at 8:20 am


I usually don’t care what Noonan says, but she makes very valid points in the article. Actually, I prefer the writing of Elizabeth Scalia although we don’t exactly see eye to eye with respect to B.D. ;-)
>>>As a nun said to me this week, if a woman had been sitting beside a bishop transferring a priest with a history of abuse, she would have said: “Hey, wait a minute!”
I don’t know if Peggy Noonan has a history of advocating for female priests and I don’t know if we can conclude that she does from this one comment. However, I don’t doubt that the militant feminists have used and will use this same line of thinking to “talk about” their favorite cause which they refuse to admit, has already been decided.



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Reaganite in NYC

posted April 16, 2010 at 8:25 am


“As a nun said to me this week, if a woman had been sitting beside a bishop transferring a priest with a history of abuse, she would have said: ‘Hey, wait a minute!’ ”
Over the years, I’ve admired Peggy Noonan’s take on a lot of things.
But I’m not sure that “a woman” would have necessarily acted any differently back in the 1970s and 1980s when these issues were being handled by chanceries. Does she mean to suggest that women and men think monolithically? Or that women in those days were immune from the assumptions that existed then in the psychological sciences that pedophilia was a “curable” condition?
It would be consoling to think that Peggy Noonan is right that “a woman” in those seats of responsibility would have made a difference back then. And maybe she’s right and it would have. But I rather tend to think that evil — let alone confused thinking or poor judgement — are not bound by gender.
We should also give credit to the so-called “old blood” who have acted decisively in the past decade with firmness in implementing a whole host of changes that today make the Catholic Church in American — and certainly in my diocse — a very safe place for children and a model for other institutions to emulate.



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Robert

posted April 16, 2010 at 9:57 am


I don’t know. I’ve read many accounts of abuse, and there were a lot of mothers (and fathers) who did not even believe their children, or who believed them but still did not report the abuse. I’m not so sure that women are more likely to make the right choice.
After all, there are many women who abuse children, even their own. And there are very many women getting abortions, who are not being pressured to do so by men.



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Mere Catholic

posted April 16, 2010 at 10:30 am


I don’t think it is as simple as having more women in positions of leadership. I say this as a woman in science who has seen as much unethical behavior from women as from men in my field. Women are just as tempted to power and prestige and to preserve their reputations as are men.
Look at some of the sex abuse allegations against nuns (see bishopaccountability.org for some of the cases) which were covered up by (female) religious superiors. Or what about cases of incest in families where mothers so often fail to protect their young from an abusive spouse. In the end, it is an issue of leaders who understand the Gospel imperative of servant leadership. And for that, we need both men and women.
Deacon Greg, I also think that we ought to be careful of labels in this whole sordid mess. Orthodoxy in Catholic belief was not sufficient to prevent terrible abuses by prelates (I’m specifically thinking of Law here), but the desire for secrecy and power are not limited to so-called “conservative” bishops. Is there any doubt that Rembert Weakland or Cardinal Mahony are more “liberal” in their outlook, yet have been equally implicated in shielding pederast priests as Cdl Law? The problem isn’t if a younger generation of priests is orthodox in Christian belief, but if they don’t follow orthodoxy with orthopraxis.



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Dante

posted April 16, 2010 at 10:54 am


I don’t know that by “new Church” Noonan necessarily means deconsturcting the Church of Christ as much as she may mean a NEW way of leading…a way based on honesty, humility and servanthood rather than the prestige, power and position that has characterized the Roman offices in a classically European-aristocratic way.
Funny…with all his own foibles Luther saw and bemoaned the same attitude and lifestyle 400+ years ago among the Vatican officials of his day. Without neglecting the need for all the faithful to be leaven for the reform of the Church, I guess the best place to start is with myself before I jump on the bandwagon to remove logs from people’s eyes…



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plavo

posted April 16, 2010 at 11:15 am


If women had a say in the vatican hierarchy things would be different and that certainly isn’t what the men who wear skirts want



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anthony

posted April 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm


of course no one call tell what a specific man or woman would do in a specific situation, but there are some past examples. when fr. bruce ritter left covenant house under a very dark cloud of financial and sexual accusations, it was a nun who not only took his place, cleaned house, and put the agency back on track. i think the point peggy is making is that it needs to be someone not in the old boys network.
and until you really have to deal with the old boys network, you do not realize how hopeless change is unless it comes from outside of it.



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Bill

posted April 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm


The key issue here, I believe, is the need to reform the structure of the Church to eliminate the concentration of power that has historically resided in the hierarchy (especially the Curia). It may prove disconcerting for all involved to realize that power and the quest for power has crippled the Church from the time it was accepted as “the” state religion in Rome; crippled in the sense that it quickly strayed from Christ’s message of our mission to the powerless and marginalized and took on the easier mantle of the secular governance structure of the times. Luther had it right, it would seem, when he recoiled in disgust at what he experienced in Rome; he would probably have the same disgust at what we have experienced of late. Our task is to stand up for “God’s People” without descending into the anarchy of the prescription that Luther demanded of Rome. With help from the Holy Spirit we can, we must change the structure so that the People of God can return to their true mission. I am finally reminded of Christ’s statement that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church; he didn’t say that it would not become corrupted, he didn’t say that the leadership of the Church would always and everywhere be just and holy, and he certainly didn’t say that members of His Church should just be silent (pay, pray, obey). He said that His will would prevail. We are obviously being called to be forceful in demanding that the reform provisions of Vatican II, which has long been underminded by the same hierarchy that has been guilty of bribery, secrecy, sexual malfeasance and cover-ups, be implemented.



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Conservative

posted April 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm


Exactly what reform provisions of Vatican II are you speaking of? Did VII call for a restructuring of the hierarchical structureof the Church? I must have missed that.
“Forceful in demanding”–what does this mean? Planning a coup?



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Doug Sirman

posted April 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm


Of memos revealing that the Bush Administration endorsed torture while lying about it, Noonan whined: “Sometimes in life, you just want to keep walking.”
The Vatican doesn’t need new blood, it needs men with balls; nuns need not apply. The Vatican needs real men, not the ossified, simpering, mincing, castrated, and above all, LYING cowards of the last three generations.



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Bill

posted April 16, 2010 at 5:14 pm


The key issue here, I believe, is the need to reform the structure of the Church to eliminate the concentration of power that has historically resided in the hierarchy (especially the Curia). It may prove disconcerting for all involved to realize that power and the quest for power has crippled the Church from the time it was accepted as “the” state religion in Rome; crippled in the sense that it quickly strayed from Christ’s message of our mission to the powerless and marginalized and took on the easier mantle of the secular governance structure of the times. Luther had it right, it would seem, when he recoiled in disgust at what he experienced in Rome; he would probably have the same disgust at what we have experienced of late. Our task is to stand up for “God’s People” without descending into the anarchy of the prescription that Luther demanded of Rome. With help from the Holy Spirit we can, we must change the structure so that the People of God can return to their true mission. I am finally reminded of Christ’s statement that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church; he didn’t say that it would not become corrupted, he didn’t say that the leadership of the Church would always and everywhere be just and holy, and he certainly didn’t say that members of His Church should just be silent (pay, pray, obey). He said that His will would prevail. We are obviously being called to be forceful in demanding that the reform provisions of Vatican II, which has long been underminded by the same hierarchy that has been guilty of bribery, secrecy, sexual malfeasance and cover-ups, be implemented.



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cathyf

posted April 16, 2010 at 5:59 pm


Pope Benedict has said on several occasions that he would like to appoint lay or professed women to various Vatican positions where a lay appointee would be appropriate. (I myself think they could use a few pushy Italian women, later middle-aged, the sort whose 1/2-dozen grown children have taught her a few things that Vatican bureaucrats usually don’t have an opportunity to learn.) Heck, a few “average” parish priests could do wonders — most Vatican functionaries have been on a “fast track” since seminary, and have never had to listen to children’s confessions, or arbitrate between the bickering heads of the Knights of Columbus and the Altar and Rosary Society, or figure out what to do for the smelly elderly bag lady who slides in the back pew at daily mass…
The Church is chock full of folks brimming with wisdom and holiness. Wanting to go out and learn from them is quite simply prudent and loving and smart. Everything is not some dastardly stalking horse for married priests and women’s ordination…



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el diacono

posted April 16, 2010 at 9:51 pm


The Apostles asked for a new order to serve in Acts 6:16 and they are some of the best men this church has in service to Our Lord. IMHO
Now, all of you that have a bad deacon in your parish start complaining.
ED



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Greta

posted April 16, 2010 at 10:32 pm


Seems funny to even continue to write about women becoming priests in the Catholic Church. That is settled and can never change. The Church has no authority to change it and it is settled doctrine.
I think instead of all this hand wringing, that everyone should come together on one issue and that is protecting children from abuse. I think everyone should unite and say we do not care if it a priest, parent, teacher, or any other profession such as running a planned parenthood abortion mill, that anyone abusing someone under age is going to jail. I think also that anyone covering up the abuse of a child should go to jail. I think that since we know abusers seem to have a strong tendency to abuse others as the church so painfully learned, that they should stay in jail for a very long time if not forever and those who are willing to release them face serving time if they release them and they abuse again. Seems fair since we are so outraged at the bishops for turning the priest loose. I think we should go after homosexuals, hetrosexuals, and any other sexual gender who abuses children. I think we should expose organizations that sponser and promote the abuse of children with their leadership put in jail. I think that performing abortions on under age girls should only occur with the parents approval with the exception of incest by the parent and then a court order should be obtained before the abortion can occur with the parents going to jail, the abuser and the one who covered up the crime. If an abortion is performed on a minor, the one who created the pregnancy needs to be identified because it is a crime and if the abortion mill does not report it then those who run the mill need to go to jail.
However, if everyone is not interested in doing all of this to really protect children, then I suggest that all this hand wringing is really about bashing the Church and those who are active in the bashing care little about the abuse. Those organizations who are supporting the children of abuse, should sign on and focus on prevention of abuse, not reforming the catholic church. But we will not have many takers from those most vocal about the Church. They will complain when we go after homosexuals who prey on “twinks” and put them in jail. They will compain about going after abortion mills that peform abortions on children and do not report the obvious crime. So lets start a movement to save the kids with all the anger and venom now being aimed at the church. With that, I will fully support anyone in the church going to jail and those covering up joining them.



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Krzysztof

posted April 17, 2010 at 1:00 am


1Pet 4:17-God’sWord is alive still



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Goodguyex

posted April 17, 2010 at 5:52 am


Greta (10:32pm) writes “However, if everyone is not interested in doing all of this to really protect children, then I suggest that all this hand wringing is really about bashing the Church and those who are active in the bashing care little about the abuse.”
Very Good Greta.
Richard Dawkins, militant atheists who now joins Christopher Hitchens and others demanding the pope be arrested for “crimes against humanity” including this scandal wrote a different story about pediphilia in his “God Delusion” in 2006:
By Dawkins in 2006
“Priestly abuse of children is nowadays taken to mean sexual abuse, and I feel obliged, at the outset, to get the whole matter of sexual abuse into proportion and out of the way. Others have noted that we live in a time of hysteria about pedophilia, a mob psychology that calls to mind the Salem witch-hunts of 1692… All three of the boarding schools I attended employed teachers whose affections for small boys overstepped the bounds of propriety. That was indeed reprehensible. Nevertheless, if, fifty years on, they had been hounded by vigilantes or lawyers as no better than child murderers, I should have felt obliged to come to their defense, even as the victim of one of them (an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience).
“The Roman Catholic Church has borne a heavy share of such retrospective opprobrium. For all sorts of reasons I dislike the Roman Catholic Church. But I dislike unfairness even more, and I can’t help wondering whether this one institution has been unfairly demonized over the issue, especially in Ireland and America… We should be aware of the remarkable power of the mind to concoct false memories, especially when abetted by unscrupulous therapists and mercenary lawyers. The psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has shown great courage, in the face of spiteful vested interests, in demonstrating how easy it is for people to concoct memories that are entirely false but which seem, to the victim, every bit as real as true memories. This is so counter-intuitive that juries are easily swayed by sincere but false testimony from witnesses.”
So in 2006 militant pope-hater Richard Dawkins said he was molested while in British boarding schools but this was not really so bad and he said that the hysteria over “pediphilia” and Catholic priests is like the Salem witch trials of 1692 and that the Roman Catholic Church is being demonized. He also says most of the allegations are probably due to false memories, vested interests, lawyers, etc!
But now Dawkins wants the present pope (who is not implicated in anything and who is working to combate child abuse by priests and others) arrested for being guilty “somehow” in the whole mess! THIS IS INCREDIBLE and it shows that the Catholic Church bashing may not have anything to do with child abuse.



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