The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


The pope speaks: “We see how necessary it is to do penance” — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

The pontiff was apparently making a reference to the sex abuse scandal now rocking the Church:

Pope Benedict said on Thursday the sexual abuse scandal shaking Roman Catholicism showed the Church needed to do penance for its sins, in a rare public reference by the pope to pedophilia in the priesthood.

“Now, under attack from the world which talks to us of our sins, we can see that being able to do penance is a grace and we see how necessary it is to do penance and thus recognize what is wrong in our lives,” the said pope at a mass in the Vatican.

This involved “opening oneself up to forgiveness, preparing oneself for forgiveness, allowing oneself to be transformed,” said the pope, whose last public utterance on the scandal was his letter to the Irish people, made public on March 20.

Benedict’s focus on penance contrasts to senior churchmen’s recent emphasis on defending the Church and the pope from what they portray as an campaign orchestrated by hostile news media.

The pope’s personal preacher went as far as to compare the abuse scandal to anti-Semitism, drawing sharp criticism from some Jews and from victims of abuse by priests.

Pope Benedict also hit back at critics of the Church, portraying them as in the thrall of a conformist “dictatorship.”

“Conformism which makes it obligatory to think and act like everyone else, and the subtle — or not so subtle — aggression toward the Church demonstrate how this conformism can really be a true dictatorship,” said the pope.

Check out more at the link. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this as the day unfolds.

UPDATE: Rocco has more details, and extended excerpts of what appears to have been an extemporaneous homily:

The Holy Father also stressed that for Christians, true obedience to God depends on our truly knowing Him, and he warned against the danger of using “obedience to God” as a pretext for following our own desires.

“We have,” he said, “a certain fear of speaking about eternal life.”

“We talk of things that are useful to the world,” continued Pope Benedict, “we show that Christianity can help make the world a better place, but we do not dare say that the end of the world and the goal of Christianity is eternal life – and that the criteria of life in this world come from the goal – this we dare not say.”

We must rather have the courage, the joy, the great hope that there is eternal life, that eternal life is real life and that from this real life comes the light that illuminates this world as well.

The Pope noted that, when we look at things this way, penitence is a grace – even though of late we have sought to avoid this word, too.

Now, under the attacks of the world, which speak to us of our sins, we see that to be able to do penance is a grace – and we see how necessary it is to do penance, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our lives: to recognize one’s sin, to open oneself to forgiveness, to prepare for pardon, to allow oneself to be transformed.

The pain of penance, the pain of purification and transformation – this pain is grace, because it is renewal – it is the work of the Divine Mercy.

Pope Benedict concluded his homily with a prayer that our lives might become true life, eternal life, love and truth.

“This pain is grace…” There is a potent and provocative lectio for you. And it seems to have been spoken by someone who knows whereof he speaks. 



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Panthera

posted April 15, 2010 at 11:41 am


Accepting one’s guilt is the first step towards ending such a disaster.
This, precisely this, is the difference between B16 and the “defenders of the faith”.
However numerous Benedict’s failings, his dealings here are Christian. More than can be said for all of those conservative Catholics still doing their very best to blame the Jews, teh Gayz, the Masons and the victims…



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Holy Cannoli

posted April 15, 2010 at 12:04 pm


>>>Accepting one’s guilt is the first step towards ending such a disaster.
Accepting (acknowledging) one’s guilt (sinfulness) is the first step toward healing. What must follow for redemption to occur is penance and the firm commitment to reform.
Panny, do you acknowledge your sinfulness or do you specialize in pointing out the sinfulness of others?
And, if you do acknowledge your sinfulness, have you made a firm commitment to reform?



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Reaganite in NYC

posted April 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm


“Benedict’s focus on penance contrasts to senior churchmen’s recent emphasis on defending the Church and the pope from what they portray as an campaign orchestrated by hostile news media.”
Penance may contrast with defense but they are not mutually exclusive. I think the defense of the Holy Father by responsible Catholics (and others) has been stoked by slanted reporting and irresponsible punditry in the news media.
You know it has gotten REALLY bad when Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is moved to criticize the scape-goating of the Pope and when the on-line analysts over at “America” magazine (folks who are not exactly of the same mindset as Dr. Donahues’s Catholic League or the editors at National Catholic Register) complain about the biased news coverage and analysis.
Every distinterested observer has remarked favorably on the vigor and focus which Cardinal Ratiznger applied to this problem from 2002-2005 and the sensitivity (to the victims) and the energy (in resolving this matter) which Pope Benedict XVI has expended during the past 5 years since he took over.
The Holy Father’s comments today in Rome speak for all faithful Catholics. I will certainly join my prayers to his on this matter.



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Dana MacKenzie

posted April 15, 2010 at 12:09 pm


Panthera, I agree with your post except for one thing – have you actually, seriously seen anyone “blaming the victims” through all of this? I never have, and I think it’s a spurious charge to make. It’s true some of the people trying to defend the church or the pope have been startlingly off-key or offensive (none of them have managed to match Benedict’s genuinely Christian tone) but I have not seen anyone charging the victims with blame. I HAVE seen many people however, charging those who seek fairness both for the victims and for the pope be accused of “not caring” about the victims or “excusing” the church, both of which charges are absurd.



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Holy Cannoli

posted April 15, 2010 at 12:47 pm


>>>You know it has gotten REALLY bad when Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is moved to criticize the scape-goating of the Pope…
I believe Dershowitz has his reasons and, in time, we’ll know what they are.
————————————————–
Here’s a brief analysis from another website:
>>>I have been appalled by Dershowitz in the past; I am pleasantly surprised by this apparent attempt at fairminded perspective from him.
I wish he’d try an actual (lawyerly) defense instead of this rather soft general perspective thing, though. In every case where the press has tried to implicate the Pope, they’ve been specifically and seriously wrong with regard to the facts.
And secular police-courts-justice systems have shown glaring weaknesses which contributed to the damage to victims and to society.
For instance, in the case the press is currently trumpeting (Fr. Kiesle in Oakland, CA) by the time Rome knew about this, the priest had already by tried by the secular court system, pleaded nolo contendere – and had been given a suspended sentence of three years. It’s the secular justice system fell down on this one, although nobody ever mentions that.
All of the cases of actual pedophilia that the press is digging up went through the regular criminal justice system; the perpetrators were not protected by the Church in any way. Because many of these crimes occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, the perpetrators received trivial sentences, usually involving “therapy” and “readjustment” to society. This was a problem with all criminal sentencing at that time, up to and including murder. I’d like to see Dershowitz address this.
And would he touch the issue of ordaining homosexuals? They are NOT to be ordained, and that has been “the rule” from Rome for a long, long time. But homosexuals were permitted by weak or homosexual bishops to practically take over certain seminaries and thus to achieve positions of authority in the clergy, where they sponsored/enabled/protected still other gay clergy coming up the ranks.
This puts the pro-homosexual press and “progressives” in a bind: They want to make the Church look bad, but if they tell the truth— which is that certain dissident or weak-in-doctrine-and-discipline bishops wrongly tolerated homosexuality— they’ll alienate the gay lobby.
Wonder where Dershowitz stands on that?
These spineless and/or openly anti-papal, anti-traditional bishops (e.g Cummins in Oakland, Weakland in Milwaukee) tend to be the media’s (and the “progressives’”) favorites. “Modern! Up-to-date!” “A courageous rebel!” “Welcoming to gays!”
Measured by the usual “progressive” yardstick:
“The only good Catholic is a bad Catholic.”



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Your Name

posted April 15, 2010 at 2:08 pm


I respect Pope Benedict for stating the Church should do penance for the sex abuse committed in the Church. I believe, however, his call for penance would be more meaningful if he had declared it must begin with the hierarchy who began and perpetuated the covverup and enabling.



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Dana MacKenzie

posted April 15, 2010 at 2:20 pm


Oh, tell the truth, Your Name, no matter what Benedict says or does, unless he submits to scourging and then resigns, you won’t be satisfied.



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Panthera

posted April 15, 2010 at 2:29 pm


Dana,
I am very sorry to have to say that, yes, what I wrote is based on fact.
I’d publish his comments in the original, but we agreed here several years ago to stick to English.
He actually did recently say, very clearly, that the victims were guilty of having provoked the assaults…and has continued to say so.
There are other such comments, this is sickening enough, sadly.



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Panthera

posted April 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm


Dana,
This captcha system would be better named “gotcha”.
Yes, sadly, I can back up my statement. Read the above link. It’s disquieting and disgusting.
There are others in the Catholic church blaming the victims as well – this is sickening enough.



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Reaganite in NYC

posted April 15, 2010 at 3:01 pm


Wow !!!
“Panthera” found ONE (yes, ONE !!!) reference on some fringe blog (MadMike’s America?) reportedely quoting some obscure Bishop from the Canary Islands (off the coast of Africa) that was spoken in a different language than our own and which was probably taken out of context.
Are we supposed to believe that this adds up to a widespread, global pattern of blaming the victim?
Yo Panthie, give it a rest already :-(



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Holy Cannoli

posted April 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm


>>>Poveda also attempted to portray the bishop as a defender of child sexual abuse, when in fact the bishop was showing the similarity between adolescent sexual abuse and homosexuality.
The lavenders despise this man and so they attack with distortion and slander.
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/jan/08011408.html



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted April 15, 2010 at 6:24 pm


In the late 1970′s –when I was studying for the diaconate at St. John’s Seminary in Boston–Auxiliary Bishop D’Arcy addressed our class to explain why we were having another year of spiritual direction added onto our already 3 years of preparation.
He was blunt. One of the biggest reasons they were doing this, he said, is that the Archdiocese had heard that homosexuals were purposely trying to get into the priesthood as a good stomping ground. This was long, long before any hint of a scandal.
One of our group brought the house down with laughter by telling the bishop that, since our group were all married men, shouldn’t they be looking for adulterers among us.
At the time the whole issue seemed a bit ridiculous. How tragically wrong we were.
As time went by my closest priest friend, now deceased, started telling me about his fears that homosexuals were infiltrating the priesthood.
But it is almost impossible to say in public (without being viciously attacked because of either a rabid political correctness or Gay power in the media) that this aspect of the scandals should be deeply probed and looked into.
The media (as in this story)then sticks to the Big Lie that the scandal is one of pedophiles in the priesthood when 80% of the cases could be honestly classified as cases of homosexuals abusing.
And in taking steps to keep from happening in the Boy Scouts what has happened in the Catholic Church–look at the horrendous persecution that has been directed at them by business, government, civic groups, the media, and some religions.



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Reaganite in NYC

posted April 15, 2010 at 6:36 pm


Deacon John M. Bresnahan: “In the late 1970′s –when I was studying for the diaconate at St. John’s Seminary in Boston–Auxiliary Bishop D’Arcy addressed our class to explain why we were having another year of spiritual direction added onto our already 3 years of preparation.
He was blunt. One of the biggest reasons they were doing this, he said, is that the Archdiocese had heard that homosexuals were purposely trying to get into the priesthood as a good stomping ground. This was long, long before any hint of a scandal.”
Deacon John, thanks for sharing this. You were an eyewitness. Is the “Auxiliary Bishop D’Arcy” you refer to the same Bishop John Michael D’Arcy who later became the Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend?
I recommend that you document this as much as possible in terms of nailing down the date/month this was said. Perhaps go through old files to see if you have any contemporary notes/documents.



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted April 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm


Reaganite–It was the same D’Arcy. The media makes it look like the promotion to his own diocese was a demotion. However to get your own diocese is the hope of most every auxiliary bishop and so it is really a promotion. And since he was the only one that came out of the Boston scandal with documents or letters that became public showing he was concerned with the problematic type men in and coming into the priesthood and that they might disgrace the Church, I assumed what eventually happened to him was intended as a promotion.
As for dates, etc.–it was 35 or so years ago (and we were a very old group–Even the man who needled Bishop D’Arcy is now dead.) It is all water under the bridge now and time to look to the future and to purifying the Church through penance and stronger evaluation procedures for ordinations and to pray for and support the pope and our bishops and priests who now need it so badly.



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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted April 15, 2010 at 7:27 pm


Just an addenda–Because of all that happened in the years after Bishop D’Arcy talked to our group, I have come to regard him as a prophet in the Biblical mold. And, though I believe he got a promotion–the talk at the seminary directed against him was negative and nasty (ridiculing him as a Grand Inquisitor, for example) for his work in looking into the issue of what sort of men and for what reasons were wanting to become priests or deacons.



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Andre John

posted April 16, 2010 at 5:59 am


Sir, i have to confess, i attended private all-boys Jesuit High School, and i was slapped/touched on the butt, molested by a priest…
SORRY if i still feel and believe that pedophile priests/rabbis are the worst hypocrites of all hypocrites, and i think they should be punished by G-d’s JUSTICE!
we should hate them gay pedophile priests/rabbis.
“they should be killed like the Old Testament G-d’s laws commanded, burn them like the cities Sodom & Gomorrah in the past.
by a Jewish ‘Nazi’ – watch Inglourious Basterds!!!”



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Your Name

posted April 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm


Dana MacKenzie, I’m afraid you have falsely assumed I want Pope Benedict to resign. I do not. His example can be invaluable. I believe the Holy Spirit works in ways we do not understand. I believe our Pope is there for a reason. I merely stated that “penance” should begin with those who in whatever ways were complicit with the abuse and its coverup. These would be the bishops and other clergy who knew and did nothing, or worked to cover up a true moral wrong. Certainly, there were lay people who assisted in this. There is sufficient need of penance all around, but let’s start at the beginning and not lay it upon everyone.



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