Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Benedict: Probably better than John Paul II

posted by Rod Dreher

…at poping, that is. Ross Douthat, the non-ridiculous Catholic on the Times columnist roster, makes an important point that can’t be said often enough: though John Paul II was by far the more charismatic figure, Benedict XVI will likely be remembered as the better pope. Excerpt:

So the high-flying John Paul let scandals spread beneath his feet, and the uncharismatic Ratzinger was left to clean them up. This pattern extends to other fraught issues that the last pope tended to avoid — the debasement of the Catholic liturgy, or the rise of Islam in once-Christian Europe. And it extends to the caliber of the church’s bishops, where Benedict’s appointments are widely viewed as an improvement over the choices John Paul made. It isn’t a coincidence that some of the most forthright ecclesiastical responses to the abuse scandal have come from friends and protégés of the current pope.
Has Benedict done enough to clean house and show contrition? Alas, no. Has his Vatican responded to the latest swirl of scandal with retrenchment, resentment, and an un-Christian dose of self-pity? Absolutely. Can this pontiff regain the kind of trust and admiration, for himself and for his office, that John Paul II enjoyed? Not a chance.
But as unlikely as it seems today, Benedict may yet deserve to be remembered as the better pope.

Try to imagine what would be happening today if a healthy, vigorous John Paul II were sitting on the Throne of Peter today, dealing with this latest crisis. We know what we’d get from the Pope and his inner circle: very little except more denial. But the public reaction would, I think, be much different. It’s easy to attack Pope Ratzinger; he’s nowhere near the rock star that Pope Wojtyla was, he’s German (it’s still shamefully easy to smear all Germans with the Nazi stereotype), he’s known to be an orthodox Catholic who takes doctrinal integrity and Church discipline more seriously than his predecessor did — something that’s very much to the good, given how standards in the institutional church had gone to the dogs over the past few decades. Indeed, I think one reason why so many orthodox Catholics have been so quick to defend the Pope in this, even to what I think is an unreasonable degree, is because he is rightly seen as the competent administrator who was going to clean up the messes John Paul left. You cannot look at the disgusting scandal with the Legionaries of Christ that John Paul let fester, and that Cardinal Ratzinger moved to clean up, even before their protector John Paul had died, without grasping that we are dealing with a very different — and much better, in this regard — pontiff.
Despite being an easy target for unjust treatment by critics — and I say this as someone who doesn’t think Benedict is going nearly as far as he must to deal with the “bishop problem” — there is a sense in which people who want to see actual repentance and reform in the Church over the child sex abuse scandal, instead of show trials and theater, should be pleased by the fact that the current Pope is not the charismatic figure that John Paul was. It makes it easier to see him as a man, not a celebrity “demigod” figure. Most Catholics have an enormous reverence for the person of the Pope, and this is appropriate. But JP2 was hero-worshipped to an unhealthy degree.
A personal story: In the summer of 2002, reeling from the psychological shock and trauma of 9/11, and the child sex abuse scandal, which began breaking in January of that year, with the Geoghan trial in Boston, I was having enormous trouble sleeping because of residual anger and anxiety. Lots of tooth-grinding in my sleep, that sort of thing. My wife urged me to go talk to a Catholic psychotherapist about my inner turmoil. So I did. My third visit occurred after I published a Wall Street Journal op-ed saying that John Paul had failed the American church. Excerpt:

When considering how this intolerable state came to pass, all roads lead to Rome. In Catholic teaching, the chief responsibilities of a bishop, including the Bishop of Rome, are to teach, sanctify and govern. John Paul has taught and sanctified zealously; his evangelical travels have inspired millions, and his writings about the nobility of human love are a treasure for all mankind.
Yet this pope has largely failed to use the disciplinary authority of his office. This statement will surprise those who see the pope as authoritarian, but it is true.
In serious matters, such as priestly sexual misconduct, abuses in the liturgy, corruption in seminary life, and the rejection of church teaching by Catholic universities and hospitals, the pope has explicitly recognized the crisis, given clear directions for its correction–and done nothing when his orders were ignored or undercut by subordinates in this country. Over the last 30 years, faithful Catholics have found a variety of ways to make known to the Holy See their urgent concern, but most often to no avail.
Even if it has been possible to believe that John Paul had been ignorant of the rape of children, the worst of all scandals, that is obviously no longer the case. The situation of Catholics in Boston is enough to make one weep. Cardinal Bernard Law claims to have offered his resignation, only to have it refused. Rome allows him to remain in office, though his mendacity and corruption are there for all the world to see, and the credibility of the church in Boston is destroyed.
Who keeps him there, and why? Who retains in office a host of American bishops defiled by their indifference to the victims of depraved priests under their authority? Who could remove them with a stroke of his pen? It is hard to judge John Paul, because we don’t know what he’s had to fight behind the scenes. Still, I find it impossible any longer to give him the benefit of every doubt, as is the custom of many papal loyalists. John Paul must bear partial responsibility for the catastrophe that has befallen us.

When I sat down in the chair across from the therapist (who, I should point out, was at the time affiliated in some way with the now-disgraced Legionaries of Christ, favorites of John Paul, and reported bribers of his inner circle), he tore into me for this column. He yelled at me that I was “a new Luther,” that I was going to lose my family if I persisted in criticizing the Holy Father, that I was under demonic influence, and so forth. I argued back. There’s nothing quite like your therapist — a man who took you on as a patient in part because you were seeking help dealing with anger at Church officials over child sex abuse — literally screaming at you that you’re in danger of going to hell for having published a criticism of the Pope. Needless to say, that was the last time I saw that therapist, or any therapist. That shocking experience taught me how pathological John Paul II’s cult of personality could be, even among intelligent people who ought to have known better. While it pains me to see the current pope subject to cheap attacks by petty controversialists, in the end the absence of a personality cult is one reason why it’s better that Ratzinger and not Wojtyla is in charge during this crisis.
UPDATE: Just to clarify the point, I believe that prior to 2002, Ratzinger was part of the problem, not the solution. It has been reliably reported that the 2002 US scandals pierced the fog of denial that he and others in Rome had been living in. But you can’t relive the past, and I don’t think people should be surprised if more documents surfaced showing Card. Ratzinger taking a much softer line on pedophile priests in the past than he would today. If Ratzinger defenders are depending on the current pope never being linkable in any serious way to softballing a pederast priest, in the routine manner of the bishops for so many years, they are going to be doomed to making narrow legalistic arguments that will fail in the court of public opinion (which is the only one that counts). Far better for Pope Benedict to give a major speech admitting forthrightly to grave errors in the past, personally and corporately, and pledging real reform. Of course he can’t give that speech unless he actually plans to undertake some sort of house-cleaning among the bishops to show that his are not just words. Maybe he can’t bring himself to do that. Maybe he really can’t do that, in any practical sense (which would raise interesting questions about papal authority in practice, versus in theory). My point, though, is humility and repentance would be a strength to the Pope in this crisis. I think any competent public relations expert would tell him that. But the Vatican’s PR sense is fifth-rate. You may believe that it’s beneath the Holy See to worry about PR, but you would be very, very wrong. That’s not how power and authority works in the world today. I’ll write more about this later, when I discuss James Davison Hunter’s book, and why all this matters a lot to me personally, even though I’m no longer a Catholic.
UPDATE: Please do go read this short Michael Sean Winters essay from America magazine’s blog, criticizing the media for shoddy reporting in the Kiesle matter. It’s the best thing I’ve seen from that side on all this.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(71)
post a comment
Major Wootton

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:33 am


“‘A new Luther'”?
What an interesting comment from a variety of angles.



report abuse
 

Helen

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:49 am


The point of your post is not to comment on Catholic therapists or therapists generally, I know. But I feel I have to comment — that therapist was WAY out of line and was behaving totally unprofessionally. A good therapist would have helped you come to terms with what you were learning about the Church hierarchy, without in any way denigrating you or your views on the scandal OR your faith.
Good therapists often do really great, life-changing work. A good therapist could have helped you. You did not see a good therapist.



report abuse
 

Boz

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:55 am


personality cult…
don’t look now, but:
http://www.jpthegreat.org/



report abuse
 

TTT

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:00 am


I don’t think people should be surprised if more documents surfaced showing Card. Ratzinger taking a much softer line on pedophile priests in the past than he would today. If Ratzinger defenders are depending on the current pope never being linkable in any serious way to softballing a pederast priest, in the routine manner of the bishops for so many years, they are going to be doomed to making narrow legalistic arguments that will fail in the court of public opinion (which is the only one that counts). Far better for Pope Benedict to give a major speech admitting forthrightly to grave errors in the past, personally and corporately, and pledging real reform. Of course he can’t give that speech unless he actually plans to undertake some sort of house-cleaning among the bishops
Agreed 100% Rod. People have to understand that revelations of the sort we’ve gotten in the last 2 months or so are only going to continue–forever. The abuse and cover-up took place worldwide and lasted for…. well, who knows how long (Sullivan has been exploring that) but certainly there is documentable proof of at least the last century in North America, with credible victims reaching into the thousands and one malefactor after another never ever receiving any real punishment. I brought this up in the prior thread about Kiesle and was informed that the church now has a zero-tolerance policy, and that’s all well and good, but your zero tolerance policy now does utterly nothing to assuage public anger and bitterness over the obvious injustice of something that came to light from, say, 1980. Especially when the victims are still alive, just saying “it doesn’t happen anymore” isn’t good enough. Each new revelation will MAKE it happen more.
So the zero-tolerance policy has got to be retroactive. Perhaps the crimes have statues of limitations within civil law, but make it clear that they do not within clerical law–if it EVER comes to light that any cleric committed or covered up abuse, they’re gone. As you said: public opinion matters. Ratzinger may credibly exempt himself, on a “Nixon in China” line.
As a liberal atheist I’ve been basically told in several threads here that I must be having the time of my life, that I want to see the church annihilated and each of its buildings replaced with gay danceclubs, coca plantations, and abortion clinics. But really, I don’t–and if I did, I’d be suggesting they just keep on acting like anything that happened more than 10 years ago is really nobody’s concern and/or something only media elites and other Jews care about.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:00 am


I’m no longer a Catholic, and I was sexually abused as a child (non-church related). These cases happen and they are indescribably horrible, I know. There is in fact much evil at work within the Catholic church, I know and believe.
At the same time, I wonder if we should consider what exactly the leadership of the Catholic church does know about all of this, and to what extent they are actually being vile, malevolent abusers and enablers playing the victim vs Christians having an actual insight into spiritual/supernatural battles going on in the world today.
Within the secular field of child psychology, it is known that not every child’s claim of abuse is factual. We must in every case investigate, protect, and give the benefit of the doubt in favor of the defenseless child, but it is simply true that not all child claims of abuse actually happened. In the cases of adults, it is known that not every memory of childhood abuse is factual. With scandals of false memories or repressed memories, shattered lives and fractured families from uncovered or disclosed childhood abuse memories, the best psychotherapists today are simply taking an approach of honoring the memories for whatever emotional wounds they may symbolize, without necessarily treating and pursuing them as if they were factual. Law enforcement and investigation too has real insight into the reliability and nature, fluidity and change, of human memory.
Those with spiritual understanding know that we are constantly beset by dark spiritual and demonic forces and entities. The brain disorders of madness, today’s mental illnesses, were once understood to be spiritual in origin. Satan has used lies from the beginning to bring harm to humanity, and in those not susceptible to schizophrenia or other psychosis, what better way to sow discord and pain than to inflate and conflate an individual’s legitimate and valid memories into sordid, sick, perverted visions of suffered abuse?
I believe Satan is at work among the priests and bishops as well, obviously. I believe that many of the abuse cases are true. But what if 50% of the abuse claims were not true? What if 75%? What if the Church which has held so much inside knowledge and truth for so long has at this time knowledge of very dark spiritual things going on, involving both leadership and laity, but it’s nothing they can possibly say openly to the world? Who would believe it, anymore? Can they tell us they know this is a huge attack of Satan or even that they are exorcising people right and left? It has become fantasy to imagine the kinds of supernatural battles we will see in the “end times”.
The groundwork has been laid for a very long time for destruction of trust and connection between Catholics and their church. I myself left. I can’t say today that the Catholic Church is a place for any Christian to be. But I want always to consider that I do not necessarily know the full story, and that things in this world are most frequently not what they appear.



report abuse
 

steve2

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:08 am


I think yours is a pretty fair summation. It seems pretty clear that Ratzinger knew, or should have known, what was going on. He chose not to have a public confrontation with JPII, or to resign in protest, which he could have done quietly. His role was much more passive than those actively involved in cover-ups. Ratzinger seems mostly guilty of looking the other way.
Would it have made a difference if he had made a lot of noise over the issue, even resigning, years ago? We will never know. We do know what happened when the cover-ups did not stop. You are probably correct that Ratzinger seems interested, now, in change. He may be the right person for the job. Still, I expect better from those who would be our leaders.
Steve



report abuse
 

Fr. Bryan Brooks

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:43 am


Over the last week I started to come to a similar realization about JPII and B16. The latter has done more in five years than the former in a quarter of a century to deal honestly with the issue of abuse and cover-up; with far more still needing to be done concerning accountability of bishops. Still, I believe that if the current phase of the crisis brings bishops or even popes to their knees, meaning humble before God, good. It is in just such a spiritual posture that conversion and reform emerge.
Rod is right to say that there is too much self-pity and not enough humility from the Vatican these days. But calls for B16’s resignation, or even his arrest and trial for crimes against humanity are not helping. They can only assure that the Roman curia stays on the defensive. I fear that greater the heat of the critics the slower the progress of accountability and reform will be.



report abuse
 

Irenaeus

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:48 am


Not a bad piece, but not ideal. This graf needs comment:
“But the smoke is damaging enough. “The Failed Papacy of Benedict XVI,” ran a recent headline in Der Spiegel, the newsmagazine of the pope’s native Germany. If you judge a pontiff on his ability to do outreach, whether to lukewarm believers or the secular world, this is probably accurate. Amid the latest wave of scandal, Catholicism needed the magnetic John Paul, master of bold gestures and moving acts of penance. Instead, the church is stuck with Benedict, bookish and defensive and unequal to the task.”
Benedict has shown himself capable of bold strokes — freeing the old Mass, reaching out to conservative Anglicans. I do miss the old spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, however. That said…
My attitude is: Verpiß Den Spiegel. I’ve lived in Germany and still read it regularly, in German. They’ve hated the church — protestant or catholic — forever. As much as JPII might have been charismatic and better at “outreach”, they carped about him to high heaven. You should have seen some of the pieces running when he was dying. Having Der Speigel judge the pope — any pope — amounts to the justice of a kangaroo court, and they are, of course, deep down, judging the pope according to secular standards. They’re not going to be happy until some pope would come along who would become a condom enthusiast, an ordainer of women, a promoter of gay sex. And that’s not going to happen.
Benedict’s papacy will bear serious fruit in coming years and decades. He’s renewing Catholic liturgy and doctrine, remaking national episcopacies that badly need remaking (having begun with America, and done well, he’s moving on to tackle France and Germany), and ridding the Church of its filth. He’s also engaging ecumenism in a new, fruitful way, reaching out to disaffected Anglicans who approached Rome some time ago about becoming Catholic. He’s doing a lot of things that will bear fruit in the Church and the world for years to come, but, as Sandro Magister points out in a piece well worth reading, he is attacked at points where he exercises the most decisive leadership.
So forget Der Spiegel. I grant that the Church must do a better job of PR for the sake of the gospel, but it also needs to be careful lest it play the game on the world’s terms.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:57 am


I read Ross’ column, and while I agreed with his conclusion, I couldn’t help but think: well, who cares?
Unless something changes, this topic will continue to be fertile for ‘inside baseball’ discussions of Catholic governance and whatnot. The rest of the world will say it’s business as usual, because that’s exactly how it appears.
I get your point about show trials v. true repentance, but without some of the former, nobody will believe the latter to be sincere. That does not seem to me to be an exclusively Protestant view, either.



report abuse
 

Richard

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:58 am


Sorry, that last one was mine. I keep forgetting to re-enter when refreshing.



report abuse
 

PeterK

posted April 12, 2010 at 11:09 am


having tried to follow both sides ie anti-Benedict and pro-Benedict, I believe the pope’s supporter are putting forth a lot a information that successfully debunks the belief that Cardinal Ratzinger was ‘soft’ on child abuse.
we are looking at what happened 10, 20, 30 years ago with today’s eyes. many slam the Church for not being forthcoming about the abuse cases and yet as some point out this may have been a result of protecting the victim, not unlike the protections that a rape victim gets
now when are we going to see more about the swimming coach child abuse cases.
http://news.google.com/news/story?pz=1&cf=all&ned=us&hl=en&ncl=dljGoNDNg4OHtBMOlLu70aooy4xuM
this points up that child abuse is not limited to the Church. I hope that other news groups start to dig into this scandal or will it just get swept under the covers?



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 11:26 am


Thank you, Rod. This discussion is much better than the one on Kiesle. While some Catholics would defend the Pope even if credible allegations surfaced that he himself abused children, most are willing to admit that he failed in the past to take abuse seriously enough, and that he probably has not gone far enough in holding Bishops accountable. Most of us just want a little balance and perspective in all of this.
Putting aside whether the Vatican has taken the correct steps to stamp out abuse, or at least hold abusers accountable, has the Vatican done enough to make amends? No. Both substantively and stylistically they have not. But, as Fr. Brooks said, it is a tough line to walk when you not only have to address the terrible truth of the abuse that the Church perpetrated, but also have to defend yourself against ridiculous calls for the Pope’s resignation and arrest. That being said, unfortunately there is nothing the Vatican can do about the nutjobs calling for such an extreme and unwarranted response. If some are using this to attack the Church while not really caring about the abuse, too bad. The Church made its bed and now has to lie in it, and it would greatly help its own cause by publicly addressing the scandal instead of the silliness.



report abuse
 

kenneth

posted April 12, 2010 at 11:39 am


It’s better late than never in that Ratzinger recognizes there’s a real problem. On the other hand, this is a man who only does the right thing when the weight of circumstance forced his hand and when it was politically safe to do. Even then, he has taken a fairly tepid and minimalist course. If this is what passes for admirable leadership in a man, then yes, I would agree the West is in much more trouble than we realize.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 11:46 am


That being said, unfortunately there is nothing the Vatican can do about the nutjobs calling for such an extreme and unwarranted response.
No, but when they react as if Maureen Dowd, Richard Dawkins and the lot are representative of all critical opinion of the Vatican’s reaction to all this, they deceive themselves in a destructive way, by guaranteeing that they’ll take a path of reaction that only ends up vindicating the nuts and extremists in the eyes of ordinary people. I mean, by assessing that the only people critical of the Vatican’s role, and the pope’s not dealing with the “bishop problem” are ill-informed loudmouths who hate the church, they ignore the very reasonable concerns of ordinary Catholics and others who are sick and tired of Roman inaction. The institutional Church then appears to act like what it’s worst critics allege.



report abuse
 

Betty Carter

posted April 12, 2010 at 11:59 am


One thing I haven’t heard people talk about much is the fact that up until about twenty-five years ago, a lot of average people didn’t seem to take the sexual abuse of children very seriously. Maybe because the victims didn’t talk about it, nobody realized how destructive it was. I was reading Cold Sassy Tree recently, and I was struck at a scene that almost ended in the rape of a five year-old by two adolescent boys; it was treated as a lark! (Much the same way wife-beating shows up as a regular gag in The Andy Griffith show.) Do you think that the church is partly now paying for an old-world attitude toward pedophilia–the sense that it amounted to a “peccadilo” rather than a gross crime against innocence?



report abuse
 

allbetsareoff

posted April 12, 2010 at 12:31 pm


“Far better for Pope Benedict to give a major speech admitting forthrightly to grave errors in the past, personally and corporately, and pledging real reform. . . . [H]umility and repentance would be a strength to the Pope in this crisis.”
Just so. But making that admission would also be an acknowledgment that the Pope and the Catholic hierarchy are mortal and fallible like the rest of humanity. This they will not do. That task is left to their successors (usually, their distant successors).
The trouble with authoritarian religious regimes – and many evangelical/Pentecostal sects are as guilty as the old hierarchical ones – is that spiritual leaders cast themselves not as disciples but as stand-ins for the deity. “God tells me. I tell you. Obey me and you obey God.” In the secular realm, this is called megalomania. When we see it in faiths other than ours – in the pronouncements of an Islamic mullah, say – it frightens us, as it should.
It distances believers from their faith – no need to examine one’s conscience, or contemplate the teachings of the faith and how they apply in daily life; just await instructions from the God-priest, and measure your and others’ faithfulness by how rigorously those instructions are followed.
This is why so many of us distrust organized religion, especially of the top-down variety.



report abuse
 

marcosolsen

posted April 12, 2010 at 1:33 pm


The church abuse scandal proves the strong link between homosexuality and abuse of minors. As per independent studies done by John Jay Criminal Justice College in 2010, by USA Today in 2002, by Boston Globe in 2003, and as per victims’ attorneys, 90 % of priests’ victims are boys, between 12 and 17 years of age. The church should get rid of all homosexuals, and never again, allow any homosexuals enter the seminaries. And, society once and for all, has to understand that homosexual marriage is a travesty, and that adoption by homosexual couples, is child abuse.



report abuse
 

hlvanburen

posted April 12, 2010 at 1:42 pm


Meanwhile, we have folks within the Church who are quite comfortable placing blame for all of this PR mess.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article7095471.ece
“A retired Italian bishop has provoked fury by reportedly suggesting that “Zionists” are behind the current storm of accusations over clerical sex abuse shaking the Vatican and the Catholic Church.
Monsignor Giacomo Babini, the Bishop Emeritus of Grossetto, was quoted by the Italian Roman Catholic website Pontifex as saying he believed a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism of the Pope, given that it was “powerful and refined” in nature.”
But the past keeps haunting the Church, in spite of the smoke screens being put up.
http://www.kjct8.com/Global/story.asp?S=12293109
“CENTENNIAL, Colo. (KJCT) — A priest at one of Colorado’s largest catholic churches is facing allegations of abuse.
Father Mel Thompson is accused of sexual misconduct with a boy in the 1970s.
The complaint was made last Wednesday. Now he has been taken out of the ministry and awaits his future.
Parishioners of Saint Thomas More Catholic Church were told about the allegations during masses over the weekend.
Some churchgoers were shocked.
“Father Mel is loved by many people here and I think we’re all praying that he’s found innocent,” said Matt Dalton.”



report abuse
 

Anti Dhimmi

posted April 12, 2010 at 2:06 pm


Atheists Dawkins and Chrisopher Hitchens want the Pope arrested if / when he travels to London, using the precedent of the arrest of Pinochet some years back. I don’t quite see how either of them can realistically expect this to work, frankly. Maybe if neither legal avenue works, they could man-up and try to arrest the Pope themselves. That would give the Swiss guards a mild, and probably amusing, workout.
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2928120/Pope-arrest-plot.html
Hitchens said: “The institutionalised concealment of child rape is a crime under any law.”
The pair hope to either convince Crown prosecutors to take the case, launch their own civil action, or refer it to the International Criminal Court.



report abuse
 

hlvanburen

posted April 12, 2010 at 2:06 pm


http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/TOB/H/2010HB-05473-R00-HB.htm
A simple bill in the Connecticut legislature that would remove the statute of limitations regarding th filing of sex abuse lawsuits in civil court. The bill does not single out the Catholic Church, or any other institution. It would treat the Boy Scouts, schools, swim coaches, and Catholic dioceses in exactly the same manner.
In the past we have been told that the only reason that the Catholic Church opposed such bills was because they singled out the Church and exempted other groups. Not this bill…it excludes no groups.
And yet the Church is fighting it.
http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/04/11/connecticut.abuse.bill/index.html
Why? Because it endangers children? Because it is discriminatory? No. It’s because of the money.
christianchildabuse.blogspot.com/2010/04/connecticut-bishops-urge-catholics-to.html
““Connecticut already has the longest retroactive statute in the United States– 30 years past the age of 18,” the bishops note. “Over the past several years in states that have even temporarily eliminated the statutes, it has caused the bankruptcy of at least seven dioceses. House Bill 5473 would make Connecticut the only State without a statute of limitations. This bill would put all Church institutions, including your parish, at risk.”
“It is important to understand that the claims which could be made under House Bill 5473 might be 50, 60, 70 years old or older,” the bishops add. “Most often, these claims would be driven by a small number of trial lawyers hoping to profit from these cases. They would be difficult to defend because key individuals are deceased, memories have faded, and documents and other evidence have been lost.” ”
Other states are watching the progress of this bill with an eye towards adopting similar legislation.



report abuse
 

stefanie

posted April 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm


That therapist was completely unprofessional, and possibly should not have been allowed to practice.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 2:23 pm


The statutes of limitation deserve a discussion on a much higher level than the press releases cited above, but that does not mean that they should be eliminated. I’m not sure where I stand personally on this, but I am certain that my own opinion doesn’t matter much.
But here’s the argument. Statutes of limitation (aka “laches” if you’re in equity) are based on the idea that, first, one should not “sleep on one’s rights,” and two, more practically, on the disappearance of evidence, witnesses and the corruption of memories over time. Such suits are “difficult to defend” for these reasons, but they’re also difficult to prosecute for the very same reasons, and the collective wisdom of the tribe has been that at a certain point the whole thing becomes an expensive waste of the courts’ time.
These are weighty, practical arguments which should be argued, IMHO, not glossed over in the passion of the moment.



report abuse
 

Maria

posted April 12, 2010 at 3:52 pm


>”…they are going to be doomed to making narrow legalistic arguments that will fail in the court of public opinion (which is the only one that counts).”
Gimme a break. Worrying about public opinion is what got the church in this mess in the first place.



report abuse
 

R. Brown

posted April 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm


Not only is Pope B a better pope than JPII, in my opinion, JPII was the worst pope in the last 200 years.
Look at all the corrupt cardinals, bishops that JPII elevated,look at so-called catholic politicians such as Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Joe Biden — all militantly pro-abortion yet members in good standing of the RCC.
They have gotten away with their wickedness for so long that it would be impossible for Pope B to do anything at this point.
The diocese I live in has at least 6 very, very feminine priests who have turned most of the male members away from the church. Really, the RCC has become dominated by women and lesbian radical so-called nuns.
You understand that a person can do more damage within the organization than outside it so they stay in their positions in the RC Organization.
Solution – Get rid of all the homosexual priests, close down the useless convents and rid the church of the silliness that came with Vatican II and perhaps the true Roman Catholic Church will re-emerge.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm


Maria’s right.
Hate to be a wet blanket here on the topic of public opinion and all that, but what any church worth the name needs to do is to – wait for it – do the right thing. That’s where these men have gone fatally astray.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 4:14 pm


R. Brown,
There are a number of schismatic groups who would be glad to have you. (Close down all convents??) References upon request.



report abuse
 

R. Brown

posted April 12, 2010 at 4:36 pm


Your Name,
I have seen too many nunneries become zen buddist lite with so called nuns doing massages and laying of hands, I’ve seen too many nuns marching in pro-abortion rallies, I have seen a nun run a Gay Pride Night, I have witnessed nuns running up and down the isles of the nunnery chapel waving flags and chanting (not Gregorian chant), I haven’t seen a nun in habit in 25 years (are they embarrassed to wear distintive garb)? When I was a child a nun was someone to be looked up too. Now most dress like militant lesbians who give you the creeps.
No I am not a schismatic although I do believe that the smoke of satan entered the RCC during Vatican II and he has been reeking havoc ever since. I do detest the silly Novus Ordo Guitair Masses, Clown Masses, Holding hands and swaying to the Our Father at Mass, the destruction of church interiors in favor of a Masonic Lodge Meeting Room Look. If you aren’t smart enough to see that the Catholic Church is nearing destruction, you are foolish. But Christ has promised that the Church will last for eternity and will eventually restored to sanity.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 4:51 pm


the smoke of satan entered the RCC during Vatican II and he has been reeking havoc
I thought the incense smelled kind of funny



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 5:12 pm


OK, R. Brown, all that granted. And I agree with it mostly. (Why do most nuns turn out to be lesbians?? Answer me that one, all you defenders.)
But ALL convents? Kind of a broad brush, no?
As a kind of funny bounce-off, for whatever it means, I know an ex-Benedictine nun, now a “married” (under the brief California exemption) lesbian, whom I encountered this weekend at a quilt fest. She’s in her 60’s, and is doing her Very Best to look weird, but to me, she looks like what she is, an aging Benedictine nun, complete with beatific expression. My straight husband adores the woman, thinks we ought to have her and her wife over post haste for dinner. “Angela.” Gotta love it.
Leaving aside this foolishness, there really are convents and monasteries who hew to their original purposes, and with great integrity. I hope you don’t think we ought to shut everyone down.
Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Everything that is not of Christ will be washed away.



report abuse
 

cirdan

posted April 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm


Betty Carter,
One thing I haven’t heard people talk about much is the fact that up until about twenty-five years ago, a lot of average people didn’t seem to take the sexual abuse of children very seriously.
I don’t think that’s true, but even if it were, there remains no defence for the characteristic handling of these incidents, since there’s evidence that the Church has known since the reign of Paul VI that abusers of children were very likely to reoffend. Even if one didn’t think it was a serious crime, the mere fact that the offender was very likely to do it again means that there’s no sense in allowing him access to children.



report abuse
 

Cecelia

posted April 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm


“Far better for Pope Benedict to give a major speech admitting forthrightly to grave errors in the past, personally and corporately, and pledging real reform. . . . [H]humility and repentance would be a strength to the Pope in this crisis.”
But he has done this as have any number of bishops and cardinals. Rod posted a few examples a week or so ago. We have had priests taking penitential marches across Ireland, Cardinals admitting to their wrongs and asking for forgiveness in Austria, Ireland, the US,Bishops visiting every person in their diocese who lodged a complaint of abuse and asking them for forgiveness. I continue to be confused about what real reform people want – canon law has been changed, the processes on the diocese level have been changed, there is a zero tolerance policy now, a policy to hand accused priests over to the civil authorities and make records available, new screening procedures have been put in place, Catholic schools and catechism classes are now required to educate children in sex abuse prevention,there are no touch policies in place in the US Church. In the US there were 4000 priests either laicized or who died before charges could be brought – I don’t see how Benedict is supposed to give a speech going over every one of those cases and explaining any role he had in them. I also very much doubt that further detailed explanations from the Vatican will be paid attention to – we all know most people aren’t interested in the details – so explaining that part of the problem with the reaction to the Kiesle case was that a professor hired by the AP mistranslated the original letter from the Latin is not something any one is going to pay attention to. What most people see is the headline – and that is as far as they will go in terms of making a judgment. Look at Sullivan – he is claiming now that Cardinal Ratzinger refused to laicize the priest because he was afraid of bad publicity – well if Mr Sullivan spent a few minutes checking something out he would have discovered that there had ALREADY been a scandal – that there was front page coverage of the case and subsequent trial before the letter showed up. A little late to “cover up the scandal”. This really is starting to look like what the sociologists call “moral panic”.
Again – I think the RC Church has done very great harm and reforms were greatly needed. They are also obviously utterly mismanaging their response to the press articles now – penance and humility are the best ways to respond. But I am puzzled as to what the value of bringing up long resolved cases from the past is about and what further people want from the Church (besides a few heads on a platter).



report abuse
 

Don Altobello

posted April 12, 2010 at 5:57 pm


“When I sat down in the chair across from the therapist (who, I should point out, was at the time affiliated in some way with the now-disgraced Legionaries of Christ, favorites of John Paul, and reported bribers of his inner circle), he tore into me for this column. He yelled at me that I was “a new Luther,” that I was going to lose my family if I persisted in criticizing the Holy Father, that I was under demonic influence, and so forth.”
Just to address your commentary, Rod, I remember distinctly you talking about that particular Catholic therapist (though I didn’t know he was an LC). When I’d discussed you or your conversion to Orthodoxy to other Catholics, the point I tried to drive home was that the tipping point was not the scandals themselves, but the ugly and nasty way you were treated by many conservatives. I’m not talking about this in terms of a “they were mean to me” type of scenario, but as a situation in which these Catholics put their blindness, ineptitude, and idiocy on full display. That affects a person. Don’t mean to oversimplify, but had to comment on that one.
I’ve posted all the articles on my facebook page that Rod has linked to and commented on today. I won’t comment on the revelations other than to say this: they aren’t encouraging, but they also do not make Benedict a Law/Weakland/Mahony/Fr. Maciel.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 6:08 pm


Cecilia,
Don’t want to be too blunt here. But so long as Bernard Law lives in his palace in the Vatican, presides at his fancy cathedral and sits on an important (!) committee in the Vatican, well, there you are. The man enabled and protected the rapists of children. Are you in the picture?
We the laity want the perps thrown out of their fancy digs. Can you get it?
Your density astounds.



report abuse
 

Cecelia

posted April 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm


Your density astounds.
well if you are gonna call me dense – you could at least use your name.
If you had noted – I have in any number of past posts called for Law’s head on a platter – hence my remark on the post today. We aren’t speaking about Law today anyway – the post was about Benedict. But I suspect there are plenty who want his head on a platter too.
You do not speak for all the laity either – nor do I – so while I think Law needs to be dealt with – I have no illusions that this is something desired by all the laity.
Your post is a very good example of moral panic. Thanks for making my point.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 6:39 pm


Susan Evans Foley. sefoley@foleyfoleylaw.com In case you want to contact me, Cecilia. And you? Your real name and address?
You do not speak for all the laity either – nor do I – so while I think Law needs to be dealt with – I have no illusions that this is something desired by all the laity.
What is the “this” in your last sentence? What is it that you would think is desired by all the laity? Don’t tell me you agree with me.
Moral “panic.” Interesting. A high official of this organization, a successor of the Apostles of Jesus the Christ, enables and protects several persons who are rapists of children. After this all comes to light, this person is transferred, this official, to Rome, where he is installed as a High Guy, with a fancy cathedral, a fancy apartment, and an important post in the Vatican bureaucracy.
And when I, a member of the laity, object, this means I am in a “moral panic.”
Well, it is what it is I guess.
This kind of “reasoning” is a good example of why this whole organization is circling the drain. Oh yes father whatever you think/say/do is wonderful!
I wish you the pleasure of it, Cecelia. Enjoy.



report abuse
 

Michael C

posted April 12, 2010 at 7:36 pm


You stole my thunder Susan.
When Law resigns his position and returns to the USA of his own violition, gives up his fancy robes, and takes himself off to a tenement flat, meanwhile begging for forgiveness from those he has wronged, then maybe, just maybe, those Cardinals will be on the right track.
Until then, they have compromised their right to say what I should and should not do.
A pox on all their houses.
Do I sound bitter?…you betcha.



report abuse
 

Michael C

posted April 12, 2010 at 7:38 pm


Meanwhile.
Two million Canadians know someone who was sexually abused by a Catholic priest. That is out of thirty million.
http://www.canada.com/news/national/million+Canadians+know+someone+sexually+assaulted+priest+Poll/2875219/story.html



report abuse
 

Turmarion

posted April 12, 2010 at 7:41 pm


R. Brown: Really, the RCC has become dominated by women and lesbian radical so-called nuns.
God forbid we should have women doing anything in the church aside from sitting quietly with covered heads in church and having young’uns….
Seriously, while some of the goofiness you point out is a legitimate issue, you might consider rephrasing some of it. Women, even way pre-Vatican II have had enormous influence on and in the Church, and I might point out that St. Catherine of Siena urged the Pope at the time to return his administration from Avignon to rome, and he actually listened to her and complied. I guess this 14th Century laywoman was “dominating” the Church, huh?



report abuse
 

Michael C

posted April 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm


(Reuters) – It is homosexuality, not celibacy, that is linked to pedophilia, the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said on Monday, seeking to defuse the sex scandal that has battered the Roman Catholic Church.
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE63B4TR20100412
I am losing my cool…..they are such self important, ignorant SOBs.



report abuse
 

Michael C

posted April 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm


Barefoot, pregnant, doing their husbands bidding, and in the kitchen, thats where they belong.
Lord spare us.



report abuse
 

SusanFoley

posted April 12, 2010 at 7:57 pm


Michael,
Word are not adequate, so I will not advance words.
I was not personally abused by anyone. So that makes it OK that other children were? That horrible horrible things happened outside my sight, and the victims were other people? Yes? No? Your answer is perhaps whatever it is, as it may be Cecilia’s is. Mine is No.
NO
No child is safe until the notorious perps are, at a minimum, divested of their gilded robes. Until no known perpetrators are living in luxury, at my expense, in honored positions in Rome or anywhere else. And until the organization makes a statement, and backs it up with action, that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.
DO NOT GIVE THEM MONEY. In any form, for any reason. They put money to evil uses.
Cecilia, I may well be in a “moral panic” as you claim. Whatever. You can give them the money, fruits of your hard work, and that is your choice, knowing what they are likely to do with it. They will wait a long long time in the dark before they see a penny of mine.
I was born into this Church in 1945. It will be a cold day in hell before they see a penny of my money.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 7:57 pm


Don: I remember distinctly you talking about that particular Catholic therapist (though I didn’t know he was an LC). When I’d discussed you or your conversion to Orthodoxy to other Catholics, the point I tried to drive home was that the tipping point was not the scandals themselves, but the ugly and nasty way you were treated by many conservatives.
I’m not sure that’s right, Don. (BTW, the therapist was a layman, but was affiliated in some way I’m not sure of with the LCs; maybe he was Regnum Christi, but I’m not really sure). Anyway, for me the tipping point was discovering that the orthodox Catholic parish we’d found a haven in was actually harboring a priest who had been suspended in Scranton after a formal allegation was lodged against him. He got to Dallas, convinced the pastor of this parish that he’d been victimized by a false accusation, and went to work in ministry — without the pastor notifying the local bishop. I’d sent a friend who wanted to become Catholic to this priest for instruction, telling her that he was a good orthodox Catholic who would give it to her straight. Turns out he lied to her, saying he had left Scranton because he’d been driven out by conservatives (my friend tends to be liberal); he told me earlier — knowing I’m conservative — that he’d been driven out by liberals. Finding out about that lie — and learning that not only had the pastor (a consciously orthodox fellow) been lying, but the inner circle in the parish knew about all this, and kept it quiet from the whole parish — was for Julie and me the tipping point.
But it was true that the reaction of conservatives, most of whom were uncompromising and irrational defenders of John Paul II’s inaction, was discouraging. Overall, though, by far the main thing was coming to understand that no bishop anywhere would ever be held responsible by the Vatican for what he had done — and that there was nothing the laity could do about it. That made me realize that the Church was led by people who really had no intention of holding themselves accountable, no matter what. Kids got raped. Lots of them. Bishops allowed it to happen, over and over, because they only thought of themselves and the priests. The only way the Church was ever going to be held to any kind of account was through the civil courts. That thought sat in my heart like a cancer, and it finally overtook me.
Sorry for the digression.
I do think Cecelia makes a valid and interesting point about what would satisfy the crowd. I was thinking about that just now, and it seems to me that one thing that puzzles and even angers people who aren’t professional Catholic bashers is why the Church is going through this again. They thought it was over and done with — and in most ways, it is in this country. I don’t think people really grasped that other countries had yet, and have yet, to deal with it. So to the casual reader, it may seem that the Church told everybody it had dealt with the crisis in the last decade, but now we see that it didn’t. The truth is that it did not deal with it in other countries … but now, with the culture of the Internet, we’re hearing about it all here.
I do think too that it may finally be occurring to people that all these procedures have been put into place, and now ordinary Catholic mothers and fathers have to go through massive training just to help out at Sunday school, etc. — and not one of the bishops, the very class most responsible for this crisis, has had to suffer one bit of punishment for his part in the catastrophe. Cardinal Law did suffer the indignity of basically being run out of Boston — but he landed a very cush position of high honor at the Vatican. What does a bishop have to do to get punished? There is no accountability for the aristocracy in the Church — and I think that might be one reason why at least some people believe there is unfinished business here.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 7:59 pm


Susan, I have kicked you off this blog twice before for trolling on threads, posting over and over and over. When you get wound up about something, you don’t know when to quit. Am I going to have to do it again? You’ve said your piece — now stop. And stop insulting Cecelia, calling her “dense.” She disagrees with you, and, I think, with me, but she is also an unfailingly intelligent commentator, and I won’t let her be insulted here.



report abuse
 

R. Brown

posted April 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm


Michael C.
I was just saying that the feminized priests have driven most men out of the church and it is now mostly made up of women and children. Look at the altar, reader’s — mostly women, altar girls, a useless and silly move by JPII as the point of altar boys was to see if maybe they would be interested in the priesthood (as of now and forever women will not be ordained to the priesthood). Ministers of communion–mostly women. Of course women have a place in the church after all women and men are eual but different.
I personally find sissy priests a distraction.
Another point — most of the molestation of boys was NOT pedophilia, it was gay priests preying on teenage boys. It is known thaat pedophiles abuse both boys and girls and can be either hetero or homosexual. So, I believe it is a gay priest problem not a pedophile priest problem. Also, sexual abuse also occurs in other denominations where clergy are married, in schools with male teachers, in Olympic sports club, etc.
And no, women should not be home pregnant and cooking for the menfolk.



report abuse
 

R. Brown

posted April 12, 2010 at 8:35 pm


Turmarion,
I am well aware of the important role of women in the church throughout the centuries, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Therese of Liseau, St. Therese of Avilla and recently Blessed Mother Teresa as well as the many excellent Pre-Vatican II religious sisters who looked after the sick, educated generations of children.
I was just trying to point out that the male membership of the Roman Catholic Church has dwindled and greatly under JPll whose reign began in 1978.
Not directed at you, Turmarion, but why do people refuse to call this a gay priest problem. The stats are readily available on the ages when the molestation of boys began. Most were over the age of 13, thus, it is not a pedophile priest problem.



report abuse
 

Joe Magarac

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm


Please read Fr. Z’s suggestion that if you want the Vatican to dismiss bishops, you need to have a corps of Sicilian monsignors do the job.
Also, I get that Rod was upset that the Vatican didn’t dismiss bad bishops. What I don’t get is why he thought the solution was to join the Eastern church, which has no Vatican and so no way to dismiss bad bishops at all.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm


Joe, I didn’t think becoming Orthodox was a “solution” to the problem of dismissing bad bishops. And this plainly comes as a surprise to you, but you don’t need a Vatican to dismiss bad bishops. You only need a Holy Synod. Which we have. Which canned a bad bishop in Alaska a year or two ago for, among other things, ordaining a sex criminal. Many of the laity wrote to the Holy Synod asking for action. They got it. Imagine that.



report abuse
 

Paul Pfaff

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm


R Brown,
The problem was not primarily “gay priests preying on teenage boys”.
The John Jay report confrims that the problem was primarily pedophilia. 60% of the victims were first abused at age 13 or younger. The DSM-IV 302.2 defines pedophilia as “sexual urges or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 or younger).”
So the problem of priests having sex with minors breaks down as
60% pedophilia
32% statutory rape (victim 14-17) – homosexual
8% statutory rape – heterosexual
100% illegal & sinful



report abuse
 

R. Brown

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:37 pm


What is the true nature of the sex abuse problem?
In significant ways the media’s coverage of the scandal has been misleading or inaccurate. For example, the media reported the scandal almost exclusively in terms of “pedophile priests.” This is not correct.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, pedophilia is sexual attraction to children who have not yet arrived at puberty (DSM-IV, 528). While there have been priests who were pedophiles, the overwhelming majority of cases involved a disorder called ephebophilia, a term that refers to sexual attraction to minors who have arrived at puberty (i.e., teenagers). But we shouldn’t give a false emphasis to the clinical term ephebophilia, because it masks the real nature of what is occurring: priestly homosexual activity with under-aged males.
Why the distinction between pedophilia and homosexual activity with minors? They’re both horrible.
They are, but the distinction is important because there is a qualitative difference between having sex with a seven-year-old and having sex with a seventeen-year-old. Both actions are mortal sins, to say nothing of the damage they inflict on the victims. But a seven-year-old is totally unprepared for sex, both physically and psychologically. By contrast, a normal seventeen-year-old either is able to handle the reality of sex, however much more maturing he may still need.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law states, “A man before he has completed his sixteenth year of age, and likewise a woman before she has completed her fourteenth year of age, cannot enter a valid marriage” (canon 1083, §1). The implication is obvious: After these ages, it is possible for young people to enter validly into marriage.
Are there other ways in which the media misreported the nature of the problem?
Yes. The overwhelming majority of the priests involved in these incidents are accused of sexual molestation of adolescent males, not females. This means that nature of the scandal is homosexual. The media downplayed or ignored this fact in its handling of the subject. But it has everything to do with the cause, the extent, and the cure of the problem.



report abuse
 

R. Brown

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:44 pm


http://www.americancatholic.org/news/clergysexabuse/johnjaycns.asp
John Jay Study Reveals Extent of Abuse Problem
“A majority of the victims were post-pubescent adolescents with a small percentage of the priests accused of abusing children who had not reached puberty”.
The study listed the main characteristics of the sex abuse incidents reported. These included:
— An overwhelming majority of the victims, 81 percent, were males. The most vulnerable were boys aged 11 to 14, representing more than 40 percent of the victims. This goes against the trend in the general U.S. society where the main problem is men abusing girls.
— A majority of the victims were post-pubescent adolescents with a small percentage of the priests accused of abusing children who had not reached puberty.
— Most of the accused committed a variety of sex acts involving serious sexual offenses.
— The most frequent context for abuse was a social event and many priests socialized with the families of victims.
— Abuses occurred in a variety of places with the most common being the residence of the priest.



report abuse
 

R. Brown

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm


The John Jay study said that pedophilia, an attraction to pre-pubescent children diagnosed as a psychiatric disease, was a smaller part of the sex abuse problem.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:50 pm


R. Brown, you’ve said the same thing over and over again. We get it. Stop posting so much. You’re being trollish.



report abuse
 

R. Brown

posted April 12, 2010 at 11:00 pm


Sorry, Mr. Dreher, just responding to Mr. Pfaff.
No worries, I don’t intend to be reading this blog again anyway



report abuse
 

Richard Barrett

posted April 12, 2010 at 11:54 pm


Two points, simply for the sake of clarity.
I was born into this Church in 1945…
If Catholic teaching is anything like Orthodox teaching on this point, no, you weren’t. You were baptized just like everybody else. No, this isn’t a pedantic point; birth and baptism are not the same thing, and that is a point glossed over by too many. Christianity is not a birthright.
Which canned a bad bishop in Alaska a year or two ago for, among other things, ordaining a sex criminal.
I am no fan of Nikolai or his crew, but if you’re talking about the tonsuring of a reader who was a registered sex offender, your statement is accurate with respect to the perception of what happened, inaccurate with respect to the details of what actually happened. A reader is tonsured; he is not, emphatically not, ordained. A reader has no authority, and he is also not “the first step on the way to the ordained priesthood,” as I believe the Anchorage Daily News reported. A reader is just that — a reader. In theory they chant the epistle and the Offices; oftentimes in practice they will serve at the altar. The reader’s cassock (which should theoretically only be worn during a service at the church where the reader has been blessed to serve) is intended to diminish, not elevate, the wearer, and the liturgical function is entirely one of service, not authority.
Again, I’m no fan of Nikolai or ex-chancellor Isidore for several reasons, but this was an incident that got blown out of proportion over what people thought was happening, not what was actually happening. The trouble is, once that happens, as soon as you have to start explaining you’re on the defensive.
Now, if the guy had been elevated to the subdiaconate, then the story would be somewhat different, but “guy starts wearing cassock and has a liturgical function” simply does not mean, ergo, “guy is ordained into position of authority.” At least, not in the Orthodox world.
Richard



report abuse
 

Charles Curtis

posted April 13, 2010 at 12:45 am


“If Ratzinger defenders.. are going to be doomed to making narrow legalistic arguments that will fail in the court of public opinion (which is the only one that counts).”
You know that that’s not true, Rod. Not even in human terms. I think of how the NY Times and the rest of the Western press treated Pius XII during the war, and how they treat him now.. It’s interesting read.. Here’s a time-line of articles on Pope Pius:
http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en#q=new+york+times+pius+xii&hl=en&tbs=tl:1&tbo=u&ei=x_TDS_-jPMT48AbPiNnbCA&sa=X&oi=timeline_result&ct=title&resnum=11&ved=0CCMQ5wIwCg&fp=bcdf8cbbf06dc4f
The coverage went from ““the voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas” to Pius XII being called silent and complicit.
That’s just the court of history, as played by the Times.
You and I both believe there are higher prosecutors and courts than that.



report abuse
 

Basil

posted April 13, 2010 at 1:29 am


R. Brown,
You said the Church should get rid of the homosexuals. What would that do to prevent another Fr. Kiesle, who married after tying up and raping boys and girls? What would that do to prevent another Father James Porter, who raped boys and girls and, likewise, married IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH to raise his own children and rape them? Moreover, what does creating a class of potential criminals do if you protect those who have actually committed sexual crimes against children as this Pope and JPII have?
You statistics don’t say anything about the attractions of the perpetrators vis a vis adults. Furthermore, your “theory” doesn’t take into account the fact that Catholic high schools were sexually segregated so that priests taught boys and that any priest at such an institution who did molest a girl couldn’t have caused the Church to be sued because his actions were not undertaken as part of his duties.



report abuse
 

Michael C

posted April 13, 2010 at 4:15 am


Read what David Gibson had to say back at the end of last year:
“The data, which was presented to the U.S. hierarchy on the second day of their annual meeting here, also appears to contradict the widely held view that homosexuals in the priesthood were largely responsible for the abuse.
“What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse,” said Margaret Smith, a researcher from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, which is conducting an independent study of sexual abuse in the priesthood from 1950 up to 2002. “At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of sexual abuse.”
A second researcher, Karen Terry, also cautioned the bishops against making a correlation between homosexuality in the priesthood and the high incidence of abuse by priests against boys rather than girls — a ratio found to be about 80-20.
“It’s important to separate the sexual identity and the behavior,” Terry said. “Someone can commit sexual acts that might be of a homosexual nature but not have a homosexual identity.” Terry said factors such as greater access to boys is one reason for the skewed ratio. Smith also raised the analogy of prison populations where homosexual behavior is common even though the prisoners are not necessarily homosexuals, or cultures where men are rigidly segregated from women until adulthood, and homosexual activity is accepted and then ceases after marriage. ”
http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/11/18/new-catholic-sex-abuse-findings-gay-priests-not-the-problem



report abuse
 

Goodguyex

posted April 13, 2010 at 6:30 am


Paul Pfaff writes “The John Jay report confrims that the problem was primarily pedophilia. 60% of the victims were first abused at age 13 or younger. The DSM-IV 302.2 defines pedophilia as “sexual urges or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 or younger).”
So the problem of priests having sex with minors breaks down as
60% pedophilia
32% statutory rape (victim 14-17) – homosexual
8% statutory rape – heterosexual”
Paul you focus on the victims, I focus on the perps. Out of about 100,000 priests who served in the U.S. between 1950-2002 there were about 190 true pediphiles who were serial abuses of small children. These relatively very few accounted for about 35% of the abuse cases; only about 200 men!!
Another 3000 or so are pederests; who where not serial abusers but who may have had 1, 2 or teens for homosexual trysts. This accounts for about 60% of the perps. The remaining 600-1000 or priests who have some degree of sexual contact with under age girls.
So if you focus on the perps you get about 60% clearly pederestic homosexuals. This issue of pederesty is as old as Socrates and has the possibility of becoming accepted in our society within a generation or so. I hope it does not.



report abuse
 

hlvanburen

posted April 13, 2010 at 10:07 am


“So if you focus on the perps you get about 60% clearly pederestic homosexuals. ”
So freaking what? Is this the only drum you have in your orchestra? Fine…you want to say it is a homosexual problem. OK. If you believing that helps move you to a point where you can call for the perps and their enablers to be shown the door, so be it.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
But I honestly think that the only reason people like you are calling this a homosexual problem is to deflect attention from the real issue.
It is not a homosexual or heterosexual problem. It is a LEADERSHIP problem, and until the laity finds the balls to accept that, the problem is going to continue.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 13, 2010 at 11:32 am


The estimable Father Z has done an admirable fisk of this error-laden piece:
http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/04/is-benedict-xvi-a-better-pope-than-john-paul-ii-a-couple-views-and-then-fr-z-really-rants/
Meanwhile, I merely want to point out the usual hypocrisy and double standards evident in this post.
FACT: The Catholic Church is *light years ahead* of other communions, including the Eastern Orthodox, in terms of cleaning up the filth and implementing real reform. We are ten times more transparent than our Orthodox brethren. (That’s why the incidence of RC clerical sex abuse has dropped sharply in recent years. Ya think?)
And there is absolutely no evidence, let alone proof, that Ratzinger was ever “part of the problem.” Mere airy assertion does not make it so.
But Father Z says it so much better. I recommend visiting his blog.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 13, 2010 at 11:42 am


oh yeah: pokrov.org
Also: *Murder at Holy Cross.* Very enlightening.
Perhaps a little Orthodox humility asnd repentance might be in order, instead of the usual overweening triumphalism and self-congratulation.



report abuse
 

Fr. J

posted April 13, 2010 at 8:07 pm


Pope John Paul was assured repeatedly by the American bishops that they had things under control and were reforming. They cried out subsidiarity. He believed them. It is easy to blame him. How about blaming our culture or the homosexual lobby? That is more on the mark. And Rod, the Eastern Orthodox are not blameless. You have had your share of scandals. Just wait till the scandals break on the Bosporus. Nothing that Pope Benedict can say will stop the attacks. They have nothing to do with children or abuse. This is just a way to induce people to ignore the Church on other issues.
[Note from Rod: It is simply bizarre to me, this “just you wait” point of view re: the Orthodox. If we do have clerical sex abuse that our bishops have perpetuated in our midst, then I welcome intense scrutiny and criticism. We would deserve it, and I would hope it would lead to reform. This “just you wait” business is a non-starter with me. — RD]



report abuse
 

Fr. J

posted April 14, 2010 at 7:25 am


Hey, wait a minute, how many “Fr. J”s do we have going here? Do I need to change my name? For the record, I did NOT write the above.



report abuse
 

Fr. JS

posted April 14, 2010 at 1:21 pm


Rod, it is a non-starter for you? I guess the hypocrisy angle is a bit inconvenient. You are falling into a common pit of converts. They spend lots of time bashing their former faith. I am a convert and pay little attention to my former denomination. My becoming Catholic was not merely a rejection of Protestantism. It was an embrace of something more. The point is that the pot is calling the kettle black. If you left Catholicism because of sins and cover-ups then you should leave Orthodoxy for the same reasons. Instead of bashing us you should bash your own. Plenty of work for you in the Orthodox Church. For someone who has left the Church you spend a lot of time thinking about us. I will go by Fr. JS for the sake of the other Fr. J.
[Note from Rod: It is sadly unsurprising, Father, that you are so tribal in your thinking that any criticism at all strikes you as “bashing.” In any event, argumentum ad hominem is a fallacy. If you have evidence of sexual abuse in the Orthodox church and a systemic cover-up of same by the bishops, I urge you to post it here and make it public. As an Orthodox Christian, I would consider it a good deed for this to come to light, and a service to the Church. No Christian living in the West who takes faith and culture seriously should be indifferent to the fate of the Roman church, on which stands the cultural edifice of our civilization. I only wish Orthodox Christianity mattered enough to Western civilization to have its scandals taken so seriously. What you don’t seem to be able to understand is that not all criticism of the Roman bishops comes from enemies of the Catholic Church. As long as you insist on believing that, you delay the reforms that will in fact strengthen the church against her true enemies. — RD.]



report abuse
 

Joseph D'Hippolito

posted April 14, 2010 at 2:52 pm


Rod, you are absolutely right. The tribalism of the de facto ultramontanists and clericalists (such as Fr. Z) will ultimately defeat any chance at legitimate reform because they refuse to recognize any errors in the Church’s system of governance. They mistakenly confuse the governing structure itself with apostolic succession. Well, in the earliest years of the Church, such a governing structure (based on Imperial Rome) did not exist — or need to exist — for apostolic succession to be exercised. Just read anything St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy. in the NT.
Fr. JS, you are absolutely wrong. If the Catholic Church claims to have “the fullness of the Gospel,” then it has a special authority from God — Who will hold that church accountable for any misuse of that authority. Remember, judgement first comes to the Houst of God. Unless Rome repents of its arrogance and sense of collective entitlement (which has nothing to do with theological particulars, btw), God will judge Rome. Perhaps He is doing so now.
Read Ezekiel 34, Matthew 23, I Samuel 2, I Corinthians 5 and Revelation 2-3. God has no favorites, as you mistakenly seem to believe.



report abuse
 

Fr. JS

posted April 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm


Ok Rod, I will post some things on Orthodox scandals. Where will you go when you see that Orthodoxy has similar problems? Sin is no respecter of persons. I am all for reform. I am a canon lawyer. Both Benedict and John Paul worked for reform. But do you honestly think that the hack job of the NY Times on Benedict at Easter was motivated by a love for Catholicism? Joe, who will hold the Orthodox Church accountable.
Guardian-Greece’s Orthodox church, buffeted by sex and corruption scandals, met in emergency session yesterday amid lurid claims that have included one newspaper publishing photographs of a 91-year-old bishop naked in bed with a nubile young woman.
Scrambling to resolve the worst crisis in the church’s modern history, the embattled spiritual leader, Archbishop Christodoulos, convened the rare meeting as allegations of skulduggery, sexual improprieties, trial rigging, drug and antiquities smuggling engulfed the institution.
“I humbly ask for forgiveness from the people and the clerics who, for the most, honour… the cassock they wear,” he said addressing the 102-member Holy Synod, the church’s ruling council.
“There is a lot that must be done to put our house in order,” he conceded before proposing a series of reforms.
Greeks have watched dumbfounded as allegations of their priesthood’s dissolute lifestyle have unfolded on their television screens.
Snatched tape-recordings, aired nightly, have revealed rampant homosexuality among senior clerics who, unlike ordinary priests, are under oaths of chastity.
The alleged debauchery has not been limited to monastic cells. Last week, claims emerged that Metropolitan Theoklitos of Thessaly, a leading churchman, had been arrested on suspicion of drug dealing in a police raid on a notorious nightclub in Athens.
The priest was reportedly rounded up with Seraphim Koulousousas, the archbishop’s former private secretary, also implicated in another “unholy affair” involving gay sex with a bishop.
In a setback for Archbishop Christodoulos, Mr Koulousousas announced this week that he was leaving the church to embark on a career as a fashion designer in Paris.
The Greek Orthodox church sees homosexuality as an “abomination,” with the archbishop recently describing it as a “blatant, crying sin”.
The revelations follow the suspension of two high-ranking clerics for “ethical misconduct” earlier this month.
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Attica, who headed Greece’s richest diocese, was withdrawn from duties after allegations of “lewd exchanges with young men” and charges that he had embezzled around €4.4m (£3m) for “his old age.”
The bishop is one of several eminent priests whose names have been linked in a widening trial-fixing and corruption scandal involving at least 20 judges currently under investigation.
In the wake of suggestions by fellow members of the synod that he resign, Panteleimon’s reaction was less than charitable. “If I speak, there will be an earthquake. I’ll take many with me to my grave.”
Earlier this month, Archimandrite Iakovos Giosakis was also suspended after being charged with antiquities smuggling following the disappearance of valuable icons from his former diocese.
Under public pressure from a media determined to expose the shenanigans, the church is investigating four more clerics, including a 91-year-old metropolitan bishop who was captured on camera cavorting in the nude with a young woman. The picture was splashed across the front page of the mass-selling Avriani.
“It is true that some of us have sinned, mistakes have been made,” the synod’s spokesman admitted. “There is clearly a need for catharsis.”
But with the revelations showing no sign of abating, Greeks were doubtful yesterday whether the clean-up would go far enough. Although Archbishop Christodoulos appeared unusually contrite, he stopped short of chastising his own role in the growing furore.
In yet another embarrassing twist, the fiery leader has been accused of procuring the services of a convicted drug smuggler, Apostolos Vavylis, to help elect a favoured cleric to the post of patriarch of Jerusalem in 2001. Investigations have shown that the archbishop wrote a recommendation letter for Vavylis months before he was arrested smuggling heroin.
“A tsunami is coming and it will reach the archbishop himself,” predicted Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Zakynthos, a noted liberal.
Unsurprisingly, the allegations have severely dented the reputation of the church in a country where 97% are baptised Orthodox. Unlike its Roman Catholic counterpart, the Greek Orthodox faith stresses the infallibility of its 11,000-strong priesthood as a whole. Greeks, in contrast to other Europeans, intrinsically link their national identity to their religion, viewing the church as the vehicle that kept Hellenism alive during 400 years of dark Ottoman rule.
But, this week, for the first time ever the vast majority told pollsters they would support the full separation of church-state relations.
“What all of this has confirmed is that corruption is not limited to the public sector,” said Thanos Dokas, a political scientist.
“Despite widespread evidence that these sort of things were happening, its leadership was always reluctant to deal with them.
“For the last 150 years, the church has had a leading role in a country… now it is fighting a rearguard battle to maintain its grip on Greek society.”
For more visit: http://pokrov.org/display.asp?ds=Group&id=43



report abuse
 

Joseph D'Hippolito

posted April 14, 2010 at 6:15 pm


Fr. JS, if you knew anything about Rod, then you wouldn’t make your uncharitable and asinine assertions about his alleged hypocracy. Investigating this scandal was a traumatic experience for him. Do you seriously expect anyone with children who did the kind of research that Rod did would ever want his children raised in such a “church”? Besided, playing such a “gotcha” game with Rod is not only childish but venal.
In fact, Fr. JS, if you really want to confront “hypocracy,” why don’t you start with your own Church? This is the same hierarchy and clergy who assert the necessity of sexual purity at all times yet fails or refuses to demand the same of themselves — and, in the past, has failed or refused to confront those who have violated the innocent.
Besides, let me anticipate another possible rejoinder of yours, Fr. JS: The fact that I criticize Rome’s hypocrisy on this front does not mean that I support it elsewhere, in either religious or secular contexts.
God will judge (metaphorically speaking) Constantinople, Moscow, Wittenburg, Geneva, Canterbury, Colorado Springs, etc. as well as Rome.
God will judge you, too, for your venality and stupidity, Fr. JS.
I was raised in the Catholic Church since my baptism as an infant. What I have come to learn is that Catholics like you (and there are all too many who think this way) essentially worship the church structure as God rather than God as God. People like you turn the Catholic Church into a cult. Perhaps it really is one….



report abuse
 

Fr. JS

posted April 15, 2010 at 12:00 am


Joe, if you read the article I posted it should sound rather familiar. If Rod feels that Catholicism is not the place for children then the article makes it equally clear that Orthodoxy is no place for them either. I basically am making the same points about Orthodoxy that he does about Catholicism. So which of us is uncharitable? Is it gotcha to point out that the above comments by Orthodox bishops sound just like what Catholic bishops have said? Am I not saying that Rod should “start with his own Church?” Isn’t that what I am saying to Rod? Shouldn’t someone with children research the Orthodox Church? You call me venal and stupid. Your charity is simply astounding. So I’m the bad guy for pointing out scandals in the Orthodox Church and it’s difficulties in dealing with them? Yet Rod can do that to us and you sing his praises?



report abuse
 

Joseph D'Hippolito

posted April 15, 2010 at 1:05 am


Fr. JS, why do you think Rod ended up where he is now? Exactly by starting with (what was) his own church!
I was sexually molested when I was 14 (not by a priest, a religious or a family member, thank God). One of my classmates in high school was molested in the seminary by a priest who would later come to my parish. This former classmate left the Servite order after 10 years. He no longer has any use for the Church or God.
How many people have forsaken God — or even committed suicide — because they were molested by priests who were enabled by ecclesiastical bureaucrats, Catholic, Orthodox or anything else? Do you think God actually gives a stinking damn about the denominational identity of the perpetrators? Or does He care far more about the victimization of the innocent and the ill repute that perverted bastards have given His holy, righteous name?
Do you know why I “sing Rod’s praises,” as it were? Because I know him to be a good man who the courage to tell the truth, even at the expense of his own comfort. We have had our disagreements over such things as American foreign policy in the Middle East or a well-known Catholic apologist. But courageous people put their moral convictions over their group identity. That is what God wants. That is exactly what the Church has failed to do regarding this issue for centuries! Remember, St. Alphonsus Ligouri said that molesters should be castrated. That was, what, more than 200 years ago? How long do you think this garbage has been going on?
Do not worry about the Orthodox, Fr. JS. Neither use their sins as a cover for your own venality. Worry about the Church’s sins; they are more scarlet than rivers of blood.
Do you know what else infuriates me, Fr. JS? I am sick and tired of good people being savaged for telling inconvenient truths. Rod has been eviscerated by “good Catholics” over the years because he had the courage not to flinch in the midst of some of the most egregious sins committed against man and God. In addition, I am sick and tired of Catholics acting like aggrieved victims every time somebody criticizes the Church, legitimately or illegitimately. Yes, confront those idiots like Richard Dawkins who criticize illegitimately. But don’t lump them with good people who tell the truth.
Have you ever heard of a man names Leon Podles? He has written extensively about this subject and remains in the Church. What think you of him? Or Fr. Thomas Doyle, the priest who warned the American bishops 15 years ago about this problem….and not only was ignored but was demoted from his position at the Vatican’s nunciature in Washington, became an Air Force chaplain…and almost had his retirement benefits cut out from under him by the current Archbishop of Baltimore before the Air Force intervened?
Let me ask you one final thing, Fr. JS: If the Orthodox were squeaky clean on this matter, would you still criticize Rod? If so, why?
Be not deceived; God is not mocked. Truly, it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God…as Rome may well find out.



report abuse
 

Fr. JS

posted April 15, 2010 at 10:47 am


Joe, then by finding the scandals in Orthodoxy should he not do the same thing…leave it? You were molested in school, so did you quit education? Jesus said that there would be the wheat and the tares in the Church. I didn’t join because the priests were holy nor will I leave because they are not. My belief in the Church transcends that. I belong because I believe that she was founded by Christ and teaches the fullness of truth. The fact that she contains sinners does not dissuade me.
The fact is that in 2008 over 62,000 people were accused of abuse and only about 10 were priests. That is 10 to many, but statistically insignificant. Far more children are abused by teachers and coaches and family members. I have the courage to tell that truth, so why don’t you respect me? The truths I posted about the Orthodox and others are certainly inconvenient. Why are you not singing my praises?
The current attacks on Benedict and John Paul are the product of bigotry. They are simply in error about Papal responsibility and canon law. They are not motivated by the desire to protect children or reform the Church. They hate us as much as you do. Therefore, yes I would be critical even if the Orthodox were blameless. But they are not. I am saying to Rod, “why don’t you hold the mirror up to your new Church?” Why does he focus on Catholicism, his former faith, and not shine the light on the Orthodox? That is a fair question. I suspect he is thinking about it because he has not responded.
It is not only Rome that will “find out.” You will too, as will every unrepentant sinner. Even you Donatists will find out. Name for me any denomination or secular organization and I bet I can find some horrible scandals. Augustine settled this argument long ago. And I would remind you that infallibility is not the same as impeccability. I don’t know why you hate us, and me, but you sure do. Do you think God is pleased by your hatred and bigotry? I bet the NY Times is.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted April 15, 2010 at 10:59 am


Father JS, really, it’s time for you to knock it off. “Anti-Catholic bigotry” is the last refuge to which a fellow like you clings. I have said before, and I’ll say it again: I welcome media coverage into Orthodox sex scandals. The truth needs to come to light. You don’t seem to grasp that I do not “investigate” these things anymore, and haven’t done since I left the Catholic Church in 2006. I made a conscious decision not to investigate these scandals in Catholicism or Orthodoxy, simply because I am not spiritually healthy enough to handle it.
This is a blog that often comments on stories in the news. I get my information from the same sources as you. It displeases you that the Catholic Church’s problems have been in the news lately, I know, but they have been, and it’s a huge religion story. That you cannot imagine why anybody would be critical of the Catholic Church’s handling of this matter, or even interested in it, absent malicious motives says far more about your imaginative capacity than it does about the story, or other people. I don’t care if the New York Times is motivated by a love of Catholicism or a hatred of Catholicism. All I care about is whether or not what it reports is true.
If all you have to bring up about Orthodoxy is corruption in the Greek national church — as awful as that is — then you really are grasping for straws, and behaving like a troll. There’s the door. This exchange is no longer useful to either of us. And this thread is closed. If you wish to remonstrate with me, contact me at rdreher (at) templeton.org



report abuse
 



Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Rod Dreher. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Most Recent Scientology Story on Beliefnet! Happy Reading!!!

posted 3:25:02pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mommy explains her plastic surgery
In Dallas (naturally), a parenting magazine discusses how easy it is for mommies who don't like their post-child bodies to get surgery -- and to have it financed! -- to reverse the effects of time and childbirth. Don't like what nursing has done to your na-nas? Doc has just the solution: Doctors say

posted 10:00:56pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Why I became Orthodox
Wrapping up my four Beliefnet years, I was thinking about the posts that attracted the most attention and comment in that time. Without a doubt the most popular (in terms of attracting attention, not all of it admiring, to be sure) was the October 12, 2006, entry in which I revealed and explained wh

posted 9:46:58pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Modern Calvinists
Wow, they don't make Presbyterians like they used to!

posted 8:47:01pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

'Rape by deception'? Huh?
The BBC this morning reported on a bizarre case in Israel of an Arab man convicted of "rape by deception," because he'd led the Jewish woman with whom he'd had consensual sex to believe he was Jewish. Ha'aretz has the story here. Plainly it's a racist verdict, and a bizarre one -- but there's more t

posted 7:51:28pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.