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Via Media


First Cause

posted by awelborn

As we read through and contemplate these reports, that’s what we’re all looking for: the First Cause.

There is none, except human sin. Sorry. No easy answers on this.

As Joe pointed out in a post below, this is not a new problem that anyone can blame on Vatican II. Clerical sexual abuse of youth is noted with great concern, particularly in the monastic context, in the Middle Ages. Anyone who has worked with victims can attest to the pain of abuse borne by many who were abused long before Vatican II. The horrors of abuse in large Catholic institutions like orphanages – which happened – occurred long before that Council as well.

The Council and its aftermath threw more spices into the mix: laxity, theological and spiritual…um…creativity, a sense that the Church had much to gain from being open to the world, not to mention the exodus of so many mostly heterosexual men from the priesthood beginning in the 60’s, which left the group of priests remaining less broadly representative of the male population than ever, which then, for a time, because self-perpetuating.

There is another problem, too, and one that has nothing to do with the Council. The clerical caste is just that. It is a closed system, accountable only to itself, it is deeply socialist (that is, you are supported no matter what, excellence is not rewarded, but loyalty is), and it fosters immaturity. And it is all-male. All single male. (For the most part)

Do you see what this means? It does not mean that all priests are irresponsible sociopaths living off our tithes. It means that, as is the case in every system, this way of being and doing has weaknesses that make it very easy to focus on protecting its own, no matter what, no matter who.

It doesn’t mean that a celibate priesthood in a hierarchy is doomed, by nature, to be a place harboring child molestors. It means, recognizing its weaknesses and its vulnerability, and its inherent temptations to close in on itself, it must take extra steps to insure that it does not.

(It is comparable to any other system in this regard. Nothing special here. To say that the clerical realm is different is like saying that just because two people are married sacramentally, their marriage is going to effortlessly beautiful. )

Those extra steps involve many things – and most of them involve greater transparency and accountability, at root, as a foundation for any specifics, whether that be banning homosexuals from priesthood, dispensing with mandatory celibacy, or whatever your angle or solution might be.

It is a hard place to be, because we look at the experiences of Protestant bodies with greater all-church involvement in decision and policy making, and we see them all, without exception, torn apart at some level. We don’t want that. We’re divided enough. We know that the only alternative to a closed-in clerical caste can’t be simple democracy – there must be something else. What is it?

Whatever it is, though, bishops and other clerics must reclaim something very important. Their primary task is not to protect each other. Their accountability goes far beyond their brother priests. They (and we all,yes it’s true) need to remember and act out of the conviction that they are, now, and one very interesting day in the future, accountable to God for what they have done and what they have failed to do.

God.

Remember God?



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al

posted February 27, 2004 at 2:51 pm


Amy,
Frankly, no. There is a “first cause” of this scandal. The board has stated it: “However, we must call attention to the homosexual behavior that characterized the vast majority of the cases of abuse observed in recent decades.”
In as much as there is any scandal and outrage in this thing, it would not be in the Bishop’s trying to exercise discretion to avoid scandal in a few cases, or sending genuninely pedophile priests to monasteries rather than jail in a few isolated instances.
It is the false perception that somehow homosexuals have a “right” to be in the priesthood. A “right” premised on a false analysis of sexuality, and of rights generally.



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jen

posted February 27, 2004 at 2:59 pm


You take men with same-sex attraction out of the priesthood, the men who’ve been a part of it through history…
Well.
It gets pretty quiet then.



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john

posted February 27, 2004 at 3:01 pm


al, I often find that people fixated on homosexuality – who can’t stop talking about it, usually have a reason.



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Carrie

posted February 27, 2004 at 3:17 pm


Amy,
There was something else operative in the middle ages that is operative today. The Cathar heresy. Now that might be coincidental. Or it might not be.
One characteristic of that heresy is a reliance on visions to determine what a given person will believe to be moral. Visionaries simply dismissed the teachings of the Church in favor of the spirituality gleaned from their visions.
Visions, of course, can come from another source than the Trinity. That other source has a stake in corrupting Christ’s Church. The Cathars were corrupted by these visions. The Mariavites in the late 1800s were corrupted by such visions, fell into sexual abberations, and ended up forming their own church after they were tossed out of the Catholic Church. Today we have visionaries abounding, both within the Church and outside of it. Speaking in tongues is not a solely Christian phenomenon.
It’s worth considing at least.



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amy

posted February 27, 2004 at 3:18 pm


Well, al, I would just say that I’m trying to deal with reality. And the reality is that men with same-sex attraction have probably been a part of the Catholic priesthood,and probably always will. Which makes that another thing to put in the mix when trying to figure out “how can we prevent this from happening given the realities of the situation.”



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Christopher H.

posted February 27, 2004 at 3:21 pm


John,
Could one of those reasons be that that person truly and genuinely believes what God and the Church teach about homosexuality and that in a world where some people are literally attempting to drive homosexuality into every single aspect of life SOME PEOPLE ought to speak up for that truth?
Or were you going to suggest that that person must be a homosexual?



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Jim Sheflin

posted February 27, 2004 at 3:21 pm


John,
You have it wrong – it’s those that DENY that have a REASON!



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al

posted February 27, 2004 at 3:37 pm


Amy,
What you are saying then, is that we’ll probably always have a problem like this, at some level, and basically its going to be up to the capability and sanctity of those who are presented with it to do as best they can.
I agree.
That doesn’t explain the 4% and the objective outrage.
1 terrible orphanage or >1% abusers=not too much outrage. Tragic, but comprehensible given man’s sin.
Homosexual shuffling and 4% abusers=grave scandal and outrage.



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Sulpicius Severus

posted March 1, 2004 at 9:33 am


Yes, remember God. Remember also God’s enemy, SATAN. Vatican II stripped Holy Church of her defenses against Satan. The Evil One’s greatest victory is the modernist church’s silence regarding Satan, the afterlife, and the necessity of saving our souls.
If Mary Our Queen works any grace through Mr. Gibson’s film, it’s the shocking of Vatican II modernists into facing once again the reality of Satan. Better to face it in this life rather than in the next.
Satan and his minions have run rough-shod over the vatican shell. Let us pray at the Traditional Latin Mass that St. Michael the Archangel assist those of us left in the battle for Christ Our King against Satan. UIOGD,



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Jim

posted March 1, 2004 at 10:36 am


It’s time someone spoiled this feeding frenzy.
Vatican II and changing attitudes toward homosexuality are not responsible for “the situation.” Ireland has had the same kind of sexual abuse crisis as the United States has had, and, until the 1990’s it was as far from liberal or tolerant of homosexuals as any Christian society in the 20th century.
The Irish situation merely reached the crisis stage ten years earlier. It was the subject of Sinead O’Connor’s diatribe against the pope on Saturday night live. Before she tore up his picture, she sang an altered version of Bob Marley’s “War.”
The lyrics of “War,” as you’ll no doubt recall, are taken from a speech by Emperor Haile Selasse justifying war as a response to racism. Sinead changed “racism” to “child sexual abuse,” declaring war on the pope for the hierarchy’s role in clerical sexual abuse in Ireland (see http://www.salon.com/ent/feature/2002/10/12/sinead/index_np.html) and becominbg an Irish Rod Dreher.
Her country, Ireland, was in every sense priest-ridden. In recent times, the clergy exercised censorship in the most trivial matters banning such movies as “The Life of Brian,” and interfered in some of the greatest since divorce was banned by constitution and abortion was illegal even in the case of a raped minor who was at risk of suicide. A generation ago, priests extorted money from the populace for blessings and even determined who could court whom in their parishes.
Neverttheless, the clergy in Ireland repaid the obedience of the people of Ireland by beating and raping children, especially boys. Institutions for minors run by the Christian Brothers in Ireland were particularly notorious (See http://www.paddydoyle.org/tobin.html).
Particularly horrifying is the case of Peter Tyrell a man who wwas raped by one of the Brothers while a child in their Letterfrack industrial school. Mr. Tyrell fought in World War II and was interned in a German POW camp, which he described as a “tea party” compared to LetterFrack.
Ultimately, the Church’s control over the minds of the people of Ireland killed Peter Tyrell.
“In 1967, with no indication that anyone had taken his accounts of brutality and rape in Letterfrack seriously, Peter Tyrell committed suicide by setting himself on fire in London’s Hampstead Heath. He was so badly burned that it took London police almost a year to identify his body.” (Paddy Doyle)
To those who claim that Vatican II and greater tolerance of homosexuals are parts of a failed experiment resulting in our current sexual abuse crisis, I remind them that Ireland was the control in this experiment and that the Irish population fared even worse.



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al

posted March 1, 2004 at 10:47 am


Jim,
The problem is not a country “was in every sense priest-ridden”, as that is clearly not the problem here.
The problem is sexual deviance abetted by luxury, a culture the Celtic Tiger seems only to eager to embrace



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Jim

posted March 1, 2004 at 11:36 am


Al,
Ireland was in a depression until the mid 1990’s. It was the beggar of Europe until then, dependent on aid from many of the countries of western Europe until then.
Ireland’s problem was sexual deviance abetted by authoritarianism. This is the problem conservatives will recreate here.



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alias clio

posted March 1, 2004 at 1:52 pm


I fear Jim is right about this.
For the last 4 years I’ve worked as an historical researcher on hundreds of sexual abuse cases, running from the late 1920s until the mid 1990s, in which Catholic clergy and nuns were prominent among the accused.
Is authoritarianism to blame for the sexual abuse of minors, as Jim says? I believe it to be only one component of the problem.
What is clear to me is that the problem is NOT a question of specifically Catholic authoritarianism. I’ve seen credible allegations against priests, nuns, teachers, coaches, civil servants, and other pupils. Just about any one, in short, who might happen to pass through a school.
Of greater importance is the helplessness of the victims in question. Children are vulnerable to abuse in the first place because they are less strong and articulate than adults; if they also lack parents, are troubled in some way, or if their parents and relations are too poor or unworldly to be advocates for them, then you have a tragedy waiting to happen.
So perhaps the solution is not just to try to restructure the institution, necessary as this may be, but to find a way to give more power over their fate to vulnerable groups, like children. _How_ to do so I don’t know, but I think this aspect of the issue shouldn’t be neglected as we begin to try to solve the problem.



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bernadette abdo

posted April 30, 2004 at 11:33 am


i thought this sight would be a place where moral catholic singles could meet to make friends in our area, i don’t need lessons on my religios beliefs or my faith i’m solid in this area what i need is to meet more people with the same moral code this sight does nothing to adress the lonley single catholics out here. what is you’re purpose? i read mary beth’s article in my diocese news this sight turned out to be nothing that article described.



report abuse
 

bernadette abdo

posted April 30, 2004 at 11:33 am


i thought this sight would be a place where moral catholic singles could meet to make friends in our area, i don’t need lessons on my religios beliefs or my faith i’m solid in this area what i need is to meet more people with the same moral code this sight does nothing to adress the lonley single catholics out here. what is you’re purpose? i read mary beth’s article in my diocese news this sight turned out to be nothing that article described.



report abuse
 

bernadette abdo

posted April 30, 2004 at 11:34 am


i thought this sight would be a place where moral catholic singles could meet to make friends in our area, i don’t need lessons on my religios beliefs or my faith i’m solid in this area what i need is to meet more people with the same moral code this sight does nothing to adress the lonley single catholics out here. what is you’re purpose? i read mary beth’s article in my diocese news this sight turned out to be nothing that article described.



report abuse
 

bernadette abdo

posted April 30, 2004 at 11:34 am


i thought this sight would be a place where moral catholic singles could meet to make friends in our area, i don’t need lessons on my religios beliefs or my faith i’m solid in this area what i need is to meet more people with the same moral code this sight does nothing to adress the lonley single catholics out here. what is you’re purpose? i read mary beth’s article in my diocese news this sight turned out to be nothing that article described.



report abuse
 

bernadette abdo

posted April 30, 2004 at 11:34 am


i thought this sight would be a place where moral catholic singles could meet to make friends in our area, i don’t need lessons on my religios beliefs or my faith i’m solid in this area what i need is to meet more people with the same moral code this sight does nothing to adress the lonley single catholics out here. what is you’re purpose? i read mary beth’s article in my diocese news this sight turned out to be nothing that article described.



report abuse
 

The Knitter

posted October 24, 2004 at 4:02 pm


The clergy are unfit to mind children, unfit mentally, psychologically, physically, emotionally and morally. The clergy should not be allowed near vulnerable communities – abuses will continue if the clergy are allowed in our schools, or hospitals – anywhere there are vulnerable communities. The sexual abuse of children has nothing to do with sexual-orientation – these abuses are about power and holding dominion over the helpless.



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