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To clarify…

posted by awelborn

The import of the Clark story is, aside from the basics, his position as a trusted spokesman for orthodox Catholicism, which includes (I should say included – it’s been cut) a program on EWTN called "Relationships."

His most recent moment in the glaring spotlight came a couple of years ago when he delivered a homily at St. Patrick’s in which he spoke strongly against homosexuals in seminary and said that the US was "probably the most immoral country in the Western Hemisphere."

William Buckley commented on that homily:

But can we talk about such things? Monsignor Eugene Clark, the rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, is a radiant light of eloquence, evangelical charm, and courage. In his renowned sermon of last week he elaborated on five "grim influences" that have taken their toll. He spoke of a flawed moral theology, an attack on celibacy, the fear to exclude homosexuals from the priesthood, a weakening of high standards in choosing candidates for the priesthood, and an understanding of the influence of our pagan culture.

Somebody walked out of the church after hearing the homily. Where will he go, one wonders?

Not, I would hope, into motels with their with their married church secretary who is wearing incredibly short shorts. I’m just sayin’

More quotes from Clark here.

And do you know what? There’s a lot of "Oh, human nature….no one’s perfect" going on in another comment thread, which is TRUE. It does NOT excuse anything – we are talking about a many who chooses to violate his own stated values while being a very public spokesman and (by extension because that’s how these things work) representative of those values. If he couldn’t live by them, he needed to make a choice. Either stop the behavior or have some gonads and some integrity and step down, leave, and retire to Fort Meyers with the other old men.

If Clark was liberal, would our reaction to this alleged situation be the same? That’s all I’m askin’.

jus



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Mark Shea

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:29 pm


Part of fallen human nature is not only sins of the groin, but the sin of being a double-talking sanctimonious jerk. I frankly find the sermon more appalling than the sleazy rendezvous. The rendezvous could (with sufficient application of imagination) at least be chalked up to a long struggle against inchastity, like a character in a Graham Greene novel. But a Graham Greene character would not then stand up and berate the sins of unchastity in others. He’d have the class to at least keep his trap shut and feel ashamed of himself.
That said, I find even this sin only appalling, not shocking. As a writer, I of all people should know that it’s a lot easier to spew words about morality and righteousness than it is to actually *do* all that stuff. The Clark fell prey to that temptation (perhaps in an attempt to persuade himself that he was “doing his priestly duty”) stuns me no more than the suggestion that anybody else fell prey to some other temptation. After the 20th century, it’s hard to amaze me with stories of the human capacity for sin.



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Nancy

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:31 pm


Given that this man is human and so on and so forth, I just don’t think this is even remotely OK, and I don’t think I’m being a “Puritan” to say so.
He’s brought the priesthood into disrepute (again). He’s wronged a husband. He’s made all his fine words about morality into a laughing stock.
Maybe he couldn’t or wouldn’t help himself in the matter of this sin. But then, as you say, Amy, he should have retired as a spokesman for these high ideals.



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amy

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:31 pm


Mark:
I want to be careful here and not put up straw men. I’ve only seen a couple of “shocked” comments, and I don’t want the conversation to be on that road, exclusively. I think the more useful questions are: what’s our response to the “another conservative hypocrite” line because, you know…it’s happened quite a few times (and not just with religious figures) in this country in the past few years.



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al

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:32 pm

Celine

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:37 pm


“If Clark was liberal, would our reaction to this alleged situation be the same?”
No, it would not. If he was a liberal, conservatives/traditionalists would blame liberalism. Since he is a conservative, conservatives/traditionalists will blame human nature or original sin or something of the sort. They will certainly not recognize some defeciency in the very way they look at the world or God as the result of his personal sin, as they would demand of liberals.
But, hey, if he was a liberal, the liberals play the same game, only in reverse. It’s human nature and original sin.



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al

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:38 pm


Oops. The other post noted that.
Also, by way of distinguishing this from the sex scandal, which indeed liberalism is one of the primary causes of, is the participant in this.
If everything reported in this is true, the other party in this is as deplorable as the Msgr.
That’s not the case in the sex scandal, despite the claims that its all of a piece, and clericalism is to blame.



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Christine

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:38 pm


Oh I couldn’t agree more. He’s forfeited any credibility whatsoever that he ever had in the past. The fact is that this kind of behavior has gone on from time immemorial, whether one is liberal, conservative or anything in between. But human beings are capable of living in fantasy worlds. After a time it’s so easy to dull the conscience, feel self-righteous and just convince oneself that living a dual life really isn’t so bad.
I’m just not terribly surprised that it could happen to a cleric, even one with his high standing.
I certainly don’t excuse his lack of integrity. He surely should have had the honesty to step down.



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Rich Leonardi

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:39 pm


If Clark was liberal, would our reaction to this alleged situation be the same? That’s all I’m askin’.
Well, no. I suppose it would resemble scheudenfreude. In this instance, Clark is the sign that points to Jerusalem but doesn’t manage to get there.
Were Clark ‘liberal’, and by that I assume you mean heterodox, the sign would be pointing in the wrong direction.
So what’s “worse”: Right sign, sinful act, hypocrisy? or wrong sign, sinful act, consistency?



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Rosemarie

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:41 pm


+J.M.J+
It’s funny; I just read about that same homily yesterday in a 2002 copy of Voices (magazine for Women for Faith and Family).
The author, Rita Joseph, wrote that she had heard an “excellent sermon” on a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral by Monsignor Eugene Clark on “five specific influences that may explain, but not excuse, he said, some of the priestly failures now scandalizing both the faithless and the faithful.” The description that follows sounds like the same sermon.
I read this just yesterday and thought to myself, “This is the same guy who’s in the news now!” Strange timing.
In Jesu et Maria,



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bruce cole

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:42 pm


What if he’d been an unfamous, obscure priest?? More than a few have done what Clark is accused of….The odds of the archdiocese stone-walling, doing their best to bury the story, etc. go up exponentially. That’s a scandal, too.



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Sydney Carton

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:43 pm


During my lunchtime at the firm, in secret, I’ve been walking to St. Patrick’s Cathedral every day for about a half-hour of prayer. When this story hit the news, it didn’t seem to make much of a difference to the usual tourists who frequent the place in the afternoon taking pictures. But it means a lot to me.
I usually go to St. Paul’s on 9th and 60th Street, but during the summer they don’t have evening masses so I go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the 5:30 pm Sunday mass. The homilies are incredibly orthodox, especially when compared to the Jesuit homilies at St. Paul’s, and are filled with a persistent defense of Catholic teachings. I don’t believe I’ve seen Fr. Clark preside, however.
To put it mildly, it really frickin’ bothers me that I’m struggling to live an orthodox life here in Manhattan, when this man apparrently is off dallying with his secretary. Can’t they just be friends? Why does it ALWAYS have to go to the next level? (My law firm has very attractive secretaries also, but I’m not stupid enough to even think about getting involved).
Where have the real men gone?



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Joel

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:45 pm


Mark,
So tell me, wise guy, who will speak out against the sins of the world as Christ commanded us? We’re all weak and sinners. Somebody’s gotta do it. To do nothing would hand Satan a gift-wrapped victory. Any simpleton can see Satan’s hard at work to take as many of us as possible down with him. He knows our weaknesses and knows there’s no bigger target than the church that Christ founded. I’m sure Satan is applauding you for your efforts.



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Todd

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:49 pm


Celine, as a liberal, I can say I would have criticized him just as vociferously. I’ve gone on record as being critical of Weakland’s Commonweal piece (it would have been better to find someone who could say it sans baggage) as well as that Pax Christi priest and his defenders.
“Were Clark ‘liberal’, and by that I assume you mean heterodox …”
Actually, that’s all conservative PC-speak. Cutting through it, a person can be liberal, moral, and a faithful Catholic. And in this case, one can be conservative, immoral, and heterodox, and even pretend not to be the latter two, and what do you get? A tv pulpit. I wonder what Fulton Sheen would think.



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dick rood

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:51 pm


I am roughly Clarks age and have been doctoring my prostate since forever. I am amused that a rather attractive woman found an old goat appealing.
There’s no fool like an old fool!



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Tom Craughwell

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:54 pm


About the “another conservative hypocrite” line–Msgr. Clark isn’t a hypocrite until it has been proven that he had an affair with Mrs. DeFilippo.
It seems the DeFilippos are in the midst of a pretty nasty divorce. In such situations, it’s not unheard of for one spouse to lash out against the other in especially vicious ways.
I am acquainted with Msgr. Clark. He baptized my niece in St. Patrick’s. He was my pastor for many years when his church in NYC, St. Agnes, was my workday parish. I do not believe this accusation against him. He is an honest a man and a holy priest.
Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. Maybe it will turn out that my faith in Msgr. Clark is misplaced. But l don’t think so.



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Rich Leonardi

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:54 pm


Actually, that’s all conservative PC-speak.
Curious how Todd seems to have especially keen insights into everyone else’s politics. Does being a self-identified “liberal” come with a crystal ball?



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Nancy

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:58 pm


To put it mildly, it really frickin’ bothers me that I’m struggling to live an orthodox life here in Manhattan, when this man apparrently is off dallying with his secretary. Can’t they just be friends? Why does it ALWAYS have to go to the next level? (My law firm has very attractive secretaries also, but I’m not stupid enough to even think about getting involved).
Where have the real men gone?

I wonder that too, Sydney. I know so many men and women in our profession and elsewhere who struggle to live upright lives, and who succeed. (Or at least they do better than this!) We’re not set up as some kind of paragons as the priests are, we aren’t in a position to harangue everyone else about being immoral, we just hack away at the thing. If I were within walking distance of St. Pat’s, I’d be over there too as often as I could be. (I like to stay nearby for this reason when I’m in New York.)
But today my heart would sink, just as yours did.



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Nancy

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:59 pm


Very touching, Tom. And they were, according to you, doing just what in that fancy hotel for all that time? And why did what they were doing involve changing clothes?



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Brian Lester

posted August 11, 2005 at 2:59 pm


Two points:
Msgr. Clark is continuing to deny the affair, and it strikes me as a Clintonesque denial. I suppose its plausible that there never was (for, um, logistical reasons) a consumation of the relationship. But Msgr and Mrs Defillipo certainly committed adultery in their hearts … and LI, and the carribean, and europe, and late nights at Madison Ave.
Also, does anyone think materialism has a role in the sin here? Msgr might not have bought the house on Long island, but he certainly enjoyed and indulged the lifestyle that went with it. Big home in midtown and vacations in the Hamptons — no different from any ole agnostic manhattan blue-blood socialite.
I think its important for priests (and all Christians!!) blessed with many means and goods, to realize that constant indulgence of our every material desire will always weaken our ability to resist every other temptation. Self denial and austerity have the opposite effects.



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MaryKate

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:03 pm


“He’s brought the priesthood into disrepute… He’s made all his fine words about morality into a laughing stock…as you say, Amy, he should have retired as a spokesman for these high ideals”
Think about this: it follows that only the perfect can address morality. Now, that would shut down the comments and maybe the site itself, to follow that rule.
And, aren’t we all “spokesman for these high ideals”? How are you doing in that department?



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Patrick Rothwell

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:05 pm


“Part of fallen human nature is not only sins of the groin, but the sin of being a double-talking sanctimonious jerk. I frankly find the sermon more appalling than the sleazy rendezvous.”
I definitely agree with this, since I disagreed with the (in)famous sermon he made at St. Patrick’s a few years ago. And, the quoted comments from his speech about Hollywood are even worse. On the other hand,
“I think the more useful questions are: what’s our response to the “another conservative hypocrite” line because, you know…it’s happened quite a few times (and not just with religious figures) in this country in the past few years.”
I’m having a difficult time articulating my half-baked thoughts on this, and I know I’ve said something similar aboud Deal Hudson, but here goes…
I think the hypocrisy angle is much abused and potentially the cause of much mischief that should concern both “conservatives” and “liberals.” Hypocrisy has a particular meaning and that is pretending to have a virtue that one doesn’t have. Did Clark, by his statements on adultery and family life, intend to make people believe (falsely) that his sexual life was above reproach? It’s not clear to me that’s the case, however very close to the edge of hypocrisy his statements are. If I say that X is bad, but then proceed to do X later, then that simply makes me a sinner, and not just a material sinner, but a formal sinner. I may be a sanctimonious jerk and I may even be in mortal sin, but that, in of itself, does not make me a hypocrite. Still less would a person who crusades against X, but does Y should be considered to be a hypocrite. For instance a sanctimonious crusader against child sex abuse should not be considered a hypocrite if it turned out he was an adulturer. And, an environmentalist activist should not be considered to be a hypocrite if he drives an SUV. And, a human rights activist against nasty dictators shouldn’t be considered a hypocrite if he’s a cruel tyrant towards his own children, however despicable that may be. If we banished all such people from public life, no one could ever fight against any evil because everyone would be too morally *tainted* in some way to do anything. The fact is, we all are moralists about something, and we all have our sins and failings as well.
Still, there is something extremely distasteful about a person who rants against the sexual sins of others when one has sexual issues of his own. It’s not hypocrisy so much, but a lack of basic human empathy for the fraility of others. I’m not sure exactly what to call it.



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Pierre Angulaire

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:07 pm


The discussion here is ignoring the saddest part of this whole episode – being Philip DeFilippo. How would you like to find out that your lovely 46-year old wife has been stepping out with a 79 year old geezer? That’s gotta hurt.



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Ed

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:08 pm


Brian,
I think the late historian Will Durant succinctly summed up that notion as :
“Morals fall as riches rise”.



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B Knotts

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:09 pm


It does NOT excuse anything
Has anyone said it does? I’m not sure what we’re supposed to say. This is bad, if true, and I can’t imagine anyone suggesting that Msgr. Clark be exempt from sanctions on the basis of his orthodoxy.
Are we supposed to the deny the truths he has preached because he is not impeccable?
And, Mark, I’m surprised you did not call everyone to the obvious explanation, which you have pointed out many times: sin makes you stupid.



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ajb

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:10 pm


Is it so much to ask that guys who mount the soapbox to condemn others refrain from mounting anything or anyone else while they do so?
I’m not sure you all want to carry the “he’s only human” line of reasoning where it might end up. (plus I doubt he expressed as much forebearance with the folks he attacked).
The satanic lie is that “if God didn’t want us engaging in all those “thall shalt nots” then he wouldn’t have made them so much fun” and “no one REALLY lives that way, they’re all just hypocrites that talk a good game”. “Why would God give us these urges if they were so wrong”
Wanna blame original sin or our fallen human nature? This guy had access to all the graces that God has to offer.
I’m not concerned about people thinking Monsignor Clark is a sack-of-santorum. That’s his problem (and not too easy to argue with in this case). I’m concerned about his providing another example to people who claim that the Church’s teaching on chastity/fidelity/monogamy/celibacy is untrue.
If someone who promotes these teachings so loudly can’t even bother to live up to them, should anyone else even try?



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Jeff

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:12 pm


I’m not sure I see the contradiction about “libs” and “cons.”
When did “cons” ever say or imply that orthodox priests don’t have temptations? That they are never hypocrites? Of course, they do and are.
But we do insist that if you don’t see much wrong with fooling around or consider it somehow “holy” or insist that your predilections are an inherent part of your nature and need to be celebrated or that the Church’s teaching on all moral matters is in need of an update and is not reliable, the chances of falling go up.
And, with regard to homosexual trysts being worse than heterosexual adultery, why, yes they are. To one vice (adultery) is added another (unnatural lust.) Homosexual adultery is a two-fer. As well as being repugnant in its nature, not just its context. (Note: the way to “argue” with this is to accuse the speaker of being a closet “gay” himself and afraid of his own inner feelings.)
Consider: wouldn’t most of us be glad (relatively) if some priest was accused of adultery with a 12 year old and then it turned out to have been with 22 year old? Or accused of rape and then it turned out to be consensual?



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Father Ethan

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:15 pm


I think you guys and gals are jumping to conclusions. Nothing has been substantiated.
While Amy Welborn is absolutely correct, that if this is true, Msgr. Clark violated the promise he made to his Bishop, however, this does not compare in any way to homosexual activity or pedophilia among priests. It is not the same thing. All the good priests will be relieved that any priest, who violates his promises, “partner” is a woman.
Regardless, this is bad news. After the Bishop McCarthy scandal who Cardinal O’Connor said that he “ordained him after my own heart,” Cardinal Egan going to need therapy.



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bruce cole

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:17 pm


Amy,to pursue the “conservative angle”, if and when William Buckley comments about this, please link us to that. After all, Clark has been in-house chaplain to National Review all these years…….



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anon

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:17 pm


Nice comments, Patrick. Clark’s various statements seem to have gone overboad, but I too don’t find the hypocrisy angle here to be the most important thing. If no one with sexual sin can speak about other people’s sexual sins, no one will ever talk about sexual sins at all. That may be the goal of many, but it’s not consistent with Jesus’s or the Church’s teaching, which impose a clear sexual morality.
Clark should be reprimanded if he’s guilty of this sin just as any other priest should be reprimanded, but his hypocrisy shouldn’t play any role in it. Indeed, Weakland may have been less of a hypocrite than Clark (since I don’t think Weakland argued strongly for celibacy or criticized homosexual practice), but he was equally deserving of punishment for violating his vows.



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hieronymus

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:18 pm


Did Clark, by his statements on adultery and family life, intend to make people believe (falsely) that his sexual life was above reproach? It’s not clear to me that’s the case, however very close to the edge of hypocrisy his statements are.
Everyone knows that Catholic priests are bound by oath to celibacy. A man who publicly presents himself as an obedient Catholic priest (especially on television, in fancy clericals) presents himself as a celibate. If he isn’t, then of course he’s a hypocrite!
In addition to the materialism element, I’d like to hear some opinions as to what role his celebrity plays in all of this.



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Jeff O

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:22 pm


“We’re not set up as some kind of paragons as the priests are, we aren’t in a position to harangue everyone else about being immoral, we just hack away at the thing.”
Yeah, there’s some “hacking” going on, all right. Any target of opportunity will do to mount that high horse of feigned indignation and attack.
Since when has a priest been regarded as a “paragon”? Maybe to a 10 year old 50 years ago. And maybe that’s the problem: imposing an identity that no priest would ever claim as his own.
Nancy, you constantly assail clerics for not speaking out, yet when they do, you inaccurately call it a “harangue”. Whether or not a person can at all times resist our “culture” doesn’t mean that calling it what it is is a “harangue”. He may have gotten caught in the net he was warning us about; that would be sad – and very well described in classic literature and hardly shocking – in my view.
Don’t get me wrong: I think he has embarrassed himself and no one will ever let him forget it. But it says nothing at all about “priests as paragons” or the rightness of his view of society.



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carolyn

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:23 pm


“Still, there is something extremely distasteful about a person who rants against the sexual sins of others when one has sexual issues of his own. It’s not hypocrisy so much, but a lack of basic human empathy for the fraility of others. I’m not sure exactly what to call it.”
Pride? Arrogance? Narcissism?
A conviction that the rules apply to others but not oeself?



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Rod Dreher

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:23 pm


Father Ethan: While Amy Welborn is absolutely correct, that if this is true, Msgr. Clark violated the promise he made to his Bishop, however, this does not compare in any way to homosexual activity or pedophilia among priests. It is not the same thing. All the good priests will be relieved that any priest, who violates his promises, “partner” is a woman.
I was wondering how long it would take before someone here brought up the “at least it was with a woman” line. Which is despicable. If I were Philip DeFilippo, or either of the DeFilippo children, I think I would have rathered Msgr Clark be photographed coming out of the hot-sheets motel with a male hustler than my wife and mother. As a married man and father of two small children, I am not “relieved” one bit by this. You are neither, of course, but would it hurt you to try some empathy?



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ajb

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:23 pm


From EWTN:
“Although the Archdiocese of New York informed EWTN that it is continuing to investigate the matter, we believe it is appropriate to place Monsignor Clark’s program on hiatus at this time,”
Interesting because their prior statement said they were keeping him on the air because the matter was still “under investigation”.



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Mark Shea

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:28 pm


Amy:
You write:
“I think the more useful questions are: what’s our response to the “another conservative hypocrite” line because, you know…it’s happened quite a few times (and not just with religious figures) in this country in the past few years.”
I’m in favor of saying. “Yes. Disgusting, isn’t it?”
Joel:
Huh?



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ajb

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:29 pm


If we just had a Tin Man and Lion we’d be in Oz.
No one is saying that only those who are sinless can preach against sin, or that no one who’s committed sexual sin can preach against sexual sin.
But Monsignor Clark didn’t just preach against sexual sin, he condemned and attacked the people who commit those sins. And he did it as part of a political point to attack those damned dirty liberals and “Hollywood”
Well, if even a good, upstanding, orthodox, conservative, anti-Hollywood crusader coming out of a no-tel motel dressed like a fat-guy-on-the-casino bus with his longtime-personal-secretary, then maybe the matter is abit more complex that jagging on about “libruls”.
Maybe, just perchance, those people that Monsignor Clark railed against were “only human” too. It doesn’t sound like he entertained that possibility from the pulpit or television podium.



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Rod Dreher

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:29 pm


Liberal priest found to be violating his vows of celibacy by carrying on sexual affair with gay man: “Dirtbag! Such are the fruits of liberalism and dissent.”
Conservative priest found (presumably) to be violating his vows of celibacy by carrying on sexual affair with married woman (who has children): “Well, hang on. Priests are only human. Mankind is a fallen race. Since when did we ever have the right to expect more out of priests?”
This is all very, very instructive.



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Dennis

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:34 pm


Patrick Rothwell: “Still, there is something extremely distasteful about a person who rants against the sexual sins of others when one has sexual issues of his own. It’s not hypocrisy so much, but a lack of basic human empathy for the fraility of others. I’m not sure exactly what to call it.”
Patrick, how do your remarks follow from Clark’s homily?
“Clark estimated that 3 percent of U.S. clergymen have a tendency toward abusing children that is aggravated by sexual images in popular entertainment. “So if the 3 percent were touched by that, we ask God to forgive them for it. We ask God to help remedy a situation which might be way beyond the control of the Holy Father and apostles,” Clark said.”



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Fr Phil Bloom

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:35 pm


Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.
(Shakespeare – speech of Cardinal Wolsey)



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Jeff

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:36 pm


With regard to hypocrisy, let’s remember what de la Rouchfoucauld said: “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.”
To be a hypocrite, to engage in vice while pretending to abhor it, is a vice, no doubt at all. But hypocrites at least know they have something they should hide.
Far worse is the case of those who insist that there is nothing wrong with their ugly behavior and everyone is just being mean to them.
You know what I wish? The facts seem to point increasingly to Clark’s guilt. I wish he’d fess up publicly BEFORE the case is proved against him, ask forgiveness, and act like someone who did wrong and KNOWS it. That would be healing for him and for the rest of us, too. That goes for priests or anyone else who has committed any serious sin on a habitual basis. How refreshing to find people confessing BEFORE conviction!



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Joel

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:36 pm


Well said, Jeff. The clergy should indeed take care not to commit the “heresy” of being too pastoral, which in past years have done no favor to the flock. That doesn’t mean they have to go out and condemn others. Just speak the truth clearly and unequivocally, without any apologies. If they fail to live up to the standards they espouse, so what? They can seek forgiveness like the rest of us should or be removed if the matter is a serious one.



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Joel

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:38 pm


Mark: As the brilliant theologian von Balthasar said: “Sin obscures sight.” Guess you proved that.



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Father Ethan

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:39 pm


Rod Dreher,
You are correct. Regardless, as a priest in Massachusetts, I have been battered over the head with the “most priests are gay or pedophiles.” No matter how much logic we use, there never seems to be an end to this mess.
I will pray, if it is the case that Msgr. Clark violated his promises, for Mr. DeFilippo and his children. And certainly I will pray for Msgr. Clark and Mrs. DeFilippo and their conversion.
Nevertheless, Mr. Dreher, I never said that what he may have done is not evil, rather, it no way compares to the degree of evil that homosexual activity and pedophilia is. Adultary, fornication, and violating priestly promises is evil.



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Jeff

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:40 pm


Rod Dreher:
Man who says Catholic sexual morals in need of “reexamination” caught violating them: “Maybe his beliefs had something to do with his actions.”
Man who preaches Catholic sexual morals caught violating them: “At least he didn’t tell us it was okay.”
Most instructive indeed!



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BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:43 pm


>I frankly find the sermon more appalling than the sleazy rendezvous.
I say Mark Shea, clarify something for me if you have the time. Do you mean the sermon was appalling in and of itself or it was appalling because of this Priest’s hypocracy?



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Mark Shea

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:43 pm


Joel:
I’m afraid I still don’t understand what you mean. Are you saying that I have blindly failed to condemn what I refered to as a “sleazy rendevous” and “appalling” hypocrisy?
Or are you saying that it’s wrong to call the Msgr’s homily appalling hypocrisy?
I honestly can’t decode what you are getting at.



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George

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:46 pm


“I think I would have rathered Msgr Clark be photographed coming out of the hot-sheets motel with a male hustler than my wife and mother.”
Not me. This discussion is so wonderfully old fashioned. And fun! We don’t know the state of the couple’s marriage, nor we do know what went on at the motel. Clearly, we all can, and will, imagine. But it doesn’t sound like the marriage was in such great shape to start with.
I must say, she is good looking. Too bad their relationship descended to a cheap motel. If I was a 79-year old priest (I am thirty years younger and definitely not ordained), I would be pleased to spend some time with her. But not in THAT way, especially if she was married and I played golf with her husband.
Maybe Msgr. was the victim! Why do we even care? Divorce court is full of this stuff. Such is the folly of our kind. Msgr. should retire and the couple should move on.
Interesting question: if they divorce, should the husband get an annulment?



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BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:48 pm


BTW Some moral theologians may believe homosexuallity is an objectively a worst sin than heterosexual fornication or marital infidelity. Much like murder is a worst sin than stealing. But on the practical level it only takes dying with one mortal sin on your soul to send you to Hell.
I don’t think it matters much to a damned Soul if he goes down to the hot place because of gay sex, straight sex or unrepentent pride.



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Mark Shea

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:49 pm


B-Y:
It was appalling because of the hypocrisy. The frustrating thing is that he pointed to some real problems and even some real solutions. But his actions make sure that a great many people will not consider either.
And that, of course, is not counting the gravity of the sin he committed apart from the hypocrisy.
As Pavel Chichikov says, “There’s a *reason* we had to be redeemed by a sacrifice as horrendous as Christ’s.” When we fell, we *fell*.



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Henry

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:49 pm


So many posts here, and so few that recognize the difference between occasional sin and obstinate heterodoxy (or heresy). If, indeed, Msgr. Clark is guilty as charged, he is guilty of a fall from grace. Who has not been?
Surely the fact that he might sin in the future — and who among us of whatever stripe can preclude that possibility? — should not have precluded his speaking out against persistent positions or lifestyles that are contrary to the teachings of the Church.
As Fr. Ethan said, “this does not compare in any way to homosexual activity or pedophilia among priests. It is not the same thing.” Is there anyone here who cannot understand the difference between occasional sin (however serious) on the part of an apparently orthodox priest and obstinately disordered behavior on the part of an apparently heterodox priest? Nor how illogical it is to charge an occasional sinner with hypocrisy when he upholds the teachings of the Church? What should he do? Preach sin from the pulpit simply because he himself might someday fall prey to it?



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Simon

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:49 pm


Liberal priest found to be violating his vows of celibacy by carrying on sexual affair with gay man: “Dirtbag! Such are the fruits of liberalism and dissent.”
Conservative priest found (presumably) to be violating his vows of celibacy by carrying on sexual affair with married woman (who has children): “Well, hang on. Priests are only human. Mankind is a fallen race. Since when did we ever have the right to expect more out of priests?”
This is all very, very instructive.

Nice straw man, Rod.
I haven’t seen a single poster attempt to excuse what Msgr. Clark has done (except one or two who have noted that the allegations haven’t been proven). Neither has anyone denied that it’s more serious for a priest to do what he has done than for a lay person. Is anyone here defending or excusing this guy’s behavior?
What most people have said is that we are not shocked by this behavior as though we were puritanical naifs who can’t even imagine that a priest who believes and preaches what the Church believes could do such a thing.
Human beings are complex. That’s not an excuse or an attempt to treat “conservative” offenders differently from “liberal” ones. It’s just an observation of reality.



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Todd

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:49 pm


“Curious how Todd seems to have especially keen insights into everyone else’s politics. Does being a self-identified “liberal” come with a crystal ball?”
Hardly. But “heterodox” and “orthodox” are quickly becoming buzz words rather than accurate identifiers of a person’s sympathies. You were the one, Rich, to first use “heterodox” in this thread, I believe. I have no concern over your real or potential political sensibilities, but anyone can use PC-speak. And usually they do.
“When did “cons” ever say or imply that orthodox priests don’t have temptations? That they are never hypocrites?”
Possibly Rick Santorum? The good senator more than implied scandal had its source in liberalism.



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Thom

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:50 pm


“I think you guys and gals are jumping to conclusions. Nothing has been substantiated.”
What HAS been substantiated is this: Clark exercised profoundly stupid judgment; he has embarassed his Archdiocese and his cardinal; he has lived what, by any casual measure, is an extravagant lifestyle in a $2 million home and paid his assistant an eye-popping salary; he has not stinted in his condemnation of those who do not toe the line on sexual morality; he has been photographed leaving a motel with an attractive woman, wearing different clothes than when he entered the same motel several hours earlier. He also took this woman on Caribbean vacations. And she lied to her husband about her whereabouts that day.
Oh: they also registered for the room under assumed names.
I’m sure it was all perfectly innocent. Just a big misunderstanding.
As I understand it, the literal translation of “monsignor” is “My Lord.”
My Lord? Yeah. Right.



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BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:50 pm


Mark Shea,
Thanks for the clarification guy.
Cheers.



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Julia

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:55 pm


“this does not compare in any way to homosexual activity or pedophilia among priests. It is not the same thing. All the good priests will be relieved that any priest, who violates his promises, “partner” is a woman.”
Beg your pardon, Father, but this woman is married and a mother. He and she have hurt innocent people. How is this less sinful than consensual homosexual activity with another single man?



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hieronymus

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:55 pm


It no way compares to the degree of evil that homosexual activity and pedophilia is.
I may be wrong here, but isn’t adultery a worse sin than homosexual activity? The latter violates nature, but the former violates a sacrament.
And since nobody else has taken me up on the query, I’ll ask it myself:
Is it good for priests (whether liberal or conservative) to become television personalities and socialites – “clerical celebrities” or whatever. I really don’t know the answer. I know there are fine examples like Fulton Sheen, and that nearly all of the priests on EWTN are exemplary – but when a clerical celebrity like Ken Roberts or Eugene Clark becomes subject of scandal, the fact that he has a “fan base” makes the matter much more embarassing, and I find myself wondering whether those hours in front of the television camera, all the speeches at conferences and fundraisers, and the media attention helped to breed vanity, a sense of entitlement, a mental distinction between “public” life and “private” life.
How can we be more careful in which priests we choose to make famous, and how do we keep that fame from corrupting them?



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Patrick Rothwell

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:56 pm


“Everyone knows that Catholic priests are bound by oath to celibacy. A man who publicly presents himself as an obedient Catholic priest (especially on television, in fancy clericals) presents himself as a celibate. If he isn’t, then of course he’s a hypocrite!”
I think this is the strongest argument in favor of hypocrisy. In fact, I think you may be right, though that depends precisely “what” he intends to communicate by appearing in public. Does he, every time that he appears in public in clericals, in fact intend to deceive people into believing that he lives in chaste celibacy? That may indeed be true. On the other hand, there is a difference between that hypocritical intention versus simply having the affair, but hoping not to get caught, when if he abruptly resigned from the ministry, he would in effect be “caught.” From a traditional standpoint, I think the most important issue is sacrilege, but that’s not what gets most people worked up over something like this.
No matter how one slices it, its all bad news, assuming that the allegations are true. And, I do share Rod’s disgust about conservatives making excuses for the sins of conservatives, but excoriating the sins of liberals without mercy. The orgy of rejoicing at Weakland’s fall was quite digusting, as is the gleeful rubbing of hands hoping that several Cardinals turn out to be morally compromised in some way.
A non-ideological and even-handed approach towards these problems would be welcome, though my approach would probably be quite different from Rod’s.



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Katherine

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:56 pm


this is the first I’ve heard of homosexual acts being considered an objectively worse sins then adultery. what’s the theological basis for that?
it’s not so much hypocrisy as showing so much compassion and excuse for yourself (and the right sort of person), and so little compassion for others (especially if they’re the wrong sort of person), in response to very similar sins.



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Rich Leonardi

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:57 pm


Todd,
I used the word “heterodox” to clarify what Amy wrote. But given that you are (1) liberal, which is legitimate from a Catholic point of view, and (2) heterodox (see the discussion of women’s “ordination” on Curt Jester’s blog), which isn’t, it doesn’t surprise me that you’d rather keep the terms “liberal” and “conservative” on a superficial level. They make better brickbats that way.



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Mark Shea

posted August 11, 2005 at 3:59 pm


Hmmm…
As is my custom, I seem to be getting it from both sides today. Reading over Joel, it appears that my sin, according to him, is being pissed at the Msgr for his gross sin and hypocrisy. According to Joel, the need for preachers to condemn people is so huge that ” If they fail to live up to the standards they espouse, so what?” So apparently I am being way to hard on the good philandering Monsignor.
But then Rod seems to also have me in mind when he declares that the gist of the thead is: “Well, hang on. Priests are only human. Mankind is a fallen race. Since when did we ever have the right to expect more out of priests?”
I don’t recall saying anything like “Since when did we ever have the right to expect more out of priests?” In fact, I recall saying several times that the monsignor committed a grave sin and was an appalling hypocrite. That’s what got me in trouble with Joel, who is, as far as I can tell, the only person on the thread whose response to the Msgr’s actions is “So what?” Somehow I don’t think he represents the ordinary Catholic.



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Joel

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:00 pm


Mark,
Maybe I misinterpreted your intentions. It just seemed that you were using Clark’s situation to make all priests look bad and seem like hypocrites, and that they have no right to speak up on morality. And doing that would just be playing into Satan’s hands as he seeks to destroy the church, and all of us as well. Hope you understand. I apologize if I did misunderstand you.



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Jeff

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:00 pm


Todd, Todd. Can’t you get anything right?
Santorum said that ONE scandal had its source in “liberalism” or was abetted by it. Right or wrong (I think he was foolish and probably wrong too), there’s no implication that that’s the only possible source for scandal, just that scandal is more likely given certain environments and opinions.
Nazis killing people is in part due to Nazism, right? Nazism provides a fertile context for killing. But people who declare “Thou shalt not kill” kill too, sometimes. That doesn’t mean the followers of Moses are the same as Nazis, or that they shouldn’t point out the evils of Nazism! Sigh….



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BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:02 pm


Speaking for myself the only “joy” I felt over Weakland’s fall is the joy of knowing he can no longer spread his heterodox claptrap and harm souls. OTOH Clark’s fall means scandel for those who value the truth & the spread of the truth over and against Weakland’s watered down Catholicism. Also it means Clark’s hypocracy poisons his correct teachings on matters of sexual morality.



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Dawson

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:06 pm


ROD, you’re setting up a straw man argument.
A goggle search of “Rod Dreher+dirtbag” finds you hurling the epithet, as you did here about the cruising homosexual priest in Florida. “Well, I’ll agree that there’s no reason to assume these people were mentally ill, and I don’t. I assume they are just bad men. What I don’t get is your willingness to empathize with this dirtbag who has treated your own flesh and blood so horribly. If my sister’s husband had done that to her, I’d take a baseball bat and beat the crap out of him. Except I wouldn’t get the chance to, because my dad would have gotten to him first.”
People who are not shocked by the Clark thing also see the Fall in the behavior of the Florida priest. It is you who calls out “dirtbag” to homosexual and heterosexal sin.



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ajb

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:06 pm


I wish the Monsignor would just admit what he did and move on. I think we all know where this is headed, and there are only two possible outcomes.
1) The monsignor of his longtimesecretary fesses us, in which case his present denials simply serve to throw another Commandment into play; or
2) They both continue to deny that anything happened during those five hours in the motel or on the vacation, and he continues to look ridiculous.



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Patrick Rothwell

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:07 pm


Dennis,
I am referring to his implication that have sex scandals in the Church because the Church permitted homosexually-inclined people into the seminary, not that God ought to forgive clerical sex abusers, which is certainly true. Katherine said it better than I could: “showing so much compassion and excuse for yourself (and the right sort of person), and so little compassion for others (especially if they’re the wrong sort of person), in response to very similar sins.”
Someone mentioned Fulton Sheen. IIRC, according to Thomas Reeves’ biography, a jealous husband also claimed that Sheen committed adultury with his wife whom he spent a great deal of time with. However, the charges were never proven and the implication in the biography was that the charges were probably not true, though Sheen’s discretion in this case wasn’t particularly good. Interesting parallel.



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Simon

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:08 pm


Possibly Rick Santorum? The good senator more than implied scandal had its source in liberalism.
Todd, Yes he did more than imply that. And what — maybe 5 out of 100 commentators here, most of whom could be broadly categorized as “conservative,” agreed with him?
Not exactly convincing evidence that we are more willing to excuse “conservative” clerics than “liberal” ones.



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Mark Shea

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:10 pm


Patrick (and Rod):
For what it’s worth, my response to Weakland’s resignation was basically the same as my response to Law’s and this one: “I’m glad he’s gone. Let’s move on.” If you go over my archives you will not find gloating for a simple reason: I think gloating over the fall of somebody is a sin and a very grave danger to the soul. I tend to reserve my gloating for things that I don’t really think matter all that much (like the outcome of the ’04 elections or the World Series). But in matters that really do involve the possible fate of a soul, I think one tempts hellfire to gloat. So I would appreciate not being numbered among the “You all gloat when a liberal sins and falls” scenario. I’ve been forgiven way too many sins to piss my chance for mercy away by rejoicing over the potential damnation of a soul. There are people I deeply dislike and disagree with, but to *hope* and rejoice over their downfall and damnation is a thought that fills me with dread. I want justice for jerks as much as the next guy, but I hope and pray that justice will lead to mercy and salvation, not everlasting shame.



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BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:14 pm


I wouldn’t bet money on the outcome being Fr. Clark really didn’t sleep with this woman.
Granted I suppose it’s a very very very very very remote possiblity he “has been photographed leaving a motel with an attractive woman, wearing different clothes than when he entered the same motel several hours earlier. He also took this woman on Caribbean vacations. And she lied to her husband about her whereabouts that day.
Oh: they also registered for the room under assumed names” and yet still didn’t sleep with her. But then that must mean he is the stupidest person in the whole world. It would be like me going down to the market trying to buy something while wearing a ski mask & holding a toy gun and then telling the cops I didn’t intend to rob anybody! Not very bright if this fellow is innocent.



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Father Ethan

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:15 pm


hieronymus says, “I may be wrong here, but isn’t adultery a worse sin than homosexual activity? The latter violates nature, but the former violates a sacrament.”
First of all, I was looking at all the sexual sins on the natural level. Certainly, adultary is a violation of a sacrament. However, Jesus ministered to the Samaritan woman at the well who committed adultary with several husbands and forgave her of her sins. In regards to pedophilia, Jesus says, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Regardless, St. Paul says, “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”



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Todd

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:16 pm


“Todd, Todd. Can’t you get anything right?”
I get lots of things right. Including ferreting out the use of PC-speak. I pick up the whiff of hypocrisy quite well, too.
“Santorum said that ONE scandal had its source in “liberalism” or was abetted by it.”
Some of us might say this is just another facet of the same scandal: the use of power and privilege for sexual gratification; the weak response from higher authority in the Church; the denial of wrongdoing from the perpetrator (which might be a premature thing to say; I’m willing to wait and see).
Rich, nice try, but I wouldn’t consider Curt J’s ADD-inspired conversations to peg someone as heterodox or otherwise. I’m still a Catholic, and unless you jump ship, you’re still stuck with me as a brother, as I am with you, bro.
I sympathize with the dismay of EWTN-fans. But it’s better to seek holiness on the model of Christ and the saints rather than charismatic (blue-eyed, suave, smooth-talking?) gurus who say the right kick-butt things about people we dislike.



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Mark Shea

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:16 pm


Joel:
You did misunderstand me–badly. I forgive you.



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Jeff

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:19 pm


Hieronymus:
Well, priests who engage in homosexual acts violate nature AND a sacrament.
I think your point is well taken, though, and worthy of pondering.
But something else that needs reflection is this: Down throught the ages, there has been something about homosexuality that Christians have found unusually horrifying. There’s a reason why sodomy is one of the Sins Crying out to Heaven for Vengeance.
We have had that sense of cringing horror sapped out of us by secular culture. We’re afraid to make people feel bad or be accused of “homophobia.”
But homosexuality, especially of the male kind, seems to have something missionary and virulent about it. Look how fast we’ve moved from tolerance (which is fine) to acceptance (which is not fine) to enforced praise and “celebration” (which is hideous) to equality and “Gay Marriage” (which is an utter disaster) to arrest and jailing of people who dare to call homosexual acts sin (which is beyond words.) Homosexual culture has taken over seminaries and whole dioceses with anyone who challenges it being driven out or underground.
Imagine a homosexual who says modestly, “I understand the two thousand year old tradition of the Church. I quite see how the mechanics of gay relations might seem unnatural and repugnant. I respect that. But let me say why I think there is room for a change in attitude.” If I heard such a person, I would be floored! Nope, all we get is howling about “homophobia” and such like nonsense.
These guys (activists and apologists, not people with temptation or inclination, if it needs to be said) aren’t carefully and respectfully proposing a huge change that they see is counter-intuitive. They are ranting and playing the “hate” card. They don’t want to live in peace. They want to be in control.
I think traditional attitudes about homosexuality aren’t cranky prejudices but rather bearers of a certain wisdom that recognizes the thing as a deep sickness and a vital threat to society.
Warning: Do not read this if you live in Canada. You might get arrested!



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Patrick Rothwell

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:20 pm


“It is you who calls out “dirtbag” to homosexual and heterosexal sin.”
Well, at least Rod is consistent in calling everyone a dirtbag!
Though, it is dangerous for someone to scream “dirtbag” and “foul sinner!” at a drop of a hat since several years down the road, the shoe very well may be on the other foot for some reason. When that happens, one may realize that hurling such insults was not the most humane thing to do. Shylock’s plaintive plea “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” ring slighly hollow after demanding a pound of flesh.



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Julia

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:23 pm


Father:
Your original comment said nothing about minors.
In your response, are you saying that God forgives adulterers but he doesn’t forgive pedophiles – so adultery isn’t so bad?
Also to another poster: what does the state of the secretary’s marriage have to do with the sin of adultery? I did a lot of family law and it seems you’re mixing up fault in divorce law with moral law. (I’m assuming that New York still requires proof of who the bad guy is in a divorce case)



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Father Ethan

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:26 pm


I said “pedophiles” and that means violating a minor.
AND I never said adultery is not as bad. I said that homosexual activity is worse.



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Cheeky Lawyer

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:30 pm


I don’t want my comments in the other thread to be taken as saying that this isn’t horrible, scandalous, hypocritical, etc. It is. This guy shouldn’t have been having an affair with the secretary (if he was, and I think he was). He shouldn’t have remained in such a high position. He should go to a monastery and make amends. His homilies while substantively right should never have been spoken while he was engaged in such behavior. He should have been lying low and he should have turned from sin.
But what I was saying was that I just am not that shocked by this.
And what of the liberal/conservative thing. Because of the allure of sin I might well have been engaging in schadenfreude. But I know of another priest, who is liberal, who has a long time concubine and while it enrages me it doesn’t enrage me because he is liberal, it enrages me for the same reason Clark’s betrayal does and to the same degree. But I also don’t believe he has ceased to believe in God. I believe he’s (this other priest) human and a sinner and that he suffers from the same temptations that we all do.
And I also think there is a sense in which this is worse than a priest betraying his vows with another adult male. This woman has a husband. Clark married them for crying out loud.
I also find it almost as scandalous as his sexual behavior that Clark receives such a nice stipend and owns a $2.0 million home. I know he has no vow of poverty but he should be living a deeper spirit of poverty which would have necessary manifestations in his daily life.



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BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:31 pm


I think Tradition might teach that having gay sex is an objectively worst sin than having illicit straight sex (I could be wrong). But it is undenyable that all truely repented homosexuals will go to Heaven while all obstantly unrepentent fornicators will go to Hell.
BTW don’t ask me to idenitfy who is which. That is up to God alone.



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anon

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:34 pm


O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church: Grant it love and the light of Your Spirit and give power to the words of priests so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance and return to You, O Lord.
Lord, give us holy priests; You Yourself maintain them in holiness. O Divine and Great High Priest, may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them from the devil’s traps and snares which are continually being set for the souls of priests. May the power of Your mercy, O Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests, for You can do all things. I ask You, Jesus, for a special blessing and for light for the priests before whom I will make my confessions throughout my lifetime. Amen.
Jesus, Fortress of mankind,
You are Immaculate as God and Man!
Bless me with Your infinite graces,
That I may remain in a state of purity.
Strengthen my body, spirit and soul
To continually reflect Your chastity.
Protect my soul in its daily struggles,
Guiding it to ponder on Your Godliness.
Defend me from the forces of evil,
Those that seek to acquire my soul:
I am truly Yours forever and ever.
Holy is my King, the Conqueror of sin!



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Katherine

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:37 pm


Could someone clarify “sin against nature”? It obviously doesn’t mean: sin against the world as it exists, as homosexuality is part of nature, having been exhibited by humans for ages and apparently animals too. If it specifically means: “because nature intends the species to continue and homosexuals won’t procreate”, well, as far as whether the species continues chastity and homosexuality are equally non-procreative. Among species that reproduce sexually, If it just means: “gross and weird”, well, that’s not much basis to me for elevating above adultery. If it means: “sin against the world as God intended it” or “sin against natural law” then adultery and really all mortal sins are equally so.
I know the idea of a sin against nature goes back a ways, though; I remember the Inferno. So what’s the concept?
Isn’t it possible that homosexuality is strongly condemned because it’s a sin that’s incredibly easy for someone who’s heterosexual to avoid? Certainly, many of the forms that the condemnation has taken have been harmful in themselves.
Fortunately Canada’s speech laws are quite unconstitutional here, and liberal as well as conservative judges would agree. Judicial review has its advantages.
To the extent that people were only saying that pedophilia is a worse crime than adultery, and were not talking about consensual adult sexuality, I entirely agree and withdraw my questions.



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Peggy

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:39 pm


At 2:39 Rich Leonardi used “schadenfreude” (spelling?). This is getting to be an obligatory word on a comment threads these days! ;^)
As far as the topic goes, I think it may be true that we’d think liberalism was the cause if the clergyman weren’t so stalwart-sounding from the pulpit. I guess clericalism and blindness to one’s own sin may be causes. Maybe he just doth protest too much, knowing and covering for his own sin? Heck, I don’t know.



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Father Ethan

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:42 pm


We need prayers. Thank you anon.
In regards to Cheeky Lawyer’s statement about the 2 million dollar home: I agree 100%.
Shortly after entering the seminary, I joked to my grandfather that I was going to buy a big black Cadillac. He said to me with a straight face that he had a priest friend who owned a Cadillac and left the priesthood with his house keeper.
Thanks for the reminder Cheeky Lawyer.



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Jon

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:44 pm


I purpose a restorative solution. It’s an old-fashioned idea. It’s called “reparation.”
Jezebel either reconciles with her husband, or divorces, in which case she agrees to a peaceful settlement (i.e., no knife tossing) which is “best for the kids” (now there’s a novel idea!) and if the marriage cannot be annuled, stays single. Either way, she makes a vow and begins attending daily Mass for the rest of her life.
Msgr. Clark sells the Hampton’s pad, gives the 2 million to the poor, joins Father Groeschel’s greyfriars, and begs for his food with them on the streets of New York.
This isn’t some local floozy running off with the country pastor. This impropriety, affair or not, has done incalcuable harm to the Church. Both Msgr. Clark and Mrs. DeFilippo knows this. They now have a chance to mend the fence in a way that will make it better and stronger than before. All it takes is a little integrity, fortitude, and penetential sorrow.



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chris K

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:46 pm


Has the Monsignor always lived a life of privilege? So often, the privileged learn about “image” while never connecting to the reality of their human nature…which has to be recognized to have the possibility to go as low as the next guy. Even if it comes to them later in life, they can learn to believe in the new image as well. So they publicly say what is expected to cover that “image”, connecting with those who easily fall for or need to be esteemed in their own false images (they called him the “mother theresa” of the rich – great fund raiser). I, myself, always found M. Clark to be rather priggish in his mannerisms and speech. That emphasized to me a certain separation from the street scene! Another consideration to perhaps be made (you know … if you can’t say anything nice..) is whether this is a “first offense”. I mean, did he go all the years of greatest “urgency” and cave only recently???!! Anyway, there was a discussion I listened to the other day on some Christian program that was emphasizing that most often, in the work place, if one allows for an emotional closeness to begin with, it usually always leads to something more. And, even at the emotional stage, it robs the rightful married partner of that part of the person that should be committed only to him/her.
Re: the liberal/conservative reaction, I remember feeling quite disappointed when, after reading the popular “Seven Story Mountain” about what was displayed as an exceptional conversion, drawing a man into the “courtyard of the Queen of Heaven”, and then later reading “The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton”. Most of the remarks I’ve heard over all these years have fallen into the category of “oh well, it just put a human face on a monk…or it made him more real.” His “wisdoms” are still used today even at conservative retreats. And he was a teacher of novices. I don’t see that his own “escapades” were all that different…just without the dough and classier surrounds. And that even to today the man has been considered to be a Catholic role model in a Catholic basic teachings book. So, go figure. And it’s not that one was better known in some circles than the other. It’s often “how” the man comes across..and some are more clever than others!
Since M. Clark has said that he knew he wanted to be a priest since he was a little boy, these days at least, there is something to M. Angelica’s insistence that her seminarians should have had a serious relationship with a woman, considering marriage. Then, they actually experience the sacrifice of their decision and know what it entails. I suppose there are exceptions like Fr. Groeschel!



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Donie

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:47 pm


Katherine: this is the first I’ve heard of homosexual acts being considered an objectively worse sins then adultery. what’s the theological basis for that?
As one act is ordered towards procreation whereas the other has as much chance of yielding newborn life as two bicycles I think that’s a reasonably stupid question!



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Father Ethan

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:48 pm


Katherine,
What sin against nature means is that it violates God’s intention when he created the world.
Thomas Aguinas says in the Summa, “I answer that, As stated above (A6,9) wherever there occurs a special kind of deformity whereby the venereal act is rendered unbecoming, there is a determinate species of lust. This may occur in two ways: First, through being contrary to right reason, and this is common to all lustful vices; secondly, because, in addition, it is contrary to the natural order of the venereal act as becoming to the human race: and this is called “the unnatural vice.” This may happen in several ways. First, by procuring pollution, without any copulation, for the sake of venereal pleasure: this pertains to the sin of “uncleanness” which some call “effeminacy.” Secondly, by copulation with a thing of undue species, and this is called “bestiality.” Thirdly, by copulation with an undue sex, male with male, or female with female, as the Apostle states (Rm. 1:27): and this is called the “vice of sodomy.” Fourthly, by not observing the natural manner of copulation, either as to undue means, or as to other monstrous and bestial manners of copulation.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:49 pm


It’s easy for a liberal not to be a hypocrite when a liberal teaches only that we ought to judge no one. Honestly, ought the message to be drawn from this be that no one should proclaim loudly the teaching of the Church? Clark is a hypocrite and a disgrace, but at least he had the decency not to try to change Church teaching in order to accommodate his sexual vices.



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Katherine

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:55 pm


but doesn’t all sin violate God’s intention when he created the world? How is this any more true of homosexuality than it is of adultery?
And people have always told me that the idea that it’s the odds of procreation that determine the morality of sex is a distortion of Church teaching. And I would assume that most acts of adultery also include contraception.
I assume this: ” by procuring pollution, without any copulation, for the sake of venereal pleasure: this pertains to the sin of “uncleanness” which some call”
is a reference to masturbation. Do you believe that to be a more serious sin than adultery?
And all of this would have to outweigh the harm to the spouse and children.



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Dave P.

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:59 pm


“… homosexuality is part of nature, having been exhibited by humans for ages and apparently animals too.”
Maybe it’s because I love animals, but, Lord, how I hate this dumbass trope. It never fails to get trotted out when the discussion of what’s natural and what’s not is at hand.
Look, show me two males of any non-human species who do what gay men do to one another — buggery — and I’ll show you two drugged and humanly coerced animals. A ram that humps another ram is neither penetrating that other ram nor is it any more “gay” than a dog that humps your leg is a humanlegosexual. I can’t for the life of me understand why otherwise smart people don’t see this distinction.



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mh

posted August 11, 2005 at 4:59 pm


I can’t get past the match up of this 46-yr-old woman – who apparently can wear micro shorts without eliciting snickers – and this 79-yr-old priest, who dresses like George Burns in the movie, “Oh,God.” Is this a set-up?
And, why/how does a priest in New York, EWTN connections notwithstanding, have so much money (if what’s been written here is accurate)?



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Steve M.

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:01 pm


I find blog comments to be interesting, perhaps even instructive, but they can easily spin off into side topics and extreme positions. Among his former parishoners at St. Agnes (and others who are acquainted with Msgr. Clark), based on my conversations over the last two days, there is shock and sadness. There is concern expressed for the wounded children and their father. There is caution about our inability to know all the facts at this point, coupled with a recognition that the known facts are terrible. I have not heard any excuses for Msgr. Clark, although I have heard people speak of their intent to pray for him and everyone else involved. In my own case, I am too sad at this point to offer anything useful on the topic of the “another conservative hypocrite” line. “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1)



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Dan Crawford

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:03 pm


God does have a sense of humor, especially at the expense of the self-righteous dazzled by their own self-righteousness.
Has anyone thought that perhaps part of the problem and the scandal when stories like these appear is exacerbated by the Catholic tendency to believe that their clergy are paragons of perfection instead of sinners like everyone else? Many clergy begin to believe they are paragons of perfection – even godlike – and convince the rest of us to believe they are. Then we discover that their sins are as venal, and fleshly and pathetic as our sins, and we are shocked, and angry, and even think our faith is threatened. Perhaps we will all begin to grow up – and perhaps we will be considerably more careful about whom we permit to take orders. Perhaps. But I wouldn’t bet on it.



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kathleen reilly

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:04 pm


“Surely the fact that he might sin in the future — and who among us of whatever stripe can preclude that possibility? — should not have precluded his speaking out against persistent positions or lifestyles that are contrary to the teachings of the Church.”
Actually I think orthodoxy can be dangerous for the following reason: harping on orthodoxy and its necessity may predispose one to violating it. I have observed repeatedly that one often becomes precisely what one is trying hardest to avoid becoming (given the accusations and the substance of Clark’s preaching — “Relationships” indeed! — that certainly seems to be the case here). Orthodoxy can become a attitude of willful/prideful stubbornness that can PREVENT a surrender to God (and without such surrender, one can’t lead a grace-filled life). Perhaps that is why often the most grace-filled characters in fiction … and umm, the New testament … are heathens/sinners (e.g. “just say the word and she will be healed”)
oh, it’s also harder to lead a grace-filled life when one has a vacation house in the hamptons. sorry, just my humble opinion. which is why, maybe, RC clergy shouldn’t. own. houses. in the hamptons.



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amy

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:05 pm


I keep throwing this into the thread, although no one seems to be catching it – the 2 mil. house has been owned by Clark for 46 years, which tells me it was probably in his family, or he bought it when property values were much lower than they are now out there. And believe me, I’m no shill for Lifestyles of the Ordained and Infamous, but owning the home doesn’t necessarily mean he spent 2 mil for it. It’s highly unlikely.



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Sydney Carton

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:05 pm


You know, one thing that bothers me about this but which hasn’t been much discussed is that there’s a 14 year old girl, the daughter of this woman, who allegedly saw her mother in a sexy nightgown sitting on this man’s lap. She was pressured into keeping silent, and now everything blows up in her face.
This girl’s childhood and innocence has been ruined. Add another name to the list.



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Katherine

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:06 pm


btw, I am not Catholic (I was brought up with no particular religion and am in the process of converting to Judaism) and am deliberately trying to discuss this on the Church’s terms rather than my own to gain a better understanding of the teachings. (I am happy to explain what I think if people are interested but I suspect you’ve heard it all before and it would not be of much interest or use, so I’d just as soon not. I don’t want to deceive people into thinking I am an orthodox Catholic though, because I’m not.)



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Father Ethan

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:06 pm


Katherine,
We are talking about two very different, although very important things: the object and intent; and the consequences. The morality of human acts depend on these three things. The consequences of adultery is the harm done to the spouse and their children. But the object (adultery) and intent (usually pleasure) is what I was talking about. You were thinking of the consequences of the act of commiting adultury.



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chris K

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:07 pm


P. S. to my other comment above…from that rather popular book, “He and I”: “Who is pure? There are only sinners or those who have been purified. Woe to people who pride themselves on not yielding to a temptation that never bothered them.”
Even in great personal “gotcha” humiliations, where one experiences his own fall from great heights, is the Hand of Love/Mercy…to turn one around and perhaps create a soul, in the end, more closely united in truth, to Him Who sacrificed for such sinners (all of us).



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amy

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:10 pm


Kathleen:
I think the dynamic, more often, works the other way around. I think that when people preach very loudly about a certain issue or from a certain angle, it indicates a great struggle. Most priests, one of them once told me, are preaching to themselves, in the end. Sometimes they listen, and sometimes…they don’t.



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Celine

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:10 pm


Jeff says,”Man who says Catholic sexual morals in need of ‘reexamination’ caught violating them: ‘Maybe his beliefs had something to do with his actions.’”
Man who preaches Catholic sexual morals caught violating them: ‘At least he didn’t tell us it was okay.’
Sorry, Jeff: Man how preaches Catholic sexual morals caught violating them: “Why believe what he say when he doesn’t practice what he preaches?”
The conservative righteous, so deluded into thinking that their “right thinking” cannot result in evil, conveniently forget that Christ regarded the hypocrit Pharisees much lower than the heterodox Samaritans.



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c matt

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:11 pm


How would you like to find out that your lovely 46-year old wife has been stepping out with a 79 year old geezer? That’s gotta hurt.
Pierre – spoken like a true Frenchman.



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Rod Dreher

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:11 pm


Amy: I keep throwing this into the thread, although no one seems to be catching it – the 2 mil. house has been owned by Clark for 46 years, which tells me it was probably in his family, or he bought it when property values were much lower than they are now out there. And believe me, I’m no shill for Lifestyles of the Ordained and Infamous, but owning the home doesn’t necessarily mean he spent 2 mil for it. It’s highly unlikely.
I wrote on the other Clark thread you have going here that the house is probably worth $2 million today, because property values in the Hamptons have gone through the stratosphere (it’s the playground of the rich and famous). A $2 million house in the Hamptons is probably just a simple cottage of the sort that would have cost relatively little 40 years ago. I wouldn’t read too much into the price of his cottage.



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DarwinCatholic

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:13 pm


“Were Clark ‘liberal’, and by that I assume you mean heterodox …”
Actually, that’s all conservative PC-speak. Cutting through it, a person can be liberal, moral, and a faithful Catholic. And in this case, one can be conservative, immoral, and heterodox, and even pretend not to be the latter two, and what do you get? A tv pulpit. I wonder what Fulton Sheen would think.

I don’t know that it’s intended to be PC-speak most of the time — speaking as one who on occasion gets lazy and does the same thing. Unfortunately, the lingo of politics has been applied to completely separate disagreements in our religion. Certainly, one may be politically liberal on many issues while being orthodox in one’s Catholicism. Similarly, one may be conservative on many political issues while being schismatic or dissenting in one’s Catholicism.
This is one of the ways in which our American two party system leads towards an unfortunate “dualism” for many Catholics. On the one hand, because “conservatism” is often associated with orthodoxy, conservatives often fail to remember that one may be politically progressive on many issues while being a good and faithful Catholic. Sadly, however, I’ve also known many cases where party loyalty gradually erodes the orthodoxy of otherwise faithful Catholics who are political liberals. I’ve known several otherwise faithful Catholics in my parish who have come around to supporting gay marriage, abortion, and a few other Democratic “hot button” issues out of party loyalty.



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Septimus

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:26 pm


I agree with Ben, above: he may be innocent of adultery, but in that case he’s incredibly stupid.
I tend not to want to rank grave sins, since any of them is sufficient, with all the prerequisites, and no repentance, to send one to hell.
But I think, in general, it’s fair to say there are more victims involved in adultery, especially if it contributes to the breakup of a marriage.
As to responsibility: both parties bear it, but in this case, assuming Msgr. Clark was in any way counseling or helping this woman in a problem–then he bears a greater responsibility. Not that it’s 100%/0%, but it’s not 50/50, either.



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Mark Shea

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:28 pm


The conservative righteous, so deluded into thinking that their “right thinking” cannot result in evil, conveniently forget that Christ regarded the hypocrit Pharisees much lower than the heterodox Samaritans.
Celine:
Actually right thinking *can’t* result in evil. However, ignoring right thinking can result in evil. So can obeying wrong thinking. The problem with the Pharisees was not their right thoughts. It was their wrong thoughts and wrong acions. When you put right thinking in scare quotes, you encourage the idea that there is not such thing as right thinking. There is. It’s just not a guarantee that right thinking will be followed by right action, or even by more right thinking.



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kathleen reilly

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:29 pm


A $2 million house in the hamptons (esp. amagansett as opposed to ritzier east hampton) is still a pretty darn nice house. simple cottage? only if REALLY close to the beach. as in, on the beach. he is also paying considerable taxes on it. still, even if just a fortuitous family investment, there is the strong odor of social climbing on the part of the secretary — and showing-off on his part — that adds to the distastefulness.



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Father Ethan

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:36 pm


I agree with Rod. My grandfather bought a house in Chatham on Cape Cod for $20,000 in 1962. Last year it was sold for $1.6 million and it isn’t even in the right side of town. Msgr. Clark probably bought the cottage when he was a young priest and because it is in the Hamptons, which is more valuable than a house in Chatham, it has appreciated over the years to a very high value. Don’t read to much into it.



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Jeff

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:38 pm


Celine:
Touche! Good job.
But…
St. Paul says, Alas for me, I know what I should do, but I do it not. He doesn’t say, Hey, I’m no worse than you; leave me alone!
Hypocrites who hide what they do out of shame and because they know it’s wrong are in a different category from those who pretend to believe something and keep on trotting it our for money or comfort even though they don’t believe it. If Clark was doing the latter, it considerably worsens things.
Even the Pharisaical approach is a sign of a certain societal health. To be “heterodox” is not necessarily to be a scoundrel. To openly embrace wickedness is to be a scoundrel. The GOOD Samaritan, after all, was GOOD. He didn’t justify sinful behavior and justify it on the basis of heterodoxy, he exhibited virtue.
And Jesus recognized the authority of the Saducees and Pharisees, he just told people not to IMITATE them.
So there! Good point, but ultimately not right, I submit.
Better an honest hypocrite who hides his behavior out of shame and knows it wrong than one who says, “Why am I on this guilt trip? I’m only human after all. Those mean people who want to make me feel bad are no better than I am. This is just a healthy expression of my sexuality.”
OF COURSE that doesn’t mean that the Hypocrite is a Saint! But most of us partake of hypocrisy to some extent. If we decide to give up trying to be good because we sometimes fail and hide it, we are doing worse, not better.



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Donald R. McClarey

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:46 pm


Sin is sin whether it is committed by the orthodox or the heterodox. Msgr. Clark, if the allegations are true, has the additional sin of hypocrisy because of his clerical state and because of his preaching. Of course his current sin in no way makes his prior preaching either true or false. I hope that he, and if the allegations are true, his paramour, come to true repentance, be absolved, and amend their lives. That is what I pray for all sinners, including, of course, myself.



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Rod Dreher

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:47 pm


Hey, here’s what an idiot I am. From The Corner, February 23, 2002:
MONSIGNOR EUGENE CLARK: [Rod Dreher] Just back in town tonight, and I hear that Monsignor Eugene Clark, the rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a real hero to New York’s orthodox Catholics, has caused quite a stir over the weekend with a fiery homily that made a point of discussing the homosexual aspect of the Church scandal. Imagine that, a Catholic priest teaching unpopular Catholic doctrine from the pulpit! Amazing. I wish Msgr. Clark had also taken out after clericalism, the other pillar of this scandal, but youcan’t have everything. I’m so grateful to the monsignor for having taken a brave stand in this tough city that I’m going to send last Sunday’s tithe to him, along with a thank-you note for being that all-too-rare creature: a Catholic priest with faith and guts. If you agree, write to the Monsignor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Rectory, 460 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022.
Won’t get fooled again.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:48 pm


Kathleen writes:
“Actually I think orthodoxy can be dangerous for the following reason: harping on orthodoxy and its necessity may predispose one to violating it. I have observed repeatedly that one often becomes precisely what one is trying hardest to avoid becoming”
According to this logic:
1. Father Clark should have had a homosexual relationship
2. JPII should have been a condom-using abortionist anti-semite
3. Mother Theresa should have been a greedy investment banker.
Your hypothesis does not seem to be confirmed by the evidence.



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stuart chessman

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:50 pm


The question that has been posed is meaningless, given that “Liberal” and “conservative” are largely arbitrary distinctions in the first place. Men like Cardinal Law and the late John Paul II became “conservatives” only in the mind of liberals seeking an enemy to revolt against – and of “conservatives” seeking some authority figure to which they could rally. Their actual deeds and ideas don’t fit any definition of a conservative that I know of.
I hope and pray that Msgr. Egan can vindicate himself, but at the same time I am not surprised that this kind of thing can happen – especially here. For Msgr. Egan is above all a member of the New York clerical establishment. And the problem we face, especially in this Archdiocese, is not “dissent” but the souless bureaucracy, the empty and slovenly formalism of worship, the obsession with money, business and the material aspects of administering the Church. In this atmosphere an incredible carelessness in dealing with the world accompanied by creeping moral laxity become pervasive. I don’t need to mention some of the scandals of the last few years involving other members of the Gotham clerical establishment.
This spiritual vacuum, where a “Church of the bookkeepers” exists only to provide spiritual and material services to its “clients” is the real killer. And this poisonous situation was directly and immediately the result of the last Council, which institutionalized and made universal the bad tendencies of the prior thirty five years or more.
Yet I am distressed to read the above criticisms of Msgr. Clark. Much that he did I could not agree with: aspects of his fund raising activity, the conduct of the liturgy at St. Patrick’s, his unsuccessful rebuilding of St. Agnes, etc. Yet, epecially from the perspective of the “conservative” posters here, he did much more would have been expected for a politically connnected member of the institutional church. He did not need to make ST. Agnes an island of liturgical and theological conservatism – even with an opening to Tradionalism – yet he did it. He did not need to stick his neck out regarding our scandals and their causes when the US hierarchy cowered in silence – yet he did. Appearing on EWTN would not seem to advance one’s status in the clerical establishment – but he did it. Now when he is down, instead of offering support, his former friends jump on him. Shame!!



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kathleen reilly

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:50 pm


Amy, I agree with you in that I totally believe Clark was preaching to himself when he spoke about how lousy adultery was. He was probably agonizing about it, and was fully aware of his hypocrisy, etc… I guess my point is, if so called “right thinking” (or as the case may be “right preaching”) can’t PREVENT evil, then let’s not over-privilege it, or people who obviously and often exhibit it.



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HP

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:51 pm


If the accusers of the adulterous woman thought they couldn’t be outed about themselves
she’d have been under a rockpile, but for some reason they didn’t want to challenge Jesus about what He might know about them…(there’s something about this guy that would make it too
risky, and I’ll be exposed in front of everyone
…so and so’s husband is here too…no way…I’ll get the rocks myself.



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kathleen reilly

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:52 pm


reluctant,
consider the difference between “can be”, which is what i wrote, and “must be” which is what you enthusastically but incorrectly infer



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Donald R. McClarey

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:53 pm


“Won’t get fooled again.”
How Rod? Asked out of curiosity and not in an attempt to make a point.



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:54 pm


Again, most of you are missing the point.
Msgr. Clark has spent much of his adult and professional life in an atmosphere that inculcates institutional arrogance, isolates its members from the problems of the real world and gives them the impression that they aren’t accountable for anything they do. Most Catholic apologists (and I’m not necessarily talking about professional ones only) fail or refuse to understand that such behavior, while sinful, is a natural consequence of being raised professionally in such an atmosphere.
IOW, many monsignors and bishops act like spoiled little rich kids who expect people to ignore or excuse their problems merely because of their position. If not, their Sugar Daddies in the national bishops’ conferences or in Rome will protect them.
I know that last remark is a cheap shot. But ask yourselves this: Where has Rome been in the midst of all this corruption and malfeasance? Where is the Pope who correctly condemned the “filth” in the Church before his election?
I don’t expect Benedict or any Pope to involve himself personally in every single little clerical pecadillo. I do expect him, however, not only to establish basic standards of behavior but to crack down personally where appropriate.
The first place could be the national bishops conferences that look askance at the behavior of people like Clark, Geoghan, Shanley, Grahman, et al.
It seems to me that it shouldn’t take six months to do that.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:57 pm


“Won’t get fooled again.”
Please. You’re telling me you’re never going to praise someone public about their orthodoxy just because of the possibility that, one day, you might be made a fool of by their scandalous conduct? You were right to assume that he was not an adulterous scumbag when you wrote what you did. Wouldn’t it be a terrible injustice to assume that every right-speaking priest is like the foolish and hubristic Father Clark?



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Father Ethan

posted August 11, 2005 at 5:58 pm


Rod Dreher,
Why the bitterness? What makes you so special? Does anyone understand what salvation is all about? Isn’t Christ the Redeemer?



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anon

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:02 pm


Rod,
You weren’t an idiot. If Clark’s homily was correct, it was correct regardless of whether he himself lived up to it. And even if he was a spineless toad with respect to his own sex life, if he spoke a hard truth in his homily, he showed faith and guts in doing so.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:02 pm


“consider the difference between “can be”, which is what i wrote, and “must be” which is what you enthusastically but incorrectly infer”
If you are not making a causal connection then the ‘can be’ is absolutely meaningless. Do you have any evidence at all that people who proclaim the evils of some act are more likely to commit that act? If yes, then shouldn’t there be an epidemic of alcoholism among Mormons?



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reluctant penitent

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:09 pm


“I think that when people preach very loudly about a certain issue or from a certain angle, it indicates a great struggle. Most priests, one of them once told me, are preaching to themselves, in the end. Sometimes they listen, and sometimes…they don’t.”
I wonder whether this applies at all to Father Clark’s case. It doesn’t look like he was doing very much ‘struggling,’ except maybe when trying to get the shorts on. Besides, he was loudly preaching about homosexuality, not heterosexual adultery. It’s unfair to assume that whenever Father X preaches about the evils of Y it’s because he’d rather been doing Y. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.



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patrick

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:14 pm


just a note about the “2 million dollar house”,
of course there is a difference in 46 years, but in all the NY tabloids they show pictures of his “luxurious house” and it sure looks pretty nice. the fact that he can keep it up, pay the taxes on its assestment and live the good life in the hamptons would suggest he has lots of money! it doesn’t look like a fixer-upper.
i totally agree with the poster who says this has more to do with living the life of the privileged and how hard it is for the privleged to connect with reality. one could make a real case that this is much of the underlying problem in ministry. a more spartan life keeps one fit and in shape for a life of real service.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:15 pm


Let’s just hope that the Archdiocese does not end up paying millions because of this mess.



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kathleen reilly

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:17 pm


reluctant, let’s just say an epidemic of alcoholism among mormons wouldn’t surprise me.
smoking CAN cause lung cancer. smoking MUST cause lung cancer. the second statement is out and out wrong, but that doesn’t mean the first statement must be wrong also
still, to make you feel better:
hypocrisy is something that is rarely seen in the sweep of human history. it has not been written about in tragedies from ancient Greece to Shakespeare to the present day. monsignor clark is a one-off.



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Mark Shea

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:20 pm


Rod:
Your Corner entry tends to confirm my view that we have wildly different expectations of what “orthodoxy” signals. I appreciate a good homily with guts behind it. But it would never have occurred to me to conclude Clark was heroic for it, nor to respond by calling for a love offering for him.
For related reasons, I feel no impulse to swear “Won’t get fooled again” (a promise which, if it means anything at all, appears to mean, “I will live the rest of my life taking the most cynical possible view of every cleric I meet.”
I guess is the *polarity* of your reactions that mystifies me, Rod. Clark’s a giant among men! No! We can only assume the absolute worst of clergy!
Both these responses are just foreign to my makeup. To me, Clark preached a good sermon, but then acted like a horndog. I’m glad he’s gone, but the idea that this means I will never ever again extend normal human trust to any clergy makes no sense to me. What on earth has Fr. John Adams at Blessed Sacrament in Seattle done to deserve me saying to his face, “You won’t fool me again!” He’s a sweet guy, a fine priest, and good man. Doubtless he has his problems like all of us. But to say “I won’t be fooled again!” to him is to unjustly poison a relationship that manifestly does not deserve it.
If you mean “I won’t be fooled by Clark again” then you should really say that. As it is, your reaction basically sounds like you think it’s open season to poison every relationship with ever priest in the world because one has betrayed your trust. Not just the Church, no human society can function if everyone takes that attitude of fundamental hostility to each other.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:28 pm


Kathleen says:
“smoking CAN cause lung cancer. smoking MUST cause lung cancer. the second statement is out and out wrong, but that doesn’t mean the first statement must be wrong also”
OK. We have statistical evidence that smoking ‘can’ cause cancer–smokers are more likely to get cancer than non-smokers. You you have any evidence for your claim that people who claim that X is morally wrong are more likely to do X than those who do not claim that X is morally wrong?
“still, to make you feel better:
hypocrisy is something that is rarely seen in the sweep of human history. it has not been written about in tragedies from ancient Greece to Shakespeare to the present day. monsignor clark is a one-off. ”
This is not relevant to your claim that those who believe that X is morally wrong are more likely to do X.



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c matt

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:30 pm


Kathleen:
Your comment was more along the lines that preaching against smoking can cause lung cancer, or that the more MADD rail against drunk driving, the more likely they are to engage in it. That’s just nonsense.



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kathleen reilly

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:40 pm


c matt, which is it? the “preaching can cause lung cancer” or “MADD mothers drive drunk”? those are disparate comparisons.
if you insist on mischaracterizing what i’m saying, at least do so coherently.



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HA

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:42 pm


Note that Clark started out under Cardinal Spellman. Guilty or not, that might explain at least a few things in his bio.



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Rod Dreher

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:45 pm


Mark: I guess is the *polarity* of your reactions that mystifies me, Rod. Clark’s a giant among men! No! We can only assume the absolute worst of clergy! … [Y]our reaction basically sounds like you think it’s open season to poison every relationship with ever priest in the world because one has betrayed your trust. Not just the Church, no human society can function if everyone takes that attitude of fundamental hostility to each other.
These are very good points, Mark, and I want to explain what I meant. It is not the case that Msgr Clark’s betrayal made me cynical. It’s everything that has happened since I wrote that in 2002 that has made me untrusting. My comment above would be illuminated by this remark I posted on the earlier Amy thread about Msgr Clark. To set this up here, on this thread we were talking about why moral failure in certain key figures — policemen, soldiers and priests were the examples I used — counted for more than the same thing in ordinary people. I wrote (and I won’t put all these in italics, because a segment this long would be too hard to read):
[Begin quote]I wanted to make one more point off my previous post, this one about what it means when an orthodox priest pulls crap like this. We all know, or should know, that the profession of orthodoxy does not guarantee good behavior. Still, it’s natural to believe in orthodox priests (or laymen, like Deal Hudson) who put themselves out there as leaders of the orthodox. If you had to walk around distrusting everybody, you’d drive yourself crazy.
It is a serious shock to the system, then, to discover that priests who are on “your team” — by which I mean orthodox priests you’ve learned to trust — get into messes like this. A year ago, in an affair that was much chronicled and commented on here, my wife and I got involved in Our Lady of X. parish in the Dallas area. It was an orthodox parish pastored by an intelligent and orthodox pastor. It seemed to be a real refuge from the calamity befalling the general church. We felt we’d finally found a place of refuge. It was good not to be filled up with anger and suspicion at mass.
As you may recall, it turned out that the assistant priest of the parish, a publicly and articulately orthodox man, was not there in an official capacity, that he was on some sort of leave, and may have been officially suspended, by the Diocese of Scranton after he had been formally accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The pastor down here knew of the accusation against him, but let him work in the parish anyway, choosing to disbelieve them. The pastor hid from his bishop the fact that he was allowing this priest to work here, and he hid it from his congregation. I found out about it inadvertently, by catching the asst priest in a lie. Then it all unraveled. When the bishop found out about it, he ordered the asst priest sent away. Mind you, the asst priest has never been convicted of anything … but nor has he been cleared, and as such he had no business ministering in that parish, not after 2002.
Anyway, most of the parish rallied around their pastor. And that was that.
This was perhaps the most shocking thing my wife and I have gone through in three years of shocking revelations related to the scandal. Why? Because we had been foolish enough to trust the pastor because he was publicly orthodox (and indeed, none of his actions involved repudiating doctrine). We were fools. Still, it was deeply, deeply unnerving to us, because you’d think we of all people would have been able to see this coming. But we didn’t, because we trusted.
We have not recovered from this. I simply don’t know who to trust anymore in the Church. Had this happened to a liberal priest, it would have made more sense to me, and in any case I wouldn’t have taken it so personally because I wouldn’t have expected more out of him. But I had grown accustomed to trusting orthodox priests. Stupid me. Won’t make that mistake again.[end quote]

I have lost the ability to trust the Catholic clergy, in general. Which is a big problem for someone who calls himself a Catholic. Pray for me in my weakness.



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patrick

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:46 pm


i agree with D’hippolito there is a larger and deeper issue in all this. there is a tendency for the very structure to help someone disconnect from the ideals they talk about and there seems to be no real system of accountability. this is a very insidious process that alienates one from his own humanity that leads not just to hypocrisy but total trajedy in the long run.
in regards to listing greater sins and all…i find it is more helpful to see what the sin (whatever it is) leads us to? true conversion or more denial?
too much emphasis which is the greater sin can lead to the “elder brother” syndrome. (the brother of the prodigal) if our sins wake us up to return to the mercy of God and if in coming to know how much we are loved and forgiven then we start to love more because more has been forgiven….then alleluia! i will leave all the lists, tables of sins etc to the elder brothers to argue about while all the homosexuals, drunkards, murders and all are entering into the kingdom first!



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Pat Gonzalez

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:47 pm


I share the repugnance so many feel in the case of Msgr. Clark & his secretary. A while ago, I tuned in to his program and tuned out after about 10 minutes — found his delivery quite boring. Reading the articles about this situation, I felt for the woman’s family, especially their daughter. The children, once again, are the ones who suffer the most here. I found myself asking when on earth will this ever end? I suppose when all the “filth” has been purged — looks like it will take a long time. (And BTW, Jeff, I’m writing from Canada. As far as I know, it’s still legal to read material on the computer, so don’t be afraid to write to us from time to time (lol)…)



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SiliconValleySteve

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:47 pm


Any guy that invites a married woman (other than his wife of course) into a hot tub is looking for trouble.
Any guy that cavorts in a hot tub with a married woman while her daughter watches is a real creep.
It makes it worse that he is a priest because we are living in a time where many people are actively working to normalize every sort of sexual sin. This just gives ammunition to those who say that it is unrealistic to suppress such behavior. Its got nothing to do with liberal or conserative for me.
And by the way, any young woman that cavorts sexually with a 79 year old guy must have a screw loose.



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Jonathan Carpenter

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:49 pm


Yes what the Msgr. did is abominable and he should face any punishment warranted. His act should be codmemned from the highest rooftop! That being said, we should also condemn those who seem to use this, as well as any other scandal, to justify their utter bitterness and hostility towards any church authority good and bad! The type of scandal the Msgr. did has been going on since the founding of the church. Even with that did any one of the early martyrs trash their church and as a result abandon their faith? Of course not! Did Erasmus or St. Thomas More abandon their faith even in the midst of the scandals that followed the Reformation? NO! They stayed through the good times and bad, even as St. Thomas More did, pay for it with his life. Their example and the example of others spured the church to reform and to inspire many others to a life with Christ. True faith and love means giving completely of yourself and promoting reform in society by example. It is not done by cutting and running and joining in dogpilling because it is now en vogue.



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:51 pm


Mark, Fr. Ethan and others who feel confounded by Rod: Re-read these statements:
Imagine that, a Catholic priest teaching unpopular Catholic doctrine from the pulpit! Amazing.
I’m so grateful to the monsignor for having taken a brave stand in this tough city that I’m going to send … a thank-you note for being that all-too-rare creature: a Catholic priest with faith and guts.
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Rod’s experiences in reporting the clerical sex-abuse crisis knows the contempt (legitimate, I might add) Rod feels for the collective gutlessness of much of the institutional Church. Yet Rod is trying to be a good Son of the Church by looking for examples of courageous faith — examples that could be role models for his children, examples that could reinforce any hope he may have in Catholicism. That hope — nay, that desperation — is palpable in the italicized comments.
Mark, you’ve been married for about 20 years, right? Well, how would you feel if Jen came home one night and confessed to you that she had been indulging in extra-marital affairs for the past 10 years? Wouldn’t you feel profoundly betrayed? Wouldn’t you have difficulty trusting her again?
Granted, that’s a far more emotionally powerful and traumatizing situation. But it’s obvious that Rod feels betrayed by Clark, precisely because of Clark’s public positions. And, as many on this thread know, Rod has felt betrayed by many in the institutionalized Church whom he trusted.
I would think that a little compassion and empathy are appropriate instead of the reflexive defense of the Church as Institution that’s so typical among blogging Catholics.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:52 pm


So the Church is having an affair with his wife?



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Jonathan Carpenter

posted August 11, 2005 at 6:55 pm


Mr. Dreher said:
I have lost the ability to trust the Catholic clergy, in general. Which is a big problem for someone who calls himself a Catholic. Pray for me in my weakness.
I have lost the ability to trust the fourth estate, in general. This is because most of them seem to be no more than fiction writers. This is a big problem for someone who calls himself an informed citizen. May God give us the ability to find more people who are more than fiction writers.



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Jonathan Carpenter

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:02 pm


I feel sympathy and empathy towards the anger that people have towards the leaders of our church who have failed us. What bothers me are those who use this scandal and anything remotely negative to dogpile on everyone in the church and as a result cause us more problems than we need.



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Mark Shea

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:04 pm


Rod:
You know you have my prayers, friend. Your prayers, too, are greatly appreciated.



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Joel

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:05 pm


Mark,
Glad you made it clear you weren’t bashing the church in general when you bashed Clark. At least I hope that’s the case, otherwise I’d like to rescind my apology. I am condoning Clark’s actions and would feel very betrayed if the facts of the case are true. But what’d tick me off even more are those who’d use a priest’s fall from grace to smugly justify their beliefs that the church in general is not to be trusted and should not be setting moral standards.
No doubt there’s a spiritual warfare going on and the faithful need to rally to the defense of the church that Christ established and entrusted the keys of his kingdom to. Having deserters and betrayers in their midst shouldn’t keep members from sticking up for the church. Regardless of what happens, the Good Book shows that, in the end, we win.



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tcreek

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:08 pm


Ask yourself a question.
Are you happy or sad that this episode has taken place. If there is a sense of glee, as seems probable by some posts, are you not a greater sinner than the priest or the woman. . . and a bigger hypocrite?



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Joel

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:08 pm


I mean, I am NOT condoning Clark’s actions



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Chris Sullivan

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:10 pm


Mark Shea writes “To me, Clark preached a good sermon, but then acted like a horndog. I’m glad he’s gone”.
Umm, maybe I’m missing something here, but I thought Father Clark’s guilt was yet to be established and both he and the women were denying it.
Maybe it would be a good idea to refrain from judging them ?
From what I can tell, Patrick and Joseph D’Hippolito have a good point – it’s hard to live the gospel when you live in a pampered, sheltered, and (in some cases) a materially extravagent environment.
“It’s harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle”.
God Bless



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Joel

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:15 pm


Well said, Jonathan. Your thoughts echo mine. Christ did warn us of the “scandals of the cross” but we have to remain faithful to him as he is to us. He also said that if we reject his church, we reject him, and in turn reject the one who sent him.



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HA

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:17 pm


To all of you scandalized by any of the current allegations (in comparison from the much more heinous clerical crimes that have already been proven in a court of law), I ask you, what’s your number? What is the maximum percentage of flagrant sinners and hypocrites among the clergy you’re willing to live with before you say this Catholicism (or indeed, this Christianity) thing isn’t for me?
Because if you tear your hair out every time a scandal like this appears, you’re like the people who cancel a cross-country flight because the terrorists might get you, and decide to drive the whole way, even though that means you’re far less likely to arrive alive.
If I understand the Jay report on priest rapists, things have actually been getting better for a long time now. Given that I can be a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy, I don’t take delight in this. It means that things were even worse than they are today without people even knowing about it, and I’m not big on false pretenses. But the big statistical picture is what we need to know before we ascribe some deeper deeper meaning to all this – assuming that the Bible and the Borgia popes and the daily news haven’t already convinced you that there’s a lot of nasty people in the world. If you already know that, and you should, then perhaps you’ll realize that the concept of a maximum allowable percentage of sinfulness – much less the approaches I’m seeing here – is not the right way to pursue this issue. “I say to you, not seven, but seventy times seven.”
Besides, given that there doesn’t seem any major cover-up here beyond the principals involved (though I’m still waiting for the allegations about how “everybody must have known and still they did nothing”), there’s no reason not to let the scandal run its course, and to give both the legal and media vultures their fair share of the carrion. That’s not exactly optimism, but it’ll get me through the night.



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kathleen reilly

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:20 pm


reluctant, who is more likely to fail to lose weight on his diet? the person who never thinks about candy, or the person who obsesses over how unhealthy it is, who stands before it in the candy aisle decrying the evil candymakers with their bright packaging and seductive marketing?
my point really isn’t such a stretch, is it?



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thomas tucker

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:27 pm


Rod- interesting post that raises some interesting questions. My notion is to say, okay, so grow up and learn that you can’t necessarily trust anybody. Plenty of people have learned they can’t even trust their spouses when they thought they could. You can’t even trust yourself all the time. So deal with it and be a big boy. The only person you can absolutely trust is God and His promises, and even then, you may not think you can or want to when you are going thru tribulation. But really you know all this- you are just disappointed by it.



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Dave Hartline

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:30 pm


Where do I begin? The dreamer in my was hoping that perhaps this all could be explained. Maybe, as some NY media outlets suggested the secretary’s husband was trying to shakedown Monsignor Clark and the Archdiocese. For just that reason, I held off reporting it on my website catholicreport.org However, when Monsignor Clark resigned that dream went out the window.
Some posters alluded to this earlier, but it always amazes me how the naysayers come out of the woodwork. Comments like, “What can you expect the man is celibate. He held it in for so long, that he just couldn’t take it anymore.” On days like this it seems my wife and I always get curious comments thrown our way such as, “Isn’t that sad about that priest. If you ask me your church is going to have to change or one no will go anymore.”
During my days in Catholic education and even now when I speak to groups, I emphasis that if the Church could survive all it has, it will survive this. (whatever the crisis of the day is.) In addition I don’t care if the number of clergy who have been found guilty, excommunicated etc is 1% or 10%, I will choose to look at the 90% or 99% that are faithfully ministering their duties. In my youth, in the late 1970′s early 1980′s, my parish was rocked with a sex abuse scandal. It didn’t hit the media for 10 more years but we all had indications of what was about to happen. When it did, it was ugly and extensive in scope and numbers. However, the people in the parish that always complained and were negative to begin with were the ones that left the Church or stopped going to church entirely.
The “roll up your sleeves crowd” were the ones that helped the parish. I remember reading somewhere that parishes that have had these type of scandals often have vocations spring up later. Perhaps these young people feel they are not going to let evil and negativity win out. I think as a Church we have to make a decision that we are not going to let “these bad apples” however many or few there are rule the day.



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michigancatholic

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:38 pm


I really think the only thing different about it, were Msgr Clark “liberal” rather than “conservative” (hate those terms), is that if he were a liberal, he’d never have been preaching morals at all–he’d have been preaching about rights and politics. And, concern with morals or no, being a liberal wouldn’t necessarily have prevented him from bedding down with somebody either….in fact, i suspect it would have made it likelier.
And regardless of how we might feel about it, or what the popular opinion is, moral laws are not mere opinions. When Msgr Clark said some things were evil, he was right. To the degree he was relaying the teaching of the church (generally to a high degree, I might add), he was correct and could not be otherwise. That statement still stands. The teaching of the Church IS the gold standard.
I am not defending his actions, whatever they were. If nothing happened, he was a naive dupe for allowing it to look like something did. A man in his position should know better. If something did happen, he should surely have known better.
Come to think of it he should have known better than to own a mansion in the Hamptons too. That looks darned near as bad as the motel scene, to tell the truth. His Boss born in a barn and he lives in the Hamptons. Tilt.
It’s a shame that all the bad thinkers out there (and there are plenty of them) will draw the conclusion that if a man who preaches good sins, then there is no point in being good. Simple-minded, I know, but there’s a lot of people out there that don’t get much more than that out of any kind of moral discussion.



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HA

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:42 pm


That is a great post, Dave.
To all of you who expect “more” from our clergy, in particular, with regard to holiness, I would ask you to reflect on the Bible again (both OT and NT, especially the part about what Judas and other apostles-gone-wild did on their very first Easter vacation). After that, maybe you could read up on your pithier sections of church history. I know you probably already know all that stuff, but just *focus* on it for a bit. After you do, maybe you’ll realize that any hope of having a clergy free of perverts, traitors, crackpots, cranks, jerks, and other low-lifes – of both the “liberal” and “conservative” stripe – is a pipe dream of sorts.
There’s a difference between being called to be extra holy and answering that call. That’s not how it ought to be, but there’s plenty of things that ought to be in this world, and simply aren’t. You and I are expected to be holy too, and we’re at least 50% off on that quota. Holiness among the clergy waxes and wanes, and we do well to hope for the former, but arguably, it has always been more the exception than the norm.
I realize a lot of the personal crises this kind of thing causes has to do with how “communal” one’s religion is. Those of us who came to religion by our own twisted paths probably have less need to see holiness in their leaders or their co-religionists in general. On the other hand, we miss out on all the community that Catholicism *should* provide, so I’m not advocating that approach for every one.
In any case, I do pray that those who do find this loss of trust in their leadership to be a heavy cross. I wish I could help somehow.



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Celine

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:48 pm


Chris Sullivan:
I agree with you this far: We shouldn’t conclude that he committed adultry. But as others have pointed out, this was either adultry or reckless stupidity. In light of all the scandals and Clarke’s public position as an outspoken proponent of sexual morality, I’m not sure which would be worse.



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Rod Dreher

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:50 pm


HA: After you do, maybe you’ll realize that any hope of having a clergy free of perverts, traitors, crackpots, cranks, jerks, and other low-lifes – of both the “liberal” and “conservative” stripe – is a pipe dream of sorts.
Would the person or persons who expect the clergy to be free of sinners please come forward and show yourselves? I keep hearing you people talked about, usually in context of trying to shoot down someone who is scandalized by scandalous clerical behavior, and I’d like to see what you look like after all this time.



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michigancatholic

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:57 pm


Catherine–let’s be more specific about the term “sin against nature.” It means sin against the design of creation. Creation is rather obvious about how the parts–physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and so on–are supposed to fit together. Are there anomalies? Yes, of course, we live in a finite flawed world. We are not perfect, which is to say that we are not God. Get over it.
I’m always amazed at people who seem to think that homosexuality might be a coherent part of creation’s design. I mean, honestly. Look at the parts, people. Did you flunk Toddler Toolbench, for ages 1-2?



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Lynn

posted August 11, 2005 at 7:57 pm


I have also thought about the young girl too, Sydney. I wonder what effect her experience here will have upon her faith and her life in general.
Everyone involved in this incident needs prayer, I think.



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michigancatholic

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:01 pm


Good post, HA. Lots of truth in what you say. Holiness is the key to understanding Catholicism and living it. We don’t have enough holiness and that’s too bad.
Not every man who becomes a priest is going to be holy, no more than we are. But we should be able to expect that they will at least make a decent attempt at it, since they are supposed to be helping us with it…….



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HA

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:05 pm


Rod, I’m not sure I caught what you said, but I’ll give it a shot. Maybe it would help by noting that my meaning wouldn’t change if one replaced “free” by “more free than it is now”. This goes to what I was saying in the prior post about not even being sure how the scandal we see today compares to some other historical period.
If that’s doesn’t address what you were asking, let me know.



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Jeff

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:21 pm


After reading the last few posts, I think I have a better feel for Rod Dreher’s predicament.
I think it’s true that we need to believe in Saints. Not just saints in alcoves in Church, or in books, or even in Heaven. We need to believe that there are living Saints.
We need to believe that there are people who even approach sanctity. We need to believe that there are people who have integrity. We need to believe that there are people who can control themselves and not be swallowed by the sexual impulses that inundate and often overwhelm us.
I don’t think the Catholic Church teaches us that such people don’t exist. In fact, I think she teaches us that they do. If the examples of goodness we find turn out to be hypocrites, if it not only seems that there is no one to look up to, but no one we can even TRUST, our faith inevitably suffers. We find it hard to see goodness and accept it for what it is, because we have too often been taken in by its counterfeits.
There is goodness, there is sanctity, there is self-sacrifice and integrity and self-abenegation. There is self-control. It’s not all a mirage.
The Devil must be having a BALL with all this.
“Though we are sinners, we trust in Your mercy and love. Do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us Your forgiveness.”
–Te Igitur, Clement’s Father
“Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief.”
–Roman Soldier



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Dave Hartline

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:23 pm


Ha:
Thanks for the kind words. I do believe all successful members of the Church from Pope John Paul II, Mother Theresa, Archbishop Romero, Padre Pio, simple parish saints etc just kept doing what they felt God called them to. They didn’t wring their hands or worry about this or that. The Apostles were the first example. After realizing what was happening after the Ascension and Pentecost, they went about their business. They didn’t say, “Oh God what are we going to do the smartest among us Judas as hung himself.” They did the work of the “Father” with the few or the many gifts they had. The choice is up to us. Are we going to fret in a dark room because we have some rotten apples or because some other denomination or the secular world in general will shake their heads at us? I am sure I speak for many when I say, “I will not.”



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tcreek

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:26 pm


“If Clark was liberal, would our reaction to this alleged situation be the same? That’s all I’m askin’.” – Amy
If Clark was liberal and the assumed sex was only oral, which seems likely in this case, he might be presidential material.



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HA

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:27 pm


Oh wait, I think I get it. Let me say that I was going to post what I did even had you not posted anything today (and though I did change it a bit in light of what you wrote, I didn’t mean you in particular, and I didn’t mean it to stomp on anyone). I sometimes ask the same question when you address those Catholics who think everything’s OK given that “we have the sacraments”, or whatnot, assuming I’m remembering correctly. If none of what I said applies to you, consider it so noted — it applies to any other number of posts I’ve read here lately.



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HA

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:30 pm


DRAT! Lemme try again:
Oh wait, I think I get it, Rod. Let me say that I was going to post what I did even had you not posted anything today (and though I did change it a bit in light of your latest posts, I didn’t mean you in particular, and I didn’t mean it to stomp on anyone). I sometimes ask the same kind of question of you when you address all those Catholics who think everything’s OK given that “we have the sacraments”, or whatnot, assuming I’m remembering correctly.
If none of what I said applies to you, consider it so noted — it still applies to any other number of posts I’ve read here lately.



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Louis E.

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:42 pm


As someone who is “liberal” on abortion rights but NOT on homosexuality,a strong believer in God and that God does NOT write books,choose favorite ethnic groups,or found official fan clubs…I do see this case as primarily a “practice what you preach” issue.No matter what a religion believes (and regardless of my belief that the defining attributes of any religion are the least likely parts of it to be true),those who teach it should believe and practice what they teach.I’ve seen it said that Msgr. Clark hired the future Mrs. DeFilippo “straight out of high school”…that she has spent her entire adult life as his secretary.The question has to be stirred,justified or not,as to whether she has also spent her entire adult life as his mistress.Her husband is thus left wondering if the entire time that he was supposed to be her one and only,it was a lie.And Msgr. Clark,as spokesman for an institution that believes those who occupy his position should lead lifes of complete sexual abstinence,has shamed that
institution by his actions.I don’t believe that one can only teach virtues if one is an unmarried man,or that all extramarital sex between consenting adults of opposite sexes is wrong;but these people have done wrong to those around them.



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Chris Sullivan

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:45 pm


Jeff,
The thing about saints is not that they never sinned, but that they refused to give up or become demoralised, but continued to repent, struggle against their sinfulness and slowly make their way along the path of holiness.
I think there’s a lesson in that for all of us at times like this.
My wife brought back an Opus Dei book from her reflection this week. Can’t remember the exact title but its something like “Saints who sinned”. It goes thru every saint in scripture pointing out how many sinned greviously but didn’t give up or become demoralised.
If we put the saints on a pedestal, as if they never sinned, we make them as holy as Mary, and therefore a holiness unattainable for the rest of us who are born with original sin. This can become demoralising or lead us to think that holiness isn’t for all of us when it is.
God Bless



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Septimus

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:47 pm


This post is for Rod, and those who feel as disillusioned — would that be a fair word? –as he does…
I used to work in politics, for quite a few years; and as I got to be a more experienced hand, and fresh, eager college kids came along, I’d try to explain a few things to them…
Like don’t set your hearts on “heroes”–don’t do it. Don’t do it. They’ll break your heart.
I remember how someone would be so shocked when Congressman Rock-Solid voted wrong on this or that; or Senator Morality got caught floosing around with his secretary. And so it went.
I told them: we’re in this for the cause, for the vision of what this country can be. Some politicians will be great exponents of our cause, and that’ll cheer our hearts; but it’s not about them; it’s never about them, and they are never more important than the cause…
Because many times, the politician would say, in effect, “I’m the Cause” — in subtle ways, it’d all be about him, and less about the isssues; or, he’d say, “Why I’m So-and-so–how dare anyone question that I’m prolife? (Think Orrin Hatch, for example.)
Now, the Church is different, I understand; we believe that God catches up wordly things, like matter and even people, into his sacramental economy, and somehow, a sinful man can also be a sure instrument of grace. How strange, how challenging! But there it is. That’s our Catholic dogma.
But still; as much as we respect the reality of priesthood, it can never be about a particular priest, except for the High Priest.
As much as we are cheered by this priest, or this parish…it’s a chimera — this is not the Kingdom; after all, the grave danger is that it is the “Kingdom” as we imagine it — and to borrow an idea from St. Augustine, if you think you understand God, beware! You have an idol as your “god.” And if you really think you’ve “realized” the ideal Church, beware! You have a idol.
I don’t know if that helps; but its what I can offer.



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A Holy Fool

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:55 pm


I’m so tired of the “liberal” and “conservative” labels that Catholics in America–at least throughout the blogosphere–employ so often. Can we put aside the national religion of politics and actually start being Catholic for a while? Even contextualized to Catholic Church issues, the ideology-pushing is naseating!
Msgr. Clark betrayed his vows. In doing so, he betrayed the Church. That includes us. He betrayed his vows in three ways.
The first, and obvious ways, appear to be the adultry he committed with Ms. DeFiilippo. I know he hasn’t been proven guilty. However, the standard of evidence in a civil case, such as divorce, is a preponderance of evidence. The photos and video, the changing of clothes, the fake names in the hotel registry, the dinner out, and Ms. DeFiilippo lying to her husband about it (not to mention her daughter seeing her with Clark in a hot-tub!) looks like a preponderance to me.
The second way that he’s betrayed his vows is that he caused scandal, as in the classical definition. He preached the truth of morality and condemned those that promote immorality while he himself led an immoral life. Yes, he did not teach heresy. However, a priest of his experience and understanding surely must know how the credibility of the preacher facilitates the acceptance of the preaching. He has made himself the poster-child for any that choose to dismiss morality. His hypocrisy has done far more harm than the ranting of many Foolable and heterodox preachers.
Third, his disgraceful behavior has encouraged the destruction of a marriage and subjected the priesthood to further derision and suspicion. He wasn’t just a trusted spokesman for orthodox Catholics. He served the Archdiocese of NY as the Rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral! The shadow of his betrayal falls on many good priests that already struggle to secure the trust of justifiably suspicious NY Catholics. How will Catholics that struggle with their marriages feel about coming to their priest now? Might doubts come to their mind where once they did not? More likely now, I’m afraid.
I pray that Msgr. Clark repents of his sin and seeks forgiveness for it. I’m glad he has resigned and hope he gracefully leaves the stage. Likewise, I hope Ms. DeFiilippo repents and asks forgiveness. I doubt that her marriage can be salvaged, however.
I can’t answer whether other people’s reaction would have been different if Msgr. Clark were “liberal”. I know that I’m disappointed in his fall, whatever theological stripe he happens to be. He betrayed the vows that so many of his brother priests make and keep. He betrayed the vows that so many of his Catholic brothers and sisters, married and single, make and keep. By doing so, he has harmed the sacraments and Truth that he had celebrated with the whole of his life!
May God bring some good out of this tragic waste. Right now, I’m not seeing any.



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michigancatholic

posted August 11, 2005 at 8:55 pm


Hey Louis,
In scripture, the Jews are God’s chosen people. God did have something to do with the authorship of a certain book (or set of books), no? And perhaps the Church isn’t a fan club, but it is the perpetuation of Christ’s action on earth…..
I’m amused by your comments. Perhaps you should go read something God wrote. =)



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Jeff

posted August 11, 2005 at 9:10 pm


Chris Sullivan:
It’s not that saints never sin. It’s that saints have heroic virtue.
Not everyone in Heaven had heroic virtue. But we don’t venerate saints just because they are in Heaven (except maybe for martyrs.)
The first step in canonization is for the Church to find that someone was Venerable, a Servant of God. That means that they lived a life of heroic virtue, lives filled with the transforming effect of supernatural grace which can inspire us and show us that God is alive and works in men.
Heroic virtue is possible. I remember reading the diary of Blessed John XXIII and encountering his declaration of deep gratitude to God that, through the gift of grace, he had never even entertained an impure thought in his life. Never ENTERTAINED! In his LIFE! I was stunned.
But…I believe him. This is sanctity and heroic virtue. Saints certainly sin, but that doesn’t mean that saints are run-of-the-mill people where sin is concerned. If you encounter a man of whose sanctity you are convinced and you find that all along he’s been fronting stolen merchandise for the Mafia, you feel a deep sense of betrayal that is only natural. Part of holiness is understanding the terrible injury that sin does to the world and all those in it. The seeker after God is driven in desperation to abandon himself to grace in a radical way which transforms him.
Luther didn’t believe that was possible and no wonder he rejected the notion of sanctifying grace! He thought he was the exemplar and proof that heroic virtue was impossible. But he isn’t and it isn’t.
I love and admire our Pope, for example. I think him a holy man. Wouldn’t you be disillusionsed if you discovered he had been carrying on with series of married women for years? I certainly would. Most Catholics would. And guess what? I don’t believe he has been for a minute!
God bless Msgr. Clark. Maybe this scandal is a way for him to repent and get to heaven. I hope I see him there. But–thus far!–he is no saint.



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Maureen

posted August 11, 2005 at 9:11 pm


Everyone:
Try _Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today_ by Papa Ratzi.
(Weird moment: Right now on TV, three Broadway singers on PBS are wearing cassock outfits and singing “Give me a clean heart, O God”.)



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Jeff

posted August 11, 2005 at 9:18 pm


Louis:
>
And there I was talking down sodomy. There are even worse things in the world!
Imagine! We live in a world where people feel completely unashamed to declare publicly that they think no one should interfere with people’s destruction of the lives of their own children; rather, their critics feel ashamed to condemn them.
Let’s have a civil discussion about the pros and cons of abortion, shall we? Better yet, let’s not. Let’s condemn it and those who advocate it.



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Pierre Angulaire

posted August 11, 2005 at 9:20 pm


To keep to Amy’s basic question as to whether the reaction to this alleged situation would have been the same if Monsignor Clark was seen as a liberal, let me start by describing my reaction, which is one of dismay at the hypocrisy of those Catholic spokesmen who would lash out against our “culture” and “American values” and engage in name calling (“culture of death”) while treating the Church itself and its leaders as exempt from any criticism or self-reflection.
What I find so disheartening these days is that the news about the official Catholic Church in the U.S. is just one dreary sex or financial scandal after another. It is never about priests, bishops, or laymen who are acting as true prophets in our society, selflessly working with the poor, calling all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to become aware of our brothers and sisters who are hungry and thirsty and naked and in prison. Where are the Church leaders who are true signs of Christ’s presence in our midst?
While commentators on this blog throw around words like “orthodox” and “heterodox” and worry about dissent from authority, for the 99.9% of the people (including Catholics) who are not members of St. Blogs Parish, the Catholic Church is fast committing the most mortal of sins – it’s becoming irrelevant.



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Maureen

posted August 11, 2005 at 9:24 pm


I probably should have said that the book is adamant about not divvying up the Church into parties or making it all about “us” and not including them over there. The now-Pope even worried about Catholic churches posting which priests were celebrating each Mass, lest it become something people got picky about.
Also, the book says that Jesus always wanted us to be out there in public, not a private faith club; and that He also wanted us to admit that we are a church of sinners. Though of course we are called to be saints, and the _vast majority_ of our brothers and sisters through time now _are_ saints.
There’s a LOT more in the book than that; it’s full of simple comments that spark lots of thought. (The section on the papacy is really interesting, now!) But this is what I’m thinking might be helpful now.



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Louis E.

posted August 11, 2005 at 9:27 pm


MichCath…the claim in a book that it was written by God is generally put there by liars looking to make people give the book more credence than it deserves.
Jeff…I’d rather condemn those who would shove the long arm of the law up inside a woman’s body to prevent her from dissenting from their inability to distinguish potential from realized personhood.



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Cornelius AMDG

posted August 11, 2005 at 9:34 pm


Well put, Jeff.



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ajb

posted August 11, 2005 at 9:42 pm


Pierre: “let me start by describing my reaction, which is one of dismay at the hypocrisy of those Catholic spokesmen who would lash out against our “culture” and “American values” and engage in name calling (“culture of death”) while treating the Church itself and its leaders as exempt from any criticism or self-reflection.”
Well said. People like Monsignor Clark love to rail against the abstraction of “the culture” and “Hollywood” to ignore the fact that individual sinds are committed by individual people. Individual people just like them. Maybe bitching and moaning about “the culture” and “Hollywood” and “liberals” helped take the Monsignor’s mind off his Hampton weekends.



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michigancatholic

posted August 11, 2005 at 9:52 pm


Pierre,
Unfortunately, you are right about one thing. In the US, we have a bureaucracy problem that’s huge. Priests and bishops too, for that matter, seen to understand their vocations in terms of meetings and one never sees them unless one is in the “in crowd” who gets invited to the meetings.
Meanwhile, normal everyday life for Catholics is scrubbed of religion by constant unrelieved contact with the rest of the world because it’s what laypeople, by and large, see exclusively.
It’s really a serious matter when it become institutionalized that people leave their religion in the parking lot after mass and pick it up on the way in the following week. Yet, that is exactly what goes on out here so much of the time.
Why? No contact with the parish for most people. Nothing to go to, no reason to go down there, doors are locked. Father’s in a meeting and can’t be bothered.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 11, 2005 at 9:53 pm


Louis says:
“I’d rather condemn those who would shove the long arm of the law up inside a woman’s body”
Forgive me if I’m being pedantic, but aren’t the people you have in mind trying to STOP other people from sticking things inside a woman’s body and damaging her body while killing the child in it?
Pierre says:
“the Catholic Church is fast committing the most mortal of sins – it’s becoming irrelevant”
Is being irrelevant really a mortal sin? What if a society allows, approves, and encourages mortal sin, and ‘relevance’ in such a society means compromising on moral standards–wouldn’t the attempt to be ‘relevant’ then be sinful?



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Peggy

posted August 11, 2005 at 10:00 pm


If one’s commitment to the Roman Catholic faith is weakened by the failures of men, perhaps one might consider spending time before the Blessed Sacrament. I say this with charity and sincerity.



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Todd

posted August 11, 2005 at 10:07 pm


“It’s easy for a liberal not to be a hypocrite when a liberal teaches only that we ought to judge no one.”
If liberals honestly taught that, it might be a problem.
“Honestly, ought the message to be drawn from this be that no one should proclaim loudly the teaching of the Church?”
Maybe the message is that teaching should be proclaimed effectively.
“Clark is a hypocrite and a disgrace, but at least he had the decency not to try to change Church teaching in order to accommodate his sexual vices.”
Sad that it always seems to boil down to sexual accusations. Sometimes being a liberal is about preaching and living the gospel, not just giving lip service.
“Actually I think orthodoxy can be dangerous for the following reason: harping on orthodoxy and its necessity may predispose one to violating it.”
Amy nailed it. Harpers are already in trouble sometimes.
“Sadly, however, I’ve also known many cases where party loyalty gradually erodes the orthodoxy of otherwise faithful Catholics who are political liberals.”
Good thing I never got involved in politics, eh?
“I really think the only thing different about it, were Msgr Clark “liberal” rather than “conservative” (hate those terms), is that if he were a liberal, he’d never have been preaching morals at all–he’d have been preaching about rights and politics.”
If he were a liturgical liberal, he’d be preaching the Lectionary.
This has the sad and familiar ring of a parable. What’s the line? “Put no trust in princes?” I’ve been disappointed often enough by people I admire to use the AA motto: take what I need and leave the rest. I try to focus on the message, not the people giving it. Msgr Clark has failed, but he’s not the savior.
Looking for good fruits is nore than searching for political agreement with admirable figures.



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Sydney Carton

posted August 11, 2005 at 10:08 pm


Peggy,
Actually, it makes me more committed. Just because this man failed doesn’t mean that the faith is untrue. And I’ll bet that he’ll make his peace with God eventually over this, after some serious confessions. But that’s his business. As for me, it’s a reminder to not get complacent. I can still be my own worst enemy.



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Jeff

posted August 11, 2005 at 10:36 pm


Peggy:
Good show! I like that. It’s wise. Pray for me, you have a good soul.
Reluctant Penitent:
I thought of anwering Louis E. and asking him what he was doing here, but then I thought: Why am I talking to a pro-abortion troll?
Angular Pete (Pierre Angulaire):
I think “irrelevant” just means not amusing to unrepentent sinners. The Church has always been irrelevant for them. I’ll bet there are lots of conversations among the Damned about how silly and irrelevant that ol’ Church was. It’s not a judgment on the Church, but on those who find the Body of their Divine Redeemer has nothing to offer.
Please, God, may the Catholic Church always remain utterly irrelevant to those who demand to be entertained and told what they want to hear. The only way She could be more ignored would be to become relevant.
So what’ll it be?
“Where else should we go, Mother? You have the Words of Eternal Life.”
OR
“So booooooring and passe. Can’t we have, like, less preaching and stuff and guilt and stuff? I mean if you’re just going to try and put a guilt trip on me for, like, birth control and stuff, omigod, I mean, you think I’m gonna like listen to all that? It’s not you know, like, RELEVANT to my life, y’knowhatImean? I wanna ENJOY my life, I’m a good person, basically. Talk to me about condoms in Africa and puppydogs for the homeless or something meaningful, okay? I’d like to spend a day watching TV shows about that.”
By their attitudes, you shall know them.



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Regina

posted August 11, 2005 at 10:40 pm


“Because we had been foolish enough to trust the pastor because he was publicly orthodox (and indeed, none of his actions involved repudiating doctrine). We were fools”.
Yes, you were foolish and, well, childish. “Orthodoxy” is the ancient teaching of the church. It is a teaching. It cannot be invalidated by the actions of anyone; neither does recognizing the ancient teachings as true mean you cannot sin against them. Really, your drama about all this is very silly.
You “trusted” the pastor to do what because he was “publicly orthodox”? You assumed he lived according to the precepts he taught and when he didn’t 100%, that was shocking, shocking, shocking. I guess you didn’t have parents, older siblings, teachers – no one before had been unable to live up to an ideal. When you look in the mirror, or examine your conscience, is it shocking, shocking, shocking?
What a drama queen.



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Jack2

posted August 11, 2005 at 10:46 pm


I don’t have the energy this late to read all the comments, but I feel that it isn’t too pedantic to say that “Schadenfreude” is the correct way to spell that word. If people want to use a word like that, they had better learn something about “deutsche Rechtsschreibung.” Ich aber auch wahrscheinlich.



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HA

posted August 11, 2005 at 11:09 pm


It cannot be invalidated by the actions of anyone; neither does recognizing the ancient teachings as true mean you cannot sin against them. Really, your drama about all this is very silly.
Maybe this can be a both-and kind of thing. I think there is room within the house of many mansions for both those who strive against letting scandal get to them and also those who attune us to the harm it causes (not to mention those who try to do both).
“Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh.” Matt 18:7



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Cheeky Lawyer

posted August 11, 2005 at 11:21 pm


One more point. My friend Cranky Lawyer made a good point to me on the phone tonight. There is no innocuous reading of Clark and his secretary going to the motel. Oh sure they might not have been having sex. But a married/single/consecrated man should not ever be in a hotel room alone with a married woman. That shouldn’t be happening. Now I of course think that there was more too this but a priest who cares about avoiding scandal doesn’t go plop himself down to read documents in the motel room while his secretary sleeps on the bed next to him. He goes and waits in the car or in the lobby or in the bar.
Also, I appreciate the clarification of the $2million house. If he had bought it recently, that would be scandalous.



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ann

posted August 11, 2005 at 11:35 pm


My two cents:
We should not be surprised that this sort of thing happens:
From Mary’s prayer – the Magnificat:
… He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree…
The Devil delights in bringing down the proud and the well-known, especially priests. We all need to be careful about what we put first in our lives. If it is not Christ, our souls are in trouble. Pray, pray, pray.



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reluctant penitent

posted August 11, 2005 at 11:45 pm


Todd says:
“Maybe the message is that teaching should be proclaimed effectively.”
What does this mean, exactly? There was nothing wrong with Monsignor Clark’s words. His deeds were the problem.
Todd also approves Kathleen’s statement:
“Actually I think orthodoxy can be dangerous for the following reason: harping on orthodoxy and its necessity may predispose one to violating it.”
Perhaps you can answer the question that Kathleen did not. Do you have any evidence at all that teaching that X is morally bad predisposes one to do X? That Catholics who “harp on” sexual morality are more likely to commit sexual transgressions? Or are you just regurgitating a cliche from some ‘Freud for freshman’ class?
And what does it mean to ‘harp on’ sexual morality? Is it something that happens in every sermon that presents Church teaching on sexuality or just in the effective ones? How does one present Church teaching without appearing to ‘harp on’ it?
The sermon cited by Amy sounded like a good one and is in question now only because the individual who made it is involved in a public sexual scandal. But the sermon was never good because it was Monsignor Clark’s sermon but because it was a statement of Church teaching, and because Church teaching is true. How can an effective presentation of the truth ever be ‘harping’?



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Katherine

posted August 12, 2005 at 12:28 am


it’s church teaching that the sex abuse scandal was caused by “the campaign of liberal America against celibacy” and that homosexuals run Hollywood? Gosh, you learn something everyday.



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Noli Irritare Leones

posted August 12, 2005 at 1:57 am


A kind of human Sunday

The clergyman is expected to be a kind of human Sunday. Things must not be done in him which are venial in the week-day classes. He is paid for this business of leading a stricter life than other people. It is his raison d’etre. If his parishio…



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Clarks Shoes

posted February 3, 2007 at 5:06 pm


Clarks Shoes

see all Clarks Womens Shoes Overfly Trade see all Clarks Bestselling Women



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