Thursday, March 18, 2010


Well, it's happening again. First Canada, then the United States, then Australia, then Ireland, then Germany, Austria and other parts of Europe, Brazil and other parts of South and Central America. Victims of sexual abuse by priests have been emboldened to come forward with their horror stories. Much of the abuse in all the the countries mentioned occurred more than a generation ago, decades ago. The code of silence, the culture of secrecy has been broken. I think the internet has played a huge role in this phenomenon. I think the culture of secrecy and silence needed to be broken and all the puss that is running out now may well be necessary for eventual healing of victims and a reorganization of how the Church supervises her personnel, clergy, religious and laity. But more importantly, the Church can now become a beacon of sanity for other institutions in society which still maintain a code of secrecy and silence. Their victims have not been so bold as to come forward as in the Church. Pray for the healing of victims and that our Church, bishops, clergy, religious and laity will rise to the task of on-going reform that has been occurring for the last two decades.

But with that written, I do think as Catholics we need to view all this negative news through the proper lens. The cases in Europe have been reported in Macon's newspaper for the past four days. Last night CBS Evening News carried a story. Much that is reported in the mainline media is distorted and sometimes I believe maliciously so. In the same sentence as sex abuse, Pope Benedict's brother was mentioned as embroiled in the scandal too. But the extent of his involvement is that he doled out "corporal" punishment to his choir students. I wonder how many teachers from the 1960's, 70's and 80's in both Catholic and public school doled out similar corporal punishment before it ceased relatively recently by mandate? Corporal punishment and sex abuse are not the same!

As well, the reporting of victims coming forward very seldom points out that the abuse occurred decades earlier. It is reported as if it just happened. What just happened though was the victim came forward after 50 years.

As well the mainline, anti-Catholic media wants to paint Pope Benedict as part of the problem and not its solution. So they are digging into the time he was archbishop of Munich, 1968-71 to see how he handled cases back then, over 40 years ago. I wonder how society in Munich dealt with it in general back then--no context for that in the media.

The media and those who hate the Catholic Church have seized on the abuse of minors by clergy as the Church's Achilles heel. It is not. It is a wound to the Church brought about by the Evil One and personal sin and mismanagement. Victims can receive justice and hopefully healing. The Church can recover and reform and be even stronger, but all this by the power of the Holy Spirit. This will take time. Where bishops have mismanaged their dioceses and inflicted harm on the faithful, penance must be done. Resignations should be sought in the most grievous of cases. Resignation should be seen as a penance leading to sacramental forgiveness and reconciliation and healing in the Church at large.

We need to keep things in proper context. As much as victims' groups hate when the Church asks for context, we cannot allow them, even in their well meaning rantings, to seek revenge on the Church or to victimize the Church herself. Enough with victimization! Sometimes we wonder too if these victims' groups have other agendas against the church apart from helping those victimized.

The percentage of sexual abuse is about equivalent in Protestant, Catholic and Jewish clergy/rabbis. For Protestants and Jews, females are more frequently the victims, thus societal lack of concern for girls leads to the under-reporting of these crimes. Obviously these clergy are married and thus don't have the mystic of so-called "celibate" clergy. In the Catholic priesthood, there is a higher percentage of abuse towards teenage boys. Much of it has to do with access. Most parents would not allow their daughters to go over night with a priest on any sort of trip, but they did allow their boys. Trust is betrayed, but the parents would have not trusted their girls with priests overnight. Common sense prevailed in terms of girls.

Look at those who are convicted of crimes of child/teenage sex abuse. The vast majority in prison today are not single males. They are married men who have sex with both children and adults. The overwhelming majority of people convicted of these crimes are not Catholic priests or celibate or homosexual.

The majority of abuse now occurs in the home, with natural fathers but now with live-in boy friends and step fathers. Mothers sometimes participate in sexual abuse too. That phenomenon is less reported and when it is reported, women who molest are glamorized by the media.

As it concerns the Church we must acknowledge the "smoke of Satan" in all of this. He will be around to tempt, oppress, influence and even possess members of the Church until the Lord's Second Coming. There is spiritual warfare going on my brothers and sisters and if you don't understand that as a Catholic, then you just don't get it.

Finally, we need a new hermeneutic for those who do abuse that leads to treatment and healing. For true pedophiles there may be no adequate treatment except for chemical castration or prison. But for those who abuse teenagers, the possibility of successful treatment can be documented. As well, those who have been victimized must seek healing which includes moving beyond feelings of revenge to the difficult task of forgiveness. That is our Christian hope. God bless you.


Seeker said...

Well said. We will pray unceasingly for our Pope, Priests, the Church and the victims. The "smoke" will not choke the Power of God. We must pull the weeds to prep the soil. This is the new springtime. Stand firm. As I read Ephesians 6:10-20, God gives us the tools to win the battle. Thank you Father.

Mike said...


-Brian said...

We do well to remember, especially during the slack tide and poignantly during the flood, "Protestant Secularism is no mean enemy at the gate."
~ Francis Cardinal George

Gene said...

We do not need to be too much on the defensive here. It feeds the enemies of the Church. My response to those who ask me about it is, "So, sin is something new?" Then I recall them to some of the more delicious scandals in the Protestant world and among our "distinguished" leaders in Washington. As long as the Church is explaining, she's losing.

People also need to be refreshed on the Donatist controversy. The sins of a Priest, or many Priests, do not in any way diminish the saving Grace of Our Lord and Saviour as mediated to us through the Sacraments and teaching of the Church. So, if you get hit by a bus and a child-molesting, homosexual Priest who just killed a policeman stops running long enough to administer Last Rites, you are just as much in a State of Grace as if any other Priest had found you.

-Brian said...

Protestant Secularism _is not_ your friend or acquaintance who queries a Practical Catholic Person at the printer station or water bottle in the office. I presume theses queries are not posed by ideologues.

Protestant Secularism _is_ an ideology, in my opinion, not far removed from Secular Progressivism. It is specifically, hateful, Anti-Catholic, global in nature, and has reached a mass that reminds one of the Alto Vendetta of yesteryear. I don’t think this issue from Cardinal George causes defensiveness and “feeds the enemies of the Church.” It was broadly shining the light on one of the other things that hurt.

My point? It should not be a fading light.

Gene said...

Brian, Just as I have posted the same under other topics on this Blog. It may all be subsumed under the heading, "Post Modernism." Protestant Secularism is just a subset of the larger cultural trend.
And, yes, Protestant Secularism is, indeed, the friend who queries you at the water fountain...he just doesn't know it. The few academics and so-called "intellectuals" who understand it from a philosophical perspective don't swing the weight of the great unwashed herds who mindlessly watch the modernist propaganda TV sitcoms, the Leftist Hollywood movies, the levelling advertising, send their kids to Leftist government schools, and otherwise worship at the feet of a Modernist, egalitarian society. These people huge numbers, and they vote based upon the indoctrination with which they are bombarded daily. Never mind that they can't articulate all this as well as you or others in academia. The net result is the same. The Post-Modern fall of American democracy does not come from the Ivory Tower down; it comes from the Trailer Park up.

-Brian said...

In turn pinanv...exceptionally, all of what you describe is true. They all seem to be goliaths some bigger than others. Nevertheless, I have found that the Church’s true dwelling is in the person’s heart. Her gates are there. It will be there, in that Personal Prelature, that a David will come.

It seems to be somewhat alienating to regard the Cumans (water cooler people) we engage pessimistically. What good is there to label them as ignorant lemmings on a trajectory of doom? If we regard such people (who as you imply are blind to their circumstances) as Protestant Seculars / enemies, then what is left but struggle and strife, no? We are not ancient Greeks warriors who would stop eviscerating each other to satisfy hospitality!

How do you instrument conversion? Conversion happens through the revealing and acceptance of vulnerabilities, which does not show on the battlefield. Conversion happens by the movement of the Paraclete in the human heart which will not bare itself in battle. Conversion of these Cumans is what the New Evangelization has tasked us (laity) to do through several pontificates.

The Cumans at the water cooler are potential (if not already) dwelling places of the Holy Spirit. The lowly and afflicted man who fears the Lord is the apple of His eye. They are not the ivory tower dwellers satiated on materialism and power. Those, who like the psalmist described have become like their gods. It is the human potential that is the gem of our focus. Giving our Cumans a _lemming like_ label unnecessarily detracts them from the Way.

I hear in your exhortation a fierce lament and I count no small investment by you in your political profession. I to, share your dismay. Still, Postmodernism is a _western_ constellation of cultural malaise that does not carry into the desserts and jungles, cities and fields that I have been to...that the church is dwelling in. The periphery of the world system. It does not seem to span the oceans to nest in the islands of “paradise.” However, the instruments of Protestant Secularism are everywhere bringing it everywhere. I have seen it. There is little corner left that does not have media, and through it the unchristian politics that design bondage. The larger of the two is evident when viewed with a global lens and it is not the culture specific malaise of Postmodernity. Protestant Secularism is older, has more depth, and a broader scope. It venued the birth of Postmodernism. It would seem that the age and mass of the lesser could not subset the older greater mass, no? Politics aside.

Nonetheless, our Church, which is rooted and residential in the human heart, is everywhere going toe to toe with the goliath of Protestant Secularism. I wait for the life of the _world_ to come! A David that will arise out of the human heart. A heart bound and fibered by solidarity in the liberty of the Good News. You’ll forgive me for borrowing your phrase but... a heart that comes, “from the Trailer Park up.” On this “I further more sayeth none.”

Gene said...

Brian, I doubt we have any essential disagreement on this, merely differing perspectives. Your point about Protestant Secularism being older is well taken, depending upon where we find the origins of "secularism." Certainly, Reformation thought combined with German Idealism has become a juggernaut.
There are some theological dangers when you begin to speak of a "David that will arise out of the human heart...." I hear shades of 19th century Protestant thought there. Careful! Best to you on thei St. Joseph's Day. Gene