Saturday, March 27, 2010



Christ will still the tempest the Pope, bishops and priests, deacons, religous and laity have stirred through sins of omission and commission!

In this worldwide scandal, only His Holiness can bring the light of Christ to the darkness now enveloping the hierarchy and the Magisterium of His Holiness. May the Light of Christ guide the words and actions of Pope Benedict in the coming days and months. May trust in the Holy Spirit in this dark hour prevail in the Church!

My comments first: The article below is copied from the Italian blogger, Sandro Magister of "Chiesa." What it does not address is the "How?" Why so many bishops and now perhaps "Joseph Ratzinger" when he was an Archbishop and later as a Cardinal seemed to downplay the scope of the problem of sexual abuse of minors, rely too much on psychiatric care, spiritual counseling and therapy to "fix" offending priests, in particular the most grievous serial offenders in order to recycle them back to ministry unsupervised. The pattern of most bishops, gave the appearance of absolutely no concern for those victimized. These priests were the bishops'clerical "sons" and thus got preferential treatment over the laity thus leading to unspeakable (and that "unspeakablity" is the culprit too) cycle of crimes against the laity and their children. How could this be? What in Church law, clerical mentality and the "closed circle" of clericalism led bishops to be apathetic toward children who were sexually abused? What of the culture of bishops to ignore the elephant in the room and allow such repeated abuse to continue? I can't answer all these questions, but just blame human nature and the phenomena of sin that our Savior came to forgive and the people who need redemption.

I know from my ministry, of women now in their 50's who as children and teenagers were molested by their fathers and repeatedly for years. Yes there is a love/hate relationship these women still harbor for their fathers. But there is also a deep resentment toward their mothers. What did their mothers know and when did they know it!? Did they not know what was happening right under their nose? Why didn't they call the authorities? Why didn't they divorce their husband? Why didn't they say a word? Denial and minimizing the devastation of abuse inflicted could well be the culprits not only for these mothers, but in the Church for bishops. Mothers are sometimes jealous of their daughters and the affection their husbands show their daughters, almost like a competition. Maybe the mothers thought their daughters liked this sort of incestuous abuse? Did bishops think children and teenager might have enjoyed the sexual attention brought upon them by a high ranking church official, a priest? If they didn't like it, they could have stopped it themselves? You see what I'm getting at, denial, rationalization, avoiding a serious issue, not bringing the law into it, the disruption it brings to the family, to the Church--minimizing the problem, fear of public scandal have devastating results.

I think since 2002 and even before, back to the 1980's, the Church was/is taking slow, methodical steps to address how bishops dealt/deal with disobedient priests and pathologically unstable priests. For the latter, the best solution is to remove them from ministry to spare harm to the greater good of the Church and her people. Where crime is involved, the civil authorities must be called immediately. Internal processes and canon law can only go so far, but the Church through her bishops is subject to civil law too and must respect that legitimate authority.

If Cardinal Ratzinger when he was the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and when he was an archbishop in Germany made mistakes of judgment and showed more concern for his brother priests accused and guilty of crimes and sins against children,or in his own mind even minimized the scope of the scandal and the harm to children, then it would be best for even the Pope to make a public confession and beg forgiveness from the Church and the World, not only for himself, but also for all those in Catholic authority who showed only concern for offending priests and not for victims. Catholics for their part must forgive those who have harmed the others,children or adults, when a plea for forgiveness is requested and penance is accomplished.

Pope Benedict must required more of bishops who facilitated this grave scandal on the Church in terms of not only public penance, but resignations, demanded resignations. The systemic problem is that most bishops are accountable to no one, unless they themselves fall into personal sin, such as sexual sin, financial misdealing or the like. But incompetence in office can go on until they retire or die. That needs to change too. Only the pope can make that change. Pray for the pope. Saint Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, pray for us!

Finally, Armageddon is not here, I don't think? Cooler heads must prevail and this too shall pass. Hopefully Rome will have some savvy in dealing with a malicious press and vitriolic Catholics and world. Pope Benedict's letter to Ireland was marvelous. But perhaps its fatal flaw was its lack of specifying canonical procedures against irresponsible, enabling bishops who exacerbated this scandal, this wound on children and the Church in general. That flaw must be addressed!

Genesis of a Crime. The Revolution of the 1960's

The scandal of pedophilia has always been there, but it was magnified by the cultural revolution of half a century ago. Benedict XVI makes the claim in his letter to the Catholics of Ireland. Two cardinals and a sociologist comment

by Sandro Magister

ROME, March 25, 2010 – Law and grace. Where earthly justice does not reach, the hand of God can. With his letter dated March 19, Benedict XVI has given the Catholics of Ireland an order never before given by a pope of the modern era to an entire national Church.

He told them not only to bring the guilty before the canonical and civil courts, but to put themselves collectively in a state of penance and purification. And not in the privacy of their consciences, but in a public form, before the eyes of all, even of their most implacable and mocking adversaries. Fasting, prayer, reading the Bible, and works of charity on all the Fridays from now until Easter of next year. Frequent sacramental confession. Continual adoration of Jesus – " himself a victim of injustice and sin" – present in the sacred host, exposed on the altars of the churches. And for all the bishops, priests, and religious, without exception, a special period of "mission," a long and strict course of spiritual exercises for a radical review of life.

It's a daring step, this one taken by Pope Benedict. Because not even the prophet Jonah believed any longer that God would forgive Nineveh its sins, in spite of the penitential ashes and sackcloth worn by all, from the king to the lowliest beast of burden.

And today as well, many conclude that the Church remains irremediably under condemnation, even after the letter in which the pope himself expresses shame and remorse for the abomination committed against children by some priests, with the culpable negligence of some bishops.

And yet God's forgiveness descended even upon Nineveh, and the skeptical Jonah had to face this fact, and Michelangelo painted this very prophet at the top of the wall behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel, to show that God's forgiveness is the key to everything, from the creation of the world to the last judgment.

On Sunday, March 21, while his letter was being read in the churches of Ireland, Benedict XVI commented to the faithful, at the Angelus in St. Peter's Square, on Jesus' forgiveness of the adulterous woman: "He knows what is in the heart of every man, he wants to condemn sin, but to save the sinner and unmask hypocrisy." The hypocrisy of those who wanted to stone the woman, even though they were the first to sin.

Ruthless with sin, "beginning with our own," and merciful towards persons. This is the lesson that Joseph Ratzinger wants to apply to the case of Ireland, and, by extension, to the entire Church.

On the one hand, the rigors of the law. The price of justice must be paid to the last penny. The dioceses, the seminaries, the religious congregations in which the abuse was allowed to run free have been warned: apostolic visitors will come from the Vatican to uncover what they have done, and even where there is nothing that can be prosecuted under civil law, canonical discipline will punish the negligent.

But at the same time, the pope is kindling the light of grace. He is opening the door of God's forgiveness even to those guilty of the worst abominations, if they sincerely repent.

As for the foremost accusers, those most armed with stones to throw at the Church, none of them is without sin. It is a stretch for those who exalt sexuality as a pure instinct, free from any constraint, to object when it is abused.

The tragedy of some priests and religious, Benedict XVI has written in the letter, was in part that they gave in to these widespread "ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel," to the point of justifying the unjustifiable.

A lapse that certainly cannot be attributed to Ratzinger as bishop and pope, not even by his staunchest adversaries, if they are sincere.


The commentary reproduced above is published in "L'espresso" no. 13, 2010, on newsstands March 26.

At the end, the commentary makes reference to a specific paragraph, the fourth, of Benedict XVI's letter to the Catholics of Ireland.

It is the paragraph in which the pope looks at the factors that fostered, in the 1960's, the expansion of sexual abuse among the clergy, and above all the incomprehension of its gravity.

Here it is in its entirety.



"In recent decades, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected.

"Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings.

"Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found. Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life; insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates; a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person. Urgent action is needed to address these factors, which have had such tragic consequences in the lives of victims and their families, and have obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution succeeded in doing."


Among those who have remarked on the cultural factors analyzed by the pope are two cardinals and a scholar of religious sociology.



The first of the two cardinals is Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian bishops' conference.

On Monday, March 22, in the opening address with which he introduced the work of the permanent council of the CEI, Bagnasco concluded as follows the passage dedicated to the pope's letter to the Catholics of Ireland:

"From various sides, and not only Catholic, it is being revealed how for some time the phenomenon of pedophilia appears to have been tragically widespread in different environments and among various categories of persons: but this, far from being evoked here in order to diminish or relativize the precise gravity of the actions disclosed in the ecclesiastical sphere, is rather a warning to grasp the objective scope of the tragedy. At the very moment in which it feels humiliation, the Church learns from the pope not to be afraid of the truth, even when this is painful and detestable, to not silence it or cover it up. This, however, does not mean enduring – if there were any – strategies of generalized discredit.

"In reality, we must all question ourselves, without any more alibis, about a culture that in our time reigns pampered and uncontested, and tends progressively to fray the connective tissue of society as a whole, perhaps even mocking those who resist and try to oppose it: the attitude, that is, of those who cultivate absolute autonomy from the criteria of moral judgment and convey as good and alluring behaviors that are designed according to individual desires and even unbridled instincts. But the exaggeration of sexuality disconnected from its anthropological significance, all-encompassing hedonism, and a relativism that does not admit limits or exceptions do great harm, because they are specious and sometimes so pervasive as to escape notice.

"It is fitting, then, that we should all return to calling things by their names always and everywhere, to identifying evil in its progressive gravity and in the multiplicity of its manifestations, in order to avoid finding ourselves in time facing the claim of an aberration defended on the level of principle."



The second cardinal is Camillo Ruini, president of the committee for the cultural project of the Italian Church, Bagnasco's predecessor as president of the CEI, and the pope's vicar for the diocese of Rome from 1991 to 2008.

In an interview with the newspaper "il Foglio" on March 16, a few days before the pope published his letter, Ruini said among other things:

"In my view, the defamation campaign against the Catholic Church and the pope deployed by the media is part of a strategy that has been underway for centuries, and which Friedrich Nietzsche elaborated with his flair for detail. According to Nietzsche, the decisive attack on Christianity cannot be brought on the level of truth, but on that of Christian ethics, which he saw as the enemy of the joy of living. And so I would like to ask those who decry scandals of pedophilia mostly when they involve the Catholic Church, perhaps bringing into question priestly celibacy: would it not be more honest and realistic to recognize that certainly these and other deviations related to sexuality accompany the entire history of the human race, but also that in our time these deviations are further stimulated by the much ballyhooed 'sexual liberation'?"

And again:

"When the exaltation of sexuality pervades every part of life and when autonomy from any moral criterion is claimed for the sexual instinct, it becomes difficult to explain that certain abuses are absolutely to be condemned. In reality, human sexuality from the start is not simply instinctual, it is not the same as that of the other animals. It is, like all of man, a sexuality 'mixed' with reason and morality, which can be lived humanly, and truly bring happiness, only if it is lived in this way."



The sociologist is Professor Massimo Introvigne, president of the CESNUR, the Center for Studies on New Religion.

In a commentary that appeared on March 22 in the Italian edition of the international agency "Zenit," Introvigne wrote among other things:

"What the English and the Americans call 'the Sixties', and the Italians, concentrating on the emblematic year of 1968, "il Sessantotto', increasingly appears as a time of profound disturbance of customs, with crucial and lasting effects on religion.

"There was, moreover, a Sessantotto in society and also a Sessantotto in the Church: 1968 is itself the year of public dissent against the encyclical 'Humanae Vitae' of Paul VI, a dispute that according to a valuable and influential study by the recently deceased American philosopher Ralph McInerny, 'What Went Wrong with Vatican II', represents a point of no return in the crisis of the principle of authority in the Catholic Church. [...]

"But why the 1960's? On this topic, staying in the British Isles, in 2007 Hugh McLeod published an important volume with Oxford University Press, 'The Religious Crisis of the 1960s', which takes stock of the discussions in progress.

"Two theses are pitted against each other: that of Alan Gilbert, according to whom the revolution of the 1960's was the economic boom, which spread consumerism and drove people away from the churches, and that of Callum Brown, according to whom the decisive factor was the emancipation of women after the spread of feminist ideology, of divorce, of the birth control pill, and of abortion.

"McLeod thinks, correctly in my opinion, that a single factor cannot explain a revolution of this magnitude. The economic boom and feminism play a part, but also more strictly cultural aspects both outside the Churches and Christian communities (the encounter between psychoanalysis and Marxism) and inside them (the 'new theologies').

"Without entering into the more technical elements of this discussion, Benedict XVI in his letter shows that he is aware of the fact that there was in the 1960's an authentic revolution – no less important than the Protestant Reformation or the French Revolution – that was 'fast-paced' and dealt a tremendous blow to 'traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values'. [...]

"In the Catholic Church, there was not at once a sufficient awareness of the scope of this revolution. On the contrary, it infected – Benedict XVI maintains today – 'also priests and religious', created misunderstandings in the interpretation of the Council, and caused 'insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates'.

"In this climate, certainly not all priests who were insufficiently formed or infected by the climate following the 1960's, and not even a significant percentage of them, became pedophiles: we know from the statistics that the real number of priest pedophiles is much lower than the ones presented by certain media outlets. And yet this number is not equal to zero – as we would all want – and justifies the extremely severe words of the pope. But the study of the revolution of the 1960's, and of 1968, is crucial to understanding what happened afterward, including pedophilia. And to finding real remedies.

"If this revolution, unlike those before it, is moral and spiritual and touches the interiority of man, it is only from the restoration of morality, of the spiritual life and of comprehensive truth about the human person that the remedies can ultimately come. But for this reason the sociologists, as always, are not enough: there is a need for fathers and masters, teachers and saints. And we all have a great need for the pope: for this pope, who once again – to borrow the title of his latest encyclical – speaks the truth in charity and practices charity in truth."


Gene said...

I believe Introvigne's analysis is very accurate. Now,I have an observation that is just as troubling to me as this sexual abuse issue. Is not the Church's looking the other way regarding liberal Bishops and Priests... those who condone homosexuality, abortion,gay marriage,and who allow vocal and aggressively pro-abortion and pro homosexual politicians to receive Communion at their hands...just as scandalous? The sexual sins, because they have specific victims and because they are so elemental, always bring tremendous hue and cry. The press loves them because they are scandalous and juicy and pander to everyone's voyeurism and outrage. The public loves them because revelling in the sins of others, especially highly placed others, gives them a sense of "righteous indignation" and makes their own sins seem less. The anti-Church cabal loves them because they are great ammunition.
But,is a sexual crime such as the ones in question any worse than the crime of apostasy or heresy? Is the Priest or Bishop who teaches or promotes false doctrine and leads a soul away from Church teaching or into heretical beliefs not as great a sinner? But, you will never see the outrage from a headline that reads, "Priest Teaches False Doctrine; Thousands Perish in Hell."

Henry Edwards said...

pinanv: " receive Communion at their hands"

Perhaps you meant ... to receive Communion on their hands.

-Brian said...

Yes! I think that full and active participation in Liturgy emerging from the _reform of the reform_, steeped in orthodoxy and truthful language will be one of the most effective courses in healing and renewing the Church wounded in this scandal. This scandal, as our public wound, needs the worthy public prayer (Liturgy) of the Church to heal it (of course, along with devout private prayer).

As for full and active participation? I think it would be inappropriate to understand that the Paraclete Divine _alone_ will cause aggregation in this matter. Practical Catholics need to understand and practice the New Evangelization to assist impractical Catholics to arrive at the catechesis needed to advance full and active participation. Father John Hardon S.J. (God rest his soul) tells us that, “Sometimes the actual condition of the faithful demands that some form of evangelization of the baptized precede catechesis.”

Participation in the functional, dogmatic, and orthodox, Holy Order of the Mass, participation in the New Evangelization (Evangelii Nuntiandi § 18, Rev. 21:5), and participation in worthy catechesis are intrinsic to each other. They are aspects of the same coin, which is formation of the faithful.

Thus, worthy formation of the laity is key. This cultivates devotion, piety, holiness, participation, solidarity, vocations, and many more fruits; particularly, reconciliation and repentance. Our parish of Saint Joseph exemplifies this in the Awakening Faith Program, the Parish Religious Education Program, and the ongoing multi-generational catechetical groups which flourish throughout the year (not to mention our sacramental and liturgical practices!).

As in Luke, “No one who lights a lamp hides it away or places it (under a bushel basket), but on a lampstand so that those who enter might see the light.”

Once again our pasturing proves to be efficacious, thank you Pastor!

Anonymous said...

"disobedience and pride are the root of all scandal"
You hit the nail on the head with that statement!
Name the scandal...and disobedience and pride are indeed at the root if it.

I will pray for His Church.

Jody Peterman said...

I agree with pinanv525 completely.

The scandal of the Catholic Church is lack of authority from Rome as it relates to the Bishops- Whether it be sexual abuse or liturgical abuse. Sometimes, at my greatest moments of doubt and frustration, I fear that even Benedict may be the best of the worse. Everyone needs to pray for our Bishops everywhere in the world, and especially our Holy Father, as the media goes after him.

Anonymous said...

When will it end? Pray for the Holy Father and his Pontificate.