Thursday, November 10, 2011


Now the press just might recognize that the horror of sex abuse against children and teenagers is not just a priest problem, it is a society problem that afflicts all institutions, public and private schools, scouts and sadly families.

The conspiracy to silence and cover-up is not just a Catholic problem but a universal phenomenon. Sex abuse within families and from family members, fathers, brothers, uncles and yes mothers, aunts and sisters to a lesser extent is quite common and unfortunately more common than we suspect as families have had a conspiracy to silence and cover-up too.

Do you wonder why? Because a mother who suspects her husband is abusing their children fears divorce and financial instability not to mention public scandal, arrest and prison time for her husband and maybe the removal of her children from the home. It is better to live in denial than to complicate the family's life by public humiliation. Of course who suffers the most here? It is the child being abused and who also fears telling anyone probably for the same reasons as the mother.

It is no secret that the bishops of the Catholic Church and worldwide have an abysmal record in handling sex abuse by clergy or even other bishops. They have exacerbated the scandal by covering it up, covering for each other and fearing what has come to pass through their flawed polices, public scandal, humiliation and the disintegration of their moral authority and accelerating godless secularism in the world which is also anti-religion. These "leaders" have fueled the fire of godless secularism worldwide by their secrecy and inaction with how they managed the sex abuse crisis in the Church.

Is Penn State the new role model for how to deal with the president (bishop), coaches, (priests) and other enablers? The Board of Trustees have taken decisive action. They have fired all the principle players in this scandal including just last night the iconic Joe Paterno and the well-like and very competent president of the university.

But just like the Catholic bishops who kept things silent to save face and avoid public scandal and humiliation (which in the long run exacerbated that 100 fold)the Board of Trustees was saving face in another way by their decisive action. It's all about saving face!

We live in a get-even, you're fired, divorce driven society. Is that the best way to go? To be honest, as it regards the Church, I am conflicted and I wonder if there isn't a better way to go that challenges revenge, litigiousness and the divorce mentality while at the same time recognizing the devastation sex abuse visits upon the young which remains with them a life time and the need for legitimate justice. But somehow Divine Mercy must also be in the equation.

The scandal at Penn State is very serious. What has happened in many Catholic Dioceses is more serious and more scandalous as abusers and enablers were Catholic bishops and priests who represent God, Divine Truth and moral/ethical certitude. For children abused by these people was like God abusing them. For the abusers it is better to have had a millstone tied around their neck...

The only perpetrators punished thus far in the Catholic Church and only because the National Catholic Reporter and then the secular media exposed it for what it was, in particular The Boston Globe, have been priests.

Only a small handful of bishops have been "fired." Many priests are now "defrocked" and serving prison time for their crimes. I know of no bishops in a similar situation due to this scandal.

I think it is too much for the pope to micro manage bishops, although there should be universal canon law to protect the innocent and to make clear what the procedure should be to seek justice in situations that we have experienced in the Church and Penn State is experiencing.

Is Penn State's secular model the answer?

Should the regions of bishops in various countries have a "Board of Trustees" that would meet to make decisions concerning the fate of incompetent bishops or bishops who have not acted as they should?

Should statutes of limitation be dropped retroactively? Should bishops be in prison?

I believe that statutes of limitations are in civil law precisely because in American Law due process must be observed and fair trials must be conducted. How can a fair trial be conducted when events of crimes occurred 30, 40 and 50 years ago, witness can't recall or are dead?

Policies in dioceses concerning the fate of priests in terms of sex abuse seem to be good today because the media forced bishops into developing these polices and there are boards to assist bishops in making decisions now and for the same reasons.

But the bottom line is that if anyone knows for sure that a cleric is abusing a child and is an eye witness to it, like the case at Penn State, the first course of action is to call the police. I think that is the lesson learned. Don't deal with it in house first. Call the police.

But then is there a scandal just waiting to be reported concerning the police, lawyers, judges and the like? Will the press expose that corruption too?

The Extraordinary Form of the Mass makes clear that we are miserable, grievous sinners. There is the Confiteor for the priest and another one for the laity during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. There is the Lord have Mercy and another Confiteor in missals prior to 1962 before the laity's communion. There is the "Lamb of God" and "The Lord I am not Worthy" said three times right before Holy Communion.

The reformed Mass marginalized our grievous sinfulness by eliminating what was called "useless repetition." But was this repetition really useless? Maybe we need to revisit it.

At least the corrected English translation of the Mass has recaptured the Latin's original Confiteor with these "useless?" repetitions:

"...I have greatly sinned...Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault!"

But also recall the words of the Easter Exultet:

"O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam that gained for us so great a Savior!" Divine Mercy is waiting for those who receive Jesus!

The press doesn't understand the scandal of forgiveness nor do godless secularists.

Do you detect the different theologies concerning the Mass and the acknowledgement of the grievous nature of our sinfulness in these two photos? Should the Church put on the "sack cloth and ashes" of the first photo and do away with the reform that has led to the diminution of the state of our grievous sinfulness in the eyes of so many Catholics?


Anonymous said...

So, when we were celebrating the Mass of Blessed John 23rd universally, there must have been, according to your line of reason, no cover-ups of abuse? After all, only then did we have a real sense of our "miserable" sinful nature...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

What you say is false, if there were cover-ups and certainly there were and thus it was and is grievously sinful, at least the Mass of Pope John XIII acknowledged that sinfulness in the most repetitious way! We don't do that today, do we?

Anonymous said...

I didn't say anything false. I asked a question, which you have answered. Note that little punctuation mark after the word "abuse." Thanks.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My line of reasoning is that we are poor, miserable sinners, pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II. Post Vatican II liturgy and theology has "demoted" the sense of our miserableness in sinning as well as the influence of Satan. We do not articulate that phenomenon well nor do we make it evident in our modern liturgical style and words. I am not saying that the Pre-Vatican II times were perfect times,less sinful but in pre-Vatican II times, the Church's liturgical and devotional life named sin and sinners as well as evil for what it was and is and in a very effective way liturgically. The Ordinary Form of the Mass fall short in this regard not only in words but in signs.

Anonymous said...

Does articulating the "miserableness" of our human existence lead to people committing fewer or less serious sins? Is it your contention that this is the case?

If not, what is the benefit?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My post and my comments have been very clear, the EF Mass is more honest about our human condition and sinfulness whereas the OF is less so. Either way we are sinful and miserable, no matter the Mass or the times--just seeking honestly liturgically, that's all. Only God's grace can forgive the miserable sinner and reconcile Him to God and His Church.

Anonymous said...

OK. So do I understand that you are saying there is no practical benefit, in terms of a reduction in sin, from the multiple mentions of sin in the EF? If that is what you are saying, can you describe what other benefit there might be?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The practical benefit is honesty! Honesty about our sinfulness and the gravity of it! Honesty is a virtue, liturgically and otherwise.

Robert Kumpel said...

If honesty is what we are seeking, then let's be honest about this whole sexual abuse problem. It is estimated that between 1 and 2 percent of priests have been guilty of sexually abusing minors (and in 80 percent of the cases, those minors were adolescent males).

1) It has been statistically proven that young people are far more likely to be abused by foster parents and schoolteachers. In some states the statute of limitations on these particular crimes have been temporarily suspended to sue dioceses--specifically dioceses. Yet no such suspensions have been granted to sue school districts, child protective services or foster parents. This clearly demonstrates a double standard.

2) Many priests have gotten away with this kind of abuse and other misuses of their office because they cultivated a loyal following. I have witnessed and read about multiple cases in more than one state where no matter how much evidence exists, there is a core of supporters who insist the priest was "so nice" and deny any wrongdoing and blindly defend their favorite priests.

Unfortunately, even "nice" people are capable of doing horrible things. Joe Paterno has enjoyed a stellar record not only as a coach, but as a man of integrity who has been more to his players than a football teacher or someone to cover for them when they screw up. I have long admired him as one of my favorite coaches. However, that admiration has to be tempered with reality. Although he is not accused of any abuse, there are allegations that Paterno knew about much of this and did not do everything he should have. If that is the case, then he deserves a careful examination and probably should step down (as I write this, he evidently has been fired). Paterno himself has publicly admitted that this is a tragedy.

Even the best of us are capable of sins, and sometimes they are sins of omission. When these scandals arise, we should pray for God's mercy for the victims, ,for the abusers, for the enablers and for ourselves.

Henry Edwards said...

"Does articulating the "miserableness" of our human existence lead to people committing fewer or less serious sins?"

This deserves an honest answer. The answer is . . . YES.

Would anyone deny that there are more abortions now than when the traditional liturgy was normative? That there is more fornication now than then? Does anyone deny that more homosexuals (clerical or lay) act out now than then?

Surely no could be so blind as to deny any of these. So the question to be asked is whether the disintegration of the liturgy and the resultant diminution of moral sensitivity are causative factors in the decline of morality that without doubt has occurred?

A more subtle question might be whether a desire to deny the reality of sin--and to articulate it less clearly--contributed to the dilution of liturgy.

Anonymous said...

Not all defense of good priests is offered blindly. It happens these days in some Catholic parishes that priests are falsely accused of all sorts of "infractions" by those who have some beef or some argument with the Church or bishop. The local priest is unjustly made the scapegoat of a person's misdirected angst.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

In other words Henry, the law of prayer is the law of belief! Thanks for making that clear to me. I should have started off with that because certainly prior to Vatican II Catholics were very well aware of their sinfulness, not so much today though. Is there a cause and effect as it concerns the Mass and are we more inclined to sin and be oblivious to it because we are not reminded as strongly as we should be in the Liturgy itself. Good question.

Anonymous said...

Henry, can you show some evidence to back up your "YES" or is this just a feeling you have?

Remember the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy. Just because there is more sin after (which may or may not be the case) the changes of the liturgy doesn't mean the changes caused it.

Anonymous said...

See, there, Fr. McDonald. All those years you have been saying "cup" instead of "chalice," "for all" instead of "for the many," and "one in being" instead of "consubstantial" you have been contributing to the rise in abortion and gays acting out. My, my, my . . .

TCR said...

When we stand before God, the issue is not what benefits us, but abiding in truth and humility before our Maker. It is, in effect, calling a spade a spade.

Speaking of benefits smacks of pride and "what is in it for us." God sees our hearts and knows what iniquities lie within us. To have a relationship with Him based in truth requires us to acknowledge our own sinfulness and ask for His Mercy. Can we ever do this too much?

Does emphasizing our sinfulness, unworthiness, and reliance upon grace make us more likely to avoid sin? Well, as humans, "out of sight, out of mind" is often the case. What you do not reflect upon (or confess) can hurt you. We should approach the altar with awe and contrition. It is no time to mince words.

Carol H. said...

Frajm, I agree that more mea culpas would go a long way to help remedy this situation. People have lost their sense of sinfulness, and have become less humble as a result.
The root problem here is PRIDE. The cover-ups were intended to prevent the school and the Church from looking bad. Pride has robbed the victims of JUSTICE, and the criminals of MERCY. The number of victims was increased because justice was not served; and the sinner was not admonished and left to repeat his sins.
Maybe in the Year of Faith, we can take a closer look at the Cardinal Virtues,and the Cardinal Sins that work against them, in order to increse our faith and to arm us against the evil that opposes us.

Templar said...

How about discussing the other Elephant in the room? The types of sexual abuse that are repeatly coming to light involve mature men and adolescent or older boys. This abuse scandal, clerical or secular, is driven predominantly by Homosexuality.

But let's (as a society) keep normalizing it and telling them it's not disordered.

Henry Edwards said...

"Is there a cause and effect as it concerns the Mass and are we more inclined to sin and be oblivious to it because we are not reminded as strongly as we should be in the Liturgy itself."

Fr. McDonald, I'm convinced this is precisely the case. When as a good Methodist boy and college student in the 1950's, the Church attracted my interest, I was very curious as to what made Catholics so "different". They had no Sunday school, not all had been taught the Baltimore catechism as children, there was no adult religious education as such, yet every I Catholic met, whether 8-grade graduate (or less) or grad. student or Catholic faculty, seemed to share pretty much the same keen sense of Catholic morality. And when they fell from grace, they knew it and had a keen sense of Catholic guilt.

Whereas we sometimes hear now that the problem is not the liturgy, that what we need is better catechesis, I believe that the traditional liturgy was the principal catechesis of Catholics. And that no other really effective catechesis has yet or can replace the catechesis of proper liturgy.

Robert Kumpel said...

If a GOOD priest is defended, then certainly the defense is not blindly offered. I am thinking of cases where there was common knowledge of the offenses or law enforcement had evidence. To ignore that is a blind defense. Unfortunately, some priests ARE falsely accused.

Anonymous said...

There is indeed a link with the 'miserable' nature of man, the apparent harshness of the EF and the lack of character development we are enduring in this age. In the REAL secular world I work with people who demand standards that are almost unimaginable to most people. In their work they are harsh to themselves, and anyone in the same endeavour, well beyond three simple repetitions. Supreme standards demand that. My point here is that we have come to expect more than forgiveness, we want a pass on the standards.

I have been studying my 1962 Missal with new eyes, and I do not see pathetic demeaning words. What I see are prayers that are good templates for a fair assessment of capability: I can only carry so much, so I need help please; I fell short of that goal or standard because I misprioritised my actions and failed as a result. Honest people speak to each other this way and are not offended.

Some weaknesses and failings are much more severe than others. What we must develop is the sense of limits that key us to get help, and give it, when we must. The staff at Penn State, the Bishops, all failed to help when they should. We have made the same mistake by going beyond respect and love for the clergy and applying an almost superstitious reverence to them. Few people would tolerate a priest teaching incorrect math to children, so why would we tolerate error that has a moral dimension to it? there are ministries that attend to the imprisoned. It is not, as some would think, because they are unjustly imprisoned, but because they are in need of love, too. They probably actually belong there. So if a priest, coach, or friend does something this grievously wrong, report, him, give evidence, and visit him in prison on holidays.


Gene said...

It is a particularly sweet irony that this has happened in the secular religion of college sports and to one of its highest priests, Joe Paterno, among others. So, where were the riots and whining supporters when Catholic Priests were fired and prosecuted?
Truly, a reform of college football is needed. It is hopelessly corrupt, a heiarchy of authoritarian abuse.
This could all be solved if the NCAA would insist on women coaches, mandate marriage on the part of all coaches, and insist that the coach face the stands during the entire game.
Also, we do not need such esoteric language as "trap," "outside belly," and "split T," nor do we need such arcane numeric suymbols as 5-4, 4-4, 5-3. The concept of "team spirit" should be de-emphasized, as there is no indwelling "spirit" in the game. That ball is pigskin leather, nothing else, and Gatorade is Gatorade.

Anonymous said...

Once again I say to Pin - you are amazing & a big reason I read this blog! GO TEAM! -pgal