As was the case in this country with the never ending uncovering of the sex abuse of minors by clergy and then by bishops and then a prominent cardinal, now ex-cardinal and laicized priest, there were all the prophets of doom and gloom for the Church and her traditional structures. That has dissipated in our country but at its peak in France with revelations that make your skin crawl.
But the Catholic Church, while universal, is most powerfully local. By that, I mean our diocesan and parish model. And I would say, the parish is the flashpoint of happiness or displeasure of Catholics, not the diocese and not the Universal Church.
If things are going well in the local parish, things are positive, the parish thrives and all is well with the Church and world. But if the parish and its leadership are a disaster, especially the pastor, well, “Rome we have a problem.”
No matter what safeguards the Church puts into place to protect minors and rank and file laity from predatory behavior of clerics or lay leaders in the Church, ultimately, we will never be perfect in that endeavor due to human weakness and psychological denial about serious crimes so-called good people commit. It is a psychological denial and many people in both high and low places in the Church, for their own sanity, enter into denial about these crimes or look the other way. And most of us fear breaking the 8th Commandment on harming the reputation of a person even if we suspect something is not right.
I think the key to restoring trust in the hierarchy and bishops, priests and religious has to do with screening of applicants for the priesthood and certainly professional screening of those the pope names as bishops and cardinals. I worry that Pope Francis is too compulsive in naming cardinals, there is little screening, and often the one named doesn’t know it until he sees his name in the press! That is outrageous to say the least.
When I was vocation director for our diocese, I never took credit for those I recruited and eventually got ordained priests. But I did take credit for those we did not have as seminarians or who I was able to “weed out.”
In the 1970s, the standards for screening candidates for the priesthood were very lax and bishops accepted broken men, and broken in many ways, not just rigidity, thinking the seminary would be a therapeutic community to heal them and make them good priests. Even by the 80’s the seminaries were concerned about the candidates bishops were sending to them and expecting the seminary to be a therapeutic community for psychological healing of some serious disorders.
I would say that the vocations director and the bishop have a very serious obligation to screen out disordered candidates for the seminary. Simple questions posed to candidates about their sexual history can easily uncover if a candidate can or cannot live a celibate life. Promiscuity, be it heterosexual or homosexual is a red flag that the person will not be able to live celibate chastity in a healthy way.
However, the greatest threat to seminary life and then parish life, is openness to accepting candidates who clearly identify as homosexual or worse yet, LGBTQ++++. The fact that Pope Francis has stated that he is no one to judge someone’s homosexual or LGBTQ+++ identity, is a return to the 1970’s and the thought that gay men in an all male seminary that is lax about personal friendships and red flags in that regard, is not problematic or a scandal. It bodes ill for future parish life and any kind of real recovery from the sex abuse scandal we continue to experience here and around the world.
When I was choir director at a parish in the early 1980s, I was waiting for the visiting priest to show so I could go over the music we were using and in walks this dude with long hair wearing blue jeans and a sweatshirt. He told me he was celebrating the Mass and I said to him “you’ve got to be kidding.” The Mass he celebrated was as slipshod as his attire. I learned later on that he ran off with a man he met at a wedding reception for the couple he had officiated for. My guess he was clearly the product of a mid 70s seminary formation.
Father McDonald said...I worry that Pope Francis is too compulsive in naming cardinals, there is little screening...That is outrageous to say the least."
Father McDonald, it is interesting to me that in regard to your post, Pope Francis is mentioned (twice). Interesting in that the overwhelming...the massive amount of cases that have surfaced since 2013 A.D., occurred prior to Pope Francis' Pontificate.
Your headline mentioned France.
The latest report that I have read had noted that 11 current, or former, French bishops are under investigation in regard to sexual assault. Cardinal Ricard, and Bishop Michel Santier, are the only ones, as far as I know, who have surfaced on that list.
We will learn as to how many on the list are linked to Pope Francis.
-- Cardinal Ricard...in 1993 A.D. he was elevated by Pope Saint John Paul II to the rank of bishop.
In 2006 A.D., Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to the rank of Cardinal.
Are Popes Saint John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, to blame for the debacles in regard to the above appointments?
Should additional names surface, and said bishops were appointed by Pope Francis, would he deserve blame for that?
-- Bishop Michel Santier. In 2001 A.D. Pope Saint John Paul II named him bishop of Luçon.
The problem, to me, is utter lack of true spiritual catechesis of lay and consecrated. Proper spiritual life leads one to see that any commandments are only those things required to maintain that union with God.
Lacking that spiritual insight, they are only rules meant to be broken, where today the only rule is that there are no rules and everything ordered to fleeting gratification of desires which are never satisfied apart from knowing God.
Candidates for seminary should not be accepted if they first are not seeking and able to find God and wishing to lead others to that same union. Priests able to lead others to God would also see more seekers showing up.
Minus answers to those basic questions by seekers, such as "How can I know God is real?", "How can I experience God to know God is real?", churches are going to continue to fade and people look elsewhere or stop looking entire. Answering those questions would also provide worthy seminarians.
The massive majority of Catholic clergy-related abuse cases occurred decades prior to Pope Francis' Pontificate.
In recent years during Pope Francis' reign, the amount of said cases had plummeted five times less than the overall average during the past 70 years.
In 2018 A.D., the French bishops tapped Jean-Marc Sauvé, former vice-president of the Council of State, to chair a study commission on the sexual abuse of minors committed by members of the French clergy. .
"The commission determined:
-- The majority of attacks in the Church, 56 percent, occurred between 1950 and 1970.
-- 22 percent of sexual abuse attacks occurred between 1970 and 1990.
-- 22 percent between 1990 and 2020.
However, Jean-Marc Sauvé, the commission's president, reported that the number of cases of priests abusing minors from 2018 to 2020 was 35 cases per year, out of more than 13,000 practicing priests.
That is five times less than the overall average for years 1950-2020.
The "meltdown" in France had peaked decades ago.
Pope Francis protected a sexually abusive bishop in his home country and has done nothing to discipline the clerics engaged in a cocaine sex fueled gay orgy in the Vatican. You are just another useful idiot
I've beat this drum to death, but I guess I need to remind us again that the John Jay Report, commissioned by the U.S. Bishops found that more than 80 percent of the abuse cases involved ADOLESCENT males--again, that indicates HOMOSEXUALITY, yet we still hear the hollow cry of "we have greatly curbed priestly PEDOPHILIA!" It wasn't and isn't pedophilia that's the problem. Pedophilia is just a red herring used by some very snake-like prelates to divert us from their favorite sin of the flesh, which they have NO intention of denouncing or abandoning. In fact, to hear the reports from so many of the SIN-od's "listening sessions", there are repeated calls for "blessing" homosexual unions and no longer calling it sinful.
You can't have it both ways. You can't be a Church that wants to "protect the young" and continue to ordain perverts and sexual deviants, no matter how "mainstream" their deviations have become. And it's hardly surprising that the majority of sex abuse cases that we currently know about happened so long ago, as it often takes DECADES for the victims to come forward.
And yes, St. John Paul II, a man of personal holiness and a few public blunders, appointed a LOT of lousy bishops and I still maintain it was not his fault. As a veteran of dealing with communist governments, he was quite familiar with seeing people denounced as homosexuals (imagine, actually being able to call a perversion what it is and not having your government rebuke you!) when the government wanted to ruin that person's public standing. When ternas for new bishops were submitted to him, many came with cautionary warnings that certain persons were homosexuals. He invariably took such warnings as insider maneuvers to discredit a good bishop and would usually promote that very candidate. It's unfortunate we got so many unworthy bishops out of this process, but at least we know why.
Any healthy male has a natural revulsion for homosexuality. That doesn't mean "hate" either. We need to re-discover and encourage that revulsion and exercise it. Then, maybe we can exorcise what the James Martins of the Church have defiled us with.
The screening of candidates for the priesthood was supposed to happen after the Apostolic Visitation of seminaries in the US. Too many of the scoundrels were left in place so the tragedy described by Michael Rose in "Goodbye Good Men" continued. As for vetting potential Bishops, what is the "professional" help you call for? The vetting is controlled by homosexual bishops (or at least friendly to the homosexual cause) to ensure more of their own get into power. It has been this way for decades. One would be hard pressed to find members of the psychological profession who find anything wrong with homosexuals - so they would not be helpful in the screening process.
I messed up the first sentence of my post: the correction of errors in screening was supposed to happen after the visitation...I was thinking faster than I type
Sophia Here: This topic reminds me of this revelation in a September 2021 article. I wonder if you have an update on this, Fr. Mc Donald. Are the Bishops in the U.S. (actually worldwide) implementing the simple but foolproof DNA test to weed out "Transgender" men? And I hope female Religious Orders are also utilizing this test to weed out "Transgender" women. That needs to be added to the list of basic preadmission labs.
Sophia, I have no idea. It seems to me that a man feigning to be a woman with cosmetic surgery and bodily mutilation can get away with it more than a woman who does the same thing. I would hope that bishops are careful about this.
when I was vocation director which began when the AIDS crisis began and there was a lot of paranoia about it, we eventually asked that the physical examination include an AIDS test.
As the sex abuse scandal was exposed, we also asked the psychological testing include a test for pedophilia and also attraction to teenagers. There is such a test for men and it is based upon arousal after certain non-pornographic photos are shown.
So, yes, a physical exam including Scientific, Biological truths based upon DNA evidence should be utilized. Is it. I don’t know.
Thank you for this post, Father.
Have you seen Kevin Symonds' essay over at Homiletic and Pastoral Review entitled, "The Wheat and the Tares"? It seems to go well with what you have said here.
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