Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fire in the bosom

The Pope with Irish Bishops

This St. Patrick's Day is marked by sadness for the Church in Ireland, which is reeling from the ongoing abuse scandal in that country. Fresh scandals are breaking out all across Europe, most recently in Bavaria.

When the scandals broke in America, many conservative Catholic pundits made the claim that our sex-abuse scandal was statistically no worse than the amount of sex-scandals one would expect in any other organization, especially one the size of the Catholic Church. Therefore, although the sex scandals ought to be deplored, we ought not to think that we have a problem any worse that any other denomination or organization. This explanation has always bothered me because:

(1) I don't believe it's true; I believe the Catholic Church does have a larger problem with this proportionate to other organizations/denominations

(2) Even if it were true that our problem was no worse than that of other groups, this should provide us with no consolation since the Church is called to be holy and ought to be an exemplar of sanctity, not another organization where you just say, "Well, only 1% of our priests are pedophiles, and that's about equivalent to what it is in society at large." Since when does the Church mirror society? If society has a 1% pedophilia rate, ours should be much lower. We certainly shouldn't be happy that it's equal!

But the real tragedy is that (my inuition) I don't think it's even equal - I believe it is probably higher. Yes, I know it depends on how you define pedophilia. I know in the U.S. crisis a lot of people were defining as pedophilia what was technically ephebophilia; that is, many of the young persons involved in the abuse were not kids per se but were teenagers or young adults, persons with physically mature bodies who were nevertheless still minors. Still, some of the problem was consensual homosexual sex between priests and adult males, not strict pedophilia.

Well I say whoopty-freakin'-doo. Do any of these mitigating factors alleviate the horror of the situation? Are we more content with ephebophile and homosexual priests than with pedophile priests?

The situation in Ireland is that much more horrible because it involves not just abuse but abuse carried out in orphanages, institutions that are designed specifically to care for needy children. How did the Church in the Isle of St. Patrick come to this? This is a long tale, one that has been told many, many times before. We could cite the lowering of standards to get men into the seminary in order to prop up lagging vocations; we could cite vocational "confusion" of many priests who, trained in the chaotic and misdirected ecclesiological climate of the 60's and 70's, do not really understand why they are priests; we could cite widespread acceptance of homosexuality as a licit lifestyle, even among clergymen; we could cite corrupt bishops seeking only to protect their own rather than face up to real problems.

We could go on and on and on about these causes, but I think the ultimate cause of this scandal is nothing other than a demonic attack to destroy the priesthood, for the priesthood is vital to the life and sanctity of the Church; it is through the ministry of the priesthood that all graces come to us through the sacraments. This is a Satanic plot of destruction pure and simple.

But does that mean that this is a case of "blame it on the devil", as if there is no human responsibility? By no means; if it is a Satanic plot, it is we, the Catholic Church, who have invited him in to do his evil. If Satan is running amok in our seminaries, it is our bishops and seminary directors who have aided and abetted him by turning their head. The seminary, that institution meant to be an impregnable fortress of virtue and a school of ascesis has too often become a romping ground for demonic mischief - and this at the invitations of our own ecclesiastics who think that priestly life is a licit way for homosexuals to "express their desire to serve." No, we cannot simply blame it only on the devil, though he has his part to play; it is we who have courted his devilish influence by dallying around too close with him via modernism, relatavism, etc. Can one dance with the devil and not get singed? "Can a man hide fire in his bosom, and his garments not burn?" (Proverbs 6:27). If we have been burned, it is because the Church has been hiding fire in her bosom.

I think that perhaps the U.S. sex scandal was a warning from God to clean our own house first before the Church tries to clean up the world. Unfortunately, it seems that the European Church did not learn from America's calamity and is now experiencing something that could be profoundly worse, since it seems more widespread in a continent with less practicing Catholics. What is the solution?

We could go on and on about policy changes and disciplinary requirements that need to be kept, but to keep it simple, I propose that the Catholic Church start to take seriously the admonition given by our first pope:

"It is time that judgment should begin at the house of God" (1 Pet. 4:17).

During one of his last Lents on this earth, holy Saint Patrick fasted for forty days upon the top of Croagh Patrick and had a vision in which God promised him that he should watch over the Irish until the end of time and stand in judgment over them at the last day. May St. Patrick, whose inspired preaching and labors converted a nation from darkness to light, again intercede for his people and obtain from God the graces to have a true restoration of the Faith in the Holy Isle and throughout the Church.


Jack said...

I don't know the situation in Ireland or Germany, but it seems that most of the american clerical pedophiles (depending on how one defines it; the legal and clinical definitions differ) were in fact trained in the Pre-Vatican 2 system.

Boniface said...

Now that would be something interesting to see some stats on...although those priests would have to be extremely elderly by now as most pre-V2 priests are no longer serving.

Anonymous said...

I came across an opinion today, which as far as I know is also FACTUALLY TRUE, which pointed out that Ratzinger drafted a BINDING church document and direct ORDER, that the world-wide church was to maintain a strict code of silence re the topic of child (and young person) abuse, and keep any investigations strictly within the church.

Such a strategy did two things.

1.It made the church altogether, and the agents of the church, including Cardinals, Bishops and Priests ABOVE AND BEYOND the law of the state, and hence of justice.

Its purpose and intent was to protect the "good" name of the church at the expense of its, now documented, many victims.

2.It effectively created a world-wide conspiracy to intentionally subvert or undermine the process of justice, or the rule of law, upon which modern civil society is based.

To much for the moral relativism!!

Steve said...

Fatima holds the key:

In her 1957 conversation with Father Fuentes, her last public interview that was not pre-approved by the Vatican, Sister Lucy said: "The devil is about to wage a decisive battle with the Blessed Virgin, as he knows what it is that offends God the most, and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God, because in this way he will succeed in leaving the souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them."

rkl said...

It would seem to me that whatever the Church’s law is, i.e. a binding church document and direct order, would still have to be in accordance with civil law unless the civil law is blatantly immoral or unethical.

The Church realizes that in order to function as an institution in a secular world, she must do her best adhere to its laws where they are reasonable and moral. As we are seeing now, no church document or order can give absolute immunity to the Church, her cardinals, bishops, and priests.

The Church probably contemplated her “good” name when making such a policy. But moreover, I think that it is possible that the Church did this for several reasons: 1) It is the Catholic Church- a church of sinners, not saints. She wants her children to change and believes in them. Now, as na├»ve as this may seem, we must remember that the Church does not have a criminal system like civil law, that is, there are no “Church prisons.” 2) Some of the accusations may have been false. As we are seeing now, even a false accusation against a priest can have a lifelong effect upon the innocent priest.

I’m not saying what the Church did was right, especially in light of the facts that this was such a pervasive problem in so many parts of the world (and let’s face it, these problems aren’t the type that bishops would be rushing to the Vatican about- they likely all thought it was an isolated problem with their own diocese) and the fact that it was and is the most vulnerable people, the young, that are being victimized in a place where they are supposed to be most safe. However, I do find it hard to believe it was a “world-wide conspiracy to intentionally subvert or undermine the process of justice.”

Coincidentally, church law (canon law) is one of the oldest (if not *the* oldest) continually functioning legal systems in the world, and it influenced Anglo common law. Anglo common law, in turn, greatly influenced the law of the modern society.