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Kevin ClarkeMarch 29, 2011

I spoke of the responsibility to protect at the international level in the preceding post. The sorry tale of Father Donald Maguire, S.J., recounted in today's NY Times, depicts a profound failure of RtP at a smaller scale (albeit one no less devastating to the victims described here). What else can be said about such things that haven't already be said? To read this tale as a parent and try to imagine the thinking of the administrators of this dangerous man who persisted in discounting the damage he was capable of inflicting and in ignoring decades of warning signs and malevolent behavior . . . it is beyond mind-boggling. Discouraging vocations among gay men has become the preferred focus for "fixing" this problem of abuse, but chasing gay men away from or out of the priesthood won't do anything to correct the institutional failures and almost pathological nonchalance and indifference described here in the handling of a monster like Maguire and too many like him (oh, and good luck managing the church without its many gay priests).

From the NY Times:

Jesuit leaders in Chicago largely ignored or kept secret numerous reports, spanning four decades, that a prominent priest was sexually abusing teenage boys, lawyers for victims charged on Monday in a motion for punitive damages in a Chicago court.

Included in the motion were more than 65 recently obtained church documents and depositions that, the lawyers said, demonstrated “a reckless disregard for the safety of others in the face of repeated reports of sexual misconduct” on the part of Chicago Jesuit leaders.

The former priest, Donald J. McGuire, now 80, was convicted on several counts of sex abuse in state and federal courts in 2006 and 2008, and is serving a 25-year federal sentence.

The newly public documents date from the early 1960s, when a concerned Austrian priest, in imperfect English, first observed in a letter to Chicago Jesuits that Father McGuire, newly ordained and studying in Europe, had “much relations with several boys.” The reports extend into the last decade, when Father McGuire reportedly ignored admonitions to stop traveling with young assistants, molesting one as late as 2003, as law enforcement was closing in. The legal motion argues that Father McGuire’s superiors in Chicago turned “a blind eye to his criminal actions.”

You can read the rest here, if you have the stomach for it, but you can probably guess the rest at this point.

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Juan Lino
13 years ago
Anne - thanks for the clarification at #15.  Yes, it did come off as condescending to me but that's OK - no one is perfect.  I do appreciate the caution though.

Peace and prayers! 
Juan Lino
13 years ago
Jim MCrea- if you are reading the comments in this post I finished looking up the context for the St. Thomas citation about "conscience" and will share what I learned with you in a few days in the comments section of the “Practicing Mom” post.  Ok?
13 years ago
"Discouraging vocations among gay men has become the preferred focus for "fixing" this problem of abuse"

This is clearly an inaccurate statement as psychological screening of homosexual candidates is simply one of many new measures and certainly not the focus.

That said, it is very telling that in commenting on a terrible story of a homosexual Jesuit abusing teenage males, that the first instict of the America blog is to say that the problem is anything other than the homosexual abuser himself...

(not to mention the fact that this priest is representative of the larger trend, as the majority of abuse was homosexual in form and against the young teen males of the church - of course it is against political correctness to speak in such blunt truths, which was part of the problem that helped to prolonged crisis and damage against young men in our Church)
13 years ago
I certainly agree that protecting children must be number one priority and, to this end, we can and should use all trends in the data, i.e. profiling must be done in order to assess risk both in structural and individual terms. 

Certainly trends leadership failure (lack reporting and accountability) that should be looked at and reforms (such as the Dallas conference) acted upon with urgency.

That said, if we are to be honest, there are also trends in the individual act of abuse - almost all abuse was male on male and almost all teens or pre-teens.  To say that homosexuality (a disordered sexual practice/mentality) has nothing to do with this crisis is simply to put our heads in the sand in the name of tolerance and, therefore, to continue to endanger children. 

Let's be clear though, there is a major difference between active homosexual tendencies and mere same-sex-attraction. Of course not all priests with same sex attraction are abusers!  That said, active homosexual tendencies certainly are a factor (and a major one) in the rampant abuse of teen males by male priests that occurred during this time. In addition, political correctness and a secular mentality within the leadership lead to attempts at psychological "cures" for abusers that were standard practice in the field.  Combine this with the sexual revolution and a desire not to offend active homosexual candidates to the priesthood (i.e. tolerance), and you have a perfect storm.

If we want to protect children, we need to address all of these trends, not simply the ones that we find ideologcially palatable. 
Colleen Baker
13 years ago
I think the McGuire situation says a great deal more about the importance of screening for narcissism and emotional immaturity than it does orientation.  It is sickening to me to read about one immature narcissist after another preying on the vulnerable in this Church. If we insist on defining abuse as only pertaining to children and teen age males, we will fail in any effort to root abuse out of the priesthood.
Winifred Holloway
13 years ago
I second Colleen Baker's comments about screening candidates for narcissism and immaturity.  Healthy adults, straight or gay, look for age-appropriate partners, not kids for relationships.  There's more going on with this issue than simply orientation.  Power, secrecy and deference to authority figures comes to mind, as does a maniacal adherence to not giving "scandal."  To us.  The check-writing sheep, "the little ones."  Like so many other Catholics, I am exhausted by the ugliness of these stories and the repeated boilerplate, insincere PR statements of apology from the hierarchy.  They started becoming offensive long ago. 
13 years ago
Those who work in justice systems would not point to orientation as the problem, but also, as noted, would  see  immaturity and narcissism leading the way to abuse of power/control.
The matter also points to tremendous problems in oversight by superiors.
Even today, a big demonstration at Marquette by victim groups about Fr. Wild.
(In Phily, it's revealed that the Archdiocese there felt it only had to report to civil authorities cases brought by the victim him/herself and not parents of disintereste dobservers.)
The issue of protecting prominent clergy  -until the media or litigation makes issues public, underscores the horror of the canonical system now in place and the lack of judgement on the part of leadership.
Juan Lino
13 years ago
I don't think the "canonical system" is the problem, the problem is that it is not being used at all.  Yes, narcessism and immaturity (as well as orientation - Brett claims are not as outlandish as some may think especially since I have never heard any "gay" organization denounce NAMBLA) are a big problem within a certain age group of priests.

At this point, every order should conduct a forensic investigation of all their priests, nuns, etc, and defrock the bad apples.  I am sure that people would rather have a "smaller" Church that has weeded out potential criminals than the situation we have now.
Anne Chapman
13 years ago

What would this investigation include - simply sexual orientation?  Or somehow would it uncover secret pedophiles?  How would this be done?

 A homosexual priest who does not molest children is no more danger to them than a heterosexual priest who does not molest children. Both should be left alone to continue their ministry.

So, what would the proposed investigation cover, and how and who would conduct it.  Would the "accused" be given a chance to defend themselves against the investigators, or would the reports be secret (such as was done in the "investigation" of women religious - no right to read the reports).

Juan Lino
13 years ago

You've lumped a lot of things together so let me address them in order. 

“Bad apples” in my comment does not automatically equal let’s hunt down today’s scapegoat but I can see why you thought I was implying that.  I am someone with SSA who is faithful to Christ’s invitation to live a life of virginity and I can tell you from experience that many in the life see no problem with cruising for younger and younger partners - and that’s a fact that no one wants to articulate for whatever PC reasons.  

Second, I took the time to actually read the motion issued in regard to the former Jesuit priest Donald Maguire that was mentioned in the NYT article and it clearly demonstrates that people were not even using common sense and/or a healthy skepticism.  Did people suddenly forget that we believe in “concupiscence”?  Come on, even a cursory reading of that document shows that one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that some strange stuff was going on - taking showers with a young kid, reading pornographic magazines with him, etc., should have been a red flag to anyone with half a brain.  And one has to be a total idiot to consider asking the one accused if they did it constitutes an investigation.

...“what would the proposed investigation cover, and how and who would conduct it.” 
Well, let’s see, if I recall correctly, it was public knowledge that Shanley was a member of NAMBLA - shouldn’t that been a sign to make sure this guy didn’t work with children?  So the investigation should, in my book, start with those obvious signs.  I realize that we are all sinners but there’s a world of difference between “obstinate impenetrability and disobedience” and stupidity.

Would the "accused" be given a chance to defend themselves against the investigators...
They should be told what the charge is and should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.  Of course, we don’t live in a “utopia” and so we need some kind of checks and balances.  The movie “Serpico” immediately comes to mind when I think of how difficult this will be.

“...or would the reports be secret (such as was done in the "investigation" of women religious - no right to read the reports).” 
Ha, I’ve noticed that it’s primarily the “progressive” women’s (generally feminist) religious that are squawking about this and so I have no sympathy for them.  I compare it to following:  “who in their right mind would allow an enemy to their report about them.”

Am I being inconsistent?  Perhaps, but that’s my right as a person suffering from concupiscence.  

Michael Loll
13 years ago
In his recent interview with 60 Minutes Archbishop Dolan stated that the majority of child abusers in our society are actually married males.
Anne Chapman
13 years ago

Thank you for clarifying.  I agree that many red flags were repeatedly ignored.  The red flags related to Shanley were repeatedly ignored by Cardinal Law - yet he has been absolved from any responsibility.  So, if the PTB overlook a Cardinal's failures, and reward the Cardinal instead, who should conduct the investigation?  It seems that the superiors of religious orders are no more responsible than the bishops.  Again, who should conduct the investigation?

I think you are a bit too dismissive of the concerns of the religious women.  They object to the fact that they will not be allowed to read the report - would you not object if you were investigatged because someone with authority over you has stated that they do not believe that you are doing your job right - investigated on how you are doing the job, for example - and a decision impacting you may come from this investigation but you will not be allowed to read the report?  Would you not believe that it's important to have the opportunity to correct any errors in the report?  How could you defend yourself, or present your own case if the information is kept secret from you?
Juan Lino
13 years ago
Anne - I agree that I am too dismissive of any priest, nun, brother, etc. that stays in the Church to remake it in their image and/or teaches or promotes heterodoxy (or heresy) - but I don't consider that bad because error has no rights.  

Perhaps I am too skeptical but I don't trust the narrative that the progressive nuns are promoting and so I look at their claims as part of the power games I have personally seen them play.  

Ok, putting that aside.  Yes, if it can be proved that the situation you describe is in fact objectively true, then I agree that one should have the opportunity to read the final report to point out any deviation from the facts.
Juan Lino
13 years ago
Anne - regarding who should investigate - I referred to the movie "Serpico" precisely because I think it provides a possible clue to what could be done.
Anne Chapman
13 years ago
I am not a movie goer, and know nothing about the movie Serpico.  So, I am afraid you might have to explain.

I have another question. It took a while for me to puzzle over the acronym SSA - I assume from the rest of your statement that it means "same sex attraction", IOW, a homosexual orientation.  You believe that it is necessary to remain a virgin, and I admire you for following your conscience on this.  It is not an easy choice.  Given that you personally know that you can abstain from a sexual relationship, do you agree that priests who also have SSA can remain faithful to their vows just as heterosexual priests do (most of the time, anyway)?

I am still unclear about the practical matters related to the proposed "investigation."

I think you are a bit hasty in judging the women religious.  There is no evidence that they want to remake the church in their image.  However, most came of age and were formed in a different era - the one started by John XXIII, one that was far more open to new ideas than is the current Rome regime which seeks safety in the past.  Unfortunately we cannot go backward, only foreward, no matter how challenging and painful that may be.

 I suspect that you are young (please correct me if I'm wrong), and attracted to the seeming certainties (and comfort) of a very rules-defined religion.  That is understandable in those in a generation that grew up in a world with few boundaries, which can be frightening to all of us at times, but more so to those without the knowledge or experience to trust their own judgments in forming their consciences.  It is a clearly defined stage of spiritual growth, actually, that almost everyone, even the most "progresive" have passed through.  The women religious who have devoted their whole lives to serving the church, generally by serving "the least of these" are doing God's work - they subscribe to the words of Jesus in Matthew 25, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, heal the sick etc to the "least of these" because they understand that in doing so, they are caring for Christ in them, caring for Christ himself, as he said.

You seem a thoughtful sort, so maybe bit more compassion, patience, and humility (along with a few more years of living) will help you understand these sisters a bit more even if not agreeing with them all the time.  My admiration for many of the women religious of this generation - who were my teachers and mentors and role models as a young women - is great, and based on my close experience with them.  Many are truly remarkable women, and they have a deep and abiding love for Christ deeply.),. 

Anne Chapman
13 years ago
Juan, one more thing.  I am not trying to "talk down" to you, believing that you are young (maybe you are not) and, since I am old, I automatically am "wiser." Believe me, the one thing I know the older I get is how little I know, how little I understand.  But, I recognize something in you that was in me when I was young - thus, my caution to you.

Peace again!
Juan Lino
13 years ago
Anne - Wiki has an entry about the movie - look it up.

Yes - SSA means “same sex attraction.”  

Your third sentence in your second paragraph makes it seem as if the path I am leading has nothing to do with the fact that all who follow Christ are called to adhere to what he has revealed and not a “choice” like choosing to only eat fruit that has fallen off a tree (an allusion to the film “Noting Hill”).

I believe that anyone, whether married or cleric, should be faithful to their vows.  If a priest / nun / brother doesn’t want to do that then they should be honest about it and either seek help to be faithful and/or ask to be released from their vows.  Don’t stay in it just so you can milk the cash cow!  

Yes, I am young and my experience with nuns has been the angry feminist social worker types who want to remake the Church in their image.  Thanks be to Christ that you’ve have a different experience but I, and many of my friends, have not.  (That’s not to say that we aren’t fed up with narcissistic “clericalist” priests so don’t think that I am saying they are great.)    If I meet any nuns like the ones you’ve met then I’ll have new data to reevaluate my image of them - until then, I’ll stick by it.

Ah yes, the “you are young and look for certainties” line rears its head - I’ve heard it before and I don’t buy it.  I presume we are both humans and so I can assert with certainty that you also look for certainty.  That’s the way the heart is made.  Unless someone is crazy, he/she doesn’t walk down a road unless they believe it’s a certain road.  

Peace to you as well!
Juan Lino
13 years ago
Anne - I just finished reading an interesting article by Bevil Bramwell, OMI titled 15 Criteria of Authentic Catholic Thought - here's the link: 


13 years ago
Unlike most of the comments so far, Robert Nunz cut to the heart of the problems in the Catholic Church:
''The issue of protecting prominent clergy...underscores the horror of the canonical system now in place and the lack of judgement on the part of the leadership.'' (#6)

The ''old boys club'' protects its own.  Even Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, the only bishop forced to resign for the way he covered up clergy abuse, now serves on the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops and recommends bishops' assignments to the Pope. 

The priests were sick; the bishops knew what they were doing - protecting the institution and themselves.
Anne Chapman
13 years ago
Juan,  you are wrong about one thing - I no longer look for certainty. I did at one time. I came to believe, however, that there can be no certainty when dealing with mystery.  When I was young I was a very "sure" and "certain" apologist for all the Roman Catholic church teaches.  Over the years I have come to realize  a couple of things - God is mystery, and by definition, human beings will never have "certainty" when it comes to understanding God.

We do our best. The men who lead the church (mostly) do their best. But they are are also all too human and products of particular cultures, particular times in history. Jesus promised that the HS would guide the church throughout history. The church is not a handful of men in Rome. The church is all of us, and as Newman affirmed, THE church that is all of us is guided by the Holy Spirit. Newman was silenced and investigated by Rome for more than eight years for these ideas, now called "the sensus fidelium" and affirmed at Vatican II.  Jesus knew that human beings come to "truth" often by trial and error, that their understanding of what had been taught and revealed would reflect their own cultures, times in history, experiences, and is limited by their human fallible minds and understanding. So the HS would never be off the job, but would be needed to guide and enlighten to the end of worldy time Thus the church changes teachings, it must change its teachings at times - Galileo would not be tried for heresy today, Joan of Arc would not have been denied the eucharist before she was burned as a heretic.  She wouldn't have been burned at the stake at all!  The church no longer teaches that slavery is moral and "in accord with natural law." Nor does it teach that democracy is immoral or that coeducation is against "natural law" and thus sinful. 

There is no certainty and that is good - because with certainty can come arrogance, judgmentalism, and a failure to grow.  God intends us to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones, to challenge our most-loved ideas, and to always try to remain open to new understandings.  The church - both THE church and the institutional church - cannot be static, it must grow and must be open to change, or it will die.  Those who wish to retreat to an earlier time, to the comfort of an illusion of certainty, cannot, even if that is what they wish to do. I sure wish I could, but I know that this is not possible, nor even desirable for spiritual growth.

Peace to you again, Juan. I have enjoyed the discussion and pray for your continued strength and courage to take what is a hard path in today's culture. I have told you what I currently believe, I inform my conscience as best I can and follow it as best I can, which sometimes means not assenting to some (current) church teachings - but I cannot say that I am right - with certainty.

 I will look up Serpico later - I spend too much time on the computer these days.
Anne Chapman
13 years ago
David Smith,

You wrote:
"It's perfectly natural - and good, don't you think?  What would you think of a family that turned against a member because he or she was condemned by outsiders?"

No, it's not good, but evil.  The "old boys club" is protecting a relative few people at the expense of the entire family - because the church is not limited to that handful of men.  Turning predators loose on young people when it could have been stopped is evil because these men turned sexual molesters loose on the young members of what is supposed to be "their" family.  It is evil if people don't stop a predatory uncle, it is wrong if the bishops don't stop priests who rape and molest children. There is nothing at all "good" about it.
Juan Lino
13 years ago
Hi Anne – thanks for your latest reply.
However, it’s clear that I’ve been unclear so I will attempt to be clearer this time.  
You wrote: “Over the years I have come to realize a couple of things - God is mystery, and by definition, human beings will never have "certainty" when it comes to understanding God.”
“There is no certainty and that is good…”
Well, it seems to me that these statements exhibit precisely the type of certainty I am pointing at when I say that all human beings look for certainty.
For example, what makes you certain that God is mystery?  Or better, if this week you said that God is mystery but next week you said the opposite, would you seek to be certain each time you asserted the claim?
Thanks for the dialogue – I wish you peace on your journey.
13 years ago
David, The hierarchy is NOT the Church. What was tolerated, ignored and enabled was and is unadulterated evil perpetrated on the Body of Christ, His Church. Those who could have, and had an unequivocable moral responsibility to protect children will answer to God. First and foremost, the children were the priority, not the nonsense of avoiding scandal. How self serving that was and is!
13 years ago
Firstly, a word of commendation for the other Juan. He shows us how Catholicism ought to be lived: if you swallow the camel of the Incarnation and Resurrection, handling the gnat of sexual morality is 'easy' - but given our fallen world and culture, still hard and therefore honorable.  

Secondly about seminarian formation. The Church does hold that SSA is a mental disorder. It does not teach that having a disorder renders someone inferior or evil. Plenty of depressed or bi-polar people are Catholics in good standing. Many perhaps have become saints. However, all things being equal (disorders abound) ought we not seek genuinely healthy individuals first? 

Most men who show up to a seminary will have baggage of some type. Many will have traumas, disorders, vices, etc. that in any normal person would be tough crosses to bear in a typical lifestyle 'in the world', but that combined with the unique stresses of celibate priestly ministry are easily too much to expect anyone to carry. This is why there is an attrition rate at seminaries. Not everyone who starts a seminary program gets ordained 6 or 7 years later. Most don't in fact.

So it's not just men struggling with SSA. Others who are heterosexual have disorders including depression, anger issues, etc. that should just not be put in the pressure cooker environment priests commonly experience. It's not about self-fulfillment but about answering a call to serve....it's not about what's in it for the ME, but what the individual may offer to others - so if you can't because you've got another cross, then peace be with you, and go on to some other form of service.

Instead, we have those who insist that SSA is not a health problem, that it's a social problem (i.e. everyone ELSE are the crazy ones, the bigots!) and so we intentionally ignore the real stresses and factors evident in that disorder, some of the chief of which are a common distorted view of self, friendship, and agappe love.  

Like all things, we find great consolation in the Gospel for those struggling with any disorder, SSA included. The man who was possessed by a legion of demons begged to be allowed to follow Jesus after He drove the demons into the swine. Instead Jesus told him to go home....he did, and next time Jesus came to the decapolis, the whole region turned out to welcome him....so the disordered man wasn't priestly material, but he did do great work for evangelization and so helped convert 10 cities.

In our time, why do we insist that SSA is a bonus or positive good for the priesthood.... and not see that in our culture today a great field of evangelization exists for these souls to show good example in the area of virginity for the sake of the ki???ngdom??????????????????
Anne Chapman
13 years ago
Juan LL,

We have wandered a bit off-track for the general discussion. However, I would like to continue to discuss with you and will email later.

Juan Lino
13 years ago
Thanks Anne - I look forward to your e-mail.  I just switched my e-mail from gmail to yahoo so please make sure it goes to my Yahoo account.

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