Truly Terrifying

Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI called sexual abuse “truly terrifying.”  In his frank comments to reporters aboard the plane en route to Portugal, he seemed to rebut curial officials who have sought to portray the crisis as somehow generated from the outside.  "The greatest persecution of the church comes not from enemies on the outside, but is born from sin inside the church," Benedict said.  "The church thus has a profound need to relearn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness, but also the necessity of justice," the pope said. "Forgiveness does not take the place of justice.” 

John L. Allen, Jr., NCR's Rome correspondent, in that same Times story, agrees that the pope is responding to curial officials who sought to deflect attention away from the true nature of the crisis.  That would include such people as Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's former Secretary of State and current dean of the College of Cardinals, who called the reports of abuse “petty gossip.”  (That this happened during the Easter Vigil Mass made his comments all the more shocking.)  Also included would be Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the powerful Columbian prelate who served as prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy.  In 2001, the cardinal wrote that he “rejoiced” when he discovered that a French bishop had sheltered an abusive priests from authorities.  “I congratulate you on not having reported a priest to the civil authorities," Castrillon-Hoyos wrote to Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux (of all places). "You have done well, and I rejoice at having an associate in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all the others bishops of the world, will have chosen prison rather than speaking out against his priest-son."  (This is probably the worst use of the beautiful word “rejoice” imaginable.  "I rejoiced when they said to me, 'Let us go to the House of the Lord,'" says Psalm 122.  Who "rejoices" over hiding a sex crime?)  Castrillon Hoyos is also the subject of a devastating article in the London Tablet, which details his rise to power and his utter intransigence in the face of the abuse crisis. 

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Sexual abuse is “truly terrifying.”  The other terrifying thing is this: while sexual abuse may not be more prevalent in the church than in any other organization that has children in its care, the abuse was more readily hidden by those in power.  The past few weeks have brought to light stories that, frankly, have sickened me, and have called into question my former belief that the church is no more likely to shelter abusers than any other institutions.  There was, for example, the disgusting story of Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ, who not only abused children, but also fathered children out of wedlock, and funneled money to Vatican officials.  Despite repeated charges by credible sources, and even efforts by the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to address the charges, Maciel had been long protected against abuse claims by Pope John Paul II.  Now even the Vatican, in their directive for the overhaul of the Legion, has declared his life "devoid of scruples and authentic religious sentiment." 

Story after story of not simply abusive priests, but of mendacious bishops, intransigent superiors of religious orders and venal curial officials, seem to pour out daily.  Of course, the velocity of these reports is the result of the media’s knowing a good story when they see one, perhaps even some lingering anti-Catholicism.  On the other hand, they’re not making this stuff up.

And here is what concerns me now.  Despite the fact that Scout masters, school teachers, youth minister and the like--not to mention ministers, rabbis and imams--have all been connected with sexual abuse, the institutions of which they are members simply have not demonstrated (so far) the obtuseness, stonewalling, defensiveness, instransigence and sinfulness that the Catholic church has on this matter.  The institution of the church--and here I mean the hierarchy--particularly in its historic desire to shield itself from any and all critique by "outsiders," and its desire to avoid "scandal" made the problem of sexual abuse, which is probably just as rampant in other groups, infinitely worse. 

How did we get to this point?  How did we find ourselves with some leaders who are not only blind but almost willfully so?  (The old term "invincible ignorance" comes to mind.)  Part of it is the lust for power.  Our blunt editorial this week talks about the "black cloud of flattery" that envelopes the curia, the last Renaissance court.  Part of it is pride.  One of the less-noted aspects of this saga is how shocked Vatican officials are when anyone has the temerity to contradict them, or even to question them.  (Benedict, who many credit with taking a hard line with abusers and with Maciel, while at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was not immune to this.  See this video of his slapping a reporter who asked him about Maciel.)  It’s not hard to extrapolate this into a disregard for victims and their families.  That is, if a bishop won't speak to the police or to the media, why would he speak to a victim or a parent?

But finally it comes down to sinfulness, as Benedict rightly admitted yesterday.  And not just the sin of abuse but the sin of ignoring it.  There are "sins of omission" as well as "sins of commission."  That is, sexual abuse is not “petty,” nor are reports of it “gossip.”  And the last thing that one should do at the hiding of an abusive priest is “rejoice.”  Turning away from sexual abuse, and rejoicing over the hiding of a priest are sinful, or at least close enough.  Were someone to enter a confessional and confess that he thought that a murder was “petty” it would be a serious indication of his inability to understand right and wrong.  Were someone to say that he “rejoiced” over the murder of someone I would think him immoral. 

Sexual abuse is “truly terrifying.”  So is the presence of "sin inside the church."

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Molly Roach
8 years 2 months ago
What is really sickening is the lives of people who were so terribly harmed by this sexual abuse,  and then re-abused by the denial of the prevailing Catholic culture, starting with parents and teachers and going upward to pastors, and bishops.  I do not believe that our Pope, the clerics in the Roman curia or most of our bishops are men of any convictions related to the revelation of God in Christ.  They are rather individuals committed to their own positions, prestige, power.   It's a very sad thing to acknowledge.   Benedict is still speaking ambiguously.  He does not clearly state that he is addressing the abuse situation and the bishop protecting the abusers situation.   It's very abstract and very self-serving.  Finally, when are the sexually active bishops and priests who are not involved in abusive sexual relationships going to admit what the hell has been going on and acknowledge that they are part of the problem since they have been blackmailed into silence by perpetrators?  When is that going to happen?  
Livia Fiordelisi
8 years 2 months ago
Dear Fr. Martin,
Before David Smith/Peter Lake/JR Cosgrove/Brett Joyce and others begin their disputes, I want to say thank you for this honest commentary.
Gerelyn Hollingsworth
8 years 2 months ago
Slapping the reporter encapsulates it all.
Michael Liddy
8 years 2 months ago
On the money Fr. Martin. I am as angry and as dissapointed in our "leaders" as you are. Despite that slap of the reporter, there are some truly good leaders in the Vatican and I do think we are on the right road with Pope Benedict XVI, and have been on the right road for a while. I am just thankful that we are finally picking up speed. This has been disgraceful and incredibly painful to so many victims, their families, and others and it will be for decades to come.
Bill Collier
8 years 2 months ago
An excellent commentary. The Pope will be in Fatima soon. What better place for the Church, in his own words, to begin "to relearn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness, [and] also the necessity of justice."
8 years 2 months ago
This video by a survivor may be of interest:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpnkj1p_jPE  The was made by Joey Piscielli.
 
Kate Smith
8 years 2 months ago
There's a lot here to ponder, and I appreciate your time spent writing this. 
 
I want to make a suggestion.  You will go a long way to being INCLUSIVE of all Catholic experience if you edit this statement:  ''Story after story of not simply abusive priests, but of mendacious bishops, intransigent archbishops and venal curial officials, seem to pour out daily........'' and you continue with this intro.
 
Next time find a way to include religious superiors, i.e. the leaders of religious orders in the Catholic church - provincials, superior generals.
 
You keep leaving them out, while some of the most outrageous stories of what the Catholic church is doing in 2010 comes from religious orders.  
 
The fact that you leave them out is glaring when every single American bishop sends a victim of a religious order priest, nun or brother to the religious superiors of that order.  You know that.
 
Please stop the discrimination.  Include everyone.
Carolyn Disco
8 years 2 months ago
Thank you, Jim Martin. Your sensitivity and insight are like balm from Gilead. I am grateful for your comments, truly.
 
Still, I resonate with what Molly said about imprecise speech, generalities, and ambiguous language from Benedict. A miniscule step forward in clarity is hailed around the world as a milestone when I am want to scream, where have you been? Is the learning curve really that dense a thicket? What a sad commentary on the clerical system, then.
 
Why is Law not in seclusion; why are McCormack, George, and Mahony still in power, anticipating honorifics and plaudits from an equally blind, passive laity on their retirements? And in the name of God, why are Sodano and Castrillon-Hoyos not consigned to obscurity instead of headlining at major ceremonies, or strutting around in cappa magna's to impressionable crowds?
 
Why is Sean Brady still in power in Ireland, and Diarmuid Martin not in his place? These indicators are far more powerful witness than all the repeated horror and words that come across as cheap grace to survivors and their supporters.
 
'Sin' covers it? When one confesses, it should be more than just Father, I am guilty of sin, or sin has occurred. I'll have to try that at my next confession, and see how far it gets me. And here apparently, it is always the other who has sinned.
 
How about indicating what one is supposed to be penitent for? Willful blindness, conscious as well as invincible ignorance, flagrant indifference, arrogance, the lies (I've got a list), criminal endangerment of children, not a vague something subsumed under the all-encompassing 'sin'. Well, yes, of course. What about crimes?
 
Too much word fog; not enough action, but the glacial papal pace is better than none. Still, justice and accountability shrivel and die like raisins in the sun, just as dreams do, when delayed too long. Past time to pick up the pace.
Mona Villarrubia
8 years 2 months ago
Fr. Martin, you make an excellent point when you say that although other institutions have issues with sexually abusive leaders, no other institution appears to have exercised the same degree of "obtuseness, stonewalling, defensiveness, intransigence and sinfulness that the Catholic Church has on this matter." I would add “outright denial” and “lies” to this list. Bishops have been found to have lied regarding the records of abusive priests, and their knowledge of these records, on multiple occasions. In the arena of criminal litigation would this not be perjury and itself a criminal offense? Therefore I would like to add another characteristic to the list: malfeasance in office.
According to Louisiana Law, "Whoever commits the crime of malfeasance in office shall be imprisoned for not more than five years with or without hard labor or shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars or both." LA R.S. 14:134.  I would suggest that until our religious leaders are considered accountable to civil law, or to standards and penalties equivalent to such, we will not see much change in the behavior of Catholic officials.
Gloria Sullivan
8 years 2 months ago
The Sin that the pope speaks about being so terrifying,  happens to be the 'SIN AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT'.  
 
 
THAT HAPPENS TO BE"THE UNFORGIVEABLE SIN".
 
IF YOU'VE COMMITTED THAT SIN, I'D THINK IT WOULD BE TERRIFYING!!!!
8 years 2 months ago
I feel for the first time that our feet may begin to touch the ground on this issue, so that we can all walk forward into whatever needs to happen for the Church. But now that we are no longer deflecting inquiry, pointing fingers and brushing things under the carpet, what seriously difficult changes need to be made? Does religious discipline need an overhaul? Need there be a basic restructuring of bishops' oversight of their priests and their dioceses? Your commentary points to one important reform that's long overdue: reform of the Roman Curia-the Vatican bureaucracies and the princely trappings of their higher offices. Ecclesia semper reformanda is a hopeful adage, but we've long mastered avoiding it...
J B
8 years 2 months ago
Bravo, Carolyn (#11).  I am going to copy your post and send it to on.
I am glad that James Martin is FINALLY beginning to get it.  Some of his blogs start out OK, then go back to the old excuses (such as the one earlier this week that started strong, but then focused on the interview with the CU priest who was formerly at St. Luke's)
Carolyn Disco
8 years 2 months ago
I just watched survivor Joey Piscatelli's video mentioned in #7, and must ask him to post the back-up documentation he has regarding Levada's lies on www.BishopAccpuntability.org . Well worth watching, especially his report of Levada calling him a “fucking idiot” to his face.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpnkj1p_jPE
 
That mindset is in line with the disgusting insults used by Pietro Sambi, Vatican nuncio in DC, to a lone elderly survivor who has stood outside the embassy (nunciature) for years. http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/05/07/archbishop-sambis-bizarre-war-of-words-with-sex-abuse-protester/
 
Idiot seems to be a curial favorite.
 
Scratch the surface and see what ugliness is revealed at the highest levels. Hardly the shepherd, or alter Christus.
 
So, how does one disinfect the clerical culture of its hauteur, arrogance, corrosive secrecy, and sense of exemption and privilege? Maybe, some of the mickey might have been taken out of a goodly number if forced to see the bars close behind them –  to borrow some humor from the Brits.
 
Stephen O'Brien
8 years 2 months ago
Father Martin writes: ''Despite repeated charges by credible sources, and even efforts by the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to address the charges, Maciel had been long protected against abuse claims by Pope John Paul II.''  Is it not the case, then, that the Holy Father should halt all efforts to beatify John Paul II? 
Ken Atherton
8 years 2 months ago
Amen, James.
8 years 2 months ago
Kate B asks valid questions. So far the abuse crisis has focused on miscreant bishops who shuffled pederast priests from parish to parish without any accountability. But what about religious orders such as the Jesuits whose provincials exercise authority over their own clergy? Have any Jesuit superiors been held accountable for the same actions of shuffling priests that we rightly hold as despicable when bishops engage in them. In response to highly publicized cases of abuse in the Northwest US and in Alaska, did Peter Hans Kolvenbach or Adolfo Nicolas issue a pastoral letter of contrition on behalf of Jesuits? It is good to call for reform of the Curia which clearly in need of it. But the problem isn't limited to the Curia. Please read this report from NPR in 2007 about Jesuit priest Donald McGuire: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15683354. In denying that there was a coverup by Jesuit authorities, the superior says, "We were treating him as a member of the Jesuit order". In the end, the same operating principle of like protecting like is in place. The most frustrating about the scandal is that so often the responses (and I don't mean this post from Fr. Martin) fall along ideological faultlines within the Church. I've heard some defenders of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass make excuses for the aforementioned Castrillon Hoyos' awful defense of the French Bishop. But I've also heard equally lame defenses from the other end of the ideological spectrum for men like Archbishop Rembert Weakland whose liturgical tastes were very different from Hoyos' yet spewed out equally horrendous statements such as this from 1988 (taken from rickross.com): "Not all adolescent victims are so innocent. Some can be sexually very active and aggressive and often quite streetwise. We frequently try such adolescents for crimes as adults at that age." Yet at his resignation, here is what Dignity had to say to the NY Times: "[The circumstance of his resignation]doesn't change our view of him, and maybe it's because of his own weaknesses that he was able to be forgiving and helpful to other people who have had failings."
Jeff Bagnell
8 years 2 months ago
Let's not use the Maciel case to bash JP II.  John Paul came from an environment where sexual abuse of teens and children by priests and nuns was literally unthinkable.  In his mind these were attacks on the Church by her enemies.  His relations with Maciel also were about .01% of the sum total of his work and service while pope.  So please.
Stephen O'Brien
8 years 2 months ago
Contrary to one of the above comments, after eight former Legionaries of Christ had accused the head of their congregation of sexual abuse in a canonical complaint presented to the Vatican in 1998, Pope John Paul II was obliged to ensure an immediate investigation.  If we Catholics refuse to acknowledge this obligation, the crisis will worsen, and minors will continue to be endangered.  Please don't listen to me.  Listen to the words of Christ in *Mt* 18:5-7.
Jeff Bagnell
8 years 2 months ago
And in a canonical trial Maciel could have been acquitted.  There is due process. The filing of a charge does not make it gospel truth.  
 
All I'm saying is that there are any number of people out there who hated JP II for other reasons, who now would like to smear him as a facilitator of sexual abuse.   This is a lie of the first order.  
Theresa Maccarone
8 years 2 months ago
Great post, Fr. Martin!
Carolyn Disco
8 years 2 months ago
Jeff S. (when is America going to enforce its policy of full names??),
 
Since even the Legion now admits Maciel abused minor seminarians, it does not speak well of any canonical trial that might have found him not guilty. All the evidence of their abuse that is available now was available then.
 
JPII closed his eyes to the truth, and it is no excuse that clerical sexual abuse seemed unthinkable to him. How perceptive is that about human nature?
 
To have missed perhaps the greatest scandal since the Reformation because of your own blindness is more than salutary.
William deHaas
8 years 2 months ago
First, Fr. Martin appreciate a well written column. Now, may I follow up on some of Carolyn Disco's comments without becoming cynical or sarcastic.

Although your thoughts and directions are factual and pointed, I wonder about many of you who can best be described as ''popularizers''. You are, in many ways, ''Johnny Come Lately'' to this specific tone, direction, and points.

For some of us, this journey started in 1985 in Lafayette, LA (yes, a backwater to you NY types). That initial media frenzy only confirmed for some of us what we had been dealing with in terms of behaviors in seminary and in pastoral work.

Following that event, Doyle, Mouton, Peterson spoke and published their report which laid out and predicted exactly what you are talking about now - 25 years later. They were shut down.

Those of us in Dallas lived through another event in 1996-1997 - yet, it barely rippled the NY press.

Then, we had Boston and the Dallas Charter in 2002 - now, 8 years later folks are acting like this is all ''new''. Well, the worldwide implications have always been there but media, catholic press have gone through the same steps of denial, etc. that the curia has. Yes, now we more clearly see as Richard Sipe wrote in 1992 - ''it will go all the way up to the pope!''

So, would suggest that all catholics and especially writers in your position need to take a hard look in the mirror - why are you just now writing this? Why didn't you speak out earlier? You had access to the same information as SNAP, VOTF, Call to Action, We Are Church? Anyone can lay their hands on Doyle's report? So, speaking of sins of omission - where do you lie? Have you ever spent time with victims? with their parents, family members? Have you spent time with a priest abuser?

Realize that you were not a priest back in the 1980's and 1990's but why have priests been so silent in the face of this ''truly terrifying'' situation - we are a community of faith - why were some doubted for so long? You are a Jesuit - why no column about Jesuit behavior in Alaska and the NW of the US - even by some Jesuit bishops?

This situation can only change when we ALL recognize that we have avoided sin in the church and that we are part of the sin.
Jeff Bagnell
8 years 2 months ago
Funny Carolyn when it is a lib posting something here without their full name, I don't hear you complaining.  What is it with the lib obsession to get people's names?  Are you going to hunt me down and "expose" me as a defender of John Paul II?  
 
I'm trying to decipher your post.  I don't doubt that Maciel was guilty, but you do understand due process I assume?  In America we have trials by jury, not accusation.  Evidence has to be put on.  The complaint was filed in 1999.  I don't know how JPII really handled that case at all and maybe one of America's writers can do an expose on it.  But the call to cease any movement toward his beatification is at least mean-spirited when one considers the heroic service he gave the Church during virtually his entire life.    
Carolyn Disco
8 years 2 months ago
Jeff, I assign greater credence to any post when the author signs his or her full name. The stated policy of the magazine should be implemented, except where the one writing is a survivor.
 
I believe there should be a full examination, pro and con, of any candidate for canonization. It has become a political game, IMHO, with an impetus to canonize popes from P9 on.
 
The Maciel case was filed in October, 1998, and deep-sixed for political reasons for years. The evidence was there in spades. Read Vows of Silence by Jason Berry to learn the particulars, or get the DVD www.vowsofsilencefilm.com.
 
 
Stephen O'Brien
8 years 2 months ago
The canonical complaint against Maciel was filed in person in the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on October 17, 1998, but accuser Juan Vaca had written to Pope John Paul II in 1978 and 1989.  It appears that neither John Paul II nor Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the CDF prefect, took any effective action against Maciel before 2004.
I don’t understand how any Catholic can consider it “mean-spirited” to deny beatification to a Pope who seems to have done nothing in response to such a serious complaint for twenty-six years.  Is such an abdication of responsibility a sign of the heroic virtue required for canonization?
Please view the documentary Vows of Silence.
Carolyn Disco
8 years 2 months ago
Responsible and appropriate correction by Jim Martin in response to Kate. In a generous spirit...thank you.
Jeff Bagnell
8 years 2 months ago
Good because I am one.
 
That has never stopped me from being fair to John Paul II or any other clergy member.  John Paul was in some ways probably a victim of his own holiness and masculinity in coming to grips with what was happening.  (God has at least one major advantage over the saints; He is omniscient, they are not).  He had nothing to do with the conduct, and by 1978 the infiltration of the Church by totally unworthy men had already happened.  This sudden rush to centralize all authority and responsibility is more than mildly ironic coming from those who for the last 40 years have clamored for collegiality and decentralization of authority. All of the sudden everything is the Vatican's fault.  I know this appeals to the inner "Watergate" of some in the United States, but this is not Watergate.  And John Paul II is not Nixon.  Let the Devil's advocate investigate JP II's life; I am not concerned.  
 
John Paul inherited a Church that was a mess in 1978.  He gave his life trying to restore her spirit and confidence, and largely succeeded.  He inspired millions including me to hold fast to Jesus and the Church.  I will never forget how he berated that errant liberation theology priest in Nicaragua.  It was brutal but manly.  If he had any inkling that who he thought was his friend, Maciel, was abusing boys, I do not doubt that his reaction would have been more savage.
 
One final comment regarding the Ratzinger video.. In the clip in Father Martin's post, Ratzinger's interaction with Ross is edited to show only the last seconds of the interaction.  Look on YouTube for the entire encounter; you will see that Ratzinger tried to be polite, was coming out of his apartment, and this stranger all of the sudden starts asking him questions about sexual abuse involving a very well known religious order.  (not the Jesuits).  
William deHaas
8 years 2 months ago
The JPII discussion is a side issue to Fr. Martin's much larger issue and remarks. That being said, would predict that JPII and B16 will be judged by historians picking sides in much the same way they do today on Pius XII and his reaction to the Holocaust - some say his actions were saintly; some condemn him for his ''silence''.

B16 had 20 years over the CDF - he may not have had direct control of abuse cases but did he merely engage in internal power fights; did he merely follow orders?

How about JPII - many historians say he was so conditioned by his experience with soviet/polish communism that he regarded any and all accusations against priests to be false. Does that mean the he gets a pass on ignoring the ''truly terrifying'' crisis to use B16's words? Does his ''conditioned'' non-response to sexual abuse mean that he is a saint?

I expect more from a saint especially one who is a pope. But, again, propose that this will wind up being a debate between historians.
8 years 2 months ago
Fr. Martin constantly seems to be saying that the church is out of step - that it needs to be adjusted to modern culture and morals, and the crisis is the result of this disconnect between the Church and the people, so to speak. 
 
That is very true - but the antidote is not found through "modernity" or mimicking the liberality of other institutions in society - the antidote is becoming truly Catholic and truly uncompromising followers of Christ - as Benedict calls us to do.
 
Here is Rod Dreher on the Irish prelate, Diarmuid Martin's, blunt words and on their greater signifigance:
 
"He seems to me to be saying, as Pope Benedict has said before, that the only Christians who are going to make it through this time with their faith intact are those who cultivate a living, active relationship to God through real prayer and worship. Cultural conditions have changed dramatically. He criticizes his own church for not changing with the times, by which he plainly does not mean failing to liberalize, and to accept modern morals; he means that the Church has not understood how radically the ground has shifted under its feet, and how therefore it has to change the way it presents the Gospel to new generations. That is a truthful observation that all Christians, and indeed all religious believers living in the secular West, must accept. The archbishop seems to be saying of his own church (if I'm reading him correctly) that the abuse scandal arose in part because people stopped caring about Jesus, and what he stood for, and rather accepted, or came to depend on, an empty formalism that accepted the structure and habits and rituals of Irish Catholicism, and mistakenly thought they were doing enough to serve the Lord."
 
 
Brendan McGrath
8 years 2 months ago
Jeff S. - You wrote, "Let the Devil's advocate investigate JP II's life; I am not concerned."  - I could be mistaken, but I think unfortunately John Paul II eliminated the position of the devil's advocate and made the canonization process less rigorous.  I think we definitely should restore the position of devil's advocate.      
Jeff Bagnell
8 years 2 months ago
 
He is now known as the Promoter of the Faith.  The position was not done away with.
 
The whole phenomenon of clergy abuse, and its toleration by bishops for so long, reminds of Montini's famous words in 1968 that the "smoke of Satan had entered the Church through some crack."  I think he had a premonition of what was to come.
MAUREEN TURLISH SISTER
8 years 2 months ago
Pope Benedict is ''saying'' a little more with his recent statements but he has not done anything in the concrete.

Certainly if he removed Bernard Cardinal Law from any official positions it would be a beginning.
_____

''CHURCH LEADERS ARE SPINNING THEIR WHEELS,''

National Catholic Reporter at:

http://ncronline.org/blogs/examining-crisis/church-leaders-are-spinning-their-wheels

On NPR Radio Times show from WHYY on April 12, 2010 in Philadelphia where Marci Hamilton (a constitutional lawyer whose area of interest is church state issues) and I discussed ''Holding clergy and church leaders legally accountable for child abuse,'' at:

http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2010/04/12/holding-clergy-and-church-leaders-legally-accountable-for-child-abuse/

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims' Advocate
New Castle, Delaware, USA
maureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com
William Lindsey
8 years 2 months ago
That's an intriguing claim, Jeff S.  You write,
 
''John Paul was in some ways probably a victim of his own holiness and masculinity in coming to grips with what was happening.''
 
And I wonder what you mean-John Paul was a ''victim of his own . . . masculinity.''
 
And then you go on to say that, in his encounter with ''that errant liberation theology priest in Nicaragua,'' John Paul was ''brutal but manly.''
 
I hadn't realize that being ''brutal but manly'' had somehow become a criterion for canonization-or a praiseworthy trait in a pastoral leader.  I'd like to hear more about these themes, if you would want to explain what you mean by them.
PHYLLIS ZAGANO
8 years 2 months ago
Benedict XVI has done more than anyone-despite his being hamstrung by curial insiders-to rectify the interior rot in the church. He slapped down the pointing finger of a reporter and told him to interview him in his office, not on the street.

How did we get this way? Take a look at the history of sexual predators protected in Catholic colleges and universities-including Jesuit colleges and universities. When I was at Fordham, my department chairman was writing editorials for ''Screw Magazine''-the only journal ever declared pornographic by the NY State Supreme Court. Neeedless to say, university officials defended his ''right'' to ''academic freedom'' despite pornography not being protected by the first amendment.

This has been going on for a very long time. And what is in the media is only ten percent of what there is lurking under the filthy carpets of chanceries and univerity president's suites.
Jeff Bagnell
8 years 2 months ago
 
Sure it's very simple.  John Paul II was not a man with homosexual inclinations.  That was obvious.  So you combine his clear heterosexuality with his holiness and you end up with someone who can hardly conceive that a priest would come on to a boy or teenager for sexual pleasure.  It's not that hard to understand.
Jeff Bagnell
8 years 2 months ago
I'd add that it was also inconceivable for the great masses of heterosexual Catholic men and women until the whole filthy mess started spilling over into the papers.  It was a very small minority of priest who engaged in this kind of perverted conduct.  The priest having an affair with a woman, that the masses of people can tend to understand, while disapproving of it.  But with boys, that did not seem possible.
Gerelyn Hollingsworth
8 years 2 months ago
The picture of Castrillon Hoyos in his chirothecœ, etc., is terrifying.

(If Jesus were to show up at a cappa magna event, would he know what was going on? Would he be required to put on a manly outfit like Castrillon's?)

(It's not manly to slap reporters or choirboys or anyone who can't slap back. Jesus didn't slap the Roman soldiers who slapped him.)
Vince Killoran
8 years 2 months ago
Slapping people seems to be a trait that runs in Benedict's family.
 
Jeff S. keeps peddling the misinformation about sexual abuse being a "gay man's crime." There's no mountain of research that will change his mind.  He is right about one thing, however: there is a crisis of masculinity in the Church today-and thank God for that!
William Lindsey
8 years 2 months ago
Thanks for your response, Jeff S.
 
From your first comment here, I've been amazed at how much insider information you appear to have about John Paul II, his life, and what he knew or didn't know about sexual abuse by Catholic clerics.
 
So John Paul II, a bona fide heterosexual, supported and defended Maciel, who BOTH abused seminarians AND fathered children with several women.
 
But because he was a bona fide heterosexual wont to engage in admirable acts of brutal masculinity, John Paul just couldn't imagine the abuse crisis-which is all about non-masculine gay priests abusing boys?
 
Even though the expensive, exhaustive John Jay study of the crisis informed the bishops that sexual orientation of priests abusing minors is a red herring?
 
I think all the women who experienced abuse at the hands of priests when they were girls would find your analysis . . . somewhat lacking.  And so perhaps the solution to this crisis has nothing at all to do with the brutal masculinity you propose as the solution.
 
Except to cause us to question those patriarchal, heterosexist analyses of social problems, which seem to have been (and continue to be) right at the heart of the problem of sexual abuse of minors, and why it is so frequently covered up.
Julius-Kei Kato
8 years 2 months ago
Thank You, Fr. Martin. This piece is truly one of the clearest and most magnificent examples of REDEEMING honesty. In short, it is such brutal honesty that will restore integrity to the church. Whatever, limitations Benedict has, I hope that he is sincerely moving away from an approach characterized by "obtuseness, stonewalling, defensiveness, instransigence and sinfulness." 
 
It is when the church (in particular, the hierarchy) finally decides to kneel and empty itself of all defensiveness (just like in Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the Publican) will it truly be whole and healthy again. It is sad that there is still too much unhelpful defensiveness (even in the comments above). I think the spirit of defensiveness in this case (I'm not talking about minutiae but rather the deeply embedded attitude to "excuse" and defend and try to preserve some of the bella figura) is what actually prevents redemption from happening. 
Jim McCrea
8 years 2 months ago
"John Paul II was not a man with homosexual inclinations."
 
And the proof this this claim is - what?
 
I could not prove that he had them and you can't prove that he didn't.
 
Nice try, though.  Santo Subito Uber Alles.
Jeff Bagnell
8 years 2 months ago
Also, on Father Martin's comments re ABC reporter Doug Ross and Ratzinger, let's be fair.  Ross sandbagged Ratzinger as he was emerging from his apartment in Rome.  How many of us are sandbagged by reporters and cameras as we are leaving our homes in the morning?  He was clearly caught off guard, which is exactly what Ross intended.  Ratzinger made a mistake there, but the full context should be appreciated.  
Kate Smith
8 years 2 months ago
Thank you for understanding, Jim, and making the change I saw when I read it again.  -Kate
8 years 2 months ago
Where is Mercy for the sinner and the sinned against???
Carolyn Disco
8 years 2 months ago
Where is justice, merciful or otherwise, for the sinner and the sinned against? Didn't Benedict just say that forgiveness is no substitute for justice?
 
I particularly see no justice for the bishops as sinners. Sin is too vague and general a term. How about crimes like criminal endangerment of children, obstruction of justice, accessory after the fact, failure to report under the law?

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