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The EditorsJuly 17, 2018
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, is pictured during a reception for new cardinals at the Vatican Feb. 22, 2014. Cardinal McCarrick said he will no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Catholic Church cannot pretend to be shocked about the pattern of sexual abuse of adult seminarians by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, recently detailed in a comprehensive story in The New York Times. As The Times made clear in its reporting, many church leaders had received multiple notices of the cardinal’s behavior. Local dioceses had been told; the papal nuncio in Washington, D.C., had been told; and, eventually, even Pope Benedict XVI had been told.

But none of these reports interrupted Cardinal McCarrick’s rise through the ranks nor his appointment as cardinal nor his eventual retirement in 2006 as a respected leader of the U.S. church. Nor did these reports lead to his removal last month from public ministry, which finally resulted from a credible allegation of abuse of a minor almost 50 years ago, recently revealed and acted on by the Archdiocese of New York.

Many church leaders had received multiple notices of the cardinal’s behavior.

It is true that none of the earlier reports of abuse alleged criminal behavior with minors, but they were serious enough that Cardinal McCarrick should have been called to account for the terrible misuse of his office and authority. The church and its leaders should be ashamed of their failure to do so. The slow and halting progress the church has made by way of reforms adopted in response to the sexual abuse of children, for example through the Dallas charter, has been called into question by the revelation of its ongoing failures to deal with other reports of abuse. Nor should the media, including us in Catholic media (Cardinal McCarrick was a longtime friend of this magazine and delivered the homily at our centennial celebration in 2009), be absolved of responsibility for any failure to take these and other rumors and reports as seriously as was required. To demand accountability only of the hierarchy is itself hypocrisy.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of the sex abuse crisis]

The church also cannot pretend that this is an isolated incident. There are very likely similar reports involving other bishops and church leaders who have abused their authority or committed sexual offenses that have been ignored over past decades. As societies around the world reckon with the unfolding of the #MeToo movement and victims of sexual abuse and harassment find their voices, the church must not pretend that this is merely a regrettable episode that will soon be over.

In all likelihood, there are more reports still to come that will show this situation is worse than is now known. The church should remember that real improvement consists not in the cessation of bad press for the church but in the development of a culture in which powerful leaders do not expect their misdeeds to be silently covered up and in which victims of abuse and harassment feel supported in their decisions to confront those who have mistreated them.

What can the church do to help build that culture?

First, the church must establish once and for all its willingness to hear reports of abuse and misuse of power that have been quietly ignored or “dealt with” in the past. Bishops’ conferences should establish clear procedures for reporting concerns for those who cannot go through the local diocesan structures that answer to the very bishop whose conduct may be in question.

As societies around the world reckon with the unfolding of the #MeToo movement, the church must not pretend that this is merely a regrettable episode that will soon be over.

Second, Pope Francis and the Vatican must show that they are willing to remove bishops and other church leaders who are guilty of any form of abuse, not only the sexual abuse of children. One way to do this would be to expand the process for disciplining bishops for negligence in response to abuse of minors, which Pope Francis defined in 2016, to include other forms of abuse. But an even more important reform would be greater transparency in investigating and rendering decisions in cases involving bishops. In other words, when a bishop is removed, the Vatican needs to state publicly why he is being removed.

Third, even before action from Rome, the bishops can make substantive efforts to seek justice for victims and the church community even at the cost of institutional resources and reputation. The decision of two New Jersey dioceses to release one of Cardinal McCarrick’s accusers from confidentiality agreements is a good first step. Bishops—or indeed any ministers who misuse their office by pressuring people under their authority into sexual activity—do violence both to individual victims and to the community that has invested its trust in them. The spiritual and psychological harm—to individuals and the people of God—caused by such abuse is incalculable and long-lasting.

The best way the church can begin to repent for the sins of leaders like Cardinal McCarrick and all those who turned a blind eye to his wrongdoing is for bishops to call their brother bishops and other leaders within the church to account. It would be a significant, though sadly belated, statement of pastoral commitment for the bishops together to call upon all who have misused their ecclesial office by sexually abusing someone under their authority or pastoral care to take responsibility for their failure and submit their resignation. Another story of episcopal abuse may break in the media at any time. It would be a prophetic witness to God’s grace for the church to embrace this opportunity for repentance and the hope for reconciliation now rather than passively waiting for more secrets to be revealed.

Jesus told his disciples that it would be better for someone to have a millstone tied around his neck and be cast into the sea than to “put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me” (Mt 18:6). Surely it would be better for the church to lead the way in listening to people who have been harmed than to continue defending, even through silence, the authority and reputation of leaders who have already betrayed their pastoral responsibilities.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

This is very clear and very good, and it is the strongest recommendation regarding these scandals thus far made by anyone. Moreover, it is absolutely necessary that it, or something like it, be enacted, if the Church is to regain lost ground.

A Fielder
3 years 10 months ago

I agree that the Church has lost ground. Regaining it however, will probably involve finding a way for the laity (and women) to find the voice of moral authority. It is hard to imagine that the clergy/hierarchy will reform itself without significant pressure and accountability from the body of baptized believers. Good leaders will be able to articulate the sense of the faithful. Much ink will be spilled here on the "problem" of gay priests. I am a proponent of ordaining married people, but we also need to confront the sad reality that gay & lesbian people are highly encouraged by the church to accept celibacy whether or not it is healthy or even possible for them. This is why a high percentage of priests are gay. Justice (and common sense) demands that celibacy be freely chosen. The church offers that choice to heterosexual people. We should also offer it to people who are not.

John White
3 years 10 months ago

The bellweather change that needs to be made to truly turn the corner on this horror is for the American Church to declare that secular law takes precedence over canon law when it comes to abuse. When abuses are alleged the first act must be to contact the local law enforcement agency and for the church to cooperate fully and without hesitation with all lawful requests from the law enforcement officers.

Crystal Watson
3 years 10 months ago

This is similar to the case of Cardinal Keith O'Brien in the UK. In that situation, the victims went public and the ensuing scandal resulted in him retiring ... https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/feb/23/cardinal-keith-o-brien-accused-inappropriate

The church has to be honest about the celibacy thing. A large percentage of priests have sex or have relationships, but because of mandatory celibacy, those relationships are lied about and are hidden, and the really unhealthy ones - like the situation with McCarrick - flourish in the dark. Either be serious about celibacy and fire people who violate that, or do away with mandatory celibacy and let priests have public healthy relationships.

Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

There is a third way, which is indicated by the practice of the Orthodox Church: mandatory celibacy for hierarchs, so they can concentrate on their greater responsibilities--drawing on the monks and cenobites for those roles--and marriage as an option for parish priests.

Crystal Watson
3 years 10 months ago

This creates a two tier system where if people want to get ahead in their religious careers, they will have to choose celibacy ... this will lead to the same dishonesty as already exists in the church. Plus, there's no real reason to punish priests for wanting to have public romantic relationships and children. If it was good enough for the original disciples it should be good enough for the church.

Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

"... if people want to get ahead in their religious careers..."

The "desire to get ahead" in a religious career is prima facie evidence that the priest-candidate has no vocation at all.

Crystal Watson
3 years 10 months ago

Oh, let's not be naive.

Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

Well, then you have something in common with this predator, because he, obviously, didn't believe in a vocation to the priesthood, either. The cynicism you express regarding a special kind of God-given priestly "charism" must have eventually been widely shared by McCarrick's generation of clerics.

Phillip Stone
3 years 10 months ago

We who are talking as Catholics to Catholics have some unchangeable fundamentals.
The first is that in the communion of saints or the fellowship of believers, there are always and constantly heirachical relationships amongst us. Many tiers, not merely two. The way the disciples were called, appointed and interacted from the beginning.
Secondly, functions within the ministry are callings, vocations, and have nothing to do with careers. No-one has any rights whatsoever to have any place in the hierachy or any task in the great commission except to share in the priesthood of all believers and to spread the good news to every creature within whatever situation they find themselves.
The assertion made that a large percentage of the celibate presbyters and episcapal males have sex is ridiculous, cynical calumny and disqualifies the person from deserving any respect.

Crystal Watson
3 years 10 months ago

I don't think there needs to be a conflict between having a vocation and wanting to do well in the priesthood as a career. Even Pope Francis did what very few Jesuits would do ... became a bishop .... in what seems to have been a career move that eventually led to a Jesuit becoming a pope.

Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago

Crystal - since the abuse in this story is homosexual, you seem to be saying that celibacy creates homosexual abuse, and that if we permit straight priests to marry, there will be less of it. Very counter-cultural.

Crystal Watson
3 years 10 months ago

No, I'm not saying that. Marriage equality is the law, here and in Ireland and in the UK and many other places ... there's no reason why gay priests shouldn't be married with children (adopted) if the church did away with mandatory celibacy.

Jay Zamberlin
3 years 10 months ago

So the recent "legalization" of a practice proscribed, from the beginning, in the Scriptures and the Church, and all monotheistic religions, is the "green light" now for Catholics to "marry" homosexuals (Catholics have a very different understanding about marriage than the secular world, and that is concerning the hetero world --much less the gay world) and from there Catholic priests, (gays are recently barred from Seminaries, just btw). Must be nice to live in the Episcopalian world, but this is a CATHOLIC liberal rag, not Unitarian.

Crystal Watson
3 years 10 months ago

1) Not all monotheistic religions condemn marriage equality for LGBT people. The Episcopal church, the Lutheran church, the Presbyterian church, the UCC, the Methodist church, Conservative and Reform Judaism, and others affirm it.
2) The church may have given lip service to banning gay men from seminaries, but there is a very large proportion of gay men in the priesthood. I'm not saying the church should marry them, but they could have a civil marriage.

Frank Elliott, Jr.
3 years 10 months ago

In all monotheistic religions? What an astonishingly ignorant claim.

Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago

I should have known. The suggestion is more gay sex will lead to less gay sex abuse, just like in Hollywood (Kevin Spacey) or the Episcopal Church. But, that never works. It does not matter that same sex marriage is permitted by the law. So is abortion and adultery and divorce and a host of things that the Church teaches against. What is needed is more chaste holiness, not less.

Crystal Watson
3 years 10 months ago

"more gay sex will lead to less gay sex abuse"

What? No - having a church that doesn't promise to enforce lifetime celibacy on people but which instead recruits people with normal romantic lives, will attract fewer disturbed individuals, straight or gay.

Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago

Celibacy is not enforced - men are free to be priests or not., just as one is not forced to be Catholic But it is wrong to treat gay or straight as in any way equivalent. One is natural and leads to procreation of the species, fathers and mothers, and is ordained by God. The other is, well, not - read the Catechism.

Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

What will lead to "less gay sex abuse" is honest and open acceptance of "same-sex-attracted" men who openly profess to being, and who nevertheless want to be celibate and chaste for the Gospel's sake, and who PUBLICLY ask for the support of lay people in taking up that cross. (Which is actually happening in the lives of many priests, but, unfortunately, without the open embrace and support of their ignorant and misinformed parishioners.)

Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago

Strange that this article mentions "abuse" 15 times, "sexual" a few times and never mentions gay or homosexual, when the rise of Cardinal McCarrick can only be explained by either willful denial of what was going on or the workings of the so-called gay lobby Popes Benedict and Francis both have railed about. The NYT article says a letter was sent to Pope Benedict, but does not confirm that he received it. Was it possibly stopped in its delivery by the gay lobby in the Vatican Pope Benedict describes in his book "The Last Conversations"?

The Church has been way to lax on policing the subset of its clergy regarding chastity. It needs to take a zero tolerance for any substantiated sexual activity as a block against promotion, unless there is a serious change of heart and much repentance, prayer and fasting.

Lindsey Gibbons
3 years 10 months ago

Mr. O'Leary,
This is not about McCarrick being straight or gay. This is not about homosexuality among priests. Sexual abuse is about power. Period. It has nothing to do with sexual attraction. McCarrick was in a position of power. He grossly abused that power. To say sexual abuse is about anything other than power is pure ignorance and insulting to victims of said abuse. Stop trying to make it an issue involving sexual orientation. You clearly lack the love of Christ for your fellow man. You are the one who needs much repentance, prayer, and fasting.

Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago

I think the editors should have led with their own culpability in the coverup, and not just in the middle of the story. "Cardinal McCarrick was a longtime friend of this magazine and delivered the homily at our centennial celebration in 2009." They say "To demand accountability only of the hierarchy is itself hypocrisy." - so, what are they going to do about it? Will there be a change in the editorial policy, some articles on the centrality of chastity for any holy life, calls against any promotions for anyone who consistently fails to live a chaste life, or preaches against celibacy and chastity, etc.? We will see.

J. Calpezzo
3 years 10 months ago

Roger Mahony

Baron Corvo
3 years 10 months ago

Why is anyone surprised ?
This is the church that still allows the ecclesiastical hanky-panky of Marcel Maciel's Legionnairies of Christ...why, their strange brand of "education" (with their own text books featuring their own curious beliefs and quaint customs), and their high school seminaries.
This is the church that encouraged Maciel and still permit his cult to operate.

James Haraldson
3 years 10 months ago

I have nothing to repent. I've been pointing out that sexual sin is intrinsically evil for the same fifty years that prevailing idiocy in the Church has been downplaying the evilness of sexual sin. Those posting here that there is anything "healthy" about not leading a chaste life no matter who you are or what your station in life have a great deal to repent. But I doubt that they or the editors will ever be able to figure this out.

Molly Roach
3 years 10 months ago

Bishops calling brother bishops and other leaders to account would be a revolutionary development, long overdue.

arthur mccaffrey
3 years 10 months ago

this is a much better editorial than Fr Martin's recent confused apologia. There is still however an emphasis on sin for actions that are really crimes and these require a totally different attitude towards civil authority than the Church's present inward looking policy. And as for "take responsibility for their failure and submit their resignation....", a much better gesture would be for those who object to the Church's mishandling of abuse to resign in protest--including the offended and ashamed editorial board.

Danny Collins
3 years 10 months ago

Arthur, the offended and ashamed editorial board won't resign. They are complicit. They knew about this, yet they refused to do anything. No reporting, no investigating. Fr. Martin admits to being told and never denies believing the accusations. Instead, his article paints McCarrick as a "complicated" man and totally ignores the child abuse, only talking about the abuse of adults subordinate to McCarrick. The same must have been true for many board members. They knew of his abuse, but they ignored it, considering McCarrick a "friend" of the magazine and honoring him as such. This was as much an open secret in elite Catholic circles as Weinstein. Unlike Rod Dreher and Phil Lawler, nobody at America Magazine can talk of how they tried really hard to get this story and report on it, but were unable to get anyone to go on record. Unlike Lawler and Dreher, the staff at America have no stories of being disgusted seeing McCarrick talk piusly about holding abusers to account while himself being one. They were friends with the abuser, while knowing him to be one. They covered for him and built up his image, all the while knowing of his reputation as a serial abuser.

Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

This is libel. I hope the editors of America sue you for it.

Danny Collins
3 years 10 months ago

Robert Lewis, It's only libel if it isn't true. Fr. Martin admits to being told about the abuse in pretty good detail from multiple sources. Are you suggesting that he was the only one on the America Magazine editorial staff who knew and did nothing? What specifically do you dispute as false? Have you read articles from reporters who tried digging on this and ran into brick wall after brick wall when it came time for people to go on record? Honest journalists changed their views of McCarrick. Some, like Dreher, even left the Church over it. Corrupt figures, like Fr. Martin, heard the abuse stories from multiple sources whose reliability they never question, and then still continued to speak of McCarrick in glowing terms.

Feel free to specifically state what you think is false, though. I'm curious about where you are getting your information.

Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

No, you're wrong; in American law it's libel IF YOU CAN'T PROVE IT IN COURT. Father Martin also would have had to fear the laws against libel, if he couldn't get somebody with more than the second-hand knowledge he was privy to, to go with him to the Church or the civil authorities. Second-hand knowledge won't stand up in court, and it looks like, from what Dreher is writing today, that it also wouldn't have received a favorable hearing from John Paul II or Angelo Cardinal Sodana--and not even from Cardinal Ratzinger, until he was sure that Pope Wojtylwa was too old and sick to retaliate.

Peggy Frey
3 years 10 months ago

Your headline is misleading. I am a member of the Catholic Church, but as a woman and a lay person and an old lady I am invisible in the Catholic Church. My voice is not heard. The priests who are the leaders of the catholic Church are the people responsible for calling out this abusive behavior. The priests know what is going on among their fellows, and have turned a blind eye for not calling the perpetrators to account . Don't put this responsibility on the laity, this is a serious internal failing of the Church hierarchy from the pope on down to the seminarian who refuses to accept the consequences of speaking the truth, . These POWER abuses are rampant, and those who hold the power need to reckon with themselves for not speaking up when something doesn't smell right among their own. The Church's ordained leadership have failed the rest of us.

Danny Collins
3 years 10 months ago

Funny how all the recommendations are about how other people should change. Will anyone at America Magazine be called to account? Surely, they knew about the abuse: even Fr. Martin admitted as much. he was told, and he never denied believing the accusations, but he never dug into them and totally ignores the sexual abuse of children in his article painting McCarrick as a "complicated" man, even saintly in his patience. McCarrick's predatory abuse was an open secret, just like Harvey Weinstein. Yet, America Magazine admits to having McCarrick speak at their 2009 dinner and to him being "a friend" of the magazine.

It must be awfully convenient to be able to point the finger at others without ever having to talk about what is going to change within one's own organization.

Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

Do you have any evidence that Father Martin knew of McCarrick's abuses?--something other than the hysterical claims of Rod Dreher? If you don't, I hope you understand that you are opening yourself up to the charge of libel.

Danny Collins
3 years 10 months ago

Ha ha, Robert. Did you even read Fr. Martin's article. He admits himself to knowing. I'm not libeling him. I'm calling him out for his own admissions and silence.

"I had heard stories about Cardinal (then Bishop and Archbishop) McCarrick’s summer home, where he would invite (or suborn or force) seminarians to share a bed with him, massage them and invite them to call him “Uncle Ted.” But at the time they were unsubstantiated rumors, and I knew no one with any first-hand knowledge. (Otherwise, I would have reported them.)"

That doesn't cut it with me. Fr. Martin heard the story from multiple sources and never denies believing them. Did that affect how he wrote and spoke of the man? Did that affect how America Magazine interacted with McCarrick? No, they still spoke highly of him and honored him. Everybody knew. Rod Dreher and Phil Lawler spoke with numerous people in their reporting on the sex abuse scandal, but nobody would go on record for fear of retribution. Fr. Martin admits to hearing, but excuses himself because the people he talked to hadn't seen the abuse themselves. That just doesn't cut it. He heard the stories from multiple sources whose reliability he never questions. I find that excuse to be absolutely unacceptable.

The worst thing about it is that even though Fr. Martin never denies believing the accusations, in his article on the topic, "Cardinal McCarrick, seminarians and abuse: how could this happen?" he paints McCarrick as "complex" even saintly at times, while only mentioning the abuse of adults and never once mentioning that he was found guilty of *child* sexual abuse. That's a pretty big omission, if you want to talk about how someone could get away with abuse.

Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

Even Dreher says that he did not--could not--go public with the charge, because none of the priests who were telling him the stories would testify for the record. Perhaps you are ignorant regarding the way libel works in the United States: the onus is on the accuser to prove that what he or she is alleging is true. If he or she cannot prove it, he is in great legal danger. Now, if Fr. Martin decides to sue YOU for libel, I bet he could now find witnesses who would testify in his behalf that they either never shared with him what they knew--or that, if they did, they refused to go with him to the authorities. Also, if Fr. Martin was never part of McCarrick's entourage, then he would not himself have had firsthand knowledge. I really hope that the Jesuits seek legal action against you and others who are libeling Fr. Martin.

Danny Collins
3 years 10 months ago

Robert, You've yet to cite anything specific that was said which was libelous. If you hear through the grapevine that someone is a serial sexual abuser, there are avenues to take other than going immediately to print. Fr. Martin in his retrospective article admits to knowing of the sexual abuse from multiple sources whose credibility he never once questions, yet he did * absolutely nothing.* He can't cite even one way in which his knowledge of sexual abuse by Cardinal McCarrick changed his own behavior toward the man behind closed doors. He also completely ignores the *child* sexual abuse of McCarrick in his article about how he got away with it for so long.

There are lots of ways of dealing with abusers whose victims are too intimidated to come forward and speak on the record without risking libel. Treating the abuser like a celebrity and honoring him at your annual banquet isn't one of them.

America won't sue me for libel. They haven't even removed my comments. I've been factual and respectful in spite of calling them out on their shortcomings in the matter.

Rod Dreher did leave the church over this. He also spoke to numerous people behind closed doors about what was going on and the hypocrisy of McCarrick. He's admitted to doing so. He actually did something about this. His lack of success in trying to get the article to print was in part because other people refused to dig and continued to treat McCarrick like a great and holy man of God, in spite of knowing what was going on. They continued "doing business" with him, just like people continued doing business with Harvey Weinstein. They preferred profit to sanctity and protecting the innocent from an evil man.

Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

Because Fr. Martin has not yet said that he didn't credit the stories he heard does not mean that he didn't. You are suggesting that someone should proceed based on RUMORS. If you do that in your professional life, I'd be surprised to learn that you're still solvent and/or employed. There are people far more guilty of failing to act upon credible complaints than Martin--among whom, apparently, is "Saint" John Paul II and his papal Secretary of State, Angelo Cardinal Sodano.

Frank Pray
3 years 10 months ago

The #MeToo movement has a stated tactical approach to changing the larger American Culture: publicly expose perpetrators with one united voice to remove perpetrators from positions of power and influence. The idea is to impose a very high cost for secret abuses of power. American secular society seems ready to make that power shift. That the Church does not tells me the Church leadership has a serious continuing blindspot. It simply does not grasp the gravity of the problem at the highest levels. Pronouncements and even new systems without the swift execution of those policies only further erode confidence in the Church. The solution is for Pope Francis to appoint a special independent prosecutor [preferably a person with no Catholic Church affiliation] to investigate every bishop and cardinal and upon presentation of credible evidence, to reach a recommendation for immediate removal, and full public release of the findings.

Fiona Dyball
3 years 10 months ago

Thank you for this article. This is the transparency and humility that is needed in addressing this ongoing issue in our Church, and in society. Processes must now be put in place and adhered to so that people can see that the Church is willing to lead in this area instead of being dragged by the weight of public scrutiny to the standard of Jesus. If we are to be credible witnesses to Christ, our actions must speak. No more cover ups. No more abuse of power. No more.

Susan Liang
3 years 10 months ago

The sole and for the church, formidable, solution to sexual assault and its aiders and abetters in the Church is to do what Jesus and Paul did. Put females in equal positions of power.

The distinctive attribute of pre-Christian paganism was a tripartite structure of inequality, designed to silence those designated as slaves and commoners. They were to work or be used as resources but they were claimed by the elite to have no mental or spiritual powers of speech or rights to speak as they were claimed to have bodies but not minds or spirits.

This silencing was the unilateral taking away of the right to complaint when the "non-existent" personal boundaries of the slave/commoner were violated by the elite priests and warriors.

Their story of creation claimed the unequal were created as resource, as animate object to be used up or destroyed at will.

This anti-Jesus justification has been passed on to the post-Pagan Church of Jesus whose Apostle Paul said there is neither slave nor free in Christ, overturning the creation story and world view of paganism.

And yet the Church has continued in the pagan tripartite social structure that preserves human intercourse as the unilateral right of the elite.

The only solution to this is de facto respect for females and this would require their ability to be priests, as
Dorcas, as Deborah, as Mary the first evangelist sent by the rising Christ to tell his male disciples.

But that would mean a denial of human intercourse, that is belittled as "sex" by every modern male for the past 5 millennia through the exercise of naming given by God in the garden of Eden to every human as a responsibility.

In this the Church is entirely unwilling to change. But repentance is a turning away from the violation of one's neighbor. The church in my view will not give up its unilateral pagan right to sex that destroys the respect for and boundaries of " the other".

That is the font of violence in the world, the very structure of inequality that justifies it. And the church is well part of the cause.

James Haraldson
3 years 10 months ago

Spare us your ignorance and secular/political/feminist interpretations of divinity. And stop spitting on God. If you want to entertain ridiculous motivations to fantasies of historical and collective intentionality that cannot have an ontological reality, go join some witches coven if you must, but don't promote your bigoted interpretations of Catholicism on a Catholic forum. God has His purposes in not having equality mean equivalency.

Anne Marie Frigon
3 years 10 months ago

I cannot remember the year of the beginning of the child abuse became revealed...and all hell broke loose as more and more victims came to the fore...the Church tried to contain, of course, the result was bankruptcy for many many archidiocese and distrust of our Church leaders........the policies of the church obviously have supported the evil of bureacratic suppression of truth......yes...we are one church...and all are scandalized. but accountable .....and the responsiblity for rectifying this is upon all theoretically and actually as we are members of the mystical body of Christ...I alway thought that the leaders, bishops, arch, cardinals etc of world owed the laity an " liturgical apology"...admittance of failure and sin...in its deception....This Major Participative liturgy of Confession and Asking of Forgiveness never ever happened on this Corporate Level..I doubt the idea had even crossed such lofty minds....too much at stake for this to be a "happening" and the hubris of anyone with a modicum of power was passed on..................

Mark Crawford
3 years 10 months ago

The sexual abuse of children within our church is not about liberal clerics vs. orthodox, nor is it simply a matter of gay priests. Eliminating the celibacy requirement is not the cure all either, however, I believe celibacy should be optional for several reasons. 1. few priests are truly celibate, certainly some may be but this is an incredibly difficult road. 2. If there were some married clergy, I absolutely believe the influence of woman in the clergy would go a long way in stemming some of these abuses as they wouldn't stand for the good old boys protecting each other ( I believe that's why celibacy is so staunchly defended and entrenched within our church).

If this were squarely a "gay" issue as some believe, then how is it we find young victims of married Jewish orthodox clerics or other married clergy from other Christian denominations? No, not every gay priest who may be engaged in a relationship with another adult male is molesting young boys, if so, then there are far more victims then anyone is willing to admit.

The abuse of children is about power, manipulation and control, driven in part, by a clericalist culture. Men who think they are above the rest of us, parading around like some 15th century feudal lords.

Robert Lewis
3 years 10 months ago

I more or less agree with you.

Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago

Mark - it is a libel to write that few priests are celibate. Second, you contradict your argument against celibacy by recounting (correctly) the abuse in other religions and denominations that do not have celibacy. The problem is unfortunately across institutions, including public schools, the Boy scouts, the arts, politicians, etc. It is a complete whitewash to say abuse of children is only about power. Mothers have great power, manipulation and control, but do not sexually abuse children near as much as fathers. The vast majority of priests and bishops have the same power but do not abuse children or adults. The John Jay Report (the most comprehensive report ever conducted on any institution) found that over a 50-year period, only 4.4% clergy were accused of sexual abuse, and 0.26% were convicted. We do not know how many priests had same-sex attractions but it is 2-5% in the general population. Even if it was 20% of priests, the fact that 82% of the victims were male (67% teenagers) shows where the concentration of this abuse lies.

arthur mccaffrey
3 years 10 months ago

there you go, O'Leary, trotting out the old John Jay statistic that only 4% of priests abuse--meaning what? There are hundreds of thousands of cases around the globe of minors abused by clergy--but Catholic apologists like you are like actuarial insurance salesmen, trying vainly to convince the world that statistics show that the RCC is really no worse than anybody else when it comes to abusing children----so how many cases of child abuse do you consider to be an acceptable number--100, 200, 1000? what would put us on a par with Jerry Sandusky so we would not stand out too much? How many angels abuse on the head of a pin? your nitpicking self indulgence really is deplorable--you and the RCC deserve each other.

Tim O'Leary
3 years 10 months ago

McCaffrey - do you have better data than the John Jay report or are you just an anti-Catholic bigot? I am using the hardest data we have yet. I compare it with the data coming from the government reports on the public schools, some studies on religious denominations (linked elsewhere in these comments) and media reports on other institutions. Assuming you are a layman like me, then you probably should know that child sex abuse is most common among laymen and most of it is heterosexual (since only 2-5% of the pop claims to be homosexual). So, you can keep your head in the sand and think that the only problem in the world are the priests but that is just rank prejudice and denial.

Crystal Watson
3 years 10 months ago

I agree, Mark.

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