Pope Francis issues new letter on sex abuse: ‘We showed no care for the little ones’
Pope Francis issued a letter to Catholics around the world Monday condemning the "crime" of priestly sexual abuse and its cover-up and demanding accountability, in response to new revelations in the United States of decades of misconduct by the Catholic Church.
Francis begged forgiveness for the pain suffered by victims and said lay Catholics must be involved in any effort to root out abuse and cover-up. He blasted the self-referential clerical culture that has been blamed for the crisis, with church leaders more concerned for their reputation than the safety of children.
"With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives," Francis wrote.
"We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them."
The Vatican issued the three-page letter ahead of Francis' trip this weekend to Ireland, a once staunchly Roman Catholic country where the church's credibility has been damaged by years of revelations that priests raped and molested children with impunity and their superiors covered up for them.
[Explore America's in-depth coverage of Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church.]
Priestly sex abuse was always expected to dominate the trip, but the issue has taken on new gravity following revelations in the U.S. that one of Francis' trusted cardinals, the retired archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick, allegedly sexually abused and harassed minors as well as adult seminarians.
In addition, a grand jury report in Pennsylvania last week reported that at least 1,000 children were victims of some 300 priests over the past 70 years, and that generations of bishops failed repeatedly to take measures to protect their flock or punish the rapists.
In the letter, which was issued in seven languages and addressed to the "People of God," Francis referenced the Pennsylvania report, acknowledged that no effort to beg forgiveness of the victims will be sufficient but vowed "never again."
He said, looking to the future, "no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated."
Francis didn't, however, provide any indication of what concrete measures he is prepared to take to sanction those bishops — in the U.S. and beyond — who covered up for sexually abusive priests. Francis several years ago scrapped a proposed Vatican tribunal to prosecute negligent bishops, and he has refused to act on credible reports from around the world of bishops who have failed to report abusers to police or otherwise botched handling cases, and yet remain in office.
In Chile, where a church sex abuse scandal exploded earlier this year, Francis strong-armed the 31 active bishops to offer to resign en masse over their handling of abuse. So far he has accepted five of their resignations.
Unlike the U.S. bishops' conference, which has referred only to "sins and omissions" in their handling of abuse, Francis labeled the misconduct "crimes."
"Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others," he wrote. "An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion."
I am very heartened with the words and phrases used by the Holy Father. It is sharp, uncompromising and resolute. Some important phrases: “Zero tolerance,” “uprooting this culture of death,” “cries out to heaven,” “a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting,” “never again,” “making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable,” “include the active participation of all the members of God’s People,” “clericalism…not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people,” “protection of minors and of vulnerable adults,”
I am sure he means well, but I am a more that a little disappointed with this letter. Francis has claimed to be on the side of the victims, yet he suggests that the entire "ecclesial community" has failed to act and has caused the gravity of damage done. This is not true. A small percentage of predatory priests, along with a great number of bishops and their henchmen are the ones who have failed here. Why should the "entire holy faithful people of God" now need to undertake "a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting?" This projection sounds like an age old deception of blaming the community for the sins of its corrupt leadership. Should the victims (as part of the entire holy faithful people of God) also do penance and prayer? No! This is detestable. He suggests that the entire church needs "a personal and communal conversion." Yet some of us already know well the depths of despair that our church leaders and its sinful structure of clericalism with its thirst for power have caused and exacerbated. Liturgical penance is a good idea, but a communal Lament will also allow the voice of the people to express its disgust with the sins of our leaders - those people are the ones who need to do penance and beg for forgiveness, as soon as real reparations and meaningful cultural changes can be realized.
Also, if Benedict and Francis really believe that Christ's "greatest suffering" is the "unworthy reception of his body and blood" by the sinners who continue to betray Christ, we have a serious problem. I think Christ suffered much more acutely due to the sexual abuse of children by priests as bishops habitually recycled ministers to other parishes, intimidated victims and destroyed evidence.
Of course; by definition we are the Mystical Body of Christ.
Nothing will satisfy those who already hate and resent the Roman Catholic ecclesia. Contrary to what you have written, the bishops and priests who are heterosexual and abusive are complicit as well, because many of them were abettors because they didn't want their perversions and fornication revealed. Some few who are now being dubbed "victims" also remained silent in the face of the harassment and the assaults they were enduring because they wished to rise higher in the hierarchy and assumed that "tattling" would deprive them of advancement. The pope is absolutely correct and his statement is thorough and sufficient. The WHOLE CATHOLIC CHURCH must now do penance and cleanse herself of this filth and degeneracy. It has rotted from the head down, and its sins include not only sexual abuse of children, but complacency regarding many other abuses that harm the innocent--such as unjust economic exploitation, depredation of the environment, callousness toward "the strangers in our midst" (i.e. immigrants), innocents sentenced to death, and the unborn, and many, many other who are suffering egregiously. For too long the "prophetic" voice of the Church has been stilled regarding these and other horrifying abuses, in the interest of currying favour with the kinds of establishment figures that these "wolves in sheep's clothing" hobnobbed with, in order to finance their sybaritic lifestyles.
Born into a Catholic family and benefited from a high school education with the Xaverian Brothers (3 years at their Juniorate and 1 year as a Postulant) my faith was well rooted. Now in my 84th year, I find that all 4 of my children and 2 grandchildren are wonderful, moral and just but no longer belong to any institutional church. I've struggled with belief in a God who let creation come to this pass. I believe it is time for Christ's "successor" to take a whip in hand and rid our temple of this scourge. I can't imagine what will be left but possibly the wonderful ladies of our Church can decide it is time to assume command, we need to rid ourselves of the idiocy of celibate clergy. But their leadership in caring for the poor, and those in need can show us the direction: e.g. Nuns on the Bus.
I am sure the Pope woke up and looked in the mirror and said two things: 1) Why me; and 2) Now what do I do?
The why me question is easy to answer - God gave me the job, so get on with it. The second is harder to execute than it is to answer, trust the Holy Spirit and do what my gut is telling me to do.
Sadly for the Pope, the Gang of 9 are largely compromised and can be of little help. I don’t know the Cardinals, but if I were him I would turn to Kasper, Schonborn, and Tobin from N.J. The first question I would ask them - do you have any Skeleton’s in the closest? Assuming they don’t, he should share with them what his guy is telling him to do and get their honest reactions and tweak it. He should not waiver on the outcome, but be open to process suggestions.
What he should do is use the power of the job to suspend any rules that get in his way.
He should direct every Diocease and religious order, and include the Vatican to appoint an independent lay committee that is vested with all the investigory powers they need from the church. Any one who resists will be suspended. And anyone who tries to be a little pregnant will also be suspended.
He should appoint an oversight committee at the Vatican.
He gives then 18 months to investigate the conduct of Bishops and Religious Superiors - not only their handling of abuse, but their sexual conduct. Have they kep their promise of celibacy. Second, they should investigate seminaries to determine their culture regarding sex.
All the reports will be returned to Rome. Any Bishop or Superior may send their take in the report, but will have no editorial power over the report.
His Committee reads the reports and presents to him their recommendations.
Paul - given the breadth & style of the letter, I doubt it was an "overnight" reaction. Another great quote: “With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them. I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (9th Station).”
Yes, I know - I was just making the point he is carrying a cross that was not of his doing. He has to push forward and fully implement Vatican 2.
My only worry is his age and whether who is elected to replace him will see it through. Remember the gene pool is made up of people who will want to stop progress.
The idiocy of Vatican II has been implemented. That's how we obtained a Church that invited the murderous evil of moral relativism. We need less murder, not more murder.
Why did you not say he should remove dozens and dozens of US bishops? If he ordered them to live austerity in a monastery most of them would leave the Catholic church.
The question is not as simple as removing Bishops. There is a corporate culture deeply embedded. The only way it changes is by have opening the windows and having people committed to the faith, not the culture who have the power to challenge and hold the culture accountable. Otherwise, it will revert to the norm.
And that this goes back 70 years says that it is not just corporate culture , but societal culture involved too. How many victims told their parents who would not believe them? How many parents if they believed them, sought out settlements and never demanded the criminal priest be arrested? Remember how during this 70 year period, it was quite common for parents to believe hitting children was appropriate, it was rather common for parents to emotionally abuse their children as they could not see that they were harming them. How many parents during this 70 year period , believed that if a teacher hit you or was emotionally abusive to you, you deserved it or it was good for you? The suffering of children at the hands of adults was[like that of women] in many instances of what we now recognize as criminal, not recognized as even wrong or harmful. How many parents admonished a child who dared make any allegation against a priest; how dare you speak ill of good father X? This was what secular adults in the University administration said when children reported the abuse by Mr. Sandusky. And the gymnasts who reported abuse by their doctor, only to be shut up by even their parents and others whose investment in the prestige of the Olympics mattered more to them then crimes against suffering children!This denial by parents, by secular authorities, was not much different then the denial by bishops that a real crime needing prosecution had occurred, rather then a lapse of control and judgement needing only some psychological intervention, as no great harm was done to the child. And for some parents who did complain but would not prosecute a financial settlement would suffice. Any parent could have at any time during this 70year period done what my mother said she would do if any teacher, any nun or any priest were to lay a hand on me; I'll have them arrested!
The disregard for children's complaints and the elevating of the reputation of the church or the reputation of a respected priest, or any prestigious adult in a community was not something only the covering up clergy believed in. Willful ignorance when it came to the suffering of children by adults pervaded society for these 70 years and beyond.
The church scandal could not have gone on for at least 70 years without the disregard for children, the willful ignorance , and valuing the reputation of the church and the prestigious priests over suffering children ,BY THE LAITY ,as much as by the clergy.It took two to tango for these crimes against children to persist so long!
Add to this the fact that for much of these 70 years, society at large persecuted gays [ many entered the priesthood to escape the worlds persecution of them, either to sublimate or to act out in a refuge of the all male clergy] and how genuinely ignorant we were in the psychology of pedophiles[ prepubescent, as attraction to teens is not true pedophilia]. It was not a lapse , but an [innate?] sexual disorder with no cure. The church accepted these gay refugees form the cruel world, and unsuspecting pedophiles for they had no more knowledge about pedophilia then the rest of world did. So this abuse and coverup did not happen in a vacuum. The laity is not so innocent as it could not have occurred in the numbers it did for as long as it did, without our crimes against children[ ignoring or minimizing their cries for help as victims of crimes] and persecution of gays, and also genuine ignorance about pedophilia.
Sexual crimes against children by the Church , by people of God , by people whose commitment is to love and serve Jesus and his people, is a most perverse kind of betrayal of trust then when it occurs outside the church. If you cannot feel love and protected by those who say they love and seek to spread the good news of Jesus' love, to all, certainly to children, then that betrayal is most reprehensible and no doubt most painful for the child. So it's not just another sexual abuse scandal like exists in other secular institutions. Still, recognizing that when people are being persecuted, as gays were by society, somethings got to give, can allow us to see the scandal also as blowback for our own, as lay people , persecution of gays. How many parents taught their kids that gays were pervs? How many lay people persecuted gays as police officers, or shrinks, or perhaps even bullying them by calling them fags? That many gays, alienated, shamed, in desperation or in denial sought and found safe refuge in the all male clergy, is fallout of the time of gay persecution by the secular culture they needed escape from. The clerical church behaved criminally , but the laity was not innocent.
I'm a high school teacher of advanced subject matter that a good many of my students are ill-prepared to study. Parents commit abuses against their children every school year by forcing them into these courses that they are not ready for, in defiance of the recommendations of teachers and counselors. They obviously do this for reasons of "bragging rights," i.e. social status, and also--they think--to ensure their children's admission into elite universities and colleges. This does enormous damage to their children's self-esteem and self-confidence, but these parents appear not to care. I and some of my colleagues have no choice, in these instances, but to conclude that these people had their children only in order either to present a facade to their social peers or to forcefully and brutally ensure their families' material prosperity. They give no more of a damn about their children's mental and emotional health than do the callous parents of these sexually abused children. This kind of moral turpitude is rife in all of modern society, and I can guarantee to you, from experience, that many different kinds of children, beside the sexually abused, are suffering horrifically from adult callousness and selfishness.
Pope Francis should resign immediately. This survivor has suffered for 49 years. And we need to recognize that not only priests molest and cover-up. Nuns are guilty, as well!!!
it would be better if he removed most US bishops before he resigned.
Why do you want Francis gone? Think about the voters and possible replacements. On a positive note, he is the only one pushing the Church to reform and restore, and to do away with clericalism.
more words. When is he going to act by removing the US bishops who committed the crime of covering up crimes?
John - I expect to see some US resignations, but not necessarily "dozens and dozens." That needs an investigation of who knew what and when re McCarrick. Re the PA Grand Jury, few are left to resign. No point in just venting our spleen and nothing gets fixed. Pope Benedict XVI retired because he hadn't the strength to deal with the "filth" as he called it. Pope Francis seems to have more energy to get at this, if only it were his chief focus. Here is a hypothetical resignation letter from a Cardinal Whirl https://dwightlongenecker.com/cardinal-whirl-resigns/
John - I think I have been too cavalier with the implication that Cardinal Wuerl should resign. Having read this detail of dates and his actions: (https://www.catholicleague.org/scapegoating-cardinal-wuerl/) , I do not feel competent to join the bandwagon and call for his resignation. I would be horrified if it turns out I was part of a witch hunt, as I don't like witches. I do not want to be part of the injustice.
You are worried about Cardinal Wuerl? To this survivor your worries are almost a joke. Worry about victims and survivors. Cardinals do not daily fight internal battles to resist the temptation to harm oneself and/or others just to keep upright in this world. The Cardinals are doing just fine!
No Sheila - I am not worried about Cardinal Wuerl, but about my own sin. I do not want to be involved in giving false witness, scapegoating or witch hunting. That is why I wrote that comment.
Yada, yada, yada…. "Francis didn't, however, provide any indication of what concrete measures he is prepared to take to sanction those bishops — in the U.S. and beyond — who covered up for sexually abusive priests... Francis several years ago scrapped a proposed Vatican tribunal to prosecute negligent bishops, and he has refused to act on credible reports from around the world of bishops who have failed to report abusers to police or otherwise botched handling cases, and yet remain in office."
Don't hold your breath. More delays of trying to develop policies and procedures? How many years has there been TALK of bishop accountability? Francis has all the power he needs to act but refuses to clean house, other than by "requests" for resignations that may or may not occur. Out of patience. It takes outside justice authorities to effect change since the church acts only at the point of a legal gun. Hold applause for forced virtue.
Carolyn - don't get your hopes up in justice authorities. They are equally disappointing. They have been about as aggressive as possible in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia and now the western state). After all their investigation, their work has resulted only in publicity and almost no one in jail who wasn't already going there. Furthermore, half of the accused Phili priests were later proven innocent, and that only compounds the injustice. All they can do is get money for their lawyers. The PA grand jury admitted their work will not result in convictions. Priorities for me are 1) An audit of US dioceses to judge how the Dallas charter is being implemented, 2) an expansion of the Dallas Charter to adult sexual conduct (as Richard Sipe found, there is a causal relationship between adult and minor misconduct), 3) A lay-led full investigation into the McCarrick abuses, in the US and in every single seminary (key being who knew what and when), 4) a re-assessment of how candidates for the episcopacy are recommended to the Holy father, 5) a re-organization of donations and financials, so that funds for charitable purposes from the Church (to an independent lay organization) that preserves the money for the poor from greedy lawyers, 6) A renewal of orthodox teaching across the board, 7) Firm discipline on orthodox teaching, since St. Peter warned of the connection between licentious behavior & lax doctrine (2 Peter 2).
Orthodox teaching from a pope who hysterically and venomously denounces orthodoxy and coherent moral thought as "rigidity?"
You are right on point.
Unless there is a tribunal by the Vatican to investigate and prosecute bishops who committed these crimes or covered them up and did little to bring justice to those who committed such crimes, the credibility of the Church and the Papacy will suffer greatly. While the US Conference of Bishops may investigate and prosecute priests, including their removal from the priesthood, only the Pope can remove a Bishop from the priesthood. So far, Cardinals and Bishops who have been involved in this systemic sexual abuse scandal have been moved to cushy positions of penance in another parish or location. Few have lost their ecclesical positions or removed from the priesthood.
While I love Pope Francis, his contrite letter is devoid of concrete action. Unfortunately, it suffers from his leadership this scandal demands. His letter does not give me any confidence that significant reforms, beyond the 2002 guidelines and procedures, will be enacted soon especially when in comes to dealing with Bishops and Cardinals involved in the sexual abuse scandal.. Nothing in the 2002 policy deals effectively with Bishops and Cardinals who were directly involved in committing sexual abusive crimes or in their coverup or in the irresponsible and immoral minimization of the problem.
I keep asking: How did Theodore McCarrick become a Cardinal when knowledge of his sexual abuse accusations were widely known for years? How did Bishop Wuerl become a Cardinal? The accusations against all Bishops and Cardinals need to be investigate and prosecuted, and if found guilty must be removed from the priesthood.
We need a reform of the structures of the Church, weak procedures and ineffective policies. We don't need more of the same or some minor changes that do not adequately address all the root causes of this sexual abuse scandal. Without effective reform, this culture of clericalism that is one of the root causes of this systemic sexual abuse scandal will continue.
I’m not sure who you are quoting when you inserted “Francis several years ago scrapped a proposed Vatican tribunal to prosecute negligent bishops” but you failed to note why he did so. When he tried to put it into effect, he ran into all kinds of curial brick walls, especially from CDF then still headed by Mueller. Instead, he added some language to the duties of two other congregations to bring in some level of accountability regarding misbehaving bishops. Sure, he could have forced this through but then have it not working properly because of foot dragging. What he wants is the kind of reform he’s been after from the beginning: a change of minds and hearts. You can’t legislate it and if you try to do so, the next pope undoes it all. He’s after lasting change that is done right. We Americans think everything has to happen now to “fix” things. On this issue, which is a misuse of power, the problem has been ther for a long time and it’s not going to change overnight.
Nice words, no actions. Disappointing.
Just words that don't help anyone but the church. I will believe he cares when he actually makes changes that will impact the problem. Punishing - firing! - bishops/cardinals who have been complicit (Mahony, Brady, Finn, Pell, O'Brien, ect) would be a nice start. But there have to be actual structural changes to get rid of what I'm sure is ongoing abuse. No more mandatory celibacy! Treat women equally and allow them to be priests! If the pope can change a centuries-old church position on the death penalty, especially when the Papal states put to death so many people up to the 1800s, he can make these changes. But he won't.
Once the dust has settled on this renewed surfacing of sexual abuse in the USA and the culture of abuse in the worldwide church, we will have to build an ecclesial culture that lives out a healthy sexuality. A healthy church will not tolerate sexual abuse. It will teach a healthy sexuality by example, classes, and activities. It will look to the Gospel stories for a better understanding of what Jesus taught about sexuality - perhaps the most important thing Jesus taught is that sexuality is private.
Building a new ecclesial culture will require the church to develop a fundamentally different understanding of sexuality. Sexuality and spirituality are very similar in their effects on people's lives. Giving sexuality its due as a sacred aspect of our lives would change our attitudes about it and give us better ways to deal with it in the church community.
All of this is going to require that women be integrated into church leadership. Pushing women out of decision-making and formulation of doctrine results in a one-sided view of sexuality and its place in a faith community. Pushing women out also denigrates women and the feminine. Until the church can see women as valuable, and sexuality as holy, it will tend to see sexual abuse of the vulnerable as a dirty little perk of those in power.
As always in speaking of developing the role of women in the church, I want to make clear that I am not talking about ordaining women to the priesthood. The arguments for having a male-only priesthood are too lengthy for this format, but they are logical and worthy. The church does need to ordain women to the diaconate because a leader who cannot speak publicly is a leader in name only.
Lisa - I agree with your comment. We need more women integrated into the Church leadership. I would add that the problem in the world today is that sexual desire and activity are seen in a schizophrenic way. Many activities formerly though deviant (BDSM for example) are now thought as either harmless or enriching. A recent poll found 39% of the public though nothing wrong with pornography, when almost all of it is highly deviant and certainly immoral. The focus in the secular world is that all forms of sexual activity are fine among adults if there is consent, when this is certainly not the Christian sense. And a cautionary note about women. They were the drivers of Fifty Shades sales. And several news stories report adult women as predators of teenage men, including today Asia Argento, Harvey Weinstein's accuser.
These recent accounts of widespread sexual abuse could not have come at a worse time.
In a few months, there will be a Synod on Young People. I wonder how our young will react to these recent revelations? I know the bishops were supposed to poll the young for their opinions on a host of contemporary issues such as: Women Priests, Women Deacons, Voluntary Celibacy for Priests, and Acceptance of a Married Priesthood, Holy Communion for the Divorced and Remarried, Same-Sex Marriage, Contraception...the list goes on. We do know that most of the young put more emphasis on their Informed Conscience in moral matters than the moral teachings of the Magisterium hierarchy. Most of them also believe that a good Catholic is doing charitable work and not necessarily following all the moral teachings of the Church.
If hope all of these issues will be discussed at the Synod on Young People. However, I truly wonder what the Bishops and the Pope will do about their opinions other than repeating the same old narrative?
I know that doctrine is not formulated by 'polling results' as the Church is not a democracy. However, the Church cannot ignore the concrete experience of the young and the trends it sees among all age cohorts. Perhaps the Bishops and/or the Pope will make changes to the pastoral application of some of these teachings. I hope so. Let's face it, no Church educational program has convinced the majority of Catholics to receive all the sexual ethical moral teachings of the Magisterium. We know the non-reception rate by age cohort and it has only grown worse over the years.
Let's pray for the Bishops and Pope Francis that they will be courageous and institute the reforms that will eliminate this sexual abuse scandal.
Here is a cry from young people https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/08/an-open-letter-from-young-catholics) that is at least as demanding as the rest of us. Some quotes: "We are angry over the “credible and substantiated” report of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse of a minor. We are angry over the numerous allegations of his abuse of seminarians and young priests. We are angry that “everybody knew” about these crimes, that so few people did anything about them, and that those who spoke out were ignored. In addition, we have heard reports of networks of sexually active priests who promote each other and threaten those who do not join in their activities; of young priests and seminarians having their vocations endangered because they refused to have sex with their superiors or spoke out about sexual impropriety; and of drug-fueled orgies in Vatican apartments."
"As Catholics, we believe that the Church’s teaching on human nature and sexuality is life-giving and leads to holiness. We believe that just as there is no room for adultery in marriages, so there is no room for adultery against the Bride of Christ. We need bishops to make clear that any act of sexual abuse or clerical unchastity degrades the priesthood and gravely harms the Church."
Not a very good survey as it only represents a very small group of young people. See below a larger survey of young people in 2017 in anticipation of the 2018 Synod on Young People. It paints a very different story on a much larger number of issues.
Catholic youth: Thanks for asking our opinion, here’s what ...
Catholic youth: Thanks for asking our opinion, here’s what we think Young adults chat with one another at a party thrown for about 300 of their peers by Anthem, the youth and young adult ministry of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in October. A survey of some 900 young adults indicates they highly value efforts to gather people through ...
You should also notice that in every word of what O'Leary cites, there's not a single word regarding the "intrinsic disorder" of homosexual love or activity--not one word; and the reason is that young people agree with the late Richard Sipe, who also believed that homosexuality could be healthy and normal, but that the problem in the Church was the dishonesty of a duplicitous, closeted lifestyle lived by a large percentage of gay self-haters, who sought refuge from their self-hatred by aspiring to celibacy when they had no vocation for it. Those young folks know full well that a "same-sex-attracted" person of integrity, who feels a calling to a vocation to serve Christ and his Church, is fully capable of living a chaste life. Indeed, they may know instances of it themselves, and they may know of the lives of such as Gerard Manley Hopkins and Father Judge of 9/11 fame.
Lewis should know that Fr. Hopkins would have never called himself homosexual or gay. Neither would Michelangelo or anyone before the 20th century. Oscar Wilde converted on his death bed, and was saved. These historical figures have been co-opted by modern ideologues for political reasons. Fr. Hopkins fully believed in the Church's teaching. Again, Lewis forgets it is never the person who is intrinsically disordered, just the concupiscence, whether it be to adultery or polygamy or masturbation or homosexuality. All our sins are driven by intrinsic disorder due to the Fall. Jesus will save us if we repent and believe.
Hopkins plainly states in his "notes for confession" that he is attracted to young men. Michelangelo Buonarotti wrote love poems to Tommaso di Cavalieri. Oscar Wilde is rumored to have made a confession on his death bed, and he was attracted to the Catholic Church long before that. A recent book about his last years in Paris, however, reveals that he was unrepentant regarding his love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. O'Leary's attempts to "straighten out" gay history is willfully duplicitous, because anyone who is "same-sex-attracted" is homosexually oriented, whether he or she acts on that orientation or not.
Lewis persists in embroiling historical figures in an anachronistic modern heresy. Attraction, if not fostered, is not sinful. Oscar Wilde, in 1894, had a sexual relationships with a 16-year old Alphonse in Brighton. His sexual relationship with Bosie lasted only a few months. Wilde was always pulled toward sexual libertinism and also toward Catholicism. Fr Cuthbert Dunne, the young priest who attended Wilde on his deathbed, before he died in 1950, mindful of the historical importance of the event, he set down his recollection of it: "[Wilde] made brave efforts to speak, and would even continue for a time trying to talk, though he could not utter articulate words. Indeed, I was fully satisfied that he understood me when told that I was about to receive him into the Catholic Church and give him the Last Sacraments. From the signs he gave, as well as from his attempted words, I was satisfied as to his full consent. And when I repeated close to his ear the Holy Names, the Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope and Charity, with acts of humble resignation to the Will of God, he tried all through to say the words after me." Fr. Dunne was at his deathbed Fr Dunne visited Wilde several times to comfort him. “At these subsequent visits,” Fr Dunne states, “he repeated the prayers with me again and each time received Absolution.” He repented and was saved!
Re Alphonse https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oscar-Wildes-Scandalous-Summer-Aftermath/dp/1445647966
Re Wilde's Conversion, see Oscar Wilde’s long journey to Catholicism by Aaron Taylor
Wilde made a deathbed conversion, yes, but he was an extraordinarily fickle person, and just a few months before that he was attesting to his undying love for Lord Alfred Douglas. My "modern heresy" is only "anachronistic" if one posits, as O'Leary obviously does, that there is no such thing as an orientation that is immutably determined, or "hard-wired", through either genetics or early childhood (before the "age of reason") experiences or environment. O'Leary wishes to define the inclination to feel passionate love toward members of one's same sex as some kind of "choice." This is not only scientifically "anachronistic". It is also wrong according to Sacred Scripture, e.g. "There are eunuchs that are born [i.e. incapable of loving the opposite sex], eunuchs that are made [i.e. castrated], and eunuchs for the Kingdom's sake." O'Leary's definition of "same-sex-attraction" is tendentious and dishonest, and motivated by his vicious homophobia.
The very best statement I've read so far about the priest-abuse scandal appears, ironically enough, at the website of the execrable homophobe Rod Dreher:
Sexual secrecy is the currency in the church and learning how to use it is almost treated like an art form in seminaries. This culture has been woven into the fabric of Roman Catholic clergy culture for centuries. The church’s strict and absolute regulations around sex and sexuality which themselves are created and promulgated by the very men who breach them provide a perfect cover for those whose own sense of sexuality is without boundaries, regulation, or integration. Sexual secrecy and blackmail is the clergy’s bitcoin by which position, power, and control are bartered in the shadows, costing children and adults alike their faith, their safety and well being — and in some cases, their lives.
Michael - I guess the First Things would be characterized as intellectually active young Catholics, as they are writers and bloggers. Your link didn't work for me, but this catholicphilly article (link below) said the highest response of 8 questions was on their greatest challenge: 71% uncertainty about the future, 49% dysfunctional families and 32% economics. The online survey was done by the youth ministry Anthem (https://anthemphilly.com) which seems an excellent group. Here is their beautiful "why-we-exist" mission statement: "Why anthem exists: “We have a key role to play together - to invite our youth back into the heart of Christ. Show the true person of Jesus to those who may only be familiar with a shallow figure as depicted by modern day popular culture. Lead others to a real encounter with Christ in the sacraments, and a personal friendship made possible through the Holy Spirit. Help others to shift their personal value from who they pretend or desire to be to the discovery of their identity as known and loved by God. Focus on belonging to the bride of Christ, firstly in order to participate in the community of the body of Christ, and secondly, in order to come to a true appreciation of the teaching Magisterium." Here is a link to Anthem https://anthemphilly.com/articles
Sorry that the link did not work. However, you can google it yourself. It will give you a clear understanding of the opinions of young people. There have been several large surveys of young Catholics and most of their opinions are in tension (e.g., disagree) with many sexual ethical teachings of the Magisterium. This is a significant Issue that the Synod of Young People must resolve as they represent the future of our Church. The First Things article captures the opinions of a very small group and this is not representative of the opinions of all young Catholics.
Michael - As you know, there is a big difference between young people who are on fire with their faith, those who show up on Sunday and those who are irregular participants. I know of no Church doctrine that instructs the Church to alter doctrine by opinion polls. So, even if every young person wanted something contrary to Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium, the truth cannot change.
I think you should check out the surveys by age cohort that also breakdown the opinions by weekly Mass attendees, etc. Many Catholics who attend weekly Mass disagree with most of the teachings on sexual ethics. As for truth, many teachings were taught as truth for centuries but were eventually reformed. As for adequately addressing important issues of young people, it does not mean that doctrine has to change. Note that Amoris Laetitia changed the pastoral application of a doctrine by permitting Holy Communion for many divorced and remarried Catholics under certain conditions. IMO, I would not be surprised to see more changes in the pastoral application of some other teachings after the Synod on Young People.
This article was about the sexual abuse scandal and we are wandering into another subject. It's time to move on Tim. Thanks for your comments.
As a volunteer in a centering prayer group in a Virginia state prison, I'm required by law to report any allegation of abuse that I might hear from an inmate. While I don't think it will happen, I would report. I'm angry and cynical at the thought that I trust the Virginia Department of Corrections more than the Catholic clergy.
God give Pope Francis the strength to accomplish the next steps, the letter was powerful, next must be the removal of all clergy guilty immediately, then all bishops and cardinals should be sent to monasteries without the “Royal” trappings they now have, dressed in plain garments for a period of time sufficient to prayfor their victims. Preferably forever.
The usual rhetoric without action
Too much money (donations) from the U.S., Francis will not come down hard. Where is the KofC?
Nice words and we've heard them all before. What are the ACTIONS with deadlines attached? It is 16 years since Dallas. Francis had a Papal Commission -- the survivor members eventually resigned in disgust because nothing was getting done. Every bishop should visit every survivor and their family in their diocese to ask their forgiveness, even if it is on behalf of a predecessor bishop or predecessor bishops. Every bishops should wear a symbolic millstone around his neck for a year instead of a pectoral cross -- one heavy enough to be a daily reminder. I presented to the Mid-Atlantic Province of Jesuits in 2009. After the program, I attended Mass. At one point, the men -- including Daniel Berrigan, stood and made a statement of contrition to a group of women who worked with them. The women accepted the statement. Then the men walked forward and the women made the sign of the Cross on their foreheads. That should happen in every church across the country with priests and laity making statements of remorse to survivors standing at the front. A process of truth and reconciliation is needed. I doubt the bishops are up for it still.