Pope Francis on Venezuela, Married Priests, and the Sex Abuse Summit

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Panama City to Rome, Jan. 27, 2019. Also pictured is Msgr. Mauricio Rueda, papal trip planner. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

“I am frightened of a bloodbath in Venezuela”, Pope Francis told reporters on the flight from Panama to Rome on Jan. 27.

It was the most significant comment he made in a 47 minute press conference in which he answered a wide range of questions, including his expectations for the Feb. 21-24 summit on the protection of children and the eradication of abuse in the church, the possibility of ordaining mature married men (viri probati) as priests, the need for sexual education in school, the issue of migration and an evaluation of his visit to Panama.


Earlier on Sunday, after reciting the Angelus at the Casa el Buen Samaritano in Panama, Pope Francis spoke for the first time about Venezuela since the dramatic turn of events in the country on Jan. 23 when the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, declared himself the interim president of the country until new elections are held, and rejected the illegitimate presidency of Nicolás Maduro.

At Casa el Buen Samaritano, the pope said he “felt close” to the Venezuelan people and called for “a just and peaceful solution, that respects human rights” for the grave situation in which the country is in.

During the airborne press conference, Francis was asked to explain what he meant with these words. He was told that the Venezuelans want to know what he means. “[Does it mean) to support Juan Guaido and free elections?” He was also told that “the people feel you are a Latin American pope and want to feel your support.”

“I support the entire Venezuelan people that is suffering. If I were to enter and say do this to those countries, or to other countries, I would put myself in a role that I do not know. It would be a pastoral imprudence on my part, and would do damage.”

Aware of the very delicate and tense political situation and the impact his declarations could have in Venezuela, a majority Catholic country, Francis weighed his words carefully and then declared: “I support the entire Venezuelan people that is suffering. If I were to enter and say do this to those countries, or to other countries, I would put myself in a role that I do not know. It would be a pastoral imprudence on my part, and would do damage.”

Indeed, he said, “to get them to agree is not enough. [It requires] a just and peaceful solution. I am terrified of a bloodbath. And here I ask something great of those who can help to resolve the problem.”

Perhaps speaking from his personal experience during the “dirty war” in Argentina when the military were in power, Francis went onto state that “the problem of violence frightens me.” He said that “after all the effort made in Colombia, what happened in the academy of the cadets on Jan. 17 is terrifying.”

Then in a somewhat enigmatic remark, Francis said, “I don’t like a balanced word,” which seemed to mean “words” that give the impression of being equidistant from both sides but in reality resolve nothing.

He concluded by declaring, “I have to be a pastor. And if they need help, let them agree and ask for it.”

The Possibility of Ordaining Married Men (Viri Probati) As Priests

There has been much discussion as to whether Pope Francis might allow the ordination of mature married men to be serve as priests in places such as Amazonia. When asked on the plane whether, following the tradition of the Eastern Catholic churches, he might allow married men to be priests, Pope Francis said:

“In the Eastern Catholic churches, they can do it. They make the choice between celibacy or marrying, before they’re ordained into the diaconate. When it comes to the Latin Rite, however, a phrase said by St. Paul VI comes to mind; he said, ‘I would rather give my life than to change the law on celibacy.’ He said this at an even tougher time [than today] in 1969-1970.”

Pope Francis declared, “Personally, I believe that celibacy is a gift to the Church. Secondly, I’m not in agreement with allowing optional celibacy. No!”

But he added, “there could only be a possibility in these far, faraway places, I think about the islands in the Pacific; it’s something to think about when there’s a pastoral need, there the shepherd has to think about the faithful.”

Pope Francis declared, “Personally, I believe that celibacy is a gift to the Church. Secondly, I’m not in agreement with allowing optional celibacy. No!”

Pope Francis then went onto refer to a book by Bishop Fritz Lobinger, bishop emeritus of Aliwal, South Africa, and said, “he’s interesting, this is a matter of discussion among theologians. It’s not for me to decide.” He concluded emphatically: “I will not do this. I don’t feel like standing in front of God with this decision.”

He recalled that Bishop Lobinger “says the church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the church. In the islands in the Pacific Lobinger [asks], “who makes the Eucharist” in these places? Who leads in these communities? It’s the deacons, the religious sisters or the laity. So Lobinger asks, whether an elder, a married man, could be ordained, but only to perform the sanctifying role: to say Mass, give the sacrament of reconciliation and the anointing of the sick.”

Francis explained that “priestly ordination gives three roles or functions (munus)”—teaching, sanctifying, and governing—“but the bishop could give the license for only one: the sanctifying role. It’s interesting.”

He added significantly “I believe that the question has to be open in this sense. Where there’s a pastoral problem due to the lack of priests, I don’t say this must be done because I have not reflected on it, I have not prayed enough, but it’s something for theologians to study.” He cited as an example of such theologians, Father Lobinger: “a faithful man in South Africa,” and said he used this example “to signify the aspects where this [study] must be done.”

Pope Francis said he had spoken to “a bishop, an official of the Secretariat of State, who lived in a Communist country, and who at the beginning of the revolution in the 1950s, when they saw how the revolution was going, the bishops secretly ordained peasants who were brave, religious men. Thirty years later, however, when the crisis was over, the matter was resolved.” He said the bishop “told me of the emotion he experienced when, during a concelebrated mass when he saw these brothers with farmers hands get dressed to say Mass.” Francis remarked, “in the history of the Church, this happened. It’s something to think about, to pray on.”

At that point, the reporter reminded the pope that his predecessor, Benedict XVI took a decision in relations to Anglican clergy who wanted to become Catholic priests, very many of whom were already married. Pope Francis noted that “the (married) Anglican clergy who became Catholic priests, continued to live in this way as if they were from the Eastern Catholic churches.” He then recalled that at a Wednesday audience “I saw several men with the clergyman dress, and then women and children, some in their arms, and they explained how things were.”

The Vatican’s Sex Abuse Summit on Child Protection

A reporter recalled how at the lunch with young people last Saturday, he spoke to one of them, a young American woman, who spoke about the sex abuse scandal and how many Americans have lost faith with the church over this crisis. In the light of this situation, he asked Francis what hopes he has for the February summit.

Pope Francis responded by disclosing that “the idea (for the February meeting with the presidents of the bishops’ conferences) was born out of the C9,” or the Council of Cardinal Advisors, the group of nine cardinal advisors that he appointed soon after becoming pope. He said the idea emerged, “because we saw that some bishops didn't understand [the problem] well, or didn't know what to do or they did something good or something wrong” and so “we felt the responsibility of giving them a ‘catechesis’ on this problem to the bishops' conferences.” He stated: “that is why we convoked the presidents (of the bishops’ conferences).”

He then went on to explain what would happen at the February summit. There will be “a catechesis” to help them first of all “become conscious, become aware of the tragedy caused when perhaps a boy or a girl has been abused.”

Francis again mentioned the fact that “I regularly receive people who have been abused.” He recalled the case of one person who was 40 years old and who endured “terrible suffering,” so much so that he was unable to pray in all those years. He said he wants the February meeting to ensure that the bishops are aware of the tragedy caused by the abuse.

Secondly, he said, the February meeting wants to make sure “that [the bishops] know what should be done, what the procedures are” when faced with crimes of abuse, “because sometimes the bishop doesn't know what to do. It is something that has grown strongly and has not arrived at all the angles, so to speak.”

Pope Francis explained that the main thing at the February meeting is that “before thinking about what should be done, they first must be aware.” Then, “there will be prayer, there will be some testimonies so that they may be made aware and some penitential liturgy, to ask forgiveness for the whole church.”

Thirdly, he explained, the summit will ensure that everyone knows the “programs that reach out to all the episcopal conferences” regarding “what should a bishop do, what should an archbishop do as metropolitan, what should the president of the bishops' conference do.” In juridical terms, he said, “the protocols must be clear.”

He explained that the main thing at the February meeting is that “before thinking about what should be done, they first must be aware.” Then, “there will be prayer, there will be some testimonies so that they may be made aware and some penitential liturgy, to ask forgiveness for the whole church.”

Francis told reporters, in what seemed a reference to the preparatory committee that he established in December, “they are working well on the preparations for this meeting.”

Significantly, however, he sought to lower the expectations for the February meeting. He told reporters: “allow me to say, that I perceived inflated expectations. We have to deflate expectations to these points that I have made because the problem of abuse will continue, it is a human problem, a human problem [that is] everywhere.” He recalled reading a statistic that is “one of those statistics that say 50 percent (of the cases of abuse) have been reported, and of those, 50 - 20 percent are heard…and it ends this way: only 5 percent are condemned. It's terrible, it's terrible.”

Pope Francis said abuse “is a human tragedy that we must be made aware of” and “by resolving the problems in the church, by being aware of it” we “will help to resolve it in society, in the families where shame leads to cover up everything.” There are “so many things in society”, by which he seemed to mean cases of abuse, but the first thing is to “be aware” of it, then “have clear protocols and move forward.”

Abortion and the need for mercy

The issue of abortion had been raised in a very strong way at the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day last Friday. Pope Francis was asked about the need for mercy for persons who have had abortions, and he responded:

The message of mercy is for everyone, also for the human being that is the developing child. It is for everyone.” He said that “after having carried out this failure, there is mercy as well. But a difficult mercy because the problem is that of forgiving, the problem is that of helping, accompanying the woman who understands and is aware of what she has done by aborting.” He added: “we are talking about terrible traumas.”

He told reporters that he had once heard a doctor expounding the theory, “that a cell of the fetus that has just been conceived goes into the bone marrow of the woman and in doing so forms something that is like a physical memory.” While “this is just a theory,” what about “a mother that stops to think about what she has done.” He added, “to tell the truth, you need to be in the confessional” to understand this, “and there you find yourself in the position of having to console.” Then alluding to the fact that he has given every priest the faculty to forgive a woman who has committed abortion, Francis disclosed that “this,” meaning his experience in confession and the need to console, “is why I have opened up to the possibility of absolving the abortion through mercy.”

Then, he said something that reporters had never heard him say before, referring to women who have aborted: “They need to rejoin their child.” Furthermore, he revealed, “I always advise (women), when they call and are desperate, I tell them their child is in heaven, talk to him, I tell them to sing them a lullaby, the lullaby that they had never been able to sing. Here they find a path for reconciliation, between mother and child, with the forgiveness of God. God is all forgiving. Mercy also means helping the woman live through this trauma.”

The need for sex education in school

In Panama and in many other countries, young girls become pregnant, and a reporter asked Francis what should be done about this, and the need for sexual education of children and minors.

In response, Pope Francis said, “There needs to be sex education in schools. Sex is a gift from God. It’s not the ‘boogieman.’ It’s a gift from God for love. Some use it to earn money and to exploit others, and that’s a problem. But there has to be objective sex education, without an ideological colonization. If, from the get-go you give sex education filled with ideological colonization, it destroys the person. But sex as a gift from God that needs to be taught. Not in a strict fashion, take the best from it and accompany the person in the journey.”

He said, “the problem is with those responsible of the education, at the national or local level. What books do teachers choose? I see this in terms of a vegetable. There are vegetables that ripen and things that go bad.”

Since the question was specifically related to Panama, Francis said, “I don’t get into the politics in Panama”, but speaking generally he emphasized, “There needs to be sex education for youth.”

He said that “ideally it should start at home, with the parents.” At the same time, he recognized that “it’s not always possible because there are many family situations. Or because they don’t know how to do it. Schools are there to supplement that; if not any ideology will fill that void.”

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Rhett Segall
2 weeks 6 days ago

It's difficult in the face of the biblical evidence--"Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife as do the rest of the apostles...and Kephas..1 Cor9:5--, not to mention Jesus words stressing the voluntary dimension of celibacy: "He who can accept it ought to accept it" : Matt.19:12- to justify mandatory celibacy for the priesthood. Perhaps the Pauline option-"I would wish all to be like me (in regard to celibacy;1Cor. 7:6) should be seen as the charism it is. The joyful, free celibate is a gift for the Church, evoking in the community of the faithful a remembrance of our ultimate destiny, i. e. communion with God.

Lisa M
2 weeks 6 days ago

If only we would all listen to Pope Francis, without scepticism, but with hope, an open heart, and our egos checked at the door. What a wonderful world this would be.

2 weeks 2 days ago

I want to help and I don't mean to sound condescending but you have to learn more about Catholic catechism and history so you will know the truth, what's right and what's wrong, what's authentic Catholic teaching and what's not. Jesus did say that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church but will it always be the pope to protect it? Read here and find out about the saint who saved the Church (with the Holy Spirit's help of course) many years ago when majority of Churchmen fell into heresy. Even the pope was influenced by that heresy and unjustly excommunicated this saint for a while (one of our greatest saints and of whom we have a lot to be thankful for today!):

Jeffrey More
2 weeks 5 days ago

“because sometimes the bishop doesn't know what to do. It is something that has grown strongly and has not arrived at all the angles, so to speak.” What the deuce is this man trying to say?
If only Francis could learn to speak coherently (perhaps even in complete sentences) with even a modicum of intended comprehensibility, we could perhaps follow well-intentioned advice such as Lisa M’s. As long as he persists in sounding like Chance the Gardener in “Being There”, however, Francis is not going to win any prizes for ability to communicate effectively.

Reyanna Rice
2 weeks 5 days ago

If you are questioning “arrived at all angles” you need to know that the Italian word for “angle” and “corner” are the same. I would have interpreted his statement as “not arrived at all corners” meaning the issues of clergy sex abuse haven’t reached all “corners of the world” and the bishops in those places may not have any idea how to deal with it. In these countries laws are different than in the US. In some even the accusation, founded or unfounded, could result in the death of the accused. Justice systems are not what they are in the west. It’s a universal church and it will take a lot of work getting policies and procedures to be in place. A lot of that work has begun. Fr Greg Zollner SJ is a leading expert on the issues of clergy sexual abuse. He is working with the Vatican out of the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome training dioceses around the world on how to go about this. He’s also in the planning committee for this upcoming meeting in February. As to this translation the article’s author was probably translating on the fly as the pope was speaking. I know for a fact he was at WYD and in the plane back to Rome with the pope. I think he just made a small translation error. And the pope does speak in complete Italian sentences. We have to rely on translators to handle putting his words into English. I know this because I read Italian quite well. I read this interview from Vatican News site in its original.

Crystal Watson
2 weeks 5 days ago

Given that probably all of the disciples were married, that in the early church even popes were married, that the main reason celibacy was adopted was not spiritual but financial, that about half the priesthood is sexually active, and that there's evidence that mandatory celibacy contributes to the sexual abuse of children, it's just weird that Francis won't go for optional celibacy.

Paul Hierholzer
2 weeks 5 days ago

I don't understand that either. I keep reading that "Celibacy is not a cause of the clergy sex abuse crisis," yet if you look at the Anglican Church, they don't have a clergy sex abuse crisis.

Nora Bolcon
2 weeks 4 days ago

Those churches were not patriarchal - they have women priests and bishops or ministers, that is why their abuse rate was lower - sexism has been proven to lead to pedophilia. However, married men abuse at a higher rate than single or celibate men. Learn the facts people! or you just create more injustice by fighting for the wrong things which will create gender segregation thru optional celibacy - and extremely abuse, even more, the humanity of women while you will likely add to the child sexual abuse problem in our church rather than lessen it.

Phillip Stone
2 weeks 4 days ago

They did not make a CRISIS over it, they kept their heads down and quietly arranged acknowledgement and compensation and moves on the abusers. I know a psychiatrist who is on a tribunal in Australia systematically processing cases one by one.

The epidemic of abominable sexual sins perpetrated by persons with access to the weak, the young and the vulnerable coincided with the post-war worldwide new age movement which included popular false psychological and psychiatric assertions and epidemic experimentation in psychoactive substances alleged to fast-track users into deep spirituality and had Satanic inspired pop music groups empowered by the electronic age. The pseudo-scientific Masters and Johnson normalisation of promiscuous, polymorphous perverted sexuality was journalistically and academically promoted as factual and established by experiment and research.

In Australia we know it included celibate and married clergy, rabbis, religious charity workers and secular movements like Legacy, orphanage workers, the Boy Scouts and youth workers.

The Catholic problem is that we are being understandably and appropriately held to a higher standard

Nora Bolcon
2 weeks 4 days ago

They have a lower rate but they don't have patriarchy either. Having women priests and bishops does more to lower child abuse rates because married men have a slightly higher rate than single or celibate men have for abusing sexually children.

William Murphy
2 weeks 3 days ago

The Anglicans have plenty of abuse victims and they have allowed married clergy for centuries. The diocese of Chichester on the south coast of England had a plague of abusers recently. One of them was a long time friend of Prince Charles.


60 miles from Chichester, a vicar from my town was recently imprisoned for advances to the teenagers in his parish youth club.

William Murphy
2 weeks 3 days ago

The Anglicans have plenty of abuse victims and they have allowed married clergy for centuries. The diocese of Chichester on the south coast of England had a plague of abusers recently. One of them was a long time friend of Prince Charles.


60 miles from Chichester, a vicar from my town was recently imprisoned for advances to the teenagers in his parish youth club.

Jim Lein
2 weeks 5 days ago

Right. Celibacy contributes to major problems in the church, many persons abused. And we don't know that Jesus never married. Some biblical scholars think that he and Mary Magdalene may have gotten married.

Crystal Watson
2 weeks 5 days ago

Yes, and it would have been really unusual for him not to be married at that time. It's not as if he was a religious aesthetic, like an Essene - he was called a drunkard and a glutton. I think it's probable that he was married, but the church hates that idea.

Phillip Stone
2 weeks 4 days ago

On the other hand, if a significant number of the early apostles and disciples were married it stands to reason that they have experienced the problems and difficulties first hand and learned by experience that the apostolic calling requires celibacy.

Many other issues of governance and pastoral significance were encountered and solutions arrived at through the last two thousand years in the same way.

It is not an issue of social justice or of human rights - no-one has a right to a charism, an office or a ministry - NOT NOW, NOT EVER!

Nora Bolcon
2 weeks 4 days ago

For starters there is absolutely no proof that celibacy is linked to pedophilia or any other form of child abuse - Absolutely None! Not directly and Not Indirectly. Married men have a higher rate of sexually abusing children and teens - not less. Facts: Gender bias and patriarchy are directly causal to pedophilia and child sexual abuse and that has been proven.

What is more important, allowing optional celibacy or creating a just church for all members?

Optional celibacy instead of ordaining women priests (permanent deacons are a no authority joke not worth fighting for really) creates gender segregation and an extreme abuse against all Catholic women everywhere, and all women everywhere in the world. As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." How true.

We, the laity, should revolt against any attempt to make Latin Rite Catholic Married Priests until we have ordained women priests and bishops, and have made women cardinals and seen all bias against women taken out of our canon law, and that includes in the Amazon. Make the religious sister the ones who preside over Holy Eucharist or hear confessions etc. - not married men!

Misogyny is sin and Jesus commanded against treating women or anyone differently than anyone else. This is a way to continue to subjugate women under men and it is ethically and morally reprehensible! If we say that men are born able to do to women sacramentally what women cannot do back to them, then we declare by that action, law, or tradition that women are less sacred and therefor less human than men. Actions speak louder than words. Neither Jesus or the apostles stated women should not be ordained or made priests or presbyters and anything any man could be in our church. Quite the opposite. This is pure sin and we will pay the price for this evil against women, if we carry it out anywhere in the world!

Married men have a higher rate of abusing young children and teens sexually not a lower rate. Sexism itself also supports directly pedophilia and has supported it in our church yet we refuse to demand the end of patriarchy which Jesus would himself condemn. See below for ways in which our church's misogyny and sexism prospered pedophilia and the abuse of teens in our church:

Sexism and Pedophilia in Catholicism - How One Supports the Other

During the mandatory abuse prevention video trainings lay ministers must now take in the Catholic Church we are informed that there is no link or evidence that either homosexuality or celibacy causes child abuse of any variety. This is true.

However, why does our hierarchy not also inform us that there is a most certain and proven link between all-male leadership in religion and pedophilia?

Below are just five of the many ways single gender or all-male leadership in our church has been directly linked to our church's pedophilia crisis. (These are a sample only)

1. Because women abuse children not even near half the rate men do (6-10% compared to men), including married men (who have a slightly higher rate than unmarried men), simply having a hierarchy consisting of half females would have lowered our rate dramatically and automatically since less pedophiles leads to less victims.

2. Women, because they are often victims of sexual abuse, are more likely, statistically, to point out and report abusive behavior against children, teens, and women than men. This reporting is far more frequent when the women are at the same authority level, or higher level, than the abusing males.

3. Male priest abusers tend to use their state of high prestige due to clerical exclusivity, respect, and admiration from women to "groom" them, in order to gain access to attack their children. This was often the case in our church crisis, as many predatory priests narrowed in on and sought to become more intimate friends with recently divorced and widowed women or single women with mental disabilities who had children still living with them. Having no concern for the women, they used their priestly aura and believed spiritual potency to enchant these vulnerable and often lonely women, gaining them greater and more intimate access to their vulnerable children. Why is this sexism? - these priests intentionally did not go after the kid, in the family, whose father was present and an ex-marine.

4. If we had priests who were male and female, (and if this pool were still not sufficient, then perhaps even married priests, as well, along with celibate priests,) we would have no vocation crisis. Protestant churches with gender integrated hierarchies do not have any vocation crisis. This would give us ample candidates for priesthood and therefore we would be able to deny more of the questionable priestly candidates applying. When there are few choices to pick from, desperation has led our church into choosing candidates it knew had problems even before ordination. When I worked in a rectory during the late 1980s - early 1990s (for seven years), our pastor was a psychologist (rare at that time) so they sent him a couple of new priests that had issues, in the hopes he could somehow make them into capable priests. One of them was let go later on because he spread rumors from what some people had told him, only in the confessional, to other parishioners he had culled into his personal click. The other one, later on, was found to be a pedophile priest with multiple counts against him. We are still likely doing this, even now, that is picking candidates from desperation, because our candidates are still very few given our needs.

5. Already, through a rather low on the totem pole ministry, altar serving, we have taken a big hit at abuse access by allowing this ministry to become gender integrated. In the 1990s this change had still not spread into many of the parishes. By 2005 many parishes had well gender integrated alter server pools. Before this ministry was gender integrated, most parents of adolescent boys would allow a trip to the pastor's or associate pastor's family retreat at the beach or cabin in the woods, etc. because they trusted their priest and it was all boys so what is the worry? However, this type of access or these trips led to many male altar servers being victimized and often in multiple amounts. Having female altar servers in the mix makes this kind of trip offer uncomfortable for the priest to make. How does a priest offer a trip only to the boys without upsetting the girls? Most parents are not going to allow young girls on a trip with young boys with only a priest as a chaperone. Gender exclusivity allows greater access to male children and teens within patriarchy and has them treated less as children and teens by priests.

The above are only a portion of how sexism in our church causes evil and violence in our church. This does not even touch on the other horrors our religious sexism causes in our world. Our witness as Christians is soiled as we promote the view that women are not as sacred as men, or capable of representing Christ equally to men, ignoring what Christ has taught, that the flesh is nothing and the Spirit in a person is everything. People watch what we do more than what we say. As our witness of 'Sexism is ok with Jesus' takes place on our altars, and within our laws and teachings, we promote sexism in the workforce, governments, and family life outside our churches, on a global scale. What evils have already been proven to be promoted by religious sexism (including Catholicism's), in our world, include the following: war, terrorism, poverty, child abuse (sexual and otherwise), sex trafficking, disease, forced illiteracy, forced polygamy, rape, murder, female genital mutilation, and the list goes on.

Unlike other flesh biases, religion is perhaps the largest sponsor of sexism in the modern world. We must act within our religions to put an end to it, or there is little point fighting sexism in society, as it will only return, again and again, continually being re-energized by religion.

Ellen B
2 weeks 5 days ago

He's been pope for almost six years & they are only now getting around to making sure that the Bishops know the appropriate actions to take if someone is abused? SIX YEARS? For a problem that has been public for longer than that? Seems quite literally the LEAST the church can do.

Reyanna Rice
2 weeks 5 days ago

It’s a universal church that has countries where bishops have refused to even think this might be a problem in their own countries, saying its only a problem in western countries where the sexual revolution ran amuck. That’s been a big problem to contend with. And it’s not like it’s been ignored by the Vatican. Fr Zollner SJ and his group out of the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome working with the Vatican has been flying countless miles traveling around the world training dioceses on the issues and also training other trainers to go back to their dioceses to work on the issues. He’s been at this for about 3 years now. There is also the pope’s Commission for the Protection if Minors who have been working on this. You have to understand that not all countries have justice systems like the US. In some countries even an accusation, true or not could result in the death is the accused trial or no trial.

Jeffrey More
2 weeks 4 days ago

I’m a bit puzzled. I’m sure Hans Zollner and his team have been very busy for the last three years, as you assert. But the question I have is this: busy doing what? The Dallas Charter was agreed in 2002. Why did it take 13 years for the Church to appoint a Zollner to “train dioceses on the issues” if that is what he’s been doing? Moreover, the impressive-sounding organizations Zollner belongs to were only created relatively recently: the Centre for Child Protection in 2015, and the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2014. Again, what the hell was the Church doing during the more than one decade that passed after the American branch of Catholicism Inc. befouled itself, was called to account (maybe) in Rome by St. JP II, and enacted the Dallas Charter? I suspect the answer is nothing.

Reyanna Rice
2 weeks 5 days ago

Duolicate deleted

Christopher Minch
2 weeks 5 days ago

"Thirdly, he explained, the summit will ensure that everyone knows the “programs that reach out to all the episcopal conferences” regarding “what should a bishop do, what should an archbishop do as metropolitan, what should the president of the bishops' conference do.” In juridical terms, he said, “the protocols must be clear.”

If this is done with an overarching "zero tolerance" policy mandate then I think they will be well on their way to getting the pedophile issue taken care of. It would also be helpful if the holy father would tell his fellow bishops these are the 3 or 10 or 15 diocesan programs that we are impressed with in the universal church that we find commendable and are a good template to follow if this hasn't been done as yet.

Jeffrey More
2 weeks 5 days ago

In theory, the suggestion you make in the last sentence of your comment is a terrific one. Unfortunately, when the American bishops attempted in Baltimore to come up with just such a program a couple of months ago, the Vatican told them to cease and desist - do not discuss it, the Vatican said; await the February summit so that the whole church can react in a united way to the crisis. Consequently, there ARE no diocesan programs to point to (with the possible exception of Baltimore, whose bishops seem to have at least begun the process of coming up with a program). I get a sense we are witnessing a game of ecclesiastical three-card monte.

Reyanna Rice
2 weeks 5 days ago

Your reply is not quite correct. The policies in place currently diocese wide in the US for dealing with cases of clergy sex abuse is the so-called Dallas Charter which has been in place since 2002. That’s mandatory for all dioceses. What the bishops were trying to do recently in Baltimore, that the Vatcan asked them not to put up for a vote, was a policy to hold bishops accountable. When the Dallas Charter was established at the USCCB meeting in Dallas in 2002, the bishops exempted themselves from it applying to them. The policy they wanted to vote on this November was to address that issue of accountability. They sent it to the Vatican for review. The Vatican saw serious issues in it that conflicted with current canon law. That is why the Vatican asked them to wait. The November conference went ahead and discussed the policy anyway. It turns out that enough bishops were in opposition to it on various points that it’s doubtful it would have passed. That would have further eroded the credibility of the US bishops. Pope Francia wants accountability applying to bishops but wants all the world’s bishops to understand what that means and to be on the same page regarding it. That’s part of this upcoming meeting in February.

Jeffrey More
2 weeks 4 days ago

I fear the the upcoming meeting next month is going to disappoint everyone.
All one has to do is read the interview with Abp. Scicluna published in this magazine a Month or so ago in order to be thrown into mild despair. Abp. Scicluna stated that the summit is really too short to accomplish anything of real significance; he stated, in substance, that the purpose of the summit is to get the bishops and other invited leaders of the institutional Church "on the same page" as the Pope (whatever that page might be); he implied that real progress will only be made on the local level in the future (progress the Vatican had already quashed in the United States), and stated he "hopes" enthusiasm for dealing with the problems survives from the summit until whatever future time local summits eventually take place; and admits that real, meaningful change and reform may need changes in canon law, which could take a long time to be effected. Abp. Scicluna conveyed the strong impression that the Vatican does not expect much from this summit. Consider the following quote:
"Archbishop Scicluna hopes 'that the spirit of this meeting will be positive and proactive, and will also help to give a sign of hope to the bishops themselves, to the whole church, to the People of God, and, importantly to leadership at all levels in the church.'"
One gets the impression that this meeting Was not called to actually deal with a problem that threatens as great a rupture in the Church as was caused by the Reformation, but rather was called as a kind of pep talk for the hierarchy and as a smokescreen designed to make it appear that action is being taken when in reality the Vatican is doing all it can to put the brakes on. Condider the sentence just quoted..Abp. Scicluna "hopes" that the spirit of the meeting will be positive, a mealy-mouthed sentiment if ever there was one. But more oddly, he "hopes" that the "spirit of the meeting" (whatever the hell that means) will "give a sign of hope" (whatever the hell THAT means) to four classes of people: (a) THE BISHOPS THEMSELVES [!], (b) the "whole Church" (which could mean us, but probably means instead the institutional body, I.e. The clergy), (c) the People of God (ah, US!), and (d) "leadership at all levels in the Church". Think about this for a second. Abp Scicluna hopes that the meeting will create a sense of hope among the whited sepulchres who run the Church! Whether he intended to or not, Abp. Scicluna has given the impression that the meeting is INTENDED to be a clusterf**ck . Indeed, what we are about to see in February could well be one of the most consequential (and not in the positive sense of that word) exercises in clericalism in the recent history of the Church.

Will Nier
2 weeks 5 days ago

Our Holy Father brought up some good situations for studying and praying over the question of celibacy.

Jim Spangler
2 weeks 5 days ago

How unfortunate, but a good example of how out of touch that Pope Francis is. They are making this gathering all about abuse of children, but not addressing the elephant in the room "HOMOSEXUALITY" ! Homosexuality is rampant and until this is addressed, the Church will not reform itself. We need to pray for some strong leadership from the Episcapit to guide this meeting or it will fall on deaf ears. Cupich is the least one that I would trust in setting the groundwork for this meeting as he has many skeletons within his closet. When he was Bishop of the Spokane Diocese he was aware that there were twelve Jesuit sex abusers living on the Gonzaga campus in freedom to go or walk where they felt. There was no overseeing of these people, Another example of I'm a big shot, I don't have to take any responsibility for these abusers. After all we don't want to go down any rabbit holes on this subject. We need many Bishops to be removed and to resign. McCarrick needs to stand trial, and all influence that he had upon the system disposed of. Woerl, Tobin, Cupich, etc. etc. etc. The day of the Church operating in secrecy has got to end. The Church is no above the law! Hopefully, before all this garbage is over we will see Bishop, Cardinals, and Priest go to prison and pay for their sins. Please Holy Spirit, come and save the Church! John the Baptist, send down the Angels to empty out the vice and the wicked.

Vincent Couling
2 weeks 5 days ago

If you sincerely want the Elephant in the Closet to be addressed with intelligence and honesty, then prep yourself with Andrew Sullivan's article "The Gay Church: Thousands of priests are closeted, and the Vatican’s failure to reckon with their sexuality has created a crisis for Catholicism" at http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/gay-priests-catholic-church.html

An excerpt to whet your appetite ... "We have no reliable figures on just how many priests in the Catholic Church are gay. The Vatican has conducted many studies on its own clergy but never on this subject. In the United States, however, where there are 37,000 priests, no independent study has found fewer than 15 percent to be gay, and some have found as many as 60 percent. The consensus in my own research over the past few months converged on around 30 to 40 percent among parish priests and considerably more than that — as many as 60 percent or higher — among religious orders like the Franciscans or the Jesuits.

This fact hangs in the air as a giant, unsustainable paradox. A church that, since 2005, bans priests with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” and officially teaches that gay men are “objectively disordered” and inherently disposed toward “intrinsic moral evil” is actually composed, in ways very few other institutions are, of gay men.

The massive cognitive dissonance this requires is becoming harder to sustain. The collapse of the closet in public and private life in the past three decades has made the disproportionate homosexuality of the Catholic priesthood much less easy to hide, ignore, or deny. This cultural and moral shift has not only changed the consciousness of most American Catholics (67 percent of whom support civil marriage for gay couples) and gay priests (many of whom are close to quitting) but also broken the silence that long shrouded the subject. ...

But why is the priesthood so gay? It is worth noting that the connection between homosexuality and spirituality is by no means restricted to Catholicism. Some evolutionary psychologists have found an ancient link between gay men and tribal shamanism. Carl Jung identified the archetypal gifts of the homosexual: “a great capacity for friendship, which often creates ties of astonishing tenderness between men”; a talent for teaching, aesthetics, and tradition (“to be conservative in the best sense and cherish the values of the past”); “a wealth of religious feelings, which help to bring the ecclesia spiritualis into reality; and a spiritual receptivity which makes him responsive to revelation.”

Among gay priests themselves, I heard a variety of explanations. Some described to me how their sense of displacement as boys and teens made them more sensitive to the needs of other marginalized people: “You were an outsider, and you can help other outsiders and welcome them in.” Another simply said, “We understand suffering.” Another spoke of the appeal of belonging to a religious community.

Others explained that they were drawn to the ritual of the church. “Catholicism was different, and I was different … I had a strong sense of mystical experience,” one told me. Catholicism is a faith centered on the Mass, where the body and the soul and the senses are as important as the mind. The Mass is, in some ways, a performance. And I’m not sure how to say this without indulging in stereotypes, but there is something about the liturgy, ritual, music, and drama that attracts a certain kind of gay man. These types — also found in the arts and scholarship — are sticklers for detail, ruthless about rules, and attuned to tradition and beauty. In many ways, the old, elaborate High Mass, with its incense and processions, color-coded vestments, liturgical complexity, musical precision, choirs, organs, and sheer drama, is obviously, in part, a creation of the gay priesthood. Their sexuality was sublimated in a way that became integral and essential to Catholic worship.

Then there is the common experience of a gay boy or teen, brought up in the church, who turns to God in struggling with the question of his difference and displacement from the normal. He is forced to ponder deeper questions than most of his peers, acquires powerful skills of observation, and develops a precocious spirituality that never fully leaves him. This resonates for myself as a Catholic boy and teen. The first person I ever came out to was God, in a silent prayer on my way to Communion. I was an altar boy, knew well how to swing a brass thurible full of incense, could debate the nuances of transubstantiation by the age of 11, and considered the priesthood as a vocation (I concluded I wasn’t good enough a person). Like many solitary gay Catholic boys, I saw in Jesus a model — single, sensitive, outside a family, marginalized and persecuted but ultimately vindicated and forever alive.

But there are other reasons for gay men to seek the priesthood that are far from healthy. The first is celibacy. If you were a young gay Catholic in centuries past, one way to avoid social ostracism, or constant questions about why you lacked an interest in girls or women, was to become a priest. (One priest also told me the most powerful force behind vocations to the priesthood had long been mothers, who, intuiting that a son was “not the marrying kind,” would encourage him to enter the church to save their family’s social standing.) This pattern, though much less severe than in the past, endures. A profound lack of self-esteem, fueled in part by the church’s homophobia, also led to some seeking the priesthood as a means to repress or somehow cure themselves. ...

The scale of it in the late 20th century was extraordinary — but, in retrospect, predictable. If you do not deal honestly with your sexuality, it will deal with you. If you construct an institution staffed by repressed and self-hating men and build it on secrecy and complete obedience to superiors, you have practically created a machine for dysfunction and predation. And the hideous truth is we will never know the extent of the abuse in centuries past or what is still going on, especially throughout places in the world (like Africa and Latin America) where robust scrutiny of the church is still sometimes taboo.

Another pattern was externalized homophobia: What you hate in yourself but cannot face, you police and punish in others. It remains a fact that many of the most homophobic bishops and cardinals have been — and are — gay. Take the most powerful American cardinal of the 20th century, Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, who died in 1967. He had an active gay sex life for years while being one of the most rigid upholders of orthodoxy. Monsignor Tony Anatrella, an advocate for conversion therapy consulted by the Vatican, was recently suspended for sexual abuse of other men. One of Europe’s senior cardinals, Keith O’Brien of Scotland, described homosexuality as a “moral degradation” and marriage equality as “madness.” Sure enough, he was eventually forced to resign and leave the country after being accused of abusive sexual relationships with four other priests.

The founder of the once hugely influential hard-right, anti-gay cult the Legion of Christ, Marcial Maciel, was found to have sexually abused countless men, women, and children. The leader of Church Militant, which is obsessed with gay priests, is a self-described “ex-gay.” This is a good rule: Those in the hierarchy obsessed with the homosexual question often turn out to be gay; those who are calmer tend to be straight. ...

On a Sunday morning in late 2017, at the conservative parish of St. Bernadette in Milwaukee, Father Gregory Greiten was extremely nervous. The next day, the National Catholic Reporter would be publishing an article he wrote in which he would come out as gay. No one in his congregation knew in advance, and now he was about to say Mass. He wanted to tell his own parish first. ,,,

He hasn’t looked back since. The archbishop of Milwaukee offered a public statement, regretting that Father Greg had come out but pledging to treat him with “understanding and compassion.” Greg told me he has had no personal interaction with the archbishop since he told him he’d be coming out. He did get a kind voice-mail on his birthday, though. ...

“This year has been one of the best years of my life,” Greg said. “I feel much closer to Jesus. Someone asked me if I had regrets and I said to him, ‘Do you know what freedom is? Because if you do, you wouldn’t have asked the question.’ All that energy that went into creating a false self … the banter … all that pretending is done. I wish other priests could have some of that freedom.” Then he offered something unexpected: “I want to say something about my mom. My mom has done for me what the church has never done — which is to love and respect me for who I am and who God has created me to be.” Maybe at some point, Mother Church will do the same."

Lisa M
2 weeks 5 days ago

The question isn't really whether or not a priest is straight or gay, the question is why one ignores their vows. It's an issue of principle. Can someone think they can be faithful to their vows and find out they can't? Yes of course, but why engage in living a lie? That is what the problem is. It is again, an example of our priests or bishops not leading by example, and not following basic principles of fairness, truthfulness and integrity. That is what is at the core of the problems within the Church, and in all of our lives really. We sell out on the principles of honestly and integrity, and then demand change to fit our way of thinking. They've been called to a life of cellibacy, and agreed to it. Every effort should be made to live that way, as it is for all of us in similar circumstances. Do we fall short sometimes, yes some of us do, but living our lives that way, day in and day out, is not right. Leave the priesthood, and, if you choose, fight for what you believe it should be, but don't live a double life. That goes for anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

Vincent Gaglione
2 weeks 5 days ago

I would suggest that Pope Francis would very much like to change the direction of the church…..when was the last time that you heard a Pope or Bishop talk about sex education? In a world where the internet provides ready access to information, a lot of it incomplete and/or tainted by opinion, good and bad, he points out that many of our own leaders have a very incomplete comprehension of the issues that they face. Some of the Bishops, and many of the laity, are opposed to Francis’ proposed redirection or even open discussion of it. Rather than change the direction of the ship of Peter, they prefer to rearrange the deck chairs! Many of the chairs are already empty and the ship may be in danger of foundering. We have to get out there and meet believers where they are and not where we expect and demand them to be.

Lisa M
2 weeks 5 days ago

Vincent- :)

Nora Bolcon
2 weeks 3 days ago

If we don't start ordaining women priests and bishops now there will not be any youth to care about it later on.

Amir Khan
2 weeks 5 days ago

Great, thank you for sharing these cool and useful videos. I enjoyed the videos you shared because it provided a lot of knowledge for me.

Dr Robert Dyson
2 weeks 4 days ago

'... to help them first of all “become conscious, become aware of the tragedy caused when perhaps a boy or a girl has been abused.”'

If they don't already know that the abuse of children is a tragedy and that they ought to do something about it, they shouldn't be bishops.

Phillip Stone
2 weeks 4 days ago

[Then, “there will be prayer, there will be some testimonies so that they may be made aware and some penitential liturgy, to ask forgiveness for the whole church]

I pray that the testimonies and deliberations include the failure of governance. I hope that the theology of sin and theology of grace is seriously visited.

Vatican I was harsh, soulless and belligerent, utterly absorbed in combat with "Modernism" and unfinished The prevailing practices were so close to salvation by works it seemed nothing but a sect of Judaism, with indulgences and sodalities and Catholic exceptionalism and close to a magical mentality associated with sacraments and sacramentals and aesthetics of liturgy. Catechisms displaced the word of God, counterfeit bibles of easily consulted legalism.

Vatican II shocked the ordinary Catholic and instead of provoking most of them into awareness of the need for personal conversion and individual faith and personal prayer nourished by Scripture, there was a significant mob mentality rejecting the vital work and message sent by the Holy Spirit to set the passengers in the braque of Peter back on the right course and they rebelled, many still do. The last third of the 20th century was a turmoil of transition. NO MORE CHEAP GRACE. NO MORE COLLECTIVE SECURITY.

Vatican 2 was a genuine work of the Holy Spirit, two saints deeply involved in its implementation, accessing and deliberating on the full 20 centuries of tradition and the contributions of all significant pondering on the words and works of God.
We now have extensive experience of the return of charisms and their exercise through the Catholic Charismatic renewal and Holy Spirit led prayer, worship and ministry.
We now have the most wonderful translations of the Scriptures and we ordinary Catholics thereby may have access to the most comprehensive, authentic and genuine account of the work of God in history any people have ever enjoyed.
We have the people of God participating in every liturgical ceremony consciously in a comprehended and informed way, we know exactly what we are applying our Amens to.
Consequently, less babies are baptised, less young couples are married sacramentally, few attend reconciliation and less call for the priest on their death beds - because they know what is really being enacted and how grave and important the commitment must be .... like the rich man, turning away sorrowing.

I want the bishops to concentrate on governing properly, not democratically nor tyrannically - is that not going to be a vital sign to the world approaching the abundance of eight billion people with only limited room within which to move - the Church needs to be charismatically institutional, a wonderful insight from Cardinal Suenens.

Henry George
2 weeks 3 days ago

I may be wrong, but Vatican I was about Modernism ? I don't suppose Grace is every cheap, though it is freely given by our Creator. As for Vatican II, while the documents may inspired by the Holy Spirit, its implementation was incorrectly carried out by fallible humans. As for the translations of the Scriptures, I have not noticed that NAB is significantly better than those that came before and it certainly lacks a certain beauty of language. No, most people at Mass do not participate consciously in a comprehended and informed way, most people just say their responses and, frankly, do not sing the
song, sadly not hymns, that the quasi-folk group is performing. It seems you want a smaller church, why ?


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