Thursday, April 25

My son Christopher (again) called me up and, among other things, asked me to help him prove to his Baptist co-workers that it's possible for Protestant clergy to be guilty of sexual crimes, too. I know some of you are interested in the same subject, so I'll provide you the same links I did him.

From World Magazine

From a Catholic apologetics site - a very attractive, well-designed site that I'd never seen before, I might add.

From the Detroit Free Press

From the Christian Science Monitor

If anyone else has any other information I can pass along to this little group down in the UT Athletic Department discussing ecclesiology, let me know - I'd appreciate it, and so would my besieged son.

From a reader:

I work with priests. Good, holy, spiritual men. They have no problem with Cardinal Law either resigning or being put under Apostolic administration until he can help straighten out the mess. Having said that, I just cannot believe that
we are being asked to do reparations.

I have an invitation for them: I will pray for them as they walk on their knees from the Vatican to Los Angeles in reparation for their sins of commission and omission. How 'bout that?

Many, many thanks to a regular reader who passed along this quote and link:

It'sa review from First Things (in 1998) of a volume of moral theology by Germaine Grisez. Here's the pertinent quote from the review, written by David Novak:

Since Grisez deals with two hundred difficult moral questions, it is impossible to do more than mention a few. There is, for example, the question raised by a couple whose teenage son has been sexually seduced by "Father Jack," their parish priest. They ask Grisez whether or not they should report this priest to the police. Here Grisez knows that he must carefully distinguish between the Church per se, which as a theologian faithful to her he regards as infallible, and the Church as a community of sinful human beings. Thus, with the usual courage of his convictions, he bluntly states, "The real problems presented and revealed by the conducts of priests like Father Jack have hardly been acknowledged by bishops, including yours, and . . . thus far they have developed no adequate policy or procedure for dealing with those problems."

Grisez's criticism of many of the bishops is that they have tended to treat the sexual misconduct of priests in their charge simply as a matter of psychological illness. Such priests are taken to be emotionally disturbed and must be regarded as objects of compassion, for whom therapy (with its supposition of confidentiality) is the appropriate response. Even though Grisez does not dispute the need for therapy, he rightly emphasizes that priests like Father Jack are capable of free choice and thus morally responsible for their crimes. And in the case at hand, the crime has had a victim, namely, the questioners' teenage son, "Frank." Grisez wisely notes that even if this priest's sexual behavior is psychologically compulsive, he was still "gravely responsible for failing to get the help he needed to forestall . . . betraying Frank's trust and abusing his body." What Grisez is also saying is that attempts of Church officials to deny the moral nature of this type of situation has been a source of scandal, leading both Catholics and non-Catholics to conclude that the Church, in effect, exempts priests from ordinary moral responsibility instead of holding them to Christian standards, which include and go beyond ordinary morality.

Welcome National Review readers! (Again)

If you scroll down, down, down and go through the archives, you'll find a lot of commentary on various Catholic matters. Right now, I've got to go work on a book, but I'll be back to post later. See - that's the meaning of the title of this blog (in answer to questions I've received recently) - I blog in between naps. I work during naps. And now, at long last, a nap has commenced. So must my wrestling match with the parables of Jesus.

A couple of weeks ago, my son Christopher called me from Knoxville, and in the midst of the conversation, really out of nowhere, asked, "Why, Mom? Why did they do it? Why didn't they kick those priests out when they abused kids?"

You know, it was such a simple question, asked out of a sense of honest confusion. Why? Why would leaders tolerate the presence of child molesters in their midst?

That also happens to be the question most of us are asking, and it's the question that wasn't answered by the Confab.

You've got the policies, cardinals. You've had them for a few years now. You had what you claimed were great policies in dioceses which have, in recent weeks, turned over scores of names of the accused over to authorities.

But you know what? Forget the policies. Even if you don't have a perfect policy covering every possible circumstance, you do have one other thing:the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel which calls for, among other things, fidelity to Truth before all else, no matter what the cost, particular care for the "little ones," and severe warnings to religious leaders who fail to serve God and His people.

What more did you need?

The unanswered question isn't about what words were printed on pieces of paper stuffed in diocesan files. The unanswered question is...why did you so flagrantly disregard the Gospel?

And we're supposed to do reparations?

My husband has some interesting information on the issue of homosexuality in seminaries on his blog.
Another Indiana Catholic Blogger!
Thoughts from a priest-reader on my thoughts on homosexuality and the priesthood:

.... I agree with 90% of it, but I do think there is some room to be careful with those of homosexual orientation in the intake process. Heterosexual orientation is normal for the male, and homosexual orientation is, many times, accompanied by other behavioral problems that feed into its weaknesses. For some reason, and I don’t really know why, during my previous tenure in Cincinnati, I became the father-confessor for a group of homosexual men (I told them the truth about what they did, but I didn’t yell, so they kept coming back).

What I observed was a group of guys who were almost all obsessive-compulsive, and who adopted the moral compass of whomever they were with at the time; in the confessional, they agreed with my exhortations to chastity, outside, well . . . . Anecdotally, I believe that the disordered orientation brings other problems with it, including, many times, a promiscuity (the search for dad) which is much harder to control than the heterosexual Friday-nite out stuff.

I don’t agree with the idea that the orientation is biological (orientation and masculinity are related, but not necessarily so); I still persist in the old psycho-social model of absent or ineffective male father figure, and strong dominant mother figure as the most acceptable explanation. The worst thing that ever happened to homosexual men was the APA declaring homosexuality a lifestyle, not a pathology (under political pressure at the time). I’ve known many homosexuals who couldn’t find help in the mental health community; they’d be told by therapists that there’s nothing wrong with them (then why do I feel like cutting my wrists all the time? as one once said to me). The healers no longer have to come to grips with a really difficult pathology; they were all cured by decree.

I know of many homosexual priests, both in Cincinnati and St. Louis, good men who labor under a heavier burden than many of their brother priests. I would never advocate hunting them down and throwing them out; many are close friends. But I do believe that vocations directors and formation directors and bishops and seminary rectors need to take into account the additional pressures and problems that many of these candidates will bring with them. The call to celibacy and chastity is for all normally acquired Latin rite priests (I am not, of course, normal in any sense
[editor's note - he's married]) a call to a way of life and faith. Each man has his own story, but I believe that some come burdened in ways that many of us cannot understand, and obedience to the call of celibate living for the Gospel is more difficult for them. We need to take that into account, as well as the heroism of the men we have now who struggle with this problem.

Before you get all excited about lay review boards...

which were discussed at the confab, but somehow didn't make into the final communication...remember this...

Diocesan attorneys who put abuse victims through hell in court and in depositions...laypeople.

Spokespersons who cheerily mouth the party line for dioceses and bishop's conferences....laypeople.

Parishioners who give their negligent bishops standing ovations....laypeople.

Parishioners who declare their admitted child pornographer pastor a "good man"...laypeople.

Laypeople are not saints. They can be just as deeply implicated and corrupted by clerical structures as...clerics.

A roundup of various investigations going on in LA with one weird note about a Filipino priest named Bismonte who blamed the whole thing on "cultural misunderstandings."

Meanwhile, in Rancho Cucamonga, Bismonte remains in jail in lieu of $200,000 bail as the San Bernardino County district attorney decides whether to press charges.

Bismonte acknowledged taking the girls to the park to play on the swings and said, "we used to wrestle." Fontana Police Sgt. Robert Beltran said the girls told detectives the priest touched them over and under their clothing. Bismonte shared an apartment in Fontana with the girls' aunt, who would frequently baby-sit the children, Beltran said. The girls said the touching stopped in 2001, according to Beltran, when Bismonte moved out of the apartment.

Huh? Why was he living with the girls' aunt? What's that about, anyway?

Michael Paulson, whom I like (and not just because he once cited an OSV article I wrote in one his columns), writes a good analysis of What Happened in Rome:

The cardinals' focus on the narrow issue of what to do to about priests who abuse children, rather than what to do about bishops who protected those priests or about a system that allowed abusers to thrive, appalled many American observers.

''It was a bust,'' said the Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, a priest whose early work on clergy sexual abuse in the 1980s was largely ignored by the bishops. ''I don't think they're capable of talking about the real issue, which is why did we cover this up?''

Exactly. Every diocese has had policies of one sort or another, not too much different from this one, for years. The thorny issue is what to be done to forcibly laicize offenders and the obligation to inform civil authorities. Those are the new factors being discussed. But the point is, there have, indeed been policies in place which were supposed to protect children and get offending priests away from them. The question (except for the two points raised above) is really not of a new policy - it's of actually applying the policies. Why wasn't this done?


Boston Archdiocese "finds" damning files on Paul Shanley:

No one knew that the files were around,'' Coyne said. ``It wasn't just one letter that was overlooked. It's another bad thing. It makes us look like we are not being honest. It's just awful.''

Sure is.


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