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What Went Wrong?
Confraternity of Catholic Clergy | July 15, 2003 | Father Paul Mankowski, S.J.

Posted on 03/29/2004 1:07:32 PM PST by CatherineSiena

What Went Wrong?

by Father Paul Mankowski, S.J.

An Address to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy - July 15, 2003

What went wrong, and why?

Everyone in the room will rightly understand the question to refer to The Crisis, the daily revelation over the past eighteen months of numberless instances of priestly turpitude, episcopal mendacity, and the resultant bewilderment and fury of the laity.

My own take on the problem, which I offer for your consideration, is that the Crisis is chiefly surprising in how unsurprising it is.

No one who has been fighting the culture wars within the Church over the past twenty years can fail to recognize his own struggles with a hostile bureaucracy and conflicted hierarchy in the struggles of those pleading for relief from sexual abuse -- notwithstanding the disparity in the attendant journalistic drama.

In fact, I'd contend that the single important difference in the Church's failure regarding abusive clergy and the failures regarding liturgy, catechesis, pro-life politics, doctrinal dissent and biblical translation is this: that in the case of the sex abuse scandal we've been allowed a look over the bishops' shoulders at their own memos.

Deviant sexual assault has accomplished what liturgical abuse never could: it has generated secular media pressure and secular legal constraints so overwhelming that the apparat was forced to make its files public.

What we read in those files was shocking, true, but to most of us, I suspect, it was shocking in its sense of daja vu.

The housewife who complained that Father skipped the Creed at mass and the housewife who complained that Father groped her son had remarkably similar experiences of:

This picture was meant to describe the faithful's dealing with the normally operating bureaucracy, in which the higher-ups are largely insulated.

Occasionally someone manages to break through the insulation and deal with the responsible churchman himself. In this case another maneuver is typically employed, one I tried to sketch eight years ago in an essay called "Tames in Clerical Life":

In one-on-one situations, tames in positions of authority will rarely flatly deny the validity of a complaint of corruption lodged by a subordinate. More often they will admit the reality and seriousness of the problem raised, and then pretend to take the appellant into their confidence, assuring him that those in charge are fully aware of the crisis and that steps are being taken, quietly, behind the scenes, to remedy it.

Thus the burden of discretion is shifted onto the subordinate in the name of concern for the good of the institution and personal loyalty to the administrator: a tame must not go public with his evidence of malfeasance lest he disrupt the process -- invariably hidden from view -- by which it is being put right.

This ruse has been called the Secret Santa maneuver: "There are no presents underneath the tree for you, but that's because Daddy is down in the basement making you something special. It is supposed to be a surprise, so don't breathe a word or you'll spoil everything. And, of course, Christmas never comes.

Perhaps most of the well-intentioned efforts for reform in the past quarter century have been tabled indefinitely by high-ranking tames using this ploy to buy their way out of tough situations for which they are temperamentally unsuited.

What I've put before you are two scenarios in which complaints of abuses are brought to those in authority and in which they seem to vanish -- the complaints, I mean, not the abuses. One hoped that something was being done behind the scenes, of course, but whatever happened always remained behind the scenes.

As the weeks went by without observable changes in the abuse and without feedback from the bureaucracy, one was torn between two contradictory surmises: that one's complain had been passed upstairs to so high a level that even the bishop (or superior) was forbidden to discuss it; alternatively, that once one's silence had been secured and the problem of unwelcome publicity was past, nothing whatsoever was being done.

Now the remarkable thing about The Crisis is how fully it confirmed the second suspicion.

In thousands and thousands of pages of records one scarcely, if ever, is edified by a pleasant surprise, by discovering that a bishop's or superior's concern for the victim or for the Faith was greater than that known to the public, that the engines of justice were geared up and running at full throttle, but in a manner invisible to those outside the circle of discretion. Didn't happen.

I think this goes far to explain the fact that when the scandals broke it was the conservative Catholics who were the first and the most vociferous in calling for episcopal resignations, and only later did the left-liberals manage to find their voices.

Part of our outrage concerned the staggering insouciance of bishops toward the abuse itself, but part, I would argue, was the exasperation attendant on the realization that, for the same reasons, all our efforts in the culture wars on behalf of Catholic positions had gone up in the same bureaucratic smoke.

I take issue, then, with commentators who refer to the Crisis as an ecclesial "meltdown" or "the Church's 9-11" or who use some similarly cataclysmic metaphor. Whatever there was to melt down had already done so for years, and that across the board, not just in priestly misconduct.

Therefore, in addressing the question, "what went wrong, and why?" I need to try explain not simply the sex-abuse scandals but the larger ecclesial failure as well, weaknesses that existed even before the Second Vatican Council.

Paradoxically, one of the major factors in the corruption of clerical life at the end of the 20th century was its strength at the beginning of it. Here I quote from James Hitchcock:

A gloomy fact about clerical life is that, with the possible exception of the very early centuries, there was no time in the Church's history when such life was idyllic. The Middle Ages had their share of misbehaving priests, and the ordinary parish clergy were uneducated and part of a peasant culture which was in some ways still pagan. The Counter-Reformation made strenuous efforts to improve the state of the clergy, not least through the establishment of that institution which ought to have been obvious but for some reason had not been -- the seminary. Even despite these efforts, clerical scandals and various kinds of clerical incompetence long continued, amidst occasional saintly priests and many others of solid piety and zeal. In the United States the period cl900-l960 can be considered a golden age of the priesthood, not merely in modern times but throughout all the Catholic centuries. (This golden age was not confined to America but existed in other countries as well.) While priests of that era certainly had their faults, by all measurable standards there was less ignorance, less immorality, less neglect of duty, and less disobedience than at almost any time in the history of the Church. More positively, priests of that era were generally pious and zealous, and those who were not at least had to pretend to be.

Not only was the reality of priestly character in good shape, but the reputation of Catholic clergymen was likewise high. This brought with it several problems.

First, being an honorable station in life, the clerical life provided high grass in which many villains and disturbed individuals could seek cover. I would estimate that between 50 and 60% of the men who entered religious life with me in the mid-70s were homosexuals who had no particular interest in the Church, but who were using the celibacy requirement of the priesthood as a way of camouflaging the real reason for the fact that they would never marry.

It should be noted in this connection that the military has its own smaller but irreducible share of crypto-gays, as do roughnecks on offshore drilling rigs and merchant mariners ("I never got married because I move around so much it wouldn't be fair on the girl..."). Perhaps a certain percentage of homosexuals in these professions can never be eliminated.

I further believe that the most convincing explanation of the disproportionately high number of pedophiles in the priesthood is not the famous Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers Theory, but its reverse, proposed to me by a correctional officer at a Canadian prison.

He suggested that, in years past, Catholic men who recognized the pederastic tendency in themselves and hated it would try to put it to death by entering a seminary or a monastery, where they naively believed the sexual dimension of life simply disappeared. It doesn't disappear, and many of these men became active pedophiles.

This suggestion has the advantage of accounting for the fact that most priests who are true pedophiles appear to be men in their 60s and older, and would belong to a generation of Catholics with, on the one hand, a strong sense of sexual mortal sin and, on the other, strong convictions about the asceticism and sexual integrity of priestly life.

To homosexuals and pedophiles I would add a third group, those I call "tames," who are men incapable of facing the normally unpleasant situations presented by adulthood and who find refuge, and indeed success, in a system that rewards:

  1. concern for appearance,
  2. distaste for conflict, and
  3. fondness for the advantageous lie.

In sum, the social prestige and high reputation that attached to the post-WW2 priesthood made it attractive to men of low character and provided them with excellent cover.

A second key factor in the present corruption is loss of the bishops' ability for self-correction. This problem has institutional and personal dimensions.

The model of episcopal collegiality in place since the Council has not increased the mutual good-will of the bishops, but has, paradoxically, made the appearance of good-will obligatory in nearly all situations.

Once more I turn to James Hitchcock. Speaking of the Church's necessary recourse to diplomacy in dealing with militarily superior nation-states, Hitchcock says:

It is ironic and discouraging that in the modern democratic era, when the Church enjoys the blessings of complete independence from political control, diplomacy still seems necessary, now often concentrated on internal ecclesiastical matters.

It appears, for example, that the Pope is not free simply to appoint bishops as he sees fit, but that an elaborate process of consultation, of checks and balances, takes place, after which successful candidates are often people who have no highly placed enemies.

The Holy See now appears to treat national episcopal conferences, and the numerous religious orders, almost as foreign powers. Scrupulous correctness is observed at all times, formal verbiage masks barely hidden disagreements, and above all potential "incidents" are avoided. ... This endemic practice of diplomacy within the Church has yielded small results. Abuses have been tolerated not for the sake of unity but merely for the "appearance" of unity, which itself soon becomes an over-riding concern.

Because what matters most in this mindset is perception, the appearance of unity, it has become virtually impossible to remove a bad bishop without prior public scandal -- "public" here meaning notorious in the secular sphere, through the mass media.

When the scandal is sexual or financial, it seems the Holy See can move quickly to remove the offender. When the scandal is in the arena of heresy or administrative irregularity or liturgical abuse, there is almost never enough secular interest generated to force the Holy See's hand. Bishops Milingo and Ziemann and Roddy Wright have many brethren; Bishop Gaillot has few.

Intermediate reform measures like seminary visitations are doomed to failure for the same reason; there simply is no possibility in the present disposition for a hostile inspection, where the visitators try to "get behind" the administration and find the facts for themselves. To do such a thing would be to imply lack of trust in the administration and hence in the bishop responsible for it, and such an imputation is utterly impossible.

The same is true in bishops' dealing with universities, learned societies and religious congregations. The only permissible inspections are friendly inspections, where the visitators ask the institution under scrutiny for a self-evaluation, which, of course, will be overwhelmingly positive and which will render the chances of reform almost nil.

A priest official in a Vatican dicastery whom I trust told me that the needed reforms will never take place unless the Church undoes Pope Paul VI's restructuring of the Vatican curia, whereby the Secretariate of State has become a kind of super-bureaucracy -- no longer charged simply with the Holy See's relations to other nations but with de facto control over the relations of the Vatican dicasteries to one another of the Holy See to its own bishops.

In practice the Secretariate of State not only sets the tone for the Holy See's dealings but often sets the agenda as well, ensuring that the diplomatic concern for appearances will prevail over the need for reforms involving unpleasantness, and exercising indirect influence over the selection of bishops, characteristically men of diplomatic demeanor if not experience.

This profile goes far to explain why telling the truth is a problem for a large number of bishops, many of whom seem baffled and hurt when their falsehoods are not taken at face value.

All embassies, moreover, have a high number of homosexuals in their staffs, and the Vatican diplomatic corps in no exception. The combination of the physical comforts attendant on diplomatic service, the skill at bureaucratic manipulation and oblique methods of pressure, the undercurrent of homosexual decadence, and the alacrity with which truth is sacrificed to expediency do not make an environment conducive to reform.

The dominion exercised by the Secretariate of State means that many good-willed attempts to clean house go nowhere, and will continue to go nowhere in the future, being lost in its corridors or disfigured beyond recognition.

A third answer to "What Went Wrong?" concerns a factor that is at once a result of earlier failures and a cause of many subsequent ones: I mean sexual blackmail.

Most of the men who are bishops and superiors today were in the seminary or graduate school in the 1960s and 1970s. In most countries of the Western world these places were in a kind of disciplinary free-fall for ten or fifteen years. A very high percentage of churchmen who are now in positions of authority were sexually compromised during that period.

Perhaps they had a homosexual encounter with a fellow seminarian; perhaps they had a brief heterosexual affair with a fellow theology student. Provided they did not cause grave scandal, such men were frequently promoted, according to their talents and ambition.

Many are competent administrators, but they have time-bomb in their past, and they have very little appetite for reform measures of any sort -- even doctrinal reforms -- and they have zero appetite for reform proposals that entail cleaning up sexual mischief. In some cases perhaps, there is out-and-out blackmail, where a bishop moves to discipline a priest and priest threatens to report the bishop's homosexual affair in the seminary to the Nuncio or to the press, and so the bishop backs off.

More often I suspect the blackmail is indirect. No overt threat is made by anyone, but the responsible ecclesiastic is troubled by the ghost of his past and has no stomach for taking a hard line. Even if personally uneasy with homosexuality, he will not impede the admission and promotion of gays.

He will almost always treat sexuality in psychological terms, as a matter of human maturation, and is charity of the language of morality and asceticism. He will act only when it is impossible not to act, as when a case of a priest's or seminarian's sexual misconduct is known to the police or the media. He will characteristically require of the offender no discipline but will send him to counseling, usually for as brief a period as possible, and will restore him to the best position that diocesan procedures and public opinion will allow him to.

Note: sexual blackmail operates far beyond the arena of sexual misconduct. When your Aunt Margaret complains about the pro-abortion teachers at the Catholic high school, or the Sisters of St. Jude worshiping the Eight Winds, or Father's home-made eucharistic prayer, and nothing is done, it is eminently likely that the bishop's reluctance to intervene stems from the consciousness that he is living on borrowed time.

In short, many bishops and superiors, lacking integrity, lack moral courage. Lacking moral courage, they can never be reformers, can never uproot a problem, but can only plead for tolerance and healing and reconciliation.

I am here sketching only the best-case scenario, where the bishop's adventures were brief, without issue, and twenty years in his past. In cases where the man continues his sexual exploits as a bishop, he is of course wholly compromised and the blackmail proportionately disastrous.

A fourth element in the present corruption is the strange separation of the Church from blue-collar working people.

Before the Council every Catholic community could point to families that lived on hourly wages and who were unapologetically pious, in some cases praying a daily family rosary and attending daily mass. Such families were a major source of religious vocations and provided the Church will many priests as well.

These families were good for the Church, calling forth bishops and priests who were able to speak to their spiritual needs and to work to protect them from social and political harms. Devout working class families characteristically inclined to a somewhat sugary piety, but they also characteristically required "manly" priests to communicate it to them: that was the culture that gave us the big-shouldered baritone in a lace surplice.

Except for newly-arrived immigrants from Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines, the devout working class family has disappeared in the U.S. and in western Europe. The beneficial symbiosis between the clerical culture and the working class has disappeared as well.

In most parishes of which I'm aware the priests know how to talk to the professionals and the professionals know how to talk to the priests, but the welders and roofers and sheet-metal workers, if they come to church at all, seem more and more out of the picture.

I think this affects the Church in two ways: on the one hand, the Catholic seminary and university culture has been freed of any responsibility to explain itself to the working class, and notions of scriptural inspiration and sexual propriety have become progressively detached from the terms in which they would be comprehensible by ordinary people; on the other hand, few priests if any really depend on working people for their support.

In a mixed parish, they are supported by the professionals; in a totally working class parish, they're supported by the diocese -- i.e., by professionals who live elsewhere. That means not only does Father not have to account for his bizarre view of the Johannine community, but he doesn't have to account for the three evenings a week he spends in lay clothes away from the parish.

A related but distinct factor contributing to the Crisis is money. The clergy as a whole is enormously more prosperous than it was a century ago. That means the clergyman is independent of the disapproval of the faithful in a way his predecessors were not, and it also means he has the opportunities and the wherewithal to sin, and sin boldly, very often without detection.

Unless he makes unusual efforts to the contrary, a priest today finds himself part of a culture of pleasure-seeking bachelordom, and the way he recreates and entertains himself overlaps to a great extent that of the young professional bronco. Too often, regrettably, the overlap is total.

But even when a priest is chaste, by collecting boy-toys and living the good life he finds himself somewhat compromised. He may suspect a brother priest is up to no good by his frequent escapes to a time-share condo, but if he feels uneasy about his own indulgences he is unlikely to phone his brother to remonstrate with him.

My own experience of religious life is that community discussion of "poverty issues" is exceptionlessly ugly, partly because almost everyone feels vulnerable to criticism in some aspect or other, partly because there's an unspoken recognition that poverty and chastity issues are not entirely unrelated. As a consequence, only the most trivial and cosmetic adjustments are made, and the integrity of community life continues to worsen.

One more point, perhaps more fanciful than the others. I believe that one of the worst things to happen to the Church and one of the most important factors in the current corruption of the clergy is the Mertonization of monastic life.

I may be unfair to Thomas Merton in laying the blame at his feet and I don't insist on the name, but I think you all can recognize what I mean: the sea change in the model of contemplative life, once aimed at mortification -- a death to self through asceticism - now aimed at self-actualization, the Self has taken center stage.

This change is important because, in spite of 50-plus years of propaganda to the contrary, the monastic ideal remains a potent ikon in any priest's self-understanding.

  1. Simplicity of life,
  2. fidelity to prayer, and
  3. obedience

all have different orientations in the case of

  1. a canon,
  2. a friar, and
  3. a diocesan priest, obviously,

but they are all monastic in transmission and all essential to the clerical life.

Where monastic life is healthy, it builds up even non-monastic parts of the Church, including and in particular the lives of priests in the active apostolate. Where the monastic life is corrupt or lax, the loss extends to the larger Church as well -- it's as if a railing is missing one side of a balcony.

When I was preparing for priesthood my teachers lamented what they called the "monastic" character of pre-conciliar seminaries and houses of formation (fixed times for common prayer, silence, reading at meals, etc) complaining that such disciplines were ill-suited to their lives because they were destined not to be monks but pastors, missionaries and scholars.

But looking at the lives of my contemporaries one of the things most obviously lacking is an appetite for prayer fed by good habits of prayer, habits which are usually the product of a discipline we never had.

The same is true of asceticism and self-denial generally. When laypeople enter priests' living quarters today, they rarely seem to be impressed by how sparse and severe our living arrangement are. They rarely walk away with the impression that the man who lives here is good at saying no to himself. Yet monks are, or used to be, our masters at saying no to the self. Something went wrong.

Putting the same idea in another perspective, it's wryly amusing to read commentators on the sexual abuse problem recommend that priests be sent to a monastery for penance. What penance? Is there a single monastic house in the United States where the abbot would have the authority, much less the inclination, to keep a man at hard labor for twenty months or on bread and water for twenty days?

Let me sum up.

I believe the sexual abuse crisis represents no isolated phenomenon and no new failure, but rather illustrates a state of slowly worsening clerical and episcopal corruption with its roots well back into the 1940s. Its principal tributaries include

  1. a critical mass of morally depraved and psychologically defective clergymen who entered the service of Church seeking emoluments and advantages unrelated to her spiritual mission, in addition to
  2. leaders constitutionally unsuited to the exercise of the virtues of truthfulness and fortitude.

The old-fashioned vices of lust, pride, and sloth have erected an administrative apparatus effective at transmitting the consolations of the Faith but powerless at correction and problem-solving.

The result is a situation unamenable to reform, wherein the leaders continue to project an upbeat and positive message of ecclesial well-being to an overwhelmingly good-willed laity, a message which both speaker and hearer find more gratifying than convincing.

I believe that the Crisis will deepen, though undramatically, in the foreseeable future; I believe that the policies suggested to remedy the situation will help only tangentially, and that the whole idea of an administrative programmatic approach -- a "software solution" if I may put it that way -- is an example of the disease for which it purports to be the cure.

I believe that reform will come, though in a future generation, and that the reformers whom God raises up will spill their blood in imitation of Christ.

In short, to pilfer a line of Wilfrid Sheed, I find absolutely no grounds for optimism, and I have every reason for hope.


TOPICS: Catholic
KEYWORDS: catholiclist

1 posted on 03/29/2004 1:07:32 PM PST by CatherineSiena
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To: CAtholic Family Association; Pyro7480; Canticle_of_Deborah; Maximilian; NYer; Unam Sanctam; ...
ping

I don't know if this has already been posted and commented upon, but this piece is well worth the time taken to read.

2 posted on 03/29/2004 1:08:33 PM PST by CatherineSiena
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To: CatherineSiena
Good article that I have never seen before. Throw me on your ping list if you can. Thanks.
3 posted on 03/29/2004 1:29:50 PM PST by BobCNY
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: CatherineSiena
Excellent. I especially liked this part:

that one's duty was to keep silence and trust that those officially charged with the pertinent responsibilities would execute them in their own time; that delayed correction of problems was sometimes necessary for the universal good of the Church.

He better be careful or he may be called schismatic.

5 posted on 03/29/2004 1:53:44 PM PST by johnb2004
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To: CatherineSiena
Rev Professor Paul Mankowski SJ
Fr Paul is Visiting Professor of Biblical Theology at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne. He holds a BA in Classics and Philosophy from the University of Chicago, a MA in Classics and Philosophy from Oxford, a Licentiate in the Old Testament from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology and a PhD in Semitic Philology from Harvard University. He is currently Lector in Biblical Hebrew at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome having been Language Instructor at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, in Massachusetts and Assistant Professor of Classics and Philosophy at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the author of numerous articles and reviews and has a book "Akkadian Loanwords in Biblical Hebrew."
6 posted on 03/29/2004 2:03:46 PM PST by CatherineSiena
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To: CatherineSiena
The Holy See now appears to treat national episcopal conferences, and the numerous religious orders, almost as foreign powers. Scrupulous correctness is observed at all times, formal verbiage masks barely hidden disagreements, and above all potential "incidents" are avoided. ... This endemic practice of diplomacy within the Church has yielded small results. Abuses have been tolerated not for the sake of unity but merely for the "appearance" of unity, which itself soon becomes an over-riding concern.


Because what matters most in this mindset is perception, the appearance of unity, it has become virtually impossible to remove a bad bishop without prior public scandal -- "public" here meaning notorious in the secular sphere, through the mass media.


When the scandal is sexual or financial, it seems the Holy See can move quickly to remove the offender. When the scandal is in the arena of heresy or administrative irregularity or liturgical abuse, there is almost never enough secular interest generated to force the Holy See's hand. Bishops Milingo and Ziemann and Roddy Wright have many brethren; Bishop Gaillot has few.


Intermediate reform measures like seminary visitations are doomed to failure for the same reason; there simply is no possibility in the present disposition for a hostile inspection, where the visitators try to "get behind" the administration and find the facts for themselves. To do such a thing would be to imply lack of trust in the administration and hence in the bishop responsible for it, and such an imputation is utterly impossible.


The same is true in bishops' dealing with universities, learned societies and religious congregations. The only permissible inspections are friendly inspections, where the visitators ask the institution under scrutiny for a self-evaluation, which, of course, will be overwhelmingly positive and which will render the chances of reform almost nil.


A priest official in a Vatican dicastery whom I trust told me that the needed reforms will never take place unless the Church undoes Pope Paul VI's restructuring of the Vatican curia, whereby the Secretariate of State has become a kind of super-bureaucracy -- no longer charged simply with the Holy See's relations to other nations but with de facto control over the relations of the Vatican dicasteries to one another of the Holy See to its own bishops.

In practice the Secretariate of State not only sets the tone for the Holy See's dealings but often sets the agenda as well, ensuring that the diplomatic concern for appearances will prevail over the need for reforms involving unpleasantness, and exercising indirect influence over the selection of bishops, characteristically men of diplomatic demeanor if not experience.


This profile goes far to explain why telling the truth is a problem for a large number of bishops, many of whom seem baffled and hurt when their falsehoods are not taken at face value.


All embassies, moreover, have a high number of homosexuals in their staffs, and the Vatican diplomatic corps in no exception. The combination of the physical comforts attendant on diplomatic service, the skill at bureaucratic manipulation and oblique methods of pressure, the undercurrent of homosexual decadence, and the alacrity with which truth is sacrificed to expediency do not make an environment conducive to reform.


The dominion exercised by the Secretariate of State means that many good-willed attempts to clean house go nowhere, and will continue to go nowhere in the future, being lost in its corridors or disfigured beyond recognition.

7 posted on 03/29/2004 2:06:16 PM PST by johnb2004
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To: CatherineSiena
Absolutely on target. My own experience in the seminary in the mid 80s confirms what this author says. It was far from what I had expected. Prayer life was minimal. Seminarians were deeply involved in decorating their rooms attractively, with all the modern conveniences. More attention was paid by the administration to making sure everybody had a phone line than to making sure everybody had a good spiritual director. My director was so bad I had to engage another, a Dominican I had heard about who lived outside my area. Our sessions dealt with my anger and disappointment for the most part--that the place was so unspiritual and uninspiring. Administrators themselves lived posh lives. One of them showed me his private suite of rooms--Martha Stewart would have been proud. It was like walking into the presidential suite of a four-star hotel. The Blessed Sacrament, on the other hand, was housed in a small storage room in the basement. And this was one of the major seminaries in America.
8 posted on 03/29/2004 2:17:48 PM PST by ultima ratio
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To: CatherineSiena
Great article. Halfway through I found myself asking "What kind of prayer life do these men have?" The author was absolutely on target.

I might add, as expected, the highest form of prayer is the Traditional Mass itself. It showers graces on those who offer and attend, and those graces are what transform us. When we honor Him more than we honor ourselves He does. No amount of psychobabble, navel gazing or self-worship will do it. We must step up, offer ourselves to God and let Him do the rest. A solid, consistent, daily regimen of prayer is essential.

This is a significant part of why Catholicism is in auto destruct.
9 posted on 03/29/2004 2:33:08 PM PST by Canticle_of_Deborah
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To: CatherineSiena
Mrs dono is knows of this priest, but has never seen this. She is eagerly awaiting my getting off the puter, so she can read it.
10 posted on 03/29/2004 3:11:20 PM PST by don-o
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To: CatherineSiena
Unless he makes unusual efforts to the contrary, a priest today finds himself part of a culture of pleasure-seeking bachelordom, and the way he recreates and entertains himself overlaps to a great extent that of the young professional bronco.

When I was in seminary back in the early 70s, I was flabbergasted at the lifestyles of most pastors of major parishes, especially those in Dallas.

They attended the Opera, ate out twice a week at the swank restaurants, drove brand new cars, mostly Lincolns, courtesy of Ed Maher (a local Catholic dealer), went to Las Vegas as a group at least twice a year, and jetted off to the Kentucky Derby, to the Masters Golf Tournament. Liquor cabinets were full, but not for long.

I once asked a younger priest how these guys could afford this lifestyle. I was frankly shocked at the lavish expenditures, since my family never took a vacation further away than Houston, and my dad never made more than $20,000 in his entire life, to support a family of five.

He said "Well, they see giving up a wife and family on one side of the ledger, so they figure they can indulge themselves in all this other stuff as a compensation. After all, look what they gave up!"

Every single one of these men, outwardly admired by their parishioners, had been ordained in the 40s and 50s.

11 posted on 03/29/2004 3:12:51 PM PST by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from an animal shelter! It will save one life, and may save two.)
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To: Canticle_of_Deborah
Your #9 nails it so perfectly Deb, 100%.

Thank you for giving me a needed bit of inspiration.

12 posted on 03/29/2004 3:54:44 PM PST by AAABEST (<a href="http://www.angelqueen.org">Traditional Catholicism is Back and Growing</a>)
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To: CatherineSiena
Excellent, thank you for posting.
I first saw Fr Mankowski's byline with First Things years ago. He wrote some hilarious parodies of NewChurch.
13 posted on 03/29/2004 3:56:41 PM PST by Piers-the-Ploughman
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To: AAABEST
You're quite welcome but it's not coming from me. I searched for so long to find that magic formula for spiritual fulfillment. Growing up in the new Church I thought the Church was so limiting and barren in terms of deeper growth. I remember many times in my twenties sitting in the N.O. thinking "This is it? This is what it's all about?" Of course, it's not.

The truth is the Truth has been suppressed. Anyone considering leaving Catholicism had better take a long look at it before deciding it has nothing to offer. There are PLENTY of teachings on sound prayer life, mystical union with God, etc.. etc.. The wreckovators and malign influences don't want you to know about it. But it's there for the taking; a person just has to know where to look.
14 posted on 03/29/2004 4:28:54 PM PST by Canticle_of_Deborah
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To: CatherineSiena
CS, Thanks for posting the article. It's important commentary.
15 posted on 03/29/2004 4:54:23 PM PST by cielo
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To: Diago; narses; Loyalist; BlackElk; american colleen; saradippity; Polycarp; Dajjal; ...
This is a really outstanding analysis! This priest obviously knows the inner workings of chanceries, seminaries, etc. I remember his brilliant piece from a couple of years back in which he analyzed the "lames" who currently run the Church. I thought he hit the nail on the head precisely.

Recently I've been thinking about the current use of the word "gay" by today's teenagers to mean "lame," "pathetic," "weak." It seems that the current crisis in the Church is a "gay" crisis in more ways than one, both literally and figuratively.
16 posted on 03/29/2004 5:12:52 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: dubyaismypresident; hobbes1
ping.
17 posted on 03/29/2004 5:18:03 PM PST by xsmommy
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To: Maximilian
I posted these observation of mine on another thread. I think they're pertinent.
_________________________________________________________


Johnston argues why Vatican II was necessary--but he does not argue that it was successful. Nor can he. In almost every instance in which he cites the need for change, the change was delivered into the hands of modernists who made bad situations far worse.

1. There was a need for the Church to encounter modernity in order to redeem the modern world. But the end result has been that modernity itself has swept away the very defense mechanisms that the Church had constructed to protect itself from the world's corruption. Its monastic isolation destroyed, the Church is now far more worldly and humanistic. But this has not spiritualized the world a bit. It has instead grown bolder in its attacks on the Church. The more the Church has humbled itself and sought to accommodate to the world, the more the world heaps scorn on the Church. The Church has, in fact, lost the high ground in its fight against the encroachments of the world. What's happening now is far worse that what was happening before the Council.

2. Johnston argues the Church had a need to present its case more convincingly to the intellectual community, to utilize a less ossified philosophic system. But the result has been to incorporate existential and phenomenological rationales which have relativized the Church's own belief in the immutability of its truths. The rock on which the Church has been built has been fast turning into quicksand as a result. Not even the most established truths are immune from an ever more skeptical scrutiny.

3. It is true the Church had been identified with the Curia bureaucracy before Vatican II. But at least that identification was justified, since the Catholic Church and the Curia reflected the same faith. Vatican II has changed all this. It now speaks in separate voices. It is difficult to know exactly what is true any longer just by attending to the Vatican. Is indifferentism still a heresy? Then why have Assisi prayer meetings been organized? Is faith in the Resurrection passe? If not, why has a bishop been awarded the red hat for thinking so? The point is, the separation between the Catholic Church and the Vatican has been radical and disturbing--even alarming. This has endangered the faith of millions.

4. Johnston speaks correctly of the formation of priests before Vatican II which caused many good men to give up their vocations. It is probably true they were treated as schoolboys--though it should be remembered they entered the seminary back then at very young ages--some in their mid-teens in pre-seminary institutions. But this was not universally true. Some of the great orders had magnificent formation programs--the Jesuits, in particular. They developed men of integrity and high-mindedness, with first-rate intellects. And at least all seminaries everywhere had a vigorous prayer life and developed habits of daily prayerfulness. All this has changed for the worse. Seminaries are now not only located on college campuses, but seminarians are indistinguishable from other college students. They cruise the bars. They watch R-rated movies. They have affairs. What they don't do is pray much.

5. Johnston argues the Council wished to give lay persons more amplitude to fulfill their vocations in the Church. This was certainly a need in the preconciliar Church. But the postconciliar solution was bizarre. Instead of the laity Christianizing the world, it entered the sanctuary of our churches, blurring the distinction between the priesthood of the ordained and the priesthood of the baptized--in the Protestant fashion. This reminds me of Christ's parable of the possessed man whose soul was swept clean of devils, only to have it repossessed by devils even worse than before. Lord spare us from such fixes!

6. Johnston glosses over the liturgical problem. Yes, there was the matter of lay participation in the Mass. But the solution of Paul VI has been to destroy the ancient liturgy and to substitute an abomination. The new liturgy is Protestant, rather than Catholic, in its theology. What is worse, it contravenes the Council of Trent. It is the single most destructive force in the Church today, reducing belief in major dogmas of the Catholic faith. As such, it is a danger to the faith.

My point is this: whatever the weaknesses before Vatican II, these were miniscule when compared to what the Council has actually achieved. If before the Council there were problems, after the Councils there were only disasters. And this was because the Council delivered the Church to the hands of its enemies, to the very people the preconciliar popes had warned us to avoid. They seized the opportunity to do what they had been eager to do for centuries--destroy what had been so zealously guarded by the Catholic Church for two millenia.

18 posted on 03/29/2004 5:53:36 PM PST by ultima ratio
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To: Maximilian
Money -- it's all about money and possessions. See article over here:
"The Catholic Church in the United States is a Church which somehow over the decades has become much too fond of money and much too fond of the little comforts which money can buy," said Shaw.

"Harsh as it may sound, I would say that although I'm very, very sad that in the settlement of sex abuse cases so much money has ended up in the pockets of lawyers, on the whole I'm not at all sorry to see the money go," he said. "I think it will be a good thing for the Church in the long run to have a little less and maybe a lot less money to play around with."


19 posted on 03/29/2004 6:16:57 PM PST by cebadams (Amice, ad quid venisti? (Friend, whereto art thou come?))
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To: cebadams
Money -- it's all about money and possessions.

I don't think it's "all" about money, but certainly that is a big part of it.

20 posted on 03/29/2004 6:21:34 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: Maximilian
>> I don't think it's "all" about money, but certainly that is a big part of it.

OK, so maybe that's a little harsh but consider the size of the bureaucracy here. The USCCB has an annual budget of over $130M and duplicates many of the functions of a large diocese. Bishops often live in splendor (how else to describe it).

The Ecclesiastic process is shrouded in secrecy.

Summary: an exclussive club atmosphere, lot's of money, and an unaccountable process leads to abuses. No suprises here.

21 posted on 03/29/2004 6:29:45 PM PST by cebadams (Amice, ad quid venisti? (Friend, whereto art thou come?))
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To: CatherineSiena
I believe the sexual abuse crisis represents no isolated phenomenon and no new failure, but rather illustrates a state of slowly worsening clerical and episcopal corruption with its roots well back into the 1940s. Its principal tributaries include

1. a critical mass of morally depraved and psychologically defective clergymen who entered the service of Church seeking emoluments and advantages unrelated to her spiritual mission, in addition to 2. leaders constitutionally unsuited to the exercise of the virtues of truthfulness and fortitude.

Right! Contrary to some people's thinking, it did not begin with Vatican II.

22 posted on 03/29/2004 6:39:31 PM PST by RobbyS (Latin nothing of atonment)
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To: cebadams
Summary: an exclussive club atmosphere, lot's of money, and an unaccountable process leads to abuses. No suprises here.

Undeniable.

23 posted on 03/29/2004 6:45:45 PM PST by Maximilian
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To: xsmommy
I thought of you and that RCF article when I read this earlier.
24 posted on 03/29/2004 7:09:46 PM PST by NeoCaveman (Hey John F'in. Kerry, why the long face?)
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To: CatherineSiena
Outstanding. Thanks.
25 posted on 03/29/2004 8:17:56 PM PST by Askel5
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To: CatherineSiena
Two salient points to this reply - also "truth in advertising". (1) I am a former Roman Catholic who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy (2) I am a former Roman Catholic seminarian. (1991-1993)

The Eastern Orthodox (with the exception of the Orthodox Church in America) refuses to ordain celibate diocesan priests. Either you must be married or a monk. Either state helps keep a man grounded in reality. I have yet to meet an Eastern Orthodox priest who had a taste for material things that I saw in RC priests. I saw many, many RC priests who suffered from "playboy priest syndrome" - the excessive materialism described in the article posted. I can remember how repulsed I was when I saw my RC bishop wearing French cuffs with expensive cufflinks.

The seminaries are indeed as bad as advertised. They're now nothing more than gay priest factories. They were 10 years ago, and "it ain't gotten no better".

This isn't to bash - it's just that I've found the differences between RC and Orthodox clergy striking, to say the least.
26 posted on 03/29/2004 10:26:42 PM PST by NDHoosier
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To: dubyaismypresident; secret garden; hobbes1
In short, many bishops and superiors, lacking integrity, lack moral courage. Lacking moral courage, they can never be reformers, can never uproot a problem, but can only plead for tolerance and healing and reconciliation

isn't this the truth?

27 posted on 03/30/2004 3:22:29 AM PST by xsmommy
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To: CatherineSiena
>>I am here sketching only the best-case scenario, where the bishop's adventures were brief, without issue, and twenty years in his past. In cases where the man continues his sexual exploits as a bishop, he is of course wholly compromised and the blackmail proportionately disastrous. <<

Welcome to Cleveland!
Could you put me on your ping list as well?
28 posted on 03/30/2004 4:47:10 AM PST by netmilsmom (Hugs to Conspiracy Guy & Laura Earl on their marriage-3/27/03)
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To: NDHoosier
How did you find your way here?
29 posted on 03/30/2004 5:06:44 AM PST by netmilsmom (Hugs to Conspiracy Guy & Laura Earl on their marriage-3/27/03)
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To: netmilsmom
I have an occasional peek as seattlecatholic.com.
30 posted on 03/30/2004 6:30:40 AM PST by NDHoosier
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To: CatherineSiena
I agree entirely.
31 posted on 03/30/2004 9:06:28 AM PST by dangus
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To: CatherineSiena
An excellent article! I'll have to send it to my priest b-i-l, who has been saying many of the same things for the last couple of years!
32 posted on 03/30/2004 2:29:46 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: RobbyS
The John Jay report commissioned by the USCCB revealed that the peak year of ordination for abusive priests was 1970, five years after the close of the Council. From a Washington Times article:

"The John Jay study was praised as the first of its kind to study sexually abusive practices among a category of the American populace. The priests involved — 4,392 — constituted 4 percent of the 109,694 clergy who were working in the Catholic Church from 1950 to 2002.

The peak year for sexual abuse by the clergy was 1970, according to the report, which said sexual acts against children, defined as those under the age of 18, were often perpetrated over many years. Seventeen percent of the victims had siblings who also were abused.

The year 1970 was also the peak when abusive clergy were ordained, the report said, adding that more than 10 percent of all priests ordained that year were accused of sexual abuse."
33 posted on 03/30/2004 2:35:54 PM PST by Fifthmark
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To: Fifthmark
Does it gives the age(s) of the perps?
34 posted on 03/30/2004 4:12:11 PM PST by RobbyS (Latin nothing of atonment)
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To: RobbyS
The entire article can be found here:

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040227-111236-5901r.htm

As concerns the age of the perps, this is the only mention:

"The largest group of abusers — more than 40 percent — were between 30 and 39 years when they first preyed on children."

The rest of the John Jay report should be on the USCCB website, although last time I checked, it was "Temporarily removed for editing." Figures.
35 posted on 03/30/2004 7:20:54 PM PST by Fifthmark
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To: Fifthmark
Then a lot of these sinnners are now over sixty.
36 posted on 03/30/2004 7:24:01 PM PST by RobbyS (Latin nothing of atonment)
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To: CatherineSiena; GatorGirl; maryz; *Catholic_list; afraidfortherepublic; Antoninus; Aquinasfan; ...
Ping!
37 posted on 04/01/2004 7:15:33 PM PST by narses (If you want OFF or ON my Catholic Ping list, please email me. +)
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To: narses
Thanks for the ping. This is an excellent article by somebody who is probably one of the smartest guys in the Church. (Of course, being a smart, orthodox Jesuit isn't easy, which is why he is in semi-exile at a quiet post in Australia, if I recall correctly.)

His observations on poverty are very interesting, and I also thought his analysis of the "Mertonization" of monasticism was absolutely on target.
38 posted on 04/02/2004 3:16:24 AM PST by livius
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BTTT
39 posted on 05/09/2004 8:40:20 PM PDT by ELS
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