Skip to comments.Letter from Cardinal George asks priests to come forward
Posted on 02/11/2006 6:15:13 AM PST by NYer
February 10, 2006 - Chicago's Francis Cardinal George sent a letter containing an ultimatum to priests. Seemingly stunned by the ongoing issue of priest sex abuse, the cardinal has called for any priest living a double life to come forward for the good of the church.
Francis Cardinal George is tending to his wounded flock, dispatching a letter to more than 400 churches across the Archdiocese.
In his letter to priests the Cardinal writes:
"All of us are sinners, but there are types of perversion that are completely incompatible with the calling toward ordained priesthood."
The cardinal apologizes for not acting more quickly to remove Father Dan McCormack, who now stands accused of molesting three boys in recent years. There is a claim that the priest continued to abuse one boy even after the Archdiocese was alerted to an abuse claim.
The cardinal writes, "All of us are shamed. I apologize to each of you for not finding some way to at least provisionally remove McCormack, even without an accuser or accusation."
And then, the Archbishop of Chicago delivered a direct demand of all who wear the collar.
"There is so much I remain unaware of, yet I am, in the end, responsible for it all. I want to say now that if there is any priest that is leading a double life, he should for the sake of the Church come forward."
While the Cardinal has been accused of protecting his own, he has many supporters, some of whom plan a rally outside Holy Name Cathedral on Sunday.
"What Father McCormack did is wrong and awful for the church but Cardinal George is not totally to blame," said Connie McCartney, Catholic.
The cardinal wrote a second letter, this one addressed to the laity. In it, he apologizes for what he calls "the great embarrassment every Catholic must now feel."
A priest told ABC7 Friday night that many in ministry feel especially vulnerable now to unfounded accusations. They worry there is now a "presumption of guilt" against any priest accused of abuse.
While there may now be a presumpotion of guilt, perhaps it will shake them all up so they will no longer tolerate crapola amongst their peers.
Its toleration of such crapola (various forms of heterodoxy and heteropraxis, not to be confused with heterosexuality) that has caused the current state of affairs where most laymen and even clergy have no (laymen) or inadequate/inmcorrect (clergy) knowledge of Catholic doctrine.
Purge the clergy now.
Either you believe and evangelize the doctrines of Christ's Church, or you move on to some other job where you can believe and promote whatever you want.
"While there may now be a presumpotion of guilt, perhaps it will shake them all up so they will no longer tolerate crapola amongst their peers."
If the actual truth of things is no longer important in these matters, then the accusation of abuse becomes an overwhelmingly powerful tool in the hands of those who would like to destroy the Church.
If we are to presume guilt upon any accusation, and suspend (which is a form of punishment) those accused, even incredibly, without evidence, without testimony, without witnesses, nor even the prospects thereof, then some will accuse the innocent, knowing that the innocent will be greviously harmed without regard to the facts.
The way that is stated, it appears that SOME types of perversion that ARE compatible with the calling.
I wonder what the approved perversions are....
OK,... Probably just poorly stated... seems like a step in the right direction ....
I am simply noting that the clergy now reap the seeds they have planted by their own collective silence, apathy or heteordoxy.
I am not saying it is just. In fact i am very close to two particular priests and find it very upsetting that they must always be on guard to protect their virtue, so to speak (almost as women used to do in the past to protect their reputation for chastity).
However this crisis is clergy generated. And now the clergy are paying the price.
Again, my point is not that I am glad that priests might now face unjust accusations. I am simply positing that perhaps this is the Lord working in mysterious ways to slap the clergy in the face to wake them up.
Heterodoxy is the root cause of the major problems the Church faces. Perhaps this such trials (trying times) will produce something good.
All sin is perversion.
Some sin is perversion of a sort that makes one unfit for priesthood.
And I press my priest friends to explain why they do (or fail to do) certain things while exercising their ministry. I ask them (one example of many) why their sermons always ignore the daily slaughter of thousands while including local injustices of a much smaller, almost petty, sort. I do it as a friend, and truly out of curiousity as to why a man I know to be so good and wanting to serve God would not at least occasionally discuss topics of such import in a charitable yet direct way. Or why they ad lib the Mass or tkae other liberties with liturgy. And I think doing so has been beneficial. I have found that once you befriend a good priest, you can asssist him in be bold - encouraging him to do the right thing - and offering to be a source for research and information so that the burden is not all on him.
Ah, but I digress.
The point is that priests need to hear from some of us as peers - sinners who desire orthodoxy, who respect their office, and who treasure the sacraments. Not as buddies who simply want to be told our sins are no big deal and who see God as the cosmic killjoy.
I'm glad, then, that you don't approve of the notion of the presumption of guilt.
The crisis is certainly clergy-generated in the main part. Certain bishops bear the overwhelming guilt, and individuals like Cardinal Law should renounce their high office, accept degradation from the clerical state, confess to criminal, gross stupidity and go off to a quiet monastery where they may take perpetual vows of silence, speaking never again, and where they may engage in menial work for the rest of their lives, something like shoveling horse manure on to the fields.
The priests, too, should take their fair share of the blame, in that although only around 4% of them were monsters, a large part of the other 96% did nothing about it.
It seems that some laity are implicated, as well.
Finally, the secular authorities need to take their lumps, too, in that many secular authorities over the decades actually participated, even initiated cover-ups of these grevious crimes.
Even still, Cardinal George, here, in the interests, I suppose, of showing "pastoral concern," has gone off the deep end:
"The cardinal writes, 'All of us are shamed. I apologize to each of you for not finding some way to at least provisionally remove McCormack, even without an accuser or accusation.'"
So now, priests should be removed EVEN WITHOUT ACCUSERS OR [specific] ACCUSATIONS!
This is lunacy.
And I guess I would modify my post that its not simply as a peer that I approach my priest friends.
Befriend the priest as a peer. Love him as a peer.
But then challenge him as a fiend and as your LEADER. Explain to him what you desire as a follower, mindful of your friendship as peers. The friendshipp will make the challenge palatable.
In fact, I am a firm believer in laypeople respectfully challenging priests when they encounter significant heterodoxy. But only do so once you have done some work of value to assist the parish (unless you are a visitor and the heterodoxy borders on heresy or scandal).
Worth repeating! Once you stop focusing on truth you leave God out of focus as well.
"If the actual truth of things is no longer important in these matters, then the accusation of abuse becomes an overwhelmingly powerful tool in the hands of those who would like to destroy the Church. "
I'm sorry, but you are wrong. As sitetest has already stated, justice is never served by a swing of the pendulum from one extreme to the other. Already the Dallas protocols had inadequate protection for the innocent. It was in attempting to follow the letter of the Dallas protocol that Cardinal George got caught between a rock and a hard place. He had no credible allegations (the family would not cooperate, the police would not share their information, the good father denied the allegations to the Cardinal's face--and remember, it is indeed possible that McCormack is innocent--even though press reports make it seem likely) but is being crucified for not acting despite having none. Yet he did act (monitoring) but did not transfer to a desk job.
The whole debate is over just what action to take after allegations are made. Far more important for the protection of potential victims is early and clear reporting by people down the chain (in this case, school officials) and their supervisors up the chain.
But surely, Notwithstanding, should you ever be the target of false accusations, you would hope that you would have fair and honest protection of your rights as an innocent person and in such a situation you would desperately hope that people would not automatically assume you are guilty and act toward you as if you are.
Be as angry as you wish toward the malefactors, please. But don't let your consuming anger destroy your loyalty to justice. It is just as evil to perpetrate new injustice out of zeal for conquering an existing injustice as it is to have perpetrated the existing injustice.
In your unjust call for throwing the baby out with the bathwater you reveal yourself to be willing to encourage injustice, the very thing that angers you in the first place. Look in the mirror. Calm down. You should be wishing for justice all the way around, not opening the floodgates to the tyranny of frivolous allegations.
I would assume that all Freepers are angry at the way that unfounded (noncredible) allegations have been used to deeply cripple President Bush's ability to lead the country. Because the MSM will not play it's proper investigative role and show where accusations are unfounded ("domestic spying" or "he lied, good men died" or "he deceived us into war" or "he pulled strings to escape Vietnam service"). The tyranny of credited but non-investigated accusations is a horrible one. What some priests have done is horrible. Denounce it will all you vigor. But recognize that many priests are innocent. You are willing to see them all tarred with the same brush, left defenseless against the vicious enemies of the Church who care nothing about victims of abuse but will use totally unfounded accusations against any prominent traditional, social-conservative Catholic priest or bishop just to render them ineffectual.
Is that really where you want things to go? Calm down and think about it.
"Purge the clergy now"
Amen, brother. Get the screamers out.
You are absolutely right.
The best solution to the clerical sex abuse would be to try accused priests in Church tribunals. Canon law has provisions for dealing with clerics who are accused of misconduct of any kind but it also protects the rights of the accused, which is something that the Dallas charter does not do.
The presumption of guilt is contrary to canon law as well as civil and criminal law. Indeed, it is just as wrong for bishops to over-react to this scandal and mistreat innocent priests by treating them as though they are guilty, as it was for them to have ignored the complaints of victims and to have covered up for guilty priests.
Punishing innocent priests is not going to erase the heterodoxy and heteropraxis that are at the root of this scandal.
"The best solution to the clerical sex abuse would be to try accused priests in Church tribunals."
In that the crimes committed are rightfully the province of the secular courts, the offenders should be tried there. The role for ecclesiastical courts might be to determine whether or not the offender should be dismissed from the clerical state.
It would have been nice if some of these bishops had been doing that all along. No one was stopping them.
I think the Cardinal should have removed this man from the active ministry immediately, until an investigation had been conducted, even though it would have taken some time, given the lack of cooperation. Granted, Cdl George was following the lousy pro-gay Dallas protocol, so it's probably more the fault of the USCCB than anybody else - but it's sure given fodder to the press, and the time and reputation that might have been lost by removing a possibly innocent person from the active ministry for awhile are less than what is going to be lost now.
That said, I know a decent priest who taught high school and was removed because of the accusation of a disgruntled student - and even though he was cleared, it practically ruined his life. Still, that's better than letting some true offenders slip through, because the just man can always rely on the Lord, and the Church should remember this as well.
One of the truly tragic things about this is how obvious it is that priests feel quite unashamed about lying to their bishops. I was living in NYC during the Bruce Ritter episode, and Ritter openly lied to the good Cardinal O'Connor about his activities. O'Connor came out publicly supporting him - and less than two weeks later, tapes surfaced proving beyond any doubt that Ritter was indeed doing exactly what his accusers had said he was. I always thought that it broke O'Connor's heart to know that any priest could do that, because he was a decent man and a true Catholic and could not imagine that of a priest.
The origin of the Inquisition was essentially in the prosecution of cases against the clergy. It extended to other Catholics as well, but basically it was an attempt to deal with clergy who were either preaching heresy or living immoral lives. It was particularly important in Spain, initially, because many of the clergy there had lived without instruction or even without bishops for many, many years, thanks to the Islamic invasions, and preached a Catholicism that was either intentionally heretical or so full of syncretist misunderstandings that it was virtually a different religion. To say nothing of the concubines they had taken...
In Mexico, the great majority of the persons punished by the Inquisition were clergy. Indian converts were generally exempt because they were not considered to know enough to be subject to sanctions. There were three main offenses among the clergy: enslaving the Indians or stealing their property; sexually exploiting the Indians or living immorally in some other way; or preaching a syncretist religion.
Of course, in those days, ecclesiastical courts really meant something!
Right now, priests with SSA (same-sex attraction) are not kicked out of the priesthood. SSA is a perversion.
I just made some observations.
The practical reality is that any priest who is accused - even if unjustly - is automatically anethema.
Regardless of any official Church action.
My observation is that such a sad situation may have a silver lining - and who better to suffer than the category of folks responsible for the whole mess to begin with.
Clergy failed to supervise properly, failed to lead preperly, failed to form properly, failed to manage properly, failed to discipline properly, and failed to pressure their peers and leaders properly - all of which could have severely reduced or minimized the impact of this scandal (a scandal created, as well, by priests).
A most interesting and telling line.
The Cardinal seems to sense the existence of a hidden subculture and implies that this whole mess is by no means cleared up. He knows that he's being deceived but not by whom. Or perhaps he has his suspicions but can't pin anything on anyone.
The previous incumbent of the Archdiocese expressly asked for the Windy City Gay Men's Chorus to sing at his wake so Card. George is surely well aware that he has inherited an archdiocese where homosexual culture was not only tolerated but even promoted.
Each day must bring the burden of knowing that the can of worms left by his predeccessor could burst open and cause havoc. It certainly seems that way from the sound of his letter.
I forgot .. who was his predecessor?