Skip to comments.The 'fire' of Crisis Can Purify - (Vatican representative's view of Church Crisis)
Posted on 07/05/2003 6:56:09 AM PDT by MassRepublican
The 'fire' of crisis can purify, Vatican ambassador tells embattled U.S. bishops By Joe Feuerherd ST. LOUIS, Mo.
The U.S. hierarchy should not "sit idle or retreat to a place of isolation" as they address the sexual abuse crisis that has been used to discredit the church, Pope John Paul II's representative told the U.S. bishops June 19.
"We all know that we are going through difficult times and that some real problems within the church have been magnified to discredit the moral authority of the church," Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo said in an address that kicked-off the bishops' two-and-a-half day semi-annual meeting.
The "fire" resulting from the crisis has the "power to purify" and could "become a moment of grace" for the American church, said Montalvo.
Though Montalvo did not explicitly address the sexual abuse crisis facing the church, his comments were the only mention of the issue, however elliptical, in the portion of the June 19 meeting open to the press.
Excerpted from http://nationalcatholicreporter.org/update/bn061903.htm
Joe Feuerherd is NCR Washington correspondent.
(Excerpt) Read more at nationalcatholicreporter.org ...
As if the problems don't speak for themselves - as if the problems in their raw, simple detail are not enough to discredit the moral authority of the Church! I want desperately to trust my bishops again and to follow their moral guidance in this modern world of double-speak and deception. Over all, in the Catholic Church's 2000 year history, I do believe it has done more good than harm. But, if Church leaders really think their problems have been "magnified" and are really much smaller than they appear, I am troubled. In truth, their problems are bigger than they appear.
The sexual abuse issues point to a much larger problem of secrecy and abuse of power. As much as I was horrified to learn of the deliberate decisions made to shuffle sex abusers around, I was equally disturbed to ponder the motivations and mindset of those making these decisions. Did they think they could do things that would never be questioned? Did they believe hiding evil justified embarrassment? Were they the "father" and we (the laity and parish priests) the 10 year olds who couldn't understand or be consulted? Did they think this evil wasn't so bad? Did they even consider the impact of one more child being abused when they gave the go ahead for a bad priest's new assignment?
I haven't talked to the bishops, so I don't know - but I've got an awful lot of unanswered questions that need to be addressed before I trust again.
I don't know about that, but I do know that in dioceses where the problem was recognized and dealt with early on in the scandal (Belleview, IL for example) the bishop and honest priests have eliminated priest abuse of kids.
They then go on to lament the loss of liquid assets in settlements as depriving so many of so much good which could be done with those funds, yet ignoring the fact that the money was sitting there, unused and accumulating in gross amounts while the chanceries were poor mouthing on every charitable or developmental work.
All you have to do is look at the actions of groups like Voice of the Faithless and people like James Carroll, Richard McBrien, Joan Chittister and Frankie Kissling to see that Montalvos' description is accurate. Opportunists have seized upon what happened to promote a liberal agenda and weaken the absolute teachings of the Church. You're guilty as well, painting with such a large brush and characterizing what has happened as a meltdown. Take a look at the Catechism. It hasn't changed. What happened in Boston is not reflective of what has taken place in the vast majority of dioceses around this country. Boston has long had the reputation of being a cesspool. Is there some rot and corruption in the episcopacy? Sure there is. Just as there was when St. Atahanasius wrote "The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops." in the 4th century.
Provide the verified source for that unfounded opinion, OneParticularHarbour.
As a life long Catholic, I don't know which hurt more - the fact that certain priests committed these deeds, or the fact that the Bishops tried to cover it up or even pretend it never happened and re-assigned them.
I'm still Catholic and I still have faith in my church because I know that the majority of the clergy are honest. Still, this undermines my "faith" in the powers that be within the hierarchy of the church.
1). The scandal involves less than 3% of all priests in the United States.
2). The issue is NOT pedophilia. 99% of the cases involved teenage boys who were minimally sexually mature. The issue is one of homosexual priests who failed to conform with their vows of chastity.
The press LOVES the term "pedophile priests" since it has snappy alliteration and aids the liberal agenda to discredit traditional moral authority ("homosexual priests" lacks penache and doesn't convey the proper bias of predation). The press has failed to accurately report the facts of the scandal, naturally enough, since to do so would delegitimize the homosexual political agenda so popular in that press.
3). Protestant married clergy has three times the rate of reported sexual abuse as Catholic priests (as reported by a University of Pennsylvania study done in 1998, I think was the year). There are twice as many Protestant clergy serving prison terms for sexual offenses as there are Catholic priests serving time for the same reason.
Why doesn't the press report such things? Well, how might fashionable agenda to normalize homosexual behavior and marriage best be realized? Discredit the single largest congregation of traditional morality in the nation, as a beginning. Silence it. But if the issue to silence it is an issue that discredits liberal political goals (homosexual clergy, homosexual marriage, homosexual Boy Scout leaders, etc., etc.), then give the story a view that reveals only a few of the facts.
That strategy seems to be working, by the tone of things even here, at Free Republic.
4). Fortunately, this will pass. This is a time for purification of the Church, for removal of homosexual agenda from Catholic seminaries, for reinvigoration of Church teachings regarding sex and sexuality that have become lax, even endorsing immorality, in the minds of baby-boomer theologians and moralists. Church teachings have not changed, I must emphasize. Teachers were (and are) in error and their errors will be purged from the living Church, but that will take time. As a cardinal in the Vatican court said, when Napoleon said he would destroy the Church with his military and political power, "We cardinals have not succeeded in destroying the Church from within, for 1,800 years: what makes Napoleon think he will succeed in a few decades?"
The gates of hell will not prevail against it.
The moral authority of the Catholic Church in America, and elsewhere, has been weakened, not by a few tired liberals, but the bishops themselves, two-thirds of whom transferred abusive priests after the bishops themselves knew about the abuse. Two-thirds!
And Rome has known about the extent of the problem for nineteen years, since Fr. Thomas Doyle, Secretary to the USCCB began sending detailed reports about clerical abuse in American dioceses to Rome in 1984.
Did the Pope know? Who knows, but there's no reason to think he wouldn't have reacted the way two-thirds of the American bishops reacted. Their principle concern was themselves, the reputation of the Church, and the reputation of the priests involved.
The victims, well, what happened to them was way on down the list of CYA priorities.
Now, like every other lie and deception that's ever told, it's coming home to roost. It's just that, in this case, the cumulative impact of hundreds of priests, abusing thousands of children, all with the wink and the nod of the local ordinary, has devastated the moral credibility of the hierarchy.
Look at the war in Iraq. Typically, the American bishops would issue some grandiose statement about the injustice of war, and you'd have hierarchs all over television opposing it.
Instead, one two-paragraph statement was released by the USCCB, equivocating all over the place. Nothing else. Nothing.
Voices of supposed moral authority have been silenced by their own moral cowardice.
As a result, no Catholic looks at a priest, no matter how holy he is or how well they know him, in the same way as they once did.
This is worse than a meltdown, Smedley. When anybody in a Roman collar is the butt of jokes, or the object of snickers when he walks by, you've got something smoldering that will take a generation to overcome.
Stop blaming the laity or outsiders for any of this. It's a problem created by and fostered by the Roman Catholic clergy, and they'll have to claw their way out of it.
Eliminating some of the secrecy and the clericalism would help, but clowns like Egan and Mahoney are never going to view the laity with anything but contempt. They'll have to die off for any change to happen, because, God knows, Rome is so afraid of being seen as succumbing to pressure that they won't be replaced.
O'Malley looks to be setting the pace here, as Michael Sheehan did in Santa Fe, by actually sitting down with victims and listening to them, one at a time. It's painful, but not near the cross that these young people (the ones who haven't killed themselves) have borne for 20 and 30 years.
I never thought I would live to see the day when the institution I love would be directly responsible for destroying the lives of some of its members.
That's true. While Protestant congregations were calling the cops, Catholic bishops were ferreting Fr. Fey out of town and on down the road, to a fertile new ground for his perversions.
The Catholic criminals are still out, roaming the streets.
The rate of accusation - the rate at which victims, whether genuine or not, accused clergy of sexual abuse - was THREE TIMES that for Catholic priests. That may be the cause of a rate of conviction and imprisonment TWICE that of Catholic priests, since there were so many more allegations of abuse.
The Catholic criminals are still out, roaming the streets.
An interesting bit of innuendo evidencing angry bigotry, especially since you used present tense. Try calming down a bit...
How did I miss the point? You, once again, prove my point. Bishops were shielding the miscreants, hiding them, moving them around, and threatening some parents of victims with prosecution themselves, while paying hush money to others.
No one accused the Catholic priests, because as the priests themselves told their victims "No one will believe you."
Only now are the allegations surfacing, and the bulk of them are true, given that over 350 priests were dismissed from service, last year alone.
Ever heard of statutes of limitations? If these didn't exist, there would likely be 1000 additional Catholic priests in prison.
However, there are still known pederasts serving in the Catholic church, who have not been removed.
Why? Because so very many priests and bishops have themselves been compromised by histories of unchaste behavior, of all types, that a mutual blackmail web silences all, and the innocent fear to speak out, because the guilty advance fellow compromised individuals into positions of authority, who then persecute the innocent and orthodox priests.
The purging of the criminally and/or gravely unchaste from the Roman Catholic priesthood is far from over.
In fact, as shocfking as it sounds, it has really only just begun, because NO ONE has addressed or dealt with the widespread infiltration of the active homosexual subculture in the priesthood nationwide.
To say that 350 priests were discharged last year alone, and that the scandal is mounting, is not enough to condemn the entire ecclesial body.
350 priests is not even 1% of the total in pastoral service in the U.S. If you extrapolate from those 350 (a number I will confirm, in any case) to an assumption that the majority of priests are guilty of the same thing, and you do so with no other data, that is prejudicial and unwarranted.
I won't disagree that many bishops have done grave harm to individuals and the Church. But at the same time please recall that Abp. Law, perhaps the most visible of offenders, was merely following in most cases the advice of psychiatrists treating offenders in the Boston Archdiocese. I will also admit that preventing scandal at great cost to victims is not right, but it is also not accurate to protray most of what happened as unthinking or deliberate. In Boston in particular, medical advice prompted returning offenders to pastoral service.
What if this had happened to any but the Catholic Church? Well, it has, and in greater frequncy. Those stories did not become big because those churches did not have the power or wealth of the Catholic Church.
Promoting the stories of Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, and myriad of sectarian ministers charged with the same sins and crimes won't sell papers or damage public morality nearly to the extent that sensationalizing a Catholic Church scandal may. You have been led to believe that the problem is far greater than outside, objective data has so far revealed. Can harboring that angry belief help anyone?
In any case, know God, know peace.
You've got to be kidding! A priest molests a young boy, a report is made to the bishop, and, in almost every case, the bishop did nothing!
Only when it appeared that a priest had a "problem," (i.e., he raped more than one boy), was he referred to psychologists.
I don't think this was unthinking at all; it was one hundred percent deliberate!
Bishops moved priests who had molested young boys, allowing them to continue to molest.
Read that again.
If a priest had an affair with a woman, and then another, he would be asked to reconsider his vocation.
These guys? "Here Father. A chance for a fresh start!"
Your attempt at de minimis in comparing Catholic clergy to others is a smokescreen.
It is not the number involved, after all, but the way the offenses were handled.
In the case of Protestants, they were turned over the law.
In the case of Catholics, they got a nice, shiny new assignment.
99% the cases did not involve young boys.
Priests who violate a trust, who break their vows of chastity, do serious wrong! Nevertheless, anger reserved for pederasts or pedophiles is not used appropriately against the vast majority of incidents involving priests, at least in the U.S. Again, 99% of the incidents involved teenaged boys (13 - 17 years). These were not individuals who were totally unaquainted with sex or sexuality (ever heard of MTV, VH1, rap music, Madonna, etc., etc). Liberal media may want to convey the idea that adult men preyed upon little boys, but in 99% of the cases, it was adult men seducing adolescent young men. In Europe, where in many countries the age of consent is 16, many of these cases would not even be illegal.
...the bishop did nothing!
Again, accurate facts reveal this not to be essentially true. What happened, in the majority of cases, was therapy, leaves of absence, and, with psychiatric advice, a return to pastoral duties. Now we know, unfortunately, that this is not effective action. The sadness is, it may have been unavoidable, if only church law had been observed thirty years ago.
Canon law prohibits the ordination of homosexual men. That law was ignored for a long time in a large number of dioceses. It will not be ignored any longer. 99% of the cases were homosexual in nature, not pedophilic. Had canon law been observed, this would not have happened.