Dowd on the Need for Penance

 "It doesn’t seem right that the Catholic Church is spending Holy Week practicing the unholy art of spin.

Complete with crown-of-thorns imagery, the church has started an Easter public relations blitz defending a pope who went along with the perverse culture of protecting molesters and the church’s reputation rather than abused — and sometimes disabled and disadvantaged — children.

The church gave up its credibility for Lent. Holy Thursday and Good Friday are now becoming Cover-Up Thursday and Blame-Others Friday.

This week of special confessions and penance services is unfolding as the pope resists pressure from Catholics around the globe for his own confession and penance about the cascade of child sexual abuse cases that were ignored, even by a German diocese and Vatican office he ran."  Dowd


Tough times in the Church business.    A lot of people in the Catholic Church are fed up with the monarchical, medieval style in religion that present practice in the Church embodies.  2000 years of  liturgical, structural and legal encrustations are not amusing any longer in the context of the knowledge of widespread sexual molestation of children (mostly boys) by Religious (brothers) and Clergy (priests).  

Catholics were brought up to trust clergy and religious.  Sure, there were always a few that seemed dubious, but in the main the priestly image among the laity was a composite of the little guy in "The Bells of St. Mary's," the whiskey priest in Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory," and Bishop Fulton Sheen.  In other words, other worldly people who were not self oriented.

That's gone now.  The archbishop of New York is wrong if he thinks we believe his claim that only "a few" priests have been involved in widespread immorality.  This is obviously a widespread phenomenon, one in which men trusted by parents with their children conspired to ravage these children, and the most guilty of the conspirators were the bishops who served as enablers and who continue to protect their caste of  unmarried and largely unaccountable managers of tax exempt institutions.

The Europeans thought it was vaguely amusing when this scandal was revealed in the US a dozen years ago.  They implied in their comments that this was somehow a peculiarly American problem.  Who laughs last, etc…

Pope Benedict and the bishops should start listening to the people of God.  Massive reform, not in teaching, but in practice is clearly needed.  pl

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63 Responses to Dowd on the Need for Penance

  1. John Minnerath says:

    Yes, it’s long past time for change.
    Our family was a long time follower of that faith, documents in our possession from the early 1500’s from what is now modern France show they were at least that early.
    The Churches demand that Priests, Nuns, and other such persons practice celibacy is a totally archaic and idiotic idea and a leading cause of attracting some of the social deviants we see.
    It’s no wonder so many want to disassociate themselves from such a religion!

  2. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Yes! Change the should to must and I think you’ve got it.

  3. Maureen Lang says:

    “Pope Benedict and the bishops should start listening to the people of God. Massive reform, not in teaching, but in practice is clearly needed.”

  4. Bart says:

    You mention the “priestly image among the laity”
    I recall how such manly actors as Pat O’Brien, Spencer Tracy, Bing Crosby, and other strong types with strong five o’clock shadows were cast as priests.

  5. Jose says:

    As a Catholic, I completely agree with you on everything.
    Additionally, the currently leader of the Church (does not deserve to be called anything else) must go.
    College of Cardinals must also purge itself of this abomination to restore credibility.

  6. b says:

    Here in Germany Ratzinger is long rumored to be gay himself. It is not know how old he likes his companions. But it is obvious that he is part of the problem.
    The solution?
    No idea.

  7. Jake says:

    I agree that the Church is in need of reform. Some of that might be revisiting the dogma of celibacy and allowing the “western” rite to marry, like it’s eastern rite does. I believe we are getting there, though slowly. We have already allowed Protestant Ministers, mostly Baptists, who have converted and who are married to become Catholic Priests where the need for Priests is greatest here in the States.
    However I also believe that the Church has become way to risk adverse and the Bishop’s are allowing to much control to the lawyers rather than God himself in these matters.
    I also believe that the Catholic Church is being attacked by the anti-catholic crowd. Yes we deserve some of it but what is not mentioned is all the great deeds the Church does worldwide. Not to say that makes its crimes any different. But lets not just hammer the bad sides.
    But to break the problem down to two words. ” Godly Leadership” or lack there of is the biggest problem we in the Church face today.

  8. Patrick Lang says:

    Perhaps that explains the red shoes.
    Over here we have many bishops and up who are known to be gay. That was excusable in an envirnoment in which one could believe that they were not sexually active, but, now… No. Since it is Church teaching that homosexual behavior is “disordered” in terms of natural law, they are shown to be hypocrites.
    I gather that you do not subscribe to the PC cant over here that this is a pedophile problem and not a matter of homosexual rape? pl

  9. ked says:

    is a Reformation every half-millenium or so too much to ask?

  10. charlottemom says:

    In total agreement — the Church needs to come clean on pedophilia and sexual abuse and yes, reform many moldy dogmas – no women in clergy, contraception ban, etc.
    This pope must be quite deeply entangled in this mess because his whinny, non-leadership (hiding behind the cloak claiming conspiracies and rumors and stonewalling) has a self-serving and guilty whiff.
    This pope (who was previously the Church’s Head Inquisitor)most definitely used knowledge and info on these scandals to attain leverage in pursuing his current position. Of course he knew, it was his job to know!
    But what comes next? Would the EU and/or US detain and arrest the Pope? Will the Pope cooperate with gov authorities (cop a plea) and deliver the (other) corrupt parties to the authorities?
    This is taking on a Tiger Woods-like trajectory with now so many accusers and intl media coverage — how will this scandal break?
    I will not defend this pope, but will say a sensationalistic feckless media and corrupt politicans from bankrupt governments investigating the church elites doesn’t inspire much confidence.
    I hope this will not become an exercise in throwing the baby out with the dirty bathwater. What justice will be mete down to the former inquisitor by these new inquisitors. Only way out — the Church must renew itself NOW with massive reform (and a new pope).

  11. b says:

    “I gather that you do not subscribe to the PC cant over here that this is a pedophile problem and not a matter of homosexual rape? pl ”
    That is likely not a black and white issue. There are a lot of degrees between want, touch and feel games and rape.
    And that catholic church problem is not only restricted to men. My mother, when under influence, could tell some juicy stories from here youth time in a catholic residential school which was operated by nuns.
    And from my youth I am pretty aware that the really friendly Capuchin monk I ministered and gardened for had an intimate relation with his female live-in housekeeper.
    It was all this hypocrisy that eventually led me away from the church.

  12. Charles I says:

    “a sensationalistic feckless media and corrupt politicans from bankrupt governments . . .’
    You gotta go with what you have, apparently the guardian reports the rest. .

  13. zot23 says:

    As a life long American Catholic, I can say I have a newly brewing distrust for the Vatican and their ability to take the high moral ground on any issue going forward. The only solution that makes it resolvable is for Benedict to step down and to have a minor “witch hunt” in the ranks (preferably one conducted by an independent/law enforcement group.) This fish is rotting from the head down, as long as the Pope is embroiled in his own coverup, how can he ever command authority on this issue?

  14. Green Zone Cafe says:

    The Church is dying. It deserves it after the way they have covered up these horrible abuses. Nothing lasts forever.
    I was in Rome not too long ago and remarked to someone I was with in St. Peter’s Square with that the basilica had been built at the cost of the blood of slaves in the New World.
    Oh well, they had a good run.
    I was raised a Catholic and stopped going to church in my teens. I was “corrupted” by the secular classical education given by a bunch of WWII and Korea veterans- turned teachers, and by my own emerging desires, which I didn’t regard as very sinful.

  15. Phil Giraldi says:

    My wife and I are both lapsed Catholics who were speculating last night that this scandal could well finish the RCC as we know it.
    I for one am a traditionalist who left the church when it abandoned much of its Medievalism after Vatican two and began its drift into folksong masses and handshakes of peace. I would like to see the Latin mass come back and with it some measure of clarity about the respective roles of clergy and laity. I think it is clear that priests should be allowed to marry as the prohibition on marriage comes not from God but from the church as an organization that could not risk having to divide its patrimony among children of clerics. Would marriage solve the problem? Maybe.
    I think the pedophile problem has been brewing for a long time. Even twenty years ago some priests would candidly describe seminaries in the US and in Europe that were dominated by homosexuals from top to bottom. As Colonel Lang notes, the pc media is making it appear to be a pedophilia problem distinct from homosexuality, but the two are clearly related even if it makes some people uncomfortable to assert that.
    Nobody expects that the sacrament of ordination makes men perfect. Back in the old days when I was an altar boy, I recall lots of priests who drank a tad too much but not a one who ever did anything improper with a child. If they had, there would have been no cover-up and the community would have demanded their removal immediately.
    I think it all comes down to instituting a measure of transparency and reestablishing rules that must be obeyed. If homosexuality is a sin it should be incompatible with being a priest. There should be no cover-ups and no second chances. I don’t know what would motivate a bishop to reassign a child abuser but any bishop who has done that should resign immediately and put on sack cloth and ashes for the rest of his life to atone for his sins. Sickening.

  16. flite says:

    Never should one have to be ashamed of their Church . . . . But this large and seemingly ever-growing scandal is mortifying beyond belief. Angry, I am!

  17. Patrick Lang says:

    Hmm. A Capuchin is not a monk. He is a friar. They normally live in communal groups. How did he have a housekeeper? pl

  18. Matthew says:

    If it has nothing to do with homosexuality, then why are most of the victims boys?
    People fall according to their nature. Jimmy Swaggart went to a prostitute, not to a child. When our priests fall….
    Talk about denying the obvious.

  19. Farmer Don says:

    ” Massive reform, not in teaching, but in practice is clearly needed.  pl”
    A massive reform is needed all right. A reform in rational people stepping back and seeing all this Faith stuff as a artifact of our ancient tribal life and ignorance.
    What there is a need for, is for intelligent people like your self, to finally push out that last vestige of the superstition called religion.
    It always amazes me how otherwise rational people still “believe” in this hocus pocus!
    People used to believe the sun went around the earth. We now have better information. It’s time to stop believing in the super natural, and time to start using the rational part of our brains to confront the truly large problems the human race is facing today.

  20. Green Zone Cafe says:

    Back in the old days when I was an altar boy, I recall lots of priests who drank a tad too much but not a one who ever did anything improper with a child. If they had, there would have been no cover-up and the community would have demanded their removal immediately.
    Are you sure, Phil? The Boston Archdiocese and other scandals suggest otherwise. Or, sure, they would have been “removed” to another parish to continue as before.
    You were just lucky.

  21. dan of steele says:

    A Capuchin is not a monk. He is a friar
    the same word in German (Mönch) is used for both friar and monk. as for the housekeeper, that is not so uncommon over here in Europe.

  22. Nancy K says:

    It does seem the pool for priests consists of asexuals, pediphiles and homosexuals.
    There does need to be a shake up in the Catholic church, open up the priesthood to women and married men for a starter.
    I’m not sure I believe it is completely a homosexual problem however, as abuse was done also to girls. It would very well be a problem of male control and domination and people afraid to report on or complain about the priests.
    I’m not so sure I even believe in an after life, but if there is one the Pope should definetly be worrying.

  23. dan of steele says:

    one other thing that might complicate the issue with Ratzinger. Some time ago when the previous Pope was really ill, my wife innocently asked our Italian neighbor why he didn’t resign. At the time he was in pretty bad shape and looked kinda pathetic. Our neighbor answered that there can be only one Pope.
    Perhaps a Catholic scholar can chime in and clear this up but it seems there is no procedure other than death for succession in the Catholic church.

  24. DaveGood says:

    Col. Lang,
    You have misunderstood why Europe found it “vaguely amusing when this scandal was revealed in the US a dozen years ago. They (Europe) implied in their comments that this was somehow a peculiarly American problem.”
    We started to find out just how widespread this nasty business was from the late Seventies onwards, first in the UK, then, and much more deeply entrenched, in Ireland. Then elsewhere.
    The reason why we are “vaguely amused” is that it took America so long to wake up. That America continued to believe itself “Exceptional”.
    It’s not that we regard you as the first, but among the last, and further proof that you are one of the least informed nations on the planet.

  25. Jane says:

    Seems to me unlikely that people attracted to small boys are also attracted to large men. The priests have had access to small boys but not as much access to small girls.
    The other branch of the offense is the cover-up. What is it about the ethos or the teachings of the church that makes a man blind to the promptings of a normal conscience and unable to see that the claim that the church never told me to act is not a sufficient excuse?
    Case in point:
    In his radio interview earlier in the week, Cardinal Brady said that under the procedures then mandated by the church, it had not been his responsibility to inform the police in 1975 that Father Smyth was abusing children. “We had no guidance,” he said. “We were in uncharted territory, and now we have higher standards, thankfully.”

  26. Eric Dönges says:

    The Europeans thought it was vaguely amusing when this scandal was revealed in the US a dozen years ago. They implied in their comments that this was somehow a peculiarly American problem. Who laughs last, etc…
    I didn’t laugh then and I’m not laughing now. Of course we hoped that this was a peculiarly American problem – who wants their Church to have a systematic problem with pedophiles ? Turns out the European church establishment is just better at covering up. I guess we’ll be hearing about similar cases from South America and Africa before the decade is over.
    And as far as the Pope is concerned, I think he belongs in jail for the obstruction of justice – along with anyone else who helped with the coverup.

  27. DanM says:

    Was watching a stupid TV show last night (“House”) and a young doctor, a lapsed catholic, is racked with guilt after deliberately poisoning a nasty African dictator in his care. He goes to confession and asks the priest what he needs to do for God to forgive him. “You have to take responsibility for your actions and turn yourself into the police first if you want absolution,” the priest tells him. How i laughed.

  28. BillWade says:

    I can relate to what Mr Giraldi had to say, as a young altar boy I had to get up at 5:30AM to get to church and help the Father. He was an old WWII Chaplain vet, genuinely liked within the community, and a very solid drunk. I really don’t know how full of wine the chalice is supposed to be but ……yep, pretty full. I was never molested and was just barely tolerated, I didn’t last long at it.
    I read this the other day and didn’t think to bookmark it so I have no reference, sorry. Someone wrote that the problem is in the Act of Confession. A guy like me would confess to something like, “I was mean to my Mom or I lied to my teacher at school” and never ever mention that I had the hots for Stacy. But, others of that age might be confessing to homosexual feelings. It’s kind of an ideal recruiting tool isn’t it?
    All that being said, I do believe in God and the Catholic church but they won’t get a penny from me until they reform. I want my little bit of money to go towards helping those in need, not towards lawsuits.

  29. Jackie says:

    Appropriated from Daily Kos:
    •You know the Pope is having a bad day week month year when you read something like this:
    … the church hierarchy is launching a public relations blitz in the United States and Europe to ease Catholic anger and bolster the pope’s image in sermons and interviews ahead of Easter Sunday.
    That should do the trick!
    I’m sorry to be so flip, but if the Catholic Church does not take this seriously (and it is beyond a PR problem at this point), why should anyone take the Church seriously?

  30. IN the US there is pretty convincing historical evidence that the Catholic heirarchy fought tooth and nail to keep priests who were pedifiles out of the criminal justice system and that was the policy.

  31. optimax says:

    Our mother lives in assissted living in a place run by Catholics. I checked out a lot of places in the area and found this to be the best and we, including our mother, are pleased with her care.From the management on down they are professional, caring and loving. It is also lighthearted unlike most of the old people’s homes I visited, which had a depressive air about them, especially the privately owned homes. The manager has a chocolate Lab he brings to work and my dog is welcomed and appreciated by the staff and clients. Numerous times, after petting my dog, the person has said that it made their day. Also, recently my mother was bedridden and would have been sent to a nursing home by most care facilities but with the help of the staff and me going over to help two to three times a day she was able to heal without having to move. The care facility calls itself a family like most do, but this one really is.
    Our family is not Catholic and I am not a Christian but religous affiliation has never come up. What I’m saying is there is a lot of love and assistance at this level of the RCC that needs to acknowledged and protected from any forthcoming shake-up of the Church.
    Have also taken my dog to the Church’s Blessing of the Animals. He’s not Catholic either but thinks it’s cool.

  32. Jake says:

    Col Lang.
    After reading the many postings I would like to respond.
    I am a Arch-Catholic and Defender of the Faithful. I have been both a Parish Business Administrator as well as an Advocate for a Regional Bishop in my past life.
    First to those who believe this is the death of the Church. While the Church is struggling through this morality mess I am forced to remind everyone here that the Roman Catholic Church has survived the pro’s and con’s of history for the last 2000 years and all other Christian faiths descend from it. No other Christan Church can make that claim. Our First Pope was Simon son of John. known as “Peter” one of the Apostles. No other Christan religion can again even make this claim.
    Secondly, I would like to remind everyone that Priest(s) are human and subject to human fault. While I agree the Church has done a lousy job of confronting its wrongs of which I am disappointed. I place much of the blame on the Church’s lawyers rather than it’s Bishops. However I do blame the Bishop’s for the failures of their offices. Namely acting as Christ would have.
    Third, to the question of replacing His Holy Father. Yes a Pope can resign. The Code of Canon Law 332 §2 opens the door for this and the last Pope to do so was Pope Gregory XII in 1409 to end what was known as the “Western Schism”. The current crisis facing the Church while a serious moral crisis does not rise to something even close to the Western Schism.
    Moreover we Catholic’s believe in the dogma of papal infallibility and today its even more difficult for a Pope (or any other human being in that position) to even consider resigning. The impact would be devastating to the entire Universal Catholic Church. Remember we believe His Holy Father was Chosen by Christ to lead His Church as Christ chose Peter.
    Finally, while I am big supporter of reforms, which I will fight for internally. Those who wish the death of the Catholic Church know not what they wish for. Be Warned.
    But fortunately, the Church will survive this crisis as well. I pray that survival reinforces God’s beliefs, mandates and desires for His Church.

  33. curious says:

    The Church is dying. It deserves it after the way they have covered up these horrible abuses. Nothing lasts forever.
    Posted by: Green Zone Cafe | 31 March 2010 at 01:59 PM
    meh, minor managerial glitch. The church doesn’t operate in 30-40 yrs fad. Things are constructed to operate in term of 400-500 yrs. To survive the dark age and collapse of civilization. Crisis in a 2000 yrs old organization takes different form than new fangle activity like “media”. The last big problem, big dogmatic crisis that almost crash the church was resolved rather nicely in term of organization viability. The reformation era was the lowest time when Trent was initiated. (Council of Trent (1545–1563) It took several hundred years, but entire western europe was reconverted plus addition of new world. The big one before that was the seven first councils. that was when people fight over core teaching and were splitting left and right. The last one, second Council of Nicaea was in 787 followed by 500 yrs of stability until the crusade followed by splintering starting with the great schism (1414).
    Frankly if I were in charge, it is time to audit and purge all the new england idiots/experimentalist/north american political players from the body of church and re-impose traditional post war teaching of social justice and defending the less fortunate. Nothing but trouble maker clowns. No more asshatteries like embryo, condom, gay right, middle east politics, political lobbying, etc. Bring it right back to basic vatican II reform. Leave the TV fad for outfit like episcopelian or televangelist or something.
    Of course the big war between CIA and the church in latin america during 60’s was over church role to move away from defending status quo and empower the people. (eg. all of a sudden bunch of CIA backed pin heads were all in shaky grounds and losing their jobs. And CIA retaliates by killing bunch of priests.)
    But, CIA had no problem with same scheme in the eastern europe it seemed. democracy and freedom..(when it’s convenient) heh…

  34. Patrick Lang says:

    A varied set of comments, many of them sadly disappointing.
    Many of you continue to be very literal minded. I keep hoping that you will come to see that what I write is not always what I mean. Look up the words “Exoteric” and “Esoteric” and then write them in sentences a few times.
    Some of you were entertaining even if I would not dignify your screeds with publication;
    1- The regional rep for NAMBLA who challenged the basis for concern.
    2- The man who writes fairly often who claimed equal bragging rights for Protestant clergy, saying that “they are well know for molesting their own male and female children and grandchildren.” That claim would require a citation.
    If I told you that there is graft in American local government, would that be helpful to you in constructing an argument that we are unfit for self government?
    Jane – The victims are overwhelmingly NOT LITTLE BOYS. They are old enough and developed enough to be sexually interesting the way a 13 year old girl could be interesting. Ah, that gave you chills, did it not? You are simply wrong in thinking priests do not have a lot of access to girls. At a parish school it used to be that the junior pastors (curates) could be seen in the school yard all the time playing with the kids. That included the girls. The girls always seemed to me to be particularly attracted to the young priests, Then there is the matter of the sacrament of penance. The girls go to confession to the priests. Then there are always some families who make a practice of befriending the parish priests who live alone in the rectory, dinner, picnics, etc.
    curious-I was at a retreat day for Lent last Saturday. This a day of meditation. The retreat master, an elderly monsignor whom I respect and like pointed out the regular recurrence of cycles of decay and renewal in the Church, writ large. I think predictions of the end of Christianity are premature, like reports of Mark Twain’s death.
    Jake – I hear you, brother.
    Farmer Don from Saskatchewan. I am despondent. Only a few months ago you said that CD, my protagonist should be a more moral man, more faithful to his devoted wife and loyal to the wretched Yankee government. Now you say that a rational man should reject the superstitions of archaic norms. What do you think are the ultimate sanctions in our societies for morality, marital fidelity and the “pietas” you seem to admire. In fact, CD, as a wealthy Virginian of high position, would have followed a much more conventional course than he did if he had not been someone who thought for himself.
    Finally, religion serves many purposes. pl

  35. Twit says:

    Regarding your statement that “all other Christian faiths descend from [the Catholic Church].” I am certainly not an expert on this subject, but I thought I remember from Sunday school that at least the Coptic and Armenian churches are wholly distinct and do not ‘descend’ from Saint Peter, but from other disciples who themselves were sent by Christ.
    According to Wikipedia, the Coptic Orthodox Church “is the Church of Alexandria which was established by Saint Mark the apostle and evangelist in the middle of the 1st century (approximately AD 42). “ The Armenian Apostolic Church considers the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus to be their founders (also in the first century – although there appears to be debate whether Thaddeus refers to St Jude or Thaddeus of Edessa).

  36. Abu Sinan says:

    Good points. I come from a Catholic background. For me the priest now reminds me of the priests in the Irish sitcom about priests “Father Ted”.
    Anyone who knows this great serious will know what I am talking about.

  37. Redhand says:

    The Catholic Church has never handled human sexuality well as a matter of dogma or practice. Straight Roman catechism from the 1960s — “impure thoughts” alone, even without acts can be a mortal sin — drove me from the Church as a teen because the belief system was fundamentally inconsistent with human nature. The Church erected impossible standards of behavior even for the laity who elected the “lesser vocation” of marriage rather than the higher call of priestly celibacy.
    Is it any wonder that, with a theology this screwed up, the Church has found it impossible to admit much less punish sexual miscreants in the clergy? I’m not surprised that the problem has been covered up by the hierarchy for decades, and that now the lid has blown off, that they still trot out the one-trick-pony of denial. They truly have no clue what else to do, which only magnifies the scandal.
    My modest proposal is that the Church abolish celibacy, and open the priesthood to women (I’m fed up with hierarchical misogyny in addition to priestly pederasty). These reforms won’t eliminate an occasional Jimmy Swaggart in the rectory, but they should greatly reduce the scope and gravity of the present problem. It doesn’t get much worse than sexual abuse of minors covered up for ages by those who pretend to act with special religious and moral authority.

  38. b says:

    “Hmm. A Capuchin is not a monk. He is a friar. They normally live in communal groups. How did he have a housekeeper?”
    I am not aware of much difference between a monk or a friar. As Dan said, the German word for both is the same.
    Whatever …
    There is a very pretty rococo hunting château, Clemenswerth, next to my youth hometown. One of its building is a church and small cloister with one resident Capuchin and his housekeeper. Other friars / monks come there for vacations, as a retreat or to write books.

  39. johnf says:

    I always suspected this site was a secret hang-out for Catholics.
    The Church should obviously root out this disgusting practice root and branch, whether they be homosexuals, paedophiles, or just plain people who enjoy power over less powerful people.
    This will probably leave an even greater shortage of priests than we have already. Perhaps we will have mass importations of African priests, who at least won’t put up with any nonsense from paedophiles or homosexuals.
    But I think for a moment we should also ask who precisely is leading this massive media charge against The Church, apart from the usual secularists. The Church, as I said in a recent post, has form in being the only major Western Institution which has consistently stood up for the rights of the the Poor and the Third World, which unequivocally opposed the Iraq War, and has stood up for the Palestinians. For behaviour like that a price might have to be paid.

  40. Medicine Man says:

    I’m not sure what kind of comments you’re looking for on this subject, Col Lang. Personally, I find this latest set of scandals disturbing and difficult to come to terms with in my own heart.
    I am not religious. A large portion of the people I trust and care for most are Catholic. I will not gratuitously bash upon the church, even out of their sight, knowing how offensive and threatening such behavior would be to my loved ones; I have no desire to become a hypocrite in this fashion. I also have a fair amount of respect for the local clergymen I have met who preach the gospels with humility and sincerity. At present, little of my good feelings towards Catholics applies to the highest administrators of the church.
    For what little use my opinion is, as a non-believer, I think the church needs to respect these misdeeds as *crimes*, not just *sins*. This continued facade of non-responsibility is very damaging. While I’m sure the Catholic Church will survive this, as Jake says above, I personally worry less about the institutional survival of the church and more about the debasement of her morality. I don’t think anyone profits, believer or non-believer, when the oldest moral institution in the western world invites itself to be regarded in a more cynical fashion by all concerned.

  41. Medicine Man says:

    Concerning the PC cant of the church’s problem not being one of homosexual rape: No I don’t buy this. I am however distrustful of those who push the “it was the gays infiltrating the church with their degeneracy who created this mess”-line of thinking; not that I see anyone here making this argument explicitly or implicitly.

  42. Patrick Lang says:

    “Friars differ from monks in that they are called to live the evangelical counsels (vows of poverty, chastity and obedience) in service to a community, rather than through cloistered asceticism and devotion. Whereas monks live cloistered away from the world in a self-sufficient community, friars are supported by donations or other charitable support.” pl

  43. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t think that these church rules and policies rise to the dignity of “theology.” A lot of these things are historical artifacts subject to change, i.e, clerical celibacy, a refusal to ordain women, refusal to acknowledge the existence of divorce in the Catholic Church even though divorce clearly exists through the widespread granting of annulments. This is as opposed to true matters of morals such as abortion, acceptance of homosexual marriage, etc. pl

  44. Patrick Lang says:

    So, the housekeeper officially maintains the facility rather than the friar. pl

  45. Farmer Don says:

    Col Lang askes,
    “Now you say that a rational man should reject the superstitions of archaic norms. What do you think are the ultimate sanctions in our societies for morality, marital fidelity and the “pietas” you seem to admire”
    The Courts, and the Police within a country, and the army country to country are the ultimate judge of conduct. With regard to personal conduct an individual makes his own decisions.
    I see no useful purpose for religion in either.
    In my own life, I choose to follow the golden rule. I don’t like to be lied to or cheated, so I don’t lie or cheat. This comes not from religion, but from my thinking that the world runs best with this rule.
    With regard to Courts, Police, and Army, ie government, I am active in a political party. One can not spout opinions regarding the nature of society with our working for your goals.
    “Finally, religion serves many purposes. pl”
    Very true. Religion serves the interests of the powerful, and is a balm for the weak. That is why people are more religious in countries like Haiti and less so for middle class Europe. We should be working for conditions for mankind that do not drive the weak to depend on religion or allow the Strong to deploy the religion fairy tale to collect power.
    You are right in stating that it all comes down to the question of: is morality imposed upon people from above, or can people come to a moral conclusion from within?

  46. johnf says:

    I think its important to start looking to the future of the Church.
    John Paul II was highly successful. In the West his anti-communism and his part in the fall of the Soviet Empire was widely lauded, his stern sticking up for the poor and the Palestinians and his opposition to the Iraq War less so.
    His conservatism worked. By the time we come to Ratzinger conservatism and the West were in decline. Especially the sort of Christian Democratic conservatism that exists in continental Europe.
    He was always seen as a stop gap but I think his appointment by The Church was an act of cowardice. As the Church falters in the West it is gaining great ground in the Third World and Asia – especially in Africa and South America.
    It is now truly a world church and it is high time our Pope represented the world, not just the West.

  47. Patrick Lang says:

    Farmer Don
    “The Courts, and the Police within a country, and the army country to country are the ultimate judge of conduct.” This is a very Canadian view. Most Americans including a lot of Democrats tend to believe with Jefferson that government is a necessary evil and is not to be trusted. As you know you were granted your history by the crown. We took ours.
    “Religion is the opiate of the masses?” Is this the product of some university professor’s teaching, somewhere? or can I think of you as an auto-didact? pl

  48. Married Protestant Episcopal priests are beginning to opt to come into the Roman Catholic fold leaving what they consider a church in disarray to say the least.
    Meanwhile, Episcopalians promote out practicing homosexual priests and priestesses (i.e., male from New Hampshire and female from LA) to bishop.
    Would it not be logical for some RC homosexual priests simply to convert to Protestant Episcopalianism, be out, and thus have a shot at being a bishop in good standing?
    And as the Episcopalians seem to have a Presiding Witch, perhaps some lesbian RC nuns might want to enter the Episcopalian priestesshood with a view to advancement.
    [irony alert]

  49. Jake says:

    Colonel Lang, if you would be so kind as to print this reply.
    To Twit…
    I do not wish to debate religion on this site. I believe strongly in my Faith and I hold no ill will to other “true” Christian Faiths. But to answer your question.
    The Coptic Church you refer to is known as the Coptic “Catholic” Church and is one of the “Eastern Rite” Churches and Religions within the Universal Catholic Church.
    Remember Christ spoke to Peter as the “Rock” of His Church not Mark.
    “You are Peter, and on this rock ( meaning Peter himself) I will build my Church” (Matt. 16:18).
    So in reality there are actually two (2) Apostles who were instrumental in forming what we know today as the Universal Catholic Church, while Peter (Kepha) was it’s first Pope.
    Once again, no other Christian religion can hold water to this claim.
    This Sunday coming, is the reason why the Catholic Church has survived it’s countless faults and will continue to do so hopefully more in tuned with Christ’s message. Its not about the Pope or Priests.
    Its about Christ!
    To all here at SST and especially Colonel Lang and his family.
    Have a Very Blessed and Joyful Easter.
    He has Risen! Alleluia!
    “Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum”!

  50. Cloned Poster says:

    It’s up to the local Bishops to start running their own countries. Here in Ireland there is no respect for Rome whatsoever.

  51. Bob Groves says:

    Many good points here and would not want to defend the Catholic hierarchy from justly deserved criticism. The protection given to criminals is a betrayal of trust and ultimately will result in reform or continued abandonment of the institution. However, it occurs to me that this latest explosion of interest in this subject coincided perfectly with the Israel/USA flap which then disappeared from Page 1 or anywhere else in my local paper, The Boston Globe. Is it possible that the Editors prefer to run this story? Just asking.

  52. Herb Ely says:

    Here is one of several postings from GetReligion, a website focused on the (in)accuracy with which the press covers religious issues. This particular posting focuses on the Vatican’s response to an NYT article. Those who want to follow the story would do well to check this site frequently.

  53. Patrick Lang says:

    Celestine V – “December 13, 1294. In the formal instrument of his renunciation he recites as the causes moving him to the step, “the desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, the deficiencies of his own physical strength, his ignorance, the perverseness of the people, his longing for the tranquility of his former life”; and having divested himself of every outward symbol of dignity, he retired to his old solitude.” pl

  54. frank durkee says:

    CK: Strikes me as less “ironic” and more sophmoric.
    Fr. Durkee from the liberal side of the Episcopal Church.
    We have had our own negative stuff in various parts of our global communion and here and I’m not entirely sure we are in the clear enough to worry about other religious organizations.

  55. curious says:

    atimes is making lame scenarios. hah, I can make better nonsense than theirs.
    In what, according to Israeli political sources, amounts to a “White House dictum”, Obama made 10 demands of Netanyahu.
    Four relate specifically to Israeli actions and policy in occupied East Jerusalem; the rest relate to the negotiating process and other core issues of the conflict which the US intends to have on the table when both sides are pressed into the planned “proximity” talks that are to be run by Obama’s special envoy, Senator George Mitchell.
    As the US awaits Israel’s answer to the president’s demands within 10 days (following the Jewish Passover holiday week), four possible scenarios are evolving:
    # Netanyahu sticks to his guns, draws into his laager. His besieged battleground is Jerusalem. So, the Israeli leader continues to declare the popular Israeli credo – as he did repeatedly last week in the US – that “Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is our capital”. Israel, he insists, will continue building unhampered throughout all parts of the city.
    With the backing of the bulk of his steady coalition, his right-wing flank, Netanyahu might well choose this tough stance, however risky.
    # Netanyahu caves in: Because, as his defense minister and current closest political ally, Ehud Barak, noted in a special security briefing on Sunday, for Israel, solid relations with the US is the “pillar and cornerstone of our security … we must never lose sight of how important these relations are, or of our capability to act in harmony and unity with the US.”

  56. Frank Durkee,
    Is not the Anglican Communion deeply divided over the issue of homosexuality, and particularly the actions of the US Episcopalians?
    Is not the male bishop from NH out and practicing?
    Is not the new female bishop from LA out and practicing?
    Is there not very vocal opposition to what the US Episcopal church has done with respect to these and other ordinations?
    Has this not outraged many in the Anglican community in Africa and Asia?
    Are not married (and single) Episcopal priests in the US and Anglican priests elsewhere considering moving toward the Tiber’s fold?
    Are not some parishes and congregations in the US and in the UK considering mass affiliation with Rome under special permissions recently announced by the Vatican?
    I have not followed it all closely but just from the general press this is the impression one gets of the present state of the Episcopal Church in the US.
    Mainline churches generally in the US seem to be losing flock to the Fundamentalists (of various kinds) over the past several decades and presently so there are other trends and issues at work I do doubt. But it is undeniable, I think you would agree, that the homosexual issue is indeed quite divisive within the Anglican community/communion.

  57. LeaNder says:

    The Europeans thought it was vaguely amusing when this scandal was revealed in the US a dozen years ago. They implied in their comments that this was somehow a peculiarly American problem. Who laughs last, etc…
    I thought about that quite a bit. Was I amused? Surely not. I wondered about the timing though, a theme that surfaced here again. Feels slightly like symplistic cause and effect thinking now. But then it was rather strange to watch the run up to the Iraq war, so I forgive myself.
    The reason why we are “vaguely amused” is that it took America so long to wake up. That America continued to believe itself “Exceptional”.
    This a very peculiar statement that in the larger context suggests transference, psychologically speaking, to me. America (all Americans?) considers herself exceptional, while in fact Europeans ARE, since they knew this much longer.
    I have to beg to differ. We may have been knowing this just as long but we never pushed quite as much for a response from the church on the level the Americans did. Here Americans definitively were the first. What empirical base do you rely on that support your claim that Europeans were aware of the issue longer?
    provocation – response?
    BUT I don’t like the easy solutions offered above. Would I be happy with a church for which sexuality is just as central as for our societies? …
    To complicate matters a bit. I know a Catholic theologian who wasn’t allowed to become priest, long ago by now, since he didn’t hide his essentially homosexual personality. The irony is that in spite of the fact that he is attracted to man and lives with one for several decades now, both of them live an essentially asexual life.

  58. frank durkee says:

    CK: Yes it is divisive, as is the ordination of women and election to the Episcopacy, and prently as head of the US Episcopal Church. Even more divisive is the encounter between the ‘tradition’ and the new science, historical mthedologies. I have been and am a supporter of all of thes things. 50 years ago, when I was in seminary we could live with the then existing tensions. The change in the veiw of and roles for women and GLBT is a massive change and like any such change creates divisions. I was and am a supporter of thes changes and intellectual activities with a clear awareness that they were, are, and will be divisive.

  59. If the Catholic Church shrinks drastically or disappears it will leave a dangerous vacuum in the space where it used to be. So I hope the Church can pick itself up and solve these problems rather than tear itself down. That would require really understanding what the problem really is here; and where and how within the Church it needs to be solved. It may require the laity and the lower clergy to form a decades-long sustained movement to gain the knowledge and confidence to apply real corrective pressure or even some kinds of re-engineering on the Hierarchy. Since I am not Catholic, I don’t know whether basic Catholic knowledge and theology allows such re-engineering to be possible in theory or not.
    Can the Roman Catholic Church find a way to co-exist with the rule of civil authority law within the countries within which the Catholic Church works and lives? If it would not be counter-Catholic to turn over all reasonably indictable personnel to the civil indicting authorities; then the Catholic Church could work with the civil authorities to end the culture of cover up in defense of extra-legal-behavior power within the Hierarchy. Such measures would regain the trust of the laity in those countries where the layfolk have a strong civil-law/civil rights tradition.
    If such a policy of “uncover down” and full cooperation with civil law enforcement structures is theologically counter-Catholic, then the Church will have to find some other way to solve the problem. In which case, solving it would still be better than denying it and covering it up.
    I have seen references before to a conspiracy by certain interested others to invent and hype these scandals to take attention away from something else. To me, such references seem to be a search for psychological relief in the refuge of denial.

  60. david says:

    While I don’t intend to argue matters of faith or related questions of church history, a distinction should be made between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Coptic Catholic Church.
    For anyone interested, Robeson’s The Eastern Christian Churches – A Brief Survey is a good start. It is available online over at CNEWA’s web site.
    I also seem to remember Pius VII offering his resignation should he be imprisoned by Napoleon (he was, but remained the Pope). Again, the sticking question from 332 S2 is who can accept such a resignation. Nobody knows.

  61. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    No religious institution will survive unless it provides a true “ experience”. No experience, no life. So the question becomes this: will the actions of these perps, who obviously harbored a great hatred of God, take away the religious experience for those who consider themselves part of the body of the Catholic Church?
    While my theology, be it what it may, is starting to lean towards the East, particularly in regards to the Eucharist (h/t Alexander Schmemann, God bless him), the Catholic Church obviously has given people a mystical experience over the centuries up until today. I don’t see that changing., despite the pomp and circumstances of the Vatican. The true spiritual heroes at work within the Catholic Church today, I imagine, are hardly known.
    Regardless, if religious terminology is an anathema to some, then Carl Jung wrote very persuasively that the ritual of Mass constellates the unconscious and moreover, if Mass is approached and understood properly, then it contributes to a direct interplay between the conscious and unconscious, in which the latter informs the former in ways otherwise unattainable and altogether unique.
    As Jung constantly emphasized, the etymology of religion is “linking to”. Jung saw it as a linking of the conscious with the collective unconscious.
    Jung converted to Catholicism at the height of his psychological war with Freud, which was an all or nothing war. So no doubt Jung would not have converted if he did not think it would help him with more intuitive insights and contribute to a greater sense of awareness. And Jung wrote an extraordinary essay titled, “Transformation Symbolism of Mass” in which he sets forth his case. He does not rely on religious terminology and many Catholics reject his psychology but, for people who approach psychology as religion (meaning most “moderns“), then his work is masterful and, all in all, it probably pushed Freud back on his heels.
    (Someone in this thread has a partiality to the Dominus Vobiscum version of Mass. If so, he would love one of Jung’s footnotes in the above referenced essay as Jung, like Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy and others, were adamant about the efficacy of the Tridentine Mass,).
    In re: celibacy. All mystical faiths emphasize celibacy for some. Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy (for Bishops who must come from the monastic orders). Islam may emphasize something similar (I dunno’). Ancient Israelities took a temporary vow during time of war, no? Not saying it should be institutionalized as it now is for the Latin rite of the Catholic Church. Above my pay grade and not my calling. But it is unmistakable that celibacy has been emphasized in various ways.
    I sometimes get a kick when I see all these Westerners, particularly anti-Catholic progressives, praising the Dalai Lami. The man greatly deserves it and count me as one of his admirers. But I believe he promotes celibacy as much as the Catholic Church. And, arguably, he is a secessionist.
    All that said, Alexander Schemann is worth a close look re: Eucharist.

  62. curious says:

    It’s not that complicated. Imagine yourself a Human resource manager sitting in Rome somewhere around 14AD. And asking yourself, I am suppose to do COIN operation in a newly discovered continent and oversea empire that previously only known mythically through traveler story. Marine navigational chart was as advance as current interplanetary rocket technology. Not only you don’t know the parameter of your target such as demographic, litteracy or commerce, you don’t even have any idea what language they use. You have 80%+ failure rate just transporting yourself to your destination, nevermind starting a complex cultural project like coin.
    What organizational model would you adopt?
    a) standard coin operation? (calculate the budget, equipment, manpower given the technology)
    b) Spanish empire armada, consisting of mainly 75 feet ships, crew of 40 and about 60 tons supply each.
    c) Create something like the jesuit missionary to establish church presence in the new world.
    So, you pretty much need to create these class of trained specialists that have enough intellectual ability to not only decipher local language and carry on the coin operation, but also able to takes care of himself physically until reinforcement come. Given the transportation technology, that may or may not happen until several years which is also your next opportunity to establish communication back. And at most one or two more for each supply contact. The entire project may need 100-150 years to complete.
    All of a sudden you need to have an organization as complex and robust as the church. Stubbornly so even. guaranteed life time employment, the most sophisticated language and cultural training centers never developed before, understanding of alien commerce and legal system, relationship with states that will pay and supply the transportation technology for all these.
    You can’t simply fired somebody while he is stuck in the jungle trying to compile first dictionary of unknown language, establish contact and build basic infra structure till next reinforcement. Not even a hint. You need something as solid as Roman imperial legal system, organizational reliability and potent dose of believe system to carry the coin operation to completion.
    So that’s why the church seems like a world onto itself. because it is. It has its own internal human resource rule.

  63. Frank Durkee,
    I have friends and relatives in both the Roman Catholic and in the Protestant Episcopal churches. I wish both churches and their members well in these troubled times.
    My focus has been foreign policy and national security affairs rather than religious studies and theology.
    I do read from time to time, however, from Thomas a Kempis.
    A joyous Easter to all…

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