Irish bishops should restore credibility through penance in Lent

From CNA:

Cardinal Brady: Irish bishops should restore credibility by repentance in Lent

Rome, Italy, Feb 16, 2010 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- Five members of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, led by their president and Primate of all Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady, addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon following two days of what they called "intense" discussions with Pope Benedict XVI and members of the Roman Curia. Cardinal Brady said in his remarks that the bishops should spend the penitential season of Lent doing penance to promote “a change of heart.”

[...]

There is a lot more in that article.

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44 Responses to Irish bishops should restore credibility through penance in Lent

  1. treefrog says:

    As an Irish Catholic, I can say that the Irish Church is in quite a sorry state. The solution to this crisis is holiness, yet no one has yet publicly mentioned this novel idea. After years of dissent, disobedience, modernism, and liberalism, holiness has been all but forgotten. Now we see the enemies of the faith, both inside and outside the Church, using this crisis to further their agenda which includes women ‘priests’ and same-sex unions. Just one example of dissent: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2009/11/bishop_calls_for_free_speech_o.html

  2. Take this for what it’s worth.
    I have an inkling there was a lot of “cultural baggage” to this whole debacle.
    Irish clericalism at its worst.
    “Father knows best” went awry.
    Nothing to do with Catholicism or Canon law (From the latest report this confirms it)…just bad pastoral judgment and “covering up”…especially since VII (or the “bad spirit of VII”..go figure).
    Ireland, in my humble estimation, is an enigma. Culturally Catholic, but today, a real quagmire.
    And if it’s the responsibility of the bishops and priests, the Pope should surely get out the whip.
    Shame on them. Shame on them all. This abuse seems to be far more than what we saw in the US.
    The physical, emotional,and psychological abuse, as well as abusing their positions of authority are just heinous.
    I do understand the “Irish” mentality; although not fully Irish, I lived amongst them, albeit in the US, but the cultural business was very alive.
    And my own heritage has this whole “hide it under the rug” kinda thing; whatever that is from,but I’ll bet you it’s Irish. Any day.

  3. mdillon says:

    I am not one to advice our Holy Father but, maybe a trip to Ireland by Benedict XVI would not hurt and do some good to restore the faith of the Emerald Isle.

  4. TJerome says:

    This whole chapter is so sad but so avoidable. If Church leaders had simply followed the tenets of our Faith and not have been so consumed with appearances we would not be in this mess. Parents would have absolutely cheered if Church leaders had turned these wolves over to proper civil authorities instead of trying to cover over the scandals. I think public penance would be a good thing. Tom

  5. treefrog says:

    The ‘hide it under the rug’ and ‘never criticise a priest’ mentality was a big issue in Ireland. And priests placed on a pedestal and denied prayers (did they actually need prayers?) were other issues.

    The sad thing is, Ireland is now under very grave threat of the introduction of abortion, whilst the Church has lost its moral authority when our country needs it most.

    One more example of dissent:
    ”The Bishop expressed sadness about his Church excluding homosexuals and refusing the Eucharist to couples in second unions.” :-(
    http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/1114/religion.html

  6. treefrog says:

    For a realplayer downloadable programme from Irish TV broadcaster RTE, featuring the voice of Irish Catholicism, Father Brian Darcy:

    http://www.rte.ie/radio1/peopleofgod/1025477.html

    You’ll see why the Church is in such a mess. Hopefully it is downloadable for those outside Ireland.

  7. Charivari Rob says:

    Can anybody clarify a point for me?

    I’ve read several articles leading up to and during this Irish bishops’ visit. Mostly secular media, one or two religion sites/blogs. The slant many of them seem to take is “Bishops called on carpet in Rome” or (expressed in a slightly more neutral tone) that this was specially scheduled. My question – Wasn’t this simply the time for their ad limina visit (England and Scotland went in recent weeks)?

  8. Public Masses of Reparation in the EF :), sounds like a good idea

  9. shane says:

    The Eucharistic Congress is schedueled for Dublin in 2012. I do wonder whether, in light of the recent scandals, it will be cancelled, for if it does go ahead it will almost certainly attract anti-clerical demonstrations. The last one was held in 1932 (lovely photos here) and marked a major milestone in the social history of the nascent state. Before the recent Ryan and Murphy, it had been expected that it would be accompanied with a papal visit. I guess that’s out now.

  10. Oneros says:

    They really need to re-examine mandatory celibacy. Not that simply happening to be single and chaste makes one molest children, of course, but a strange almost BDSM dynamic arises whenever the concepts of sex and obedience find their way into the same sentence.

    Whenever control over peoples sexuality is used as a way to control their lives. It’s the same reason you have problems with rape in prison, with hazing in frat houses, with sexual harassment in the military. But at least the military has been doing a lot lately to encourage openness, to keep people anchored in the civilian world mentally, to keep people grounded in their families emotionally and preserving their individual identity.

    These utterly out of touch men, on the other hand, are still in a spidery world where sex and power are inseparably linked, and that is never going to produce a healthy situation.

  11. Oneros: Sorry, this has nothing to do with celibacy. The fact of sexual abuse/wrong-doing by married clergy in the Protestant and Orthodox clergy gives testimony to this.
    This whole Irish imbroglio has to do with power, clericalism and just plain liberalism, if you will, in the sense of “sexual impropriety” isn’t that egregiousness…well, physical, emotional and psychological abuse compounded with sexual abuse is just absolutely demonic…and that prelates not only looked the other way but reassigned these monsters to other parishes/dioceses…
    St. Peter Damian had a lot to say about those who abused youth sexually. Nobody listened at this
    point.
    I hope our Holy Father pulls the big guns out on these bastards. Pardon my language and my disrespect for the clergy. But this bunch needs a good hosing down. Big time.

  12. treefrog: Bless you, bless you for your honesty and forthrightness…never to criticize the clergy…oh, God, can I relate…but you know what? It isn’t the Catholic Faith we are criticizing, it’s the individual that may be stupid, ignorant, weak or just sick in the head that happens to be a priest…can that be?
    Yeah. It can.
    But God is ever greater. Jesus is the Lord. And He does not abandon His Beloved Church.
    I pray that the Church in Ireland will persevere throughout all of this s***. And it is that.
    Because of human sin, error and just plain weakness.

  13. Oneros says:

    I never said it had anything to do with celibacy, I said it had to do with MANDATORY celibacy.

    Sexual abuse occurs everywhere, of course. The question is covering it up, moving the perpetrators around, etc.

    And that goes back to an Old Boys Club homosocial institutional dynamic that has everything to do with a twisted link between SEX and POWER of which the idea of “mandatory” celibacy is merely one manifestation.

    There is also this need to maintain a facade that most priests actually keep celibacy (when numerous studies indicate that they’re only doing as well as unmarried lay Catholics), and the resulting mutual blackmail that can ensue even when someone is involved with a consenting adult, but needs to keep that a secret for the sake of their position; it’s the same reason closet homosexuals were/are a threat to spy services, etc, it makes them vulnerable to manipulation.

  14. Oneros says:

    Also, it should be pointed out that while protestant ministers, etc…do statistically abuse just about as much as Catholic priests…they are very often abusing their OWN children. Catholic priests don’t have their own children generally, so you’d expect the number to be MUCH less. But it isn’t.

  15. Magpie says:

    Oneros, you seem to have undermined your own argument with your last post.

    One real problem is that inappropriate candidates became priests. Marriage is not a hospital for sexual perversion.

  16. Oneros says:

    Then you misunderstand me. I definitely don’t have the naive assumption that marriage would somehow cure pedophiles, or that priests are somehow acting out their repressed sexuality (it just doesnt work that way).

    What I’ve said is that the dynamics of Power and Sex in the Catholic hierarchy, of which mandatory celibacy is only one expression, create a culture of institutional self-preservation, secrecy surrounding sexual impropriety (as opposed to, say, financial), and probably tends to attract those for whom authority, control, and sex are ALREADY linked psychologically (which I imagine would include pedophiles among others).

    It’s not just an issue of weeding out bad individuals or having better policies in place. We can’t legislate our problems away. Problems like these are STRUCTURAL.

  17. TNCath says:

    I wonder what “penance in Lent” would consist of for the Irish bishops? Aside from the personal sacrifices every Catholic should make, what kind of public manifestation will the bishops make?

    The Irish are expert linguists. They have an uncanny ability for circumlocution. I would love to be over there tomorrow to just listen to the homilies that will be delivered tomorrow at the cathedrals of Ireland, much less the parishes, on Ash Wednesday. Unfortunately, I am not very hopeful that much will essentially change in Ireland. I hope I am wrong. I do see the Eucharistic Congress in 2012 to be a sign of hope. But, then again, Archbishop Piero Marini will be the organizer.

  18. Oneros: Sorry, no. Can’t agree.
    This isn’t about sex. Or mandatory celibacy.
    It’s about the abuse of power; the cover-up of wrongdoing. The excuses that make any kind of abuse (whether sexual, physical, emotional or psychic) acceptable.
    Irish clericalism, both in Ireland and in this country with the incredible influence of the Irish hierarchy(I know this from the history my own diocese) that had more to do with power and influence rather than faith and the living of the Catholic life, was a very negative force.
    This is not to disparage the Irish; I am from Irish stock, myself. I just say that there was and is a very negative influence upon the Irish clergy, both bishops and priests, that somehow saw their position as one of power rather than service.
    It really has nothing to do with sex, per se.
    Correct me if I am wrong.

  19. Mike says:

    Oneros–pardon my bluntness, but you’re pushing a load of cow-droppings in this discussion. The HIGHEST incidence of child abuse occurs in households in which the biological father is missing, and another, predator male moves in. There is, in homes of little order, deference, rule, or authority, abuse flowers. What this tells us is something B16 has said more than once: where Faith is weak, lapses, betrayals, disobedience, flourishes.

    It’s not much more than that: infidelity. I work with teenage boys. To see them as anything other than sons, as souls in the making, as beloved by Our Father-God, is nothing short of demonic evil, if sex gets in the picuture.

    Obedience is one of the signs of love. Covering up is simply fear, shame, taking over for prudence and justice.

    Benedict XVI should tough with these bishops. There’s such a great need of penance.

    The structure is fine; the heart is where it all starts.

  20. TNCath: Archbishop Marini, the organizer of the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin?
    Say it isn’t so!
    Okay, I guess it is so…oy vey!
    I don’t even wanna think about what the penitential rite will look like:<)!! (If there is, in fact, one!)

  21. Mike: Absolutely. You said it best. Bless you and your work!

  22. TNCath says:

    nazareth priest: I’m afraid Archbishop Marini is now in charge of Eucharistic Congresses. Here is a link to his appearance in Dublin last June when he met with the bishops of Ireland about “The Shape, Significance and Ecclesial Imapct of Eucharistic Congresses.”

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pont_committees/eucharist-congr/documents/rc_committ_euchar_doc_20090609_fisionomia-congressi_en.html

  23. TNCath: Gruesome…hope it isn’t completely “over the top”; he did a “job” on poor Pope John Paul II, yeah.
    Thanks be to God, Pope Benedict put a stop to it, at least in the papal liturgies.
    He’s a force to be reckoned with, no doubt about it…and in Ireland, with all this mess and liberalism and dissent…yikes!
    Wish that Fr. U. Michael Lang and Dr. Alcuin Reid could step in and handle things.
    Dream on, nazareth priest!!

  24. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Sackcloth, ashes & public penance.

    Barefoot in the snow is a good start.

  25. TonyLayne says:

    Oneros: The problem with optional celibacy, as Fr. Greeley (yeah, I know) once pointed out, is that it quickly becomes almost-mandatory marriage. Plus, as both he and George Weigel (talk about an unlikely pair!) have said, the priest who lives his vow faithfully is an excellent sign of contradiction (or dissonance producer, if you prefer), unsettling us and pointing us in a different direction from the rest of the world, walking in the path of one who came to “cast fire on the earth”. Some who attempt life-long celibacy will fail, that’s a given. But not all, not even necessarily a large proportion. Making celibacy optional would have the net effect of ending clerical celibacy, which would be a shame, without solving the problems of predator priests and cowardly bishops.

    Mike: Perhaps flogging themselves a la Henry II? I like it!

  26. TonyLayne says:

    Oops, not Mike — Rob!

  27. Dave N. says:

    Henry II was flogged by the brothers/priests of St. Thomas’ priory, as I recall–though he commanded them to do it.

    What these bishops did makes Henry II look like an angel in comparison–though Henry was under a lot of political pressure to make a public act of repentance. Apparently these bishops are not. And I think Ireland will be lost for at least a generation as a result

  28. Sorbonnetoga says:

    Charivari Rob: This is not a scheduled ad limina but a special meeting following the Murphy report and the public breaking of ranks by some Irish bishops (principally my ordinary, Abp. Diarmuid Martin) as well as several resignations of auxiliaries and even two ordinaries in the last year or so. It’s obvious that the united front (at least in public) of the Irish Bishops has collapsed and that they have no clue how to respond to the renewed abuse crisis, so the Holy Father is trying to show them how.

    England/Wales & Scotland may have had their ad limina visits recently but that wouldn’t have anything to do with the Irish bishops timetable; even though part of Ireland is within the UK politically, it’s an entirely separate structure ecclesiastically. The English Hierarchy was restored in 1854, for example; the Irish Hierarchy never disappeared in the first place.

  29. pcon says:

    I don’t know what to say, we need a saint to fix this problem, why in centuries past was that so much easier, for a saint to come along. This is all the fault of the devil. What a scourge it must have been for him to look at Ireland, saints and scholars. In the end it seems it was easy pickings for him. No matter what is done there will be people unhappy about it. There is too much money in the Church in Ireland. Get rid of that. Start following the rules Christ gave us. Start treating the Eucharist with respect – I saw my local priest use the host to flick a fly out of the chalice at an outdoor mass. In all innocence he never saw what he did. He should have drank that fly! Somebody needs to do something. I’m afraid to walk the streets today with ashes on my forehead, how sad is that.

  30. Oneros says:

    “This isn’t about sex. Or mandatory celibacy.
    It’s about the abuse of power; the cover-up of wrongdoing.”

    It is about power. Sexual power. What is the common denominator between, on the one hand, child abuse…and, on the other, the institutional structure which covered it up? That both have sexual control as a major theme. Both make this twisted link between Power and Sex.

    “The structure is fine; the heart is where it all starts.”

    That’s explaining away, not explaining. That’s like saying, “Communism would have worked if people had only done what they were supposed to do!” and suggesting that the fix was simply stricter “enforcement”.

    The whole problem with the real world…is that people DON’T do what they’re “supposed to do”…and the nature of governance is to deal with that practical fact of fallen nature and find the structure that minimizes the harm caused to others. The fact that all problems are ultimately related to sin is really neither here nor there when it comes to the question of finding a structural solution that is able to cope IN SPITE of human sin.

    Mandatory celibacy looks great “on paper”. But that’s really neither here nor there. You can’t legislate ideals into existence, you need good old fashioned pragmatism.

    “The problem with optional celibacy, as Fr. Greeley (yeah, I know) once pointed out, is that it quickly becomes almost-mandatory marriage.”

    I simply don’t buy that. There will always be institutions of consecrated life, for whom celibate chastity is an an intrinsic part of the vocation, and there are lots of people out there in the world who simply happen to be single.

    The real problem with that argument, however, is that it basically ADMITS that the “mandatory” nature of celibacy serves to provide an easy cloak of legitimacy for men to hide behind under the presumption that they’re only single because they “have” to be or because they wanted to be priests more than marry.

    Celibacy is supposed to be a sacrifice, isn’t it? So if they had to put up with suspicion or implications over their confirmed-bachelor status…that’s a sacrifice they can make. In reality, many people nowadays ALREADY make those insinuations about priests, cloaking it under the “excuse” of “mandatory” celibacy isn’t working anymore already.

    And the emotional investment so many have in it (in the “mandatory” part, not the celibacy itself, mind you) makes you wonder how many are, in fact, using it that way.

    “The HIGHEST incidence of child abuse occurs in households in which the biological father is missing, and another, predator male moves in”

    I never said that isn’t true. I simply said that among protestant pastors who abuse children, it’s usually their own daughter (or step-daughter). The two are not mutually exclusive statistics.

    “Plus, as both he and George Weigel (talk about an unlikely pair!) have said, the priest who lives his vow faithfully is an excellent sign of contradiction (or dissonance producer, if you prefer), unsettling us and pointing us in a different direction from the rest of the world, walking in the path of one who came to “cast fire on the earth”.”

    As did Christ and every Saint throughout history. But that’s something that is true of CELIBACY. The question of making it “mandatory” is a totally different one, and where the creepy institutional dynamics start to come in. Celibates would still be a sign of contradiction, but that doesn’t mean you have to REQUIRE it. That’s making the Perfect the enemy of the Good.

    There seems to be this fear that ending the mandatory nature of celibacy would end celibate vocations entirely, but I think that shows a lack of trust in God. Since these are vocations, assumably God would still keep sending men called to voluntary celibacy.

    “Some who attempt life-long celibacy will fail, that’s a given. But not all, not even necessarily a large proportion. Making celibacy optional would have the net effect of ending clerical celibacy, which would be a shame, without solving the problems of predator priests and cowardly bishops.”

    Numerous studies indicate that the failure rate is as high as for unmarried lay Catholics (who are also “supposed” to be celibate, mind you).

    But I think this very argument is a good demonstrative example of why ending mandatory celibacy would help with issues like the cover-ups. Because it seems that a lot of conservative Catholics assume mandatory celibacy a priori (almost as if it were an article of faith) as just part of the “whole package” of being a conservative Catholics…and THEN come up with the arguments to defend it, as if defending it is what a “loyal” Catholic does.

    This status quo preservationism and unwillingness to engage in honest institutional self-critique and to consider alternate models of organization without a foregone conclusion already in mind…are part of the very same entrenched institutional dynamics that caused bishops to cover this up, and which are going to allow them to get away with it too!

  31. Charivari Rob says:

    Sorbonnetoga -

    Thank you for confirming that it was a special meeting.

    I wasn’t confusing the separate hierarchies and ecclesial structures. I simply didn’t know if there was any geographical progression (in addition to the time interval) involved in the scheduling of the ad limina visits (Irelad’s closest neighboring groups having gone in the last couple of weeks). Also, so many media outlets allow their perceptions/ambitions to color their reporting – it’s easy to believe that they want the Bishops (a) “called on the carpet”, they see (b) the Bishops go to the Vatican and hold high-level meetings on the matter, so some assume that “b” proceeded from “a”when in fact “b” might have proceeded from “c” (c being “With the report that has come out and everything else in the last few months, we need to sit down with all of you. You’re all scheduled to come over here in mid-February anyway, we’re going to keep those dates but change the agenda”)

  32. Mike says:

    Thank you, Nazareth priest. I will pray for you too, as for all our posters.

    Oneros: The problem w. pragmatism, to quote GKC, is that it doesn’t work.

    Monogomous marriage till death isn’t particularly easy. I realize that the tradition of celibacy is not intrinsic to the priesthood, but your “structural” thinking is obscuring a simple point.

    That is, this whole issue is one of infidelity. Period. Let the bishops re-examine their seminaries, their candidates for ordination. AS the over-whelming majority of abuse cases involve boys and young men, once and for all we need to prevent those with settled homosexual orientation from ordination.

    Sure, we can lower the bar. But the gift of celibacy is also a gift for married people, ie, as a sign of the kingdom, as a witness to charity.

  33. Oneros says:

    “But the gift of celibacy is also a gift for married people, ie, as a sign of the kingdom, as a witness to charity.”

    And it wouldn’t still be if it were voluntary??

    Eliminating celibacy and eliminating merely the (unenforceable) “REQUIREMENT” are two very different things, and Catholics are constantly knocking down a straw man by portraying arguments in favor of celibacy in itself as arguments in favor of making it mandatory for diocesan priests.

    I agree celibacy is good, I personally feel called to it (in which context remains to be seen). But not all good things have to be “required”. That’s making the Perfect the enemy of the Good.

    “Monogomous marriage till death isn’t particularly easy.”

    More easy than celibacy though, apparently. Adultery rates among practicing married Catholics are, statistically, MUCH lower than fornication rates among even practicing unmarried Catholics (and priests). Paul must have meant SOMETHING when he said, “better to marry than to burn”.

    But, that’s not really the point. I don’t care that priests are having sex even when they are “supposed” to be celibate. So are unmarried lay Catholics. Big whoop. As long as it’s all consenting adults, that’s between them and their confessor or spiritual director.

    It’s not the sin that angers me, that’s their business. I am not the one hung up over the idea of priests having sex in itself. Rather, it’s the institutional dynamics of DENIAL, facade-maintenance, secrecy, cover-ups, and inter-clerical blackmail….which cast a malaise and repressive atmosphere over the whole institutional church, and this naive presumption of celibacy that Catholics still give their priests that lead to things like covering up abuse when it does happen.

    “That is, this whole issue is one of infidelity. Period. Let the bishops re-examine their seminaries, their candidates for ordination.”

    Certainly you need to do that. But in some ways that is treating the symptoms. Again, saying that the law is good, that people just need to follow it…is like saying Communism worked “on paper,” or that Prohibition would have worked “if only people had obeyed it”. Or that poverty in the world wouldnt need any economically structural solutions “if all the rich would just be charitable.” Puh-leeze.

    The fact is people are NOT following it, and unless you want to have priests all wear electronic monitoring bracelets or chastity belts (talk about BDSM!)…then we have to deal with a world where people DO fall short of the ideals.

    The whole point of governing institutions is to deal with disobedience and human sin. If everyone were perfect, we would need neither legislation nor executive power, which are designed to provide a structure that (we’d hope) would minimize the harm to others in situations when people AREN’T perfect, when they DONT obey. To provide a route to justice when an INjustice has occurred. That’s the whole point. Saying “people just need to follow the rules” is utterly naive and misses the whole point of why rules are necessary in the first place. That’s the whole problem of government that various systems solve in more or less effective ways: who will police the police?

    Simply trying to “save the appearances” has led to horrible horrible things. Some authoritarian-minded Catholics actually do speak, frighteningly, of coercive “enforcement” of celibacy (as if the Catholic Church exists to stop men from having sex)…but I think you’ll find that will just EXACERBATE these sorts of problems.

    You need to solve the structural problems, the institutional dynamics that caused all this, like, why the attraction to that life in the first place by these perverts?

    And you expect the bishops, the ones who were until recently covering it up (and, in some cases we’ve seen, part of it themselves)…to suddenly solve the problem? They’re the ones who CAUSED the problem. At the very least, a total personnel overhaul is needed. They all should resign.

    If this were the US democracy they’re always fawning over these days…heads would be rolling, none of them would have been able to stay in office in the US or Europe. And yet, they did.

    “AS the over-whelming majority of abuse cases involve boys and young men, once and for all we need to prevent those with settled homosexual orientation from ordination.”

    Again. Great on paper, maybe. But what does it effect in practice: you’ll exclude all the honest, obedient homosexuals who have come to terms with their sexuality…and still have done nothing to stop those who are dishonest, disobedient, or confused/ambiguous about their sexuality, who will still come in either way.

    I mean, wouldn’t it just be more to the point to exclude the category “pedophiles” instead of homosexuals? After all, the over-whelming majority of abuse was perpetrated by pedophiles and ephebophiles >. My point is, of course, that that has all the same problems of being mere absolutely unenforceable legislation. You can legislate against things till the cows come home, cast as wide a net as you like (maybe we should exclude males, since men abuse so much more than women!), that doesnt actually stop anything in practice and ends up smearing a lot of innocent people. Minorities commit more crime in America, let’s just lock up all the minorities!

    Perhaps Catholics are too trusting of human nature. Stuff like this doesn’t and cannot work on the “honor system”. That just leads to deception, facades, blackmail, etc etc.

  34. Oneros —

    Every unmarried Catholic in the world is obliged to the same form of chastity as every priest, brother, sister, and nun — ie, we ain’t gettin’ any. For someone from a country with a fine tradition of huge numbers of lifelong heterosexual male bachelors, you seem strangely uninformed about this point.

    Strangely, I’ve never raped any children nor expect to, even though I never expect to get married. Somehow, my desires just don’t rise up and possess me. It’s almost as if they’re part of me instead of being a foreign entity. It’s almost as if I’m a rational being instead of an animal.

    Finally, it’s silly to talk as if predator priests had some kind of gun pointed at their head, forcing them to stay priests. They could have left any day for parts unknown, and better that than rape somebody’s baby. But somehow, we don’t see that happening, either.
    Likewise, these men had the choice not to become priests in the first place. If their desires were so overmastering, they could have checked into the mental hospital instead of the seminary. But nooo.

    The real point is that these men _wanted_ to be priests _because_ it put them in contact with children they desired. This is the same reason so many predators work so hard to become trusted teachers or coaches or Boy Scout leaders — or even husbands of women who already have kids. It’s all about ease of access. They come intending to use the priesthood; they are not victims of it.

  35. The best penance that these ordinaries can perform is to resign. They failed to enforce canon law, as the recent study concluded. They have proved that they are unfit to govern. If they don’t resign, then they should be removed. The “scandal” is not that some clergy were abusers, it is that they were not immediately removed from ministry.

  36. Mike says:

    Suburbanbanshee–EXCELLENT pts!

    Oneros:
    And you expect the bishops, the ones who were until recently covering it up (and, in some cases we’ve seen, part of it themselves)…to suddenly solve the problem? They’re the ones who CAUSED the problem.

    Give me a break. We all know that much of this problem comes from Bishops and priests NOT teaching the Faith in its fullness. While not every weak priest is an abuser, I know now why many of our priests are not teaching the fullness of the Faith–they aren’t living it.

    IF you rarely or never go to Confession, or pray, don’t read why the Churches teaches, say, that artificial contraception is evil, and them, oh my, find out this teaching is difficult to practice, nay, impossible to practice, a reasonable question is:

    Did you use the means Our Lord gave us?

    Same question, with mandatory celibacy.

  37. Oneros says:

    If you’ve read anything I said, I totally agree with you. I said over and over again, I think it’s stupid to believe that mandatory celibacy is somehow creating molestors.

    What I said was that the institutional dynamics of mandatory celibacy (revolving around power and sex) are the same ones that caused, not the abuse in itself, but rather its COVER UP, the secrecy, the defensive closing of ranks on the part of the bishops, the instinct of institutional self-preservation, etc.

    Without being grounded in families made up of the laity, the clergy is it’s own self-contained little social network and power structure. The loyalties of the men in a celibate all male institution are thus primarily homosocial and contained within the clergy itself.

    Married men’s first loyalty is usually to their families, their instinct is to protect their family. Institutional celibate bureaucrats, however, are predisposed to be loyal to the bureaucracy above all, their instinct is to protect the Institution which stands in for a family.

    Not every priest would have to married to solve this problem, but having some of them to help thaw the isolationism and institutionalism…would greatly help.

    Married men may be no less likely to abuse, but they are more likely to report it when they find out about it (having children of their own) or, if not the men themselves, then their wives (who can serve as a great tool for keeping an eye on men and “domesticating” them).

  38. Yubbly says:

    “Without being grounded in families made up of the laity, the clergy is it’s own self-contained little social network and power structure. The loyalties of the men in a celibate all male institution are thus primarily homosocial and contained within the clergy itself.

    Married men’s first loyalty is usually to their families, their instinct is to protect their family. Institutional celibate bureaucrats, however, are predisposed to be loyal to the bureaucracy above all, their instinct is to protect the Institution which stands in for a family.”

    ah, now here is something useful.

    i dont necessarily agree with you oneros about making celibacy optional.

    but certainly a huge part of the problem was the fact that (as you say “structurally”) there is a tendency in an all male celibate institution for priest’s most powerful loyalties to lie exclusively within the priesthood itself.

    mandatory celibacy certainly is part of that, as the whole marital analogy tends to replace a family with the institution itself, though i dont think the only solution would be making it voluntary.

  39. Oneros says:

    “but certainly a huge part of the problem was the fact that (as you say “structurally”) there is a tendency in an all male celibate institution for priest’s most powerful loyalties to lie exclusively within the priesthood itself.”

    Exactly.

    And this is only exacerbated by a years-long re-socialization in the seminaries which serves to further strengthen inter-clerical ties while at the same time (in the name of “detachment”) distancing them from outside relationships. Moving priests after 5 years to a different parish doesn’t help either.

  40. Magpie says:

    Oneros, the issue of moving priests on after 5 years, and really crappy formation in the seminary are really fruits of the post-Vatican II era.

    This is not about the Catholic faith being broken and in need of replacement, this is about the Catholic Faith not being lived from the heart.

    David Quinn had a good piece in the Irish Independent:

    *Ignore critics — Church must be true to teachings
    By David Quinn*
    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/ignore-critics–church-must-be-true-to-teachings-2004600.html

  41. Dave N. says:

    Here a nice little Latin lament poem for y’all to ponder:

    Umbra cum videmus
    valles operiri,
    proximo debemus
    noctem experiri;
    sed cum montes videris
    et colles cum ceteris
    rebus obscurari,
    nec fallis nec falleris,
    si mundo tunc asseris
    noctem dominari.

    (Refrain)
    Libet intueri
    iudices ecclesie,
    quorum status hodie
    peior est quam heri.

    Carmina Burana 123, Stanza 2; c. 1250 A.D.

    Plus ça change….

  42. Oneros says:

    “really crappy formation in the seminary”

    I’d argue that the problem is the idea of “formation” in a seminary, period.

    Too often, since Trent at least, that has simply served to created an isolated clerical society separated from the rest of the Church, whose loyalties and incentives lie entirely within the structures of the clergy. Cut-off like that, of course they acted as they did when it comes to cover ups, secrecy, face-saving, etc

    “This is not about the Catholic faith being broken and in need of replacement, this is about the Catholic Faith not being lived from the heart.”

    Mandatory celibacy isnt part of the “the Catholic faith”. Neither are specific institutional social structures. Trying to “frame” it that way is disingenuous.

  43. Magpie says:

    As a priest once said in a sermon on a Scottish island, ‘Nobody forced me to become a priest.’ He then went on to talk about so-called ‘mandatory celibacy’. Nobody is forced into becoming a priest, and nobody is forced to be celibate. At the present time, a priest in the Latin Rite must ordinarily be celibate. I don’t think married priests would solve any of our problems. It is a reactionary band-aid solution.

    If there were married priests, you’d have a situation were a load of unsuitable imbeciles would line up for the cushy number that would be the married priesthood, plus you’d have a lot of failed priestly marriages, priests in an unacceptable state of sin, should they then seek to ‘re-marry’, oh and what about contraception? Would these newbie priests be up for Traditional Catholic moral teaching, or would they be more trendy? Plus you would have priestly families to keep – can you imagine having to pay for all that – the church has a hard enuff time paying its ways, are we the lay people ready to dig very deep into our pockets to pay for it and deal with all the fallout? Plus all the family problems etc… Plus the truly divided loyalties – the wife and children screaming ”you never spend time with us!” versus the faithful saying ”Father is always tied up with the wife and kids, no time for us!”

    No, I think married priests is the last thing we need. On a positive note, the spirituality of the priesthood is aided by the celibacy and the essential chastity which is inherent in it, or should be… Our Lord and St Paul both made this clear. The priest is a servant of the Church.

  44. Oneros says:

    “Nobody is forced into becoming a priest, and nobody is forced to be celibate.”

    Ha! No one is saying they are; quite the contrary, part of the problem is a high rate of sexual activity, with consenting adults, among these allegedly “celibate” priests.

    However, the way the priesthood is structured sociologically, the prioritization of relationships, the structure of the social “network” of the clergy…is such that priests most powerful bonds of loyalty and inter-personal incentives…lie entirely in the homosocial bonds with other clergy.

    Mandatory celibacy is just one factor contributing to this, but it is the big “structural” one, and ending it would be the most efficient systematic way to solve this and “break open” the Old Boys Club, to socially anchor our priests organically in larger society.

    We’d like to think people’s most powerful incentives lied with God and Right of course…but sociologically, for better or worse, it is well known that inter-personal relationships with concrete visible humans are much more influential on decisions than abstract ideological concerns.

    “you’d have a lot of…priests in an unacceptable state of sin,”

    More than is caused by breaking celibacy? Do some research yourself on the numbers.

    “oh and what about contraception?”

    What about it? That’s between him and his spiritual director or confessor. None of my business anymore than whether my priest today is masturbating. We’re not Donatists.

    “Plus you would have priestly families to keep”

    No. Because I think the whole notion of the priesthood as a full-time salaried position needs to be re-examined.

    I’ve shadowed some priests day-to-day. Trust me, they don’t do much. Or, rather, they can take on a lot if they have the motivation, but the minimum is very low (basically just their morning mass).

    It doesn’t take rocket science to read words out-loud from a book, pour water over babies, or smear oil on people.

    I think it is ridiculous that in order to maintain this “mandatory celibacy”…you have parishes that, 3 out 4 weeks a month, have a volunteer permanent deacon leading a “communion service” instead of Mass because there is no priest. But if that permanent deacon could lead a communion service…he could also say Mass. He’d just need a bishop to lay hands on him. He wouldnt have to take on any additional duties, he wouldn’t have to be paid. I mean, permanent deacons already do everything, the only difference is they have communion services instead of Mass, spiritually direct but can’t absolve, and can visit the sick and bring them communion, but not anoint them. Seems rather silly not to just give those men those 3 powers. And a “priest simplex” (who can’t preach or counsel) would need even less training than a permanent deacon.

    But that’s part of the paradigm they’re trying to preserve, obviously. The idea of the priesthood as a full-time salaried position. Because that’s how they make their livelihood. And mandatory celibacy is, again, a huge part of maintaining that conception of the priesthood in Catholics’ minds.