How willing is the Holy See to make necessary changes?

With a biretta tip to Damian  o{]:¬)   I found an editorial in the Daily Telegraph about the present controversy griping the Church.  

My emphases and comments:

Catholic Church has mishandled the paedophile cover-up furore

Telegraph View: The Pope has been prominent in the battle to expose child abusers, but the Vatican has not been able to maintain his tone.

Published: 7:45AM BST 05 Apr 2010

In his Easter address yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI made no direct mention of the row that has engulfed the Catholic Church over child abuse. [Nor should he have.] In truth, we know what he thinks of the scandal from his pastoral letter to Irish Catholics a fortnight ago. In a heartfelt statement of contrition, Pope Benedict spoke of "the shame and remorse that we all feel" towards the victims of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests dating back decades: "You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry… your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated." [That’s a lot!]

The apology was sincere and absolutely merited by the monstrous nature of the betrayal. [Without question, that is true: the apology was sincere and merited.] The Pope spoke from the heart [NB]  because he has been prominent in the battle to expose abusers and those who have protected them. [Indeed the Holy Father has lead the charge.  But he has also had to fight an uphill battle when it comes to keeping the process of change moving.]  It is unfortunate that the Vatican has not been able to maintain that tone. On Good Friday, the Pope’s personal preacher, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, likened the criticism being levelled at the Catholic Church over child abuse to the "collective violence suffered by the Jews". He later apologised. Meanwhile, the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, said during Easter Mass that the controversy amounted to "petty gossip".  [Is that the same Card. Sodano who was so earnest in promoting the Legionaries of Christ?  To a certain extent I agree with Card. Sodano: much of what is being thrown at the Church is petty.   But, there is a lot of blame to go around within the Church for bringing this on.  I think some people need to lose their positions.]

It is perhaps understandable for the Vatican to react so defensively, but it is hardly productive. [I think the Church has a right to defend herself from false accusations.  But if they are merited, then admissions have to be issued.] Closer to home, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, yesterday showed far greater sensitivity, talking of the Church’s shame while "acknowledging our guilt and our need for forgiveness".  [Isn’t that what Pope Benedict did?]

Repairing the damage caused by the child-abuse scandal will be a long process but cannot even start until the Vatican demonstrates the same determination to root out abuse – and the same penitence – as Pope Benedict himself has shown.   [And Benedict needs to demonstrate the willingness to root out those who have covered over or dodged charges of abuse.]

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  1. Ioannes Andreades says:

    The Church has to realize that it can’t play the victim card on this one. Refute falsehoods but no whining, speculating on conspiracies, etc.

    I hope that the Holy Father has the willingness to remove those who need removing. I read that Fr. Cantalamessa said that nobody at the Vatican had pre-read his homily. There has got to be some Madison Ave. p.r. firm able to help out here.

  2. The Egyptian says:

    I pray he has the ability to make “red ” heads roll as well as many Bishops, the Rot is deep and wide. Pray for the Pope to withstand the wolves

  3. Steve K. says:

    I may be intemperate, but here goes. I think the abuse crisis, as bad as it is, just a part of a deeper crisis in the Church, one that won’t get solved until those responsible are confronted and fought. The abuse crisis was abetted by clergy, clergy who for the most part have also proven to be enemies of the Faith as received and handed down by the Church. They have enervated the life of the Church and how many souls have been lost because of this? Even now the Pope is sabotaged, in this matter in and in many others. This cloud will hang over the Church until the orthodox, what remains of us, in Church leadership positions, actively take the field against the internal enemies of the Church. If they are left to do their work they will utterly destroy the name of the Church with devastating consequences for the efficacy of the Church’s witness. Souls are at stake.

    Pray for our Pope!

  4. DominiSumus says:

    There is a poll here which appears on the surface to be calling for Pope Benedict to resign. :-( The poll is halfway down on the right.

  5. peregrinPF says:

    Yes, we do need to clean house in some cases, but we also not be dhimmis to the Secularist plagues. They must be made to pay a price, using any legal means possible, for any and all defamations against the Church.

  6. Randii says:

    A good start would be removing Cardinal Law from oversight of one of Rome’s largest churches.

    Beyond that ITA with Andreades above – the whining, playing the victim and blaming the messenger by the church has to stop. Will it? Will bishops be removed? Sadly, I doubt it. Rome seems unable to act pro-actively on any of this.

  7. Timbot2000 says:

    Yeah! Let’s get the mea culpas over with, then let’s see the public schools system deal with this same issue (sound of crickets chirping)

  8. Timbot2000 says:

    I could name other august institutions with horrific patterns of sexual abuse, but these are the truly “holy” institutions of modern America, and are publicly above reproach.

  9. We do need to remain ever vigilant of course, and since we now know of weaknesses in the way things were handled in the past we need to make sure such weaknesses cannot be exploited ever again. However, I also believe we need to avoid looking for sacrificial victims to feed to the mob as well (one of the problems I have with Damien’s blog is that he seems [Though I could be misinterpreting him] to be willing to push Pope John Paul II in front of the media bus to protect Pope Benedict XVI without considering whether Pope John Paul II was also deceived).

    Yes there was a failure in the older procedures as it assumed the bishops would alert the Vatican of the accusations and not hide them.

    Also, I believe we need to be careful about apologizing for what needs to be apologized for, and not for taking offense.

    The anger during the past few weeks was not over the media reporting abuse cases, but rather attempting to claim Pope Benedict XVI knew and took part in coverups. We were *right* to be angry over this, and should not let the media off the hook for their smears while we clean up our messes.

  10. MWP says:

    Surely the Church has enough moral guidelines, developed over two thousand years, not to require any help from the outside in protecting itself from sodomites of all stripes?

    To me this reveals why the Church was so weakened by sin that she did not speak out (or only indistinctly and without much conviction) against the moral evils spreading through Western societies in the 1960s.

    Were it not for this epidemic of very grave sin (and other sins as well) which went undetected at that time through the Church and brought down so many of her members, I very much think the Church could have prevented abortion legislation in the US and Western Europe. The easy sellout of Western societies to an “individual” relativizing morality and the fact that some priests had a double (sinful) life are most likely linked. Living in grave sin and holding up a double standard undermines the conscience more than anything else and makes the person in question powerless do defend himself or others because he cannot avail himself of God’s help.

    The radical decline of the Church in Europe and the US is a fact. There are countries like the Netherlands which went from being nominally +/- 40% Catholic in the early 1960s to being ca. 1-0,5% practising Catholic or less now. Why? I’m inclined to see a connection there too and it makes me deeply sad.

    However, there is very definite potential for the good in your last paragraph, Fr. Z. Clearly, the mass media will weigh in on every verdict and every personal move in their attempts to instill a climate of division, fear, frustration and paranoia among Catholics.

    BTW, why is excommunication used so sparingly? In the Middle Ages it seems to have had (some) effect, and of course it can be lifted after the delinquent has made a pilgrimage to Rome or founded several churches or abbeys :)

    Greetings, Marcin

  11. southern orders says:

    The media anti-Catholic bias is blatant. I just watched a CNN report on how mad two Catholics who attended the papal Mass were that the pope said nothing. CNN said maybe he will. There was never any acknowlegment from CNN about the pope’s letter to Ireland that really said it all. This ommission is clearly an attempt to mislead those whose only news source is the liberal, anti Catholic media. Yes the pope needs to change canon law to guide and discipline priests and bishops in how to deal, report and clean our act up. Much needs to been done in all areas of Catholic life to shore up the authentic discipline and authority od the chorch. Auto excommunication for priests who commit these crimes would help as for pro-abortion Catholics ! Bishops too should face severe penalties for mis management and secrecy.

  12. amicus1962 says:

    The Pope cannot resolve the sexual abuse scandal without acting swiftly and decisvely to hold bishops accountable and removing them just as quickly if they are found to have failed in their duties. In many ways the sexual abuse scandal mirrors the scandal of liturgical abuses in the Church – the abuses will continue until the system that allowed the abuses to happen, from complicit bishops, homosexual vocations directors, apostate nuns who vetted incoming seminarians, to name a few, are removed and replaced. The Holy Father must have the courage to remove incompetent bishops.

  13. mdillon says:

    Too me it seems that this pontifical regime has already made changes when it published, in 2005, “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.”

    Ioannes Andreades is correct, it does the Church no good to be seen playing “the victim” in all this. It is insensitive to the victims of these predator priests (wolves in sheep clothing). One cannot even imagine the humiliation they must feel.

    I also agree with Randii, Cardinal Law should be asked to enter full retirement. The “clean sweep” of the Irish Conference of Bishops should be the model of clean up throughout the Universal Church. The term “clean sweep” is U.S. Navy’s model of getting rid ineffective or incompetent leadership; what happens is the Commanding Officer, Executive Office, and Command Master Chief are fired and sent out to pasture. We have some bishops that should be sent out to pasture.

    Nothing happens in a vacuum. I can’t help but ponder: save the liturgy, save the world, save the priesthood, save souls.

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    I agree. The Holy Father has been willing to call the corruption in the priesthood filth. He has been willing to stand up to the political correctness surrounding Islam. The Holy Father has carried through with freeing the traditional liturgy and seeing that proper translations are made for the English speaking world. These are all incredible acts of heroism. No one else had the courage to even begin to attempt these. Such heroism, coming from a small soft-spoken man. It should inspire awe rather than what it’s getting. For all of these acts of heroism we are very grateful.

    There is one major thing that remains: to clean the houses of the bishops. I agree that Cardinal Law was a symbol of all that went wrong with the bishops, regardless of his personal situation. The decision was made to remove him from Boston. Therefore the job must be finished and he must be retired to show that the Holy See means what it says. And then the job of cleaning house must begin in earnest.

    The Body of Christ has a main reason to exist; it has a primary mission on this earth. And that mission is not to allow people to do whatever they want uninhibited, regardless of how the common culture construes that. Rather, the mission is to complete salvation history and bring the world to its final destination and meaning: God. The church must be true to that over-riding mission and this is what must guide the process.

    Nobody ever said that being a Catholic was going to be a piece of cake. It’s something much better. It’s supposed to be.

  15. Brian K says:

    This might be a good time to re-release the 1961 Document, “Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders,” promulgated by the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for Religious on February 2, 1961 which stated “Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers”.


  16. catholicmidwest says:

    Yes Brian, but not without a simultaneous follow-up action. The Holy See releases papers all the time but they’re not taken seriously because they look like just more talk.

    The paper is an explanation for an action. No matter how sophisticated the audience (or not) the correspondence between explanation and action needs to be made clear if it’s re-released.

    I’m a mom and for a time, I taught 7th grade, among other grades. As a result, I learned something very valuable. You never threaten something you’re not prepared to do. The things you do should be proportional to their cause and ready to go when they’re needed. And that way you don’t always have to do them to get a result.

  17. Prof. Basto says:

    I believe two things must be distinguished:

    (1) Merited accusations directed against the Church for actual abuse that took place and actual failiure in repressing said abuse and in applying sanctions against abusers, including failiures to report cases of abuse to the police authorities of the State.

    (2) the slanderous campaign of defamation that directly targets the person of the Holy Father Pope Benedict, with the aim of fostering anti-Catholicism and of falsely portraying Pope Benedict as an enabler of abuse when in reality he has been since his days in the CDF at the forefront of the combat against abuse.

    Remember, the CDF became responsible for such cases (as the Holy Office once was) in 2001; in the mean time, due to changes in canon law, those cases were dealt with by the Roman Rota. Since the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sancitatis Tutela, Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict has taken the lead in rooting out abuse.

    So, I believe Cardinal Sodano’s address in support of the Holy Father is entirely appropriate because I understood it, and still understand it, as referring to the campaign of petty gossip directed against the Holy Father. That is, petty gosspip refers to the item (2) above, the spurious “alegations” that have surfaced in the media against Benedict XVI. Not to the actual cases of abuse (item 1, above).

    Today, the petty gossip against the person of the Holy Father continues. Quoting foreign sources and news agencies, one of my countries main newspapers ponders whether it is possible for Pope Benedict XVI to be arrested while in Great Britain, as General Pinochet was. They forget to mention what crimes against humanity the Pope is accused of having commited.

    So, we must distinguish. And Cardinal Sodano’s words (irrespective of his own personal merits, he is the Dean of the Sacred College, and, in his address yesterday, he rose to the occasion and to the institutional importance of his office) are in my opinion not targeted against situation (1), but against situation (2). That can be easily inferred from the fact that it was an adress in support of the person of the Holy Father, and of his leadership.

    So, the address is not supportive of abusers, or of enablers of abusers, but it is supportive of the Pope. Just because there is a legitimate griveance against abusers and those who covered things up, that is no excuse to allow a campaign of insults against the Vicar of Christ, aimed at destroying his moral leadership.

  18. Mrs McG says:

    I absolutely concur with what Prof. Basto says above. The sex abuse victims are not the only victims. Their victimization *is* particularly upsetting on many levels – causing harm to bodies, spirits, and souls of the individuals in question and to all those who love the victims. However, false attacks which scandalize and incite people to *violent* hatred of the Holy Father and the Church and the truth that She proclaims is also evil and pernicious. Maybe I’m wrong-headed in saying this, but I can’t help but think that the press has done more harm to souls inside and outside of the Church by their crisis-mongering than all the pedophiles and pederasts in the Church put together.

  19. jvicente says:

    These attacks on the Pope from the MSM are going to make it much more difficult for him to deal effectively with the Irish Bishops. any attempt on his part to “clean house” will be met with accusations of hypocrisy on his part. The MSM doesn’t really have any interest in the Church actually fixing its problems.

    That is why it is important for the Church not to play the “victim” but certainly to defend the record of the Pope on this issue.

  20. jvicente says:

    These attacks on the Pope from the MSM are going to make it much more difficult for him to deal effectively with the Irish Bishops. Any attempt by Benedict XVI to “clean house” will be met with accusations of hypocrisy on his part. The MSM doesn’t really have any interest in the Church actually fixing its problems.

    That is why it is important for the Church not to play the “victim” but certainly to defend the record of the Pope on this issue.

  21. catholicmidwest says:


    I think you’re right about that too.

    There are really 2 things here:
    a) the church and the media
    b) the church and its problems

    The media really doesn’t GET much about the church. They’re just looking for a story, and the more they can write, the happier they are. They’re still convulsing on Ireland because it’s so damn, well, picturesque. Irish Catholics and all that. On that front, we just need to hang tough and keep going. No whining, no apologizing, no trying to drag Hitler into the picture. When there’s nothing more to write on and the papers stop selling until they change topics, they’ll shut up.

    However, when the uproar dies down, the tendency among Catholics will be to go right back to where we were, which we cannot do or next time it will be far worse with the media, and it will be far worse for Catholics inside the church too in a separate way.

    Both issues have got to be dealt with, but we must do them wisely and be smart but honest about this.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    Mrs McG,

    Let’s not get carried away. The media is despicable but their motives are fairly shallow and self-serving; that’s one problem. But we have another real problem inside the church conjoined to that one. It’s deep and nasty and it needs to be dealt with.

    The sexual abuse aspects of it involve only a few % of clergy, but those few % touch thousands of people in one way or another. The conditions that made that few % possible touch even more people.

    It’s not simply that we can repel the media like so many pesky fruit flies and then go back to the picnic. There’s more to this than that.

  23. Henry Edwards says:

    catholicmidwest: There is one major thing that remains: to clean the houses of the bishops.

    Is it not clear that the present problems result not merely from administrative and managerial and public relations incompetence, but from the infestation and tolerance of apostasy and heresy at all levels in the Church?

    I have mentioned the item below several times, with little or no reaction.
    The Pope announced that a general “cleansing of the Vatican’s Augean stables” was underway. He had told priests, bishops and Cardinals of the Church that if they were not prepared to renounce the heretical beliefs which had become so much a part of their nature, they must step down and leave the Church. He had reminded them that by the grace of God and prayers to His Holy Mother and despite the long dark night of crisis which had obtained for over forty years, a quiet miracle had been taking place. A growing group of young priests steeped in tradition and loyal to the Magisterium was now spread around the world. Should it be necessary they would be made Bishops and Cardinals in record time to replace those who had fallen away.

    If not this, what? If not now, when?

  24. shane says:

    Richard Dawkins:

    “Priestly abuse of children is nowadays taken to mean sexual abuse, and I feel obliged, at the outset, to get the whole matter of sexual abuse into proportion and out of the way. Others have noted that we live in a time of hysteria about pedophilia, a mob psychology that calls to mind the Salem witch-hunts of 1692… All three of the boarding schools I attended employed teachers whose affections for small boys overstepped the bounds of propriety. That was indeed reprehensible. Nevertheless, if, fifty years on, they had been hounded by vigilantes or lawyers as no better than child murderers, I should have felt obliged to come to their defense, even as the victim of one of them (an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience).

    The Roman Catholic Church has borne a heavy share of such retrospective opprobrium. For all sorts of reasons I dislike the Roman Catholic Church. But I dislike unfairness even more, and I can’t help wondering whether this one institution has been unfairly demonized over the issue, especially in Ireland and America… We should be aware of the remarkable power of the mind to concoct false memories, especially when abetted by unscrupulous therapists and mercenary lawyers. The psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has shown great courage, in the face of spiteful vested interests, in demonstrating how easy it is for people to concoct memories that are entirely false but which seem, to the victim, every bit as real as true memories. This is so counter-intuitive that juries are easily swayed by sincere but false testimony from witnesses.”

    (The God Delusion, pp. 315-16)

  25. Brian2 says:

    Its not clear to me why people are assuming that the current attacks on the church and the Holy Father weaken his hand in dealing with bishops. Arguably, the constant demand in the media that the Pope “do something” and hold people acountable give him carte blanche (from a p.r. perspective) to clean house. It would be easier to remove a German, Irish or Dutch bishop now then it would have been a year ago.

  26. meherbaba says:

    I find that it is extremely difficult to get accurate information. I read this morning (I am summing up) that 4,392 priests abused 10,677 children between 1950 and 2002 and that a further 3,091 priests and 4,568 victims have been identified from 2004 through 2009. My questions would be : How many of those priests had reports made about them before 2002? How many had been sent to therapy and then offended again? How many were dead when accusations were first made against them? I sometimes think that all forty five year old men in the country could step forward and claim to have been molested by a priest and they would be believed. Since about 2.6 billion has been paid out I see a huge potential for fraud. Beyond the accusation being made, how is it determined what happened often decades ago?

  27. Mrs McG says:

    Perhaps the media’s *motives* are shallow (but, I honestly don’t think they are – and, they are tools for the devils motives), but the effects on individuals within society, their perception of the Church and Catholics is not shallow. It keeps people from investigating the Church as the source of salvation and incites people to revile what is holy. Those are some pretty devastating effects.

  28. Bornacatholic says:

    … Church has mishandled the paedophile cover-up…

    Homosexual priests sexually assaulting young adolescent males constituted the vast percentage of abuse cases and unless the Catholic Church stops using the categories of the Media, the problem will continue to me mis-identified by the public.

    Every time the media uses “pedophile” is a teaching moment- if the Church has the courage.

    I think the Pope should, publicly, continue to do what he has been doing. And sacking Bishops will not mollify the press for a moment. That would only be feeding the beast.

    The “house cleaning” can be accomplished in the funeral rite. Where the emphasis must be is on identifying solid, orthodox, heterosexual males capable of discharging the awesome responsibilities of the Bishopric.

    We will just have to weather these storms.

    Telling the world to go to Hell would be a good first step = followed by a total focus in the Church on Mass, the Sacraments, and Catechesis.

  29. catholicmidwest says:


    You’re quoting from a dramatic story. The pope’s not likely to come out and say such sensational stuff; it tips his hand, for one thing. What’s really needed is something far more prosaic, a good classic sophisticated corporate reorg. Stated reason? Not doctrinal, but designed to increase efficiency and lower cost. Real reason? Same, but also to adhere more closely to the church’s essential reason for being. (easy enough to gloss if you’re pressed by your problem children, but real)

    I think we do have a moral panic situation here, not because nothing happened, but because less happened sexually than many people think. I don’t for a minute think that some priests prowled the corridors of seminaries every day and did nothing else. I think some things happened during the course of events that shouldn’t have happened. But many people, particularly non-catholic people, lock onto anything wrong because they can’t get over the idea that the Catholic church had anything like this going on. The truth of the matter is that most Catholics don’t spend much time thinking of themselves as members of the church with the stigmatists and nuns dressed in black & white, but non-catholics do. To them, we’re some kind of awesomely strange creature, either steeped in mysticism and dirty poor people in Calcutta or delving into some deep somnolent evil. The confession sequences in popular films are symbolic of this. They’re wonderful when they’re not downright funny.
    There is evidence that we have falsely accused priests, and that blame is sometimes not being correctly attributed. That’s part of any moral panic, but this is not like the daycare panics. There were no children abused there.

    I agree. I would think that Benedict would realize that “it’s a shame to waste a crisis,” to use a phrase from American politics. I doubt that the news media would be satisfied with the ouster of Cdl Law, but I don’t see how they could complain much after all the carping they’ve done about him. I would suggest though, that we let the current BS burden die down before doing much of anything like that. The media, remember, is really all about selling papers and they need another topic as their day to day favorite for a while.

    Some of these were real. Never doubt that. The question is how many were real, especially in the newest number there, which seems very high to me.

  30. “Father Raniero Cantalamessa, likened the criticism being levelled at the Catholic Church over child abuse to the ‘collective violence suffered by the Jews.’ He later apologised.”

    Big mistake. No, not sharing his Jewish friend’s commentary, but apologizing for it. Apologizing when NOT merited isn’t… well, meritorious.

    If the media and the ADL want an apology for Fr. Cantalamessa’s remarks, they can damn well form a mob and head out into the countryside with flaming torches knocking on doors until they find the mensch who wrote the letter and bring him to justice.

    Please… it’s not like the man was making an incredibly nuanced point anyway. Collective guilt… antisemitism… the current problem in the Church… It makes perfect sense to anyone who didn’t walk through the door with an axe to grind. But then that’s the problem, isn’t it? And so apologizing to the mob does way more harm than good.

  31. Dave N. says:

    Too me it seems that this pontifical regime has already made changes when it published, in 2005, “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.”

    The question is, is this document being followed? Particularly in many order seminaries, I would say no, not really. There’s more to making changes than issuing documents, although it can be a very a good start. Just as was the case in the Notre Dame scandal, the Church needed to move beyond words, but didn’t. People need to be fired sometimes–and that means removed from the payroll, not simply their position.

  32. AnAmericanMother says:

    “Never apologize, never explain.” – Dr. Jowett of Balliol

    Just pitch in and clean house. Let them howl.

    I will add that I am about as certain as I can be that a significant number of these claims (especially those asserted very late) are either ‘recovered memory’ or outright fraudulent. It is a sad fact of legal life that highly publicized cases attract crooked lawyers and the sort of folks who patronize them.

    I was personally involved in one case back when a law firm I worked for represented the local rapid transit company. One of their buses was involved in a collision on Peachtree Street while it was out of service and returning to the garage (and hence empty of passengers). The wreck was in the papers. Within two weeks the company had over a hundred claims from folks who said they were passengers on that bus. Sting!

    This is a more severe and scandalous situation, obviously, but the profit motive is the same and arguably more tempting, especially in view of the lapse of time, faded memories, dead witnesses/perpetrators, and the mass media hysteria.

    If there aren’t a few spurious claims out there, it would be the first time in legal history that somebody wasn’t tempted to cash in on a pretty safe bet.

  33. Henry Edwards says:

    catholicmidwest: The pope’s not likely to come out and say such sensational stuff; it tips his hand, for one thing.

    Of course not. Nor should he. Words without action are meaningless. We need the action, not the words. I took the purpose of the “dramatic story” to be to suggest in a vivid manner the kind of action — a general house-cleaning — the author thought necessary to restore the faith and liturgy of the Church.

  34. catholicmidwest says:

    Mrs McG,

    This is not about dragging people into the church who can’t give their heart, soul and MIND to the undertaking. The days when we were out trying to coerce people into a “painless” church with our “modern stuff” are over. In truth, as many go out the back as come in the front when we behave like that. It’s over. Consider it an experiment from the 70s, a modernist panic about losing some kind of headcount race, an experiment in protestant evangelization techniques which Catholics never did comprehend and still don’t.

    As the granddaughter of a protestant minister, I can assure you there are a million church outfits out there seeking to impress people with their “niceness.” “Nice” isn’t enough.

    We will convert people when we stand up and be most truly ourselves as Catholics, when we understand our own identity and purpose. The church is about her mission, her clarity and her destiny which is her relationship with God.

    Also, you know, for some people becoming Catholic can be a long trip. Part of that trip can be exploring what holy might mean. That search loses its meaning if people always insist that it has to be polite and circumspect. Having to hash out what’s holy and what’s not isn’t a bad thing for prospective converts. Perhaps that’s why God permits it?

  35. muckemdanno says:

    First, I fully agree with Brian2…the Pope now (apparantly) has every excuse to clean house. Which raises the question…why does he not? Is he powerless to do anything about it? Given what has happened throughout all areas of the Church over the last 50 years, it would seem so. Rome issues document after document commanding all sorts of things – which are immediately and permanently ignored.

    Second, I am confused over the Pope’s “apology.” He says “I am truly sorry” What is he sorry for? If he personally has done nothing wrong, (which, it seems to me, he has not) then he should not apologize. Is this simply an expression of communal guilt…that Catholics in general are guilty of this, and he is apologizing on our behalf? Is it an expression of sympathy for the victims of abuse which could be given also to the victims of a flood or an earthquake…”I am sorry that this happened to you”. If so, it’s not really an “apology.”

    I would like to know how y’all are reading this.

  36. catholicmidwest says:

    The way I read it is this:

    He’s saying he’s sorry in the stead of all the hapless dorks standing behind him shuffling papers and mumbling about the third reich. He’s saying he’s sorry for all the fat guys in red who did stupid things and don’t have the sense & class to own up to it. This is sort of like apologizing for your dog as he runs through the flower patch, you understand. If you don’t do it, people think you don’t care about their flowers or their feelings. So you wave your hand at the dog, who’s oblivious, apologize for his behavior and then go on to the next thing.

    I’m sure he didn’t do anything and so there’s nothing for him to apologize for personally. He may think it’s a shame that no one could put the CDF control of the situation into place faster. He may think it’s a shame that it had to wait so long because others didn’t believe it could be happening. But I don’t think he personally has anything to apologize for–he’s done FAR more than anyone to fix this mess.

    As for me, he can’t apologize for me anyway-I’d have to do that *IF* I had done anything to apologize for. I haven’t, like most other laypeople haven’t. Most priests haven’t, for that matter.

    And I think he needs to stop apologizing now and let the media move on. If the media wants to see it again, they can play their little videotapes.

  37. Mrs McG says:

    Catholicmidwest, have you read the comments people are writing in response to these news stories? The people who are hurt by the general vitriolic sentiments that are rising and expressed everywhere are not the haters writing the comments, but honest, simple-minded individuals who might be put off by what they are led to believe is a bad and corrupt institution. Being inculcated with the notion that the Church is filled with evil and is just corrupt through and through is an obstacle to investigation into the Faith.

    Sure, it’s not an obstacle that cannot be overcome, certainly, but not everyone is a “critical self-thinker,” and that’s actually okay. There are simple but potentially devout souls all over the world who will be inhibited by these *false* reports. I’m not advocating a “niceness” Church by any means. But I’m saying it’s not necessarily just time for us to go beating our corporate breasts, but to stand up and DEFEND the Church. Sure, acknowledge what is evil and scandalous, but always and everywhere stand up *without apology* for what the Church truly is.

    Make no mistake, the general sentiments that are being stoked will have drastic effects on our lives as Catholics in the public square and in trying to effect laws that protect the kinds of morality that the Catholic Church is the last one standing to defend.

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    He may also be saying, “I’m sorry this happened to you,” because Pope Benedict is a very kind and engaging man who rues evil wherever it appears and is truly sorry when people are hurt. Some people were hurt by the abuse. Some of us are hurt by the notoriety in the press. We’ve had a lot of frank conversation just in this blog about faith and what these things mean to us. It’s hard to see the church beat up in public. It’s very sad.

    Please allow him to be the kind but brilliant man he is. It does no good to second guess his every breath. We will get through this, and the media will run out of steam soon.

  39. catholicmidwest says:

    Probably, you’re right about the repercussions of this, Mrs. McG. But that may not be something we can help much. Defend the church if you can, but realize that this isn’t 1945 and I ain’t Bing Crosby. That world is gone, gone, gone. The church has seen crises this severe, and worse before, and we got through them with the help of God. We will again.

    What people may think of us is not the reason we exist as Catholics. To think that it is, is a very Protestant notion.

    Another thing: Always remember that God does the converting, not us. He’s got this under control even if we don’t. Even if it’s bad, there will be some good come of it, somehow.

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    Mrs McG,

    I think the coverage is dying down. I went out and looked and I had to dig for the Catholic stories. I don’t know what you’re looking at, but some non-Catholics always say things about us like that. Maybe always-Catholics whose family members and friends are always-Catholics aren’t used to hearing it, I guess.

  41. Jacob says:

    In 2005 when Benedict became Pope, there was an expectation that he would clean house in the Curia with new appointments and certain reorganizations.

    1. Remove certain curial officials (namely Sodano and Re among others) promptly and replace them with men who could be counted on to effect the Pope’s agenda. This has not happened. Sodano hung out more than a little while before being replaced. Marini the Papal MC was also held over for a few years to continue his liturgical magic. Re is /still/ in office as prefect of Bishops, as is Kasper at Promoting Christian Unity. The big appointments that have been made have been largely disappointing. Bertone is more interested in travel than running State (which is still resisting the agenda of Benedict) and Hummes at Clergy is little heard from. Levada has been the most effective, but minding the store at CDF while the former prefect is now Pontiff wouldn’t be that difficult anyway.

    2. Reorganize the Vatican’s communication arms for the 21st century. This has been hit and miss at best. A new editor was put in at L’Osservatore Romano to ‘modernize’ the paper, but the paper’s positions, especially regarding the US bishops, abortion and Obama, have proven to be less than helpful. Father Lombardo at the Press Office replaced Navarro Valls to little effect. As the sermon at the Easter Vigil showed, a tone deafness continues, leaving the Vatican’s PR to be non-existent. There is also the continuing major problem of not expediting translations of the Pope’s works.

    Five years later, those who expect the Pope to take a firm hand administratively to the bishops need to resign themselves to the fact that even the Curia hasn’t been cleaned up yet.

  42. Mrs McG says:

    Catholicmidwest – I am friends with lots of folks who aren’t Catholic, and I read a lot of com-boxes even when Catholics are not “in season.” Yes, there will always be people who say such things – but it is getting more widespread and more acceptable to say outrageous, evil hateful things about the Church that would be considered “hate crimes” in some countries if said of Jews. Seriously.

    When my home state was debating the question of gay marriage – before this recent wave of attacks heated up – the mantra was “the Catholic Church is corrupt and evil – it protects pedophile priests.” I was praying outside an abortion clinic one Good Friday when an older man walked past us as we were praying the Rosary and hissed in a mocking tone: “Beware of your priestssssss.” These stories have far-reaching, long-lasting effects.

  43. catholicmidwest says:

    I don’t like this age any more than you do, Mrs McG, but it’s not up to you or I to choose these things. The world has changed in style and tone and is changing yet. It’s in God’s hands. We can only do the best we can.

    I can remain Catholic and gently laugh off the superstitions of my non-catholic friends, family and colleagues. I’ll bet you can too. The rest will have to be in God’s hands.

  44. jm says:

    Gee. Maybe, just maybe, the Pope could remove active homosexuals from positions as bishops. Maybe, just maybe, he could defrock Weakland.

    Or, not. After all, it is the curia we are talking about, right? Why have standards. Why make waves. Let’s just issue letters. Politics reigns. Give me one Post V2 Pope who has the balls to really and truly let heads roll. Ratzinger has yet to prove that man. Kung is still a priest. What parents excuse in moderation, children will allow in excess.

  45. Mrs McG says:

    Catholicmidwest – at this point, I no longer recall your original point in response to my original post. I’m simply saying that we cannot afford to hang our heads as though we are embarrassed for the Church. We are the Church Militant – and this is a battle for souls. The world and the devil have just launched an offensive. We can’t afford to sit down and just be humble and accepting; we must meet the challenge and defend the Church and our Holy Father. We can’t control the media or all the attacks on the Church, but we can and should try to ameliorate the harm done with our prayers and our witness – and be prepared for the consequences the recent attacks will have on our lives as individuals.

  46. catholicmidwest says:

    Mrs McG,

    I think we’re talking past each other. By all means, we shouldn’t be apologizing for things we didn’t do. By all means, we shouldn’t accept insults hurled at the Holy Father because he’s innocent. Of course, we should be praying and acting like Catholics, as we always should.

    But panic isn’t necessary. The Church is much, much stronger in crisis than she is in peace. [This is a good thing, because as we’ve seen, in peace she’s a wimp. People get what they want in peace and it makes them complacent and corrupt. Catholics don’t usually act like Catholics in peace.] The Church does her finest work when it looks like all hell has broken loose. Think about our history. Think about tradition. It’ll be okay. Honest.

    In the US, the mass media is everything, yes? No. The world is changing by the minute and we’ll see what happens next. No panic. It inhibits using one’s head. ;)

  47. PostCatholic says:

    The Pope’s apology to the people of Ireland was sincere and heartfelt, and more than I’ve seen from any other bishop. I applaud most of it, but it totally and completely failed to take any responsibility for the Vatican. As Sinead O’Connor pointed out, his letter implies that sexual abuse by the Irish clergy was an Irish problem. Think what you’d like of O’Connor, but her point is quite fair.

    It’s well documented now that as Cardinal Ratzinger, the Pope was immensely frustrated with the slow (neglectful!) pace of the Vatican response and worked toward better justice. It would also be incredible to think that between ad limina visits to Rome, the work of the nunciature in Dublin, the communication between Ireland and the Vatican’s dicasteries and tribunals, that Rome was not aware of serious problems. An apology for that inaction (at best) or complicity (at worst) ought to be forthcoming.

  48. catholicmidwest says:

    It may well have been an Irish problem, PostCatholic. Much of ours was a distinctively American problem.

    Before Pope Benedict was Pope John Paul II, who did not believe in the scope of the problem because of the evil he had seen in Poland during Communist occupation. Sad but true. And, at least in the states, sometimes it is said that there is a de facto schism and in some ways there is. Is Ireland the same way?

  49. catholicmidwest says:

    There’s been a bit of a standoff between the USCCB and the Holy See for years. It’s not like you can choke any useful information out of the USCCB, and some bishops still hide among its skirts. It’s a mess, although it’s been a bigger mess than it is now.

    [I forgot. You’re here, Pennsylvania, right? You keep talking about Ireland so I keep slipping and putting you there. Sorry.]

  50. Dave N. says:

    We can’t afford to sit down and just be humble and accepting.

    Seems like we talked about someone like this last Friday.

    To the extent the Church is being accused falsely, it will be blessed:

    “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.”

    To the extent the Church is being accused rightly, repentance and corrective action must quickly follow. We only need worry if the accusations are true.

  51. catholicmidwest says:

    Although, PostCatholic, if someone accidentally landed me in Ireland tonight, I wouldn’t mind much. ;) It’s spring.

    You’re 100% right, Dave N.

  52. Steve K. says:

    “I can remain Catholic and gently laugh off the superstitions of my non-catholic friends, family and colleagues. I’ll bet you can too. The rest will have to be in God’s hands.”

    There’s nothing funny about this catholicmidwest, and sooner or later when this leads (not if, when) to deaths you’ll have little to laugh about. The ground is being prepared for martyrs, which, while definitely working to the glory of God, is anything but a laughing matter.

    People need the Church now more than ever. Modern Western culture is a path to Hell, and this crisis is closing the ears of many to a message they desperately need.

  53. catholicmidwest says:

    So what are you going to do on this spring night, Steve K? Go into a dirge?

    It is what it is. The truth is that the Church does her best work in times of crisis. There is truly no reason for panic. Does this mean people will never get hurt? Of course not. But we are mortal; there never were any guarantees that life would be perfect or easy, or end for anyone and everyone snug in their little beds. Any one of us could be hit by a bus tonight. Just like that.

    This may be difficult for people used to the homogeneity of American life, but the world is changing and changing fast, and not for the better. This is true for non-Catholics as well as Catholics.

    Just remember: We are not the only generation that ever lived. This is not the only time that ever was. This is not the only dangerous situation that ever came about. Yes, you’ve been told that all your life; you believe that; it’s the American yell. YET: The power of Herod is gone. The power of Caesar after Caesar is gone. Hitler and Stalin and Mao are all dead and gone. All dead; all defeated. The church lives on, and so she shall til the end of time. And you will too, heaven hell or purgatory, or do you not believe that either?

    About the closing of ears: You are not the judge of souls. God knows what goes on in every soul and he can effect what is to be done. I’m content to let him place people in the right time in history, the right place in the world and to watch over them as he sees fit. I do what I can to help certainly, but I’m not going to burst into a dirge. No reason to do so. And it wouldn’t help. You can’t convert someone with a sledge hammer.

  54. Maltese says:

    Liberalism and pederasty was brewing in the Church before Vatican II. The Severin movement in Paris comes immediately to mind; based in the oldest early medieval church in Paris. There was even a series of books written, itchin for “freedom”! Ala woodstock!

    This was the late 40’s and early 50’s.

    Of course there was clamoring throughout Europe and the Catholic world (as there was throughout the world in general.)

    There was just such a “feel-good” mentality during the late 1950’s, that even the Pope couldn’t resist it; and like a swarm, the liberal peritii took-over Bl. John XXIII’s good-intentions, to the point where even Paul VI cried at the happenings.

    But, as a Pope. sans your Tiera, what do you do? Bereft of authority, all you have left is tears.

    Now we are living through the deluge of sin unleashed by the “spirit of Vatican II.”

    No doubt Vatican II has some extremely profound words, wrought by some of the good peritii, but the vast body of the documents bespeak of irrelevant confusion.

    So, are Hindus really on a “loving, trusting flight towards God.” (God being capitalized in the early version,) or are they infinitely confused until they embrace the Only One True God?

    These ambiguities permeate and inundate the documents. I have scoured these documents, and they really are full of ambiquities, and false praise for, for example, the Muslims. These documents speak so highly of the heresy of Mohamedism you would almost think it a sister religion!

    I have a good friend who was born Muslim, but the sweet succor the documents of Vatican II give to Muslims almost give to us a new religion of undo ecumenism, since our forebears resisted, and fought-tooth-and-nail from Muslims taking over Europe, especially Spain. This gives me pause at the true intentions of the liberal peritii (who wrote these documents, mind you; there weren’t theologians–in the proper sense–or scholastics writing these document,) since Muslims deny the possibility of a Triune God, think of Christ as a mere prophet, and advocate Jihad.

    Clearly, Vatican II is incorrect in saying we, Catholics, worship the same God, since Muslims, by definition, worship a god that could never be Triune:

    *In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
    Say (O Muhammad) He is God the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone.*

    The above is the Muslim understanding of God, directly quoted from the Koran.

    Christ is the only Begotten Son of God.

    So, to say that Muslims worship the same God as Catholics is a Sacrilege; yet, this is one of the many mistakes in the documents of Vatican II, since Vatican II emphatically states that Catholics and Muslims worship the same God.

    Now, this is NOT to disparage the other wonderful passages of Vatican II, but just to point out one incongruity.

    Now, here’s my challenge; prove me if I’m wrong, and I shall rejoinder!

    I love a good debate!

  55. Mrs McG says:

    You know, Catholicmidwest, I think you haven’t a full grasp on this beautiful spring night of what this all really means. It makes for great heroic and pietistic talk, but the ugliness of what awaits us is real. I think it’s difficult to imagine properly from our cozy homes while we type away on our laptops while sitting in easy chairs. It’s one thing to think of our own deaths this way, but will we really be so glib and brave when the persecution comes to people around us – our holy priests, our loved ones? It’s never a time for panic. Our Lord told us not to fear. But it is a time for grim sobriety and earnest spiritual preparation.

  56. Prof. Basto says:

    Necessary changes?

    Take a look at that! Los Angeles has a new Coadjutor Archbishop, and he comes from the Opus Dei and is a friend of Tradition:

    Il Santo Padre ha nominato Arcivescovo Coadiutore dell’Arcidiocesi di Los Angeles (U.S.A.) Sua Eccellenza Reverendissima Monsignor José Horacio GÓMEZ, finora Arcivescovo di San Antonio.

    S.E. Mons. José Horacio GÓMEZ

    S.E. Mons. José H. Gómez è nato a Monterrey (Messico) il 26 dicembre 1951. Ha conseguito il Baccalaureato in Filosofia e un Diploma in Public Accountancy presso la National University di Monterrey in Messico nel 1975. Ha quindi studiato Teologia all’Università di Navarra in Spagna, dove ha ottenuto il Dottorato in Teologia nel 1980.

    È stato ordinato sacerdote della Prelatura dell’Opus Dei il 15 agosto 1978.

    Negli anni 1978-1980 ha prestato servizio pastorale in un centro giovanile dell’Opus Dei in Spagna. Dal 1980 al 1987 ha insegnato in un Collegio e in una Scuola Superiore in Messico ed ha anche lavorato come responsabile per la gioventù nel decanato di Fatima della diocesi di Monterrey (1985-1987). Dal 1987 è in Texas, risiedendo soprattutto nella diocesi di Galveston-Houston. Ha svolto il ministero pastorale sia nelle opere della Prelatura sia come aiuto in qualche parrocchia. Nel 1999 è diventato Vicario della Delegazione del Texas della Prelatura dell’Opus Dei. Inoltre, dal 1991 è membro dell’Associazione Nazionale dei Sacerdoti Ispanici ed ha ricoperto per due volte la carica di Presidente.

    Nominato Vescovo titolare di Belali ed Ausiliare di Denver (Colorado) il 23 gennaio 2001, ha ricevuto l’ordinazione episcopale il 26 marzo successivo. Dal 2001 al 2003 è stato Rettore della Cattedrale dell’Immacolata Concezione a Denver e dal 2004 Parroco della Mother of God Parish a Denver e Moderatore della Curia diocesana.

    Il 29 dicembre 2004 è stato nominato Arcivescovo di San Antonio. È Membro di numerosi Comitati della Conferenza Episcopale e Presidente del “Committee on Migration” e del “Task Force on the Spanish Language Bible”

  57. Bornacatholic says:

    So, to say that Muslims worship the same God as Catholics is a Sacrilege; yet, this is one of the many mistakes in the documents of Vatican II, since Vatican II emphatically states that Catholics and Muslims worship the same God.

  58. Dymphna says:

    Thank you so much for this, Fr. Z. It is heartening to hear from someone more traditional, that the Pope must root out those who participated in the cover up(s) and that some people must lose their positions. We need to step back and look at this crisis realistically. If nothing substantial is done, then calls for women priests and the like, as a “cure” for this, will continue. The men who are in charge need to prove these people wrong!

  59. Maltese says:


    Thomas Aquinas wrote an entire piece to those evangelizing Muslim Spain:

    De rationibus fidei contra Saracenos, Graecos et Armenos ad Cantorem Antiochenum

    In it he writes this:

    Fides autem christiana principaliter consistit in confessione santae Trinitatis, et specialiter gloriatur in cruce Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

    Belief in God IS belief in Jesus Christ. The Torah allowed for this belief, the Koran does not.

    So, the two links you posted are both illogical in their drawn conclusions. They assume that just because Vatican II and Pope John Paul II said something, it must be true. But they (as well as VII and JPII) provide no reasons we should accept their conclusions.

    Jimmy Akin (I man I otherwise admire) dances around the topic, and he says we can agree on, say three of six attributes of God, and still believe in the same God. This is ludicrous from a logical perspective. When it comes to God, *Iota Unum*.

    Muslims utterly reject the idea of, or the possibility of a Triune God. But say, for argument’s sake, that the Green Frog God religion believed in One God, who is perfect in every way, derives from Abraham, is all merciful etc., but believes that God is a giant Frog on a leap-pad in the sky, and that Jesus is the son of the Frog God, conceived in an egg. As absurd as that is, that is more commendable than the utter rejection of a Triune God. So, some Catholics may laugh at my Frog God example, while accepting the idea that Catholics and Muslims worship the same God, but what is the difference?

    Jesus said that those who reject Him reject the Father.

  60. catholicmidwest says:

    Mrs G,

    I do think I have as much as a grasp on this awful idea as anyone. I’ve read extensively about the personal experiences of Jews during the Holocaust, a fascinating topic. But I also think that there’s not much you can do about it either way and going into a big funk isn’t going to help. This is what history teaches.

    Whether it happens or not, it will be in God’s hands either way. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen as you think, okay?

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