What to keep in mind about the Arizona case which is revving up


“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”

Maybe you are hearing about another case in Arizona of a long process/trial of a priest who abused children.  Once again, the media and others are trying to use this long and drawn out canonical process as a flail with which to beat the Pope.

  • Again, the abuse took place decades ago.
  • He was suspended.
  • There was a canonical trial.It was referred to Rome, the CDF, because it concerned a case of the confessional.
  • It was determined that he should be dismissed from the clerical state.
  • The priest appealed.
  • The appeal process was drawn out for several years because the laws and canonical process of these clerical cases was being overhauled.
  • Card. Ratzinger was the one who led the charge for the changes to streamline the process.
  • When the new procedures went into effect, the Holy See moved swiftly to dismiss him from the clerical.
  • Once again this is a case of lawyers for victims who gave the documents (obviously incomplete) to the Associated Press.

Great, huh?

This is very much like the pattern of the case in Milwaukee.

We have this also from an AP story:

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, called the accusations "absolutely groundless" and said the facts were being misrepresented.

He said the delay in defrocking Teta was caused by a hold on appeals while the Vatican changed regulations over its handling of sex abuse cases. In the meantime, he said, cautionary measures were in place; Teta had been suspended since 1990.

"The documents show clearly and positively that those in charge at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith … have repeatedly intervened actively over the course of the 90s so that the canonic trial under way in the Tucson diocese could dutifully reach its conclusion," Lombardi said in a statement.

What is the other side of the issue saying?  Just try to wrap your head around this profoundly stupid statement.

"The tragedy is that the bishops have only two choices: Follow the Vatican’s code of secrecy and delay, or leave the church," [?!?] Cadigan, the victims’ lawyer, said Friday. "It’s unfortunate that their faith demands that they sacrifice children to follow the Vatican‘s directions."


And there is this…

"There’s no doubt that Ratzinger delayed the defrocking process of dangerous priests who were deemed ‘satanic’ by their own bishop," Lynne Cadigan, an attorney who represented two of Teta’s victims, said Friday. …

… In a signed letter dated June 8, 1992, Ratzinger advised Moreno he was taking control of the case, according to a copy provided to the AP from Cadigan, the victims’ attorney. Five years later, no action had been taken.

Okay… we know why Cardinal Ratzinger’s office took the case: it involved the confessional.  We know why there was a delay: the decision of the CDF had been appealed and appeals were suspended while the procedures were reworked.

I think a person can reasonably ask why it took several years for the Vatican to overhaul the procedure.  That is a reasonable question.  

But what the MSM won’t report – don’t want to report – is that Cardinal Ratzinger was the one leading the charge to get the process overhauled… when he was not Pope.  He couldn’t snap his fingers and make people jump.  The Holy See has layers to work through just like ever bureaucracy.  And not everyone at every level agrees with what should be done.

Keep your eye’s open, people. 

Watch for who coughed up the "evidence" to the press.

This is the same old thing repeated.   

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”

Adolf Hitler (from the chapter "War Propaganda" in Mein Kampf)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. catholicmidwest says:

    It’s true that the news media is going on and on without their facts–this time. It’s also true that they have it in for us. But it’s also true that the Vatican moves far too slowly and people get away with too much malarkey.

    That malarkey includes appeals to convictions of child abuse, but it also includes liturgical abuse and all the rest of it. The Vatican is far too slow to act when it has plenty enough information to move. People there need their levels of concern raised.

  2. Thomas G. says:

    It strikes me that the swirl of indignation around these cases is fueled by one central confusion: the difference between suspending a priest from engaging in ministry (which I believe a Bishop can do) and laicization of a priest (which I believe only a Congregation can do after a canonical trial).

    I believe a local Bishop can suspend a priest and remove him from contact with children if there are credible accusations against him. If I am correct, then that is the nub of the issue, not his laicization. And those suspensions are at the discretion of the Bishop, not the Vatican.

    If I am wrong, somebody correct me.

  3. spesalvi23 says:

    So, is now every possible mistake/delay/stoppage, due to slow movements in various admin sectors of the Vatican of the last 30 years going to be blamed on one person?! When that one person was the one initiating the change and streamlining the processes!?

    I assume the processes related to sexual offenders were optimized and made more efficient in 2001 – after responsibility had finally been shifted.

    I must say they’re getting a bit desperate. It’s just become pathetic! The latest ‘cases’ haven’t even been mentioned in the extremely hostile to ‘our’ Pope German media!
    Whoever, with only half a brain, is going to buy into their smear campaign??!

    With the words of Ross Perot: “Now, that’s just sad!!”

    Sorry, but those lawyers… have they received any type of basic education, which normally includes the basics about the major world Religions? I thought you had to be halfway intelligent to become lawyer?!

    Christus Vincit Christus Regnat Christus Imperat

  4. doanli says:

    Praying for Pope Benedict and our priests!

    As I have said, the press will have a lot to answer for to God.

  5. Lurker 59 says:

    I would suggest that we do not forget that dismissal from the clerical state is not the primary means for dealing with an abusive priest. The media is using a moving bar to judge the actions of how the Church is handling this issue. No matter what action the Church does, the bar will not be high enough. Sometimes I get the feeling that the media would like the Church to launch an inquisition and burn people at the stake so that the media can complain about the Church burning people at the stake. (not that some abuse cases don’t warrent the offender being burned at the stake mind you, but I fear that God has a hotter fire in mind.)

    I believe at the very core of this issue is the question over whether or not the Church should be fully subject to the laws and justice of the state, or if she in some sense stands apart. The public only wants abusive priests flogged and kicked out of the priesthood because the public sees justice as punishment and does not see any roll for mercy in justice. (Again I am not opposed to flogging just that in justice we need to be mindful of the opertunity for mercy.) The media and leftist agenda is using the public’s righteous anger to setup an argument that the Church needs oversight by the state and that the Church’s functions need to be subject to the control of the state – which will in turn lead to an argument that the Church’s theology needs to be governed by the state. Already we have seen this occur with the abortion debate and the “magisterium of nuns” agreeing to that point.

    It is very important that we Catholics insist that the Church handle her problems better (which involves cleaning out the presbytery as well as the bishopric that didn’t enforce the in place canonical procedures, modernizing canon law, fixing the seminaries, and returning to dealing with abuse as a matter of sin and abnormal psychology rather than through liberal psychology) while at the same time insisting that the Church has a right to police her own – even if that policing doesn’t always involve the handing over of clerics to the state for prosecution.

  6. doanli says:

    Yet, we have to pray for the journalists as well.

    (I forgot to add.)

  7. catholicmidwest says:


    If we want to police our own, then we must do a credible & morally decent job of it. If we fail to be moral and decent, people are harmed grievously (as some were) and we refuse to deal with it (out of inertia, politics, or the needs of our own good old boy network), then they have a right to go to the civil authorities for redress.

    There was a time when the Church was fully capable and allowed to police their own, and they blew it totally. Rather than pursuing the criminal, the victim was often punished & silenced out of falsely placed loyalty. Some dioceses even counter-sued victims to silence them–there are many authenticated cases of this. This is what really happened.

    Going forward, I am all for the Church policing her own when the matter is a disciplinary issue, but if that is the goal, then we have to get the lead out and move, and we have to do it morally.

    I’ll be honest with you, the church is slow as molasses in January, and everything from the translations, the liturgy and the troubles with religious orders of late, only confirms that impression in me.
    I can’t see it being able to get it’s old tired rear end out of the chair fast enough to deal with anything at this point. Things could always change, but it’d be the change of the millenium, if they do.

  8. S. Murphy says:

    Saw the pdf of the letters between Cdl Ratzinger and Bp Moreno. (see http://azstarnet.com/news/local/article_6fd9e4bd-fcfc-50d6-ab3f-2d14c95219fd.html)
    Ratzinger’s 1992 letter says (paraphrased) ‘Solicitation falls under the jurisdiction of CDF, therefore the Apostolic Signatura has sent over the documents on the ‘recourse’ (=appeal?) sent in on Fr Teta’s behalf. I gather you are conducting a canonical trial against this guy. Please make sure you are following our Instruction (enclosed), and let me know when you’re done.’ In 1997, Moreno sends a letter to Ratzinger saying ‘we finally finished Fr Teta’s trial; please help me get rid of this pervert; I’ll send the presiding judge to Rome if there’s anything he can do to help.’ The presiding judge, Fr Verbrugghe sent Cdl Ratzinger a letter on the same day, reporting the verdict and sentence, and noting that the perv was filing an appeal.
    If the CDF committed a crime against humanity by ensuring due process for Teta and the other perv, Trupia (who was a canon lawyer and knew how to defend himself!), then I guess we should all burn our baptismal certificates. Last time I was on jury duty, it was a 4-year-old murder case. Maybe I should burn my birth certificate and passport, too.
    Also, this was in the 90s, before Cdl Ratzinger took control of all sexual-abuse cases and started streamlining the procedures. So, let’s beat the snot out of the Pope for not knowing then what he figured out later. [/sarcasm]

    There has been, nevertheless, a serious problem of, yes, the Vatican moving too slowly, and yes, the Vatican and the rest of the bishops worrying about the Church’s reputation when they should have been worried about justice and pastoral concern for the victims. The Pope missed an opportunity by failing to address this now-worldwide problem during Holy Week – FREX, by praying for the victims during the Good Friday services. Overall, there’s a real problem, and being defensive about it is the opposite of being pastoral about it.
    However, observing due process is the opposite of scandalous. There probably have been and undoubtedly will be false accusations, so the rights of the accused do have to be protected. Americans should comprehend this.

  9. catholicmidwest says:

    The defensiveness is misplaced, I agree. Rome has got to understand that things need to go forward, and work needs to get done.

    Christ didn’t leave 12 apostles so they could have an exclusive little garden party in the gated community. You know what they went and did. Catholics now have to do it too.

    The old sitting on your little pile of eggs and being coy has to go. The church has to be run so that people can worship, people are evangelized, and people aren’t mortally wounded by bad clergy in the process.

    We need to straighten this mess out. Starting now.

    PS where is that translation recognitio again??

  10. catholicmidwest says:

    PS, Lurker, I beg to differ.

    Sex criminals living in the US are subject to criminal laws in the US, just as sex criminals living in any other country are subject to criminal laws in that other country.

    What the church should be doing is the ecclesiastical portion of the work of dealing with abusers–ie. regulating their right to say mass, bear the vocation of priest, lead a parish, etc etc. And they’re not doing that any too well presently.

    By the time a person has broken the law, they are a criminal and are subject to persecution as a criminal.

    I know you don’t like this. I know you think it opens the church up to dangers. But the church is no longer an extra-territorial jurisdiction that trumps all jurisdictions in any court of law outside Vatican City. That’s an old arrangement from the pre-modern age whose last vestiges are being buried as we speak. The Church has given this away for nothing. It’s not my fault. It’s the fault of the people who abused it and exposed it to attack.

  11. S. Murphy says:

    The AZ Daily Star also has a PDF of a letter from Bishop Moreno (who seems to have been one of the good guys) to Cdl Castrillon-Hoyos at the Congr for the Clergy, appealing a decision of theirs to allow Trupia to retire ‘in good standing.’
    Bp Kicanas tells the Daily Star’s reporter that Teta’s trial took 7 years, because that’s the time it took Tucson to amass the evidence and make the case. He exlains that after CDF got charge of sex-abuse cases, he and Moreno, on an ad limina visit:
    “In 2003, in my ad limina visit along with Bishop Moreno, I made a visit to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which had only recently received competency in this area, to personally raise the question of Robert Trupia and to make sure that the matter before the Congregation for the Clergy was in their hands. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded immediately that I should send them a full accounting of the allegations against Robert Trupia and that they would proceed promptly to seek an administrative decision by the Holy Father to remove him from the clerical state, a decision that could not be appealed. That decision was rendered in 2004.”
    Take a look at the claims of the victim’s lawyer’s in the main story (they get the last word), and then follow the link to Bishop Kicanas’s answers to the reporter’s written questions. This stroy really is an example of manipulation of facts – unless it’s just an example of stupidity and groupthink.
    But the Church still needs to – well, catholicmidwest is absolutely right.

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    The basic question which outrages people is:

    Why should a sex offender be able to retire “in good standing?” Why?

    Why that sex offender, when all the other ones land in jail because they deserve it and because it keeps them from raping again? Why?

    This confusion over criminality and sin is wrong. If I were to rob a bank, and then go back and give back the money, they might forgive me. I could even go to confession and be absolved of the sin of stealing. But I would still be liable for the criminal act of robbing a bank! And I’d have to pay a penalty for that. Why can’t Catholics see this???

  13. S. Murphy says:

    I hope Catholics DO see this… Don’t know why the Congr for Clergy wouldn’t, but you’d have to see the docs from the case to get an idea what they were thinking. Bishop Moreno clearly DID see it, God bless him.

  14. Dave N. says:

    Having worked in diocesean administration, I can only observe that part of the problem with clerical suspension is that it’s often not very effective or as “cautionary” as the Vatican spokesman would have you believe. Sure, the priest is removed from his diocesean church assignment, but usually REMAINS ON THE PAYROLL and, combined with this gracious economic support and the fact he remains a priest, often feels free to perpetrate his shenanigans at all sorts of other venues in this newly-found free agency–without the bishop knowing anything about it. One could argue his supervision is actually decreased under a suspension. (This I think is alleged to be the case with Teta, but I have no idea about the facts. But it does happen.) Short of coming up with some sort of “bishop’s prison,” it’s best if that church laicize these priests ASAP. Seven years is really unacceptable when souls and the safety of children are at stake. A year is too long.

    No more excuses.

  15. Wayne NYC says:

    This is so far gone as “distractions’ can go.
    This is not about abused children
    but an abuse of power.
    this has nothing to do with truth
    (a truth that will not be allowed outside the
    Catholic ghetto..the MSM will see to that).
    This is Obama/ Alinsky forcibly removing the Church
    from the Moral sphere….

  16. catholicmidwest says:

    Yes, Wayne, but we gave them the tools, and the government knows that. If the church doesn’t, then she’d better get a clue.

  17. joecct77 says:

    Wayne NYC

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Why is there suddenly a rash of abuse news? Somebody is feeding the press. Somebody has an agenda.

  18. Randii says:

    Everyone needs to read Ms. Noonan’s editorial on the situation.

    She is a devout orthodox catholic and says we should be thankful to the secualr press for outing this story. if they hadn’t the abuse would still be going on.

    As she says, the MSM has all sorts of motives but the fact is without them this would still be going on.

    I totally agree with Peggy Noonan.

    As she says this will horribly compromise the church for the next century and in ways we can’t even conceive of now. It’s time to stop attacking the messenger and take a realistic look at what has gone on here.

    Some balme V2 but Fox news relesed a letter showing the Vatican was warned about pedophile priests long before V2. This has been going on a lot longer than some would care to beleive. It transcends V2.

  19. MargaretMN says:

    Peggy Noonan is a devout, orthodox Catholic? I’ll take your word for it. I don’t know her personally. I do know that she’s a very emotional, not really rational writer and I would go to her for a vivid description but not for a well thought out opinion. We may have the media to thank for breaking the story 10 years ago, but this sudden media re-visiting of the scandals is purely political. After winning the first round with the Obamacare vote, Progressives have decided that it is time to get rid of the Catholic Church’s influence in politics and society once and for all.

  20. Joe Magarac says:

    The press only got interested in the scandal after lawyers for individual victims sought and received diocesan records which showed that some miscreant priests had abused dozens or even hundreds of young men. The lawyers only had an incentive to seek these records because the dioceses are large and have insurance: they are (or were) deep pockets.

    The lawyers could only obtain these records because the Catholic Church is centralized under the authority of local bishops. Protestant churches or public school districts may have as many or more miscreant ministers or miscreant ministers, but we’ll never know because they don’t keep centralized records. Protestant churches are also generally small, so they aren’t deep pockets that would be attractive to plaintiffs’ lawyers.

    In short, don’t thank the press unless you also thank the lawyers. And don’t thank the lawyers unless you thank the centralization that got the lawyers interested. And you can thank God for the centralization; scripture and tradition suggest that the idea of organizing believers around local bishops was His idea.

  21. DarkKnight says:

    What no one is mentioning in this whole discussion of Milwaukee is placing it in context with Bishop Weakland’s coming out following his retirement. With this in mind, I think it appropriate to ask ourselves, “Who would have more to gain by delaying the process, a Gay, liberal bishop or a conservative cardinal?” Based on the experience of the Santa Rosa with its former bishop, one can only imagine what leverage the priest may have held with the retired bishop, let alone shared sympathies.

    I believe that it is safe to bet that there were a fair number of teenage girls molested by nuns during this same time period. However, because these liberal orders are the media’s darlings, I daresay that we will not see a word in the press about this.

  22. Traductora says:

    While I absolutely agree that the process should have been faster and more severe – as Dave N. points out, suspending the priests in question actually resulted in reducing their supervision even further – there are limits to what the modern Church can do. Even during the Inquisition, the Church could not impose certain penalties, which was the reason that people were turned over to the State for punishment. And now, the options for ecclesiastical punishment are even fewer; the old monastic jails seem to be a thing of the past.

    However, one thing that we should remember is that even the secular world, during the time that most of the truly horrible cases occurred (1970s-1980s), had reduced punishment for child molestation to virtually nothing but a few courses of therapy, and punishment for homosexual acts against adolescent boys was nonexistent because suddenly this was considered “normal.” Remember the publicly stated opinion of a friend of Obama’s who was recently proposed by the Obama administration as a schools administrator, and was rejected only because of the outcry of a public sneered at by the press as prudish and hysterical.

    The press might take a look at some of the horrible non-Church cases that occurrred then, where lax punishment is still having its effect: just a couple of years ago in the Northwest, an evil man kidnapped and assaulted two children, torturing and killing one of them before he was caught with the surviving child. Naturally, he had already been convicted, “treated” and released after a laughable sentence for having raped, tortured and killed another little boy a few years earlier.

    So it is not only the Church that needs to be examined in this. The resources for punishment were actually quite limited even in the secular world, and the attitude towards sexual abuse of children and particularly adolescents in the secular world was virtually a shrug of the shoulders.

  23. catholicmidwest says:

    I also believe the press did us a huge favor in 2002 and onward. They probably didn’t mean to, but they did. If the scandal hadn’t been reported on, I’m very sure we’d still not have dealt with it.

    What they’re doing now in their eyes, I suspect, is no different from what they did then. They’re a bunch of ham-handed word processor operators in some real sense, but that’s okay. They exist to sell newspapers (when they’re not worshipping some public personna). Year before last it was Pitt-Jolie. For the last 18 mo it’s Obama. Next year, when they get bored, it will be some other movie star or whatever comes down the pike with the biggest splash. Whatever.

    The point is: For some reason, and I’m pretty sure I know what it is, Catholics have lost the ability to police themselves. We weren’t capable of bringing this to light without the media. And so they unintentionally (probably), did us a great favor. The medicine’s not at all nice, but it was a favor nevertheless.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    Just because a few secular cases have come to no good, does this mean that we can do anything, Traductora?

    That’s bad reasoning.

  25. catholicmidwest says:

    Dark Night,
    Abuse of youngsters and teenagers is almost exclusively a male problem. Men abusers outnumber women abusers almost 100 to 1. Look it up.

  26. Traductora says:

    It was more than a few cases. Look at sentencing policies in California, the Pacific Northwest and some of the NE states in those years.

    This does not excuse anything, but the fact remains that many of these men actually had been tried and found guilty in a court of law and were even at that time being “punished” as the secular laws ordered – that is, “therapy.” There were numerous organizations, for some reason several of them in Arizona, that even specialized in this. And it was done with full knowledge of law enforcement and this was considered the way to deal with it at the time. And this was only for pedophiles, abusers of pre-pubescent children. Homosexuality had been “normalized,” and adult male abusers of adolescent males were home free at that point.

    My point is that the Church erred in accepting secular standards, and should have removed these men from the priesthood immediately. But those were indeed the secular standards of the time; I lived on the East Coast and in California during those years, and it was the same in both of those areas. It was only when people rebelled against the many repeat offenders that sentencing guidelines started to be tightened, but that was some 15 years later.

  27. catholicmidwest says:

    It does sound as though you’re using it as an excuse, though, Traductora.

    This problem in the Church went on long after that period. In fact, in many dioceses nothing was done about it until the aftermath of 2002.

  28. Randii says:

    Fox news released documentation (yesterday I think it was) that shows that decades before Vatican 2 an earlier Pope had been made aware of pedophile incidents in the US. One of the mantras of some Catholics who seem to want to focus their ire on the press more than the bishops and church authorities for this scandal is that it is all the fault of V2. That is clearly not the case.

  29. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m personally not so sure it was Vatican II that caused it, but I think it certainly didn’t help matters at all. The situation after Vatican II was very chaotic and the number of abuses certainly multiplied exponentially.

    Personally, I think that one of the factors that makes sexual abuse in the Church such an issue is the frank adoration some people have for clergy. There are some things you should never do, even if a priest tells you to. And there are some things that no matter who does them, priest or not, should cause you to call the cops. Sexual abuse is one of those things.

  30. Dave N. says:

    The difference between the Boston Globe story and the type of stories circulating now is difference between “the crime” and “the cover-up.” (Those of us old enough to remember Watergate remember the importance of the distinction.) While the Church has, I think, made a good faith effort to stem the tide of new abuse, the Church has done virtually nothing about those who covered up and sometimes actively enabled the abusers and further abuse. While one could argue that priest sex abusers truly constitute a few bad apples numerically and that their crimes happened long ago for the most part, I would argue that is NOT the case with their enablers–I’m guessing it’s a huge proportion of current bishops in the US and probably in many other countries as well.

    Now the press has finally figured out that the Church has scandalously done ALMOST NOTHING to address the cover-up and those who enabled abuse. Why do they still have jobs? Why are these bishops still in office? Who has investigated what they have done? Where’s the report?

    To illustrate, there’s a pastor in our diocese who used to work in the chancery. By all accounts (including his own court depositions), this man actively harassed those complaining of sex abuse, delayed action against abusive priests, shuffled sex-abuse priests around the diocese (or on to new ones) and worked as hard as he could to spin abuse cases with the media. Once all this was exposed, he had to leave for several months of “guilt therapy” but then ultimately came back to pastor his parish as if nothing had happened. No firing, no public apology, no reconciliation or restitution for those he harmed–nothing. He is now un-affectionately known around the diocese as “Monsignor Cover-up.” How does this man’s action AND the church’s failure of dealing with this very public scandal benefit the public witness and credibility of our Church and the cause of Christ?

    I agree the press probably has bad motives beyond selling their stories. But I also agree that they are pointing out the gross sin of many church leaders that has yet to be addressed in any real way.

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    It’s also true that after V2, it became acceptable to be a “cool” priest. It was the goal for many. “Cool” is one of the classic covers for sexual seduction and manipulation, and that’s often how it was used. Have you read none of the accounts from Boston??

  32. Bornacatholic says:

    As long as our great Pope continues to endure this abuse with his pacific and dignified grace there will soon come a point when people will begin to turn against the Press.

  33. catholicmidwest says:

    Perhaps what you say is true, because Pope Benedict XVI is a class act. However, the rest of the Catholic world has to do its job too, meaning living up to the demands of the Faith.

    We cannot put up with frank moral nonsense anymore under the guise of “piety” or whatever you want to call it. Decency is overdue in some quarters of the church and people engaging in nonsense have to be made aware of that.

    And it would help to stop whining–it just plays into the hands of the media.

  34. Randii says:

    I agree Dave N.

    The cover-up is the inexplicable thing. And it implicates many bishops who just continued in their roles. In corporate America such leaders would have been out in a minute. The church claims it conforms to a higher standard and is given the grace to do so but where is the evidence of that?

    Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was on a local radio program here yesterday and asked about cardinal Law – why has the Pope not acted against him? She said he is in charge of one of the 4 largest churches in Rome now. That is absolutely scandalous IMO. But his is just one example.

    It’s the same with the cover-up apparently that went on in the LofC. And maybe is still going on.

    Why with all the graces the church is given is there so much more scandal? That is troubling to many sincere Catholics some of whom are leaving the chuch over this. In fact i think we’ll see an expedited exodus in the coming years and a sharp fall-off in conversions.

    In the Mormon chuch there is hierarchy too. It’s similar to the Catholic church in that way. And in the sense that the president has special spiritual insight to interpret the Book of Mormon and the Bible.

    Yet you see very little scandal in the Mormon chucrh. Part of the reason is they don’t cover-up. If a ward president/teacher/bishop is suspect for whatever reason he is investigated and if warranted removed quickly. The Mormon church does a far better job of shepharding it’s flock. That may be why over 90% of born Mormons retain their faith till their death. I believe it is the highest percentage of any Chritian denomination. The Catholic chuch has one of the lowest “retention” rates among it’s flock. It’s a failure to shephard IMO and this is a sad and deplorable example of that.

  35. catholicmidwest says:

    Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, ach. Where are you, Massachusetts? She is no authority on anything except how to be a spoiled brat Kennedy. Moving on…..

    RE the Mormon church, that’s not true. My uncle is a jack Mormon and also one of my best friends in a practicing one but a more honest one. They have plenty of scandal and some of it is similar to this, but they cover it up very, very well–wholesome image and all that. They run Utah and parts of the American southwest, don’t forget.

    I have no idea what the term “failure to shepherd” means, unless you’re reaching deep down into some Methodist terminology buried in your psyche someplace (no offense to Methodists). This is about a whole constellation of other things, including fighting over power and influence in the 20th century. Unfortunately Vatican II opened us up to getting all ensnared in that battle over power and influence because we adapted to the world with such naive (stupid) enthusiasm, and here we are.

  36. Traductora says:

    catholic midwest, I entirely agree that the Church should have done more and should not have accepted the secular justice system. But if in your opinion things started to improve in 2002 (when Ratzinger became more powerful), what does this tell you?

    BTW, have you ever examined your local public school? In New York, all the pervs who had gotten numerous complaints and even been legally processed were sent to hang out at 100 Livingston Street (Bd of Ed headquarters), where they collected their full salary, did crossword puzzles all day long…and then usually ended up getting assigned to another school because the union prevented their records from following them.

    If you were really concerned about child molestation, you’d be looking at them, because they had a 78% higher rate of abuse than the Catholic clergy even at its worst. But that’s not really what you or the New York Times cares about, is it?

  37. catholicmidwest says:


    In answer to your question, it tells me that it was pretty much uncontrolled before 2002.

    I agree with you on the public school situation. No one wants to talk about that either. And the abuse situation is just one of the sacred cows in that system. It’s nearly completely non-functional at this point. I used to be a high school chemistry teacher and I know this from experience.

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    Before teaching, I worked in industry, but I had always wondered what it would be like to teach. I did, for 7 years. After that, I left returned to industry, where there is a higher degree of accountability, but also higher pay and higher standards for behavior. I’m content with that.

  39. catholicmidwest says:

    And I guess I don’t understand, Traductora. How is what’s going on in the public schools any kind of excuse for Catholic behavior?

    One could expect them to act like pagans because, well, they are.

  40. Randii says:

    One could expect them to act like pagans because, well, they are.

    Comment by catholicmidwest


    Too much obfuscation going on by too many in the orthodox Catholic camp.

    I find one of the more troublesome things to be that catholics are taught the church provides added graces through the sacraemnts to withstand temptations. Even moreso with the ordained. Yet this happened.

    It begins to make one question a lot of things about the church.

    The failure of the bishops here is just one example. Look at Catholic schools and especially higher education. A somewhat bleak situation in the US.

    The homeschooling movement, the private Catholic academies independent of the bishop. This has come about because the lay faithful who wanted a Catholic education for their children often found they could not trust the Catholic school system.

    What is even more poignant are those parents who don’t have access to an indepedent orthodox Catholic academy or can’t homeschool. We know of one such couple who because the public schools are so bad in our area and the Catholic schools are sort of off the deep end felt the only way to better insure their kids stayed Christian was enroll them in an evangelical run Christian school. The intention was to stay in the faith but, after 5 or so years, the family converted to evangelical Christianity.

    The damage being done to the faithful is so great and to find some of the faithful spending much more of their energy castigating the messenger while ignoring the way many bishops have shepharded is discouraging. The church has a far bigger problem than the MSM could ever pose IMO.

  41. catholicmidwest says:

    Orthodox?? What’s that got to do with anything? Are you un-orthodox, dear Randii? In what way? Please tell me it isn’t something scary like driving on the wrong side of the road at night.

    I suspect that you came to “question a lot of things about the church,” regardless of what else might have happened, given your reasons.

    Yes, schools all over are a disaster. That’s because the culture is bankrupt. That’s not the church’s fault. About 80% of the population of the US is non-Catholic, after all, and always has been. And the approximately 20% that’s catholic have been infected by the culture because of the non-orthodox catholics in our midst who clamor to omit all the things catholics schools really have to offer–like reverent masses–IN LATIN.

    Education in the US is a quagmire as issues go. Want good education? Move to Japan and don’t forget your kids. Sorry, that’s my best advice.

  42. This is no excuse: it’s an explanation.
    Most of us and the MSM do not understand the internal process of canonical trials, esp. when it involves “the confessional” (which has all kinds of secrecy involved, due to the “seal of the confessional” and the need to keep secret the evidence given by both the accuser and the accused).
    That is not a “cover up”. It is the standard procedure of the Church in order to protect both the accuser and the accused.
    No one, according to the evidence I have read, and which is available, is preventing anyone from going to the civil authorities when there is a real case for the abuse of a minor.
    As for the scandal involved; when you read all kinds of lies, distortions and innuendos in the media, how are you supposed to react?
    Rome hasn’t “dropped the ball” in these noted cases; the local bishop or whomever is in charge might have.
    Do we want to have Church where every single allegation against a priest or bishop is made true just by the accuser? Do we want this public knowledge? Is this the way we want to live?
    Those are my questions. The media is having a ball with all of this.

  43. TonyLayne says:

    @catholicmidwest et al.:

    Has anyone stopped to wonder why the stories out of Wisconsin and Arizona are so dated? It’s because the game has changed, the Church has gotten faster at removing predator priests. The news coming out of Ireland and Germany is becoming stale, so the American MSM wants to rip the scab off our wounds from 2002; however, they can’t find any recent cases of Church “cover-ups”, so they have to go digging back into the past. Moreover, it’s crucial to the MSM that Pope Benedict be indicted, first because he’s the Pope, and second because he is, all things taken together, an effective moral voice.

    By putting your statements, such as “Catholics have lost the ability to police themselves,” “They’re not [doing the ecclesiastical portion of the work of dealing with abusers] too well,” and “We need to straighten this mess out. Starting now,” into the present tense, you’re doing precisely what the MSM wants you to do: You’re (subconsiously) accepting the flawed premise that things haven’t changed, that the Church is still engaging in “business as usual”. I won’t go so far as to say that every diocese is handling such episodes better, or that we’ll never have another Cardinal Law in the American hierarchy. But you yourself have noted that “things have gotten better since 2002”, an observation which doesn’t square with the other statements you’ve made.

    Traductora is making, in an indirect way, the point I would make: The moral panic created by the MSM’s blatant misrepresentations of fact is making sexual abuse of minors a “Catholic problem”, i.e. one belonging solely to the Church, which diverts even more attention away from students who are preyed upon at non-Catholic institutions. The Church in America has been working hard over the last eight years to make its schools the safest place for young people to be; what, if anything, have local school systems or the DOE done to improve the safety of public schools? This is not to justify or excuse the negligence or criminal collusion of the past, but to emphasize that the MSM should be looking at what’s going on right now, rather than trying to build a clerical conspiracy out of smoke and mirrors.

  44. catholicmidwest says:


    We have come a huge distance, particularly in our schools which have ALWAYS been safer than public schools and are now even safer than they were. (I’ve worked in both public and Catholic high schools, so I’m not just saying this.)

    Pope Benedict is NOT to blame. On the contrary, he has done more than any person alive to solve this problem. Starting with his time at the CDF and continuing in his time as pope, this has been one of his important themes. He called it by its real name, remember, filth.

    About these things the media is simply wrong.

    However, some of the things that perpetuate these problems still exist. We still have a standoff between the USCCB and the Holy See, although that’s getting better, and I believe it will continue to improve as the far progressive wing re-defines itself (which is ongoing). (Similar case in UK, Germany, etc) This standoff is not merely political. Much of the cover for the activity that fed the seminary situation, and thus the ensuing priestly situation originated there. We have bishops that are responsible for this state of affairs and they are going to get off scot-free. Many bishops live in luxury, doing whatever they want and that’s a fact. We also have clergy “in limbo” so to speak, unassigned to a parish or diocesan position, on disciplinary leave or simply unassigned for one reason or another. Sometimes this is perfectly benign in that they are on leave of absence for school or something; sometimes they work on worthy projects; but sometimes it’s definitely not like that. Either way it’s very hush-hush. Many laypeople don’t know that this is possible or how common this is.

    There isn’t an adequate recognition of how many people are touched by a priest’s situation when things are out of kilter. A single priest often touches the lives of thousands of people, for better or worse. It’s not just about him. Priestly formation has got to be better than it is, or has been, EVEN if it means that we have fewer of them. Seminary faculty must be beyond reproach, which is currently often not true. We should honestly examine every proto-vocation who comes but turn away all candidates with involved sexual histories or unacceptable sexual behavior, personal behavior or habits as a baseline requirement. This may mean we turn away many in this day and age; but that’s how you get the best, the real ones. Laypeople should not have to worry about this because it should be in good hands. It’s often not in good hands and it hasn’t often been in the past.

    I’ve always been amazed that the church has seemed to miss the things that businesses routinely catch. When you apply for work in a large business, if you have an alternate life or have re-invented yourself and popped up someplace, they will catch you. They do security checks, not to be intrusive, but to protect the company and it works. You don’t want somebody who in a former life was a vandalism specialist, burglar or a serial rapist and doesn’t own up to it. You don’t want someone who carries on an alternative life as some kind of operative on the side. People like this will hurt the company too, count on it, no matter how gifted they appear face-to-face or how well-connected socially they are.

    People in the church don’t like to hear what businesses do, supposing themselves to be in an entirely different sphere of activity, but to ignore good common sense just because you happen to have a different goal is foolish. It’s bad logic and it pays off badly.

    You know, the whole thing is interesting in another way, and a piece of someting larger. I’m a convert and I had always heard how controlling and powerful the Catholic church was before I became Catholic. However, I entered the church and rapidly realized that it’s the most slipshod-run organization I’ve ever seen. You can do pretty much anything; no one says anything about it. Everything appears to be fair game. A priest can seriously deform the mass once or weekly, and nothing is done, nothing; he can do worse and nothing of any substance may be done more or less indefinitely. A person can go out and get an abortion or otherwise violate the most sacred tenets of the church, and just never mention it. Happens all the time. But then maybe this is just the American 20th century experience of Catholicism. It’s very dangerous for the church to go on this way. Identity and practice are very, very weak as a result.

    The news media isn’t concerned with all this last part of course. They just need something sensational to print and so they fall back on the pope reflexively because he seems like a quixotic figure and they don’t know any better. We, however, should be concerned about these deeper patterns. They have been very damaging to the church.

  45. catholicmidwest says:

    Besides, Tony, the public school systems are a sacred cow. No one can touch them although they are one of the most corrupt institutions in our society. They make Congress look like a birthday party.

    According to international surveys, dated 2003 (ours are suspect), we rank about 25th in the world in math. Just ahead of us was Latvia, just behind was the Soviet Union who in 2003 was in near total social collapse. We beat Mexico, but only because it would be hard not to.

    Investigating teacher/student relations in the public schools would set off a firestorm of political correctness re homosexuality and right to privacy and all that sort of thing. No one wants to touch it.

  46. catholicmidwest: “Identity and practice are very, very weak as a result.”
    Many Catholics have adopted a very superficial, if not Protestant or secularist approach to identity and practice.
    Unless we all, priests and laity, are called to accountability, to make the practice of our Catholic Faith and obedience to the norms of worship and moral life priorities, essential, it will continue to slip away.
    The role of the diocesan bishop is a very critical and a key element in all of this; pastors can pretty much “do their own thing” and, as you say, get away with it. But if a bishop gets serious about Catholic identity and practice, things begin to change. Slowly. But they do begin to change.
    The “filth” has to be cleaned up at the “grassroots”. We have a big job ahead of us. But, with God, all things are possible.

  47. And, as an aside, John Allen is getting “beat up” royally in the comments on his article about a “middle road” in judging Pope Benedict…he’s taking the hits, folks. You may not agree with him always, but this man had courage to write about something that would create such shrill, hysterical, idiotic, false and just plain stupid comments…this is the present situation: we are, if not in “de jure”, in “de facto” schism…Cardinal Gagnon, God rest his soul, said it over twenty years ago.

  48. catholicmidwest says:

    Nazareth priest,

    You said, “Many Catholics have adopted a very superficial, if not Protestant or secularist approach to identity and practice.”

    That’s because, all too often, it’s a homemade affair. It’s all we have to go on most of the time. Nature hates a vacuum. The Church will get better identity and practice out of people when she makes it possible.

    There’s a statistical truism that goes: 80% of the effect is always brought about by 20% of the causes. About 10% of the people don’t like what the church has to offer and are very loud about it. This is the CTA/VOTF crowd and their admirers. About 10% want more from the church and are very loud about it. These are the trads and others who yell about how the church runs from within the church. But about 80% of the people need more but won’t, can’t, don’t know how to say anything about it. Indeed, they may not be able to pinpoint what’s wrong themselves. Make living robustly as a Catholic possible for that 80% by listening to some of what the positively involved 10% ask for (and adding wise things from the heart of the church to make the ideas work the way the church intends) and you have it: the 90% who would be Catholic.

    Move slowly, move steadily and give people a home where they can get what they need and they will reciprocate beyond the Church’s wildest dreams. They always have.

    This is not, of course, what goes on currently locally anywhere that I know of, although I know Pope Benedict knows this because of his actions. On top of being the pope, he is a very wise and good man.

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