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Author Topic: Two Vatican scandals
Mucus
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Hmmmmmm, this was unclear to me, but it turns out that there are actually two unfolding scandals involving the Vatican, three if you could the Catholic Church as a whole (and one involving the Pope directly)

quote:
The Vatican has hit back at the media after allegations in a US newspaper that accused Pope Benedict XVI of failing to act over the alleged abuse of 200 deaf boys by a priest.

The claims come less than a week after the pope apologised for the abuse of children by the clergy in Ireland.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfhFG41ZQd0

Older scandal:
quote:
The Vatican was today rocked by a sex scandal reaching into Pope Benedict's household after a chorister was sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting.

Angelo Balducci, a Gentleman of His Holiness, was caught by police on a wiretap allegedly negotiating with Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 29-year-old Vatican chorister, over the specific physical details of men he wanted brought to him. Transcripts in the possession of the Guardian suggest that numerous men may have been procured for Balducci, at least one of whom was studying for the priesthood.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/04/vatican-gay-sex-scandal

Not a good March I suppose.

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SoaPiNuReYe
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Personally the second story doesn't surprise me in the least bit.
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kmbboots
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So many more than two:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/world/europe/19church.html

This has been going on for centuries. I know that the Vatican has known and been covering it up for 25 years.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/world/europe/19church.html

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Samprimary
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It's bad right now for benedict. It's hit hard in Germany, faith in the catholic church is getting pretty piss-poor, and the standard apologist work-around (sorry, don't know how nicer to put that) is getting increasingly strained, even as people near ratzinger fall on their swords for him.
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sndrake
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It's hitting core, committed churchgoers - at least if the stories I've read are accurate at all.

One woman - who was in one of the churches where one of the pedophile priests ended up said something along these lines:

If you get a divorce, you're barred from taking communion, but if you're a priest who molests a child, you get to *serve* communion.

I'm pretty sure this was a regular churchgoer and not a spokesperson for one of the victims' groups. It's a lot for people who believe in their church to swallow.

I think this is an even bigger problem for the Catholic church than previous scandals.

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katharina
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I am honestly completely flabbergasted that anyone the church deems to have done it (so not upon first accusation, but upon sufficient proof) is not immediately defrocked. Considering the millennia of church law and the history of the Catholic church have a separate legal system from secular systems, I can even kind of understand not reporting the perps to the police (although I certainly don't agree), but what I can't understand is how they continue to be priests at all. How is this not grounds for immediate expulsion? Forget continuing being priests - I don't understand why they are not excommunicated.

It is truly mystifying.

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Sterling
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My guess- and I don't have anything solid to back this up, other than what I've heard second- and third-hand, is that the Catholic Church is facing an increasing crisis in maintaining the numbers of the priesthood. Its membership is looking older and older, and it's increasingly difficult to find young men who are interested in spending several years in school to enter a life of relative poverty and celibacy. The scandals also perpetuate the crisis; how attractive can it be to join a group that used to be highly resepcted but is increasingly viewed by the public with suspicion?

Viewed through this lens, I suspect the attempts to keep accused priests might be viewed as short-sighted and self-defeating attempts to maintain numbers in the clergy.

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katharina
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To believe that would require a very cynical view.

I don't expect to get an answer to this, because no one with the authority or ability to give an authoritative answer posts here. I can imagine reasons as well as anyone, reasons that range from the charitable from the cynical. But those are all after the fact, and I think they say more about the person imagining them than about their subject.

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Lalo
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quote:
Originally posted by Sterling:
My guess- and I don't have anything solid to back this up, other than what I've heard second- and third-hand, is that the Catholic Church is facing an increasing crisis in maintaining the numbers of the priesthood. Its membership is looking older and older, and it's increasingly difficult to find young men who are interested in spending several years in school to enter a life of relative poverty and celibacy. The scandals also perpetuate the crisis; how attractive can it be to join a group that used to be highly resepcted but is increasingly viewed by the public with suspicion?

Viewed through this lens, I suspect the attempts to keep accused priests might be viewed as short-sighted and self-defeating attempts to maintain numbers in the clergy.

You said exactly what I was going to say. It's enough of a struggle to become a priest, with only the reward of status as motivation. Now? Even if I were so inclined, I'd avoid becoming a priest just because I don't want the world to see me as a child molester.

The Church is dying, and good riddance.

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Lalo
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
I am honestly completely flabbergasted that anyone the church deems to have done it (so not upon first accusation, but upon sufficient proof) is not immediately defrocked. Considering the millennia of church law and the history of the Catholic church have a separate legal system from secular systems, I can even kind of understand not reporting the perps to the police (although I certainly don't agree), but what I can't understand is how they continue to be priests at all. How is this not grounds for immediate expulsion? Forget continuing being priests - I don't understand why they are not excommunicated.

It is truly mystifying.

Not really. If they excommunicated every priest who molested kids (or enabled pedophiles), they'd have nobody left. Look at the incredible reach of the scandal in Ireland alone, much less in poorer countries with less ability to investigate or resist Church pressure.

This is the completely unsurprising consequence of putting sexually repressed men in positions of authority over kids. Hopefully the Church realizes that if even their own priests have trouble remaining celibate, they shouldn't expect that from the developing world. Maybe it'll even lead to a revocation of their idiotic stances on birth control and abortion.

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Samprimary
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How about their completely outdated stance on divorce? it's so bad that even a lot of diehard catholics I know will turn a blind eye to carefully relabeling and approving divorces as annulments because surprise surprise they're in an unsalvagable marriage and even their priests don't want to see them forced into a state of spat-upon deviant labeling if they ever wanna have a marriage again.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Sterling:

Viewed through this lens, I suspect the attempts to keep accused priests might be viewed as short-sighted and self-defeating attempts to maintain numbers in the clergy.

Sterling, I can see why you might think this, but it ignores the fact that sexual abuse and the cover-up has been going on for generations. Long before there was a shortage of priests. Long before, the secularization of society. What is new is that people aren't keeping quiet about it anymore.

ETA: If any of you are really interested in learning more about this, I would highly recommend the book Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church's 2,000 Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse by Thomas P. Doyle, A.W. Richard Sipe, and Patrick J. Wall. Contrary to the title, this is not so much a thrilling, DaVinci Code kind of book, but an academic study looking a how the Church had dealt (or not) with this from the beginning.

[ March 27, 2010, 05:34 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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michaele8
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Hey, things are better in a way today for young Catholic boys than they were a few years back. Ever hear of the Castrati? Thousands of Italian boys were castrated so they could sing in church choirs since the catholics believed that women should not be heard in church. Boys were strapped down, starngled to make them pass out and then had their manhood wacked off. many died, most did not make it to the most prestigious positions, but a few were able to make their parents and priests proud.

I believe that while the ban on women in choirs eventually made these castrated boys obsolete that the Catholic church did not actually come out and ban it until late in the 19th Century or early in the 20th.

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Blayne Bradley
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Castration only removes the testies afaik your still got your ability to 'rise'.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
So many more than two:

Two current stories involving the Vatican in March, I guess I meant. I was aware that there were previous scandals afoot.
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Darth_Mauve
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Religious scandals involving priests go back as far as Chaucer. The Church in denial and worried more about the image of the church than the abused is not new. We can only hope its changing.
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
I am honestly completely flabbergasted that anyone the church deems to have done it (so not upon first accusation, but upon sufficient proof) is not immediately defrocked. Considering the millennia of church law and the history of the Catholic church have a separate legal system from secular systems, I can even kind of understand not reporting the perps to the police (although I certainly don't agree), but what I can't understand is how they continue to be priests at all. How is this not grounds for immediate expulsion? Forget continuing being priests - I don't understand why they are not excommunicated.

It is truly mystifying.

The church can enforce restrictions on the behavior of priests that it cannot on former priests. If that were being done consistently, then keeping that disciplinary authority over the offenders would be a good thing to do.
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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
To believe that would require a very cynical view.

I don't expect to get an answer to this, because no one with the authority or ability to give an authoritative answer posts here. I can imagine reasons as well as anyone, reasons that range from the charitable from the cynical. But those are all after the fact, and I think they say more about the person imagining them than about their subject.

Impressive. I don't know that I've seen someone condescend to an entire thread before.

There's nothing particularly cynical about assuming the Church has a strong vested interest in maintaining the rosters of the priesthood. Or even that facing a choice between flawed servants and none at all, some would choose the former. The belief that the sinner can change and cease to sin is fundamental to Catholicism. And it's a frequently visible facet of human nature to fool ourselves that a course of action that seems best for us is the course of action that's best for the greater good, if there's any hook to hang the idea upon.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Sterling:

There's nothing particularly cynical about assuming the Church has a strong vested interest in maintaining the rosters of the priesthood.

I don't think that this is really so much a factor. Given the number of abusive priests (small considering the damage that they did) it wouldn't have made that much of a dent. Also, many priests were basically retired by the time their abuses came to light.
quote:

The belief that the sinner can change and cease to sin is fundamental to Catholicism.

This, I think , is a key issue. In a culture where any sexual expression is considered sinful the distinction between different sexual "sins" can become. Sexually abusing a child was lumped in with sex with women (consenting or coerced) or even masturbation and often treated similarly. The fact the the rate of recidivism for pedophiles is overwhelming, that it is a disorder that, at this point, has not real cure and that it is a crime got lost.

And in the urgency to "protect" the dignity of the "Church"* the victims also got lost.

*"Church is in "" because the Church is also the victims - just as much as the priests and the bishops. They were not protected.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Lalo:
Not really. If they excommunicated every priest who molested kids (or enabled pedophiles), they'd have nobody left.

Yeah I want to know how this is in any way true btw
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TomDavidson
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I'm not sure I understand that logic, Dana. It seems to me that expelling the priest significantly reduces the opportunity for abuse; retaining the priest suggests that the church prioritizes "repairing" a broken priest over protecting parishoners from rape.
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scholarette
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In theory, the reassigned priest could be given assignments where it would be completely impossible for him to reoffend. For example, he could be given an assignment with no interaction with children and be strictly monitored by his superiors. This could, theoretically, be more strict than any parole requirements. However, if they just excommunicated him, they would have no standing and that priest could go and grab a kid off the street or whatever. Obviously, that was not what was done, so the effectiveness of such a response can not be determined.
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dkw
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Tom, remaining a priest does not have to mean being assigned to a parish.

Scholarette, I know of some cases where that is how it was handled. The offenders were sent to a monastery, where they serve in adminstrative postitions with no contact with children. They aren't allowed out of the cloistered areas unless accompanied by two other monks. They are considerably better supervised than any parole or probabtion officer would be able to manage, and will be for the rest of their lives.

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TomDavidson
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Bear in mind that remaining a priest has in quite a few of these cases ultimately meant being assigned the care of children. Sure, it doesn't have to; there can be the equivalent of military tribunals for clergy, if everyone involved decides to play nice. But...

Not letting the guy remain a priest harms no innocent person involved. The only thing you're protecting by keeping mum and locking the guy away in a monastery until someone forgets why he's there and puts him in charge of the childcare services is everyone's reputations, and I think what we're seeing here is evidence enough that the long-term damage to reputation is actually worse if the "lock the guy away in our own care, but quietly" approach is mishandled.

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dkw
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I don't think reputation was the only concern in the cases I mentioned.

And there was no "keeping mum" involved. The victims were involved in the investigation process, were not pressured to keep quiet, and their counseling expenses were paid by the church.

The situation did not come to light until it was too late for criminal prosecution, so if the church had just kicked the guys out there would have been nothing preventing them from moving to another state and taking a childcare job there. No criminal record, and this was before sex-offender registries anyway.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The situation did not come to light until it was too late for criminal prosecution...
This is, I will freely concede, a valid rationale; if there is no civil action available, clerical discipline's certainly better than nothing.
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kmbboots
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A priest can be forbidden from administering Sacraments, or assigned to or forbidden from certain duties. I don't think that priests can be unmade (laicized) except in very particular circumstance usually when they have asked to be released from their vows.

[ March 29, 2010, 03:11 AM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by Lalo:
Not really. If they excommunicated every priest who molested kids (or enabled pedophiles), they'd have nobody left.

Yeah I want to know how this is in any way true btw
Still waiting on this, or any of the other majorly sweeping defamations of the church.

The church has a lot to account for, and desperately needs to change their doofy policies, secretive cover-ups, neglect, choking dogmatic excuses and self-indemnifications, etc, if they don't want to continue a slide into collapse of the church's cultural authority and relevance, but nobody serves that effort with wide-brushed defamations like this.

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kmbboots
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We also should probably not refer to allegations of abuse as "petty gossip" lest folks think we aren't taking this seriously and we should refrain from complaining about intimidation lest folks think that we have forgotten who the actual victims are.
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katharina
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quote:
I don't think that priests can be unmade (laicized) except in very particular circumstance usually when they have asked to be released from their vows.

According to Google and Wikipedia (TIFWIIW), priests can be and have been defrocked.
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kmbboots
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Right. But defrocked priests are still priests. It also tends not to be a response to "sin" - although this is changing. I know it sounds contradictory, Catholicism is like that sometimes.

I think that defrocking would have been a good response in many cases. I think that turning them over to civil authorities would be better in cases where prosecution is still possible.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
We also should probably not refer to allegations of abuse as "petty gossip" lest folks think we aren't taking this seriously and we should refrain from complaining about intimidation lest folks think that we have forgotten who the actual victims are.

yeah, for sure I also think that the standard Internet Catholic Response has also not helped anything. Most of what I'm seeing across discussion boards and feeds is a bunch of 'you're not even worth trying to correct' with some more runaround.

yeah, GG?

Still, if there's another thing that the internet is good at, it's allowing the vitriol of rabidly anti-catholic nuts to float to the surface and poison the well. Same thing happens to the LDS.

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kmbboots
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GG?

Samprimary, I think that you and I are looking at different Catholic Internet responses. [Wink]

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Mucus
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Good game, I think.

No doubt on the latter, although the Sakeriver Catholic "Internet response" isn't too far off from that characterization though. Present company excepted (props for that).

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Samprimary, I think that you and I are looking at different Catholic Internet responses. [Wink]

In any given situation where you've got at least a few good pro-church duders who are willing to move above the vitriol, you've got some good dialog. However, it mostly comes down to "yeah, there are some serious mistakes being made here."

The larger spectre of argumentation on the wider internet is, unfortunately, dominated by two groups:

1. Angry anti-catholics who think the church is EBIL, and
2. The angry catholic apologists who bite back emotionally.

the no. 2's are currently brandishing a tired routine of wounded victimization and unflinching apologism, as well as pulling out massive walls of incredibly dense dogma and saying 'see, this is why you don't know what you're talking about,' a technique notoriously ineffectual towards non-catholics who are already a little off-put by the church's tired bureaucratic mess. Or they just say something which invariably translates to 'you aren't worth my time.' Either strategy is fantastically countereffective.

The no. 1's are brandishing that whole fanatically weird 'the church is evil and eats babies and murders puppies' shtick which is awesomely, eyerollingly tired.

internet!

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kmbboots
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Hmm...I suppose that I am pro-Church but think that we have really, badly, tragically screwed up this one. I think that there is a way back from that and, as a Catholic, it seems obvious to me that the way back includes confession, penance and reconciliation. Not denial, shifting the blame, or "spin control". We should be better at this; we have a ritual for this. For heaven's sake, it is even Lent. Lent is pretty much designed for repentance.

Edit to add: Also, I think that people do have legitimate reasons to be angry with the Church and that we have to deal with that. And if we don't want to give the general mockers and deriders ammunition, we should clean house.

[ March 29, 2010, 01:49 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Hmm...I suppose that I am pro-Church but think that we have really, badly, tragically screwed up this one. I think that there is a way back from that and, as a Catholic, it seems obvious to me that the way back includes confession, penance and reconciliation. Not denial, shifting the blame, or "spin control". We should be better at this; we have a ritual for this. For heaven's sake, it is even Lent. Lent is pretty much designed for repentance.

Confession, repentance, and reconciliation?

Great for making the abusers feel better about themselves, but what about the victims? Relying on internal Catholic remedies is what caused this cover-up problem in the first place. A bunch of those abusers probably confessed and repented after every incident, and then abused again and again, with the help of their superiors.

What's needed is civil justice. Isn't covering up crimes a crime in itself? Those people should surrender themselves to civil authority. They'll have all the time they like for repenting and reconciling with their victims from prison.

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kmbboots
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I should have been more clear. I was talking about using that pattern, but for the Church as a whole, not specifically the Sacrament of Reconciliation for individual priests.

We need, as a whole Church and starting at the top confess what we have done. By this I mean owning up to all of it. Not minimizing or denying or blaming the media or "secularization" or homosexuals or whatever. Those personally responsible for committing those crimes, or covering up those crimes or not stopping those crimes when one was responsible to protect children particularly need to confess that.

Penance, making reparations without being forced to by lawsuits, meeting with victims, apologizing, recognizing that we have failed at policing ourselves and getting help, submitting to civil justice whatever that may be - and so forth.

Then, with God's grace, Reconciliation might be possible.

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katharina
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quote:
And if we don't want to give the general mockers and deriders ammunition, we should clean house.
Forget what other people might think. If the goal is to have a church that exists to succor the weak and support the faithful rather than to protect the tenured employees, then they need to clean house. It shouldn't be done just to avoid giving other people ammunition.

I wonder if part of the problem comes from having a professional, one-employer clergy. I imagine (and here I am imaging, not claiming to have knowledge) that it is harder for a boss to expel someone if he knows that by expelling this priest, he is stripping him of the only profession he has been trained for. It makes me think that maybe it shouldn't be a profession.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:
Great for making the abusers feel better about themselves, but what about the victims? Relying on internal Catholic remedies is what caused this cover-up problem in the first place.

While i agree with this, to what degree is relying on civil justice the 'solution?' It doesn't directly address the issue of the critically needed church reforms, and ... in a jaded, worst case scenario, allows the church to progress forward with a maintenance of its dysfunctional internals with just a few conveniently placed sacrifices.
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MrSquicky
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The Catholic Church is a hard organization to sum up as doing one thing of another. It's made up of so many different groups, pursuing many different, and at times, conflicting ends.

In this case, the hierarchy has a choice about what missions they want to pursue. Historically, they've often seemed much more interested in pursuing maintaining and increasing the power of the organization instead of being a force for good in the world. And honestly, that seems like the course they've decided on here as well.

That is not to say that the Catholic Church as a whole is doing this, though. I think that there is a lot of tension developing behind this apparent disparity in the goals of the hierarchy versus the goals of a lot of the rest of the Church, who care much less for the power and prestige of Bishops and Popes and more about carrying out the work of compassion, protection, etc. that they feel they are called to as a central part of their Catholic faith. Ironically, I think it is likely that the hierarchy's decision to use spin, denial, and concealment in order to preserve their power is going to lead in a greater reduction in the power of the Church hierarchy than if they humbled themselves in the face of their apparent sins. Unfortunately, I think this will come with a weakening in the ability of other parts of the Church to do good in the world.

---

I think one of the major indicators here is the Pope's attempt to lay the blame on increasing secularization. Increasing secularization has nothing to do with child molestation, nor does it have anything to do with the major problem, which is high church officials covering up the child molestation and providing a shield so that the priests can continue molesting the children entrusted to their care. It does, however, make it harder for the Church to get away with horrible things like this. And while it doesn't very much conflict with the mission of spreading the good stuff of the Catholic Church into the world, it does interfere with the high officials power.

Honestly, given the litany of abuses that make up a large part of the history of the Catholic hierarchy, it seems like they should be grateful for the rise in secularism. The diminishment of their power and the increase in scrutiny by the laity and people outside the Church has made the Catholic Church a much better (in terms of doing good and avoiding bad) organization.

But then, I don't know that I've ever seen a case where the leaders of a religion or other organization dedicated to doing good have been grateful for people finding out major problems in how they are doing things and forcing a change for the good that would not have otherwise occurred.

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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by Sterling:

There's nothing particularly cynical about assuming the Church has a strong vested interest in maintaining the rosters of the priesthood.

I don't think that this is really so much a factor. Given the number of abusive priests (small considering the damage that they did) it wouldn't have made that much of a dent. Also, many priests were basically retired by the time their abuses came to light.

You're probably right; I was mostly replying to the suggestion that the idea it could have played a role was "cynical". Sadly, within the spectrum of opinions on the matter, conceiving such a motivation seems almost optimistic in comparison. I do think it probably played a role in the modern-day scandal, but that's not to say that it couldn't be a small load added to the greater ongoing need to protect the Church's reputation, a need which could account for the secrecy within the larger timeframe.

I also agree that the ability to talk about abuse occurring within small, intimate units like the family and the parish is something of relatively recent origin.

quote:
And in the urgency to "protect" the dignity of the "Church"* the victims also got lost.
I also have the sense that in many cases priests got shuffled around without much in the way of explanation to the communities that were receiving them as to why they were suddenly receiving this new priest. Even if one can understand (not necessarily to imply condone, or even sympathize with) the motivations of covering up clerical wrongdoing, the element of releasing a wolf on a new flock of sheep without warning is galling, to put it mildly.
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kmbboots
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This is an article in the Irish Times that is several years old by now (2002). I have copied it entire but will excerpt and link to it if I can find it somewhere you don't have to be registered to read it. The author is one of the heroes of this battle and I don't think he would mind me posting it. Let me know if I need to take it down or if, should I have to take it down you want it via email.

quote:
Seventeen years ago the Catholic Hierarchy, from local bishops to Vatican bureaucrats, had a major wake-up call. There was a clergy sexual-abuse time bomb of nuclear proportions ticking away in their midst and they had a choice as to what to do: risk peeking out of their isolated fortress, or build up a wall of defences to preserve their power and privilege. They chose the latter and they chose wrongly.

The institutional church's public statements then and now lead to a common denominator. They never really got the point of what it's all about and probably never will until the fundamental notions of clericalism, ecclesiastical power and even "church" are fully examined.

It's not about sinful priests who abuse. "Sin" and "evil" aren't the issue. Sexual abuse is abominable but it's the result of a compulsive sexual disorder, not the devil.

It's not about money grubbing victims and their greedy lawyers. I know hundreds of victims and all they ever wanted was honesty and a fair shake from the church's system. They turned to the civil courts only in utter frustration after being slammed around by an uncaring ecclesiastical bureaucracy.

It's not about a Catholic-bashing secular press hell-bent on eroding Church teaching on sexual morality. The press and media are simply doing their job - telling the truth. And without them, this enormous cancer would never have been uncovered for what it really is.

It's not about a "current environment of pansexuality", as Vatican Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos asserted the other day. The moral trends of a society don't create sexual disorders any more than they breed a lust for ecclesiastical power and prestige.

It's not about blaming the English-speaking world, as the Vatican bureaucrats have unsuccessfully tried to do. That's blame shifting for sure because the problem is all over; it's just having a more difficult time breaking free of the ecclesiastical bonds in some countries than in others.

It's not about promoting homosexuality, attacking celibacy, supporting radical feminism or advocating a married priesthood. So then, what is it about? It is about the church.

There is a solid principle in political science that says the governing elite of an organisation will eventually think that it is the organisation. That's a mistake that the Catholic bishops have made: thinking that they alone are the church.

They are not and now the sex abuse meltdown has given voice to a mass of faithful Catholics who are angry, hurt, distrustful of their bishops and committed to reclaiming the church they think has been hijacked from them.

The Hierarchy is facing a faithful who have thrown off the infantile bonds of clerical control and grown up. They are demanding accountability and honesty.

So it's not just about priests who have sexually abused thousands of innocent people of both sexes throughout the Catholic world. It's really about a system driven by the bishops that has spiritually abused victims and non-victims alike by scrambling to protect itself rather than reaching out to comfort the afflicted.

The abuse continues. The public apologies and anguished expressions of regret mean little to the victimised thousands. As one victim said, "What's a public apology? They say it and then run and cook up more defence tactics." How many of the bishops sought out the victims, gone to their homes and sat down and listened to their pain and anger? Precious few, if any.

Since the present crisis started in 1984, the abuse victims and their loyal supporters have faced a formidable adversary.

As one US victim, Peter Isely, said: "The dioceses spent tens of millions of dollars on the highest priced lawyers and hired the best public relations firms to fight us. And what did we have? All we had was the truth." The truth is not just that the sex abuse and cover-up were as widespread as some claimed.

The real truth is the undeniable fact that the Catholic church is all of its members and the most important people in this church are those who are most rejected and farthest from the institutional throne rooms.

The church is not a series of fiefdoms whose populace exists to sustain the lord and his manor.

The Vatican has finally spoken. The other day it issued the Pope's address to priests worldwide, which the New York Times reports was neither written by nor announced by the Pope himself.

The statement and the presenting cardinal's deportment at the press conference confirm the assertion that they still don't get it.

Why is this statement such a disappointment? Because while it rightly focuses on the pain of the many good and faithful priests and bishops, it barely acknowledges the anguish of the thousands of victims, their families, friends and supporters, which is indescribable in its depth.

Cardinal Castrillon, the spokesman, appeared irritated when challenged by reporters. I suspect his irritation stemmed from fear at having his authority challenged. Clericalism at its worst.

Later on, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navaro-Valls said Cardinal Castrillon's comments could be considered an expression of the church's position on the issue.

Sorry, but the church's position on the issue is not being voiced by the Cardinal or the local bishops. It is being voiced by the by the abused, by their families, and by the thousands of angry Catholics, lay and cleric alike, who are fed up with the secrecy, the callousness, the arrogance and malignant inaction of their leadership.

It's not a problem with the church. The church is waking up. It's a problem with the leadership.

For those who are shocked at the criticism and even venom being heaped on the Hierarchy, there should be hope in the realisation that the Catholic Church is not about preserving the power and privileges of the ruling class.

It's about Jesus, who only showed his anger when confronting the antics of the religious leaders of his time who sadly had forgotten that they were the servants of the Almighty and not the other way around. It's about the same Jesus, compassionate and caring, who reached out to heal and give new life to the wounded, the sinner, the rejected.

Father Thomas P. Doyle is chaplain with the US Air Force and is based in Germany, a canon lawyer and a long time advocate for clergy abuse victims

ETA: He is no longer a chaplain. This was written back in 2002 (though it seems to apply today).

[ March 29, 2010, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
I think one of the major indicators here is the Pope's attempt to lay the blame on increasing secularization. Increasing secularization has nothing to do with child molestation, nor does it have anything to do with the major problem, which is high church officials covering up the child molestation and providing a shield so that the priests can continue molesting the children entrusted to their care. It does, however, make it harder for the Church to get away with horrible things like this. And while it doesn't very much conflict with the mission of spreading the good stuff of the Catholic Church into the world, it does interfere with the high officials power.

Yes, I've heard the arguments from some of the more conservative in the Catholic Church before that it's the recent secularization or liberalization of society/parishioners/church practice that is to blame for the scandals in the Church. It seems like another facet of the "halcyon golden days" falacy, frankly.

My gut feeling is that some of the reason for the large number of abuses has to be lain at the feet of Catholicism's views on sexuality. I suspect a lot of young men, harboring shame about their secret sexual feelings and having been told repeatedly that they risk damnation for having them, get the idea that if they devote their lives to God that surely He will take those feelings away from them, or at least help them to withstand their temptation. And instead they find themselves in a position of authority where it's even easier to pursue those temptations.

Unfortunately, when things get to this scale I do fear that it puts the ability of the Church to do good works in jeapordy. I can definitely imagine cases of significant need where some might decide that the presence of the clergy simply was not welcome. Events like the scandal with the founder of Covenant House suggest that at a minimum these scandals can be extremely disruptive to otherwise benign works.

I also feel that the Church has been more hesitant about promoting social justice since there were a number of high-profile attacks on members of the clergy in the late seventies and early eighties, like the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador.

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kmbboots
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Sterling, I think that is correct. Sexual abuse by priests is not new - in fact has been going on for centuries. What is new is that people are talking about it.

Regarding social justice, I think - and this is purely speculation - that having a Pope that lived under the shadow of the Soviet Union gave the Vatican an allergy to anything that looked too much like socialism.

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MrSquicky
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I don't think that's accurate, boots. Pope John Paul II was very involved in and supportive of many labor causes, Solidarity being the most prominent example.

My speculation is that this withdraw was in part due to it being associated with Vatican II and the drive towards a less authoritarian role for the hierarchy.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Honestly, given the litany of abuses that make up a large part of the history of the Catholic hierarchy, it seems like they should be grateful for the rise in secularism. The diminishment of their power and the increase in scrutiny by the laity and people outside the Church has made the Catholic Church a much better (in terms of doing good and avoiding bad) organization.
This is an interesting point, especially considering how it is probably true but the church would utterly detest the notion that it's better off because it's being policed by the rise of secularism.
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Lalo
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by Lalo:
Not really. If they excommunicated every priest who molested kids (or enabled pedophiles), they'd have nobody left.

Yeah I want to know how this is in any way true btw
Still waiting on this, or any of the other majorly sweeping defamations of the church.

The church has a lot to account for, and desperately needs to change their doofy policies, secretive cover-ups, neglect, choking dogmatic excuses and self-indemnifications, etc, if they don't want to continue a slide into collapse of the church's cultural authority and relevance, but nobody serves that effort with wide-brushed defamations like this.

Whoa, chill. I haven't been active here for years, and you expect me to check this thread on the hour?

In any case, looking at your posts on this thread, it doesn't look like we disagree on much. You want civil justice to try these priests rather than backroom Catholic tribunals. You want massive internal reform of the Church, which I feel is the next best alternative to the Church becoming irrelevant to the modern world. And your main issue with me is that you feel that the vast majority of priests don't know about the molesters among them. Right?

I went to a Catholic high school. And I love the priests there, they're awesome people dedicated to making the world a better place. And there's not a single one of them who doesn't know EVERYTHING about the every other priest. If there were a molester among them, they'd know.

I don't think you'd disagree that knowingly permitting a past offender to work with children is enabling him, possibly to a criminal degree. The Church has done this, over and over again, to thousands of different parishes. Particularly given the common reason for moving priests, do you seriously believe nobody questioned why a priest was moved to their district? Do you think nobody knew? As far as I can tell, you're offended by the thought that this scandal extends beyond a tiny minority of molesters.

The Church is unfixably corrupt, and dreams that it'll reform itself are naive. For god's sake, look at Benedict's railings against liberals to get an idea of his desire for reform. The only solution I see is European -- that someday soon, the world will abandon religion and this corrupt institution will fade into irrelevance.

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katharina
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The Catholic church is not the only religious organization out there. It isn't only Catholicism or nothing.
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kmbboots
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Lalo, I think that is an exageration. I know a lot of good priests who, even aware of the prevalence of sexual abuse, were genuinely shocked and hurt to find priests that they knew involved. Abusers are experts at hiding their crimes. And transfering from parish to parish is not at all unusual. This does not absolve those that did know and covered it up, of course.

Nor is Catholicism the only church with sexual abuse issues: http://www.pcusa.org/pcnews/2010/10274.htm

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