Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some Brilliant And Thought Provoking Comments On The Sexual Abuse Crisis.

This photo will probably go down in Church history as the epitome of a clerical abuser and his "Great" enabler.

John Allen has written another article for the NCR in which he gives advice to the Irish hierarchy on what and what not to do in the wake of the Murphy report. My intention with this post is not to critique his article but to put before my readers some of the thoughts of the commenters. In my opinion these are the voices of thoughtful, caring, committed Catholics and well worth reading and pondering. Much more so than John's column, which any PR hack could have written.--(OK I guess I just did critique his column.)

Here's an Irish solution that John didn't mention, that many Irish Catholics are acting on.

"I've been following these horror stories from the Murphy Report rather closely, as I am Irish myself, and have had several Irish friends who have suffered both physical and sexual abuse at the hands of Irish clergy, brothers, and nuns. Although I agree with your five pieces of advice, there is another piece of advice, that I must say more than a few Irish Catholics are following. Specifically,formally renouncing their Catholic heritage via a form readily available on the internet. The completed and witnessed document is then posted to the Archdiocese of Dublin. Interestingly, the number of converts to the (Anglican) Church of Ireland has been dramatically increasing over the past five years, according to The Irish Independent. I felt a sense of pride and relief when I dropped the aforementioned document into the post box."

Here's a comment which gets to the heart of the matter of who really needs to take accountability for the perpetration of sexual abuse on the global level it truly is: (Edited for length)

In Ireland, the Bishops/Sacrificial Lambs are Starting to Resign
Hopefully, the Irish people have learned something from the American, Canadian and Australian Pedophilia Priest Scandals by requiring their 5 bishops, involved in the Dublin Archdiocese coverups, to resign. The whole world applauds their determination to publically expose one of the main sources of the problems, the bishops. Unfortunately, the problem doesn't end with the bishops, because any moron knows that the bishops carried out an agenda set down by none other than the Vatican. The current Pope, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, formerly the Office of the Inquisitions is incredulous when he says how shocked he is, for it was his office that reviewed all of the Priest/Nun Pedophilia complaints from all over the world, requesting the dismissal of Pedophiles in the clergy!

Does the Vatican really think that by pressuring 5 bishops to resign that people, all over the world, aren't going to be asking WHY the Pope didn't do something to stop the coverups sooner? Instead, sensing that the public smells blood, in order to protect the Pope and Curia, the Vatican is graciously accepting the resignations of Irish Bishops, the Church's Sacrificial Lambs, in hopes that the Irish people won't demand the resignation of the Pope, for his participation in the coverups as head of the CDF....

The proverbial "Buck should stop" at the Pope's desk! But the whole heirarchy will rise up in defense of the Pope by trying to deflect the blame on morally incompetent bishops. OH, these poor, little sacrificial lambs. They've given their lives for the Church and they have been amply rewarded for their incompetence as human beings. Unfortunately, they were educated priests of God, Bishops of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, who should have been steeped enough in the Gospels and the writings of Saint Paul to know that they were committing heinous crimes by subverting justice for the victims and inventing the lies, called "Moral Reservation," instead of LIES.

The following comment critiques Allen's assertion in his book Future Church that the abuse crisis is not global and just a passing moment. (Edited for length)

Typical Allen summary that obviously must pick and choose what to highlight. In his new book, Future Church, released prior to the Murphy Report, Allen states that the sexual abuse crisis is a passing moment; that it mainly impacts english speaking countries that follow the same legal system; he points out that the "new" southern hemisphere catholic church rarely pays attention to this issue.

What Allen misses is the connection between his point four - "culture" - and how Rome and bishops are the issue. This same type of culture will impact the southern church and as globalization increases, southern hemisphere nations will adopt legal systems that more closely align with current western nations - why? becuase they have evolved and best support human dignity and the gospel message. Does he really think that this evolution will never spread to the other hemisphere? He says that sexual abuse is just accepted as part of life - just like poverty, disease, etc. in Africa, South America, India, China. His views are narrow and short sighted.....

....What happens in Ireland will rebound on Canada, US, England, South Africa, Australia, etc. - the issue is the silence, cover -up, and lack of leadership in Rome. He speaks to only abuse of children but the current sexual culture of the church (western and southern hemisphere) have created huge issues - in his book he calls these isolated incidents?

There is no mention of current legal cases that are attempting to work around the foreign state status of the Vatican to hold bishops and Rome accountable for Allen's definition of "culture." If one of these cases is successful, everything Allen says here is moot. Nowhere does he state that it has been the catholics in the pews, the media, and legal means that have forced the church to reluctantly face facts - he again minimizes this or says it is a passing phase.

This next comment is painful and very sad in it's bald truth.

I'm afraid this is mostly garrulous and self-important rubbish. A "heads-up for the Irish"? "To prevent headaches down the line"? "Engage the pope early and often"? "Now that it's clear the crisis isn't just an American problem"?

The Church in Ireland is imploding. This is the same church whose venerable early missionaries carried the Gospel to the German tribes, and whose globetrotting brothers and nuns contributed more than anyone to the vitality of the Catholic Church in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is now utterly laid to waste, and very probably it will never recover.
Against all this, John Allen's tone of homespun advice from Tucson and Spokane just seems irritating and inappropriate.

Here's another straightforward and truthful observation:

Actually I believe the U.S. Church could learn from the Irish church. In Ireland there is clear leadership by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. His response to the report in writing and more importantly his stance on the removal of bishops is in stark contrast to the lack of leadership and lack of calls for resignations of U.S. Bishops.

And this comment draws a very pertinent analogy about the sexual and intellecual abuse enabled by the Vatican under Cardinal Ratzinger. (Edited for length.)

Pope Benedict, rather than "cleaning up this same mess" has done his part when he was Cardinal Ratzinger as head of the CDF. He heard all of the reports about pedophile priests and he had a chance to "cleaning up this same mess." At the same time he made the point of condemning some theologians while enabling the mess and torture of pedophiles to spread systemically. We know by this witness what the priorities of the institution really are and are not and it is more politically motivated than it is motivated by the power of the Holy Spirit.

While you continue to pray for the Pope, I will pray for the victims of sexual abuse and for the victims of intellectual predators in the Church. The RCC leadership has destroyed the lives of souls and destroyed all semblance and true character of the merciful and compassionate mind of Christ. Both types of predators will be unabated until the Pope and his entourage of ecclesiastical & lay enablers such as Opus Dei and the Legionnaires of Christ choose to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them and teach them. This is my hope, my prayer and dream that they will see the Light of Christ and be blinded like Saul and healed by Jesus. If they truly believed in Jesus Christ they would follow him.

Finally, the succinct words of Jim McCrea who frequently comments on this blog: (I didn't dare edit this one.)

Nowhere in this article do I find an expression of the need to engage the laity in participating in the design and implementation of corrective actions. Once again, it’s all about the clergy, including the pope. This is way too much self-serving navel gazing.

All well and good, but if the church in Ireland is to survive it will need to regain the trust of the people who decreasingly grace the pews, pay the bills and provide future candidates for the clergy and religious institutions. They are, after all, the reason for the structure that has failed them and itself so very miserably.

Without a recognition of rampant clericalism and the need to do away with that, this will all become just another instance of clergy-identified and clergy-defined persecution of the church, i.e., them.

Wake up folks --- or you’ll be preaching to emptier churches and dealing with emptier coffers.


I saved Jim's comment for last because he touches on the crux of any healing for the Church, it's victims, and the priesthood. Until the clergy admit that the abuse cover up is symptomatic about how insecure they are in their definition of priesthood, and that it was an exercise in unconscious self destruction, there will be no real healing.

If the Vatican and it's bishops were so sure about the correctness of their theology of the priesthood there would have been no motivation to cover up the flaws of those who couldn't cut the mustard. They would have acted with alacrity to laicize and prosecute offending priests.

The fact they did just the opposite says they really don't believe their own schtick. The Vatican needs to swallow the bitter medicine and mature the theology of the priesthood before national churches with in the global church begin to drop like dominoes.


  1. John Allen's report was abysmal and I agree "any PR hack could have written it."

    The comments from readers was very good. I am glad mine made it in on here. I do often tend to need editing for length. While writing I made the connection and analogy to enabling sexual predators and intellectual predators of which Pope Benedict is notoriously known for now. He's made his mark in history as an enabler of these crippling diseases in the Catholic Church.

    These crimes of sexual abuse are so heinous and disgusting and that this Pope BXVI allowed it and PJPII allowed this to go on just blows my mind. John Allen's article is infuriating.

  2. Thanks for the kind words.

    Further to your and my thoughts:


    Jim McCrea

  3. All of those comments were quite thoughtful & of value.

    As to John Allen, he is a member of Opus Dei. His job is to pretend to be a voice of moderation. A little blunt-edged critique here & there. Just enough to make it seem that he is 'on our side'. But he has other bosses.....

    In a just world, Josef Ratzinger & his entire Curial crew would be brought before the World Court for crimes against humanity. As it is with him/them that "the buck" truly stops. For knowingly enabling the predators & ordering/coordinating a top-down coverup.

    It also MUST be said, in utter fairness, that while many of these crimes occurred under the watch of JPII.....JPII was most certainly NOT his own man & thus NOT in control of the Papacy since at least the early 90s. He was surrounded, manipulated, & finally used as a puppet by the denizens & friends of Opus Dei who actually ran his papacy. This obviously included his 2nd in Command, Mr. Ratzginer.

    This is neither exaggeration nor 'conspiracy theory'; it is observable & discernable fact. For all practical purposes, Ratz has been de facto 'pope' for about 15 years.

  4. Wonderful commentary, Colleen. I'm smiling because I had bookmarked the same article to write about yesterday, and then got pulled away from blogging by family invitations.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your take on Allen's article and the quality of the commentary by the "little" folks whom he so frequently disdains. I particularly liked Greg Bullough's statement in the discussion thread that John Allen ought to read and ponder the brilliant commentary, and this might make him less supercilious about the blogging community than he appears to be now.

  5. "As to John Allen, he is a member of Opus Dei."

    Please cite credible verification of this statement, or retract it.

    Thank you.

    Jim McCrea

  6. I pointed out to John, and he agreed, that the comments on the thread were astonishing and that he should perhaps revise his opinion of the "blogosphere" which he managed to insult a few weeks ago.

    I, too, stood in awe of the insight, clarity, and balance of the comments that were offered. In fact, I'm grateful to John for starting the conversation as I believe it is one for the ages.

    Notably absent were the $.02 worth of some of the more reactionary denizens of the NCR blogs.

    In contrast to some others, I don't find John's initial article "abysmal" or "PR dreck." Naive, perhaps. Simplistic, also.

    However, if it hadn't been written it wouldn't have been dwarfed in insight by the comments, which would not otherwise have been made. John has his role to play; we of more direct experience have ours.

    I, for one, stand thankful for the entire "conversation."

  7. Greg I appreciate your taking the time to comment. I agree with you that had not John written this article in the way he did, I doubt these really great comments would have been generated.

    The abuse crisis has knifed Catholics at the heart level and keeping the discussion at the head level is not helping to bring any healing. I often wonder if sometimes John stays in his head because his Catholic heart has been just as wounded as the rest of us.