Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Benedict Advocates Repentance And Conversion--Not Structural Change

Pope Benedict has a great idea here except for a few problems.  Pedophiles don't repent and their bishop enablers have exempted themselves from any accountability, which more or less negates any notion of complete repentance or any kind of conversion. This is even more egregious in cases in which bishops themselves are abusers. Benedict completely ignores the idea that real repentance might mandate structural change.  The following is from the Sydney Herald

Pope Benedict XVI says repentance is more effective than structural change within the Church to counter sexual abuse by priests.

Using an indirect historical analogy, the pope on Wednesday recalled the words of XII century Saint Hildegard, according to whom "a true renewal of the ecclesiastic community is the result less of structural changes than of a sincere spirit of repentance and an active path towards conversion."

Saint Hildergard at the time was fighting the criticism by German sects "proposing a radical reform of the Church in order to fight abuses by clergy," Benedict told 7,000 pilgrims at his weekly general audience.

The pontiff said Hildergard's was "a message that we should never forget."


Maybe Hildergard's is a message that needs some modification since eight hundred years later the Church is still dealing with the same abusive problems.  Sometimes good old fashioned structural changes can facilitate true repentance.  Often times these structural changes also reduce one's ability to abuse with impunity or disabuse one of the notion they are not accountable to anyone other than themselves.  Come to think of it, isn't Benedict the same Pope who is demanding structural changes for the Legionaries and suggested Maciel restructure himself into a monastery?

Actually, I'm not sure structural changes would actually accomplish much if they weren't accompanied by a completely different mindset.  As it stands now the Church is in love with the idea of the victim/abuser dynamic.  It's pervasive in much of it's theology and spirituality.  It leads to the kind of mentality that blames victims for being complicit in their own victimization, or tells them to offer up their suffering for the good of their abuser, or demands they forgive their unrepentant abuser for the good of their own soul.  There's a bit of truth in the last statement, but it's a long road for any victim to reach that point of forgiveness.  The larger truth is forgiveness of this sort is too often seen by the abuser as a free pass and short circuits true repentance and conversion.  This is sometimes called receiving cheap grace.  Real grace is not cheap.  I am not personally predisposed to offering Benedict much cheap grace.

This victim/abuser dynamic can also be described by the terms prey/predator. The operative emotional consequence for people exposed to this dynamic is fear.  The Church has a long traditional history of evoking fear in it's adherents.  Victimizing and preying on catechized lay fear has also proven to be very lucrative. This is why I'm quite sure Benedict is not going to advocate change in the cultural structure.  We'll just have to trust an intrinsically predatory hierarchical structure will change it's stripes and repent and convert. He wants us to believe this clerical lion will lay down with it's lay lambs.  Right. 


  1. It is sad that there is so much resistance to true change in the Church. Feminist theology has done so much in this area of victim/abuser that would be useful. The hole dynamic of suffering is good needs to be re-examined, and surely is being examined by many.

    I hold out hope that we can convince that real change offers so much more than mere platitudes of "repent" and be saved.

  2. The call for structural change came from Vatican II and Benedict has been the chief revisionist of that era. He has overseen the appointment of the Bishops that might make necessary changes. The time for change and progress probably died with John Paul I. Ratzinger has not been an advocate of the changes passed in the great council.

    The only acceptable change now would have to come from the laity, the section of the People of God to whom the leadership is unwilling to listen. We are now in a painful time of internal implosion until the all the People of God come to a better sense of what is happening and what is wrong. It is my fear that as happened during the ‘holy’ inquisition, there will be blood shed and violence ignited by a very fearful clerical leadership class of men who are responsible to no one other than themselves. dennis

  3. Dennis there is a part of me that really wants to say your take about blood shed is wrong, but recent events in Mexico over Mexico City's gay marriage intiative do seem to indicate the hierarchy won't go down without inciting some sort of fight.

    Sherry I do take hope in the recent meeting of moral theologians at Trent, Italy. The representation of women at the meeting was far from token and their male peers are listening. This meeting may turn out to be more important than just a gathering of academic theologians. It does represent another authoritative voice in Catholicism and one by it's very composition which is open to dialogue with lay men and women. Additionally this is the one global Catholic group which is seriously dealing with the issues being raised for faith by scientific advances.

  4. I also hope that my intuition is not correct about these guys causing violence. History tells us otherwise, but perhaps even the current curia can some how grow and develop more wisdom and discernment. dennis

  5. what kind of stuctural change do propose?

    The overwhelming majority of the abusers were homosexuals. It's probably better not to let homosexuals become priests.


  6. Jasper-

    Tell me what's different between a adult man who is attracted to other adult men, in much the same way straight women are attracted to men, and an adult man attracted to children.

    While you're at it can you also explain why even the FBI says most pedos identify as heterosexual, and describe why they're attracted to children is because they're, "small, hairless and *Feminine*?


  7. Jasper, the overwhelming number of rapes in male environments are homosexual--you know like prisons and naval ships. Guys will be guys even with other guys.

    Plus the number of female victims in vastly under reported according to SNAP and Fr Tom Doyle and Richard Sipe. Not to mention altar boys were very easy to access, and there were no altar girls until the mid eighties. The abuse crisis is not particularly a gay problem, it's a twisted guy problem.

    Personally I'd let parishes and dioceses pick their own leaders with only the contingent they be truly holy and fairly well versed in scripture and theology. I would turn the Vatican City States into a central repository/library/museum and governance center more like the UN. The Pope could then become one bishop amongst equals--with the additional burden of being a global ambassador.

    Like the UN there could be a sort of permanent governance body representing as many geographical areas as feasible. Collegiality and subsidiarity rules the day--and the Church.

  8. Kallisti

    "Tell me what's different between a adult man who is attracted to other adult men, in much the same way straight women are attracted to men, and an adult man attracted to children."

    men + men = sin (abnormal)
    men + women = natural (normal)
    men + children = sin (abnormal)

    81 percent of the reported victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy were boys shows that the crisis was characterized by homosexual behavior...not pedophilia

    It said about 51 percent were 11 to 14 years old and 27 percent were 15 to 17 years old.

    "Jasper, the overwhelming number of rapes in male environments are homosexual--you know like prisons and naval ships. Guys will be guys even with other guys."

    No, the guys doing this probably have homo/bi-sexual tendantcies to begin with. Straight men do have sex with other men.


    Your structural change proposition would be a disaster. Parishes and dioceses would start making up their own rules, etc. The Pope would be useless and have no authority. I like the hierarchy. The Catholic church needs to less tolerant not more. Look, 54% of Catholics voted for a president who supported infanticide.

    this is not good, these Catholics voters should be denied communion and maybe even excommunicated from the church.


  9. I meant 'Straight men do not have sex with other men'


  10. Jasper, straight men do have sex with other men. Have for millenia.

    Check out this link to see how such a thing can be very much a part of any given culture--even cultures which stone homosexuals to death:

  11. Oh and previous to Obama a large percentage of Catholics voted to put Bush back in office after he started the War in Iraq. A war which JPII emphatically stated was not justified. Murder infants by bomb is still infanticide.

  12. It is interesting how Church leaders tell the victims that they should forgive their abusers. How many of these abusers have publicly apologized to those that they have abused. Have bishops made abusers apologize to those they abused or is it more likely for them to have their lawyers protect the abusers and further victimize the victims?

  13. Jasper- Just because something is "different" that does not make it bad, it makes it different, no more no less. Likewise just because something is "natural" that does not make it good, someone may have a natural inclination to strangle others to death, that would not make that good simply because it is "natural." Saying something is "natural" gives it no particular moral quality whatsoever, this is known as the Naturalistic Fallacy.

    Your stats are also bogus-

    And from a *conservative* deacon no less. You fail, epically.

  14. Some of the priests apologized, as for the bishops, they couldn't do much if the accused priest denied the abuse. If the priest admitted to the abuse I'm sure his apology or lack there of was largely determined by whether or not there was a law suit pending against the diocese.




  16. "Jasper, straight men do have sex with other men. Have for millenia."

    Really? I've never heard of it.

    "Oh and previous to Obama a large percentage of Catholics voted to put Bush back in office after he started the War in Iraq. A war which JPII emphatically stated was not justified. Murder infants by bomb is still infanticide."

    These are 2 different things. Abortion is the deliberate murder of innocent unborn humans. Our service men did not deliberatly murder infants or traget civilians, their target was the Iraqi Army installations and Sadaam and his thugs, who btw were responsible for genocide:

    Note: You won't hear about this in the MSM.

    "The worst human rights abuses of Hussein's tenure took place during the genocidal al-Anfal Campaign (1986-1989), in which Hussein's administration called for the extermination of every living thing--human or animal--in certain regions of the Kurdish north. All told, some 182,000 people--men, women, and children--were slaughtered, many through use of chemical weapons."


  17. "Jasper- Just because something is "different" that does not make it bad, it makes it different, no more no less."

    Well Kallisti, I guess we don't share the same values. As Catholics, we believe that sodomy is a sin and against the natural law:

    "There are absolutely no grounds for the considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against natural law"

    Kallisti and Colkoch,

    "Catholic priests during the past 52 years involved homosexual men preying on boys. Only 5.8% of victims were under age 7; 16% percent were between ages 8-10; and over 78% were between the ages of 11-17. 44% of the accused priests were accused by more than one person, and contrary to the suggestions implied by the media, the victims have not been preadolescent children; they were generally teenage boys."


  18. Jasper- Your bizarre fetishistic tendencies are showing, strike two, The Is-Ought Fallacy.

    The brain damaged xian right claims our organs have only one purpose, actually our organs have multiple purposes. Imagine if I told you that using your mouth for any other purpose than eating and drinking is morally wrong. No singing, no talking, no kissing, no flute playing because all these things would be morally wrong, but this is insanity, using the mouth for all these other things would be a morally neutral usage of the mouth.

    Again, do I really have to say it? Trying to equate gay men with pedos is a dishonest, destroyed argument. There's a difference between Liberace and Micheal Jackson, did you spot it yet?


  19. Colcoch,

    As for your link to Sf gate; straight men do not have sex with other men. If men have an attraction to other men or boys they are either homosexual or bi-sexual. That's just the way it is, there's no getting around it...

    I realize what I'm saying is not politically correct, but it is the truth.

  20. Jasper, the only place you are correct is in your own mind.


  21. Kallisti,

    Can I ask what you are? Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, etc



  22. Liberal. Catholic.

    With Electric Blue hair.


  23. Kallisti,

    As a Catholic, you should read about what the Cathecism says about Sexuality, Mariage, etc. It's the plain Truth.

    I have violated these rules myself because I had sex before I was married. Not proud of it, just saying...

    I don't doubt your a caring person, but there are certain rights and wrongs we should live by as Catholics..

  24. You doubt I'm a caring person?!
    Get real. Also why should I have to listen to the fossils in the tone deaf hierarchy when they are clearly, empirically wrong about..well everything actually.

    I'm going to stick with my own perfectly good God/dess given mind and conscience Kthnksbai.


  25. "You doubt I'm a caring person?! "

    No, I said I don't doubt...

    as for the blue hair, read this:

    "Immaturity and imprudence. An action acceptable or indifferent in itself can become wrong if the intention or motive is wrong. Some young people adopt outrageous fashions out of an immature desire to rebel against society or against their parents. Such disobedience against parents is sinful. Some do it out of an immature desire to conform to their friends, and others out of an equally immature desire to stick out from everyone around them. Some do it out of boredom, because it is something different, because it gives them a thrill, because it is something for their friends to admire and comment on. Mindless following of fads is always the mark of immaturity. "


  26. Jasper says, "grumble grumble, you're different, so I don't like you." It's my personality, It's who I am, I'm being myself.

    Have problems with that feeling much Jasper?


  27. Kallisti,

    no, I never said I didn't like you. I'll bet you're a very nice person. I'm just trying to relay authentic catholic teaching. I still have a lot to learn though..


  28. Nothing about your physical appearence has to be modified (blue hair). You are a beautiful creation of God as is.

  29. The reality of Catholic Clerical Sex Abuse is that it is demonic in its basis. The abusers & their episcopal enables serves Satan, not God.

    Now this does not literally mean that they are gathering in cemetaries wearing black robes at midnight...

    One may be a willing or unwitting servant of Evil. And there are degrees of each. The point being that such men do not serve God. That they have no Faith. In some if not many cases have allowed themselves to be deceived into thinking that they have Faith.

    But, one way or the other, they are under demonic influence.

    Straight men rape other men in prison settings. That is about power rather then sex or sexual orientation itself. The clerical abusers are gay, str8 & bi. Many have abused kids of both sexes.

    A clerical culture is founded in Dominance/Submission, such abuse is all about power, more so then sex itself. If the abusers just wanted sex, then they could find a prostitute or a willing hook-up. But that is not what they are doing.

    Power is a drug. Like any drug it is addictive. All too many priests crave power rather the God (sadly). So they will seek to fill this seeming void. Also, many of the abusers were abused themselves; thus are acting out their abuse.

    As to any notion of genuine repentance, conversion (much less correct structural change), it will not happen. Not until Christ steps in to do the job directly.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  30. The fact is that the John Jay Study, commissioned by the USCCB, and a well-respected, "objective" organization, declared that the clerical abuse crisis was NOT attributable to homosexual priests. Go argue with the experts, if you disagree...and show your hubris while you're at it.

  31. The John Jay study is highly inaccurate for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is that it was paid for by the guilty parties:)

    It is based on flawed & incomplete sample data. It is also nearly 10 years old, and many more (much more dire) cases have come to light. The primary sample data flaws are:

    1) it only reflects those cases which the Church considers credible

    2) it only considers those cases which have not been swept under the rug in some manner.

    So anything the John Jay Report says must be taken with a grain of salt.

    The truth is that the vast majority of cases were never reported to ANYONE. Most victims suffered in silence. Many of those who tried to speak up were humiliated by the clergy & by law enforcement in cahoots with the bishops.

    To do such a study based on such incomplete data & then assert that 'this is what the figures show'...or...'these are the facts'....makes public opinion surveys credible by contrast!

    Now as to the contention that the abusers were not gay. That is simply not true either. Many abusers were gay. Precise numbers of percentages....I have no clue. Only God really knows.

    The abusers were gay, straight & bi. In more then a few cases, serial abusers (with many victims) abused members of both sexes. Regardless of their personal sexual orientation. As the would have been under some degree of demonic influence, pansexuality might well accurately describe some of them.

    Clerical sex abuse has nothing intrinsically to do with sexual orientation. It has everything to do with gross spiritual dysfunction. One who is normal & balanced (gay, str8 or bi) would not sexually abuse (or rape) impresionable youngsters. Especially given the moral & spiritual trust placed in clerics by virtue of their position. Manipulating their dominant status over the kid.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  32. Mouse,

    I don't get your comment. Your last paragraph seems to completely contradict your earlier posts. I concur that there is a spiritual/psychological dysfunction involved; however, I would add that an elitist, hierarchical, unaccountable clerical culture was the principal culprit, a fact that NCR reports more and more bishops are beginning to whisper among themselves.

    Yet, Mouse, your other paragraphs continue the canard that this is the result of gay clergy. If you dismiss the John Jay Study for its deficiencies, on what authority do you make your claims?

  33. There is no such contradiction.

    The abusers are spiritually dysfunctional. More then a few under some degree of demonic influence. A reading of the Ryan Report from Ireland would make both concepts painfully obvious, and show the intrinsic coherence between the two. N.B. the Ryan Report is the work of an independent commission....NOT of the Irish Church! Hence what it illustrates is far closer to reality then something like the John Jay Report.

    Hint: persons of both genders & sexual orientations can be subject to spiritual deception/dysfunction, and demonic influence. Satan does not descriminate.

    Of priest & lay brother abusers, it would 'seem' that most of their victims were male. Now that is not intended to be a factual statement; it is from observation. As we simply DO NOT KNOW all of the cases of abuse, there can be no 100% conclusive statements. Except based on the publicly known and (Church) admitted cases.

    This is as MOST abuse cases were either never reported at all (out of fear of the Church's power), or 'paid for silence"....or the victims were frightened into silence. By threats of legal action, excommunication, etc.

    The John Jay report cannot be taken as in any way 'accurate'. First, as it was paid for by those who enabled the abuse. Second as it is based upon incomplete & flawed data. Any 'determination' or conclusion reached via this study is very inadequate at best.

    There exists - and has existed for centuries - a gay subculture within the clergy. No point in denying this, or of debating its exact size.

    The problem is not that 'X" percentage are gay. The problem is immorality(of gay OR str8 clerics), resulting from spiritual dysfunction. Those who do not (or never did) take Celibacy seriously. Who feel somehow entitled to dominate or treat as chattel...laity. Add these factors & we have a ripe set up for abuse....of ALL kinds. Including the use of the young & innocent as sex toys.

    Anon Y.Mouse

  34. As to the Bishops...those who enabled the abusers are spiritually dyfunctional. They knowing enabled them, at least tacitly (if not literally) approving of the abuse.

    Their actions in these regards speak louder then any words could.

    As individuals, they either have no Faith - or lost it. The latter would indicate a lack of true Prayer.

    If they believed in God, they would not do what they have done. A man of Faith will not go along for the sake of getting along. He will not tolerate Evil.

    Risk of censure? Loss of promotion? Being defrocked? Those are all possible for a priest or bishop who speaks up about the culture of sex abuse.

    If he has Faith, he will place His trust in God & in His Will for him. And know that he may be asked to endure suffering for God...and for His innocent ones. But God always provides for those who trust in Him. And will never abandon.

    Ergo....most priests & bishops, by their overt complicity or the complicity of silence....have no Faith.

    Anon Y.Mouse

  35. Mouse,

    Would you please provide a specific citation from the Ryan Report that supports your assertion?

  36. kevin,

    There is no point in asking someone for evidence to support their views when they have already demonstrated that they don't have any and are willing to just make stuff up.

    Trolls are best left ignored.

  37. PP-
    You're right. One wonders why Trolls do troll. What is their objective?

  38. kevin,

    As far as trolls on religious blogs go, I suspect it makes them feel better about themselves; they probably think they are witnessing to their faith, and maybe earning some brownie points with God. Who knows?