Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cardinal O'Malley Talks About Bishop Accountability....And The Deep Denial Of Some Of Them

A photo from back in the day when their friendship hadn't gotten quite as complicated as it is now and will be in the future if Cardinal O'Malley pushes the issues of clerical abuse victims.

We have the first general reports about the just recently concluded meeting of Pope Francis's clerical abuse commission.  Boston's Cardinal O'Malley gave a press conference which also included abuse victim Marie Collins.  The AP report included more back ground story about the commission than actual news from the press conference.  The following is an excerpt which includes statements from the press conference dealing with the bishop accountability issue:
......Briefing reporters Saturday, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said current church laws could hold bishops accountable if they fail to do their jobs to protect children. But he said those laws hadn't been sufficient to date and new protocols were needed.

"Obviously our concern is to make sure that there are clear and effective protocols to deal with the situations where superiors of the church have not fulfilled their obligations to protect children," O'Malley said. That could include an effort toward creating an "open process" that "would hold people accountable for their responsibility to protect children...." (I'd love to know more about this 'open process'.)

.....Marie Collins, a committee member and Irish survivor of sexual abuse, said she came away from the inaugural meeting of the commission "hopeful" primarily because the issue of accountability was addressed straight on.

"I know there are many survivors around the world who are hoping, and have great expectations of this commission," Collins said. "And what I can say so far is you can't make concrete promises. But as a survivor myself, I am hopeful that we are going to achieve what is hoped for. It's very, very important."

The AP article is upbeat and sounds pretty hopeful for the Church to finally have some accountability for bishops who failed miserably in protecting children.  The coverage from Religion News Service covered a different issue and does not come across quite so hopeful as both Cardinal O'Malley and Marie Collins have strong statements about curial denial of the extent of the problem.

.......“Many don’t see it as a problem of the universal church,” said O’Malley who heads the Vatican’s new commission for the protection of minors.

In many people’s minds it is an American problem, an Irish problem or a German problem,” he said. “The church has to face it is everywhere in the world. There is so much denial. The church has to respond to make the church safe for children.....”

........ Collins, who was sexually abused by a priest at age 13, said she, too, had been “shocked” by the denial she had witnessed among some Catholic bishops about the extent of clerical sexual abuse.
“…They truly believed it only happened in certain countries,” she said.

This commission has some serious work to do, especially if it has to mount a 'lets' face some truth' campaign for bishops who are in total denial about the extent of clerical abuse.  No,  it is not an Anglo/German problem.  It is a systemic problem with in the global clergy.  Just because there is still a deafening silence from some parts of the globe doesn't mean there was and is no abuse.  Given the human rights abuses against women and children in these still silent areas, it is a sure bet that there is clerical abuse.  One can double down on that bet when the clergy in these areas are trained by the same system that produced abusers in the older Anglo/European Church.  

Clerical abuse is part of the clerical tradition because, and here comes the accountability issue, the clerical caste is way way more important to the Institutional Roman Catholic Church than it's laity.  This is why the laity and our children always come last when it comes to accountability.  We don't count in the sacramental scheme in which Grace, the fuel to propel us to heaven, is a virtual monopoly of the priesthood. It is on this system that the Church is now founded.  Priests count. Laity pay.

Maybe it's time the laity got out of their own denial about this fact of traditional Catholic ecclesiology because this power differential is exactly the reason all the abuses are possible.  In that sense this commission may have another 'let's face some truth' campaign, and this one, aimed at laity, will be much harder to manage if the whole idea of this commission is to keep the current clerical system in tact. 


  1. sylvesterpatsteffenMay 4, 2014 at 3:46 AM

    Authentic Godlikeness vs the Petrine Instinct
    [What is the “Petrine Instinct”? Peter wanted to institutionalize the transfiguration of Jesus by building a monument, original “commercial pietism”. Jesus said “no”.] Canonizing “commercial pietism” (the Petrine instinct) masquerades the intuitional virtues of Word/ Light/ Love that authenticate the Godlike Graces of Faith/ Hope/ Love. These graces are ecumenical virtues owned in the divine inheritance of self-reflective consciousness. Authenticating self-reflective consciousness is an ongoing revelation of the divine in the human, what is the Divine/Human Hypostasis as first illuminated in the life and teaching of Jesus, the Christ, the priestly “anointment grace” (baptismal) of “Sacred Remembrance” organically enfleshed in the Naturalis Sacramentum Ordinis. Hence the insight that THEOLOGY SUPPOSES BIOLOGY, even as
    faith supposes reason and “grace supposes nature” (Thomas Aquinas).

  2. There are many who believe (without any evidence) that the most common BC techniques are abortions. Figures involving abortion are very difficult to understand because the scientific definitions of what constitute abortion is rarely used.

    BC is already a fact in the RCC as almost all communicants use it during their fertile period. The faithful have already spoken and it is the Bishops who are slow to understand even as they live in a hypocritical celibate society that Sipe has shown to be only about 50% celibate during any period of time....

  3. Who is the other man in the photo??

  4. sylvesterpatsteffenMay 5, 2014 at 2:47 AM

    Authentic Godlikeness vs the Petrine Instinct
    What is the “Petrine Instinct”? In a moment of transfigured sensitivity, Peter wanted to institutionalize the Transfiguration of Jesus by building a monument, what instinct is the original impulse of “commercial pietism”. Jesus said “no”.

    The defect of the “Petrine Instinct” is the impulse of misplaced institutional priorities. Institutions have a place, but when priorities are misplaced, institutions are a stumbling block, a scandal. First priority, for people and institutions, is to understand “Godlikeness” and to seek first to become, to be more Godlike. Only when the soul, whether personal or institutional, is rightly disposed, will priorities be rightly placed. Canonizing “commercial pietism” (the Petrine instinct) masquerades the intuitional virtues of Word/ Light/ Love that authenticate the Godlike Graces of Faith/ Hope/ Love. These graces are ecumenical virtues owned in the divine inheritance of self-reflective consciousness.

    Authenticating self-reflective consciousness is an ongoing revelation of the divine in the human, what is the Divine/ Human Hypostasis as first illuminated in the life and teaching of Jesus, the Christ; this priestly
    “anointment grace” (baptismal) of “Sacred Remembrance” is ORGANICALLY ENFLESHED in the Naturalis Sacramentum Ordinis. Hence the insight that THEOLOGY SUPPOSES BIOLOGY, even as faith supposes reason and “grace supposes nature” (Thomas Aquinas). Institutional Transition and supposes soul-Transfiguration. Transfiguration/
    transformation are ongoing in the right prioritizing of soul in purpose and disposition to be/ become more Godlike. [Search: becoming more Godlike.]

  5. There really is a lot of work to do if the church is to soon evolve through the problems of the clerical institution. I don't believe they can or will make this solid step to recover. I believe that there is too much greed, envy and false pride in the leadership.

    If they were to clean things up, so to speak it would require a whole revision of the clergy and who are able to be clergy, bishops and popes. First of all we do not even know that Christ was celibate as some recent biblical scholarship seriously questions. The idea of a celibate leadership that has so sacrificed itself that it is far above the other People of God, far more holy, and far more god-like is completely unacceptable. Sipe has shown that most clerics are not celibate and that the chances of one of these men being celibate at ONE INSTANCE is only 50%. That a very high percentage of these men brake their vows over a life time. We all are human and the idea that the vow of celibacy makes a clerical class some how better than the rest of us is untenable and ludicrous. This type of leadership would of course be likely to increase the numbers of gay men in its numbers because then sexual objects live and work close together. For those who try to live in the state of celibacy it would encourage a man who is not sexually active to develop a rather schizoid personality of not getting intimately close to other human beings. Celibacy is indeed a bad idea and it only leads to personality disorder or hypocrisy in each individual which then becomes part of the institutional hypocrisy of denial of wrong doing.

    The best way to put change this institution is to allow that person who would be a parish priest or assistant to be chosen by the the faithful of the parish. This choice could not be without term limits for renewal of choice. Celibacy should be discouraged in all but much older individuals. Each person should be in a relationship with another person either homosexual or heterosexual. Of course gender should not influence the peoples choice of priest. All Bishops, Cardinals and Popes should be elected by the people they serve with a 7 year term limit period.

    Since this is not likely to occur, I believe that independent Eucharistic communities of catholics are the best solution for The People of God. This certainly would be a better evolution and would decentralize any formal authority causing the church to completely loose its disastrous authoritarian binge of power that is so ungodly.

  6. "First of all we do not even know that Christ was celibate as some recent biblical scholarship seriously questions."

    To what recent biblical scholarship are you referring? I hope it isn't the fragment of papyrus recently studied by Harvard. Having now had a year and a half to study the fragment, Coptic scholars have declared the fragment, which had been called, all too hastily, the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife," a forgery, a copy of another forgery, photoshopped from an online PDF of the equally fraudulent "Gospel of Thomas." The scholars concluded that Harvard Divinity School was the victim of an elaborate ruse, which was brought to light in a May 2, 2014, New York Times article. As a result, Harvard University has been left dripping with egg down its face, exposed as being more interested in generating publicity for the hoax than in doing actual scholarship.

    Such is the standard for "recent biblical scholarship" in the modern era - political motivation and bias reign over actual, method-based scholarship. Within very recent memory the world has been subjected to numerous hoaxes including the "Lost Gospels," the "Ossuary of James, Brother of Jesus," the "Jesus Seminar," and now the "Wife of Jesus." It seems that the godless will cling to anything unorthodox that undermines the 2000-year proofs of traditional Christianity. These hoaxes provide fodder even for those who should know better yet fall prey to stories based in bad scholarship and even in outright lies. One by one these hoaxes have been exposed by real, evidentiary scholarship, but all too often the damage has been done.

  7. Yes there are plenty in the RCC denying this piece of work, but none can deny the scholarship of this tenured Harvard professor without making themselves and their reasons look a bit suspicious.

  8. I have to say I side with Smartuckus. I didn't buy this discovery when it was first announced precisely because a small piece of papyrus dated 4th century is nothing to get excited about. 300 years after the fact is hardly contemporary proof of a fact. But more than that, it is impossible to determine what 'wife' means in context of a fragment since Jesus is recorded in the synoptic Gospels to use female imagery and metaphor fairy routinely.

    In the end it doesn't matter. It's no longer about Jesus. It's about us in relationship to Jesus. The more androgynous the presentation, the better.

  9. Karen King admits she is not proven anything but the piece of work she has done is unquestionably scholarly work and it adds to much of the ancient findings that show there was a lot more controversy than a dogmatic reading of what we call the official New Testament tells us. If you read carefully about her work, you will see what she is saying and that is there are many more questions than answers about the life of Christ. The dating of 3rd or 4th Century is a bit far out but it is no further out than much that is accepted by official sources. One thing we do know is that much we know about Christ was by word of mouth and much of that is not exact. Try whispering a phrase around a table of 5 more people. Yet that is also true of "official documents. Mary Magdalene was made into a prostitute by a bishop who lived much later than the sixth century. There have been many who have postulated that she was an Apostle and Christ's partner in life. Christ was well past the Jewish marriage age. When we get the reaction that she was a prostitute, what was it that the Bishops of the sixth century and latter were trying to prove? I think we must take this bit for what it is----- A piece of information that lends some credence to facts that some of the ancient fathers were very fearful of telling true stories about the value of women especially those close to Christ.

    Karen King's scholarship is unquestionable and will be belittled by people who have an ax to grind with the fact that we do not know all the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. After all we are mere mortals.

  10. Dennis I agree that Karen King doesn't have to justify her academic credentials to anyone and I am aware of her own assessment of this piece. Like her I wish she had had far more to work with as this almost has the feel of a seed being planted to see what would sprout. That's why I wish we knew the identity of the donor of this piece. What a hoot if it was the Vatican itself and it has a lot more of this papyrus. Holy cow, I should write a book on this before Dan Brown does.

  11. Now it is the midnight hour, when Fr. Christian comes drawing his meed of secret elixir, and all nature is wrapped in silence and in sleep; even the dogs, and the feathered fowl of many a glossy hue slumber and sleep. Then he performs the secret matter, with awful thirst as he rises from his couch for a refill, he dons no sandal, bare­ foot must he go about this solemn business. Bringing his hands smartly together he knaps his thumb and middle finger upon the lid of the bottle, lest haply if all were still some spectre might prevent him at his work. Thrice does he lave his glass in 80 proof tonic; he turns his face away and he takes up the glass in his grasp. Gazing in no particular direction, he swigs before he exclaims: "With this Jim Beam, I pay the ransom for myself and the whole world." This must he say nine times over, a swig between each. For at his shoulder stands the ghost of inebriations ever lurking, who unseen gathers up the offering. Again he shall fill his glass with the holy tonic; he must strike up some music on his iPod, and at the notes he shall dance wildly and beseech the spectres to come in an get this party started! Nine times doth he cry aloud, "Ο spirits of my ancestors, come forth I beseech thee! For you do not know how dry I am! Nobody knows how dry I am!"

  12. "Clerical abuse is part of the clerical tradition because, and here comes the accountability issue, the clerical caste is way way more important to the Institutional Roman Catholic Church than it's laity."

    This clerical tradition is based on a the notion of a Roman God like Caesar, one which keeps order according to its top-down hierarchy of human representatives. Isn't it time to re-examine our notions of God?

  13. Yes, it is time....

  14. It is way past time to re-examine our notions of God. Let's be real, in a universe that has more stars than we have grains of sand on our shores, it would seem God might have something more do than count up the sins of the individuals of a barely sentient species on a small planet orbiting a sun in the back waters of one of billions of galaxies.

  15. As you say, "It is way past time to re-examine our notions of God." Yet there are so many who are extremely fearful of any change in thinking about God. We try to introduce questions with some levity so thinking anew about God won't be so threatening.

    God Likes US Groveling?

  16. Saint Pope John Paul II was "not so good at the spiritual thing"? I do not mean this to offend, but I really think you would love to learn more about this modern Saint of Saints. If you truly want to be an enlightened Catholic, let alone enlightened, I think you would love to read Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert. He was perhaps the most loving person in the world in his day, and I daresay, the closest our modern world has ever come to meeting Christ. (That is not to say he is God, but rather than he was so full of love for everyone and everything, just as Christ was.) He saw Christ in each individual and treated each person as he would have treated Christ himself. The book records several of his encounters with persons from all over the world, and his love in each and every encounter is undeniable. Here is one encounter the book mentions, (which I found especially moving and interesting, and think you will, too): "[at a World Youth Day event, a young atheist boy quickly jumped out of the crowd and grabbed the microphone to express his doubts with the Church, before quickly diving back into the crowd. So deeply concerned about this boy, Saint Pope John Paul II tracked him down and invited him to the Vatican to have this private conversation with the boy over his doubts.]" There is so much more to learn about him....please read the book and get to know him before misjudging him. God bless and may you become deeply and truly enlightened with the Hope that is truth, and with the Truth that is hope.

  17. "Sacrilege" is an act of desperation -- violence is sacrilege
    Learning from the past, and not trashing it, keeps us grounded in the present.. Mindfulness, bringing the past forward into the present, is the work of Grace, of Sacrament; we are Sacrament, God's progressive work.
    Except we hold the past sacred in the present, we lose it. By trashing ecological life we destroy life's graciousness -- what is sacrilege. The work of Church, "people work" (leitos ergon, liturgy), is the act of "Eucharist" in "commemoration" (sacred remembrance in the "Naturalis Sacramentum Ordinis" (search) is the antidote to sacrilege.
    Gross profiteering on life is sacrilege -- PROSTITUTION! -- the wasting of nature's female grace. Except we develop a worldview sense of universe's sense of the "Mass of Eucharist", we disremember the past and behave sacrilegiously. Humankind urgently needs to become mindful of the "Eucharistic Worldview" and commemorate in/ with nature the Mass of the Universe" -- the insight of Teilhard de Chardin.
    The outcome of this past election cycle seems hell-bent in the sacrilege of our common future, of life-brought-forward-from-the-past. God help us.

  18. All I see in this post is self interest. This is the death of the human family. We are so fond of our on wisdom that we fail to humble ourselves under the authority of our God. God sees the whole picture, we/I do not. Jesus Christ left his Church in the hands of Peter to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Trust in Jesus! This world is passing and our eternal home will be filled with souls who have surrendered themselves to the Love of God. Souls who trust Him. It is an error to object to the teachings of the Church. Obedience, this is true freedom and contrary to our selfish nature. Jesus was obedient to the Father unto a most horrible and torturous death. The obedience He showed the Father is the very essence of our redemption. We must not place ourselves above Jesus and think we have the right or the wisdom to be disobedient to the His church.
    In it we find freedom, not oppression.

  19. Pardon my thick headedness, but what "is the death of the human family"? If i read you right you're saying "hierarchical authority is God's authority". Notwithstanding John Paul II closing the book on women priests, Pope Francis has put it back on the table. Priesthood and parenthood have much in common; they shouldn't be put in supposedly "ontologically" distinct realms like spirituality and materiality have been. (?)