05 January, 2010

Why Catholic scandals are treated differently than those of other faith communities

Written in response to the question "Why do Catholic clergy failings garner such national salacious  coverage when Protestant failed clergy often get little or no national media coverage?" --------------------------------------
If I may point out one essential difference between the protestant vs catholic experience of their respective scandals: in their case the institutional response was too one-sided with the alleged victim over and against their paid and ordained staff. I personally can remember ministers who were ridden out of town when they were found to be be without the support of their employer in the face of such allegations, even when they were later proven to be unfounded. And by God, it was splashed across the pages of local papers on a regular basis from coast to coast so often that they no longer warranted coverage by the national media.

We Catholics on the other hand, have been found culpable of dealing with these same sorts of matters in a deceitful and harmful manner, both in terms of permitting those accused to "retreat, repent and return", all in secrecy, so that any one would have to have had virtual moral certitude that there were going to be future victims. This practice was wrong. This practice is bereft of any claim of being Christian. These practices resulted in untold and almost incomprehensible suffering for more children and women than any number a practicing Catholic would dare to contemplate.

There is nothing to be gained by denying the truth... and humbly I submit that what ever Catholic priests and Bishops may have intended with their actions, they were wrong, morally, scripturally and legally.

Pope John Paul said this. Pope Benedict has said this repeatedly during his American visit and elsewhere. He is the Pope who (for the first time in my lifetime that I can remember) put his moral suasion behind the call of the current Archbishop of Dublin that those Bishops implicated in such acts should resign, and all but one of them have. This is why the fall of Catholic priests garners such public notice and infamy. It's the harvest of many, many evil acts that were sown over many years. There is no surprise that these fruits taste so foul in our Catholic mouths.

But as right as it is that we should eat our bitter meal without complaint, so too can I still hope that our leaders (Bishops, priests and religious) might do what is needed to ensure a better tasting harvest in the future. The bile of these scandals grows too bitter for most Catholics to bear, especially if there is no hope for better fare in the future.

Maybe following the Irish example of a government run inquiry into the Church, might offer the antiseptic needed to cleanse again the soil so as to produce the harvest that Christ intends from us.

Then we might be able to go about our Master's business in peace as he taught us by his sacred example.

I know I'm past that point when I can claim that I am "just going grey", but hopefully I'll still be around to taste that harvest of sweet fruits promised by God and expected of those charged with the care of the vineyard.

Fr. Tim

8 comments:

  1. The handfull of homosexual priests and Bishops sure heaped a load of humility on all the innocent clergy.

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  2. True... yet why is it that so many people (inside and outside the church) who bristle when these abuse scandals are tied to homosexuality?

    Thoughts?

    Fr. Tim

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  3. Fr. Tim...first of all a lot of stuff here is way over my head. I mean you & others here are well educated. I am not.
    I do not like to see folks especially Catholics say that they link a pedophile priests(s) to all homosexuals/gays. I believe more education is needed to let folks know there is a difference. True, a homosexual/gay can be a pedophile as well as a heterosexual/straight man.
    A priest can be gay/homosexual and remain chaste I mean keep his celibacy vows. As well as a straight/heterosexual priest. I feel for all priests/clergy especially gay priests who are doing great work. When a priest breaks his vows by having a sexual relationship with a woman or with a man.(consenting adults I am saying here). He has to face the fact he did break his vows & need to be responsible for his actions whether he is found out or not.
    A priest who abuses minors(sexually,porn stuff, etc..) well these are criminal acts. These priests/clergy too should face the responsibility for their evil acts which are criminal crimes in this country.
    I pray for all involved. I pray especially for priest who are gay & who have the fear somebody will link them to being a pedophile.
    Blessings to you!
    Lina

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  4. Fr.Tim...There is so much information out there on the web. Overload can be one good word to described it.
    I know what the Catechism of the Holy Roman Catholic Church says about Homosexuality and Chastity. Being gay is not a sin but being gay and having sex with a partner is. My question is: Can a man be a celibate practicing Roman Catholic priest and at the same time his sexual orientation is gay/homosexual? I want to be made clear on this issue. Thanks in advance.
    Blessings to you!
    Lina

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  5. Lina, Thank you for your question. The short answer is yes. I am aware of priests who I assess might be gay, who are as effective in ministry and faithful to their vows as any other priest.

    However, the wisdom of the Church today is that such an individual should not keep this information from his spiritual advisor at the time of his formation. Further the candidate must both accept the teaching of the Church on this subject, and remain perfectly continent in abstaining from any interest in what is commonly referred to as the "gay lifestyle" throughout not only throughout the years of his formation, but also by a number of years prior to his acceptance as a seminary candidate. Failure in either category would result in the candidate being removed from a formation program. As the rector of St. Peter's Seminary during my formation oft said, "the benefit of the doubt must be given to the Church." If there is a question about the candidates truthfulness or faithfulness, they should not be permitted to proceed to ordination or employment within the Church.

    Before anyone jump in and claim a Church prejudice as anti-homosexual, this is the same standard that a straight candidate is held to.

    Celibacy, understood as a spiritual gift freely accepted and given, poses the same challenge to all men and women alike. If one cannot faithfully live out the fullest definition of this obligation prior to the vows of celibacy are demanded, one should not be called to the Catholic priesthood.

    It's not a matter of any connection between homosexuality and never ending saga of clergy sexual abuse. This is a fact that has been well demonstrated by the study of these sordid and sinful experiences. It is a question of the testing of ones capacity to completely live a celibate life.

    I would not likely have neither the opportunity nor right to dedicating my free time to reading, researching and writing on this blog if I were in a relationship. Aside, there is true folk wisdom expressed as "need more love in your life, get a dog!" It certainly makes my life happier to share it with my canine companion, Mateo. (Read this article - http://frtimmoyle.blogspot.com/2009/11/have-you-heard-voice-of-god-today.html)

    So truthfully Lina, I really don't think that the question should be posed as you did. I believe the more fundamental question - can we believe that men (or women, in case of the Sisters) can faithfully live a celibate life, happily, creatively and peacefully? The answer to this is a resounding YES!!!!

    I hope this makes clear enough my thoughts on the question you posed.

    Fr. Tim

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  6. Fr.Tim,...yes, you did make yourself clear. I also believe men & women, can faithfully live a celibate happy life.

    This is my personal opinion, maybe some men can be in so deep in their denial about their homosexual orientation that they really believe they are not gay. It is later on that they come to realize or finally admit to themselves that they are really gay but by the power of prayer & by the grace of God they can control their sexual urges and temptations. (I think it doesn't hurt if you are bless with a low sex drive.) Sadly, many of these gay priests find themselves that they cannot fight these sexual urges even with prayer. These poor souls will do anything to keep their personal little secrets to themselves. They even may have made a bargain with God? Who knows?
    What I do know is that there is such a thing as gay celibate priests and they do awesome work. There are also other gay priests, that carry out their priestly duties well but also have adult consenting relationship with men.( or in some cases women) They try their best to be discreet of course. These gay priests are breaking their vows, that is a given fact. But they are not crimes that would put them in jail. But priests/clergy pedophiles & molesters of minors and the vulnerable is a crime and should be brought to justice in a court of law. In numerous cases, jail time.

    What I do not like hearing is the talk that all gay priests should be kicked out of the priesthood. If the purification process is part of this, suggested by the Vatican? I do not like it and will not take part of it. I mean, no way I am going to help 'out a gay priest'. Now if I came across a pedophile priest that is a different story. I would go to the police, probably doing serious praying on the way there.

    Fr Tim...thank you for your precious time. I know about the shortage of priests in this Diocese. One case last year a Pembroke priest got really sick and their Saturday night Mass was canceled for weeks because there was no priest available. So sad!

    My heart and prayers go out to all priests especially to priests whose soul is not as crystal clear as it should be.

    Lina

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  7. All Catholics have a duty to read "A Report on the Crisis of the Catholic Church in the United States" by The National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People (Feb 27, 2004), in particular, p. 80-81:
    "However, we must call attention to the homosexual behavior that characterized the vast majority of the cases of abuse observed in recent decades. That eighty-one of the reported victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy were boys shows that the crisis was characterized by homosexual behavior....
    It has been reported to the Board that, in some areas, the large number of homosexual priests or candidates had the effect of discouraging heterosexual men from seeking to enter the priesthood. In the 1970's and 1980's in particular, there developed at certain seminaries a "gay subculture," and at these seminaries, according to several witnesses, homosexual liaisons occurred among students, or between students and teachers. Such subcultures existed or exist in certain dioceses or orders as well. The board believes that the failure to take disciplinary action against such conduct contributed to an atmosphere in which sexual abuse of adolescent boys by priests was more likely."
    Bishops like Cardinal Mahony have been trying to cover this up. These were abetted by those like Cardinal McCarrick, who set up his 'child protection' program in the diocese of Washington, DC to undermine the conclusion of the National Review Board, and cunningly reversed the focus toward abuse by 'married heterosexual men.'
    We should worry about bishops like Mahony and McCarrick, and thank God for those like Archbishop Burke, and pray for all of them.

    Chris

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  8. Chris:

    AMEN! Well said!

    Fr. Tim

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