08 March, 2010

Sex Abuse Scandal touches Vatican itself

There has been a great deal of coverage of a recent scandal that has erupted within the lay staff of the Vatican. It is alleged that a member of the Vatican Choir, Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, age 29 and Angelo Balducci, a Papal Gentiluomini (“Gentleman” usher who helps greet dignitaries), have been recorded discussing the procurement of gay sexual partners for Balducci, a married man.

LifeSiteNews posts in its report a concern that this might be only the first of what will become all too common within the Vatican walls, now that its practiced walls of silence have been breached.

"American priest and frequent media commentator, Father Thomas Williams told CBS News, "We're just scratching the surface here. There's definitely more to come"."

“'We only know of these two men connected with the Vatican in some way, but obviously, they are talking about a ring, and a ring means definitely more people involved."

Given the experiences of North American, Ireland and other European Churches, it would not be surprising if this turns out to be true. This should not keep us though from praying that this not be the case. For if the worst turns out to be true, then this may well be the death knell for many a Catholic's faith.

However it is also true that a 'witch hunt' for clergy who may experience an inclination to homosexuality, yet have always directed this desire in creative and chaste ways to the enrichment of all, will serve but to wound these faithful men and women and the entire church.

Holy Mary, Virgin pure, & Mother of all priests, intercede for the earthly Church of your Son. His grace and aid are sorely needed in these trying times... a truly penitential "long Lent" for His 'Holy' and 'Apostolic' Roman Catholic Church. Help her to be purified of this evil while respecting the faithful witness of all her celibate clergy.

13 comments:

  1. The Holy Father needs to put his own house in order. The last Pope left behind a big mess that his successors are going to have to clean up.

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  2. Hi Tim,

    I have long believed that the Barque of Peter would run aground on the rocks of homosexuality. Not so much because there are homosexuals in the Church, but because of the Church’s terrible hypocrisy on this issue. To the modern man and woman, hypocrisy is a cardinal sin.

    While I appreciate that you turned one of my previous comments into a post (asking for input from gay priests), I cannot help but notice “the sound of crickets chirping”. As I suspected - the closet prevails in what has become of your Church.

    Good theology flows from good psychology. Instead of heeding what psychology tells us about homosexuality (that it is simply another variant of human sexuality that is neither inherently good nor bad) the Church has instead chosen to stigmatize homosexuality. It has defined itself in the public square as anti-gay, has obstructed equal rights for LGBT citizens at every turn, and has doubled down its bets by going on a witch hunt in the seminaries and the rectories. It has distinguished itself the world over by legitimizing every homophobe and anti-gay bigot that crawls on the face of the earth. It has convinced its core faithful that homosexuals are disordered and are the cause of the recent sex abuse scandals.

    In my opinion, this wrong headed approach ironically flows from closeted and self-loathing homosexuals in the magisterium. Many of these men, who experience their own sexuality in sordid trysts in public washrooms, bathhouses, and among prostitutes, think all homosexual relationships are of the same calibre. Indeed, the Barque of Peter may well sink on this issue.

    But let’s be clear - if it does sink, it sinks because too few of its priests and laypeople challenged a corrupt magisterium. You let JPII hoodwink you into a literal, legalistic and autocratic faith. You cheered him on while he silenced free thinking and enquiry. You chased out anyone who “was open to dialogue”. Too many of you willingly believed that your magisterium was above reproach.

    Sadly, I am afraid, the Church will reap what it has sown. This is entirely a monster of its own making.

    Cheers...Martin

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  3. Martin: Thanks for your response. At some point in time you'll have to explain the "crickets" reference to me.

    I offer the following for your considerations.

    You state that I "let JPII hoodwink you into a literal, legalistic and autocratic faith. You cheered him on while he silenced free thinking and enquiry. You chased out anyone who “was open to dialogue”. Too many of you willingly believed that your magisterium was above reproach." I must disagree with this assessment.

    From 1989 onward, I have developed a close friendship with George Weigel and Fr. Richard Neuhaus that was based on the foundation of spending a month together in our respective cottages one Allumette Island. I have had literally hundreds of opportunities when I would discuss such issues with either or both of them, the conversation aided by generous servings of Jack Daniels and good food. I always prepared these meals as RJN could not cook to save his life. He often said that living in New York (Lower Manhattan - East Grammercy Park), he could have authentic cuisine of any type delivered to his door within 30 minutes - so why cook? The service was not quite to varied on the Ottawa River, but I kept RJN in good form each summer with conversation and food, topped off with one of his favorite Dominican cigars on either his or my front deck.

    (con't next post)

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  4. (continuation)

    Each of these men were among the closest intimates and collaborators that John Paul II had. Each had on numerous occasions answered their home telephone to find the Pontiff on the other end inviting them to come for dinner and an evenings conversation the next time either one was in Rome. It was sitting on RJN's front deck that I read and debated with him the first draft of some papal encyclical, sent to him by JPII for his comments and input. The Pope not only chose George as his biographer (at RJN's suggestion), but has refered to him as the greatest lay theologian of the late 20th century. When JPII died, it was George that provided analysis for NBC, and RJN the same for the EWTN network. Suffice it to say that they are men who knew and understood the heart and mind of the pope on any number of issues.

    They also say that what is held as "common knowledge" of what is held today as representing what the Pope actually thought and taught is a perverse and pale version of the truth as they understand it.

    Using the question of homosexuality as a disqualifier for candidate to the priesthood, here is what the Pope actual shared and wrote. ALL people, irrespective of any quality of person construction or preferences stand as EQUAL before God. The sexual drive that we find within each of us, is that spiritual imprint of God that both generates life and fosters intimacy and shared love between people. (Usual qualifiers here... heterosexual, married, without ARTIFICIAL contraception, etc.)

    Homosexual attraction can be seen as a loving relationship not of lovers, but of friend and brother/sister. This is meant in the sense that Augustine used the phrase as reflecting the most treasured and intimate of relationships. His ode of a deceased friend is considered to be the penultimate example of the poetic expression of grief in which Augustine declares the loss of such a true friend is deeper and more painful than the death of a family member. So long as a candidate does not practice a lifestyle that is considered disordered (remember please that an active heterosexual relationship is also considered disordered by the Church), and does not promote or practice acts that are contrary to Church teaching (see previous note) he is free to continue through formation up to ordination. An assessment is made of that time of the capacity of the candidate to accept the obligations of celibacy as a legitimate sign of a religious vocation, no matter the orientation of the candidate.

    All seminarians are told to share with their confessor or spiritual director any thoughts or struggles in any area of life to as to authentically discern whether there exists a vocation to the priesthood. Bringing this light into every corner of ones life (as I tried always to do with Jack) is the surest way of being convinced of ones capacity to live the priestly life.

    That is what he thought and taught. I invite you to read the actual instruction to Bishops and Seminaries on this subject and you might be surprised.

    Now, if this not a true reflection the actual practice of the Church in everyday life, I might suggest that that reflective of a misapplication by SOME. There are some who posit that homosexuality per se is counter-indicative of an authentic vocation, but they are not correct. "An innappropriate attraction to a 'gay culture' or a 'gay lifestyle' would impair ones abiltity to reflect the eternal priest himself. The same would be said about a candidate who was unable to refrain from reading straight porn or hetersexual acts.

    What is ACTUALLY the written policy of the Church on this issue is far different from your characterization. I say this not because I have been 'hoodwinked', but informed.

    Just thought you would appreciate knowing this.

    Tim

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  5. For lent I was not going to post. (Grin) I'm not perfect:)

    Remember...Pope JPII's first love was acting(plays,etc..). A great actor. Many seem to forget that.

    I am a Catholic mother of a gay adult son. He is well respected and has a great career. He also lives with a partner for many years now.

    He has this protecting instinct of the priesthood, I should say especially about gay priests.

    I live in the Pembroke Diocese. My son told me about two priests who are gay (not pedophiles). I sort of forgot, it should have been kept private between him and me.

    I got myself in hot water so to speak with my parish priest about gay priests. It all started when I ask for prayers for my son and family. Things are alright between my parish priest and me. As long as we stay off the topic of homosexuality and gay priests.

    My son thought I told my parish priest the name of this one gay priest he saw in a gay adult establishment bar in Toronto. That I outed this gay priest. I did not out the priest, I did not give his name to my parish priest.

    My son did tell me not to be so hard on myself. So it is not surprising my son is very careful what he says to me now. I am sure my parish priest finally realize I had no malicious intent. I was just a mother of a gay son that was confused.

    Once, my son told his dad & me. Our son was on a train, there he share a seat with a Bishop (not the Pembroke Bishop one). He told us he was surprise what the Bishop shared and told him. My son never said what they spoke about in those 4 hours. But I do remember he said the Bishop was going to visit a very good friend a Father Moyle. I do not know if this is the same Father on this blog. Anyway, it is really none of my business.

    True, it would had been nice to hear what my son and that Bishop spoke about. Nevertheless, it is way better I do not know unless Divine intervention decides otherwise?

    That is all I can contribute here.

    Lina

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  6. Lina: Welcome back for a Lenten visit. To the best of my knowledge, I'm the only Fr. Moyle around. I know a few bishops who I've either visited, or hosted for dinner, so I suspect your son encountered someone who was coming to see me. I am grateful to God that your son found him to be approachable and human, no matter who he was.

    You did absolutely nothing wrong in your conversation with your priest... and your son is quite right in telling you to stop beating yourself up.

    As to your son's orientation; your first priority to him is to love and accept him for who he is. His relationships with God and with others are his to negotiate - and given the evidence you shared about him here, you have every reason to be proud of him.

    Our sexuality is but one part of who we are as God's children, thus sexual sins of any sort are no more grievous than any other sin. Every single one of us will stand before God at the end of our days to be judged on how we loved Him and each other throughout life. This will be little more than a review of our life to ascertain what it says about where we wanted to spend eternity (with/out God).

    The goodness of his heart and faith seems to indicate that you have good reason to be hopeful for that time of judgment for your son. Just as he was open to sharing a part of his life in pleasant conversation with a Bishop, I'm sure he wants to share the joy of the eternal dialogue with God.

    Given that 'the apple does not fall far from the tree', it speaks very well to your goodness as well.

    Peace,

    Fr. Tim

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  7. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your spirited defence of JPII's position on homosexuality.

    I have always thought that a good biographer must be somewhat sympathetic to the person that he/she chronicles. Weigel and Neuhaus appear to continue in that venerable tradition.

    "Crickets chirping" is a reference to silence - as in - that thread is so silent over there that you can hear the crickets chirping.

    Obviously, my perspective on JPII is a bit different from Weigel, Neuhaus and yourself. In fact, my perspective is probably a lot closer to how many "liberal" or "ex-Catholics" might view the late pope.

    Here goes:

    JPII also wrote Memory and Identity, in which he referred to the "pressures" on the European Parliament to permit "homosexual 'marriage'". In that book he wrote: “It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.”

    And let’s not forget JPII’s classic, The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, (also known by its opening words Homosexualitatis problema) written in 1985 and delivered in Rome on 1 October 1986 by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Alberto Bovone. The letter gave instructions on how the Clergy should deal with and respond to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. JPII approved that letter and ordered its publication.

    In the letter the Cardinal stated: "although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder." In the interests of balance, I will also note that he said "It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs."

    Nevertheless, Ratzinger also asserted that violence against LGBT people could be understood in context of the increased public acceptance of homosexuality: "But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behaviour to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase."

    Now - how is that for talking out of both sides of your mouth at once?

    Cheers...Martin (see part two)

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  8. Part 2:

    JPII also appointed Bishops and Cardinals who engage in the vilest slandering of LGBT citizens. Case in point is Bishop Fred Henry (Calgary) who wrote a “Pastoral Letter” dated January 16, 2005, which stated that "since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the state must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good." To my knowledge, Henry was never rebuked by JPII for his comments.

    Today, states such as Uganda are using their full coercive power to proscribe and curtail homosexuals. Uganda’s “Kill the Gays Bill” may be an extreme form of the movement to re-criminalize homosexuality, but it is by no means the only state engaged in such reprehensible activities. Come to think of it, I have heard almost next to nothing from the Vatican by way of strong opposition to the "Kill the Gays Bill". More crickets chirping.

    During his long pontificate JPII did virtually nothing to modernize the Church. He promoted the most simplistic, juvenile, and literal forms of spirituality (e.g. Opus Dei, Legion of Christ, Neocatechumenal Way, Schoestatt, Marianism etc…). In fact, it is now coming to light that JPII personally practiced self-flagellation – hardly a practice that reflects a very mature understanding of the body.

    JPII silenced enquiry and free thinking by censoring Hans Kung, and Matthew Fox...just a couple of the more prominent Catholic theologians told to shut up.

    You yourself Tim, have participated in the sad legacy of JPII by urging your readers to sign the ‘Manhattan Declaration’ which defines the true Christian response as anti-gay. You make common cause with Chuck Colson and his fellow travelers – people bent on using wedge issues like homosexuality to strengthen the religious right and to promote Christianity as anti-gay.

    Lastly – JPII appointed countless men to the ranks of Bishop and Cardinal with similar views. Sadly, this will ensure (for decades or perhaps even centuries) that the Church will wallow in the legacy of this pope's retrograde views.

    At the end of the day, I do believe that many sincere Catholics were hoodwinked by JPII's charm and charisma.

    My prediction - if it is not this scandal, it will be some other scandal involving the Church's hypocrisy over homosexuality, that will sink the Barque of Peter. And when historians look back, it will be JPII's fingerprints all over the scene of the crime.

    If I were you guys - I would not be too quick to cannonize JPII. Let his legacy unfold a bit under his successor(s) (all in the mold of his own thinking).

    Cheers...Martin

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  9. Martin: THANKS! Fantastic post and very much appreciated. Let me in some small way offer my first thoughts having just finished reading and perhaps I’ll respond further later or in the form of a post on the main page.

    I trust that my using some of your comments as feeder articles on the main page is OK with you. I assume that if your willing to post it in comments threads, you have no objection to posting it in other forms with this blog. Let me know if you feel differently.

    RJN & GSW started First Things as a magazine to promote a dialogue on the cultural and religious issues, and they made use of some of the best submissions that they received or invited on particular subjects. I regret that the magazine seems to be drifting into a more exclusively conservative Catholic orientation to their offerings from some of those earlier days. I still like it, but what was a concert of different arguments (often presented in a “face to face” offerings of different opinions) is quickly taking on the monotone of an aboriginal throat singer.

    It has been my intention to try to recapture some of that early diversity and intellectual heat of those First Things beginnings with this blog. Your contribution to bringing this reality into being is greatly appreciated.

    Now to your points.

    The first reference is a defense of the concept “marriage” as being a sacramental relationship that is open to both procreation and fostering intimacy and love. To redefine “marriage” as the courts and legislatures have done proffers great danger to this religious understanding. Would you expect the Church to stand for something different?
    The Pastoral Instruction is as you acknowledge balanced in reflecting both the consistent theological understanding of sexual morality (again no surprise as it is rooted in scripture - hardly a Catholic dogmatic creation) and the obligation to treat all people as deserving of respect and charity. Given that the implementing documentation that came out of the study that JP II called for reflects my earlier posting, I do not see the objection - unless of course you expect that the Church will reverse its position on sexuality.
    Curran and Kung both deserved what came their way. They were not banned from publishing, nor expelled from the Church. They were simply prohibited from teaching under the aegis of being a Catholic theologian. They continued to publish and teach in non-Catholic institutions. Fox, with his embracing of Wicca theology, absolutely deserved the sanction he received. Again I remind you of the wisdom of Gamaliel: if what they proposed is of God, then it cannot be stopped. Given that they (and others) have faded from view, I think we might accept that as an editorial from God on the issue.
    As to the Vatican’s position is now (opposing the implementation of the entire gay rights agenda), they are simply predicting (with good reason if gay abuse is as rampant around the globe as gay advocates state) that cultures and countries are not able to peaceably accept these major changes to their society. It continually (as you describe) “speaks out of both sides of its mouth” because both what it believes and counsels (gay acts are sinful - orientation is not; gays must be received with respect and love - never with violence or prejudice)
    As to Bishop’s appointments, Fred Henry is simply saying what the Pope is saying and is entirely in accordance with what I posted earlier. Like JP & B16, he fights to defend the institution of marriage and states clearly and with compassion the theological position of the Church. He can do no less as a Bishop. If you want to take issue with particular tactics or acts he either supports or takes himself - go right ahead - you need no one’s permission. Please just don’t demonize a man you know from your own experience to be a straight shooter, not a bull-shitter. Nor is he without compassion.

    Enough for now. This is already probably too long for two comments!

    Looking forward to your comments.

    Tim

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  10. Part two...

    Scripture requires interpretation. Now the Church claims to be an eminently qualified interpreter of scripture. Problem is – the Church can ignore reason and science whenever it pleases. The Church’s views on homosexuality are not in accord with psychology. The Church did not heed psychology’s finding that homosexuality is simply another variant of human sexuality, which is neither inherently good nor bad. Remember - good theology flows from good psychology.

    Well you protest - the Church is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit on matters of doctrine and can never err. Oh really? How about the gestational period for which a fetus may be aborted without grave sin? Apparently, the number of weeks has been all over the place for hundreds of years. Countless women are either roasting in hell, or got off on a technicality. Not sure if the rules are retroactive.

    As for the Church’s alleged compassion for homosexuals – I don’t know what to say.

    Perhaps I will refer you to your fellow traveler Fr. Alphonse De Valk over at Catholic Insight Magazine. I see that the Church continues to allow him to call his publication “Catholic”. I also notice that you link to him, and so presumably, you endorse him in some way. In this month’s edition, the good Father finds even a single photograph of a gay athlete in Canada’s new citizenship guide too much. I suppose like CA, he thinks we should subject all citizens to a big helping of loving prudence and just pretend that those gay people don’t exist. And since Alphonse is every bit as much of a “straight shooter” as Fred Henry, he reminds us that all rights for homosexuals should be rolled back. Now - I did not see that one coming.

    Ah yes Tim, rooted in scripture and overflowing with compassion – that is definitely today’s Roman Catholic Church.

    Good god. We all wish that it were so.

    Cheers...Martin

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  11. Hi Tim,

    Feel free to use my comments in your blog posts. I only ask that you preserve my paragraphs (run on sentences make my comments more difficult to understand) and my anonymity. Believe it or not - I get a lot of threatening telephone calls and e-mail.

    Where to begin?

    Well first off, if JPII was addressing the notion of sacramental marriage to the European Parliament – then he was barking up the wrong tree. The European Parliament has no interest in sacramental marriage nor should it. It is an entirely legitimate aspiration for LGBT citizens to seek secular recognition of their relationships. For JPII to accuse this legitimate aspiration as part of an “evil ideology” is simply an unfair demonization.

    Plain and simple - the Church’s insistence that only a sacramental version of marriage may be properly recognized in secular laws is intolerant. It is not only intolerant towards the LGBT community, but it is also intolerant towards other Christian sects who hold a different understanding of marriage. As I have already pointed out, secular marriage permits divorce and I do not hear the Church insisting that its sacramental notions must prevail on this point. Moreover, we have established that the Church is duplicitous on the issue of divorce, as it makes civil divorce a precondition for a Catholic seeking an annulment. One can hardly really disapprove of divorce if it is a precondition to an ecclesial process.

    As for the theologians Kung and Fox, I in no way endorse the content of any of their teachings. I simply point out that they were stripped of their office as Catholic teachers. Correct me if I am wrong, but the only reason JPII did not fire them from their teaching posts was because he had no secular authority to do so. My guess is that the real intent of censoring Kung and Fox was to send a chill through the ranks and to warn any other theologians from deviating from the correct way of thinking. JPII put his Church on a fast path to intellectual ossification. Ironic is it not? The Church squawks in the public square about its right to freely voice its views, but then turns around and silences all contrary voices in its own ranks. Do as I say, but not as I do.

    As for Bishop Henry’s remarks…first he equates homosexuality with adultery, pornography and prostitution. Funny about that – all of these things existed even when homosexuality was still a criminal offence in Canada. So - how would re-criminalizing homosexuality help reduce these other social ills? The good Bishop does not tell us. But no matter - Henry then fearlessly declares that homosexuality undermines society and the family. How so? By what mechanisms is this supposed to work? We have no idea, and neither does any credible social scientist. Why do LGBT citizens find his remarks so offensive? Because Henry equates a host of existing social ills with homosexuality (which has no basis in scripture or in science), and he then calls on the state to criminalize homosexuality (i.e. the state must use its coercive force to proscribe and curtail). That Bishop Henry was defending the Church’s traditional understanding of marriage and homosexuality is not in dispute. He was. And that is the problem – both he and his Church are wrong.

    Why is the Church wrong about homosexuality you may well ask? I always chuckle when the Church begins its own defense with phrases like “rooted in scripture”. The plain truth of the matter is that almost any abomination can be rooted in scripture. You want slaves? Guess what? There is a scriptural passage for that. You want polygamy? Guess what? There is a scriptural passage for that. You want to bash the heads of your enemies’ babies against rocks? Guess what? There is a scriptural passage for that. You want to pimp out your daughters out to an angry mob? Guess what? There is a scriptural passage for that too.

    Cheers...Martin (see part two)

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  12. Martin,

    If the Catholic Church does all the things you recommend it do, it would no longer be the Catholic Church.

    It would instead be something like the United Church of Canada.

    And we know how well that turned out.

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  13. Hi Sanwin,

    If the Cahtolic Church made some of the changes that I have suggested, it would not cease to exist, but it definitely would be different.

    The path your Church is on now does not seem to be working out so well. Would you not agree? Repeating the missteps of the past is hardly a recipe for yeilding different results.

    Cheers...Martin

    ReplyDelete

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