The attack on the church continues apace; or, so that’s why he became a priest! *UPDATED*

The media is making hay of the pedophilia scandal involving the Catholic Church.  I think that Leftists see issue this as the single brick, down at the bottom of the wall, that, if pulled at hard enough, will bring the whole edifice tumbling down.

Just as Jews are persecuted because they symbolize justice (whether or not individual Jews can always attain those standards) so too is the modern Catholic church vigorously attacked because it symbolizes morality (again, regardless of individual failures).  A Leftist society cannot tolerate either of those symbols, both of which might give people the idea that a totalitarian government is neither just nor moral.

But the attack is working.  The haters are coming out of the woodwork.  On my facebook page, liberal friend after liberal friend attacks the Church.  Today, several people focused on the fact that, today of all days, the Church had the temerity to focus its Easter observances on . . . well, Easter.  How can the church be silent, asked my friends, about the scandal on this day of all days?  Well, maybe because, on this day of all days, they were focusing on a bigger, core issue — such as the central religious tenet of Christ’s resurrection.

What’s even worse are the comments I’m seeing that essentially say that the sole reason men have become priests throughout the church’s history is to indulge in their lust for small children.  Bet you didn’t know that.  I certainly didn’t.  I always thought men joined the priesthood for a variety of reasons:  deep faith, poverty (certainly true in the Middle Ages), etc.  But I was entirely wrong.  The Left knows better:  The only reason men become priests is to molest small children.

You may feel free to embroider on this post in the comment section, below.  As for me, I’m speechless.

UPDATE: I knew that hearing from you all would stimulate my creative juices, so I wanted to add a little more here.

There is no doubt that bad people will be attracted to the priesthood for the wrong reasons.  But what’s happening is that this attack imputes evil and wrongness to everyone who is attracted to the priesthood.  I find that simply dreadful.  The comments you all wrote go exactly to that point — and to the way this witch hunt (and that’s what it is) is being used to destroy individuals and an entire institution.

Part of the problem is, I think, that in our highly sexualized culture, people are unable to acknowledge that there are others out there, men and women, who aren’t interested in sex — whether with people of the same or the opposite sex.  It’s just not important to them.  The suspicion, therefore, is that celibacy must inevitably twist people, or that it’s always a lie, and only twisted people will engage in that pretense.

I find the whole thing upsetting.  As a Jew, I’ve had my issues with the historic Catholic church, but as a conservative, and a rational thinker (and a Jew in the post-JPII era), I think it is an important institution that stands as a bulwark against anarchy, both moral and spiritual.

UPDATE II: One of my favorite Catholic writers (hey, one of my favorite writers generally) is Patrick O’Hannigan.  He too is dismayed by the combination of venom and intellectual dishonesty liberal bastions are aiming at the Catholic church.

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  • kali

    Happens like clockwork,  doesn’t it?  It’s the annual Easter attack,  like the “spontaneous” Easter riots in the old Soviet Union.
    This isn’t to say that the current lot of scandals (So molestation isn’t just an American problem–who’d have thought it?) might prove to be true, and if they are, they’re  a shame to the Catholic church, but they did slot suspiciously well  into this year’s attack.

  • Rhymes With Right

    I spent four years in the Catholic seminary, leaving a year short of ordination when the abuse scandal in my diocese (Belleville, Illinois) led to our new bishop telling us that opportunities for specialized ministries (in my case, teaching in one of the diocesan high schools) would not be an option because of the number of priests lost due to old abuse allegations.  I respectfully requested a leave of absence so I could teach and thereby discern my calling in life — and met my wife during that leave.
    Of the guys I knew in the seminary, most were men of deep faith and high moral integrity.  None were perfect.  Sadly, I am aware of two who have been accused and convicted of sex offenses since that time — less than 1% of those I was in the seminary with in the early 1990s , and about the same rate as is found among members of my current profession — teaching.  I lament, however, that any of them were so inclined, for their offenses tar the many good men (those ordained and those who followed other paths) who they were in seminary with.
    Do I excuse these men who sullied their priesthood with sexual involvement with those beyond the age of consent?  No, I don’t.  Do I think all of them were beyond redemption?  Spiritually, not — and in some of their cases, I think they were psychologically and socially within the realm of rehabilitation.  Some,  — the classmate who preyed on pre-pubescent boys or the older priest who used the diocesan summer camp as a harem — were truly evil.  But others — I’m thinking in particular of the gay alcoholic priest whose “rock bottom” that led him down the 12-step path to sobriety was waking up with a 16-year-old male runaway — might have returned to fruitful ministry after proper counseling  had the witch hunt atmosphere not been allowed to take over.  But most were, as pointed out by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, gay men who took advantage of their trusted position to have relationships with post-pubescent gay teens who were legally below the age of consent but willing partners nonetheless.
    And I won’t forget those who were destroyed by false accusations.  I can think of one who was hounded from parish to parish by SNAP after a mentally-ill woman accused him of molesting her by-then adult son, despite the denials by both the son and the priest, complete with polygraphs, and who ultimately left active ministry and went into hiding to keep his own sanity.  Or another, one of my mentors, who had been accused of misconduct some 15 years before, been investigated by CPS, and cleared, only to have the charges resurrected and reinvestigated during the height of the scandal (complete with a public removal from his parish) and again be cleared, and then become the focus of a third investigation of the same charges (complete with another public removal) when the Bishops’ abuse guidelines went into effect in 2002 — and whose obituary will likely begin “Father John Doe, who was the only priest in the diocese accused of child molestation to be cleared of the charges….”  Or a third priest, the subject of three days of “Where’s Father Bob?” stories in the local rag raising questions about a possible secret removal on abuse charges — only to discover he had been hospitalized for a surgical procedure and didn’t want a flood of people in his hospital room!

  • Old Buckeye

    (Somewhat) OT: Has anybody seen a pic of the first family attending a church service for Easter? Just curious how they spent their day (aside from excluding private and parochial school students from the White House egg roll:

  • excathedra

    Is it just me or am I right in recalling that, prior to the 1980’s, all sorts of sexual boundary crossings were societally tolerated? Professors and students, Scouts and Scout leaders, therapists and patients. Not approved, but also not responded to with the outraged puritanical certitude that has become so de rigueur.
    Take our current attitudes toward prison rape. The facts are that in American prisons rape is a huge problem and has been for a long time. Nowadays, it is almost entirely a black-on-white phenomenon, as well. Brutal and vile. But don’t we still make jokes about dropping the soap, even in commercials?  It is this kind of attitude that I recall was the societal stance about things like intergenerational sex back then. You know about it but you don’t really know about it or want to. Our ethical maws were interested in other things, other fads that fed our illusions of goodness.
    The Left is like the Borg. Diversity and inclusiveness and fairness abound, but God help you if you resist their terms. Although there are many Jews and Catholics on the left, the Left hates Jews and Catholics by proxy, thru attacking Israel and the institutional Church. Jews will, in the end, refuse to be assimilated. They always have. Leftist rage at their obstinate peculiarity is in a long line, with Christian and Muslim rage at the same thing. And the Left will hate the Church because, despite its inescapeable human flaws –and its unfortunately communitarian and pro-immigrant attitudes of late–, it is intolerant on sex and gender, where the Left uses its own very particular version of sexual freedom (high restricted, of course) to bring us all together in a statist paradise. And, of course, Catholicism’s assertion that it represents the truth is, to the pomo Left (dogmatic relativists!), a scandal and an outrage.
    I laugh with a gym mate that, although we were both altar boys and spent decades around priests, not one of them ever laid a hand on either one of us. What were we, chopped liver?

  • gpc31

    Ex Cathedra, I have to laugh with you as well, because I too was an altar boy and spent much time around priests (was even housed in a rectory for a month to finish a school year after my family had moved), and no one ever touched me!

    On a more serious note, one of my uncles is a priest who has been falsely accused by SNAP.  I say “falsely” because the accusations are incoherent, shifting, and contradictory (such as, he was not at the parish 30 years ago that his lone accuser claims).  Yet that has not stopped a five year legal ordeal that has torn him up.

    SNAP is an extortion racket.  They need to be investigated.

  • suek

    Points I wanted to make as well, but with less authority…
    >>less than 1% of those I was in the seminary with in the early 1990s , and about the same rate as is found among members of my current profession — teaching.>>
    Yet there’s no big hobgoblin about teachers, is there?  In fact, it seems to be poohpoohed when a teacher is accused of the same thing – a boys will be boys thing.  Why is that?
    >>But most were, as pointed out by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, gay men who took advantage of their trusted position to have relationships with post-pubescent gay teens who were legally below the age of consent but willing partners nonetheless.>>
    And of course, we have NAMBLA, and those who want “intergenerational sex” made legal – or at least not illegal.  And that’s ok – but if priests get involved in something like this????  OMG!!  the world is going to end!!  The Church is _EVIL_!!  so…what you have here is the old Alinsky thing of “Make them live up to their own rules” and condemn them when they don’t.  They don’t have standards, so they’re not vulnerable.  If you have standards, then you are.
    Someone pointed out that many in the press are gay (I don’t know that to be a fact.  I believe they’re pretty consistently Lefties, and so are sympathetic to that mindset even if they are not actually homosexual), and it was for that reason that the nearly 80% of cases that actually involved post-pubescent boys were “advertised” as pedophilia instead of the actually correct name for it – which I can’t remember at the moment.  Of course, it could be that they couldn’t remember the name either – but it could also be that those who are gay don’t want the condemnation that would occur if it were associated with preying on young men.  Deciphering motives is difficult – were they actually shocked and offended, or just using an opportunity for persecution of the one worldwide organization that refuses to accept their demand for recognition as morally acceptable?  I know where my money would be if an actual answer could be obtained…

  • Oldflyer

    I have problems with the Catholic Church from a historical, as well as a contemporary, point of view. Raised as a Southern Baptist, I do not identify with hierarchical religious organizations.   But, I know from personal observation that the church provides great comfort and strength to many  people.
    Other than matters of civil justice in specific cases, I believe that it is for the church to mind  its internal affairs.  If it does not do so adequately, and loses credibility with its congregation, then matters will resolve themselves.
    Many of the attacks on the Catholic Church, along with those on Evangelicals,  are thinly, or not so thinly, disguised attacks on Christianity as a whole.   It is ironic that at this time non-believers feel so threatened by those who do believe.  What is the threat?

  • Mike Devx

    I paid a good amount of attention to the issue back when the Boston problems surfaced.
    There are two categories of problems:
    1. Pedophilia – sexual abuse of young children, up to about the age of eleven.  This seems to occur at the same rate as among the general population, and there’s no special problem in the priesthood.  It’s just the usual law of averages – pedophiles can be *anywhere*.
    2. Gay exploitation of teenage boys.  There’s an official term for this, but it’s a weird term.  Here the problem in the priesthood is worse than the general population, and probably always has been.  I know, during the Boston abuse scandal, it was found that there actually was a “gay network” of priests who shared pornographic material and provided “moral support” (hah!) for each other.  I won’t go so far as to say that they encouraged each other to exploit altar boys and other young teenage boys, but they created a social atmosphere where it definitely was considered acceptable.  And *that* is the nature of the problem, and what led, I believe, to the wider abuse than would have otherwise occurred.
    Add to that the fact that the church hierarchy then covered it up, and simply moved these predators around, and you have the makings of the scandal(s).  And they *are* severe and serious scandals.  If the church quietly accepted the idea of this “gay network” of priests trading pornographic material and abusing teenage boys as somehow acceptable… you’ve got a church hierarchy where those leaders need to be stripped of authority.  It would not be enough to simply remove the predators from the priesthood – though they too should be removed, and not just placed into contexts where they don’t have contact with teenage boys.  Sexual molestation removes all moral authority of any sort.

  • kali

    Hebephilia (a preference for younger adolescents)
    Ephebophilia (a preference for older adolescents)

  • Mike Devx

    suek said in #6:
    it could also be that those who are gay don’t want the condemnation that would occur if it were associated with preying on young men.

    I bet there are gay people who don’t want this discussed because it “tars and feathers” all gays.  I’d like to believe that those gays are all of the liberal bent (though not all liberal gays would agree with it either.)  I personally welcome the condemnation.

    To wish to bury the comdemnation… that would be like a happily married couple trying to convince everyone to NOT discuss spousal abuse, because then all married couples are somehow stained.  How weird would THAT be?  I feel the same way about predator priests.

    And we’re not talking about some poor tortured soul who commits such an act once and is overwhelmed with grief and remorse.  (Though that probably happens too.)  We’re talking about cases of  skilled serial molesters who groom their victims.  We’re talking about adults in a power relationship with teenagers, and who exploit that aspect of it, too.  We’re talking about a secretive “society” of worst offenders who even share pornography with and support each other (though I do not know how widespread that network was.)

    It’s not much different than Mary Kay LeTourneau with her teenage boy toys.  The priests are quite psychologically screwed up, as she was.  She was nearly incapable of mature relationships with adult men.  (I think she actually was married, but it was strained, to say the least.)  And when she was released?  She worked at a fast food shop, and her best friend became someone from that workplace, who was… a teenage girl!  With whom she shared stories of her “sexual proclivities”.  I mean, holy crap.  Where are the other adults in her life?  She’s just totally, completely screwed up.  As I bet are all or nearly all of these molesting priests.

  • Bookworm

    Everything Mike says is true.  Oldflyer is also right that the church should rise or fall on its own conduct, credibility and remorse.

    However, the furious condemnation from secular arms of society tells me that this has little to do with the sex scandal and everything to do with destroying the church.  As excathedra pointed out, the exact same behavior is cool elsewhere (including Barney Frank’s own home).

    There’s no doubt but that the church, which is a moral arbiter, should be held to a higher standard, but it’s really not for the NYT to try to destroy it.  That’s what troubles me so much — not that the church has to face the wrath of its own congregants and try to repair itself from within, but the fact that the British body politic is contemplating removing the Pope’s immunity.   This is not church scandal; this is Leftist opportunism.


  • jj

    Just to quickly address your last comment, Bookworm – good luck with that, British body politic.   Vatican City is a country, the Pope is a head of state, and the British body politic will have about as much to say about his immunity as they did about Joe Stalin’s, or do about that of any other head of state, or diplomat.  That would be: remarkably close to zero.
    Somehow or other I seem to have always known a bunch of priests, and even some more senior ranks within the church hierarchy.  I therefore know that there have been a number of seminaries in this country that have always been known (within the priestly community) for being, as the saying goes,  “pink.”  (Their phrase.)  Often enough to the point where it’s highly annoying to those serious-minded people trying to study there.  (They can’t complain, either, because Father Feather Boa prancing down the hall there is your senior at the seminary, and if one complains, one gets tossed.)
    The question therefore becomes: if the problem was something of an open secret as long ago as the 1950s – which it was – and which is now 60 years ago, then why were these places not closed down, cleaned up, or otherwise dealt with decades back?  Good question, with a long, complicated, and many-faceted answer – or series of answers.
    A piece of it is that the church’s understanding of homosexuality has always been Byzantine, in both the figurative and the historical sense.  The church considered males as animals subject to unholy drives anyway, and when (to take the obvious example) the holy Templars (who were themselves monks and priests) needed relief from those drives while on campaign, they turned to one another.   (As Lenny Bruce said:  “put a guy in the joint long enough and when he gets out he’ll shtup mud, holes in your knotty pine walls – whatever he can get.” )  Well – that’s the ancient part.
    A more modern part is that the church hierarchy has always been old guys, often enough not very well educated and often enough not very broad.  (The ones who came to the US from Ireland in the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s may as well have arrived from Mars.)  Psychology was not much studied, or even recognized in the church’s teaching (of priests, not just the rest of us), and was in fact seen as an enemy until pretty recently.  I was probably 14 when I realized I was as well or better read than 90% of the priests I knew – except the Jesuits from Providence.  (That’s a surprise to a kid – and it was a surprise to me.  These guys are routinely assumed to have all kinds of knowledge, insight,  and understanding they very often simply don’t have.)
    Another little peripheral piece is that the priesthood was often seen – and used – as something of a safe haven.  This was done in the hope that the life of prayer and contemplation would straighten them out, and help them deal with their demons.  After all, constant exposure to holiness ends by rubbing off on you, and rendering you a bit holy yourself, right?  And I can remember when that was a big piece of the therapy:  “pray, ask for God’s help, be around Godly people, and you’ll be fine.”  (Another, I suppose more amusing example of this use of the priesthood as a place to hide is the number of old priests from Ireland who used to appear in Florida parishes in the 1950s and 1960s.  These were all ancient IRA firebrands who had finally arrived at the point where they had exhausted everybody’s patience, and had to be gotten out of Ireland before the cops showed up to finally arrest them.  They’d made Ireland too hot to hold them, and their sermons in the Palm Beach County churches were basically fundraisers for the IRA.  Funny stuff…)
    But the point is, you had a hierarchy that was often not brilliantly educated, knew from nothing about psychology, and was generally elderly.  Many of them had a tough enough time picturing age-appropriate heterosexual sex – forget homosexuality.  It just wasn’t on their radar at all, and the kinds of issues that lead to child molestation were not only not on their radar, they weren’t (and often enough aren’t) in the same universe as the one they occupy.  And presented with someone who’s a problem, their solution was to “counsel” him (lots of prayer), and move him away from temptation to another parish, not realizing that this kind of issue places the temptation within, and goes with the person.
    It’s only recently, remember, that society at large has realized it.  We used to arrest them, and when they’d served their time, away they went, back out into society to do it again.  Now of course we stick ’em on a register and try to keep an eye on them, because we know this is an original issue problem and punishment doesn’t make them better.  But we haven’t really known that very long, and the church moves more slowly than society does.
    I don’t much like Bernardin of Boston, but I think he reacted absolutely normally for an old man who had not the slightest idea of what the issue was, and was in so far over his head in trying to understand and confront it that he was basically paralyzed.  All he could do was what had been done before.   I don’t excuse him, but imagine trying to explain to that old man the urges and drives going on within the mind of a pedophile, (imagine trying to explain the mind of a pedophile!) which compel him to commit acts which themselves he isn’t going to understand – and may not even believe human beings do, or could do.  It’s outside his world, as it would have been outside the worlds of most of the 20th century popes, cardinals, bishops, etc. – and these are the guys in charge.  JPII was born in rural Poland in 1920.  Even as far-sighted and far-ranging as he was – what kind of educational background or knowledge base does anyone think he might have had to fall back on in trying to understand and/or deal with this?  Before him Paul VI was born in 1897 – he was ordained through home-study (he was a very sickly kid) in 1920, and didn’t get near an actual school until after ordination.  He was ready for this???  Before him was John XXIII – Angie Roncalli was a peasant from a village nobody ever heard of near Bergamo who never saw a school other than a seminary.  If you had told him that by 1960 – during his reign – there were a lot of seminaries in the US that were getting in real trouble with this, he’d have said:  “hah?”- and that would have been that.
    So it doesn’t surprise me.  Nor, on the other hand, do I regard it as an excuse to tear down the entire church, which still contrives to do more good in the world than the ambulance-chaser bar does.

  • gpc31

    Mike Devx absolutely nailed the problem.   Perfectly put.

    I have been at times enraged by the way the bishops mishandled the abuse.  From my perspective (I have a personal stake in the matter), the bishops first protected the guilty and have now belatedly thrown several innocent priests to the wolves, all in a misguided cya maneuver.

    Ross Douthat put the matter in perspective with this little story:
    During a frustrating argument with a Roman Catholic cardinal, Napoleon Bonaparte supposedly burst out: “Your eminence, are you not aware that I have the power to destroy the Catholic Church?” The cardinal, the anecdote goes, responded: “Your majesty, we, the Catholic clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last 1,800 years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.”
    That said, the lies and calumnies of the left are abominable.

    This is a moment where one has to have faith and pray that the gates of hell shall not prevail.

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  • Ymarsakar
    I’d like to invite people to check out the discussion there on the same subject.
    I make the contention that the Left, back in the 1930s, infiltrated various agents of a Communist-Leftist preference into the Catholic Church. These sleeper agents have incubated long enough that they now have attained some of the highest levels of authority in the Catholic Church.
    One easy explanation for why bishops hide these things would be to 1. have a lever on the homosexuals and 2. be able to leak the issue in order to damage the credibility of the Catholic Church.
    The Soviet Union saw the Church as their only true competitor. It had to be destroyed, because the Church offered a philosophy of life that people could believe in. The Soviets did not want any competition over Marxist-Lenism as the be all and end all solution to life.

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  • gpc31


    Thank you for the link.  I will look into it.
    I believe that as a matter of historical record you are correct in stating that there was some communist infiltration of the Church in the Soviet Bloc.  (Don’t know about the U.S.)  Priests and bishops there were also threatened and smeared with false allegations of sexual abuse.  Such was the formative experience of  Pope JPII in Poland, and it has been conjectured as one reason for his inattention to the evil and disgusting spread of real abuse decades later.  It certainly contributed to an “us vs. the world” mindset.

    As a statement of the obvious, separation (not suppression) of church and state is a good thing.  Beats dhimmitude any day.

  • Ymarsakar

    They asked me to provide supporting evidence for why I think the infiltration happened on the Catholic Church in America. You can find the material there by searching for my name.

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