On Tuesday of last week, the Catholic Church found itself back in the spotlight. Unfortunately, this was not the sort of spotlight that Jesus meant when he said that a lamp should be placed on a stand so that all may see its light. No, once again, the Catholic Church was the center of the world’s attention for the sins it has committed in the abuse of minors by priests and its subsequent coverup. According to a Grand Jury report from the Office of Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as many as 1000 minors had been abused by priests over a 70 year period.
For many, the gist of the story is old news. In fact, the Church had reported similar numbers itself back in 2004 when it had done a full survey of the entire country. The fact that there were so many is horrifying, but not all that new. What is new, though, is the list of perpetrators and the details of their cases. As opposed to 2004, what the world is seeing now is more than just a statistical breakdown, more than just overall generalities, but an actual list of names, details of their abuse, and the ways that the Church systematically covered it up. By no means for the weak of stomach, the report reveals unconscionable tactics that these priests used to lure in minors, abuse them, and even create a network of abusers within dioceses, able to continue their actions from place to place under the shelter of the Church.
And so, once again, the Church finds itself in the spotlight with attackers from every angle. We experience the same hatred and distrust as a decade ago, the same wound being reopened and made worse. And we are left shocked because we put our Band-Aid on and thought that it would have healed by now. There are some in the Church that wonder why there is so much animosity towards the Church again, becoming very defensive, claiming that there is nothing new in this report and that this is all old news. But this wound is too deep to think that it could have healed in short time, to think that it could have healed on its own without tending to the depths of the damage inflicted. No, to its credit, the Church changed some of its protocols and made Churches the safest place for minors in our world today, but it never addressed the structures that led to such a problem, and it never really healed the wounds all around.
And so they fester.
And so we find ourselves bombarded with the same horrible arguments as a decade ago. Some want to use this an opportunity to remove the requirement of celibacy for priests, arguing that this is the cause. But do we really want to say that remaining single and not acting out sexually causes one to be a rapist? Should we be worried about the millions out there not currently in relationships? This is ludicrous. Others want to use this as an opportunity to denounce homosexuality and to purge our seminaries of anyone with a same-sex attraction. But do we really want to say that having an attraction to someone of the same sex causes one to rape minors? That there is a natural propensity in gay men to want to be sexually active with children? This is absurd.
Pedophilia and ephebophilia are not normal expressions of sexual desire. In fact, they are not primarily sexual in nature: rape is more an act of violence than anything else. These things comes from a place of brokenness and distortion, the result of a real disorder. To use this situation as a means to promote an agenda, claiming that celibacy or homosexuality causes one to develop such a disorder and act out in heinous ways, is cheap, scientifically inaccurate, and against what the Church has said about itself.
But most of all, it is a deflection. It is a way of scapegoating an issue so that the blame is placed onto someone else, that we who are not of that category are left feeling innocent, and all the while, the victims themselves are left as an afterthought.
That cannot be our path forward. That cannot be the way we ultimately heal this wound and move on as the light of Christ in the world. More than anything else, the Church needs to recognize and accept the sins that it has committed, willing to accept the consequences for the sake of bringing justice for the victims, rather than focusing on self-preservation. Rather than focusing all our attention on who is to blame so that we can be sure that we’re not to blame, our focus needs to be on having a real sense of remorse, an honest reflection on what went wrong, and a steadfast commitment, above all else, to those who need the most healing. As much as this situation hurts us and we can say that the Church needs to be healed, we are not the victims here. I’ll say it again:
We are not the victims here.
It is only when we are able to fully accept this that the healing can begin. A Band-Aid will not heal this wound. Nor will treating the wrong patient.
Thank you so much for your insightful remarks. So refreshing. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you continue your Journey. Hopefully I will be professed in Nov in THE SFO.
PAX ET BONUM
Honest. Candid. Sincere. Continue your journey and God Bless you
Good reflection, Casey.
Well said,on target. Bold and courageous move. St. Francis would be proud.
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
Very good points Brother. Very good. It is very disheartening and at one point, I wanted to punch some people through the television screen. I recently retired from many years in the Merchant Marine-most on Navy ships. This horrific behavior existed-exists actually-there as well. We take Maritime Cadets from the various Maritime Academies as part of their sea cruises. Over the years, most have been young men. There have been countless of these young men who have been ‘raped’ over the years. Mostly by guys in their 40s, 50s and older. The usual method was getting the cadet so drunk he didn’t know or wasn’t aware of what was happening. And most were too afraid to say or do anything; they were embarrassed and ashamed. Legally, it is rape. But in effect, it is almost pedophilic. The maturity and age difference between an 18 or 19 year old kid and a man in his 50s is enormous. Having been a young cadet many years ago, I know how it feels. It is only now being dealt with. Not because where I worked for over 30 years is or has done anything but cover it up–like has been happening in the church for decades, but by the Academies. Some have refused to send any more cadets to the company. They have been hearing these stories for decades and have been told it is being dealt with and finally got fed up and are taking legal action. It is embarrassing. So, it isn’t just the church but the Church should be above this evil. The times we live in make me wonder if we are headed toward a ‘Babylonian’ like apocalyptic event. If you read Jeremiah-chapter 7 I believe-you wonder how widespread the behavior he talks about was for God to let that happen. How many years was it going, how many people taking part, etc. For me, many things started in the 60s; the gay movement in particular. When it happens in the church, it is almost the last bastion, the last straw. I believe in the Sodom and Gomorrah situation, young men were being abused. Can we go any further down? I really worry about the Catholic converts, like Scott Hahn and others I watch on ‘The Journey Home.’ How many will get sick of all of this? It is very disheartening; but if we are living in those end times-which can last MANY years-there will be disheartening times. I understand that. We have to hold on and help build up the Church, and encourage others in the process. Tonight I will be doing that at the weekly rosary at my Church.
Jesus, I trust in You Michael C. ________________________________
POWERFUL, HONEST AND CAME FROM THE HEART! THANK YOU
The Protestant churches also need to provide safety and protection for children. Since the Catholic church is in the media spotlight, this is a lesson for all churches. This is not just a Catholic problem. Many Protestant churches do not have ‘checks and balances’ and are not holding their Pastors accountable. There are many lessons to be learned from this and I am praying that the Catholic church will heal from this wound by healing the wounds of the victims. And that all Religions will learn to always protect the children.
Hi Casey ~ The behavior by these priests, bishops and cardinals is abhorrent and undeniably sick and evil. I have to say, though, from what I’ve read and understand, less than 50% of the abuses were on minors. Many, if not the majority were committed against adolescents and with young seminarians, and 80% of the cases were male on male. The stories about McCarrick and other priests, intentionally bringing young men into the priesthood who “fit the description” says that there’s a male on male connection here – moreso than priests abusing miners. No one – especially children – should ever have to undergo this horrific abuse by a priest, coach, stranger or relative – but most especially by men of the cloth, men they should be able to trust. However, the report did not indicate it was 1,000 minors and that’s a statement that needs attention. Yes, we need to address all the child abuse, but also the homosexual influence, with McCarrick and the many priests who abused many seminarians and adolescent males. May God cleanse this filthy sinful church which I call my own. I am a sinner. I do not deny and I could never leave my Catholic Church because Jesus Christ is the founder of this Church. He suffered and died for this Church. I will not leave Him, nor the Eucharist, which are One in the same. And how could I leave the other sacraments? Only the Catholic Church has the sacraments. I would not recommend anyone leave, if that’s what they plan to do. As Jesus said, “Will you also leave?” Where would I recommend that they go? I would recommend to those who want to leave, to come and pray with me. Pray the rosary, go to Adoration, and begin to fast for our sake and for our sinful Church. I would recommend they speak to one of the many good and holy priests, there are many, and Our Lady is building a whole army of good and holy priests. Jesus’ poor Mother, our Mother Mary, has been begging us to “pray more,” and especially to “pray for our shepherds” during Her many apparitions in Medjugorje. Will we begin to listen? She will never lie, abuse or shame us as our priests, bishops and cardinals have done. I have, and will continue to pray, because Satan has been getting his way for many years and a great cleansing, by the grace of God, is about to take place. The gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. This IS the place to be. But we all need to speak the truth, (beginning with our church leaders) pray more and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Uncle Joey and I will continue to pray for you Casey. We love you and support you. If I’ve stated anything incorrectly here, feel free to let me know. This is what I know to be true. It is not an abuse of 1,000 minors, it is rampant child abuse (with the minimal number of abuses on young females) and also homosexuality and abuse – by priests – towards adolescent males and incoming seminarians. This is what I have been reading in NCR, EWTN and CNA. These are my sources. I trust them.
Let’s not forget the role of the laity in teaching their LGBT children to hate themselves, in throwing them away while they are minors, whether these minors are virgins or not. Let’s not forget the role of Church Fathers like Chrysostom, whose sermons in the Catholic Encyclopedia teach young LGBT students in Catholic Schools that because of the way they are born they are better of dead and that they are worse than murderers. Let’s not forget the role of the USCCB in trying to defund a federally funded LGBT suicide hotline in the winter of 2020, during the height of the worst pandemic in a century.
Brother, have you made an idol out of sentimental love? Do you understand satan’s power to increase desire for sexual sin? Do you understand how pride promotes delusion?
This is a conversation that must take place. As a very young man I was communication director for a clustering of priests. Too often, I listened to especially anointed men tell tales of woe, both in terms of interior struggles and sadness regarding their own behaviors. At that time no agency of the church was willing to listen to these souls as the focus of the time was on alcoholism in ordained and consecrated life. As years unfolded I returned to teaching theology and professional counseling. The issue turned to red-alert as even younger people shared confidential stories of blatant sexual experiences due to anointed ones pretending to enter a helping relationship with an innocent who suffered gang, family, peer challenges, or meanness. I was personally thrown out of more than one rectory as there was no civil or church back-up I tried to help, but there was little validation until the scandals became public. Let me be clear: the problem was not the men being gay, but dupers and rapists. (Currently, we need to own-up to the fact that women religious were too often involved in either beating kids, verbally humiliating some, and having sexual experiences with vulnerable minors, the dark side of Catholic education and hospital ministry.) Within the past month I attended a parochial liturgy where the presider said, “We must pray about this cancer.” I believe that is heretical. Of course, we should pray, but the on-going act of Creation demands that we do something in the name of the unseen God who endowed the human mind with great gifts that we may act in that One’s name for the sake of the reign of God.