Monday, March 29, 2010

Is the Pope To Blame For the Sex Scandal?

Certain people are calling for the Pope to resign and saying he is to blame for the sex scandals in the Church. Is he? Some others answer the claims, so I will not add my voice to it - but rather put other voice's to work.

I will only post short snips of each piece, click the links for full write-ups.

**Archbishop Dolan of NY
What causes us Catholics to bristle is not only the latest revelations of sickening sexual abuse by priests, and blindness on the part of some who wrongly reassigned them — such stories, unending though they appear to be, are fair enough, — but also that the sexual abuse of minors is presented as a tragedy unique to the Church alone.

That, of course, is malarkey. Because, as we now sadly realize, nobody, nowhere, no time, no way, no how knew the extent, depth, or horror of this scourge, nor how to adequately address it.

The sexual abuse of our young people is an international, cultural, societal horror. It affects every religion, country, family, job, profession, vocation, and ethnic group.

We Catholics have for a decade apologized, cried, reached out, shouted mea culpa, and engaged in a comprehensive reform that has met with widespread acclaim. We’ve got a long way to go, and the reform still has to continue.

But it is fair to say that, just as the Catholic Church may have been a bleak example of how not to respond to this tragedy in the past, the Church is now a model of what to do. As the National Review Online observes, “. . . the Church’s efforts to come to grips with this problem within the household of faith — more far reaching than in any other institution or sector of society — have led others to look to the Catholic Church for guidance on how to address what is, in fact, a global plague.”
**Damian Thompson
There is still no good evidence that Pope Benedict XVI is seriously implicated in the atrocious child abuse scandals that are – rightly – blackening the reputation of the institutions of the Catholic Church. But still the attempts to join the dots continue. To put it bluntly, there is an increasingly frantic media campaign against the Pope in which headlines are being written first and then facts shaved to fit them.
**Fr. Lombardi, Vatican spokesman:
In the late 1990s, after over two decades had passed since the abuse had been reported to diocesan officials and the police, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was presented for the first time with the question of how to treat the Murphy case canonically. The Congregation was informed of the matter because it involved solicitation in the confessional, which is a violation of the Sacrament of Penance. It is important to note that the canonical question presented to the Congregation was unrelated to any potential civil or criminal proceedings against Fr. Murphy.

"In such cases, the Code of Canon Law does not envision automatic penalties, but recommends that a judgment be made not excluding even the greatest ecclesiastical penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. In light of the facts that Fr. Murphy was elderly and in very poor health, and that he was living in seclusion and no allegations of abuse had been reported in over 20 years, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith suggested that the archbishop of Milwaukee give consideration to addressing the situation by, for example, restricting Fr. Murphy's public ministry and requiring that Fr. Murphy accept full responsibility for the gravity of his acts. Fr. Murphy died approximately four months later, without further incident".
**Carl Olson.
The world is indeed right to condemn the sins of Catholics. But the world isn't satisfied with condemning the sins of Catholics (especially since it has such an uneasy relationship with the notion of objective sin and is quite selective in whose sins it condemns), but wishes to simply destroy the Catholic Church. The world cannot stand the scandal of particularity, the scandal of the Incarnation, the scandal of Jesus Christ
The mechanisms of dioceses are difficult for unsympathetic and uninformed people to follow and uninformed unsympathetic people don't usually take the time to get facts straight, even when the matter in question is a serious one. They just opine. And nowadays they opine in the mass media.
**Pope Benedict:
The pope said that faith in God helped lead one "towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion".

He also spoke of how man can sometimes "fall to the lowest, vulgar levels" and "sink into the swamp of sin and dishonesty".
**Archbishop Nichols:
There have been serious mistakes made within the Catholic Church. There is some misunderstanding, too.

Within the Catholic Church world-wide, there is a legal structure, its Canon Law. It is the duty of each diocesan bishop to administer that law. Certain serious offences against that law have to be referred to the Holy See to ensure that proper justice is administered. This was again clarified in 2001. Some of these offences are not criminal in public law (such as profanation of the Sacraments), others are (such as offences against children). The role of the Holy See is to offer guidance and advice so as to ensure that proper procedures are followed, including the confidentially needed for the protection of the good name of witnesses and victims, and for the accused until the trial is completed. It is part of a responsible legal procedure.

This ‘secrecy’ is nothing to do with the confidentiality, or ‘seal’ of the Confessional, which is protected for reasons of the rights of conscience.
**More Carl Olson:
Dowd is correct (no, really, she is) in saying the Church must "banish criminal priests and end the sordid culture of men protecting men who attack children..." And if she paid attention and read what John Allen and others are saying, she would recognize that Benedict XVI is actually undertaking these tasks. But Dowd is so locked into her obsessive women vs. men meta-narrative, she simply cannot consider acknowledging the good being done by the Vicar of Christ. And so, having run roughshod over reputations, facts, theology, and commonsense, she finishes by writing: "The nuns have historically cleaned up the messes of priests."

No, not really. No, it is holy and humble people—laity, deacons, nuns, priests, bishops, popes, perhaps even an occasional newspaper pundit—who have cleaned up the messes of those who have abused children, abused the faith of good people, and abused the Faith, period. They have taken the hits, carried their crosses, endured the taunts, embraced the path, and followed in the footsteps of Suffering Servant. Not by their own strength, not because of their innate purity, and not for their own glory.
**Thomas Peters:
With people writing and doing such preposterous things about and to the Church and the pope, we need to respond with the truth. I find it very interesting that this attack has been leveled at the Church during Holy Week, when the Church is most trying to focus on Christ and His sufferings. Well, this year we can identify with some of His suffering a little more easily.
**Kathryn Jean Lopez:
This case was clearly mishandled, but all blame does not lead to Rome. The fact that the Milwaukee archdiocese has a mess of a history (including Archbishop Rembert Weakland stepping down in scandal) is not breaking news so much as a shameful reality.
**John Allen:
First, some media reports have suggested that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presided over the Vatican office with responsibility for the sex abuse crisis for almost a quarter-century, from 1981 until his election to the papacy in April 2005, and therefore that he's responsible for whatever the Vatican did or didn't do during that entire stretch of time. That's not correct.

In truth, Ratzinger did not have any direct responsibility for managing the overall Vatican response to the crisis until 2001, four years before he became pope.
**The Anchoress:
A few people have written me scathing letters charging me with not writing much about these scandals because I am (as one wrote) “a brain-washed moron” who will obediently “protect the church, instead of the children.”

Had that person read me with any regularity, she would know that I studiously avoid all stories involving the sexual abuse of children. Some dark places are too familiar, and I prefer avoid them when I can. In this case, I’ve kept my thoughts mostly to myself.

But, I must say, sometimes, when I think back on how things played out in my own life, I wonder if some of the church’s failed response mechanisms were simply a case of institutional psychological denial. I’m not looking to excuse anyone, only to understand. But the church is made up of humans involved in a complicated love. In some families, like mine, clues and whispers and behavioral problems that should have made things clear simply did not register as they should have. Until someone finally opened her mouth and said things outright (that would have been me) issues were ducked or ignored. Everyone became very good at pretending that everything was all right. Why? Because of fear. Because of ignorance and feelings of helplessness and confusion. Because, in an odd way, of love.

In my family’s case, when I finally made my noise, two things happened: some accused me of either lying or “being mean.” Others finally woke up and moved quickly from their state of denial into righteous anger.

Those who had “woken up” and then supported me did the right thing; I did not love them less because of their initial blindness, or because they had to first move from denial to acceptance. Victimhood tends to help one understand how frail our humanity really is, sometimes, and those insights give room for a bit of mercy.
**Fr. Raymond D'Souza:
The backlog from the sins, shame and secrecy of the past is still to be dealt with. It will take some time. The victims' pain endures, the Church's shame remains. The abdication of discipline in the Church has taken a terrible toll. Slowly though we are becoming more Catholic and restoring the years that the locust hath eaten.
**More from Fr. D'Souza:
To repeat: The charge that Cardinal Ratzinger did anything wrong is unsupported by the documentation on which the story was based. He does not appear in the record as taking any decision. His office, in the person of his deputy, Archbishop Bertone, agreed that there should be full canonical trial. When it became apparent that Father Murphy was in failing health, Archbishop Bertone suggested more expeditious means of removing him from any ministry.


Leticia said...

Excellent coverage of intelligent commentators, Marcel. Sharing.

rhapsody said...


Thank you for the thorough smattering.

God bless you.