Random Conjectures

"Act locally; bitch globally."

Category: Speaking truth to bullshit

My comments on the abuse crisis of the RC Church

There has been a lot of talk about sexual abuse of the young among Roman Catholic (or RC) clergy. While I am a Russian Catholic, I am still in union with the RC Church, and so this affects me as well. I therefore have both a right and a duty, under both canon and American civil law, to talk about it.

Briefly, the nature of the crisis is this: the rate of sexual abuse, according to the Jay Report and other confirming studies, is 5% of the total number of RC clergy in Europe and North America. 80% of that is male-on-male, and the overwhelming majority of that abuse is of post-pubescent boys. By way of contrast, the rate of child abuse by adult males in the U.S. population is 1/20th of one percent, and 80% of that abuse is male-on-female, with only 20% involving male-on-male abuse.

In short, there are strong indicia that the cohort of child abusers among RC clergy are a part of a much larger cohort of actively gay males in the clergy. These indicia are borne out by the studies done over the last thirty years by the late A.W.S. Sipe, which indicate that as many as 50% of that clergy are both gay and non-celibate, in violation of their vows of chastity.

Regardless of the actual number or percentage of RC clergy who are actively gay, it appears obvious, from the Jay Report and the several state grand jury reports, that there has been a pattern and practice of RC gay or gay-sympathizing hierarchs to protect the abusers and the unchaste, at the expense of the lay faithful. Those faithful are now beginning to vote, either with their pocketbooks, in denying the clergy their tithes, or with their feet, by leaving the Church.

These actions by the lay faithful, while perhaps necessary, are by no means sufficient to correct the situation. In addition, they weaken the Church on earth, by further dividing people. A better solution would be to identify those clergy who are in violation of their vows, and to give them the choice of reform or retirement. Both the civil authorities, and rich Catholic laity, are in the process of conducting their own investigations.

But while a house cleaning of the Church is necessary, it is by no means sufficient. Our Lord has told us that if there is a house that was once possessed and has been cleaned, but remains empty, that many more demons will return to it, and the state of that house will be worse than it was to begin with. This is not only true of the house of our souls, but of the House of God as well.

The more fundamental cause of this crisis is a failure of faith. No one who actually believed the Gospels could possibly act as these clergy have. But ultimately, as we know that faith comes from hearing the word of God, that the ultimate failure was the failure to teach, or to hear, the word of God. And I must note that this failure to teach and to learn the faith was and is not limited to the clergy. Each and every one of us, as lay faithful, have failed in our duty to learn the faith, and to teach it to others.

Additionally, I think it is fair to say that what we are experiencing is the demonic possession of the Church itself. Hirelings who have shown themselves to be both sons of Eli and sons of Belial have entered the sheepfold, and have become our alleged shepherds. It is necessary that these false shepherds be cast out. But it is also necessary to find shepherds who will feed their sheep, instead of fleecing, starving, and abusing them.

But this is truly a dumb spirit, both in the sense of being silent, and also in the sense of being stupid. And we have been taught by our Lord that this type of spirit can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. So it must be for us, and for our Church, if we wish to cast out these demons which infest and infect Her.

So, let’s start with prayer. Our Lord has taught us, in Matthew 6, several things about how we are to pray: First, do it alone, and don’t talk about it to others. Second, KISS, or ‘keep it simple, sweetheart’. God already knows what you need. Third, it has long been a tradition that we pray for others, as well ourselves. Fourth, it has also been a tradition to set aside regular times for private prayer, and to use a set rule. Some use the Rosary. Others use the Office. Yet others use the Trisagion prayers. Of course, it has long been a tradition that we also pray together, either during the Divine Liturgy, or the hours. It’s worth considering, anyway.

Let’s move on to fasting. Again, in Matthew 6, Our Lord taught us not to make a show about it. Do it cheerfully. It has also been an apostolic tradition, first found in the Didache, that we fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, to commemorate our Lord’s betrayal and crucifixion. It has also been a tradition that when we fast, we both cut down on the amount of food, and the types of food. Think vegan, and you’ve got the general idea. Don’t think so much as ‘giving up’ something, as putting it aside. And consider that in addition to fasting from food, you can also fast from certain actions and passions.

And, as long as we’ve been talking about Matthew 6, why don’t we move on to the part where our Lord talks about almsgiving. Other than our Lord’s usual thing about keeping quiet about it, you might want to consider the apostolic tradition of not just throwing money at the problem, but also, that set of acts and practices that have come down to us as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Try looking them up, and maybe even practicing them.

Finally, there has been an additional practice, which, while it is neither Dominical nor Apostolic, has long been a tradition of our Church: study. Study the Word of God, which, for Catholics, has been the following three things: Sacred Scripture, Holy Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church. Start reading the New Testament, and the Old. When you read the Old Testament, follow the ancient custom of our Church, and read not only the Hebrew Canon, but the Greek Canon (which includes the so-called Apocrypha) as well. Holy Tradition can be found in the writings of the Church Fathers, and in the Lives of the Saints. And the Magisterium, for Roman Catholics, consists of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the later Papal Councils (up to and including Vatican II), and the teachings of the Popes, which can be found in their writings.

And finally, if you are ambitious, why not try replicating in your studies the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council, in Optatam Totius, where they recommend the study of Latin, and the study of the languages of Scripture and Tradition, or Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Why not gain the humanistic, scientific, and philosophical patrimony of the Church, which makes an understanding of the Word of God possible? And why not use that combined knowledge to better inform and direct further studies in theology?

I dare say, that if the clergy had been faithful to the teachings of Optatam Totius to begin with, and reformed the education of priests accordingly, we wouldn’t be in the present mess. But, as the wag once said, the first step in getting one’s self out of a hole, is to stop digging. And then, just maybe, to look up instead of down. I think it’s worth a try.

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More Notes from the First Circle of Hell

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I’ve recently read something that has stirred up something vaguely resembling thought in me, and I’ve decided to put down those thoughts. Bad thoughts! Bad!

Seriously, though, the first of the writings in question is this one entitled Hikikomore and the Politics of Despair. The writer examines the lives of a growing sector of people in Japan who are described with the name in the above title. The name means ‘shut-in’, and refers to a large and growing group in Japan who have pretty much given up on Japanese society, and are living in their parents’ homes, or alone. They seldom go out of their rooms, and are pretty much bound to their computers, their televisions, or their video games.

The ultimate result of this way of life is called kodoyushi. It means lonely death, which is being experienced by more and more of the hikikomore, either as they age, or as they decide to give up. It is indeed a lonely death, because what often happens is that these people die alone, and their bodies are not found until days to weeks later.

The writer suggests that these hikikomore are the inevitable result of our modern society, that they are canaries in the coal mine: outliers who are showing the way that more and more people in the U.S. will be living in the not-too-distant future.

I hate to be the one to tell the writer, but it is unlikely to be as good in the U.S. as in Japan. It seems that in Japan, there is a much better social support network, in which people who can no longer cope are still taken care of. Not so in the U.S.

No, we have had our hikikomore for a long time now. We call them the homeless. Read the rest of this entry »

Some musings on the National Anthem

What with the fact that even a hermit like me, without newspapers, television, or cable, and with the radio permanently stuck on the local classical station, KUSC, has still heard of the fracas about footballers and others not standing for the American flag or the National Anthem, it is obvious that teh Interwebz has an inordinate effect on the weak-minded, such as yours truly.

That being said, and the fact that like most of my fellow weak-minded souls, I’m armed with a weblog, and I’m not afraid to use it, I might as well do so likewise to deliver my uninformed and cantankerous opinion upon an already weary world. Read the rest of this entry »

The Impressive Clergyman

I’m sure that most of my seven or eight readers will remember that most impressive scene within that classic motion picture, The Princess Bride, when Prince Humperdinck is about to enact his, er, ‘arranged’ marriage with Princess Buttercup. The court chapel is richly arrayed with tapestries and flowers. The Bride, groom, wedding party, and wedding guests are richly dressed. The altar is gorgeously arrayed. The Impressive Clergyman, who is even more gorgeously vested, turns from the altar to the people, while the organ plays the final cadence of its beautiful music. The Impressive Clergyman silently gestures for the congregation to rise.

And then the Impressive Clergyman opens his mouth. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Sometimes I take a great notion…’

As one can perhaps tell from my choice of title and music, I’m a bit down right now. Now, where to start as to why…? Read the rest of this entry »

It is better to light one small stick of dynamite, than to curse the silence.

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This is a wake up call, for me and for my five or six readers now. I’ve mourned the death of my late wife, Beth, for long enough. I have also mourned the death of all that I have loved in the Church of my youth for long enough.

It is time to wake up to what we must become, rather than who we now are. Read the rest of this entry »

I feel much better, now that I’ve given up hope.

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Well, today is my 63rd birthday. It would be better if my late wife, Beth, were here to enjoy it (or for that matter, my first late wife, Carolyn, but as I often say, ‘If wishes were horses, we’d all be knee deep.’). Bur friends are posting greetings to me on my e-mail and my Facebook page. And Beth appeared to me in another dream last night, and we had a nice talk. One accepts one’s blessings with gratitude and humility, if one is wise. Read the rest of this entry »

Why, this is Hell, nor am I out of it.

I’ve been trying to put off this one for some time now. I’ve got my cheap brandies and sodas (abundances of them) and the quesadilla con carnitas (I know, I’m an incurable gringo) from the local food truck. It’s a warm spring night. I’ve helped to sing a beautiful Divine Liturgy at my church. I’ve spoken with my brother about having my 63rd birthday next Sunday at my mother’s place in Manhattan Beach. I’m planning on boeuf bourgignon and Caesar salad, rice and egg noodles, possibly a German chocolate cake with the classic frosting from a German bakery in South Gate (if it is still open) and a superb cheesecake from my nephew with the Cordon Bleu certificate and a true gift for baking. That should be enough, now. Shouldn’t it?

Apparently not. I appear to live my life in a number of layers. Read the rest of this entry »

‘You always end with a jade’s trick. I know you of old.’

I was there when you lot of spoiled priests said that the Spirit of Vatican II said that we had to drop the use of Latin in the Mass like a live hand grenade. And so we did. It didn’t matter that the Council Fathers said that they wanted to keep Latin in the liturgy. You did it anyway.

I was there when you lot said that we had to stop singing Gregorian chant, and do your Hootinanny masses instead. Ditto everything else beautiful from Josquin de Pres to Maurice Durufle. Again, it didn’t matter that the actual Council documents said otherwise. You just did it.

I was also there when you replaced the strains of organs, brass, winds, and choirs with guitars and Kumbaya. Good going, guys. Read the rest of this entry »

A Public Service Announcement, Part Duh

I just came from a website, which shall remain nameless, where hundreds of well meaning idiots were talking about offing, that is, killing or maiming, the Donald, otherwise known as Trumpus Maximus, or Donald Trump, but known around my weblog as The Blowhard. In the event that I am asked to divulge that website, I will plead the Fifth Amendment on behalf of the morons in question.

Uh, guyz, don’t you know that under 18 USC 879, threatening a major U.S. Presidential candidate with violence or death is a federal felony, that can get you up to five years in the slammer? Read the rest of this entry »