Random Conjectures

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Category: Theology

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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The Blood is the Life: An essay regarding a diagnosis of the ills currently plaguing the Roman Catholic Church

 

Many of us have noted that not all is well with the Roman Catholic Church. Some are rejoicing over its supposed schism, heresy, or apostasy. Others of us sorrow over its sickness, as one would the illness of one’s mother. We wish there were some way it could be cured. Still others sorrow, but conclude that there is no cure: the only thing left now is to abandon ship, leave the impending shipwreck, and seek refuge in a Church which still lives, wherever that might be found.

Since I for my part believe that the Church of my youth both can and should be cured, I offer the following meditation. I would ask that those who read it consider what I have to say, accept it to the extent that it is true, and correct it where it is false. Read the rest of this entry »

A (proposed) Open Letter regarding the Restoration of the Sarum Rite

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Those of my seven or eight readers who actually go down below the most recent entry of my poor weblog will note that I have written somewhat about the Sarum Rite, and of its possible restoration in the Roman Catholic Church. Please allow me to tell you why I’ve not been writing much about it, until recently. 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 »

An episcopal apology I’d like to hear some day

When I was a child at a Roman Catholic grade school in Southern California, long ago, the practice of the nuns who taught there was to have the students of in each class room line up in their own line at the end of each recess. One morning, the kids in my class room, while in their line, were being particularly loud and unruly, so much so that they delayed the whole school from going in to their respective classrooms by at least ten minutes.

My teacher, a particularly tall and stout Carmelite nun, came up to me, and said, “I want you to apologize to the whole school for the behavior of our class.” I quietly protested to her, “But I didn’t take part in what they did!” And the nun quietly said to me, “I know that. Nonetheless, I would like you to apologize on behalf of your class. Could you do that for me?” I nodded, and in as loud a voice as I could muster, I apologized to the school on behalf of my class.

It seems that these days, I have heard tell of a number of bishops who are remonstrating with their unruly and disorderly flocks. I have remarked here and there about such bishops. I’m afraid that I have not been very charitable with these bishops, and for that, I apologize myself. 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 »

How my faith (in the RC Church) became mostly dead

Once again, the e-magazine Patheos has given me food for thought. This time, the feast provided was through an essay there entitled ‘How my faith became mostly dead‘. I must say that I feel for the author of that essay: how his faith in God and His Church have slowly dried nearly to the point of nonexistence. I feel for the writer, because my faith in the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the Kingdom of Heaven are, if anything, stronger than ever. But I have little if any faith that the Roman Catholic Church on Earth, as presently constituted, inheres very much in that Kingdom at present, or is likely to come to inhere in that Kingdom during my lifetime. Read the rest of this entry »

Yet another silly rant…

You know, I REALLY should stop reading Aleteia. Yet again, I have found a well meaning article, by what appears to be a really good young woman by the name of Therese Anthony, which article is entitled “Dear Priests: Please Teach Us”. The essay may be found here, and I would invite my four or five readers to peruse it. Basically, she asks Roman Catholic priests to stop feeding us pabulum, and actually to teach us the Faith.

I was tempted to say that I hardly had the heart to disabuse her of her illusions, but that would not be quite true. Needless to say, I wrote the following comment. It seems that the comments I write to Alethea somehow so far aren’t approved for publication. I was also tempted to say that I really would want to know why they are not, but that would not be quite true either. So, here is my comment, God help me: Read the rest of this entry »

Apocalyptic for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed

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Albrecht Durer, ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

For me, I suppose it started, not with The Late Great Planet Earth, but with an idle comment made by a guest of the late William F. Buckley’s television talk show, Firing Line, back in 1979 or so. Buckley asked his guest, a brilliant and consummately educated Jesuit priest, just what the priest thought of Hal Lindsey’s little potboiler.

The priest paused for a second, and then said, “Let me tell you this story. I was at a great Eucharistic Convention which took place in Philadelphia a few years ago. At that convention there was a European Cardinal who spoke warmly, articulately, and knowledgeably throughout that Convention. At its end, His Eminence said to the vast audience there: ‘It is good that we are here together now, my brothers and sisters in Christ. But it is perhaps good also to consider that these may in fact be the Last Days.’

The priest paused again, and then said, “And the following year, that Cardinal was re-named as Pope John Paul the Second.”  Buckley nodded, was silent for a few seconds, and then changed the subject. I was silent too, for a time. But I kept that memory in my heart.

That memory nagged at me, and a part of me for long afterwards has been putting together an occasional fact here and there ever since. Let me tell you what I found. Read the rest of this entry »