Clergy & Congregations Columns Opinion Thomas Reese: Signs of the Times

The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad bishops

Pope Francis listens to Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston and head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, during a meeting at the Vatican on Sept. 21, 2017. (L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

(RNS) — As the sexual abuse scandal surrounding Cardinal Theodore McCarrick continued to spread in the past week, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who heads the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, acknowledged on Monday (July 23) that “a major gap still exists in the church’s policies on sexual conduct and sexual abuse.”

O’Malley, who is also the archbishop of Boston, noted that while the church has a zero-tolerance policy for the sexual abuse of minors by priests, there is a need for clearer norms and procedures for investigating and judging bishops. But O’Malley’s statement raises further questions.

Who will set the norms for bishops?

Under canon law today, only the pope has authority over bishops and cardinals, although there were examples of bishops being tried by provincial councils in the ancient church. That is why only priests and deacons are subject to the norms and procedures set by the United States Catholic bishops for dealing with accusations of sexual abuse. The bishops conference does not have the authority to set norms for their own bishops.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick listens during a news conference in Washington in this May 16, 2006, file photo. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The pope needs to publish norms making clear that there will be zero tolerance for bishops who abuse children or allow abusive priests to continue in ministry. The McCarrick case also shows the need for zero tolerance for a bishop who has sex with his seminarians or priests. Any bishop involved in these activities should lose his office. Any cardinal should lose his red hat. There is no reason the pope could not publish these norms immediately.

Who will investigate allegations against a bishop?

The church needs better ways of investigating allegations against bishops. True, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta has done an excellent job investigating cases for the Vatican, but there are few other clerics up to the task. A degree in canon law does not equip a person to handle such cases.

Smart American bishops use laypersons with expertise in investigating sex crimes — for example, detectives and retired police officers. The Vatican should do likewise.

The local police and courts should, of course, deal with criminal cases, even for bishops. When Cardinal McCarrick was accused of abusing a minor in New York, it was reported to the police.

Pope Francis also empowered the Archdiocese of New York to conduct its own investigation, treating McCarrick like any other priest. The archdiocese hired an independent forensic agency, whose findings were given to the archdiocesan review board, which found the accusations “credible and substantiated.” That conclusion was then sent on to the Vatican.

This process worked, however, because Cardinal McCarrick was already retired. A sitting diocesan bishop would be investigated by his own investigators and reviewed by his own review board, whose findings would not be credible. Someone outside the diocese, normally the Vatican, must do the investigation.

Who will judge an accused bishop?

Pope Francis, right, talks with the head of a sex abuse advisory commission, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, of Boston, as they arrive for a special consistory in the Synod hall at the Vatican on Feb. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Because only the pope can judge a bishop, O’Malley’s commission recommended in June 2015 that a new Vatican tribunal be established to investigate accused bishops and give its conclusions to the pope. Pope Francis at first agreed to this recommendation, but Vatican officials talked him out of it. The actions of bishops continue to be handled by the traditional Vatican offices, such as the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples for missionary territories.

Critics have complained that the latter two offices are involved in the appointment of bishops and therefore may be very reluctant to find guilt in a bishop they appointed in the first place.

The pontifical commission’s recommendation was correct. There is need for a Vatican entity to deal with bishops who have been accused of abuse or of not stopping abusive priests; the problem is common enough that a permanent Vatican agency is required.

In short, the church, which has never been very good at HR, needs to get its act together on sex in the workplace. It can learn from secular organizations that have had to develop best practices. It can adapt policies and procedures developed by psychologists and counselors to design its own ways of dealing with inappropriate sexual activity between priests and parishioners.

In his July 24 statement, Cardinal O’Malley called for three actions: “First, a fair and rapid adjudication of these accusations; second, an assessment of the adequacy of our standards and policies in the Church at every level, and especially in the case of bishops; and third, communicating more clearly to the Catholic faithful and to all victims the process for reporting allegations against bishops and cardinals.”

While the cardinal’s recommendations make eminent sense and should carry weight with Pope Francis, who trusts him, there is a need for greater specificity in these recommendations.

What would an “assessment of the adequacy of our standards” involve and how long is it going to take? Who will do it? What does he mean by “transparent and consistent protocols”? What might we get from the church that we don’t already have now?

O’Malley’s commission has already worked on these questions. It needs to continue this work expeditiously, and the pope needs to listen to it.

About the author

Thomas Reese

The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest, is a Senior Analyst at RNS. Previously he was a columnist at the National Catholic Reporter (2015-17) and an associate editor (1978-85) and editor in chief (1998-2005) at America magazine. He was also a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University (1985-98 & 2006-15) where he wrote Archbishop, A Flock of Shepherds, and Inside the Vatican. Earlier he worked as a lobbyist for tax reform. He has a doctorate in political science from the University of California Berkeley. He entered the Jesuits in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1974 after receiving a M.Div from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

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  • “The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad bishops”
    How many times has this been said over the past fifteen centuries? If it has not happened by now, it is not going to happen. One more “go-through-the-motions” commission isn’t going to make a dime’s worth of difference.

  • Exactly!!! It seems that since it is a Bishop/Cardinal it is now coming to the attention of others who thought the priest abuses were just something to wag their fingers at and nothing more. This has been going on with Bishops/Cardinals since the beginning. They have been guilty, those who are, and continue to be so. While I hope this is a new momentum to get these devils out, I too am not holding my breath.

  • So, how many times has this been said over the past fifteen centuries?

    You write as though you know.

  • The structure of the Catholic Church, like the Orthodox Communion, does not make bishops water boys for their patriarchs.

    Bishops have real power as successors to the Apostles. Bishops are not “branch managers” for the Church; they have their own authority, which cannot be taken from them without due process.

    The only reason “bishops (were) tried by provincial councils in the ancient church” was that travel to Rome or Constantinople took months, was often dangerous, and witnesses and evidence were only available locally. And so provincial councils exercised authority delegated by their patriarch.

    In 2011 Pope Benedict XVI removed two bishops. Early in April he ousted Bishop Jean-Claude Makaya Loemba from leadership in the Diocese of Pointe-Noire in the Congo. He then removed Bishop William Morris from the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia.

    In the first case it appears Bishop Loemba was removed because of general negligence or incompetence, in the second Bishop Morris adopted and state publicly heretical positions. Both bishops resisted pressure to resign quietly, forcing the Pope to take action.

    Canon 416 of the Code of Canon Law provides for privation of an episcopal see, which was used in both these cases. In criminal matters Canon 1405 provides that only the Pontiff can judge the case.

    Suggesting that “It can adapt policies and procedures developed by psychologists and counselors to design its own ways of dealing with inappropriate sexual activity between priests and parishioners.” in unwise in the extreme. Doing that in lieu of simply following Canon Law is how the abuse situation spun out of control.

    This a classic American bureaucratic approach, something near and dear to Father Reese, but it is an ineffective one.

    Only the Holy Father can deprive a bishop of his see. And as the supreme legislator and judge, he himself cannot be bound by either Canon Law or a “permanent Vatican agency” (as though there are not enough already).

    Making the Church look the American Federal Government is hardly going to improve anything other than enriching “experts” and enlarging the bureaucracy.

  • “This has been going on with Bishops/Cardinals since the beginning.”

    Three examples, please.

  • It rather depends on what he did, does it not?

    And where.

    And also when.

    And further whether there are any witnesses willing to testify.

  • need to let the police do their job and sort through all that and not rely on church officials

  • “The pontifical commission’s recommendation was correct. There is need for a Vatican entity to deal with bishops who have been accused of abuse or of not stopping abusive priests; the problem is common enough that a permanent Vatican agency is required.”

    Well.

    Hmmmmm.

  • Read about St. Peter Damien. 1000 years ago.

    Read “fallen Order”, about the piarist order, 400 years ago.

    Bishop Patrick Zieman of Santa Rosa- 1999

    I agree with you 100%. You need only google “Catholic sex abuse scandals”. Clear the devils out.

  • Canon Law already requires that criminal offenses be referred to civil authorities unless the civil authority is such (North Korea) doing so would itself be an injustice.

    If everyone would do what they are already supposed to do and stop concocting ad libitum “solutions” a good number of problems would disappear.

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Damian

    Nothing exciting.

    The Piarist scandal is noteworthy because it is so out of the ordinary.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3617036/Scandal-in-the-Piarist-Order.html

    G. Patrick Ziemann, like McCarrick, was a practicing homosexual. One would think you’d have a higher opinion of him.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-patrick-ziemann23-2009oct23-story.html#

    I seem to recall something throwing stones in a glass house.

    https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-assault-and-the-lgbt-community

    https://www.advocate.com/crime/2014/09/04/2-studies-prove-domestic-violence-lgbt-issue

    https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29994648

  • Does that work for every sin or only certain ones and then only if they’re Catholic?

  • I don’t recall there having been any problem at all with dealing with “bad” bishops when Raymond Hunthausen was summarily removed from his episcopal see for, what? Siding with the poor?

    There seemed to be no problem with dealing with “bad” bishops when Bishop William Morris was removed from office (as in, forced to retire) for, what? Suggesting the question of women’s ordination be open to discussion?

    When Rome wants to move with alacrity in dealing with bishops, it does.

    When it doesn’t want to move, it doesn’t.

    Therein lies the problem, very simply — or so it seems to many layfolks looking on from afar at the mysterious, turbid machinations of the Vatican machine.

  • It is not a question of PR. It is a profoundly spiritual question: should a minister of Christ’s church be held to a very strict standard? If yes, then a church that spends more time delaying, concealing and dismissing than really disciplining has failed. If no, then you have the current system.

  • Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen was never “summarily removed from his episcopal see”.

    Archbishop Hunthausen retired in 1991 and resided near Helena, Montana, with his brother, Father Jack Hunthausen, hearing confessions weekly in East Helena.

    There were allegations of deviations from church doctrine. In 1983 the Vatican authorized Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), to launch an investigation. Archbishop (later Cardinal) James Hickey of Washington, DC, was named apostolic visitor to the Archdiocese of Seattle. Hickey’s delegation met with Hunthausen and others to investigate his administrative and pastoral practices. Donald Wuerl, later Bishop of Pittsburgh and Archbishop of Washington, was named an auxiliary bishop with special powers. The investigation closed in April 1989 after the CDF accepted the commission report recommending that Hunthausen’s authority be restored.

    Bishop William Morris was deprived of his see for stating that the question of women’s ordination, which the Catholic Church has declared closed forever, was actually open for discussion. He refused to resign and so was removed.

  • That this is “the current system” is an allegation to be proven.

    With over 5,500 bishops in the Catholic Church the track record hardly supports it.

  • BTW, the present case is about a Cardinal. Would it have been to daring to write ” The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad cardinals” ? The time hasn’t already come yet ?

  • Re: “Who will set the norms for bishops?Under canon law today, only the pope has authority over bishops and cardinals, although there were examples of bishops being tried by provincial councils in the ancient church.” 

    Among the provincial councils which laid out norms (for all Christians, clergy and laity), was the Council of Elvira in Iberia, in the first years of the 4th century. There were plenty of others, too. Among provincial councils which had been convened for the purpose of disciplining bishops, another had been held (also in Iberia) at Zaragoza c. 380, against Bishop Priscillian of Avila (who would, a few years later, become the first Christian executed for “heresy”). There is, in fact, an old and honored tradition of regional councils to address bishops’ misdeeds. 

    I’m not sure why another council couldn’t be summoned to address the problem of a lack of standards and norms. Maybe a third Vatican council could meet to hash it out? But really … at this point … why is this even needed? As I’ve commented before, this is a very old problem. That regional councils as long ago as the 4th century had to deal with standards of conduct, no rational person can now claim this is a “new” issue that just reared its head with the case of McCarrick. 

    It’s time for the R.C. Church to grow up, grow a pair, and deal with miscreants within its ranks. They have no viable excuse for not already having done so long ago. But given that failure, acting as though they’re “surprised” and wondering what the heck to do about it, just isn’t going to wash. 

  • Why are parishioners not given a role in this scheme? If tehre is to be a jury, then people from the parish affected should be on it.

  • Rather than offer my own words on this subject I offer those of Andrew Sullivan from his column in today’s New York Magazine:

    “It seems to me that a thorough investigation into this abuse should try hard not to be motivated by either faction, left or right, in the church. McCarrick was and is a liberal, and promoted other liberals. But other abusers have been conservatives. What matters here is not their theology but their actions and their inaction. If the investigation becomes a way to purge the church of all gay priests, or demonize them as a group, it will lose its credibility. This is about abuse of power, and it can be and has been perpetrated by heterosexuals as well as homosexuals in all sorts of hierarchies in every field of life. It would be deeply unfair to many good gay priests and seminarians to tar them all with the brush of abuse. Many may well have been victims of it. McCarrick, after all, was a critical figure for anyone who wanted to advance through the ranks of the church. And he used that power to get sex, in the same way that Harvey Weinstein did. That’s the issue here. The difference, of course, is that Weinstein never pretended to be an instrument of God’s grace.”

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/andrew-sullivan-portrait-of-the-president-as-a-con-man.html

  • Yes, the Catholic Church needs some process of investigating bishops/hierarchs who commit sexual abuse. It needs to be transparent, independent, and it needs some ground rules of what is or is not sexual abuse. From the lofty perch on which hierarchs sit is it even possible for there to be a sexual relationship which can be defined as not abusive?

    Equally important is we Catholics need to see bishops and cardinals lose their status – as bishop or cardinal – when sexual abuse has occurred or when sexual cover-up has occurred. Removal from a particular office – a “job” as bishop in a particular place or function – is not enough. If the positions of bishop and cardinal are to be ones the Church expects Catholic laity and the public to respect and trust, then there must be some limits on bishop/cardinal behavior that means they lose those positions and the symbols of the position they held. Bernard Law and Keith O’Brien should both have lost their red caps. Bishop Robert W. Finn and Archbishop John C. Nienstedt should no longer have the title “bishop.”

    It doesn’t mean they are kicked out of the Church entirely or that they lose some right to continuing support from the Church. I would hope, however, that they would not be put in positions where they are supposed to represent the same level of authority.

  • About 15 years ago, the bishops appointed a lay person to investigate the predatory priest situation. This was Frank Keating, who was a Catholic highly qualified to do the job. When the bishops realized that Keating planned to actually do the job and would uncover the cover-up, they forced his resignation. The bishops will protect themselves first, each other second, and the hierarchical institution third. Jesus, as intended by Catholic natural law, comes fourth, if that.

  • Well said. JPII and BXVI were tough as nails on those they thought were questioning their perfection of thought. But didn’t give a care to sexual abuse by clergy, whether it was priest, bishop, cardinal or founder of a religious order. I still think making JPII a saint needed to wait for the the effects of his papacy to be understood over time. He did much good and ignored much evil.

  • Don’t count on any real changes, of course. To the RCC, protecting the church is vastly more important than protecting the members.

    The sex drive cannot be eradicated. This means that individuals becoming priests (monks, etc) will always struggle to deal with their sex drive, which means that there will always be abuses.

  • Until the dazed, passive sheep wake up and rise up out of their pews and demand change at the local level from their local bishop, the wolves in sheep’s clothes will continue to prey upon easy prey.

  • Why not adopt the same policy as used by every other employer? Just turn them over to the authorities, along with any evidence. There’s no reason church officials should need special treatment or handling by the law.

  • Catholic laity have the upper hand in this issue, but they’re too passive, weak and frightened to take action. If a critical mass of Catholic laypeople laid it out to Church leadership that no more contributions or tithing would be made to the Church until guilty bishops were removed permanently, there would be meaningful action taken.

  • “Canon Law already requires that criminal offenses be referred to civil authorities”
    ______________

    Our secular law already requires that criminal offenses such as child sex abuse be referred to civil authorities, even when it falls outside of the statutes of limitations. A major part of this issue from the beginning was that bishops who learned of credible allegations of clergy sex abuse DID NOT report to the cvil authorities. But they didn’t stop there. They covered it up, moved the guilty priest around, creating more victims, and manipulated and intimidated families of the victims.

  • This is helpful information. Regional councils could deal with all kinds of issues that may be viewed one way in one culture but differently in another. Not child sex abuse itself, but how it would/should be handled, what would be appropriate censoring of an errant priest/bishop, understandable in the culture to which the people belong and in which the abuse occurred. Maybe there isn’t one good answer to the problem of sex abuse and its’ coverup with the Church – but there could good but different solutions depending on the culture of the people affected.

    I also think the regional/provincial councils could deal with issues like ordaining viri probati or allowing married priests – the acceptance of some of this would be very cultural dependent. The Church really needs to get away from the highly centralized attempt to “manage” the 5000+ bishops worldwide and impose one vision of how people are to live out a life filled with love of God and neighbor.

  • The evidence is now piling up. There are a number of now very senior prelates…McCarrick, Farrell, Wuerl, Tobin (“nighty night, baby”) and Cupich and what’s his name on the left coast, whose careers and appointments kept them quite close….McCarrick and Farrell lived in the same apartment for 6 years!!

    Farrell it turns out was once a Leginaries of Christ priest!

    McCarrick wrote the vatican recommending Tobin for his red cap! etc.

    All of this is known. And the denials are laughable.

    They’re all lying and self-protecting, and there’s now mounting (no pun intended) evidence that most of these good fellows bat for the wrong team.

    Farrell was involved in “pillow fights” when he was in the LCs, peforming for Maciel. OMG.

    What’s needed is not a new policy, another press release, another independent consultant, not new standards.

    Janet Smith’s article on this tragedy this week is awesome.

    What’s needed is an Inspector General like invesigation of just these and other cardinals and bishops..and the results need to be made public at the same time that Pope Enabler I gets the results. That way he has to respond.

  • No one wants to touch the 3rd rail: Homosexual bishops. How many? Kid gloves.

  • I love Peter Damian…he says that once these clerics give in to the unnatural way….”they forget their identity”.

    No kidding.

    How many others today are now claiming confusion about their identity.

  • Back in the day, the time-honored Roman way was to transfer a bad bishop to some meaningless but impressive sounding honorary position. It was the old “promote him to get rid of him” Tiber two-step. But the last time they tried that, with Cardinal Law, there was a PR backlash. People aren’t quite as mesmerized by church protocol as they used to be.

    On a more serious note, the main problem is the deeply rooted deference for bishops in Catholic tradition. Bishops are autonomous in their own dioceses and removing one for cause isn’t as easy as people think. When Bishop Robert Finn was forced to resign in Kansas City, they had to couch it in the handy dandy language of the often used Canon 401 paragraph 2, which states: “A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.”

    There needs to be clear cut language in canon law that allows the pope or a designate to make swift decisions in situations where they’re obviously called for. But an institution that’s accustomed to moving at the speed of centuries isn’t well suited for that sort of change.

  • The good news in all this is we’ve now developed a more cleared eyed view of “abuse”.

    We need to deal with homosexual bullying (of say 18 year old seminarians) differently than we deal with the far far rarer case of say a pedarist priest who goes about a 3 year old girl (a 3rd or 4th sigma case).

  • Not quite, Bob.

    Bishops are only required to refer such cases to civil authorities where civil law requires it. Levada emphasized this in a meeting he had in 2011 on this issue: “The Church has an obligation to cooperate with the requirements of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the appropriate authorities”. And there was something of a brouhaha concerning a new bishop training session in 2016 in Rome in which new bishops were given a training document that included the following: “According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds. ”

    There are many states in the U.S. that have no reporting requirement and bishops have not in the past and many do not in the present report such suspicions. You do have some bishops who report it anyway, without a local law requirement. Canon Law does not require them to do that – they use common sense and and some know the repercussions can be awful if they don’t. But they are actually breaking the pontifical secret imposed on these cases when they do report them.

    I understand the Bishops conference in Italy has put out a notice that they will not report such suspicions to local law because they are not required to do so. You are also aware that Pope Francis refused to go along with a UN recommendation that the Church make it a requirement that sexual abuse of a minor always be reported to local law enforcement.

    These accusations and the internal investigation by the local bishop and all documentation produced in that process are considered covered by the pontifical secret. So, there is a big confusion over that issue of bishops cooperating with civil authorities within the hierarchical Church, much less among those who are not in the hierarchy.

    There is a good article by Kieran Tapsell on this issue here: https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/abuse-francis-yet-make-critical-clerical-changes

  • Actually, clergy, including bishops, are not always required to report such abuses that they learn about. Not all states in the U.S. have mandatory reporting laws, or they don’t cover everyone who could find out about a case of child sex abuse, or they don’t cover historical cases, or they exempt certain people from a requirement to report.

    Doesn’t make sense, does it, that a religious person like a bishop would find out about child sex abuse and just hide it, keep his mouth shut. I get it when it is a matter of confession. But bishops learned about suspected cases far more often by reports from the person abused or his/her parents, from a teacher or other person working in or around the church or church school. And they just did not even think about the fact that a crime had been committed or that they needed to protect other children.

    What the Church did was the same as what the Boy Scouts did, what Penn State did, what the Olympics did. It just keeps surprising me that the Church was no better then. I admit I think the Church is better now in steps taken to prevent sex abuse. But they are no better in making sure that bishops act like Christians and protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse and that bishops own up to the past mistakes.

  • Cardinals should be no problem.

    It’s an office, not an ordination, not a unerasable.

  • Given that the Catholic Church is hierarchical by its foundation, that the bishops are successors of the Apostles by ordination, that the chief legislator and judge is the Pontiff, the notion of an Inspector General overseeing bishops and putting the Pontiff “on the spot” seems unlikely in the extreme.

  • There really wasn’t any PR backlash with the transfer of Cardinal Law at all.

    The folks at National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, Boston Globe, America, et al were crying for scalps before the transfer and after, worldwide no one outside those liberal bastions noted it at all, and most Catholics were unaware there was an issue.

    Canon 401 is all that is required.

    However, because the authority of a bishop is real, there has to be due process.

  • Since you left you won’t be rising up out of your pew, so your interest is at best academic.

  • That is already in place and has been for quite some time, at least as far back as the Canon Law of 1917.

  • Rembert Weakland was hardly a conservative.

    Andrew Sullivan is hardly a pundit on matters religious of any kind.

  • Clergy, including bishops, are required under both current Canon Law and guidelines adopted by the U.S. episcopal conference to report credible abuses that they learn about. The exception deals with incidents in countries such as North Korea or China where the civil authority could not be relied to administer justice.

    Since I have already pointed this out to you in the past, with citations to both Canon Law and particular guidance, I won’t do it again.

    Bishops who failed to do that were in violation of Canon Law, and that has been a real problem.

  • I have corrected you on this in the past.

    Your source illustrates your problem.

    The National Catholic Reporter is a dissident former rag (it’s now on-line only) which features writers and articles which attack the Catholic Church.

    Kieran Tapsell is a retired civil lawyer, not American, whose knowledge of Canon Law appears to nada. She is prominently featured in all of the usual places – National Catholic Reporter, Voice of the Faithful, Catholics For Renewal – spreading misinformation and grinding her axe.

    The article you cited says that various bishops conference will not be reporting allegations. That, of course, is a completely different matter than referring credible allegations to civil authorities.

    Neither Canon Law nor civil laws (at least that I am aware of) required that every allegation, no matter how trivial or old, has to be reported to the civil authorities.

    As the case pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court demonstrates, most legal systems would allow individuals who were the subject of spurious allegations to sue if those allegations were made public.

  • Canon Law does not recognize “what may be viewed one way in one culture but differently in another” should be dealt with differently.

  • Conciliarism and its relatives Gallicanism, Anglicanism, Erastianism, Febronianism and Josephinism were decisively rejected in the 16th century.

    The reason why local councils dealt with matters they would not today had to do with travel, dangers, and the inability for evidence to be presented elsewhere.

    In general miscreants ARE dealt with once they are detected.

  • All RCC bishops should be reqd to register as foreign agents of the Holy See – the institution to which they pledge unadulterated loyalty.

  • The sex drive CAN be eradicated !

    Castrate the bastards !

    As he did with St Agatha’s breasts, St Peter can make them whole again.

  • In 2002, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a national “zero-tolerance” policy, pledging to remove any priest facing credible accusations.

    What a fu**ing joke !

    Aren’t bishops priests ?

  • When a perverted bishop like Bernard Law breaks the law, he should be tried and adjudicated and jailed. Law was personally responsible for the sexual abuse of so many children. He doesn;t deserve any special treatment.

  • But you are? Sullivan is published worldwide. You’re a troll on Disqus. See the difference?

  • You’re so full of BS. Almost none of the sex abuse cases were ever reported to civil authorities. That has been the problem for a very long time, you stupid a$$

  • Apparently the light has not yet come on at your end that the allegations on McCarrick occurred decades ago, LONG before the 2002 policy.

    As you said, “What a fu**ing joke !”

  • That silliness has already been run.

    Glenn L. Archer one of the founders and the first Executive Director of Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State, now Americans United for Separation of Church and State, played that tune for awhile in late ‘40s and early ‘50s.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_L._Archer

    Eventually someone pointed out to him that would be a prima facie violation of the First Amendment.

    Americans United etc etc remains a virulently anti-Catholic organization.

    In countries without a First Amendment this sort of thing is still considered possible. For example, Australia, which has a long national history of anti-Catholicism, considered that sort of thing this year.

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/01/30/proposed-new-australian-law-could-label-priests-agents-of-the-vatican/

  • Is this the third rail you’re talking about that no one wants to touch?”

    “It is not known how many people in Ireland were fathered by clergy, but The Guardian in 2010 estimated the number for both Great Britain and Ireland to be one thousand people” (“Irish bishops tell priests who father children to ‘face up’ to responsibilities, https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2017/08/21/irish-bishops-tell-priests-father-children-face-responsibilities/).

    Or is this the third rail you’re talking about, which no one wants to touch?”

    “While the Globe lacks exact figures on the numbers of these clergy offspring, it states that with more than 400,000 priests worldwide, ‘many of them inconstant in their promise of celibacy, the potential for unplanned children is vast.

    It points to a number of prominent churchmen who have fathered children, including:

    Eamonn Casey, the charismatic bishop of Galway, Ireland;

    Mexican Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ;

    Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, who conceived a child while he was a Catholic bishop;

    Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala, the father of two teenagers living with their mother in another state” (“Children of priests: ‘an invisible legion of secrecy and neglect,'” https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/children-priests-invisible-legion-secrecy-and-neglect).

    Or maybe it’s this third rail?:

    “Through her mentoring work with Coping International and her PhD research Sarah now knows about 100 people who have been fathered by priests, from countries all over the world, but believes there are thousands more out there. She says it’s striking that there are so many common features to their experiences” (“My father, the Catholic priest who doesn’t want to know me,” https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-42085065).

    Or could it be this third rail?:

    “In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern to the Vatican about the issue of children of priests (“NZ bishops reflect on children of priests issue,” https://www.nzcatholic.org.nz/2018/04/30/nz-bishops-reflect-on-children-of-priests-issue/).

    Or maybe it’s this third rail?:

    “Marcial Maciel was the founding leader of the Legion of Christ, based in Mexico, and its general director from 1941 to January 2005. The sexual scandal was related to accusations since the 1970s that the prominent Mexican Roman Catholic priest had sexually abused many minors and fathered a total of six children by three different women (“Sexual scandal of Marcial Maciel,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_scandal_of_Marcial_Maciel).

    If it’s any of these third rails you think no one wants to touch, then you might want to look at resources provided by an organization set up to deal with the huge issue of the many children fathered by Catholic priests around the world, Coping International. That group’s website is at http://www.copinginternational.com.

    Is the solution to this third rail to bar heterosexual men from the priesthood, do you think? Do heterosexual men simply lack the ability to control their sexual impulses?

    Or is it rather silly to use all of these data to try to lambast either heterosexuals or homosexuals — as we pretend this is a problem that’s about sexual orientation.

    When it’s not.

  • Yes, hard to accept that a bishop, or any member of the clergy, would not report such crimes. If not legally binding to report, it should (most importantly) be a moral imperative.

  • Should my son or daughter or grand children be molested and the perp not immediately arrested – there would be no further need for the authorities.

    When I get through with him – he’ll have to sit down to urinate….

  • Maciel is a great example. Another homosexual bully aided and abetted by the lavender mafia, spinning off Farrell (who was an LC priest!), having pillow fights.

    What fruits they’ve let in.

    What’s MARVELOUS is all the dissenting left left-leaning Catholics who have taken such delight in going after Maciel, are now faced with their own clerical mess of homosexual bullying clerics!

    Maciel was of queer tendency and now the left-leaning Cardinals have been found to have been doing the same thing….

    Maciel has been fused with the lavender mafia. I couldn’t be happier that these connections are now so apparent.

  • I see. The man who fathered a total of six children by three different women was a homosexual bully. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_scandal_of_Marcial_Maciel

    Sure, that makes eminent sense. And all those other cases of priests fathering children (which they seldom acknowledge or support in any way): your single-minded obssession with attacking gay folks and blaming sexual misbehavior in the clergy on homosexuality will definitely prevent that problem from happening any more.

    Hate really does a number on some people’s brains, doesn’t it.

  • He also went after post-pubescent young seminarians and pre-pubescent boys.

    That’s well established. He was a classic LGBTQ.

  • Sure, I see your point.

    The problem in the priesthood causing all those priests (and some bishops) to father children is that they are homosexual bullies.

    And when Maciel fathered six children by three women, he was acting as a homosexual bully.

    The problem is clearly homosexuality.

    Makes perfect sense.

  • Oh, there are far more clerics poking each other in the poop chute than there are priests who father children.

    Maciel swung both ways…that’s established. Most gays do.

    If you ask most gay men whether they’ve ever slept with a woman the answer is Yes.

    The only “exclusively and always” ones were too shy or mentally weak to assert themselves with women and fell into far easier sex with older gay men, which came with classical psychological reinforcement. Understandable. Skinner’s work could provide the reinforcement curves.

  • The last Cardinal to get booted was Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien….drummed out for predatory homosexual sex of seminarians.

  • Oh my gosh!

    Clerics sin?

    All this to throw a fig leaf over the problems homosexual proclivities create in the Church’s ordained ministries.

  • Is your argument that sexual immaturity and sexual misorientation is not a problem?

    Yes or no?

  • http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/seminary-screening-early-step-for-healthy-priesthood.cfm

    “Initial research now suggests that homosexuality, while not a cause, can be associated with higher incidents of abuse, he said – although ‘most homosexuals do not molest minors.’In fact, the new edition of the Program of Priestly Formation requires seminaries to adhere to the Vatican’s November 2005 statement that practicing homosexuals or men with what it called ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’ may not be admitted.”

    Homosexuals could not and cannot be ordained, period, if the Church’s longstanding laws were and are followed.

    Despite the fact that homosexuality has been removed from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), for purposes of ordination it is considered a serious defect.

  • Notice the politically correct first sentence. No scientist would stand on that assertion, given the dirty data, especially on something as complicated as sexual behavior.

  • Shepherds are human, fragile and mortal. During the unguarded moments, shepherds run the risk of going astray. Charity demands that the faithful pray for the well-being of their flock of shepherds. Penitential acts such as fasting, mortification, abnegation, abstinence, indulging in bread-labor activities, and such other voluntary self-disciplining exercises go a long way in achieving the right balance of mind and body, for a meritorious onward journey towards the final destination.

  • I cited a decade-old op ed piece for an overview. Actual guidance is less equivocal. See 54-55-56 in the following, for example:

    http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/priesthood/priestly-formation/upload/ProgramforPriestlyFormation.pdf

    My only significant objection to this guidance is an over-reliance on psychological testing. That sort of thing exacerbated the abuse situation pre-2002. Sexual disorientation is more common among psychologists than among the general population, and their training tends to blur their capacity to make moral distinctions.

    The most current (2016) Vatican guidance is clear:

    http://www.clerus.va/content/dam/clerus/Ratio%20Fundamentalis/The%20Gift%20of%20the%20Priestly%20Vocation.pdf

    “c) Persons with Homosexual Tendencies”

    “199. In relation to persons with homosexual tendencies who seek admission to Seminary, or discover such a situation in the course of formation, consistent with her own Magisterium’, ‘the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture ‘. Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies’”

  • The whole field of psychology has been terminally corrupted by Modernism.

    Thank you for the good quotes.

  • Psychology got rid of the concept of the will and of the virtues, which they had smartly borrowed from classical philosophy earlier on, and then they pretended that they were a real science, and at that point, they began to contribute less and less descending into ever-fracturing psychobabble.

  • instead of slinging burgers, psych profs can create babble and go to conferences.

  • And the RCC needs a way to deal with liberal Jesuits. An easy solution, pink – slips to all priests and bishops .

  • Unless you are talking about a plain old pedophile, in which case, none of that will do the slightest bit of good.

  • Of course there are so many children of priests. Birth control is a sin!
    As for priests sinning: something someone no longer important to Christianity said something about being sinless before casting stones, motes and beams, and righteous judgment, but that never stopped the RCC from casting as many stones as they wish at others, finding a veritable forest of logs invisible to the naked eye, and pretending they are just righteous enough to judge away.

  • Most gays do?
    You must know a very very very very very special class of HOMOSEXUAL men. Because in my 47 years of being out, I have met very very very very very very few who do.

  • Maybe if you added a lot of exclamation marks and little smileys you’d add to your personal credibility.

  • Credibility with right wing bigots that hide their bigotry behind their faith is of no interest to me. I long ago learned that it’s impossible to reach people irretrievably poisoned by bad religion, stupidity, ignorance, fear, hate, bad parenting, traumatic experiences, their wholly unwarranted faith in their imaginary superiority, or despite.

    I have tried to show you where your thoughts and beliefs and are wrong, wrong headed and wronging inccocent others. You’re not interested. In fact, you have made it clear that being wrong is your intention

    You are not the person I am writing for, but the person who reads what you have to say and what I have to say, is not so poisoned, and can see the truth.

  • No, it’s a petition about a psych conference that was invaded by the Satanic Temple. You may want to consider signing it.

  • The Satanic Temple has been trolling them on the internet for over a decade, since before they were called the Satanic Temple.

  • Glad to see you’ve dropped the pretensions about not being an anti-Christianist git on a trolling expedition from JoeMyGod.

    Not this or that cleric but “the RCC”.

  • I am sure that your personal experiences in California are just as sound as an actual scientific study ….. snicker.

  • And you’ve never had any.

    So, no harm no foul.

    We have tried to show you where your thoughts and beliefs are wrong, wrong-headed, and wronging society. You’re not interested.

    You got yours, and that is all that matters, and all that has ever mattered.

  • A democratic transparent process for selecting and retaining bishops along with term limits would go a long way toward weeding out those that are flawed. A solid system of checks and balances with open accountability and strong board oversight would also limit the abuse by any administrator. Dictatorships do not make for a good systems to select and weed out morally flawed employees.

    There is a flawed constitutional system now in place in the Roman Church and it will persist until modern democratic reforms are put in place. A system stuck in the Dark Ages will just repeat its flaws.

  • Poor persecuted you.
    Poor persecuted you.
    Poor persecuted you.

    Cardinal Dolan called. There are no extra dollars in the cemetery fund.

  • It has only been 1000 years since St. Peter Damien, and 800 since Chaucer.

    Give ’em time.

  • They have a way to deal with bad bishops.

    “bad bishop! Bad Bishop!”

    Followed by a severe finger wagging, and if they’re lucky, a promotion.

  • You’d need a bit more than 1000 years if the goal is to acquaint yourself with reality.

  • Poor persecuted you.

    Poor persecuted you.

    Poor persecuted you.

    Everyone is out to get the folks at JoeMyGod.

  • When abuses come to light and the response is covering up and/or transferring the accused, It seems it is the system.

  • Such as: the [Modern Orthodox] Rabbinical Council of America’s Policy and Procedures Regarding Allegations of Impropriety Against an RCA Member? Or the [Conservative] Rabbinical Assembly’s Code of Professional Conduct? Or the [Reform] Central Conference of American Rabbis’s Code of Ethics? Or the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association’s Ethics Code and Procedures?
    Nice whataboutism attempt, troll. Go back under your rock.

  • I certainly don’t put myself in the shoes of the folks in the pew and proclaim what they’re going to do.

    Anything else I can help you with?