Catholicism Ethics Faith Opinion

Why it’s so hard to hold priests accountable for sex abuse

Catherine Coleman Murphy, center, and Jack Wintermyer, right, protest along with others outside Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul before an Ash Wednesday Mass in Philadelphia on March 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(The Conversation) — A grand jury report recently found shocking levels of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. It uncovered, in six dioceses, the sexual abuse of over 1,000 children and named 301 perpetrator priests. It also found that religious officials had turned a blind eye to the abuse.

In response, Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, wrote a letter addressed to “the People of God,” saying,

“With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”

The fact is the pope has the power to ensure that this does not happen again. As a scholar of the Catholic Church, I believe an important but often poorly understood reason for the abandonment of abused children is the Church’s Code of Canon law, which the pope alone can change.

Early church laws on sex abuse

Canon laws govern the church and lay out its theology. All Catholic religious officials are bound by them.

Canon law has a complex history. It originated in early Christian communities. Christians, building on the Gospels and other sacred texts, developed norms and rules about acceptable practices and behavior, including wrongdoing by clergy. Christian communities usually had rules against religious officials sexually abusing children. They were harsh on sodomy. Punishments could include being smeared with spit and bound in iron chains.

As Christian communities spread throughout the Mediterranean region in the third century A.D., regional meetings were held to discuss rules that could be applied uniformly.

By the fourth century A.D., Christian churches, usually through councils, started issuing authoritative rules accepted by all Christian communities. These came to be called “canons.” The most well-known were those of the Council of Nicaea, convened by Emperor Constantine in A.D. 325.

The enforcement of the canons was put in the hands of church bishops.

As Christianity spread east and west, it struggled with rulers who wanted to control peoples and territories. Diverse rules and norms proliferated. At the same time, over many centuries, various religious leaders and theologians tried to create a uniform system.

It was not until 1917, under Pope Benedict XV, however, that the Church consolidated and revised the many different rules in Western Christendom. This was titled the Code of Canon Law, applicable to all Roman Catholic churches. Only the pope could issue or change canon law. The Orthodox, or “Eastern rite,” churches have a slightly different set of laws.

The Church sometimes turned errant priests over to civil authorities.

That changed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Church-state battles flared in Europe as secular states rejected the church’s claims to sovereignty. The Church made the handling of clergy child sex abuse an internal matter.

The 1917 code was revised in 1983 to take into account changes stemming from the Second Vatican Council, an assembly of Roman Catholic bishops meant to settle doctrinal issues, held between 1962 to 1965. Both versions of the code include canons about sex abuse.

Parishioners pray ahead of a mass at the Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Under Vatican control

Here is how canon law changed over the years.

Since 1917, the church dealt with accusations against sexual abuse of children through rules that barred priests from soliciting sex when they were in the confessional.

If priests, when taking a confession, solicited sex, they were viewed as having committed a particularly egregious sin. The confessional is a sacred space and confession a sacred act.

What is noteworthy here is that the concern was about the priest sinning, not about abuse being perpetrated on another. Also, the 1917 code did not have any canons that dealt with sex abuse outside the confessional or sex abuse of minors.

In 1922, the pope issued a set of guidelines, formally called an instruction. It tried to deal with cases in which the priest did not directly solicit sex during confession. Clerical sex abuse of minors was a crime if the act was somehow associated with the sacrament of confession.

The instruction was reissued by Pope John XXIII 40 years later, in 1962. The instruction was not officially incorporated into the Code of Canon Law, nor widely circulated.

From 1922 onward, investigations of clergy suspected of sexually abusing children were to be cloaked in secrecy. This limited bishops from reporting cases to the police, or even to parishioners.

But it was only in the 1983 code that child sex abuse was listed as a crime within the canon about clergy violating their obligation to not have sex. The new code gave the Vatican extensive control over the fate of accused clergy.

Other forms of ‘correction’

There was more. A canon about avoiding “scandal” compounded the secrecy issue. It was a sin, and a violation of canon law, to do anything that would cause “scandal” to the faithful by leading them to sin or question their faith.

If a bishop, for example, were to make known that a priest had sexually abused children in his diocese, the bishop, and not just the priest, would be guilty under canon law of causing scandal – because information about the abuse might cause Catholics to question their faith – as indeed, it often has.

Also included was a requirement that bishops provide priests with funds when the priests were removed from ministry, but not dismissed from the clerical state (not “laicized” or “defrocked”).

Thus, what to Catholics and those outside the institution looks like the morally dubious practice of paying child sex abusers is to the hierarchy a fulfillment of their obligations.

Under the 1917 code, bishops, under certain conditions, could dismiss priests from the clerical state, and without a canonical trial. But it could be done only after it was determined that there was no possibility of reform.

If a priest claimed his abuse was due to pedophilia or other psychological disorders, canon law provided for a more lenient punishment. The priest could be regarded as not being fully responsible for his actions.

Escaping accountability

The 1983 revision put forward by Pope John Paul II to the entire code made it impossible for bishops to dismiss priests. Authority for doing so became centralized in the Vatican.

At the time, the pope appeared to be responding to a wave of priests abandoning the priesthood. However, the change ended up constraining the bishops. They had to retain the abusive priests unless the latter were found guilty at a canonical trial and the Vatican – officially, the pope – agreed to dismiss them.

At most, bishops could suspend priests’ clerical faculties: that is, priests’ authorization to say mass and administer other sacraments, or present themselves publicly as priests, for a short time. But they could not do so permanently.

The 1983 code also reduced the maximum time within which proceedings could be initiated against priests having sex with a child to five years.

With victims often, understandably, not coming forward for years, that meant many priests escaped internal punishment by the Vatican.

Canonical trials also require the cooperation of the victim as a witness and are another obstacle to holding priests accountable. The code has encouraged the very inaction by bishops that the pope condemns.

There are no provisions in canon law that specify what is to be done if a bishop has failed to act on a case of suspected or actual child sex abuse.

Power lies with the pope

Since 2001, in a further centralizing move, the Vatican has required that bishops send all cases of substantiated allegations of child sex abuse to its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is located at the Vatican, and is usually headed by a powerful Cardinal.

Its job is to “promote and safeguard the faith.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may tell the bishop to conduct a canonical trial, may conduct one itself, or accept or reject a request for dismissal and apply conditions. Priests can appeal the verdicts and sentences. The Vatican sometimes overrules bishops who want to dismiss priests.

Although it is entirely within his power to do so, Pope Francis has not altered the Code of Canon Law with regard to clergy child sex abuse and how it is handled by bishops.The Conversation

For the church truly to hold priests and their bishops accountable for child sex abuse, this is an important step.

(Carolyn M. Warner is associate director of graduate studies and a professor at Arizona State University.)

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

About the author

Carolyn M. Warner

104 Comments

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  • If priests, when taking a confession, solicited sex, they were viewed as having committed a particularly egregious sin.

    Words fail.

  • Re: “A canon about avoiding ‘scandal’ compounded the secrecy issue. It was a sin, and a violation of canon law, to do anything that would cause ‘scandal’ to the faithful by leading them to sin or question their faith.
    If a bishop, for example, were to make known that a priest had sexually abused children in his diocese, the bishop, and not just the priest, would be guilty under canon law of causing scandal – because information about the abuse might cause Catholics to question their faith – as indeed, it often has.”
     

    The canon in question appears to be 1455 s. 3. It’s there … no joke at all. And I’d say it may well be responsible for a lot of this, all by itself. Especially in light of things like the recent PA grand jury report, which cited a large number of documents — most written separately, by different people working in different dioceses — that included the same language about avoidance of “scandal.” The appearance of a common source for this language appears to have been confirmed: they were quoting canon law. 

  • Bob Arnzhole, no, your priests are clearly busy doing the same sexual crimes as your fictional holey father. He obviously does not have those reserved for himself, and in fact, doesn’t exist.

  • Mid-article, we find this gem: “What is noteworthy here is that the concern was about the priest sinning, not about abuse being perpetrated on another”.

    THIS is the root of the whole problem. Nobody in the laity should be giving a hoot about the priest’s personal sin which does not affect any other person, if any. Everybody in the laity should be concerned whether parishioners are harmed by any kind of religious malpractice, including sex abuse at the most egregious end of the spectrum. Canon law which does not have this customer focus is just so incredibly dumb as to be almost unbelievable.

  • If the clergy and the hierarchy believed that the Gospels are true and accurate, and what Jesus taught and warned about sins, there would likely be less willingness to commit such egregious sins because of the eternal consequences of their sins. The church has taught this for many generations. Obviously, it is no longer believed by the clergy or the hierarchy. Therefore, they can get away with whatever behavior or abuse they want to engage in, regardless of the consequences. This appears to me to be part of the problem. Obviously, the Roman Catholic Church has not, and will not, police itself of egregious abuses. Justice requires outside law enforcement intervention of a grand jury report to force the church leadership to take cosmetic action against widespread abuses. Jesus will hold abusers accountable in Matthew 18:5-6.

  • Elag – A priest who writes for my blog posted this on our site this morning. I’d be interested in your toughts.

    MINOR SEMINARIES AND SEX ABUSE

    I’ve read the John Jay report a couple of times, trying to understand how all of this could have happened. The report, perhaps self-servingly, states that clergy sex abuse in the US peaked during the period 1950-70, then dropped off considerably.

    In terms of my own experience, I’ve often wondered what role minor seminaries played in this tragedy.

    I entered the minor seminary in September, 1961, just a few days after my thirteenth birthday, with no understanding of either my own emerging sexuality or the all-male world I was about to spend the next four years, if not my entire life, in. That world was dominated by a handful of priests who, true to the morality of the day, instilled in us a sense that the flesh was weak, our bodies were sinful, and that temptation was everywhere, especially in female form. We were formed into the attitude that we had to avoid physical contact with ourselves (especially), or with anyone else, which introduced the time-honored subject of the “particular friendship” — a euphemism for homosexual tendencies (the word “orientation” wasn’t around back then). We were constantly lectured about the importance of traveling in groups of three or more, warned about spending time alone with any other individual, and punished if we were caught having a simple one-on-one conversation.

    “Fratres, sobri estote et vigilate,” the words of Sunday Compline warned. “Be constantly sober and vigilant, because your enemy, the devil, is prowling the earth, seeking whom he may devour” (quaerens quem devoret).

    The natural instinct of thirteen-year-olds being to do whatever they’re forbidden, we all formed particular friendships, although we hid our activities in order to escape detection. There aren’t many places one can hide in a minor seminary, so we often find ourselves spending quality time with our best friends in places like the choir loft and the lavatory. See where this is going?

    During the four most formative years of our sexual development, we were taught to seek the friendships we all need by hiding from the adults who were watching us like hawks. In so doing, we developed adaptive behaviors that made it possible for us to find some measure of intimacy in the dark corners of our little world. That intimacy was mostly non-sexual, or at least non-physical, but for many young seminarians, it was the only intimacy available to us and we learned it could only survive in secret. In the dark.

    I left the seminary after high school, only to return a decade later, older and having had the usual experiences young men have, including dating (with minor success) and forming healthy relationships with men and women. Over the years, as I tracked down some of my old classmates, I learned that most of them had done the same: that is, most had left and married, and the handful who had gone on to ordination were mostly well-balanced.

    But there were some of our old classmates who had clearly never made the transition from hidden relationships with teens to mature relationships with adults. They were, as psychologists say, stuck at a phase of arrested sexual development: needing intimacy like everyone else, but able to seek it only in dark corners and only with people they recognized as being at their same developmental level. Even then, many of them were able to control themselves by developing adaptive behaviors: some good, like sports, some not so good, like drinking, gambling, or in some cases, withdrawing into themselves in order to avoid “near occasions of sin.”

    In my experience, which I readily admit is not a template for everyone, the twenty-nine of us who arrived at the minor seminary in September, 1961 were fairly typical for the times. Most of us found our way in life, either in the priesthood, as I did after a long and healthy hiatus, or in secular life. One of our classmates died of AIDS in the 80s, after having waged a long struggle to help his fellow victims. Seven went on to be ordained, one of whom was later censured for sexual abuse.

    As I look back on my experience in the minor seminary, I wonder if the “formation” we received there, at the most critical point in our development, cost some of our group their lives, their health, or their sanity.

    Robert –

  • You have a blog? Please leave the URL for it.

    As for what I think, it sounds like this guy knows whereof he speaks, and it is something about which I know very little, having never been in such an environment myself. But I think the experiences of people like him ought to be listened to by the powers that be because he might be onto something. I wish I could elaborate further, but this is really not my world, something for which I am very grateful these days!

  • Thanks, Elag. I don’t think it’s wise to share URLs on this site. If you write me at [email protected], I’ll be happy to share it with you. You’re always welcome to chime in. – Monica.

  • The difficulty is that the bulk of the clergy and hierarchy believe the Gospels are true and accurate, but a small core of bad actors do not.

    We read their scribblings in this discussion group, hear their twaddle emanating from schools of theology that are nominally Catholic, and see the results in organizations directly aimed at undermining the Church they belong to.

    When they took their vows to uphold the Church and her teachings, they did not mean it.

    Charles Curran, Hans Küng, the late Richard Peter McBrien all uphold their own teachings and to h-ll with the Church.

    This harvest is what was sown.

    It will take a generation to expunge it.

    I know personally bishops in the 50-60 age group who know the score and will do what needs to be done, but it is not going to happen overnight.

  • The Canon:

    Can. 1455 ß1 In a penal trial, the judges and tribunal assistants are bound to observe always the secret of the office; in a contentious trial, they are bound to observe it if the revelation of any part of the acts of the process could be prejudicial to the parties.

    ß2 They are also obliged to maintain permanent secrecy concerning the discussion held by the judges before giving their judgment, and concerning the various votes and opinions expressed there, without prejudice to the provisions of can. 1609 ß4.

    ß3 Indeed, the judge can oblige witnesses, experts, and the parties and their advocates or procurators, to swear an oath to observe secrecy. This may be done if the nature of the case or of the evidence is such that revelation of the acts or evidence would put at risk the reputation of others, or give rise to quarrels, or cause scandal or have any similar untoward consequence.

    This comes in “TITLE III : THE DISCIPLINE TO BE OBSERVED IN TRIBUNALS”, “CHAPTER I : THE DUTIES OF THE JUDGES AND OF THE OFFICERS
    OF THE TRIBUNAL” discussing the actual trial.

    What it describes is precisely what courts in civil law do: gag orders and secrecy.

    Jurors are obliged to not discuss the trial and so on.

    The reason is to make sure the trial is fair, which of course PsiCop – whose agenda is not fairly assessing the situation – either failed to reveal or did not know due to lack of diligence in getting her facts straight.

  • I very much enjoyed reading your translation of the “El Pais” story about Vigano. It was a very concise back story, most of which I’ve missed along the way. It filled in a lot of blanks. I look forward to reading more from your excellent blog.

  • Hey Bob,

    I knew a priest in the seminary who was told about the sin of the flesh. He was humble and knew there was something greater than he so he spent his time in the seminary chapel saying his daily devotions and loving the Lord. He studied the catechism and served others. He became holy….

    Well there you have it. A bunch of mental weaklings who were turned gay by the seminary.

    I guess this then proves who is at the root of the current problem in the church.

  • If by that you mean a sort of sexual awakening, then I’ll grant you that, but in such cases it’s almost always because true feelings have been repressed, only to bubble up to the conscious surface later on. I was referring to ontology.

  • Thank you, kind sir. We’re trying to get the story from a European and Latin American perspective. El Pais is very conservative, and the essay we just published from Buenos Aires is even more so.

  • If the Pope and the Church really want to clean up the mess they will have to take BOLD steps and change the Cannon Law that added to the mess. I said several months ago in a piece about the Pope calling for more compassion that I felt that part of the problem was with the doctrines/policies and this article points out how the Cannon Law contributed to the sex abuse scandal. The church also needs to address Cannon Law in regards to homosexuality, same sex marriage, role of women, birth control……IF that is they want to stay relevant.

  • Their healthy sexual development was arrested, they were taught that sexual feelings (hetero or homo) were dirty, they were taught that women were temptresses, they were taught to despise their own bodies. In stead of being taught a healthy understanding of their bodies & their own sexuality they were taught unhealthy understandings.

  • I think this lesson carries over into secular schools where there is a push to teach abstinence only positions and to deny even basic teachings about the human body, health and sex, emotions and healthy relationships.

    The joke in my high school and I am sure many others was that it was the preachers kid that was the wildest, the one most willing to drink and do drugs, experiment with sex and get into scrapes of all kinds!

    Repression is never a good teaching tool!

  • There is simply no way to form seminarians correctly with:

    – priests and others in formation process whose faith is impaired at best and who think Humanae Vitae is a joke

    – bishops who think we’re heading into a post-Christian era

    – clerics who believe the Good News is the Good Living

    – anyone who thinks psychology trumps theology

    I ran into a freshly ordained priest about eight years ago who told me that after twelve years of “Catholic” education, he found out that Catholic believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood at the Newman Center in college.

    There is no mystery as to what happened.

    The only mystery is why the folks who swallowed all this nonsense are intent on doubling down on it even after it misfired, e.g.:

    http://www.aggiornamento.net/

    “21st Century Faith”

    No, 21st Century Error.

  • The notion that “it’s almost always because true feelings have been repressed” depends on orientation being inborn, which is not demonstrated to this point.

  • Hi, Susan – The story isn’t mine, but if I understand Robert’s experience, he’s specifically concerned with the kind of repression of sexuality that took place in high school seminaries. At least in my high school experience (the 90s), we all knew what was what well before the schools tried to repress our basic instincts. But I will grant you that repression in general tends to warp people. – Monica.

  • As you’ve written that it appears to read “In stead of being taught a healthy understanding of their bodies &
    their own sexuality they were taught unhealthy understandings” and became homosexuals.

  • I think he was looking more for something in the way of an explanation rather than more long-winded convolutions.

  • The issues of homosexuality, birth control, and so on are doctrinal matters rather than matters of Canon Law.

    Since they are not going to change, I think we can simply add this to your long list of reasons why you dislike religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular.

  • Yes. They are unholy heretics who don’t believe in God and should remove themselves from the priesthood so they don’t destroy the souls of the faithful.

  • That’s not what this priest says; or Monica either. Or Susan H below… sounds like a bunch of straight guys driven gay because they couldn’t explore their sexuality??

  • Yes, but a number of them got into the priesthood specifically to destroy the souls of the faithful.

    “From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”, Pope Paul VI, Sermon, Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul,1972

  • I think part of the problem, evidenced by the comment sections on these news stories related to abuse in the Catholic Church, is that people tend to stand with their “tribe” rather than seek truth. We should want those who abused and shielded abusers to be known whether they’re a member of one Catholic tribe or another. If someone comes forward with an accusation of abuse, people shouldn’t try to smear that person or discredit her or him just because she or he is a member of the other Catholic tribe. It’s harder for the truth to emerge when people separate themselves into tribes and assume no one in their tribe can do wrong.

  • Or mold them.

    That is one of the reasons why, unlike Neanderthals, we don’t practice cannibalism.

  • What a great bit of testimony. I have often stated that seminarians seem to be caught in a rather immTure stage of sexual development, based upon a lot of what I have read, comments on the abuse crisis and the priesthood, and conversations with people such as yourself.

    But no one ever put it as succinctly and accurately, from experience, As you. Thanks. It all goes to what I have said repeatedly, especially in response to the anti gays who so self servingly and ignorantly post here. It’s not a homosexual problem, but a catholic problem.

    And as long as they want to insist it is a homosexual problem, it will continue.

  • Yeah – just like every other 13 year old boy that is told to keep your hands to yourself and off of yourself; followed by the infamous – keep it in your pants.

  • Of course not. It appears that she only addresses you and is now promoting that the secret club reconvene where those on the A list can talk amongst themselves so they can hear what they want to hear and not be challenged.
    She likes to run off and cook when I ask her questions or challenge her. Her family is well fed.

  • A bunch of mental weaklings who were turned gay by the seminary.”

    Before, it was homosexuals entering the seminary, intent on destroying the church. Practically an organized assault, as it were, probably ordered by Gay Central.

    Now you admit that the seminary turned them gay (not gay, but homosexual at best, warped and perverted at worst. But that is another matter). So in fact, what I have been saying over and over is true. It is indeed A CATHOLIC PROBLEM. So I am right, by your own admission.

    Except, of course, that this isn’t how any of it works, and you really don’t know what you are talking about, not you not BobWorld, not Floyd, not whineass. None of you. Your agenda is simply to attack gay people, not understand the problem, and rub your hands with glee at the damage you wish to inflict both on innocent gay people and your church, though I am pretty sure you refer to it as “those damned liberals in the church.”

    Sad. But predictable.

  • Mmmmm…. how about they change the law to address criminal behavior and leave the rest alone. That way we can prosecute the perversion and hopefully prevent and dissuade others from acting out.
    Again, go to a Protestant denomination if you want the other stuff – there’s plenty to chose from. Stop trying to wreck the RCC.

  • This is close… there are unholy, heretics that don’t believe in God nor the catechism of the church. This is not the entire church however; so to say the church is incorrect.
    I agree with the rest- expose the perversion and hand them over to law enforcement.

  • I’m responding to Monica. I do find it interesting that you, Monica and eblabulus have different takes on the causes of homosexuality.

  • First of all, the Gospels on not accurate history books, and no one really knows what Jesus said to his people. Jesus never wrote anything in his entire life, and he spoke to his people (the Jewish people) in a semitic language, and nothing was every written about Jesus in a semitic language. The Gospels are just stories written about stories, without absolute facts or first hand accounts, starting with Mary being a virgin at the time of Jesus birth. How do you document BS like that?

    Second, the Church is “big business”, it is very powerful, inflexible, an all boys club, with lots of secrecy. That is a prescription for many problematic situations. Taking a second look at the Jesus story, Jesus was not married and ran around with a bunch of young men, telling everyone to love each other. What do you read into that?

    There should be thousands of priests languishing in prison for the unforgivable act of sexual molesting children. Instead the Church has paid a fortune to provide them representation in the Courts and in paying off victims. And what do we do about all those priests who have kept their mouths shut all these years, that knew something very wrong was going on amongst them?

  • The Church is constantly being exposed throughout my life time, and this BS is still allowed to continue, year after year after year. And God is just a concept, not a physical person that controls the universe.

  • Hi, Ben – Thanks for your comments. I think it’s important to keep in mind that Robert is only talking about minor seminary formation, which doesn’t exist in most places any more. Whether the treatment of sexuality is better in major seminaries today is a question that deserves to be explored. – Monica.

  • Yes, that would explain why Cardinal Viganò said nothing about his “dossier this thick” on McCarrick when he was in a position of great power to do so, working under his great friend and conservative cohort Pope Benedict.

  • Now you’re just acting like a baby. If you want people to respond to you try writing something more interesting and less polemical for a change. As Heath Ledger said in the movie “Casanova,” “be the flame, not the moth.”

  • Now we are talking evolution! Who were the first two humans –the Neanderthal man or the modern African man? Were they both created on the same day? And which one was created in God’s image???????????

  • God exists only as a concept, not a real physical entity that controls the universe. If you have an scientific contradictory evidence, please post it.

  • Homosexuals are just people who have no attraction to the opposite sex. Pedophiles are criminals that target innocent children for sex.

  • Is there a coherent question relevant to the discussion anywhere on your side of the internet?

    If there is, it did not show up here.

  • You brought up Neanderthals, so I used it as an opportunity to put the Neanderthal in their proper perspective, since they are not here to defend themselves.

  • God exists as a concept. I cannot prove that something that does not physically exist is not there. In any Count in the Western world, the person who make a claim that something happened or something exists, has the burden of proof to substantiate their claim.

  • And?

    1.5 Billion people believe that you cannot get into heaven unless you accept Islam. Is that a concept or is it factual because of time and space? Please be specific

  • EVERYthing is hard if you don’t really want to do it.

    For all those who (correctly!!) doubt the sincerity of the RCC in its pious nonsense about future reforms and protecting children and so on,here are links to 2 items in the NYTimes that are especially relevant:

    1. a link to a NYT news article which interviews Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro, the man responsible for the report:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/us/politics/pennsylvania-attorney-general-josh-shapiro.html

    The entire piece is worth reading; note in particular this excerpt:

    …one bishop, Bishop Lawrence Persico of Erie. . . agreed to testify before the grand jury. I went to Erie to see him, to try to search for some common ground with him, whereby which he would agree to publicly state that there were efforts to try to shut this down, and that he would not participate in those efforts. I knew that if I could convince Bishop Persico to say that, it would force the hand of the other bishops.

    Each of the other bishops, almost immediately, came out and made statements that they too wouldn’t block the report — when at least two of them were working behind the scenes to shut the report down.

    How could those 2 bishops fail to understand that their lying would not be made public? And that when it did become public, it would undermine every single one of the pious statements about abuse issued by the church?

    And speaking of stupity, it looks to me like they think Catholic churchgoers are similarly gullible and poor thinkers. (Hmm…maybe there’s some kind of relationship there?–folks who are poor thinkers think others are poor thinkers? Or maybe the minds of these bishops have been corroded by too much Catholic “take=-it-on-faith”? )

    Similarly, here’s a link to an Opinion piece:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/opinion/pope-visit-ireland.html

    Again, the whole piece is worth reading, but note especially this relevant passage:

    During his public and private engagements Pope Francis repeatedly expressed shame. He begged for God’s forgiveness and said crimes committed by clerics and others in the church had left “an open wound.” But he did not offer any ideas as to why all this depravity had been visited on innocent people; he did not outline any plans to reform his church; and he did not instruct criminals within the church, or those who facilitated them, to hand themselves over to the police.

  • It started from the very beginning. Jesus was not married, (very unusual for a healthy Jewish man of his age) and ran around with a bunch of young men, telling everyone to love each other.

  • The bottom line to all of this is that in fact the Catholic church does NOT want to “out” [grin] abusers and change things so that abusers, and their cover-up colleagues, will be treated as the criminals they are.

    See my post elsewhere on this matter; I think you will find it interesting.

  • People rarely get tired of fantasy and fiction. It is the greatest seller of stories, books, movies, and religion.. I am not giving up Santa Claus for anyone.

    Saint Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. There are several legends about St. Nicholas, although they evolved into this fat jolly man in a red suit that lives at the North Pole and his mode of transportation are flying reindeer.

  • I doubt that this statement is any more true than any other. You could learn from me. I have attempted to educate you and others. I’ll continue to do so,

  • She didn’t say that, either.

    I knew I was gay when I was three. I didn’t know what it was or what it meant, but I absolutely knew I was different and on a way at I had better not talk about.

  • It does not need to physically exist for it to exist.
    I cannot help that you have limited your ability to @see” what is right before you.

  • Since Emperor Constantine made the Roman Church the state religion, it has either been the law and, an instrument of the state or enjoyed a status beyond civil law. As noted in the article beginning In the 20th century, the state and the official churches separated in much of the world. . The Roman Church culturally stuck in the middle ages still fights the notion that it must comply with the state and tries to hide information and wrong doings from the state. Until a reformed governing structure compatible with modern systems of clear transparency is put in place, they are merely rearranging the furniture on the Titanic.

    Every church has had sex scandals of some sort coming from its personnel. The extend, the long history and the cover ups are the what differ from any other group.

  • I have been reading your posts for quite awhile, and is indeed AN ANTI-CATHOLIC PROBLEM.

    The way it works is simple.

    When someone points out that 80% of abuse was male-on-male, it is (a) not an indication the perpetrators were homosexuals, (b) even if it is, the Church is being mean to homosexuals banning them from orders.

    On the other hand, when it is pointed out that the individuals doing the abusing should never have been ordained, were violating their Church’s moral teachings, and violating its Canon Law, you push that aside and point to the Church and inform everyone it is A CATHOLIC PROBLEM.

    Then, when it is pointed out that other professions experience rates of abuse as high or often higher to norm what we’re looking at, we hear about “whataboutism” and it remains A CATHOLIC PROBLEM.

    Had you not stated outright that you considered the Catholic Church an enemy because along with the LDS and SBC it has resisted the gay agenda you might be able to fool small children and the weak-minded, but as it is the fact that this is just anti-Catholic agenda is blatant.

    So we read “It is indeed A CATHOLIC PROBLEM” over and over to the tune of The Merry Go Round Broken Down.

  • The irony in your remarks is that by talking about (blaming) *homosexuality*, instead of the more accurate *pederasty*, you are perpetuating the abuse problem.

  • In fact, the origins of homosexuality are unknown, but probably genetic.

    I’ve never heard of anyone who chose to be gay. I have heard of (and known personally) people who went to considerable lengths to overcome their homosexuality.

  • As you undoubtedly know, a basic idea in philosophy is “you can’t prove [definitively] a negative.”

    It is no accident that not a single fundamental idea of any religion–soul, afterlife, god, etc– can be disproven, in principle. That makes those principles worse than worthless.

    Parker12’s comment, immediately below, shows keen understanding of the fact that certain ideas simply cannot be disproven (“faisified”–Popper’s ideas), whether they are “true” or “false”..

  • Or perhaps more interestingly, please prove that you are not a Mormon. Not a Muslim. Not a secret pederast. ETC.

  • You are correct as a concept does exist in our minds.

    Muhammad said he was a direct descendent of Abraham, a man that lived thousands of years before him. You could get away with that BS before we had DNA and a wealth of history does not support his claim. Just do not tell that to an Islamist, as every word of the Qur’an is the verbatim worlds of God.

  • Thank you, peepsqueek, for your comment. Obviously, I see the Gospels differently than you, and others, do. Genealogies, numerous cities, numerous descriptions of documentations, numerous debates, converted priests and scribes, clearly indicate to me that the Gospels are alternative historical documents. Not conventional history, but alternative historical documents. I know you and others disagree with my assessment, but, just for clarification, that’s how I see it. Besides, again, as I have stated previously, it is the Jesus Christ of the Gospels that changed my life by His Spirit and gave me great joy by cleansing me from my sins and giving me a new life born of His Spirit. Thanks, peepsqueek.

  • ‘We all have a right to be wrong in our opinions, but no one has a right to be wrong in their facts’

  • I do not buy anyone’s religious BS. This is why we have evolved brains. You have one too, so you should use it.

  • Anyone who claims that something exists, then the burden of proof is always on the one making the claim.

  • I would prove that the real unicorn was in your garden, but unfortunately, he escaped and ran off into the woods. However, I did see his cousins the centaur and the minotaur earlier today. Why are they always in your yard?

  • Excellent response!. Which is proof that even in the world of make believe, fantasy and fiction, that makes perfect sense.

  • You might want to read Thurber’s “unicorn in the Garden” from his book “fables for our time.”

    It was my first thought on reading your comment.

  • Or as I like to put it…

    Just becuase you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t really out to get you.

  • From what I can see, understanding the nuances of sexuality is the last thing on the minds of “certain people”. In fact, their political, social, and religious opinions on this matter very much depend on their not understanding it. Like the palace coup directed towards Francis, there are a great many factions and currents in play here. The more I read about all of this, the more I believe that abuse scandal is just a pretext for a lot of other agendas, and the welfare of the children, or even adult seminarians, is really the last thing on the minds of these hyper conservatives.

  • Or an opportunity for you and the other anti-Catholics to wax eloquent about matters on which you know nothing while in your heart wishing the Church ill will.

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