Columns Opinion Thomas Reese: Signs of the Times

Pope to church: Bring abusers to justice

Pope Francis attends the traditional greetings to the Roman Curia at the Vatican on Dec. 21, 2018. (Filippo Monteforte/Pool Photo via AP)

(RNS) — Shortly before Christmas, Pope Francis declared in response to the sexual abuse crisis that “the church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes.” He promised that “the church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case.”

For decades, people have been hoping for such a statement from a pontiff, which Francis made in a public address to the Roman Curia, the offices in the Vatican that help him govern the church.

He acknowledged that it was “undeniable that some in the past, out of irresponsibility, disbelief, lack of training, inexperience…or spiritual and human myopia, treated many cases without the seriousness and promptness that was due.”

“That must never happen again,” he said.

Francis even gave “heartfelt thanks to those media professionals who were honest and objective and sought to unmask these predators and to make their victims’ voices heard.” He asked people not to be silent, but to “bring it objectively to light, since the greater scandal in this matter is that of cloaking the truth.”

To those who have abused minors, he said, “convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice.”

He then quoted the words of Christ: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals! For it is necessary that scandals come, but woe to the man by whom the scandal comes!” (Matthew 18:6-7).

It is highly unlikely that abusers will suddenly turn themselves over to authorities simply because the pope asked them to. As a result, the church must put in place systems for dealing with abusers and bishops who do not do everything necessary to protect children.

Since 2002, the United States has had in place good systems for dealing with abusive priests. Victims are encouraged to come forward; accusations are reported to police; lay review boards examine evidence against the accused priest; if a priest is found guilty, he can never function as a priest again.

But systems are as good as the people implementing them, which is why the laity and the media should continue to be vigilant. Because bishops did such a bad job in the past, we must modify the words of President Reagan, “Don’t trust, verify.”

There are still dioceses that screw up, and their bishops must also be held accountable. It is true that some bishops have been removed for covering up abuse, but that has been on an ad hoc basis. So far, there is no system in place to report, investigate and hold accountable irresponsible bishops.

The pope’s address provides important preparation for the February meeting in Rome to discuss the sex abuse crisis. Those attending, including the presidents of episcopal conferences around the world, have been asked to meet with victims before coming to Rome. They have also been put on notice that this meeting is not to debate whether there is a crisis or how serious it is. Nor is it any longer open for discussion whether the hierarchy should try to hide the crisis from the faithful.

Sadly, too many bishops around the world think sex abuse is an American problem, or a First World problem. Those days are over, says the pope.

Although the February meeting will last only three days, it will be an important opportunity for the pope to communicate to the bishops of the world how important it is for them to deal swiftly and openly with the sex abuse crisis. The meeting will not solve the crisis, but it will begin to deal with it on a worldwide basis.

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.

143 Comments

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  • But the abuse begins with the theology and history of Christianity as noted in some 21st century reality:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2019: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

  • The Pope IF he is serious, will tackle the systemic problems that created the climate where this abuse thrived and survived for centuries. One of these is the basic belief and doctrine that becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more. If only it were so!

  • Who are these perps going to turn themselves into ? The SOL has passed and the catholic conference controls politicians that are blocking SOL / Window legislation , so WTF is the pope talking about ?

  • “the fallibility of his information”

    So he says. But the facts had long been in the public domain. Maybe he just did not want to see them, until he got so much pushback that he could no longer ignore them.

  • Not really. The bible is a library, a collection of books by different authors and editors written over about 3 to 4 thousand years and later compiled as a collection. The bible makes no claims for itself as the great anything. If the bible has value, it is the value that humans place on it. That value has even differed through the ages and in different sectarian settings.

    You created the great kibosh, which has no value to most of us here and you almost pee your pants every time that you copy paste it once again as the answer to all our question & problems in life. If I printed it out it wouldn’t even make good toilet tissue.

  • There is NO Catholic belief “that becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more.”

  • The author notes that in 2002 the American bishops put in place the so-called “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” which created rules and procedures for everyone – except the bishops.

    What he fails to point out is why the bishops were excluded.

    Fabian Wendelin Bruskewitz, eighth Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, took the bishops to task for exactly that during their plenary formulating the Charter.

    Bruskewitz was the only one of 195 bishops attending who refused to sign the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People because of that major defect.

    He pointed out that the Diocese of Lincoln was and always had been in full compliance with all laws of the Catholic Church and with all civil laws. To this day that Diocese has not paid a single settlement arising from abuse because of how it has conducted its affairs.

    The opposition to including the bishops was led by …. Theodore McCarrick.

    Bishop Bruskewitz also campaigned for a study to determine if their was a relationship between homosexuals in the priesthood and abuse. By 2002 it was clearly established that a clique of homosexuals in the American episcopate had allowed and in some cases encouraged the ordination of homosexuals contrary to Canon Law.

    The opposition to a study was led by …. Theodore McCarrick.

  • Statutes of Limitation go back to at least the Roman Republic.

    They are in place because the passage of time makes a defense nearly impossible as evidence disappears, people die, and memories fade.

    The bishops in various states have opposed outright repeals of statutes of limitations for that reason.

    They have particularly opposed repeals which single out clergy and give teachers and other groups with unions Get Out Of Jail Free cards.

  • The Great Kibosh of All Religions created itself from the reality of the 21st century. Good luck in your future , free of the shackles of belief of all the myths of the supernatural.

  • “created itself”

    More evidence that you are certifiable. Have you forgotten that you wrote it and you’re now asserting that it came into existence supernaturally?

  • No, it appeared to me in the 20th -21st century studies of religions by the likes of Professors Crossan, Ludemann, Borg, Ehrman, Brown, Johnson, Schillebeeckx, Fredriksen, Pagels, NT Wright et. al.

  • I read recently that the faith of the atheist must be strong indeed to believe that eventually Science will be able to explain how the universe came into existence out of nothing, how life came into existence from inorganic matter, how information systems (DNA) occurred spontaneously, how rational thought emerged from instinct, and how with all that, it should mean nothing. We are all just random particles who will soon lie moldering in the ground. That author (Dennis Prager – “Exodus, the Rational Bible” also quoted another author (who I forget) saying the believer only has to explain why injustice exists. The atheist has to explain everything else.

    I certainly understand why anyone (and perhaps everyone) would have an aversion to organized religion when it produces sexual abusers and “holy wars”, promotes slavery and allows for the abuse of refugees, subjugation of women and on and on. But I would encourage you to look again and see if the Bible is really the Word of God. There is no better way to live life than by the Great Commandment. Every humanist agrees that society is better when we all work to live in peace with each other. But if there is no God, then the only unhypocritical atheist is the hedonist.

  • What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, biology, biochemistry, archeology, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

    1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

    2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

    3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

    4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

    5. Many contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

    6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

    7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode cataclysmically at any time ending life on Earth.

    8. Many of us are part Neanderthal and/or Denisovan.

    Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?

    http://www.universetoday.com/18847/life-of-the-sun/
    solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Asteroids‎
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/30/us/wus-supervolcanoes-yellowstone
    Search for Paul, book by Professor JD Crossan
    Rabbi Paul, book by worProfessor Bruce Chilton
    https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/
    http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/study-finds-star-formation-declining-throughout-the-universe/
    http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Nuclear/

  • WHEN HUMANKIND FIRST STARTED, I WAS A MOLECULE OF WATER FLOWING DOWN THE NILE, a nitrogen molecule over the South Pole, a phosphate molecule in the Smokey Mountains and a calcium atom locked in limestone in the Allegheny Mountains. Before that and even before that I was being generated in the trillions of universal stars. Call me, the Recycled PN&E Man of the Universe. So says it all for all of us

  • o “In the 1930s, theoretical physicists, most notably Albert Einstein, considered the possibility of a cyclic model for the universe as an (everlasting) alternative to the model of an expanding universe. However, work by Richard C. Tolman in 1934 showed that these early attempts failed because of the entropy problem: according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy can only increase.[1] This implies that successive cycles grow longer and larger. Extrapolating back in time, cycles before the present one become shorter and smaller culminating again in a Big Bang and thus not replacing it. This puzzling situation remained for many decades until the early 21st century when the recently discovered dark energy component provided new hope for a consistent cyclic cosmology.[2] In 2011, a five-year survey of 200,000 galaxies and spanning 7 billion years of cosmic time confirmed that “dark energy is driving our universe apart at accelerating speeds.”[3][4]

    One new cyclic model is a brane cosmology model of the creation of the universe, derived from the earlier ekpyrotic model. It was proposed in 2001 by Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University and Neil Turok of Cambridge University. The theory describes a universe exploding into existence not just once, but repeatedly over time.[5][6] The theory could potentially explain why a mysterious repulsive form of energy known as the “cosmological constant”, and which is accelerating the expansion of the universe, is several orders of magnitude smaller than predicted by the standard Big Bang model.”

    A different cyclic model relying on the notion of phantom energy was proposed in 2007 by Lauris Baum and Paul Frampton of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[7]”

  • o Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this chaotic, stochastic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the vagaries of its local star.

  • “As a concept, the Golden Rule has a history that long predates the term “Golden Rule”, or “Golden law”, as it was called from the 1670s.[1][6] As a concept of “the ethic of reciprocity,” it has its roots in a wide range of world cultures, and is a standard way that different cultures use to resolve conflicts.[1][5] It has a long history, and a great number of prominent religious figures and philosophers have restated its reciprocal, “two-way” nature in various ways (not limited to the above forms).[1]

    Rushworth Kidder discusses the early contributions of Confucius (551–479 BCE) (See a version in Confucianism below). Kidder notes that this concept’s framework appears prominently in many religions, including “Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and the rest of the world’s major religions”.[7] According to Greg M. Epstein, “ ’do unto others’ … is a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely.”[8] Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be “found in some form in almost every ethical tradition”.[9] In his commentary to the Torah verse (Hebrew: “ואהבת לרעך כמוך” ca.1300 BCE):”

    You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

    —Leviticus 19:18[10], the “Great Commandment”

    Did the historical Jesus utter a version of the Golden Rule? Luke 6:31 = Matt 7:12- no he did not according to the findings of many contemporary NT scholars.

    e.g Professor Gerd Luedemann [Jesus, 151f] notes the ancient and diverse attestation of this saying in antiquity, including its earliest occurrence in Herodotus III 142, 3:

    “I will not do that for which I censure my neighbors.”

    From Ludemann’s book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 151-152, ” In view of the widespread attestation of the Golden Rule in antiquity and its generality, it cannot be attributed to Jesus.”

    See also: http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb033.html

    And because of the common sense nature of the Golden Rule, most humans to include myself follow said rule.

  • What would you say if I told you that Genesis contains a full, if brief, explanation of the Creation of the Universe? In it, you can find evidence of the Big Bang, the earth in gaseous form, pre-life, the spark of life, Pangaea, evolution, and the theory of relativity, and that everything in it agrees with the most established current scientific thought (and/or vice-versa). And this was written over 3000 years ago.

  • Baloney ! The rcc has had two thousand years to fix this problem. Cite SOL re: roman republic and let us know what catholic organization you work for. The remdies clause of the Constitution permits SOL reform and the rcc keeps secret files on who the enablers and abusers are, remember bEVILaqua ordered the list be shreded.

  • Yes?

    What the Catholic Church does NOT claim is “that becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more.”

  • The Pope is a JESUIT, and therefore well-schooled in the JESUIT ARTS of casuistry, equivocation, mental reservation, and all other forms of so-called “morally acceptable” withholding of the truth, as I have personally learned in being educated by them and abused by one of them at age 11. Therefore, his words, as they have always proven to be in the past, cannot be trusted until they are verified IN ACTIONS.

  • The Catholic Church was not suffering from “this problem” two thousand years ago.

    The reason why the Statutes of Limitations exist is to ensure justice.

    Scrapping justice for the sake of you and your anti-Catholic mob’s desire for lynchings is bad policy, bad law, and injustice.

  • There IS Catholic belief that the priest becomes an ONTOLOGICALLY superior being by means of the INDELIBLE mark of ordination ( “defrocking is a MEANINGLESS term because “You are a priest FOREVER”): he stands “in persona Christi” no matter what vile and soul-murdering acts of rape or sexual perversion he may commit, and he is to be regarded in all times, places, and situations as ” Alter Christus” – ANOTHER CHRIST. This theology is ABHORRENT, renders children essentially powerless to resist the predations of these men who seem to them virtually supernatural, and MUST be changed or the Church is rightfully DOOMED.

  • The statement I contested was that it was a Catholic belief “that becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more.”

    Apparently you do not understand the meaning of the word “ontological” or the significance of the phrase “alter Christus”, which is why you don’t understand why stating that it is a Catholic belief “that becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more.” is dead wrong.

    Your use of the phrase “virtually supernatural”, which is bizarre, confirms that.

  • Jesus quoted both Leviticus and Deuteronomy, as He clearly knew the Hebrew Scriptures very well, when he cited the Golden Rule (or whatever you want to call it). He also gave a new commandment, to love each other as He loves us. That is a much higher and more demanding law since He was willing to go to the cross for my sin. As well, He repeatedly offered Himself as a target instead of people like the adulterous woman in instances that did not result directly in His death. My point is that He lived a completely selfless life. Strange behavior for someone who clearly claimed to be God.

  • No your position is 100% in favor of the enablers and abusers , the SOL will be removed and a Survivor Window will be enacted and all those enablers / abusers will be held accountable. Religions that enable and protect abusers will not be tolerated. What religion did JC belong to ?

  • NO the SOL is unreasonable and denies Justice to those who are deserving, remember Constantine the Great started the catholic church not JC.

  • Who can fathom the depths? God has, God does, and God will. Maybe there is one more lesson to be learned from the bush and the Spirit, that was not consumed by the Fire.

  • Also, do not miss how Jesus tied the Shama in with “Love your neighbor”. It is so difficult to love people when we are so unlovable. But, I believe He was saying that if we love God first (with all our heart, mind and strength), we can show that by loving our neighbor. If I can see others the way God does, it becomes harder to treat them rudely, cut them off in traffic, commit adultery, murder, steal and all other manner of sin. No, I agree that Jesus did not introduce new teaching. He just took it to another level, while at the same time living it out. It is vital that He was not saying “do as I say” but “do as I do.”

  • that gets you one theory on how to explain the Big Bang without God. It does not get you life, DNA or reason. What you got for those?

    Occom’s Razor suggests the answer is the one Moses gave for how he knew what to write about how the universe came into being: “God told me”.

    Note, this is not a God of the gaps. God is only most visible in the gaps. He is still creating today.

  • You know, Fr. Tom, the Pope, could, if he wanted to, do much more to actually bring these men to justice. Instead, he mouths things which give people like you material for your articles. And there is little real change.

  • Maybe I’m not the theologian you are, Mark Connelly, though I did teach Catholic Theology for 45years, and Latin as well, thus giving me at least a rudimentary understanding of the meaning of Alter Christus. As to its significance in the mentality of a child who has been taught its meaning since roughly age six, as Catholic children are, I can certainly testify, based on my personal experience of being sexually abused by a Jesuit at age 11 and my work with others as a Volunteer Victim Advocate, that it is indeed virtually impossible to expect a child of tender years so indoctrinated to resist or refuse the advances of a priest whom he or she believes to be standing “in persona Christi.” And, since I am also an attorney in good standing in the Ohio State Bar ( references and curriculum vitae available upon request ) I do not hesitate in suggesting that people who insist on maintaining this dangerous, non-dogmatic theology of the priesthood are better suited for your ad hominem epithet of “bizarre” as well as perhaps that of accessory after the fact.

  • One major issue: Moses as per many contemporary biblical scholars did not exist.

    And DNA? Well that is all about evolution:

     “In its 4.6 billion years circling the sun, the Earth has harbored an increasing diversity of life forms:
    for the last 3.6 billion years, simple cells (prokaryotes);
    for the last 3.4 billion years, cyanobacteria performing photosynthesis;
    for the last 2 billion years, complex cells (eukaryotes);
    for the last 1 billion years, multicellular life;
    for the last 600 million years, simple animals;
    for the last 550 million years, bilaterians, animals with a front and a back;
    for the last 500 million years, fish and proto-amphibians;
    for the last 475 million years, land plants;
    for the last 400 million years, insects and seeds;
    for the last 360 million years, amphibians;
    for the last 300 million years, reptiles;
    for the last 200 million years, mammals;
    for the last 150 million years, birds;
    for the last 130 million years, flowers;
    for the last 60 million years, the primates,
    for the last 20 million years, the family Hominidae (great apes);
    for the last 2.5 million years, the genus Homo (human predecessors);
    for the last 200,000 years, anatomically modern humans.
    Periodic extinctions have temporarily reduced diversity, eliminating:
    2.4 billion years ago, many obligate anaerobes, in the oxygen catastrophe;
    252 million years ago, the trilobites, in the Permian–Triassic extinction event;
    66 million years ago, the pterosaurs and nonavian dinosaurs, in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.”
    Bryson’s best seller, “A Short History of Nearly Everything” will fill in the details in language that we the common man understand.

  • Again the problem with your wishful thinking is that Moses, the author of Genesis created by some very imaginative Jewish scribes, is a myth.

  • Rational, it is a pleasure to converse with someone so well-read and intelligent! I suggest watching the excellent and very fair documentary “Exodus – Patterns of Evidence” for the question of the historical accuracy of the Exodus story. Whether it was Moses who wrote the first five books of the bible, or someone else, or a multitude, the document itself is 3000 years old, and remarkably accurate in its description of the creation of the universe and life on earth.

    Genesis obviously does not go into that level of detail, but in my examination of it, the traditional literal interpretation is way off.

    First, “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” should be what amounts to the imperfect tense, or the closest thing that Hebrew has to it. So a better reading is “in the beginning (at the start of things, the first thing to note) God (in the majestic singular “Elohim”) began to create (out of nothing – ex nihilo) the heavens, and then the earth.” With the imperfect tense, if you are as bad at grammar as I am, you have an action that began in the past and continues. I will note here that the Hebrew word “yom” for day has the same three possible definitions that day does – 24 hours, daylight (about 12 hours) or an indeterminate period of time. Biblical scholars assert it must be 24 hours because when “yom” is used with an ordinal number (first day, second day), it “always” means 24 hours. However, the Bible is a unique document in history, and nowhere else in the Bible is “yom” used with an ordinal number. Further, when “day” is used, it says “there was evening and there was morning, the first (second, etc.) day”. Now “evening and morning” don’t fit any of those definitions. Second verse reads “And the earth was without form (a gaseous ball) and then it was void (empty of all life)”. With an indeterminate period of time, does that begin to sound familiar? Third verse: “And the Spirit of God began to move (the word here is “hover” like a mother bird over its eggs) over the surface of the deep.” The Spirit of God is described as a wind but also as tongues of fire. I believe an egg might be how one might describe a single-cell organism to someone who was 2500 years away from a microscope.

    Genesis goes on to describe the forming of sea animals, flying things, land animals and then man with remarkable precision. “Each according to its kind” describes micro-evolution. But “made” used for each describes using existing materials. What materials are used is not revealed. How does science explain the introduction of new species? I have yet to see anything definitive. But I believe the Genesis account is stating that God used one species to make another. That is macro-evolution. I note you have birds at 150million years. But “flying things” including insects and flying fish are first known to have appeared around 500million years ago.

    I could go on with the formation of the atmosphere, Pangaea, and so forth. The kicker for me is that Moses (or whoever) wrote all this 3000 years ago. If you are convinced that Moses is a myth (I am certain he is real), it doesn’t really matter for this argument because the text itself is inarguably 3000 years old. Compare that explanation to anything in ancient mythology. The ancient creation stories are laughable if you want to say “that’s how it really happened”. Compare it to modern “natural” (self-occurring) science. In my view, “natural science” still has to account for the Big Bang, the formation of life out of inorganic matter, how DNA, an information system, can occur spontaneously, how logic and reason can evolve from a random universe, how macro-evolution occurs. Mathematically, the universe shouldn’t exist. Life shouldn’t exist. Yet here we are.

    And at the end, if you are right, none of this means anything. Yet you said you prefer to live your life in a moral manner. Have you ever really looked at how big the universe is? How long it’s been in existence? How many people are currently alive, or have ever been alive? I am reminded of Douglas Adams’ Total Perspective Vortex. It is laughable that how you treat your neighbor matters in the least. And yet it clearly does. Now I am a hypocrite. I reluctantly admit that. I am working on being more Christ-like, but it’s a slow process and I fail often. I am surely not even aware of all the ways I fall short. How sure are you that you are right?

  • “Maybe I’m not the theologian you are, Mark Connelly, though I did teach Catholic Theology for 45 years, and Latin as well, thus giving me at least a rudimentary understanding of the meaning of Alter Christus.”

    It certainly must be VERY rudimentary since it only pertains to the priest within a sacramental action in which he acts in Christ’s stead – the Eucharistic particularly where Christ is in fact the priest, has literally nothing to do with the personal holiness of the priest (the Donatist controversy settled that), and therefore what you’re presenting as Catholic is in fact “a dangerous, non-dogmatic theology of the priesthood”.

    If you taught Catholic Theology, you might be part of the explanation of why the general quality of the priesthood took a nosedive in various dioceses.

    Have a nice day and try to bluff someone else.

  • You’re wasting both our times.

    All you’re making clear is that you have NO idea of what you’re talking about, and parrot anti-Catholic propaganda.

  • No I have no problem with you blocking me. You don’t have time for facts. First this is the USA not rome , the council of Elvira in Spain around 309 dealt with abuse and before that the bishops in 98 also discussed the problem look up the Didache , which is the teaching of the apostles. You are DEFINITLEY A HACK FOR THE RCC !

  • “You know, Fr. Tom, the Pope, could, if he wanted to, do much more to actually bring these men to justice.”

    For instance?

  • In your infinite wisdom, could you cite me to the specific provisions of Canon Law that limit the character and ontologically unique mark of priesthood to sacramental functioning? Unlike your charisma of personal infallibility, I would like to learn something new and thereby be able to instruct the numerous priest for whom I have worked and my theology professors that they are merely ministerial functionaries and that they do not have the status of alteri Christi at any other time in their ministry of preaching, teaching, and sanctifying. As to any “bluff”, once again jut try very, very hard to grow up and leave behind your third grade world of ad hominem and discuss things on the merits, like a mature, charitable Catholic man.

  • I was unaware I was communicating with a theological “expert”:

    https://otritt.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/a-priestophobe-by-any-other-name/

    http://bishop-accountability.org/abuse2005b-archives/015434.html

    Canon Law literally has nothing to do with it.

    It it is the theology of the sacrament of Orders, not the laws of the Church, that define the priesthood.

    Now, get it together man and focus on this: it is NOT a Catholic belief “that becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more.”

    In fact the sins of the clergy were at the core of the Donatist Controversy. The Donatists claimed that the sacraments of sinners were invalid. They could not ordain, celebrate the Eucharist, or otherwise be the ministers of sacraments.

    Augustine correctly pointed out that the sacraments are effective “Ex opere operato” – “from the work worked” – deriving their power from Christ’s work (ex opere operato Christi) rather than the role of humans.

    The entire controversy and its resolution were irrelevant if it were true “that becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more.”

    Now that we are done with Catholicism 101, we’re done with “becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more.”

    The transformation is an ontological change which makes the man a sacerdos capable of being an alter Christus – the physical manifestation of the underlying reality of the anamnesis of Christ’s work – as a minister of a sacrament, NOT holy, NOT sinless, NOT almost supernatural.

  • Beautiful CASUISTRY, very easily understandable to a child, thus easily enabling him or her to resist the sexual predations of a man whom he or she has been taught to believe is another Christ and possesses the power to forgive his or her sins and transubstantiate bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

  • It is painfully clear you do not know what you’re talking about as far as Catholic theology is concerned.

    The priest himself does not forgive sins or transubstantiate, Christ does. The priest is an alter Christus only in the performance of those sacraments. As Judas demonstrated, he can otherwise be a total piker.

    It is also painfully clear you’re using venting in various public fora as a substitute for psychotherapy or some other useful mechanism for resolving what you report as a childhood trauma, and have been for some years.

    That seems to indicate our discussion should conclude here.

  • SO let it be, since it is clear that your insistence on spewing ad hominem vitriol seems irresistible and you have confirmed for all to see your status as a heresiarch by suggesting that Christ’s ordination of the Apostles at the Last Supper took place BEFORE the departure of Judas. As to my need for psychotherapy and “report” of childhood trauma, just experiencing the pure malevolence of a person such as yourself, so obviously devoid of compassion, makes it quite possible to forgive even the most heinous predations of malefactors who are sick and compulsive rather than cold blooded and willfully hateful, such as yourself

  • Yes as was all of my posting,which cannot be said of your drivel. Your strategy of being unable to dispute facts you then attack the person. Not clever nor is your attempts to reconcile the SOL. Say what you mean and mean what you say, it is not difficlut.

  • I can present 15 years of your posts here, there, and everywhere repeating the same errors for apparently the same reasons.

    I am sure everyone is sympathetic to your pain from an event that took place nearly 60 years ago.

    However, pointing out that you’re wrong is not “pure malevolence” nor does it indicate one is “cold blooded and willfully hateful”.

    It indicates one holds that facts are facts, and wrong is wrong, and on the nature of the priesthood you are wrong – plainly, simply, and totally.

  • Rational, not sure if you’ll see this post given the time lapse. But I wanted to impart two other reasons why I follow Christ. The first, we already discussed – I believe the Bible is historically accurate, from Creation to the Flood to the Exodus to the life of Jesus. There is an abundance of historical evidence for each. The Bible has been used again and again as a roadmap for archaeologists. Watch the documentary “Exodus: Patterns of Evidence” and see if there isn’t at least as much evidence for Exodus as against it. Look at the life of the apostles. They were transformed. And each of them, other than John (and Judas) died a terrible death rather than admit what they were saying was false.

    Second, the way of life proscribed in the Bible, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount, I have found to be far and away the best way to live. Start with humbly acknowledging my sinfulness and need for forgiveness (blessed are the poor in spirit), then mourn for my sin, the sin of the world; third is “blessed are the meek” – which meant in older times, being filled with a quiet strength (the Holy Spirit). Only when you have progressed that far can you go to the next one – blessed are you when you hunger and thirst for righteousness (as if your very life depended on it). Blessed are the pure in heart – imagine a Michael Phelps-like regimen, but instead of training for the fleeting glory of the Olympics, you trained your every thought, word and deed on Holy living. If you do all those things, you can be a Peacemaker. And of course, the ultimate promise – blessed are you when you are persecuted for His Name’s sake. Then he takes each commandment and amplifies it. It is not enough to not murder. we must not hate. It is not enough to not commit adultery. We must not lust after another besides our spouse. Lest there be any doubt, “be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” is the peak of the Sermon. I love that being a Christian is not something you achieve. It is a life-long journey to always try to do better. I’m just giving a thumbnail sketch here. Try to find E. Stanley Jones’ book “Christ of the Mount”. It’s out of print, but you can order it online.

    Third is experientially. I know that my life has been transformed by following Jesus. Of course, I am not finished yet! But I look back at the man I used to be – arrested for stealing, addicted to pornography, prone to fits of anger. I am grateful to be very different from that man today. I hope to be very different twenty years from now. And then there was the visitation I had about a year ago. God (I assume it was Him) spoke to me and said “I am coming!” Now in your post above, you mentioned quite a few ways that the world might end. You’ve looked a lot at that, as have I, and perhaps most of us. Most ages have thought that the end was coming in their time. But between terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, asteroids, epidemics and whatever else, doesn’t it feel like this time it might really be true? (Of course, He didn’t say when He was coming…) The point is, I KNOW there is a God from that experience, and from how He has transformed and continues to transform my life.

    So I ask you again – how sure are you that there is no God? Ask Him to show Himself to you. I hasten to add – do not tempt Him – don’t say “I’m going to jump off this building and if you’re real, you’ll catch me!” Just say “show me you’re there.” I’m willing to bet He will.

  • I have no problem with my errors being pointed out, because, apparently unlike yourself, I am well aware that I am often wrong. What tends to drag me into these conversations, of which you seem to be somewhat unusually familiar regarding my past posts, is the obvious mean-spirited nature of discourse such as yours. I have never objected in this thread to your correct assertion that it is erroneous to contend that it has ever been taught that priests are incapable of sin, which is patently absurd. I have only tried to state my belief, based on experience, that the alter Christus teaching leads children into an unjustified level of absolute trust and thus contributes immeasurably to the abuse phenomenon. You then proceeded to characterize me as “bizarre”, “bluffing”, “venting” and other ad hominem faults, as well as somehow responsible as a Theology teacher for the recent plethora of predations by priests. You seem to have a lot of disdain in your heart for people like me, and it seems in general that you would have preferred that victims like myself just see a psychiatrist and be quiet, leaving the amelioration of this disgraceful scandal in the hands of the Hierarchy and experts on 1600 year old heresies like Donatism, such as yourself. I sincerely apologize for any of my comments that have been lacking in fraternal charity, I pray that someday people of the viewpoint you hold and express may be able to enter constructive dialogue with survivors and those such as myself who seek real solutions to the sad disarray in our beloved Cathoic Church, but I must and will continue to speak the truth as my experience has led me to discern it and thus continue to contribute still more samples to your vast collection of the “15 years of my posts here, there, and everywhere.” May God bless you and keep you always aware, as you express your opinions in the truly brilliant and forceful manner that you do, ” SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI”.

  • “I have no problem with my errors being pointed out, because, apparently unlike yourself, I am well aware that I am often wrong.”

    This exchange pretty much torpedoes the notion you have “no problem with my errors being pointed out”.

    As to “the obvious mean-spirited nature of discourse such as yours”, you began by supporting an erroneous statement and then changing the topic to a priest of sixty years ago or so who apparently did you wrong.

    Your “belief, based on experience, that the alter Christus teaching leads children into an unjustified level of absolute trust and thus contributes immeasurably to the abuse phenomenon” has a couple of rather serious problems.

    The first is that the notion of “alter Christus” is a theological one. It is not up for debate, alteration, change, or amendment to suit your pedagogical desires.

    The second is that adults routinely victimize children who are not Catholic priests but school teachers, ministers, rabbis, and parents.

    The commonality, of course, is apparent authority.

    My characterizations of “bizarre”, “bluffing”, and “venting” are not, per se ad hominems. They’re as accurate a description of what you’re doing as I can post without violating your privacy.

    I have a lot of disdain in my heart for people who grind old axes in public fora, denigrating the Church, its sacraments, its clergy, and so on unfactually, unfairly, and simply to vent unresolved anger. You’re not only the one who posts here coming from that direction.

    Yes, a victim like yourself would be better off seeing a psychiatrist then what you’re doing, which helps no one, least of all yourself.

    But, in any case, get your facts straight.

  • of course he got pushback . he then responded . he sent an investigator to chile to get an impartial view of what had happened . within a year he asked for the resignations of all the bishops of chile .

    no matter the motivations the results speak to good action on a very bad situation .

  • It’s clear that your ego demands that you have the last word. I have tried to be as apologetic and accept my vulnerability to error as I can be. I have also agreed with your original point that priests ARE capable of sin. I have accepted your repeated insinuations that my victimization was only “apparantly” was “60 years ago”, that I have complained about it for “a decade and a half”, and that I am in need of psychiatric care. I will even believe your dubious assertion that all that vitriol directed at me does not qualify as ad hominem attack. In short, YOU WIN. Someday we will both stand before God, Just Judge that He is, and my prayer for us both is in the words of the Missa Defunctorum: ” In Paradisum, deducat te Angeli . . . “

  • Having watched the entire fiasco, the lack of productivity was all on your part. You were a jerk to Mr Ahrens as you are to so many folks in these forums. I have never seen someone with such a faultless high regard for their own perfection as you. Your arrogance is phenomenal.

  • one would be right, skeptic, to be skeptical of your claim about constantine the great . constantine was not the great gift to the church that many then thought–though anyone ending the persecutions that christians often experienced throughout the empire was bound to be popular . but constantine did not particularly influence western christianity .

    his main influence was to get the bishops together to form a stable theology for believers . he cared only to the degree that he did not want disruption or religious turmoil in his empire . what they agreed on was up to them .

  • When it comes to Francis and the hierarchy, it is only the pushback that actually gets things done. That is why the State AG reports are so important. Hopefully, a lot more will be coming.

  • your theological points are largely accurate and totally irrelevant .

    Gerard Ahrens is speaking of the social authority that a priest can wield with a child . it is not a discussion of the fine points of theology .

    you need to take a deep breath, step back some, and discussion one person to another civilly .

  • have no problem with your analysis . the test coming up will be the meeting in rome this october which is, one prays, to finalize the church’s response to the scandal .

    if the result is only more study and prayer, it will be the time for all catholic and friends to hit the streets, as it were, with an ultimate pushback .

  • If the Rome meeting falls short of expectations (which seems very likely), it will be interesting to see if the pushback by the laity and others will be strong enough and well organized enough to force the bishops to action.
    I think the Rome meeting is in February, so we will know pretty soon.

  • “But if there is no God, then the only unhypocritical atheist is the hedonist.”

    nonsense . centuries before christ one had socrates, plato and aristotle speaking of virtues–strengths–not due to the instructions of a god, but due to what today we would call enlightened self interest .

  • I only used the moniker that history provided, it is up to the individual to decide if constantine was great. He influenced the bishops for political expediency and they while he was the ruler created a religious belief system. Constantine waited until he was on his death bed to be baptized.

  • Your non-theological points are both irrelevant and inaccurate.

    Gerard Ahrens attempted to spin the common issue of adult authority figures abusing their authority with minors into support for a theological error first posited by Susan Humphreys:

    “One of these is the basic belief and doctrine that becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more.”

    – which is unmitigated anti-Catholic hogwash – by tying it to the theological concept “alter Christus”, with which it has NOTHING at all to do.

    So, before anyone takes any breath, deep or otherwise, let’s get our facts right and our ducks in a row.

  • Gerard Ahrens attempted to spin the common issue of adult authority figures abusing their authority with minors into support for a theological error first posited by Susan Humphreys:

    “One of these is the basic belief and doctrine that becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more.”

    – which is unmitigated anti-Catholic hogwash – by tying it to the theological concept “alter Christus”, with which it has NOTHING at all to do.

    Your arrogance in suggesting that falsehood should be treated on par with truth is phenomenal.

  • Not in the absence of a deity – Aristotle for example argued for the Uncaused Cause – and while arguing self interest, that self interest amounted to living in accordance with one’s purpose of existence, which is found in the Natural Law.

  • Those so-called “AG reports” are basically meaningless political, in the case of the AG in Illinois of a moribund politico whose career has effectively stalled if not ended.

    Effective AGs actually bring evidence to Grand Juries, obtain indictments, and proceed to trials and convictions.

    Both the Illinois and Pennsylvania AGs are notable primarily for failing to do that.

    That would seem to support one of two conclusions: there was nothing indictable, in which case this a big hullabaloo; these two AGs are incompetent.

    In the case of the Illinois AG that appears to be the case.

  • since the illinois attorney general only began her office’s investigation in august of 2018, and issued a preliminary report in december, your “Effective AGs actually bring evidence to Grand Juries…” sentence is at best a rush to judgment, and at worse a case of trying to poison the well .

    i get the impression only that you think that light on the subject of clergy child abuse is not acceptable . why ?

  • no where did Gerard Ahrens say, write or imply that the priest would not sin when he did what Ahrens listed . try for comprehension when your attempt a retort .

  • Have you actually read the document?

    Are you familiar with either the AG or her track record?

    Do you realize she lost her reelection bid due to the state-wide impression – supported by facts – that she was “do nothing” AG?

    In fact, you have any facts whatsoever?

    Grand Juries proceedings are secret.

    Prosecutors pick the witnesses they present to the Grand Jury.

    Defense lawyers are not allowed to appear with their clients, or to present witnesses they might contradict the prosecutor’s witnesses or arguments.

    Prosecutors are not required to provide exculpatory evidence, even if they are aware of it.

    Nor need they interview witnesses that might contradict their narrative.

    That is why it is generally considered unfair for prosecutors to issue “reports”.

    Normally prosecutors announce a subject has been indicted, or not, without further comment.

    I am sure all of this is news to you.

  • I hesitate to muck with your pose by citing any facts, but here is what he actually posted:

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/religionnews/pope_to_church_bring_abusers_to_justice/#comment-4267597042

    “There IS Catholic belief that the priest becomes an ONTOLOGICALLY superior being by means of the INDELIBLE mark of ordination (‘defrocking is a MEANINGLESS term because ‘You are a priest FOREVER’[): he stands ‘in persona Christi’ no matter what vile and soul-murdering acts of rape or sexual perversion he may commit, and he is to be regarded in all times, places, and situations as ‘ Alter Christus” – ANOTHER CHRIST.’”

    From the standpoint of Catholic belief the priest does NOT become a “superior being”, which merely rephrase Ms. Humprhey’s error.

    The priest remains whatever he was before ordination in terms of humanity.

    The priest acts “in persona Christi” ONLY when acting as a minister of a sacrament which his ordination enabled him to perform. Otherwise he puts his pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else.

    That also dispenses with “…. he is to be regarded in all times, places, and situations as ‘ Alter Christus” – ANOTHER CHRIST.’ ”

    I’d get up to speed on the content of the posts and Catholic theology before making it any clearer you couldn’t follow the exchange.

  • “Do you realize she lost her reelection bid due…” to the fact that she did not run for reelection ?

    the rest of your facts are commonplace not particularly relevant to the total sweep of duties an attorney general has in illinois or in most state govenrments .

  • precisely . it was only susan who wrote that “…becoming a priest transforms the man and he can sin no more.”

    Gerard writes about the role and the language and the effect of all that on the youth .

  • the philosophy of the greeks works whether one holds to the pantheon, to the celestrial clock keeper or to an agnostic view of belief . one can even believe in a natural law without believing in a god .

  • The rest of my facts bear directly on the veracity of the statements I made as to the value one should place on these AG “reports”.

    And, again, you’ve changed the subject to ” the total sweep of duties an attorney general has in illinois or in most state govenrments” which was not part of anything being discussed.

  • “He influenced the bishops for political expediency….”

    for sure .

    “and they while he was the ruler created a religious belief system.”

    no . the religious belief system already was there . he simply put his weight behind those bishops who had the most adherents and made that the party line of the empire . he created nothing, and i (and many) believe that he had no real understanding of the faith that he backed . only that it was the best horse for him to ride .

  • but not to the point that you keep insisting . Aherns does not say nor imply that the priest cannot sin .

  • Actually he says is he can sin with impunity, with no spiritual effect, remaining an alter Christus.

    I would, were I you, stop while you’re behind.

  • Generally, though there are exceptions, the most serious crimes, such as murder, do not have a statute of limitations. The passage of time and loss of evidence makes prosecution more difficult, and the legal system still requires proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt in criminal cases, but cold cases have been solved as some evidence may endure.

    It is up to state legislatures to determine how seriously they take child abuse. As for ecclesiastical discipline, it is up to each church to determine how seriously it takes child abuse.

  • “It is up to state legislatures to determine how seriously they take child abuse.”

    How seriously they take it is really not the issue.

    How seriously they take it should be reflected in the punishment for the crime.

    Feigning taking it seriously for political purposes by dispensing with the statutes of limitations in the case of crime where the proof lies in memories alone is a major risk and creates injustice, not justice.

    Caving to anti-Catholicism by dispensing with the statutes of limitations in such a way as to exempt public schools and other hotbeds of abuse is even worse.

    As for ecclesiastical discipline, in the Catholic Church a single instance is – were Canon Law followed – the cause for immediate irrevocable dismissal.

  • “That is why it is generally considered unfair for prosecutors to issue ‘reports’.”

    and yet issuing reports is one of the duties of a state’s attorney general .

    conversely a grand jury has the rap that a good prosecutor can indict an ham sandwich by means of one .

    each, the issuing of a report concerning of state wide problem, or the indictment of an individual or a corporate body, has it place .

    contrary to your myopic view of the child abuse problem in the catholic church, the illinois and pennsylvania reports on sex abuse in the church can be a good thing for the church in the long run . it limits the discussion of who, how many, and what, over how many years . it gives a better understanding that the vast majority of the catholic majority were not involved . that is something that many of us have been saying but many outside the church would not accept . now it is open and presented in a public paper .

  • In some states crimes of violence, kidnapping, arson, forgery, theft of public money, treason, and sex offenses involving minors, have no statutes of limitation. Note that the common denominator is the seriousness of the crime. Misdemeanors have shorter statutes of limitations than felonies. It is impossible to explain these facts without reference to the seriousness of the crime in the eyes of the legislature.

    Note that if a statute of limitations is in play, no criminal prosecution is possible even if the evidence is undeniable or overwhelming and even if the perpetrator turns himself in and confesses.

  • The discussion was about eliminating or extending the statute of limitations on child abuse, which renders crimes which currently have no statutes of limitations irrelevant.

    The track record on prosecutions in, for an example, Australia of very old alleged abuse cases is that senile old men get convicted on forty or more year old recollections, most of which get overturned on appeal.

    If physical evidence is not available, which it often is in crimes of violence, kidnapping, arson, forgery, theft of public money, treason, the odds are against justice being served and in favor of injustice being perpetrated.

  • Consider the case against Dennis Hastert, a powerful non-Catholic. His crimes only became known years after the fact, but the evidence was solid, and he was justly convicted. Had his crimes been protected by a SOL, justice would not have been served.

  • The case of Dennis Hastert is about precisely what you complain about, namely abuse by non-Catholic school teachers and coaches going uninvestigated and unpunished. In this case he was proved to be a serial child molester (in the words of the judge at sentencing) and justice was eventually served, despite his powerful and prestigious position and the fact that his crimes had been hidden for years.

  • Hard cases make bad law nonetheless.

    Creating an environment for injustice so that one hard case is resolved is precisely what the maxim is about.

    The only way to avoid that given juries and elected judges is to permit cases past a certain point to be tried ONLY on corroboration by physical evidence – DNA, clothing, and the like.

    It is a fact that memories alter with time. Even in the short-term memory can be altered to ill effect. We have already lived through one bout of this in the USA:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day-care_sex-abuse_hysteria

    and lives were destroyed.

  • The Hastert case is not a hard one, not at all. The evidence was clear beyond a reasonable doubt. No DNA or clothing evidence was needed or involved.

    We have a criminal jury system with safeguards such as grand juries, the requirement of trial jury unanimity, and multiple levels of appeals, even after the passage of time to determine the facts based on credible evidence evaluated by judges and juries. Judges and juries are not infallible, but it is the system we have. We could avoid all false convictions if we let every accused person off because all evidence can be questioned and some people are falsely convicted. But that would defeat the purpose of having a criminal justice system. The Kern County cases turned on the credibility of very young children, not on SOL issues. Indeed, it is easier now to evaluate the Kern County cases after the passage of time and after accusations were withdrawn. 34 convictions were overturned and $10 million in compensation was paid by the county to those falsely convicted. Imagine the continued travesty if Kern County had been protected by a statute of limitations.

    Documentary evidence such as church and school records, diaries, correspondence, evidence on hard drives, photographs, and hush payments, the testimony of multiple, credible witnesses over long periods of time, a pattern of criminality, and confessions and shared confidences can all be totally and quite unreasonably thrown out under SOL grounds even when the evidence is clear beyond reasonable doubt and the crime is devastating.

    Hastert ruined the lives of his victims. No exonerating evidence has ever come to light. Don’t complain about abuse in public schools if you think Hastert was treated unjustly. I only question whether his sentence was too light.

  • i was talking of the philosophies of three great thinkers . my two previous comments : same subject . same conclusion . one does not need to be a theist as i am, or perhaps you are, to believe that morals exist external to the individual

  • you keep quoting Susan Humphreys . we agree that she is wrong . however your prolonged ragging on Gerard Ahrens is nonsense . he never stated or implied or spun the idea that a priest could not sin . he did strongly suggest that the theology surrounding the priesthood can easily be misunderstood by a youth as giving more power and authority than a priest has .

    so take that deep breath and re read Gerard for what he wrote and not what you insist on reading into what he wrote .

  • no matter how many times you misread Aherns, he did not say that a priest cannot sin . you quoted the whole comment of his . but you cannot point out where he said what you say he did .

  • Perhaps you are using a different definition of sin than I am.

    Or perhaps you cannot read English.

    He commenced by stating that he was abused by a priest.

    That takes care of any definition of “cannot sin” that would preclude a priest committing abuse.

    He then stated that the same priest was an “alter Christus”, another Christ, during and after committing abuse.

    That appears to be his definition of “cannot sin” – that a priest could do things most people would consider “sin” without effect on his personal holiness.

    In short, the priest can do no wrong because he has been “ontologically” changed such that ALL he does he does as another Christ.

    Do have a nice day and let’s consider this matter concluded.

  • Of course Hastert is a hard case. It’s the one in 100,000 exception that proves the rule.

    “Don’t complain about abuse in public schools if you think Hastert was treated unjustly.” is just silly.

    Grand juries are hardly a safeguard, and in many states a grand jury would not be involved.

    Unless there has been prior convictions, “a pattern of criminality” is a non-starter.

    Ditto “church and school records, diaries, correspondence”. If they had that sort of evidence we would not be having this discussion.

    As Dr. Ford at the Kavanaugh hearings demonstrated “the testimony of multiple, credible witnesses over long periods of time” is suspect as well.

    In fact that’s a good example of where an individual convinced herself that something had happened that apparently did not, but large numbers of people were completely willing to accept her assertions because of sympathy or prior beliefs.

    The same thing happens at the trial level all the time.

    Juries can be swayed by sad stories, and in many states judges are elected.

    To sweep away the Statutes of Limitations without placing safeguards to avoid the travesty of he said/she said hearing charges based on nothing but personal recollections – and 95% of these cases nothing but that and twenty or more years old – is to state that justice be damned.

  • i never know where you are coming from . your presentation of what gerard ahrens wrote continues to be wrong and your presentation of catholic doctrine on the priesthood is wrong .

    when a priest sins that has no effect on his priesthood . once ordained a catholic priest is considered a catholic priest until he dies . the older theology i was rised with spoke of priests committing sacriliges upon their body and their souls when they committed moral sins of the flesh . but the man remained a priest .

    so that a priest who does terrible acts still sins : that is not gerard ‘s nor the church’s definition of cannot sin .

    what is concluded is that you are speaking of things that you don’t understand .

  • i was talking moral philosophy . that you have a jerry-rigged scaffolding to support your concept of a deity is not my problem .

  • what part of ‘a priest can sin while still remaining a priest’ don’t you understand ? that is and has been the theology of the catholic church .

  • What part of

    “There IS Catholic belief that the priest becomes an ONTOLOGICALLY superior being by means of the INDELIBLE mark of ordination (‘defrocking is a MEANINGLESS term because ‘You are a priest FOREVER’[): he stands ‘in persona Christi’ no matter what vile and soul-murdering acts of rape or sexual perversion he may commit, and he is to be regarded in all times, places, and situations as ‘ Alter Christus” – ANOTHER CHRIST.’”

    don’t you understand?

    No, he is not superior, and that has never been the theology of the Catholic Church.

    No, he does not stand “‘in persona Christi’ no matter what vile and soul-murdering acts of rape or sexual perversion he may commit”, and that has never been the theology of the Catholic Church.

    No, he is not “to be regarded in all times, places, and situations as ‘ Alter Christus” – ANOTHER CHRIST.’”, and that has never been the theology of the Catholic Church.

    Do have a nice day.

  • You should read your post again.

    My concept of a deity has never been an issue since it has never been described.

    You excised deity altogether, the philosophers did not.

  • I know where you’re coming from.

    You gloss over what Gerard Ahrens wrote in plain English, and you spin the Catholic teaching on the priesthood precisely as he did.

  • Your arguments can equally be used against all trials and all convictions at any time, including capital cases. The biggest safeguard is that guilt must be established beyond reasonable doubt with a unanimous jury concurring, combined with multiple avenues of appeal. The Kavanaugh hearings clearly did not establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt, which is why he was confirmed.

    Does Canon Law have a statute of limitations? Suppose Archbishop Theodore McCarrick is accused of a serious sexual crime with a minor in the confessional. Can Canon Law be applied after the passage of time, say three to six years? Cf. the New York statue of limitations?

  • Indeed they cannot.

    I will note that eyewitness accounts are NOTORIOUS for being inaccurate, influenced by things that happen after the event, and subject to supplementation by prosecutors and police “refreshing” witness memories. As a result I certainly oppose the death penalty if it is not based on physical evidence such as fingerprints, DNA, film, video, or other physical evidence.

    That establishes guilt beyond reasonable doubt, which eyewitness testimony does not, and multiple avenues of appeal are poor comfort to individuals who are deprived of liberty and the means to defend themselves, particularly older defendants.

    Since the cases in question are rarely supported by anything BUT eyewitness testimony, and the existing SOLs in most states are generous on criminal prosecution for sexual abuse of minors:

    http://angelroar.com/foradults/c-child-abuse-resources-adults/childabusestatuteoflimitationsbystate

    yours is a solution in search of a problem.

  • Again, your arguments can be used to throw out all trials and all convictions. You previously brought up that exceptions to the rule make bad law.

    Could you clarify whether Canon Law recognizes a statute of limitations? If not, why not? If so, what are the time limits? This is particularly relevant in the McCarrick case, but also in many clerical abuse cases.

    Does the Pope seriously maintain that clerical abusers should be “brought to justice” only if there is fingerprint, DNA, film, video, and physical evidence and it must be presented (in New York at least within 3 to 6 years of the crime), depending of the offense? If so, this would be a very serious barrier to bringing abusers to justice, which thing the Pope has called for.

    New York is particularly relevant because changing the SOL is coming before the New York legislature with the governor and the party in charge of both houses of the legislature backing a change. This is not a purely theoretical question in New York.

  • Your staccato repetition of basically unrelated “evidence” is not supporting your case.

    No, my arguments cannot be used to throw out all trials and all convictions.

    They can be used to:

    – avoid executing someone who is innocent; the history of false convictions is almost completely a history of bad eyewitness accounts;

    – avoid extending the statutes of limitations in such a way as to perpetrate injustice based on public hysteria.

    The statute of limitations in Canon Law on accusations of sexual abuse was 10 years after the alleged victim’s 18th birthday. On petition exceptions could be granted, and commonly were.

    In 2010 the 10 years was modified to 20 years, and the suggestion that the statute of limitations be removed altogether was rejected.

    The query “Does the Pope seriously maintain that clerical abusers should be ‘brought to justice’ only if there is fingerprint, DNA, film, video, and physical evidence and it must be presented …. depending of the offense?” is both argumentative and irrelevant.

    And, as far as I can determine, this concludes our exchange on this topic.

  • Can we then agree then that the statute of limitations can reasonably be extended to 20 years, something that was acceptable to the church for its own law? That would be a good place to end the discussion.

  • your link gives one “brief description of the office of the illinois attorney general” . what part of “brief” don’t you understand ?

    you rather that illinois nor pennsylvania had not weighed in on the scandal of child sex abuse in the catholic church . your right . but your arguments that they should not, or did not have the right to, is ludicrous .

    43 state attorney generals are elected by the general public . of those elected, i challenge you to show one state that legally prohibits their attorney general from speaking to the public about an issue of law or of prosecution or of criminal activity of interest to the citizens of the state . the only exception would be those things already court or jury sealed .

  • judging others is a bad idea . judging the actual comments is what we do here .

    your comments often do not stand up to analysis .

  • the catholic catechism reads :

    “1548 In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis:23

    “It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi).24
    Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ.25

    “1549 Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers.26 In the beautiful expression of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop is typos tou Patros: he is like the living image of God the Father.27

    “1550 This presence of Christ in the minister is not to be understood as if the latter were preserved from all human weaknesses, the spirit of domination, error, even sin. the power of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee all acts of ministers in the same way. While this guarantee extends to the sacraments, so that even the minister’s sin cannot impede the fruit of grace, in many other acts the minister leaves human traces that are not always signs of fidelity to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church.”

    in short the ordained priest stands in the place of christ . he is always a priest . yet he can (and history has shown) do vile things .

    do get up to speed on catholic theology . your lack is showing .

  • and Gerard Ahrens never said that . your continued attempt to spin what he wrote only suggests your lack of comprehension .

  • “1548 In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth.”

    So, what you’re arguing is that while an ordained man is committing grave sins, he is in the ecclesial service.

    Like Susan Humphreys, and like Dr. Ahrens, you miss the entire point.

    “Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi).”

    So, you’re arguing that during abusing a child the priest is acting in the power and place of Christ himself.

    Again, the very same mistake that Humphreys and Ahrens makes, which logically leads to the erroneous conclusion that the ordained cannot sin. After all, he is acting in the power and place of Christ himself, who is sinless.

    “1549 Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers.”

    Right.

    While performing ecclesial service in the anamnesis of Christ’s actions while on earth, he IS Christ.

    The concept is very Eastern.

    An event which took place in time is made literally and really present in this time by piercing through time and space and becoming real in this time and space. While we see the priest, the person performing the action is Christ.

    The idea is related to the belief that while the bread and wine after the consecration appear to be the same, they have in reality become the Body and Blood of Christ.

    The Greeks call it a “mystery”. The Catholics call it a “sacrament”.

    The priest himself has zero power. His ordination gives him a quality – the ontological change – or charism which only when in ecclesial service is effective.

    If he teaches heresy, he is not another Christ.

    If he abuses children, he is not another Christ.

    Judas Iscariot when he became a rat fink was not another Christ.

    We’re done, sport.

  • your “exact quote” does not say or suggest or imply that a priest cannot sin .

    you jumped to a conclusion early on that it meant a priest could not sin . you were wrong then and you are wrong now . and i will keep telling you that you misread it until you take the time to figure that out .

  • “political stunts” is your opinion to which you have every right .

    i think that those reports were a blessing in disguise for the catholic church . in two american states (and a growing number of other countries) the church was forced into total transparency . there will no longer be any guess work as to the extent of the scandal in those states . there will now be an assumption that the priests not listed were good men deserving of trust and of their authority .

    the dioceses in those areas can now move ahead .

  • If you think political stunts are blessings in disguise, your thinking is a bit muddled.

    First, the notion that “the church was forced into total transparency” is rather bizarre. What the public got was an Attorney General’s view of what he or she could find.

    The entire process in either state resulted in zero indictments, trials, or convictions.

    Anyone who was buried deep and was never noticed by one of the dioceses in question remains buried deep.

    Second, the priests listed may have been good men deserving of trust and of their authority. A number of them were dead, unable to defend themselves.

    In Pennsylvania the Supreme Court nixed the reporting on a number of priests who sued. They sued because the reports were not the result of trials where the accused could call witnesses and rebut the accusations.

    But, as your comments demonstrated, for the gullible and those with preconceived notions, these reports were like narcotics.

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