Columns Opinion Thomas Reese: Signs of the Times

Bishops in Rome struggle to find way to investigate bishops

Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, attends a press conference ahead of the summit on preventing clergy sex abuse, at the Vatican, on Feb. 18, 2019. Organizers of Pope Francis' summit on preventing clergy sex abuse will meet this week with a dozen survivor-activists who have come to Rome to protest the Catholic Church's response to date and demand an end to decades of cover-up by church leaders. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — For Catholics in the United States, one of the most pressing questions about the clergy sexual abuse crisis is how the church should deal with bishops who are accused of covering up allegations of abuse or who have committed abuse themselves.

Two onetime archbishops of Washington, D.C., just to cite the most prominent examples, have been felled in recent months by allegations of their own misconduct or the failure to act on allegations of others’. The cases only compounded complaints that while there is a system in place in the United States for investigating accusations against priests, there is not a good one for dealing with accusations against bishops.

How to deal with bishops’ abuse or negligence is also one of the biggest problems ahead for the Vatican conference on clergy sexual abuse meeting in Rome this week.

Canon law says that only the pope can judge a bishop, but with more than 5,000 bishops worldwide, this is an impossible task for the pope to do on his own.

In a talk to the bishops on Friday at the four-day meeting with the pope here, Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich called for clear procedures for dealing with cases that could justify the removal of a bishop.

In his proposal, Cupich suggested that if a bishop is accused of misconduct or of mishandling abusive priests, the metropolitan archbishop of his region should investigate and report his findings to Vatican officials.

Cupich’s proposal is an expanded version of one he put forward last year at the November meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, where it was heavily criticized as having no credibility, since bishops would be investigating bishops.

An alternative proposal from USCCB committees called for accused bishops to be investigated by a national commission that included lay members. However, this system would be voluntary. A bishop could refuse to participate.

Neither proposal was voted on because Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, told the U.S. bishops to postpone any decision on the proposals until after the February meeting in Rome.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Chicago Archbishop, right, and Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, listen reporters’ questions at a media briefing during a four-day sex abuse summit called by Pope Francis, in Rome, on Feb. 22, 2019. RNS photo by Jack Jenkins

Cupich argues that his proposal, besides being mandatory, is more in keeping with church law and tradition. The metropolitan archbishop has played various roles throughout history but has always been the principal bishop in his province or ecclesiastical region. In presenting his proposal in Rome, Cupich has attempted to deal with his critics by stressing the role of the laity in the investigation.

He has called specifically for a dedicated telephone line and/or web portal to receive accusations and transmit them directly to the papal nuncio, the metropolitan of the accused bishop “and any lay experts provided for in norms established by the episcopal conferences.”

He agreed that the involvement of lay experts is good for the process and for transparency.

He listed 12 principles that need to find their way into any proposed legislation, including respect and support for the victims and their families, protection for whistle blowers and the involvement of lay men and women in the process.

“If the allegation has the semblance of truth,” Cupich said, “the metropolitan can request from the Holy See authorization to investigate.”

Once he receives authorization, the metropolitan “should gather all relevant information expeditiously, in collaboration with lay experts, to ensure the professional and rapid execution of the investigation.”

Cupich said that, while any “investigation should be conducted with due respect for the privacy and good name of all persons involved,” this should not preclude “informing the faithful of the allegation against the bishop.”

After completing the investigation, the archbishop would forward all of the information gathered to the Holy See. It would then be up to the pope to make a final decision.

While Cupich’s proposal will not satisfy critics who don’t trust bishops to police themselves, it undoubtedly has a better chance of getting adopted worldwide than does a process involving investigations conducted by a lay commission.

Another approach, which has been suggested by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, is to establish a separate office or tribunal in the Vatican to investigate charges against bishops. This office would be staffed with trained investigators who would report their findings to prosecutors, who could bring charges against the bishop if there was sufficient evidence. This would be followed by an administrative or judicial process to determine his innocence or guilt.

As it stands now, investigating bishops is normally the responsibility of the Congregation for Bishops, which is neither staffed nor equipped to do serious investigations. In addition, this is the same body that is responsible for the appointment of bishops, meaning that any finding of guilt against a bishop would be an admission that it made a mistake in appointing him in the first place. Thus, there is a built-in conflict of interest in any investigation.

In this Nov. 14, 2011 file photo, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prays during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The most recent example of an investigation of a bishop was the case of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a former archbishop of Washington. Responsibility for this case was given by the pope to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the same office that deals with cases of abusive priests.

An extensive report was produced by the lay review board of the Archdiocese of New York, but for the congregation the key evidence was the testimony of the men who said they were sexually abused by McCarrick when they were minors. It was only after the victim, named “James” in the New York Times, agreed to testify that the case could move forward.

The “congresso,” or committee composed of the top staff of the congregation, examined the evidence and found him guilty and imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state. McCarrick’s lawyers appealed to the committee of cardinals and bishops who make up the congregation, and they upheld the decision.

According to the congregation’s press release, “The Holy Father has recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law.” This means there can be no appeal of the decision. Technically, the pope did not dismiss McCarrick from the clerical state; the congregation did. The pope had given them the authority to do that when he gave them the case.

The church needs to have a robust discussion of how to hold bishops accountable for their misdeeds and negligence in office. But this discussion cannot go on forever. Even an imperfect system is better than what we have now. If Cupich can get his brother bishops to accept his proposal, then they should go for it.

About the author

Thomas Reese

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

60 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • Why should there be a struggle? Allegation of abuse, followed by cursory question making by church authorities, followed by informing the authorities, followed by either arrest or exoneration.

  • In what other organization or walk of life is a person’s supervisor considered the proper person to report a crime to? None that I’m aware of. Crimes should be reported directly to those competent to investigate them, and bishops most definitely do not fall into that category.

    Lay people should be encouraged to report allegations of clerical abuse directly to law enforcement instead of to the Church. Church officials will be notified in due course. Bishops should welcome this because it will remove the pressure of them having to choose between protecting their priests (and themselves) and protecting children.

  • I actually agree with you, but I was trying to accommodate the delicate sensibilities of certain people who seem intent on defending the church at any cost, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.It’s why I use the word “cursory”.

  • In this particular organization, there are investigative bodies to which to report bishops and others.

    Nothing in Canon Law prohibits reporting allegations of clerical abuse or allegations of obstruction on the part of Church “officials”. Of course in some countries that could lead to executions.

    Investigations, secular or ecclesial, are generally secret.

  • What a pose.

    Nothing in Canon Law prohibits or prohibited reporting allegations of clerical abuse
    or allegations of obstruction on the part of Church “officials”.

  • Why does anyone think the Roman Church can be brought on the straight and narrow? People should just vote with their feet. There are many good options out there from the Orthodox, Anglican or Lutheran communions.

  • The Church has failed spectacularly in policing itself. Public scrutiny is needed to hold it accountable. And I say that as a lifelong Catholic who loves his Church.

  • Several bishops have failed spectacularly. Others have done remarkably competent jobs.

    With 5,500 bishops in 190 countries it is most definitely a mixed bag.

    There is no mechanism in the United States for ongoing public scrutiny of any church, religion, or denomination nor should there be.

    Both the secular and ecclesial mechanisms were in place, they were simply bypassed.

  • They were bypassed because bishops have an irreconcilable conflict of interests between protecting individuals and protecting the institution. It shouldn’t be that way but, given human nature, it is.

    I believe this generation of bishops is, for the most part, contrite and well intentioned. But good intentions and contrition don’t safeguard justice. The only thing that can is systemic accountability that can’t be subverted by powerful, self-interested individuals.

  • It wasn’t a matter of canon law. It was a matter of church culture, which drummed it into the faithful that they should report to diocesan officials and trust them to take care of things. Deference for the clergy is a powerful thing and miscreants take full advantage of it.

  • “They were bypassed because bishops have an irreconcilable conflict of interests between protecting individuals and protecting the institution. It shouldn’t be that way but, given human nature, it is.”

    In a word “no”.

    The failures fell into three categories:

    – Bishops who themselves were part of the problem, here in the USA prominent names would be Theodore McCarrick, who has been found out and and defrocked, and Rembert Weakland, forced to resign when his $400k plus payment to an ex-boyfriend surfaced. There were others. They had a vested interest in preventing good investigations, particularly since they were subject to blackmail themselves.

    – Bishops who put the “good name of the Church” – and not so coincidentally their own good name as shepherd of the flock – above both Canon Law and moral law. Donald Wuerl was an excellent example, someone who would have fit in the corporate environment of Procter & Gamble. While he was in Pittsburgh promoting himself for the job he eventually got in Washington, DC, he went after one and only abuser, and this was a priest who had the chutzpah to point out that Wuerl had completely disregarded Canon Law in his case and took it to Rome. That got Wuerl’s attention, and he made it a campaign to even that score.

    – Seven times seventy bishops, who mistakenly thought “forgiveness” gave them license to bypass Canon Law, “treat” abusers, and return them to the ministry. They made the mistake of relying on the so-called mind mavens – the psychologists – who purported to be able to “cure” pedophiles. Prominent among these shops was St. Luke’s in Maryland. Oddly this “mind maven” approach originated with the first group – bishops who themselves were part of the problem who used them to put fig leafs over the degenerates they were allowing into the seminaries.

    The group who experienced few problems – such as Bishop Bruskewitz in Lincoln – were vilified during all of this by “progressive” Catholics because along with being tough on abuse and bad clergy they were tough on dissident groups and troublemakers.

    It turns out law and order can’t selectively applied.

  • I am probably a bit older than you are, and never encountered anything “drummed it into the faithful that they should report to diocesan officials and trust them to take care of things”.

    I don’t buy it at all.

  • I’m 61 and I spent most of my life employed by the Church. I taught in several Catholic schools, I worked in multiple parishes and I worked for two dioceses. I saw it nearly every day in one form or another and I know for a fact it’s true.

  • Apparently it’s what you got out of it.

    it’s probably a result of being a church employee, not from being a Catholic.

    I’d certainly go to the appropriate authority in the Church and then, if results were not forthcoming, law enforcement.

    Then again I don’t have the fixation on civility you have, so it’s probably more a matter of personalities than anything the Church promoted.

  • “In his proposal, Cupich suggested that if a bishop is accused of misconduct or of mishandling abusive priests, the metropolitan archbishop of his region should investigate and report his findings to Vatican officials” OK, and who investigates .when the metropolitanarchbishop is molesting or covering up for a pal of his? Does Cupich think we are stupid? Oh Wait.
    We, the dumb sheep. are trying to disband the Old Boys Network that has hijacked the church and runs it for their own profit and benefit..

  • As usual the Roman Catholic Church manages to make things vastly more complicated and subtle than is necessary or appropriate, due to its hidebound nature and compulsive, dysfunctional need always to align with “tradition.” The solution to this problem is actually rather obvious, and it’s astounding that none of the ecclesiastical rocket-scientists now collected at the Vatican have thought of it — but they haven’t. 

    Most government agencies have “inspectors general.” Most police departments have “internal affairs” offices. These are dedicated units which don’t report to any other part of their organization and exist solely to conduct internal investigations. There’s literally no valid reason for the R.C. Church not to establish such an office. 

    Of course, one thing that might make it difficult for the Church to accept this solution, is that whoever heads their inspector-general office, as well as all of its staff, would have to be laypersons and not clergy … because they’d all have to stand outside of the Church’s overall hierarchy and power-structure. Anyone in this IG office who’s a priest, you see, and thus has taken vows of obedience to his bishop and the rest of the Church’s clerical structure, would immediately have to be considered “compromise-able” by those vows. 

    I can’t imagine any of the hierarchs would willingly allow themselves to be held to account by any mere layperson. Hence, they’re sure to reject this option right off the bat. Still, it would be a means of holding bishops accountable — and as I said, it’s the sort of thing numerous government agencies and other institutions around the world have relied on for a very long time. If it works elsewhere, there’s no reason it couldn’t be made to work in the Church. 

  • Really the metropolitan Bishop will review other bishops…news flash…that has been the defacto “secret policy” all along. Years ago I wrote of US Cardinal and the Vatican regarding my abuse and that of my brother….yes they wrote back…all telling me I had to go back to guess who…Archbishop McCarrick for they said he was the only one who could resolve this. I am quite aware of course I am not a bishop, but if all the cardinals didn’t lift a finger to address the abuse of two young boys, how on earth are they to be trusted with holding accountable a fellow bishop. This is a non-starter…..but Cupich wants us to trust other Metropolitan bishops…in other words….NOTHING will CHANGE!

  • Once you got a letter sending you to McCarrick, the appropriate response depending on the age of the complaint and the extent of evidence, was law enforcement or the media.

    If the offense was stale such that neither would assist, you had the situation we all encounter where justice will be accomplished by He who is all just in the next life.

    I believe you’re on target not trusting Cupich.

  • Obviously you have zero clues about the theological obstacles to your proposal, which is no surprise at all given your track record of pontificating with zero clues on a wide range of topics.

    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the body you describe without knowing it and a few years ago established a specific mechanism for investigating bishops:

    https://www{DOT}npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/10/413387725/vatican-establishes-tribunal-to-investigate-bishops-in-abuse-cases

  • It is not the Old Boys Network.

    It is the Faithful Lieutenant Network, of which Cupich is a member, and the Pink Mafia.

    The removal and disgrace of Theodore McCarrick has the remaining members of the Pink Mafia locking arms and singing “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay”.

  • It seems to me that the bottom line here is pretty simple:

    1. The church did not dispute a report it commissioned circa 1990 about non-celibacy among priests. That report found that 50% of all clergy were not celibate.

    I know at least one pastor in another denomination who is very reluctant to criticize the RCC, but who has told me he knows of several Catholic priests who maintain de facto marriage relationships with others–and those relationships are widely known.

    2. No one disputes that there is abuse of various sorts throughout the church.

    3. It is indisputable that the church has REPEATEDLY covered up these actions by clergy–even after all those pious declarations of wishing to root out these problems.

    4. We’ve all heard and read numerous stories about churches and dioceses destroying documents.

    5. Clergy continued to issue their pronouncements about “morality” even as they knew what was going on in their church, and did nothing to stop those abuses.

    6. Bishops repeatedly moved accused abusers around, protecting the church and putting parishioners at risk.

    7. Therefore, how can anyone trust anything the church does on this matter from now on? Why should any thinking person believe that “this time” the church will do what it says it will do, and not engage in more coverup?

  • “1. The church did not dispute a report it commissioned circa 1990 about non-celibacy among priests. That report found that 50% of all clergy were not celibate.”

    No citation, for good reason. The Catholic Church never commissioned a report that found 50% of clergy were not celibate.

    “2. No one disputes that there is abuse of various sorts throughout the church.”

    Or schools, or government, or businesses, or synagogues, or ….

    “3. It is indisputable that the church has REPEATEDLY covered up these actions by clergy–even after all those pious declarations of wishing to root out these problems.”

    No, some individual prelates covered up actions, some did not. Those that did were violating their own church’s Canon Law, which of course precludes attributing their actions and inactions to “the church”.

    “4. We’ve all heard and read numerous stories about churches and dioceses destroying documents.”

    There has not been a single indictment for obstruction of justice in any jurisdiction for destroying documents. The reason why is that the documents were required to be destroyed under Canon Law for good reasons, and were not part of any criminal investigation but in fact were internal church documents.

    “5. Clergy continued to issue their pronouncements about ‘morality’ even as they knew what was going on in their church, and did nothing to stop those abuses.”

    That’s just a generic unsupported comment.

    “6. Bishops repeatedly moved accused abusers around, protecting the church and putting parishioners at risk.”

    Some bishops did try to “rehabilitate” abusers. Those that did were violating Canon Law, which required removal of the offenders from the ministry.

    They were told by mind mavens that pederasty was treatable and that after a course of treatment offenders could be returned to parishes.

    As so often happens with psychologists (the primary purveyors of this error), they were dead wrong.

  • You see what I mean about delicate sensibilities and defending the institutional church at any cost? What are the lives of children to that? Cf the compassionate and supportive response to Mark Crawford.

    What a piece of work.

  • What a piece of work – completely focused on religion and attacking it while turning a blind eye to each and every significant form and place of abuse that does not advance that attack.

  • I have lost (I hope only temporarily ) the citation that supports my statement # 1. Perhaps I will post it if I recover it, and have any interest left.

    And of course, we will all notice that you did not dispute the comment I quoted by the German cardinal.

    However, Sipe writes in his 2003 book Celibacy in Crisis, A Secret World Revisited:

    “I estimate that at any one time 50 percent of priests are practicing celibacy. . .Thirty percent of priests are involved in heterosexual relationships, associations, experimentation or patterns of behavior. Fifteen percent of priests are involved with homosexual relationships…Six percent of priests involve themselves with minors.”

    Sorry, I have lost the page citation.

    However, this one fact shows that you are wrong in this matter; and as we have all seen, you are wrong in numerous other things you write; therefore, it is a waste of time for me to engage with you.

  • A little more on what Howard says.

    Agence France-Presse reports:

    A top Catholic cardinal admitted Saturday that Church files on priests who sexually abused children were destroyed or never even drawn up, a move which allowed pedophiles to prey on others.

    “Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created,” German Cardinal Reinhard Marx told a landmark Vatican summit on tackling pedophilia in the clergy.

    “Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated and silence imposed on them. The stipulated procedures and processes for the prosecution of offenses were deliberately not complied with, but instead cancelled or overridden,” he said.

  • Your #1 item actually involved Sipe’s own self-appointed work, which is pretty much debunked at this point.

    I was not going to take the time to chase every butterfly you launched in your pointless and ill-supported broadside to further advance your anti-Catholic polemics.

  • Canon Law requires that when an internal Church tribunal has concluded its work, and a judgment is reached, the files be destroyed and the record of the judgment preserved.

    This prevents witness statements and other materials from being improperly used by anyone other than the tribunal for any purpose but to render a verdict.

    If Canon Law is followed, pedophiles can’t prey on others if found culpable since pedophiles would be defrocked. That Cardinal Marx thinks otherwise makes complete sense since when he was bishop of Trier he disregarded allegations of abuse by a priest in his diocese of Trier and the priest continued to serve in Trier until 2015 and his abuse also allegedly continued up until that point.

    He does admit, however, that the canonical processes for prosecution of offenses were deliberately not complied with, and in this he speaks from experience.

  • Further admissions of cover-up trickle out:

    “In a remarkable admission, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx said Saturday that documents that could have contained proof of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church were destroyed or never drawn up.

    “Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed or not even created,” said Marx, the archbishop of Munich and president of the German Bishops’ Conference.

    “The stipulated procedures and processes for the prosecution offenses were deliberately not complied with,” he added, “but instead canceled and overridden.”

    This too often is in the nature of corporate and political reaction to wrongdoing. The temptation to “shoot, shovel, and shut up” is strong. No one would accept an excuse of internal policy in the business or political world, and no one should in the realm of religious organizations, either.

  • Do you think that might the be the way they were able to manipulate the figures so say exactly what they wanted them to say? I certainly do.

    Cardinal mccarrick was a known quantity for years, yet somehow, it never managed to show up on the official radar of the church. A former seminarian friend of mine told me that two priests involved with women were well known in the parish, but no one said boo about it becuase the priests were “discreet.”

  • “Cardinal mccarrick was a known quantity for years…” by whom?

    You?

    Rumors and innuendo are not fact.

    If they were, The National Enquirer would be the newspaper of record.

  • Here is some info that tells us that the current Vatican conference on sexual abuse ETC is a total lie and nothing more than public relations: .

    from: http://www.awrsipe.com/reviews.html

    Fr. Thomas Doyle, A.W. Richard Sipe and Patrick Wall have coauthored a book, Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2,000-Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse, that asks, “What did [the Catholic hierarchy] know, and when did they know it?” The answer, the authors emphatically proclaim, is “in a nutshell … all about it and all along.”

  • “….. holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.” (2 Timothy 3)

    The names “Jannes” and “Jambres” appeared in the rabbinical tradition, the two magicians left Egypt with the Israelites after the first Passover (see Exodus 12:38) and were later instrumental in promoting the worship of the golden calf that Aaron made (Exodus 32). Because of them three thousand people died.

    See how well they dressed and presented so religiously in their photos.

  • We all know that nothing concrete will come of this. There may be less abuse for a while, but in the end all will go back to what it was.

  • I think there is also a problem with the Bishops believing themselves to be superior/holier than all others, above all others, and the only one that can judge them is God! This feeling is also called hubris and has been the downfall of many over the centuries!

  • There is nothing in Catholic teaching that Bishops are “superior/holier than all others, above all others, and the only one that can judge them is God”.

    That’s the sort of silliness that being an atheist with the hubris to critique religions leads to.

    Just to get some sense of how far off track that is, the head of the college of bishops is called “the servant of servants”.

    The Catholic Church teaches that bishops are successors to the Apostles, and as a result have certain charisms and authority within the ecclesial structure of the Church.

    Neither is a personal attribute.

  • For those trying to sort this out, Herrnhut is a town in Germany in Saxony

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herrnhut

    erected by German-speaking Moravians under the leadership of Christian David, a Moravian missionary, when the German nobleman Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf invited them to settle on his extended Berthelsdorf estates.

    It is the center of the worldwide Moravian Church, the Unitas Fratrum, in German Brüder-Unität or Brüdergemeine.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herrnhut

  • Your proposal is great, and would be a nearly perfect solution. The best part is that it would work well in many religious organizations. The “hierarchs” might go a little bonkers at first, but they would have to adjust.

  • Thank you, I hope responsible people, everywhere, will have the opportunity to read your very true and urgent comments above.

  • Abuses, scandals and this:
    The lack of talent in the priesthood, the lack of Vatican response to the historic Jesus movement and rigorous historic testing of the NT, the Church’s continuing cling to original sin and the resulting subsets of stupid ideas like limbo, the denial of priesthood to 50% of the membership, the restriction of priesthood to supposedly celibate men and the continued train of Vatican “leadership” by old white men.
    All being nails in the coffin of the RCC!!!

  • Howard, your comment about engaging with Mark and him being wrong are absolutely spot on. Mark is a victim abuser and mostly in complete denial. He defends the indefensible and attempts to destroy those who seek and share TRUTH regarding the sins of the RCC.

  • Think about this: church teaching is that the pope is infallible on matters of faith and morals when he speaks *ex cathedra* (“from the chair”).

    IOW, the pope could easily make an official statement about proper treatment of clergy who commit abuses, or cover up abuses. Starting with, say…oh, I dunno, excommunication?

    But somehow I’m not gonna hold my breath…..

  • Thank you for your kind words (here and elsewhere).

    The idea that clergy should not be able to enjoy normal human relationships –heterosexual or homosexual–shows us the depth of understanding that the church has about human beings.

    It is abundantly clear that the Catholic church has a big, BIG problem with all this stuff–and equally clear that it does not want to deal with it seriously. If it did, it would not have needed that splashy conference. And of course, the desire to avoid dealing seriously with this problem is precisely why people attack clergy and ex-clergy who dare to shed light on the problem.

    The good news out of all this is that I think the Catholic church will never regain the power it’s (ab)used in the past to influence society, in terms of influencing the votes of legislators, criminal justice, and so on.

  • Re: “Because of them three thousand people died.” 

    No, three thousand people supposedly died, because the Levites reportedly slaughtered them on YHWH’s orders. 

  • Re: “No golden calf? no orgy?” 

    Why should thousands of people died, because of a calf idol? I mean … really? If that was the “cause” of their deaths, then it wasn’t actually the cause. The true cause would been YHWH’s infantile rage over it. 

    As for an “orgy” … OK, whatever. 

    Re: “The main thing is that was the first Pentecost when the law was given and 3000 people died.” 

    “The first Pentecost”? Really? Huh. “Pentecost” is a Christian solemnity with a Greek name. It’s the Christians’ version of Shavuot, but how it relates this this is impossible to know: The calf idol is mentioned in Ex 32 but Shavuot is ordained in Ex 34. You’ve read Exodus out of order. 

    Re: “So now we don’t go by the law or letter of the law but by the spirit of liberty and life.” 

    If “the letter of the law” embodies a supposedly-omnipotent deity’s childish fury, then it’s not much of a law. As for “liberty,” wouldn’t letting people make calf idols entail that? Or not? 

    Re: “That is how you see miracles in the believers.” 

    There are no “miracles.” They don’t happen. David Hume explained this centuries ago. Do try to keep up. 

  • Re: YHWH has come to save. The men were already dead in their sins in the slave pits of Egypt. It just happened when the law will only condemn, not to save.

    Re: The Jews understand the Pentecost as the festival of law given.

    Re: No Holy Spirit, no revelation but it is in the Scripture. Many cessationalist Christians of the high church also miss out on these bonuses because of their chief priests and scribes.

    Re: So David Hume is a god? Where is he now?

    LORD Jesus, by thy blood help her from her own follies and save her and her house. In Jesus name Amen.

  • Re: “YHWH has come to save dead people to life.” 

    Really!? How? Who killed them all, if not him/her/it/whatever? 

    Re: “The men were already dead in their sins in the slave pits of Egypt.” 

    Really!? How did “sin” kill them all off in Egypt? 

    Re: “The Jews understand the Pentecost as the festival of law given.” 

    I’ve got news for you: Jews don’t “understand” Pentecost at all. They don’t celebrate it. It’s not part of their religion. I expect you know that, but for some reason you’re telling me something else. I have no idea why, but it’s really bizarre. 

    Re: “No Holy Spirit, no revelation but it is in the Scripture.” 

    And that means … what, exactly? … to me? That some ancient authors wrote stuff has no effect on me. A lot of ancient authors wrote a lot of things that aren’t true, you know. 

    Re: “So David Hume is a god?” 

    No, and when did I say he was one? Do tell. I’d love to be quoted on that. 

    Re: “Where is he now?” 

    He’s dead, of course. But that doesn’t make him wrong. Albert Einstein is dead, too, but his relativity remains true. 

    Re: “He now will explain to the LORD.” 

    Hume will explain … what, exactly? … and to whom, exactly? … and why would he have to, exactly? Please explain. 

    Re: “LORD Jesus, by thy blood help her from her own follies and save her and her house. In Jesus name Amen.” 

    What does any of that business mean? 

  • I have to attend a wedding, so I will answer only the first question you wait all your life. When Eve and Adam sold out to the serpent, he got the apartment key. That is why the temporal ruler of the world is the thief, the devil. The HaSatan will make sure all the unsaved souls as good as dead if no one come to save them. Look at all these sad, bad and fake news all over the world, and you know some one are pulling the strings.

    That is why they need a savior. For the whole world, it cannot be just the blood of the bulls and goats, He is the LORD Jesus who laid down His life to make all the payments to fulfill the condemnation of God’s law for anyone who believe.

  • Re: “When Eve and Adam sold out to the serpent, he got the apartment key. That is why the temporal ruler of the world is the thief, the devil.” 

    So your supposedly-almighty-deity let “the devil” steal the world right out from under him/her, eh? Hmmm. Not very “almighty,” is s/he? 

    Re: “The HaSatan will make sure all the unsaved souls as good as dead if no one come to save them. Look at all these sad, bad and fake news all over the world, and you know some one are pulling the strings.” 

    Wow. Some god you’ve got there! S/he can’t even control his/her own creation! 

    Re: “That is why they need a savior.” 

    No, what’s needed is for your supposedly-omnipotent deity to pull up his/her big boy/girl pants and take his/her own creation back from “the devil.” If s/he is, indeed, omnipotent, s/he can do so in an instant. All this “savior” crap just indulges this scenario you just described in which “the devil” stole the world out from under your god. It doesn’t actually solve the true problem. 

    Re: “… He is the LORD Jesus who laid down His life to make all the payments to fulfill the condemnation of God’s law for anyone who believe.” 

    Why should it matter what anyone “believes”? If your Jesus in fact “laid down His life to make all the payments,” then he must have done so … period, end of discussion. There can’t be anything else to it. 

    As for the part about “the condemnation of God’s law,” your deity made that “law” and can change it, any time s/he wants. For that matter, s/he can’t be proscribed by anyone’s “law” (his/her own, or anyone else’s) in any way, in the first place … or else s/he isn’t all-powerful. 

    The deity you describe is impetuous, immature, and very limited in power. Certainly not the sort of being who deserves to be worshiped or followed. 

2019 NewsMatch Campaign: This Story Can't Wait! Donate.

ADVERTISEMENTs