Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Where do we go from here?

As many of you know, the comprehensive John Jay Study concerning clergy sex abuse will be out at the end of the month. I assume that means next week sometime. And already the confusion and distortion abounds. Check out this article from the Associated Press. Contrast what the article says and the quote from Ratzinger.
AP reporter - "That would mean roughly 4 percent had been accused of abuse, although not all the claims are likely to be deemed credible in the final report, due out next Friday."
Ratzinger - "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican (news - web sites)'s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told Catholic News Service in December 2002, that 'less than 1 percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type.'"

See the problem. They are talking about two different things. The AP reporter is talking about accusations and his eminence is referring to guilt. But placing the two pieces side by side makes it sound as though the Cardinal is hopelessly in the dark. Or hinting that he might be hiding something.

Thankfully the AP has noted that this is not exclusively a Catholic Issue. Protestant churches frequently run across this issue as well. For example, in Oklahoma City, the same day revelations were coming out of Boston, a Methodist youth minister and a rabbi were both arrested on abuse complaints. Abuse can happen whenever there is power imbalance in the relationship.

More infruriating to me is the use of this by folks to push their agendas. When I say that, many of you are thinking of groups like Voice of the Faithful or We Are Church. But there are groups who are minimally in union with Rome, usually over the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, who are milking this for all its worth. One of these groups is called Roman Catholic Faithful. I recently received their newsletter which leveled lots of accusation without too much subsequent proof. Also, they wanted to make sure they bypassed me, the pastor, when they mailed the newsletter. It was in a plain white envelope addressed to the secretary. Without my dutiful assistant, I would have missed it completely. It was interesting to read in their mission statement that part of this scandal was that priests were not permitted to say the Traditional Tridentine Mass without permission. Of course, I am not permitted to celebrate the Tridentine Mass without permission just as I cannot celebrate the Sarum nor the Anglo-Catholic rites without permission. Membership in a ritual church means following the ritual that is normative for your rite. Then if necessary other rites may be celebrated assuming there is a proper just cause. I don't hear Byzantine Catholic communities clamoring for the older edition of their rite, do you?

You can check out their website but I don't recommend it. I don't think that they are being just; they like Voice of the Faithful want to recast the Church in their ideal image and likeness.

Fr. Johansen over at Thrown Back has a thoughtful post up concerning the sources of the problem. Pop over and take a read. I want to know, where do we go from here? What steps must we be willing to take not just to ensure this doesn't happen again but also address underlying root causes which might be undermining the Church in other ways?

I really do feel for those who have suffered abuse at the hands of my brother priests. But I also don't want virtuous and good priests to be tarred with the same brush. It is like the Catechism points out when talking about the Communion of the Saints. "In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion (CCC #953)."

Let no more harm come to the Holy Church or to any of its members.

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