For those wondering what kind of education priests have received , here is a section of Michael Rose’s Goodbye, Good Men:
For those wondering what kind of education priests have received , here is a section of Michael Rose’s Goodbye, Good Men:
In retirement Pope Benedict has written an article for a Bavarian journal for priests on the causes of the sexual abuse crisis. I largely agree, and the article is not an exhaustive catalogue, but there are still some serious omissions.
The causes that Benedict identifies are
It should be noted that Benedict uses the term pedophilia. This is inaccurate, but is a widespread shorthand for the abuse of young people and I think it is clear that this is what Benedict means. True pedophilia, sexual activity with pre-pubertal children, is rare and in fact declined among Catholic priest in the United States over the past two generations.
To begin with the last cause.
Benedict writes that the Congregation for the Clergy was almost exclusively focused on protecting rights of accused priests to the point that it was almost impossible to get a conviction and a removal from the priesthood.
This is correct and is a result of the clericalism that enabled the coverup. The laity in the church were seen as existing for the sake of priests. The priest’s administration of the sacraments was seen, implicitly or explicitly, as the most important activity that pleased God. If a corrupt priest destroyed the faith of the laity, the priest was still pleasing God by offering the eucharist. I am not sure how explicitly this was articulated, but this attitude encouraged the Congregation for the Clergy to do everything possible to keep priests active in the priesthood. Bishops got the message, and rarely fought the Congregation. Cardinal Wright, despite his checkered career, was one of the few who fought the Congregation to remove an abusive priest.
Benedict says this problem was why sexual abuse cases were removed from the Congregation for the Clergy, where they logically belong, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Abusers were destroying faith of their victims. Benedict cites a peculiarly horrible example. One abuser before he would abuse a girl, said: “This is my body given for you.”
Clericalism definite enabled and encouraged the cover-up of abuse. Benedict does not say that it also enables the abuse by placing priests above criticism in the eyes of the laity, but I think he would probably agree to that.
Benedict also identifies as a cause the lack of a lively faith in God. God had become an abstraction in theological system and clerics lacked what John Henry Newman called a realization of faith: they did not feel that the realities of faith were in fact true, and that God was a transcendent yet present and almost unendurable reality.
The widespread questioning of moral teachings by Catholic theologians also contributed to undermining the authority of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. I think this is true. Whatever the intentions of the theologians, what many people heard was that all absolutes were gone and that they should engage in their own sexual projects, as their consciences, which they interpreted as their feelings, led them.
As a consequence, many people in the church surrendered to the sexual revolution; nothing was absolutely forbidden, including adult-child sex. The radicals of the 1960s in Germany and elsewhere propagandized for and practiced adult-child sex. Homosexual clubs formed in seminaries. A bishop when he was a seminary rector showed seminarians pornographic films. The first seminary visitation was a farce. All of this is true, and fueled sexual abuse.
But there are two omissions in Benedict’s catalog, one he will never address and one he may or may not have considered, because it concerns a deeper problem.
First: Pope John Paul II refused to deal with sexual abuse beyond a few anodyne remarks. John Paul protected abusers like Maciel and refused to listen to pleas, including from Cardinal Schoenborn, to act. Why?
Second: Sexual abuse did not begin in the sixties. The Holy Office had extensive files from the Counter-Reformation on solicitation in the confessional. St. John Calasanctius founded the Piarists and covered up a bad case of abuse in one of his schools to avoid alienating the Cherubini family which was influential at the Vatican. When the Jesuit archives were uncovered after the French revolution there were many cases of abuse in them.
In many cultures, pederasty is a widespread and accepted practice. By pederasty I mean a sexual liaison between an older man and an adolescent or young man, the type of liaisons that Cardinal McCarrick engaged in. The classical world was full of such relationships. American soldiers who have served in the Middle East have been horrified and disgusted by the practice of man-boy relationships among Muslims, who condemn homosexuality, but do not consider themselves homosexuals when they engage in sex with boys.
The Jews condemned same-sex relationships, and one of the main Jewish objections to Hellenizing was based on the practice of youths exercising in the nude in the gymnasia. The LORD was beyond sex; He had no consort but created by His word. But human procreation participated in the divine creativity and human beings were created in the image of God. Procreation therefore was under a special divine government, and crimes against procreation, such as the sterility of Sodom, were punished by fire. Those who looked back at Sodom were turned into sterile pillar of salt, and those who had been contaminated by it, like Lot, fell into incest.
The abiding male tendency to pederasty is perhaps based upon a narcissism which sees in the young male lost vigor and wishes to identify with it. It is certainly a widespread tendency that crops up in the Church (and elsewhere) – Peter Damian wrote an extensive denunciation of such sins. Societies must cultivate a strong taboo, as strong as the incest taboo, to make this practice almost nonexistent, and clearly the Church has failed to do this. The abuse will continue, and the corruption will encourage silence about true pedophilia (the abuse of pre-pubertal children) and abuse of women and girls. Pope Francis denounces the abuse of children, but he considers sex between adults (and the age of consent has been sometimes very, very young, as low as 7) as a minor peccadillo, so I do not expect any significant reforms during his pontificate.
Pope Francis, as everyone is beginning to notice, is erratic. He is not a systematic thinker; he does not like to be bound by logic; you never know what he is going to do or say next.
Peter Isely, a survivor of sexual abuse, told Crux:
In Isely’s view, survivors have typically encountered two different personas in Francis, one being the sympathetic pastor who has a deep sense of the horrifying impact of abuse, and another who can be cryptic, insensitive and who appears to fail to take action against known abusers.
“I don’t think we’ve ever heard someone from the Chair of Saint Peter talk about these crimes the way he has, and the effect and impact it has on the victim,” he said. “But then we’ve got this other Pope Francis.”
“Sometimes he says some alarming things, like he did in Chile,” Isely said, alluding to Francis essentially accusing abuse victims who protested against Bishop Juan Barros on charges that he covered up for Chile’s most notorious abuser priest, of calumny.
“We’ve got this guy who allows these bishops to cover up these crimes. And when a bishop is removed, we know that’s why he’s being removed, but he won’t say that’s why he’s being removed,” Isely said, adding that it’s not yet clear which persona will show up to the summit, but he’s hoping it’s the first.
In his Amoris Laetitia, he seemed to say that divorced people who entered second unions can receive Communion. Catholic theologians have followed the logic that a person may be civilly divorced, but if he is still in a valid, sacramental marriage, he commits adultery if he tries to marry again, and is therefore in a state of serious sin and cannot receive communion. The four cardinals who asked Francis to explain –the Dubia–were simply ignored.
Worse still, Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., confidant of the pope, tried to defend Francis by this tweet.
This phrase has a disturbing history.
The phrase “two plus two equals five” (“2 + 2 = 5”) is a slogan used in many different forms of media, most notably the 1949 dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell. In the novel, it is used as an example of an obviously false dogma that one may be required to believe, similar to other obviously false slogans promoted by the Party in the novel.
Orwell’s protagonist, Winston Smith, uses the phrase to wonder if the State might declare “two plus two equals five” as a fact; he ponders whether, if everybody believes it, that makes it true. The Inner Party interrogator of thought-criminals, O’Brien, says of the mathematically false statement that control over physical reality is unimportant; so long as one controls one’s own perceptions to what the Party wills, then any corporeal act is possible, in accordance with the principles of doublethink (“Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. (Wikipedia)
Solidarity in Poland used the slogan Two plus two always equals four to counteract the Communist party line.
The poster reads: Let Poland be Poland. Two plus two always equals four.
Spadaro is obviously no deep thinker; nor is he much acquainted with history, or he would never have used that example.
But for Francis, one day 2+2 equals 4, the next day maybe 5, the next day maybe 3; and his courtiers, sycophants, and defenders have to justify his erratic statements.
Francis proclaims the need for synodality and lay involvement in stopping sexual abuse. Then he forbids the American bishops from voting on proposals, one of which is to set a lay investigative board. Only the pope can investigate bishops! But then Francis lets Chinese Communist atheists appoint bishops.
He in a footnote in Amoris laetitia raises the issue of communion for Catholics in invalid unions, a question that raises many serious doctrinal questions. But he dismisses any serious discussion of changing the rule of celibacy for priests in the Latin church, although most of the Eastern churches in union with Rome have married priests. Married priests raise no doctrinal issues; the question is whether it would be a fruitful change in the Latin church. Maybe, maybe not. Most the laity would welcome it or at least not object.
Because Francis is erratic, he has not established a clear policy to deal with sexual abuse; he has lessened the penalties that abusers received under Pope Benedict. Since there is not clear policy, one cannot even object to it. One day he lets an abuser function as a priest; the next day he defrocks McCarrick. It all depends the whim and mood of the day. I have little or no hope that any clear and consistent policy about sexual abuse will be established as long as Francis is pope.
Oh, yes. And his critics are tools of the devil:
Speaking on the eve of a landmark Vatican summit on the prevention of clerical sex abuse, the pontiff told a congregation of 2,500 pilgrims in Saint Peter’s Basilica that those who “live their whole life accusing the Church” are “friends, cousins and relatives of the devil”.
Take that, you mean-spirited victims of sexual abuse. Can’t you shut up!
Andrew Sullivan has a long article in New York, “The Gay Church.” For Sullivan, it is a temperate and reasonable article.
He points out the contradiction between a church which supposedly excludes gays from the priesthood but has a clergy, including bishops and cardinals, taht is substantially gay — estimates range from 15% to 60%, with the best estimates about 30-40% in diocesan clergy and mush higher in religious orders.
Sullivan defends gay priests from attack, but he admits there are problems,.
“to decouple the sexual-abuse crisis entirely from the question of gay priests is a willful avoidance of an ugly truth. Pedophilia is a separate category outside the question of sexual orientation. But some abuse of male teens and young adults, as well as abuse of other priests, is clearly related to homosexuality gone horribly astray — and around a quarter of the reported cases involve 15- to 17-year-old victims.”
Sullivan knows that gay priests, like straight priests, sometimes fail and violate celibacy in non-abusive relationships. That is a sin that can be repented of and forgiven, but it creates a further problem:
“a poisonous kind of omertà took hold, the priesthood acting as a forum of mutually assured destruction. Since many fellow priests know about each other’s sexuality and/or lapses, they all have the ability to blackmail one another. Mundane failings — like a brief affair — can become easily blurred with profound evils like child abuse. If you expose a child molester to his superior, for example, he might expose your own homosexuality and destroy your career.
This dynamic has made the clerical closet — not the fact of gay priests but the way that fact has been hidden — a core mechanism for tolerating and enabling abuse. On top of all this, the vow of obedience to superiors gives gay bishops and cardinals huge sway over their priestly flock. Some, of course, realized this power could be leveraged for sex and abused it.
Sullivan’s solution is that gay priests should be honest and publicly admit their gayness and either leave the priesthood or reaffirm their intention to be chaste and celibate.
“A third option would simply encourage an end to the clerical closet, which is to say, ask all priests to obey one of the Ten Commandments: not to lie about themselves. It would require gay priests to identify as such to their superiors and parishioners and, in clearing the air, make a renewed public vow of celibacy. (Whether celibacy is healthy for the church is its own question, one oddly distinct from the current crisis; a relaxation of the rules wouldn’t in itself resolve the church’s position on homosexuality, and an embrace of homosexuality is compatible with a celibate priesthood.) Encouraging an end to the closet would underline the distinction the church formally makes between homosexual identity and homosexual acts. It would deter disturbed closet cases from entering the priesthood and provide priestly role models for gay Catholics who find themselves called to celibacy. Those gay priests who refused to be fully transparent could leave. Cardinals and bishops and directors of seminaries could insist on frank discourse on the matter. Double lives would become far less common. If a priest is committed to celibacy and doing a good job, why is his public gayness a problem?”
A good question. What would be the effect if it were publicly acknowledged that a third of Catholic priests were gay, but they were leading chaste lives? One problem is the identification of gayness with lack of masculinity. This is not true; but the type of gays who tend to become priests are not the biker or rugby types. Straight men who are not very masculine are also a problem. The Western churches have long repelled men who desire to be masculine, and a further identification of the clergy as non-masculine would not help.
I respect gay priests who are sincere in their intention to be celibate. But the corruption in the Church creates an environment which is dangerous to such priests. Seminarians are subjected to an environment like that of classical pederasty, in which older priests become mentors and predators of young men. Once compromised, a seminarian or a priest is vulnerable to pressure to have sex and is reluctant to reveal abuse for fear his own failures will become public.
How to deal with this? the key figures are seminary authorities and bishops. If they are compromised, they must be removed, and uncompromised men of integrity put into authority. They will have the wisdom to deal with the problems that both straight and gay priests encounter. However, Francis’ reluctance to examine and deal with the corrupt atmosphere that tolerated, enabled, and promoted McCarrick shows that he is unwilling or unable to deal with the problem. And Francis won’t resign.
Al we can hope for is that the next pope will either deal with the problem, or at least let bishops’ conferences and laity deal with the problem, and not block them, as Francis has done.
A significant portion of sexual abusers of boys in the Catholic Church – I would estimate half – fall into the pattern of multigenerational incest.
One case which I witnessed from various angles over forty years exemplifies this pattern.
In 1964 I entered Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore, an all-boys’ school. So did Jeff (Jerome) Toohey. He was not in the advanced class, so I did not know him well, but we had many mutual acquaintances.
After high school Toohey entered the seminary for the archdiocese of Baltimore. He studied at St. Mary’s Seminary in Roland Park, near where I live. At that time Richard Sipe, a psychologist and later an expert in clerical sexual abuse, was teaching there. Years later Sipe told me that he witnessed Toohey being seduced by a member of the seminary faculty. The faculty member, whose name Sipe never told me, told Toohey that he had to get in touch with his sexuality etc. Toohey succumbed.
Jerome F. Toohey
Toohey was ordained and eventually was appointed chaplain of Calvert Hall College High School and moderator of the swim team. Toohey’s proclivities were suspected by his former classmates, and there were Calvert Hall yearbooks showing Toohey with the Speedo-clad members of the swim team, annotated with hilarious and obscene comments. (Toohey was also a chaplain to the deaf, who are prime targets of abuse, for obvious reasons – I had cases involving them.)
In the late 1980s or early 1990s, I attended a lecture by Raymond Brown in the chapel at St. Mary’s Seminary. Behind me were sitting a faculty member and a Presbyterian ministress from Govans Presbyterian. She said that she wanted to study Celtic Spirituality, and did they have anyone on the faculty who knew about that. Yes, replied the faculty member, we had a priest who knows about that, but he insisted on sleeping with students and flaunting it too openly. He was sent to a rural parish in western Pennsylvania to cool off, but he would be back.
Around that time a friend of mine, another former Calvert Hall student, was working in an office and met a single mother. They talked, and it turned out that she had a son in Calvert Hall. She said that the chaplain there, Father Toohey, was concerned that her son lacked a male role model and that the son should come to live with him. My friend said, do not ask questions, but under no circumstances allow your son to live with Toohey. The mother said that the proposal had made her uncomfortable.
In early 1993 Michael Goles publicly accused the popular Father Toohey of having abused him at Calvert Hall; Goles was roundly attacked by the Calvert Hall community and the Catholic laity. A parishioner of St. John’s, Long Green, Bill Loeffler, said “This is a lie…. The real victim is Father Jeff because he will never recover from this.”
Then, in 2004, Michael Goles, who remained troubled and unvindicated, got a phone call from someone who had just come forward with similar allegations. The second man, CNN Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts, was also a Toohey victim. He was believed.
In 2006 Toohey pleaded guilty to abusing Roberts and was sentenced to five years in prison, but served less than 10 months before being released into home detention.
In 2007 Thomas Robert told his story:
I became a victim of sexual abuse at the age of 14; the abuse lasted three years. It took me nearly 20 years to gather the strength to help put my abuser behind bars. Now, a year after “justice” was done, I am ready to tell my story publicly in ways I never have before.
My abuser was Father Jeff Toohey, a trusted man of God. He was the equivalent of a religious celebrity in my private all-boys Catholic school in Baltimore, Maryland. Father Jeff was every boy’s friend and mentor. I considered him my mentor as well.
When my parents divorced, I was sent to Father Jeff to help me cope with all the changes. Divorce in the mid-1980s still seemed so foreign. Plus, I was just a kid, and I didn’t know much about divorce. I just knew it sucked.
All I had at that time in my life was my family and school. Those were my constants. But as my family fell apart, so did my life at school. After the abuse began, high school became a prison of shame and lies.
I felt trapped. My parents would be horrified to know their failure at marriage put their son at risk to be sexually abused and that the man abusing me was the high school chaplain and beloved priest.
The school would never believe me, I thought, and I feared I would be expelled if I revealed the abuse. I was 14, with no voice, except the one in my head saying, “You can never tell the truth about what is happening.”
Roughly a month after the abuse started, I attempted to commit suicide. I took a bottle of my mother’s pills. I lined them up one-by-one on my maple dresser. I took them all and lay on my bed hoping to just fade away and die.
My sister, Patsy, came home and found me. It was the day before her 18th birthday. She saved my life that day just by merely coming to my room to say, “Hi.” She saw the pill bottle and went to get ipecac, which made me throw up.
My parents were terribly upset by my actions. Father Jeff was told I tried to kill myself. All agreed I just needed more counseling. Father Jeff’s exact words were, “You have so much to live for.” I felt so cornered, and I had nowhere to go and no one to run to. I just became numb to the abuse.
“This too shall pass” is one of my favorite religious sayings. The abuse did pass, but it left me so insecure about who I was.
When I was in college, another boy, Michael Goles, came forward and reported his abuse at the hands of Father Jeff. I knew I could help Michael if I, too, revealed Father Jeff’s abuse, but out of a feeling of self-preservation, I remained quiet. Michael wasn’t believed, and his case was thrown out of court.
Nearly 20 years after the abuse started, I became strong enough to go back and confront what had happened to me. I was strong enough to tell my family the truth. I was strong enough to report it to the archdiocese. And I was strong enough to call Michael Goles and tell him, “I am sorry,” and that I believe him because it happened to me, too.
Together, we were strong enough to see our abuser finally admit his crimes. Father Jeff was charged with 10 criminal counts of child sexual abuse in relation to my case. He asked for a plea and admitted his guilt in court. He was sentenced to five years in jail but only served 10 months. He was released early to serve eight months in home detention.
This was the pattern that McCarrick followed. He abused seminarians, and then at least one of them abused a boy. When priests initiated seminarians into homosexual activity, the seminarians learned that this was the way that priests were allowed to deal with their sexual desires. They in turn sought out physically mature but emotionally vulnerable teenagers. Some of them entered seminaries, and the pattern continued.
How is it possible to break this pattern of multigenerational incest?
In 2005 Cardinal O’Brien conducted an apostolic visitation of seminaries because of widespread complaints, but it was a joke. He asked, Anything wrong here? No, everyone replied, nothing wrong.
From the toleration that was extended to McCarrick over decades, it is clear that the hierarchy, including perhaps the pope, do not regard the sexual abuse of adult seminarians as a serious matter. Or perhaps McCarrick’s behavior was considered unremarkable and normal.
Even if a seminary is cleaned up, there will always be the possibility of corrupt priests returning to the faculty
If priests have to be educated in seminaries, why does the faculty have to be priests? There are many competent, married laymen and deacons of good character with theology, history, music, and psychology degrees. Priests are ordained to minister to the laity, not to other priests. Laity are the best judges of whether a seminarian is suitable to be a priest, although a bishop must make the decision about ordination and take the ultimate responsibility.
I think this change, which would not, as far as I know, require any change in canon law, would break the cycle of multigenerational abuse. There are other sources of abuse, but I think that the seminaries have been responsible for much, if not most , of the abuse.
As usual, the messenger who delivers unwanted news is attacked to discredit his news.
Heidi Schlumpf (I love Low German names) at the leftist National Catholic Reporter:
Many, including more progressive Catholics, questioned Vigano’s credibility, because he has been implicated in covering up alleged sexual misconduct by former St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt.
Others pointed out that Francis had replaced Vigano as nuncio after he was involved in the papal meeting with controversial Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis during the pope’s visit to the U.S. in 2015. New York Times religion reporter Elizabeth Dias noted on Twitter that “Vigano and Francis have been political enemies.”
Michael Shawn Winters, also at the National Catholic Reporter, has an objective headline: “Vigano letter exposes the putsch against Pope Francis”:
Vigano’s tissue of misinformation will leave its mark. In the midst of a feeding frenzy, no one stops to ask basic questions and even journalists can forget to undertake basic tasks like asking for corroboration or looking at the questions a text such as Vigano’s poses. Here are a few of my questions:
Vigano says he must unburden his conscience now. Why now? If he felt as disturbed by the filth as he claims to have been, why did he not say anything publicly or at least speak to the bishops conference? I recall a few years back, at a meeting of bishops’ conference, sitting outside the ballroom in Baltimore chatting with a monsignor from the nunciature. He was waiting for Vigano who was in the executive session of the bishops’ meeting. Why did he say nothing then?
Vigano is a disgruntled former employee. Such people are always a bit angry. They are also often a bit unreliable. He was always a crackpot. But, make no mistake: This is a coordinated attack on Pope Francis. A putsch is afoot and if the U.S. bishops do not, as a body, stand up to defend the Holy Father in the next 24 hours, we shall be slipping towards schism long before the bishops meeting in November. The enemies of Francis have declared war.
(BTW can’t NCR afford accents?)
Notice Winters’ focus is not on the truth or falsehood of Viganò’s accusations, but on Viganò’s motives and character. A person may not have completely clean hands and may still tell the truth. In fact, those who know damning truths usually do not have completely clean hands.
Viganò has an agenda, and he focuses on the failures of Francis, who is, after all, the current pope, rather than on the egregious failures of John Paul II, who, after all, is dead. As for me – a pox on both their houses. Both popes failed sexual abuse victims, both allowed the evil to fester.
We will soon see the Grand Jury report on Pennsylvania. I wonder what it will say about Richard Ginder.
In Pittsburgh my wife’s mother was friendly with a politically conservative Catholic writer for Our Sunday Visitor, a Rev. Richard Ginder. My wife remembers that he suddenly stopped coming and was never mentioned again. My wife’s parents, including her father who was a judge, died before I discovered the truth about Ginder, so I never knew what they knew or had heard.
It turns out Ginder was of the “Vatican II… aggiornamento…take your clothes off” school.
Randy Engel summarizes the events:
The Ginder Case was played out under Bishops Hugh C. Boyle (1921-1950), John F. Dearden (1950-1958), John J. Wright (1959-1969), Vincent M. Leonard (1969-1983) and Anthony Bevilacqua (1983-1987). It clearly demonstrates how little the handling of criminal pederast priests has changed over the last seventy years in the Pittsburgh Diocese.
Father Richard Ginder was a native Pittsburgher born in 1914. He was a Basselin Fellow and held a master’s degree in philosophy and a licentiate in theology from the Catholic University of America. He was ordained a priest of the Pittsburgh Diocese in 1940 at the age of 26 by Bishop Hugh Boyle. Fr. Ginder taught for three years at St. Charles College in Catonsville, MD, and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. Later he became Censor of Books for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, Fr. Ginder was a popular syndicated priest-columnist. His byline appeared in such prominent Catholic publications as Our Sunday Visitor where he wrote the controversial syndicated column “Right or Wrong.” [Hah!] He also founded The Priest, a journal for Catholic clergy which he edited for 24 years and The Catholic Choirmaster which he edited for 13 years. He was also an accomplished organist and composer of sacred music.
Ginder claimed he discovered his “sexual identity” in 1949, nine years after his ordination. He said he regretted that over the next 25 years, he was never permitted to express himself on the subject of homosexuality in either OSV or The Priest. He did, however, give himself permission to act out his homosexual impulses with adolescent boys and young men.
Then in 1969, Ginder’s double life as a priest-homosexual pederast came to a grinding halt, not by any action of the diocese but by the Pittsburgh police.
As part of an intensive investigation, police officers raided Ginder’s private apartment in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh and found photographs of teenage boys performing homosexual acts with Ginder and possibly other priests from the diocese. The police also found diaries written by Ginder that described his (and, again, possibly other clerics’ and laymen’) homosexual activities with young boys and young men. Diocesan attorneys interceded for Ginder and he was released from jail and put on ten-years’ probation.
To recap – The Pittsburgh Diocese knew that Fr. Ginder was a homosexual hunter of underage boys, a criminal offense. The police had sufficient evidence to convict him. The diocese had enough evidence to petition the Vatican to laicize him. But Bishop Wright got him off the hook. He remained “a priest in good-standing.” And the entire sordid affair was covered-up.
Significantly, that very same year, 1969, Rome kicked Bishop Wright “upstairs” and brought him, and his young secretary, Father Donald Wuerl, to Rome. On April 23, 1969, Pope Paul VI appointed Bishop Wright, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. Five days later, Wright was made a Cardinal.
In 1975, a little more than halfway through his probationary period, Ginder published his semi-autobiographical book Binding With Briars – Sex and Sin in the Catholic Church, a defense of homosexuality and autoeroticism. As Ginder explains:
The Church does not hate gays. The Church hates sodomy. We are trying to change that opposition, to show that it is a mistaken hostility, that sodomy is licit, at least for gays …if homosexuals are sincerely persuaded that gay sodomy is permissible, then they have no need to build their own private little chapel within the Mother Church, to form an esoteric sect within the Christian commonwealth. Separatism, segregation, is not the answer. The answer is assimilation…Gays can be just as good Catholics as the rest and still have their sex. Don’t let them quit the Church …we need their help in forming a consensus. We need them on the team.
In the foreword of Binding With Briars, Ginder stated he celebrated Mass every day and that he believed in the tenets of the Nicene Creed as defined dogma, and that he loved his priesthood and his Church, but on the subject of moral theology, he took a sharp detour in terms of allegiance.
The priest attacked moral theology, “at least as it existed from Trent to Vatican II,” as a “stingy, pettifogging science,” that is “act-centered” rather than person-centered. Salvation lies in the “fundamental option” not in “individual acts,” he insisted. Not surprisingly, as an active homosexual/pederast, Ginder thought chastity and celibacy were highly overrated.
Fr. Ginder hailed “Gay Liberation” as being “the cutting edge of sexual liberation.” He favored both. He labeled pedophilia, that is, sex with children as “sick,” and distinguished “the child molester” from the “normal homosexual,” presumably a man like himself, who only engaged in sex with adolescent boys or peers.
In 1976, one year after the publication of Binding With Briars, Bishop Leonard, Wright’s successor, stripped Ginder of his priestly faculties. But he made no move to laicize the priest, so the hapless parishioners of the diocese continued to support the perp while the perp continued to seek out fresh meat.
I found the book. Engel’s quotes are accurate.
Here is Kirkus Review‘s 1975 review of the book. His pederasty goes unmentioned.
Richard Ginder has been a Roman Catholic priest “”in good standing”” for 35 years. He calls himself an “”open-minded conservative”” on dogma but in the area of moral theology he is a sexual liberal. He maintains–to put it mildly indeed–that the teaching of the institutional Church is overdeveloped in the area of personal sexual morality. Because of the Church’s preoccupation with chastity–the “”megavirtue,”” to the near exclusion of other more serious matters–war, ecology, violence, governmental integrity, sins against charity–countless Catholics have simply chosen to go their own way, often in bitterness and anguish. (Their testaments, especially since Vatican II, have come to constitute almost a genre in itself.) Father Ginder reviews the historical sources of guilt at bodily pleasure–if it feels good it must be bad–from St. Paul and the early Church Fathers down to the intransigence of Pope Paul VI’s Humanae vitae. Along the way credits go to the Scholastics, the Jansenists, the Irish clergy (truly sui generis) and the New England Puritans. But the value of his book lies not in telling us how American Catholics got so repressed–an oft told tale–but in its sexual specifics. He deals with the spectrum of sexual practices from fantasy to fetishism and with the exception of abortion (“”plain murder””) his advice, quoting St. Augustine is: “”Love God and do as you please.”” Direct, often amusing, and supportive, especially of gay libbers whom he calls the “”shock troops”” on the barricades.
Perhaps Archbishop Donald Wuerl would care to explain his role in all this. “I know Nothink!” is not credible.
From my book:
Although Protestantism did not have the issues of auricular confession or clerical celibacy, its ministers sometimes were suspected of effeminacy, perversity, and over-familiarity with women.
The Whig Sydney Smith had observed there were three sexes, “men, women, and clergymen,” and this witticism about a “third sex” became a standing joke. All clerics had to face the “popular stereotype that men of the cloth were neither male nor female.” The clergy were seen as exempt from masculine trials and agonies; they were part of the safe world of women. As one layman put it, “life is a football game, with the men fighting it out on the gridiron, while the minister is up in the grandstand, explaining it to the ladies.” By the end of the nineteenth century, the weakness and effeminacy of the mainline Protestant clergy had become a commonplace of satire. Thomas Higginson commented on such men:
One of the most potent causes of the ill-concealed alienation between the clergy and the people, in our community, has been the supposed deficiency, on the part of the former, of a vigorous, manly life. There is a certain moral and physical anhæmia, a bloodlessness, which separates most of our saints, more effectually than a cloister, from the strong life of the age. What satirists upon religion are those parents who say of their pallid, puny, sedentary, lifeless, joyless little offspring, “He is born for a minister”…Never did an ill-starred young saint waste his Saturday afternoons in preaching sermons in the garret to his deluded little sisters and their dolls, without living to repent it in maturity.
Lack of masculinity was a sign of a religious personality.
In nineteenth-century New England, ministers of the most important churches were “hesitant promulgators of female virtues in an era of militant masculinity.” But the dominant churches of nineteenth-century New England had long been feminized. Not only was the proportion of women in the churches extremely high, both the milieu and the ministers of the church were far more feminine than masculine. Businessmen disdained the clergy as “people halfway between men and women.” Ministers found the most congenial environment, not in businesses, political clubs, or saloons, but “in the Sunday school, the parlor, the library, among women and those who flattered and resembled them.” Moreover, they were typically recruited from the ranks of weak, sickly boys with indoor tastes who stayed at home with their mothers and came to identify with the feminine world of religion. The popular mind often joined “the idea of ill health with the clerical image.” In the vision of Unitarian minister Charles Fenton (1796-1842), playing Sunday school children have replaced stern Pilgrim Fathers and “adult politics have succumbed to infantile piety, Ecclesia to a nursery. Masculinity is vanquished in the congregation and, even more significantly, in the pulpit.”
The supposed effeminacy of ministers also led to a suspicion that those who were unmarried were probably homosexuals or otherwise sexually perverse. In the Church of England the masculinity of Anglo-Catholics was frequently questioned because they were celibate and fussy about ritual. “Effeminate fanatics” and “womanish men” were some of the milder criticisms of these “not conspicuously virile men.” Punch observed in “Parsons in Petticoats” that “reverend gentlemen ‘of extreme High Church proclivities’ are very fond of dressing like ladies” and gave them advice on how to protect “the muslin, or alpaca, or tarlatane, or poult de soie, or satin, or whatever it is their robes are made of.”
If a minister was heterosexual, he was still immersed in a world of women. Orestes Brownson complained about the “female religion” that Protestantism had become. Ann Douglas described the situation: “The nineteenth-century minister moved in a world of women. He preached mainly to women; he administered what sacraments he performed largely for women; he worked not only for them but with them, in mission and charity work of all kinds.” When the founder of Wellesley College, Henry Fowler Durant, left the bar to become a minister and “forswore the conflict of the court to work for the Lord, he increasingly entered the realm of women.” This realm contained many temptations. A church journal warned of the dangers of giving the clergy, who moved largely in a world of women, unrestricted access to women: “No man in the world has so few conditions imposed upon him at the threshold of society as the clergyman. His passport to social life is almost a carte blanche. Women of both states [married and single] and all ages are his companions, socially and professionally. The rules of social intercommunication between the sexes are, in his case, virtually suspended.” Because of this intimacy, as The Pulpit observed in 1871, “there is no profession, class or avocation, so exposed to or tormented by the devil of sensuality as the ministry. The very sanctity of their office is an occasion of their stumbling. The office is confounded with its occupant, the sanctity of the former is made the possession of the latter. Now, the office is an invulnerable myth; its occupant is a man of like passions with other men.” A Methodist Discipline warned ministers: “Converse sparingly, and conduct yourself prudently with women”; and a minister warned other ministers: “You are men, with the passions of men, exposed to the temptations of men, and in the name of God we charge you to remember this matter.” Some forgot.
A worldly newspaperman, Nathaniel Willis, noted “the caressing character of the intercourse between the clergy and the women in their parishes whose affections are otherwise unemployed.” Another newspaperman, George Thomson, thought that ministers had perfected the art of religious seduction: “So far from a sin, it seems to be an act of duty and of piety to submit to his desires, and when the object is once accomplished, the reward is a devout blessing and thanksgiving, that removes every scruple of conscience and the pleasing duty of comforting a beloved pastor is performed as an act of religious merit.” Between 1810 and 1860, at least twenty clergymen were tried for immorality, and half were convicted. The Police Gazette had a regular column on clerical scandals.
The response of the church authorities was to deny or minimize the accusations. Church authorities simply let the offender transfer to another church or another denomination. The Chicago Times criticized “the extreme laxity which has commenced to govern certain denominations in accepting candidates for holy orders, and the mildness with which lesser offenses that infallibly lead to greater ones are excused.” The Chicago Times also editorialized: “The clergyman, like the physician, has extraordinary facilities for the commission of a certain class of crimes, and those facilities are such as to heap double damnation upon him if he is sufficiently diabolical to make use of them.” William F. Jamieson, a nineteenth-century secularist, recounted scandals involving Protestant ministers, and echoed the criticism that had been made about Catholic clerical celibacy: “The pernicious notion that the imaginary influence called ‘divine grace’ could make the nature of men and women anything else but human nature, has been a prolific cause of crime in ‘holy circles’ because the barriers of self-restraint have been removed.”
 Davies, “Curates,” 110.
 Lehman, Gender and Work, 20.
 Bendroth, Fundamentalism and Gender, 65.
 Carter, Another Part of the Twenties, 53-54.
 Higginson, “Saints and Their Bodies,” 7.
 Barbara Welter, “The Feminization of American Religion,” 22.
 Ibid., 42.
 Ibid., 43.
 Ibid., 89.
 Ibid., 19.
 See McLeod, “Anticlericalism in Later Victorian England,” 208-214.
 McLeod, Religion and Society, 154-155.
 Quoted in Reed, Glorious Battle, 211.
 “Parsons in Petticoats,” Punch, June 10, 1865, 239.
 Quoted in Welter, “The Feminization of American Religion,” 139.
 Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture, 97.
 Horowitz, Alma Mater, 43.
 Jamieson, The Clergy as a Source of Danger, 292.
 Ibid., 291.
 Quoted by Mathews, Religion in the Old South, 106.
 Cohen, “Ministerial Misdeeds,” 99.
 Ibid., 102.
 Holfield, God’s Ambassadors, 123.
 “Clerical Scandals,” Chicago Times, reprinted in The Latter-Day Saints Millennial Star 34 (1872): 557.
 Jamieson, Clergy as a Source of Danger, 289.
 Ibid., 190.
Cardinal McCarrick’s well-known proclivities have finally become public. The related issue of homosexuality in the priesthood has therefore received more attention.
Andrew Sullivan discusses McCarrick’s sexual abuse of both boys and adults, and concludes:
But one small note about this particular scandal: McCarrick was described by many as “Uncle Teddy.” But he had another nickname among his associates: “Blanche.” In that single appellation, you get a glimpse not of a church culture in which tortured homosexuals are struggling with love, intimacy, and celibacy, but one in which a fully developed subculture of camp was thriving, internally unapologetic, and psychologically warped. The cynicism and hypocrisy behind that kind of culture is a function of Catholic homophobia, of course. But it’s also reflective of a protective, insular, closeted clerical subculture in which sexual abuse was obviously able to flourish, and was clearly enabled. It has to end. And at some point, the core questions of homosexuality and celibacy in the priesthood need to be discussed openly, fully, in the plain light of day. I’ve been trying to enlarge that conversation for some time, along with many others. It’s now up to Pope Francis to untangle this knot that has long been strangling his church. There is no ducking it now.
Matthew, a commentator on Rod Dreher’s blog, recounts his experience:
I don’t know that celibacy per se leads to an increase in homosexuality or gay priests. But it certainly limits the pool. I don’t know if you read Andrew Sullivan’s column today but I feel that he hit the nail on the head. We also have to consider what the church (and society) said about homosexuality and same-sex desires throughout the 20th century. That has to be part of this discussion. Blaming gays without looking in the mirror won’t work. As for me personally, I am a very effeminate man. I cannot tell you how many times I was told growing up that I would be a good priest/minister because of how sensitive I am, and empathetic and that women loved me. Manliness (or some traits such as aggression) are not seen as ideals for ministry because they are not how “Jesus would have acted.” I think that is why this problem is so hard to fix.
One nephew who went to Harvard had a Catholic roommate who decided he was a homosexual. He agonized about coming out to his family but finally had the courage to do it. They were not shocked. “That’s OK, you can become a priest.” He fortunately had no inclination to follow that advice.
Michael Sean Winters at the National Catholic Reporter is having an anxiety attack that McCarrick may somehow taint the liberal bishops and cardinals whose promotion he championed, and that somehow gay priests will be blamed for homosexual abuse. There is in Winter’s mind obviously no connection between homosexuality and homosexual abuse.
There is much the church needs to do to confront the ecclesial cancer that is eating at its entrails. NCR’s editorial endorses some of those things, as do I. The McCarrick case especially points to the need for some process by which rumors are distinguished from allegations but also, somehow, looked into. But, as long as conservative writers are more interested in distorting the crisis for ideological purposes, we should beware what they counsel.
But even Sullivan says there needs to be an honest discussion about this.
The problem is not a scattering of homosexual priests who are sincere about their intention to remain continent even if they fail occasionally. The problem is a large clerical subculture of homosexuals who tolerate one another’s failures, even when it extends to boys and unwilling adults.
And beyond that is the problem that most men in the Western world regard religion as not really suitable for men, as somehow not being masculine. That is a complex question which I try to answer in my forthcoming book. But a priesthood marked heavily by homosexuality makes matters worse.
PS McCarrick has just resigned from the College of Cardinals: “You can’t fire me. I quit.”
PPS At least the letter of resignation purports to be from McCarrick. He has been moved to an unknown location away from prying reporters. Perhaps the Vatican fears that he might join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the songs would not be pleasing to all his bishop friends and enablers.
Most Catholics in Baltimore managed to shrug off the revelations of sexual abuse by the clergy and the cover-ups by the hierarchy. They didn’t read the books, they scanned the newspaper articles and were upset for a few seconds and then stopped reading. The hierarchy made some pretext of stopping the abuse, and then continued its policy of obfuscation and denial.
But the Netflix series “The Keepers” seems finally to have gotten the attention of those who didn’t want to believe how bad things are. The murder of Sister Cathy was entwined with the stories of sexual abuse at Archbishop Keough, a girls’ high school in Baltimore.
As reviewers have noticed, the series is not like other True Crime stories, because this series focuses on the victims, and the victims of sexual abuse by Father Maskell are still alive and can tell their stories.
Germans managed to construct a protective barrier between themselves and the Holocaust until the soap opera “Shoah” pierced that barrier and made the Germans start to come to terms with what their nation had done to the Jews. Perhaps “The Keepers” will do the same for Catholics.
Someone told me that he thought Archbishop Lori of Baltimore is a holy and humble man. I am no judge of his soul, but:
Ryan White, who made the series “The Keepers,“ asked the Archdiocese of Baltimore for its file of the abuser Father Maskell. The Archdiocese of Baltimore (that is, Archbishop Lori) is still refusing to release its file on Maskell, even though making the file public might help solve Sister Cathy’s murder. Its excuse is that the file contains personal information that cannot be legally released:
“Archdiocesan records related to Maskell are confidential, and Archdiocesan policy and state law would preclude us from disclosing much of the information in them as they include confidential personal information (e.g. names of alleged sexual abuse victims), personnel records, health records, attorney-client communications, personally identifying information (such as social security numbers), etc.”
But, of course the personal information could be redacted, that is, blacked out; this is standard procedure in releasing court files.
The second reason the Archdiocese gave for not releasing the file is that the file is confidential, which means that it is not its policy to release the file. That is, the Archdiocese (again, Archbishop Lori) is saying that it is not releasing the file because it does not want to release the file—even though it might help solve a murder.
Perhaps the Archdiocese does not want the murder solved because it fears that Maskell was indeed involved in it. Or perhaps the file simply shows the incompetence and carelessness of the Archdiocese in investigating allegations of sexual abuse. As “The Keepers” shows, incompetence and carelessness were also present in the law enforcement agencies that were supposed to be investigating the abuse. No one really cared much that girls were being abused or that Sister Cathy was murdered. They were just little people, not like state officials or bishops, who are the only people who really matter.
Because I saw how mercy and forgiveness were misused in cases of clerical sexual abuse, I have been suspicious of Pope Francis’s stress on God’s mercy, which seems to lack an equal stress on justice. My suspicious were justified. Nicole Winfield of the AP reports:
Pope Francis has quietly reduced sanctions against a handful of pedophile priests, applying his vision of a merciful church even to its worst offenders in ways that survivors of abuse and the pope’s own advisers question.
One case has come back to haunt him: An Italian priest who received the pope’s clemency was later convicted by an Italian criminal court for his sex crimes against children as young as 12. The Rev. Mauro Inzoli is now facing a second church trial after new evidence emerged against him, The Associated Press has learned.
The Inzoli case is one of several in which Francis overruled the advice of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and reduced a sentence that called for the priest to be defrocked, two canon lawyers and a church official told AP. Instead, the priests were sentenced to penalties including a lifetime of penance and prayer and removal from public ministry.
In some cases, the priests or their high-ranking friends appealed to Francis for clemency by citing the pope’s own words about mercy in their petitions.
“With all this emphasis on mercy … he is creating the environment for such initiatives,” the church official said, adding that clemency petitions were rarely granted by Pope Benedict XVI, who launched a tough crackdown during his 2005-2013 papacy and defrocked some 800 priests who raped and molested children.
[Greg] Burke said Francis’ emphasis on mercy applied to “even those who are guilty of heinous crimes.” He said priests who abuse are permanently removed from ministry, but are not necessarily dismissed from the clerical state, the church term for laicization or defrocking.
“The Holy Father understands that many victims and survivors can find any sign of mercy in this area difficult,” Burke said. “But he knows that the Gospel message of mercy is ultimately a source of powerful healing and of grace.”
“While mercy is important, justice for all parties is equally important,” Collins said in an email. “If there is seen to be any weakness about proper penalties, then it might well send the wrong message to those who would abuse.”
It can also come back to embarrass the church. Take for example the case of Inzoli, a well-connected Italian priest who was found guilty by the Vatican in 2012 of abusing young boys and ordered defrocked.
Inzoli appealed and in 2014 Francis reduced the penalty to a lifetime of prayer, prohibiting him from celebrating Mass in public or being near children, barring him from his diocese and ordering five years of psychotherapy.
In a statement announcing Francis’ decision to reduce the sentence, Crema Bishop Oscar Cantoni said “no misery is so profound, no sin so terrible that mercy cannot be applied.”
In November, an Italian criminal judge showed little mercy in convicting Inzoli of abusing five children, aged 12-16, and sentencing him to four years, nine months in prison. The judge said Inzoli had a number of other victims but their cases fell outside the statute of limitations.
Inzoli was a leader in Communion and Liberation. He was known as Don Mercedes because he had a taste for that car. He also had a taste for b0ys. Pope Benedict defrocked Inzoli; Francis reinstated him
La Procura ha contestato a «don Mercedes», come era soprannominato per la sua passione per le auto di lusso, otto abusi sessuali, che il religioso avrebbe commesso tra il 2004 e il 2008 sfruttando la sua autorità di leader di Cl e di rettore del liceo linguistico Shakespeare di Crema, oltre che, per 17 anni, parroco della chiesa della Santissima Trinità della cittadina. Sono invece stati prescritti un’altra quindicina di episodi. I suoi accusatori parlano di baci, abbracci, carezze e altro ancora nello studio accanto all’oratorio o nelle case-vacanze che ospitavano i ritiri spirituali. La giustizia religiosa ha già punito don Inzoli riducendolo, con papa Ratzinger, allo stato laicale. Il sacerdote ha presentato ricorso e, con papa Francesco, la pena è stata ammorbidita: don Inzoli resta prete ma può celebrare messa solo in privato, è bandito da Crema, deve «condurre una vita di preghiera e di umile riservatezza come segni di conversione e penitenza», oltre a intraprendere, per almeno cinque anni, «una terapia adeguata».
Sexual abusers come in all ideological varieties; they worm their way into organizations so they can have access to money and children. The Pope has not learned his lesson. Children suffer.
Addendum: This is how Don Mercedes explained his actions to young boys:
Un ragazzo racconta che nel 1996 don Inzoli lo toccò “nel corso della confessione” e che alla sua richiesta di spiegazioni, il leader carismatico di Cl giustificò gli atti sessuali “facendo riferimento ad una sorta di ‘battesimo dei testicoli’ che gli aveva presentato come un rituale ebraico citato nell’Antico Testamento come segno dell’affetto del padre nei confronti del figlio
in Baltimore, Church finances, clergy sex abuse scandal, homosexuality No Comments Tags: Archdiocese of Baltimore, Domenic Cieri, financial irregularity, Rev. Lawrence Johnson, Smith Barney. homosexuality, St. Bernadette Severn, St. Joseph's Hospital
Fans of Domenic Cieri will be happy to hear that he is back as a priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He is a chaplain at St. Joseph’s Medical Center, a division of the University of Maryland Hospitals. Those who have followed his career will remember that in 2007 he ran afoul of the Archdiocese because of his life-long fight against poverty. He had seen poverty in Baltimore:
I can also remember riding in the back seat of the family car going to my grandparents and passing through the poorer sections of Baltimore City. During the heat of the summer, I can remember seeing African Americans sitting on their steps, sweating in squalor. My heart went out to them.
He had seen poverty when he worked for a year in Tanzania, and imagined what life would have been like if he had been born there:
If I had been born in Musoma, Tanzania as a native African I might not have survived infancy. I would have lived in a mud hut with a thatched roof and dirt floor. There would have been clothes contributed from Europe or the United States to hide my nakedness once I attended school. School would have lasted 5 or 6 years. I would raise skinny cattle and goats, grown and eaten ugali porridge, and tried to have children. My gayness could get me killed if revealed. I would have to get married or become a priest. If I succeeded becoming a priest, I would have a privileged life in the community. Nonetheless, I would spend most of my life sick with malaria, dysentery, hepatitis or any number of diseases. I would probably die by the time I was 40.
Inspired by Scarlett O’Hare, he must have declared “As God is my witness, I will never be poor again!”
His fifteen-year pastorate at well-to-do St. Bernadatte’s, Severn, enabled him to fight poverty by appointing his friends to the finance committee and having them pay him substantial supplements to his salary (see previous blog for all details).
The Rev. Domenic L. Cieri, who led St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Severn for nearly 15 years, received salary and Mass stipends above the scales approved by the archdiocese, according to an audit conducted in October. Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said Cieri also received a housing allowance to live in northern Baltimore County, although his parish has a rectory.
For the fiscal year that ended last June, Cieri earned nearly $48,000 a year, about 70 percent more than the $28,122 that the archdiocese says he was to earn as a pastor ordained for 25 years.
In addition, Cieri received $6,300 in Mass stipends. Priests have the choice of receiving Mass stipends for individual Masses or a lump sum of $2,000, an amount set by the archdiocese, Caine said.
He was also reimbursed nearly $36,000 for rectory expenses, though Caine said the priest did not live in the rectory attached to the church but rather at a house in Baldwin, in northern Baltimore County. And he received more than $14,000 as a housing allowance, which Caine said is not normally given to priests assigned to churches with rectories.
(With another priest, Larry Johnson, Cieri co-owns a house in an expensive suburb, Baldwin, Maryland, on the far side of the metropolitan area from Severn. Zillow values the 3,200 sq. ft. house at $458,000.)
This was not criminal, but was against Archdiocesan policy, and certainly looks a tad greedy.
His monetizing his pastorate qualified him to become a financial adviser at Smith Barney and First Financial Group.
While Cieri was at St. Bernadette’s and was able to detach himself from his house in hunt country, he focused on making St. Bernadette’s a gay-friendly parish, as his pastoral associate explained:
St. Bernadette Church in Severn, Maryland, has one of the most successful ministries to gay and lesbian Catholics in the country. Each year for the past six or seven years Pastor Domenic Cieri and his pastoral associate, Ann McDonald, have offered six-week programs to talk about “the good news the church has to offer, areas of church teaching that cause pain for homosexuals, and what they need in order to feel they can come home to the church.”
“We felt really strongly that this was the call of the gospel,” says McDonald. “We needed an actual process by which we reached out to gay and lesbian Catholics because they weren’t necessarily coming to church. We invited them to reclaim their rightful place in the church.” Hence the program is christened Reclaim.
At first McDonald had to educate the 1,200 parish families about making the community more welcoming. She put notes in the bulletin and hung a rainbow flag in the parish office, the rainbow symbolizing respect for gays and lesbians.
In his autobiography Cieri explains:
I identify as a white, middle class, suburban, gay male who has lived as a practicing Catholic. I include all these dimensions of my personhood because I believe that none of them taken singularly totally describes who I am. In all the ways I describe myself I have a privileged place in the world, except as a gay man. It is fortunate and unfortunate that no one can tell that I am gay. I must self-disclose. This makes part of me invisible.
So he self-discloses:
You might say that I am a soft male (my words). I am not macho and never have been.
About the time of puberty I was very aware of being attracted to males. This was somewhat distressing. Even though I wanted to be a priest, I still had a desire to have a family. I began to wonder what it would be like to be a girl. Then I could get married and have a family with the boy of my dreams. This gave me a small insight into the other gender. I decided that I liked being a male. It was more me.
He also likes other males. His You page (which is public) reveals that he has subscribed to a wide range of channels: Catholic News Service, Top 10 Things You Need to Know about Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’, Walt Disney’s The Tortoise and the Hare, Young Hollywood, Hugh Jackman’s Opening Number: 20Tube 09 Oscars and also
Cieri is ecumenical
Cieri has travelled extensively
I had the opportunity to visit Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Panama, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Israel, and Turkey.
and therefore has international interests:
Cieri knows Italian:
Some of his recent subscriptions are
And many, many more. When does he find time to watch all these?
One might feel sympathy for someone in Cieri’s position: a gay Catholic boy who decided to enter the priesthood to help the poor. But his main way of helping the poor was to make sure he himself was never poor. Guys, gay or straight or anything else, have a problem with celibacy, and gays, being male, also respond to visual stimuli. I understand the temptations. But what is a celibate priest doing watching gay pornography?
The Archdiocese of Baltimore is desperate for priests. The clergy is aging and is not being replaced. I was told there will be one ordination next year and one the year after that.
As we know from the Donatist controversy, the validity of the sacraments is not affected by the sins of the priest. So the Archdiocese is hoping that Cieri, whatever his problems, confines his ministrations to his specified duties, and keeps his hands off attractive accounts and attractive young males at the hospital. The Archdiocese better be right, because Cieri has left a trail that calls his character into question.
(PS. I wrote to the Archdiocese of Baltimore about Cieri. No reply. It looks like he may have removed some of the worst stuff from his websites – but I printed it out. For what gay priests can do to a diocese, see Altoona-Johnstown.)
In my book Sacrilege I said that I thought child abuse by clergy was not just a Catholic problem; the Catholic Church is big and keeps records. Most Protestant churches have far greater congregational autonomy and weak central record keeping, so it is easier for child abuse to disappear. The problem is not new.
Protestant churches in the nineteenth century were beset by scandals.
The Chicago Times in 1872 criticized “the extreme laxity which has commenced to govern certain denominations in accepting candidates for holy orders, and the mildness with which lesser offenses that infallibly lead to greater ones are excused.” The Chicago Times also editorialized: “The clergyman, like the physician, has extraordinary facilities for the commission of a certain class of crimes, and those facilities are such as to heap double damnation upon him if he is sufficiently diabolical to make use of them.”
“Boz” Tchividjian is a grandchild of Billy Graham and a professor at Liberty University. He saw Spotlight and sees the same dynamics at work in Protestantism as were at work in Boston:
My friend Christa Brown, who was sexually abused by her Baptist youth pastor, writes, “Eddie [pastor] always said that God had chosen me for something special. I guess I really wanted to believe that. Doesn’t every kid want to think they’re special? Besides, who was I to question a man of God? It wasn’t my place.” The sinister reality is that sex offenders who hold positions of authority while carrying Bibles and quoting scripture are treacherous, regardless of whether they are called priest, pastor, or reverend. It’s not just a Catholic problem.
I couldn’t help but recall the countless cases I have encountered in Protestant circles where offending pastors, missionaries, and other leaders have been reassigned or allowed to quietly resign all in an effort to insulate the institution. The youth pastor who rapes a child and is transferred to a new church and given a going away party; the pedophile missionary physician who is quietly sent home from the mission field; the church volunteer who admits to sexually abusing a child and is simply directed by the church leadership to move quietly to another state. The list could go on and on. It’s not just a Catholic problem.
In addition to quietly moving or reassigning offenders, many Protestant institutions are no less savvy than the Boston Archdiocese in using money, shame, and guilt to influence survivors and their families to remain silent.
That same deadly silence permeates inside many Protestant institutions. For example, many Protestant leaders who aren’t shy about speaking out on a wide variety of spiritual and cultural issues will often refuse to speak out against specific cases of child sexual abuse. They defend such silence by claiming something like, “We don’t know all the facts and don’t want to tarnish the reputation of someone who has done so much good.” Tragically, what often seems to be the real reason behind such silence is a fear of losing friendships, speaking engagements, book contracts, and other types of “influence”. It’s not just a Catholic problem.
Silence is not just limited to leaders. Just like in the Catholic Church, too many within Protestant congregations prefer to remain ignorant.
People do not want to know the truth. It is uncomfortable and inconvenient. Abusers are often powerful, popular, and manipulative.
As Spotlight intimated, orphans and children from poor and broken families, were especially the target of abusive priests in Boston. The ecclesiastical hierarchy intimidated the families, who thought they were unable to fight the money, power, and influence of the clergy. It was a class conflict of the powerful vs. the powerless.
Here are a few thoughts from Isaiah on the matter:
The haughty eyes of people shall be brought low, and the pride of everyone shall be humbled; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high; against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan; against all the high mountains, and against all the lofty hills; against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft. The haughtiness of people shall be humbled, and the pride of everyone shall be brought low; and the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.
For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom, they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves.
O my people, your leaders mislead you, and confuse the course of your paths. The Lord rises to argue his case; he stands to judge the peoples. The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts.
Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy. It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
This is from CM:
Pope Francis was visited by George Weigel last week, so it is no surpise that his statements yesterday on the abuse crisis mimick Weigel’s ideological views of the crisis: holiness is what was lacking; abuse is greater among the laity; we are getting blamed unjustly for a common problem; Benedict was at the forefront of the reform.
You, Leon, and so many other reformers have rebutted these false notions with hard facts, which continue to get pushed under the tide of high rhetoric.
Yes, there are slightly more pedophiles among laity than priests but pederasty (abuse of adolescent boys) by priests, which is the main problem, has been at a rate Sipe proved to be between 9% and up to 40% in some urban settings.
Sadly, Pope Benedict only acted under pressure, and after years of knowing the truth, and allowing, for example, Maciel to continue to abuse. I believe his brave stepping aside was in recognition of his failure and the moral impossibility of his leading any reform. It is example all must follow who betrayed children. It will be Francis’ fate if he does not act decisively.
Yes, holiness was lacking. But the kind of “holiness” which insists on couping men up together for years in seminary, without possibility of marriage, leads to situational homophilia with lifelong tendencies to be attracted to boys, if ex-Legionnaires’ accounts can be believed.
The Church has not been singled out. With over 4,000 creditable accused pederast priests in the US alone, the enormity of the diabolical infestation is almost unimaginable. In addition, known pederast cardinals and bishops remain in power, and are well known by the pope. His failure to remove them is aiding and abetting their continued abuse of children. If he thinks telling them to stop is sufficient, he should consult his chief demonologists.
The Pope struggles to appoint his abuse commission because, I believe, he realizes the clerical experts who now claim to be architects of reform were themselves minions in the original cover-up.
The crisis is far from over. Sick priests are still permitted to remain priests under insufficent supervision. Child protection measures being foisted on bishops conferences worldwide are a smoke screen to avoid addressing this horror.
True experts need to be consulted if the pope has any chance of coming out of the brainwashing that has deeply affected Church leadership on the topic. Leaders such as you, Leon, and Richard Sipe, and Jason Barry. The Pope should hold a private summit with reformer experts to educate himself first, including the real anatomy of the ring of abusers and abettors that exists under his nose, and continue to advise him.
Most importantly, he must establish a truth and justice commission, trying in court any bishop who moved priests around and through whose actions children continued and continue to be molested.
The Pope bemoans the lack of generative bishops. No honest priest will step forward to be bishop to support the continued practices they know will burden them with living a lie. There is no generativity possible without placing the protection of children before everything else. If that means most of the bishops in the Church must step down, then so be it. God will raise up 7000 more. The Church was reduced to a handful of clerics during times of heresy. This is the heresies of gnosticism, Jansenism and angelism writ large. Cleansing the house of the Lord must be complete now, or the enemies of the Church will do it later with violence. I believe the persecution of Christians has so increased because of contempt issuing from a crisis clearly not addressed.
The Pope must learn what he does not know. If not, his papacy will be for naught.
Weigel has not uttered the three words that, I am told, women love to hear: I was wrong.
Benedict did more than any pope in centuries to deal with abuse, but it was not enough.
Francis is a fixer. Whenever a parish or diocese experience a disaster, a fixer is sent in, as O’Malley was to Boston. Francis is the papal fixer. He is changing the subject from sexual abuse by his charm, hominess, and willingness to let people indulge their minor vices without a censoring voice from the clergy.
A fixer differs from a reformer in that a fixer does not address the roots; he is not radical. He merely papers over the problem, merely puts a poultice on the cancer.
Karadima is a terribly abusive priest in Chile. The archbishop of Santiago told him to stop saying mass in Public. Karadima ignored the order, and photos of him saying mass were tweeted to tens of thousands of people.
A prominent Chilean priest who was ordered by the Vatican to never again celebrate a public Mass as punishment for sexually abusing altar boys has been photographed apparently defying the order.
Chile’s top church leaders confirmed the Rev. Fernando Karadima’s act of insubordination Friday and sent the case to the Vatican for investigation. The photos were taken Dec. 4, but they were only released this week by Juan Carlos Cruz, a journalist and one of Karadima’s victims.
“It’s a very painful situation that shows that this priest continues to do as he pleases,” Cruz told The Associated Press. “It’s a slap in the face for the victims of his abuse. He should be in jail but instead he’s still being protected by the church.”
The Roman Catholic Church retains a firm grip on Chilean society, although in recent years its influence has waned after scandals in which priests have been accused of molesting children. Victims say Karadima began abusing them at his residence at the Sacred Heart of Jesus church in Santiago about 20 years ago, when they were between 14 and 17 years old.
The Vatican sanctioned Karadima by ordering him to a life of “penitence and prayer” in 2011. He was also barred from celebrating Mass in public, from hearing confessions or offering spiritual direction and from having contact with his ex-parishioners. A Chilean judge later dismissed a criminal case because the statute of limitations had expired, but she determined the abuse allegations were truthful.
The timing of the photos’ release appeared aimed at embarrassing both the current and former archbishops of Santiago, who were in Rome for Saturday’s ceremony to name current Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello a cardinal.
The victims in Chile say the retired archbishop, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, failed to act on accusations that they were abused by Karadima, who was long one of the country’s most popular priests. They say the cardinal declined to even meet them.
Pope Francis’s response: he made Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello a cardinal. This sends a clear message. The Vatican does not care how a bishop handles sexual abuse cases.
Francis has not appointed the sexual abuse commission he promised. I will be flabbergasted if he appoints anyone like Tom Doyle or Richard Sipe, someone who knows the problem from the inside. The Voice of the Faithful here in Naples asked me to go to Boston to speak to O’Malley about Southwest Florida’s being a dumping ground for abusive priests (El Paso has a similar problem). I had to inform them that the mere mention of my name had reduced a cardinal to screaming fits (I guess I should be flattered). I was blackballed by my pastor from the Knights of Malta because I criticized bishops.
The caliber of members of review boards has declined, because bishops want only those who will say that everything is OK, that a bishop never makes a mistake.
The Roman Catholic Church claims that outside the church there is no salvation and that apostasy leads to eternal damnation. It encourages its members to confide their deepest secrets and inmost sins to a priest. It therefore has a far stronger obligation than any other organization or church to ensure that its clergy are of sterling character. After Augustine approved of the civil measures to force Donatists to become Catholics, he also insisted that Catholic clergy give the highest example of probity and that corrupt priests be disciplined and removed from the clergy.
But little or nothing will be done unless there is a crisis as serious as the Reformation, and even then reform was only partly implemented. Bishops have allowed priests with criminal convictions for abuse to serve in ministry, and are still trying to hide abusers. The Vatican deeply does not care. Only external pressure will force the hierarchy to act, and then they will act only grudgingly and minimally. Francis will canonize John Paul II, who refused to act on abuse and who called the psychopathic incestuous child molester Maciel “an efficacious guide to youth.” Bishops will notice that tolerating child molestation does not prevent canonization, so it can’t be all that serious a matter.