A Dead Horse and All That…

I shouldn’t have, but I did.

Today I read Fr. Richard McBrien’s article on Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the new head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. As the prefect for this congregation Cardinal Ouellet will play a crucial role in the appointment of the Church’s bishops in the years to come.

In his article McBrien makes the following observation:

When commenting on the greatest crisis to confront the Catholic Church since the Reformation of the 16th century, Ouellet seemed to blame the scandal of sexual abuse in the priesthood on the weakening of moral standards in society — a common explanation given by those who are reluctant to address the internal problems of the church, including obligatory clerical celibacy, the role of women, and the declining quality of pastoral leadership.

While there might be some who see the clergy sex scandal as the greatest crisis for the Church since the Reformation, I am certainly not one of them. But what I found completely absurd — again, I should’ve avoided the article to begin with, because it was to be expected — was McBrien’s reference to the role of women in this context. How, exactly, would priestesses have prevented the abuse of children by clergy?

Father McBrien: your vision of the Church and of the Second Vatican Council is both erroneous and dying. Only a tiny fraction of young Catholics in general and those seeking degrees in theology in particular accept that erroneous reading.

Might I propose that you get with the times?

19 Responses to A Dead Horse and All That…

  • RR says:

    I think the rationale is that women in decisionmaking positions within the Church would not have cooperated with the cover ups. Possible but there’s no way to prove it one way or the other.

  • But even that doesn’t make sense after a few moments of reflection, RR… what in womanhood makes participating in coverups such as this less likely?

    And if I understand Fr. McBrien correctly, the scandal is the abuse itself, as well as the coverup, and having priestesses wouldn’t have prevented the former.

  • Pinky says:

    You can never be sure that the horse is dead until a veterinarian confirms it, so please kick it a few more times just to be sure.

    The French Revolution, communism, modernism, WWII, half the stuff the Jesuits have done over the years…the history of the Church is one of nonstop crises. I wouldn’t want to have to rate them, but I bet that the rise of evangelicalism in Latin America has put more souls at risk than the current pedophilia scandal.

  • Art Deco says:

    I think the rationale is that women in decisionmaking positions within the Church would not have cooperated with the cover ups.

    The Church did not make its personnel files public or turn them over to law enforcement. It settled law suits rather than going to trial. In most cases this may have had something to do with:

    1. The confidentiality of personnel files is the default among American employers;

    2. Attorneys in civil practice very seldom take cases to trial because trials are crap shoots;

    3. Priests hear a great deal of dirt in the confessional and are not in the habit of reporting dirt to law enforcement;

    4. The accusations against priests were generally made 10, 15, 25 years after the fact and it is very difficult to reach satisfying conclusions about their veracity.

    I would not wish to deny the horror stories you hear of episcopal non-feasance (the cases of Maurice Grammond or of Cdl. Madeiros’ handling of John Geoghan comes to mind), but in most cases honest bishops faced impossible dilemmas in attempting to evaluate accusations.

    Women are less likely to commit predatory crimes than men. The notion that the mundane integrity of the female population exceeds that of the male population is characteristic of someone who does not know many women or who is engaged in status-seeking behaviors in a certain sort of milieu.

  • Don the Kiwi says:

    “…..than the current pedophile scandal.”

    Repeat a lie often enough, it will become the “truth”.
    The clerical sex abuse scandal was homosexual – not pedophilic. Very few cases were actaully pedophilia.Its just not PC to call it as it is unless we upset the gay movement, who have gained acceptance within the wider secular society, and are trying to infiltrate the church to a small degree.

    Michael Rose makes a good exposee in his book, “Good bye, Good Men.”

    Many women (some ex nuns) who had inveigled their way into positions of desisionmaking on entrants to clerical studies turned away “manly” men, in favour of “soft” men, in whose ranks were many SSA men. So feminist women were , to some extent, part of the cause of the problem.

    However, I consider that it is a cleansing of the priesthood, which will be the stronger and more humble, orthodox and obedient because of it.

  • Brian English says:

    “I think the rationale is that women in decisionmaking positions within the Church would not have cooperated with the cover ups. Possible but there’s no way to prove it one way or the other.”

    The abuse situation in public schools is far worse, and there are plenty of women in decisionmaking positions in those institutions.

  • RR says:

    Chris, motherly instinct. Unless, you don’t believe such a thing exists. Also, the cover ups sometimes led to more abuse.

    Don, were the victims not mostly minors? You make it sound like it was consensual.

    Brian, I’m not aware of a widespread sex abuse cover up in public schools. Do you have a link? For now, let’s put aside the fact that you’re comparing public school teachers to men of God.

  • RL says:

    RR,

    Your questions weren’t posed to me, but I’ll reply to a couple anyway. :)

    I believe in a motherly instinct as well as a fatherly instinct. Unfortunately in this fallen world and in particularly this fallen culture those things have been disordered in many. Based on first hand interactions as well as observing events in the news and discussing matters of family law I would say that women are no more immune to losing the parental instinct than men – perhaps they’ve fallen even further. Never mind that a woman who doesn’t feel called to the vocation of motherhood may very well not have that motherly instinct in the first place.

    The victims were mostly minors. However that doesn’t necessarily constitute pedophilia. This was clearly a case of pederasty and pointing that out in no one implies it was consensual.

  • Don the Kiwi says:

    RR.

    Agree with what RL has to say. Pedophilia applies to pre-pubescent children – the vast majority of those offended against were from around 9 or 10 into early to mid teens. The abusers were in a position generally to groom and then seduce the victims, but that dos not imply consensual involvement.

  • RR says:

    RL, but that’s not what Don was pointing out. He broadened the actions to mere “homosexual” acts and places it in the same category as consensual gay sex. I’d also remind people that this “It’s not pedophila. It’s pederasty!” line of defense is counter-productive especially when put in the tone that Don put it. It’s like the people defending the Ground Zero mosque on the basis that it’s not technically a mosque. They’d be missing the point, not addressing the actual issue, and looking petty in the process.

  • T. Shaw says:

    “Never let a ‘good’ crisis go to waste . . . ”

    Sorry for the cliches (you started it: dead horse): a stopped clock is correct twice a day. O’B doesn’t meet that standard.

  • RL says:

    RR,

    From what Don wrote I don’t get that he’s trying to broaden the actions to mere homosexuality, nor do I get the impression that he considers any homosexual act as “mere”. To the contrary I think he is trying to narrow it down in order to correctly identify the problem.

    I realize the term pedophilia sounds worse to most people and might be a preferable term due to that, but I assure you the damage done to these kids is every bit as bad at age 12 or 14 as it would be if they were 6. Still, if we want learn from this scandal and proactively address and correct it going forward we would do well to identify the true nature of it. This was in part what the John Jay study was about (and it was that report which substantiates what Don said about it primarily being a pederasty problem).

  • Karl says:

    I believe McBrien’s concept of how things should be are erroneous but I do not believe they are dying.

    They are wholly present and merely adapting to rear their heads in other disguises. To think otherwise is too stupid to address.

  • Karl says:

    My guts say otherwise, having lived through all of this since 1954. I would bet against your position and hope to lose, as bizarre as that sounds. I think, I would take the pot.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    As for the notion that putting women in charge would have prevented the sex abuse scandals or the cover ups… well, not too long ago Fr. Z’s blog had links to stories saying that the LCWR (the “liberal” nuns’ group) had been stonewalling attempts to investigate allegations of sexual abuse of children by nuns of the member orders:

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/06/lcwrs-long-standing-coverup-of-sexual-abuse-of-children-by-nuns/

    The reason I post this link is not to argue whether or not nuns of whatever ideological/liturgical stripe are better or worse or “as bad” as priests when it comes to abuse, but simply to point out that cover-up and denial is not strictly a male thing.

  • Gabriel Austin says:

    You are correct. You shouldn’t have bothered reading Fr. McBrien’s article, and quoting from it. It is another episcopal scandal that his column is printed in so many diocesan bulletin. The man never did learn to think, but only to orate.

  • Clinton says:

    Elaine, that is an excellent observation, as it shows that not only is the
    sexual abuse of children not the exclusive preserve of men, but also that
    men do not hold the patent on covering up that abuse.

    The sexual abuse of children that takes place in our public school system
    dwarfs the Church’s problem with such abuse, not merely in number but
    in offenses per capita. The school system’s habit of transferring offending
    employees is also well-documented. These offenses are committed and
    covered up by both men and women, married and unmarried. It is simply
    laughable to blame the Church’s sex abuse scandal merely on the fact
    that it was caused by celibate males.

  • Clinton says:

    Oh, and Fr. McBrien is such a tiresome hack.

    Can anyone imagine a respectable institution holding a symposium
    on his collected works? In a generation, will anyone in his field
    remember his ‘contributions’?

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