Need Reader Input: Who Are The Top 10 Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops?

Sunday, June 3, AD 2012

 I would like some help in identifying the most active, passionate, orthodox American Catholic Bishops currently serving. It is a cultural thing that we seem to love rating everything- not a bad thing- and I have a personal interest in this topic because I want to offer my services to a Bishop who needs someone who gets the following Big Three Realities that I have been focusing on in my last three postings here at American Catholic.


1. The Obama Administration is threat #1 to the continuance of our Hierarchical Catholic Church- here in America and since we are a Superpower in worldly terms this could damage a big chunk of Christendom. I do not speak as an Obama-basher with Republican talking point tie-ins- I was a lifelong Democrat who only recently gave it up to become an Independent, not Republican. My realization about the Obama threat emerged slowly after being absorbed in a national Catholic Democrats listserve with some of the real heavyweights- like FOB (Friend of Barack) Vicki Kennedy. It was clear to me that Kennedy with her fellow travelers in Catholic universities, and liberal Catholic political organizations, have been intent on much much more than just getting more traction in American policies and legislation for a few political issues often neglected by the conservative-Right. There is blood in the water for the Church Hierarchy due to the notorious Minor Abuse Scandals. These prominent Catholic Dems seem intent on using whatever power they can muster to force changes in the Church to cut the Hierarchydown to size- replace the Teaching Authority with liberal Catholic college professors and liberal political activists who will “save” the Church from irrelevance among the youth. We have seen that President Obama has been systematically assisting in this process- not openly- but consider his choice of Joe Biden as VP with his pro-choice, pro-gay marriage beliefs, and Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary who is pushing contraceptives down everyone’s throats, and I suspect we’ll see that Justice Sotomayor is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage eventually. The threat to religious liberties will hit the Catholic Church Hierarchy first, with the contraceptives mandates and then gay marriage will turn the Catholic Church Catechism into Hate Literature and every orthodox Catholic into a bigot along the lines of the old school racists back in the 60’s. No one wants to be a racist- so I’m sure that Vicki Kennedy et al are counting on most American Catholics to simply abandon their Bishops’ leadership and embrace her brand of progressive Catholicism which is Obama-cool. So- me thinks the Bishops need a few folks around who see this danger and are willing to stand with the Bishops and the Catechism. I’m here to help.  Here’s a link to my piece on the Catholic Dems/Obama “conspiracy”-


2. Having this information about the Obama-Catholic Dem elite battleplan is useful- but I am also interested in assisting a good Bishop at the parish level with practical steps- all perfectly legal- for assisting the process of cultivating a new breed of orthodox Catholic political leaders. Pope B teaches us to free ourselves from ideologies in his last encyclical- the social doctrine of the Church is the stuff we need more of in America- the reason we keep swinging wildly from Republican to Democrat in the races for political power is that at the gut level most people get that each Party has got some things right and some things wrong. There is no Party of God- even if right now the mainstream Democratic Party represents the greater threat to the Church/Christ- we are still talking about lesser evils. The Catholic social doctrine is about building civilizations of love- this is the positive vision that is the corrective of narrow ideologies which feed on anger for the most part. The way to bring Christ’s Way into the marketplace of ideas in American political thought and debate is for more fully informed and inspired Catholic voices to emerge and assume the responsibilities of leadership at every level of our society. There is so much that we could do in every parish and school-  here is my POA (Plan of Action) which I would love to bring into a parish in a diocese where the Bishop is aware and involved to guide the development- I’m not interested in being a lone ranger or riding against the wishes of the local Bishop.  Here’s the Plan-


3.  Finally, my long experience in the trenches of Catholic high schools has left me with many thoughts on how to inculcate a genuine Catholic identity which has a chance of being transmitted to our very distracted youth. I would love to be part of an orthodox Bishop’s team to help select passionately orthodox Catholic administrators/teachers/staff to be in place to give life witness, along with instructional guidance, to budding disciples of Christ. You can’t give what you don’t have- so if we want Catholic students to come out the other side in love, or more in love with Christ and His Church- then you don’t load up the schools with adults who are full of dissenting views from the Catechetical teachings of the Church. I’m not saying everyone has to be some kind of a stepford-wife cheerleader type of Catholic- we all have our personalities- but if you are an adult working in a Catholic school you should be someone who is thirsty to know what the Church teaches and why- especially if it pertains to your particular discipline or area of responsibility. I get into a lot more detail beyond just the staffing issue in my article below.  I am open to returning to the teaching field or entering new territory in administration under the right Bishop in a diocese that really wants to play it straight-up as a passionately Catholic institution -without being satisfied with a PR-level Catholic Identity which produces nice dog and pony shows for visiting bishops and parents- but scratch the surface and where is the love for the Church? If you fall in love with the Church you will just want to know more and more and to share more and more with the youth and everyone you meet- am I right?  Here’s the last link-


OK- if you are still with me- here is how you can help- write out up to 10 names(and email addresses if you have them!) of Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops here in America- with the name of their Diocese.  You can order them according to your own rating system. I want to follow the science here and the shortest distance between two points is a straight line- I want to begin a new mission in using whatever talents I possess for the sake of Christ and His Church- I have tried to use these talents to produce something helpful to preserve and protect the Hierarchical nature of our Catholic Church- If Christ didn’t desire a Hierarchy why bother with Apostles- He could have just had disciples with no leadership inherent in the Church- but He didn’t- evidence from Scripture, history and logic all persuaded me in my Truth Quest. I don’t want to just apply for jobs blind to the leadership in a given Diocese. Leadership matters, that’s why leaders get targeted all the time, and why assassinations are so unfortunately common throughout human history. I want a meaningful mission within the Church and short of that I will do whatever I can do to provide for my wife and four young children- this is my story and why I need our Reader’s Input. Brother (Sister) can you spare a moment and share what you know? God Bless you.

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22 Responses to Need Reader Input: Who Are The Top 10 Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops?

  • Perhaps we should remember the wise words of Abbé Henri Brémond, whose life (1865-1933) spanned the Jules Ferry laws of 1882 and 1886 laicising public education, the law of 1901 suppressing many religious orders and the law of 1905 on the separation of Church and State, which vested all church buildings and other property in the nation.

    “No law can affect those who believe, those who pray; prayer is silent, prayer offends no one, prayer attacks no one.” – [La prière est silencieuse, la prière n’offense personne, la prière n’agresse personne]

    His response to the Anti-Clericalism of his time were his essays, “Prière et Poésie”[ Prayer and Poetry] and “Introduction a la Philosophie de la Prière”[Introduction to the Philosophy of Prayer] His monumental work “Histoire litteraire du sentiment religieux en France depuis la fin des guerres de religion jusqu’a nos jours” [A Literary History of Religious Sentiment in France from the end of the Wars of Rekigion to our own day] published between 1913 and 1936 in 11 volumes, was based on his unrivalled knowledge of mystical writings and devotional works. His writings on poetry, symbolism and romanticism earned him election to the Académie française in 1923 and a eulogy from the French Symbolist poet, Paul Valéry.

    His influence was incalculable.

  • The current head of the USCCB, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of NY and his I-95 brother (my Archbishop) in Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles J Chaput. (Lori of Baltimore and Aquila of Denver deserve mention as well in my VERY short list.)

  • My only input is cautionary; the plan of action is a good idea, BUT I’d give it about a week before it’s taken over by the same folks who use “social justice” to promote abortion, theft, etc. At the absolute least, it would claim binding teachings where they don’t exist. (I recall one discussion I was having with another Catholic, who pulled the death penalty vs abortion thing– even offering a letter from the man who would become Pope saying there was a valid variety of views didn’t sway him.)

    I do love the idea of equipping people to find out what the Church teaches for themselves, and enthusiastically endorse the answer-religious-questions-kids-as/thirsty-for-theology thing. That would have made my youth a lot more interesting, and might have kept several friends from falling away from the Church. (it would also have meant I could find a babysitter from the Parish– but that’s another rant!)

    If there was a group for something like “Catholic Q&A- Last Wednesday Of The Month Snack and Chat” I’d do it. If I thought I could pull it off, I’d start one myself. (Wed because it’s the middle of the week; schedule it about 6pm. It would have to be sort of small to start with, and a computer with one of those books-on-CD collection EWTN sells would be wise; has soup to nuts of decrees, etc.)

    … Dang it, now I’ve got a post bubbling in my head for designing theology groups. Thank you.

  • Bishop Ronald Gainer of Lexington KY: not as high profile as Dolan etc, but methodically rebuilding an orthodox and dynamic diocese. Yesterday ordained 23 deacons: 3 transtional and 20 permanent.

  • Bruskewitz, Finn, Olmstead, Morlino, Aquila, Sample, Cordlione, Nienstadt, Slattery, Chaput

  • My only input is cautionary; the plan of action is a good idea, BUT I’d give it about a week before it’s taken over by the same folks who use “social justice” to promote abortion, theft, etc. At the absolute least, it would claim binding teachings where they don’t exist.

    I would go a step further Foxfier – or backward actually. I think the other side has already been doing this for many decades. The chanceries and USCCB were chock full dissenting activists with a socialist agenda who were either supported or tolerated by their bishop. I would venture to guess that even with ascension of a large number of orthodox bishops, there are still a large number of these folks in important and influential positions. Even when an orthodox bishop takes over a troubled see, he doesn’t do a housecleaning so to speak. He pushes his agenda of reform with the people he has and tries to lead the chancery operatives to fulfill his mission. The bishops have to lead, but that doesn’t mean all will follow – and many of those people still have power and influence enough to do damage.

  • Sounds good, Tim. I would echo both MichaelP71’s and Jim’s lists, adding only three more solid bishops with whom I’ve had contact: 1) Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, CA (and formerly of Baker, Oregon); 2) Bishop Kevin Vann of Ft. Worth, TX; and 3) Arch-bishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta. There are undoubtedly many other good, solid bishops and auxiliaries around in the US, but they simply don’t have as high of a public profile as do these aforementioned bishops.

  • Oops! One glaring omission did just come to mind (how could we forget?) Cardinal George of Chicago, of course!

  • First of all I think Masculinity has been beat down passive aggressively both in the American Church as well as society, so if we are not willing to reject bad laws and smash the Serpents head to mush than we are bound to lose with the communist attitudes of Obama and other democratic leaders.

  • The dioceses of Wilmington Delaware seam to be getting somewhat more Orthodox but still need improving and the general public of Delaware seems very secular and the cops tend to act like gangsters in their attitudes.

  • By lose I meant lose temporarily.

  • Possibly the most important philosophical law is that because God is all knowing, all powerful, and all good we should take what he tells us seriously rather than throwing his words around like protestants who use his words to justify whatever they fancy.

  • If worst comes to worst there is just war but it would be much better if it did not have to come down to that.

  • One. I’m curious, why did it have to come to your being a Democrat “insider” before you realized your choice of political party clashed with your Catholic religion? I knew it for me when the Democrat Party officially supported and acted to make abortion-on-demand the law-of-the-land.

    Two. When are people like you going to start showing some “love” your talking about to those of us who have been battling people you have been electing to keep abortion-on-demand the law-of-the-land? And, now, thanks to Catholics like you, we have to fight to keep marriage the institution it has always been since God enacted it at the beginning of man-kind. And thanks to the 54% of Catholics like you, the U.S. bishops (equally responsible for what has continued for almost 4 decades) have to sue the President and his Administration they helped put in office just to keep our First Amendment Rights. How about showing some love to Catholics like me for realizing straight on that any organization that supports and defends the murder of innocent human beings, especially infants in the protection of their mother’s womb, could never be serious about “caring for others,” especially the “little guy?”

    Three. How about finding out why almost all the U.S. bishops adopted Cardinal Bernardin’s proposal to change the definition of “prolife,” a word coined by prolifers to counter the pro-aborts calling themselves “pro-choice?” And then, contacting those bishops still alive who voted against that change, to get their recommendations on who should be on that list of bishops you want to put together. While doing that, you ought to read the 1989 favorable biography called “Cardinal Bernardin – Easing conflicts -and battling for the soul of American Catholicism” by the cardinal’s long time friend (30 years) Eugene Kennedy. You’ll learn that that name change was a lot more political than it was spiritual. This is a quote of Bernardin’s motivation for expanding the definition to include prudential judgment issues so-call “social justice.” Page 243,244: “Not only would this move gain greater support from Catholics and others but it would keep the prolife movement from falling completely under the control of the right wing conservatives who were becoming it dominant sponsors.” How about that?! I don’t know where in the Catechism of the Catholic Church the “good” cardinal found that some how being a “right wing conservative” was evil. Maybe you know where that is?

    Anyway – how about showing some “love” for the millions of us who have removed ourselves from the sin of being in the Democrat Party, the main organization responsible for denying the right to life of God’s greatest creation – a human right by the way; and maybe perhaps an apology as well for making people like us have to fight people like you for so long?

  • Stilbelieve:

    Hold on, friend. There’s a parable about that. “Take what is yours, and go your way: I will also give to this last even as to you.” (Mt 20:14)

  • Stilbelieve:

    I’m with you!

    Nd, those people need to stop employing presumed moral superiority to advance evil and to start supporting Church teachings.

  • My own Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo should be on that list. He is the bishop who conducted the recent investigation of the women religious. He is an outstanding and holy and orthodox bishop, and I am shocked, frankly, that he hasn’t been picked in the last few years to lead a higher-profile diocese. The fact that he was chosen to lead the investigation of the women religious indicates that he is at least on someone’s radar in the Vatican.

    Were it not for the fact that Bishop Blair was the Bishop of Toledo, I doubt I would have moved my family to this part of Ohio almost 7 years ago.

  • @Escolonn

    “Hold on, friend. There’s a parable about that. ‘Take what is yours, and go your way: I will also give to this last even as to you.’ (Mt 20:14)” The text in bible has the last sentence of 20:14 reading: “What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?”

    First of all, I’m not looking for “reward.” I’m looking for evidence that this author has obtained wisdom from his experience to be of help to any bishop. The question was raised in my mind soon into reading his article. He says this in the 4th sentence:
    “I do not speak as an Obama-basher with Republican talking point tie-ins- I was a lifelong Democrat who only recently gave it up to become an Independent, not Republican.”

    Talking in a dismissive way about the only major organization that has been trying to save the babies, protect our country militarily and economically, fight for our right to pick our own doctors and make our own decisions on our medical care, defend marriage as God created it, and now have to save our First Amendment Rights to freedom of religion isn’t being a “Obama-baser” using “Republican talking point tie-ins.” It’s being an American who has “eyes to see and ears to here.”

    Second, you would think that someone who contributed with their decision-making and votes all this time to prolonging the evil of abortion-on-demand remaining the law-of-the-land, and to these newer attacks on our safety and freedoms, would be a little more contrite and humble towards those who were wise enough to see the sin of remaining in the Democrat Party much sooner in their lives then he did.

    Third, I think the verse you chose is a parable better suited for the rights of ownership to do with one’s property as one chooses and pay the wages as agreed. Verse 15 completes that thought saying: “[Or] am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?”

  • Jay, it just so happens that my own bishop, Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Ill. is assisting with that investigation as well. He too is known for his orthodoxy and has been on the Vatican-watchers’ radar for some time, so he probably won’t be here forever!

  • Stillbelieve- I can defend my previous Democratic party membership on the grounds that I was quite active as a pro-life candidate and leader in Dems for Life- the fact is that until the 80’s the Dems were more pro-life than the Repubs- I was a Democrat long before I was Catholic- being drawn into politics at the age of 13 by the first Jimmy Carter campaign- and then basically became a believing secular liberal in my 20’s. My introduction and conversion to Catholicism came as I neared 30- in becoming Catholic I gave up previous beliefs on abortion et al- but there has always been two thoughts in my mind- first- the Republican establishment has always been like shifting sand on the issue of abortion since Reagan – lukewarm belief is never attractive as Jesus indicated in Revelation- and second- there has long been the hope that Catholic pro-life Democrats could lead the charge within the Democratic party to restore traditional moral beliefs on social issues- I took up that challenge since I figured I was well-placed as a lifelong Dem who became a Catholic convert- but identified more or less along the FDR-Democratic coalition lines- recall that American Catholics as a community tended the Democratic party way before social issues and the sexual revolution began destroying the Dems from within. Reagan was an FDR Democrat but said that the party moved away from him not the other way around.

    So- in any case- I never publicly supported any pro-choice candidates- and typically voted for third party/populist no-bodies to get around my conscience- and our hierarchy instructed us that we could not vote for a candidate because of his/her pro-choice position on abortion- but it was left open to conscience if there were other compelling reasons to vote for someone who was unfortunately pro-choice- since we are not to be single-issue voters. So- if one supposed that voting for a Republican candidate would bring on potentially nation-ending war or economic ruin and thus render the legal abortion question (in effect) moot in such an environment since no movement focused on a social issue would gain any traction during crisis times- well that would be a paradigm of thought whereupon someone with a Catholic conscience may have voted for a Democrat in some paticular national office like president.

    My own experience with being exposed to the really influential Catholic Democrats was one where I tried my best to evangelize for the orthodox teachings of the Church- to follow the Magisterium and the Bishops on all fronts and not to continue in a heterodox direction- but alas I was confronted by the truly powerful forces that drive those who have actual weight in Democratic party power politics these days- and I was asked to depart from my place of opinion sharing- and at that stage I openly left the Party and my role as a leader for florida Dems for Life- and became a NPA- non-party-affiliation- as Archbishop Chaput did according to what I read in his great book- Render Unto Caesar. So- stillbelieve- I don’t know what to apologize to you about- I think my personal history explains why I chose the paths I took- if the Church had clearly indicated that working from within the Democratic party to try to reform the party on social issues was an immoral choice- then I would have abandoned the effort years ago- I have given up on that front- but I have many good Catholic and Christian friends who are still battling from within and taking the abuse from the dominant sexual revolutionaries – I’m not of a mind to join you in heaping more abuse their way- but if this is how you interpret WWJD in your time on stage blogging then it is something that Jesus Christ will have to determine at the time of our personal judgments- and I look forward to my time with Him so that I can see where I missed His cues and promptings, or just was blind- so that I can apologize to anyone or any group of persons that I did wrong by. I am trying to “live clean” and I have been trying to follow the orthodox directives from Christ’s Church- my wish now is that the American Bishops will now make perfectly clear to all of us that taking public positions opposed to granting the right to life for the unborn, and protecting traditional marriage definitions, and respecting religious liberties- all make any candidate unfit for any Catholic to vote for or support in any capacity- and political leaders who call themselves Catholics who vote for any of the Big Three will have to forego reception of Holy Communion due to the scandal they are producing among law-abiding American citizens. That, I think, would clear up any confusion about the morality of our political choices- given the unusual extremity of our times. I still hope to be of service to our Church and to serve a strong Bishop and take guidance from him- but if you are correct and the Holy Spirit agrees then I will accept another role in my life’s work- at the end of the day I just want to be one of those ‘unprofitable servants’ in the eyes of the Lord- if digging ditches is my true talent then so be it- I will carry a shovel for Christ- that’s my heart-that is something I can know even if many who know little about me doubt it- those in my home know me and from them I draw the human consolation that helps keep one’s spirit from being taken away by the naysayers always to be found.

  • It is important to realise that, for professional politicians, party labels are largely a sham.

    In any democracy, they inevitably group themselves into two parties (or coalitions), the friends of corruption and the sowers of sedition; those who seek to profit from existing abuses and those who seek to profit from the disaffection those abuses naturally produce.

    The policies either faction espouses, primarily to attract funding, but also as a sop to the rabble, is a matter of chance and circumstance.

  • I don’t have much experience with bishops, but I would suggest two: Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, CO and Archbishop Charles Chaput, currently Archbishop of Philadelphia (formerly of Denver, CO). Both have been a strong voice for authentic Catholic teaching and activism.

CNN Joins The Hit Piece Parade Against Pope Benedict XVI and The Catholic Church

Sunday, September 26, AD 2010

It would appear that those in the mainstream media who want to do hit pieces on Pope Benedict XVI need to take a number. The latest to engage in Yellow Journalism is CNN. The “network of record” dispatched Gary Tuchman to do the dirty work. One might recall that it was none other than Tuchman who remarked how distressing it was travelling in the heartland during the 2008 Election campaign. He complained that some who recognized him told him that their Middle American views and ideas were repeatedly mocked by the mainstream media, all the while those of the liberal establishment were hailed. Tuchman’s words were quite revealing when it comes to this story.

CNN has been advertising their hit piece on Pope Benedict XVI as if he was already guilty of some sort of cover up, even though during the Abuse Scandal it was none other than the New York Times who praised then Cardinal Ratzinger for tackling the tough problems. What tough problems did he tackle? The most notable example being Father founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Father Marcial Maciel was one of the few prominent conservatives caught up in the Abuse Scandal, most of the abusers were Church liberals who wanted to change the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger took on Father Maciel at the height of his power and popularity. One might recall that Father Maciel was quite close to Pope John Paul II. So from this example we can see that Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) showed no favorites and pulled no punches. The Legionaries of Christ were shaken to the core and as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI removed their leadership and installed his own, hardly the work of someone who was timid.

The CNN piece was perhaps even more despicable than the New York Times hit piece, because in the interim much of the modus operandi of the Old Gray Lady was exposed. Still CNN used the same material and claimed that they had something new. There is nothing new here. The crux of their argument comes from material provided by Jeffrey Anderson the attorney who has made millions off the scandal. Anderson says he is one a mision to “reform the Church.” What kind of reform would that be? Some Catholic dioceses have been forced into bankruptcy, which means the poor whom they dioceses assisted through their social programs are left in the cold. For all his concern of “reform”  Anderson hasn’t provided a penny to these particular poor.

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18 Responses to CNN Joins The Hit Piece Parade Against Pope Benedict XVI and The Catholic Church

  • This is a message for Dave Hartline:
    I was in Woodlawn in Chicago during the early years of
    The Woodlawn Organization when it was taken over by the
    Alinsky operatives, including, Fr. Egan, Nick Von
    Hoffman, I was one of two clergy who opted out
    of the movement for moral and ethical reasons. I read
    your article with comments on Alinsky and the”Radical”
    modus operandi in Fr. Dick Kim’s blog last week. You
    have a far different perspective than the Chicago Diocese at that time. Interesting.

  • Thank you for your post. I do believe there were many people like Alinsky who had great influence on those in the pre Vatican II Church. It was reported that Pope Pius XII wanted to convene the Conference but became too ill to do so. In some US Archdiocese, as well as a few in France and Belgium, movements arose that today one would view as being heretical or schismatic. I do recall the Catholic author Dave Armstrong (who was brought into the Church by Father Hardon SJ) saying that Father Hardon would often say, “The Revolution began…” Dave Armstrong couldn’t remember the precise date but it was sometime in the 1930s or 1940s.

    Anyway, what I am getting at it is before the modern communications era there were folks like Alinksy who claimed to be in line with what the Church was teaching (even though Alinsky was an Agnostic.) In reference to those who say that Alinsky’s book, “Rules for Radicals,” which was dedicated to Lucifer among others was really sort of tongue and cheek. One generally doesn’t dedicate books to the leader of the dark side as some sort of joke. I find that dedication intersting because it happened in 1971, the twilight of his life. Why didin’t he dedicate his previous books to Lucifer? The reason I feel this happened is because it would have caused a stir. Perhaps in the twilight of his life, Alinsky was being more open about his agenda.

    The first time I had heard of Alinsky occurred in my freshman year of college when some radical graduate students were quoting him like most fervent believers would quote the Gospel. In the turmoil that was the Church in the 1970s, I don’t think many people paid much heed to the role of these radicals until recently. However, I dare say that the likes of Father McBrien were quite familiar with the lofty aspirations of Alinksy and those of a similar mindset. This doesn’t even touch on those in the media who were influenced by Alinsky, and who today run those organizations. Does anyone think that the hit pieces on Pope Benedict in particular and the Church in general would have been possible had not these poeple been calling the shots?

    Fortunately as I have said before the tide is turning. I can’t help but refer back to a priest I know who was ordained some five years ago. There was quite a stir when he made no bones about his orthodox or conservative views. I spoke with him recently and he laughed saying, “those in the seminary now make me look like a milquetoast moderate.” Now that is what really drives the left up a wall, they thought the Election of 2008 would end any talk of conservatism prevailing in any sector of society. With the coming election, it appears that it is liberalism whose back is against the wall.

  • For my taste, Mr. Hartline, you seem too optimistic.

    Also, not just from you but from others I keep hearing of how good “new” seminarians are but I have not seen much to bouy my spirits among those have seen.

    Benedict is too little too late. The trials are upon us.

  • Karl with all due respect, it isn’t about your taste or mine, it is about facts. The fact is the Church was ruderless in the 1970s, Pope Paul VI said as much when uttered his famous words, “The Smoke of Satan had entered the Church.” However, Pope John Paul II’s Springtime of the Evangelization is here. We didn’t get into the mess we are in overnight, and we won’t get out of it overnight either. However, with Pope Benedict at the helm (perhaps fulfilling St John Bosco’s vision of the Twin Pillars) we will make great strides. The trials have been upon us many times before; the Islamic Invasions, the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, the 1960s Cultural Revolution, and yet here we are still Fighting the Good Fight!

  • I see the same facts but interpret them differently. It is not about taste though, you are spot on. The shoes we walk in influences our take. I remember into the early sixties. I have lived throughout this tempest. I believe we have seen, nothing yet.

  • In light of the customary, infernally low level of intellectual honesty in the Commie News Net pile-on piece of journalistic excrement, here’s my proposed response:

    Keep the Faith.

  • Karl, I certainly agree with you on your concluding point. However, I think we are in much better shape that we were 35 years ago. Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI, through their leadership and those seminarians, women religious and laity whom they influence, are at least beginning to waft out the Smoke of Satan that had entered the Church.

    T Shaw, the Haku War Dance. I wonder if the Knights Templar did something similar before battle? May God Keep Us All Safe from enemies within and without!

  • “All one has to do is read the writings of those who started the French Revolution (which is often widely praised and celebrated in the West)…”

    During the 1780’s, many who made up the Third Estate, particulary the bourgeoisie (merchants, bankers, lawyers, etc), were fed up with the inequities of the ruling class.

    The First Estate (Clergy) and the Second Estate (Nobility) were a small minority of privileged men who made up the Aristocracy. As a result of the blurred lines between the two classes,(holding high positions under the Church’s provision, for example) the Aristocratic ruling class was exempt from almost all taxes. Many of the bourgeoisie were also exempt, which left the burden of paying for wars, affairs of state, etc. on the backs of the peasantry.

    The causes of the French Revolution were many and historians still argue over them but there are aspects of the Enlightenment that conservatives, particularly American conservatives, should appreciate and identify with.

    Those who advocated for change at the time, pushed for positions in government, the Church and the military to be open to men of talent and merit. They fought for a constitution and a Parliament that would limit the king’s power. Religious toleration and fair trials were also part of their agenda.

    Now, as we all know, the French Revolution got totally out of hand but there are reasons for those of us in the West to identify with the philosophes of the 18th century.

  • DP

    It was Louis the XVI who called the Estates General. The likes of Robespierre, Danton et al were not interested in what you suggest above they wanted real power and to remake society as they saw fit. They wanted to import their revolution to all of Europe.

    You know sort of like Lenin and Stalin.

  • Afghani Stan, excellent point. I would also ask that our friend DP consider that some of the ideas that Enlightenment is given credit for dates back to the Magna Carta. In addition, there were already primitive forms of government in some Swiss Cantons (Catholic cantons at that) which espoused early democratic ideals. Sadly, Ulrich Zwingli tried to put a stop to that, which in some ways was the start of the Left’s War on Rural Inhabitants.

  • If memory serves (John Robinson, Dungeons, Fire and Sword), the Templars entered battle assuring each other that, “Whether we live or whether we die, we are The Lord’s.”

  • Stan and Dave,

    Yes, Louis XVI did convene the Estates General at the last minute but only after a hiatus of 170+ yrs and to no avail.

    Robespierre was, of course, an extreme leftist and a tyrant as well. But there are other Enlightenment notables such as Locke (a champion of America’s Founding Fathers), Newton and Montesquieu who contributed a great deal with regard to the expansion of thought and science in secular society.

    In fact, Pope Benedict XIV respected Montesquieu and the advances of the Enlightenment (especially tolerance) even though many of his bishops didn’t share his sensibilities at the time.

    In any case, some of the ideas and ideals of the philosophes should be celebrated by both the West and the Church.

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The Timeline of Abuse

Sunday, April 18, AD 2010

One of the more oft-heard responses to the recent outbreak of coverage on the abuse scandals in the Church is the following: ‘when is the Church going to respond to this and protect children?’ This question is entirely sensible. We have heard about these scandals in the past, and yet fresh stories of abuse are appearing on a weekly basis. Moreover, the responses of many in the Vatican, as in several other incidents in the pontificate of Benedict XVI, has been disheartening. At the same time, I think it is important to point out for those concerned about the abuse of children (as opposed to the competency of the Vatican press office), that the crisis phase of the abuse scandal has been over for the better part of twenty years in the U.S. (and notice the recent reporting has focused on incidents at least that old). The following graph summarizes the annual reports of abuse by priests in the United States over the last fifty-five years (for those who are curious about post-2004, there were six reported incidents in 2009):

Source: the John Jay Report, h/t Ross Douthat.

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32 Responses to The Timeline of Abuse

  • Does this graph have a source?

  • “…in recent years, the bishops enacted… mandatory training for all individuals who deal with children in every diocese in the country.”

    Knowing the farce of past “training” schemes such as diversity training, I no longer care to volunteer for any such parish or diocesan activities.

  • The stats need to be adjusted for the decline in vocations (abuses per active priest is a better measure) but the decline in abuse probably remains even after an adjustment.

    Celibacy and other issues obviously were not the cause. And it’s possible to address problems like abuse without reform in these controversial areas. But they could help and the fact that priests don’t have children or motherly instincts can’t be ruled out as an ingredient in creating an environment ripe for abuse.

  • The stats are especially relevant since with all the publicity about abuse I believe victims of abuse are much more likely to come forward today than they did in the past.

  • Does this graph have a source?

    Apologies, Jason. The post has been updated to include the source.

  • The stats need to be adjusted for the decline in vocations (abuses per active priest is a better measure) but the decline in abuse probably remains even after an adjustment.

    The number of priests has declined by about a third since 1965. That is only of modest significance in explaining the above.

  • OK, this is probably a dumb question, but if the incidence of abuse peaked in 1980, why was 2002 such a crisis? Because it sounds like the Church was already handling the problem (or it was going away for other reasons). Was it just that there were some bad pockets and a need for uniform standards for bishops to follow?

    I’m having trouble putting together this graph with what I (fuzzily) remember from then.

  • I’ve taken the diocesan training, and although it’s difficult to sit through parts of it, it’s a worthwhile exercise. Much of the advice is common sense, but the insight into the mind of the abuser was particularly helpful. (The training I took used interviews with convicted abusers and victims.)

    The training, combined with everything else I’ve ever read about abusers, leads me to believe that there’s not much merit to restrainedradical’s conjecture above. Given that there are plenty of abusers with children and some molesters are women, it seems hard to lay the blame on the lack of children/motherly instincts.

  • Karen LH,

    Your question was basically the reason I wrote this post; everyone seems to be very confused about when the abuse took place because there was a significant lag between most of the abuse and the reporting on it. 2002 was a crisis primarily because that is when we finally found out about the abuse that occurred over the preceeding 40 years, and particularly the horrific actions of some bishops that moved abusive priests from one parish to another.

    In 2009-2010, there has been new coverage of scandals in Ireland and Germany (my understanding is that most of these cases are older also), but nothing has really happened in the U.S., aside from shaky attempts to argue Benedict (or his delegates) didn’t punish two abusive priests (who were already removed from active ministry) enough while he was at CDF. However, the abuse statistics above are almost never indcluded in the newspaper coverage of the scandal, and so many people are confused about the timeline.

  • Just to clarify, pedophile priests would exist regardless. But I think it might be possible that abuse cases would’ve been handled differently had parents and women had a say.

  • It’s possible, restrained. Counter-factuals are impossible to prove one way or the other, and so people generally rely on their prior intuitions when evaluating the plausibility of a suggestion. I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other on this. On the one hand, certainly, women generally seem to be less likely to abuse children in this way; on the other hand, the higher rates of abuse in the public school system than Catholic institutions suggests that having a high percentage of women does not necessarily prevent abuse.

  • “Just to clarify, pedophile priests would exist regardless. But I think it might be possible that abuse cases would’ve been handled differently had parents and women had a say.”

    I rather doubt that. I was talking to Female Judge that grew up during this time period about this. SHe is a non Catholic. She told me that she quite understands why this happened. Sexual Abuse and scandal were viewed differently back then as to society as whole. He was kept quiet and yes woman were involved in that too.

    I see that in the black church where sadly this also rampant. Thught there is still male dominance black women are often the backbone and exert great power and influence. That attitude of “not airing our dirty laundrey in public” still prevails and it appears to me to be very accross the board as to genders

  • If a man would make a good, healthy husband and father, then he would make a good candidate for the priesthood IF that is his vocation. Also, a man should have had good, healthy personal relationships with both sexes, mature in quality…years ago, I don’t think it really mattered. New research shows that many young Priests involved in this sex scandal had been actively engaged in homosexual relationships before entering the seminary and even during their vacation time while in seminary…as far as pedophilia, although this was a very small percentage of the overall sexual abuse, it’s still way too much and hard to understand how these men made it to ordination…where was the discernment of other seminarians, teachers, superiors, etc? I think the requirements are stricter now…

  • Let’s remember that this graph likely does not represent a picture of the whole abuse story, but only reports gathered from victims alive at the time of the Jay Study. It is a snapshot from 2002-04. We would expect a bell curve in any event. I think we also get the downward trend from 1980 onward because of the application of psychological screening to seminary candidates. In other words, good for Vatican II.

    We have good reason to suspect that an important limitation of the Jay Study is the upcurve in reports prior to 1980. Many victims had died by 2002, and the culture, both church and secular, mitigated against children reporting abuse at the time and adults reporting later.

    We have no way of knowing, but I suspect that actual abuse was fairly high all through the ages. The horrific stories that do come to us prior to 1950 may well be the tip of the iceberg. No comfort to the victims, to be sure. But it is a feather in the cap of those who trumpet that the Church is doing a great deal to stamp out abuse. They are right, and in the US, we have a thirty-year track record to show it.

  • I am willing ot bet records were kept but it would be interesting to see the rate of abuse allegations involving Lay Catholics that had contact with children in this time period.

    Something the laity seems not to want to go into

  • So is your claim, Todd, that the graph represents a real fall-off in abuse since the 1980 high, but that appearance of an increase in abuse from 1960 to 1980 is an illusion?

    Certainly, it seems clear that there must always have been some amount to abuse in the Church — just as there has always been some about of abuse in families. It is a sin found in many places and times, and there’s nothing magical about the time before the 60s that would have prevented it entirely.

    However, it seems entirely believable that the slipping moral standards in the wider society, increasing prevalence of pornography, lax formation, lax discipline and a period that was unquestionably one of great uncertainty and turmoil in the Church would have increased the amount of abuse during those decades by a factor of five or ten, which is what the graph seems to indicate.

  • but only reports gathered from victims alive at the time of the Jay Study

    What, is everyone who was alive before 1950 dead now?

  • “However, it seems entirely believable that the slipping moral standards in the wider society …”

    Possibly. In my parents’ generation, the extremes of alcoholism and drug abuse were seen as immoral. By the time a person gets to be a drunk, I’d say the addiction has overtaken any attempt at abstinence.

    As for the abuse of children, we know it happens most often in families, and families are their own mini-cultures. We might say that there’s a certain moral domino effect: less respect for authority, and more sex, drugs and rock-n-roll leading to the rape of children.

    Maybe you have a point. It seems we also have increased slavery in the world these days, so maybe lots of sins are making comebacks.

    As for a five to tenfold increase because of a general permissiveness? I find it hard to believe. Sex predators still operate in secret. None of their “permissive” practices were accepted at all in society.

    If there had been a study commissioned in 1980, I suspect, we’d see a bell peak in 1960. And so on down the line.

    Bottom line I agree with you that the institutional management of clergy and seminary candidates was very poor prior to 1980. But given that some notable “moral” bishops have been implicated–cardinals like Brady and Law, I get the sense that this is more sex addiction than moral failing. Which isn’t to say that addicts shouldn’t take moral responsibility–that’s basic 12 Steps.

    A final thought experiment (which might be verified by someone with raw data): redo the Jay Study and eliminate the reports in which either the priest or victim has died since 2002. I suspect the peak would move a few years into the 80’s.

  • I suppose how much one is willing to believe abuse increased due to a lax and sex-saturated culture is widely open to conjecture. I’m hesitant to assume that simply be looking at the graph we have a much better ability to forecast a backward trend than the John Jay folks did.

    I could believe a pretty big increase because of a sex-saturated culture and chaos within the ranks of the Church. Clearly, abuse of children and teens is something which happens at the margins, among a small statistical minority. In this regard, a small change to the large majority might significantly increase or decrease the size of the tail. On the majority side, the difference between 94% of priests not abusing and 97% of priests not abusing isn’t that big, but it’s a large delta in the number of abusers.

  • “As for a five to tenfold increase because of a general permissiveness? I find it hard to believe. Sex predators still operate in secret. None of their “permissive” practices were accepted at all in society.”

    Roman Polanski seems to get a lot of respect for a guy who drugged and raped a 13-year old girl.

    Do you really believe that a group like NAMBLA could have had any type of public presence prior to 1960?

  • “I suppose how much one is willing to believe abuse increased due to a lax and sex-saturated culture is widely open to conjecture.”

    I think so. I would say that the instances of priests having sex with adults might be influenced more by social norms. Clergy preying on needy counselees is pretty creepy in its own right, but there you have, theoretically, consenting adults. The Jay Study didn’t touch clergy overstepping with anyone other than minors.

    The root of the abuse might center around this question: is sex with children primarily sexual or is it primarily about power and control? Rape and sexual abuse of women and children has long been the custom of victorious militaries–many centuries and many cultures, not just the modern day. Is this about soldiers who have been celibate during long campaigns, or is it more likely about the humiliation of the defeated?

    I don’t think there’s any single answer to any of this. Just count me as suspcious of all the ones trotted out a single easy answer: celibacy, the 60’s, homosexuality, power issues in the hierarchy, etc.

  • A sex-saturated culture is a problem, to be sure.

    Let’s not forget the underlying cause of that – a willful abandonment of Catholic teaching on sexuality, beginning with the angry revolt of progressive radicals against Humane Vitae.

    Paul VI said that the smoke of Satan had entered the Church. He specifically meant the corruption of the liturgy by subversives and rebels, but it is also related to the sex crisis – the degradation of tradition is what leads to a lax moral atmosphere, one of “experimentation”, i.e. carelessness, and in some cases, I believe a deliberate attempt to destroy the Church – a goal that her enemies have held since the beginning, through the Protestant deformation, the French Revolution, communism, and finally the “sexual revolution.”

  • On being presented with a “letter of dissent” to sign and send to the Vatican upon the publication of Humane Vitae, by Cardinal James Francis Stafford:

    “I could not sign it. My earlier letter to Cardinal Shehan came to mind. I remained convinced of the truth of my judgment and conclusions. Noting that my seat was last in the packed basement, I listened to each priest’s response, hoping for support. It didn’t materialize. Everyone agreed to sign. There were no abstentions. As the last called upon, I felt isolated. The basement became suffocating. By now it was night. The room was charged with tension. Something epochal was taking place. It became clear that the leaders’ strategy had been carefully mapped out beforehand. It was moving along without a hitch. Their rhetorical skills were having their anticipated effect. They had planned carefully how to exert what amounted to emotional and intellectual coercion. Violence by overt manipulation was new to the Baltimore presbyterate.”

  • The graph comports with what I’ve noted about local stories about abusers. My archbishop made the statement to me that “In my day [in the seminary], if you did your studies and folded your hands in chapel, you were going to get ordained. It’s not that way anymore.”
    Has every last abuser been eliminated? No. That’s not possible, any more than it is possible to eliminate sin. Schools, whether Catholic, public or otherwise, have what paedophiles seek, i.e. children and teenagers, and they are naturally going to try to be there to satisfy their sinful desires. The institutional barriers are now in place to try to eliminate them before they get to the kids, but some will still slip through. The anti-Catholic media continues to headline the (alleged) cases that do occur, while burying short stories about accused public school teachers on the back pages of the third section. If there isn’t a new accusation, they can always write up a story about how the victims reject any efforts to apologize and make sure it doesn’t happen again as “too little, too late.”

  • Re “smoke of Satan”: it is too simplistic to apply this to dissenting theologians only; Marciel Maciel was the very embodiment of Satans smoke if anyone was, and certain high ranking cardinals too willing to take his money (and Dzieswz as well) give off a waft of burning flesh, no?

  • WJ,

    “Smoke of Satan” is Paul VI’s phrase, and a cardinal close to him told us exactly what it meant. It’s not “too simplistic.” It’s just what he said.

  • I wish that more parents had believed those children who came home and did say what was happening, but many parents did not. At that time, it was common to tell a child who complained at all about Priests (or Nuns) “oh, no, Father (Sister) wouldn’t do that” or if the the child was believed, “you better not tell anyone!” So many issues that are vebalized today were never discussed years ago. But if those parents had believed their children or defended them if they did believe what their child said, had stepped forward, the individual Priests would have been stopped sooner and fewer children would have suffered! But there were and still are, people who are afraid of Clergy and/or how things “look” and worry if they will somehow be blamed or their child may be blamed and people who like the Priest will turn against them and their child. It’s all so sad but we need to be wary of all Media Reports and defend our Catholic Church while admitting we, as a whole, are not perfect, we love our Church.

  • I get the feeling that many commenters forget or do not know that sexual predators tend to be arrogant, clever, extremely manipulative people, especially those who successfully abused many victims over long periods of time. I am not surprised that such people can conceal their tendencies and activities, or justify what comes to light, or convince friends and superiors that they “have changed their ways,” whatever lie is necessary. There is a reason they are called predators. Think of a predator in nature, the skill, the patience, the perseverance. Think of a skilled hunter. I think too many look on these criminals and members of NAMBLA as merely sickos or something like sexual geeks, and that is a mistake. They are dangerous, clever deviant criminals.

  • How much could these trends be explained by changes in the total number of children under the supervision of priests? In 1980, the tail end of the Baby Boomers were in high school. The *number* of students in Catholic schools would have still been very high, even though the *percentage* had declined since 1965. Whatever those numbers may look like, one should certainly keep them in mind when observing trends like those seen in the above chart.

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  • These statistics, which appear to date the abuse events, not their reports, are comforting to those of us wishing to put the problem behind us. In my (local) experience, however, these data are hard to believe. Anecdotal evidence, of course, is of limited validity. But I remember MY PASTOR in 2002 or so reading us a letter from our Ordinary (Maida) to the effect that the problem had been solved many years before, here in the Archdiocese of Detroit. The irony: the priest who read this to us was later convicted of raping boys in our parish AT THAT TIME. Also a similar event occurred at a neighboring parish in the intervening years. Further, a visiting priest from the Philippines, who was ordained there after being convicted of rape during Seminary here in Detroit, has been preaching in my current parish within the past year. So in my area the problem does NOT appear to be behind us.

    Now to my point: As I watch the current media feeding frenzy, unjust as it appears toward the Holy Father, it strikes me that it presents some rare opportunities to the Church. First, while the NYTimes authors themselves may never be appeased, they can influence untold numbers, and the Church could take the opportunity to make a much more compelling case.

    She could take this opportunity to make it clear to every reasonable bystander that she has taken this problem seriously, and has responded with justice to the perpetrators and enablers, and also that she has put sufficient countermeasures in place to prevent and correct future episodes.

    In her defensiveness, I don’t think that she has made her case. If abusive priests have met justice, this may or may not be clear in the press. But in the case of episcopal enablers, I think it’s clear that NO justice has been served. Without such justice, I don’t Holy Church will ever appear to have taken this matter seriously.

    Finally, this would also be an opportune time for Holy Church to make its case to an over-sexualized culture, that mandatory commitments of lifelong celibacy actually enhances personal holiness in any way, let alone that it benefits the Church. We all know that this claim is seen as absurd by innocent bystanders, and that it is highly counter-intuitive. Unenlightened people think it is obvious that this is a source of the problem, and wonder how the value it adds could possibly offset the ‘seven demons’ that it seems to have let into the Church.

    Clearly, now is the time for the Church to step up and make its case to a skeptical world. Can she rise to the occasion?

    Roamin’ Catholic

  • The decline in numbers does seem comforting to me. However, what if later on we find out of other cases that occured in our times? It seems like in several of these cases the abusers threatened the victims to keep it all a secret. It was only decades later that many of them were revealed, and i think the lag in time has to do with shame over such secrecy (though by the time several cases popped up and the media got involved in it, people found it much easier to speak out against the priests, whether falsely or in truth). Could such a thing happen? could much more abuses be going on now that we do not know of? I hope this is not the case, but I worry that it might be.