Was Something Different in the 60s and 70s?

Tuesday, April 20, AD 2010

Given some of the discussion on John Henry’s post yesterday about the timeline of the abuse scandal, I wanted to do a bit more digging into what the actual statistics of the scandal are.

At the NY Times website, Ross Douthat had written:

There’s no way to be completely certain about this, and clearly there was abuse in the church, and horrid cover-ups as well, going back decades and centuries and more. But the John Jay data suggest that something significant really did shift, and escalate, in the years around the sexual revolution.

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3 Responses to Was Something Different in the 60s and 70s?

  • This is the kind of work that is extremely helpful.

    What would be interesting would be to check the level of supervision in young clergy, and the living associations of older priests. A cleric living in a house of several clergy might have fewer opportunities to engage in addictive behavior. In addition, the community life in a pre-conciliar rectory may have helped some guys steer clear of potential addictions or problems later in life.

    Today among priests I know in many dioceses there is a renewed understanding of the need for support, community, formation, and the spiritual life. This has probably contributed to the better health of clergy over the past few decades and the generally high levels of satisfaction within the priesthood.

    A caution about attributing too much to the alleged moral decay of the 60’s and 70’s. Many outwardly moral people have stumbled on serious immoral trespass in their hidden lives. Addictions can trip up the most moral, the most talented, and the most admired persons. We need look no further than professional sports or musicians or actors to many talented and disciplined people fritter away their lives.

  • In addition, the incidence of abuse of females did not change as dramatically as did the incidence of the abuse of males

    Anyone got an explanation for that one?

  • I remember listening to a tape by Father Benedict Groeschel a number of years ago entitled something like The Real Scanbal in the Church. I didn’t put it in quotes because I am unsure that this was the title. He seemed to date serious problems with a homosexual underground of sorts in the seminaries back in the early fifties.
    Just mentioned as a point of corroboration…

Personal Sin, Shared Reparation

Monday, April 19, AD 2010

Mark Shea has an interesting post at National Catholic Register in which he answers a reader question which goes in part:

One of the priests at our parish spoke about the pedophile scandals and how we should confess our sins (and he said it like that – sounding like it implied we should as a group ask for forgiveness as Catholics for these terrible crimes) and seek forgiveness for allowing this to happen. Even though I think that these are horrible, awful, abominable events, and pray for both those who have been damaged by these sins, and as difficult as it is, those people who committed these sins, don’t exactly feel responsible for doing this myself so am having a hard time wrapping my head around repentance for the sins of others. I have sinned in a multitude of other ways but do I need to carry the burden of other people’s sins as well? Do I need to ask forgiveness for this myself? Are we supposed to ask forgiveness as Catholics even though we individually didn’t have anything to do with it?

Mark’s reply is worth reading in its entirety, but I think the key passage is:

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3 Responses to Personal Sin, Shared Reparation

  • “even though most of us hold no personal culpability in the sins themselves”

    I agree to that to a certain extent. But these Priest that offended came of a culture and society on many levels we endorsed or were silent about befor they even entered the Church. That is one reason why I sometimes find the timeline of abuse cases interesting. What was happening then that caused this

  • I had an physically abusive father and one of physiological tricks is to make the innocent feel guilty or responsible. It’s all your fault, why would anyone want this apart of their family? I believed that my sins is what contributed to the passion of Christ but false witness to my guilt would be a sin that convicted
    Christ.

  • Very good piece.

    I would go a step further though, because I am sure that more people knew about the abuses than we let on. I read a chilling account of an old monsignor warning a parish dad not to let his son on a fishing trip with Fr. Newpriest. The father explained to his disappointed son, “Father does bad things to little boys.” Neither the father nor the monsignor did anything actually to stop the priest though! I also know from the anecdotes of relatives that there have been priests that people – even many people in the parish – “felt weird” about, or thought they were “off” somehow. Of course, I do not expect people to go to the police over such intuitions… Still, it makes one wonder.

    I grew up and was an altar boy in a parish with a priest who is currently serving time in prison for child sexual abuse. He is serving time because, among other reasons, our bishop handled the case well. He never touched me, or any of my friends as far as I know, and I do not feel personally responsible for his sins.

    But I do feel responsible for having prayed so little for priests – even though I know that they are under constant spiritual siege, more so than most of us. I feel somewhat responsible for not having believed a friend of mine when we were kids and he told me that an older boy in the neighborhood invited him to sinful activity. I do feel responsible for being so materialistic, so hedonistic, so lax. I wonder whether, for all my ranting, I don’t bring down the body of Christ more than build it up.

    We have a lot of spiritual housecleaning to do here in the House of God – and that’s each of us, not just our bishops.

On the Crucifixion of the Pope

Saturday, April 17, AD 2010

Michael Liccione has written an outstanding piece over at What’s Wrong With the World about the recent escalation in attacks on Pope Benedict in relation to the scandals, with Dawkins and Hitchens demanding that the pope be arrested and tried in an international court:

With whatever degree of justice, the scandal has now reached Pope Benedict XVI himself.

The complaint is not that he abused anyone himself during his long career, but that he was criminally negligent in failing to take due action, as an archbishop and then as the Curia’s most powerful official, against many of the priestly perps who came to his attention. Some of the better-known enemies of the Church, such as Richard Dawkins, now propose to arrest the Pope for that and put him in the dock, presumably at the International Court of Justice. The interest of such a ludicrous proposal does not lie in its legal plausibility, which I am unqualified to judge and is probably academic in any case. Its interest lies in the challenge it poses to explaining the irrationality behind it.

I believe myself qualified to discuss that, not only as a lifelong Catholic who has spent much of his professional life serving the Church, but also as a victim of molestation myself, in my early teens, at the hands of a priest-teacher of mine. My abuser died years ago; I have not seen fit to sue the Church; indeed my experience was one of the factors that led me to reject progressive Catholicism and ascribe to what is generally understood as orthodox Catholicism. I understand, of course, why many victims have rejected the Church, even religious belief generally, and have lived very troubled lives. How could anybody not understand that? But the generalized furor, among people who are neither victims nor loved ones of victims, strikes me as positively irrational. My way of explaining that can only issue in a statement of faith. But I believe that’s just what’s called for, if only at the end.

What’s irrational about the furor? [continue reading]

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One Response to On the Crucifixion of the Pope

  • Bingo:

    “The rage stems, in my long experience, from a free-floating bitterness about prior issues people have with the Church. Those issues are themselves mostly about sex and power among adults, such as celibacy, women’s ordination, and the authority the Church claims for her teaching generally. Maureen Dowd is one prominent purveyor of that attitude, but her distinctive style of thought—if it can be called thought—is not worth a digression here.”

    Those who love the Church wish to see the predator priests and the Bishops who protected them punished. For those who hate the Church this is merely another weapon in their ongoing war against the Church.

If You Repeat a Lie a Thousand Times…

Friday, April 9, AD 2010

Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis has defended Pope Benedict in his column in the archdiocesan weekly newspaper.

In reporting on the column, the Associated Press closed their story with this:

Critics of the church’s handling of abuse cases are citing Benedict’s tenure as head of the Vatican office charged with disciplining clergy. The office halted a mid-1990s investigation into a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys.

Dear Associated Press: the CDF did not stop the investigation. If you’d actually do some journalism you’d know that.

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5 Responses to If You Repeat a Lie a Thousand Times…

  • The communists succeeded in branding His Holiness Pius XII as a virtual agent of Hitler because of his alleged silence in the face of Nazi atrocities. The facts suggest otherwise, but they have been buried over time, and the mud sticks. Now, secularists (and others, including some in the Church herself) are trying to do the same to His Holiness Benedict XVI with regard to the priest sex scandal. The facts tend to exonerate him, but I fear the mud will stick. It will take a persistent and forceful defense if there is to be any hope for his legacy.

  • So, did you try to contact MPR to address their error?

  • I tried to contact the AP, but there’s no writer in that or other bylines, so I have little idea who to reach. And given that it’s been picked up elsewhere, merely trying to communicate with MPR seemed pointless.

  • You ask,

    “If they [AP] can botch this story this poorly, how can I trust their reporting on other issues?”

    So far as I can see, you can’t.

    All you can do is trace the facts about any given story that AP presents in a broad-brush kind of way, compare those to the facts presented from other sources, find the commonalities, then go seeking criticism from bloggers who specialize in the relevant topics to get a sense of which commonly-reported facts are open to debate or alternative interpretation, and which are thought by the bloggers to be missing.

    Rinse, repeat, for several days.

    Then you ruminate, allowing that picture simmer and stew until you come to some kind of conclusions about what actually happened.

    That’s how one “checks the news” these days. AP is just mono-sourced data. If you want information, even minimalist “satisficing” (let alone detailed knowledge) will require individual collation of data from multiple inputs.

    The darkly amusing thing to ponder is this: Were the MSM always this bad, and we just didn’t have enough sources of alternative opinion to know about it? Or has the failure of intellectual and moral standards brought us gradually to this point from some earlier state of being in which media organs were moderately trustworthy?

  • “Were the MSM always this bad, and we just didn’t have enough sources of alternative opinion to know about it? Or has the failure of intellectual and moral standards brought us gradually to this point from some earlier state of being in which media organs were moderately trustworthy?”

    Bad reporting there has ever been, and the access of the internet to multiple sources displays such reporting in bold relief. However, I doubt if there has been a time before when the ink stained wretches were so ideologically committed in one direction and so uncaring about their professionalism.

This is Unconscionable.

Wednesday, March 31, AD 2010

From the Anchoress:

MSNBC ran a headline on their website:

“Pope Describes Touching Boys: I Went Too Far.”

NBC has apologized (the linked story had absolutely nothing to do with the headline, or with the pope, for that matter).

Really? Will heads roll, too? They should, but I doubt they will.

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24 Responses to This is Unconscionable.

  • I find it hard to believe that this was inadvertent. I suspect that it was simply an example of Catholic bashing bigotry so fashionable these days in certain circles and that was engaged in by whoever put together the headline.

  • Completely agreed, Donald… no way it was just an accident.

  • I think it’s easy to believe it’s inadvertent. It’s possible a different headline involving the Pope was considered, then they went with this headline but forgot to change out “Pope.” Or the Pope was on the writer’s mind, not the priest.

    Whoever writes those headlines probably does at least 5-10 a day. He’s going to screw up, and this is one of those times.

  • Anyone reading MSNBC the last few weeks knows this was no accident. There is no news organization around more virulently anti-Catholic than MSNBC.

  • Utterly appalling & completely unacceptable! That’s not by accident!

  • Any decent organization has checks and balances. I would be seriously shocked if headlines don’t have to be signed off on by at least 2-3 people before being published on the MSNBC site. (Though as in all such systems, some people may approve without reading or thinking.)

    We have better controls than this on the processes I deal with at my company despite the fact we have individual people publishing hundreds of changes per week.

    So while I could perhaps believe that the original mistake was some sort of mental slip, letting it through was gross negligence possibly compounded by actual anti-catholicism.

    I mean, seriously, you don’t imagine that MSNBC would “accidentally” run a headline saying “Obama Admits Accepting Bribes, Promises Not To Run Again” because some totally unrelated black Democratic politician had made such an admission, would you? This seems like a similar scope mistake.

  • Its clearly their idea of fun, let an obvious slander against the Pope pass and then come up with a proforma apology.

  • A few years back, MSNBC made a somewhat similar gaffe during an interview with Niger Innis, a spokesman for the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE). They posted a graphic on the screen in which Niger’s first name was spelled with two “g”s. The mistake was quickly spotted, MSNBC apologized, and Innis didn’t make a big deal of it.

    Years ago I wrote a lengthy feature story about a man who had been a ham radio operator for more than 50 years. A few days later, he called to thank me for the story, which he said was wonderful except for one little thing… I had called him George Flanagan instead of Glenn Flanagan (his real name). He was very kind and respectful about it and not upset however.

    Recently I started doing occasional theater reviews for the local newspaper. In my first draft of one such review I referred to an actor whose real name was “Sean Michael Butler” as “Sean Michael WINTERS”…. because I had the name of Michael Sean Winters of America magazine on the brain at the time.

    My point is that gaffes like this CAN happen purely by accident — I know because I’ve committed them myself. So I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the “pope” headline was deliberate. The biased and slanted content of the stories themselves, however, is another matter completely.

  • Cancel your newspapers and cancel your cable TV – the only way to fight back. We do want to fight back don’t we? Be careful how you spend your money.

  • MSNBC: Unfair and unbalanced

  • I agree Marc, but I’d spread that to include the execrable Faux News and Crappy News Network as well. Journalism is a joke today.

  • They think they have the last laugh, lol, no problem, God has his way of dealing with ‘no good’ evil people like msnbc, watch just watch!

  • Do the Catholic-haters,aka MSNBC/NYT, ever reflect on why they are allowed to print lies in English, rather than in Arabic or Turkish? They would learn how the Catholics and the Pope saved the bacon of their European ancestors by the Battle of Tours; the Battle of Vienna; and the naval Battle of Lepanto. For dessert: How Saint Clare stopped the advance of the Huns.
    By the way DarwinCatholic, “anti-catholicism” should be
    “anti-Catholicism” as other religions and adjectives that
    modify them enjoy. One does not see: muslim, lutheran, amish, methodist, baptist, and forty thousand others.

  • Elaine Krewer listed three typos as examples of “gaffes”. MSNBC’s headline would be one serious typo. The headline is deliberate and she knows it; otherwise, MSNBC would have
    issued a hasty apology.

  • Nemo, my whole point is that I DO NOT KNOW that the headline was deliberate, and MSNBC DID issue a hasty apology (the same day it happened).

    Things like this do happen, and Kevin Jones’ explanation makes sense to me. The examples I cited from my own experience were NOT “typos”, i.e. totally accidental misspellings, but lapses of judgement on my part — I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the real name of the person in question. Something similar COULD have happened with regard to the “pope” headline.

    My point is, let’s direct our outrage where it belongs — to the content and reporting of these stories, and not against some copy editor or headline writer, or whatever the equivalent title is in TV news, who might have slipped up.

  • If said copy editor, headline writer, etc. did slip up and make an honest mistake, but gets fired to placate outraged Catholics while the reporters and assignment editors acting engaging in obviously biased reporting are allowed to stay and keep drawing their six- or seven-figure salaries, I don’t think that would be at all fair or just.

  • Cheer up! Based on how things are heading, in 5 years the NYT will no longer exist in print form. Can they survive and make money as a web-only newspaper? Maybe … maybe not. So how do you think it hits these folks to see that their beloved cage liner will not outlast the Catholic Church?

  • Perhaps, it was a mistake. Most likely, not a mistake. It gives me the willies that our Holy Father is being attacked so viciously, especially during Holy Week, and so soon after Obama signed the worthless Executive Order prohibiting federal funding of abortions, that I think we are all aware of the possibility of a decree being issued to Catholics, more subtle than the below, but nevertheless a decree:

    “More and more the people must be separated from the churches and their organs the pastors . . . Just as the deleterious influences of astrologers, seers and other fakers are eliminated and suppressed by the State, so must the possibility of church influence also be totally removed . . . Not until this has happened, does the state leadership have influence on the individual citizens. Not until then are the people and Reich secure in their existence for all time. “

    Martin Bormann, Head of the Nazi Party Chancellery, June 1941.

  • Moe, are you suggesting that this is part of a conspiracy to separate us from Christ and ruin this country? Do you really think there are people who want to remove God and replace Him with the god-state?

  • AK,
    Of course, I detect your facetiousness, but, yep, it has become meaningless to appeal to any higher law, God’s law, above the commands of the State. The Church is the State’s strongest opposition, ideologically speaking, and the media is the State’s strongest ally and is dutifully doing its job in attempting to destroy the Church, as evidenced by the latest round of attacks.

    Furthermore, there is no room for the Cross because suffering must be eliminated, at the expense of the weakest. And because the Cross has been eliminated, there will be no Simons, only the State. Pretty sterile stuff. The Paschal Mystery has been replaced with cute bunnies, chocolates, and baskets. Everything is feel-good fluff and Greek columns. Just take a look at the 70-year-old sexy-looking botoxed Lying Worthless Political Hack, who, as Elaine so recently succinctly put it, never saw an infanticide that she didn’t like.

  • If anyone is STILL watching MSNBC, I hope they will stop…

  • MSNBC purports to be a credible news agency. If this was a flub, then head(s) should roll given the enormity of the mistake. If it was intentional, as most of the comments indicate, then it is totally in-excusable. Either way MSNBC loses its credibility and is probably the reason why no one has been taking them seriously for a very long time and they are in the tank. So one can only say about this ridiculous headline ..consider the source!!! and be about your business.

  • Elaine: Yes dear,but that’s why they have proof-readers!! Or have they been down-sized?? at MSNBC!
    along with truth and sense of fair-play?

  • +Easter Blessings!
    It could have very easily been a mistake, most of what happens at MSNBC is a mistake!

Marci Hamilton's Crusade

Tuesday, March 31, AD 2009

Several weeks ago there was a rather unpleasant exchange in First Things, between Marci Hamilton of the Cardozo School of Law, and Martin and Melissa Nussbaum of the Diocese of Colorado. Ms. Hamilton supports lifting the statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims, while the Nussbaums are decidedly against the idea. There are reasonable arguments on both sides, and, in this particular discussion, unreasonable arguments on both sides. But I think removing the statute of limitations, as Ms. Hamilton proposes, is likely to provide little benefit in terms of deterring abuse, and myriad opportunities for malicious or frivolous litigation. Furthermore, Ms. Hamilton’s professed concern for children has been rather morbidly focused on the Catholic Church rather than, for instance, public schools, where abuse problems are far more rampant.

I thought at the time I read the exchange that Ms. Hamilton’s name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. And then I remembered: Ms. Hamilton was the author of a rather incautiously written book entitled God v. the Gavel, in which she made a case against many traditional religious liberties (noticing a theme in her oeuvre?). I say incautiously because the book contained enough errors and sloppy argumentation to elicit a legendarily harsh book review from Douglas Laycock, one of the field’s most distinguished scholars. The whole review is worth reading if the topic is of interest to you (or if, like me, you enjoy reading rigorous criticism), but here is the conclusion:

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7 Responses to Marci Hamilton's Crusade

  • More children are abused each year in the California Public School System than there are children in the whole US Catholic School System…. Public School teachers are many more times likely to abuse a child than are clergy of any religion, and Catholic clergy are even less likely than all religions…. We are just too big a target.

  • Few things please me more than reading a good negative book review!

  • Yo, Marty (Nussbaum):

    So we don’t get off on the wrong foot here, let me introduce myself. I am a life-long Philadelphia Catholic who values his religion/faith dearly. Married for over 34 years with two special needs daughters..I tell you this because this writer is quite accustomed to speaking up and out and advocating for those who fall victim to the agencies/organizations whose mission it is to serve people and, in this case, Catholic parishioners.

    If your style is anything like the lead counsel to Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Phila., then this will be most interesting. I’m sure you have had some communication with the very special William Sasso, and, if not this icon, surely the head of his non-profit group, Mark Chopko (former counsel to America’s Bishops).

    Anyhow, I would like to quote your opening statement from a “First Things” article in 2003. I just love that publication, “First Things”, because it so aptly describes and portrays the US Catholic Church, its leadership, both lay and religious as well as its management and organizational style. In other words, the “first things” we take care of is “ourselves.” No, no, Marty, you don’t understand, Our Lord made it quite clear and the “first things” are the children.

    “Let us stipulate from the beginning, as we lawyers say, that the Catholic scandal is fueled
    by a minority of priests who, mostly from the mid-1960s through the early 1990s, egregiously
    violated their ordination promises; by the bishops who reappointed known perpetrators; and by
    partisans of the left and the right now seeking to advance their pre-existing agendas for Church
    reform.”

    Marty, partisans, left and right, advance pre-existing agendas for Church reform, etc…….Marty, maybe it’s the high altitude in Colorado but you’re making as much sense as the Catholic leader, Cardinal Kaput (yeah, I got it right, he’s over and kaput). See if you can follow this one, I’ll take it slow…….the agenda here is to PROTECT OUR CHILDREN.

    You can jump in anytime and help out if you want. Why don’t you take your high-powered legal expertise and address the sovereign immunity issue regarding sexual abuse of children in public schools. This way, Marty, you take care of the children in the public arena and Marci will take care of the children in the religious arena. Now that sounds like a plan,….what do you think, Marty?

    Back to the original point of this correspondence….I envision a title bout between Marty and Marci……we have the Vegas venue on your end or the Atlantic City venue here. As mentioned, you guys can use the sobriquet “Abusers-Enablers” and Marci’s side will be appropriately called “Children-Survivors” We would have all of the accompanying hoopla as the date/day approaches with the media, press and oddsmakers weighing in on the outcome. We have all of the factors for an interesting bout……age, gender, experience differences and concerns. Height, weight, reach and even, you guessed it, hairstyle.

  • Michael S.,

    You failed to advance any argument for either side. Your comments are neither constructive nor helpful.

    I appreciate the passion on both sides of the debate, but mocking people for taking a position will not be tolerated on this blog.

  • Sir…..satire and what you call “mocking” aside, the only truth that matters here is that “First Things” in our society should be the protection of our children. Marty’s diatribe that is personally directed at Ms. Hamilton and her extraordinary efforts to protect this nation’s children, both now and in the future….now this, sir, is mocking behavior and conduct.
    Mr. Nussbaum, as counsel to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, would do well to obey the court’s directive as part of the settlement agreement and turn over the personnel files…..stop the obfuscation and delay.

  • Michael S.,

    Thanks for clearing that up.

    The comment is back up again.

  • [Comment deleted: Michael, you’ve already made your point; any future comments in this vein will be deleted – JH]

7 Responses to Bishop Jenky and the Looters

  • I also agree with the Bishop. I moved from Peoria 11 years ago and have always appreciated the Bishops of Peoria. I now live in Greenbay WI and I hope and pray that our Bishop has the spine and strength to stand up like this great Bishop.

  • Greenbay, huh? That would Bishop David Ricken, correct? He was the Bishop of The Diocese of Wyoming until being reassigned to Wisconsin, and he did an amazing job with our state. He started the Wyoming Catholic College, cleaned up a lot of parishes, implement a slew of useful programs. He’s a great man. I think he has the spine and the strength.

  • Bravo to Don’s shepherd. Hit all the right notes. Won’t be rattled by the equivalent of Race Hustlers who want a few more bucks out of diocesan coffers- like lawyers, right Don hint hint? Going thru a trauma as this in our own parish. Assistant Pastor suspended because of accusation of abuse going back to mid 90s. When he passed police background check with flying colors. Will only watch and wait for events to proceed and not pass judgment. But seems like our Melchizadeks should exchange Roman collars for bullseyes in standard clothing. Oh Don don’t get too comfortable about your fine bishop. Might be musical chairs underway with selection of Archbishop Dolan of Milwaukee to preside over the see of New York. Maybe your guy as replacement in Brew Town? Hmm.

  • Wouldn’t be at all surprised Gerard. The problem with having a good bishop is that often times they are sent on to bigger things.

  • So I know New York, Wyoming and Wisconsin, so where’s Peoria?

    Just a dumb question from an equally dumb Kiwi 😉

  • Don, my knowledge of New Zealand geography would not stand up to much close inspection. Peoria is about 131 miles southwest of Chicago. Here is a link to a map.

    http://www.mapcrow.info/Distance_between_Peoria_US_and_Chicago_US.html

    A familiar expression in this country is “Will it play in Peoria?” In vaudeville days entertainers would often try out acts in small locales like Peoria before moving on to the big cities. Now the expression means: will something that is popular in urban centers be accepted in the rest of the country.

  • Wow. He really said it all there without being one-sided. He admitted the Church has had a problem but really nailed it when he said the scandal was being abused by those who seek to hurt the Church. Thanks.