A Few Good Men

Oh, boy, here we go again!  Here are a bunch more policies and procedures coming our way. Never mind that immoral people don’t usually follow procedure. (Didn’t the McCarrick debacle teach us anything?) We’re still going to burden the rest of the good folks who, apparently, are as weak as those who have been caught and have zero common sense when it comes to how to avoid any appearance of impropriety. So, Cardinal Wuerl’s suggestion the Vatican and the church in America handle it is ridiculous. Honestly, insanity would be if we expected a different result after decades of fumbling this crisis.

How about we try a few other things first? Here are some suggestions:
The Holy Father

At the top of the list goes a canonical trial for McCarrick in an ecclesiastical court with, say, Cardinal Burke running the trial. Did I miss someone talking about this viable option??? I saw that McCarrick was “ordered to a life of prayer and penance until a canonical trial”, but when was the last time that actually happened? Usually we wait around for police to come a-knocking. Why do we need to wait for civil authorities, though? This isn’t the American judicial system where things like this take years to get to trial and many times the abusers die before being brought to judgment. The Church can act far more swiftly. If we think abusing people is a crime, how about we act like it? I know people are calling for laicization, but that’s the easy way out for them, and McCarrick resigning is sweet, too, but how about the Holy Father puts the right tough talk into action. There’s nobody else who can pull that trigger and haul his behind into an ecclesiastical court, for

In ecclesiastical law, cases affecting civil rulers or cardinals, also criminal cases of bishops, are still reserved exclusively to the Roman pontiff. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04447a.htm

Of course, the Holy Father can appoint people to represent him, but wouldn’t it say something if he actually presided?  After decades of this crud, it might be nice if a Pope had to sit and hear the testimony of the victims.  It could, however, be a “You can’t handle the truth!” moment.  The same thing applies to all of the other scandals around the world – Chile, Honduras, etc.  Want to stop it, Holy Father?  Acting like it’s a crime would be a start. Bring them all before an ecclesiastical court!

Our Priests

Then, how about we go back to some fire and brimstone homilies? Stop being the “Church of Nice” and talk about things that make people feel uncomfortable. Let them know what sin is and what happens as a result of it. For those of you who don’t know, that would be spiritual death and hell. When we adopt the “consequences don’t exist, just be nice” attitude, of course nobody realizes there are going to be repercussions for their actions, and that causes a ripple effect throughout society.

Structure, structure, and more structure. Quite frankly, the holiest and most effective priests I know don’t get a day, week, or month off (mainly because their bishops hate them). They’re so busy that they don’t have time to engage in immorality. Their precious time off is spent in their own spiritual direction and formation such as the annual retreat. How does this compare to, say, the life of my husband? He has to get up every day and go to work. When he gets home, he is a husband to his wife and a father to his children. Does he get to sit and watch TV and relax a bit? He does on a good day, but outside of his regular work schedule he has cars to fix, yard work, home repair, etc., and he never gets to take the dad thing off. That is his all-encompassing vocation. Even when he takes a moment to catch a beer with a friend, it’s kind of a mutual help session, not an “I can ditch my vocation for a few hours and let my mind wander.” That, quite frankly, is how many men get in trouble. They’re not enjoying the company of people struggling in a similar life, they’re “cutting loose.” They’re trying to escape from their lives, even if temporarily. Sadly, that small little breach usually becomes wider and wider. I’ve seen many a debate about whether priests should have a day off or get to retire. I say no.  Sound harsh? Let me explain. This isn’t to say they shouldn’t get time to relax. My husband has much less work time on the weekend. He does get to escape “the career” without every escaping the vocation. He rather mixes business with pleasure. So, am I saying Fr. So and So shouldn’t get to go play golf on Tuesdays? Nope. In fact, I’m sure much spiritual direction has been given and received on the links. I am saying that he shouldn’t be “checking out” from his vocation. We, as lay people, should also help in this area. Having the parish priest over for dinner can be mutually spiritually beneficial event. I think I’ve made it clear to my priest friends that I will be extremely displeased (use your own translation for this one) if they scandalize my kids in any way.

The Seminaries and Seminarians

Next, we need a few good men! We need to tell those who are discerning priesthood that there is, from the get go, a spiritual battle for their souls. Mortal combat will ensue. Clearly, the liberals see the priesthood as more of a fraternity where they are accepted and coddled (and apparently corrupted) the rest of their lives. Seminary should look more like bootcamp and a little less like college. Uncomfortable, hard, very structured, and the threat of discipline always looming overhead. That’s where “zero tolerance” needs to start. We need to encourage masculinity. We are suffering from a toxic lack of masculinity (hat tip Culture Project for this perfectly worded phrase). We need to teach them how to be fathers who are responsible for the physical and spiritual welfare of their families. In fact, might I suggest heavy physical as well as spiritual training?  Seriously, if the military engages in that form of formation, shouldn’t we go even further with our priests? There’s a reason the military engages in physical and psychological training. They want a cohesive unit, a disciplined unit, and most importantly, an obedient unit. In fact, when they started lowering their standards, they lost in all of those areas. When the Church gave up the “court-martial” of abusing priests (see my last post here), what did they think was going to happen? The same disaster happened when we no longer acted like dissenting from Church teaching was a bad thing.

Now, it sounds like some seminarians knew and were quite willing participants. That would be an epic failure on the part of the Church to 1) educate people that they have an immortal soul and 2) to properly vet seminarian candidates. Of course, I’m sure in some seminaries, they’re being vetted to see if they might be willing to be the type who would engage in some sort of lewd conduct. (Sigh.  Sometimes it’s hard to come from the point of view that this is not all seminaries and that there are some really good ones out there.) 

As for the seminarians who weren’t willing and were caught off guard, you knew when it happened to you. Thank you to the ones who did try to sound the alarm. I’m sure you were promptly booted for being too rigid. To the rest, I’m failing to understand how one could just go with the “I just wanted to survive the awful McCarrick seminarian days and move on to the priesthood.” Maybe that’s too harsh. I’m not blaming the victim but from now on, you guys need to have a plan in place. Maybe you didn’t even realize what the heck was going on until you were at the “What the hell?” moment. However, you were/are going for the job of saving souls – even the souls of your fellow wayward seminarians – so I’m not sure how louder whistles, or, rather, air horns weren’t sounded.  I’m sure you’d at least heard the word “millstone” once or twice. That’s how bad these creepers are.

While I don’t know what it’s like to prepare for the priesthood, I can definitely say that you’re probably going to experience a same-sex attracted incident somewhere along the way.  It’s permeated our society and our Church. Keep your head out of the sand and take the burden you’ve been given by that person and deal with it. Yep. It really is happening and it’s going to affect us all if you don’t speak up.  What’s worse? It might affect our youth. And, yes, based on the torment whistle-blowing seminarians have received, you are likely going to be persecuted. I’d love to say you’re going to go to your superior and he’s going to take care of it. That might be the case depending on where you are, but there’s too good of a chance it’s not going to happen. Start thinking of your future flock now. Be prepared for the possibility and have a plan of action. If your seminary refused to deal, move on to the bishop, the neighboring bishop, or if all else fails, perhaps the media. Oh, they’ll do something. They can’t resist. But, again, think about your future flock. I mean, seriously, when someone in your flock comes to you and says they’ve been a victim of some sort of abuse or harassment, what are you going to tell them? “Keep you head down and try to avoid the situation?!”

So, my young seminarian friends, let me cover something that has been apparently lacking all along the way. If someone harasses or abuses you, sound the alarm first and worry about the vocation later. The immediate “vocation” is to stop evil from happening. Worry about the rest later after you’ve gone this first round with satan. People I care about are in seminary, so I do not take this lightly.

I’m also partial to the idea that at least one class should be taught by a married couple with kids. I like to think of it as a course in reality. That would, of course, include the topic of the traumatized couple needing to go to confession should ANYONE hurt their child in any manner. I don’t think most abusers understand the depths of a parent’s love and the depth of insanity that appears when our kids are hurt. That alone could be a “scared straight” course.

The Laity

Parents of minors, why would your children ever need to be alone with a priest outside of a confessional? Yes, I’m probably a paranoid freak about the safety and well-being of my children, but you might want to join me. We still try to keep a very careful balance of not making our children fear priests and letting them know anyone can act in and evil immoral manner. Yes, that’s hard to do. We teach our kids they shouldn’t be alone with, really, any adult who is not us in a private space, and of course, the usual physical boundaries that should be taught should they ever find themselves in that situation.  Quite frankly how is it that some make it all the way to seminary and don’t know how to blow the proverbial whistle when someone is acting inappropriate is way beyond me.

Lastly, again, remember that satan exists and this is all his handiwork. We need to find the balance between Pollyana and suspicious. People who have done or will do satan’s work will and have always existed in the Church. We can’t let this take our faith away from us, no matter how shocking it’s been. If we don’t walk through life trying to figure out where satan is daily trying to steal our souls, then no matter what goes on in the world around us, he will get us at least a good portion of the time. #banfoxesinhenshouses #CatholicCyberMilitia

 

 

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10 thoughts on “A Few Good Men

  1. There is one aspect to this ongoing, never ending debacle which I have never heard discussed. To anyone who reads through the files of predatory, homosexual priests now posted online on many diocesan websites, as I have, there is one fact that begins to dawn on one after a while. Admittedly, I have only thoroughly read through five of them for they make very discouraging reading, but in every case alcohol played a very large part in these events. The priest had some young man over. They spent the evening drinking and seduction ensued. My guess is that that– or something very much like it–is the template for virtually the entire scandal.

    It was the case for my brother. An upperclassman seminarian got him drunk and abused him. And so we had the scene at the end of that academic year that while the upperclassman was being ordained deacon my brother was rocking back and fourth in a fourth story window of his dorm on the verge of suicide. The only thing that prevented him was the thought of how it would affect our mother. That was in 1970. He lived the marvelous lifestyle for another 23 years and died of AIDS in 1993, after a deathbed conversion.

    At any rate, I have never heard the alcohol/scandal relationship mentioned, but it seems to me it cries out for thorough-going research.

    Now, if the research bears out my thesis, what should be the response on the part of the episcopate, the presbyterate? Should it be primarily official statements (of which I have had a bellyful, your Excellencies), “Called to Protect” indoctrination and training for teachers, ministers, etc, or the little signs that one finds on the grounds of monasteries and seminaries to the effect that children should accompany their parents at all times? For what are we protecting our children from but priests!!?? All of this business I find completely maddening as bureaucratic, faux solutions to a very fundamental and blatant problem. Frankly, I am not sure that the basic, fundamental problem is alcoholism, drinking or homosexual tendencies in priests, but it does seem very likely that research would show that drinking on the part of priests with homosexual tendencies does lower their inhibitions and opens the way to mayhem, or rather that it was the common denominator in virtually all incidents.

    Now in light of that fact, if it is a fact as I think, what then ought to be the response on the part of the Church? Well, for one thing, I doubt very much that Belloc’s cheery little ditty ought to have currency in a seminary or rectory anymore: “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!'” If I were less pious, my response to that would be equally Bellockian, “May all my enemies go to hell. Noel, noel, noel.”

    At the time of my brother’s unhappy sojourn, St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore had a bar, presumably so that future priests would learn how to handle their liquor. It is not very difficult to imagine what the saints would think of that arrangement, and in any case it seems not to have had the desired effect.

    Regarding Belloc’s paen to good red wine, I get it. We are not Puritans. Surely we have established that. At this point, though, we have to establish in the public mind that we are not perverts. It should only take a few centuries. Sorry, padres, but that is the reality of the situation. And how might our bishops and priests do that? I can think of nothing more to the point both in terms of penance, or preventing future incidents or in terms of recovering our standing in the public eye that by taking the pledge en masse and by making it known to the world at large. Yes, your brother fell, not you, but who will do penance if not you, O priest of Jesus Christ, O negligent, hapless bishops? And who will lead us laity in pentitence away from our typically all too sybaritic lives except repentant clergy?

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  2. With the downfall of His Wretchedness Theodore McCarrick, and the stupefying, appalling tale of his rise to power despite two sizeable settlements paid out to his victims en route, one unhappily finds himself wishing Pope Francis would remind this prelate of his dignity as a human being and as a man by installing a guillotine in St. Peter’s square and lopping off his head.

    Then there is the realization infallible that many people in the Church on the east coast either knew or should have known of his predatory proclivities. Cardinals Farrell, Wuerl, O’Malley, Cupich and Dolan come to mind, together with Bishop John Myers. One of the greatest evangelists of our time, Mel Gibson, a layman, said of an enemy, “I want his intestines on a stick.” Gibson is no saint ( except comparatively), but in this context, his quote comes to mind unbidden. So are we infuriated laymen accumulating confessional matter when we speak and think in this way? Then the confessionals of the entire world must be on fire! the confessionals of the United States, of Chile, of Honduras, of Austria, of Australia, and on and on..

    Enough is enough, your Excellencies, your Eminences, your Holiness. The homosexual culture among you needs to be utterly extirpated, not promoted. Yet you do promote it, tolerate it, wink at it, manage it. Moreover, seemingly, there is no remedy for our wound. To whom shall we go if you will not listen?

    We will go to the Lord, for with St. Paul our angels caution us and say, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master servants stand or fall” (Romans 14:4).

    That is true enough, for in all this fury of indignation it is all too easy to launch false accusations, to demand accountability of those who may in fact have known nothing and to surrender to the ethos of a lynch mob. Yet there is Someone who knows everything, who judges impartially, who hears the cry of those who thirst for justice . . .as we do in fact thirst. Why do we not cry out? Why do we not fast so as to make our voice heard on high?

    When he was falsely accused of sodomy by those who wanted the great assets of his order, the elderly Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, cried out to the Lord in court asking Him to summon to His court those responsible for his death. Within the year two of them died and appeared before the Lord in His court, there to be judged equitably, one of them Pope Clement V who died within a month.. “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” yet into His hands they fell. So we want to be super cautious in what we say, in the judgments and accusations we make.

    Yet . . .is there anything standing in the way of asking the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, to summon to his tribunal all sodomites of every priestly rank, whether to the tribunal of the confessional there to be absolved and begin a life of chastity, or to their final judgment, so that one way or another His Church will be utterly purified?

    Given the devastation that such men have leveled on the sheep of Your flock, have we not been remiss in not asking this of You much earlier? To whom else can we appeal, Lord Jesus Christ, just judge of Heaven and Earth? One way or another deliver us of these predatory or complicit men. Awake, O Lord, and rise to our defense! And in your charity soon, notably, unmistakenly.

    Reaffirm please, in the eyes of all, who is the Head of Your Church, and who the vicar, and who is the Bishop of Bishops, to whom all bishops must answer, and whose life they must mirror.

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    1. Prayers for your brother, Lee I’m sorry your family experienced this. Good point on the alcohol but I think it’s a tool for the abusers to break down their victims rather than an accident on both parts.

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      1. Absolutely a gateway, (alcohol). I believe I’ve mentioned 3 golf instructors in California who primed their victim first.These were children they were abused , and all the men married .

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  3. If they need a layman to act as a juror hearing a canonical case against Mr. McCarrick, I would like to volunteer, as long as the case is in the U.S.. In Rome. forget it!!!

    The Catholic Church knows me well, already. Some in its legal system know of my fidelity to our abandoned marriage and to the pursuit of truth, in its defense, twice. Yes, and they know that I am not perfect but that I can, objectively, discern the facts of a case.

    I have always preferred a Coke to a Budweiser, although a single Tanqueray and Tonic with light ice, goes very well with a nice big Mediterranean Salad and a piece of Ricotta Cheese cake, while listening to an old friend on his accordion and, once in awhile, singing a couple 50’s & 60’s oldies with him in his last set.

    Good article, Mom!

    Karl

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  4. Regarding the issue of alcohol use/abuse in the seminary and its relationship to the problems at hand, I’m wondering if it’s more correlation than causation. There are easily obtained statistics that show that drinking, smoking and drug use are all significantly higher among the homosexual male population than among the heterosexual male population. A few years back I attended an event at the local seminary (which has a reputation for orthodoxy). I was somewhat surprised to notice quite a few of the seminarians outside smoking cigarettes. Now, I’m not saying that only gays smoke or that smokers are bad people. It’s just that within a certain age group and educational level, at least here in the U.S. (things may be different in other countries), smoking rates among heterosexual males are significantly lower than among homosexuals. Likewise if alcohol use/abuse is higher than average in the seminary it may also simply be the function of having a lot of young gay males around. With all that said, I don’t doubt that some predators may use alcohol as a way of softening up their victims (indeed that’s the oldest trick in the book for hetero predators, too).

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