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!
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.
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