This Kind Does Not Come Out Except by Prayer and Fasting

This Kind Does Not Come Out Except by Prayer and Fasting August 20, 2018

Pope Francis has now issued a letter in response to the recent heart-wrenching revelations regarding clerical sexual abuse and cover-up in the United States. I’ve seen plenty of criticism of it already: empty words with no action; didn’t mention X, Y, or Z; those who are victims in some respect (including those who weren’t directly abused, but whose trust in the Church has been shattered through no fault of their own) should be explicitly excused from the call to prayer and fasting. I don’t fault anyone for having strong, visceral, critical reactions to anything put out by the Vatican on this issue right now. But if you’ll permit me again, I would like to share the reasons why this letter gives me hope that the Church is on the verge of great healing and renewal from the depths of a crushed and contrite heart.

Félix Joseph Barrias – The Temptation of Christ by the Devil / Image Public Domain

First of all, Pope Francis does not scapegoat anyone or anything, unlike too many clerics and commentators have done. I am very sympathetic to René Girard’s theory that God choosing to redeem the world by allowing the crucifixion of His own Son was designed to, among other things, crush the worldly lie that scapegoating cleanses the community after catastrophe, exposing it through the manifest injustice of killing the only perfectly just One and God Himself. There is no place in the converted Christian heart for blaming the abuse of children and of power on homosexuality, celibacy, Vatican II, sexual morality of the laity, the male-only priesthood, or any other group or cultural phenomenon. The issue at hand is abuse—of children, of spiritual authority, of institutional power—and pointing the finger at anything other than abusers and structures that enable abuse is a dangerous distraction at best, and grave injustice to the ones being scapegoated at worst.

Pope Francis squarely identifies the problem, and repeats the phrase four times in the letter: “abuse of power and abuse of conscience.” This is closely tied to clericalism, “an approach that ‘not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people.’ Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism.” It is remarkable that he recognizes that the laity themselves can sometimes be promoters or enablers of this authoritarianism, and thus just appointing lay people to more positions of oversight and authority is not a simple solution. Anyone who has spent a few hours observing the behavior of outspoken lay Catholics on social media should be able to discern that they can be among the worst proponents of authoritarian and exclusionary religion, and apparently Pope Francis gets this, even while using the term “clericalism” to describe the disease throughout the Body of Christ.

The passing mention of lay enablers notwithstanding, Pope Francis puts primary responsibility on the ecclesial community, including himself. He accuses in the first-person plural:

With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them. I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us!

Pope Francis does not stop at public confession and contrition, but insists on committing to suffering in solidarity with the victims as an essential part of healing their pain and preventing future abuse.

Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit. If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228). Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person. A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption. The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for ‘even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165). Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).

Mary figures prominently in this relatively brief letter, as the model for all Christians. The second paragraph invokes her Magnificat: “Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history. For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: ‘he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty’ (Lk 1:51-53). We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite.” The penultimate paragraph reminds us all to look to Mary as “the model of a true follower of Christ.”

I believe this focus on Mary as our model is more than mere pious practice. It is an implicit contradiction of those who call on the Church to become more “masculine,” more hard, more engaged in “battle” as the cure for what ails us. As members of the Church, the mystical bride of Christ, we are all to approach God from a “feminine” posture. That even goes for priests and prelates, despite their cameo roles in persona Christi. Moreover, the cooperation between Mary and God perfectly models the right exercise of power and submission, being the antithesis of abuse. In the Annunciation, God—He who possesses all power and has every right to demand obedience—incredibly asks for Mary’s free consent. He also gives her the means, the plenary grace, to be able to give it. And in her fiat, she gives that consent and freely submits herself to God’s power and authority, even while transgressing cultural norms that she should submit such weighty things to Joseph’s (or a father’s) authority. We learn that rightful power and authority asks and enables, rather than demands. We learn that rightful submission is to God alone, and while He indeed appoints agents of His authority that we must respect, we also must learn to hear the voice of conscience that protects us from illegitimate assertions of authority to speak for God.

Coming down from the heights of hierarchical authority to ask for the participation of the faithful, Pope Francis assures us that “every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need.” He is clear that the laity is not an undifferentiated mass, in which the participation of a few can somehow represent the consent of the many. “It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives.”

It is difficult to conceptualize exactly how the Church hierarchy will listen to and receive the willing participation of all the faithful—there being over a billion of us!—and this has been a constant unanswered question since Vatican II. But it is one we can put off no longer. If we truly believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church in history towards all truth, through both the Bishops and the prophetic witness of all believers, then we must establish and practice the means by which magisterial authority can perceive the sense of the faithful, gently propose and generously enable what it would have the bride of Christ do, and thereby receive the willing and joyful participation of its members. There is no clear precedent for this. We can look back to the early Christian Church, but so much has changed in terms of size of the Church and cultural circumstances that it will still require monumental translation and innovation. Only by the gracious intervention of the Holy Spirit can we begin to hope that such reform is possible.

This is why it is right for the Holy Father to “invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.” Note that word, “invite.” He does not “call upon” all the faithful to engage in this prayer and fasting, but he proposes to us. And the point is not to suggest that we are all responsible for the sins of abuse that have been committed, or to make reparations to an angry God as some traditionalists propose. Rather, “[t]his can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says ‘never again’ to every form of abuse.”

[P]enance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils. May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.

In short, penitential prayer and fasting awakens our self-satisfied hearts to a hunger for God and docility to the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is to speak through the faithful and not rely solely on Pope Francis to renew His Church, we need to participate in this fasting too. We do not have to, but do we want to accept the challenge of placing ourselves in the service of God’s saving work?

The invitation to fast is itself a challenge to conversion and docility for me, personally. I’ve always struggled with seeing the purpose of it, because fasting is hard for me, and I find myself more distracted by hunger than drawn into prayer by it. But our Lord’s own words are crystal clear that this is sometimes a necessary part of the Christian life, especially for driving out demons. I must have the docility to receive those words even if it doesn’t feel helpful to me. And indeed, I have seen miracles happen when I have fasted (as poorly and minimally as I practice “fasting”), even when it seems to have been a spiritually dry exercise. The Holy Spirit takes my act of blind but free “yes” and creates something new and good out of it.

Will you join me? Will you join Pope Francis in putting yourself at the service of the Holy Spirit to convert and open hearts, enkindle in us the fire of His love, and renew the face of the earth? Or will you impatiently grumble about what hasn’t been said or done yet, lobby for your preferred institutional reforms, and complain about being invited to help clean up a mess you didn’t make? Do you believe this is a mess that a man or men can clean up, if only worldly powers can be better managed and balanced precisely against each other? Or do you believe that a better Church can only be conceived by the Holy Spirit in the whole Body of Christ that says “yes” to the uncomfortable and unprecedented?

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  • jb3g

    Could this be reposted with a font set that doesn’t have all the incorrect font mappings? It’s an excellent article, but very difficult to read.

  • Mary Small

    I’m trying to put apostrophes and quotation marks in with “find and replace” but it’s very tedious. Could you please repost. From what I can make out, this is a very good article.
    Thanks!

  • James Hanink

    Thanks for this analysis. I find much to agree with. “The Open Door” (WCAT) will discuss the letter this Friday.

  • santa

    i wholeheartedly agree with Mary Small and jb3g. Please repost !!

  • John Raimondi

    This was an insightful article, however, anyone who believes that homosexuals are not in some way responsible is extremely naive. Certainly there is also an element of pedophilia here as well. The only way that we can even begin to root out the evil in this crisis (and we must begin that process) is to acknowledge that there are certain people who should absolutely NOT be ordained to the priesthood.

  • Mary Small

    thank you!

  • Heather K Free-Schweitzer

    I agree with you John and find it quite disturbing how too many label this a “clerical” issue, as it is truly a homosexual infiltration issue coupled with pedophilia, more over pederasty.

  • douglas kraeger

    Fasting and prayer, absolutely. When was the last time any priest encouraged all to fast sincerely enough to lose weight, but fast not for that purpose, but to garner graces for those who are slaves to some appetite? Fasting not only from food, but also any and all of the good things God has given us that people become slaves to their wants for, unable (unwilling) to say no to those good things? How many priests have not been given the graces to be chaste, be pure, because parishioners did not garner graces for the priest to do so, by periodically abstaining from the greatest good that God gave husbands and wives, (after a living, vibrant faith) marital relations?
    Whenever we fast and pray, as in all we do, should we not mentally unite it with the fasting, praying, and suffering that Jesus offered up His whole life and is therefore offering up eternally for all sinners as “He lives in Heaven to intercede for all sinners” and all points of space and time are present to Him eternally, in their immediacy (CCC 600)?
    I would like to comment on one point of your otherwise very good article, and please, if you see anything that you believe I say to be in error, please try to correct me. thank you.
    In your article you made the side comment, “And in her fiat, she gives that consent and freely submits herself to God’s power and authority, even while transgressing cultural norms that she should submit such weighty things to Joseph’s (or a father’s) authority. ”
    That there is no scriptural mention of Mary discussing anything with St. Joseph, I agree. BUT
    What can we conclude about Mary and Her actions from considering the nature of God and Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the Woman, between your seed and her’s”?
    The nature of God? Can we agree that because God is the Creator of all things, all space and time, and infinitely all good, all-loving (Wisdom 11:24), all-knowing, and all-powerful, He must have only one, single, infinite, indivisible, eternally in the present tense thought, in which He thinks the Name He calls Himself, He thinks about every one of His attributes, His entire will for all space and time down to the smallest detail, every thought, word, and action of every creature He creates with infinite love and wills to reconcile with Himself by the Blood of the Cross, He eternally knows exactly when each soul will realize what God’s “LOVE” eternally is, and when each will conform their free wills to love all as God loves all, willing good for all, willing them to be good, to be holy and doing everything they can, by God’s grace, to help them choose to be holy, by God’s grace and to love all as God loves all?
    If we agree on the above, let me apply this to Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity….”. If God has only one single, infinite, eternally in the present tense thought, Then He must be eternally “be putting enmity between the woman and the devil” and therefore She is never in the devil’s camp. She never, by this special gift of God’s grace, never sins by commission or omission, and never passes up an opportunity to garner graces for others. Agreed?
    This woman, when she was a little Jewish girl, would have heard the passage, Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him” , and how wives should strive to be a good helpmate for their husbands, doing everything they can to help the husband be holy. Agreed?
    What can we reasonably conclude Mary would have done once she understood that God intends for spouses to be helpmates and to do all they can to help their spouse to be holy?
    Would she have prayed and sacrificed for her future husband (whose identity she believed is eternally known to God) to garner graces for him, as he is growing up, to always pray for the graces to believe with an ever increasing, living faith in God, for the graces to love all as God loves all, for the graces to want to pray ever more perfectly, and the graces to want to know all the truths that God wants everyone to want to know? Agreed?
    Please bear with me, I am getting to my point.
    Mary and Joseph would both have known about the community at Essene and the public witness those people were giving of their hope to cooperate with God, by living celibately as husbands and wives, in the hope that one of the wives would be chosen as the virgin mother of the redeemer.
    Mary, also knowing psalm 1: 2, “the man delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night” would have done all she could to help her future spouse to do just that. In my opinion, she would humbly have used every opportunity to ask Joseph the proper question for him to seek God’s answer to that was now obvious because of the proper question.
    Such as: Would, should a holy husband want to do all he could to garner graces by voluntarily and quietly willing to forego marital relations and therefore children, to hasten the coming of the promised Redeemer?
    Should a holy husband inform his spouse that he is praying to God for the graces to give God everything he has and for God to use him and his wife, and all their possessions, their very bodies, all their sacrifices, everything, in any way that God deems best to hasten God’s will being done?
    If Mary had asked far better questions than I have suggested, and garnered vast amounts of graces for Joseph by her prayers and sacrifices, is it probable that Joseph would have made it known to Mary, before their betrothal, that he expected her to support him in his giving God complete control over their bodies and all their possessions?
    Therefore, is it not probable that when the angel appeared to Mary, while she was praying, praying as the perfect helpmate, praying in support of her husbands clear intent to give God everything, in whatever way God wanted to use their sacrifices and prayers, Mary already was certain of Joseph’s “command” and knew therefore how to give an immediate response to the angel?
    Again, please try to help me see my error if you believe I have made one in my reasoning. Thank you again for your reenforcing that we need to fast (from many things) and pray

  • HematitePersuasion

    Ah yes, no TRUE Scotsman would ever …

  • HematitePersuasion

    Yes, excellent sidestep and way to avoid the issue. Of course, that completely ignores the plight of actual real identifiable children abused by actual real priests because their crimes were covered up by actual real bishops … none of these persons were responsible, it was all

    homosexual infiltration

  • TinnyWhistler

    Disclaimer: I’m not Catholic, nor do I play one on Sunday morning.

    How can the Church improve its response to abuse while requiring confession to a priest and disallowing that priest to report abuse? As far as I know, priests confess to other priests and it’s the ultimate accountability loophole, if one cannot report what someone else confessed without risking excommunication.

    I’m not trying to demand that the policy change, I just want to know how the Church can prevent the loophole being used! Will accountability ultimately always rest on the victim reporting the abuse to someone else and hoping something’s done? If one priest knows another is abusing people, will he always be required to bite his tongue until a victim is brave enough to speak up about it?

  • Some guy

    I was born and raised Catholic, and in short, yes and yes.

    As I see it, there are two major problems which have made abuse possible in the first place, and will allow it to continue as long as the Vatican continues to ignore these two problems.

    First is the institutional arrogance of the Church in presuming to adjudicate these cases on its own. Let’s be clear here — no priest or bishop is either qualified or authorized to administer civil law (the law with the proper authority and responsibility to protect children from criminals), not is the Church in any position to punish these criminals appropriately. Let’s be even clearer — THE CHURCH IS NOT ABOVE THE LAW. I have yet to hear any higher-ups actually concede this.

    The second problem is the deranged priorities of those who place the Church’s public image above the welfare of its most vulnerable members. This is most glaringly illustrated by Pope Francis’s own “then-Cardinal Ratzinger”, who, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (in effect, the Vatican’s “chief enforcer”), issued a blanket order to keep abuse allegations covered up while civil statutes of limitation ran out (see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/apr/24/children.childprotection). OK, let’s be clear here — THE PUBLIC IMAGE OF THE ENTIRE CHURCH IS WORTH NOTHING, COMPARED TO THE WELFARE OF A SINGLE CHILD. If they can’t get that one fact through their heads, from the Vatican on down, then — I’m not wishing this on them, but only stating a fact — the entire Church can and WILL go to hell.

  • Dick Modderkolk

    Love it. John and you give me great hope the church will shrink significantly because of this. Of course it’s not a clerical issue or a catholic issue, no it’s those damn gays. After infiltrating the prisons (we all know what’s going on there, amIright!) they’ve set their sights on the catholic church. Most probably on the orders of Stalin is what I’ve red somewhere. And it’s definitely not a power issue as some with knowledge of these things claim, It’s sexual, both in prison and the church!

  • Lark62

    The Vatican can:
    1. Forbid children under the age of 18 from going to confession, because priests use the confessional to identify children for abuse, groom them to accept violations of sexual boundaries and silence them after abuse.
    2. Immediately excommunicate any priest who has sexually abused children or who transferred an abusive priest to a new church. Deny them burial in consecrated ground, and dig them up if they are already there. Any use of threats of hell to obtain sexual compliance or to silence victims means immediate excommunication.
    3. Put every penny received from dioceses in the last 30 years into a fund to pay compensation to abused children.
    4. Require every diocese, every priest and every church member to support expansions to statutes of limitations to ensure that every victim can receive compensation and every abusive priest faces legal justice.

    The Vatican can do these things. Or they can ask average catholics to skip a meal and talk to the ceiling.

    I wonder which they will choose.

  • AntithiChrist

    Non-religionist here. That’s an awful lot of words that completely miss the larger, simpler point.

    Other than a person indoctrinated into a certain church since birth, who could possibly want to remain a member of that church, which for centuries has boasted of a god so consistently inept, incompetent and unable to keep innocent children from being raped on church premises?

    True believers: this is not a “gotcha” or even a rhetorical question. It is a genuine inquiry.

    Please explain why this god is obviously OK with kids being raped in real time by its official servants, and why you’d follow such a monster.

  • Barb

    The word used, clericalism that was first used by Pope Francis then by various clerics, reminds me of the MSM using a phrase over and over again…no thinking on anyone’s part. Just a parroting of something said before. I am getting tired of hearing the word, clericalism, as much as the word racist used to silence anyone with a different opinion. Enough already.

  • Barb

    Why do people who do not believe in God accuse him as the problem? You antithichrist are not worth listening to your enlightened words. Go to another website that will applaud your blasphemous comments.

  • Mr. James Parson

    1. Can’t do that. It would mean that they would have to admin that there are things more important than the Seal of Confession
    2. Won’t happen. One could be a mass murderer and not get excommunicated
    3. Money runs the whole show. They are not going to change that
    4. Churches are not supposed to advocate political positions [sic]. Most of the aged members don’t even know there are victims of anything.

    The biggest change will be no change.

  • Guthrum

    There needs to be total reform and reorganization – starting at the church level. The RC churches at least n this country, should pull out of the RC and form their own organization Catholic Church – US, or something. No Pope or cardinals. Enough of top heavy bureaucracy. The power will stay at the church level.

  • Guthrum

    As I wrote above, any change must start at the church level. Churches should withdraw from the RCC. Martin Luther tried to reform the church, couldn’t do it: the RCC was too corrupted. Same thing today.

  • AntithiChrist

    Or…perhaps simply establishing revolutionary, easy to follow guidance to clergy is in order.

    For instance, once it’s understood by clergy that in the event of a conviction for raping children, or coverup of child rape, that each male clergy member (no pun intended) in the ENTIRE local organization – church, diocese, whatever, will have their testicles surgically removed, and the offending members (again, NPI) then publicly paraded through the streets wearing their testicles around their necks, on their way to prison vans, I think you’ll see this issue disappear overnight.

    No hand-wringing. No spiritual crises. No exceptions.

    Then everyone can enter a church feeling safe about their children again.

    You’re welcome.

  • AntithiChrist

    Here’s the reason. Anytime a non-believer cites or otherwise references a god, it’s done rhetorically. As in: “your god clearly isn’t interested in intervening when a child is raped, most likely due to the fact of its non-existence, so stop wringing your hands over this, and enough with the crocodile tears and crises of faith, and face some frickin’ facts.” Once you get past the pearl clutching phase of “OMG A Blasphemer!” perhaps you could then step up and become a fully functioning adult human and stop endangering children by leaving them in the care of an outfit with a worldwide reputation for raping children.

    Hopefully that clears things up for you a bit.

  • There’s one thing that they can do, that they will, in time, must:

    Die.

  • swbarnes2

    This is all garbage until the hierarchy does something that actually stings them a little. This is a list of 19 dioceses that declared bankruptcy over abuse. A church that cared would have seen that all those victims got compensated.

    https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/catholic-dioceses-and-orders-filed-bankruptcy-and-other-major-settlements

    Yours did not, and never will. And you know that.

    A honest church would throw open all their abuse records. Your church will not do this, and you are fine with that. You probably don’t even want them to do that.

    In an honest church every single pastor would go to their congregation, and tell them plainly “Everyone knew that Father so-and-so hurt children. But I said nothing.”

    Your church would never do that. Frankly, I bet you do not want to hear your priest admit that he tacitly sanctioned child rape. Too hard. Christians talk a good game about wanting to sacrifice and die for Jesus, but when things get mildly inconvenient, that’s the end of that kind of thinking. “Something, something, victims…but hearing about it is all so hard! I’m in agony, someone feel sorry for meeee!”

  • swbarnes2

    It’s sad to think about how massively more moral the church would be if its policy was “molest kids? We won’t let you be prosecuted, of course, but you never minister to kids again. You can grade papers in seminary school. If you ever step foot in a church with families again, you’ll be preaching to the penguins.”

    But the Catholic church thought the safety and welfare of children was so worthless, thy wouldn’t even do this much.

  • guadalupelavaca

    The first thing that needs to be done is implement a rule that priests cant be alone with anyone under 18.

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  • You’re citing the Problem of Evil, which is not a new problem. You’ve just gotten hit with a form of evil that seems especially squicky to you. I’m inclined to support the argument that permitting evil is a necessary consequence of free will. I’m going to have to leave you to study this yourself.

    My own reasons for continued faith are first, that I think that the claims of the Church are true, and second, that no organization run with as much knavish imbecility as the Church could last a week, unless God willed it.

  • Congratulations. You’re advocating punishing the innocent along with the guilty, and tossing aside the Constitutional guarantee of no cruel and unusual punishment. Are you going to do the same thing to school teachers who sexually abuse children, and all the administrative staff of the associated school district/ teacher’s union/ state or federal Department of Education? Cos if you aren’t, you’re also tossing aside equality before the law. The idea that members of some groups deserve worse punishment on the basis of that membership, rather than based on their actions, is never going to sit well with me. It is going to always strike me as inherently unjust.

  • @swbarnes2:

    NOBODY opens all the child abuse records. You just try, I dare you to try, to get child abuse records from any family court, social service agency, or behavioral health agency.

    It will not happen.

    And with a moment’s thought, you’ll realize why: it protects the innocent victims, some of whom are those who get abused, and some of whom are those who are falsely accused of abuse. This one: https://www.newsweek.com/2016/01/29/billy-doe-altar-boy-sends-four-men-prison-philadelphia-rape-case-417565.html is one of the worst false accusers, but by no means the only one; at least a couple more are discussed at thesestonewalls.com which is written by a victim of false abuse allegations, sentenced to sixty-seven years in prison on the basis of allegations supported exclusively by public hysteria and the desire to limit liability, and nothing else.

  • GoodCatholicGirl

    A homosexual infiltration? And what do we call the priests who have preyed on girls, women and nuns? A heterosexual infiltration?

  • GoodCatholicGirl

    Or with women, especially if they wear habits.

  • Heather K Free-Schweitzer

    In fact, more than 80% of the cases were adult men assaulting teen boys which is a direct result of the homosexual/Communist infiltration planted in the Church back in 1929. Familiarize yourself with Bella Dodd, a convert to Catholicism, who was a Communist that worked to destroy the Church from within as given direct orders from the Kremlin. Dodd testified these accounts and more to a Grand Jury in the 1950’s. Alice Von Hildebrand has spoken of this in great detail. It is no secret.

  • Heather K Free-Schweitzer

    I suggest you familiarize yourself with the accounts of Bella Dodd, a Communist that testified to the Grand Jury in the 1950’s to the fact that homosexuals were strategically placed in seminaries to destroy the Church from within. A good read for you would be Goodbye Good Men.

  • Heather K Free-Schweitzer

    And be like Luther? Ah, no.

  • HematitePersuasion

    Thank you for your recommendation, but alternate earth histories have never been an interest of mine.

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  • Doubleplusgoodful

    I love your take on the letter. Thank you.
    Re: “There is no clear precedent for [magesterium effectively listening to the faithful,]” I think we can find, in the Personal Ordinariates established under Anglicanorum Coetibus, a model for this.

  • SykesFive

    No. 4 is incorrect at least with respect to the United States. Under civil law (most significantly tax law), churches are free to advocate particular political positions, including specific legislation. They may lobby legislators and ask adherents to support these lobbying efforts. They may also ask adherents to vote a particular way on a ballot issue such as a referendum or bond issue. What they may not do is support particular candidates for office.

    There is nothing in the law of the church that prevents such activity.

    Thus, it would be okay for a bishop to write a letter to a state legislator or meet with her for the purpose of asking her to not to vote for an extension of the relevant statute of limitations. It would also be okay for him to have a piece like this published in the diocesan newspaper and to submit an opinion piece to the secular newspaper making his case.

    It would also be okay for him to organize a campaign of Catholic laypeople opposed to the extension and, for example, to use his chancery to organize it.

    (In fact, the Catholic bishops in Pennsylvania did these two things.)

    If there were a referendum on the question, he could of course vote against it himself. He could also require all priests to preach on the issue and tell their parishioners to vote against it, and print up cards saying to vote NO on the statute of limitations reform issue.

    (An analogous case I witnessed is the marriage definition amendment in Wisconsin, for which some bishops gave voting instructions.)

    But, if there were an election, and let us say that Smith opposed the extension and Jones supported it, he could not endorse Smith or organize a Catholics for Smith campaign. He could come pretty close, by for example distributing a voting guide that said the Church opposes statute of limitations extension reform and summarizing Smith and Jones’ positions, but that guide could not say to vote for Smith.

  • Commentariat

    The post-Conciliar attempts to escape clericalization by “opening up” the liturgy actually led to an “unprecedented clericalization” by placing the focus on the person of the priest. Ratzinger writes in “The Spirit of the Liturgy”:

    “In reality what happened was an unprecedented clericalization came on the scene. Now the priest – the “presider”, as they now prefer to call him – becomes the real point of reference for the whole liturgy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, to respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing. Not surprisingly, people try to reduce this new created role by assigning all kinds of liturgical functions to different individuals and entrusting the “creative” planning of the liturgy to groups of people who like to, and are supposed to, “make a contribution of their own.” Less and less is God in the picture. The turning of the priest towards the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is locked into itself. The common turning towards the East was not a “celebration toward the wall”; it did not mean that the priest “had his back to the people”; the priest himself was not regarded as so important.” In the Mass, as Ratzinger notes, the focus was formerly on Our Lord.

  • Ray Ramirez

    Here is one Bishop: Paprocki of Springfield IL, who says he is fasting and asking his Faithful to join him: https://ct.dio.org/bishops-column/message/a-call-for-profound-spiritual-renewal-at-all-levels-prayer-and-fasting/read.html