Seeking candor in the Catholic sexual abuse reports

Here is a quick list of some of the major stories about the new Catholic clergy sexual abuse reports. This is a list of secular newspaper reports, collected on the blog of the conservative Catholic World News. This is a good site for insights from conservative clergy and laity. The National Catholic Reporter, of course, represents the other side of the aisle.

The reporting is still breaking down along fairly predictable lines, but not entirely. There are sections of the report that are hard to duck. The following quotes from the National Review Board report are singled out in a strong CWN blog item entitled “The Fix Was In.” The board found that:

. . . treatment centers upon which Church leaders elected to rely — almost all of which were Church affiliated — had a vested interest in an ability to “cure” pedophiles and other individuals who had engaged in sexual abuse so that the centers would continue to receive referrals. . . .

It appears that some of these centers may have been less rigorous than non-[Church]-affiliated centers, either in their treatment or in their willingness to opine about the priest’s suitability for future ministry. In addition, it appears that many of the individuals previously managing certain treatment centers had notions of sexuality that at best could be termed inconsistent with Church teaching.

I realize that this is old news, but, nevertheless, it is news. The actual structures of the American Catholic Church are divided. They do not agree on the content of Catholic doctrine on matters of sexuality and, to be precise, homosexual behavior.

Candid voices on both the Catholic left and right tend to admit this reality, while differing, of course, on the doctrines.

Let’s do a test. The following quote is from a satirical post by an anonymous Catholic priest. This is from a set of fictional remarks that might have been spoken by USCCB President Wilton Gregory, had the bishop been seized by an involuntary fit of candor. Again, these remarks are fiction.

Before you look at the URL, ask yourself this question: Do you think a conservative or a liberal priest wrote this satire?

“Well . . . to answer you candidly, we bishops are simply unable to address the question of gays in the priesthood, because we are unable to address the question of gays in our own ranks. A reasonable estimate, extrapolating from arrest reports, etc., is that 25 to 35 percent of us bishops are homosexuals. Of these, some are gay, some are closeted. Some are active, some are clean, some are chaste today but have dirt in their past. Some are deeply angry and vindictive men, others are timid and retiring. Most importantly — and completely fatal to any honest confrontation of the issues — we don’t know who among us is homosexual and who is not. So our own discussions are always conducted in a disingenuous third-person: everyone, including gay bishops themselves, speak about gays as ‘those persons,’ implying detachment and objectivity.”

At the moment, it is very hard to stick a liberal-or-conservative label on candor. What does that say?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • atilla the honey

    I would not expect these excerpts to come from a liberal source. Sensitivity to the rhetoric-of-evasiveness of “disingenuous third-person” and the straightforward candor of 25%+ bishops probably being [actively or sympathetically] gay. Even putting a number, other than an exculpatory low-ball, on it.

    More telling is the absence of catchphrases about “reconciliation” “tolerance” “regret” “moving forward” and other mushiness.

    That’ll be the day.

  • michigancatholic

    CATHOLIC.SYS corrupted; Overwrite exception cathkernel.sys at V2.bat; general fault at V2.exe

    Reboot (Y/N)?

  • Ken

    My own bishop promotes, through the diocesan “Sexual Minorities Ministry”, the agenda defined by Dignity and other homosexualist organizations. Whether he is homosexual by inclination is of no interest to me.


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