Take Up the Sword

Read the history. You will see that in every age and in every place Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has been attacked by two evils: corruption from within and persecution from without.

In the recent child abuse crisis both forces have gone on the attack at the same time. The corruption and wickedness of a very few priests, and the complacency, weakness, ignorance, incompetence and willful cover up by some of the hierarchy has caused serious damage to the Church and Christ’s message. There is nothing to be said on this count except that those in responsibility must continue to do everything possible to put our house in order.

But while the attack through corruption within has been real, so has the attack in the form of persecution from without. The enemies of the Church have used the child abuse crimes to attack the church viciously and often unreasonably. There have been good journalists who have reported fairly, recorded facts and given a true perspective, but there have been too many others who have slandered, lied and distorted the truth.

Much has been made of the fact that an exorcist in Rome has called the attacks ‘demonic’. I believe this is true, but he forgot to add that the attacks through corruption within the church are also demonic. Both forms of attack are inspired by the powers of evil in the world. Priests are tempted by lust, money, influence, power and prestige and they often take the bait. At the same time, many outside the church have minds and hearts darkened by sin and they hate the church and will do anything they can to attack her.

There is only one remedy to both forms of attack: Sanctity. Sanctity is strong and wise and courageous and good. Sanctity has clarity. Sanctity has charity. Men and women who have been transformed into the image of Christ have the power to cleanse the church or the corruption within and stand up to the persecution from without.

Pope Benedict has said that ‘Scripture can only be understood through the lives of the saints.’ It might also be said that ‘All things can only be understood through the lives of the saints.’ How does a saint respond to corruption within the church? He or she confronts it and stands up to it and whenever they have the power they root it out fearlessly. Read the lives of the saints and see how they defended the church from heretics and false shepherds and corrupt leaders. They were warriors. They cared nothing for their own reputation, but rooted out the rot like terriers going after rats. How could they do this? Only through their own sanctity. Those who are less than saints fear to do this because they are aware of their own failures and the are weighed down by their own hypocrisy and they are weakened by their lack of moral courage.

Likewise, regard the saints as they stood up to persecution from without. They cared nothing for their own lives. Without having a persecution complex or paranoia, they joyfully went about the Lord’s business, and if that meant losing all and imprisonment and loss of their reputation and martyrdom, well, that was part of the deal to start with. “You cannot be my disciples is you will not take up your cross and follow me.” “You cannot be half a saint!” cries St Therese, “You must be a whole saint or not saint at at all!” So the saints engage in the battle, when they must, with the persecution from without. They do so with a joyful courage, a clarity and focus that is amazing to witness.

The battle is not just for the clergy or the religious. It is a battle that each and every one of the baptized must be engaged in. If the recent crisis has done anything for the church it should be this: that all of the baptized see clearly the two forces that always attack the church; that all of the baptized realize that a battle is engaged–that corruption within and persecution without are the enemies, and that each of us should realize that it is ‘us and them’ and there is no middle ground.

Finally, the same two enemies that attack the church also attack each one of us. I am attacked by corruption from within. I am attacked by persecution from without. The battle is cosmic, but the battle is also waged in my own heart and life.

All that remains for me is to take up the sword, for my part in the battle is important, and my decisions and actions may make all the difference.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01960521706457744649 Tara

    My heart is ready Father–fight, fight, fight!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01678341854029479678 Old Bob

    Great essay, Father. Thank you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17989208170153778829 Arnobius of Sicca

    Well said Father!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11076361896843623095 RED FOX

    I think Pope is still not fully informed of what is happening outside Vantican.Can sombody do something to tell him so he can react promptly and properly? I always pray he has a Machiavellian Secretar of State.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    This post gives me the courage and also importantly, the motivation, to keep trying, to fight the good fight.God bless you Father, and keep you safe until Heaven.Power to powerless! (The devil just can't get his head round that concept)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14293829892402784818 Marilyn

    Bravo, Fr. Longenecker! I pray for your continued courage from the intercession of the martyrs. It is indeed a cosmic battle. I had a very vivid dream a short time ago about my brother who died several years ago. He was dressed in armor, ready for battle, with breastplate, helmet and sword. I simply asked him, “Who are you fighting?” And he answered, “Satan.” Thank you, Father, for jumping into the arena to fight. We are truly blessed by you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04555354586251657108 Gregory

    Amen, Amen

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06199831621510839519 CarmelKid

    Thank you Father. Part of the fight is to be informed – not depending on the falsehoods the local news media reports. We Catholics need to go to the Vatican website as well as Catholic Media to read what is true about our Pope so that we can in Love and Truth be ready to set things straight when our co-workers and neighbors speak from their ignorance based on MSM.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14485768454161100884 Neophyte

    Call to Arms! We all should put on the full Armor of God, and take up the Sword to fight off the corruption within and the persecution from without.It is our Catholic duty to defend our Faith and our Holy Church.Remember… keep your powder dry, keep your head down, and stay off the ridges.Joy comes in the morning!The Faithful will not be swayed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04575352678913485324 Mary

    Thanks for the marching orders. Stalin asked "How many divisions does the Pope have?"Let's hope the world is about to find out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14485768454161100884 Neophyte

    I like to believe that the Faithful and the Angels of God are the Holy Fathers Divisions.We out number them.

  • http://mypoliticalexile.wordpress.com mypoliticalexile

    I wished you spent more time discussing and being open about the systematic cover up of abuses that have happened by stewards of the church than you do defending yourself from the NYTimes. To a person raised Catholic, but no longer practicing, this lack of sensitivity to the human part of the story and in my mind hypocrisy in the way it has been handled only reinforces my decision to raise my children in a Christian faith not encumbered by an outdated political structure of men protecting each other. Why are you being so defensive? While the NYtimes may not have gotten the story right, I wished you cared more about the those abused than the public relations implications..I know Jesus would.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    political exile every post I've written on this subject has bemoaned the sin of the pedophile and the cover up. In fact, since the first exposure of pedophilia amongst a few priests, the Catholic Church has done more to prosecute them and protect our children than any other organization.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10273950436396763767 Penitent

    Like the Lady at Fatima stressed, "Penance, penance, penance."Thank you for the call to arms!We must cleanse ourselves before accusing anyone else. That's going to take me the rest of my life for sure!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17989208170153778829 Arnobius of Sicca

    I find mypoliticalexile's comments representative of the problem in those who attack us. The Church is wrongly portrayed as caring only for the Pope and not the victims.Of course we care about the victims. However, in this case, the issue is not the victims (the cases themselves were dealt with already), but the fact that a person is falsely accused of doing something they are innocent of.To this day the Church is seeking to repair the wrong done and eliminate weaknesses in the Church which allowed this failure. However, we are accused of not caring because we insist that the reports be fair.False reports and mob action will not help the real victims.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00333446666600649242 Michael

    Every crisis in the Church is to some extent a crisis of saints. I agree with 80% of what you say Father. Two things I take issue with. First, 4% of priests (the US Bishops estimate, same percentage in Canada) is a minority but I'm not sure I'd describe it as "very Few". Especially given that this figure is based on the number of cases that have been reported. Statistically you could be looking at 7 or 8%. Second, you say that since the pedophilia was exposed the Church did more than "any other institution." Really? Father Gerald Fitzgerald (who ran a reputable treatment center for troubled priests) warned Bishops and the Pope about this in the early 60's. Father Tom Doyle, a noted canonist who worked for some years at the Vatican warned the US Bishops about this in the mid 80's (Father Doyle has since gone a bit radical, probably in frustration). How long did it take Cardinal Law to finally do something about Fathers Shanley and Gaughin (spelling?). And how many kids were violated in the meanwhile? The reason the Bishops have done anything is because of law suits and unfavorable reports in the media. Fianlly, "pedophilia"? Since when is sex with a post pubescent person pedophilia? Most of the victims have been teenage males, you must know that. I'm a strong believer and a member of Opus Dei, but I remember the words of Hilaire Belloc regarding the human side of the Church – "An institution run with such knavish imbecility that were it not of God it would have dissapeared in a fortnight." You seem to expend a lot of energy defending "knavish imbecility". Let's look it in the face and make no apologies for what was/is stupid, short sighted, mistakem, or just plain corrupt

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07186450541592652214 Sheep 1

    Thank you so much for bringing focus and perspective to these issues. Thanks also for finding and posting links to the articles which show a balanced and fair view of the issues. I can't believe that some outlets, ABC for example, continue to state the erroneous facts from the NYT's story as if they were true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    The Church is wrongly portrayed as caring only for the Pope and not the victims.Well, when you consider Cardinal Sodano's sacreligious attempt to turn the focus of Easter celebrations from Christ to the Pope…when you consider the arrogant stonewalling that victims and their families received from church authorities before the Boston Globe broke this story…well, it's rather easy (if not obvious) to come up with such a portrayal.The Church will never rid itself of this mess unless it excommunicates those responsible, undertakes massive, institutional repentence and focuses on reflecting God's integrity and character. Nothing else matters … not secular criticism, not self-serving defenses, nothing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00082293593512517958 Lorraine

    Fr. Gabriele Amorth has, in fact,said that the sexual abuse scandals in the Church is proof that the devil is at work inside the walls of the Church. Quote… "When one speaks of 'the smoke of Satan' [a phrase coined by Pope Paul VI in 1972] in the holy rooms, it is all true – including these latest stories of violence and paedophilia."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06095670926516139026 Man

    Corpus Christianum for the renewal of Christendom.www.corpuschristianum.org

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14624843397283907934 Tim H.

    Yes, fight. But how? I won't fight if that means lowering myself to the arguing with athiests and anti-Catholic fundamentalists who's very victory is my being drawn into a defense of what is indefensible. No, I'll fight by Christ's rules of engagement and remind everyone that our most powerful weapon is the rosary. Imagine millions of Catholics praying the rosary in front of the blessed sacrament. -Tim–Tim-

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04843514873861242426 Howard

    This is going to turn ugly. Yesterday someone left a note under my windshield wiper saying, "What hope is there for a church that protects child rapists?" (I have pro-life bumper stickers quoting JPII and Mother Theresa.) True, this is a story in which nothing much happened, but it's a surprise that it happened HERE.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06199831621510839519 CarmelKid

    Howard, you have suffered for the sake of the truth. God will bless you and strengthen you. You are right. It is going to get ugly. Indeed within our own families and parishes there will be those who will cast stones. As another blogger mentioned, the Rosary is a very great instrument. Bless you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08172827779493356123 msc

    Father, thank you so much for your through and much needed observations!Unless the truth is exposed there can be no change.The Holy Father needs prayers very much right now!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09537228579479410070 Elizabeth

    Our priest used "lebanese bread" on Holy Thursday night Mass (with added preservatives etc) and then proceeded to "tear it up" into smaller pieces AFTER THE CONSECRATION…so effectively tearing up Jesus' Body!! Some people walked back to their seats still holding large pieces with the real risk of small pieces of Jesus falling on the floor…others "chewing" to make it smaller in their mouth!The same priest then also "changed" the wording of our "Baptismal promises" at a Baptism on Saturday…no mention of Satan at all…a complete "watered down" version!These priest's need prayer, and a miracle for the sake of their eternal salvation!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04843514873861242426 Howard

    @CarmelKid: NO, I have not suffered! No damage was done to my vehicle, let alone to me! I was a bit surprised, that's all. But my point is that this is stirring up the anti-Catholicism that has always been a part of the US, and the longer it goes on, the more likely that some truly ugly events will happen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02916924187516855439 Emanuel

    I am extremely angry and saddened that the fingers keep pointing at the Pope. And some of this fingers belong to Catholics! Well, whose side are these so called "catholics" on….the evil satan or God?The lies from the media is amplified by opportunists and anti-catholics (e.g. gay movements, pro-choice, etc) who wants to see the church destroyed and the "Corner stone" removed! These are people who are angry with God because of things that the church denounce such as homosexuality, same sex marriage, abortion, etc. They think that the only way to get back at God is attacking God's representative, the Pope and the Catholic church! Think again ….God gave us brains! Must we beleive that every testament given by "victims" are real? How many have been paid with "Judas's silver coins" to betray the church? The hell with them. I beleive that more than half of those who came forward to accuse the church of "sins" committed are liars who are in for the money (compensation).Don't even accuse the church of being arrogant. The people that I know from the Catholic church are among the kindest. Who will build schools for the poor, who will help the poorest of the poor, who will take care of the deprived, etc? All these centuries, the Catholic church through its missions have been doing good! Has anyone acknowledge this? When the Chruch does good, nobody gives her credit! But when some little negative news arise, the entire group of Satan's army will attack the church!I am willing to take on arms on anyone who attacks the church. Yes, take up my sword to defend the Pope and to kick *%#.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14807873592896092136 Anthony S. “Tony” Layne

    My father (God be good to him) once told me, "One 'Aw s***' will wipe out ten 'attaboys'." And it's true. As long as the public eye is focused on how members of the hierarchy covered up priestly abuse of minors—even cover-ups from decades ago—none of the many positive things the Church does for people and society will merit even a glance.I don't say that we should not defend the Pope or the Church; I'm sorry, moral outrage doesn't excuse deliberate distortions of fact or hysterical accusations. But as loudly as we defend our Faith, we must as humbly beg forgiveness from those who have been hurt by predator priests, and whose trauma was made worse by insensitive, incompetent handling by their bishops.What hope, indeed? The only church without sinners is an empty church. The church that will only admit morally perfect people will soon be filled with proud hypocrites. The Church remains faithful to the teaching of the Lord, who told his disciples to leave the weeds in with the wheat, as He will burn the tares after the harvest (Mt 13:24-30).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18047225919036250163 Robert H

    It is clearly no accident that the attacks picked up around Holy Week, our most important period in the year. In other words it was timed for maximum hurt to the faithful. That plus the fact that it follows so closely on the bishops coming out so strongly against the health bill, is what makes these most recent attacks so pernicious.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18047225919036250163 Robert H

    Father: you seem to suggest that the saints are less aware of their own shortcomings when you say that we do not act so decisively, being aware of our own failings. My understanding is that the saints tend to be more acutely aware of their own less than-ness. That seems to be, in the paradoxical way of the spirit, even more strong in their striving to be better christian soldiers. Nes pas?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02916924187516855439 Emanuel

    I do not deny that some of the "priets" have committed sin. The Pope has apologized for this and is taking every action to clean up the the church. What I cannot stand is the uncalled for attack on the Pope and the Catholic church. I am a Catholic…does that make me a defender of a phedopile? The Pope is given the authority by Jesus to head the Church. The keys to heaven are entrusted to him. Accusing the Pope of condoning the sins of a few priests is synonymous to accusing Jesus of this sin! I dare FIGHT any one with my bare fists if I hear him or her attacking the Catholic Church. I am sick of such silly accusations!!Come on you servants of Satan ….show me what you have got!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    Do you know why the attacks picked up during Holy Week?1. Most of the news concerning abuse in the Irish and German churches came out in the weeks immediately preceding.2. The Church's failure to confront the clerical sex-abuse crisis forthrightly and honestly — and the comments expressed by many of the bishops — directly contradict the attitude that Christ's church is supposed to have. Christ exemplified that attitude when He washed the feet of His disciples right after they bickered among themselves about who would be the "greatest in the kingdom"Keep in mind that a lot of the comments "defending" Benedict are nothing but self-serving attempts by bishops either to boost their own career or curry favor with him. Don't believe that? Then you really don't understand human nature.Cdl. Sodano accurately represented the hierarchy's arrogance when he directed the Papal Mass commemorating Christ's resurrection away from that fact and onto Pope Benedict. That is sacreligious! Popes come and go but Christ's resurrection lasts forever (as does He)! But the ecclesiastics are too arrogant to see that. They're too infatuated with themselves to see that w/o the resurrection, they wouldn't have jobs!Secular criticism is the least of the Church's problems. Judgement comes first to the House of God…and if the Church truly represents "the fullness of the Gosepl," that judgement will be more severe than we can ever realize unless the parties involved repent and dedicate themselves to reflecting God's integrity and character while holding authority in His name.Focus your energies on fighting corruption within both the Church and yourselves. God will hold all of us accoutable if we fail to do so.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03159006109175472513 Tap

    Jesus told us the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. Throughout history it seemed like Satan was at the very gates, the Protestant, French, Spanish and Mexican revolutions come to mind. The horrors of the Communists and Nazi regimes as they imprisoned and killed millions of Catholics in the name of no God!We have our weapons; the Holy Eucharist and the Rosary it turned back the Moslem hordes and it can turn back the secularists and those that seek to harm us. If we had the faith of a mustard seed this would all pass away and peace would be restored. So we pray and hope that this happens in our times. Amen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16463032735733728122 HCSKnight

    "he forgot to add that the attacks through corruption within the church are also demonic"Ah, no he didnt forget. Are you even aware of what has been written in the NY Times? Fr Gabriele Amorth was attacked by the likes of Ms. Dowd, a piece of trash. What did she attack him on? Oh, yea his pointing toward the "temptations of the devil" on the priesthood". And Fr. Amorth referenced both the abusive priests as well as the failures in the hierarchy….The root of all this is founded in the philosophies and theologies that pushed for decades to hold Vatican II [Vatican II itself was not a major problem] and afterward spread many grave errors of "interpretations" regarding Vatican II; and yes almost all of the errors are "protestant theology" in nature.One thing those who attack the Catholic Church have 100% correct is that the problems all begin and end with the Bishops and priests. Not all of them, but enough.The priest during the Mass has turned his back on Christ and gazed upon "his flock". The priests took Christ and placed him behind "altars" and took down the Crucifix, put it in the back of churches, and placed the priest's "throne" in a place of prominence.If you think the issue is simply one of a few deviant and gravely ill priests, you are gravely wrong.AMDGHCSKnight

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10793204267740011731 Maria

    you are absolutely right father, but we don't need sword to defeat goliath. we just require 5 stones given by our Mother Mary (1.Daily Prayer (Of the Rosary) 2.Fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays 3. Daily Reading of the Bible 4.Monthly Confession 5.Holy Communion). Our Mother Mary says "You have forgotten that with prayer and fasting you can ward off wars, suspend natural laws."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14485768454161100884 Neophyte

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14624843397283907934 Tim H.

    Tap said… "Jesus told us the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church."Yes, and he was talking about the Church at large. As Scott Hahn points out, the lapmpstands of individual parishes, diocese or whole regions can go dark and Jesus makes no promise to individuals. The Byzantine empire was once a thriving center of Catholicsm and is now almost all Islamic. We run the risk of being distracted by headlines about things which happened thousands of miles away while Satan steals our children from right under our noses. Classmates, college professors, friends and coworkers are telling our children and weak Catholics how they need to abandon Catholicsim becuase the parish priest is about to rape them while we pump ourselves up for some sort of ambiguous "Fight."Pointing back to Fr. L's original post, he is 100% right. Striving for personal holiness is the most important thing we can do. It is not selfish to look after our own spiritual health first and Jesus did tell us to take the log out of our own eye first. Pray for the Church at large and leave the rest to Jesus's promise. But take car of yourself, your family and your parish first. -Tim-

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02916924187516855439 Emanuel

    I don't know why there are so many accusations on Priests. Damn it! Just because of a few black sheeps, all priests are corrupt, evil and arrogant? For Catholics who start to accuse priests, why don't you join the priethood then …if you think you can do a better job, eh? If you are againts the Catholic church, you are againts God. That is why many sick idiots interpret everything that the bishops, priests, religious say as arrogont and insincere. You guys have a faulty filter up in the brains!My uncle is a Catholic priests and he shed every sweat and blood serving Christ! He suffered hunger, gave up convenience, cancer and many other things to serve Christ. Well…his good deeds were seldom shared, and he was happy with that because he knows that the ultimate reward is in heaven. And now, all we hear are amplified generalisation of the sins of a few black sheep priests towards the entire priesthood! The Church is GOOD. The Church is the body of Christ. IT is not EVIL as many "SICK" people said it to be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08949794711507726903 Jae

    Amen, father!May I add also in Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC:"Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a FINAL TRIAL that will SHAKE the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh."Further readings:http://www.ewtn.cc/library/SCRIPTUR/FLFIRE.TXTPeace and Grace.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08949794711507726903 Jae

    Amen, father!May I add also in Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC:"Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a FINAL TRIAL that will SHAKE the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh."Further readings:http://www.ewtn.cc/library/SCRIPTUR/FLFIRE.TXTPeace and Grace.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02916924187516855439 Emanuel

    Those who knows Little tends to make Large accusations againts the Pope (and the Catholic Church). It really make these people look Really Stupid by listening to their illogical arguments!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06199831621510839519 CarmelKid

    For those interested in following up on the text mentioned in the Catechism above, the actual citations numbers are 675 and 676. The posted numbers 574 and 575 refer to supporting scripture references: Lk 21:12, Jn 15:19-20 and 2 Thess 2:4-12, 1 Thess 5:2-3, 2Jn 7, 1 Jn 2:18,22 respectively. Worth the read.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    Emanuel, I don't doubt that your uncle was a good priest. I don't doubt that most priests would not engage in atrocious sexual behavior. But you must understand, unfortunately, that a few bad apples do spoil the whole barrel, in the minds of many.You must also understand, Emanuel, that the victims don't care whether the abusing priests are in the minority. Many have had their faith in God shattered; some have committed suicide.Neither does God care whether the abusing priests were in the minority. The fact that they corrupted the innocent, cut them off from Him and dragged His name in the mud are things He does not take lightly, to say the least.In defending the innocent religious, we must confront those religious who have dragged their vocation, God's name and His people through the sewer. That shows that we stand for God and His morality more than we stand for individual personalities (even the Pope) or ecclesiastical institutions.Those of you who believe that the Catholic Church is the church founded by Christ must understand that judgement first comes to the house of God. I didn't make that up. That's a fundamental Scriptural priniciple. Those who misuse His authority will be severely judged. Read Ezekiel 34, 1 Samuel 2, Matthew 23 and Revelation (Apocalypse) 2-3.Regardless how legitimately angry many of you feel concerning attacks from secular sources, you cannot deny the fact that something is fundamentally wrong with the Vatican and the hierarchy when it comes to confronting sexual abuse by priests.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    One more thing to those of you who want to lead a crusade against the critics: God wants us to be humble and seek repentance for sins we have committed. There's no doubt that the Church has sinned greatly concerning sexual abuse. The Church must repent in meaningful ways (not just for show) before it has the credibility to go after its critics.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02916924187516855439 Emanuel

    I note Joseph's comments that those in the wrong within the church must repent….but not the Church. The wrong done is not by the church, but the bad apples within the church. Of course, through the eyes of a secular world, it is the church. Then it is our responsibility to correct the perception. The Catholic church did not sin because to say so, it will mean that the Church (who is the body of Christ) sinned. This is counter to the values of Jesus. It is Satan who caused this sin by infiltrating into certain members within the church and influencing them to commit the sin. We got to recognized that rather than following the secular crowd to condemn the entire Catholic Church.I don't believe that the Pope (Bededict or John Paul) condoned any of the sinful acts committed by some of the black sheep priests. But, I believe that the church believe in forgiveness and mercy. Priests who have sinned are forgiven. Then people will argue, what about the victims? Well, this is where the church has to address. To help the victims fet back their confidence and life through structured counselling and prayers. The secular world and some catholics think that the priests who had sinned should be punished. That is the way of the world …. not of Christ. The way of Christ is forgiveness and mercy to the sinner and those victimised. Did God execute and kill Saul when he killed Christians before his coversion? No, God showed mercy and forgiveness and transformed him to be his servant. Why can't the church show similar compassion to priests who had sinned and repent? Must the Church submit to the pressures of the secular world and their laws? If the church do this, then this will set new precedent for the secular laws to be imposed on the church. Secular laws are becoming un-Godly as they are evolving to accept divorse, abortion, gay marriages, etc. These are not God's laws. These are laws of Satan.Catholics must see the whole issue from 2 perspectives. Not just the victims but also the blachsheep priests. The Church is trying to help both and not follow the secular world to help one and condemn the other.And we as Catholics must support our Pope and church at all cause. We should pray for her and provide assistance to make things better. Just like our families. When our mothers or fathers do cane us, scold us, do we go to the police and get them jailed? Well…maybe in the individualistic Western world. But in the Asia, we believe in harmony and collectivism. WE work for the good of our families. In this case, the church. I see that many comments from majority werstern catholics (I am not trying to generalized) are targeted within the church. While, comments of my fellow Catholics here are very much in support of the church no matter what happens. This is because we belong to the same family and the Pope is Christs appointed shepard here on earth.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    Emanuel, several points:1. The Church did sin because it manipulated the system to protect the unrepentant, its members (and I include laity here) attacked those who claimed to have been abused as liars, allowed priests with sexual problems back into ministry with children, did not perform follow-ups on those priests who went to counseling and did not inform parishoners or their pastor when a such a priest was transferred to their parish.2. This is a worldwide problem within the Church, which, itself, is worldwide.3. John Paul II refused to allow the then-Cdl. Ratzinger to investigate Mariscal Maciel, founder of the Legionairres of Christ and one of the most notorious molesters. This is a matter of historical fact, not mere hype or attack.4. Forgiveness is one thing; repentence is quite another. How many of the abusive priests or their episcopal enablers actually repented? What evidence do we have? Forgiveness without genuine repentence is nothing but cheap grace…and St. Paul addresses that point when he asks, "Since grace abounds should we sin all the more? God forbid!"5. As far as St. Paul goes, God conscripted him for a special purpose: bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles. The fact that he was so divinely conscripted — and, may I add, repented of his previous actions — does not justify offering cheap grace to those who refused to repent.6. This is not a matter of Westerm "individualism" versus Asian "communalism." This is a matter of God demanding righteousness from those who hold authority in His name! That demand makes Western and Asian distinctions irrelevant.You know, the more responses I get, the more discouraged I become. You are all so infatuated with your Catholic identity — and your own desire to launch a crusade against all critics, even legitimate ones — that you cannot see what is obvious to most everybody else. You are no better than the Ephesians who cried out "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" in defense of their pagan goddess when the Gospel first took root in that ancient city.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18047225919036250163 Robert H

    @Joseph D'Hippolito: I would not dispute any of what you said here. I am not sure I agree entirely with your theological arguments, however I do not dispute them here and now. What I do dispute is the relevance of any of it. It is really a straw man argument. The point of the original essay is that the church is aggressively addressing these issues, yet the attacks continue as if there were no change. In addition there is a concerted effort to make the current pope uniquely and personally responsible for cases in which he had no authority, that authority was denied, and even in cases that he was not aware of. Therefore the only logical conclusion is that these attacks are intended to damage the institution of the church, and undermine the legitimacy of the pope, not to further justice. Buttressing this conclusion is the fact that these self same people make no attempt to address the issue of abuse towards the vulnerable in the public school system, by clergy of other faiths, such has protestant denominations, Judaism, despite all evidence pointing the conclusion that the problems are at least as bad in those other realms. To answer your implied question, or thinly veiled accusation, yes as catholics we do hold the church dear. It is the institution entrusted with the salvation of the world. As catholics we are responsible for rooting out corruption, vice and any other deviations from canon that we encounter within the church. We are equally called to defend her from unfair, unfounded and/or scurrilous attacks against her legitimacy. We will be called to account for our failure to do either. To me it is clear that a primary objective of these attacks, among other, and attacks they are, is to raise questions in the minds of the faithful regarding the church, such that they begin to fall away. At the very least to be cynical about her. That is the most cynical part of all about this. In addition the strength of the church’s traditions are perhaps the biggest impediment to the undermining of the traditions of society by people who wish to reshape society in their image. I also question the aggressive, even attacking, tone of your response. I get a sense of a condemnation of the whole church. Any fair assessment of the matter can only conclude that these were aberrations, not reflective of the clergy as a whole. There were, however, two issues where the church hierarchy can be held to task. One is that they gave overdue concern for the due process rights of the accused. This is considered a sacred right and not be dismissed easily. The preferable response is to err on the side of caution, hence the accused should have been removed sooner from any possibility of offending again, should the accusations be found to have merit. This, along with the slow moving nature of the church, allowed offenders to continue their behavior far longer than should have been the case. The other factor is that those closest to the action too often listened to the 'experts' of the time and trusted that therapy had cured the offenders of their tendencies. This, combined with the very central place given to repentance and forgiveness in the church, led their superiors to accept that they would 'sin no more'. Priests, Bishops, or any other clergy do not pretend to play God and judge a person's heart. Therefore forgiveness is given without making a deep assessment of a person's heart and soul. Again greater discernment clearly is called for in cases such as these where such grievous harm is done; on the other hand at the time there was less appreciation for the full scope of the harm done by such behavior.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    Robert H., I am angry. I am angry that a Church that claims to have the "fullness" of the Gospel behaved in such a manner. I am angry that bishops who enabled sexual predators thought more about their own posteriors than they did not only about the actual and potential victims, but also for those priests who engaged in this behavior (tell me, do you ask a recovering alcoholic to work as a bartender?) and those pastors who tried to protect their flocks from such men, yet were overruled.I am also angry at those Catholics who have succumbed to the sense of tribal victimization that the Church promotes so well in order to cover itself. I know about anti-Catholic prejudice; my father, who served honorably in WWII and was an excellent engineering student at NYU, could not get a job as an engineer in New York City, of all places, because of his faith. But to cry "anti-Catholicism" at each and every attack is nothing but whiny groupthink.And, Robert H., you can bet every last penny in your bank account that I'm angry with such Catholics who value their own denominational identity over God's righteousness. If you have trouble with my "theology," then you have trouble with Scripture because there's greater Scriptural support for my position than for yours.God's righteousness is not a "straw man," Robert H. It is part and parcel of his holiness and character. Why many Catholics don't or refuse to understand that when it comes to ecclesiological misbehavior is astounding!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18047225919036250163 Robert H

    @Joseph D'Hippolito: In fact I do know a number of recovering alcoholics who work in bars. As to anti-catholic prejuidice, my father was born in 1934 into an Irish Catholic environment in Boston, MA, so I also know about that. No one is defending the church and its lack of action in the past. Your argument is a straw man in that you are presenting a state of affairs that existed in the past as if it were still the case. My main point is that a line gets crossed when those calling attention to the misdeeds of a small minority, less than 5%, use it to condemn the institution as a whole. There is some justification in this case in that in the past the institution itself protected the miscreants. While that last statement is not entirely fair, there is some validity to it. However in the present, the institution itself is doing all it can to address the problem. That deserves the support of those currently condemning the church, rather than their vitriol. My point is that it is possible for those of us who are not ex-catholics, to condemn the past misdeeds of some, and at the same time defend the church against those who take those misdeeds beyond what is justified as to how it reflects on the institution. For catholics the church as a central role, if not THE central role in salvation, at least as it relates to the Lord's earthly instrument to effect it. Therefore it is important to defend against any unfair attacks that seek to undermine that role, and thereby the salvation of souls. It is clear that you do not agree. I do not have a problem with that, however I do have a problem with anyone who questions the validity of that position. In fact there is quite a bit of scriptural support for my position, but it is not based on quoting a line or two of scripture. Review what the Lord said about His church, mostly indirectly via parables. If you want to have some true understanding of how it could have come to this please see my response to Father D's blog Post Benedict roots out the filth. There are in fact some very good reasons why the church was slow to respond.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14807873592896092136 Anthony S. “Tony” Layne

    @Joseph D'Hippolito:"I am angry that a Church that claims to have the 'fullness' of the Gospel behaved in such a manner."If you're so angry that you can't make just distinctions between the innocent and the guilty, but must convict all priests and bishops swoopstake, then your anger has clouded, not sharpened, your thinking. "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get" (Mt 7:1-2). Moreover, the behavior of the clergy—good, bad, or indifferent; some, many or all—has no bearing on whether the things the Church teaches are true. Jesus indicted the Pharisees for hypocrisy, but told the people of Jerusalem that, since they sat "in the chair of Moses", they should "practice and observe whatever [the scribes and Pharisees] tell you" (Mt 23:1-2). Let's not confuse infallibility with impeccability; the Church can be one without its leaders being the other. The specific misuse of authority does not prove that the authority is generally illict.I am also angry at those Catholics who have succumbed to the sense of tribal victimization that the Church promotes so well in order to cover itself. … [T]o cry 'anti-Catholicism' at each and every attack is nothing but whiny groupthink."Is the only rational alternative to be silent in the face of false accusations and gross distortions of fact? As for "groupthink": A person who can truly think freely is just as free to agree with the Church as he is to disagree, as free to believe as to not believe. "Groupthink", like all other ad hominem slams, is an insult, not an argument.Why many Catholics don't or refuse to understand that [God's righteousness is not a "straw man"] when it comes to ecclesiological misbehavior is astounding!Maybe it's because we don't confuse our judgments with God's? Maybe it's because we find something of merit in Jesus' words to the prostitute's accusers: "Let him among you who is without sin cast the first stone" (Jn 8:7)? Or maybe it's because we keep in mind his commandment to forgive our brothers "not seven times, but seventy times seven" (Mt 18:22)?You claim, "[T]here's greater Scriptural support for my position than for yours," but your position seems to have skipped all the passages that speak of God's mercy and forgiveness, as well as those that call on us to keep in mind our own sinfulness by forgiving the sins of others. "Go and find the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice' [Hos 6:6]. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mt 9:13).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18047225919036250163 Robert H

    @Michael: You may be right that the known number is only about 4%, but may be higher. I tend to doubt that it is much higher, and may in fact be lower. Consider a couple of points. First is that in the matter of sexual crimes there is much false reporting. It is a sadly unfortunately fact. It is unfortunate not only because of the effect on the falsely accused, but that it undermines the claims of those truthfully reporting. The other point is that given the publicity, the degree to which the church has not just investigated cases made known to it, but has aggressively sought out cases of people who did not come forward of their own accord. That along with the publicly expressed sympathy of, not just the public, but also the clergy, that the stigma has been largely removed from having been victimized by these priests.Undoubtedly there are still cases out there that are unknown, but keep in mind that other institutions, such as the schools, protestant churches, Jewish institutions have not received the degree of scrutiny that the catholic church has received, despite the fact that all evidence points to the fact that the problems are at least as widespread as it is in the church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02916924187516855439 Emanuel

    Majority of the people accusing the church of SIN have the intention to bring her down. They are not concern about the victims. They are angry with the Catholic church because the chuch opposes abortion, homozexuality, divorse, etc. Some even say they cannot get a job because they are not Catholic. Some crap!There was a comment that forgiveness cannot be granted to priests who have not repeneted. Who are you to judge? You are not God. Who are you to accuse the late Pope John Paul II of not allowing the current Pope Benedict of not investigating the sexual abuse issues? Where is yuur prove? Damn! Talk talk talk! I can show you action with my sword and fists …..when I stand for the Catholic church.I dare you to face me and the church! Come on ….show me your power!!! I will show you mine!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    Emanuel, before you act like St. Peter and slash my ear off, I want you to read the following excerpt from a column written by Jason Berry, a Catholic who wrote the book, "Vows Of Silence" about the scahdal:The culture of apostolic succession invites each new pope to be exquisitely respectful of the popes who came before him. Historians now must scramble to explain why the late Pope John Paul II, who called for the church to atone for institutional sins by "the purification of historical memory," sheltered Maciel for years. Utterly ignoring the pleas of Maciel's victims that the priest be held to account, John Paul praised him instead. In late 2004, the pope celebrated Maciel for his "integral formation of the person" even as the sexual-abuse charges against him, dating from 1976, gathered dust in the Vatican.In late 2004, the German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who has since become pope, clearly distanced himself from the dying John Paul by ordering an investigation of the allegations against Maciel. Under Ratzinger, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has historically tried theologians who publicly questioned church doctrines, had been dealing with hundreds of cases of pedophile priests whose bishops wanted them laicized. Ratzinger wanted to move Maciel's case to the top of the list. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state, pressured Ratzinger to ignore a 1998 canon-law suit seeking Maciel's ouster. But Ratzinger realized that Maciel loomed as a potential scandal for the next pope. Sodano will soon retire.My assertions about the late Pope and Maciel have substance, whether you and others like it or not.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    Robert H., several points:1. When I talk about "Scriptural support for my position," I'm talking about for the position that God holds those who hold authority in his name accountable, and that Judgement first comes to the House of God (again, see 1 Samuel 2, Ezekiel 34, Matthew 23, Revelation 2-3). Nothing in Scripture supports your apparent belief that those who hold authority in God's name are immune from His judgement.Remember that one of Christendom's saints, John Chrysosdom, said, "The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops."2.Your argument is a straw man in that you are presenting a state of affairs that existed in the past as if it were still the case.How do you know that it isn't, Robert? Yes, the Church is making some inroads. But it's only making those inroads after being forced to by outside, public pressure. Do you seriously believe that such change would take place otherwise? Remember, the Council of Trent and the Jesuit order occurred because of the Reformation.The fact is that all bureaucracies, religious or secular, run by self-benighted people who are isolated from any sort of accountability will become hothouses for corruption, sexual or otherwise.3. My main point is that a line gets crossed when those calling attention to the misdeeds of a small minority, less than 5%, use it to condemn the institution as a whole.Again, how do you know that the figure is less than 5%? What statistics can you site? More importantly, if the figure is that low, then why has this crisis broken out is such diverse areas as the United States, Mexico, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Norway…at least that we know of? If the figure is as low as you say, then why be concerned about homosexuality in the priesthood and why conduct papal visitations of seminaries, which were done primarily in response to the crisis?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    And now, my dear Tony, to you:1. Where have I ever said that the innocent and the guilty are one in the same, as you imply that I did? Rather, I have said that the innocent priests and bishops must be in the forefront of fighting those who have dragged their vocation in the mud. How, in any way, does that equate innocence with guilt?2. The judgements aren't mine. They're God's. Again, see 1 Samuel 2, Ezekiel 34, Matthew 23, I Corinthians 5, Revelation 2-3. I didn't write those passages, nor did I inspire those who did. God inspired them. All Christians are called to know God and to obey Him; one way of doing that is by developing discernment through the Holy Spirit about events surrounding them — especially about those who claim to speak or hold authority in God's name. Moreover, all Christians are called to speak truth regardless of the consequences.One doesn't need to be an anointed prophet or a great theologian to do that.3. On the basis of my second point, do you really think that God will be merciful toward those who refuse to repent and refuse to obey God? Sure, forgiveness can be offered but it's up to the forgiving party to repent. God offers mercy and grace as inducements to repentence, not as substitutes for them! If God indeed is God, then his mercy, grace, righteousness and demands for holiness do not contradict each other, as you seem to believe.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    One more thing, Tony, about "groupthink": Your own words contradict your position and support mine. You say, "A person is as free to agree with the Church as he is too disagree." Fine. Yet the whole nature of your post suggests that I have no right to disagree with how the Church is handling the sex-abuse crisis, nor that I have the freedom to criticize the Church on anything.Besides, nothing I've said contradicts Catholic doctrine. I have not called the Petrine mandate or apostolic succession into question. What I havedone is to challenge the arrogance that makes most of you lash out at the splinters in the eyes of Maureen Dowd and the New York Times…while ignoring the redwood planks in the eyes of Church leaders.It's time that Catholics repented of the defensive tribalism that too easily takes offense at things that aren't worth the time (and, frankly, Maureen Dowd is such an idiot that she's not worth anybody's time) and encourages a sense of being better than anybody else simply because of one's Catholic identity. It's time to become humble and meet God, because the Second Coming can happen at any time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    Finally, gentle readers, let me share with you a comment from somebody at the National Catholic Register's blog section who agrees with another commentator on the thread in question about manipulation by the news media. I think you all will find this fascinating and relevant.I agree wholeheartedly. But (and it is a big but), theauthorities of the Catholic Church cannot defend themselves by claiming they are no worse than average. If that is indeed the case, what's the point of being a priest? Why have a church at all? Why would I trust my confession tosomeone who is no better than me? Why should a child listen to lessons on morality from people who are… well, just as bad as anyone else, really?Think about that, gentle readers. Think about that long and hard.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    Sure, forgiveness can be offered but it's up to the forgiving party to repent.I meant to say that it's up to the offending party to repent.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    Joseph, are you actually a Catholic? The last quote you put about 'Why should I trust anybody who isn't necessarily any better than me for confession' just sound like something a Protestant would say.We don't go to a priest for confession or Mass because he is better than we are. We believe in the sacraments' operation ex opere operato. I don't care if the guy in confession is better than me or not. Its not really for me to judge. All I care about is if he is a valid priest. Then when he gives me absolution I'm forgiven.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18047225919036250163 Robert H

    @Joseph D'Hippolito: I can assure we all have thought long and hard about what has been name under the protection of the cloth. At the same time at a certain point enough is enough. If I commit a transgression against someone, I will assume responsibility for what I have done and to make it right. I will do all I can to make amends, be especially respectful, etc. At a certain point if that person continues to use the incident as a club to beat me, I will defend myself. I will refuse further admonishments, assert any mitigating factors that may be involved, demonstrate the other side of the issue to the degree there is one, etc. This is where the secular left, and the old school bigoted fundamentalists are coming from, using this affair to undermine the church, not to protect the innocents.That is the point that I am at regarding the church scandal. What have you done Joseph do expose any similar activity ion your own denomination or church? Maybe you can insist they do an anonymous survey to find if anyone has in any way been abused by anyone with an official capacity. Offer a way for anyone willing to do so to come forward, again anonymously if they prefer, to get help. Maybe you can insist that the same be done in your school district. Finally, why do you follow a catholic blog if you are not catholic? It is way past having an interest, wanting to know more and voicing an opinion. Why are you so insistent on turning believers away form their faith?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    I have been a Catholic since my baptism as an infant. I attended CCD classes and a Catholic high school. I am very familiar with the atmosphere surrounding Catholicism.Until October, I attended St. Juliana's Catholic Church in Fullerton, California. I say "attended" because, after a dispute between me and my pastor on the day of my mother's funeral Mass, I vowed never to attend that parish as long as the man was pastor. I even wrote formal complaints to his provincial and the bishop.The nature of the dispute is none of your business.Fr. Longnecker, the quote I posted came from an atheist, not from me. I posted it here because many of you don't seem to recognize how severely the Church's overall credibility is being affected by this crisis. Yes, you give rhetorical recogniztion to it but it really doesn't extend beyond that.If the Church cannot protect the innocent in the name of a holy, righteous God, then something is profoundly wrong. If the Church or its members cannot — or refuse to recognize — that God's holy reputation has been slandered by people who claim to hold divine authority, then "profoundly wrong" doesn't begin to describe the situation.I'm not trying to make people stop being Catholic. I'm not trying to make people become Protestants or anything else. Why do you accuse me of that, just because I cite Biblical texts? Don't Catholics believe that, as St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy, that "all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right"? If not, then I think you have a beef with St. Paul, not me.I want people to stop hiding behind their group identity and attack the evil within that group. That is moral behavior that puts God ahead of any group loyalty. Whether such people are Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, atheist, liberal, conservative or anything else is irrelevant.The problem in the Church that I see which you don't regarding this crisis also can be best expressed by St. Paul in the same letter:"For people will love only themselves…They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God…They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will … be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly."To me, that summarizes the behavior of all too many in the Church concerning this crisis — whether bishops, clergy or laity. And, if you're going to argue whether that's a majority or a minority, I say that even one is too many!!I'd like you to do any Google searches on Fr. Thomas Doyle, a good priest if there ever was one. As a member of the Vatican's nunciature in Washington, Fr. Doyle brought this problem to the American bishops in 1985. Not only did they ignore him but he was taken out of the nunciature and made an Air Force chaplain. One bishop — the current Archbishop of Baltimore — tried to dismiss Fr. Doyle as an Air Force chaplain only a couple of months before Fr. Doyle could retire with full benefits. Talk about vindictive! The Air Force, fortunately, denied the request.But you don't really care about these things. No, you only care about your own defensive tribalism, which I hope will serve you well when the time comes for your to meet God.Further conversation is useless. I shake the dust off my feet and commend you to your fate, whatever that might be.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    BTW, "this crisis" refers to the clerical sex-abuse crisis, not the specific controversy surrounding Pope Benedict in recent weeks.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    Joseph, you're always welcome to visit this blog. I have been quite happy for you to use this place to vent your spleen.You have made some fair points, but your angry, long winded rants make me feel that you probably have some other anger issues against the Catholic Church and your indication that you have had a row with your local pastor indicates this.I hope you get it all resolved and find the peace you seek. I wish you all the best, and peace in Christ. I humbly suggest that the way to this peace is through the paradoxical way of submitting yourself and your will to the very church you find so difficult to love at this point.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14807873592896092136 Anthony S. “Tony” Layne

    @ Joseph:First, I apologize if my words can be construed to be uncharitable. It's something I'm working on.Now, to take your points in order:1. Where have I ever said that the innocent and the guilty are one in the same, as you imply that I did? Rather, I have said that the innocent priests and bishops must be in the forefront of fighting those who have dragged their vocation in the mud. How, in any way, does that equate innocence with guilt?Did I misquote you? Perhaps, by taking it out of the context of the rest of your response, I did. However, a shift in accusation from the individual predators and their episcopal shields to "a Church that claims to have the 'fullness' of the Gospel" seem to me to be an indictment of the whole Church, which is unwarranted. 2. The judgements aren't mine. They're God's. Again, see 1 Samuel 2, Ezekiel 34, Matthew 23, I Corinthians 5, Revelation 2-3. I didn't write those passages, nor did I inspire those who did. God inspired them. … Moreover, all Christians are called to speak truth regardless of the consequences. One doesn't need to be an anointed prophet or a great theologian to do that.Here you're missing my point. To deny the existence of Hell, or that people will find themselves there as a result of their sins, would be heresy … or at least vincible ignorance. But my argument was that, as a point of orthodox Catholic faith, we don't have the wisdom, the insight or the right even to say, for example, that such monsters as Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin will be condemned. Pederasty is an obvious sin; judgmentalism, which comes from anger and pride, is more subtle but just as much a sin. To speak in truth, you can't separate God's judgment from His mercy without doing injustice to both.3. On the basis of my second point, do you really think that God will be merciful toward those who refuse to repent and refuse to obey God? … If God indeed is God, then his mercy, grace, righteousness and demands for holiness do not contradict each other, as you seem to believe.On the basis of my second point: I don't believe anyone will end up in Hell that did not choose to be there by refusing God's grace. The fact that you've ascribed such a belief to me indicates that you have indeed missed the point, which may be my fault for not expressing it clearly enough.I don't think there's a single person here whose heart hasn't been ripped open by the recent revelations in Ireland, Germany and now Canada. It's very easy and understandable to be enraged and shamed by the facts of the molestations and the cover-ups. But you can't wallow in anger for very long without that anger warping your soul. As Fr. L pointed out at the end of his essay, when we take up our swords, the first evil we must fight is the enemy within ourselves. And that's why Matthew 7:1-5 is one of my guiding passages … I can't get so wrapped up in removing the speck from other peoples' eyes that I ignore the plank in my own.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18047225919036250163 Robert H

    @Joseph D'Hippolito: I can't speak for anyone else, but as for me, I have not been a blind defender of the church. When the whole story broke I defended none of the actions, or lack, of the church. I lived in Boston at the time and thought that Law should have been perp walked at the least to make a statement, and that once the authorities were done with him he should have been sent to a monastery to do penance for the remainder of his days. Looking back I have not changed that opinion and am upset he his living in luxury in Rome.At the same time looking back I can see there was way more to this story than uncovering wrong doing, punishing the offenders, and bringing justice to the victims. As such I have done my time being apologetic about the issue, especially now that they have far exceeded probably more than any other entity in similar straits. I have known many ex catholics who are deeply aggrieved about the church. I get that. However that does not excuse the personal attacks against those who do not share your deep seated resentments, or insist that they share your feelings. Given your intimate knowledge of scripture you certainly know that people are imperfect, and it is humans that run institutions, so that you will always be let down in some way or another. Whatever happened at your mother's funeral mass, your beef is with him, not with us. Also given that knowledge, you know what you need to do; pray and forgive. Just to be clear, no one here justifies or excuses the wrong things that have occurred. Not to speak for anyone else, I am saying that the fallout has also hit the innocent, in many ways, and that I am objecting to. How many hungry people were not fed, or not housed, etc., because the money was not there? I also have no doubt that the whole affair was as much anti catholic jihad as a search for justice.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14807873592896092136 Anthony S. “Tony” Layne

    Finally, on "groupthink":I've never denied your right to disagree with how the Church has handled, or is handling, the current crisis. What I do object to is seeing anyone's arguments dismissed as "groupthink" … especially with the snide adjective "whiny" subjoined. Did you really think that you would shut everybody up with the moral force of your arguments? Or that we would fall all over ourselves in our haste to agree with you? To post a countervailing opinion is to risk the response, "You're full of beans, for such-and-such reasons," whether such a response is phrased charitably or not; any other expectation is unrealistic. Your responses show that you're ready for an argument, so why the innocent, injured air of martyrdom? The ephithet "groupthink", with its Orwellian pedigree, is particularly objectionable precisely because it's the favorite slam of anti-Catholics, especially the so-called "freethinkers", who love to maintain that we only hold to our faith because we can't "think for ourselves". You might just as well call us "ditto-heads" … and I'm not even a Rush Limbaugh fan!There is room in the Church for people to disagree on matters that are not de fide, on points of faith that haven't been infallibly declared as part of the universal magisterium. That includes your opinion, although I think it lacks some charity. By disagreeing with you, I'm not saying that you don't have a right to express a contrary position. Rather, I'm pointing out the flaws of your position. If you choose to hold on to it in the face of our rebuttals, that's up to you; I can't make you accept my position any more than you can make me accept yours, save as a metaphor for convincing. Convince me, Joseph, don't insult me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15571554907399914529 Joseph D’Hippolito

    Fr. Longnecker, thank you for your understanding.Mr. Layne, I have never claimed to be a victim in this discussion. Since I never have claimed that I was trying to "convert" Catholics, your assertion that I was trying to do so was unreasonable. That's why I asked the question.Perhaps I should have known better. Catholics claim to believe that Scripture is divine revelation but their working knowledge of it is no better than the weekly readings from the lectionary, or what they were taught in CCD. The Vatican claims to encourage the study of Scripture but precious few parishes take the encyclical encouraging it seriously, if any do at all. I speak from personal experience here.Moreover, Mr. Layne, I was not trying to "shut anybody up." I was trying to get people to think beyond their narrow, comfortable boxes. What do you think "groupthink" is, Mr. Layne? "Groupthink" is the parrotting of the same old cliches and conventional wisdom by people who don't have the courage to think for themselves (and I'm not talking about atheist "freethinkers" here, since they are as susceptible to "groupthink" as anybody else…Protestants, secularists, whomever).Obviously, by your response to me, Mr. Layne, you love your comfortable, narrow box. So do many others on this thread (and they know who they are). Christ did not call us to be "comfortable," he called us to be faithful.One final point: The idea that "we don't have the wisdom, the insight or the right even to say, for example, that such monsters as Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin will be condemned" mocks God's revealed standards of justice and insults both their victims and basic moral intelligence. Yes, I know that Christ said, "judge not, lest you be judged." But does that mean that we cannot apply God's standards of justice to those who are so obviously and unrepentantly evil? That is not following Christ; that is performing a moral cop-out. While it may not be our job to issue divine judgement, it is our job as Christians to distinguish moral light from moral darkness and "call a spade a spade," as it were.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14807873592896092136 Anthony S. “Tony” Layne

    @Joseph:Since I never have claimed that I was trying to "convert" Catholics, your assertion that I was trying to do so was unreasonable.The word I used was convince,, not "convert".Perhaps I should have known better. Catholics claim to believe that Scripture is divine revelation but their working knowledge of it is no better than the weekly readings from the lectionary, or what they were taught in CCD.Frankly, Joseph, this is pure nastiness. If I said something to provoke it, I'm sorry. But it's unworthy of you."Groupthink" is the parrotting of the same old cliches and conventional wisdom by people who don't have the courage to think for themselves (and I'm not talking about atheist "freethinkers" here, since they are as susceptible to "groupthink" as anybody else…Protestants, secularists, whomever).You're not talking about them, but you're apparently not afraid to rehash their clichés. You can rephrase the insult in as many different ways as you have the invention to create; but it will never arise to the level of a valid argument.The idea that "we don't have the wisdom, the insight or the right even to say, for example, that such monsters as Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin will be condemned" mocks God's revealed standards of justice and insults both their victims and basic moral intelligence. Yes, I know that Christ said, "judge not, lest you be judged." But does that mean that we cannot apply God's standards of justice to those who are so obviously and unrepentantly evil? That is not following Christ; that is performing a moral cop-out. While it may not be our job to issue divine judgement, it is our job as Christians to distinguish moral light from moral darkness and "call a spade a spade," as it were.*Sigh* The funny thing is, you conceded the whole point of my argument in your rush to condemn the example. Yes, we can discern the evil in their actions; to be Christians in truth, we must discern good and evil. But only God has the knowledge of souls to decide with how much freedom of will any person acted. There is a line between "calling a spade a spade" and committing the sin of judgmentalism which can't be properly discerned from a position of anger … which is one of the seven cardinal sins.Obviously, by your response to me, Mr. Layne, you love your comfortable, narrow box. So do many others on this thread (and they know who they are). Christ did not call us to be "comfortable," he called us to be faithful.He also called on us to forgive our enemies, to forgive our brothers "seventy times seven times", and return good for evil. As I said before, I don't deny your right to disagree; I just don't think you need to cast aspersions on our intelligences, our motives or our fidelity to the Church's teaching in order to do so. As I said before, "CONVINCE me, don't insult me."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02916924187516855439 Emanuel

    For Josepth: Who is Jason Barry? I will ask as similar question to who is Dan Brown? Get it? What I am trying to drive at is on what prove and authrority these people say what they say? We can say these are prove…..but error get passed on when we start to believe that lies are truth! That is what the devil wants decive us with lies that seems to be "truth"All arguments need to obtain proper facts. Not from only one source.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09463422656877007938 peregrinus PF

    I prefer a flanged mace approach to that of a sword. This is especially true when dealing with the plagues of Liberalism, Socialism, Materialism, Relativism, & Capitalism that have so infected Secular Society that I cannot believe that there will be no other result than a complete implosion of society.


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