The future of Regnum Christi?

George Weigel calls for a “full, public disclosure” concerning Fr. Marcial Maciel, the Legion of Christ, and Regnum Christi:

The question now is, how shall that good be saved?

It can only be saved if there is full, public disclosure of Fr. Maciel’s perfidies and if there is a root-and-branch examination of possible complicity in those perfidies within the Legion of Christ. That examination must be combined with a brutally frank analysis of the institutional culture in which those perfidies and that complicity unfolded. Only after that kind of moral and institutional audit has been conducted, and has been seen publicly to be a clean audit, can the Legion of Christ, and the broader Church, face the questions of the Legion’s future—which are, candidly, open questions.

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  • David Nickol

    In an open letter, Dr. Germain Grisez calls for the organization to be terminated and a new organization formed. He says, in part:

    The Pope is the ultimate superior on earth of every religious institute. Only the Pope can oversee the termination of the Legionaries of Christ, the salvaging of its faithful members and other assets, and their reconstitution into a new institute. Therefore, if I were you, I would at once appeal to the Pope to fulfill his responsibility toward you, to appoint two or three prelates—members neither of the Legionaries nor of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life—as an ad hoc papal commission to conduct a thorough visitation, identify those complicit in Father Maciel’s wrongdoing and its concealment until now, and work closely with faithful, professed members in carrying out an orderly termination of the existing Institute, election of a small group to serve as founders of its replacement, and the preparation of an entirely new and reformed body of particular law for the new institute.

    From what I have read, Fr. Maciel almost certainly couldn’t have been leading the double life we are finding out about without those close to him in the organization knowing something was very wrong. I suspect the man may have been a total fraud, or rather than “less than perfect” (as he is referred to in one of the official Legion of Christ statements. So there definitely must be a thorough investigation. As for Fr. Macial himself, they say God has already judged him. But what was God’s judgment?

  • digbydolben

    There will be no such “investigation” because those protecting this monster for reasons of internal Church politics were among the very highest ranks in the Vatican. It is rumoured that even John Paul II was complicit in the cover-up. Pope Ratzinger resisted acting upon the very credible, very well-documented allegations until there was no way he could do other than admit to their veracity.

    Do you remember Lou Reed’s song “Pontiff,” about the late Pope’s friendship with the ex-Nazi Kurt Waldheim, and the Pope’s attempts to protect the Austrian Premier from the charges that surfaced after his tenure at the U.N.? These hierarchs are much more comfortable with men in uniform, as Reed sang back in the 80s, than with politicians who have to serve the general interests of whole populations through compromise.

    It begins to be absolutely clear that the individuals who’ve been running the Church since 1978 are more comfortable with authoritarian statesmen and ecclesiastics than with democrats, and more determined to resist the devolutionary spirit of the “reforms” of Vatican II than to rid the Church of pedophiles and protectors of child-abuse.

    There’s something truly rotten at the heart of the modern Catholic Church and it has EVERYTHING to do with an unwillingness to be accountable to the laity.

  • digbydolben

    And the principal reason that there will never be any “investigation” is that what the Legionaries of Christ and “Regnum Christi” were all about, from the beginning, was temporal power and wealth, as these articles by a former member make clear:

    http://steveskojec.com/2009/02/04/something-i-missed/

    http://steveskojec.com/2009/02/03/house-of-cards/

    If this “apostolate” had ever been about serving Christ in honesty and humility we might have hoped for a final moment of truth as it is—hopefully—being dissolved. Instead, what we’ll likely get is ANOTHER Church “cover-up”—one to match the pedophile scandals.

    The Church of Ratzinger CANNOT come clean about all of this because it protected and abetted these crimes for too many years, and profited from them politically (in Hispanic and Third World environs) and financially (in rich, ultramontane First World circles).

  • http://stevestastingnotes.wordpress.com Steve

    I’m so glad I’ve become a poster-child for anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists. See what I get for trying to get the truth out there?

  • digbydolben

    Well, “Steve,” you’re the one who said it was about “temporal power”: go back and read your own posts!

    And being anti-papal authoritarianism a la Papa Wojtylwa is NOT the same as being “anti-Catholic.”

  • http://the-american-catholic.com/ John Henry

    Steve,

    Naturally any recognition of wrong-doing by the Church will be seized on by conspiracy-theorists like digby. That’s how conspiracy-theorists operate. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to ‘get the truth out there.’ A reluctance to expose themselves to criticism (fair and unfair) is, after all, the major reason RC and the Legionnaires are now on the verge of collapse.

    I’m sure you agree; just suggesting that the better response might be a polite refutation of digby, rather than a variation on ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ (however justified a response it may be in this case).

  • http://www.steveskojec.com Steve

    John Henry,

    I don’t necessarily disagree. I had just come away from reading Andrew Sullivan’s usurpation of my points, however (ascribing LC’s cult of personality to to the Holy Father’s “fanatical” vision for the Church), and I’ve spent a good deal of time recently arguing with certain SSPX adherents who refer to Rome only as “Modernist Rome”. I’m feeling a bit exasperated, and when I see someone refer to “The Church of Ratzinger” – it’s a bit too much.

    But to to address you directly, Digby, first, my name really is Steve (as in Steve Skojec, the name on my blog, which you linked to)- no need for the scare quotes.

    How Rome has responded in the past (Maciel’s removal from ministry in 2006) was in fact wholly inadequate; how it will respond in the future remains to be seen. I have long suspected that it was because of the extremely central focus on Maciel within the LC and RC that the Church moved cautiously in 2006; there are tens of thousands of members who who have been shattered if the truth had come out all at once, and perhaps Rome was trying to avoid that. Personally, I find that to be a poor excuse, but it’s something. Who knows if it’s true.

    But this “Church of Ratzinger” nonsense is pushing it. To say that the current Holy Father “protected and abetted these crimes” because the Church “profited” from it is overstepping. I have certainly heard allegations that those who have tried to get some disciplinary action moving on LC abuses in the past that they were met by bought cardinals; I would chalk that up to the order’s deep pockets, however, and their willingness to bend rules, not to the Pope’s personal complicity. Neither Benedict, nor JPII (for all his faults) strike me as men with a price. If anything, they may have kept quiet to avert further scandal, if they knew more than they let on at all.

  • http://the-american-catholic.com/ John Henry

    Steve,

    Just read Sullivan’s post, and I can see why you were exasperated. Glad to see you responded to his attempt to co-opt your comments.

  • http://www.steveskojec.com Steve

    Thanks, John Henry. It’s an opportunity for me to present a different side to his readers who have clicked through.

  • digbydolben

    Sorry about putting your name in quotes, Steve: I thought it was another “handle” here and elsewhere; I don’t object to on-line interlocutors putting “digbydolben” in quotes, since it IS a “handle.”

    If the hierarchs of the order and others hadn’t villified the whistle-blowers I might have been able to go along with your generally exculpatory attitude toward those who perpetrated the cover-up.

    If they hadn’t attempted to make scapegoats of the many so-called “gay” priests in their own ranks who’ve served the Church faithfully and honoured their vows of chastity and obedience even as they were told they were “objectively disordered” (such as the saintly priest who died ministering to the victims of 9/11–remember him?), then I might share your solicitude for the leaders of the “Ratzinger Church.”

    However, I am not so “anti-Catholic” as you take me to be; I am honestly hoping for a renewal of the Catholic Church and for her return to the “spirit of Vatican II.” It can’t happen, though, unless it is fully seen that this affair and the one involving the priestly abusers was caused by a spirit of imperious clerical inviolability which hearkens all the way back to the clerical corruptions that Dante castigated in his Inferno.

    Cardinal Law, ensconced in the Vatican and protected by an overweening religious potentate is its symbol; John XXIII or Paul VI would have mailed him back to his government for a fair and honest trial in which he would have been enjoined to clear his own and his Church’s good name.

  • digbydolben

    Also this basically fair and balanced article in the English-language version of the German magazine Der Spiegel makes it pretty clear what is the basic flaw of the Ratzinger papacy:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,605542,00.html

    This pope is coccooned by his advisors in what is essentially a bookish court; hearing none of the world’s objections to anything he does, he is no kind of pastor at all. Any kind of “ecumenism” he practises is always in the direction and behalf of the “rightist” elements of the Catholic Church–not for reasons of ideological rigidity (even if he IS rigid in his theological thinking) but simply because he is more comfortable with his own kind, and doesn’t have the instincts of a pastor to seek out and reconcile himself with diverse elements of his own church.

    John Paul II, for all his faults of authoritarianism and gender-bias, WAS a genuinely engaged pastor who never lacked the “common touch.” Someone like Josef Ratzinger has no business being Supreme Pontiff of the Western Christian Church in the modern age. We in Germany are now ruefully aware of that, and our bishops here are finally in virtual rebellion against his leadership.

  • http://www.steveskojec.com Steve Skojec

    Digby,

    You say:

    If the hierarchs of the order and others hadn’t villified the whistle-blowers I might have been able to go along with your generally exculpatory attitude toward those who perpetrated the cover-up.

    Confining this criticism to the order only, you and I have no disagreement here. I was one of those villified, and they attempted to sever or damage my personal relationships with those on the inside, so I get it. But I distinguish the hierarchy of the order from the episcopacy, the episcopacy from the curia, and the curia from the papacy. There are a lot of personal agendas in the hierarchy of the Church, and they often exist at cross-purposes. In these days, I believe the papacy to be one of the only offices that has had its share of authentic men in recent years, even though I believe JPII was sincerely misguided in many respects. Pope Benedict, however, continues to impress me, and I’ve seen little to make me think otherwise.

    If they hadn’t attempted to make scapegoats of the many so-called “gay” priests in their own ranks who’ve served the Church faithfully and honoured their vows of chastity and obedience even as they were told they were “objectively disordered” (such as the saintly priest who died ministering to the victims of 9/11–remember him?), then I might share your solicitude for the leaders of the “Ratzinger Church.”

    This appeal to emotion is irrelevant. The disordered attraction that homosexuals suffer from is an impediment in various ways, most of them obvious. They live in community with other seminarians and priests of the gender to which they are attracted. They spend a good deal of time in contact with adolescents of the gender to which they are attracted. They continuously are compelled to struggle with a same-sex inclination that they know is disordered, and the psychological ramifications of being so afflicted. They shouldn’t be admitted to the priesthood for these and other reasons, and that’s no more unfair than not admitting a man without fingers, or who has some other impediment.

    I am honestly hoping for a renewal of the Catholic Church and for her return to the “spirit of Vatican II.”

    What do you mean by this?

    It can’t happen, though, unless it is fully seen that this affair and the one involving the priestly abusers was caused by a spirit of imperious clerical inviolability which hearkens all the way back to the clerical corruptions that Dante castigated in his Inferno.

    I don’t buy this argument. Clericalism is alive and well in the form of liturgical terrorism. It exists among the priests who refuse the faithful the more orthodox expressions of worship to which they are inclined. It exists among the priests who wreckovate churches, tell their parishioners that they are not allowed to kneel, refuse communion on the tongue, and force heterodoxy from the pulpit or the confessional. It exists because we now have the cult of the priest, whose personality has become the focus of our liturgies in lieu of the divine sacrifice. In the old days, the priest was central to the liturgy, but he faced the altar to minimize the insertion of his own ego into our worship. Now, you’d almost swear that we worship him, so completely has he replaced the Eucharist as the focal point of the Mass.

    Cardinal Law, ensconced in the Vatican and protected by an overweening religious potentate is its symbol; John XXIII or Paul VI would have mailed him back to his government for a fair and honest trial in which he would have been enjoined to clear his own and his Church’s good name.

    I am not so confident that any of these modern popes would have “mailed him back”, but I agree with you that being taken to Rome was the wrong choice. I have no argument with you on this point.

  • HA

    While it makes little sense to argue with conspiracy theorists, who always have an answer for everything, it is worth noting that Law was flown off to Rome after he was subpoenaed and  questioned by a criminal grand jury (and after he gave depositions in several civil lawsuits).  The questioning took place in February of 2003. The appointment to St. Mary Major was made in April. The DA could have easily stopped him from leaving, or at least raised a stink about it. Instead, in July he chose to make public the decision that no charges would be filed.
     
    Again, this doesn’t take into account the black helicopters, hunchbacks, albino assassins and other supporting characters that the Vatican had to put into play in order to whisk Law out from the jaws of justice, but I will leave it to the conspiracy theorists to fill us in on that

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    “They shouldn’t be admitted to the priesthood for these and other reasons, and that’s no more unfair than not admitting a man without fingers, or who has some other impediment.”

    Oh the hypocricy… If one only knew how many current clergy, including prominent bishops, ‘suffer same-sex attraction’, I think tunes would change.

  • http://www.steveskojec.com Steve Skojec

    Oh the hypocricy… If one only knew how many current clergy, including prominent bishops, ’suffer same-sex attraction’, I think tunes would change.

    I’m not a homosexual, or a member of the clergy, so it isn’t hypocrisy at all. Regardless of the de facto presence of a homosexual subculture in the clergy, one is certainly entitled to arguing for the ideal, and desiring (and praying) to see safeguards to protect that ideal implemented.

  • David Nickol

    Steve,

    What is the “ideal”? Is a celibate homosexual priest not as good a priest as a celibate heterosexual priest? Is a celibate homosexual priest not as good as a non-celibate heterosexual priest? Is a man who is basically asexual (masculine, but feeling no sexual attraction to either men or women) less than ideal?

    A homosexual subculture is one thing, but I can only imagine there are many homosexual priests who are not part of a subculture within the priesthood. A homosexual subculture is probably not a good thing, but that is quite a different matter than individual celibate priests whose orientation is homosexual.

  • M.Z. Forrest

    Is a celibate homosexual priest not as good a priest as a celibate heterosexual priest? Is a celibate homosexual priest not as good as a non-celibate heterosexual priest?

    There are a lot of assumptions packed in there. Without getting into a huge debate on the topic, there are some some that would tend to see sexual behavior existing on line with homosexual acts being in the further deviant end of that line. (Yes, there are heterosexual sex acts on that end of the line as well.) The current guidelines look more at depth of experience and time since last experience. I think there is more of a tendency to see homosexual relations as a result of heterosexual experience than as a first experience.

  • digbydolben

    I think there is more of a tendency to see homosexual relations as a result of heterosexual experience than as a first experience.

    I don’t think I understand homosexual relations so well as I thought I did, if that sentence makes any sense. Could you please unpack it more for me?

  • M.Z. Forrest

    To put it another way, the loss of virginity is typically with a heterosexual partner, even if later one finds oneself unattracted to the opposite sex.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    I agree wholeheartedly with digbydolben in that there was a sick scapegoating of homosexuals that took place after the priestly sexual abuse coverup was revealed by the media earlier this decade and the Church felt the need to finally act.

    For one, research indicates that the majority of abusers were in fact heterosexual in their attraction to other adults.

  • HA

    Not to take sides in this latest exchange, but one’s first sexual experience or impression typically does not involve a loss of virginity, and generally happens much earlier, so that the question of whether or not one happens to lose one’s virginity with a male or female partner at some later point need not be relevant to the question of how one might have been previously imprinted or impressed or orientated.
     
    Likewise, the fact that some abusers had heterosexual encounters with adults does not say much about whether or not they were homosexuals as that term is now commonly understood. A significant fraction of homosexual men have wives and chidren.
     
    Finally, given the seminary (and monastic) system, homosexuality and homosexuals will play an important role in addressing any infidelity among the clergy. That will not change because some people complain about homophobia, and it will not change even if some homophobes start picking up stones to throw. Even if the next priestly abuse crisis takes on a more Bocaccian form, i.e., is more about priests running off with women, homosexuality may still play a role. After all, if seminary rectors turn a blind eye towards gay infidelity among postulants (as has happened in the past) doubtless some of the heterosexual priests will also get the wrong impression.

  • http://www.rimatara.blogspot.com Sam Rocha

    I have been doing some reading on the Spanish articles and message boards and have decided to spend more time on it at my blog.

  • digbydolben

    I am honestly hoping for a renewal of the Catholic Church and for her return to the “spirit of Vatican II.”

    What do you mean by this?

    Here is what I mean by that, Steve:

    I think that the “spirit of Vatican II” is essentially one of religious tolerance and of a willingness to compromise all but ESSENTIAL DOGMA in theological controversy and sectarian disputes, in order to preserve unity among believers.

    Certain of the features of that “spirit” are:

    1. Greater empowerment of women at all levels of ecclesia–promotion of their access to all functions except that of the explicitly sacerdotal, which is said by “traditionalists” to “mirror Christ” to the faithful, which explanation I accept.

    2. Formal acknowledgment of the soteriological efficacy for individuals of the non-Christian faiths, until such a historical time when sufficient “in-culturation” shall have afforded devotees of all religions the opportunity to come to a genuine and holistic, rather than a merely factitious understanding and acceptance of Jesus Christ’s uniqueness as “Redeemer.”

    3. A return by the See of Peter to the status of primus inter pares among bishops, and decentralisation of Church government to the point of allowing local elections of bishops and heads of religious communities, as was the norm in ancient times.

    4. Greater willingness to engage in TRUE “ecumenical dialogue with the Protestant sects over the substantial differences of orthodoxy with them–over such serious matters as “salvation by faith alone” and “transubstantiation”–rather than such theologically and politically inconsequential matters as papal supremacy.

    5. Greater acceptance of liturgical variance according to local cultural norms, INCLUDING full re-instatement of ancient, traditional liturgies that were and are a comfort to people of more conservative religious sensibilities than mine.*

    6. A greater understanding and wider acceptance of the Church’s commissioning by Christ to be “led by the Spirit” and thus to be free to alter her practices and to engage with historical processes more fully, in complete understanding that she does NOT yet fully possess the “truth” and is only being gradually led to it by that Holy Spirit in a dialectical process of discovery that “rides time like riding a river,” to quote Gerard Manley Hopkins. This means, in practice, that a statement like John Paul II’s that he could not “imagine” any future pontiff extending the privileges of the sacerdotal function to women or to married men is, in point of fact, considering the extent to which the Church HAS HISTORICALLY felt entitled to change her rules and practices, bordering on the heretical. (Yes, you read that correctly: I think that certain of the late sainted Pontiff’s behaviours and words, such as making saints without miracles, for the sake of Church politics, such as excommunicating Lefebvre and his bishops for non-dogmatic differences–border on the HERETICAL.)

    7. A total and completely public and formal repudiation of “supercessionist” theologies regarding the soteriology of Judaism, so that it is widely understood that the First Covenant with the Jews is still in effect for them and that there is no need of their “conversion” to Christianity in order to be “saved.”

    * I should add, for your sake, that I am completely in sympathy with your grief over the pain felt by “conservative” worshippers when the rites and liturgies of the Counter Reformation Church were banished from modern worship services. My own mother and grandmother felt deeply grieved by the lack of these comforts in their devotions at the end of their lives.

    Later, however, I observed that the same ecclesiastical politicians who’d been so relentless in forcing modernist liturgical trends down the throats of the conservative laity were also the first insist on “toeing the line” when the reaction to the “excesses” of Vatican II set in, under John Paul II. Such priests were and always have been careerists, men of absolutely no conviction at all, sycophants who blow with whatever winds of power bring them advancement and easy approval of their meretricious acts . Believe me, I’d never nowadays be willing to collude with them in any project, no matter how ideologically or philosophically satisfying it might be, according to my lights. They are hypocrites, and I respect the prayerful “conservatives” more.

  • grega

    That post was amazing digbydolben!
    Thank you.

  • LCB

    Mark DeFrancisis,

    It is my understanding that the statistics bear out are striking pattern: some 80% of abuse was inflicted by adult males upon males over the age of 14, but under the age of 18. It is my understanding that the John Jay report is very clear on these matters.

    If I am mistaken, I would gladly change my opinion and understandings were I presented with facts to the contrary.

  • LCB

    Digby,

    To address some of your statements would require a blogpost (or a blog!) all its own, but two matters stand out:

    1. “Formal acknowledgment of the soteriological efficacy for individuals of the non-Christian faiths.” I may be misunderstanding your semantics, but it is important to stress the theological impossibility of an individual being saved by any means other than Christ Jesus (and many Protestants would agree with this, that sola fide references faith that Christ Alone saves).

    It is at least possible for a non-Christian to be saved, but the salvation always comes as an unmerited and freely received gift from God (just like for us Christians). For those who perished before Christ’s death and resurrection, it would be through the future merits of Christ Jesus. Only his actions are meritorious of salvation.

    2. There are a few matters of essential dogma to the Church that you seem to not regard as essential dogma. Among these are: 1) Papal infallibility as defined in Vatican I and affirmed in Vatican II, and 2) that the Church already possesses the fullness of truth. This is found in a two-fold deposit of faith (the magisterium), in both Scripture and Tradition. Our understanding of both may become ever more deep, and what we possessed and did not understand may one day be understood, but it is dogmatically essential that the Church always have possessed the fullness of truth.

  • digbydolben

    The disordered attraction that homosexuals suffer from is an impediment in various ways, most of them obvious. They live in community with other seminarians and priests of the gender to which they are attracted. They spend a good deal of time in contact with adolescents of the gender to which they are attracted. They continuously are compelled to struggle with a same-sex inclination that they know is disordered, and the psychological ramifications of being so afflicted. They shouldn’t be admitted to the priesthood for these and other reasons, and that’s no more unfair than not admitting a man without fingers, or who has some other impediment.

    This is actually quite naive in a rather touching way: I suspect it demonstrates a lack of experience in a confessional from your seminary days with the Legion–or perhaps a lack of dialogue concerning practical matters affecting sexual morality as it is broached in the confessional with those who actually ARE “struggling.”

    Everybody “struggles” with something, for Pete’s sake, and there is actual documentation (in letters, in poetry, in manuals of spiritual discipline) of the “struggles” of same-sex oriented SAINTS, for goodness sake. Get someone in the Camoldese order of monks to reveal to you exactly what “temptations” Romuoldo, their founder, is speaking of in his manual for medieval Italian postulants. (There’s a passage in Mary McCarthy’s Stones of Florence that mentions this.) Read the most important recent book on Gerard Manley Hopkins spiritual practice in poetry-writing, A Queer Chivalry: The Homoerotic Ascetism of Gerard Manley Hopkins by Julia F. Savile. And the list goes on and on–lying disregarded and unread by those who prefer to let canonical stipulations bolster their bigotry. It’s very sad and a true leveling of the extraordinarily compassionate urbanity that used to characterise the traditional Catholic Church of old, as described by the bisexual, female-loving and very, very Catholic Evelyn Waugh, in his letters and novels.

  • digbydolben

    LCB:

    I have no problem with papal infallability, so long as it’s understood to be limited strictly to matters of essential dogma; questions of ecclesiatic governance or the sacerdotal role for women or priestly celibacy are NOT “matters of essential dogma.”

    There are no “semantics” in my statement about the “soteriological efficacy” of the non-Christian faiths: Jesus Christ “saves souls” THROUGH them by means of a little phenomenon called in theology “implied faith,” which is demonstrated by the WORKS of these religions’ devotees. “Salvation by faith and works” is, as far as I’m concerned the ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE between Catholicism and Protestantism, and too many Americans do not take that difference–particularly as it relates to political action and social justice–seriously enough. It also, quite naturally, has major relevance to how one interacts, in the world, with Jews and other non-Christians, and too many American Catholics behave exactly like Protestants, promising hell-fire and “judgment” to those who, in their short and often extremely deprived lifetimes, fail to achieve “faith” in the “Redemption” by the “Saviour.”

    Regarding “full possession” of the “truth,” my reading of Sacred Scripture and of theological texts tells ME that the Church is guaranteed “full possession” of the “truth” in a time-space continuum of the REAL WORLD that protects her from major errors but not from minor ones that do not relate to the “deposit of faith.” Your bit about “becoming” “ever more deep” actually seems to cover this, too.

    Regarding your statement that obviously attempts to contribute to the demonisation of the very MANY good priests who are “same-sex attracted” but who persist in faithfulness to their vows of celibacy (I’ve known a few; I know what I’m talking about here), I’d suggest that you consider that you are speaking about the cases of REPORTED abuse during a discrete time-frame in which this was the main subject of the press’s attention regarding the Catholic Church. Ask your older Catholic relatives if they haven’t heard for almost all of their lives about priestly satyrs going after choir-ladies. And the case of Father Maciel, with his concubine and child, is further corroboration of the fact well-known to psychologists and therapists, that sexual abuse of children has little to do with “orientation.”

    But people will find support for their bigotries anywhere thay can, under any and every bush (lewd pun intended)!

  • LCB

    Digby,

    Concerning the matters of priests sexual actions, I was merely attempting to narrow in on the truth of the matter without prejudice to the other issues in the discussion. I believe it better to be in the fullest possession of facts that we can be in, and then informing our judgments with those facts.

    Sexual abuse of children usually has little to do with orientation, true. But by definition the statistics show us we are not dealing primarily with sexual attraction to pre-pubescents, but with sexual attractions to males between the ages of 14-18(post-pubescents). In order to address the issue we must first know what the issue is.

  • LCB

    Digby,

    Surely you would agree that the sacraments are essential elements of the Catholic faith?

    It therefore follows that the sacredotal role of women (especially relating to Holy Orders) is an essential element of the Catholic faith. All sacraments must have form and matter, and so this strikes to the very definition of the sacraments.

    As for the means by which salvation is given (if it is given) to non-Christians, you are raising a theological opinion to a matter of fact. A notion of “implied faith” does not a dogma make, nor does it have the force of self-evident truth or logical irrefutibility.

    As for the essential difference b/t Catholicism and Protestantism (and I presume you are using the word essential in the modern sense and not the classical sense), it all really boils down to authority and not means of salvation. What authority, precisely, does the Church have and who, precisely, may exercise it?

    Your focus on personal interpretation of scripture (as opposed to the Church authoritatively interpreting scripture) seems to indicate very quickly what side of that debate you place yourself on. I would strongly recommend Mark Shea’s “By What Authority” for a primer in the importance of understanding authority’s role.

  • digbydolben

    The individual human conscience is, as Newman termed it, the “aboriginal voice of God” in mankind. John Henry Newman also wrote that, to obey the Magisterium of the Church when one’s conscience told one that it was in error regarding any particular moral issue was to “commit mortal sin.”

    Of course, in the same Letter to the Duke of Norfolk he made clear that it was a Catholic’s duty to LISTEN to the Magisterium and to use its teachings to “properly form” one’s conscience, but, you know, in the end, the Church is not so full a partner in one’s personal salvation as God and oneself are: the Church is a vehicle, albeit a “sacramental” and “semi-divine” one, just as you say, but when one stands in judgment before God the Church will not be there; it will have been dissolved.

    And, as for your “boiling it down” to “authority,” I do not accept that, because what is in question, strictly speaking, for most human beings (as their primary concern with matters religious) is “authority” over the proper interpretation of “salvation”; “salvation” and the means to it are what count most heavily in theological discussions for most people.

  • digbydolben

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t think it’s even POSSIBLE for ANYBODY, whether “homosexual” or “heterosexual” to be exclusively “attracted” to a subset of youth aged “between 14 and 18.”

    That simply was the population that was AVAILABLE to the predators because of the ghastly acceptance standards of most Catholic seminaries of the time. Those seminaries were accepting BOYS who hadn’t even graduated from high school–presuming that such teenagers were mentally and emotionally capable of pledging themselves at such a young age to a lifetime of celibacy. That, in my book, was a form of predatory exploitation in itself.