The response to Fr. McCloskey illustrates the failure of the conservative Catholic approach…

The response to Fr. McCloskey illustrates the failure of the conservative Catholic approach… January 8, 2019

…to the sexual abuse crisis.

For a brief moment this past summer things began to come into focus for us concerning sexual abuse in the Church. When the PA report came out, the focus was where it should be: on victims. It didn’t matter whether the victim was male or female, or whether the abuser was gay or straight or his protecter and enabler conservative or liberal. What mattered was the victim and getting justice for the victim.

Then, never letting a crisis go to waste when it could be exploited, the Right Wing Lie Machine moved in with a huge ginned up panic from Abp. Vigano. The focus was ripped away from victims, never to return. It all became a Culture War narrative in which propaganda organs like EWTN, the Register, Lifesite News, One Peter Five and others locked in rigid ideological combat with a “liberal” pope they have hated and sought to destroy for years promoted the lie that the one man–Francis–who actually did something about sexual abuser McCarrick was guilty of lifting non-existent “sanctions” asserted to exist by the one man on US soil who could have acted against McCarrick from 2011-2016 and who did nothing.  In a massive and coordinated shock and awe assault that cared nothing for victims or the good of the Church only for power, that media screamed for Francis to “RESIGN!!!!!!”

When that power grab and palace coup fell to pieces and Vigano was shown to be sucking up to and feting McCarrick during the time he was supposedly enforcing “sanctions” against McCarrick…

…The Right Wing Lie Machine subsided in their screams for Francis’ resignation and settled into the narrative they have pursued ever since. No, not “justice for victims” silly. For the Right Wing Culture Warrior, victims only matter insofar as they are useful for the real program: purging the Church of gays and liberals, whom the Cult of Francis Haters, in their serene self-assurance, absolutely know to be the only problem. For conservative Catholics the formula and plan is obvious: Get rid of all the gays and all the libs and the Church will be right as rain. That is the dogma. That is the simple, easy solution to everything wrong in the Church.

Ahem:

The Catholic community Opus Dei in 2005 paid $977,000 to settle a sexual misconduct suit against the Rev. C. John McCloskey, a priest well-known for preparing for conversion big-name conservatives — Newt Gingrich, Larry Kudlow and Sam Brownback, among others.

The survivor is a devout, D.C.-area Catholic who was among the many who received spiritual direction from McCloskey through the Catholic Information Center, a K Street hub of Catholic life in downtown D.C. She told the Post McCloskey groped her several times while she was going to pastoral counseling with him to discuss marital troubles and serious depression.

The guilt and shame over the interactions sent her into a tailspin and, combined with her existing depression, made it impossible for her to work in her high-level job. She spoke to him about her “misperceived guilt over the interaction” in confession and he absolved her, she said.

“I love Opus Dei but I was caught up in this cover-up – I went to confession, thinking I did something to tempt this holy man to cross boundaries,” she said. The Washington Post does not name victims of sexual assault without their consent.

The complaint was not made public by Opus Dei until Monday but behind the scenes the ministry of the well-known priest had been sharply curtailed. A lot of D.C.-area Catholics have wondered for years what happened to McCloskey, who was the closest thing to a celebrity the Catholic Church had in the area.

One other woman told Opus Dei that “she was made uncomfortable by how he was hugging her,” an Opus Dei spokesman said Monday night. He said Opus Dei is also investigating a third claim — so far unsubstantiated — that spokesman Brian Finnerty called potentially “serious.” He declined to provide details but said the woman “may have also suffered from misconduct by Father McCloskey” at the D.C. Center, which is a bookstore, chapel and gathering place for conservative Catholics in particular.

The problem, of course, is that the Righteous will not listen to people who know what they are talking about because the Righteous trust their gut, which assures them they have never been wrong.  So pointy headed experts with, you know, science and research and facts and knowledge can be easily brushed aside.  Like this guy:

“It’s perfectly understandable that people could be confused by this, because we know that 80 percent or more of the clerical sexual abuse victims are boys,” Plante said. “So people conclude that if you get rid of homosexuals in the clergy, then you’ve got the problem solved. And it doesn’t work that way.”

Most of the clerical sexual abuse perpetrators have been “situational generalists,” a term used throughout extensive John Jay College of Criminal Justice summary reports, the most recent in 2011, to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Generalists do not have a specific sexual preference for youth, but instead “turn to children as a sort of substitute” due to psychological and emotional difficulties in bonding with peers, Plante observed.

Such individuals – who often exhibit issues with substance abuse and impulse control – “can’t develop successful, negotiated, intimate relationships with adults,” said Plante, who recently served as vice chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth.

Since generalist offenders seek readily available victims, boys have historically – though by no means exclusively – been a target for many clerical abusers.

“Priests for the most part had access to boys, and trust with boys, much more so than girls,” said Plante, noting that this proximity has led to the erroneous correlation between homosexuality and clerical abuse.

The same subculture of conservative Christians that remains breezily certain that Obama is a Kenyan Muslim, that the Iraq War was a ringing success, that Trump’s wall is genius, and that science is a liberal conspiracy to convince the world of climate change is also dead certain that the trouble–the only trouble–is gays and libs.  Facts and data don’t matter.  What matters is what their gut tells them.  And what their gut tells them is gays and libs are the problem and they themselves are the solution.

But here’s the thing: they are, in fact, wrong. And not just wrong for the first time here.  They have been so wrong about so much so many times for so long that it is a sort of anti-miracle that it has still not occurred this subculture to ask itself, “Since I have been proven wrong so many times, perhaps I could approach this issue with a little humility?”

Because the issue is not gays and libs.  The issue is abusers, gay and straight, and enablers, liberal and conservative.  And the main issue is enablers.  And enablers are far more likely to enable when their view of themselves and their circle of friends and allies is, “Lesser men may fall, but we men of Gondor are true and will never be seduced.”  Or as a more famous figure once remarked, “Though everyone else deny you, I will never deny you!”

And so, when the priest who falls is a Hated Liberal the cries are for his total and immediate destruction.  Likewise, their cries for the head of the Hated Liberal Pope is immediate, intense, and filled with certitude.  Case in point: McCarrick himself.  His predatory betrayal deserves the full weight of condemnation.  His sin was homosexual as well as predatory.  And he was a lib.  Purge him and purge the Pope some liar tells me is to blame!  (Funny thing: I know of absolutely no liberal who dissents from the call for McCarrick to receive the full penalty of the law.  Indeed, I can point you to a lot of liberals who are frustrated by the statutes of limitations that protect McCarrick and other abusive priests.  The notion that “liberals” form some sort of protective phalanx around liberal priests or gay abusers has no basis in reality that I can see.  But it is an important part of the conservative myth to simultaneously believe liberals are godless enemies of the Church who want to destroy it, while also being dedicated to the maintenance of the whole clerical class in order to protect their perks.  The key to maintaining this myth is simple:  Gays and libs evil.  Heterosexuals and conservatives good.)

But with McCloskey?  The tone is radically different:

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And none of the people demanding Francis’ head last August are screaming for the destruction of Opus Dei either, despite the fact they kept McCloskey on as their Celebrity Priest and you are only now finding out about something that happened in 2002 and the settlement was made in 2005 (not to mention the other alleged incidents).

Indeed, few and far between are the pleas for mercy for perceived liberals or alleged gays, even when they have done nothing abusive at all. We don’t hear from Right Wing Culture Warrior about all the people Fr. James Martin has helped and healed by his ministry, despite the fact he has committed no abuse at all.  What we hear are ceaseless, pitiless and malignant screams for his excommunication.  Nobody in the Culture War Right speaks of needing to extend him grace and mercy or to remember his weakness.  But with a Culture War hero who made it his life’s work to bring figures like Newt Gingrich, Larry Kudlow, Laura Ingraham, and other Right Wing Folk Heros into the Church?  Multiple sexual assaults are “stumbling”.  And Opus Dei’s enablement?  Not even on the radar.  It’s like the thing with Brock Turner.  He’s a white heterosexual male.  Think of his potential!  His future!  Look at all the good he’s done!  He’s one of Us!

And so the flow chart plays out yet again:

 

As one reader remarked: “I am rejoicing it is a woman and she is of age. Because it is far better than molestation of an under age minor. Groping is not as serious as penetration nor oral sex. An adult is different than a child.”

Imagine how the victims of McCloskey’s betrayal of trust must feel to hear such words.  “I am rejoicing” over your sexual assault and betrayal by a spiritual father.  Rejoicing.  Dames can take it when a guy gropes them and betrayal of women is what women are born for. No big deal. Let us rejoice. This broad’s feelings won’t be hurt by that. Women need to learn how to take a punch to the gut. What matters is that when Our Side does it, it’s just not really, you know, serious. Let us rejoice. Let us sociopathically rejoice.

And that is why the self-anointed saviors of the Church in conservative Catholicism will make a dog’s breakfast of any attempt at reform. Because they cannot get it through their heads that the issue is abusers, gay and straight, and enablers–like themselves–both liberal and conservative.  And they cannot, above all, get it through their heads that the only people who matter in this are not conservatives or liberals, but victims.

I agree that we are called, as Catholics, to pray for the redemption of sinners whether they be Cdl. McCarrick or Fr. McCloskey.  Jesus died for them too.  But as long as we ignore the good of victims and gauge our response to perps by our sense of tribal identity with them, we are only kidding ourselves about our interest in the gospel.  We are just fighting for a socio-political tribe that has very little to do with Jesus Christ or the people he says matter most of all: the least of these.

My dear friend, clear your mind of cant. – Samuel Johnson

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