Personal Thoughts on the Scandal on a Sunday

Personal Thoughts on the Scandal on a Sunday March 14, 2010

To locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or repel the enemy assault by fire and close combat.

That short, terse statement is the mission of the Marine Corps rifle squad. I learned it long ago. It was seared into my memory at Parris Island, never to be forgotten. It comes readily to my mind now as more stories of abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests continue to come to light.

Perhaps it is wrong for me to have these feelings, but my first reaction is to fix bayonets and start rooting out these enemy saboteurs. Whispers in the Loggia? I would argue that bullhorns and flashlights in the Loggia are in order. I feel like St. Peter when he whacks the right ear off Malchus when the authorities came to arrest Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane.

“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus.” (John 18:1-10 RSV)

Obviously Peter was attempting to protect Jesus by cleaving the head of this Malchus fellow in two. Quick reflexes saved Malchus, while costing him his ear. In His last recorded miracle before being crucified, Jesus heals Malchus by restoring his ear to him,

But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And He touched his ear and healed him. (Luke 22:51 RSV)

Our Lord then explained that if He were about to take over the world at that time by force of arms, He wouldn’t need the help of humans to do it:

Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26:53-54 RSV)

What does this scene have to do with pedophile priests? Perhaps I just needed to let you know that I am thoroughly disgusted with this ongoing scandal. I feel compelled to wield the sword at them much the way that other regular guy named Peter tried to do there in the Garden of Gethsemane. Call me Joe Sixpack, USMC of the Catholic blogosphere. I pray that Catholics the world over will insist on a thorough and uncompromising investigation of these latest allegations. No one should be immune from investigation and/or  prosecution.

I definitely did not become Catholic because of pedophile priests. When the scandal first broke in the United States in 2002, I wasn’t a Catholic yet. My oldest son was attending our parish school though and as the allegations came to light nationwide, I personally thought that this could be “game over” for the Catholic Church. Not my problem though because I wasn’t a Catholic.

That was my attitude then maybe, but not now. Now my attitude is 8 years of this crap has been long enough. Sure, the barque of St. Peter maneuvers as nimbly as an aircraft carrier, but 8 (others say it’s 10) years to make a course correction?! But wait a second, the ship is on the right course.  The problem is that some of the hands have gone rogue on us and need to be dealt with ASAP. And just when you thought the situation with the crew was under control, up came more allegations of shipmates behaving badly. And not just any shipmates, but officers of the line. In Ireland late last year and now in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Like dandelions in my yard, or zombies…Run!

Wait, on second thought don’t run. Sure zombies aren’t real, but only one thing works on them in the movies. Fire, like from a flame-thrower or a torch. And only one thing works on dandelions in my yard: forcibly extracting them from the ground, root and all, and tossing them in the trash can.

You need to extract them while they are still in full bloom and before the flowers become seeds. If they seed over, you still have to pull them while being very careful that none of the seedlings drop to the ground. Good luck with that. I’ve found that clipping the seed head first and then extracting the weed works best in this case. Ever considered transplanting dandelions removed from one part of your yard to another? Me neither.

I don’t mean to offend anyone’s sensibilities by talking about pedophile priests and associating them with punitive actions like fire, maneuver, forcible extraction, and other harsh words and phrases. But like the warrior King David, my hands are trained for battle and my fingers for war.  I realize that we are talking about sinful human beings just like ourselves. But what of the victims and the anguish and remorse they have endured and are still enduring?

And what of the damage to the Church, the Body of Christ? No one’s reputation or standing is more important than that of the Church as a whole. These words from the book of Isaiah ring loudly,

The Lord said: Since this people draws near with words only and honors me with their lips alone, though their hearts are far from me, and their reverence for me has become routine observance of the precepts of men, therefore I will again deal with this people in surprising and wondrous fashion:

The wisdom of its wise men shall perish and the understanding of its prudent men be hid. Woe to those who would hide their plans too deep for the LORD! Who work in the dark, saying, “Who sees us, or who knows us?”

Suggestion: let the sun shine in.  You don’t protect the integrity of the ship by ignoring holes in her hull, you repair them. And you don’t allow malefactors to run amok within your ships crew either. You court-martial them and bust them to private and throw them in the brig.

You see, something else was seared into my brain while I served in the Marine Corps. It’s from the Code of Conduct (bold emphasis is mine):

Article VI: I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

I’m a rookie lay Catholic, but I bet if I tried hard enough I could find a similar Code of Conduct for priests and religious. Yep, here’s one.  Not quite as hard corps as the one in the military. For instance this line from that code (4.5) should really be up there in section 2, Conduct with Minors

All instances of alleged harassment (insert abuse) must be reported at once to the immediate supervisor, Pastor, Parochial Administrator, Principal or the appropriate Diocesan Official.

Um, I suggest calling the police first.  Serious people with guns and badges looking for bad guys tend to get things done a little quicker than the average bureaucracy.  Also, simple stuff like no child left alone with an adult works wonders in Scouting. Is this the protocol in your parish?

To keep up with the news, I suggest you check in with the good folks over at New Advent for the latest stories from the Catholic blogosphere. And there is a news feed over at this site too, which probably won’t win me any admirers either.  So be it.

In closing, even though I haven’t ever personally stooped this low in my own sinful life (there, but for the grace of God, go I), I know that these priests deserve our sympathy, prayers, compassion and love. But they need to be arrested, tried and convicted (if found guilty by a jury of their peers), and then sent to jail for their crimes. This is necessary not only for good order and discipline aboard His Majesty’s Ship but for the good of the entire world.

Now is the time for accountability and transparency. “No more of this!” St. Joseph pray for us!

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  • Amen!

  • Laurie

    This couldn't have been easy to write, Frank; thank you so much for every word –from one looking up from the pier and (in less than three weeks) about to take her first step up the gangplank. As our Bishop told us at our Rite of Election, "This ain't no cruise ship you're boarding, it is a warship." This soon-to-be shipmate brings with her a love of Scripture, and takes great comfort in knowing that "More powerful than the roar of many waters, more powerful than the breakers of the sea, powerful in the heavens is the Lord." Psalm 93:4I'm grateful to YIMC and posts like this one, for helping make that first step a lot more steady.

  • A very candid and compelling post! Let me first say, "Amen" to all you have written.I have a comment about protecting our children from here on out . . . . . I believe that a serious commitment to follow Virtus Training is a priority.When I went through the training I thought that the practical rules made such good common sense. Simply following the rules would GREATLY limit even the near occasion of the abuse. I taught at a (Legionary) Catholic School READY for the embracing of these rules. The rules were blatantly ignored. To my best knowledge, no abuse occured there, but my point is that the rules we learned at Virtus were not followed!!!I do not mean to oversimplify but simply going to Virtus Training is not enoughh . . . . we need to follow Virtus Rules FIRST and ALWAYS.

  • Frank:I too get sick to my stomach and mad as hell every time a new abuse case pops ups up. Hate the sin but love the sinner, man that is hard to do sometimes. It seems some of the new allegations happened a long time ago and I personally wonder if there is not something going on here which may not be so truthful. Let us all keep in mind though that there has been plenty of abuse of children and we should punish the abusers and pray and pray and pray some more for the abused.

  • Maria

    Peggy:VIRTUS is sex education modeled after a secular sex education program viz Panned Parenthood that is corrupting our children. They are instructed in things to which a child should NEVER be exposed. Sadly this is about protecting the Church from lawsuits. It is not protecting children. Children are being damaged. See article below from 2007–Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: "Safe Environments" and Sexuality Education should be taught together Sr. Fran Donnelly, BVM, Director of the Protection of Children and Youth Inititiative for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, recently sent out this e-mail to all catechetical leaders and those involved in teaching "safe environments" in our Catholic schools and religious education classes.We have stated for months about our concern that we are introducing scary and deviant sexual scenarios to our young children which may well shatter their innocence. Addtionally, many have expressed concern that there may be an alternative agenda since many of the themes found promoted in VIRTUS and "Talking About Touching" look all too familiar to those promoted by Planned Parenthood and SIECUS.Holy, faith filled priests and prayer are our only defense. Only they will fill the hull holes of the boat. As a friend of mine likes to say, tie yourseld to the ship. The waters are only going to get rougher.

  • Anonymous

    On Sunday April 24th 1994, Pope John Paul II recommended this prayer be used by all Catholics as a prayer for the Church when he said:'"May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians: 'Draw strength from the Lord and from His mighty power' (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world."' Saint Michael the Archangel,defend us in battle.Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -by the Divine Power of God -cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.Amen.

  • I am not familiar with the Virtus training offered to children. All adults in our parish who work with children must undergo Virtus training. Yes, it is part of an insurance-company package. But it was absolutely OUTSTANDING in terms of what to look for and what to avoid, even in one's own innocent behavior. Alas, "holy, faith-filled priests" -or any holy faith-filled person – are sometimes hard to discern from people with psychiatric problems. And I agree with Frank – if you see or suspect a problem, CALL THE POLICE. Child abuse is A CRIME.

  • Anonymous

    Lock and Load, FrankSemper Fi!

  • Maria

    Allison: Here is an example–Some samples of the lessons for five- to seven-year-old children include: Motorcycle riding babysitter offers little Joey a ride if he plays the touching game. "I'll put my hand down the front of your pants and then you put your hand down the front of my pants."And, This is Ian. He is worried because he has a problem, and he's trying to decide whether to tell someone about it. Last week his mom's boyfriend came into Ian's room when Ian was getting ready for bed. He started to give Ian a hug and then he put his hand down the back of Ian's pajama bottoms. He warned Ian not to tell his mom about what had happened. He said they should keep it a secret.You indicate that "holy, faith-filled priests" -or any holy faith-filled person – are sometimes hard to discern from people with psychiatric problems". I am not certain what that means,but I do think that holy priests who are full of faith are not inclined towards sin that includes the abuse of childtren.Objections include:1. The program violates the latency period of young children — a period of development that the designers of TAT deny exists. 2. The program rejects the primacy of parental involvement. 3. Children are being subjected to an experiment created by the Committee for Children, with the goal of changing the way American children are educated by their parents regarding sexuality. 4. The CFC has its origins and inspiration in COYOTE* and is part of a larger movement to give our children a "healthy" outlook on sexuality, free from puritan hang-ups and Catholic guilt. Its position is diametrically opposed to the traditional Judeo-Christian teaching on sexual morality. (It opposes the Catholic Church's insistence on premarital chastity and fidelity in marriage, for example.)*coyote=call off your old tired ethics

  • CATHOLICS NEED TO STAND UP AND DEMAND ANSWERS. We need to write to our bishops and our pastors, and to explain that we want the answers now. Why the cover up? Why aren't bishops in jail? What did Pope Benedict know about the scandals and what did he do about what he knew. How did he really handle the accusations against Marcial Maciel? How did he handle this thing in his old archdiocese? Enough of the church trying to protect itself and its bishops and priests. Full investigation now.

  • While still a Protestant ordained pastor (Methodist), insurance companies took the lead with insistence that each local parish have in-place child protection, sexual molestation policy in writing. Line-of-sight, two adults in every Sunday School classroom (unrelated), no window-less classrooms, etc.This was largely prior to the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal broke in the United States (late 80's early 90's). Sadly, they did not pursue with such vigor in Catholic parishes, largely because of the larger power position of Catholic priests in each parish.Now things are more realistic in Catholic parishes? I ask that as an honest question. As a male Catholic educator for 9 years, I underwent a rigorous process (fingerprinting, standard state check, questionnaire in the VIRTUS program which is better than critiques say, IMHO) before being hired. Are Catholic priests as rigorously checked? On a diocese by diocese basis? Do we know?Rev. Paul Scalia said in my hearing that priests who have been proven offenders need to face the same consequences of any sex offender … regardless of sacramental absolution. I agree.

  • @Maria: I agree with you hon. Those kind of examples you gave for explaining to a 5 to 7 year old would make 10 year olds uncomfortable and violate their innocence. In terms of the other comment I made: I said that unclearly. Let me try again: I know of parents who have sought advice from clergy about problems with staff in a parish abusing children. Those clergy were just as sick as the staff. This opinion comes not from recent experience, but from childhood experiences within the Church. It is best to call the police.This scenario could apply to any other institution too, of course.

  • @athos: My own priest has undergone VIRTUS training. He and others priests and staff are instructed NEVER to be alone with a child. And they are not. EVERY diocesan employee must undergo this training. And they have to be updated regulaly. Our diocese takes this very seriously.

  • That said, even given my implicit trust of my pastor and parish, my first call would be to the police if I suspected someone in my parish community hurting children.

  • Jan

    Athos – our diocese has a pretty stringent background requirement for priests (according to them!), as well as for anyone who works with children – in my parish, that would be me. I have to submit to a check every three years. The problem is, unless and until one has a record, the checks don't do much, except maybe prove that you haven't been caught yet.I agree with Anne Rice – enough is enough already.Here's a story for you – my second child was baptized (as an infant) by a visiting priest in the parish we lived in, who is now serving a life sentence for molestation. (Actually, it was homosexual activity, which I think does need to be distinguished from true pedophilia). It really creeps her out, as well as the rest of us. I hope that's as close as my family ever gets to the scandal.

  • Webster Bull

    Frank, good for you for taking on this difficult subject without flinching. And thanks to author Anne Rice and others for weighing in. When I was 14, a non-religious teacher made sexual advances to me. (And let's never forget that priests have no monopoly on this form of predation.) I was spared by two things: by my own determination to avoid the advances (I was 14, not 7 or 9, so I had some idea what they meant); and by my father's alert reaction. I never told my parents about what had happened between me and the teacher, but they somehow picked up the cues. As a result, my father went down to the school and had a mano-a-mano with the teacher. After that day, I never had a problem. Which is to say, yes, prosecute those who violate children; but also remember that the child needs to be educated (as I was by age 14, partly by my father) and parents can be complicit as well. Which means, Parents wake up!

  • Maria

    Allison: Thanks for the clarification. Undoubtedly priests are sinners like the rest of us and thus need our prayers.Frank: I agree w/ Webster. This topic is fraught w/ emotion and I applaud your efforts for taking it on. Webster: I have my own tale that involved a cover up by a Jesuit priest who was a friend of the family.Anne: The Roman Catholic Church is not a democracy and thus we never "demand" anything. Rather, we plead in prayer, for the conversion of priests and the salvation of their souls ; we pray for the children whose lives have been permanently damgaged, that they may be healed; we pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the Vicar of Christ in his decision making with regard to the abuse of children. It is important to always remember that there is nothing that God does not permit, even this heinous sin of abusing children, in his providence. Remember: where sin abounded, grace abounded more.Also, the media ia attempting to shape the argument by convicting the Bishop of Rome and pronouncing him *guily*-see Times Article by Owens–"Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry". No one knows anyting of the sort. Also see Damian Thompsons' aricle– Catholic fury over The Times's coverage of Pope Benedict XVI.

  • Maria

    "The priest's strong faith in what he teaches will, in large measure, determine how persuasively and effectively his teaching will affect the Faithful. Nothing convinces like conviction. Nothing is more persuasive than certitude. Speaking for my fellow priests, and myself, if we are convinced of what we teach others to believe, and carry it into practice, then the people will be able to follow, not just our words, but our example. But if we fail them, God help them. That is a prayer".John Hardon SJWebster: I did not mean to imply that I was abused by a Jesuit. I was abused by a non family member for an extended period of time when I was very young. A Jesuit advised my parents to ignore the abuse as did my Aunt, who was a nun.

  • Thanks to all of you for your comments. I read from this blog post that only 20% of the cases have been tried internally to date. That is unsatisfactory, or as we would say in the Corps, completely UNSAT. Perhaps it's time to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Do Self-policing organizations effectively monitor themselves in an unbiased and effective manner with no external regulator? Scholarly articles point to "no" more often than "yes". I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide our Pope and our Church as she continues to deal with this crisis. And it is timely that Webster is leading us in the novena prayer to St. Joseph, patron of the ChurchInteresting find on a quote from St.Athanasius:When the Council of Nicaea was called in 325, even though he was only still only a deacon, his Bishop chose Athanasius to accompany him as a periti. There he amazed and impressed the Council Fathers with his thorough knowledge of the Faith and his masterful apologetics approach of defending the Faith, especially against the Arian heresy. Though Arianism was soundly condemned at Nicaea, it did not go away. Rather it spread further and, were it not for men like Athanasius, who knows what further damage might have been done. It was Athanasius himself who illustrated the great damage done when he said, "The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops." He was, of course, referring to those bishops – the vast majority – who had been lured away from the True Church in following the false teachings of Arius. If that many bishops were in hell, how many who followed them down the wide path to perdition also were? They say for every priest who loses his soul, 1000 souls are lost; for every bishop who loses his eternal soul, 10,000 souls are denied the Heavenly portals.Wow. I just picked up God's Battalions by Rodney Stark two days ago. Pope Urban makes the case for the first crusade (Nov 27, 1095) in the introduction.Speaking in French, the pope began by graphically detailing the torture, rape, and murder of Christian Pilgrims and the defilement of churches and holy places committed by the Turks( he called them Persians)They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness…what shall I say about the abominable rape of women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent. On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and recovering the territory incumbent, if not upon you?Meaning us. I thought to myself these words of Pope Urban's (with a few minor changes) could also be used for undertaking an internal crusade very easily. I couldn't go on blogging without writing something about this. It's the elephant in the room. What would St. Francis of Assisi do? Show up in the Vatican with no shoes on and impoverished, and still get to see the Pope. What did St. Joan of Arc do? Went and saw the Dauphin. What did St. Thomas More do? Juan Diego? Bernadette? The little children in Fatima? It seems that the "nobody's" had to shake-up the "somebodies" all along the way.What should Frank do? I didn't hear voices, but I felt strongly compelled to not write around this problem and pretend it isn't happening on a grand scale.

  • cathyf

    My question about the effectiveness of such programs as Virtus is really a statistical argument. It goes like this:– Priests make up a tiny fraction of our larger society, a small fraction of priests are abusers, so it is unlikely that any particular parish has an abuser priest.– Virtually all parishes of any size contain members who are being sexually abused — usually teenaged girls, who are being abused by a stepfather, father, or some man who is close to the family.If Virtus worked, you wouldn't necessarily expect for it to "catch" priest-predators very often, because there just aren't that many out there. But there are huge numbers of predators out there who are not priests, and if Virtus worked, you would see them coming to light. Every diocese in America would have at least a handful of cases every year where an 8th-grader would tell her CCD teacher that her stepfather was molesting her, or a high-school student would tell his youth minister that one of the coaches was molesting him, etc., etc.One of the nasty little facts about this scandal is that it has become very clear to me that there is a group that doesn't really care about protecting children, as opposed to the much smaller goal of punishing priest-predators who prey on children. Virtus (and the other programs like it) are basically just a series of things which well-meaning folks imagine should do some good. But the actual facts — especially Virtus' inability to have any effect upon bringing to light the common instances of sexual abuse that we know are going on all of the time — tell us that this sort of program doesn't do anything.

  • Athos,An old roommate of mine is now a seminarian. Beyond the background check – which was more than just a criminal check – he went through pretty extensive psychological screening by an outside party. They were looking for overall psychological health, but potential for child abuse was one of the big subjects.

  • @Athos: The abuser priests I knew growing up are all in their 70s or older now, (or are deceased.) I have heard from other Catholics, and now from you, that the screening of seminarians is MUCH more rigorous than it was in the past, to weed out people with psychiatric problems. I pray this is true.Sometimes, when an institution goes through a scandal such as this, the result is a safer place than had it not. I can think of a boys' private school that had horrible sex abuse going on (a nonreligious school) and now is very rigorous and on top of things to keep their children safe.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Frank: I appreciate your gutsty and brilliantly written post about the 'dandelion problem.' I tried five times to post an thank you and a commentary on YIM — to no avail. Somehow I have been unable to post a comment. Let me tell you how much I appreciate what you wrote and how very relevant it is to a recent crisis in my children's parochial school. The 'Code of Silence' must be broken, and even the lay principal in our situation is being protected by the archdiocese… So, we were forced to go above them to the police, the Dept. of Education and even to an national accrediting association which accredits private/parochial schools. Since our monsignor refused to hear the legitamate concerns of the many, many families involved in this crisis of leadership at the school we transferred our children en masse mid-year. I am sad, shaken and disillusioned in the Church. I could not return to Mass since February because I felt it impossible to see beyond all of this. Your post arrived at the perfect time for me. I returned to Mass cum daughters on Sunday, and I prayed that God would allow me to sense the Real Presence — despite the human failings of those in charge. I am writing this comment to let you know how very powerful your YIMC post was/is. I have forwarded it to several of the families involved in our situation. We will go forward as faithful Catholics despite our grave concerns for the many problems that riddle the Church. Thank you Frank for 'being there' via YIMC. Please pray for this particular school as outside authorities begin to ask questions and hold accountable the leaders.

  • Maria: "The church is not a democracy" is a pathetic thing to say in the face of crimes and scandals. We cannot just "pray our way" out of them. Amazing that there are almost two dozen remarks and only Anne Rice brings up holding the leadership (not just the individual priests) to accountability and scrutiny.Canon law is VERY clear that the members of the church (that would be all of us) have the responsibility to make our needs and concerns known. What overall Church leadership hasn't seem to get, for many years, is the complicity of bishops and heads of religious orders who moved offending priests around and required victims to take a vow of silence.Webster, this problem isn't just 8 or 10 years old. Concerns were raised by Fr. Thomas Doyle to the US Catholic Bishops in 1985. That's 25 years ago. And most bishops put their hands over their ears and said, "Lalalalala."

  • @Shannon. Thank you for posting. I have missed you! And you are right; the scandal goes back a very long time – longer than any of us likely were alive. It certainly was alive and well when I was a child in the 1960s and 1970s. What is "new" is that it is not as hidden as it once was.

  • Shannon:I quoted that specific Canon Law and left a link to it in this post back in February. Pray, yes. But like St. Augustine advised, Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.

  • Maria

    Shannon: I am sorry that you found my response pathetic.

  • Maria

    Shannon: History shows that the Church received very bad professional advice with regard to how to handle sexual abuse. I believe that Pope Benedict is trying to correct this. He is the Bishop of Rome and so I assent to his judgment and not my own.

  • @Maria, Shannon and others: One thing that has been pointed out to me is that 30 years ago, sending priests to therapy to control their impulses toward children was considered an effective way to deal with a problem. It was believed then that this would "work." It was actually considered an enlightened solution, particularly in Europe. We all know better now, but we are taking insights gained over the past three decades and retroactively applying them to the 1980s.Something to think about.

  • Maria

    "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you". Frank My Friend–With love, this is St. Ignatius of Loyola. And, you are oh so right!

  • Maria

    Allison: This was exactly the point I was attempting to articulate. Priests were sent to place like St. Luke's and the center in New Mexico, and others of their ilk, on the advice of professionals. As a pychotherapist of many decades, I have had an interest in this story. The hierarchy received bad advice; however, the rest of the nation has struggled with issue, openly, only since the 1980's. The Church has been struggling with the rest of the country. This seems like an eternity. It is, in fact, a very short period of time.To argue that the hierarchy maliciously set out to harm children strains credulity. Sexual abuse of children is a manifestation of original sin in neon lights, yes; however, I still believe that prayer must be our first line of defense: for victims, for priests, for the Vicar of Christ, and our Mother, the Church. Only prayer? Christ commands us to pray. Everywhere we meet the Cross. However much we may wish to escape it, the Cross is always with us…AND God is always with us. "He is with us until the end of time"–Matthew 18:20

  • Allison Salerno

    This might not be a popular idea, but please consider that not every accused priest is guilty. This statement is in NO WAY to minimize the horrible sins of many. But let us all pray for wisdom and discernment. I know a case where a man's life was absolutely destroyed by false accusations. And yes, let us pray, pray, pray for all priests, and well as children – in the Catholic Church and elsewhere – who have been victimized by those they and their parents trusted.

  • Webster Bull

    @Allison, I receive your meaning loud and clear. There have been witch hunts in human history, you know. And I think the good, holy priests have to be encouraged, too. Because it's very easy in a witch hunt to suspect everyone of witchcraft. Which is why I wrote this piece about the guts it takes to be a priest.

  • Maria

    Allison: You are absolutely correct. There are priests who are being unjustly accused and crucified, just as our dear Savior was. This passage comes to mind–can't recall exactly, but "in the world you will find trouble, but in me you will find peace. Fear not for I have overcome the world". I am also reminded of Hardon SJ who likes to remind us that the seed bed of Christianity is martyrdom and not all martyrdom is by death. It can be perscecution. Also we should remember that " where sin abounded grace abounded more". I wish I could cite these things properly. God will bring good out of everything, even our worst sin. In order for this suffering to bear fruit I think we need to unite our suffering with the Cross; otherwise, it is lost. It does not bear fruit.Webster: Frank did a good job on this, don't you think? Thanks, Frank.

  • Maria

    Webster–it was a great post about the vocation of priesthood. I extract a quotation you cited:"Everything else turns out somehow boring, anyway. Only the man who "risks the fire," who recognizes a calling within himself, a vocation, an ideal he must satisfy, who takes on real responsibility, will find fulfillment…"Pope BenedictRisking the fire, indeed.

  • How is this for art imitates life. Page 83 of Le Carre's Russia House.Call me Ned. And here is more food for thought from my friend Qoheleth, Ecclesiastes Chapter 3.Sometimes a field day (Marine Corps speak for "house cleaning") is in order. And as Admiral Horatio Nelson said I could not tread these perilous paths in safety, if I did not keep a saving sense of humor. Duty is the great business of a sea officer; all private considerations must give way to it, however painful it may be. – letter to Frances Nisbet. Firstly you must always implicitly obey orders, without attempting to form any opinion of your own regarding their propriety. Secondly, you must consider every man your enemy who speaks ill of your king; and thirdly you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil.- to a midshipman in 1793 aboard the Agamemnon. Now I can do no more. We must trust to the Great Disposer of all events and the justice of our cause. I thank God for this opportunity of doing my duty. – just after his England expects signal. First gain the victory and then make the best use of it you can.- before the battle of the Nile 1 August 1797. Recollect that you must be a seaman to be an officer and also that you cannot be a good officer without being a gentleman. My greatest happiness is to serve my gracious King and Country and I am envious only of glory; for if it be a sin to covet glory I am the most offending soul alive. – letter to Lady Hamilton, 1800. When I am without orders and unexpected occurrences arrive I shall always act as I think the honour and glory of my King and Country demand. But in case signals can neither be seen or perfectly understood, no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.

  • Maria

    Frank: ROFLMAO!!! I hope I did not offend the King. The Great Disposer? I think He is well pleased with our efforts, don't you??

  • Maria

    Hey Ned–an agent runner? A Captain of men of men, for sure.

  • OK, not an agent runner LOL. Whew!