Saturday, November 28, 2009

Abuse: a Post Concilliar Problem?

One of the things that has always shocked me about the whole sexual abuse by priests issue, is how could a priest saying Mass daily, going to Confession weekly or at least fortnightly, having been brought up with the clear cut moral theology of the pre-Concilliar era, knowing that any mortal sin would place his soul in jeopardy of Divine judgement, well, how could he do it?

One of my correspondants highlighted, Bryan, cited one telling instance:
In another case in a Deaf School for Girls, pupils complained that the priest was kissings them after hearing their confessions. The Sister-Headmistress asked him not to do that and the priest agreed if it was troubling the girls. The Sister explained she had thought this was part of the new way of hearing confessions after VII.
 He asks whether it was stupidity, well actually I think it was naivety, remember the first serious academic study on paedorasty was only published in the late 70s. Anecdotally the pre-Concilliar era was one of sexual repression, of "bath-smocks" and talc on the water, just to avoid seeing yourself, let alone anyone else.

Gerald Warner suggests convincingly, that sexual abuse, was a post-Concilliar problem, something from "the let it all hang out era", when everything was up for grabs including celibacy and moral theology, when asceticism and penance had beome dirty words and old certainties had given way to uncertainties.


Bryan said...

The story Fr Blake mentions is here in the report: Part 2: Page: 354.

22.8 In December 1984, there was “general fuss and skittishness” when one of the classes in St Mary‟s were going to confession. The principal investigated the cause of this fuss and was told by the girls that Fr Gallagher kissed each of them after confession. What the girls did not tell her at that time was that during confession he used to run his hands all over their bodies inside their clothing and then kissed them all on the lips at the end of confession. The principal again spoke about the matter to Fr Gallagher who said that, if the behaviour offended the girls, he would stop. The principal,
incredibly, felt that perhaps Fr Gallagher‟s approach reflected the newer approach to the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) and took the matter no further. The principal told the Commission that, when she read the draft of this section of the report, she wondered how she “could have been so blind. Abuse would not have entered my mind; I could not imagine a priest doing anything like that.”

Pardon the lengthy extract from the Dublin Report but it is worth quoting in full I believe.

Volpius Leonius said...

Discipline is necessary for order, when you relax discipline there will be an increase in disorder.

Evil actions are the result of a disordered existence.

At some point the leaders of the Church naively accepted the modern humanistic idea that men are inherently good rather than the Christian teaching that men are born condemned to hell due to original sin, the same original sin making us prone to doing evil things if not resisted.

"21 I find then a law, that when I have a will to do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin, that is in my members. 24 Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 The grace of God, by Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with the mind serve the law of God; but with the flesh, the law of sin." Romans 7

With this new naive idea of men been inherently good it was decided the old disciplines which had been used for centuries to defeat sin were no longer needed but in fact according to modern secular therapeutic psychology were harmful to man.

Modern secular humanistic ideas of the nature of man have been disproved with the now blatantly obvious descent of western society to ever increased levels of savagery and immorality.

By accepting the modern opinions of the new social experts of their times over that of the saints and fathers the leaders of the Church have allowed the same erroneous ideas based on the pride of man in himself that have dealt great harm to society as a whole to also harm the Church, which should have known better, remembering always the sin of Satan that he would make himself God and recognising this sin in the new ideas.

This sin of Satan is the sin of modern man, modern man would make himself God and worship himself as the supreme being.

Just as Satan was cast down in scorn by St. Michael with the words "Quis ut Deus?" so modern man will be fall into the hell of his own making unless he turns back from this path of idolising himself in place of his Creator.

jack said...

I agree with Gerald Warner. One thing which frightens me and that no-one seems brave enough to ask is Did these men lose the faith? its one thing for the laity to fall into vice knowing it is wrong but reading the report one wanders if the clergy held to the faith, if they didn't I shudder to think about the potentialnumber of invalid consecrations, baptisms, confessions, confirmations performed. Perhaps this would explain the number of people who fell away duirng the past 40yrs - because they were never Catholic to begin with.

On the side of the angels said...

Dumbstruck : I actually taught RE in said deaf school in the late 80s; spending time after school with the younger residentials [some barely out of nappies in montessori], playing games, helping with homework , helping them bake cakes for their tea etc right up till bedtime, they even taught me the single-hand US sign language they used - Some of the happiest days of my life - To think anyone would go near these angels - never mind a priest - is like another fall of man....
I'm just incredulous at it all!

parepidemos said...

Having finished a marathon reading of the Murphy Report (I also read the complete Ryan Report when it was published) it is simply not the case that sexual/physcial abuse is a post Conciliar problem. Gerald Warner's statement does not stand up to the facts and seriously warps the truth. So, I am both puzzled and saddened that you find his argument convincing.

The vast majority of those priests and religious who, so heniously, abused innocent children were trained/ordained before the changes brough about by Vatican II. Indeed, quite a bit of the detailed abuse took place in the 1940s and 1950s. These were/are men who underwent the 'old style' seminary procedures before the supposed laxity of the post-Vatican seminaries.

The Church in Ireland was far too influential in state matters and clergy/religious could almost operate without impugnity. Some Church leaders have been shown to have colluded in this horrendous and utterly disgraceful affair.
It was a most unhealthy situation and we are now reaping the whirlwind.

These men were mostly the products of pre-Vatican II. The truth needs to be accepted and people need to stop looking for scapegoats.

parepidemos said...

Jack: There is no need to fear that any of the sacraments were invalid just because they were celebrated by these tragic men. The Catholic Church has long taught that the validity of sacraments does not depend on the worthiness of the minister.

Volpius Leonius said...

"I answer that, Some have contended that heretics, schismatics, and the excommunicate, who are outside the pale of the Church, cannot perform this sacrament. But herein they are deceived, because, as Augustine says (Contra Parmen. ii), "it is one thing to lack something utterly, and another to have it improperly"; and in like fashion, "it is one thing not to bestow, and quite another to bestow, but not rightly." Accordingly, such as, being within the Church, received the power of consecrating the Eucharist through being ordained to the priesthood, have such power rightly indeed; but they use it improperly if afterwards they be separated from the Church by heresy, schism, or excommunication. But such as are ordained while separated from the Church, have neither the power rightly, nor do they use it rightly. But that in both cases they have the power, is clear from what Augustine says (Contra Parmen. ii), that when they return to the unity of the Church, they are not re-ordained, but are received in their orders. And since the consecration of the Eucharist is an act which follows the power of order, such persons as are separated from the Church by heresy, schism, or excommunication, can indeed consecrate the Eucharist, which on being consecrated by them contains Christ's true body and blood; but they act wrongly, and sin by doing so; and in consequence they do not receive the fruit of the sacrifice, which is a spiritual sacrifice." St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, Q. 82, Art. 7.

So a priests lack of faith would not effect their ability to bestow the sacraments

nickbris said...

Just about all that can be said has been said.

The point is that paederasts and paedophiles will get in anywhere that will satisfy their extraordinary urges.Priests should have been weeded out in the Seminary but we can't be suspicious of everybody who is different in any way.

Sexual deviants are probably the most manipulative people on the planet and could kid a monkey out of a tree.

Without getting too paranoid about it we have to be more careful but also remember that Priests are in the main very genuine and Saintly individuals.

There are misfits in all aspects of public life.

berenike said...

I don't think it's a purely post-conciliar thing, though perhaps the scale is.

One canon of Loreto was beheaded in 1570 for sodomising a choirboy (he repented and died a holy death, it's a very edifying story, though I don't think that's the message the author intended me to come away with!)

Earlier in the same century, Gombert is said to have been sentenced to the galleys for molesting a choirboy.

Amongst the sayings of the desert fathers are severe words against having boys in the monastery. And I read somewhere recently a reference to patristic sermons or writings on the severity of sexual abuse of children, but I can't remember where it was. From what the Ryan report says about what canon law had to say, in the 1920s and some other date that I've forgotten, I think it was around then too.

On naivety - somewhere in St Thomas there is this weird passage (I translated it for someone, I have found my translation but can't find the original and the reference) "However it might be possible for a woman to conceive,
preserving virginity in all its senses, as is said to have happened to
one adolescent girl, who for the custody of her chastity was kept in
her father's bed, who being polluted at night, the seed descended into
the womb and the girl conceived." Now, either that was a freakily freak accident (I know of one girl who was both pregnant and technically still a virgin when she was married!), or someone was telling fibs ...

Volpius Leonius said...

It has always been around there are no new sins but it seems to have increased dramatically at some point after WWII.

We must remember that Vatican II did not come from nowhere, it was influenced by the spirit of its age and was a response to this spirit which had begun BEFORE the council was called.

Pius X condemned this spirit in its infancy, which he called modernism, as early as 1907.

Forgive said...

Oh please, lets not blame VII for everything. This problem is as old as the hills. Long before the council was even called a priest was inappropiate with me (once). He eventually rose to the level of being just below the top position in the Church. I have never spoken of it and this is the first and last time I will put it in writing. I have always felt the Church needs protection from the human failings of its priests and even as a boy felt it should not be mentioned. He has long since gone on to answer for himself and its best left.

I would prefer to sign anonymous but as it is not allowed I will sign Forgive as there must never be any clues as to who I am as the connection would be easy. A prayer for him would be better.

Basil said...

I am a traditional Catholic and critical of many things about the post-conciliar Church. However to blame the entire problem of sexual abuse on a certain section of the Church, or on people we disagree is worrying. The particular nature of these problems is extremely complicated but they have a great deal to do with the influence of the evil one.

bill bannon said...

A old friend of mine years ago had an interesting take on this whole thing and firstly one must note that the priests involved are often quite old now or passed away and often Irish.
His theory was that these were gay men but many of them were older ones who entered the priesthood at a time in culture...pre vat II... when to come out as gay to one's parents was out of the question especially in Irish families where tempers can flare and families can divide and not speak etc. So rather than come out of the closet or also rather than keep explaining why one was not marrying and having children, a certain number of especially Irish gay men solved that whole problem by entering the priesthood and telling themselves that that action would also cure them of temptation along with solving these other problems.
If my friend is correct, there would then be a natural lessening of this phenomenon since now it is easier to come out of the closet even in Irish families.

gemoftheocean said...

Yes, but it seems that a lot of them were brought up "preconciliar" so no sense in blaming the "New Mass" Vatican II and all that.

Throughout the ages there have been the lapsed. Satan hates priests the most, so he is always after them.

As to the nun "pretending" she just thought it was a new way of hearing confession -- it's flat out silly. I'm not buying it. Did the priest kiss HER after HER confession?

I don't think we can blame this on Vatican II.

I think it quite possible that a priest could lose the faith -- and perhaps, some of them never really had it.

Perhaps some priests don't go to confession any more regularly than the average heathen. No one is exactly keeping tabs are they?

But I think that if a priest makes regular devotions, does the hours, when possible, and isn't filled with hubris I think he stands a lot better chance than the guy who thinks it's a nine to five job.

Norah said...

Father this is exactly what has been running through my mind. How could a man who has the power to confect the Eucharist ever do any of these terrible things? Re the brothers and sisters involved in cruelty, how did they justify it to themselves? My mind can't comprehend this.

I don't think it was just a post concilliar problem because as Parepidemos said many of the priests were ordained in the preconcilliar era and their school formation would have been orthodox also.

The best book I have read about the issue is After Asceticism: Sex, Prayer and Deviant Priests
The Linacre Institute - the Catholic Medical Association

With After Asceticism the Institute has made an important contribution to a discussion-- long overdue-- about the collapse of clerical discipline that allowed the sex-abuse crisis to develop. Catholic Culture

I purchased the book as an online book for $6.60 Australian from the website below.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thank you for that.

Anagnostis said...

Finger-pointing is never right. "Not us, Lord!". To live in Christ is to bear in our own hearts the sins and the suffering of all.

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Matthaeus said...

Thanks for this post, Father. It seems to have led to some excellent discussion, which is very helpful for anyone trying to 'get their head round' this issue.

I would like to add a few of my own thoughts, which seem to follow the line of some other commenters.

It seems to me that there have always been, and sadly will probably always be, people intent on abusing children. These people are clever and cunning and will exploit any situation that lets them get what they want and get away with it. The tragedy we are witnessing in the various reports now emerging is that such people have been able to exploit the good standing of the Church, and the trust and charity of her faithful (all themselves good things) in the pusuit of their own depravity, and now poor old Mother Church is again left to 'carry the can' and 'pick up the pieces'.

May I also suggest that perhaps the abuse scandal and some aspects of the liberal, so-called 'Spirit of Vatican II' actually arose from a common origin, namely the relaxation of morals that occured on a wide scale in the extreme circumstances of WWII.

Unfortuantely, when the war was over, many old taboos had been broken and the 'genie' was out of the 'bottle' - the effects we are still seeing in the decline of society today.

On a final thought, may I just add how impressed I was by the common sense and charity of 'Forgive's' comment: what is in the past is done, cannot be undone, and, once we have learnt from it, it is best left there. We all need to remember this spirit if there is to be healing in the Church after this scandal.

Kyrie eleison.


Cormac said...

Dear Fr Blake,

I am an avid reader of your blog and thoroughly enjoy its contents. I wish you continued success in the reform of your parish chapel and the enrichmnet of its sacramental life.

Yesterday I came to the site and read the above article. At first I thought it an iteresting, if slightly speculative, theory. Then I clicked on the link to Gerald Warner's page. His article infuriarated me from the beginning I comletely agree with the comments of 'Forgive'. To blame clerical abuse on the post-conciliar Church is one of the silliest, and I must say, deluded 'theories', which I have ever heard. Lets be sensible here, Vatican II has rightly come in for criticism in certain respects, but to blame it for, at least suggest a link betwen it and abuse is just silly.

There are number of points that should be worth remembering in the case of Dublin. The remit for the Murphy Report began only in 1975. Therfore, it was imposssible for it to detail abuse, of which there was a great deal, tha took place before then. As the Ryan Report has shown, clerical abuse, on a wide scale leval, was taking place in residential homes for the vast majority of the century. As well as this the maority of abuses named in the Murphy Report were ordained before the Council, and therefore were not subject to changes in clerical formation. Anyway, I'm sure a priest would not needed to have been told that raping a young girl with a crucifix, as one of the abusers' did, was wrong. Surely we have the capability of deciding that such an action is wrong? I cannot accept that a clercical student needs to be told that such acts are wrong, and that post-conciliar formation in anyway could have indirectly led priests to believe this was somehow acceptable or less grevious.

One final comment. I think religious life, for both laity and clergy, in Ireland up to the 1960s, and probably later, had many serious deficiancies. Most obvious was the number of entrants to the priesthood and religious life. By the early 1960s vocations were at an all time high in Ireland. Huge numbers of men and women had been joining the Church. As time has shown many did not enjoy a genuine vocation. Ireland at this time was a largely rural society, and opportunities were few. Many 'surpless' children joined the Church, often not of their own accord. It is certainly not unfair to suggest that our Church had a not insignificant number of 'misfits' in it. This in itself did not turn young men and women into abusers. The point I am trying to make is that the Irish situation was a complicated one, and differed somewhat, I suspect, from the English Catholic experience. It is interesting to note that in Catholic countries where abuse appears to have been most prevelent, or at least publicised, their respective churches had a distinctive 'Irish Catholic' influence;' i.e. USA, Australia, and Cananda.

Apologies for going on a little.


PatterNoster said...

Volpius leonius said:
"At some point the leaders of the Church naively accepted the modern humanistic idea that men are inherently good rather than the Christian teaching that men are born condemned to hell due to original sin"
Man inherantly is good - he os created in the image and likeness of God Himself. It is a rather Protestant theology to say that man is not inherently good.

parepidemos said...

To Volpius Leonius: You wrote that it is "..Christian teaching that men are born condemned to hell due to orginal sin". You are quite mistaken; this is what many Protestant churches teach but it is certainly not Catholic or Orthodox theology.

You are also mistaken when you write that the belief people are naturally good is "..a new naive idea...".

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (which does not promote new or naive ideas) states that after the Fall "human nature has not been totally corrupted;it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it..."(405) Note the present tense. The Catechism further uses this tense when describing men and women as being made in the Divine image.

I have noticed that, in the past, some have wondered if perhaps you may be a Protestant; you have denied this allegation. All I can say is that your thinking on this matter is worthy of Zwingli. Seeing as it this is a crucial doctrine, to profess what you believe would be heresy. If you are truly a Catholic, I urge you to read the relevant sections of the Catechism and also the dogmatic constitutions of Vatican II. I hope this does not come across as harsh, because that is not my intention. With every good wish in this season of Advent.

Volpius Leonius said...

Perhaps inherently was not the right word however the point stands man is now disfigured due to original sin, and inclined to evil.

"human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle." (CCC 405)

Donal Adams said...

Clerical sex abuse also has a strong preconciliar element to it: a significant number of the abusers priests were trained in preconcilar seminaries under the societas perfecta model of Church.

However, arguments centering on the Council ignore the true cause of scandal: the Church failed to apply its own canonical procedures.
Canon law, both the 1917 Code, and the 1983 revision are not "soft" on clerical abusers. Both demand that following an allegation a bishop investigate, and if true, expel the abuser from the priesthood, a public act of repudiation of the abuser which reflects the gravity of the offence.

Instead, all too often the highest priority was the protection of the reputation of the institution and the reputation of priests. Far too often all that mattered was the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church and the preservation of assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. Further, the vast majority of priests who were aware that particular instances of abuse had occurred also "simply chose to turn a blind eye". Look at the increasing reports of how complainants were often met with denial, arrogance and cover-up and with incompetence and incomprehension in some cases. Look at the failure of the diocesan authorities to inform other priests when a known abuser was transferred to a new parish. They also failed to convey full details to medical professionals about abusers sent for treatment and therapy.

The great damage is that in an era seeking moral guidance after the clerical sex abuse crisis, the Church no longer has credibility, standing or moral authority for many people, Catholic and non-Catholic. The deference previously shown to the hierarchy has evaporated and many see their superficial apologies as hollow. The challenge now is to again gain trust and unfortunately, that may take decades.

Basil said...

Warner clearly hasn't read the report.

The 'traditional' John Charles McQuaid was taking our insurance years ago to pay for the inevitable compensation claims.

I cannot decide what is sicker, the abuse itself or attempts to blame it on Vatican II.

Matthaeus said...

Some further thoughts on this matter...

Cormac is absolutely right in his comments that the Religious Life, and indeed, sometimes the priesthood itself, in Ireland suffered from deficiencies. A 'vocation' could provide security and a decent standard of living; often much preferable to the uncertainties of say, being part of a big, impoverished family engaged in subsitance farming and often going hungry - a far from rare state of affairs in rural Ireland in the early and mid-20th. Century.

There was also a prestige associated with having a priest or Religious in the family. There was also a sense of shame when someone 'dropped out' having tried a vocation (there is a peculiarly Irish expression,'spoilt Priest', for this). Result - many people pushed into lives to which they were patently not called.

The Church of England had something of a similar situation in the 18th. and early 19th Centuries when ordination was seen as a respectable option for younger sons of the noblity and gentry, who were not the heirs, and who were not capable enough for the army or professions. There are plenty of cartoons and satirical writings of the period lampooning the bad habits of wayward parsons!

Returning to the Irish situation, this was perhaps also exacerbated by taking candidates at a very early age, only to have them realise their lack of vocation a few years later, when it was very difficult to do anything about it (one exmple of this I have read is Patrick Power's book 'Once a Brother' in which he discusses his experiences from being recruited by the Christian Brothers at the age of fourteen until eventually leaving the order in his mid-twenties. I believe this to be an honest account, even I do not share all his ideas about possible 'solutions').
Something else significant is the way in which so much of the blame is laid squarely at the feet of Bishops and Religious Superiors, for their alleged 'protection' of abusers and the so-called 'whitewash' to preserve the Church's reputation at all costs. Before taking this stand, one does need to consider how things were understood at the time, and how much attitudes have changes since. Thank you, Father, for pointing out that the first serious psychological studies around pederasty did not happen until the 1970's - it is therefore perfectly correct to say that Church leaders did not understand child abusers in the 1960's, as apparenlty nobody really did.

Given this, it is not surprising that superiors often employed inapt strategies to deal with offenders (and, sadly, this often resulted in things being made worse), since these were perhaps the only strategies known at the time, and would have perhaps been approprate to a different situtaion, such as,say, a priest falling in love with a woman parishioner and this leading to an affair. Here, it would be prudent to move the priest elsewhere where he might well forget the lady concerned, and where there would be everylikelihood that he would amend his life. In such a circumstance it would also be the decent thing to keep the matter quiet in order to protect the lady concerned from scandal. Unfortunately we now know that child abusers do not behave this way, that they are likely to reoffend, and that victims need to be able to diclose their experiences, be believed, and be offered help and support.

As I said in my previous comment, we need to learn from the errors of the past, see that the same things do not occur in the future, accept that what has happened cannot be undone, and then leave it in the past where it belongs. When we do this, we can at least move on in the hope of a better future - and Hope is a virtue.

Fr L said...

As a priest who was trained in an English seminary during the latter years of the Council, I think it is wrong to blame the Council directly but in the 1970s there was serious confusion; blame the pill or Humanae Vitae, or what you will but there was definite confusion. We emerged rudderless into a world we did not understand, nor were prepared for.

We were actually encouraged to have physical contact with penitents, to take young men/women/children into our personal space, to put off the old "stuffy" clerical reserve.

I was unaware of sexual abuse of minors, but what we would now describe as "boundaries" were discouraged. I would think almost 50% of my confreres left to marry. It was a time when celibacy at least in practice if not in theory was up for grabs, and easily dispensed.
This was not new, it had always happened but it was the scale on which it happened which was new. It was almost as if priests suddenly discovered they too were sexual beings.
I went to see my Archbishop in '75, he began the conversation by asking if I wanted to leave too. He was relieved when I told him I wanted to do further study. That year over 50 of his priests had left!

Volpius Leonius said...

Parepemidos why do you think baptism is necessary?

"Q. 631. Is Baptism necessary to salvation?

A. Baptism is necessary to salvation, because without it we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." Baltimore Catechism

I never said human nature was totally corrupted, I was saying that man is inclined to evil just as the CCC states which I quoted earlier as a result of original sin. And that the modern ideas about man deny this and act like original sin never happened but rather that man left to his own devices will act like saint.

This is false, saints are made by Gods grace, no one is born one, with the exception of the BVM due to her Immaculate Conception.

As to some accusing me of been protestant, I have no idea where you are getting that from I cannot remember anyone accusing me of such, perhaps you have me mistaken with someone else.

Cease your false accusations of heresy against me as you have not the faculty to make such charges.

As they stand I take them to be a calumnious attack upon my reputation and demand restitution by you for your rash and ill-judged accusations.

Such charges are not to made lightly and only fools do so.

I trust you will have the decency to apologise for your error of judgement.

Bryan said...

Pace Basil, Archbishop McQuaid did not take out insurance against abuse. The Report (Part 1) says:

"9.2 The evidence reviewed by the Commission suggests that serious consideration was first given in 1986 to obtaining specific insurance cover for the benefit of the Archdiocese of Dublin for any potential liability falling upon it arising out of child sexual abuse by a priest of the Archdiocese. The timing is significant because the date of seeking insurance cover is clearly a date by which the Archdiocese had developed a realisation that child sexual abuse was a serious problem for it." end of extract..

andiclare said...

Parepidemos, you wrote:

"To Volpius Leonius: You wrote that it is "..Christian teaching that men are born condemned to hell due to orginal sin". You are quite mistaken; this is what many Protestant churches teach but it is certainly not Catholic or Orthodox theology...

I have noticed that, in the past, some have wondered if perhaps you may be a Protestant; you have denied this allegation. All I can say is that your thinking on this matter is worthy of Zwingli."

That's a pretty serious accusation, to casually compare a professed Catholic to a notorious heretic. Even worse when the accusation doesn't even make sense. In what way exactly is VL's "thinking on this matter" worthy of Zwingli?

Seems like you're saying that VL's posts echo the protestant heresy of total depravity, but they don't. Total depravity teaches that man is 100% incapable of any kind of goodness and totally incapable of seeking or desiring God. It removes the reality of the free human will and replaces it with predestination and providentialism. (Also heresies, when taught the way Calvin taught them.)

VL only correctly points out that men are born, not totally corrupt, but inclined towards evil because of original sin and therefore in need of Redemption. Without Christ's Atonement and Redemption of mankind, we'd all be condemned to hell. That's not protestant, that's Catholic theology.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Was also the year in which the Nova Scotian abuse cases came to the fore, the major revelations.

Sadie Vacantist said...

The present Archbishop claimed that whilst abuse existed before the Council, the Church's response became increasingly ineffective from the 1960's onwards but could not explain why? Like the posters here, he can't bring himself to contemplate that the post-conciliar Church contributed to this.

The same people wonder why a culture of omerta existed when they themselves are indulging in it by not STATING the truth. Something Warner is prepared to do i.e. break the silence.

GOR said...

Seeing that we have been through this here in the US for some years, one hesitates to delve into it again, but some things need to be said. I read Gerald Warner’s column and his intent was primarily a defense of Ab. John Charles McQuaid.

The abuse was not a ‘result’ of Vat II per se – it has existed from time immemorial. The ‘scale’ and ‘tolerance’ of it probably had much to do with the relaxation of morals and relativistic thinking resulting from the ‘freedom’ and ‘sexual liberation’ espoused in the 1960s. That this affected some in Vat II, I have no doubt. But it wasn’t caused by Vat II, merely exploited in the post-Vat II world.

There is always a tendency to revisionism when we look at the past. We judge it by what we know today. But we also often say: “If I’d known then what I know now…” However, evil is evil and sin is sin and we should be able to recognize it when we see it - regardless of the era involved.

I can understand a bishop being concerned about scandal and protecting the Church’s reputation. I can understand him thinking that ‘Fr. X’ who has ‘repented’ to him - probably in tears – may benefit from a retreat or a transfer, reform his life and never offend again. Our Lord forgave sinners, but always with the admonition to “go now and sin no more”.

Some psychiatrists have said that pedophilia cannot be cured – that, something like alcoholism, total removal from the ‘occasions’ is the only answer. If true, who knew that 30, 40 or 50 years ago? But even if true from a human perspective, it doesn’t take into account God’s grace – which any cleric would never discount. “My grace is sufficient for thee”. But in a Reaganesque “Trust, but verify” mode, prudence would still be the order of the day. That, we know today, but back then…?

Here in the US it became known that part of the reason for some bishops’ inaction, or attempts to cover up situations, stemmed from their own guilt and the threat of being exposed. I don’t know that this obtained in Ireland but it is not beyond the bounds of possibility in some cases. Offenders have risen to the highest ranks of the Church elsewhere - as we know now.

Finally, aside from the argument on whether we are ‘evil by nature’ or not, we are certainly weakened by Original Sin and by our own particular sins. And, while we rightly condemn the evils of the past, there is always the salutary and humbling reminder: “There, but for the grace of God, go I”.

Joshua said...

I heard an excellent sermon from one of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer that refers to this very topic, when I was in Christchurch, NZ, for Pentecost this year; I quote from my own blog (excuse the self-reference):

Fr Clement's preaching was very clear and very helpful, starting from the observation that in the Old Testament the Feast of Pentecost, fifty days after the Passover commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, commemorated the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt Sinai. But the Old Law, being a list of rules without the grace to keep them, was a ministry of death as the Apostle says; for the law came by Moses, but grace and truth through Jesus Christ (St John i). It was for Christ to establish the New Law, written in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Who gives us the grace to keep the commandments with love, not with servile fear as of old. Hence Augustine could boldly say, Ama, et fac quod vis - "Love, and do what you will": because if we truly love God then we will only ever freely choose to do good, virtuous things.

To serve the Lord out of fear alone may seem a secure way, but in fact it is very insecure, and oft leads to slips into sin and finally hypocrisy: for we did not receive a Spirit of timidity, as St Paul says, and to turn from love to fear is to lapse into Old Testament ways, when things were tough and even cruel. Fr Clement very importantly noted that such a lapse into Old Testament law-keeping in fear is probably the spiritual reason behind such terrible abuses of children as have been revealed to have taken place in Ireland in the early to mid-twentieth century: the fault was not liberalism or moralism (they didn't even have the dialogue Mass then, after all!) but what would be termed rigorism and Jansenism, issuing in cruelty and hypocrisy that covered up shameful deeds completely at odds with the sweet yoke and light burden of Jesus Christ.

John Kearney said...

I was in a Seminary for 3years but left because I did not love God enough to overcome my sexual feelings. Coming out cam be a more difficult decision than going in since there is the awful feelilng you have let your family down and they will be so disappointed. In Ireland especially where having a priest in the family was almost social status I suppose some did not hae the courage to leave, so they j8st went through the motions having nobody to confide in. Satan certainly has a field day with such priests.

Crux Fidelis said...

Fr Ray, Warner's argument is far from "convincing" as you put it and is totally at odds with your take on the situation when the Ryan report was first published. Then you suggested that lingering influences of Jansenism in the Irish Church were at the root of the problem. That is a far more convincing argument.

Crux Fidelis said...

John Kearney said "having a priest in the family was almost social status"

An old Irish definition of respectability was "A bull in the field, a well in the yard and a priest in the family".

Fr Ray Blake said...

The Ryan report was essentially about brutallity towards children.

I am convinced by Warner's arguement that VII resulted in confusion, the consequence was that something which was always there was unchecked.

The ethos of seminary and presbytery living pre-VII was to control concupiscience, when those controls were removed ....

Crux Fidelis said...

Fr Ray: My mother's friend (born 1928) was brought up in an Irish orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy. That name always drew a hollow laugh from her as she said there was very little mercy shown. I know a few Irish men of that generation who have similar feelings towards the Christian Brothers. Incidentally, lay teachers could be just as cruel and many remained so in my schooldays (1959 - 1972). As far as I can see the brutality ran unchecked pre Vatican II. Yet the majority of these people remained faithful to their religio. This was despite their upbringing not because of it. Fr Flanagan's (of Boys'Town fame) comments in the 1950s bear this out.

Cormac said...

I think Fr Blake's last point is a good one. Reading reports of abuse in Dublin it is shocking the number of abusers who invited children to stay with them for weekends in parochial houses. This seems extraordinary, and would undoubtedly never have happened in pre-conciliar days. I still dont buy into Warner's argument that abuse is somehow as post-conciliar problem but I do see how the breakdown, or coinfusion, in priestly practices/mores could have made it easier for priests to abuse children. Undoubtedly very few priests invited children to stay over with them, why would they? Somehow this must have been seen as acceptable, and therefore must have made it easier for abusers to have access to children.

Patricius said...

If Vatican 2 is a cause, why are these problems largely, if not exclusively, restricted to the English speaking parts of the Church?
The whole Church is "post conciliar"!

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Thank you for posting on this. I've read the post and the interesting but depressing thread of comments.

I don't have a grand theory about how this crisis took hold. I can only hope that this purification of the Church is the beginning of the purification of the world. I keep thinking of the verse in the first letter of St. Peter: "The time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel?"

Ma Tucker said...

Joshua, I think when you love God, you have a healthy fear of offending Him too. It is not one or the other. It seems to me that more evil is done when you have no regard for God or His Will, neither love nor fear.

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