Breaking: The Vatican Blows Smoke (UPDATED)
March 13th, 2013
We’ll habemus a Papam soon, although I hear Karl Rove is throwing a fit because the votes from Cincinnati’s suburbs still haven’t come in.
Update: The new head of the Roman Catholic Church is His Holiness, Pope Francis, the former Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina. This sets several precedents: He’s the first non-European Pope in many centuries (some early popes were north African), he’s the first Jesuit pope, and he’s the first to be named Francis. The regnal name is chosen with care, and is intended to signal the kind of papacy the pope intends to pursue. In this case, it’s unclear whether this one intends to follow the path of St. Francis of Assisi, or perhaps, St. Francis Xavier, a co-founder of the Jesuits.
Nevertheless, the speed with which two-thirds of the 115 Cardinals settled on Bergolgio can only be seen as a stunning rebuke of the back-stabbing, infighting, scandal-plagued Roman Curia, which is badly in need of a complete reboot. While Bergolgio is a theological conservative, he can be somewhat more “left” leaning on economic and (non-sexual) social issues, for whatever meanings those labels may carry within Catholicism. (He’s no Paul Ryan, at any rate.) The National Catholic Reporter has a very good rundown on his background here:
Bergoglio has supported the social justice ethos of Latin American Catholicism, including a robust defense of the poor.
“We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least,” Bergoglio said during a gathering of Latin American bishops in 2007. “The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”
At the same time, he has generally tended to accent growth in personal holiness over efforts for structural reform.
…Bergoglio may be basically conservative on many issues, but he’s no defender of clerical privilege, or insensitive to pastoral realities. In September 2012, he delivered a blistering attack on priests who refuse to baptize children born out of wedlock, calling it a form of “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.”
Among the issues that Bergolgio was “basically conservative” on was homosexuality. He first crossed our radar in 2010, as he was campaigning against a proposal to bring marriage equality to Argentina’s same-sex couples:
“Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God,” writes Bergoglio in a letter sent to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, where he is archbishop. “We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
He has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, though he teaches the importance of respecting individuals who are gay. He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage. In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote: “Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” He has also insisted that adoption by gays and lesbians is a form of discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church’s tone was reminiscent of “medieval times and the Inquisition” [By the way, the page was changed moments ago to replace every instance of “gay” to “homosexual”]
For another day the world remains popeless
March 12th, 2013
It seems that discernment is not a straightforward thing and that God is working in very very mysterious ways today. (Times)
The cardinals of the Catholic Church held their first ballot on Tuesday to elect a pope, with black smoke signaling no winner on the first day of their conclave inside the Sistine Chapel.
Cardinal O’Brien: Been There, Tapped That
March 3rd, 2013
Britain’s most senior Archbishop, Keith Cardinal O’Brien of Scotland, resigned last week when three priests and one former priest came forward with allegations of sexual harassment over a period spanning thirty years. He denied the allegations, and pinned his resignation on his approaching mandatory retirement when he turns 75 in March and said that he did not “wish media attention in Rome to be focused on me.” Well, now that the Cardinals are preparing for a conclave to select the next Pope, O’Brien is doing a fantastic job of returning media attention back to him, with this statement in which he cops to those feels:
“In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them.
However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.
To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness.
To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise.
I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.”
Oh yeah, he says. Now I remember… And by the way, the way things are going these days, his sexual conduct was actually better than expected. I mean c’mon. They were grown-ups.
U.K.’s Top Cardinal Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Complaints From Priests
February 25th, 2013
On Saturday, the U.K.’s Observer reported that three priests and one former priest came forward to accuse Britain’s most senior Archbishop, Keith Cardinal O’Brien of Scotland, of “inappropriate behavior” spanning thirty years. O’Brien denied the allegations, but then the church released a statement this morning saying that O’Brien resigned a week ago on February 18.
Yeah right. How much you wanna bet that resignation was back-dated?
On Saturday, the Observer reported:
It is understood that the first allegation against the cardinal dates back to 1980. The complainant, who is now married, was then a 20-year-old seminarian at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange, where O’Brien was his “spiritual director”. The Observer understands that the statement claims O’Brien made an inappropriate approach after night prayers.
The seminarian says he was too frightened to report the incident, but says his personality changed afterwards, and his teachers regularly noted that he seemed depressed. He was ordained, but he told the nuncio in his statement that he resigned when O’Brien was promoted to bishop. “I knew then he would always have power over me. It was assumed I left the priesthood to get married. I did not. I left to preserve my integrity.”
In a second statement, “Priest A” describes being happily settled in a parish when he claims he was visited by O’Brien and inappropriate contact between the two took place.
In a third statement, “Priest B” claims that he was starting his ministry in the 1980s when he was invited to spend a week “getting to know” O’Brien at the archbishop’s residence. His statement alleges that he found himself dealing with what he describes as unwanted behaviour by the cardinal after a late-night drinking session.
“Priest C” was a young priest the cardinal was counselling over personal problems. Priest C’s statement claims that O’Brien used night prayers as an excuse for inappropriate contact.
The cardinal maintained contact with Priest C over a period of time, and the statement to the nuncio’s office alleges that he engineered at least one other intimate situation. O’Brien is, says Priest C, very charismatic, and being sought out by the superior who was supposed to be guiding him was both troubling and flattering.
The four submitted their complaints to the papal nuncio in Britain, Antonio Mennini, a week before Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. As Cardinal, O’Brien was preparing to fly to Rome to participate in the conclave to elect a new pope. Observers note that he skipped the celebration of mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday.
Last year, Cardinal O’Brien stirred controversy over an op-ed published in The Telegraph in which he described the proposal to implement marriage equality a “a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right” and compared same-sex marriage to slavery:
Disingenuously, the Government has suggested that same-sex marriage wouldn’t be compulsory and churches could choose to opt out. This is staggeringly arrogant.
No Government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage.
Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that “no one will be forced to keep a slave”.
Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right? Or would they simply amount to weasel words masking a great wrong?
Soon after, in an interview with BBC Radio 4, O’Brien defended those remarks, saying “I think it’s a very, very good example of what might happen on our own country in the present time.” In November, U.K.’s gay rights group Stonewall awarded O’Brien with the Bigot of the Year Award.
Pope Benedict much too criminal to travel
February 19th, 2013
When Pope Benendict resigned, Cardinal O’Malley lamented that “the demands of extensive international travel, played a central role in his decision”.
And he’s undoubtedly right. Though the “demands” are perhaps a bit different from what the Church would have us believe. His fear is likely less about falling and breaking a hip than it is facing increasing international condemnation.
The internet got a moment of excitement yesterday when something calling itself “the International Tribunal into Crimes Against Church and State” declared that it has issued a summons for Joseph Ratziger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, to appear before it and answer for his crimes against humanity. But they have roughly the same authority that I have, so that’s worth little more than histrionic denouncements from a soap box. What they did say, however, that was of interest was this:
On Friday, February 1, 2013, on the basis of evidence supplied by our affiliated Common Law Court of Justice (itccs.org), our Office concluded an agreement with representatives of a European nation and its courts to secure an arrest warrant against Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict, for crimes against humanity and ordering a criminal conspiracy.
I highly doubt that they have an agreement with any nation for Ratzinger to be arrested and brought to them for judgment. They also declare that “Common Law peace officers [aka people without any legal authority] working for our de jure Court and Tribunal will apprehend [aka kidnap]” the Pope and drag him there in chains and that this Easter they will seize the assets of the Church. Cue the circus music.
But what I do think is possible is that some nation soon will, under their own laws, issue an arrest warrant for Ratzinger based on his involvement in the global cover-up of child molestation by Catholic Priests. As more documents are being demanded – and produced – it is becoming increasingly clear that before ascending to the Papal See, Ratzinger was individually responsible for keeping authorities unaware of abuse and for using international law to hide and protect priests who engaged in the most horrific abuse of trust. And even more likely is that a nation will refuse entry to a known criminal.
As head of state of the Vatican, Benedict would have diplomatic immunity. But the embarrassment would be seriously detrimental to the Church’s continued influence. And even if the Pope were to have continued in his position, he would have been forced to limit his travels to the extent that he would be a virtual prisoner in the Vatican. Reuters suggests that this is probably his fate in any case.
Pope Benedict’s decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say.
“His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn’t have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It is absolutely necessary” that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a “dignified existence” in his remaining years.
And, indeed, if he does leave the compound, his life will increasingly be less dignified. Though it’s unlikely he’ll ever be arrested for his crimes, fewer political leaders will wish to be gracious to a man whom they know chose with full knowledge to turn the young children entrusted to his Church’s care over to pedophile rapists.
Yes, his criminal past has made it impossible for him to meet the demands of extensive international travel.
Prop 8 supporters running out of funds
January 29th, 2013
ProtectMarriage.com, the advocacy group defending a California gay marriage ban now under review by the high court, showed a $2 million deficit in its legal fund at the end of 2011 – the third year in a row that expenses exceeded donations, federal tax records show.
The 2012 accounts are not yet available. ProtectMarriage.com says it has since covered the 2011 shortfall. However, it is still $700,000 short in fundraising for its Supreme Court costs, according to a ProtectMarriage.com attorney, Andrew Pugno. That message has gone out to donors, with some urgency, as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in March in its first thorough review of same-sex marriage.
Andrew Pugno, the nominal attorney for the proponents attributes it to donor fatigue. I see a bigger issue, donor disinterest. By now pretty much everyone knows equality is coming and no one – not even the cardinals – really cares.
It’s not as though Prop 8’s supporters couldn’t easily toss down some serious cash. If the Vatican really and truly believed that gay marriage would lead to the end of civilization, they could pull out their checkbook. Because surely there’s no higher priority than the end of civilization.
And if times are tough and cash is short, it would be easy to liquidate an asset or two. After all, I’m sure that the Getty would happily drop some major dough to get their hands on Michelangelo’s David.
Identifying your (dwindling) opposition
January 4th, 2013
On NomBlog, the National Organization for Marriage describes a letter issued in opposition to equality as “An extraordinary show of support for true marriage by a wide spectrum of faith communities in Illinois”. But that letter illustrates just how narrow that spectrum has become.
Our denominational opposition in Illinois consists of:
* Catholic Conference of Illinois
* Anglican Church in North America
* The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
* The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
* The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod
That may seem like a “wide spectrum” at first glance, and quite diverse, but when you look closer it reveals how few denominations have signed on to oppose civil marriage in the state. Our opponents are the Catholic hierarchy (lay Catholics support equality), Mormons, Muslims, and two Protestant denominations: the churches that left the Episcopal Church when she became pro-gay, and the smaller of the two major Lutheran churches (the other blesses same-sex unions).
It can no longer be said that the battle over civil marriage is between the gay community and people of faith. Far too many in the religious community have either disengaged or defected to our side.
O Holy Night, the Gays are Ruining Christmas
December 14th, 2012
On Christmas Eve every year a friend and I go to the same steakhouse for dinner, an old studio hangout with huge steaks and perfect cosmopolitans. A Christmas tree holds place of honor, the pictures on the walls are wrapped like presents, and tables are packed with three or four generations celebrating the holiday.
Sometimes it’s just us and one or two others, sometimes it’s a dozen or more. But one Christmas our crowd was large and one invitee was a rather loud and obnoxious person who we later realized was best not included.
Things like slashed tires and sugar in the gas tank tended to happen to those with whom he disagreed or who he thought had slighted him. But this Christmas Eve we were blissfully unaware. Until he started making comments that were inappropriate in public.
Anywhere. But especially in a family restaurant where there were kids.
Also there, was an equally loud and colorful friend who wasn’t having it. He decided to inform our boisterous friend that he was being inappropriate and should watch what he was saying. They bickered back and forth until the obnoxious one got in the other one’s face, shoved him in the chest, and screamed, “YOU RUIN EVERYTHING!!” before storming out of the restaurant.
It was this event that came to my mind when I read about the Pope’s message of hope and peace this Christmas. In a ceremony for lighting the Vatican Christmas tree as part of the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, His Holiness’ thoughts turned to gays. Of course. (FoxNews)
In comments to a delegation from Italy’s south-central Molise region, which donated the Vatican’s main Christmas tree this year, Benedict said the tree lights that were being turned on at a ceremony early Friday evening represented “divine light.”
“And when in the past they tried to stamp out the light of God to instead turn on illusory and misleading glows, there were seasons of tragic violence against man,” he said.
The Vatican on Friday released the pope’s peace message, in which he called for policymakers to think of themselves as peacemakers in economic and social policy. He warned that abortion and gay marriage were threats to peace.
Laws granting legal status for gay unions, he said, “actually harm and help destabilize marriage” by obscuring its specific nature as a union between man and woman that forms the basis of society.
Now I’m not suggesting that the Pope would put sugar in your gas tank. But he would deny you love in your life. He would take away your rights to civil equality.
And at this time when mankind is reminded of the goals of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, the Pope cannot help but think of you. Because, to the Pope, “YOU RUIN EVERYTHING!!”
(and, if you’re wondering, this year we will be just six – none of whom are loud)
Catholic Bishops give grants to Uganda
November 28th, 2012
And meanwhile, in an entirely 100% coincidental move that has nothing at all whatsoever to do with US concern over the Ugandan Kill the Gays Bill, the Us Catholic Bishops have chosen today to announce new piles of cash being sent to Uganda and her neighbors. (Albany Tribune)
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa approved 49 grants to 16 episcopal conferences and 4 regional associations of the Church in Africa for a total of $1,226,500. The subcommittee approved the grants during the USCCB’s General Assembly meeting in Baltimore.
Grant to Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania will help implement the Year of Faith and the new evangelization. With the addition of these most recent awards, the subcommittee has given out 109 grants for a total of $2,805,442 in aid this year.
Vatican: we are not losing the marriage battle
November 9th, 2012
Forget all those election results you saw on Tuesday. Ignore what the legislature is doing in France. And as for Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Canada, and South Africa, they are inconsequential. And the Catholic countries of Portugal, Spain, Argentina and Mexico… oh, please, that’s just silly posturing.
Because none of that matters. The Vatican has declared that it is not losing the marriage battle. (WaPo)
On the contrary, according to an article in L’Osservatore Romano by historian Lucetta Scaraffia, the church has emerged in recent years as the only institution on the global stage that’s capable of resisting the forces that threaten to “break up … human society.”
According to the historian, the church’s fight on moral issues such as gay marriage and abortion has drawn support and “admiration” from many non-Catholics.
Well there you have it. The Vatican is winning. And if you try to argue, we’ll just stick our fingers in our ears and say, “la la la la la, I can’t hear you”!!
The French symbol of anti-equality
November 7th, 2012
The National Organization for Marriage is joyously reporting that France’s faithful Catholics are in opposition to marriage. And accompanying that article is this rather perplexing photograph:
I have no idea what this guy is doing, but it does raise an interesting question: Why wear neck-to-knee underwear under your skin tight body suit if your junk is going to show anyway?
The Bishop of Peoria offers spiritual guidance during the election season
November 1st, 2012
The decisions that go into whom to vote for can be difficult and emotional. Often conflicting priorities and perspectives can leave one distraught and troubled. So the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C. Bishop of Peoria, Illinois, has penned a letter to his flock seeking to provide spiritual guidance at this time of civic duty. Or something like that.
First the Bishop appeals to his pastors to share his guidance
By virtue of your vow of obedience to me as your Bishop, I require that this letter be personally read by each celebrating priest at each Weekend Mass, November 3/4. [emphasis in the original]
And then he begins his letter to those who come to share the ancient and sacred sacrament
Since the foundation of the American Republic and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I do not think there has ever been a time more threatening to our religious liberty than the present.
And a bit later he provides the congregation with a gentle biblical reminder
Nearly two thousand years ago, after our Savior had been bound, beaten, scourged, mocked, and crowned with thorns, a pagan Roman Procurator displayed Jesus to a hostile crowd by sarcastically declaring: Behold your King. The mob roared back: We have no king but Caesar. Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord.
Now I’m sure many Catholics are troubled by the decisions of the HHS that require Catholic organizations to provide contraception and/or other medical procedures which they believe to be contrary to their moral beliefs. But there are many considerations when one votes and some Catholics may consider other matters to be of more importance.
Does that really mean that they are rejecting Jesus as their Lord? Is there no gray area?
They are objectively guilty of grave sin.
It’s objectively grave sin, you see, just like scourging Jesus.
For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life. God is not mocked, and as the Bible clearly teaches, after this passing instant of life on earth, God’s great mercy in time will give way to God’s perfect judgment in eternity.
Ah, yes. The good old “vote as I tell you or burn in Hell forever” doctrine.
I think the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky might have missed his calling. Perhaps a drill sergeant might have been a more fitting career choice.
Follow the Money: Catholic Groups Emerge As Largest Donors In Marriage Battles
October 18th, 2012
Simultaneous to Equally Blessed’s report on the Knights of Columbus’ extensive donations against marriage equality since 2005, the Human Rights Campaign released its tabulations of contributions to the four 2012 battleground states in which marriage proposals are on the ballot. According to the HRC’s calculations, the Catholic Church and its affiliate organizations are providing more than half of the funds that have been raised so far against marriage equality in each of the four battleground states.
The major sources of funding include various dioceses and parishes of the Catholic Church itself, the Catholic charitable organization the Knights of Columbus, and the National Organization for Marriage, which has extensive ties to the Catholic hierarchy. The breakdown of Catholic spending against marriage equality in 2012 goes like this:
Minnesota: Of the nearly $1.2 million raised so far, $600,000 has come from the Minnesota Catholic Conference Marriage Defense fund, $135,000 from the Knights of Columbus and its local chapters, $188,200 from Catholic dioceses and parishes across the nation, and $23,000 from NOM. Nearly 78% of Minnesota’s anti-marriage funding has come from Catholic sources.
Maryland: Of the $855,00 raised so far, $250,000 has come from the Knights of Columbus, $400,000 from NOM, and $12,000 from the Maryland Catholic Conference. About 77% of Maryland’s anti-marriage funding has come from Catholic sources.
Washington: Of the 1.6 million raised so far, $675,939 has come from NOM, $250,000 from the Knights of Columbus, another $4,000 from a local Knights chapter, $5,000 from St. Monica Parish. About 58% of Washington’s anti-marriage funding has come from Catholic sources.
Maine: Of the $446,317 raised so far, $263,324 has come from NOM, and $1,135 from the Knights of Columbus. About 59% of Maine’s anti-marriage funding has come from those two sources.
These activities contrast sharply to public opinion polls which show that Roman Catholics increasingly support marriage quality for gays and lesbians. A Public Religion Research Poll in 2011 showed that nearly three quarters of self-identified Roman Catholics support civil recognition of marriage or civil unions, with 64% of weekly churchgoing Catholics holding that same opinion. In 2012, Catholic support for marriage equality has risen noticeably, particularly when the question is framed in terms of civil marriage. When same-sex marriage is defined as a civil marriage “like you get at city hall,” Catholic support for allowing gay couples to marry increases by 28 points, from 43% to 71%. (This large jump is undoubtedly due to the fact that Catholics — divorced Catholics in particular — are very attuned to the distinction between a civil marriage and a church marriage.) This latest data demonstrates a growing divide between lay Catholics and the actions of the Catholic Church and its affiliated institutions.
Lady Gaga v. Papa Ratzi
September 24th, 2012
Joseph Ratzinger (you may know him as Pope Benedict XVI) was in France this weekend to
spread the gospel of Jesus Christ lobby against the human rights of French gays. (Parisdespaches translated by Google)
“The family is threatened by a conception of human nature that is defective (…) defend the family and life in society is nothing but retrograde prophetic” Benedict XVI stated in particular at this meeting , before recalling that “marriage and family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is in fact caused injury to the society itself.”
You know, the usual “gay marriage will destroy society itself” routine.
Meanwhile just your little ol’ average Catholic girl, Stefani Germanotta (you may know her as Lady Gaga) was asked her opinion on the matter. (Pinknews)
Speaking slowly to allow a simultaneous translator to keep up with her, Lady Gaga today told Europe 1 radio: “I think that gay marriage is going to happen. It must. We are not actually equal — humanity — if we are not allowed to freely love one another.”
After being asked on the Pope’s recent comments, Lady Gaga said: “What the Pope thinks of being gay does not matter to the world. It matters to the people who like the Pope and follow the Pope. … It is not a reflection of all religious people.”
That’s actually a pretty smart response. In a nation that is at least nominally Catholic, coming from someone raised Catholic, it’s a reminder that he may have a title but when it comes down to it, this is just some guy and his views only matter if you like or respect him or think he speaks for God.
Priest/Psychologist Apologizes for Blaming Sex Abuse On Victims While Catholic Paper Censors His Offending Remarks
August 31st, 2012
On Monday, The National Catholic Register published an interview with popular Catholic speaker and television personality Fr. Benedict Groeschel in which the Capuchin friar blamed much of the Church’s sexual abuse scandals on the young boys themselves. “A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer,” he told The Register’s interviewer. These were remarkable statements coming from Groeschel, who has a Ph.D in psychology from Columbia University, has taught psychology at several Catholic Universities, and who has counseled priests accused of sexual misconduct as well as provided psychological screening for applicants to Catholic seminaries. On Wednesday, The Register removed Groeschel’s interview from its web site, and sometime late yesterday, replaced it with the following statements from the order that Groeschel founded and from Groeschel himself:
Statement from the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal:
The Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal sincerely apologizes for the comments made by Fr. Benedict Groeschel in an interview released August 27 by the National Catholic Register. In that interview, Fr. Benedict made comments that were inappropriate and untrue. A child is never responsible for abuse. Any abuser of a child is always responsible, especially a priest. Sexual abuse of a minor is a terrible crime and should always be treated as such. We are sorry for any pain his comments may have caused. Fr. Benedict has dedicated his life to helping others and these comments were completely out of character. He never intended to excuse abuse or implicate the victims. We hope that these unfortunate statements will not overshadow the great good Fr. Benedict has done in housing countless homeless people, feeding innumerable poor families, and bringing healing, peace and encouragement to so many.
Fr Benedict helped found our community 25 years ago with the hope of bringing the healing peace of Jesus Christ to our wounded world. Our desire has always been to lift-up humanity and never to hurt. About seven years ago Fr. Benedict was struck by a car and was in a coma for over a month. In recent months his health, memory and cognitive ability have been failing. He has been in and out of the hospital. Due to his declining health and inability to care for himself, Fr. Benedict had moved to a location where he could rest and be relieved of his responsibilities. Although these factors do not excuse his comments, they help us understand how such a compassionate man could have said something so wrong, so insensitive, and so out of character. Our prayers are with all those who have been hurt by his comments, especially victims of sexual abuse.
Statement from Fr Benedict:
I apologize for my comments. I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible. My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be. I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.
The National Catholic Register pulled down its interview with Groeschel and replaced it with statement from Editor in Chief Jeanette R. De Melo, calling the decision to publish the interview “an editorial mistake, for which we sincerely apologize.” It is still unclear exactly what De Mel0 is apologizing for however. Is she apologizing to The Register’s readers? I cannot imagine how that should warrant an apology. It’s the journalistic responsibility of every news organization to not censor the people they interview, which The Register certainly didn’t do (at least not until they chose to pull down the entire interview). As far as The Register is concerned, the interview happened, but readers now don’t get to read it to see what the fuss is about. It seems instead that De Melo is apologizing to Groeschel for publishing his remarks uncensored — or perhaps to EWTN, the Catholic television channel which airs Groeschel’s programs and owns The National Catholic Register.
At any rate, when I wrote yesterday’s post, I could only find an edited, condensed version of Groeschel’s remarks on underage sexual abuse. Late last night, I found his remarks in their full context at the ultra-conservative Renew America web site. Because The National Catholic Register is behaving less like a newspaper and more like a propaganda organ by not allowing its readers to read the original interview alongside Groeschel’s apology and the statement from his order, I am repeating Groeschel’s full remarks below:
[Interviewer]: Part of your work here at Trinity has been working with priests involved in abuse, no?
[Father Groeschel]: A little bit, yes; but you know, in those cases, they have to leave. And some of them profoundly — profoundly — penitential, horrified. People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.
[Interviewer]: Why would that be?
[Father Greoschel]: Well, it’s not so hard to see — a kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own — and they won’t be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping but not having intercourse or anything like that.
It’s an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers. Generally, if they get involved, it’s heterosexually, and if it’s a priest, he leaves and gets married — that’s the usual thing — and gets a dispensation. A lot of priests leave quickly, get civilly married and then apply for the dispensation, which takes about three years.
But there are the relatively rare cases where a priest is involved in a homosexual way with a minor. I think the statistic I read recently in a secular psychology review was about 2%. Would that be true of other clergy? Would it be true of doctors, lawyers, coaches?
Here’s this poor guy — [Penn State football coach Jerry] Sandusky — it went on for years. Interesting: Why didn’t anyone say anything? Apparently, a number of kids knew about it and didn’t break the ice. Well, you know, until recent years, people did not register in their minds that it was a crime. It was a moral failure, scandalous; but they didn’t think of it in terms of legal things.
If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way. Sometimes statutory rape would be — but only if the girl pushed her case. Parents wouldn’t touch it. People backed off, for years, on sexual cases. I’m not sure why.
I think perhaps part of the reason would be an embarrassment, that it brings the case out into the open, and the girl’s name is there, or people will figure out what’s there, or the youngster involved — you know, it’s not put in the paper, but everybody knows; they’re talking about it.
At this point, (when) any priest, any clergyman, any social worker, any teacher, any responsible person in society would become involved in a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done. And I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.