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Saturday, March 20, 2010



It's not possible for me to imagine a more passive, cryptic, and indecisive tone.

Carl E. Olson

t's not possible for me to imagine a more passive, cryptic, and indecisive tone.

I can; read this. Paragraphs 6 and 7 alone belie your remark.


I want a paragraph titled: "To the priests and religious who knew of abuse and did nothing" And another one titled: "To the bishops who knew of specific instances of abuse and urged silence and caution." The entire content those paragraphs will read: "You're fired." This "WE are suffering" junk isn't cutting it.




Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Carl, your prompt, reliable and to the point comment gives us a more than clear view of what is happening on this matter.
Just firing the bishops could be satisfying for the ones with more ire than good sense. It is not only important what BXVI says but what his thinking is behind his prudent and meaningful words.
Paragraphs 6 and 7 could not be more self-evident.
The Church is not a democracy, where the majority rules. Christ gave Peter Divine Right to govern.


Who said anything about a democracy? I want the Holy Father to rule with an iron, autocratic fist. I'm just making suggestions! And yes, I have ire toward those who obstruct justice on behalf of child rapists. It makes perfectly good sense to toss bishops who facilitated the rape of children. Do you disagree? Really?


I found the remarks to be helpful and meaningful.

And yet a times I still I struggle with two items.

1.) I distinctly recall these issues in the 70's and 80's. And often with firm stoicism several Church authorities, while not denying the claims outright, rebutted commonsensical and laymen calls for defrocking priests with the empathetic( empathy for the priest's soul) "once a priest always a priest". Now this defense is never offered. Why so much of this retort, even public comments, then? And none now?

The issues cannot withstand the light of reason and common sense in the public square today.

We were nevr taught to accord our lives in this fashion and for this reasoning.

2.) And perhaps for me the one issue still not addressed fully-the question of authority within our Church. I like it. I love it. I respect it. Without it we are in dire straits even more so than today.

And yet much of what we are asked to take on faith before full understanding within one's reason is hierarchal respect and submitting to the teaching authority. And I am truly grateful for this.

The sins of pedolfilia, while evil, are somewhere in the realm of getting one's "understanding" or " acceptance" of because of the nature of original sin and we are capable of grave sin. And yet the sober(?) coverup and lame excuses and mysterious deceptive movement of priests to other assignments by so many Bishops and Cardinals leads one back to the question of authority and hierarchy.

If we can be duped and deceived by such an easy task( the policing of such evil profane acts against minors) by an authority-- is it not to much to truly understand how those abused, or the greater public learning of the abuse have their reason tested to the maximum on the question of teaching authority? I have not seen this question addressed fully.

Carl, if you do know of or another reader does, I really would like to try and understand the Church's understanding of this riddle( at least for me) please.

There is no debate on the first sin in these stories.
The graver sin is the brooming if it all. The sinful acts of sexual abuse do not in and of themselves undermine the teaching authority of the church within and or without on grounds of reason.

The actions and nonsctions of their superiors I fear do for those still within and without the Church.

I sincerely would like to be better informed on the theological and philosphical Catholic response to this question of betrayal by those we are urged and proposed to follow even when we can't get our intellects fully around a position.

Trust in God. Faith in the Church. Be very wary of Machv. practices, etc. We are taught well from the classroom, the homily and the confessional on these admonitions and grounds--and yes fruitfully so.

And yet the teaching authority did not follow their own teachings. When does moral relativism apply to our own beautiful teaching authority? It tests our trust.

If we answer just have faith we are rejecting our Tradition.

V Murphy

Personally I think it is a very good letter. The media in Ireland is so anti-Catholic that I doubt if the Pope could have written anything that would have satified them (except maybe taking full personal responsibility, resigning instantly and admitting that the Catholic Church is wrong about absolutely everything, and even then I'm not sure if that would please them). I am delighted to hear that the seminaries will be reviewed, and I also like the suggestion of a year of Friday penaces. However I would like the Irish Bishops to go much further than this, perhaps starting with a novena for penance. We need to get out the sackcloth and ashes. Sadly I've never seen any sign of leadership from the Irish bishops, but hopefully it's not too late.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Lasorda said:
"I want the Holy Father to rule with an iron, autocratic fist"

1- No Catholic has power, any power to change papal Fiat. That right is only his. Far from being a suggestion your statement reads more like an order.
2- Good you admit having ire; believe me, that does not help. What helps is to calmly see what one can reasonably and effectively do to try to help Tradition return to our beleaguered Church.
3- Frustrating as it is, the "tossing" of bishops is not quite simple. I also wish more corrections be done to avoid the horrible behavior of a small percentage of priests. What is not wise is to fall in the path laid out by the Media, which enjoys every day a new scandal is available for exploitation.
4- I cannot believe that bishops, intentionally wish to 'facilitate' the rape of children. That some have been stupid enough to hide and move around the guilty priests, is quite true. That has been stopped. We are now re-heating old problems like the one in Ireland.
The matter is complex, embarrassing and uncomfortable for every Catholic and we all need to write to our bishops about what we see wrong. Better yet, since you seem to have plenty adrenalin you ought to call your bishop and give him your opinion. I write to my bishop form time to time.


Manuel: Don't patronize me. I know what it take to remove a bishop. I never said removing a bishop was simple, but does it need to be simple to be done? Was converting the Gentiles simple? Yet the first bishops managed to do it--without canon lawyers!! We're talking about child rape. Roger Michael Mahony knew that children had been raped by a priest, and he hid that priest and withheld information from investigators hoping to prosecute him. He remains my bishop. For shame! Are you suggesting that moving a child rapist from one parish to another doesn't facilitate the rape of children? This pose of aloof solemnity you take is repulsive.


If we can be duped and deceived by such an easy task( the policing of such evil profane acts against minors) by an authority-- is it not to much to truly understand how those abused, or the greater public learning of the abuse have their reason tested to the maximum on the question of teaching authority? I have not seen this question addressed fully.
Carl, if you do know of or another reader does, I really would like to try and understand the Church's understanding of this riddle( at least for me) please. – Mark

Excellent question Mark. Personally, to offer my meager thoughts on this, I think in the realm of reason we have to begin with the question of objective truth. Is there such a thing and if there is, can we know it? The Catholic answer is that yes there is objective truth and yes it can be known to the extent that God himself has revealed it.

The second question we have to ask is whether revealed truth can be taught by someone who is himself not obedient to that truth. That would encompass all of us here I think to the extent that what we say or pass on or teach, can indeed be objectively true and part of God’s revealed truth even though each one of us is not in a state of moral perfection. If objective truth is indeed independent and objective, it would not matter who speaks it, it would still be true.

The next question is authority. Here you must distinguish between teaching authority per se, ecclesial authority to govern and the apostolic authority of ordination to confer the sacraments. The beginning of this issue, regarding the conferring of the sacraments, was dealt with way back in the time of St. Augustine in his refutation of the Donatist heresy, in which he took and re-affirmed the position taken by St. Optatus that baptism is valid even when conferred by sinners, for it is conferred by Christ, the minister being the instrument only. This is the first important statement, echoed and expounded by St. Augustine, of the doctrine that the grace of the sacraments is derived from the opus operatum of Christ independently of the worthiness of the minister.

So the principle is longstanding that the validity of a sacrament is not compromised by the sin of the minister. Likewise our reason tells us that the truth, when taught, is not compromised by the sin of the minister.

This same principle applies to the rest of the promises of Christ, including the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope and the college of Bishops in union with the Pope in teaching faith and morals. This doctrine comes directly from Christ in two places, first the promise to Peter himself at Caesarea Philippi and later his twice promise of the Holy Spirit after the Last Supper as recounted by St. John; the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth. This is key, because it is a promise for the future, and our assurance from Christ that the teaching authority of the Church comes from him.

We understand this doctrine quite often in the negative sense expressly because we know that not only individual Bishops but Popes as well have been not only sinners but notorious sinners in their day. Indeed, we are blessed to have had holy men as Pope in recent memory, and we pray that it continues, but we recognize that the promise of Christ is a protection from teaching error in faith and morals, not a guarantee of a great and holy Pope.

Even if Benedict XVI were a rogue he would have the authority and protection to teach the Irish Church in matters of faith and morals including child abuse. But what is there here to teach? It is not a matter of deciding whether child abuse is bad. The Church has categorically condemned this evil from a long way back.

The problem is one of the sin of certain priests and the sin of certain bishops in concealing and not dealing with that sin. The Irish report clearly pointed out that the Church already had Canon Law and mechanisms in place to deal promptly and judiciously with such problems as they arose. But they were ignored. To me, that re-enforces my confidence in the Church, in that such circumstances had already been anticipated.

What we are seeing is a crying need for spiritual renewal, not just among the lay faithful but right up into the ranks of the episcopate. But is that something new in the history of the Church? She has often staggered from century to century, rife with immorality until one movement of renewal or another has come to bring holiness once more to the Bride of Christ.

Is that an excuse? Of course not, but it is reality and for those who would seek Jesus elsewhere or turn their face from him altogether because of this, the point has been made (and misunderstood), that there is no place, no organization, no ecclesial communion that is immune from this problem. The outside world chooses to ignore that truth and that is their prerogative, but for Catholics, it should be a reality check, that we should think twice before abandoning ship, even if we are disgusted with this entire mess, as we should be.

We have a great advantage over faithful Catholics of past centuries in that we have ready information at our fingertips about what the Church actually teaches in respect of faith and morals. There is no excuse in the twenty-first century for not knowing the truth.

If we are faithful and holy, following the two thousand year history of teaching authority that we can access at any time, there is no place anymore for bad or dissident priests to hide, or for colluding bishops. That is in some measure the reason these scandals have surfaced in our time. We can and should rebuke those who would lead us into sin while at the same time respecting the office that they hold.

Anyone of us can begin with two books that every Catholic should have. The Holy Scriptures and the Catechism. Those two comprise virtually everything the teaching authority of the Church has given us in two thousand years.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Lasorda, Pity you took my suggestion as 'patronizing', it was well intended.
No further comment.

Brian J. Schuettler

Asked why there were no punitive provisions in the letter, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi noted that the letter was pastoral, not administrative or disciplinary in nature, and that any further measures concerning resignations would be taken by the competent Vatican offices.

Stay tuned and hold judgment.

Thomas Mellon

I think faithful Christians should be careful,or prayerful, that they don't end up doing the job that some people have been seeking to do for two thousand years, that is destroy the church, the mystical body of Christ. Anyway,they won't, or cannot, succeed.
Perhaps priests could set an example by not only hearing confessions but going to confession more.How often to we see a priest in the cue.
I live in England and if I had a pound for every Irish person that openly criticised the church I would be a rich man.It becomes such an embarrasing lament that i swith off, and none of them are practising Catholics.I think it was St Francis who said, or warned, that even the most wicked priest should be afforded some charity as they are able to bring Christ before us.Maybe I'm wrong or maybe just a bit fed up.


Thank you Carl for your thoughtful and helpful responses.

I do think that the ecclesial authority abuses in
governance unfortunately impact the receipt of the teaching authority. Many Catholics respect the authority of the Church and do not come to these truths through primarily discerning objective truth but faith and respect in the teaching authority.
Even those who also pursue the limits of our human reason for further understanding came to these Truths
through respect and adherence to the teaching authority of the clergy.

The summary advances a possible contributing cause that society places at times and in part perhaps too much trust and faith in the clergy and authority figures....." a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures".

I am not sure if this favortism is addressed to the criminal justice system on the followup or to all of us in general.

If it is the latter it seems at first glance to be a circular defense or argument. The church and the people benefit from authority and now calling into question that favour seems peculiar or at least complicated.

Authority is no small matter for society as a whole and for the history and tradition of our Church.

Carl, you have addressed very kindly and thoughtfully objective truth, the validity of Sacraments, and distinguishing between ecclesial and teaching authority.

While Faith and Reason are distinguishing and beautiful charateristics of Catholicism, most of us start and end and struggle through with Faith while making incremental strides in further understanding with our imperfect and finite human reason.

The abuses in ecclesial authority impact the human responses at least in part to that ecclesial authority And that in turn can undermine the teaching authority.
Addressing the question of authority in a fuller manner
could make some good out of a sinful situation for the greater good of our church and its people.

I have faith and reason in our Church and in its responding kindly and throughtfully to the specifics of this matter and how it addresses the question of authority. That, beyond the understandable pain of the victims, is the lasting potential legacy of this issue.

Carl, thank you for your time and thoughtfulness.
Authority is no small issue and for me this remains the issue in this story --big and small.


I actually should have addressed my thanks to
LJ for the time and care he took in responding to my
questions. Apologies to him and Carl for not properly noting the actual author of the post.

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