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« Let's Get the Story Straight: Defrocking and Divorce | Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. | Main | The Purpose of Mercy »

Saturday, April 10, 2010


James Findlayson

I've wondered, for some time now, whether paedophilia, for the secularist, is The Last Great Crime. For them, it seems that all other crime imaginable has extenuating circumstances, except this one. I can't think of anything else that secular culture sees as 'objectively wrong'.

It seems like an obsession, a fetish, a reaction formation (hating paedophilia whilst sexualising little girls very early on through the media), all jumbled up into one demonisation, and it's constantly looking for lightning conductors upon which to discharge itself.

I find it bizarre they seem to be fanatically trying to protect the child, yet fanatically proclaim the 'right to choose' about murdering the child in the womb in the same breath.

Maybe this is best example that crime alone, without any notion of sin, leads to incoherence at best, and at worst, madness?

Or maybe, some of them are beginning to wake up to the error of their thinking - and why they're panicking so much - that even this Last Great Crime might be put under the spotlight of personal taste, and once that's gone, everything's open season. For, to reflect upon the apotheosis of the Dictatorship of Relativism is like glimpsing into hell itself.

Daniel Fink

This latest manifestation of hatred for Benedict, as the personification of the Church, convinces me that Jesus suffered to within an inch of His life from Gethsemane through the Via Dolorosa. Also, I've gathered a better sense of how Paul and the other Apostles must have suffered calumny, spitting, etc., when being ousted from synagogues and towns.

bill bannon

But can we slander in return? Slander can go in both directions and that is what the fallen intelligences want (read demons)in all fracases..they want both sides to sin against each other. Catholic editorial responses have linked such secular reporters by way of generality to a whole series of positions which are un Catholic (or problematic in the case of married priests with all due respect to Eastern rites) gay marriage, abortion, contraception, the end of celibacy, divorce and married though we know this by infused knowledge (or "reading of hearts" which Padre Pio had but none of us have) that such reporters hold bad positions on each of these issues. Since Laurie Goodstein was the central figure, did any Catholic call her first and ask her what she thought on all those moral questions before lumping her anonymously into a group who we knew are all united in all those ideas. Goodstein did not phone that ecclesiastical judge and question him and the demons got us to do likewise....we did not phone Goodstein and ask her if she believed in a whole series of moral positions that we lumped her into as being guilty of. You above by implication link her to Babylon or to a very bizarre devious neighbor.

The fallen intelligences have had a field day with both sides and all around Easter. Check your essay above and ask yourself if you have sufficient proof that Goodstein should be linked with Babylon...a writer who has supported us in many articles as when she won an award for her three part series on US Dioceses obtaining priests from Africa etc due to the shortage. She was one of several reporters there at the Times who pointed out the diligence years ago of then Bishop Wuerl firing a priest from ministry for sexual abuse/ the priest having Rome overturn it/ and Wuerl packing the written evidence in a suitcase and going to Rome and having Rome rescind their decision which had been in favor of the abusive priest based on that priest's word against his Bishop. Goodstein of Babylon told us about that. We can call Wuerl on this one and see if she gave him too much moral credit.

Clare Krishan

Carl, have you or Father Fessio know or been victims of sexual abuse? If so, neither of you would have let this rhetorical flourish " "And here's the rub." through redaction: considering the onanism of the perps wasn't autoerotic -- it was rapacious, and repeated.

Please lets tone down the righteous indignation - error has no rights, but humans do, and the PR fiasco that has been occasioned by the Vatican's "handling" of this matter is terribly sad, and neither of you do anything to ameliorate it. That diabolical forces are at work, no faithful Catholic would dispute, but lets no forget that the way they were unleashed was not unlike a "spiritual abortion" - the young persons and their families died a death and were owed amends by the church's penal codes. That has NOTHING to do with divorce or release from holy orders. My opinion of Fr. Fessio's talents has suffered a blow today -- we need more workers in the vineyard not mere "cheerleaders" for the clerical state. Fr Lombardi was wrong in denying that the Church is like a corporation and does not do "promotion of product". Peggy Noonan had it right. This is Divine Mercy Sunday - and its value proposition -- features, advantages, benefits -- is the "product" we are called to carry to the ends of the earth. The producer of that product (confected by a priest) is God the father who gives life through his Holy Spirit in mutual communio with this Son. The Vatican is the "brains" of the corporation (the intellect that teaches this communio) and MUST be seen to be the brains. Devout Catholics with experience in modern corporate operations could teach the antiquated clerics much that would be helpful to them, if they but recognized their deficits in this area, but too few of us are willing to call them on it. My hero in this area is Bl. Rosmini - he (like Padre Pio) was vindicated even after being silenced. The institutional inertia is real, the human misery also. Your drawing attention to the voices of discord does nothing to alleviate either, sadly. This blog is a "media frenzy" in as much as its feeds off the blood in the water but ignores the wounds. The Truth is mercy, the source of which is to be found ONLY in the Catholic Church, even amidst the stench of the filth (no sarcasm intended -- that's the Pope's own choice of rhetorical flourish). If those outside cannot see Mercy residing within who's fault is it? The Scandal is the that that fault (the Bishops phobia of "wolves") has not been acknowledged sufficiently. Most are getting a free ride while the Pope takes all "their" flak.


"Capable journalists following this story should have sought out canon lawyers...."

I'd bet that most journalists are unaware that there's such thing as a canon lawyer.

Steve Cianca

The media have been in league with the devil for quite some time. Now that the Father of Lies is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to bring down the Church, his useful idiots in the media are only to happy to cooperate. Fourth Estate? How about Fifth Column.


Do you have cogent fact based rebuttals to media reports I can have a look at?

Carl E. Olson

Dominic: You can read Fr Fessio's piece, "Let's Get the Story Straight", or go here for a long listing of detailed rebuttals:

Also read the full piece by Phil Lawler, linked in my post above.

Carl E. Olson

Please lets tone down the righteous indignation. ... This blog is a "media frenzy" in as much as its feeds off the blood in the water but ignores the wounds.

Really? Really?? That's low, Clare, and completely untrue.


Thank you, Bill Bannon.

Marc Puckett

What are people like Father Fessio and Mr Olson and even me (the 'man in the pew') supposed to do? let the slanderous falsehoods go unremarked out of shame at the crimes of clerical sexual abuse? The media attacks that are false merit to be publicly discredited.

If C. K. is suggesting that before I criticise the falsifying media I ought to go out and find some practical way to support those who have been abused by a cleric or religious (beyond the prayer I already do), by giving money or time to an organisation or some similar work of charity, well and good, I suppose, but that isn't going to reduce by one iota the indignation I experience when I read blatant falsehoods in the putatively 'objective' mass media. As for importing 21st c corporate propaganda tactics into the life of the Church, well, no thanks.

Do agree entirely with C. K. that the Sovereign Pontiff is 'taking the flak' for too many bishops who are 'getting a free ride': but that is an injustice that the agents of the media could help rectify... if they were somehow to be persuaded to be interested in the pursuit of truth.

bill bannon

You're welcome. Please... I speak from the sinful experience of the fallen intelligences tricking me into generalties often about groups in other venues like crime in the streets. Just anger is a dangerous virtue and St.Gregory notes that (Moral. v, 45) "zealous anger troubles the eye of reason, whereas sinful anger blinds it." And Aquinas quotes him approvingly so that we all (including those two saints) have this problem about 3 inches away from us when our deep areas of concern are activated.


Clare Krishan, you appear to have confused:

1. the fact of sexual abuse of minors by clergy--which is itself evil and to be regretted by the whole Church;
2. the fact of bishops who swept the abuse under the carpet for decades--which itself is evil and to be regretted by the whole Church;
3. the fact that the Pope has been leading the whole Church in the expression of said regret and also in efforts to stamp out the mischief in respect of 1 and 2; and
4. the latest attempt by the MSM to stick on the Pope liability for 2, in that he refused a request BY A PRIEST who had ALREADY BEEN CONVICTED IN THE CIVIL COURTS of molesting boys for RELEASE FROM THE OBLIGATIONS OF PRIESTHOOD so that (I trust Fr Fessio to have it right) he could get married.

All Fr Fessio was doing was clarifying that 4 was indeed, in respect of Cardinal Ratzinger as he then was, no proof of 2. I for one am grateful for blogs like this one which are explaining what really happened in cases like this. I see no ignoring of the wounds caused by 1 and 2 in this blog. The current stories to which it is responding, however, are seeking to exploit 1 and 2 for a most unmerciful purpose, and that is what needs to be answered.


James, the Last Great Crime for relativists is hypocrisy. Since they do not believe in objective morality, the only crime is to preach moral values to others and then fail to live up to them yourself. The Catholic Church infuriates them by preaching traditional sexual morality, and they see the criminal failure of a small percentage of priests to obey those teachings as proof that the whole moral system is too demanding and therefore self-refuting. And in the absence of objective standards, such self-contradiction is the only line of criticism permitted by the Dictatorship of Relativism.

Compare all this to Roman Polanski, recently arrested for similar crimes perpetrated in the same era (the 1970's) as most of the priest abuse scandals. It seems to me that there is more anger and outrage directed at the Pope for his alleged leniency than there is towards Polanski for actually, personally committing the crime of child rape.

Rich Leonardi

Peggy Noonan had it right.

By equating the thorough and detailed reporting of the Boston Globe of 2002 to the shoddy hit piece the New York Times ran last month, Noonan had it wrong -- dead wrong.


Wonder if the fly-by hater(s) of this blog are interested in the facts posted on the Fifth Column blog (rhetorical question)? BTW, I have known many victims of child sexual their teachers, their uncles, their mom's boyfriends etc etc. Never by a Catholic priest!

The Fifth Column
Orthodox Catholic commentary on current events

Saturday, April 10, 2010
Is the Times a-changing?
Shockingly enough, Newsweek, The New York Times and ABC all show signs of backing off the Catholic aspect of the sexual abuse story.

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't read it myself, but here are excerpts from each organizations' coverage. This is incredible:


Ernie Allen of national Center for Missing and Exploited Children denies that Catholics have a special or unusual abuse problem....Since the 1980’s, when insurance companies started issuing policies, they have not charged Catholics higher premiums...

The more youth formation programs you have, the more abuse you have – premiums are a function of number of youth programs, not denomination. Catholic Church has by far the largest school network in the nation...Catholics are also the single largest denomination in the nation and the second largest in the world (behind Islam).

Of 110,000 priests active 1950-1992, only 4% have had complaints (about 4400).

4392 priests complained about from 10,667 victims.149 priests responsible for 25,000 cases 75% of abuse comes from families and friends.

Since the mid-1980s, insurance companies have offered sexual misconduct coverage as a rider on liability insurance, and their own studies indicate that Catholic churches are not higher risk than other congregations.

As the report notes, insurance companies don't charge Catholics higher premiums than other faiths, because Catholic priests are not at special risk of offending. Premium rates are pegged to the number of youth programs a church has - nothing else. The more youth programs you run, the more claims there are, and therefore the higher the premiums. Catholics have the largest private school program in the nation.

As a side note to Newsweek's coverage, I again refer back to the Shakeshaft report, one of the most damning and one of the most completely ignored stories of the first decade of the 21st century.

When Shakeshaft's report on public school education from 1990-2000 is compared to the John Jay report on Catholic priest abuse, a remarkable thing emerges. In the five decades from 1950 to 2000, we saw 11,000 abuse allegations against roughly 6700 priests. 6700 were substantiated, 1000 were unsubstantiated, the rest were moot as the priest had died. 78% of the Catholic priest victims were between the ages of 11 and 17, while 6% were 7 or younger.
4.5 million versus 11,000.

One decade versus 5 decades.


That means 450,000 abuse cases from the public schools each year versus 220 abuse cases per year from Catholic priests. A difference of 2000 percent.

Perhaps this is why school teachers were, at one time, required by law to be single and they were forbidden to date while they were teachers. Vows of celibacy apparently protect against abuse. And even early 20th-century Protestants knew it.

The New York Times confirms this:

If the rate of abuse among Catholic priests stands (per the John Jay data) at roughly 4 percent, that’s less than half the rate that Allen cites for the population as a whole. And the Jay study covers the sweep of the last 50 years; if you compare the rate of accusations against priests now (as opposed to during the crisis of the 1960s and 1970s) to Allen’s 10 percent figure, it looks like Catholic clergy currently abuse children and teenagers at about one-fifth the rate of the male population as a whole.

In this same week, ABC News followed up with a report on sexual abuse in athletic and fast food venues. It seems some USA Swimming coaches were routinely photographing and abusing the swimmers they trained.

USA Swimming's response?

The executive director of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus, acknowledged the problem, but said "It's "It's not nearly as serious in USA Swimming as it might be in the rest of society."
"I don't want to be the one to sit here and say 36 is not too many, one is too many, but this is not just a problem that's isolated to one sport," said Wielgus.

In some cases, the swimming coaches found to have been sexual predators were able to move from town to town, one step ahead of police and angry victims and their parents.

"We have a system that does not encourage the reporting," said Bob Allard, a San Jose, CA lawyer representing sex abuse victims suing USA Swimming....

Asked if he had apologized to any of the young teen victims, Wielgus responded, "You feel I need to apologize to them?"

He added, "I think it's unfair for you to ask me whether individually or me as the representative of an organization to apologize for something when all we are trying to do is everything we possibly can to create a safe and healthy environment for kids who are participating in our particular activity."

But ABC wasn't done. It then continued with a segment on Starbucks and other fast food venues. When it was demonstrated that employees were sexually abused by supervisors:
Starbucks executives declined to be interviewed but in a statement the company said, "These two employees concealed their relationship from Starbucks, which violated company policy. We are confident that the case will ultimately be resolved in finding that Starbucks is not at fault."
...The case turned ugly as the Starbucks law firm, Akin Gump, used hard ball tactics to defend their client, including successfully seeking to make public the young woman's sexual history once it learned she had been interviewed for "20/20."
"They are trying to defend themselves by calling me a slut," she told "20/20." "It's intimidation. It's harassing to sit though deposition and just be re-victimized."
Federal judge Andrew J. Guilford agreed with Starbucks lawyers and ordered the information unsealed because of the company's need "to defend themselves" and "level the playing field."
Starbucks disclosed in court papers that the woman has had sexual encounters with 12 men other than Horton, seven of them before she met Horton.
Starbucks says it does have a strict policy against sexual harassment and managers dating baristas, but there is nothing specific about relationships with teens under the age of 18.

McDonalds and Taco Bell also have lawsuits pending against them, and those lawsuits likewise involve statutory rape by supervisors.

And, of course, NO ONE wants to talk about the sleeping elephant of Islam, where child marriage is perfectly in accord with Muslim morality, indeed, it is praised as a way to emulate the prophet Mohammed.

“In God’s eyes legal, but in laws of the country (Malaysia) not legal,” said the Kijang state assemblywoman when questioned on the legality of child marriages [in Islam]....
Section 8 of the Kelantan Muslim Family Law Enactment (2000) states that any girl below 16 cannot marry, except with written permission from the Syariah Court.
When questioned on what criteria would merit such consent, Ubaidah replied that in cases where a girl and her partner are “madly in love beyond control”, the court would grant them permission to marry. A father who wishes to marry the girl off to a rich man may also receive similar authorisation from the court.
Although Ubaidah said that a girl’s consent and understanding is needed before marrying her off, she said: “Silence is consent”. If a girl is married off without her consent, she can seek help from her relatives or approach the religious department herself, Ubaidah added.
Now, this is just one story about sharia law in Malaysia.

We could also bring forward stories from Yemen, where a 13-year old girl died of bleeding from genital tears five days after her marriage to a 30 year-old man, or Saudi Arabia, where the shariah court refused to annul the marriage of an 8-year old to a man in his late 40's, or Pakistan, where girl children are married off to adult men to settle family feuds (swara), pay a debt, or as part of a deal to marry off an older sibling. A seven year old married to a 45-year old man with other living wives and children is absolutely common.

The list could go on, but why bother?

If reporting on sexual abuse were accurate, there would be five reports of Protestant, rabbinic or Eastern Orthodox sexual abuse for every one report of Catholic sexual abuse. There would be 200 reports of public school sexual abuse for every one report of Catholic sexual abuse. There would be thousands of reports of Muslim sexual abuse for every one report of Catholic sexual abuse.

Wherever there is sharia, there is what Westerners would call child sexual abuse. It is legal, moral and laudable. But no one goes after the imams for this, do they?

Who do they go after? Pope Benedict XVI, formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

As for Cardinal Ratzinger's culpability, he was appointed head of the CDF in 1981. Take a close look at the chart from the John Jay report provided by the New York Times blogger:

Do you notice anything interesting? Do you see how that red line (number of cases) and that blue line (number of priests committing abuse) both begin a REALLY rapid descent? Well, if you look closely at the year when that rapid fall begins, that year would be 1981 - two years after John Paul II is elected Pope and the same year Ratzinger is picked to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Even though the CDF won't streamline the process and gain sole jurisdiction over abuse cases until 2001, the chart shows that the minute Ratzinger became the head of CDF, someone, somewhere started shutting these abusive priests down. By 1995, most of the rat holes had been closed.

The press didn't pick up on what was going on until AFTER Ratzinger or one of his confreres had already finished most of the work.

This chart is from a New York Times blogger, folks.

David K. Monroe

The [b]Last Great Crime[/b] is not paedophilia, but hypocrisy - the kind of hypocrisy that consists of actually believing and teaching that there are moral absolutes but then having it discovered that some among your number actually and willfully violate those moral absolutes. If the Catholic Church's response to the phenomenon of abusive priests was to completely jettison any teaching regarding sexual morality, then the controversy would evaporate. The enemy here is not abusive priests but the very concept of sexual morality. The object of defense is not the victims of abuse but rather the consciences of those who wish to abandon any notion of sexual morality but still consider themselves to be righteous.

If paedophilia were the issue then the public school system would be enduring the same scrutiny that the Catholic Church is. Inasmuch as it is not, it is clear then that the defense of the victims of abuse is not the issue here.

Robert Miller

There is an appalling amount of confusion on this thread. Father Fessio and Carl Olson have clarified some things that desperately need clarifying. But many of the comments betray a woeful lack of understanding of the moment.

What do these cold cases the media are ginning up have to do with anything of public or Catholic interest? Nothing, of course.

That the filth of modernity oozed -- indeed, still oozes-- into the Church is an old story by now. Now is the time to go on the offensive against the enemies of the Church -- the trial lawyers who seek to despoil the Church, the victim advocacy groups and their allies whose real agenda is to drag the Church down into deeper filth, the "Catholic" intellectuals who give their anti-Catholic comments freely and with impunity to the media, the oppressive feminist/homosexualist establishment in the US and Europe that is the real source of this defamation of the Church... . Let's grow up, Catholics.

We need to start an open-letter campaign in all of the major media outlets massing the signatures of millions of US and European Catholics in defense of the Pope against the filth-mongers.

Mrs. O

These response to the attacks in the media are necessary in my opinion because the truth does need to be stated. The Pope himself isn't above criticism if it is deserved, but this isn't what is happening and they are stiring up, and drawing conclusions that just aren't factual.
On the positive side, these responses on how/what/who took place back then, helps - me at least.

Also, I firmly believe that all priests that are found guilty in the church of committing child abuse should be lacitized as quickly as possible.
It would be part of justice - for the victims and other priests and a statement that Christ, who they represent would not have done that.
I think it is wrong to feel that the Bishop has to be responsible for some like this, keeping an eye on them.
BUT, stretch me in ways that hurt! I would say, that if out of the kindness and compassion of the Church, if a place were set up specifically for them to retire to - work and penance the rest of their lives - then that would show the Church is able to apply mercy, compassion and justice in these horrible circumstances. Now, I would bet that most would not want to go, but we have free will. And so should they.

Lauri Friesen

I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude to you, Carl, and to all who proclaim the truth as loudly and widely as possible. It is onerous and unpleasant work, having to read and sift through all the lousy writing and worse reasoning that constitutes most current media contributions to reporting on and analysing this "crisis." I, for one, have given up trying because I find it too distressing. I appreciate so much that I can come to Ignatius Insight and have all the work done for me.

You surely "know how to sustain the weary with a word." Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the work you do.


Carl, what Lauri said on stilts!! Thank you and God bless you!!

Carl E. Olson

Thank you, everyone, for the comments. And thank you, Lauri and John, for the encouraging words.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

How far the persecution will go? Was it all planned this way? More than likely.

Two views have been given attention: Fr. Fessio and Fr. Schall; each with a vivid sense of observation. Fr. Fessio provides us the truth in the wholesome behaviour of prelates confronted with a scandal that has shaken us for years. He delivers documented veracity and deep effort to handle unusually delicate cases. Fr. Schall goes into the core of the assault: Legitimacy of the Church as the only credible judge, being denied; practice of Virtue countered by defamation.

Today's 'knowledge' of the truth is mishandled by an agent who fleshes out repetitious lies. I think Fr. Fessio is quite suited as an efficient witness to deffend the Church.

Great work Carl, as usual.

Clare Krishan

I like keeping it lowly, Carl, tho' I'm certainly not meek* enough for media primetime. For those who disaver my mercantilist "features advantage benefits" for advertising and promoting the economy of grace, may I recommend we aim for a PR "tone and content" of solicitous humility such as that exhibited by the Irish:

Lord, we are so sorry for what some of us did to your children:

treated them so cruelly, especially in their hour of need.

We have left them with a lifelong suffering.

This was not your plan for them or us.

Please help us to help them.

Guide us, Lord.


* re meekness vs hubris - do any of your readers really think it serves US Catholics well to identify with an LC priest tut-tutting the MSM (while on retainer from same, at the FoxNewsChannel) when his order has failed abjectly to face the filth in its own ranks? The human soul's capacity for receptivity or penetrativity (ie one's conscious competence, or attentive intellect driven by an intentive will) varies wildly according to one's station in -- and habits of -- life, ie a person's locus and direction. This blog too often delights in pilloring those less gifted in attention to, or competence in discerning faith matters (see Vanderbilt post above). As a reader, I prefer a more feminine decorum in defense of Mother Church, the nursemaid for we sin-sick souls. The type of masculine action I admire is our Holy Father's call to docility to her Teachings: repentance needs to be seen to be done. More thoughts here:

Clare Krishan

oops missing end of emphasis CK

Carl E. Olson

Clare: Simply put, you're conflating two different, if related, issues: the actual cases of abuse, and the attempts by many to pin responsibility for specific cases on Ratzinger/Benedict.

do any of your readers really think it serves US Catholics well to identify with an LC priest tut-tutting the MSM

Since I've never mentioned said LC priest, I'm not sure why you are dragging this red herring into the discussion.

This blog too often delights in pilloring those less gifted in attention to, or competence in discerning faith matters (see Vanderbilt post above).

Well, my spiritual advisor reads this blog every day, and he will let me know if I am "pilloring" too much. The fact is, this blog often highlights the dangers of stupidity mixed with arrogance. I understand that many people are ignorant about the Catholic Church. But when they deem themselves worthy to publicly attack and mock the Church while exposing their own ignorance, they deserve to be exposed as self-righteous frauds.

Finally, I wasn't aware that docility to Church teaching equalled docility to unfair and mocking attacks on the Church. How does that follow? I'm not sure that folks such as St. Paul, St. Irenaeus, St. Thomas More, St. Augustine, etc. (to name only a few) would agree with such a flawed perspective.

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