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Authoritarianism On Display April 1, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, religion.
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The revelations regarding the Catholic hierarchy’s involvement in protecting pedophile priests is disturbing but unfortunately predictable.

The future Pope Benedict XVI was kept more closely apprised of a sexual abuse case in Germany than previous church statements have suggested, raising fresh questions about his handling of a scandal unfolding under his direct supervision before he rose to the top of the church’s hierarchy.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope and archbishop in Munich at the time, was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish.

An initial statement on the matter issued earlier this month by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising placed full responsibility for the decision to allow the priest to resume his duties on Cardinal Ratzinger’s deputy, the Rev. Gerhard Gruber. But the memo, whose existence was confirmed by two church officials, shows that the future pope not only led a meeting on Jan. 15, 1980, approving the transfer of the priest, but was also kept informed about the priest’s reassignment.

These revelations come on top of another scandal involving the Vatican.

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

This is predictable because all authoritarian institutions tend towards corruption.

The charges are disgusting enough but the cover up is becoming more disgusting each day. In the face of media reports, the apologists are out in force making excuses that are logically lame and morally despicable. Here is one singular example from a blog post by Archbishop Dolan of the New York Diocese:

What adds to our anger over the nauseating abuse and the awful misjudgment in reassigning such a dangerous man, though, is the glaring fact that we never see similar headlines that would actually be “news”:  How about these, for example?

–    “Doctor Asserts He Ignored Abuse Warnings,” since Dr. Huth admits in the article that he, in fact, told the archdiocese the abusing priest could be reassigned under certain restrictions, a prescription today recognized as terribly wrong;

–    “Doctor Asserts Public Schools Ignored Abuse Warnings,” since the data of Dr. Carol Shakeshaft concludes that the number of cases of abuse of minors by teachers, coaches, counsellors, and staff in government schools is much, much worse than by priests;

–    “Doctor Asserts Judges (or Police, Lawyers, District Attorneys, Therapists, Parole Officers) Ignored Abuse Warnings,” since we now know the sober fact that no one in the healing and law enforcement professions knew back then the depth of the scourge of abuse, or the now-taken-for-granted conclusion that abusers of young people can never safely work closely with them again

Not only does Dolan ignore recent cover-ups of child-abuse. He seems oblivious to the fact that the church is supposed to be the highest of moral authorities. Yet when confronted with the church’s complicity in abject evil, the best he can say is “everyone else is doing it”.

As Matt Tiabbi writes:

These pompous assholes run around in their poofy robes and dresses shaking smoke-filled decanters with important expressions on their faces and pretending to great insight about grace and humility, but here we have the head of the largest Diocese in America teaching his entire congregation that when caught committing a terrible sin, the appropriate response is to blame the media and pull the “All the other kids were doing it, too!” stunt!

Apparently, having the moral compass of a 6th grade school yard bully is sufficient qualification to be a Bishop these days.

The corruption goes to very top of the Catholic hierarchy. And it is a lesson in how corruption will effect any organization that shields itself from moral criticism by appealing to some higher power.

I’m not Catholic but many people I care about are; they must be suffering to see what has become of the institution in which they have become so invested.

The fact that the Pope continues to spout nonsense about the moral relativism of modern society is nauseating.

 book-section-book-cover2   Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com



1. Paul J. Moloney - April 2, 2010

Back in the 1200’s, Saint Francis of Assisi made it known, that if any of the Friars were guilty of sexual misconduct, they would be banished from the order. If they did penance for the misconduct, it would have to be done outside of the Order of Friar Minors. Defrocking a priest does not stop him from being a practicing Catholic, but being a practicing Catholic means doing penance for one’s sins. If a man is not a practicing Catholic he should not be a priest in the first place.

From a Catholic moral viewpoint, child molestation is a sin. Sin is supposed to be offensive to God, so one hopes that child molestation is offensive to God, even if it is not offensive to some of the clergy. It could be argued, though, that from a psychological perspective, that child molestation is a sickness. Even then, one psychologically sick to that extent should not be allowed to continue as a priest. It is interesting, in a very sad way, that Catholic clergy would look at child molestation as a sickness rather than as a sin, or primarily as a sickness. If child molestation is not a sin then nothing is a sin, at least from a Catholic moral point of view.

The crucial point to which some Catholic clergy seem to be blind, a point to which even non-believers are not blind, is that the clergy are to be shepherds of the people, keeping them safe from moral evil. In what way are they shepherds when they are molesting the very children of the people they are supposed to be keeping safe? It must be that the children of the people of the church are not considered people themselves. If a priest is not a shepherd defrock him. If he is not shepherd he is a wolf.

It is quite apparent that Catholic clergy are still trying to defend their honor, as if there could be any honor associated with child molestation. Some of the clergy are more concerned about their honor than the honor of God, of which they are supposed to be promoting. They do not seem to see child molestation as dishonoring God in any way, the God they proclaim to be serving. When it comes to acquiring personal honor, some of the clergy would deny the existence of God more vehemently than any atheist to get it. There is more honor to be found in being a church hypocrite than in being an atheist.

There is a false honor attached to being a priest. The priest is the most popular person in the parish for simply being a priest. The priesthood is supposed to work magic for one’s social position. I am of the opinion, at least to some degree, that some men have been psychologically destroyed by their parents. Some Catholics parents want their son to be a priest so that they ,the parents, will be honored by everyone in church. For most Catholics the priesthood has nothing to do with Christ; it has to do with social popularity. My father wanted me to be priest so that everyone would honor him through me, at the expense of me being degraded by him. First of all, I had no intention of degrading myself in order to honor my father. Second of all, I thought it would be insulting to God to use the priesthood to honor my father at the expense of God. God and my father were apparently never in agreement about the priesthood.

Catholics think they derive all their honor from the priesthood. My father demonstrated no love of Christ, but yet he wanted me to be a priest. I was supposed to be my father’s slave of honor. I was to have no identity. Apparently, in a Catholic family no one is to be more honored than the father. One cannot honor God, or truth, or philosophy, or friends, or spouse more than one’s father. One cannot allow oneself to be more honored than one’s father. One is not allowed to become a great person because that would make one’s father look bad. The Catholic father becomes god.

Some of the wrong men were allowed to become priests. If they were the right men they would have never molested children. The love of honor has promoted the child molestation. If you strip away all the honor in the Catholic Church, you may find there was no God after all; it was all about honor at the expense of dishonoring the children that were molested.

As what to say to Catholics who are devastated by the scandal, there is probably nothing to say. Mother Theresa scandalized some people when she made it known that she had felt abandoned by God when she began her ministry. It is easy to see that she was not abandoned by God, but by the clergy who supposedly represent God. It is coincidental that she felt abandoned when attention began to be paid to her because of her ministry, attention being diverted from the clergy. My opinion is that some of the clergy were making her feel as is she were abandoned by God, because she, a woman, and not a priest, was getting more attention than they. Most Catholics do not trust priests at all, but some trust them too much. The clergy persecuted Saint Francis of Assisi when he was alive, because he was in love with Christ. After he died the clergy had him canonized in two years, a record time, and then built a basilica in which to put his remains, an honor he never wanted when he was alive, all because he put his trust in God rather than in the clergy.

2. Nina Rosenstand - April 4, 2010

Paul, your comments are always thoughtful and eloquent, and appreciated by us, but this one is particularly poignant. Thanks for sharing your perspective.
Dwight, having followed the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in this country for about a decade now I can’t say I’m surprised at the latest reactions from church officials; Dolan’s blog remarks seem to be talking points that are trotted out on a regular basis every time the issue reemerges. But, as you point out, while child abuse is (statistically, and unfortunately) rampant in many other cultural areas, the Catholic Church has excelled in adding cover-ups to the crimes, on a grand scale, moving priests around like chess pieces so locals would have no chance of connecting the dots between previous scandals in other places. And let us not forget that the psychological effects of the sexual assaults will remain with those assaulted for the rest of their lives–in some cases lives cut short by these victims themselves. Imagine the depth of the emotional and psychological pain inflicted on those innocent kids, Catholic children, to the point where some, in adolescence or adulthood, have decided to take their own lives, within a culture that condemns suicide as a mortal sin…

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