Thursday, August 16, 2018

'Look not upon me': thoughts on the abuse crisis

Mass of reparation in Oxford: Votive Mass pro remissione peccatorum
'Look not upon me', says the Beloved, the Church. 'For the sun hath looked upon me.' Labouring in the vineyard has darkened her skin; she is conscious that her beauty is hidden. She says: 'I am black but beautiful'. (Song of Songs, 1:5, 4)

Christ also, the spotless Lamb, was disfigured, by his enemies. Isaiah says of Him in prophecy: 'there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him' (Is 53:2). But again, Christ's beauty is hidden, rather than lost.

What has happened to the Church in the last 50 years and more is a disfigurement, a disgrace. Like the Beloved of the Song of Songs, the Church has been cast out of doors without her veil:

'The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.' (Song 5:7)

The defilement of the Church is real in one sense, and only apparent in another. As a human institution she can be wounded and shamed. As a divine institution she cannot. She is both human and divine, a mirror of Christ, who in His humanity truly suffered and died. This suffering was not unreal or superficial: the betrayal, the stripping naked, the being spat upon, the being tortured and killed. It is profoundly real and of the greatest significance. And yet Christ in his Divine nature, and the Church as the Mystical Body and Bride of Christ, is not defiled: such a thing is impossible. She remains beautiful, though blackened.

This paradox is the consequence of the Incarnation, and the way the Incarnation is continued in the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. Something with a physical, personal, human manifestation in the world is susceptible to attack, wounding, and disgrace. You can't have an incarnational theology without this consequence.

One might object that, in the case of the Church, the most important wounds are self-inflicted. However, it is not the Mystical Body as such which causes the wounds; it is her human members when they fail to act as members. When we engage in the Public Prayer of the Church we act as one with the Mystical Body and offer to God a perfect act of Worship which only the Mystical Body of Christ, that is, only Christ Himself, can offer. When we (bishops, priests, laymen) perform sacramental actions, it is the action of Christ through his Mystical Body. When we commit some hideous sacrilege it is not. It is a wound we give to the Mystical Body, against the Mystical Body.

The Mystical Body is not a pure, spiritual thing which can only be seen with the eyes of Faith. It has a real, human, historical, manifestation. This manifestation can make it as vulnerable to profanation as the manifestation of the Body of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. But while those who profane the Blessed Sacrament do something serious, because Christ is truly present there, they do not harm Christ. At the Last Judgement, when wicked Catholics, including priests, bishops, and popes, are tossed into Hell, the Church, as the Bride of Christ, will be presented to her Lord as a spotless virgin (2 Corinthians 11:2).

The relationship between Christ's Divine and Human natures is, notoriously, not easy to explain: it is a mystery. That is, we can understand a number of things about it, things we must say and things we must deny about it, but we cannot fully grasp its internal logic. The same is true of the relationship between the human and divine aspects of the Church. I must leave it as something of a paradox. But it is paradox we must believe.

What we believe about the Church has the consequence that we are right to be angry, as well as bitterly grieved, about the clerical abuse revelations. This anger is not simply a justified emotional reaction, it is a duty. Anger is a desire for justice, and we must do what we can to secure justice in this case. This may well mean being less polite than we were wont to be, less inclined to overlook things, less generous with our money and volunteering: in a careful, systematic, persistent, and thought-through way.

What is not right would be to take the occasion to doubt the Church's divine institution. The good works of the Church's members, it is true, might be a consideration in her favour, and evil works obviously count the other way. However, the Church's divine nature is manifested above all in the liturgy, the sacraments, and the perennial teaching which is guided by the Holy Spirit. My Catholic readers know what I mean when I say that as Catholics we know this deep down. We have experienced the consolation of the liturgy. We have experienced Christ's forgiveness in confession. We know that the Real Presence is not make-believe: it is a supernatural fact that impinges insistently on the material world, in our lives, and in the lives of others. We cannot let the defilement of the Mystical Body lead us to doubt the purity of the Mystical Body, odd as that might seem. The Satanist who defiles the Blessed Sacrament does not make it less holy. His actions are, in fact, a testimony to that holiness, which he recognises and hates.

Satanists hate holy things because they have turned away from God and are enraged by the concrete possibility of goodness which they have rejected. They wish to tear it down to their own level of filthiness. It is said that paedophiles feel similarly about the innocence of children. Today's focus is on the bishop-enablers. What were they thinking? Certainly they were not motivated by reverence and love for what is holy and for the innocent. The crushing worldliness of the episcopal attitude, the managerialism, is striking, but it does not explain actions which were often irrational and self-defeating from a worldly point of view. Those who see something demonic here are correct. What we see is a brutal carelessness, of brushing things aside, which reflects a rejection of the categories of holiness and innocence. They may have thought they believed the Faith, some of them, but at some level they did not. Not just in moments of high emotion, not just under intense temptation, but calmly, deliberately, day after day, year after year, in case after case, they rejected celibacy, they rejected the holiness of the sacraments, and they crushed innocence in the mortar.

Catholic activists have seen this before. Those concerned with pro-life issues, liturgical abuses, Catholic education, or the Traditional liturgy, all have had experiences over 50 years exactly parallel with the experiences of the victims and parents of victims of clerical abuse. Buck-passing, contempt for faithful Catholics, appeals to clerical and episcopal dignity and authority, the toleration and imposition of injustices, and outright lies. Such Catholics were the only audience for the early denunciations of clerical abuse, when the secular media weren't listening. They read Michael Rose's Goodbye Good Men, which was published in 2002, while liberal and neo-conservative Catholics choked with rage that bishops and priests could be criticised. What Rose described, the anti-celibate and specifically homosexual culture of seminaries, was made possible by a culture of aggressive destruction of the holy, of devotions and buildings and doctrine and pious practices, and of the people who defended them, which these activist Catholics had read about in Ann Carey's Sisters in Crisis in 1997, and all the books and pamphlets of Michael Davies, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Anne Roche Muggeridge, Fr Bryan Houghton, and many others in the 1980s and 1970s. Such Catholics were the only audience for discussions of the prophecies of Our Lady of Salette, of Akita, of Quito, and of Fatima, which pointed to the culmination of modernism and secularism within the Church in a massive crisis of apostasy and sacrilege in the later part of the 20th century. Well, all that stuff doesn't look so stupid now, does it?

This is a crisis fundamentally of the Faith. Outside the Church and inside, those who permit and even promote this kind of abuse from positions of authority are those who hate the Faith. They may like lace and watered silk: most do not, but some do. But they all hate the Faith where it impinges on their desires, they hate those people and things which represent to them the possibility of repentance, and they want bring down to their own level of sordid carelessness the innocent.

What we need are, simply, bishops who do not have this hatred, and have the courage to confront and uproot it. All kinds of pressure and strategies are worth exploring, but some devils can only be cast our by prayer and fasting. As well as the practical things, we have a duty to make reparation.

There is still time to sign up to the Walsingham Pilgrimage. But whatever you do, join me in doing something in reparation for this abyss of filth which has been revealed. God will hear us.

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  1. I understand your sentiment that human beings using the Church structure to abuse children does not make Catholic teaching less valid. However the humans in the Catholic Church continue to defend the indefensible, hide the truth, protect the guilty and refuse to cooperate with investigations in to their members wrongdoing. The power structure of the Catholic Church is wrong. Old celibate men with little experience of real life wield power over the faithful demanding blind trust. Not a club anyone should be a member of in my opinion.

    1. Amen. This whole catastrophe has convinced me that we need married priests. There's plenty of biblical and Thomist support for it.

    2. The power structure (Pope, bishops, priests...) was instituted by Christ himself and is as old as the Church. We can't do away with it. However, we can, and must, as lay people, force the hierarchy to face the facts and publicly admit them and do penance; also, to remove from their office those who are proven to be unworthy of it, wherever and whoever they are. We must do this while remaining absolutely faithful to the Faith in its fullness. In practice, the forthcoming World Meeting for Families might yield some interesting information: what will the present Pope do and say? What will Fr James Marin? Cardinal Casey has already said he's not coming: will Cardinal Wuerl have resigned by then? Above all, what will the laity, attending this conference, do? I hope it is finally perceived by the hierarchy that people have had enogh and demand appropriate change. At any rate, the meeting should help us perceive what the next step might be. The "other" simultaneous meeting taking place in Dublin and convened by Lumen Christi takes on an ever-greater importance. Wish I could go!

    3. There is nothing in what was instituted by Christ which demanded 'blind obedience' to clerics. If you have that kind of clericalism, married clerics are not going to help. Why should they? The idea is ridiculous.

    4. Not sure how married priests will fix the problem when the problem is an active preference for promoting and sheltering deviants among bishops and even Popes.

    5. The power structure of the Catholic Church is wrong. Old celibate men with little experience of real life wield power over the faithful demanding blind trust.

      Not sure why celibacy is apparently a bad thing. (Nor age, nor manliness, but I'll focus on celibacy for now.) Presumably the idea owes something to the pseudo-Freudian notion floating around nowadays that everybody needs to get lots of sex to be psychologically healthy, and that, if you try and "repress" your sex drive by not having sex, you'll end up turning into a pervert who rapes teenage boys, or something. Of course, when you put it this way, it's apparent how nonsensical the idea is: whilst situational homosexuality is a genuine phenomenon, it's one that occurs in environments where men get no interaction with women (prisons, ships on long voyages, etc.). There is, as far as I'm aware, no reason to think that a man who interacts with women but can't have sex with them (like most priests) will end up becoming attracted to men or children as a result.

      It's also worth noting that, from what I can tell, Evangelical pastors have rates of sexual abuse allegations no lower than those of Catholic priests, and they're allowed to get married and have sex. Ditto Orthodox priests. So blaming celibacy for the current crisis is likely inaccurate.

      Another thing I've noticed is that nobody seems to take the "lack of sex --> paedophilia" notion seriously in other situations. E.g., nobody seems worried that non-ordained men who can't get laid (incels and the like) will end up molesting children. Such concerns seem to be only ever applied to Catholic priests.

      One final point is that, if you read the reports, it becomes clear that the priests and hierarchy weren't really practising celibacy. I don't mean that they tried and failed; I mean that, in most cases, neither priests nor bishops seem to have thought that trying was particularly important. Very few bishops seem to have disciplined their priests for breaking their vows of celibacy; more often, such things were ignored, unless the priests was actually breaking the law, in which case he might be reassigned to a different parish (but not suspended, laicised, or handed over to the civil authorities for prosecution). So essentially, you're blaming celibacy for a situation brought about by people who didn't think celibacy very important.

    6. I disagree, there are too many Catholics who have no understanding of the gay lifestyle. There are no doddering old geezer bishops who don't know how the world works. Homosexuals joined the priesthood in the 50's (maybe earlier, I'm going from memory) because no one ostracizes priests for not marrying. So, at least by then, there was a whole gay culture in the Catholic priesthood, these gays rose in the ranks to bishop, cardinal and even to the Vatican. No one is a sheltered old guy who doesn't get it, they all participated. They never intended to be celibate, they had access to an old boys network so they knew which priests to approach and which seminaries to eniter where they had the gay dream of multiple partners, initiating young virgins, sex games, s&m, voyeurism, it was gay Disneyland. Then, in the 70's Alinsky radicals infiltrated the priesthood through the gay network so they now had sodimy with a political agenda. Their goal was to reach the highest offices in every country and turn the church socialist. They have succeeded because the church has been busy with wars, falling membership, heresy, VII, turmoil, and rebellion. But, Christ is shining a light on it at last. Just as socialism entered the church through the gay network, it can be rooted out by purging gays. The Vatican needs to grow a spine and cast out every known priest with SSA from seminary to deacon to pope. No regret, no conditions. Prayer is powerful, Mary is powerful, saints are powerful. Let's get on our knees and go to war.

    7. Very well said and, I believe, true.

  2. We are still avoiding terms. If nothing else results from the knowledge the iconic Cardinal McCarrick himself is a boy molester, has molested countless boys and young men, and has ruined entire lives, and now this grand jury finding that shows in just one diocese, hundreds of predator priests and thousands of victims, can we at least call this what is clearly is and stop dancing. For the sake of the victims, this is a homosexual predator problem, and is as old as time.
    The John Jay study found that 81% of the victims over the decades were post-adolescent males, around age 11 to 17. This is NOT pedophilia, but homosexual activity. These boys are known as "twinks", and are mighty appealing to homosexual men.
    The exact breakdown on PA has not been tallied for the public yet, they are seeming to try to work in dated stories from girls, that happened decades ago. People want to avoid the obvious, but we cannot avoid it any longer. Will we let fear of backlash prevent us from stating the obvious reality? That homosexuals are in complete and total charge of our church, and not only are they sodomizing boys and young men, and continue, they are intent on their goal, to tear apart the Catholic Church and faith and render it impotent.
    Please see Joseph Sciambra's website and look at the online header for the Quest Conference that just happened in your nation. James Martin and some other priests were there as speakers. Look at the header at the top of the page. A boy's hand flirtatiously "walks" toward a man's hand on the other side of the page. The man's fingers "walk" toward the boy. The hands walking toward each other so coyly, are walking across a "bridge", (Mr. Martin's?), made of...what else...a child's BLOCKS. If you are shocked you join me, because even I am shocked at their boldness. They proclaim their goal right under our eyes.
    These men are evil, and we must call them out for their evil without delay.
    God help boys and young men, protect them from these predators, and help Catholics to resolve never to ignore their plight again.

    1. Kathleen, you said: "That homosexuals are in complete and total charge of our church, and not only are they sodomizing boys and young men, and continue, they are intent on their goal, to tear apart the Catholic Church and faith and render it impotent."

      I agree! It surely looks that way since Bergoglio became their leader.

    2. Maybe I'm naive, but I believe Jesus is in complete and total control and he's shining disinfecting rays of light on a dark mess from generations of rebellion. I agree it's a homosexual issue and homosexuals must be excised from every level of leadership from seminary to deacon to pope. I'm not convinced Francis is gay, but the mess reaches to the highes levels of the Vatican and MUST be purged. Prayer is powerful, Mary is powerful, saints are powerful. Let's get on our knees and go to war. (War drums in the background)

  3. Amen, Kathleen and Gaius and Mr. Shaw.

    1. Frank, dear sir, may I prevail upon you for your kind assistance? Would you have a moment to let me know if it is possible to subscribe to LMS Chairman, and how to do so? I would be most grateful. Thank you.

  4. I agree that human behavior and nature remain a mystery, but much has been learned in the clinical sense. In my experience working professionally in lay ministry, I’ve known for decades of the deceitful and:or vile lifestyles of some priests and the bishops who protect them. I believe many bishops bury this for fear of their own exposure by priests who know them. If this devastation is going to be stopped, IMO, it’s critical to try to understand the minds of these people and the demonic forces they serve, knowingly or buried in denial. I believe you that they hate the Faith, although their warped version of reality might not see it. They can believe their own lies and justify anything. One point I believe is important. Many disordered clergy, including bishops as well as deacons and religious may not care about the Faith other than how it can be twisted to serve them. However, they most definitely despise the faithful, often the most superficially charming and beloved. They hold the faithful in total contempt because so many are lethal narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths, clever enough to fool even professionals who don’t hear the hateful way they malign believers behind their backs and genuinely consider them ‘the enemy’ too stupid to concern themselves with, unless threatened to the point they have to destroy them. So much media is making this primarily about sexual preferences or deviants as if they are normal in other ways. In my experience they are not. To some degree, in my experience, they are viscous predators in every sense, not only destructive but dangerous.

    1. Susanna, I am very grateful for your sobering insights. May they come to mind when I need them.