One of my frustrations with “the Scandal” has been the world’s hypocrisy in condemning the Church. One day, it’s how horrible Catholics are because of the Inquisition. We hear about Draconian penances. People talk about “Catholic guilt.” We’re told by Protestants that “Jesus forgives,” and that we have too many “works” involved in our theology of forgiveness.
We’re told our theology is “behind the times,” that we don’t understand mental illness, etc.
So, after Vatican II, the clergy start kowtowing to those demands. Behaviors that used to be roundly condemned as sin were now taught to be “mental health issues”. Instead of a balanced approach–the kind advocated for example by Frs. Groeschel and Corapi–between the psychological and spiritual aspects of sin, priests turned to saying, even in the confessional, “That’s not a sin anymore. That’s a mental health question. You need to see a psychologist.”
In the 19th century, there was a Carmelite priest who’s in some stage of canonization. He ran a mental hospital. He exorcised every patient. If the problems went away after exorcism, he sent ’em home. If they still had issues after exorcism, he passed them on to the doctors. Today, as Fr. Amorth laments, exorcism is an absolute last resort, saved until people are horribly in the grip of evil, saved for after the psychologists have had a stab at the person.
Penances have gone from “push your armor up the mountain and drop it down again” to “say three Hail Mary’s and come back next month.”
So, all that kowtowing to secularists and Protestants led to a situation where the bishops listened to psychologists about “curing” priests accused of sexual molestation, and they trusted in “Christ’s forgiveness,” and generally applied to sinful priests the same kind of extreme tolerance they’ve been giving us laity for 40 years–the kind that allows Nancy Pelosi to call herself a “Catholic.”
Meanwhile, there is another factor weighing on the hierarchy within the Church. St. John of the Cross was falsely accused of sexual sins. St. Gerard Majella was falsely accused of sexual misconduct. St. John Bosco was accused of all sorts of things (but never sexual misconduct so far as I know). St. Pio was accused of both embezzlement and sexual misconduct (and still is).
There is a long history of false accusations against good priests. And in each of those cases, we look back on the officials who investigated them, suspendd them, etc., and say, “how could they have allowed those false accusations against a Saint?” “What horrible corrupt bishops/religious superiors they must have been to listen to such false accusations!”
So, those were all factors weighing on the minds of many bishops. It doesn’t help that you had the infiltrators like Weakland and Gumbleton and Mahony manipulating things as well (love how some of the recent media stories are even trying to paint Weakland as a noble hero in this!!)
If the Church were following basic Catholic moral principles to a “T”, such as “avoidance of the occasion of sin,” a lot of this might never have happened. In other words, even if you want to say they’re “cured’ psycohlogically, or they’ve been forgiven by Jesus, fine. If you want to say it’s a matter for internal jurisdiction and not involving civil authorities, I’d accept that, *if the Church were enforcing internal disciplines*. But don’t put the sinner back in the occasion of sin. Priests aren’t supposed to be alone with women. Well, homosexual priests shouldn’t be permitted to be alone with men, and priests attracted to minors shouldn’t be permitted to be alone with minors.
And if they hadn’t gone to these awful face-to-face “reconciliation rooms,” how much abuse could have been avoided??? It’s kind of hard to sexually molest someone with a wall and a small metal grid between you.
I’ve quoted many times the teaching of Pope St. Pius V, of “Quo Primum” fame, that priests who commit sodomy should be defrocked and handed over to the civil authorities.
Certainly before Vatican II, we had the problem of clericalism, but much of what’s come since Vatican II has made this situation a lot worse.
Now, the Holy Father’s enemies are salivating over the chance to “get him” for his alleged mishandling of cases in Germany, or cases brought to his desk at the CDF.
And, yes, I personally take some offense at the workings of the CDF when we’ve learned from the recent Times report that thousands of valid cases against abuser priests never get canonical trials, while Fr. James Haley was given a rather swift trial–with no follow-up by the CDF–for his “offense” of being a whistleblower.
But all the accusations against Cardinal Ratzinger, whether as bishop of Munich or prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, smack of “Witch Hunt,” and history will see them as such. Much like the attacks on Pius XII, they’re the attacks of a jealous secular world eager to damn the Catholic Church when history will judge that the Church has done far more on this issue–even before the scandals–than anyone else.
Indeed, at least they *tried* to get these guys rehabilitated. How many public school teachers are fired for sexual misconduct, much less sent to jail? How many public school teachers lose their teaching certificates for it?