Elsewhere: Pedophile priest myths


Earlier this year I wrote about about the sex scandal. It is a sad story that I doubt will ever be treated fairly in our lifetimes. Part of the problem is that there is just so much misinformation being passed around. Sometimes that is on purpose by those who attack the Church. Other times it is simply not knowing the facts.

Father Longenecker also wrote about this issue around the same time my piece was published. His piece is on a non-Catholic academic researcher’s findings. You may be surprised by the results (and even have to modify some of your own long-held assumptions).

As more pedophile priest scandals blow up across Europe we should be ashamed of the offenders and those who sheltered them and oppressed the victims. The guilty should be weeded out, removed from office and handed over to the civil authorities where they are guilty of crimes. Systems to avoid abuse must be established and rigorously maintained, and victims should be justly compensated for their suffering.

However, Penn State professor Philip Jenkins (who is not a Catholic) has written the most objective book on the subject, and he summarizes his arguments in this excellent article. In light of his work, we should remember some basic facts and principles:

  • Priestly celibacy is not the issue – married men are more likely to abuse children than unmarried
  • Most child abuse takes place within the home.
  • All religious groups have pedophile scandals, and the Catholics (while the largest religious group) are at the bottom of the list statistically.
  • Child abuse is prevalent in all areas of society: schools, youth organizations, sports, etc.
  • Statistically, of all the professions, Christian clergy are least likely to offend. Doctors, Farmers and Teachers are the professions most likely to abuse children–not clergy.
  • Among clergy offenders Catholic priests are least likely to offend.
  • Catholic cases of pedophilia make more headlines because of anti Catholic prejudice and because the Catholic Church is bigger and more lucrative to sue.
  • Pedophilia and Euphebophilia are different problems. The former is sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. The latter is attraction to teenagers. Most cases branded ‘pedophilia’ are actually ‘euphebophila.’
  • Most of the cases of euphebophilia are homosexual in nature, however the politically correct do not want this problem to be associated with homosexuality.
  • The number of Catholic priests guilty of pedophilia is very small.
  • What we now call ‘cover up’ was often done in a different cultural context, when the problem was not fully understood and when all establishment organizations hushed scandals. They did so for what seemed good reasons at the time: protection of the victims and their families, opportunity for rehabilitation of the offender, the avoidance of scandal to others. It is unfair to judge events thirty years ago by today’s standards.
  • When lawsuits are looming people smell money. We must be wary of false accusations.
  • The accused must be entitled to a fair hearing. The church should insist on hard proof of the abuse, and for the sake of justice, ensure that the innocent are not prosecuted.
  • When guilt is established the offender must be punished, not sheltered.
  • Distinctions must be made between types of abuse. Some offenses are worse than others. Verbal abuse or corporal punishment during a time when that was acceptable, while lamentable, is not the same as sexual abuse or extreme physical abuse.
  • Sexual abuse of an adult, or a sexually experienced older teenager is wrong, and damaging, and should be punished, but it is not the same as the sexual abuse of a younger, innocent child.
  • Number of offenses must be considered. One lapse is not of the same seriousness as repeated, persistent and premeditated offenses.

I am in no way wishing to be soft of pedophiles and those who covered for them, however justice and truth demand an objective analysis of the facts.

With the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom, expect to see lots of poorly researched news stories and uninformed statements made all around.

Elsewhere: Christ not Christianity


Anne Rice, a well known novelist and Catholic “revert” (from atheism), has declared that she loves Christ but not Christians. Reading what she wrote, it is clear to me that she rejects Christ’s Church. In essence, she is proclaiming a special theology in which she is the only member.

This is nothing new, of course. Many people have their very own, customized versions of Christianity. They reject Church authority, interpret Holy Scripture to their liking and disregard the rest. Nothing is sinful, unless they say it is. Nothing is immoral unless it clashes with the value system they personally evolve. Truth is always relative.

In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life.

Personally, I find it very offensive that she says this in Christ’s name. If she is going to do so, she should know what she is talking about! Moving on, there is clearly a great deal of confusion jammed into few words.

The Church is not anti-gay in the slightest, but condemns all sinful acts for the sake of souls. We are pro-life and pro-family – which artificial birth control perverts. The Catholic Church has a distinguished and continuing history in support of science and all that it reveals of God’s creation. We are certainly not anti-Democrat or against any other political party. We are pro-God and place Him first.

She has us on the anti-secular humanism charge. The dictionary defines it as “the doctrine emphasizing a person’s capacity for self-realization through reason; rejects religion and the supernatural.”

The Anchoress (a/k/a Elizabeth Scalia) has a somewhat different and more scholarly analysis from mine:

So, what she is refusing is not so much church teaching, which she incorrectly represents, but the worldly distortion of church teaching both as it is misunderstood and too-often practiced. I do not know how anyone could read the USCCB’s pastoral letter, “Always Our Children” and then make a credible argument that the church is “anti-gay.”

But then, I do not know how anyone can read Humanae Vitae and credibly call the church anti-feminist or anti-humanist.

I do not know how anyone can read Pope John Paul II’s exhaustive teachings on the Theology of the Body and credibly declare the church to be reactionary on issues of sexuality or womanhood.

I do not know how anyone can read Gaudium et Spes and credibly argue that the church is out of touch with the Human Person or Society.

I do not know how anyone can read Fides et ratio and credibly argue that the church does not hold human reason in esteem.

I do not know how anyone can look at the Vatican supporting and funding Stem Cell Research, or the even the briefest list of religiously-inclined scientists and researchers and credibly argue that Christianity is “anti-science.”

Anne Rice wants to do the Life-in-Christ on her own, while saying “Yes” to the worldly world and its values. She seems not to realize that far from being an Institution of No, the church is a giant and eternal urging toward “Yes,”, that being a “yes” toward God – whose ways are not our ways, and who draws all to Himself, in the fullness of time – rather than a “yes” to ourselves.

Please read the entire article.

Either way you may look at it (at face value as I tend to – or more charitably as Elizabeth does), Anne Rice is wrong. We must pray for her and pray that her high-profile remarks do not lead others from the truth.

Elsewhere: where Catholics marry


Catholics take marriage very seriously. Marriage is a life-long vocation and getting wed is a sacrament.

Yet, due to the influences of secular society, some Catholics ask to wed in venues outside of a church. As it happens, even some priests serving as chaplains on cruise ships would sometimes agree to on-board weddings (now explicitly forbidden by the Vatican).

Recently, Father Serpa addressed this on Catholic Answers in his apologetics forum response to a question on the topic.

I find it a sign of the times that we so often get this question and others like it. Why can’t we be married at the beach or in our family home?

No one ever asks if an ordination to the priesthood or the final profession of a religious sister or brother can take place in a garden. These vocations are automatically associated with the worship of God and it is understood that a church is a building specifically designed for and designated as a place for worship, i.e., acknowledging God to be who He is. It is unlike any other place.

Unfortunately, weddings make a lot of money for a lot of people. So our culture demands a whole array of unnecessary attachments to this most significant and sacred of events–to the point that they take over. There is a television series-not an individual program, but a series–that is just about the wedding dress. Week after week young women are encouraged to obsess over a dress they will wear only once-hopefully. Recently I noticed in the TV listings a program about Disney dream weddings. The further weddings become whimsical fantasies, the less likely the bride is to be grounded in what the wedding and marriage are really all about.

Like the ordination to the priesthood and the profession of the vows of religious life, marriage is all about GOD! The bride and the groom are all about God, because everyone who has ever lived is all about God. We are His idea. He created us for Himself. Union with God is the goal of every Christian vocation, including marriage. In fact, Pope John Paul II called marriage the primordial vocation because it peoples all other vocations. Our blessed Lord likened the relationship He has with His Church to the relationship of husband and wife.

The further away the wedding wanders from its sublime God-centered context, the more obscure its significance becomes in society. Certainly, Mass can be celebrated anywhere. But it is most appropriately celebrated in church and for the most part, it is. The Church, in the light of a secular world that relegates religion to the sidelines, very wisely insists that Catholic weddings take place in church. It is sadly another sign of the times that so many priests and religious of my generation haven’t a clue to all this.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

Elsewhere: Hitler’s Pope


Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, Pope Pius XII has been in the news in recent years. He has been dubbed Hitler’s Pope for looking the other way during the Holocaust. Jewish groups protested honoring him and liberal, anti-Catholic media (e.g. New York Times) jumped on the story. Once again those evil Catholics have been exposed for protecting their own, wanting to make them Saints, when in fact they were the worst anti-semites on the planet.

Except it is not true. The facts are indeed exactly the opposite. Thanks to Father Longenecker for covering this. Don’t expect the liberal, anti-Catholic media to give it much coverage now that the facts conclusively contradict their attacks. Point of irony: the New York Times repeatedly praised the pope’s work throughout the pre-war and war period. Apparently they were not so anti-Catholic back then.

Pacelli had read Hitler’s Mein Kampf as early as 1925 and told fellow diplomats that Hitler was “obsessed” and a “new manifestation” of the Anti-Christ. As papal nuncio in Germany, he drove policy on the Nazis, criticizing them 40 times before 1929. As secretary, he did sign an agreement with Hitler’s Germany in 1933 but told the British he had to do so or it would mean the “virtual elimination of the Catholic Church” in Germany. Using it in 1934, he was able to protest the Nazis’ closing some 200 Catholic publications, taking over Church schools and forcing Catholics to join the Hitler Youth. He also lodged 60 protests of Jewish cases.

In 1935, he explained to 325,000 Lourdes pilgrims that the “church will never come to terms with Nazis as long as they persist in their racial philosophy.” Throughout 1936 and thereafter, his Vatican Radio broadcast against these racial laws. Following the encyclical, on Jan. 9, 1939, Pacelli told the world’s archbishops that their governments should accept Jews trying to escape Germany, and the next day sent the same order to the American cardinals. By March, he was pope.

His first encyclical defines human nature as “neither gentile nor Jew,” but universal. On Oct. 28, 1939, the New York Times explained it as: “Pope condemns dictators, treaty violators, racism.” Its Jan. 23, 1940, leading item was, “Vatican denounces atrocities in Poland; Germans called even worse than Russians.” On March 11, 1940, Pius confronted German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, which the Times headlined three days later as, “Pope is emphatic about just peace: Jewish rights defended.” After the fall of France in 1940, Pius sent a secret letter telling bishops to help those suffering from racism, reminding them racism is “incompatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

In its Dec. 25, 1941, editorial, the New York Times applauded the pope for placing “himself squarely against Hitlerism,” upset that “the voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas.”

In the face of this overwhelming record, how is it possible so many believe the opposite? Except for Nazi and communist propaganda, the sources are one play by Rolf Hochhuth, The Deputy, and John Cornwell’s Hitler’s Pope. Despite the fact that 12 volumes of unrefuted material were produced by four Jesuit historians rebutting the play, the literary set loved it. They preferred the art to the facts and ignored that Mr. Hochhuth was in the Hitler Youth, trained in its virulent anti-clericalism.

Mr. Cornwell said he was convinced of the pope’s innocence before he searched “long-buried Vatican files,” when his eyes were opened. In fact, he did not see any archival documents dated after 1922 – before Hitler had any political significance whatsoever. He admitted in 1989 that he was a “lapsed Catholic for more than 20 years,” and an ex-seminarian who enjoyed testing the faith of his fellow students.

The charge against Pius XII is slander against a good man and nothing more. After the “final solution” leaked out, the New York Times headlined, on Aug. 6, 1942: “Pope is said to plead for Jews listed for removal from France.” It was Israeli consul to Italy Rabbi Pinchas Lapide who researched Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and reported that Pope Pius XII led efforts to save 860,000 Jews, “more than all other churches, religious institutions and rescue organizations put together.” What motivates those who take the Times as holy writ and ignore these facts?

Read the whole article at the CERC (reprinted from the Washington Times): Hitler’s Pope?

Another quick, good read is this piece from the Telegraph: ‘Hitler’s Pope’ saved thousands of Jewish lives.

Elsewhere: abortion in the press


Not long ago a tragic decision was made by a Catholic sister, in her job as a Catholic hospital administrator, in approving an abortion. This resulted in her automatic excommunication (latae sententiae).

The mainstream press, of course, does not understand almost any of this – our position on abortion, the roles of religious, excommunication, etc. Many also work hard to promote their own agendas.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue recently wrote about a New York Times op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristof. (The Times often publishes anti-Catholic pieces.)

Recently, Nicholas Kristof has been on a mission to assure Catholics that he likes them, but that he can’t stand the institutional Church. Indeed, he has condemned the “patriarchal premodern” Vatican as an “out of touch” and “self-absorbed” “old boys” club. Today’s article is no different.

Kristof is upset that Phoenix bishop Thomas Olmsted has spoken out against a nun who helped to facilitate an abortion at a Catholic hospital. Kristof goes out of his way to paint her as a “saintly” nun “who helped save a woman’s life.” What he just can’t wrap his head around is that by her involvement in the decision, the nun automatically excommunicated herself. What really gets his goat is the Catholic Church’s unwavering position that no abortion can ever be justified.

On par with the Times, Kristof loathes the Church for its stance on abortion, contraception and women’s ordination. Indeed, he has touched on this triumvirate in his recent hit jobs on the Church. Kristof believes that the “true” Church is the grassroots one. While it is true that lay Catholics play an integral role in the Church – just as reporters at the Times play a critical role for the newspaper – the decision making body in the Church is the Magisterium (the pope in communion with the bishops), just as the editorial board makes the decisions at the Times.

In Kristof’s bifurcated world there are two Catholic Churches. He needs a reality check: there is but one Roman Catholic Church.

I touched on the topics of “Kristof’s triumvirate” abortion, contraception and women’s ordination in earlier posts.

Quote from: Kristof’s Confused View of Catholicism