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  • Can the Theological Virtues Eat the Natural Ones?

    by John Zmirak

    bishops_creditreuters

    Like many tradition-loving Catholics,
    I feel terrible for Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos — now the second-most hated cardinal in the Church, after Bernard Cardinal Law. As John Allen observed, Cardinal Castrillón once “was widely considered a serious contender to become the first Latin American pope.” Today, he “has achieved global infamy in light of a September 2001 letter he dispatched to a French bishop congratulating him for refusing to report an abuser priest to the police.” To mark Pope Benedict XVI’s fifth anniversary on the throne, Cardinal Castrillón was preparing to celebrate a festive traditional Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. In the face of public outrage, organizers had to disinvite their one-time patron in the Vatican.
     
    I think back a few years and remember how Cardinal Castrillón was one of the lonely voices in Rome speaking up for traditional Catholics. He did yeoman’s work in the face of bitter and dishonest opposition when he headed Ecclesia Dei. That commission was deputized by Pope John Paul II with ministering to Catholics who claimed (rightly, according to Summorum Pontificum) that the Tridentine liturgy had never been suppressed. Cardinal Castrillón was key in starting to mend the breach between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X (though many have criticized him for failing to first conduct a simple Google search that might have turned up the Holocaust “revisionist” views of the egregious SSPX bishop Richard Williamson).

    I hear other praiseworthy things about the cardinal. According to Time magazine:
     
    He has gone deep into Colombian jungles to mediate between leftist guerrillas and right-wing death squads, and once showed up at the house of cocaine king Pablo Escobar disguised as a milkman. Revealing himself, Castrillón Hoyos implored Escobar to confess his sins, which, presumably at some considerable length, the vicious gangster did.
     
    If you wonder where Cardinal Castrillón found the nerve, consider that he had for years been facing down liturgists. By contrast, dealing with Escobar might have seemed a piece of cake. In any case, the cardinal’s track record proves that he is not some sleazy, self-serving bureaucrat — like so many of the bishops who shuffled gay predator priests from boys school to orphanage and back again.
     
    So we wonder how to explain Cardinal Castrillón’s support (in Allen’s words) for “Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux, France, sentenced by a French court to three months in prison in 2001, though that term was suspended, for failing to denounce Rev. René Bissey, convicted in October 2000 for sexual abuse of eleven minor boys between 1989 and 1996.” Cardinal Castrillón actually wrote the offending bishop: “I rejoice to have a colleague in the episcopate that, in the eyes of history and all the other bishops of the world, preferred prison rather than denouncing one of his sons and priests.” Is there any way to defend or extenuate this? The short answer is, “No.”
     
    Furthermore, Allen reports, “On April 16, Cardinal Castrillón spoke at a conference on the legacy of John Paul II at a Catholic university in Murcia, Spain, in which he asserted that he had shown his 2001 letter to the late pope who authorized him to send it. Far from being a previously secret ‘smoking gun,’ the cardinal said that he had posted the letter at the time on the Web site of the Congregation for Clergy.”
    If the cardinal isn’t lying, this raises a thornier question: Should the Church overlook John Paul’s record on handling abuse claims (most prominently those made against Rev. Marcial Maciel) for the sake of his speedy canonization? Again, we must answer, sadly, “No.”
     
    Unless Bishop Pican found out about the priest’s abuse in the confessional (and it seems clear that he didn’t), there is no excuse for his behavior, and the only thing we Catholics should regret is that his jail term was so short, and that it was suspended. (What is wrong with secular authorities nowadays?) The Vatican was right to distance itself from Cardinal Castrillón’s position and point out that it was one Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who fought internal opposition to force stricter scrutiny of abuse cases, like Father Maciel’s.
     
    And with all due respect for him and his vast achievements, John Paul’s response to the abuse crisis should trouble us. It will give ample fodder to the “devil’s advocate” whose job it is to argue against his canonization. Indeed, the issue involved is considerably more serious than the (largely discredited) charges that are blocking the process for Pope Pius XII. It pertains not to decisions on how prudentially to respond to a humanitarian crisis being caused by genocidal neopagans — but rather to the ongoing abuse of the sacraments and the priesthood.
     
    I’m not saying that his handling of the abuse crisis must argue against John Paul’s personal holiness, but at the very least it raises the question of how exemplary a figure he will prove for our time. If such revelations continue to emerge, expect his cause to fall into the same dusty bottom drawer that holds the file of Pope Paul VI. If that happens, it will sadden millions of Catholics, as it deeply saddens me.
     
     
    What are we to make of the behavior of men we might broadly admire, such as the cardinal, when it seems so . . . inexplicable, inexcusable? In the case of most bishops who shuffled sex offenders around, Philip Lawler’s solemn verdict seems inescapable: These were worldly men who loved bricks, mortar, and infrastructure too much, and who cared for souls too little. As he wrote in the decade’s one indispensable Catholic book, The Faithful Departed, we really have been “running out of millstones.” But we can’t hang one on Cardinal Castrillón — nor certainly on the magnanimous and ascetical John Paul.
     
    There’s something else going on. As Dorothy Sayers once observed of Goethe’s Faust, “He is much better served by exploiting our virtues than by appealing to our lower passions.” Some of the worst crimes in European history were committed by men devoted to Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. These values, as John Paul wrote in Memory and Identity, are secular forms of the theological virtues Faith, Hope, and Charity. Why should it surprise us that the Father of Lies can mislead men into misreading even these? I’ve written here before of the toxic trap that Mother Angelica calls Misguided Compassion. What if we are nowadays facing, even among the most sincere Catholics, distortions of the theological virtues — Blind Faith, False Hope, and Bankrupt Charity? While the genuine articles are infused directly by God, such counterfeits are cobbled together out of one-sided theology and our sentiments.
     
    There’s one sure test for determining whether an action really lives up to the theological virtue we hope we’re practicing. It’s simple: Does this action violate any natural virtues along the way? For instance, a citizen who listens to clerics pontificate about politics and follows their lead in supporting policies that destroy the sovereignty and civic order of his country may think that by deferring to churchmen he is practicing the virtue of Faith. But if the laws he favors violate Justice, he’s deeply mistaken. A priest who fears that his congregation won’t obey the moral law, so for the sake of their salvation he decides not to preach on controversial topics like contraception — how sound is his Hope for their souls?
     
    Coming back to Cardinal Castrillón: When he held the paternal bond between a bishop and his priest as more sacred than the right of the community to punish sex abusers, was he upholding the bond of Charity that ought to unite those who head the Church to its members? It must have seemed so at the time. Such sins smell and look like lilies. But they flank a coffin.
     
    Lying dead and stiff inside that box is natural Justice, an attribute of God as much as His Mercy. Simple Justice is what each of us owes the other in an unconditional debt. We cannot violate that Justice in pursuit of Faith, Hope, or Charity. When we contemplate any action that stokes in us the sentiment that we’re being “more radically Christian” and really “living the gospel” by going beyond “merely natural” virtues, every alarm bell in our conscience should start going off. We can no more attain theological virtues by violating the natural ones than we can build the dome on a cathedral by pulling steel from its foundations.
     
    We cannot practice Charity toward the poor through confiscation from the rich; only if something is owed the poor in simple Justice should the state make sure they get it (as Pope Leo XIII taught in Rerum Novarum). At the height of the high Middle Ages, the Church never furthered the salvation of souls by confiscating non-Christian children, baptizing them, and rearing them in the Faith. At age 18 I wondered why not, till a wise priest explained to me that the natural rights of pagan parents could not be torn away in such a “higher cause.” Likewise, the natural rights of parents, and the state that represents them, to defend their children from rape cannot be sacrificed on the altar of priestly solidarity, compassion for “troubled brother priests,” or the need to avoid bad publicity for the Church.
     
    Remember that most cases of abuse were covered up for fearing of “giving scandal.” Satan has a real sense of humor.
     
    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Baron

      I think there is more here than meets the eye. From what I’ve read the bishop didn’t get in trouble directly for covering up. The French law required that the bishop, as his superior, personally turn him in to the police and testify against him. Since he did not do that, he committed a crime. I don’t know the full story about what happened in France or what was communicated to the Cardinal and the Pope.

      What my suspicions are is that the bishop in France probably remembers what was done in the name of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity”. The Cardinal probably remembers what happened to Romero and Pro. HH John Paul II probably remembers the Nazi and the Iron Curtain. Would denoucing the priest to the authorities make certain that Justice would be done? These men had evidence to the contrary. Whether or not that evidence applies in this case remains to be seen.

      I’m not trying to excuse away any wrongs here, I’m trying to find the missing piece. This story doesn’t make sense and there are a lot of details missing in the reporting. I’m not going to hold my breath for an in-depth and impartial report from anyone on the actual events as they happened.

      Maybe it is as simple as Dr. Z. makes it out to be, but I hope not.

    • Martial Artist

      Mr. Zmirak,

      You wrote “(u)nless Bishop Pican found out about the priest’s abuse in the confessional (and it seems clear that he didn’t).” Which prompts me to inquire why it seems clear to you.

      Another Catholic blogger, whose honesty and integrity I respect as I do yours, has suggested that there must be something else going on here, and has suggested that it might be connected to the strictures rightly placed around breaking the “seal of the confessional.”

      I do not ask as a challenge to your statement, but, as a new Catholic, I ask because I am unclear why you seem so much more confident that such was not what Card. Castrillón might have been defending.

      Respectfully,
      Keith Töpfer

    • Bob G

      There was a minor dust-up, in which I got involved, yesterday about a story in the NY Times regarding the career of a Vatican cardinal who was a widely known sex-abuse perp before he was elevated, yet the Vatican made no attempt to check on him because John Paul II liked him. I thought the story seriously disturbing. I agree John Paul

    • Chris B

      A minor quibble.

    • Austin

      Yes, I suspect that those Liturgists are far more horrifying than a mere drug lord, like Pablo Escobar. So Cardinal Castillon got Escobar to confess to him? Well, that’s certainly a feat of sorts, but I think the question begs did he get Escobar to repent and change his behavior? If not, then that “confession” seems somewhat meaningless?

    • John Zmirak

      Thanks for asking. The news reports I’ve seen indicate that the parents also contacted the bishop at some point. If he had been defending the seal of the confessional, that would have been a BIG DEAL, slam-dunk defense of his decision. He would certainly have used it, and Castrillon could have–by citing it–proven that he acted correctly (at least to Catholics, and others who respect the sanctity of such conversations, enshrined at least in Anglo-Saxon law). But neither the bishop nor the Cardinal explicitly made such a slam-dunk defense. That tells me they didn’t have the grounds. If I’m wrong, then they are fools not to bring out the truth and diminish the scandal to the Church. Even secularists (at least in America) respect priest-penitent confidentiality, perhaps because they equate it with attorney/client privilege.

    • John Zmirak
    • Questioner

      What I am about to say is all void if grace protects each and every priest from what they hear in confession but I don’t know the theology on that as to how much the natural reactions are protected by a special grace in hearing gross things in confession.
      One thing that is never said is that older priests for decades in confession espeically years ago when people went more often, they heard some disgusting sins week after week of a sexual nature. I don’t know how they handle it frankly and I wonder if it can gradually anesthetize them to some of this abuse if it was at the low end of abuse like touching only I read about in one incident… versus sodomy or the more physically involved sins in these incidents. Priests hear of adultery and unforetunately they see the other people involved all the time; and they hear or heard years ago of young people doing things that the Medieval saints denounced as “use of the unfit vessel”. Imagine hearing decades of these things in confession and knowing all the people involved even if the others did not also confess. Talk about PTSD of soldiers; there may be a disorder from hearing all this stuff for decades wherein they are insensitive after awhile.

    • ATK

      JP2 is dead, and can not defend himself. He was a hero that almost single handedly took down the iron curtain. However, the financing of this struggled opened the door for people with money and agendas, that took advantage of him. The only way the full truth of this mess will ever come out, is if there was a serious (e.g.: transparent) independent commission, approved by the Holy See, that investigated what went on during JP2s reign, especially after he stated to be sick. It is not so much JP2

    • Jean de Baptiste

      One question I have rarely seen addressed deals with the sexuality of the abuser priests: Were most of them shown to have been homosexuals? If so, does that not militate against the ordination of homosexuals? If most of them were not homosexuals, does that not militate against priestly celibacy? There must be some explanation of this horrible behaviour.

    • I am not Spartacus

      These sex crimes are guaranteed to continue to destroy the Catholic Church because the Hierarchy, including the current Pontiff, resolutely continue to quibble,temporise, and quail before the world in their refusal to categorically refuse to accept homosexuals into Seminaries.

      The Catholic Church continues to willfully bestow Holy Orders on homosexuals guaranteeing that there will be a continuing series of sexual crimes committed against innocent sheep by homosexuals who lust after adolescent males.

      Why the Catholic Church refuses to resort back to the 1961 rule of not admitting homosexuals into Seminaries is a mystery to me. Or, maybe it is, at bottom,just fear of giving scandal to the world by erecting a defense against homosexuals who are attracted to the bottoms and erections of young males.

      Every normal male I know realises the danger homosexual clergy poses to the Faith and they do not have to be convinced that abnormal homosexual wolves must be refused admittance through The Sheepgate into the City of God.

    • Mena

      I can’t help but wonder how many of these cases amount to little more than bureaucratic mismanagement (as opposed to knowledgeable tolerance of horrid sins). There’s a HUGE difference between the two.

      I don’t believe that society knew how devastating this sexual sin could be (gay sex by adults on teens), or the inability of gay priests to quit. Society has the benefit of seeing clearly now that the curtains have been pulled back and society has done a tell-all.

      But Bishops are not omniscient, and I am tired of people accusing our leaders of not being omniscient beings and fortune tellers. No one knows the private life of colleagues, and priests are in the business of trying to reform men—all men.

    • Austin

      Whoa! A bit too graphic for me on the “Lavendar Boy” schtick.
      It does seem that we have had quite a few of those men who as Seinfeld said “play for the other team” but why? What’s the deal here? We have ordained quite a few gays over the years, especially in the 1960′s and 1970′s, but God forbid we ordain a few married Deacons…….

    • Barbara

      I am Not Spartacus,

      What are you trying to propose, some kind of gay detector? North American seminaries now try to weed out candidates from the priesthood who are homosexual or who are sexually and emotionally immature, but there is only so much that can be done, and some people do not admit to their same-sex attractions for years. It makes a lot of sense to me that over the years men who were religious and wanted to serve God, and who knew they were homosexual, entered the priesthood. It was a perfect place for them to try and live chastely and give themselves while not having to give excuses for why they weren’t dating or marrying. There are many fine and holy priests who are homosexual and we should not forget that. Plenty of priests whose sexuality was messed up but heterosexually oriented have been inappropriate or downright abusive to girls and women over the years.

    • ATK

      That

    • Matt C. Abbott

      Good commentary, Mr. Zmirak!

      And to ATK, there is a serious research paper that illustrates how homosexuality played a very significant role in the abuse crisis: “Homosexuality and the Church Crisis,” authored by Brian W. Clowes, Ph.D., and reprinted in my column…

      http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/abbott/100424

    • ben

      What is your take on the Constitutions of Clarendon then?

      Was St. Thomas Beckett being unreasonable?

    • Nick

      Christ has conquered all evil, let us rejoice.

      He has risen as He said, alleluia!

      We must not let evil be our focus but Christ Jesus.

      He has conquered every scandal, alleluia!

    • Brandon

      What is it about Opus Dei that you find so offensive?

      I wouldn’t necessarily say that John Paul II had a cult of personality around him, although in some respects it skated close to that territory…the current Pope adorns my wall (and I am a staunch supporter), so I am wary of flinging such accusations. I wouldn’t call myself a “Benedictine” Catholic because such labels are not helpful.

      It is important to practice Prudence…but I would be quick to point out that one should not use Catholic teaching to give cover for their own pet political causes.

    • bt

      Isn’t the definition of sainthood not that your life has been perfect (for no human being’s has save that of Jesus and the Blessed Mother), but that when you die, your soul immediately goes to Heaven?

    • ATK

      Matt, so reading the paper you cite (btw, its is not a research paper, but a very selective review of the literature, published in a non-specialized non-peer reviewed forum, with loaded language), its not at all clear how often people that become adult homosexuals have sex with children (most of the data relates to post pubertal individuals, and at most involves 37% of gays, as per questionable Kinsey data from 1948, with no actual number of patients studied presented). The majority of gays, if/when they report having sex, it is with other adults. The percent of priests that are gay or have gay tendencies is in the 23-58% range, according to some estimates (America Magazine; NOVEMBER 4, 2000).
      I am not advocating for actively gay priests. But to label perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 of all RC priests as being pedophiles is absurd and grossly unfair to these individuals. Homosexuality amongst priests is an issue that needs to be addressed, but separately from pedophilia. Otherwise it confuses issues, and gives ample ammunition to those that attack the Church. Are there people that have same sex with adults and the under aged, most likely, but this is not most people with gay tendencies. Also, the flip side, to say that molesting 11-15 yo children, or beyond, is not really abuse is equally absurd. Again, it

    • ATK

      Having been exposed closely to both OD and LC, I see painful similarities. I know people hurt badly in both. What bothers me in particular is the distortion of language, by giving new meaning to old words, and thus, what appears to me, an attempt at changing our Faith. For example,

    • ppeter

      I find this to be a very helpful analysis.
      There have been years of downplaying the theological virtues (eg, social gospel, liberation theology, “Americanism” etc), and now the devil is exploiting the “return” of the theological virtues by pitting them against the human virtues.
      This is something everyone involved in the new movements, the renewal of religious life and Church reform should pay special attention to.
      While we must never reduce the theological life to a cherry on top of natural perfection or diminish the priority of the theological over the moral, neither can we imagine a theological life lived in violation of the human good.
      Thank you, Mr Zmirak.

    • I am not Spartacus

      It does seem that we have had quite a few of those men who as Seinfeld said “play for the other team” but why?

      The Body of Christ willingly imbibed liberal ideology which weakened its natural defense system and an opportunistic STD (Socially Transmitted Disease)infected the entire Body, toe to head.

      The Body of Christ became infected by the deadly disease of homosexulisation and the disease has wreaked soul-killing havoc and will continue to claim adolescent males as its victims until the Holy See returns to the Dark Ages of 1961.

      On February 2, 1961, the Holy See promulgated a document called “Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders,” signed by Pope John XXIII. The relevant section had one sentence on homosexuality: “Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with the evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious danger”

      Many normal men have been refused admittance into Seminaries (“Goodbye Good Men” and the Priest shortage has been artificially contrived but because of fear of the World, The Catholic Church will not reform.

      67% of AmBishops were involved in transferring and hiding known homosexual priests and while all of these sex crimes were being committed, the Bishops continued to accept homosexuals into Seminaries and they continued to bestow upon them Holy Orders knowing full well the danger these perverted wolves represented to the innocent male adolescent sheep.

      EVERY. SINGLE. BISHOP. INVOLVED. BELONGS, IN. JAIL.

      Michael Savage is right to call liberalism a mental disorder because the Catholic Church has to be crazy to continue to admit homosexuals into Seminaries knowing full well that homosexuals lust after adolescent males.

      That is just one, of many reasons, why The SSPX must be fully reconciled with the Church.

      There is no way in hell they will knowingly admit into their Seminaries a homosexual and if they do ordain a homosexual unknowingly and they learn that perverted wolf has savagely attacked some innocent sheep, he will be tossed-out on hisazz and the cops will be notified.

      But, for the vast vast vast majority of Catholics the crux of the problem is not what must be done to protect innocent adolescent males, the crux of the problem is how to be nice to homosexuals and how to win the approval of the world.

      Since the 1960s I have watched The Catholic Church resolutely destroy itself due to its opening to the world.

      I read the Conciliar exchange between Cardinal Frings and Card Ottaviani about how the liberal Bishops considered The Holy Office a scandal to the world – and he received an enormous ovation for attacking The Holy Office – and I saw how the liberal Bishops chose the world over Ottaviani and I saw that action as a distant echo of the City of Deicide choosing Barabbas over Jesus.

      Since time immemorial we Catholics have been taught that our enemies are The World, The Flesh, and The Devil (in that order) but, for some reason, we have decided that we had to have a revolution so the world would accept us and listen to us.

      How’s that been working-out for us the last two score years?

    • Jim Kalb

      Hoyos’ case isn’t so obvious to me. The community has a natural right to protect its members from murder. For all that I doubt I’d turn in old Dad for condign punishment if he had murdered someone but I were morally certain he wasn’t going to do it again. From the Euthyphro it seems Socrates (and Plato) would sympathize with my doubts.

      It wasn’t the bishop’s old Dad but one of his priests, but the issue’s somewhat similar I think. So far as I can tell, the question in this case isn’t whether the innocent get protected–I’m assuming that could be done without putting the priest in jail–but whether the guilty get punished, and more particularly the relation between the parental role of a bishop and the normal obligation of a citizen to help the state do good things like punish the guilty for their crimes.

    • Austin

      A few points:
      1. I am not sure that homosexuality is our biggest problem. A problem, yes, but not our only one. I think it has become a distraction to a degree.
      2. I don’t know that an enthusiastic embrace of SSPX is going to help us all that much either. They are certainly entitled to their opinion, rites, etc. but I am not sure that I want them driving the bus.
      3. I don’t see the World as the enemy. We must live in the real world, and try not to be corrupted by it, but I don’t regard the World as the enemy. We must be able to navigate and live in the world, we must learn how to deal with it. We cannot all live in a monestery. Neither can we return to the Middle Ages, which some posters here seem to long for.

      We are at a crossroads, and we have no roadmap. Where do we go from here? The old absolute monarchy model, where the laity had no input and where we were to only “pay, pray and obey” does not seem to be working anymore. Buckle your seat belts, it going to be a bumpy ride.

    • Aaron

      On February 2, 1961, the Holy See promulgated a document called “Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders,” signed by Pope John XXIII. The relevant section had one sentence on homosexuality: “Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with the evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious danger”

      It’s amazing how they could just bluntly apply common sense back then. I mean, no one today would think you should send a heterosexual man off to a career where he would first live and train exclusively with women for several years, and then spend part of his later life training post-pubescent girls. Put your average 35-year-old straight man in charge of a girls’ school, let him roam their dormitories and counsel them alone with their personal problems, and he’d be squeezing the Charmin in no time. So even if homosexuals were no more perverse than straights and just different oriented, as modern society insists, homosexual priests would still be a terrible idea.

      It’s interesting that the quote above says “for them” it would constitute a danger. In other words, it wasn’t just that they might constitute a danger to others, but that the priestly lifestyle would be a danger to the man with that tendency. Which again is only common sense: you wouldn’t send a man with a gambling problem to deal blackjack in a casino, if you care about the man.

      However, doesn’t the fact that abuse cases have already dropped back to pre-1960 levels indicate that the seminaries have stopped ordaining homosexuals, in practice if not officially? They might still ordain a guy who’s able to control himself enough that his tendency never comes out in seminary (and he might be able to continue that control as a priest), but I suspect they’ve at least stopped letting the ones through that are blatant about it. They might not officially be kicking them out for being homosexual, since that wouldn’t be politically correct, but it’s never that hard to find a reason to fire/expel someone if you have to.

    • Daniel Molinaro

      It is not the place of bishops, as spiritual fathers, to turn their priests into the police. If the parent of an abused child knows about abuse, THEY need to be the ones who go to the police. While it is wrong for bishops to reassign priests who are dangerous to the public, the bishop betrays his spiritual fatherhood if he is the one going to the police. Anyone who thinks he should have gone to the police, instead of telling the parents of the abused child to go themselves, is completely mistaken and should be ashamed. The bishop, it seems, acted rightly, at least in this regard, and Hoyos was right to laud him.

    • John Zmirak

      It is not the place of bishops, as spiritual fathers, to turn their priests into the police. If the parent of an abused child knows about abuse, THEY need to be the ones who go to the police. While it is wrong for bishops to reassign priests who are dangerous to the public, the bishop betrays his spiritual fatherhood if he is the one going to the police. Anyone who thinks he should have gone to the police, instead of telling the parents of the abused child to go themselves, is completely mistaken and should be ashamed. The bishop, it seems, acted rightly, at least in this regard, and Hoyos was right to laud him.

      It is this kind of clericalism that leads to anti-clericalism. If I knew for a fact that the Church was going to act this way consistently, I wouldn’t trust it with my children and I would want the secular state keeping a close eye on it–since it would be operating according to the rules not of Christ but of the Mafia.

    • John Zmirak
    • Austin

      Daniel, you say that it is the job of the abused child’s parents, not the Bishop to go to the police, but what if they do not know? Whose job is it to notify the parents? Often, they may not know. Should the Bishop just keep mum about it? And what does the Bishop do with the abusive priest? Just act like nothing happened? The Bishop has a right, indeed a duty to suspend that priest and have a fair and thorough investigation conducted. This cannot be swept under the rug and that kind of attitude is what got us in such trouble in Boston and elsewhere.

    • Aaron

      I’m not going to say this bishop was right to withhold information from the police, assuming you’re right about this having nothing to do with the seal of Confession. But bishops didn’t cover up the abuse cases by themselves. They couldn’t have done it without the help of parents, teachers, diocesan bureaucrats, formation directors, parish councils, and others. We’re talking about thousands of cases, with completely different casts of characters, and different people making the same decisions over and over. The same pattern played out (and still does) in many other organizations besides the Church.

      It was a society-wide group effort, and they all thought they were handling a bad situation the best way possible. For the rest of the group to turn on the bishops now and try to put all the blame on them seems a little much. Yes, they deserve blame and the buck stops with the leader; but it still feels like scapegoating, like if we beat them up enough we won’t have to look at anyone else’s culpability or or investigate actual causes.

    • John Zmirak

      Hoyos’ case isn’t so obvious to me. The community has a natural right to protect its members from murder. For all that I doubt I’d turn in old Dad for condign punishment if he had murdered someone but I were morally certain he wasn’t going to do it again. From the Euthyphro it seems Socrates (and Plato) would sympathize with my doubts.

      Two things, Jim. First of all, this was a serial pedophile, so your “moral certainty” didn’t apply here.

      Second, if we permit bishops to act on the principle that family loyalty trumps public order, then we better expect parents to do the same: To respond to a child’s claim of abuse by leaving the priest’s lifeless body on the steps of the chancery. If private individuals systematically defeat the public system of order to which we surrender our private right to obtain retributive justice, then the right reverts to us as individuals. And then you’re basically living in Sardinia under the code of “Vendetta.” All of which is to say that Creon gets a bad rap, in my opinion.

    • I am not Spartacus

      Wherefore, let the pastor remind the faithful of the conflicts and dangers in which we are continually engaged, as long as the soul is in this mortal body, assailed as we are on all sides by the world, the flesh and the devil.

    • Midwestern Trad

      This has been an excellent article and discussion, Mr. Zmirak.

      But going off-topic, I’ve seen your upcoming book on the Seven Deadly Sins listed on Amazon, but it’s still listed as a pre-order item. Has Crossroad Publishing pushed its release back?

    • Daniel Molinaro

      Daniel, you say that it is the job of the abused child’s parents, not the Bishop to go to the police, but what if they do not know? Whose job is it to notify the parents? Often, they may not know. Should the Bishop just keep mum about it? And what does the Bishop do with the abusive priest? Just act like nothing happened? The Bishop has a right, indeed a duty to suspend that priest and have a fair and thorough investigation conducted. This cannot be swept under the rug and that kind of attitude is what got us in such trouble in Boston and elsewhere.

      How does the bishop know? If the parents didn’t tell him, whoever did tell him should go to the police. It is not the job of the bishop to report hearsay. And I also already said, the bishop should remove any priest who is abusing children from active ministry. But turning him into the police is a different story.

      I assure you that if your own son came to you and said, “I have looked at pornography online even though I’m under 18 and therefore doing so was illegal” you aren’t going to turn him over to the cops. I guarantee you that if he did something worse, and let’s say his school teacher found out, and she told you, you would still not report it. You’d tell her to do so. That’s not your role as a father. That’s not acting like the mafia, John. That’s acting like a good Father, which is, in fact Christian. Your suggestion is one that is not Christian.

    • Doug Sirman

      Unlike Bishops and Priests, I’m a real father; unlike so very many bishops and priests, I don’t just wear that title when it’s politically expedient for me to do so.

      If I knew my son was a serial rapist, I would most certainly turn him in to the police. I would not be such a coward as so very many bishops and priests have been, wrapping myself in a cloak of depraved indifference and then lying and calling it virtue. My God! How could any creature, so deformed, look into a mirror and regard itself as anything like a man?

      Mr. Molinaro, when you call such a fraudulent thing “Father” you insult real fathers everywhere.

    • John Zmirak

      This has been an excellent article and discussion, Mr. Zmirak.

      But going off-topic, I’ve seen your upcoming book on the Seven Deadly Sins listed on Amazon, but it’s still listed as a pre-order item. Has Crossroad Publishing pushed its release back?

      Thank you for asking! It is being typeset and prepared for printing as we “speak.” It should be in bookstores and Fedex boxes from Amazon by late May.

    • Jim Kalb

      JZ–If in fact the only practical way to protect the innocent was to turn the guy in then that would certainly be dispositive.

      I don’t see though why refusal to do a Euthyphro amounts to the kind of general undermining of the system of justice that would justify private vengeance. It’s not a general claim that family loyalty trumps public order any more than e.g. the spousal privilege or the seal of the confessional means relatives and fellow believers don’t have to give evidence against each other.

    • Austin

      I didn’t like him before. I like him even less now. Another bad selection for the College of Cardinals. Between Hoyos, Sodano, Maciel and others, you have to wonder what was John Paul thinking? All their pomp and ritual; it reminds me of what Jesus said of the Pharisees. Does any serious person really care what these people say anyway? I certainly don’t and I am not alone. A bunch of episcopal drag queens and snide yes men. Not a real man among them.

    • I am not Spartacus

      All their pomp and ritual; it reminds me of what Jesus said of the Pharisees

      It is a happy coincidence that your comment came at this time. It gives me an opportunity to quote from my favorite collection of books.

      Today, May 1st, is the Feast Day of Saints Philip and James The Less.

      The great Dom Gueranger (it is ineluctable that he will be raised to the Altars), in “The Liturgical Year,” writes this about James:

      James is better known than Philip. He is called, in the sacred Scripture, Brother of the Lord, on account of the close relationship that existed between his own mother and the blessed Mother of Jesus….St. Jerome and St. Epiphanius tell us that that Our Saviour, when ascending into Heaven, recommended to St. James’s care the Church of Jerusalem, and that he was accordingly appointed the first bishop of that city….St. Epiphanius also tells us that the holy Apostle used to wear a lamina of gold upon his forehead as the badge of dignity….

    • I am not Spartacus

      http://tinyurl.com/2eahuym

      I apologise because this is, essentially, thread-jacking but I ought not be considered culpable because I have a disability.

      I am addicted to The Liturgical Year and so every opportunity I have, I post a link to the day’s readings.

    • Andy

      All their pomp and ritual; it reminds me of what Jesus said of the Pharisees.

      Remember that Jesus’ accusations of hypocrisy were not an indictment of the law, but of those who didn’t follow it. It is not the “pomp and ritual” that is the problem; it is the lack of Christian living outside of the ritual that is the problem.

      We can have both good Christian lives and pomp in ritual. I recommend it.

    • Austin

      I would not be surprised to see RuPaul named to the College of Cardinals. Given the rollout of Cappa Magnas, red shoes, etc. he might be a good fit?

    • Daniel Molinaro

      Unlike Bishops and Priests, I’m a real father; unlike so very many bishops and priests, I don’t just wear that title when it’s politically expedient for me to do so.

      If I knew my son was a serial rapist, I would most certainly turn him in to the police. I would not be such a coward as so very many bishops and priests have been, wrapping myself in a cloak of depraved indifference and then lying and calling it virtue. My God! How could any creature, so deformed, look into a mirror and regard itself as anything like a man?

      Mr. Molinaro, when you call such a fraudulent thing “Father” you insult real fathers everywhere.

      Doug, I think we’re going to need to agree to disagree because you have accepted the narrative that the secular media has created. I look at what you have described and it does not sound like a good father to me at all. If we begin having parents turning their children over to the police, would any child trust going to his parent for help in time of need? In the same way, if a priest thinks his bishop is going to betray his trust, he won’t go for him for anything. The Dallas charter has made bishops into enemies of their priests. It’s a tragedy. Bishops, priests, are in a special way agents of God’s mercy, and everything we tell them enjoys some level of confidentiality. We are very strict about this when it comes to the sacrament, but it should apply to everything they are told.

      Let me make something very clear: what the priests did was very wrong. The psychological trauma done to young children is enormous. However, bishops should have been sending these priests away to monasteries to do penance for the rest of their lives, away from people they could harm. Bishops should not be the ones abandoning their role as agents of God’s mercy.

    • Jean

      “(John) Allen reports, “On April 16, Cardinal Castrill

    • John Zmirak

      In the same way, if a priest thinks his bishop is going to betray his trust, he won’t go for him for anything. The Dallas charter has made bishops into enemies of their priests. It’s a tragedy. Bishops, priests, are in a special way agents of God’s mercy, and everything we tell them enjoys some level of confidentiality. We are very strict about this when it comes to the sacrament, but it should apply to everything they are told.
      (snip)
      Bishops should not be the ones abandoning their role as agents of God’s mercy.

      Thank you, Mr. Molinaro, for your sincerity. I’m afraid you illustrate precisely the problem I was illustrating. You and I clearly belong to two different religions. Yours would never have been compatible with the survival of an organized society such as Christendom, because (when its “higher” motives suit it) it violates Justice, Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude. Were Christianity what you say it is, I’m afraid that the Romans would have been completely justified in stamping it out.

      But hey, God bless you. Knock yourself out.

    • I am not Spartacus

      Second Book Of Paralipomenon…(Things passed over
      not RuPaul’s Crib)

      And the porch in the front.. and he overlaid it within with pure gold. 5 And the greater house he ceiled with deal boards, and overlaid them with plates of fine gold throughout: and he graved in them palm trees, and like little chains interlaced with one another.

      6 He paved also the floor of the temple with most precious marble, of great beauty. 7 And the gold of the plates with which he overlaid the house, and the beams thereof, and the posts, and the walls, and the doors was of the finest: and he graved cherubims on the walls. 8 He made also the house of the holy of holies:… and he overlaid it with plates of gold, amounting to about six hundred talents. 9 He made also nails of gold, and the weight of every nail was fifty sicles: the upper chambers also he overlaid with gold. 10 He made also in the house of the holy of holies two cherubims of image work: and he overlaid them with gold….

      14 He made also a veil of violet, purple, scarlet, and silk: and wrought in it cherubims. …
      16 He made also as it were little chains in the oracle, and he put them on the heads of the pillars: and a hundred pomegranates, which he put between the little chains..

    • Stephen Wise
    • Teri

      I’ve got an idea on how to make this stuff stop.
      Tie a millstone around the necks of these guys and throw them into the sea. That’s what Jesus said he would do.

      A friend of mine demanded categorically, “Waterboard ‘em!”

    • Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick

      Isn’t the definition of sainthood not that your life has been perfect (for no human being’s has save that of Jesus and the Blessed Mother), but that when you die, your soul immediately goes to Heaven?

      That can’t be the criterion, because it is unknowable.

      The broad definition of a saint is one who, for a significant period before death, fulfilled the obligations of his state in life.

      The Church, in defining that so-and-so was a saint, looks for heroic virtue, and, of course, a couple of miracles.

      I am in favor of putting the canonization of JPII in the bottom drawer for another generation to deal with, if they choose. He was a great thinker, and a “world figure,” but not a great–i.e., virtually flawless–Pope. He allowed manifestly wicked bishops to remain in office, literally murdering the Faith in their dioceses. And he himself appointed many such bishops, despite vociferous, well-documented pleas about their unfitness.

      BTW: Perhaps you have seen those cards put out by those promoting the cause of some person or other, bearing the statement: “All semblance of public veneration is to be avoided.”

      Well, the term “the Great” actually includes and implies sainthood. I think the promiscuous throwing around of “John Paul the Great” ought to be suppressed.

    • Just another sinner…

      The broad definition of a saint is one who, for a significant period before death, fulfilled the obligations of his state in life.

      Like Dismas? Those few hours were significant, I grant you, but I don’t think that is a usable definition.

      If he had been defending the seal of the confessional, that would have been a BIG DEAL, slam-dunk defense of his decision. He would certainly have used it, and Castrillon could have–by citing it–proven that he acted correctly

      Could he?
      Isn’t responding to an inquiry, “I can’t tell you that, it would be breaking the seal of the confessional,” itself a breaking of the seal of the confessional?

      that’s certainly a feat of sorts, but I think the question begs did he get Escobar to repent and change his behavior? If not, then that “confession” seems somewhat meaningless?

      Does it? Even if you believe in the efficacy of sacramental grace?
      Otherwise nearly ALL confessions are “somewhat meaningless,” since most of us poor sinners, even after confession, however sincere we think we are at the time of confession, fail to adequately change our behavior and commit the same sins over and over again.

    • if JP2 was flawed

      ..so Fr. Fitzpatrick, if JP2 was flawed, including his judgment of character, as he praised Fr. Maciel and approved his “order”, shouldn

    • Matthew

      “Cardinal Castrill

    • Matthew
    • Another Trad

      Matthew said: The civil authority does not the slightest legal authority over a member of the clergy in any way whatsoever. The clergy must be free from such laws in order to fulfill their duties without concern for human respect, just as the Pope must maintain a civil kingdom, lest the secular arm meddle in what does not concern itself. All thishas been clearly explained in both Syllabi, particularly by Bl. Pius IX., as well as by innumerable other documents (not the least of which is the 1917 Code of Canon Law).

      Matthew, this is ridiculous, as St. Thomas makes clear in his section “De Lege” in the Prima Secundae of the Summa Theologica: there are many areas in which the secular extends where the ecclesiastical does not necessarily function, though it has and it may in given circumstances, e.g., during the “High Middle Ages”.

      Also, this is one of the key reforms of the 1917 Code that even Cardinal Gasparri recognized BEFORE its publication: the Church does not punish as she once did, viz. in the case of Galileo he was punished and jailed by the Church. Now, the Church can and does give up offenders of (secular law = sins against natural law) to the state, or political body, who has authority to deal with such things, as Aristotle shows and explains in the Politics (and St. Thomas concurs in the first few books of his authentic Commentary), and in the sections of the New Testament epistles which speak of the power yielded by secular “princes, magistrates and kings”. Thus, the 1983 Code makes this explicit, though the 1917 Code AND the Syllabi to which you refer are treating wholly different matters when they condemn the “betrayal” of priests to the secular arm. An historical introduction to either Syllabus will make that clear, or a good commentary.

      The author of this article is right: the Church and her sacred ministers cannot violate natural law in (supposedly) upholding ecclesiastical law: to do so would violate the Thomistic notion of both flowing from the “lex aeterna”, wherefore both would have God as their author – God cannot contradict Himself. In your scenario, the two laws would not cooperate, rather they would cause an insuperable dilemma.

      Regarding JP II – I agree with you, and this proves my point: if JP II was very imprudent in his office as Pope, then he cannot be “Great” or even probably a Saint. Obviously the case of St. Celestine V was different, similarly with other Pontiffs who dealt with true dilemmas wherein prudence was not violated or vitiated. Assisi was both imprudent and “visibly” against the faith.

    • John Zmirak

      “The civil authority does not the slightest legal authority over a member of the clergy in any way whatsoever. The clergy must be free from such laws in order to fulfill their duties without concern for human respect, just as the Pope must maintain a civil kingdom, lest the secular arm meddle in what does not concern itself. All thishas been clearly explained in both Syllabi, particularly by Bl. Pius IX., as well as by innumerable other documents (not the least of which is the 1917 Code of Canon Law).

      I notice that you quote a code of Canon Law that is no longer in force. Not that I would grant the clergy immunity from civil prosecution for civil crimes in any case. In the Dark Ages, the Church rightly refused to submit her members to crude feudal justice, which was quite inferior to Canon law at the time. There were times when the State used civil laws to persecute the Church or obstruct her mission–and the Church had to insist on her independence. Did this extend to protecting child rapists? There may have been times when clergy misused their immunity this way. That planted the seeds for later anti-clericalism, when innocent priests and nuns died in the thousands (as they did during the French Revolution) in part for the sins of other, corrupt clergy in the past.

      I cannot let your comment stand because I don’t want people to be scandalized: The Church does NOT teach that clergy should be immune to civil prosecution. If she did in the past, it was for good, prudential reasons that no longer apply. If anything, I trust civil authorities far MORE than I do churchmen on this issue–and it will take quite a long time to convince me and the rest of the laity to think otherwise.

      You know what might help? Put into Canon Law a death penalty for a second offense of the sexual abuse of minor children, to be carried out in Vatican City, and then apply for the extradition of any clergy convicted in foreign countries. (Pius IX had a papal executioner. That might be tradition worth reviving.) The executions, of course, would be carried out along strictly New Testament lines: death by millstone, dropped into the Tiber.

    • Steven J Schloeder, PhD

      There’s one sure test for determining whether an action really lives up to the theological virtue we hope we’re practicing. It’s simple: Does this action violate any natural virtues along the way?

      Concise, John. Grace builds upon nature, nature is foundational and must be protected at all cost in order to ensure the proper foundation for grace.

      That said…

      At the height of the high Middle Ages, the Church never furthered the salvation of souls by confiscating non-Christian children, baptizing them, and rearing them in the Faith. At age 18 I wondered why not, till a wise priest explained to me that the natural rights of pagan parents could not be torn away in such a “higher cause.”

      I’ve never been able to make much sense out of Pius IX’s decision with Edgardo Mortara. The natural rights of the parents were ignored by Papal law. I don’t see any grounds for this. Your thoughts?

    • John Zmirak

      I’ve never been able to make much sense out of Pius IX’s decision with Edgardo Mortara. The natural rights of the parents were ignored by Papal law. I don’t see any grounds for this. Your thoughts?

      For all his greatness in many areas, Pio Nono was wrong here, and disastrously so. His actions perfectly illustrate the mistake Castrillon made, and they may well have lost him the Papal States. Sadly, losing a concrete territory that demanded the natural virtues (and acts of Justice, like executions) may have accelerated the tendency of churchmen to disdain the natural and evacuate it into the chamber of the pseudo-supernatural.

    • Brian Edward Miles

      Does the fact that the vast majority (some 80%) of victims were post pubescent boys (i.e. teenage guys) reveal nothing to you about the sexual disorientation of the perpetrators?