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December 01, 2004

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Cornelius

The other important issue is those seven sex offenders make up a third of the priests at the seminary, and they have a vote on which young men will become priests. They're helping decide the future of the church.

Yikes, this is also disconcerting. Not to mention the hazard to the young seminarians themselves. I don't think these men (the offenders) should be just "thrown away," but this seems way too lax.

Dale Price

"My experience, most of these guys are delightful men, again, we're all imperfect and they simply happen to have done something that was very foolish at one point in their lives."

"Very foolish," eh?

Licking a Detroit lamppost in January is "very foolish."

Drinking Everclear through a bong is "very foolish."

Learning moral theology from West Coast Dominicans is "very foolish."

Child rape is not "very foolish," padre. It's evil.

The inability of prelates, priests and religious to understand this--to the point of obstinate refusal--is why the Scandal will not, contra Bp. Gregory, be "history." It will be a long, slow bleed for the next generation or so. Evidently, this blinkered mindset can only be remedied by the hallowed six brass handles of reform.

Rich Leonardi

Father Roberto Corral: "My experience, most of these guys are delightful men, again, we're all imperfect and they simply happen to have done something that was very foolish at one point in their lives."

I'm reminded of Rod Dreher's graphic description earlier this year on St. Blog's of what this "foolishness" entails.

Jay-walking tickets, bar fights, even long-ago DUI convictions--those things are foolish. Exposing your sexual organs to a minor (or worse) is criminal.

Father Roberto's glibness is frightening.

George

I don't understand why these man aren't dismissed from the order, i.e. laicized.

And why are they living together as a community, with an apparently significant voice as a potential caucus within the order?

Paul Pfaffenberger

I'm glad they're "reasonably sure" these guys won't offend again. I'm also reasonably sure I will discourage my 11 year old son - a thoughtful, prayerful, compassionate boy - from entering a seminary - ever.

I'm resonably sure I pulled my application from Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving in 1983 due to the abuse of Fr Hughes against my sister.

Are we certain that the lack of vocations to the preisthood is caused by a lack of faith in families?

John Heavrin

Yes, Paul, I'm certain of it. If there were more faith and encouragement and concern for souls, and less worldliness, materialism and pride in families, there were would be far more seminarians and priests, whatever the scandals and problems in the Church.

Having said that, it does seem beyond belief that these men would be housed in seminaries, when the idea is to attract young men, not repel them...on the other hand, there're certainly plenty of spare rooms...

I don't know the specifics of what these guys did, but not every offense ought to merit being cast into outer darkness, should it? Some should, but not all.

Lastly, Paul, don't discourage your son from entering a seminary, ever. He might have a vocation to the priesthood, after all.

Jack Smith

I do think the proximity is a lousy idea for the formation of seminarians and Fr. Corral did a horrible job.
BUT, the purpose of the story was to show, yet again, that the church is "harboring" molesters who are a threat to the community. That is a lie in this case. In so far as the perps receive poor oversight at the seminary, it is more oversight than they would receive from the law were they to leave or be thrown from the Dominicans. None of these men has been or can be charged with a crime. They are not sex offenders per the law. If they wanted to leave the Dominicans and work directly with children - or move next door completely unsupervised to a school or a summer camp - they could. It is only because of the Dallas Charter and the apparent willingness of these men to continue as Dominicans that society can exert any control over them at all.
On a side note - Dan Noyes and ABC advertised this story all over the place as an "exclusive." However, the whole story was printed in the independent San Francisco Faith newspaper about three weeks earlier and all of the information is lifted from that source. I don't much like the San Francisco Faith (disclosure - I work for a rival diocesan paper), but I am irked the mainstream press regularly steals from Catholic papers without attribution.

John Heavrin

I certainly, though, think that allowing these guys to walk the neighborhood "unescorted" and "check out cars" to take a drive is an extremely ill-advised idea. Extremely.

I think sending such persons to a monastery is best -- although the monks might not always be thrilled with it, but the Rule requires them to receive all visitors as Christ. This situation should be quasi-monastic, not quasi-neighborhood-parish, which is what it sounds like. Couldn't they find a rural situation, if only to minimize the chance of repeat offense.

But I still say better to have them watched in some fashion than cast out of the Order and into society at large. Not so much better for their sakes, but better for kids' sakes.

Paul Pfaffenberger

John,

I don't propose to cast them into the outer darkness. I do pray daily that they repent so they can return to the God's grace and mercy. I also expect the church to keep them in a place where they cannot harm others and cannot perpetuate the clerical environement that allowed many perverts to succeeed as child molesting Catholic priests. Seminary really doesn't seem like the right place for them, or sadly, for my son.

Patrick Rothwell

Jack,

Good points. Bad judgment by provincial + shoddy muckracking journalism = overwrought hysteria.

carolyn

The Church is taking responsibility for these men instead of setting them loose on society via laicization. What better way to keep an eye on them then having them live and work in a religious institution? Sounds like a case of "damned if you do and damned if you don't"

Seriously, I wonder if some people's idea of an appropriate disposition is to ship these men off to a medieval monastery on a distant, fog enshrouded island (preferably with bracing winters) on a viking longboat, there to do penance and be forgotten about. These men presumably have some skills that can be used by the facility they're in even if it's just a menial job like answering phones. Something to earn their keep.

Even the secrecy is understandable but I believe wrongheaded. It sounds like these men are more or less under house arrest so the community has nothing to fear. Let the community know what's going on. For instance, in my neighborhood we have halfway houses and shelters for folks who seem at first not very desirable but it usually works out.

Dale Price

One correction, Jack: the Dallas Charter does not cover religious orders. The American religious drafted a separate and less stringent policy in the wake of Dallas.

Dale Price

Off at a fog shrouded island monastery--ah, Iona!--performing penance and good works would be a marked improvement over Delightful Dan tooling around in Buick unsupervised before he returns to vet candidates for the order.

The clubby nature of Fr. Corral's comments does not augur well for supervision, direction or treatment. Something like what Bishop O'Connell chose to do would be quite admirable, actually.

http://www.rememberthesurvivors.com/pbpostapril2004.htm

Gerry2356@AOL.Com

Welcome to Who's Most Clueless? We match long-standing institutions with the major crises that are rocking their world, and decide the winner....Our contestants are; West Coast Dominicans- for promoting vocations through assaults on their young students; The U.N. Oil-For-Food Program, for funneling humanitarian funds to dictators and people who strap bombs to 18-year-olds; Notre Dame Football- yes, we're committed to diversity, but the black coach gets only three years to get the job done, while his white predecessor had more time to fail; CBS News- if we just replace our lead anchorman, we'll be in ratings clover again; Warner Bros. Studios- hey, America's just waiting for a movie about a bi-sexual world conqueror on Thanksgiving weekend.....

Gerard E.

....Or bloggers like me who post the wrong name at the end....Sorry......

Todd

The pitiful attempt at secrecy is the real problem here. If those in charge didn't feel shame about this plan, they wouldn't have tried to deceive others. We've known about sexual predation in the clergy for decades. Dealing with the rehab of predators is not new. 2002 was significant in that it revealed how clueless church leaders were in addressing it. Another instance that shows that church leaders still don't get it. While what the predators did was bad enough, the lack of sensible leadership continues to sow harm.

A side note on what nice guys these priests are. Of course they're nice. If they weren't nice, kids would have dismissed them as creeps. If you want to be a successful sex predator (or alcoholic, or drug addict, or con man) you have to be nice, otherwise social darwinism steers you toward the internet or something.

Jack Smith

Dale,

Thanks for the correction. I think the point remains the same - it is only the church or religious order which has any control over these guys, and only in so far as they remain in the order.
It is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. In my diocese, the church is also hammered by the press for not having control over or even contact with men who have left the priesthood. They don't want any contact with the church, some reject the church and the church has no means to control people who have cut ties with it.

Oakland Catholic

I know the Oakland OP's fairly well and have
been inside St. Albert's a number of times as a guest although I knew nothing at all about this situation until I read it on the internet.

What I can say is that the Dominicans call it "fortress Albert" for a reason. There's no way to get in without knowing the code to the front door or being vetted by a receptionist during the day. And as I found out once, when I got very lost, you can't leave via the grounds which are completely fenced. The areas where the OP's live and recreate are cloistered, labeled, and off-limits to guests - except for the Church and refrectory. No one just wanders in and I have never seen children inside. Novices don't live at St. Albert's - just the older "students" who actually study elsewhere - at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the GTU.

Some locals - mostly older adults- attend Mass and the office and enter through a door at the far end of the Church from the Dominican entrance. We tend to sit at that end of the Church more or less apart from the OPs and exit through the door through which we entered.

To my knowledge, the Western Province does not own any other property that would be remotely as "cloistered" and as suitable for on-going supervision of problem members. All their other houses are smack in the middle of city or suburban parishes and Newman centers.

While obviously not ideal - as others have noted, this is a higher level of supervision than many offenders get. If alternative forms of supervision are going to be devised, it seems that whole dioceses will have to finance some more acceptable alternative.

St Albert's is in fact very much a quasi-monastic environment - the Dominicans pray the office and say Mass in habit and end the evening with the traditional sung Latin hymn to Mary around the statue of St. Dominic in the center of the cloister - a custom that I have participated in a couple times myself.

The western OPs that I know personally (which does not include the current provincial) take their vows seriously and take the teaching of the Church very seriously. The current crop of OPs in training (based on my conversations with those I know) are theologically conservative and personally pious. St. Thomas is still studied in detail (and revered) at the DSPT. The ultra-liberal Berkley community has regarded the western Dominicans as positively medieval for decades.

Since I know nothing about the specifics of this situation, I can't comment further - but if the idea was to portray this community as a bunch of closet dissenters, it just isn't true.

John Heavrin

Good points, Oakland Catholic -- but it says in the article that these guys take walks in the "neighborhood" and can "check out cars" and go for solo drives. They shouldn't be doing that. However orthodox, Dominicans aren't monks, so I'm guessing that, absent specific restrictions, these guys are free to come and go despite the quasi-monastic appearance of the grounds. It's well and good that the laity can't get in except through one door. The problem is offenders getting out.

But they're better being watched than being lost track of, and just maybe they can provide a stark example to the seminarians of what not to be, as opposed to a bad influence.

By the way: local news reports during sweeps months are often largely unvarnished b.s., and slicker and phonier than an anchorman's do...the monsters-roaming-the-countryside angle here is unmistakable, and probably at the very least exaggerated.

Leo

I live within easy walking distance of St. Albert's; my daughter was married there. It's a beautiful facility, and the chapel is most lovely. For a very long time I went to daily Mass there every evening. They sing the songs for Vespers as part of the evening service. It was a peaceful and beautiful end to my day.

St. Albert's is, as many have reflected, in the middle of an almost-urban setting, with a middle school down the block. There are no walls, and the men mingle freely in the surrounding community. Actually there are several schools in the area, which is mostly residential.

I no longer have children of an age to be in danger, but I certainly keep a close eye on my grandsons when they're here.

As a neighbor of this place, and one who has children in my family, I do not appreciate having men like this at large in my community. Neither of my sons was called to the priesthood, but if either had been, I would certainly have had grave reservations about their residence at St. Albert's.

Maybe I'm just being a NIMBY.... it IS difficult to know what to do with men like this. If they were laicized they'd be at large, but then again, they're at large now anyway, and with the psychological power of the priesthood to boot. Monasteries are communities too, like my neighborhood, and most of them rightly resist being dumping grounds for ecclesial waste. At the very least, something like house arrest (do NOT leave the grounds (which are extensive and lovely, by the way)) would seem appropriate.

Like so many in the priesthood, it would seem that Father Roberto just doesn't get it. The sexual violation of a child is not just "something foolish," rather like getting drunk and putting a lampshade on your head. The cold bloodedness of that comment is a bit frightening.

Leo

Hey, Oakland Catholic, those "gates" stand open all day at least, and one can easily wander into most of the grounds. You can't get into the BUILDING without having a passcode, and there is a receptionist, but no one is suggesting, I think, that children are going to wander into the building.

It's having these guys freely wandering OUT that bothers me. I meet them on College Avenue not infrequently, going to coffee houses, restaurants, shopping, all that. I don't know the abusers from the others, of course, but according to what we hear, they are not subject to special restrictions.

Rod Dreher

This story is yet more evidence that church officials simply do not understand what they're dealing with here.

Fr. Corral, if he had any idea what kind of evil having sex with kids is, would never be able to describe his pervert priest housemates as "delightful."

And to think that these twisted creeps have any influence at all over who gets to be a priest -- well, I think Michael S. Rose covered this kind of thing pretty well in "Goodbye, Good Men."

Someone above said that if the Dominicans didn't have anything to be ashamed of with this scheme, they wouldn't have told everyone who knew about it to keep quiet. Absolutely the truth.

Paul P. writes: I'm glad they're "reasonably sure" these guys won't offend again. I'm also reasonably sure I will discourage my 11 year old son - a thoughtful, prayerful, compassionate boy - from entering a seminary - ever.

I'm with you, Paul. It will take all I can manage not to stand in the way of a vocation if one of my boys has one. But I will not encourage it. We are a prayerful family, an obedient family, a family that tithes (though not to the parish or diocese anymore; we give to the St. Vincent de Paul, among others). But we are not a family -- or let me be precise, because I can't speak for my wife -- I am not a father who has any faith that the institutional church is capable of the kind of self-reform that would make it worth trusting to do anything but dispense the Sacraments. I believe the institutional Church -- and note that I make that distinction, because the Church is not only the clergy and episcopate -- will look out for itself -- especially its homosexual clergy -- even at the expense of children, even at the expense of the faithful, even at the expense of the Gospel. I stay because I believe the dogma. But it will be only over my protest that any son of mine will enter this corrupt and corrupting system, absent real and meaningful reform.

The Holy Father has just called for a day of prayer for vocations. That's like standing in the backyard praying for food without picking up the shovel and the hoe and the seeds provided by Providence, and doing the hard work necessary to grow food. What is he doing or has he done to break the hold that this clericalist mentality has on the institutional church. He is part of the problem, I'm sorry to say.

I want everyone to notice that Bishop Vigneron gave permission for this situation with the Dominicans to exist. Sex abusing priests are gallivanting around the neighborhood, with parents of children unawares, because Vigneron allowed it to happen. Vigneron is supposed to be one of the good bishops. You can trust bishops ... to look out for the clergy first and last.

Rod Dreher

One more thing: last month, I was down in south Louisiana attending mass days after the Bishop of Baton rouge announced that his late predecessor, a very conservative bishop, had sexually abused a teenage boy. The priest serving mass at the parish I attended read a good letter from the current bishop addressing the crisis, then when he made his own commentary about it, instructed us all simply to remember that we are all sinners, and to think about our own sins.

Let me repeat that: this priests words to the people of the parish, upon first learning that the former bishop was a pervert, were: Don't think about it, you're guilty too.

He went on to give a homily telling us why we really couldn't trust the Gospel of Luke.

Real confidence-building, that.

BA

"Corral says his duty now is to help the priests lead fulfilling lives."

That right there is the problem. I am a lay person who is a sinner but whose sins are not notorious. I nevertheless realize that I am called to a life of penance that is not fulfilling but self-emptying and often painful rather than sweet. I have recognized that there is no other way to be happy in this life or the next. Not that I'm good at it, mind you, but at least I recognize it.

Here we have a religious--who voluntarily entered into a life of self-renunciation--discussing other religious who happen to be notorious sinners. Instead of penance, self-emptying, self-donation, service to the world, what comes out? Fulfillment.

Admittedly, my impressions are shallow being based on this one article, but going by that, I can say that I would rather be the most ruthless, nasty, and vindictive contestant on The Apprentice than be formed at a seminary run by this man. At least yuppies recognize that they are serving only themselves. Their delusions are less thick.

The children of this world are smarter and more shrewd than those of the next.

carolyn

I read the article assuming some restrictions on the priests' unaccompanied movements about the neighborhood. Now I see I may be wrong. But isn't it true that most/all men who are in therapy with such problems are medicated with something to reduce sexual cravings, eg Prozac? Maybe someone can explain this. If so, wouldn't this treatment make house arrest overkill?

True story--My daughter was tutored for Confirmation after wanting to quit the classes since she found them too "lame" and so risked forgoing the sacrament. To the rescue (and going over the heads of the church ladies) came our very kind pastor who taught her one on one and who later was found to have abused many minors of both sexes early in his ministry. My daughter wasn't a victim. (In truth, being 71 at the time he looked about ready for nothing more exciting than a triple bypass) Now he went out of his way to help my girl and everyone else I spoke to loved him and found him helpful. So which is it--Was he a monster of depravity or a "good guy". He saw the good of his ministry canceled out by his abuse but he was not so worthless that he was unfit to work for the church in some capacity. Being consigned or consigning himself to a monastery like O'Connell seems a waste of talent. In the end he was told to retire.

Speaking of O'Connell--That piece Dale referred me to angered me. Reading between the lines it struck me as a melodramatic self-flagellating move a la some disgraced TV evangelist. Why not make the man work in the monastery office in administration instead of wasting his God given talents bagging compost. Or maybe he's there because it's a good way to keep the media at bay. So he has time to think about his next move when he's "tan, rested and ready". Think about it.

Leo

One more sad thing, and this always happens too when such things come to light. (Very shrewd comment, Rod, that the Dominicans sought to keep this secret because they knew darn well they're out of line.)

Now all the Dominican priests at St. Albert's are under this shadow. Which of these men is one of these criminals? One does not know, and so the good guys - and there are many in that house - will be shunned along with the guilty.

Vigneron's blessing of this situation is a big disappointment. We had heard better of him, but he sounds like he's just one more piece of the problem. And yes, Rod, the Pope is another, sadly. They don't get it, and it seems as though nothing can get through to them.

LW

Rod, I've shared here before that I was sexually assaulted as an adolescent girl by a church employee who held a high position in the Toledo catholic diocese. Given that the crimes committed against me as young girl were not by a homosexual, I do look at this from a slightly different perspective as you. As a matter of fact, the support group that I attend in Ohio is evenly made up of women and men who were abused as young people.

More importantly, I want to affirm your last post which really underscores the lack of understanding of this matter by some members of the clergy and in my opinion many bishops . . . "don't think about it, you are guilty too." You are right, that person doesn't get it.

I have often said that I know I have many faults, but trolling schools for dates and sex partners isn't one of them.

Another point, is that someone wrote that it was "untrue" that this seminary was "harbouring" a molester. A news story today from the Contra Costa Times says that one of the men may have allegedly committed a sexual crime as recently as five years ago that might be prosecutable in the state where it is said to have happened. IF that is found to be true (and the local mayor and the police chief are beginning to investigate that matter), there is probably no better example of "harbouring."

mark j

Here's a link to the SF Faith article referenced above:

http://www.sffaith.com/ed/articles/2004/0411rk.htm

where, in addition to discussing the molesters at St. Alberts, the former seminarian also says that orthodox candidates are filtered out.

Dale Price

Don't be so quick to drop the hammer on Vigneron--he may not have known precisely what was going on. According to the SF Faith article that spurred this story, the previous provincial may not have been forthcoming about the backgrounds of the abusers when the priests began arriving in 2002:

"According to two former seminarians I interviewed in July, Father [former Provincial Daniel] Syverstadt, in the spring of 2002, met with all the seminarians and priests living at St. Albert's and told them that St. Albert's would be admitting members of the province who were accused of (and had admitted to) sexual misconduct with minors. A number of priests in the province, Syverstadt reportedly said, were "sweating bullets" because of a "slip" twenty years ago. He allegedly said the order had planned to put one of the accused priests back into ministry in Utah, but because of the scandals, this was no longer possible. The seminarians also report that Syverstadt said that he would not tell bishops about members of the province who had been guilty of sexual misconduct; he would only tell of drug and alcohol abuse issues. If bishops began requiring that sexual misconduct be revealed, Syverstadt allegedly said the province would simply withdraw from those dioceses."

http://www.sffaith.com/ed/articles/2004/0411rk.htm

That does not mean that Bp. Vigneron didn't know, but it does mean full disclosure to bishops was rejected at the outset. It also means that we shouldn't drop the hammer on him yet. It would be interesting to know what the bishop was told about these men.

Whitcomb

Rod's post reminds me of the Midwestern priest who, after the scandals broke in Boston, plaintively told his congregation that "it's been a rough week or so for us."

By "us" he meant his fellow priests, not the church as a whole and certainly not its victims. Father Unctuous, as I have come to call him, offered not a word or prayer of condolence for the children.

Gave me the creeps then and still does.

Lorenz

Nothing much I can say here that many here have already said so well. I especially agree with Rod and Paul. Especially Rod's comment:

I am not a father who has any faith that the institutional church is capable of the kind of self-reform that would make it worth trusting to do anything but dispense the Sacraments. I believe the institutional Church -- and note that I make that distinction, because the Church is not only the clergy and episcopate -- will look out for itself -- especially its homosexual clergy -- even at the expense of children, even at the expense of the faithful, even at the expense of the Gospel. I stay because I believe the dogma.

This sums up my feelings exactly. I would never encourage any of my children or younger brothers to the priesthood. In the SFF article that Mark F posted, "Dominic" the Orthodox seminarian who eventually left is a good example of a survivor. Others are not so lucky. Here at work there is a fellow who as a young man felt a call to religious life. He entered the Oblates as a novice and began his studies for the priesthood. He completed all of his studies (including by his admission Christology and historical critical theology) and just before he finished his ordination he left having been convinced that Christianity and Catholicism in particular is just a sham. The soul destroyers in the system are just another aspect of the rot and corruption.

Rod Dreher

I hope this doesn't go too far off this thread, but if we're talking about inability to trust the institutional Church, this story today is another reason to withhold trust. A Boston priest, Fr. Gale, pled guilty at the start of his trial for sexually abusing a child. Excerpt:

When questioned by the judge, Gale admitted he sexually abused the boy repeatedly.

The victim first told a friend about the abuse in 1995 and reported it to authorities in 1992.

In a report on the sexual abuse crisis within the Boston Archdiocese issued in July 2003, state Attorney General Thomas Reilly said allegations that Gale was sexually abusing children in the 1970s and early 1980s were brought to senior archdiocese managers in 1979, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1992 and 1994.

Read that last line again: six times the senior management of the archdiocese was informed about this filthy priest. And they did nothing. You want to believe this is limited to Boston? You want to believe that the clergy in management positions can change virtually overnight? You are free to believe that. You are also free to believe in Santa Claus.

But you know what? From what I can tell, the church leadership, cynical as it may be, is not making a losing bet. American Catholics did not rise up and demand serious reform. Outside of the victims groups and a relative few on the activist wings of the Church right and left (half of whom, it seems, have blogs), American Catholics weren't much moved by this whole thing. At least it doesn't seem so to me. From an episcopal point of view, the crisis seems to have passed. Don't you think?

Kevin Miller

Last I checked, there isn't an "institutional Church" and then some other Church. There's just one Church. When speaking of your extended family - you, your siblings, your kids, your parents, let's say - you wouldn't say that your parents are your "institutional family" as distinguished from your other family. And I choose that analogy for a reason: our bishops are our fathers in Christ.

Does that mean one should simply trust them to do the right thing? No.

But it does have some consequences that one must not ignore.

LW

Rod,

You hit the nail on the head with that one . . . "American catholics did not rise up and demand serious reform."

The crimes committed against me happened in Toledo where we have a priest who is going to stand trial in 2005 for murder, 1 who is in a federal pen for possession of child porn and a seminarian who was brought up on federal porn possession charges days before his scheduled ordination.

Additionally, 39 priests have had complaints lodged against them. This is all from a diocese who when "Boston" erupted said that what was happening there was an anomoly and denied that our area had anything like that going on.

And all the while, the local laity paid money to an organization (Catholics in Support of our Clergy) that took out an approximately $1000 ad saying "We support our bishops."

As a person who had this happen and who then experienced the cover-up of the Toledo diocesan machine, I still remain terribly disappointed in my fellow catholics in the Toledo diocese.

Kevin Miller

By the way, regarding tithes.

One should see the CCC 2401ff.

There, the "precepts of the Church" - a "very necessary minimum" - are discussed and listed.

Right along with such precepts as Sunday/Holy Day Mass, annual confession and communion, and fasting and abstinence, we have the requirement "to assist with the material needs of the Church."

The footnote refers the reader to can. 222. There we find:

"§1 Christ's faithful have the obligation to provide for the needs of the Church, so that the Church has available to it those things which are necessary for divine worship, for apostolic and charitable work and for the worthy support of its ministers.

"§2 They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the Lord's precept, to help the poor from their own resources."

Notice that these are two distinct (though obviously related) things.

Giving to - say - St. Vincent's ("to help the poor from their own resources") is good. But it's not identical to providing for the needs - including but not limited to the need to do charitable work - of the Church.

It doesn't, in other words, suffice to fulfill the "very necessary minimum" of which the Catechism speaks.

Kevin Miller

... That should have been CCC 2041, not 2401.

John Heavrin

Rod, do you have any suggestions as to the specific nature of "serious reform" that would satisfy you?

Your hostility and contempt come through loud and clear, but what do you propose be done to "solve" the problem? When the laity "rise up," what should they "demand?"

Rod Dreher

Giving to - say - St. Vincent's ("to help the poor from their own resources") is good. But it's not identical to providing for the needs - including but not limited to the need to do charitable work - of the Church.

It doesn't, in other words, suffice to fulfill the "very necessary minimum" of which the Catechism speaks.

But I thought you said it was meaningless to draw a distinction between the institutional Church and the Church universal? If, as you say, "there is only one Church," then what's wrong with giving your tithe to the St. Vincent de Paul, to the Missionaries of Charity, or to some other Church ministry you believe is trustworthy and filled with integrity?

If we're going to parse legalisms here, then it seems to me that this wording -- "for the worthy support of its ministers" -- gives one an out, if one doesn't think said ministers (e.g., one's parish priest, one's bishop) are worthy of support.

John Heavrin

Kevin, I believe the canons you cite used to get translated as "contribute to the support of your pastors," meaning your parish. It's an obligation which can't be shifted to an extraneous organization, however laudable that organization might be.

Even if we don't like the pastor, we're obligated to materially support him. The decision to disobey this precept in hopes of gaining leverage thereby might be tempting for some, but it's illegitimate.

Financial support to the parish isn't a reward that we give the pastor when we approve of his behavior or his bishop's, or of some distant bishop's, and withhold when we don't; it's an obligation we owe to God, whether we like what's going on or not.

Rich Leonardi

My family observes the canonical requirement to support our parish and diocese, but not at the levels we would if both (frankly either) were orthodox.

In fact we've ratched down our parish giving and sent the difference to other Catholic organizations.

Kevin Miller

Rod: There's also a mention there in the canon of divine worship. Apart from giving to one's pastors, one can't be said to be supporting that. (Furthermore, people - including ministers - are worth something as human beings. And few of them are doing no good whatsoever for the faithful - e.g., you've mentioned the importance of the sacraments they celebrate.) So there's no contradiction between my reading of the canon and my point about the unity of the Church. And if you're explicitly giving to St. Vincent's over and against your pastors, you're the one who's fracturing it.

John H. is quite right.

Loudon is a Fool

John & Kevin,

How is the obligation to support one's parish satisfied in the modern era of forum shopping? Is the obligation satisfied if you are registered at a parish and give to that parish, even if the parish to which you give is not within the geographic boundaries drawn by the diocese? In which case somebody like Rod could register and give to St. Michael's in McKinney, or the parish in Wylie, or Fr. Paul's new parish, while attending someplace loopy in Dallas. I'm not sure I'm on board with the market oriented solution for heterodox priests and parishes, but I wouldn't be too quick to criticize it either. On the other hand, if the general loopiness of suburban parishes is any indication of what the wealthy (at least the newly wealthy) desire to see in their parishes, it's very unlikely that the orthodox will ever outspend the freaks.

Glenn Juday

I have to agree that the facts of this situation support the conclusion that some (perhaps most?) bishops, priests, and religious orders are still not dealing with the actual problem. And the conclusion that they are not doing so because of faulty theology seems essentially inescapable.

As I have said on several posts in the last 2 years, we as laity must address this problem by living out our vocations. Without being motivated by a spirit of vengeance we must do whatever we can to see that these priest offenders are arrested for the very serious crimes they have committed, that they are tried, convicted, and imprisoned. These offenders must be imprisoned. We must do this motivated by a sense that this is the most effective way to deliver mercy to them while upholding justice. It is clear that most of them are looking for a cheap pass for the deep evil they have committed. If they get the cheap pass they are almost certain to avoid real repentance. We need to break that cycle and to make it absolutely clear to others in the Church inclined to this sin in order to help deter them as well.

It greatly harms the effort to move civil and Church procedures in this reform direction when lay men and women in a position to contribute to implementing the reform make their comments with bitterness and anger. Let us keep our eye on the goal - deep systemic reform resulting in the steadfast pursuit of the arrest, trial, conviction, and imprisonment and other punishment of the guilty. We must build a culture where offenders can count on it at (and let us hope even before) the very first offense. At that point, the priesthood will loose much of its attraction to many who should never be pursuing it in the first place, and it will gain attraction to those who should. Our steadfastness should not exclude reasonable distinctions among levels of guilt and opportunities for clemency in the course of civil penalties.

But I believe that the deepest level of the problem is a widespread rejection of the very notion of punishment per se in American society in general and in the Church in particular. We wish to think so well of ourselves that we have come to accept the notion that we can rely entirely on the higher motives and insight into the Christian message to shape and constrain our behavior, and that we can leave behind the lower motives of calculation or fear of temporal (and certainly eternal) punishment. The priesthood sexual scandal and the bishop cover-up scandal show us just how wrong that view is. In fact, I think that mistaken millenarian notion of only higher motivation helps explain the extraordinary penetration of the deeply corrupt practice of the protection of serious criminal offenders by bishops and religious superiors. The corrupted refuse to see, or only dimly perceive, that what they are doing is not Christian mercy and forgiveness, but deep corruption. These bishops and superiors have adopted a new theology and are simply living it out, with all its attendant consequences.

The two motivations, love of Christ versus fear of temporal and eternal consequences, have never been mutually exclusive. Both are present in the fabric of our time of trial and testing in this life, and will be for all human history till the end of time. We cannot separate them without disastrous consequences. This scandal is with us still, requires more of us still, reaches deeper into the mystery of evil still than many are prepared to admit. Progress is discernable, even if it is maddeningly slow. We are up against a tough opponent, and he won’t give up his advantage easily. We must simply keep at it, praying that we may receive the grace to set aside bitterness and rancor, but never, never stopping or slacking in our effort to pursue, expose, convict, and punish the guilty.

John Heavrin

Loudon -- to me, it means you're obliged to support your pastor. I attend a parish within whose geographic boundaries I don't live, and I put money in the collection basket on Sunday, thus "supporting my pastor." Parish-shopping is a separate issue which can be argued, but this issue is: you're obligated to support the parish of which you're a part, not decide that because you're outraged, rightly or not, about the sex scandal or something else, that you don't have to do so, and can give to another organization instead.

Support your parish, your "pastors." If you're a member of one parish for geographic reasons or other reasons, but attend another parish, support both. Don't arrogate to yourself the right to flout the precept because you're mad at a bishop in Boston or a Prior in Oakland or an Archpriest in Rome--and especially don't withhold support in hopes that if you and enough others withhold support, you'll gain the necessary financial leverage to "force" "reforms," the nature of which remain unspecified.

That's what the precept means to me: give even when you don't want to give, since you give to God.

Rod Dreher

Even if we don't like the pastor, we're obligated to materially support him.

What if you were a parishioner at that Australian parish cited by Diogenes the other day, the one in which the bishop has had to inform the faithful that they may have to have their children rebaptised, as the loony-liberal pastor has been baptising them with a non-Trinitarian formula -- which is to say, not baptising them at all? What is the obligation of the people of that parish to support their pastor? How could you in good conscience give a single farthing to support that pastor, who is not only a heretic, but is directly risking the eternal souls of children entrusted to him?

I wonder if you folks who insist on the duty to give to the parish no matter what kind of nonsense the pastor pulls have ever seen how bad it can get...

In my case, I strongly feel that to give to the parish or the diocese would violate my conscience. To hold the money back for my own use would be sinful. I don't see that it's sinful to send the money to another Catholic ministry -- even, ahem, a priest in a faraway parish who, though he's not my priest, I have confidence is preaching the Gospel.

John Heavrin

I don't think it's sinful to send money to missionaries, the FSSP, the Legion of Christ, or any one of the great apostolates out there, left and right, all over the place.

If I thought my pastor were a heretic, or even if the place wasn't to my liking liturgically, etc., I'd find another parish. Which is what I have done. If I had no choice in my parish, I'd support it. Even if I didn't think it was a good idea personally, because it's a precept of the Church to do so. I don't think we're obliged to remain in a parish which we dislike for whatever reason, let alone if we believe it to be heretical (I realize others disagree and subscribe to the grim stay-where-you-are-and-fight-to-improve-it, but I don't).

I just don't think we have the liberty to withhold financial support from the parish or diocese to which we belong, regardless of whatever shenanigans are going on within it. That's what my conscience tells me.

Rich Leonardi

But I believe that the deepest level of the problem is a widespread rejection of the very notion of punishment per se in American society in general and in the Church in particular.

Spot-on. Punishment and penance aren't mutually exclusive; in many cases you can't have the latter without the former.

I recall in the nineties when a public official would be caught engaging in malfeasance and, so long as they 'fessed-up and looked dour for the cameras, they'd be lauded for saying they "took responsibility".

Janet Reno blundered her way into killing over 80 people in Texas, and yet she kept her job because she simply said "she was responsible" and then quickly moved-on. No consequences, no apologies.

Rod Dreher

"reforms," the nature of which remain unspecified.

I would like to see that long-promised visitation of the seminaries, but this one legitimate, with teeth, and consequences when it's done.

I want to see bishops and heads or orders who have done wrong by children and their families cashiered (Mahony, Egan, and more). And that doesn't mean being sent to be archpriest at a Roman basilica, either.

I want to see the Pope meet publicly with victims of clerical sex abuse, and to speak as forcefully and as clearly about the evil of that, and the Church's culpability, as he has about the Church's treatment of Jews and others mistreated by the institution.

For starters.

(And I haven't even talked about Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxy.)

I won't be drawn into a debate about whether this or that thing is right or wrong. Kevin Miller and I went round and round over whether or not the pope can or should get rid of this or that bishop. There's no point in rehashing all that.

Walter Babetski

One of the aspects of contributing to your parish that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is the fact that it is usually done within the context of the Lord’s Day Eucharistic liturgy. There is a symbolism involved here that should not be overlooked. Making our financial contribution during the liturgy is one important facet of our overall self-offering during the Sunday Mass. To me, if you neglect to contribute, you’ve reduced the fullness of your celebration of (participation in?) that liturgy, regardless of the reasoning behind it.

LW

I think it was John H. who wondered what the laity could to demonstrate their desire for serious reform.

I can only speak for myself about what would be a meaningful demonstration that the laity "get it" . . .

1. Write letters of care to victims who publicly disclose their identity through the media. (By the way, it usually does not help their healing to tell them they need to get "past it" or to be careful to "not let your anger consume you." Most of us, know that and we are trying our best to heal.)

2. Write letters of care to the Jane Does and John Does of lawsuits. If they are kind, most attorneys will forward them on. Most of the people that I know filed lawsuits only to have the identity of the perpetrator exposed and to get assistance with counseling. In the Toledo diocese, it was the diocese's legal counsel Tom Pletz & John Hayward whose firm made nearly 1 million dollars in crafting settlements with gag orders.

3. Organize a prayer service solely for those who have had sexual crimes committed against them by priests and church leaders. Identify them as the real casulties of this scandal not the church, the bishops or even the 95% of priests who do not commit these crimes. Private prayer is great, but sometimes we need a tangible expression of support as well.

4. On the Sunday after Priesthood Sunday, have a "Lost Sheep" sunday to acknowledge and atone for all those who have left the church because of this mess.

5. If someone you know has been abused by a priest, write them a note or call them when an article appears in the paper or a story is aired on the news. For many of us, even an article saying that a diocese "has passed their USCCB audit" can be very upsetting for someone who has had a less than positive experience in dealing with a diocese on this matter.

I could go on and on . . .


Leo

I don't give them money any more. The institutional Church per se. The Canon, written as it was by priests, is self-serving. I mistrust anyone who tells me that by giving money to him I'm giving it to God. That's just a bit arrogant.

But really I don't give them money because they have demonstrated as a group to my satisfaction that they do not handle it responsibily. Giving money to people like that would violate my conscience. I would rejoice to find a Church institution to which I could give my money, but this isn't it right now.

We're giving directly to charities which aid the poor and needy, especially unwed mothers. When the Church as an institution demonstrates that it has cleaned house and is a responsible steward of money, then I'll gladly go back to giving it to them.

Jack Smith

I generally hate secondary threads, but here goes.
All canononical directives aside - If you sit in a pew on Sunday and receive the body of Christ while doing nothing to pay the heating, insurance and maintenance bill for that facility (which constitute a massive portion of a parish's costs) . . . you are a thief. Supporting the necessary costs of your parish is not charity, it's paying your own bills and is required by justice.

Rod Dreher

Leo: I would rejoice to find a Church institution to which I could give my money, but this isn't it right now.

We're giving directly to charities which aid the poor and needy, especially unwed mothers. When the Church as an institution demonstrates that it has cleaned house and is a responsible steward of money, then I'll gladly go back to giving it to them.

Thanks, Leo, I couldn't have said it better. I don't expect -- and don't think we can ever expect -- the institutional Church to be perfect in the way it spends money. But I cannot abide my money going to pay lawyers to hush or harrass victims and their families. And that's just for one. A friend of mine got so fed up with the empty homilies at her increasingly heretical parish that she's taken to writing "No dogma, no dollars" on her envelope. I see no virtue in throwing good money after bad. In fact, I see an abdication of responsible stewardship.

michigancatholic

Glenn, your assessment is absolutely true:

"We wish to think so well of ourselves that we have come to accept the notion that we can rely entirely on the higher motives and insight into the Christian message to shape and constrain our behavior, and that we can leave behind the lower motives of calculation or fear of temporal (and certainly eternal) punishment. The priesthood sexual scandal and the bishop cover-up scandal show us just how wrong that view is. In fact, I think that mistaken millenarian notion of only higher motivation helps explain the extraordinary penetration of the deeply corrupt practice of the protection of serious criminal offenders by bishops and religious superiors. The corrupted refuse to see, or only dimly perceive, that what they are doing is not Christian mercy and forgiveness, but deep corruption. These bishops and superiors have adopted a new theology and are simply living it out, with all its attendant consequences.

Absolutely right. Read it carefully. It sums up most of our contemporary problems in the Church. This shift from real historical Christianity to this paradigm is a shift as radical as the shift to liberation theology ever was. It's deadly. It's a lie. It's a product of sheer evil attacking the Church and all of us.

michigancatholic

Jack, you say that attending Mass without paying the bills is theft. Perhaps, but it's not as much theft as taking a good living from the laypeople of the parish while perverting the message of the Church.

We have way too many people who know they can't be fired. Fact.

Maclin Horton

I got about a third of the way through these comments and started thinking "Where's Dreher?"

Rod, I think your level of outrage is healthy. We can go on forever about the best way to deal with priest-criminals, whether to withold our money, and all that. But here we have a cleric describing as "very foolish" acts that apparently included the rape of pre-pubescent children. As someone above noted, this is not "foolish", it is deeply evil. It's a qualitatively and morally very different thing from an adult seducing a sexually mature teenager, and I don't think that distinction is made often enough. The two types of offender should not be lumped together.

But they are, and so we are speaking here, apparently, of men who performed acts of grotesque violence (it can't be anything else with a pre-pubescent, can it?) being allowed to vote on the suitability of candidates to the Catholic priesthood. Words fail me.

On the immigration thread the other day I ranted about bishop what's-his-name comparing opponents of open immigration to Nazis. I wondered if I was maybe being too rough on the guy. But I think not. I know we are dealing with two different men who have nothing to do with each other, but the juxtaposition is all too representative and revelatory of what's fundamentally wrong with too many of our clergy: on the one hand, the description of an absymally evil personal act as no more than foolish; on the other, the description of a mere policy opinion as evil.

I'm sorry to say it, but I'm pretty much with Rod on the question of a son wanting to be a priest. I would either not support or actively oppose it unless the young man in question was exceptionally tough, stable, and courageous--more like a potential Marine than the typically shy and bookish boy attracted to the priesthood as an adolescent.

Zhou De-Ming

Returning to the Dominicans at St. Albert's--they've bounced back before.

Although (in)famous ex-Dominican Matthew Fox also has his school in Oakland (two train stops from St. Albert's), he was from the Midwest Province. Remember, he was expelled for disobedience (refusing to return to Chicago), and not because of his theology!

Jim

This is a real test for Vigneron's orthodox credentials....if he tiptoes around this outrage, we can put him in the same lot with the other pervert protectors.

Rod Dreher

Maclin: I'm sorry to say it, but I'm pretty much with Rod on the question of a son wanting to be a priest. I would either not support or actively oppose it unless the young man in question was exceptionally tough, stable, and courageous--more like a potential Marine than the typically shy and bookish boy attracted to the priesthood as an adolescent.

I know of just such a man, a former soldier now studying for the priesthood. I interviewed him once, a couple of years ago. He had signed on with the Dominicans, and lived through the first year of seminary by keeping his head down and in the books while the lavenders sashayed around. Then he got sent to another House of Formation, which was so openly and actively gay that the rector (or whatever the proper title is) had to post a notice ordering the seminarians not to come to the Halloween party that year in drag.

This seminarian told me that his fellows came to the party dressed in S&M leather gear instead. He told me that a few laypeople had been invited to the party, and even though they were very liberal, they were shocked by the display.

This seminarian finally couldn't take it anymore, and with the help of a diocesan priest friend, got out of the Dominicans and into a diocesan seminary, where he remains today.

The seminarian told me that when he would tell his parents what was really going on at the Dominican seminary, they simply didn't believe him. They didn't believe such things were possible.

As it happens, I met just this year the brother of this seminarian, who attributes his sibling's toughness in the face of all this corruption to the steely courage he learned as a soldier.

Maclin, again: But here we have a cleric describing as "very foolish" acts that apparently included the rape of pre-pubescent children. As someone above noted, this is not "foolish", it is deeply evil.

One is reminded of this
gem
from Bishop Skylstad, when asked for a comment about the confession the late Lawrence Welsh, his episcopal predecessor, made regarding his trying to strangle a male prostitute in a Chicago hotel room:

“Obviously, he had a very serious drinking problem. Certainly, it’s very sad behavior associated with that drinking. That would be my observation."

Mmm-hmm. A man with this kind of moral insight is now leading the American bishops. I'd say he's perfect for the job.

Jack Smith

Here is a less inflammatory, more informational article from the SF Chronicle:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/11/30/BAGCRA3I311.DTL

michigancatholic

Just about what I would expect of the San Francisco paper.

Rich Leonardi

Rod and Leo,

The canon law requirement to support the Church at the diocesan and parish level isn't optional for practicing Catholics. Instead of boycotting your parish, why not make the drive across town and support one more amenable to orthodoxy (and orthopraxy)?

Leo

Rich,

Sadly, neither orthodoxy nor (alleged) orthopraxy are proof against the most heinous crimes, or so it would seem.

The issue goes deeper than that as well. Money given to the parish does not always stay in the parish. Money given to the parish supports the diocese as well, and so forth.

Jim, VERY good point about Vigneron. We're all watching closely to see if he bobs and weaves on this one, or if he does the right thing. We heard such good things of him before he came here; I'm hoping he steps up to the plate.

Kevin Miller

Rod, regarding where you give your money, you speak of your conscience. You have a duty to inform your conscience by accepting the teachings of the Church in their totality. That includes, e.g., all of the "precepts of the Church."

And if you think the "institutional Church" is simply and wholly useless and undeserving, you fundamentally don't understand what it means to be Catholic.

Joseph R. Wilson

I believe that withholding monetary contributions from corrupt parishes or dioceses should be viewed as a form of fasting and an attempt to improve the Church. To view such efforts as theft seems sadly shortsighted. Withholding parental support of children going to some seminaries seems to me a natural consequence of such sordid and idiotic shenanigans as described at St. Albert's. Being that it is Advent, it seems appropriate to again implore our bishops to wake up!

Rod Dreher

KM: And if you think the "institutional Church" is simply and wholly useless and undeserving, you fundamentally don't understand what it means to be Catholic.

I wouldn't say it's "simply and wholly useless and undeserving." I say that many parishes and dioceses are undeserving of my money, because as far as I can determine, they are poor stewards of the Gospel, and of the financial resources of the faithful. The faithful are obliged to support the Church ... but the Church is Priests for Life. The Church is the crisis pregnancy center down the street. The Church is the Missionaries of Charity. The Church is ... you get the idea.

Kevin, you seem to have this mechanistic, legalistic conception of the Church. I'm not going to put words in your mouth, but from what I can tell, no bishop or priest can ever go to hell in your view, because if they were hellbound they wouldn't be priests or bishops to begin with.

This is probably where I should drop off. The idea of getting into another pissing match with Kevin Miller over subclauses 14b and 15c over the Catholic Regulations, by which we use a harshly legalistic interpretation of the rules to compel financial support and respect for bishops and priests who preach heresy and countenance clerical child molestation, is nothing I relish.

stuart chessman

Assume for the moment that Rod Dreher's contribution practices violate the "precept" of supporting the Church (a notion with which I vehemently disagree; some posts seem to reflect a notion of parish that has been abandoned for decades). It seems self evident that this precept as enshrined in canon law is entirely subordinate to fulfilling the commands of divine law. The question for me is whether one sins by contributing to CHD, Catholic University etc. In any case until financial leverage (and media pressure) can be brought brought to bear there will be NO reform of the current situation.

I am curently enjoying Newman's "Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England" (1851). In Lecture III (2) he defends the Church against a Protestant caricature very much like the contribution philosophy Messers Smith, Heavrin and Miller seem to be advocating. Take a look and see if you agree. with me.

Rich Leonardi

The issue goes deeper than that as well. Money given to the parish does not always stay in the parish. Money given to the parish supports the diocese as well, and so forth.

You're promoting a form of congregationalism. Ditto for Rod's post above. Sorry, folks, but that's incompatible with Catholicism.

And though Kevin can speak for himself, I suspect his unwillingness to consign bishops to hell is in part out of respect for the apostolicity of their office, not the insufficiency of their failures.

Jim

If the ecclesiastical ruling class laid claim to our children the way they have laid claim to our money, would we finally figure out that some of these "precepts" are merely rules made by and for the rulling class?

Wait a minute....that's not really a hypothetical question, is it?

Rod Dreher

Rich: You're promoting a form of congregationalism. Ditto for Rod's post above. Sorry, folks, but that's incompatible with Catholicism.

But Rich, what I see here is people struggling with wanting to be good stewards of the money they give back to God, and not keep throwing it after bad. It seems to me that Stuart Chessman raises a legitimate question when he asks if one sins by giving to this or that Catholic institution. What if one was convinced that the money was going to an immoral end? How can giving to "the Church" in that case be morally compulsive? What if you had been in one of John Geoghan's parishes, and you knew him to be a child molester? Would you be compelled to support Fr. Geoghan's ministry in that parish? These are not academic questions.

Or this: what if you were a wealthy man, and Bishop X. came to you and said, "You've always been faithful, and I need to ask you to give $500,000 to settle a case involving one of our priests who molested a boy. We can handle this quietly, without press attention, if you can do us this favor. Will you help the Church?" I think to donate to the Church for that cause would almost certainly be immoral, and aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise.

Rich: And though Kevin can speak for himself, I suspect his unwillingness to consign bishops to hell is in part out of respect for the apostolicity of their office, not the insufficiency of their failures.

But that's just it, isn't it Rich? (Let me stipulate that I'm not literally consigning anyone to Hell.) The point, though, is that "respect for the apostolicity of their office" is a good that becomes perverted when that respect is manipulated by wicked bishops to do bad things. Respect for one's father is a good thing, but if one stays silent out of respect for him when he's molesting one's little brother, then one is complicit in great evil. Respect for one's father is a good thing, but if he's an alcoholic, it is wrong to buy him liquor as a Christmas present. You see where I'm going with this vis-a-vis the bishops and the clergy. The bishops may be our father in Christ, but that does not give them carte blanche to command our respect or our money when they do bad things.

stuart chessman

A most revealing discussion. At the beginning of this thread the champions of the "Institional Church" are relatively untroubled by a Seminary at which a third of the resident clergy may be sex offenders, where such men sit in review over novices, where anti-Christian philospohies are taught by an on-premises institution etc. At the end, they thunder against those who do not direct their contributions a certain way: such people are "Congregationalists," "not Catholic," even thieves. I could not wish for a better picture of the deep spiritual confusion in our Church today.

Just don't be surprised if fewer and fewer people atttend said church's services, join the ranks of its clergy and, yes, contribute to it (at all).

Bill Logan

michigancatholic,

Are you disappointed because the article from the S.F. Chronicle isn't confirming you in your prejudices about the situation? More information is a bad thing?

The article states that all of the victims were older adolescents (male and female), whereas some here were calling it rape of pre-pubescent children. According to the article, the priest who was accused of abuse in 1999 is in fact accompanied by another person whenever he goes off the grounds of St. Albert's.

Re: Bishop Vigneron, he was apparently told that the Dominicans were going to house priests accused of sexual abuse at St. Albert's, and there probably isn't that much he can actually do because, as the diocesan chancellor notes, the Dominicans don't fall under his jurisdiction.

Maclin Horton

Ditto to Stuart Chessman's comment, which is worth repeating: It seems self evident that this precept as enshrined in canon law is entirely subordinate to fulfilling the commands of divine law.

I can't see how this is congregationalism, which as I understand it invests final authority in the congregation. I fully expect and intend to die believing the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church and I fully accept and honor my duty to support the Church. I fail to see that witholding money from a corrupt parish or diocese or religious order conflicts in any way with that. Sometimes we are in the position of medieval peasants being asked to hand over our few pence so that a Borgia pope can buy another jewel-encrusted goblet. There is no sin in refusing that demand.

Rod, I can sympathize with the seminarian's parents in that story. There is some part of me that can't quite grasp that these things really do go on.

Joseph R. Wilson

"Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
'We have Abraham as our father.'
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones."
Mt 3


Rich, could not "respect for the apostolicity of their office" be construed as somehow exempting bishops from particular and final judgment in your formulation? We know that not all bishops have been good men. If they don't have the guts for fraternal correction in matters of prudential judgment, then is it not our obligation to make an effort to provide correction? I think that it was Pope Pius X who said that it was the laity that will save the Church. Is that incompatible with Catholicism? When St. John called the Pharisees and the Sadducees a "brood of vipers" I wonder if he wasn't a little upset with their abuse of position and their legalistic worldview?

Maclin Horton

Bill,

The original article said "young children and teens." So I guess it's not clear what the truth is.

James Kabala

Rod:
I don't get it. If you really have no respect for your parish and your pastor, why don't you start attending a different parish? I divide my time between Masachusetts and Rhode Island, the heart of blue America, and I know or know of numerous orthodox priests in both places. Surely there must be a good priest somewhere in conservative Dallas, for crying out loud.
It is true that parishes have legal boundaries that the faithful are generally supposed to adhere to, but I don't think that this is an absolute mandate, and you have shown your willingness to interpret canon law liberally before. Surely attending and contributing to a new parish while continuing to technically live in the old one would be more in keeping with church law than staying in the bad parish and trying to starve your bad pastor into submission. If you believe the reverse, that strikes me as straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

George

I have a couple of problems with the blame being cast at American society and culture for not being committed enought to punishment and consequences.

Our nation has the highest rate of imprisonment and executions in the world. No other country comes close, even the ridiculous places that P.J. O'Rourke makes fun of. We have more people in prison than Communist China does, and they have more than three times as many people. We also execute more people per capita than China does with its roving execution squads.

So I think we as a country do make a substantial investment in punishment. It is hard to imagine how we could hold our criminals any more accountable. Wait--there's Guantanamo and Abu Gharib. But apparently some of our prisons are worse.

The other thing is that I am not aware of any other institution in the world that would tolerate admitted child abusers. Even if these priests haven't been convicted of a crime and therefore don't belong in prison, and are deserving of God's love, they should simply be let go. They simply can't serve the People of God, at least as clergy.

So I don't think this is an American thing, a Liberal thing, or a Christian thing. It is a Catholic problem--our burden--and it is wrong.

BA

James and others:

It's not always easy to find an orthodox parish. I live in a conservative town on the east coast--in the Bible Belt. I have my pick of Baptist churches but there are very few Roman Catholic parishes. I can not impose on my family the hardship of making a major pilgrimage every week to get to the Tridentine Mass or making a minor one to get to a Mass that will have less (but not none) liturgical abuses than the ones in our area. I have seriously considered asking my pastor or bishop for a dispensation to attend the local Greek Orthodox Church to fulfill my Sunday obligation, but I'm not there yet.

I tithe ten percent to my local parish, and I am asking God to work a miracle to restore our parish and diocese to orthodoxy and orthopraxy. But I sympathize with those who cannot do so. My wife and I have discussed sending our money off to the FSSP, Opus Dei, the Missionaries of Charity or some other worthy organization, but again we're not there yet.

It should be said to keep this in perspective that this one comes out only through prayer and fasting.

Rod Dreher

James, believe me, we've tried that twice.

Here's my description, to a friend, of the first time we went to Blessed Sacrament parish, before we lived in Dallas:

Just got in a few minutes ago from Dallas, where we were visiting my wife's family. I had to write and tell you some wonderful news from that city, which has been so badly afflicted by Catholic episcopal leadership over the past decade. Fr. Joseph Wilson, our Brooklyn priest friend, recommended that we go to Mass at Blessed Sacrament parish in Oak Cliff, a relatively poor neighborhood in Dallas. The pastor is Fr. Paul Weinberger, an old friend and seminary classmate of Fr. Wilson's. 'You'll love it there,' Fr. Wilson said.

Fr. Weinberger was basically sent in to close that parish, but he's revitalized it." So, we took the advice. Fr. Wilson has never steered us wrong. His record still stands. Mass was terrific! We went to the 10:45 a.m. mass, which is the Novus Ordo done almost entirely in Latin. The congregation was mixed by ethnicity -- Anglo, Latino and African-American -- and age (there were elderly folks there, middle-aged parishioners, and young families too). The mass began in a church filled with incense and Gregorian chant. Fr. Weinberger was astonishingly reverent (astonishing to those of us accustomed to the hugger-mugger mess that most Novus Ordo priests make of the liturgy), but he wasn't the least bit remote or stiff, and my wife and I didn't feel alien to the liturgy, as we have on the occasion that we've attended the Tridentine Mass.

His homily was wonderful. He preached about how John Paul II was formed in sanctity by his own father, and by the good example and loving care of holy laymen throughout his early life. His point was that the laity was absolutely key to the making of our sainted pope's character, and that we in the congregation should understand that we too are the Church, and responsible for living and teaching sanctity. He said that in this time of terrible scandal for the Church, we shouldn't look to the bishops and the clergy to lead us out of the mess. If they do, that's great, but we mustn't despair and forget that the Holy Spirit is calling us to do our part to restore holiness and righteousness to the Body of Christ.

The liturgy of the Eucharist was amazing. The lights went down in the church for the consecration, and Fr. Weinberger confected the Eucharist by candlelight, through a curtain of incense. He held the Host and then the chalice high for a solid minute. We received kneeling at the altar rail. When we returned to our pew, my wife was making her thanksgiving, and started crying. She couldn't stop weeping, and I asked her if she was okay. She said, 'This is what I thought the Church was. This is why I became Catholic.'"After mass, Julie was speaking to one of the parishioners outside the parish about how great the Mass was. She said to the woman, 'Do you realize what you have here?' The woman replied, 'You don't have to tell us! We know how blessed we are.'

There is so much to be angry and depressed about in the life of the Church these days. In a poor corner of a troubled diocese, there is one priest lighting a tremendously bright candle. People should know.

As most regular Amy readers know, Bishop Grahmann sent Fr. Weinberger out of this parish, and to a little parish at the farthest rural corner of the diocese. Blessed Sacrament now has very few hours of confession, or anything like what it used to. The parish is collapsing, financially and otherwise. People flock from all over to Fr. Paul's new parish. We'd be among them, but it's about an hour's drive on Sunday morning, which is about 45 minutes longer than our baby can take before he starts wailing. Maybe when he's a better traveler, we can start going out there.

We tried to find a new parish a second time, and thought we really had found a spiritual home. Then this happened.

After that, we tried a few more area parishes, then just gave up and decided that there was no point. Just do what's required of you, pray and do spiritual reading at home, and fight to hold on to your faith despite it all. Good Catholics around the world have been through much worse things than this, and kept the faith.

Rich Leonardi

These are not academic questions.

No, they're not. Which is why I recommended seeking a parish led by a man with fidelity to the Church and his vocation. The precept to support the Church doesn't mean you're obligated to respond to every ring of the fundraising bell, so in the case of the wealthy man hypothetical, he's free to refuse.

The bishops may be our father in Christ, but that does not give them carte blanche to command our respect or our money when they do bad things.

First, I realize you weren't literally consigning anyone to hell. Because of the apostolicity of the episcopacy, one can respect the office without providing someone who abuses it "carte blanche", e.g., it's fair to be critical.

But when I hear folks grouse about the wickedness of "the bishops" in toto, they injudiciously denigrate both the office and the good men who live up to their episcopal vocation.

marym

I thought it was limited to my parish when I was growing up in the 60's & the 70's outside Boston. Then I thought it was a mainly Boston problem. Then I moved to Pa the "beloved" assistant pastor, who served at our parish for nine years, in Pa, babtising one child and giving my other First Holy Communion, is now serving time on child porn charges. I have met to many of them. It can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone's child until we, we who truly are the Church demand change. As far as I'm concerned there is the Catholic Church-The Faith and there is the Catholic Church-The Institution. Which one would you want to be a martyr for?

Dale Price

Getting harder to defend Bp. Vigneron, I'm sorry to say.

From the Chronicle article:

"Sister Barbara Flannery, chancellor of the diocese, said Monday that while the Dominicans do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Oakland, they alerted the bishop that they would be housing priests accused of sex abuse at the Oakland seminary."

Um, wrong. Now it's true that the Chronicle could have bulloxed up the quote--it's one of those paraphrased statements I tend to hate--but this is beyond incorrect.

As the ordinary of the Diocese of Oakland, the Bp. could expel the Dominicans from the diocese. He can also impose other penalties by virtue of his office. This jurisdiction dodge (we see it a lot here with Detroit's coddling of the rotted-out female orders) just doesn't hold water.

But it sure does a fine job of carrying it for the bad behavior of the religious orders, that's for sure.

Leo

Dale, I wondered when someone would bring this up. Of course Vigneron has complete control over what the Dominicans do in his diocese, up to and including the power to throw them out.

Sister Barbara is the local person in charge of cover-up. She's a holdover from the bad old days of Vigneron's predecessor. Her statement that the "Dominicans do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Oakland" is 100% in character. Merely retaining this woman in that position is a clue. I have little regard for the Chronicle, but in this case I suspect they have reported accurately.

Sadly, I'm beginning to wonder if Alan Vigneron, of whom we had heard such good things, isn't just more of the same old same old.

Dale Price

Leo:

One last plea for the Bishop:

Bp. Vigneron is the only bishop I've ever personally met and talked with--he came to our parish on a visit. I was favorably impressed.

I think he fundamentally a decent man, and he has earned his reputation for being a solidly orthodox/-prax bishop. The rebuilding of Sacred Heart Seminary into a Catholic institution owes much to his personal efforts.

Also, he was handed a hornet's nest in the efforts to turn around Oakland, which is going to take time, time, time. But: cleaning house requires cleaning house--he should have installed his own staff upon arrival.

That said, this comment is coming from one of Oakland's old guard, and has to be examined accordingly. She has an interest in passing the buck on this one. Give a little bit more slack to the man. By one account, Vigneron faced an open revolt in his first meeting with the diocesan priesthood.

Leo

Well, thanks Dale. I know about Vigneron's reception by the diocesan priesthood, both as a Catholic layman and because rumbles reached us professionally.

The Oakland diocese is a mess. John Cummins (previous bishop) was a nice man, reputed to be intelligent (I saw few signs of that) who had a VERY lax view of his duties. A lot of folks got way out of line under his "supervision."

Barbara Flannery is representative. Charged with handling the scandals, she has succeeded in alienating all parties. The victims of clerical abuse regard her as a toady for the hierarchy; meanwhile, as this situation illustrates, she has done little to address the real problems here. She seems an intelligent and capable woman; perhaps with more backing from the top she could accomplish some real good. However, this latest quote suggests that she may not be that flexible.

Vigneron has to move very carefully here if he is not to ignite a firestorm. Thanks for your reminder to give the guy some time. He has quite a job ahead of him, and it's going to take all his skills as a diplomat.

James Kabala

I don't want to seem to be sitting in judgment over other people's worship experience, but I wonder if some people have overly broad definitions of "heresy" and "liturgical abuse." I have certainly heard my fair share of vapid or dull homilies, but I can't think of the last time that I heard actual heresy preached from the pulpit. I know that such priests must exist, since Rod and others seem to run into them at every turn, but I can't imagine that I have lived an extraordinarily charmed life. Similarly, if things like holding hands during the Our Father and unnecessary use of eucharistic ministers counts as liturgical abuses, then I guess I have seen liturgical abuses, but never abominations of the "Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier" type.
One last point I want to make is that there does have to be someone to pay the bills for making sure the church lights work, and the heating system works, and the parking lot gets plowed during the winter, and the bulletin gets printed, and the priest has enough to live on. If we all stop giving to our parishes, these things will stop. Maybe Rod thinks that something this drastic is necessary to reform the Church - a sort of general strike, if you will - but I'm not so sure.

Rod Dreher

I just conducted a long phone interview with Sylvia Demarest, the Dallas lawyer who represented victims in the successful civil case against the diocese here. She was so moved by the damage that this abuse did to children that she began to collect everything she could on the scandal nationwide, from press reports to legal documents (many sent to her by attorney friends around the country working in the same area), to scholarly studies, etc. After years of building this archive, she had over 100 boxes of material, and figures the time spent amassing this stuff cost her over a million dollars. But she had become so engrossed in the story of the abuse and systematic cover up she felt that she couldn't quit, even though her physical health and her financial situation suffered.

She's just turned all this over to BishopAccountability.org, and they're going to make a vast digital archive of it, accessible and searchable for free, by all. It will first and foremost help parents find out the histories of their priests and dioceses. But it will also enable historians and researchers to start connecting dots. She says there is evidence in these files of the kinds of sexual networks that we've all heard so much about -- though she said it will be up to others to decide how conclusive that evidence is.

She told me that one thing she's learned working these cases from the inside is that this crisis is so much deeper and uglier than has been reported. She said that she's not doing litigation anymore, but that every single day she receives information about more sexual abuse, and shuffling priests, etc., going on. She told me, "It is not by any means a crisis that the Church has resolved internally, by any stretch. The primary reason for that is there's no sense of urgency in the Vatican about this."

She also said that the story of this crisis is how the structure and language of bureaucracy can be used to protect, engender and whitewash evil, and even to prevent people who know right from wrong from seeing what is right in front of them, and acting to stop it.

More of our interview will be in my next column, which I'll send to Amy when it's published, if she wants to link to it.

I say all this now because well-meaning people want to believe that things are on the mend, that the Church has dealt with the situation, and we can start trusting again. Well, we can't. A friend who has begun going through the Demarest archive told me this morning that it's absolutely sickening stuff. In one case, a ring of priests -- pre-Vatican II priests, you should note -- used communion wine to get boys drunk before orally and anally sodomizing them. I'll let my friend, who reads these blogs, say what else he's found there if he cares to. He did say that he's seen archival evidence of cliques of bishops, even cardinals, involved in these sex networks.

All this affects my decision about how to use my tithe, and fulfill my obligation to support the work of the Church.

John Heavrin

"...deeper and uglier than has been reported..."

Then are the reporters part of the cover-up?

Rod, you often refer to the vast and grotesque problem that hasn't been reported yet. Why not report things in all their depth and ugliness? Most people don't trust reporters, unfairly lumped together as defined by the very worst among them, any more than you do bishops. Lawyers either. Hinting at the "real" problems yet unrevealed, saying "trust me," doesn't avail, it frustrates those of us who would indeed like to know if the Church is rotten to the core with this problem.

I hate the problems and atrocities that this scandal has caused in the lives of so many, and in the Church. I'd really like to know if it's so vast, pervasive, all-encompassing and corrupting that it literally implicates the pope and has ruined and rottened the Church. People who are in possession of secret knowledge to that effect should make it public. They have a moral obligation to do so, don't they?

John Heavrin

"...archival evidence of cliques of bishops, even cardinals, involved in these sex networks..."

This should be front page news all over the country, Rod. Why isn't it?

Rod Dreher

John: Then are the reporters part of the cover-up? Rod, you often refer to the vast and grotesque problem that hasn't been reported yet. Why not report things in all their depth and ugliness?

I have reported everything I know that I've been able to report, within the law and the ethical obligations of my profession. But there's only so much one can do. I can think of two cases in which I dealt with distraught members of different religious orders, who knew detailed information about sex crimes and worse, and who told me about them ... but neither I nor their friends and family members were able to convince these men to come forward. I am certain that what they were saying was the truth, and I well remember the anguish in their voices as they tried to figure out what to do. I remember too the church worker with whom I spoke, who told me about having to wipe Vaseline off the altar of her parish in the morning, after the priest (who ultimately served time in jail -- I checked him out) there would do God knows what the night before. She finally went to the bishop in confidence -- and he ratted her out to the priest. The priest warned her not to try that again, because he's blackmailing the bishop (who, by the way, went on to a bigger diocese, where he's riding high today).

She wouldn't let me quote her, or use that story. She still works for the church, and said she couldn't afford to lose her job.

And you all know about the cardinal's situation. Every reporter who covers this beat does, because we've all talked to priests and others who know about it, and I myself was the subject of an attempt by the cardinal's lawyer to have me taken off the story as I was reporting it. The lawyer didn't deny the story, he just asked that I be taken off of it because it would be "embarrassing" to His Eminence. None of us can report it without reliable witnesses to go forward on the record, or documents.

John: Hinting at the "real" problems yet unrevealed, saying "trust me," doesn't avail, it frustrates those of us who would indeed like to know if the Church is rotten to the core with this problem.

Believe me, it frustrates me even more. But you have to understand too that doing this kind of work involves a big investment of time and resources by journalistic entities. These stories are hard to get in many cases. Decisions are made every day about what to cover, and what not to cover. This story, among journalists, is not interesting anymore. My newspaper poured a lot of resources into its coverage of the international ratline moving accused pedo-priests overseas to escape prosecution. The series has been ignored by most of the press. They've moved on. That's the nature of the media.

John: I hate the problems and atrocities that this scandal has caused in the lives of so many, and in the Church. I'd really like to know if it's so vast, pervasive, all-encompassing and corrupting that it literally implicates the pope and has ruined and rottened the Church. People who are in possession of secret knowledge to that effect should make it public. They have a moral obligation to do so, don't they?

Yes, I do, as a general rule. As soon as those who have this information are willing to talk and/or reveal documents to trustworthy reporters, more of this stuff will start to come out. Sylvia Demarest's archives should reveal a great deal of previously unpublished information, and it will all be available to anyone, through the website.

I am also told that California could -- could -- be getting ready to explode. Watch what happens with Cdl. Mahony's various cases. We could have documents out of that one.

LW

There is enough blame to go around when it comes to the "cover-up." I think that there probably have been some reporters who prior to when "Boston" erupted did give automatic deference to church officials and maybe aided in the "cover-up."

For instance, a local Toledo t.v. station who has done minimal stories on "the scandal" I've learned is represented by the very same lawyer who represents the diocese in the clergy molestation lawsuits.

The lawyer has two gigs: media lawyer to a local t.v. station and diocesan legal counsel. This lawyer also has served as the legal counsel for a local talk radio show host.

It doesn't get much better than that. Talk about being able to control the dissemination of negative press.

Lee Podles

Seeing the 100 boxes of the Demarest research was stunning. Dipping into them and choosing cases at random was like putting your hand in a sewer: abuse, oral sex, anal sex, oral-anal sex, child pornography, sacrilege, lies, suicides.

The Demarest archives document that Catholic priests have been guilty of horrendous sexual abuse and sacrilege for over fifty years – with the knowledge of bishops. Nor were these isolated individuals. There are documented cases of pedophile rings among the Catholic clergy and there are strong indications that the abusers formed a loose network across the country. Several American bishops and one German cardinal have already been exposed as abusers. It looks like that somewhere around 8% of Catholic clergy have sexually abused minors – again, often with the knowledge of the bishops and of the Vatican.

None of this is secret. It is all in court documents and newspaper articles. As money permits, the documents will be properly catalogued and maintained and put on line for anyone to view.

Anyone in the world will be able to track priests. Visiting foreign priests abuse American children and then return to their native countries and escape any justice in the United States. American abusers are sent to orphanages in the Third World where no one is protecting children.

Eventually any U. S. Catholic will be able to click on a map, locate his parish and see whether it has had abusive priests. He will be able to click on the abusive priest to see which parishes he has worked in. And he will be able to click on any priest and see whether he has lived in a rectory with an abusive priest.

My book: A Harsh Light: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, will be out in the spring. The Demarest papers illustrate my book endlessly, beyond human endurance

John Heavrin

I don't know which Cardinal you're referring to, but Cardinals and bishops involved in sex networks should be big news.

A question: if you don't have sufficient documentation, etc., to report a story, is it ethical for a journalist to hint around about it in a forum such as this?

When you hint that cardinals and bishops are involved in "sex networks," but don't give the names, you're tarring ALL cardinals and bishops. Is that your aim?

Rod Dreher

John, as in the past, you don't strike me as interested in this broader story as much as you are interested in making it go away. I'm not going to play your game.

Lee: American abusers are sent to orphanages in the Third World where no one is protecting children.

And when the Dallas Morning News recently documented this kind of thing in an exhaustive report, most people went, "Ho-hum," and some folks on the blogs even said this was the newspaper looking for news where there isn't any, just to sell papers and make the Church look bad. I predict when the Demarest Archives go online, you'll have the Usual Suspects in these precincts giving reasons why they ought not to be taken seriously.

John Heavrin

Rod, I'd love to know the specifics of the broader story--which Cardinals and bishops are rotten and which aren't. Far from wanting it to "go away," I'd like it to "come out" so that we can solve the problem, whatever that requires. But until then, rumors, innuendo, hints and the like detract from media credibility rather than enhance, at a time when it could use enhancing.

I don't have access to this archive you guys have, or to lots of other deep, dark secrets to which you've been made privy. And I'd like to.

It's not a game I'm playing, but the truth I'm seeking. You often give this or that reason, legimitely enough, why lots that you know, you can't report. To me, though, such vile, lurid, and shocking things as those at which you hint ought to be leaked and the public should be informed. If not by you, then by someone who knows.

Until I know all that you know, I can't share your condemnation of the hierarchy--except, of course, those who we know are rotten: Law, etc.

Leo

John, you're absolutely right. Let's name names and produce evidence. Drag it all out into the light.

Absent that, some of these vague charges are quite disturbing, and smear the names of the innocent along with the guilty.

James Kabala

For heaven's sake, Rod, can't we ever have a discussion on this or any other blog without your accusing those who have the temerity to not treat your every word as Gospel of "wanting to make the story go away" or otherwise being pedophile coddlers? Did it ever occur to you that if you are willing to libel a seeminglessly harmless person like John Heavrin on the slightest provocation, that hurts your credibility when you start hinting around at the dark secrets of truly evil people? I'm not saying that I don't believe you, because I do, but you can't expect complete strangers to trust you when you're not willing to engage in calm discussion with them.

Father Wilson

I do not understand the focus on information which is currently unpublished and inaccessible.

Plenty of information HAS been published. That information, because of the Internet, is presently more accessible than at any time in history. Anyone who has been paying attention has to be vividly aware that there are bishops currently in place whose continuation in office is inexplicable.

Something is gravely wrong -- including the determination of people on whose indifference or denial the malefactors can count.

Rod Dreher

For heaven's sake, Rod, can't we ever have a discussion on this or any other blog without your accusing those who have the temerity to not treat your every word as Gospel of "wanting to make the story go away" or otherwise being pedophile coddlers?

James, you are being unfair. Every time we get into one of these discussions, it comes back to the same thing: somebody -- usually the same two or three people -- say, "If you know who's doing what, you should make it public, and if not, you're no better than the rest of them." I explain over and over and over, in great detail, why journalists like me can only reveal so much, and try to indicate, going as far as I can under the law, that there really is more out there, that people should not make the mistake of assuming that just because it hasn't been blasted onto the front page that it doesn't exist, or didn't happen. That's never good enough.

I broke off the discussion with John when I realized that he and I have had this same go-round four or five times. And it always ends up in the same place.

About these "vague charges," I can tell you about the conversations I've had about stories I was morally certain were true, but could not report, because the people involved would not go on the record. I have mentioned no names, nor given any hint of the identity of the victims or perpetrators (except for the cardinal, who when he had his lawyer call my boss and try to have me strongarmed off the story, virtually admitted the cardinal's guilt in the verbiage he used).

I don't expect people to believe me (honestly, I don't). But I don't expect to have to explain this whole thing over and over again, to people it won't convince anyway.

When John says: To me, though, such vile, lurid, and shocking things as those at which you hint ought to be leaked and the public should be informed. If not by you, then by someone who knows.

Until I know all that you know, I can't share your condemnation of the hierarchy--except, of course, those who we know are rotten: Law, etc.

...I consider that fair on his part. He doesn't know what I know (and I've not looked at the Demarest Archive; I'll have access to it when everybody else does), and he's under no obligation to believe me when I talk in vague, general terms about these things. But as Father Wilson points out, the stuff that's on the record, that we do know, is overwhelming, and damning.

This is where I drop off of this thread, no kidding this time. We're the same people who keep butting heads in the same way. I don't see that it does any of us any good. Thanks for reading.

carolyn

I knew a reporter at the New York Post. Believe me, what they can print is often only the tip of the iceberg for all the reasons Rod refers to. Lotsa nasty stuff somewhere between solid rumor and what passes the stict criteria of sometimes overly cautious editors(this at the POST!). I'd love to listen to these guys shoot the breeze with their colleagues. Rod is letting us overhear.

But I too wonder at reporters who know something important that the rest of us should be made aware of and don't follow up on. I mean is it too much to expect the media to feel it their DUTY to inform us about the things we need to know rather than treat us to more minutiae on the Peterson trial, or as Rod says, "move on"?

But believe me I'd rather hear officially unbacked "rumor" from a reporter with his ear to the ground if the alternative is to blithely persist in ignorance. Even if only half of what is being floated here is true, it's still horrifying.

Vaseline on the altar??? Why do you hate me, Mr. Dreher. This is now my new mental screensaver and nothing I can do can get rid of it.

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