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July 14, 2005

Comments

Barbara

I am sorry, but even now, I see the "Situation" as the result of an "institutional prerogative" mindset that cannot grasp that however much the problem is the result of malaise, spiritual or cultural, its immediate solution is a distinctly secular one: adopt some clear rules that make child sexual abuse less likely to occur.

Maybe your diocese is doing this. Mine is not, at least, not in the way that I understand every other institution, secular, educational or religious to have done.

In many ways, ascribing the Situation to spiritual malaise or fighting over whether the liberals or conservatives or some unholy marriage between the two is responsible, just makes the practical solution sound too mundane and boring to be worthy of discussion, as I am sure this post does. But when I want to protect my children, which I do, I don't want to get involved in a discussion about seminary training, reclaiming spiritual purity from the clutches of clericalism, liberalism, yadda yadda yadda, however so much more interesting those things are. I want to know what practical steps can be and will be taken by those with authority. And I turned down the opportunity to be my parish's csa liaison once I realized how unserious the diocese was about the whole issue.

Gerard E.

Since winning the Senate in 1994, in a smashing triumph over aging JFK advisor Harris Wofford, Rick Santorum has been a useful pinata for Pennsylvania liberal politicans and columnists to whack. Making him the political equivalent of The Incredible Hulk- the madder you get at him, the stronger he gets. Now the pinata treatment is being held in the People's Republic of Taxachusetts. Sad to say, President Bush could give elocution lessons to Rick. He has a sufficient brake on his mouth, but the brake pads are worn and subject to falling apart. Pennsylvania Democrats were rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of knocking him off next year. But their own likely candidate, Bob Casey Jr., isn't exactly setting the state on fire. For these reasons- 1. not the most animated figure on a public podium; 2. really really wants his father's old job as Governor, but the more animated Democrat, Ed Rendell, is bunking in at the Mansion; 3. Bob Jr. can't quite shoo away his father's ghost. Bob Sr., of course, The Last Great Democratic Pro-Life Voice. Not a great way to shuck cash from the affluent libs in Phila. and nearby afffluent Montgomery County. Meanwhile, Rick remains popular in the vast area of Pennsylvania between Metro Philly and Metro Pittsburgh. Most of those folks like him just the way he is, and could make the difference next November.

Todd

Barbara scores as far more sensible than Mark on this one. The reality is that sin touches everyone, and that a self-proclaimed faithful Catholic is hardly a trusty bellwether. I suspect comment line have shortened because lots of folks who would have put themselves under the Catholic Enjoyment banner a few years ago have wisened up enough to see that lots of heroes under that faithful flag have been tarnished.

But I have no quibble with those who say that liberalism must continue to reform or die. I've often thought many of my philosophical neighbors have grown as hidebound as conservatives. Though the second commentator somewhat misses the mark on liberals (getting to know some might help) I can certainly agree that the push for sainthood must be more among the living, and less for the dead

Sr. Lorraine

when I heard Ted Kennedy on the radio criticizing Santorum, I knew this was just an election ploy. It always makes me gag a little to hear Ted pronounce on anything regarding morality.

reluctant penitent

"...while no conservative bishop is an actual pederast, though he may well be a cowardly enabler too spineless to challenge the Insurgent Clevers..."

That certainly describes the relationship between Law and the ultra-progressive "cool street priest" Shanley.

reluctantpenitent

From the article:

"Conservative Catholics point to seminaries that, they say, opened to gays and tolerated sexual experimentation from the 1960s to the early 1980s. Many liberals in the church blame celibacy, which, they contend, makes the priesthood a magnet for men who have psychosexual problems."

It's very courageous of the Washington Post reporter to admit that homosexuality is a "psychosexual problem". Now if we can just get them to talk to the American Psychological Association...

Jay Anderson

Teddy "The Swimmer" is drowning in his own hypocricy.

Tom Kelty

During the 11th century, St. Peter Damien fought a long and lonely battle against the promiscuity at every level of the clergy. The Monastic Orders arose and promoted celibacy and bloody campaigns were waged to stamp out a married clergy. All women were suspect and blamed for enticing men to indulge the flesh. The Papacy itself fell to public sexual scandal. The community of believers survived knowing that the church was not the clergy and that the true faith flourished in the hearts of those who believed in their personal saviour Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit He gave to us at Pentecost works continuously even until now, to strengthen this community of believers in spite of the horrors perpetrated by some of the ordained ministers. We seem to be moving toward an era in which the role of the clergy is lessened and the role of the laity changes radically to include officiating at The Eucharist and celebrating the Sacraments. This means that married men and women, single or married will exercise the royal priesthood conferred at Baptism.
All of us are exhorted to holiness every day. The reality is of course, that the clergy now hold all power and control in a death grip to hang on as long as they can. Recently minor changes came into the liturgy to limit again the activities of the laity near the altar. It may take centuries before we see anything like The Last Supper in our churches. All those present were married except Jesus. And He commanded all these married folks to "do this in remembrance of Me".

Rod Dreher

I respect and like Santorum, but his comments were stupid and ill-informed. Mark Shea is much closer to the mark (no pun intended): both liberalism and conservatism have, for different reasons, a lot to answer for re: this scandal. Dallas was one of the scandal hotspots, and nobody can accuse us of living in a cesspool of cultural liberalism. Rather, the temperamental conservatism of many Dallas lay Catholics, who do not want to rock the boat, aids and abets the scandal. A group of orthodox Catholics at a suburban parish here earned the enmity of most of their fellow parishioners for making a huge stink about their pastor's continuing to employ as music minister a young man who had been convicted of soliciting an undercover cop in a men's room. The bishop, embarrassed by the revelations of this and even accusations against the pastor from the 1990s, had to ask the pastor for his resignation. The parishioners whose protests caused this to happen were (and maybe still are) despised by the others in the parish for their role in sending Father Bill away.

You tell me: what does liberalism have to do with that?

Desert Chatter

Given the fact that pederast priests seem to come from both ends of the liberal-consertvative spectrum, I have no reason to believe that pederast bishops aren't also distributed in the same way. Of course, a professedly conservative bishop is going to be pretty uptight about disclosing his private preferences if they run to young boys. But then again, inasmuch as we're talking about felonious behavior, few people are going to announce their perversion in public.

Maclin Horton

Santorum is wrong, but Teddy is contemptible.

hieronymus

Tom, it's really sad when people exploit a tragedy like this scandal to promote their own little pet causes and their own little pet grievances. Yeah, if we let women "celebrate" the "eucharist" that will fix everything, unless the monks come and slaughter them. Your post reads like a cult manifesto, it's so full of paranoia and non sequitur...

Joel

It was a liberal newspaper - the Boston Globe - that first took a wrecking ball to the wall of silence and protection around the RCC clergy. Is that what Santorum is protesting?

reluctant penitent

RoDreher says:

"You tell me: what does liberalism have to do with that?"

Wouldn't a "conservative" response be one of moral disgust and indignation at a man who solicits other men for sex in a public bathroom? The problem is that even "conservatives" have stopped being horrified by sexual perversion.

Tom Kelty

hieronymus,
Why does historical truth upset you so? The changes I mentioned will come some day and maybe sooner than we expect. They are not my cherished causes alone. Many thousands of believers share these ideas in journals and books daily. They are part of the living breathing church and happily are finding voice, overcoming many long years of uncritical acceptance. The current era of "Pray, Pay and Obey" will not end until every person present at Eucharist has a voice in all the speres of power in the church. The times they are achanging...

reluctant penitent

"Given the fact that pederast priests seem to come from both ends of the liberal-consertvative spectrum..."

Actually Desert Chatter, most of the abusive priests have been homosexuals who took advantage of their office in order to seduce adolescent men, something that has a great deal of cache in the gay male world. And most of these homosexual priests have been "liberal".

It's probably true that pederasts and homosexuals have always been attracted to the priesthood, because of the power that the office give them over young men, and because, unlike heterosexual men, they really sacrifice nothing when entering the priesthood. However, the scandal is as great as it is because of the number of homosexuals who began entering the priesthood in the post-V2 period.

A friend of mine has a homosexual brother who was actively recruited to the order in a gay bar by a member of a Catholic order. (It's not SJ in case you're wondering.) The pitch? You won't have to do any work and the sex will be a bit safer than it is for you now because we'll try to keep the sex in the community.

William Bloomfield

"I respect and like Santorum, but his comments were stupid and ill-informed."

Rod, it's very unusual for me to disagree with you, but . . . the only thing wrong with Santorum's comments is that when he made them in July 2002, the world did not yet know about the extent of the sex abuse scandal. It looked like Boston was the worst place. Regardless, this was only a minor point in his article (and perhaps one he should have left out).

The main thrust of Santorum's article is correct. The moral relatavism of liberalism has much to do with the sex abuse scandal. Certainly there were many factors involved, but Santorum does not deny that. He is merely exploring the hypothesis that perhaps priests do not live in a vacuum, and that they really are affected by the surrounding culture.

I have blogged on this more in depth here.

See http://wbloomfield.blogspot.com/2005/07/how-much-do-liberals-hate-rick.html

reluctant penitent

Tom Kelty, the current situation in the Church is one of "Pray, Pay and Obey" those who subject you their crappy music and ignorance of the Magisterium and Church history. A dictatorship of the Papacy is preferable by far to a dictatorship of the ignorant and unwashed.

jcecil3

Greetings!

Mark Shea's analysis is not entirely on the mark. As an example, Marcial Marciel, founder the Legionaries of Christ, is no liberal and has several allegations of sex abuse against him.

Austria's Archbishop Krenn was about as right wing as you can be without going to the SSPX and the seminary under his care had rampant sexual misconduct.

My own experience in the seminary was that only a handful of so-called "liberals" were arguing for what was known as a "third way", where celibacy is understood as being un-married but sexually active.

Most of the so-called liberals were really arguing for honesty. They were basically saying to people like Krenn that if he could not see that more than half his seminarians were gay and active and that there needs to be an honest discussion about what that means for an all male celibate clergy, he's being willfully and vincibly ignorant.

Peace!

Katherine

People really do get a little upset when you blame them for pedophilia and the rape of children. Even in the anti-marriage People's Republic of Taxachusetts (which has the country's lowest divorce rate and lower taxes than the two other states I've lived in.) Even at Harvard and MIT, even in Cambridge.

I saw a talk show guest recently, a fairly obnoxious NY journalist who'd successfully posed as a Bush volunteer in Florida, a refugee school teacher from New York trying to live a moral life by liberals who were constantly "snorting coke right off my bible." People believed him. What's next, we use baby's blood to make baguettes?

This sort of demonization makes conversation impossible, and those who don't take part in it are utterly indifferent to it. "Just an election ploy". Yeah. That's why it's a year and a half in advance of the election, from a Senator who has no reason at all to worry about his reelection chances ever again.

Eric Giunta

I'm afraid this is exactly why I am not a proponent of the beatification of John Paul II. He perfectly encapsulates those who "relied on their conservative instincts to Not Rock the Boat and Keep the Machine Oiled." He, too, "cravenly protected the fait accompli and the status quo." I know of no better description: "cowardly enabler too spineless to challenge the Insurgent Clevers who . . . Rape our children and despoil us of the Church's teaching."

I only fear we are seeing a repeat pontificate under Ratzinger, whom many traditionalists consider a "toothless lions."

When will my opinion change? When I see action, and not more hot-air verbose responses from Rome.

Rod Dreher

When will my opinion change? When I see action, and not more hot-air verbose responses from Rome.

It is unusual for me to agree with Eric Giunta, but in this case, I do. Enough with the good intentions; let's see some action.

Mark Adams

Katherine said: "'Just an election ploy'.Yeah. That's why it's a year and a half in advance of the election, from a Senator who has no reason at all to worry about his reelection chances ever again."

Actually Casey is far ahead of Santorum in all the major polls. The Dems have made Santorum their number one target in the next round of senatorial elections and are planning on spending lots of money in PA.

This is very much about the election. That doesn't mean that what Santorum wrote was correct. And it doesn't mean that Kennedy's criticism is wrong. But it is political.

Todd

I see the St Blog's Echo Chamber has awakened today: spare no effort to blame liberals for a socially and psychologically inbred clerical culture that values silence and secrecy. The criticism of Mr Kelty falls flat simply because he and others were advocating reform for good reasons long before the tradis were finding themselves in disarray over their heroes.

"This sort of demonization makes conversation impossible ..."

Too right. Time to discard useless commentary from Shea and Santorum and get to the tasks at hand.

hieronymus

Todd, please don't tell me that you're willing to give sexual libertines and their "progressive" Catholic supposters a free pass in this scandal. There is plenty of blame here for both clericalists and "liberals".

Dan Crawford

Santorum is a simplistic person. The MA liberals take him to task for his PC insensitivity. In point of fact, Santorum's indifference to the poor, the elderly, and other groups which have been traditionally a concern of Catholic Social Teaching should provide the ammunition for those who wish to see him ousted from Senate seat. The contributors to Santorum's campaign need to be published and closely scrutinized. When the bogus Medicare drug "benefit" passed the Congress, the junior Senator from PA wept crocidile tears for the effect the "benefit" would have on the profits of the pharmaceutical corporations. He's not exactly been an advocate of adequate public funding for the education of children in non-private schools but he happily takes money from the public trough to home school his own children. He flaunts his Catholicism when it is convenient and ignores it when it is inconvenient. Living wages, medical care,programs to assist the family and single mothers etc. - all these are a matter of some indifference to the junior senator from Pennsylvania. If the liberals want to whine about the nonsense spoken or written by the junior senator, they will guarantee his reelection. If they begin to subject Santoum's record on matters of social justice to a close review, Mr. Casey, a pro-life candidate who understands far better than the junior senator what the poor in Pennsylvania have to contend with, will win.

One other problem for the junior senator: the toe kissing he rendered to the senior senator of PA last year suggests that rather than the knight in shining armor he fancies himself to be, he is just another hack pol. Some of us thought, hoped and even prayed he might have been better.

al

"reform" will come when the truth about the "sex abuse" scandal is acknowledged--that it is a homosexual abuse scandal.

And yes, "liberals" are the primary homosexual enablers

Todd

hiero: okay I won't. Not all sexual libertines are liberal, so I will confine my criticism to those whom I know to be immoral in relevance to the topic at hand: imappropriate sexual contact by celibates with others, especially the innocent.

The sexual escapades of clergy and religious have more to do with power than they are about sex. Sex is the tool used, a tool which has always been used. But power, be it the silence perpetrated by clerical culture or the power used to control victims, is the root sin at the bottom of this mess. That's why Deal Hudson, Cardinal Law, Geoghan, and the other perps are all pretty much birds of a feather.

Lots of blame for people who happen to be conservatives and liberals? Of course there is.

reluctant penitent

Though I disagree with those who say that JPII was responsible, I do agree that the office of the Pope is where the solution lies. This is precisely why we need a move away from post-V2 "collegiality" and and toward greater power to the Papacy. The Pope ought to have absolute and arbitrary power over Bishops and Priests, and ought to establish a permanent and aggressive fact-gathering body that investigates Bishops and Priests for heterodoxy, and all other abuses of their office. This fact-gathering body ought to move from diocese to diocese listening to any and all remotely credible charges of heterodoxy and malfeasance and ought to be granted the power to act swiftly on any such charges. This new arrangement will require a significant reduction of the rights of Bishops and Priests and of local Churches in general.

We're talking about a revolution in the relationship between the Papacy and Bishops and Priests, but it's a revolution that I enthusiastically endorse, as a firm believer in the primacy of the Bishop of Rome.

We Catholics have gone wobbly and need a return to some version of the Inquisition.

Mike Petrik

Joel,
The Boston Globe is not a liberal newspaper. It is moderate and mainstream. Just ask them

Christopher Sarsfield

I am confused. Santorum seemed to be saying that our culture (liberal, perverse, whatever you want to call it) has a great deal to do with this problem, and I believe he is correct. (BTW I am one who openly disagrees with Santorum on many issues). The ready access to pornography of the worst sort, creates a culture that breeds this behavior. If you look into these cases, I guarantee that the pedophile was exposed to hard core pornography at a very young age. Did the Church handle the situation well? Of course not, but this problem is just beginning. The Church has been crucified for it, but I have seen nothing that makes me think that the percentage of abusers in the priesthood is more than the percent of abusers in any profession that has a lot of contact with children. Until something is done in our society to curb pornography the problem will only get worse.

catholic

"Teddy "The Swimmer" is drowning in his own hypocricy."

This is hilarious in a post on Santorum's writings. You cannot simultaneously support Santorum and denounce his critics as hypocrits. This isn't because Santorum is the biggest sanctimonious hypocrit on the Hill, which he arguably is. It is this quote from Santorum's book "It Takes a Family": “One of my political heroes, the eighteenth-century British statesman William Wilberforce, argued that hypocrisy can often be a social good.”

Then again, maybe the hypocrisy of criticizing Santorum's opponents over hypocrisy is just another social good. Ya think?

peace

greg

I only fear we are seeing a repeat pontificate under Ratzinger, whom many traditionalists consider a "toothless lion."

Everyone start chanting...John Paul 3, we love thee!

reluctant penitent

jcecil3 says:

"if he could not see that more than half his seminarians were gay and active and that there needs to be an honest discussion about what that means for an all male celibate clergy, he's being willfully and vincibly ignorant"

Once you've established that half the seminarians in a seminary are gay, what more is there to "discuss." You shut down the seminary, bar the seminarians who are gay to reapply and throw their applications in the garbage when they to! This is precisely what was done in Austria. As long as a large number of American Catholics believe that such actions are too harsh we are going to have a crisis.

reluctant penitent

The solution is not a new Pope but a new Papacy. The Papacy must have powers that, de facto, it currently does not have. And the Papacy needs Inquisitors who are going to listen to charges against Priests and Bishops and take action. You can have a John Paul 3 who bilocates, levitates and turns water into wine, but if he does not have the institutional power to take action his supernatural powers are of no use.

al

Here's some choice quotes from a recent article on the "power" involved in the Priest Sex Scandal: "The John Jay Study . . . clearly shows that, as the age
of the victims rises, the percentage of victims
decisively shifts from primarily female to
overwhelmingly male. . . . [these results stand in stark contrast] United States Department of
Health and Human Services statistics, which
show that male-on-male child sexual abuse in
the USA comprises only 14.4% of all sexual
abuse committed by males. In other words, in
the general population of males who sexually
abuse minors, only one in seven molest
boys. In the population of priests who sexually
abuse minors, six in seven molest boys

William Bloomfield

Christopher Sarsfied, you are correct. The problem has a lot to do with pornography, as well as with a culture that is saturated at every level with sex.

In large part, liberals are to blame for our sex-filled culture. And they would not deny it. They celebrate the "diversity" of their sexual innovations and decry conservatives as prudes (remember what they thought of John Ashcroft?).

Despite their pride in the sex-filled culture they have given us, liberals do not want to take any blame for the consequences of their sexual innovations. That's why the liberals are reacting with such hostility to Santorum's claim. It hits very close to the mark.

Der Tommissar

I'm still wondering: If Santorum buys Kennedy a couple rounds, will Ted declare the whole controversy to be, "Water under the bridge."

I mean..in the past.

I mean...forgiven and done with.

Richard

I think both Mark and jcecil3 are, in some sense correct.

Which is to say I take Mark's basic thesis as more or less accurate: "Liberals have agitated for dissent from the Church's teaching and for unchastity. Conservatives, faced with this, have cravenly protected the fait accompli and the status quo." But I would modify it with Cecil's fair exceptions: We now all know there are conservative pederasts out there - just look at the St. John's debacle in Pennsylvania (Santorum's home state, I need not add) (we really don't know about Maciel so I will setthat aside for now. It's not necessary to make this point.). And we also can say, obviously, that many progressive prelates are not sexually transgressing themselves - just acting like Mark's putative don't-rock-the-boat conservatives.

Nonetheless the main pattern is clear. The bulk (albeit not all) of clerical malfeasance is from progressive ranks, and more than a few "conservatives" and God knows plenty of liberals enable and cover up for it, with all of these actors driven by an underlying culture of clericalism, understood in its worst sense - a culture which we should all be clear, as Amy notes, long predates Vatican II.

I'm less interested in Rick Santorum's incoherency or Ted "The Swimmer" Kennedy's grandstanding than a new spiritual revival which works to root out the culture identified by Amy's interlocuters *and* puts concrete safety lines in place to make the Church the reasonably safe environment that Barbara wants for her children. If we're not doing both, it's a sign that we're not serious about restoring the Church and getting rid of the Filth.

Richard

Hello Al,

Those are real sobering numbers.

Samuel J. Howard

As for TK, I like how James Taranto of "Best of the Web Daily" always ends TK items:
"Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment."

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/

Eric Giunta

Guys, let's quit the B.S. The current Pope has all "power" to "fix" the crisis in the Church, insofar as he has all authority to declare that such perverts and Modernists are not, in fact, Catholic.

In truth, I fail to see how modern Catholicism is any different from Anglicanism. Yes, we have a Rome that is "officially" conservative and traditional, but a same Rome who knowingly turns a blind-eye to known heretics, dissenters, and abusers. This is just like Anglicanism, where sonservative traditionalists exist side-by-side liberal modernists. Sure, there's some bickering, but they ultimately recognize each other's full communion. And that's exactly what we have today in Catholicism. Until Rome grows some cojones, it's proclamations remain to be seen only as conservative opinions from merely one face of the Catholic Church, a Church that tolerates theological dissent and diversity just as much as your average mainstream liberal Protestant denomination.

What would any of us think of a father of a family who sits back while his children are molested or otherwise led astray by their uncles? Whatever good qualities the father may personally have, we'd see him, *at best*, as grossly negligent, and rightfully so.

This is exactly how I feel about John Paul II. Look, I loved the man. I cried for days after he died, and at his funeral. But for God's sake: beatification?! This man may have been holy, may have been intelligent, but he was a horrible Pope! And that's what his primary duty was: Pope! He was very negligent in his governing of the Church, very insensitive to the victims of Child abuse. Whatever his personal sanctity, I simply do not see what was extraordinary about him. He travelled the world: big deal! This warrants canonization?

John Paul II had every ability to rid us of this problem, by at least cracking down on heresy and not giving these Modernist perverts the right to call themselves "Catholic." He refused to do so, and his bishops followed suit. Yes, excommunications result in schisms. But so what? We're so fond of quoting Mother Theresa's "God does not ask me to be successful; he asks me to be faithful." Why the heck can't we put this into practice? Does it really matter that we can claim so many people numerically in the Church, when perhaps the vast majority of these are ignorant of what their Church teaches, or otherwise are allowed to openly act and dissent counter to their Church's teachings? This is ludicrous, and the fact that so many are unable to see this is so very, very sad.

Now, what does complaining about it accomplish? Not much; but at the very least I think our spiritual shepherds need to know that we, the flock, are not going to sit back and continue to smile-and-nod, bending over backwards via intellectual gymnastics to try to justify the unjustifiable. We need to vocally put the pressure on these men, and let them know when they're doing a bad job.

Are our opinions necessarily the most informed or infallible? No; but then, neither are theirs, as they have so visibly shown!

reluctant penitent

Eric Giunta says:

"Guys, let's quit the B.S. The current Pope has all "power" to "fix" the crisis in the Church, insofar as he has all authority to declare that such perverts and Modernists are not, in fact, Catholic."

What institution of the Papacy do you suggest that the Pope use to "declare" that the "perverts and Moderninsts" are "not Catholic"? Would this be a declaration of excommunication? Whose testimony would the Pope believe--that of Eric Giunta or that of people intervening on behalf of the accused Priest or Bishop?

Papal power over Bishops is primarily a power over appointments, and the appointments are beginning to change in favor of orthodox Bishops because the credibility of the liberals is waning. See for example the following story, which I just posted on the Lavada discussion on this blog: http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/2005/0504dg.htm

Patrick Rothwell

"In truth, I fail to see how modern Catholicism is any different from Anglicanism. Yes, we have a Rome that is "officially" conservative and traditional, but a same Rome who knowingly turns a blind-eye to known heretics, dissenters, and abusers. This is just like Anglicanism, where sonservative traditionalists exist side-by-side liberal modernists. Sure, there's some bickering, but they ultimately recognize each other's full communion."

This is a quite silly and strained analogy. First, the "modern Catholic Church" does not have the foundational theological anarchy that Anglicanism has had both in the past and the present. Second, as a practical matter, the ECUSA is institutionally less tolerant of clerical sexual predators than the Catholic Church institutionally is. This has to do, at least in part, with the unique Vestry system of ECUSA parish governance in the United States and also the fact that the powers-that-be in the ECUSA were willing to listen to the lawyers and insurers who were telling them they faced dire consequences if they did not pitilessly remove sexual predators from the ministry.

Der Tommissar

insofar as he has all authority to declare that such perverts and Modernists are not, in fact, Catholic.

Wow, I get to defend "perverts". Perverts can be Catholic, just like adulterers and murderers and people who eat meat on Friday yet do not substitute a sufficient penance.

To be outside the Faith you must dissent from either its teachings or its authority. Otherwide, you're a member of the class called "sinners".

reluctant penitent

Another difference is that people still think it a "scandal" when a Catholic Bishop engages in homsexual acts. If Weakland were a Bishop in the Episcopal Church there would have been nothing scandalous about his homosexual trysts.

Local Man

Despite their pride in the sex-filled culture they have given us, liberals do not want to take any blame for the consequences of their sexual innovations. That's why the liberals are reacting with such hostility to Santorum's claim. It hits very close to the mark.

Santorum's observations equate consensual sexual relations between two adults with child molestation and blames the latter on the former. It's patently ridiculous, and it ignores the fact that sexual predators, in the Church and elsewhere, existed long before the big, bad liberals rode into Boston.

reluctant penitent

And ECUSA authorities are not always more proactive. Take this story, for example, which involved abuse by both Catholic and ECUSA clergy (http://www.sptimes.com/2002/12/01/TampaBay/A_path_of_abuse_cross.shtml):

"The Catholic church...sent letters to parishioners, inviting other victims to come forward. Episcopal officials were less forthcoming. Seven years earlier, they found out that Father Pollard was a molester. But they kept quiet about it around All Saints' Episcopal Church, where he was pastor, until the brothers surfaced."

Patrick Rothwell

I completely agree that Santorum grossly oversimplified the issue. I have been nonplused by the recent tendency of pundits and politicians opining that their pet peeves are responsible for child molestation. I really won't be surprised if someone argues that our budget deficits (now thankfully decreasing) are in some way responsible for child molestation. There really needs to be an equivalent of "the Hitler Rule" with respect to child molestation.

TSO

I don't think the problem has much to do with liberalism or conservatism but accountability and a sort of "checks and balances" between laity, priest and bishops.

In 1882 Bishop Richard Gilmour wrote to Archbishop (not yet Cardinal) James Gibbons of Baltimore in favor of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore: "The clergy needs to be strengthened and protected against the people and the people also against the irresponsible ways of the clergy and the bishop against both." (Source Russell Shaw in John Meehan's "Two Towers", pg. 71)

Simon

Local Man, I agree that Santorum is off the mark in blaming all this on the "liberals."

But your attempt to distinguish "consensual sexual relations between two adults" from "child molestation" doesn't wash. An adult sodomizing an 18 year old male apparently fits the former category, while an adult sodomizing a 16 year male old fits the latter.

This is a purely legal distinction. Morally, it's a distinction without much of a difference. Both actions are evil, and a man who engages in either action is unfit to be a priest.

reluctant penitent

TSO speaks of '"checks and balances" between laity, priest and bishops'.

If you mean that the laity ought to have authority over spiscopal appointments, I don't see how this would solve the bigger problem in the US episcopacy, quite aside from its inconsistency with the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. It might have helped get rid of Cardinal Law. But it probably would not help get rid of many other liberal Bishops, and it might prevent orthodox Bishops from being appointed. For example, Abp Chaput has been mentioned as a candidate for the next Abp of Washington. What do you think his chances would be if the laity were given a vote? How about Bishop Olmsted in Phoenix?

Far more scary is the prospect that, once the laity greater authority over Bishops, these Bishops might acquire for themselves greater authority over the Magisterium. If that ever happens we can say goodbye to the Catholic Church!

The only check on clergy abuse that would not endanger the integrity of the Magisterium would be authority in the hands of the Pope. If that were to happen we would justly be able to blame the Pope when something goes wrong in the local Church.

Der Tommissar

For example, Abp Chaput has been mentioned as a candidate for the next Abp of Washington. What do you think his chances would be if the laity were given a vote? How about Bishop Olmsted in Phoenix?

The bigger question would be...who would show up to vote? How on earth would they be able to discern which candidate best matches what they believe?

Seriously, I think we need to remember that the folks who discuss these things here are not representative of the average Catholic.

reluctant penitent

I can just imagine the Rainbow Sashers bringing a load of new converts into the Church before an episcopal vote. We'd end up with Richard Simmons as Archbishop of Washington. At least Andrew Sullivan would be happy.

jcecil3

Greetings!

The counter-point to Eric Giunta's point is that Rome does NOT really have the power to do what I interpret him implying.

For example, even the most conservative Roman Catholic theologian (and Pope Benedict, himself) would not claim that mandatory celibacy for ministerial priest in the Latin Rite is an infallible doctrine - or even an authoratative teaching. It is a discipline.

Pope John XXII used to say, "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity"

The are canons that limit papal power when the issue is not solemnly defined, and charity and canon law both require restraint, due process and merciful application of punitive power.

The point I was making about many so-called "liberals" trying to puch for "honesty" is that much of the internal "dissent" I saw in seminary was around asking the question "Is mandatory celibacy working?"

The bishops, whether laity call them "liberal" or "conservative", refuse to discuss the matter. You try to bring it up with a bishop, and he simply responds, "The Holy See has made it clear that the discipline will not change".

You say, "Yes, your excellence, I know what the Holy See has said, but what's your personal opinion?" and you get some vague answer that what needed is more prayer.

And herein is part of the rub. You can't straight answers to many questions from the so-called "orthodox".

I generally don't like making hugely revealing confessions on the web, but here goes.

I recall the exact instance that I decided to leave priestly formation. While I was in seminary, I was really and truly trying to live perfect chastity. I'm straight and attracted to "age appropriate females" so my own struggle wasn't with pedophilia or homosexuality.

As part of my sincere effort to live chaste celibacy, I was praying every single hour of the Divine Office (matins, lauds, terce, none, sext, vespers, and compline), participating in Mass daily, saying the Rosary daily, and spending a minimum of one hour in formal meditation/contemplation in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament every day. I was going to confession once or twice per week, and spiritual direction every two weeks. I fasted on Wednesday's and Friday's and assumed a vegetarian diet. I slept on a board and exercised about 45 minutes per day. I also took cold showers. I took very seriously my supervised ministry and my theology classes. I lived very simply with few belongings.

One day, a homosexually oriented classmate made a pass at me and tried to kiss me. I sort of back-handed him with my fist clenched - not hard enough to really hurt, but hard enough to shock him.

I felt aweful about my reaction, because whatever I think of his own actions, it did not call for violence on my part.

Now, I was also struggling with the fact that it was spring and I was in my twenties and I was living close enough to Catholic University to see all the beautiful women walking around campus in their spring clothing, and despite doing all the "right things" I found myself falling into the temptation to masturbate after almost six years of living this life-style.

So, I go to confession face to face with a priest at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and I'm wearing my habit (I was in simple vows with the Franciscans) and I confess that I punched another religious and that I masturbated.

This priest then completely ignored that I just said I punched another religious. He didn't ask what happenned or why I did it or anything. Instead, he starts laying into me about how if I do not overcome masturbation, I am unworthy of the habit and I have conquer this sin. As a penance, he tells me to spend an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament asking for the grace of chastity.

Of course, I was downcast like you wouldn't believe, and I'm thinking to myself, "I already do that, and it isn't working."

I had my head down and must have been visibly upset, because the priest then asked me, "What's wrong my son?"

So, I looked up at him and said, "Does that work for you Father?"

I'll never forget his response: "Do you think God commands the impossible"

At that exact moment, I was filled with rage and thinking to myself, "Why can't you - or anyone - simply answer the question?"

The words that came out of my mouth in response to his question of whether God commands the impossible were, "No. I think YOU do."

I decided exactly at that moment to leave formation.

It was my experience in the seminary that the so-called "orthodox" or "conservative" could never directly say that their methods and techniques worked, and I have come to believe over the years since that there is no method or technique for achieving chastity through religious ritual or intellectual adherence to certain dogmatic formulations.

I have actually grown in chastity since leaving formation, and one of the ideas I found most helpful is not to try to suppress fantasy in prayer, but rather expand it.

I came across this idea in a book by a priest, but the idea is that instead of trying to drive fantasy out of your mind, you try to make it a little more detailed: trying to accurately imagine what would lead up to sexual activity and what would follow the act.

What this does is contextualize sexual fantasy within its proper context of a relationship.

Of course, such a technique may not work well for all celibates, because it may make some of them desire to be in a relationship all the more.

But such a technique works very well for those of us called to marriage - and once you are married, the technique involves bringing to mind an accurate imagining of what you would tell your wife - virtually making temptation vanish in an instant.

What am I getting at?

What I am driving at is that while I have almost a blind faith that chaste celibacy is possible, I think very few Roman Catholic priests live it perfectly, and I do not think the so-called "orthodox" have the answer to how it is lived,...,or at least not an answer that works like some cookie cutter for everyone who tries it.

Furthermore, I knew enough men in my six years in seminary who claimed they were not gay and defined themselves conservative or orthodox but slept with their male classmates to know that something is amiss.

There are men who define themselves as "conservative" in seminary. You ask them "Are you gay?" and they will tell you they are not gay and gays should not be accepted in seminary.

But if you change the original question to "Do you experience same sex attractions sometimes?" They'd answer "yes", or you ask them, "Have you ever had a sexual encounter with a man?" and you'll get a response that goes like this: "What do you mean by sexual encounter?"

If you say, "Have you ever performed oral sex on a man?" the answer may or may not be "yes", and you have run down the entire gammut: anal sex (given or received)? Manual stimulation(given or recieved)? Kissed with an open mouth? etc....

What the so-called liberals are saying is "Stop the B.S. If you have predominantly same sex attractions, you are gay - by definition"

This is why Pope Benedict is also not likely to release the statement on homosexuality in the seminary that he has on his desk right now...because there is a fundamental disagreement among priests about what the term means.

The average layman may think homosexual means a person with predominately or exclusively same sex attractions. Most insiders believe that if you truly weed those people out of priesthood, you'd reduce the number of priests by a minimum of fifty percent - and Pope Bendict knows this.

If you mean merely those who have acted on such inclinations, you may not hit the fifty percent number, but you'd catch a whole lot of so-called "conservatives" who do not call themselves "gay". Pope Benedict knows this as well.

There is a huge number of men in priestly life who do not define themselves as gay and who do not believe that celibacy means they are permitted to act out. However, they do believe that because they are not drawn to heterosexual marriage, celibacy is their calling. They define themselves as "conservatives" because they truly do hope that all the traditional techniques will help them to BECOME chaste, and when they fall, which they DO, they go to confession and start over.

The number of priests and seminarians in this type of cycle is not small.

Nobody knows the exact percent, because the bishops will not even allow an open and honest in-house discussion of the issue.

Straight men who go to seminary find themselves in a situation where BOTH the liberals and conservatives meet the defintion of "gay" that makes sense to straight people, but the conservative tends to refuse to define himself that way because, to him, that is the fundamental error of the liberal - to give up and define yourself by your sinful inclinations.

What straight people who have never been in seminary fail to understand most about "gay" Catholics (gay by our defintion) is that many gay Catholics DO believe what the Church teaches very literally and take it far more seriously than most of us straight people. They take it so seriously that they embrace priesthood as a method of overcoming their "disordered inclinations" which they refuse to allow to define their entire personhood (thus refusing to call themselves gay).

The way the liberals see it is simply that they want to be honest - and many of them also do want to be chaste - but they want to be be able to openly say "I am a gay man trying to live chaste celibacy."

The way I see it is that the liberals are speaking the truth in the common meaning of the term. If you have predominately same sex attractions, you are what most straight people would refer to as "gay".

And, I would venture to say that maybe if such a condition is beyond choice and cannot be changed, perhaps we need better language to describe the condition than a "disorder" so that people who live with such a condition can more honestly seek how to live a graced life with the nature God gave them.

Peace!

Todd

RP, regarding, "Far more scary is the prospect that, once the laity greater authority over Bishops, these Bishops might acquire for themselves greater authority over the Magisterium," I think what we're looking for is accountability primarily to the laity, not to the bureaucrats in Rome deciding who's moving up the corporate ladder. Put good bishops in place for life (the way it used to be done) and make sure they have to listen to the people they're responsible for. I don't want lay representative bodies turning the Catholic Church into a free-for-all, but I don't want an immoral Divine Right of Kings / Materialist CEO crossbreed either.

reluctant penitent

jcecil3 said:

"One day, a homosexually oriented classmate made a pass at me and tried to kiss me. I sort of back-handed him with my fist clenched - not hard enough to really hurt, but hard enough to shock him. I felt aweful about my reaction, because whatever I think of his own actions, it did not call for violence on my part."

Why on earth would you feel awful about your reaction? You did the right thing morally. The man was physically assaulting you and disgracing the Priesthood. This is precisely the sort of reaction--hesitation to be firm about such transgressions--that has led to the sex abuse crisis.

You may very well be right that there are "orthodox" seminarians who have engaged in homosexual acts but do not identify themselves as homosexuals and who affirm Church teaching on homosexuality. They too should be weeded out of seminaries. If the result is that we lose half our priests and have to ordain married men, so be it. The presence of men in the Priesthood who have acted on homosexual desires is not healthy and ought to be prevented no matter what the cost.

reluctant penitent

Todd, you say that you want "accountability primarily to the laity, not to the bureaucrats in Rome". Fine. How would you accomplish this? Please be specific about the institutional changes that you'd like to implement so that I can tell you why they won't work.

Donald R. McClarey

"Then again, maybe the hypocrisy of criticizing Santorum's opponents over hypocrisy is just another social good. Ya think?"

One could never criticize Teddy Kenndey for hypocrisy. He has rarely attempted to conceal that he is a drunken bilious gasbag who would be tending a bar in a seedy dive in Boston, but for the accident of his birth. If La Rochefoucauld was right in his assessment that "hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue", then Teddy has never paid that particular tribute in his completely wasted life.

As to the question of Santorum's remarks, it is ridiculous to assume that taking a libertine view on sexual matters does not encourage child abuse, especially as to teen-age victims who are only slightly underage.

Tom Kelty

"Power tends to corrupt. Absolute Power corrupts absolutely". Lord Acton and John Henry Cardinal Newman said this at the end of Vatican 1, as Pio Nono rammed through his policy on Infallibility by acclamation of his hand-picked voters. The sensus fidelium was reduced in prestige to a rubber stamp of the Papal mindset.
We have to develop true mutual respect between the Bishops and the rest of us. They are infact our servants aren't they? And the Pope is the Servus Servorum Dei. Bishops there must be, but not the model we have now with so much power concentrated in the hands of so few. The entire concept of a hierarchic monarchy reeks of pride and ambition inimical to Christ's words and example. How much longer will we nourish this model? Not long if there are no priests to fill in the ranks and compete for promotion by one all powerful leader. How did we get so fouled up?

jcecil3

Reluctant Pentient,

I have no hard studies to back up my claim, partly because the bishops explictly will not allow it, but I am convinced based on my own experience that your solution would reduce the number of priests in the Latin Rite by at least fifty percent.

I also do not think punching the fellow seminarian (not a priest at the time, but he is now) was the right way to handle the situation, no matter what the morality of his actions.

If a woman at work tries to kiss me now that I am married man, it is not appropriate to immediately back-hand her with a closed fist - even lightly.

The appropriate response might be something like saying: "I'm flattered that you find you me attractive, and this is nothing about you, but I'm a married man and I wish to remain faithful to my wife. I apologize if I signaled anything differently. Can we keep our relationship strictly professional, or will we be unable to work together?"

I am not against being assertive and firm in establishing boundaries and doing what is right - even avoiding the occassion of future sin if necessary.

But striking another person with a closed fist over what amounts to an act of flattery seems to me to be completely innappropriate.

Sure, if the fellow seminarian had tried to rape me, I could fight back,..., but that's not what happened at all. I think if I just told him to stop, he would have stopped. I should have at least tried.

Peace!

reluctant penitent

"striking another person with a closed fist over what amounts to an act of flattery seems to me to be completely innappropriate"

An "act of flattery"???? This is a SEMINARIAN who is intending to life a CELIBATE LIFE who is disgracing the Seminary and the Priesthood and is giving you occasion to perform a gravely immoral and intrinsically unnatural act, unlike the woman who tries to kiss you (as if that ever happens).

Excuse the hyperventilation but I'm shocked that an obviously intelligent and good person should be so tolerant of something so scandalous. Again, it's precisely this sort of willingness to pass of such acts a "flattery" or "experimentation" that has led the scandals in the Church.

Der Tommissar

The appropriate response might be something like saying: "I'm flattered that you find you me attractive, and this is nothing about you, but I'm a married man and I wish to remain faithful to my wife. I apologize if I signaled anything differently. Can we keep our relationship strictly professional, or will we be unable to work together?"

With all due respect, how would you have gotten all of that out before his tongue was in your mouth?

In both cases, I think you'd need to preface your declaration with some way of gaining space between the two of you.

reluctant penitent

Tom, I'll ask you the same question that I asked Todd. What specific institutional changes do you propose? I have proposed something: greater power to the Papacy and a revival of something like the office of the Inquisition (without the auto da fe). This office would investigate on a permanent basis any and all accusations of heterodoxy and malfeasance, would report credible accusations to the Pope, who, in turn, would have the authority to immediately and without trial laicize and perhaps excommunicate any Priest or Bishop. No Priest or Bishop would have the right to a hearing. Under such a system mistakes might be made and innocent and good Priests and Bishops might be laicized. But no system is perfect.

jcecil3

Reluctant Sinner,

Masturbation is also an intrinsically immoral and gravely disordered act according to the Church - at least when done with full knowledge, freedom and deliberation.

We need to watch our terms here.

To call an act intrinsically evil means that it involves some degree of sin always and everywhere - but the sin may be venial, such as the case of telling a "white lie".

To call an act gravely immoral means that the act would be a mortal sin if done with full knowledge, freedom and deliberation. Yet, even in this case, there could mitigating factors that reduce personal culpability for what is gravely evil. For example, if a 3 year old shoots a real gun in ignorance and kills someone, the act was gravely evil, but the child is not culpable of sin at all - not even venial sin - because the child lacked subjective knowledge.

Even when we call an act gravely and intrinsically evil, we cannot equivocate all such acts - even according to "conservative theology".

Pope John Paul II was quite clear on this in Evengelium Vitae when he says that abortion is more gravely evil than artificial contraception - though he obviously sees both acts as intrinsicially and gravely evil.

At any rate, what this seminarian did was no more gravely evil than my own act of masturbation - which was the point that was implied by my confessor in the instance relayed above.

If he should have been punched, are you suggesting my confessor should have given me a good stiff beating?

My point is that I think a good number of priests are doing things that the Church would define as gravely and intrinsically evil, and a mortal sin when done with full knowledge, freedom and deliberation.

In fact, I dount that Pope Benedict would claim he has never committed a gravely and intrinsically evil act in his entire life.

With the exception of Christ and the virgin Mary, I'm not sure any of us can say we have not comitted a intrinsically and gravely immoral act.

Which leads to the problem that the one who is without sin is the one who cast stones at others.

Bringing shame to the priesthood? What priest doesn't? Only one priest is perfect: the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God his is the only "real" priesthood in the Church. Those we call priests are simply sharing in his unique ministry.

Am I saying ministerial priests cannot live chastely or should not try?

No. I'm not saying that at all, and I think I met a few who seem to be living it well.

But ironically, the ones I think were living it well tended to be a bit more on the liberal side in the sense of being open to the question of whether the Church could ordain married people, women, and so forth. They also tended to have a very pastorally sensitive side.

But who knows. Maybe I was deceived and these men have skeletons in their closets too.

All I am saying is that I know for a fact that some of the so-called conservative or orthodox were not living chastely.

I do want to clarify that I do not see the issue of homosexuality and pedophilia as related except in the sense that an all male celibate priesthood tends to atttract all sorts of people who are not attracted to age appropriate females.

Celibacy does not cause homosexuality or pedophilia - but it attracts homosexuals and pedophiles.

I also want to be clear that I am not saying that there are not straight priests. There are. Some are chaste and some aren't - same as gays.

But the deeper issue is whether so-called "orthodoxy" (whatever that means) does not seem to produce healthy chaste celibates, and so we have to look at a few other things.

If so-called orthodoxy does not produce healthy chaste celibates, is there something else that would?

If there really is no "technique" for producing healthy chaste celibates - if it is really simply a gift from God given to a select few - could ministerial priesthood be opened up to people who do not have this special gift or charism (as is done in the Eastern Rites and as was done in the Latin Rite for 1139 years)?

If raising such a question makes one "dissenter", "heretic", "liberal" "progressive" or whatever, than so be it. That's what I am. So are many of the men who I believe DO have the gift of chaste celibacy.

Peace!

TSO

Reluctant pentitent:

By "checks and balances" between laity, priest and bishops I don't mean anything other than a greater closeness between the groups so they aren't "doing their own thing" as much. But the point of my comment, no doubt lost, was simply that there have been serious problems long before Vatican II.

Dan Crawford

Thank you, jcecil3, for what is perhaps the finest comment on clerical celibacy, homosexuality and our chronic evasion of the truth that I have read in a long time. I hope you are a teacher in your church.

James Kabala

Am I the only one who remembers the priestly sex abuse scandals in such states as Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico? This can't all be blamed on Harvard.

reluctantpenitent

"Masturbation is also an intrinsically immoral and gravely disordered act according to the Church - at least when done with full knowledge, freedom and deliberation"

The gravity of the sin of masturbation depends on what you're imagining yourself doing. If you're imagining yourself having anonymous sex in a gay bathhouse or sex with a prostitute it's worse than imagining yourself in a healthy marital relationship having procreative sex. Of course, the latter is still a sin. But it may, under some circumstances be a venial sin rather than a mortal one. For example, if one masturbates from weakness of will.

It's true that weakness of will may sometimes be at work in homosexual advances, but it's far less likely. Someone who has homosexual tendencies ought not to be putting himself in an all-male environment where he will be tempted, especially an environment known for the presence of other homosexuals. It's hard to make the case that one was acting from incontinence in entering a seminary when the act is so elaborate--signing up for a seminary, moving there, continuing to stay there, etc. Once in the seminary the man may begin acting from incontinence, but he's responsible for putting himself there in the first place. It would be analogous to a heterosexual who has fantasies about having sex with prostitutes moving into a brothel with lots of cash, even if he has good intentions in doing so (e.g. he wants to help the prostitutes in some way). He may end up acting from incontinence, but he is responsible for putting himself into an environment where he is going to have the desires that render him incontinent.

On the other hand, it's not possible to escape one's own masturbatory desires. One cannot be held responsible for having them if one is doing nothing to inflame these desires--e.g. you're not watching pornography, actively initiating sexual fantasies, etc.

It's also much easier to avoid the source of the temptation when you are making a pass at another person. You can just leave before your lustful feelings lead you to act incontinently. You cannot, on the other hand, escape your own masturbatory desires.

Furthermore, there are the following additional exacerbating factors in your seminarian friend's act: 1. He is putting someone else in a situation in which that person might be tempted to sin. He obviously thought that you might have same-sex desires and he was trying to inflame them in you. 2. He is a SEMINARIAN who is publicly disgracing the Church with his act. His act is likely to cause the person he's hitting on to want to leave the Church.

If your confessor was unable to make the distinction between these kinds of sin then maybe there is a problem with your confessor.

Again, I say this not out of malice but fraternal correction, which remains an obligation for all Christians.

Boniface McInnes

"What the so-called liberals are saying is "Stop the B.S. If you have predominantly same sex attractions, you are gay - by definition""

Ah, yes, it is true that that would be the modern liberalist's definition of gay. I would suggest "happy and carefree" as a definition.

You would, I imagine, respond "How about homosexual instead of gay, then?"

Which would be fine, except homosexual is an adjective describing acts. You may believe that it can also describe people, but the rest of us have no obligation to endorse a change in the definition of "homosexual".

There is no BS here, jcecil3. You are welcome to believe that such an affliction alters the fundamental nature of the man. The rest of us are free to reject such a primitive and small-minded notion.

The arrogance of forcing your post-modern definitions on those of us who don't buy into post-modernism is appalling. Luckily, while the culture at large (a cesspool of uncontrolled sexuality and death, might I note) agrees wholeheartedly with you, within the Body of Christ you are one tiny speck who poses no real threat to the Faith, even if you might endanger the souls of those who buy your anti-christian claptrap, dressed in piety though it is.

reluctant penitent

jcecil also asks:

"If there really is no "technique" for producing healthy chaste celibates - if it is really simply a gift from God given to a select few - could ministerial priesthood be opened up to people who do not have this special gift or charism"

What if married men who find it easy to live in accordance with Church teaching on sexuality are also the 'select few'? Ought we then to admit known adulterers and consumers of pornography? You speak as if all sexual frustration and temptation to sexual sin disappear when one is married.

reluctant penitent

'By "checks and balances" between laity, priest and bishops I don't mean anything other than a greater closeness between the groups so they aren't "doing their own thing" as much.'

What on earth does that mean? How would one accomplish this 'greater closeness'? By holding hands even more firmly during the Our Father?

Nancy

Now Boniface, no need to call names.

Nancy

I've been lucky to have only known two sexually abusive priests personally.

They were both super-orthodox, perhaps as a compensation of some kind? Of course that's hardly a representative sample.

Zippy

The gravity of the sin of masturbation depends on what you're imagining yourself doing.

Perhaps in the same sense that the gravity of an act of murder depends on why you are committing the murder, I suppose. But it is always grave matter, and thus a mortal sin, if done intentionally and with full knowledge.

al

Jcecil's comments, while obviously the product of some thought, and experience, are not compatible with Catholic doctrine.

The "intrinsic disorder" imputed to homosexual attraction is precisely because it is a nature that God did not give them.

Any more than a habituation to self abuse is a "nature" God gave you.

The "honesty" about the priesthood, should begin with an honesty about the pathology, its gravity and what it entails. This is not some accidental proclivity, like an overweening prediliction for chocolate, this is an total upending of how one should be related to one's fellow man, through sexuality, which the Theology of the Body seems to think is very important.

Boniface McInnes

Nancy,

I called "forcing your post-modern definitions on those of us who don't buy into post-modernism" arrogant.

I also called his claptrap "anti-christian".

Please not I never once called jcecil3 anything other than "jcecil3".

In fact, I responded to a comment which is nothing more than name-calling: a man who suffers from same-sex attractions is "gay" or "homosexual". Not the acts he is sadly attracted to, but the man himself.

Boniface McInnes

"Please notE" I mean.

Nancy

Bonny,

How about you are one tiny speck who poses no real threat to the Faith, even if you might endanger the souls of those who buy your anti-christian claptrap, dressed in piety though it is.

?

Boniface McInnes

I don't see the name calling. He's a tiny speck, I'm a tiny speck, you're a tiny speck. There are well over 1,000,000,000 of us alive today. That was just an attempt to keep his words in perspective.

jcecil3, I wholeheartedly apologise if calling you one tiny speck gave offense. You are, just as I am. It wasn't meant to be offensive.

hieronymus

Perhaps our priests-in-training would be less tempted to masturbate if we ceased calling them "seminarians".

jcecil3

Boniface,

I'm not sure what post modernist assumptions you are refering to when the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex." (par 2357)

and

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible." (par 2358)

It seems to be the teaching of the Church itself that there are people who have "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" and we are speaking about those "who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex."

The Catechism refers to this condition as "a trial" for those who have such "inclinations".

The original wording in the first publication (not draft, but publication) of the CCC (with Cardinal Ratzinger's Imprimi Postest) stated in paragraph 2358 "They do not chose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial".

The wording has been altered since the original publication to "This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial."

Furthermore, the Catechism encourages all of the rest of us that "They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

What does the Church mean by the change in emphasis from "They do not chose their homosexual condition" to "This inclination, which is objectively disordered"

Well, I'm not sure why the change was made, but I am pretty sure what it does NOT mean.

The Vatican is not claiming that the inclination IS chosen! She knows better than that.

In refering to the inclination as a disorder, we do not mean that homosexuals are somehow morally inferior to the rest of us by the very fact of their condition.

Rather, we mean a "disorder" more in the sense that blindness is a disorder.

But many liberals (and many blind people) would rather not call blindness a "disorder" either, because of the implied inferiority.

The blind might say, "I'm not completely blind. I can tell when there is light verses darkness. I am visually impaired - like the near-sighted. But my hearing and smell is probably far sharper than you who claim to see better than I."

Thus, we "liberals" would prefer to refer to "difference of ability" than "disorder".

What does this "homosexual condition" mean as a difference in inclination?

Does it mean that a person experience the condition cannot love someone?

Hardly?

Does it automatically mean that one acts out genitally on the inclination?

No more so than for heterosexuals.

Morally speaking, how are gay unions intrinsically different in the nature of unitive love than a marriage between infertile heterosexuals? How are the acts for a gay couple morally inferior to a couple practicing natural family planning?

Is the issue solely gender complementarity?

How does gender complementarity apply to hermaphrodites?

Can hermaphrodites be priests?

Reluctant Penitent raises the issue of people experiencing this "homosexual condition" placing themselves in the occassion of sin by joining a seminary.

That's not how most of the men who go to seminary with such inclinations see it - and they are not small in number.

The way they see it is this: the Church teaches that I must be chaste. Chastity is difficult for anyone. I sure could use some help. The Church offers help in the form of a life-style where I would have frequent access to the sacraments, a spiritual director, and I would be surrounded by like minded people who also want to live chaste celibacy.

The analogy of a man trying to live celibately in a brothel does not apply.

A better analogy would be a straight man living in a convent with nuns.

Would it be advisable for a straight man to live chaste celibacy in aconvent full of nuns when there is an all male alternative?

Of course not.

But if there is no other alternative, what should the straight man do?

People who haven't tried to live chaste celibacy should not judge those who are trying to live it for the choices they make in how they try to live it.

I think that too often the laity view a Roman Catholic priest like the lone ranger - a bachelor who somehow was born knowing he was called to celibacy and knowing how to live it. It's almost as though the laity think that when a priests mother delivered birth to him, the doctor said, "Congratulations! You have a priest!"

That's simply not the way it works.

People trying to celibacy are human persons before they celibates. They are gendered human persons before they celibate. They are gendered persons with a basic sexual orientation before they are celibates.

Somewhere along the line, they feel that tug on the heart to give chaste celibacy a try, and they naturally turn to people who are living that life-style to figure out if this is really their calling.

For some, it is: straight or gay.

For some, it may not be. I don't think it was for me (which is why I left).

All I am saying is that the "techniques" alone do not produce healthy chaste celibacy. I tried all the techniques - gave it an honest effort for six years. Outwardly, I looked like the real deal, but I knew I was struggling with lustful thoughts, masturbation, loneliness, and even depression.

Those who seemed to me to have the call were not always the so-called "orthodox" or "conservative".

But I am affirming that I believe some people have the call. I'm just denying that the call is sustained by so-called "orthodoxy" alone.

How do gay men who genuinely find chaste celibacy as their calling live it in the midst of an all male environment?

I'm not sure, but I think they do. More importantly, they have few other real options. If celibacy is difficult for priests supported by the institutional structures the Church already provides, it isn't any easier for "lone rangers" trying to do it on their own.

Should the priesthood be opned up to adulterers?

That's absurd. In the case of adultery, we have a clear violation of the golden rule - which is the basis of all morality.

I would not want others to break their promises to me and I can be jealous in love - so I should not treat my wife any other way than I want to be treated, no matter what passing feeling may tempt me to do otherwise.

However, in the case of consensual acts between two homosexual persons who love one another, am I certain that either is violating the golden rule?

The "liberals" who wind up embracing the "third way" I mentioned in my first comment get to seminary often seeking chastity at first, and realize along the way that most of those around them are just like them. So, they start asking these sorts of questions.

I'm not defending or condemning their point of view. Just explaining it.

The "conservative" seminarian will tell such seminarians that they are wrong - but that is not guarantee that teh conservative is not himself gay or that he is chaste. It simply means he isn't ready to give up yet on trying to become a chaste celibate.

Will "orthodoxy" help him get there?

Based on my own experience, I'd say "No. Not by itself." There's something else to it - something I don't know because I don't have it - a special grace or charism from the Holy Spirit.

Those who have this gift seem to me to be those who somehow see God as a spouse, and experience prayer almost like married people experience love-making. I don't think one can "manufacture" this experience.

Is saying married people might be called to priesthood comparable to saying we should ordain adulterers?

Obvisously not. Marriage is holy. It is a sacrament. It is a vocation. Pope Saint Peter, our first pontiff, was a married man and Saint Paul says Peter took his wife with him on mission (1 Cor 9:5).

Can the Church ordain married men? Of course. Christ did.

Can she ordain women? If the argument is based on who was an Apostle, I believe Junia of Rom 16:7 indicates the possibility (and Cardinal ratzinger stated on more than one occassion that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is not a solemn definition, though he obviously thought the teaching infallible by another non-solemn authority).

Could the Church bless gay unions? Maybe, though I doubt it would ever happen in my life-time.

To me, the more important issue is to keep the discussion of all these issues honest.

It simply is not true that the so-called "orthodox" or "conservative" priests are primarily men without same sex attractions, nor is it true that they are men who are more chaste than so-called "liberals".

If acknowledging that truth calls into question some assumptions that lead to a conclusion you already hold, it doesn't change the fact that many men in priestly life who define themselves as "conservative" or "orthodox" are what many of the rest of us would call "gay".

Peace!

reluctant penitent

"Perhaps in the same sense that the gravity of an act of murder depends on why you are committing the murder, I suppose. But it is always grave matter, and thus a mortal sin, if done intentionally and with full knowledge."

The key phrase is "if done intentionally and with full knowledge". An act might be done from incontinence, which is a way of failing to act "intentionally and with full knowledge".

For example, in the SUMMA THEOLOGIAE 2.2.156.1 Aquinas says the following:

"...the direct cause of incontinence is on the part of the soul, which fails to resist a passion by the reason. This happens in two ways, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 7): first, when the soul yields to the passions, before the reason has given its counsel; and this is called "unbridled incontinence" or "impetuosity": secondly, when a man does not stand to what has been counselled, through holding weakly to reason's judgment; wherefore this kind of incontinence is called "weakness."'

The second kind of incontinence is relevant here. One might know that masturbation is morally wrong but masturbate anyway because of the intensity of one's desire. Depending on the degree of incontinence, one's act might be a venial rather than a mortal sin. Of course, it's up to God to decide whether it was mortal or venial, and one ought to confess it anyway. But the act might very well be merely a venial rather than mortal sin.

This is why the Catechism gives us the following instruction concerning masturbation:

'To form an equitable judgment about the subjects' moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.'

There is something very different about the act of trying to French-kiss another seminarian. First of all, one cannot argue incontinence in such cases because the agent can always avoid the cause of the desire and the opportunity for sinning by leaving. There is nothing preventing the seminarian who knows that he has same-sex desires from avoiding the occasion for such desires before they arise. Even if he has already placed himself in this situation he can even when the desire begins to arise. The seminarian might have just left when tempted to stick his tongue in jcecil3's mouth.

In acts of masturbation, on the other hand, there really is no way for the person who is tempted to masturbate to avoid the person with whom he is tempted to sin because he is that very person. You do not have the same control over the cause of the desire. I suppose that you can go somewhere where you are not likely to masturbate--a Church, for example--but sooner or later you have to go home and be alone.

You must remember, furthermore, that the seminarian is committing more than one sin. There's the sin of scandal--leading someone else into sin--and the scandal done to others whose views on the Church might be negatively impacted by the experience of being French-kissed by a gay seminarian. People have left the Church because of such experiences.

Todd

"The "intrinsic disorder" imputed to homosexual attraction is precisely because it is a nature that God did not give them."

And God told you this when?

The point is biologically in dispute. One can say some choose to be gay, and others find the choice foisted upon them.

If you're going to get serious about engaging the issue, at least bring a dose of common sense to the proceedings. Aside from piety, jcecil brings a considerable dose of theology to the discussion. You're going to have to do better than namecalling, however it may be disguised as empty attack on arguments.

reluctant penitent

I'm having trouble keeping up with jcecil's turns of thought, so here's another post:

"Reluctant Penitent raises the issue of people experiencing this "homosexual condition" placing themselves in the occassion of sin by joining a seminary. That's not how most of the men who go to seminary with such inclinations see it."

In that case these seminarians are being voluntarily ignorant and are morally responsible. If I have fantasies about sleeping with prostitutes is it morally permissible for me to go and live in a brothel with several thousand dollars in my pocket? I might have good intentions, but I'm still doing something sinful--namely putting myself into a situation in which I have an occasion to sin.

And let's say that I'm stupid enough to move to the brothel and I sleep with one prostitute. Should I not now be able to recognize that I am not capable of living in the brothel without sinning? A seminarian who has engaged in even one homosexual act ought, by analogy, to leave immediately.

Der Tommissar

On the other hand, it's not possible to escape one's own masturbatory desires.

Am I the only person to find that unintentionally hilarious?

Lee Penn

The only child abuser I have known in person was an Episcopal priest in 1963-1965 in Texas, in the Episcopal elementary school I attended. (This was before ECUSA became liberal - they were still using the 1928 Prayer Book; there were no women priests; homosexuality was - literally - unspeakable.) The priest never bothered me; I learned only after my family moved away that the priest had been found in the bathroom with a 7th grade boy. No one would have dreamed that he was gay or a pedophile. He was stern, strict, orthodox, and married to a beautiful woman. All I knew was that he beat kids ... I would see other kids in my gym class with black and blue marks on their legs from beatings that he gave. A seminary admission test that screened out liberals and gays would have let this guy pass through.

The Episcopal school in question was not at all liberal. My 4th grade teacher was a member of the John Birch Society, and taught us that the TVA was a Communist plot. In one end-of-the-world sermon, the Rector told us that at the last, the Reds would take over the world ... and just as the Communists were about to kill the last Christian, Christ would come back.

In this case, right-wing ideology coexisted peacefully with beatings and molestation. However, as soon as the abuser-priest's sex crime was discovered, he was defrocked; he was not shipped off to another parish.

I believe that it is a great oversimplification to blame the sex abuse scandal on "the Modernists" or "Vatican II" or "the liberals." Rather, it seems that a conspiracy of silence between the left and the right in the RCC set the Scandal in motion, and keeps the perpetrators and the cover-up artists in power.

For every Weakland, there is a Law; for every Mahony, there is a Levada; for the Jesuits there are the Legionaries of Christ; for the Christian Brothers (as in the Canadian scandals) there is the Society of St. John. And behind them all, there are the RCC cultists who exalt blind obedience and unquestioning respect for the Hierarchy as the solution for all problems in the Church .... it is such unthinking deference that has allowed the abuse to go on as long as it has.

And we now know what the Vatican really thinks of all this ... Archbishop Levada will become the Prefect of the CDF.

Kyrie eleison.

Lee

al

Again J Cecil's remarks are incompatible with Catholic doctrine.

Here's a round up of quotes on the "disorder"

"3. Explicit treatment of the problem was given in this Congregation's "Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics" of December 29, 1975. That document stressed the duty of trying to understand the homosexual condition and noted that culpability for homosexual acts should only be judged with prudence. At the same time the Congregation took note of the distinction commonly drawn between the homosexual condition or tendency and individual homosexual actions. These were described as deprived of their essential and indispensable finality, as being "intrinsically disordered", and able in no case to be approved of (cf. n. 8, $4).

In the discussion which followed the publication of the Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. . . .when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent. . . .But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. . . .Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life. . .8. "What is at all costs to be avoided is the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behavior of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and therefore inculpable."


"10. "Sexual orientation" does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc. in respect to non-discrimination. Unlike these, homosexual orientation is an objective disorder (cf. "Letter," No. 3) and evokes moral concern."

DarwinCatholic

People who haven't tried to live chaste celibacy should not judge those who are trying to live it for the choices they make in how they try to live it.

I think that too often the laity view a Roman Catholic priest like the lone ranger - a bachelor who somehow was born knowing he was called to celibacy and knowing how to live it. It's almost as though the laity think that when a priests mother delivered birth to him, the doctor said, "Congratulations! You have a priest!"

Perhaps I'm being massively simplistic, but isn't this a life that every one of us was expected to live until marriage? While on the one hand it was not "easy" in the sense of "oh, what fun, I can do this without ever thinking" at the same time it was certainly not hard. One is never going to have a sexual encounter without noticing that it happened. At the very basic level, keeping one's clothes on keeps one out of the later stages, and avoiding "touching" keeps one out of the earlier stages.

Maybe I'm just a really boring person, but looking back at the single and dating periods of my life, I really can't say that chastity was hard. It certainly wasn't "fun" at times. But it wasn't "hard".

Am I missing something?

Simon

jcecil3, though I disagree with your broad conclusions that the Church needs to abandon the celibate male priesthood, there is a lot of insight in your posts. There's no question that "orthodox/conservative/traditionalist" and "promiscuous sinner" are quite capable of going hand in hand. The simplest truth in life is that people in general are complex and every human being is infinitely mysterious.

But I'm perplexed by your emphasis on the failure of traditional "techniques" to help with living chastity. It echoes Martin Luther's conclusion that human efforts to achieve sanctity are fruitless, after his failure to achieve sanctity (and chastity) solely through his own (misguided) efforts.

But then in this passage, you hit on the exact answer to what is needed for chastity (or any other virtue):

Those who have this gift seem to me to be those who somehow see God as a spouse, and experience prayer almost like married people experience love-making. I don't think one can "manufacture" this experience.

No one manufactures such an experience, but why do you assume it isn't available to anyone (married, single, or celibate) who approaches God in prayer as his loving Father?

Jesus Christ was a man like us in all things but sin -- and he freely chose celibacy. So did all the early apostles - John and Paul obviously, but even Peter speaks up on behalf of the Twelve about "us, who have left wives and children behind". Likewise Ignatius, Polycarp, and all the Apostolic Fathers. Justin and the later pre-Nicene Fathers.

Was this just some sort of one time grace, given to a small handful of superhuman men (and women)? Or might it be something God makes available far more widely, if only we realize it depends on our prayer and cooperation with God's grace rather than "techniques?"


reluctant penitent

jcecil also says:

"The analogy of a man trying to live celibately in a brothel does not apply. A better analogy would be a straight man living in a convent with nuns."

Depends on the seminary.

Der Tomissar finds "On the other hand, it's not possible to escape one's own masturbatory desires" funny, and so do I now that I read it again.

What I meant to say is that one can avoid occasions for sin if one is a homosexual who is tempted to make a move on a fellow seminarian. It's far harder to do so when the temptation is to masturbate because one has occasion to commit the sin whenever one is alone.

But all of this talk about powerlessness in the face of desire is nonsense frankly. It's not like the temptation to indulge in inappropriate fantasies or do inappropriate things goes away when one gets married, and here's the proof. How much pornography depicts a man coming to his wife and making love to her in a way that's open to procreation? I'm not an expert on pornography, but I'll venture a guess that it's zero. Yet there are plenty of bachelors out there who would consume such pornography if that's what they're really fantasizing about.

Fact is, if everyone is going to organize their lives around the satisfaction of sexual desires the institution of marriage is doomed.

reluctant penitent

jcecil then goes on a whole other tangent and says:

"What does this "homosexual condition" mean as a difference in inclination? ...Morally speaking, how are gay unions intrinsically different in the nature of unitive love than a marriage between infertile heterosexuals? How are the acts for a gay couple morally inferior to a couple practicing natural family planning?"

jcecil, someone who does not accept Church teaching on homosexuality ought to be prevented from being a Priest for that very reason. Can you see why one might think that a seminarian who believes such things might be more likely to act out on same-sex desires? And since one who holds such views is a "liberal" it's easy to see why one might associate being liberal with homosexuality in the priesthood.

No one is saying that people who profess to be orthodox cannot turn out to be malfeasant homosexuals. However, most of the homosexual Priests who have turned seminaries into gay resorts are openly gay men who believe that it is OK for seminarians to be engaging in gay sex in the seminaries, and who think that CHurch ought to recognize the legitimacy of homosexual relationships. There are even people like the liberal Mark Jordan who think that the Priesthood ought just to be handed over to homosexuals.

Nancy

However, most of the homosexual Priests who have turned seminaries into gay resorts are openly gay men who believe that it is OK for seminarians to be engaging in gay sex in the seminaries, and who think that CHurch ought to recognize the legitimacy of homosexual relationships.

reluctant, you have some data to back up this extraordinary statement, or did you just make it up for this occasion? It is very interesting.

Jesus Christ was a man like us in all things but sin -- and he freely chose celibacy. So did all the early apostles - John and Paul obviously, but even Peter speaks up on behalf of the Twelve about "us, who have left wives and children behind".

Peter didn't really, according to Paul. He later took his wife with him on his journeys, which is perfectly OK with me.

But, moving right along, the real problem here, again, is not sexual misbehavior, which will always be with us. The problem is management which covers it up, protects the malefactors, and hides the whole thing from public view.

Of course many of the people in management are themselves guilty, which opens the door to blackmail, open or covert.

We've reflected before here that at the bottom of the whole thing lies a priesthood which, as a whole, does not believe in God. This is a far more serious problem for us than any sexual misbehavior.

Francis X

jcecil3 said: "Masturbation is also an intrinsically immoral and gravely disordered act ..."

I am in a concert band, and our conductor is always telling us that we play too loud. "When you start out so loud, there's nowhere to build to; your dynamincs stink!"

With all due respect, I think those who follow the Catholic moralist manual also have lousy dynamics.

If masturbation gets the "intrinsically immoral and gravely disordered act" treatment, what words are left to properly convey the immorality of child abuse, adultery, etc.

Even good listerners tend to tune out music that's one dimensional.

Nancy

Ah, Francis X, the ugly and inconvenient truth comes out into the open.

My youngest, a spirited youngster, objected to everything I did. Or said. Finally I said, "OK, since I can't please you, I might as well do what I like."

If biting down on a hot dog on Friday will damn you to hell, as we were taught in my childhood, well then, why bother about anything at all after that?

Nancy

Just to remember the other side, an email from a priest friend:

BOy are we going to be able to talk THIS time!!!! Between us----one of my good buddies was just referred for sexual evaluation by somone who is a smarmy SOB--- this is retalitory not charity driven, so i am really pissed. And all of this is supposed to be under wraps so you can't get to them......sometimes what we have to fear comes from the inside of our committments and this really sucks.

Let's remember too the innocent priests who are getting caught up in this evil net.

Loudon is a Fool

Unless, Francis, child abuse becomes as popular as self-abuse, and then we can similarly demote the serious nature of that sin.

Lee Penn

Nancy, I asked a present-day Tridentine apologist the "hot dog question" myself.

Here (in paraphrase) is his answer:

The Church has the right to make disciplinary rules, and to bind acts (like eating meat on fast days) that may be otherwise morally indifferent, under pain of mortal sin. If the Church makes such a rule, we are bound to obey, just as we would be bound to obey a military commander. The Church also has the right to relax a discipline ... but this does not mitigate the penalty for those who disobeyed the old rule. The crime is disobedience, not the eating of meat.

For the record, I found this answer to be unsatisfactory and (in fact) disgusting. If I believed that this apologist's answer to represent the Catholic Faith, I would leave ASAP for Eastern Orthodoxy.

Lee

Liam

Lee

But that was the long-standard explanation of the matter: the gravity of sin came from disobeying a Precept Of The Church. Likewise the issue for clerics and religious of completing their obligations to recite the daily office before each midnight, the cause of many archly dark jokes.

Liam

For example, just a few months ago on Jimmy Akin's website:

http://www.jimmyakin.org/2005/02/soups_redux.html#comments

http://www.jimmyakin.org/2004/04/meat_on_lenten_.html

http://www.jimmyakin.org/2004/04/the_gravity_of__1.html

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