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August 11, 2005

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» A kind of human Sunday from Noli Irritare Leones
The clergyman is expected to be a kind of human Sunday. Things must not be done in him which are venial in the week-day classes. He is paid for this business of leading a stricter life than other people. It is his raison d’etre. If his parishio... [Read More]

Comments

Mark Shea

Part of fallen human nature is not only sins of the groin, but the sin of being a double-talking sanctimonious jerk. I frankly find the sermon more appalling than the sleazy rendezvous. The rendezvous could (with sufficient application of imagination) at least be chalked up to a long struggle against inchastity, like a character in a Graham Greene novel. But a Graham Greene character would not then stand up and berate the sins of unchastity in others. He'd have the class to at least keep his trap shut and feel ashamed of himself.

That said, I find even this sin only appalling, not shocking. As a writer, I of all people should know that it's a lot easier to spew words about morality and righteousness than it is to actually *do* all that stuff. The Clark fell prey to that temptation (perhaps in an attempt to persuade himself that he was "doing his priestly duty") stuns me no more than the suggestion that anybody else fell prey to some other temptation. After the 20th century, it's hard to amaze me with stories of the human capacity for sin.

Nancy

Given that this man is human and so on and so forth, I just don't think this is even remotely OK, and I don't think I'm being a "Puritan" to say so.

He's brought the priesthood into disrepute (again). He's wronged a husband. He's made all his fine words about morality into a laughing stock.

Maybe he couldn't or wouldn't help himself in the matter of this sin. But then, as you say, Amy, he should have retired as a spokesman for these high ideals.

amy

Mark:

I want to be careful here and not put up straw men. I've only seen a couple of "shocked" comments, and I don't want the conversation to be on that road, exclusively. I think the more useful questions are: what's our response to the "another conservative hypocrite" line because, you know...it's happened quite a few times (and not just with religious figures) in this country in the past few years.

al

Looks like he's resigned

Celine

"If Clark was liberal, would our reaction to this alleged situation be the same?"

No, it would not. If he was a liberal, conservatives/traditionalists would blame liberalism. Since he is a conservative, conservatives/traditionalists will blame human nature or original sin or something of the sort. They will certainly not recognize some defeciency in the very way they look at the world or God as the result of his personal sin, as they would demand of liberals.

But, hey, if he was a liberal, the liberals play the same game, only in reverse. It's human nature and original sin.

al

Oops. The other post noted that.

Also, by way of distinguishing this from the sex scandal, which indeed liberalism is one of the primary causes of, is the participant in this.

If everything reported in this is true, the other party in this is as deplorable as the Msgr.

That's not the case in the sex scandal, despite the claims that its all of a piece, and clericalism is to blame.

Christine

Oh I couldn't agree more. He's forfeited any credibility whatsoever that he ever had in the past. The fact is that this kind of behavior has gone on from time immemorial, whether one is liberal, conservative or anything in between. But human beings are capable of living in fantasy worlds. After a time it's so easy to dull the conscience, feel self-righteous and just convince oneself that living a dual life really isn't so bad.

I'm just not terribly surprised that it could happen to a cleric, even one with his high standing.

I certainly don't excuse his lack of integrity. He surely should have had the honesty to step down.

Rich Leonardi

If Clark was liberal, would our reaction to this alleged situation be the same? That's all I'm askin'.

Well, no. I suppose it would resemble scheudenfreude. In this instance, Clark is the sign that points to Jerusalem but doesn't manage to get there.

Were Clark 'liberal', and by that I assume you mean heterodox, the sign would be pointing in the wrong direction.

So what's "worse": Right sign, sinful act, hypocrisy? or wrong sign, sinful act, consistency?

Rosemarie

+J.M.J+

It's funny; I just read about that same homily yesterday in a 2002 copy of Voices (magazine for Women for Faith and Family).

The author, Rita Joseph, wrote that she had heard an "excellent sermon" on a visit to St. Patrick's Cathedral by Monsignor Eugene Clark on "five specific influences that may explain, but not excuse, he said, some of the priestly failures now scandalizing both the faithless and the faithful." The description that follows sounds like the same sermon.

I read this just yesterday and thought to myself, "This is the same guy who's in the news now!" Strange timing.

In Jesu et Maria,

bruce cole

What if he'd been an unfamous, obscure priest?? More than a few have done what Clark is accused of....The odds of the archdiocese stone-walling, doing their best to bury the story, etc. go up exponentially. That's a scandal, too.

Sydney Carton

During my lunchtime at the firm, in secret, I've been walking to St. Patrick's Cathedral every day for about a half-hour of prayer. When this story hit the news, it didn't seem to make much of a difference to the usual tourists who frequent the place in the afternoon taking pictures. But it means a lot to me.

I usually go to St. Paul's on 9th and 60th Street, but during the summer they don't have evening masses so I go to St. Patrick's Cathedral for the 5:30 pm Sunday mass. The homilies are incredibly orthodox, especially when compared to the Jesuit homilies at St. Paul's, and are filled with a persistent defense of Catholic teachings. I don't believe I've seen Fr. Clark preside, however.

To put it mildly, it really frickin' bothers me that I'm struggling to live an orthodox life here in Manhattan, when this man apparrently is off dallying with his secretary. Can't they just be friends? Why does it ALWAYS have to go to the next level? (My law firm has very attractive secretaries also, but I'm not stupid enough to even think about getting involved).

Where have the real men gone?

Joel

Mark,

So tell me, wise guy, who will speak out against the sins of the world as Christ commanded us? We're all weak and sinners. Somebody's gotta do it. To do nothing would hand Satan a gift-wrapped victory. Any simpleton can see Satan's hard at work to take as many of us as possible down with him. He knows our weaknesses and knows there's no bigger target than the church that Christ founded. I'm sure Satan is applauding you for your efforts.

Todd

Celine, as a liberal, I can say I would have criticized him just as vociferously. I've gone on record as being critical of Weakland's Commonweal piece (it would have been better to find someone who could say it sans baggage) as well as that Pax Christi priest and his defenders.

"Were Clark 'liberal', and by that I assume you mean heterodox ..."

Actually, that's all conservative PC-speak. Cutting through it, a person can be liberal, moral, and a faithful Catholic. And in this case, one can be conservative, immoral, and heterodox, and even pretend not to be the latter two, and what do you get? A tv pulpit. I wonder what Fulton Sheen would think.

dick rood

I am roughly Clarks age and have been doctoring my prostate since forever. I am amused that a rather attractive woman found an old goat appealing.

There's no fool like an old fool!

Tom Craughwell

About the "another conservative hypocrite" line--Msgr. Clark isn't a hypocrite until it has been proven that he had an affair with Mrs. DeFilippo.

It seems the DeFilippos are in the midst of a pretty nasty divorce. In such situations, it's not unheard of for one spouse to lash out against the other in especially vicious ways.

I am acquainted with Msgr. Clark. He baptized my niece in St. Patrick's. He was my pastor for many years when his church in NYC, St. Agnes, was my workday parish. I do not believe this accusation against him. He is an honest a man and a holy priest.

Maybe I'll be proven wrong. Maybe it will turn out that my faith in Msgr. Clark is misplaced. But l don't think so.

Rich Leonardi

Actually, that's all conservative PC-speak.

Curious how Todd seems to have especially keen insights into everyone else's politics. Does being a self-identified "liberal" come with a crystal ball?

Nancy

To put it mildly, it really frickin' bothers me that I'm struggling to live an orthodox life here in Manhattan, when this man apparrently is off dallying with his secretary. Can't they just be friends? Why does it ALWAYS have to go to the next level? (My law firm has very attractive secretaries also, but I'm not stupid enough to even think about getting involved).


Where have the real men gone?

I wonder that too, Sydney. I know so many men and women in our profession and elsewhere who struggle to live upright lives, and who succeed. (Or at least they do better than this!) We're not set up as some kind of paragons as the priests are, we aren't in a position to harangue everyone else about being immoral, we just hack away at the thing. If I were within walking distance of St. Pat's, I'd be over there too as often as I could be. (I like to stay nearby for this reason when I'm in New York.)

But today my heart would sink, just as yours did.

Nancy

Very touching, Tom. And they were, according to you, doing just what in that fancy hotel for all that time? And why did what they were doing involve changing clothes?

Brian Lester

Two points:

Msgr. Clark is continuing to deny the affair, and it strikes me as a Clintonesque denial. I suppose its plausible that there never was (for, um, logistical reasons) a consumation of the relationship. But Msgr and Mrs Defillipo certainly committed adultery in their hearts ... and LI, and the carribean, and europe, and late nights at Madison Ave.

Also, does anyone think materialism has a role in the sin here? Msgr might not have bought the house on Long island, but he certainly enjoyed and indulged the lifestyle that went with it. Big home in midtown and vacations in the Hamptons -- no different from any ole agnostic manhattan blue-blood socialite.

I think its important for priests (and all Christians!!) blessed with many means and goods, to realize that constant indulgence of our every material desire will always weaken our ability to resist every other temptation. Self denial and austerity have the opposite effects.

MaryKate

"He's brought the priesthood into disrepute... He's made all his fine words about morality into a laughing stock...as you say, Amy, he should have retired as a spokesman for these high ideals"

Think about this: it follows that only the perfect can address morality. Now, that would shut down the comments and maybe the site itself, to follow that rule.
And, aren't we all "spokesman for these high ideals"? How are you doing in that department?

Patrick Rothwell

"Part of fallen human nature is not only sins of the groin, but the sin of being a double-talking sanctimonious jerk. I frankly find the sermon more appalling than the sleazy rendezvous."

I definitely agree with this, since I disagreed with the (in)famous sermon he made at St. Patrick's a few years ago. And, the quoted comments from his speech about Hollywood are even worse. On the other hand,

"I think the more useful questions are: what's our response to the "another conservative hypocrite" line because, you know...it's happened quite a few times (and not just with religious figures) in this country in the past few years."

I'm having a difficult time articulating my half-baked thoughts on this, and I know I've said something similar aboud Deal Hudson, but here goes...

I think the hypocrisy angle is much abused and potentially the cause of much mischief that should concern both "conservatives" and "liberals." Hypocrisy has a particular meaning and that is pretending to have a virtue that one doesn't have. Did Clark, by his statements on adultery and family life, intend to make people believe (falsely) that his sexual life was above reproach? It's not clear to me that's the case, however very close to the edge of hypocrisy his statements are. If I say that X is bad, but then proceed to do X later, then that simply makes me a sinner, and not just a material sinner, but a formal sinner. I may be a sanctimonious jerk and I may even be in mortal sin, but that, in of itself, does not make me a hypocrite. Still less would a person who crusades against X, but does Y should be considered to be a hypocrite. For instance a sanctimonious crusader against child sex abuse should not be considered a hypocrite if it turned out he was an adulturer. And, an environmentalist activist should not be considered to be a hypocrite if he drives an SUV. And, a human rights activist against nasty dictators shouldn't be considered a hypocrite if he's a cruel tyrant towards his own children, however despicable that may be. If we banished all such people from public life, no one could ever fight against any evil because everyone would be too morally *tainted* in some way to do anything. The fact is, we all are moralists about something, and we all have our sins and failings as well.

Still, there is something extremely distasteful about a person who rants against the sexual sins of others when one has sexual issues of his own. It's not hypocrisy so much, but a lack of basic human empathy for the fraility of others. I'm not sure exactly what to call it.

Pierre Angulaire

The discussion here is ignoring the saddest part of this whole episode – being Philip DeFilippo. How would you like to find out that your lovely 46-year old wife has been stepping out with a 79 year old geezer? That's gotta hurt.

Ed

Brian,

I think the late historian Will Durant succinctly summed up that notion as :

"Morals fall as riches rise".

B Knotts

It does NOT excuse anything

Has anyone said it does? I'm not sure what we're supposed to say. This is bad, if true, and I can't imagine anyone suggesting that Msgr. Clark be exempt from sanctions on the basis of his orthodoxy.

Are we supposed to the deny the truths he has preached because he is not impeccable?

And, Mark, I'm surprised you did not call everyone to the obvious explanation, which you have pointed out many times: sin makes you stupid.

ajb

Is it so much to ask that guys who mount the soapbox to condemn others refrain from mounting anything or anyone else while they do so?

I'm not sure you all want to carry the "he's only human" line of reasoning where it might end up. (plus I doubt he expressed as much forebearance with the folks he attacked).

The satanic lie is that "if God didn't want us engaging in all those "thall shalt nots" then he wouldn't have made them so much fun" and "no one REALLY lives that way, they're all just hypocrites that talk a good game". "Why would God give us these urges if they were so wrong"

Wanna blame original sin or our fallen human nature? This guy had access to all the graces that God has to offer.

I'm not concerned about people thinking Monsignor Clark is a sack-of-santorum. That's his problem (and not too easy to argue with in this case). I'm concerned about his providing another example to people who claim that the Church's teaching on chastity/fidelity/monogamy/celibacy is untrue.

If someone who promotes these teachings so loudly can't even bother to live up to them, should anyone else even try?

Jeff

I'm not sure I see the contradiction about "libs" and "cons."

When did "cons" ever say or imply that orthodox priests don't have temptations? That they are never hypocrites? Of course, they do and are.

But we do insist that if you don't see much wrong with fooling around or consider it somehow "holy" or insist that your predilections are an inherent part of your nature and need to be celebrated or that the Church's teaching on all moral matters is in need of an update and is not reliable, the chances of falling go up.

And, with regard to homosexual trysts being worse than heterosexual adultery, why, yes they are. To one vice (adultery) is added another (unnatural lust.) Homosexual adultery is a two-fer. As well as being repugnant in its nature, not just its context. (Note: the way to "argue" with this is to accuse the speaker of being a closet "gay" himself and afraid of his own inner feelings.)

Consider: wouldn't most of us be glad (relatively) if some priest was accused of adultery with a 12 year old and then it turned out to have been with 22 year old? Or accused of rape and then it turned out to be consensual?

Father Ethan

I think you guys and gals are jumping to conclusions. Nothing has been substantiated.

While Amy Welborn is absolutely correct, that if this is true, Msgr. Clark violated the promise he made to his Bishop, however, this does not compare in any way to homosexual activity or pedophilia among priests. It is not the same thing. All the good priests will be relieved that any priest, who violates his promises, "partner" is a woman.

Regardless, this is bad news. After the Bishop McCarthy scandal who Cardinal O'Connor said that he "ordained him after my own heart," Cardinal Egan going to need therapy.

bruce cole

Amy,to pursue the "conservative angle", if and when William Buckley comments about this, please link us to that. After all, Clark has been in-house chaplain to National Review all these years.......

anon

Nice comments, Patrick. Clark's various statements seem to have gone overboad, but I too don't find the hypocrisy angle here to be the most important thing. If no one with sexual sin can speak about other people's sexual sins, no one will ever talk about sexual sins at all. That may be the goal of many, but it's not consistent with Jesus's or the Church's teaching, which impose a clear sexual morality.

Clark should be reprimanded if he's guilty of this sin just as any other priest should be reprimanded, but his hypocrisy shouldn't play any role in it. Indeed, Weakland may have been less of a hypocrite than Clark (since I don't think Weakland argued strongly for celibacy or criticized homosexual practice), but he was equally deserving of punishment for violating his vows.

hieronymus

Did Clark, by his statements on adultery and family life, intend to make people believe (falsely) that his sexual life was above reproach? It's not clear to me that's the case, however very close to the edge of hypocrisy his statements are.

Everyone knows that Catholic priests are bound by oath to celibacy. A man who publicly presents himself as an obedient Catholic priest (especially on television, in fancy clericals) presents himself as a celibate. If he isn't, then of course he's a hypocrite!

In addition to the materialism element, I'd like to hear some opinions as to what role his celebrity plays in all of this.

Jeff O

"We're not set up as some kind of paragons as the priests are, we aren't in a position to harangue everyone else about being immoral, we just hack away at the thing."
Yeah, there's some "hacking" going on, all right. Any target of opportunity will do to mount that high horse of feigned indignation and attack.
Since when has a priest been regarded as a "paragon"? Maybe to a 10 year old 50 years ago. And maybe that's the problem: imposing an identity that no priest would ever claim as his own.
Nancy, you constantly assail clerics for not speaking out, yet when they do, you inaccurately call it a "harangue". Whether or not a person can at all times resist our "culture" doesn't mean that calling it what it is is a "harangue". He may have gotten caught in the net he was warning us about; that would be sad - and very well described in classic literature and hardly shocking - in my view.
Don't get me wrong: I think he has embarrassed himself and no one will ever let him forget it. But it says nothing at all about "priests as paragons" or the rightness of his view of society.

carolyn

"Still, there is something extremely distasteful about a person who rants against the sexual sins of others when one has sexual issues of his own. It's not hypocrisy so much, but a lack of basic human empathy for the fraility of others. I'm not sure exactly what to call it."

Pride? Arrogance? Narcissism?

A conviction that the rules apply to others but not oeself?

Rod Dreher

Father Ethan: While Amy Welborn is absolutely correct, that if this is true, Msgr. Clark violated the promise he made to his Bishop, however, this does not compare in any way to homosexual activity or pedophilia among priests. It is not the same thing. All the good priests will be relieved that any priest, who violates his promises, "partner" is a woman.

I was wondering how long it would take before someone here brought up the "at least it was with a woman" line. Which is despicable. If I were Philip DeFilippo, or either of the DeFilippo children, I think I would have rathered Msgr Clark be photographed coming out of the hot-sheets motel with a male hustler than my wife and mother. As a married man and father of two small children, I am not "relieved" one bit by this. You are neither, of course, but would it hurt you to try some empathy?

ajb

From EWTN:

“Although the Archdiocese of New York informed EWTN that it is continuing to investigate the matter, we believe it is appropriate to place Monsignor Clark’s program on hiatus at this time,”

Interesting because their prior statement said they were keeping him on the air because the matter was still "under investigation".

Mark Shea

Amy:

You write:

"I think the more useful questions are: what's our response to the "another conservative hypocrite" line because, you know...it's happened quite a few times (and not just with religious figures) in this country in the past few years."

I'm in favor of saying. "Yes. Disgusting, isn't it?"

Joel:

Huh?

ajb

If we just had a Tin Man and Lion we'd be in Oz.

No one is saying that only those who are sinless can preach against sin, or that no one who's committed sexual sin can preach against sexual sin.

But Monsignor Clark didn't just preach against sexual sin, he condemned and attacked the people who commit those sins. And he did it as part of a political point to attack those damned dirty liberals and "Hollywood"

Well, if even a good, upstanding, orthodox, conservative, anti-Hollywood crusader coming out of a no-tel motel dressed like a fat-guy-on-the-casino bus with his longtime-personal-secretary, then maybe the matter is abit more complex that jagging on about "libruls".

Maybe, just perchance, those people that Monsignor Clark railed against were "only human" too. It doesn't sound like he entertained that possibility from the pulpit or television podium.

Rod Dreher

Liberal priest found to be violating his vows of celibacy by carrying on sexual affair with gay man: "Dirtbag! Such are the fruits of liberalism and dissent."

Conservative priest found (presumably) to be violating his vows of celibacy by carrying on sexual affair with married woman (who has children): "Well, hang on. Priests are only human. Mankind is a fallen race. Since when did we ever have the right to expect more out of priests?"

This is all very, very instructive.

Dennis

Patrick Rothwell: "Still, there is something extremely distasteful about a person who rants against the sexual sins of others when one has sexual issues of his own. It's not hypocrisy so much, but a lack of basic human empathy for the fraility of others. I'm not sure exactly what to call it."
Patrick, how do your remarks follow from Clark's homily?
"Clark estimated that 3 percent of U.S. clergymen have a tendency toward abusing children that is aggravated by sexual images in popular entertainment. "So if the 3 percent were touched by that, we ask God to forgive them for it. We ask God to help remedy a situation which might be way beyond the control of the Holy Father and apostles," Clark said."

Fr Phil Bloom

Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.

(Shakespeare - speech of Cardinal Wolsey)

Jeff

With regard to hypocrisy, let's remember what de la Rouchfoucauld said: "Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue."

To be a hypocrite, to engage in vice while pretending to abhor it, is a vice, no doubt at all. But hypocrites at least know they have something they should hide.

Far worse is the case of those who insist that there is nothing wrong with their ugly behavior and everyone is just being mean to them.

You know what I wish? The facts seem to point increasingly to Clark's guilt. I wish he'd fess up publicly BEFORE the case is proved against him, ask forgiveness, and act like someone who did wrong and KNOWS it. That would be healing for him and for the rest of us, too. That goes for priests or anyone else who has committed any serious sin on a habitual basis. How refreshing to find people confessing BEFORE conviction!

Joel

Well said, Jeff. The clergy should indeed take care not to commit the "heresy" of being too pastoral, which in past years have done no favor to the flock. That doesn't mean they have to go out and condemn others. Just speak the truth clearly and unequivocally, without any apologies. If they fail to live up to the standards they espouse, so what? They can seek forgiveness like the rest of us should or be removed if the matter is a serious one.

Joel

Mark: As the brilliant theologian von Balthasar said: "Sin obscures sight." Guess you proved that.

Father Ethan

Rod Dreher,

You are correct. Regardless, as a priest in Massachusetts, I have been battered over the head with the "most priests are gay or pedophiles." No matter how much logic we use, there never seems to be an end to this mess.

I will pray, if it is the case that Msgr. Clark violated his promises, for Mr. DeFilippo and his children. And certainly I will pray for Msgr. Clark and Mrs. DeFilippo and their conversion.

Nevertheless, Mr. Dreher, I never said that what he may have done is not evil, rather, it no way compares to the degree of evil that homosexual activity and pedophilia is. Adultary, fornication, and violating priestly promises is evil.

Jeff

Rod Dreher:

Man who says Catholic sexual morals in need of "reexamination" caught violating them: "Maybe his beliefs had something to do with his actions."

Man who preaches Catholic sexual morals caught violating them: "At least he didn't tell us it was okay."

Most instructive indeed!

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

>I frankly find the sermon more appalling than the sleazy rendezvous.

I say Mark Shea, clarify something for me if you have the time. Do you mean the sermon was appalling in and of itself or it was appalling because of this Priest's hypocracy?

Mark Shea

Joel:

I'm afraid I still don't understand what you mean. Are you saying that I have blindly failed to condemn what I refered to as a "sleazy rendevous" and "appalling" hypocrisy?

Or are you saying that it's wrong to call the Msgr's homily appalling hypocrisy?

I honestly can't decode what you are getting at.

George

"I think I would have rathered Msgr Clark be photographed coming out of the hot-sheets motel with a male hustler than my wife and mother."

Not me. This discussion is so wonderfully old fashioned. And fun! We don't know the state of the couple's marriage, nor we do know what went on at the motel. Clearly, we all can, and will, imagine. But it doesn't sound like the marriage was in such great shape to start with.

I must say, she is good looking. Too bad their relationship descended to a cheap motel. If I was a 79-year old priest (I am thirty years younger and definitely not ordained), I would be pleased to spend some time with her. But not in THAT way, especially if she was married and I played golf with her husband.

Maybe Msgr. was the victim! Why do we even care? Divorce court is full of this stuff. Such is the folly of our kind. Msgr. should retire and the couple should move on.

Interesting question: if they divorce, should the husband get an annulment?

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

BTW Some moral theologians may believe homosexuallity is an objectively a worst sin than heterosexual fornication or marital infidelity. Much like murder is a worst sin than stealing. But on the practical level it only takes dying with one mortal sin on your soul to send you to Hell.

I don't think it matters much to a damned Soul if he goes down to the hot place because of gay sex, straight sex or unrepentent pride.

Mark Shea

B-Y:

It was appalling because of the hypocrisy. The frustrating thing is that he pointed to some real problems and even some real solutions. But his actions make sure that a great many people will not consider either.

And that, of course, is not counting the gravity of the sin he committed apart from the hypocrisy.

As Pavel Chichikov says, "There's a *reason* we had to be redeemed by a sacrifice as horrendous as Christ's." When we fell, we *fell*.

Henry

So many posts here, and so few that recognize the difference between occasional sin and obstinate heterodoxy (or heresy). If, indeed, Msgr. Clark is guilty as charged, he is guilty of a fall from grace. Who has not been?

Surely the fact that he might sin in the future -- and who among us of whatever stripe can preclude that possibility? -- should not have precluded his speaking out against persistent positions or lifestyles that are contrary to the teachings of the Church.

As Fr. Ethan said, "this does not compare in any way to homosexual activity or pedophilia among priests. It is not the same thing." Is there anyone here who cannot understand the difference between occasional sin (however serious) on the part of an apparently orthodox priest and obstinately disordered behavior on the part of an apparently heterodox priest? Nor how illogical it is to charge an occasional sinner with hypocrisy when he upholds the teachings of the Church? What should he do? Preach sin from the pulpit simply because he himself might someday fall prey to it?

Simon

Liberal priest found to be violating his vows of celibacy by carrying on sexual affair with gay man: "Dirtbag! Such are the fruits of liberalism and dissent."

Conservative priest found (presumably) to be violating his vows of celibacy by carrying on sexual affair with married woman (who has children): "Well, hang on. Priests are only human. Mankind is a fallen race. Since when did we ever have the right to expect more out of priests?"

This is all very, very instructive.

Nice straw man, Rod.

I haven't seen a single poster attempt to excuse what Msgr. Clark has done (except one or two who have noted that the allegations haven't been proven). Neither has anyone denied that it's more serious for a priest to do what he has done than for a lay person. Is anyone here defending or excusing this guy's behavior?

What most people have said is that we are not shocked by this behavior as though we were puritanical naifs who can't even imagine that a priest who believes and preaches what the Church believes could do such a thing.

Human beings are complex. That's not an excuse or an attempt to treat "conservative" offenders differently from "liberal" ones. It's just an observation of reality.

Todd

"Curious how Todd seems to have especially keen insights into everyone else's politics. Does being a self-identified "liberal" come with a crystal ball?"

Hardly. But "heterodox" and "orthodox" are quickly becoming buzz words rather than accurate identifiers of a person's sympathies. You were the one, Rich, to first use "heterodox" in this thread, I believe. I have no concern over your real or potential political sensibilities, but anyone can use PC-speak. And usually they do.

"When did "cons" ever say or imply that orthodox priests don't have temptations? That they are never hypocrites?"

Possibly Rick Santorum? The good senator more than implied scandal had its source in liberalism.

Thom

"I think you guys and gals are jumping to conclusions. Nothing has been substantiated."

What HAS been substantiated is this: Clark exercised profoundly stupid judgment; he has embarassed his Archdiocese and his cardinal; he has lived what, by any casual measure, is an extravagant lifestyle in a $2 million home and paid his assistant an eye-popping salary; he has not stinted in his condemnation of those who do not toe the line on sexual morality; he has been photographed leaving a motel with an attractive woman, wearing different clothes than when he entered the same motel several hours earlier. He also took this woman on Caribbean vacations. And she lied to her husband about her whereabouts that day.

Oh: they also registered for the room under assumed names.

I'm sure it was all perfectly innocent. Just a big misunderstanding.

As I understand it, the literal translation of "monsignor" is "My Lord."

My Lord? Yeah. Right.

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

Mark Shea,
Thanks for the clarification guy.

Cheers.

Julia

"this does not compare in any way to homosexual activity or pedophilia among priests. It is not the same thing. All the good priests will be relieved that any priest, who violates his promises, "partner" is a woman."

Beg your pardon, Father, but this woman is married and a mother. He and she have hurt innocent people. How is this less sinful than consensual homosexual activity with another single man?

hieronymus

It no way compares to the degree of evil that homosexual activity and pedophilia is.

I may be wrong here, but isn't adultery a worse sin than homosexual activity? The latter violates nature, but the former violates a sacrament.


And since nobody else has taken me up on the query, I'll ask it myself:

Is it good for priests (whether liberal or conservative) to become television personalities and socialites - "clerical celebrities" or whatever. I really don't know the answer. I know there are fine examples like Fulton Sheen, and that nearly all of the priests on EWTN are exemplary - but when a clerical celebrity like Ken Roberts or Eugene Clark becomes subject of scandal, the fact that he has a "fan base" makes the matter much more embarassing, and I find myself wondering whether those hours in front of the television camera, all the speeches at conferences and fundraisers, and the media attention helped to breed vanity, a sense of entitlement, a mental distinction between "public" life and "private" life.

How can we be more careful in which priests we choose to make famous, and how do we keep that fame from corrupting them?

Patrick Rothwell

"Everyone knows that Catholic priests are bound by oath to celibacy. A man who publicly presents himself as an obedient Catholic priest (especially on television, in fancy clericals) presents himself as a celibate. If he isn't, then of course he's a hypocrite!"

I think this is the strongest argument in favor of hypocrisy. In fact, I think you may be right, though that depends precisely "what" he intends to communicate by appearing in public. Does he, every time that he appears in public in clericals, in fact intend to deceive people into believing that he lives in chaste celibacy? That may indeed be true. On the other hand, there is a difference between that hypocritical intention versus simply having the affair, but hoping not to get caught, when if he abruptly resigned from the ministry, he would in effect be "caught." From a traditional standpoint, I think the most important issue is sacrilege, but that's not what gets most people worked up over something like this.

No matter how one slices it, its all bad news, assuming that the allegations are true. And, I do share Rod's disgust about conservatives making excuses for the sins of conservatives, but excoriating the sins of liberals without mercy. The orgy of rejoicing at Weakland's fall was quite digusting, as is the gleeful rubbing of hands hoping that several Cardinals turn out to be morally compromised in some way.

A non-ideological and even-handed approach towards these problems would be welcome, though my approach would probably be quite different from Rod's.

Katherine

this is the first I've heard of homosexual acts being considered an objectively worse sins then adultery. what's the theological basis for that?

it's not so much hypocrisy as showing so much compassion and excuse for yourself (and the right sort of person), and so little compassion for others (especially if they're the wrong sort of person), in response to very similar sins.

Rich Leonardi

Todd,

I used the word "heterodox" to clarify what Amy wrote. But given that you are (1) liberal, which is legitimate from a Catholic point of view, and (2) heterodox (see the discussion of women's "ordination" on Curt Jester's blog), which isn't, it doesn't surprise me that you'd rather keep the terms "liberal" and "conservative" on a superficial level. They make better brickbats that way.

Mark Shea

Hmmm...

As is my custom, I seem to be getting it from both sides today. Reading over Joel, it appears that my sin, according to him, is being pissed at the Msgr for his gross sin and hypocrisy. According to Joel, the need for preachers to condemn people is so huge that " If they fail to live up to the standards they espouse, so what?" So apparently I am being way to hard on the good philandering Monsignor.

But then Rod seems to also have me in mind when he declares that the gist of the thead is: "Well, hang on. Priests are only human. Mankind is a fallen race. Since when did we ever have the right to expect more out of priests?"

I don't recall saying anything like "Since when did we ever have the right to expect more out of priests?" In fact, I recall saying several times that the monsignor committed a grave sin and was an appalling hypocrite. That's what got me in trouble with Joel, who is, as far as I can tell, the only person on the thread whose response to the Msgr's actions is "So what?" Somehow I don't think he represents the ordinary Catholic.

Joel

Mark,

Maybe I misinterpreted your intentions. It just seemed that you were using Clark's situation to make all priests look bad and seem like hypocrites, and that they have no right to speak up on morality. And doing that would just be playing into Satan's hands as he seeks to destroy the church, and all of us as well. Hope you understand. I apologize if I did misunderstand you.

Jeff

Todd, Todd. Can't you get anything right?

Santorum said that ONE scandal had its source in "liberalism" or was abetted by it. Right or wrong (I think he was foolish and probably wrong too), there's no implication that that's the only possible source for scandal, just that scandal is more likely given certain environments and opinions.

Nazis killing people is in part due to Nazism, right? Nazism provides a fertile context for killing. But people who declare "Thou shalt not kill" kill too, sometimes. That doesn't mean the followers of Moses are the same as Nazis, or that they shouldn't point out the evils of Nazism! Sigh....

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

Speaking for myself the only "joy" I felt over Weakland's fall is the joy of knowing he can no longer spread his heterodox claptrap and harm souls. OTOH Clark's fall means scandel for those who value the truth & the spread of the truth over and against Weakland's watered down Catholicism. Also it means Clark's hypocracy poisons his correct teachings on matters of sexual morality.

Dawson

ROD, you're setting up a straw man argument.
A goggle search of "Rod Dreher+dirtbag" finds you hurling the epithet, as you did here about the cruising homosexual priest in Florida. "Well, I'll agree that there's no reason to assume these people were mentally ill, and I don't. I assume they are just bad men. What I don't get is your willingness to empathize with this dirtbag who has treated your own flesh and blood so horribly. If my sister's husband had done that to her, I'd take a baseball bat and beat the crap out of him. Except I wouldn't get the chance to, because my dad would have gotten to him first."
People who are not shocked by the Clark thing also see the Fall in the behavior of the Florida priest. It is you who calls out "dirtbag" to homosexual and heterosexal sin.

ajb

I wish the Monsignor would just admit what he did and move on. I think we all know where this is headed, and there are only two possible outcomes.

1) The monsignor of his longtimesecretary fesses us, in which case his present denials simply serve to throw another Commandment into play; or

2) They both continue to deny that anything happened during those five hours in the motel or on the vacation, and he continues to look ridiculous.

Patrick Rothwell

Dennis,

I am referring to his implication that have sex scandals in the Church because the Church permitted homosexually-inclined people into the seminary, not that God ought to forgive clerical sex abusers, which is certainly true. Katherine said it better than I could: "showing so much compassion and excuse for yourself (and the right sort of person), and so little compassion for others (especially if they're the wrong sort of person), in response to very similar sins."

Someone mentioned Fulton Sheen. IIRC, according to Thomas Reeves' biography, a jealous husband also claimed that Sheen committed adultury with his wife whom he spent a great deal of time with. However, the charges were never proven and the implication in the biography was that the charges were probably not true, though Sheen's discretion in this case wasn't particularly good. Interesting parallel.

Simon

Possibly Rick Santorum? The good senator more than implied scandal had its source in liberalism.

Todd, Yes he did more than imply that. And what -- maybe 5 out of 100 commentators here, most of whom could be broadly categorized as "conservative," agreed with him?

Not exactly convincing evidence that we are more willing to excuse "conservative" clerics than "liberal" ones.

Mark Shea

Patrick (and Rod):

For what it's worth, my response to Weakland's resignation was basically the same as my response to Law's and this one: "I'm glad he's gone. Let's move on." If you go over my archives you will not find gloating for a simple reason: I think gloating over the fall of somebody is a sin and a very grave danger to the soul. I tend to reserve my gloating for things that I don't really think matter all that much (like the outcome of the '04 elections or the World Series). But in matters that really do involve the possible fate of a soul, I think one tempts hellfire to gloat. So I would appreciate not being numbered among the "You all gloat when a liberal sins and falls" scenario. I've been forgiven way too many sins to piss my chance for mercy away by rejoicing over the potential damnation of a soul. There are people I deeply dislike and disagree with, but to *hope* and rejoice over their downfall and damnation is a thought that fills me with dread. I want justice for jerks as much as the next guy, but I hope and pray that justice will lead to mercy and salvation, not everlasting shame.

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

I wouldn't bet money on the outcome being Fr. Clark really didn't sleep with this woman.

Granted I suppose it's a very very very very very remote possiblity he "has been photographed leaving a motel with an attractive woman, wearing different clothes than when he entered the same motel several hours earlier. He also took this woman on Caribbean vacations. And she lied to her husband about her whereabouts that day.

Oh: they also registered for the room under assumed names" and yet still didn't sleep with her. But then that must mean he is the stupidest person in the whole world. It would be like me going down to the market trying to buy something while wearing a ski mask & holding a toy gun and then telling the cops I didn't intend to rob anybody! Not very bright if this fellow is innocent.

Father Ethan

hieronymus says, "I may be wrong here, but isn't adultery a worse sin than homosexual activity? The latter violates nature, but the former violates a sacrament."

First of all, I was looking at all the sexual sins on the natural level. Certainly, adultary is a violation of a sacrament. However, Jesus ministered to the Samaritan woman at the well who committed adultary with several husbands and forgave her of her sins. In regards to pedophilia, Jesus says, "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."

Regardless, St. Paul says, "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."

Todd

"Todd, Todd. Can't you get anything right?"

I get lots of things right. Including ferreting out the use of PC-speak. I pick up the whiff of hypocrisy quite well, too.

"Santorum said that ONE scandal had its source in "liberalism" or was abetted by it."

Some of us might say this is just another facet of the same scandal: the use of power and privilege for sexual gratification; the weak response from higher authority in the Church; the denial of wrongdoing from the perpetrator (which might be a premature thing to say; I'm willing to wait and see).

Rich, nice try, but I wouldn't consider Curt J's ADD-inspired conversations to peg someone as heterodox or otherwise. I'm still a Catholic, and unless you jump ship, you're still stuck with me as a brother, as I am with you, bro.

I sympathize with the dismay of EWTN-fans. But it's better to seek holiness on the model of Christ and the saints rather than charismatic (blue-eyed, suave, smooth-talking?) gurus who say the right kick-butt things about people we dislike.

Mark Shea

Joel:

You did misunderstand me--badly. I forgive you.

Jeff

Hieronymus:

Well, priests who engage in homosexual acts violate nature AND a sacrament.

I think your point is well taken, though, and worthy of pondering.

But something else that needs reflection is this: Down throught the ages, there has been something about homosexuality that Christians have found unusually horrifying. There's a reason why sodomy is one of the Sins Crying out to Heaven for Vengeance.

We have had that sense of cringing horror sapped out of us by secular culture. We're afraid to make people feel bad or be accused of "homophobia."

But homosexuality, especially of the male kind, seems to have something missionary and virulent about it. Look how fast we've moved from tolerance (which is fine) to acceptance (which is not fine) to enforced praise and "celebration" (which is hideous) to equality and "Gay Marriage" (which is an utter disaster) to arrest and jailing of people who dare to call homosexual acts sin (which is beyond words.) Homosexual culture has taken over seminaries and whole dioceses with anyone who challenges it being driven out or underground.

Imagine a homosexual who says modestly, "I understand the two thousand year old tradition of the Church. I quite see how the mechanics of gay relations might seem unnatural and repugnant. I respect that. But let me say why I think there is room for a change in attitude." If I heard such a person, I would be floored! Nope, all we get is howling about "homophobia" and such like nonsense.

These guys (activists and apologists, not people with temptation or inclination, if it needs to be said) aren't carefully and respectfully proposing a huge change that they see is counter-intuitive. They are ranting and playing the "hate" card. They don't want to live in peace. They want to be in control.

I think traditional attitudes about homosexuality aren't cranky prejudices but rather bearers of a certain wisdom that recognizes the thing as a deep sickness and a vital threat to society.

Warning: Do not read this if you live in Canada. You might get arrested!

Patrick Rothwell

"It is you who calls out "dirtbag" to homosexual and heterosexal sin."

Well, at least Rod is consistent in calling everyone a dirtbag!

Though, it is dangerous for someone to scream "dirtbag" and "foul sinner!" at a drop of a hat since several years down the road, the shoe very well may be on the other foot for some reason. When that happens, one may realize that hurling such insults was not the most humane thing to do. Shylock's plaintive plea "If you prick us, do we not bleed?" ring slighly hollow after demanding a pound of flesh.

Julia

Father:

Your original comment said nothing about minors.

In your response, are you saying that God forgives adulterers but he doesn't forgive pedophiles - so adultery isn't so bad?

Also to another poster: what does the state of the secretary's marriage have to do with the sin of adultery? I did a lot of family law and it seems you're mixing up fault in divorce law with moral law. (I'm assuming that New York still requires proof of who the bad guy is in a divorce case)

Father Ethan

I said "pedophiles" and that means violating a minor.

AND I never said adultery is not as bad. I said that homosexual activity is worse.

Cheeky Lawyer

I don't want my comments in the other thread to be taken as saying that this isn't horrible, scandalous, hypocritical, etc. It is. This guy shouldn't have been having an affair with the secretary (if he was, and I think he was). He shouldn't have remained in such a high position. He should go to a monastery and make amends. His homilies while substantively right should never have been spoken while he was engaged in such behavior. He should have been lying low and he should have turned from sin.

But what I was saying was that I just am not that shocked by this.

And what of the liberal/conservative thing. Because of the allure of sin I might well have been engaging in schadenfreude. But I know of another priest, who is liberal, who has a long time concubine and while it enrages me it doesn't enrage me because he is liberal, it enrages me for the same reason Clark's betrayal does and to the same degree. But I also don't believe he has ceased to believe in God. I believe he's (this other priest) human and a sinner and that he suffers from the same temptations that we all do.

And I also think there is a sense in which this is worse than a priest betraying his vows with another adult male. This woman has a husband. Clark married them for crying out loud.

I also find it almost as scandalous as his sexual behavior that Clark receives such a nice stipend and owns a $2.0 million home. I know he has no vow of poverty but he should be living a deeper spirit of poverty which would have necessary manifestations in his daily life.

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

I think Tradition might teach that having gay sex is an objectively worst sin than having illicit straight sex (I could be wrong). But it is undenyable that all truely repented homosexuals will go to Heaven while all obstantly unrepentent fornicators will go to Hell.

BTW don't ask me to idenitfy who is which. That is up to God alone.

anon

O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church: Grant it love and the light of Your Spirit and give power to the words of priests so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance and return to You, O Lord.

Lord, give us holy priests; You Yourself maintain them in holiness. O Divine and Great High Priest, may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them from the devil's traps and snares which are continually being set for the souls of priests. May the power of Your mercy, O Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests, for You can do all things. I ask You, Jesus, for a special blessing and for light for the priests before whom I will make my confessions throughout my lifetime. Amen.


Jesus, Fortress of mankind,
You are Immaculate as God and Man!
Bless me with Your infinite graces,
That I may remain in a state of purity.
Strengthen my body, spirit and soul
To continually reflect Your chastity.
Protect my soul in its daily struggles,
Guiding it to ponder on Your Godliness.
Defend me from the forces of evil,
Those that seek to acquire my soul:
I am truly Yours forever and ever.
Holy is my King, the Conqueror of sin!

Katherine

Could someone clarify "sin against nature"? It obviously doesn't mean: sin against the world as it exists, as homosexuality is part of nature, having been exhibited by humans for ages and apparently animals too. If it specifically means: "because nature intends the species to continue and homosexuals won't procreate", well, as far as whether the species continues chastity and homosexuality are equally non-procreative. Among species that reproduce sexually, If it just means: "gross and weird", well, that's not much basis to me for elevating above adultery. If it means: "sin against the world as God intended it" or "sin against natural law" then adultery and really all mortal sins are equally so.

I know the idea of a sin against nature goes back a ways, though; I remember the Inferno. So what's the concept?

Isn't it possible that homosexuality is strongly condemned because it's a sin that's incredibly easy for someone who's heterosexual to avoid? Certainly, many of the forms that the condemnation has taken have been harmful in themselves.

Fortunately Canada's speech laws are quite unconstitutional here, and liberal as well as conservative judges would agree. Judicial review has its advantages.

To the extent that people were only saying that pedophilia is a worse crime than adultery, and were not talking about consensual adult sexuality, I entirely agree and withdraw my questions.

Peggy

At 2:39 Rich Leonardi used "schadenfreude" (spelling?). This is getting to be an obligatory word on a comment threads these days! ;^)

As far as the topic goes, I think it may be true that we'd think liberalism was the cause if the clergyman weren't so stalwart-sounding from the pulpit. I guess clericalism and blindness to one's own sin may be causes. Maybe he just doth protest too much, knowing and covering for his own sin? Heck, I don't know.

Father Ethan

We need prayers. Thank you anon.

In regards to Cheeky Lawyer's statement about the 2 million dollar home: I agree 100%.

Shortly after entering the seminary, I joked to my grandfather that I was going to buy a big black Cadillac. He said to me with a straight face that he had a priest friend who owned a Cadillac and left the priesthood with his house keeper.

Thanks for the reminder Cheeky Lawyer.

Jon

I purpose a restorative solution. It's an old-fashioned idea. It's called "reparation."

Jezebel either reconciles with her husband, or divorces, in which case she agrees to a peaceful settlement (i.e., no knife tossing) which is "best for the kids" (now there's a novel idea!) and if the marriage cannot be annuled, stays single. Either way, she makes a vow and begins attending daily Mass for the rest of her life.

Msgr. Clark sells the Hampton's pad, gives the 2 million to the poor, joins Father Groeschel's greyfriars, and begs for his food with them on the streets of New York.

This isn't some local floozy running off with the country pastor. This impropriety, affair or not, has done incalcuable harm to the Church. Both Msgr. Clark and Mrs. DeFilippo knows this. They now have a chance to mend the fence in a way that will make it better and stronger than before. All it takes is a little integrity, fortitude, and penetential sorrow.

chris K

Has the Monsignor always lived a life of privilege? So often, the privileged learn about "image" while never connecting to the reality of their human nature...which has to be recognized to have the possibility to go as low as the next guy. Even if it comes to them later in life, they can learn to believe in the new image as well. So they publicly say what is expected to cover that "image", connecting with those who easily fall for or need to be esteemed in their own false images (they called him the "mother theresa" of the rich - great fund raiser). I, myself, always found M. Clark to be rather priggish in his mannerisms and speech. That emphasized to me a certain separation from the street scene! Another consideration to perhaps be made (you know ... if you can't say anything nice..) is whether this is a "first offense". I mean, did he go all the years of greatest "urgency" and cave only recently???!! Anyway, there was a discussion I listened to the other day on some Christian program that was emphasizing that most often, in the work place, if one allows for an emotional closeness to begin with, it usually always leads to something more. And, even at the emotional stage, it robs the rightful married partner of that part of the person that should be committed only to him/her.

Re: the liberal/conservative reaction, I remember feeling quite disappointed when, after reading the popular "Seven Story Mountain" about what was displayed as an exceptional conversion, drawing a man into the "courtyard of the Queen of Heaven", and then later reading "The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton". Most of the remarks I've heard over all these years have fallen into the category of "oh well, it just put a human face on a monk...or it made him more real." His "wisdoms" are still used today even at conservative retreats. And he was a teacher of novices. I don't see that his own "escapades" were all that different...just without the dough and classier surrounds. And that even to today the man has been considered to be a Catholic role model in a Catholic basic teachings book. So, go figure. And it's not that one was better known in some circles than the other. It's often "how" the man comes across..and some are more clever than others!

Since M. Clark has said that he knew he wanted to be a priest since he was a little boy, these days at least, there is something to M. Angelica's insistence that her seminarians should have had a serious relationship with a woman, considering marriage. Then, they actually experience the sacrifice of their decision and know what it entails. I suppose there are exceptions like Fr. Groeschel!

Donie

Katherine: this is the first I've heard of homosexual acts being considered an objectively worse sins then adultery. what's the theological basis for that?

As one act is ordered towards procreation whereas the other has as much chance of yielding newborn life as two bicycles I think that's a reasonably stupid question!

Father Ethan

Katherine,

What sin against nature means is that it violates God's intention when he created the world.

Thomas Aguinas says in the Summa, "I answer that, As stated above (A6,9) wherever there occurs a special kind of deformity whereby the venereal act is rendered unbecoming, there is a determinate species of lust. This may occur in two ways: First, through being contrary to right reason, and this is common to all lustful vices; secondly, because, in addition, it is contrary to the natural order of the venereal act as becoming to the human race: and this is called "the unnatural vice." This may happen in several ways. First, by procuring pollution, without any copulation, for the sake of venereal pleasure: this pertains to the sin of "uncleanness" which some call "effeminacy." Secondly, by copulation with a thing of undue species, and this is called "bestiality." Thirdly, by copulation with an undue sex, male with male, or female with female, as the Apostle states (Rm. 1:27): and this is called the "vice of sodomy." Fourthly, by not observing the natural manner of copulation, either as to undue means, or as to other monstrous and bestial manners of copulation.

reluctant penitent

It's easy for a liberal not to be a hypocrite when a liberal teaches only that we ought to judge no one. Honestly, ought the message to be drawn from this be that no one should proclaim loudly the teaching of the Church? Clark is a hypocrite and a disgrace, but at least he had the decency not to try to change Church teaching in order to accommodate his sexual vices.

Katherine

but doesn't all sin violate God's intention when he created the world? How is this any more true of homosexuality than it is of adultery?

And people have always told me that the idea that it's the odds of procreation that determine the morality of sex is a distortion of Church teaching. And I would assume that most acts of adultery also include contraception.

I assume this: " by procuring pollution, without any copulation, for the sake of venereal pleasure: this pertains to the sin of "uncleanness" which some call"

is a reference to masturbation. Do you believe that to be a more serious sin than adultery?

And all of this would have to outweigh the harm to the spouse and children.

Dave P.

"... homosexuality is part of nature, having been exhibited by humans for ages and apparently animals too."

Maybe it's because I love animals, but, Lord, how I hate this dumbass trope. It never fails to get trotted out when the discussion of what's natural and what's not is at hand.

Look, show me two males of any non-human species who do what gay men do to one another -- buggery -- and I'll show you two drugged and humanly coerced animals. A ram that humps another ram is neither penetrating that other ram nor is it any more "gay" than a dog that humps your leg is a humanlegosexual. I can't for the life of me understand why otherwise smart people don't see this distinction.

mh

I can't get past the match up of this 46-yr-old woman - who apparently can wear micro shorts without eliciting snickers - and this 79-yr-old priest, who dresses like George Burns in the movie, "Oh,God." Is this a set-up?

And, why/how does a priest in New York, EWTN connections notwithstanding, have so much money (if what's been written here is accurate)?

Steve M.

I find blog comments to be interesting, perhaps even instructive, but they can easily spin off into side topics and extreme positions. Among his former parishoners at St. Agnes (and others who are acquainted with Msgr. Clark), based on my conversations over the last two days, there is shock and sadness. There is concern expressed for the wounded children and their father. There is caution about our inability to know all the facts at this point, coupled with a recognition that the known facts are terrible. I have not heard any excuses for Msgr. Clark, although I have heard people speak of their intent to pray for him and everyone else involved. In my own case, I am too sad at this point to offer anything useful on the topic of the "another conservative hypocrite" line. "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me." (John 14:1)

Dan Crawford

God does have a sense of humor, especially at the expense of the self-righteous dazzled by their own self-righteousness.

Has anyone thought that perhaps part of the problem and the scandal when stories like these appear is exacerbated by the Catholic tendency to believe that their clergy are paragons of perfection instead of sinners like everyone else? Many clergy begin to believe they are paragons of perfection - even godlike - and convince the rest of us to believe they are. Then we discover that their sins are as venal, and fleshly and pathetic as our sins, and we are shocked, and angry, and even think our faith is threatened. Perhaps we will all begin to grow up - and perhaps we will be considerably more careful about whom we permit to take orders. Perhaps. But I wouldn't bet on it.

kathleen reilly

"Surely the fact that he might sin in the future -- and who among us of whatever stripe can preclude that possibility? -- should not have precluded his speaking out against persistent positions or lifestyles that are contrary to the teachings of the Church."

Actually I think orthodoxy can be dangerous for the following reason: harping on orthodoxy and its necessity may predispose one to violating it. I have observed repeatedly that one often becomes precisely what one is trying hardest to avoid becoming (given the accusations and the substance of Clark's preaching -- "Relationships" indeed! -- that certainly seems to be the case here). Orthodoxy can become a attitude of willful/prideful stubbornness that can PREVENT a surrender to God (and without such surrender, one can't lead a grace-filled life). Perhaps that is why often the most grace-filled characters in fiction ... and umm, the New testament ... are heathens/sinners (e.g. "just say the word and she will be healed")

oh, it's also harder to lead a grace-filled life when one has a vacation house in the hamptons. sorry, just my humble opinion. which is why, maybe, RC clergy shouldn't. own. houses. in the hamptons.

amy

I keep throwing this into the thread, although no one seems to be catching it - the 2 mil. house has been owned by Clark for 46 years, which tells me it was probably in his family, or he bought it when property values were much lower than they are now out there. And believe me, I'm no shill for Lifestyles of the Ordained and Infamous, but owning the home doesn't necessarily mean he spent 2 mil for it. It's highly unlikely.

Sydney Carton

You know, one thing that bothers me about this but which hasn't been much discussed is that there's a 14 year old girl, the daughter of this woman, who allegedly saw her mother in a sexy nightgown sitting on this man's lap. She was pressured into keeping silent, and now everything blows up in her face.

This girl's childhood and innocence has been ruined. Add another name to the list.

Katherine

btw, I am not Catholic (I was brought up with no particular religion and am in the process of converting to Judaism) and am deliberately trying to discuss this on the Church's terms rather than my own to gain a better understanding of the teachings. (I am happy to explain what I think if people are interested but I suspect you've heard it all before and it would not be of much interest or use, so I'd just as soon not. I don't want to deceive people into thinking I am an orthodox Catholic though, because I'm not.)

Father Ethan

Katherine,

We are talking about two very different, although very important things: the object and intent; and the consequences. The morality of human acts depend on these three things. The consequences of adultery is the harm done to the spouse and their children. But the object (adultery) and intent (usually pleasure) is what I was talking about. You were thinking of the consequences of the act of commiting adultury.

chris K

P. S. to my other comment above...from that rather popular book, "He and I": "Who is pure? There are only sinners or those who have been purified. Woe to people who pride themselves on not yielding to a temptation that never bothered them."

Even in great personal "gotcha" humiliations, where one experiences his own fall from great heights, is the Hand of Love/Mercy...to turn one around and perhaps create a soul, in the end, more closely united in truth, to Him Who sacrificed for such sinners (all of us).

amy

Kathleen:

I think the dynamic, more often, works the other way around. I think that when people preach very loudly about a certain issue or from a certain angle, it indicates a great struggle. Most priests, one of them once told me, are preaching to themselves, in the end. Sometimes they listen, and sometimes...they don't.

Celine

Jeff says,"Man who says Catholic sexual morals in need of 'reexamination' caught violating them: 'Maybe his beliefs had something to do with his actions.'"

Man who preaches Catholic sexual morals caught violating them: 'At least he didn't tell us it was okay.'

Sorry, Jeff: Man how preaches Catholic sexual morals caught violating them: "Why believe what he say when he doesn't practice what he preaches?"

The conservative righteous, so deluded into thinking that their "right thinking" cannot result in evil, conveniently forget that Christ regarded the hypocrit Pharisees much lower than the heterodox Samaritans.

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