Thursday, November 10, 2011

Time for Me to Give Up Catholic Apologetics, Because of Catholic Sins? (So Sez John Bugay) / Does Sin in the Church (Even Serious Sexual Sin) Change the Nature of Truth and the Church?

King David: quite the sinner himself, yet God made an eternal covenant with him, knowing he would commit adultery and murder


Why did I know this would happen? I was watching coverage of the Joe Paterno / Penn State tragedy last night, on a sports show, and I just knew that this would cause many folks (especially anti-Catholics like John) to go right back to blasting the Catholic Church anew, and pretending that sexual abuse is not a society-wide problem that is rampant in many Protestant and other circles as well (as I have documented twice: one / two). Now we have the venerable "apple pie" institution of college football implicated: the coach with the most wins and bowl wins ever.

For my part, I have covered the sad sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church quite a bit, having compiled many informed articles dealing with it in multiple posts (one / two / three). The devil would love nothing more than for people to believe that this is only a "Catholic problem" so that people can ignore any other instance of it happening, thus allowing many more thousands of cases of abuse to proceed, under cover of an anti-Catholic or at least tunnel vision "see no evil anywhere else" mentality.

I have nothing to do with this scandal. I have condemned it in no uncertain terms from the beginning. But lo and behold, here comes John Bugay, telling me and other apologists that we ought to quit what we are doing.

Basically, of course, this boils down to saying that we ought to renounce Catholic teaching and become good ol' Protestants (preferably Calvinists), just as he has done, having left the Church of his youth. Sorry, John. It doesn't work that way. Sin and truth are two different categories (in case you didn't know that).

Sin will always be with us. This is why we have Christianity in the first place: to save men from sin (duh!!!). It's called . . . original sin . . . concupiscence, etc. John's brand of Christianity takes it even further than we do, holding that men have a "sin nature." Yet he is surprised that sin -- even very serious, especially evil sin, with cover-ups -- occurs. But there is one truth, and that doesn't change because some people in the ranks of where the Christian truth resides most fully, have sinned.

It's a huge tragedy, disgraceful, abominable, unspeakably evil, but it doesn't cause doctrinal truth to change. If Isaac Newton -- heaven forbid -- had been found having sex with a little boy, it wouldn't alter the fact that gravity is a scientific truth. We wouldn't reject his established, demonstrable teaching because he was personally a scoundrel.

St. Paul didn't hesitate in calling the Corinthian assembly "the church of God" (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; RSV) even though terrible sexual sin had occurred within its ranks:

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father's wife. 

Somehow, our Lord Jesus still called the assembly of Christians in Thyatira "the church" (Rev 2:18), despite the presence therein of wicked sexual immorality:

Revelation 2:20-25 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jez'ebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. [21] I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her immorality. [22] Behold, I will throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings; [23] and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches shall know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. [24] But to the rest of you in Thyati'ra, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay upon you any other burden; [25] only hold fast what you have, until I come.

Again, for some reason God didn't cease his eternal covenant with David (Ps 89:3-4, 26-37; 132:11-18; 2 Sam 7:12-17), even though he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed (no small sin). God, knowing everything and being outside of time, knew this would happen, but it didn't stop Him from making the covenant with David. He decided to choose Moses to be His lawgiver, despite his having murdered a man; selected betrayer Peter to lead His Church, and murderer of Christians Paul to be His chief initial missionary to the Gentiles (and all four men wrote plenty of inspired Scripture). Lots of very serious sin there, all around (how many of you have pastors or priests who murdered someone?). It's tough to get around, where human beings are concerned.

Anyway, after having made these rather obvious observations, let us now see what Bugay wrote on the anti-Catholic Triablogue site where he is a regular contributor (on 11-10-11), about myself and several other apologists needing to give up our outreach and apologetics efforts altogether:

Called to Communion? Or called to be abused, only to have the “infallible” church cover it up?
. . . Those of you who defend Rome, let me ask you. What more could Rome have done? In the name of Christ, what should you be doing in the face of such a cover-up? Scott Hahn and Bryan Cross and Devin Rose and Taylor Marshall and Mark Shea and Dave Armstrong and “Catholic Answers” and all of you who are defending the Roman Catholic Church and trying to win converts to it ought to stop now what you’re doing and demand, that Rome itself repent for the sins it has committed, and to make restitution – real restitution – for the evil that its own laws and policies have perpetuated for centuries. And while you’re at it, you ought to examine your own lives and beliefs and motives. Because no artificial distinction between “dogma” and “discipline”, or “doctrine” and “canon law” can account for the pure and simple evil that Rome both perpetuates and hides over with folded hands and a smiling face. 

So, folks, it's been good, but now it's time to pack it in and call it a day: to ditch Catholicism and go be a Calvinist like John Bugay, where no sins ever occur and never will: the assembly of perfect saints and angels, because a very tiny proportion of Catholics were guilty of terrible sexual sin.

Amazingly enough, Bugay demonstrates his double standards in this regard in the very discussion thread underneath his post. Our Lord and Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ told us to take the beam out of our own eyes before complaining about the specks in others' eyes: to examine ourselves first. But he won't do that with regard to Protestant sex abuse cases. As soon as he watches the Paterno scandal he uses it as a pretext to go right back to bashing the Catholic Church. It always has to go back to that.

In the first comment under his post (written by Ron Van Brenk), a person was brought up [Patty Bonds] who has publicly stated (in print and even on television) that she was sexually abused by her Baptist pastor father (who happens to be the father of a rather well-known anti-Catholic apologist: her brother). Note that this was brought up in the combox by a fellow anti-Catholic, not myself or any Catholic. He introduced the topic. But Ron puts her down and John follows suit, saying, "I wouldn't trust her as far as I could spit her." This is how someone who says they were a victim is treated in anti-Catholic circles. It's ignored; it's not taken seriously. Patty was publicly insulted and smeared (and this is not the first time, or even close to the worst instance, believe me).

Now, let's assume for the sake of argument or neutrality that the pastor is perfectly innocent of the alleged outrage, and the woman is lying through her teeth. Still, why isn't a purported victim's report taken seriously at all? Generally, victims of abuse don't lie about it. Well, it is clearly, I think, because it is "anti-Catholic politics." A well-known and high-ranking person is in the same family, so it is immediately dismissed. In other words, it would be the same exact sort of specific sin that John blasts the Catholic Church for: covering-up incidents: politics and PR over even rudimentary truth and justice in individual cases. John proves that he acts the same way right in the thread under his post. How ironic.

Now, imagine abused victims of Catholic priests being treated in the same fashion: as soon as they make their charge they are dismissed out of hand as liars. We know that Bugay wouldn't countenance that for a second, but let a person who says they have been victimized in Protestant anti-Catholic circles speak out and she is immediately taken to be a liar and publicly trashed.

Moreover, as an example of superior anti-Catholic piety and love for all human beings, Ron linked to a post of his own of four days ago, entitled "Do NOT Pray for [So-and-So]" -- capitals his own. In this outrageous piece he mocks and derides the person, even practically making fun of physical maladies and illnesses that she is going through; and of course she is a liar: that is casually assumed. It's unbelievable.

This is a fine piece of Christian charity, isn't it? Jesus told us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us and speak evil of us. But our anti-Catholic friends will publicly urge others to not even pray at all for someone whom they have made out to be their enemy. Even if they actually were an "enemy" (and she is not) our Lord would have us pray for them, anyway!!! St. Paul wrote:


1 Timothy 2:1, 3-4 I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, . . . [3] This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, [4] who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

This is the exact opposite of how any Christian worth his or her salt should act: so absurd and sinful that it is grounds to question whether the person is a Christian at all, to have the gall to publish such a ridiculous, wicked thing.

[Note: originally at this point, I wrote about showing love towards John Bugay, by asking my readers to support his family, since his wife is suffering from leukemia, and he has publicly asked for aid (I provided a link to his PayPal account). Someone did just that and John actually returned the donation with scorn, and questioned the motives of both my appeal and this particular donation; also asked me to remove the links, so people could help him. I wrote a separate article about this pathetic incident]



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30 comments:

Devin Rose said...

Ooh wow, I'm honored to be mentioned in such great company! God bless, Dave.

Dave Armstrong said...

Me, too. I'm quite honored to be mentioned among such august comrades as yourself.

Now, let's show Christian love to John and his wife Bethany, suffering from leukemia (see the lengthy section I added at the end).

Sean Patrick said...

There will always be tares amongst the wheat if we are to believe scripture. I wonder what John would have us do? Join the PCA until it gets large enough and has some scandal of its own? I’ve told him this before, if memory serves, but the one time in my life where my own local church was hit by sexual scandal was when I was in the PCA. My parents did not leave the PCA as a result and forsake Reformed Theology!

I am reminded of a debate I recently watched between Christopher Hitchens and Alister McGrath.

Hitchens went on and on about how evils have been conducted by Christians and that people have murdered in the name of God.

McGrath's response, summarized, was, "...thousands upon thousands of good works are committed by Christians, in the name of God, for every act of evil you site."

Perhaps John should spend some time reflecting on the good that is done through the Catholic Church? Even if he hates Catholic theology he has to admit that the Catholic Church does work towards good in the world. Even from a purely secular point of view he can look at the work of Catholic Charities, Mother Theresa and run-of-the-mill Catholics doing good for their neighbors. Thousands of acts are committed daily by the Church that are truly good. John and people like him ignore those acts and instead use the scandal of abuse for their own polemical aims.

Devin Rose said...

Sean and Dave,

Very true. God love him and his family. I saw she was suffering from cancer on Jason Stellman's blog sometime back.

This Penn St. abuse scandal should show us--all of us--that we need to be vigilant and aware of any abuse that could be going on in our children's schools, relatives houses, community organizations, churches, wherever. This stuff is widespread and yet hidden.

Trying to use it as a stick to beat Catholics with isn't helpful.

Dave Armstrong said...

Folks all over the Internet are trying to tie this to Catholicism, in part because Paterno is Catholic.

But Jerry Sandusky, the perpetrator, is a (United) Methodist:

http://www.sungazette.com/page/content.detail/id/570790/Man-behind-scandal-different-than-thought-.html?nav=5017

The university President, Graham Spanier, who was also fired (since there appears to have been a serious cover-up involved), is Jewish, according to his Wikipedia page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Spanier

Case in point of my contention that sexual abuse is a huge societal problem, far greater in scope than just the Catholic Church . . .

Dave Armstrong said...

Wikipedia for Jerry Sandusky also states that "Sandusky is married and has six adopted children. He also took in foster children."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Sandusky

That disposes of the other myth that this is all about celibate priests or otherwise celibate men. Married men abuse children, too. The more myths abound about the problem, the less we will be able to do something about it.

Paul Hoffer said...

There is a serious inconsistency when Protestant folks attempt to tie particular sins to one group or another or make out sins perpetrated by Catholics to be somehow worse than those than committed by Protestants. After all, Protestants deny that there is a distinction between "mortal" and "venial" sins.

More to the point, Christ was not crucified on the cross as a result of "catholic" sins only. He was crucified because of each and every single sin committed by each and every single one of us mortals. In the eyes of Our God, we are all equally guilty. Mr. Bugay's sins crucified Christ just as surely as mine or those committed by any other sinner, Catholic or otherwise. Considering that he is equally guilty of the murder of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by virtue of his sins just as surely as those committed by any pedophile priest, does he seriously think that his restitution should be any less than theirs? Rather than rabid polemic, he should be exhorting his fellows to pray for those priests and for all sinners to repent and seek forgiveness from a God Who is as infinitely merciful as He is just. No matter how grave are our sins, God can and will forgive them if we but ask.

Thank you for pointing out the illogic of the hubris fomented by anti-Catholics who pretend that the stench of their sins is somehow less than those they caluminate against.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I will continue to pray to Our Lord for Mr. Bugay, his wife and his family that they all find grace, peace and healing.

God bless!

John Salmon said...

While it is entirely reasonable to set a higher standard for the Catholic Church, even relative to other Christian denominations, since Christ founded the Church, it is not in any way reasonable to then act as if this horrific sin is exclusive to Catholicism.

John Bugay said...

As usual, Dave, you miss the point, and the gang cheers you on in your misunderstanding. The point is not that men are not sinners, or that anyone should be “pretending that sexual abuse is not a society-wide problem that is rampant in many Protestant and other circles as well”.

The problem is the decades-long or centuries-long systemic cover-up of that abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, and even the celebration of such cover-up, demonstrated by the video I posted about the Birthday celebration for Cardinal Law. David repented; Rome does not repent. There is no other organization on earth that has engaged in such a systemic cover-up. I applauded Penn State for immediately firing even an iconic coach as Paterno for covering up sexual abuse. Rome promotes and celebrates its cover-uppers.

Why don’t you argue with that previous paragraph?

In the meantime, please take down the link to our PayPal account. One donation has come in from this bunch of mockers, and I’ve returned it. And I will return other donations if I can identify them from you or yours as well.

John Bugay said...

John Salmon: it is not in any way reasonable to then act as if this horrific sin is exclusive to Catholicism.

I never say that "abuse is exclusive to Catholicism". What I say is, "the level of cover-up [and celebration of it!] is exclusive to Roman Catholicism."

Brent Stubbs said...

John,

Your lack of understanding of Christian love is saddening. If you think we would give to your wife out of mockery, your hate for Rome has poisoned your judgment. We all have families and lives and can sympathize with the situation you are going through. God's grace empowers us to put down the apologetics sword for a moment to offer genuine support--not to win converts--but to offer genuine support. I hope that last dollar you returned wasn't the last dollar you will need. Lord have mercy.

All,

When I was a Protestant, I received sexual predator training at a school I taught at that had recently gone through an abuse crisis. The training company also did insurance for churches for this stuff. They told me that on average, there were more claims of sexual abuse amongst Protestant churches than Catholic. The problem, and everyone knows it, is that there can be no universal outcry because there is no universal church in Protestantism. If a pastor at a church in John's denomination sins, a Pentecostal church in Alabama doesn't get thrown in with the bunch. Anyways, I am saddened for the victims and think JoePa should have retired long ago. He was too old to deal with all of this. He was clearly already in legacy mode and blew this off because he was in legacy mode. I don't think he was being heinous, but Sandusky--if the claims are true--is an evil man. That doesn't mean all college football coach's are evil men or that all college football programs shield child predators or that United Methodists are pedophiles or that JoePa needs to walk around Penn State in ashes.

Also, here is Blessed PJP2 repenting, and Pope Benedict calling for repentance.

John Bugay said...

Brent, you'll have a hard time convincing me that anything coming from this group is Christian.

But in the meantime, let me ask you, did Penn State do the right thing, once the trustees found out what was going on, in firing Paterno and getting rid of the President, both who had known of the abuse and done nothing about it?

That's a question you can't answer, because Penn State did do the right thing, whereas Rome (even though you want to think it is a more "universal" organization with more abusers in it) not only didn't do the right thing, but had policies designed to avoid doing the right thing.

That's what has to gall you the most about this, and it's understandable.

But to evade it the way you do -- citing an un-named insurance salesman! -- is not adequate or helpful.

Your link to JPII "repenting" for what the RCC did to the Jews over the centuries is hardly pertinent, and nor, according to lots of people, is it a real repentance.

Why can't you guys deal with the one pertinent charge: Official Roman policies facilitated the cover up. And when the biggest enabler of all was found, he was whisked off to Rome, away from the legal authorities that could prosecute him.

Brent Stubbs said...

"the level of cover-up [and celebration of it!] is exclusive to Roman Catholicism."

It is going to take more that assertion or a blog post to prove that. You do understand that is an epic claim that would require massive evidence as compared to other cover-ups? Also, if you think Catholics celebrate it, you are grossly mistaken. Throwing a birthday party for an 80 year old has nothing to do with his questionable actions. It was the day he was born! Should JoePa never receive a birthday party again? How many blind Penn-State lemmings were in the streets supporting JoePa? Are they celebrating the cover-up and evil?

No.

In your article, you link to a 1922 article from the Vatican, but that document did not have anything to do directly with child sexual abuse (but rather just the general evil of solicitation in general). The malady of pedophilia, as you well know, was a rather unknown evil in the 20th century. Psychologists were mixed as to the prospects of rehabilitation.

Lastly, as you know, the Catholic Church in the US makes up a very small minority of what constitutes the Church. The sexual problems in the Church are not unique to her but mirror the general problems of this culture. As more come down exclusively on the Church, expect to see more exposure of similar abuse and perceived cover-up in other various institutions. In fact, there are many other places that a child is more vulnerable to abuse than a Catholic Church. You can research all of that here: http://www.childhelp.org/

Brent Stubbs said...

John,

1. That's fine if I cannot convince you
2. You mentioned centuries of cover-up and perpetuated evil so I thought I would link to two acts of repentance
3. Penn State has learned what the right thing to do is only after the Church's example. Try to volunteer at a Catholic Church now and see what it is like. Also, the vetting process of priests now is excruciating.
4. Not some salesman: http://www.catholicleague.com/research/abuse_in_social_context.htm (data from Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Human Services)

I will pray for your wife this morning.

Brent Stubbs said...

"the level of cover-up [and celebration of it!] is exclusive to Roman Catholicism."

It is going to take more that assertion or a blog post to prove that. You do understand that is an epic claim that would require massive evidence as compared to other cover-ups? Also, if you think Catholics celebrate it, you are grossly mistaken. Throwing a birthday party for an 80 year old has nothing to do with his questionable actions. It was the day he was born! Should JoePa never receive a birthday party again? How many blind Penn-State lemmings were in the streets supporting JoePa? Are they celebrating the cover-up and evil?

No.

In your article, you link to a 1922 article from the Vatican, but that document did not have anything to do directly with child sexual abuse (but rather just the general evil of solicitation in general). The malady of pedophilia, as you well know, was a rather unknown evil in the 20th century. Psychologists were mixed as to the prospects of rehabilitation.

Lastly, as you know, the Catholic Church in the US makes up a very small minority of what constitutes the Church. The sexual problems in the Church are not unique to her but mirror the general problems of this culture. As more come down exclusively on the Church, expect to see more exposure of similar abuse and perceived cover-up in other various institutions. In fact, there is one place that a child is more likely to get abused than any other place--and it is not a Catholic Church.

John Bugay said...

Brent, I'm running off to work and don't have time to stay here and have a discussion. I just wanted to stop by and register my general disagreement with the approach here.

But one thing. If you are going to say, The malady of pedophilia, as you well know, was a rather unknown evil in the 20th century, you had better make some exception for all the priests in the 1930's and 40's who knew enough about it to get away with it. (Much less the wave of them in the post Vatican II church).

Brent Stubbs said...

John,

God bless you and your wife. Take care.

Brent Stubbs said...

the comment about the "unknown evil" of it directly relates to our understanding of how or if one could be rehabilitated. I am not implying that we did not know it was evil.

Sean Patrick said...

"...let me ask you, did Penn State do the right thing, once the trustees found out what was going on, in firing Paterno and getting rid of the President, both who had known of the abuse and done nothing about it?"

"That's a question you can't answer"


Oh, I can answer. Penn State did the right the thing.

"Because Penn State did do the right thing, whereas Rome (even though you want to think it is a more "universal" organization with more abusers in it) not only didn't do the right thing, but had policies designed to avoid doing the right thing."

This is simply false and you know it. There was no 'policy' about shuffling around accused priests. There was no policy against reporting abuse to law enforcement.

Cardinal Law, if guilty of cover up, should be held accountable. It is obvious that he mishandled, nay grossly mishandled things and exercised horrible judgment. While we don’t know all the details, I would certainly feel better about it if he were in a more penitent role and I completely agree with John that having a birthday party like that is scandalous.

John, I am pretty darn sure that all of us are as disgusted with abuse as you. The difference is that we know that there is sin and misjudgment and bad characters in the Church and there will always be sin and misjudgment and bad characters in the Church. If you want a church free from that than you had better leave your PCA church right away and start a home church where nobody is allowed to enter except your family (and keep a close watch on them).

Sean Patrick said...

"And while you’re at it, you ought to examine your own lives and beliefs and motives."

And, by the way, I noticed that from your blog.

What is that supposed to mean?

Devin Rose said...

John,

Well, I was the one who made the donation, which no one here knew, and I intended it to be anonymous, but I saw that you rejected the donation earlier today. That's your prerogative.

But know that I did not make it in mockery or cunning. We happen to have enough right now to help others with, and that includes Catholics, Protestants, non-Christians, whoever is in need. So I donated a small amount to help y'all. I understand that you think Catholicism is evil and so you didn't accept it. God bless.

Roberto Jung said...

It would be apropos to cite Fr. Rick Malloy, S.J.'s "From ‘Sin’ and 'Compulsion' to 'Crime': Trying to understand the crisis of the past 25 years", a (now subscriber-only) article from January, regarding the question of a cover-up of child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church:

Part 1/4

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Well, no one ever called me an angel. And it may be foolish to try and say anything in the present context that simply doesn’t echo the endless charges of “cover-up,” “insensitive/incompetent bishops,” or “the Church still doesn’t ‘get it.’ ” Yet, I hope thinking through the crisis will be more helpful than self-righteously and loudly condemning the hierarchy.

"First, know that I — and any sane and sensitive priest — hate and abhor what was done by priests to innocent children. One child molested is one too many. The pedophiles and ephebophiles in the church have caused incalculable harm to both the children they abused and violated, and all those torn apart by collateral damage. SNAP and other organizations deserve our thanks for forcing all to deal with these realities.

"In 1985, as the disturbing reports of serial child molester Father Gilbert Gauthe of Louisiana became known, due in large part to the courageous journalism of Jason Berry and the National Catholic Reporter, I was in theology studies. Those were turbulent times for those preparing for ordination. Liberation theology and questions like women’s ordination were being hotly debated. Gauthe’s case raised even more questions. Still, a few persevered to ordination.

"‘Good. This Is Being Handled’
"In 1988 I was sent to our Jesuit parish in Camden, N.J. Early in his tenure, Bishop James T. McHugh called all the priests working in the Camden diocese to a mandatory meeting. I was impressed. He let it be known in no uncertain terms: things were changing. We were told if there was an accusation against any of us, we were on our own. Prepare to get a lawyer. Do not expect any preferential treatment from the diocese. Civil authorities would be informed. I thought, “Good. This is being handled. Cases like Gauthe won’t happen again.”

"Was I wrong. The efforts of bishops like McHugh were too late. The 2002-2003 daily front page excoriations of the Church burst the festering boil. Under mounting pressure, the bishops authorized an independent study. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice found that between 1950 and 2002, 4% of Catholic priests had been accused of sexual abuse. 10,667 people reported being sexually abused as children by 4,392 priests (about 4% of all 109,694 priests). The study also found that the rate of pedophilia in the church was no higher than in other institutions in society.

"I don’t blame the media for focusing attention on the crimes, but when ABC Evening News reports (March 29, 2010), relying on www.bishopsaccountability.org, that 5%-10% of priests “are abusers,” they contradict the most authoritative study to date. The 96% of priests, 99.9% of the sisters and the vast majority of the laity who never hurt a child also have had to confront what all this means.

"No More than Other Institutions
"Newsweek reported in April 2010 that Catholic priests’ rate of abusing children is no more than other institutions: “…experts who study child abuse say they see little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue. ‘We don’t see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else,’ said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. ‘I can tell you without hesitation that we have seen cases in many religious settings, from traveling evangelists to mainstream ministers to rabbis and others.’ ”"

Roberto Jung said...

Part 2/4

"The problem is massive and extends far beyond the Church’s walls — 25% of girls and 16% of boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, and 20% of all children will suffer abuse before the age of eight. There are 39 million people in the United States today who have survived sexual abuse in their childhood; 30% to 40% suffer abuse at the hands of a family member, or an older child; only 10% are abused by strangers.

"To understand what happened, one must realize this: what previously had been considered a sin came to be understood as a crime. What once was seen as a treatable, compulsive condition, understood as something to be handled quietly by an institution’s authorities, came to be seen as something best dealt with by the criminal justice system.

"Cultural mores shifted, obviously for the better. Back when homosexual activity was a crime, pedophilia (Andrew Sullivan and others call it “child rape”) committed by a priest was a sin. In the 1960s and 1970s, police were routinely sent out to try and catch homosexuals in the act and arrest them. Today, homosexuality is accepted by large sectors of society. Priest pedophiles are those who can never be understood nor forgiven, and any bishop that didn’t defrock a priest after the first allegation is considered guilty of cover-up.

"Priests who abuse children are today justly treated as criminals. Their pedophiliac condition, whether caused by their being molested as children themselves, or perversely freely chosen, results in arrest and jail time.

"Statutes of Limitation Overridden
"The children molested by priests can sue the Church, a possibility denied many children molested by adults in other institutions. Statute of limitation laws are overridden, and the criminal justice system yields to cries for vengeance or justice depending on your perspective. The reason given: many so traumatized cannot come forward in the time allotted. The Church has paid billions, and the bill keeps climbing, much of the money coming from people in the pews who did no wrong. Millions go to lawyers who are not working pro bono.

"The constantly repeated charge of cover-up masks the fact that many bishops and religious superiors were following the standard operating procedures of the times. In 1961, John Kennedy, a Catholic, had to justify his right to run for President. In that year, if a Bishop McGillicuddy had taken a Father Smith down to the local precinct and told the police sergeant to book him, and that Johnny the altar boy would soon be brought in by his parents to press charges, everyone would have said the bishop was crazy.

"In Those Times
"In 1952, 1966, 1974 or 1982, neither parents nor police were publicly decrying how bishops handled these matters. In those times, if journalists knew about it, they weren’t saying any more than they did about John Kennedy’s multiple marital infidelities. Often money was given to either pay for needed therapy for the victim, or in some small measure, to try and make amends. Now such payments are categorized as “hush money.” René Girard’s cogent analysis of scapegoating is applicable here. We need someone to blame, someone to punish: bishops are the most convenient target."

Roberto Jung said...

Part 3/4

"Well into the late 1980s, Church leaders were being told by therapists at rehab centers that priests with this “problem” had been “treated” and could be placed back in ministerial positions, sometimes with the caveat that the priest would have no contact with minors. What seems so horrible now, the moving of priests from parish to parish, did not seem so crazy in 1978. That was the year The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) was formed. It is incredible that that organization still exists and has a website, but in 1978 it seemed their views were worth at least being given a hearing. To think or speak as if this problem exists in the Catholic Church alone is disingenuous.

"It was not the fact of the matter that bishops were sitting around conspiring actively to encourage priests to go and molest more children. Bishops, parents, cops — and everyone else in the decades preceding the sexual revolution of the late 1960s — did not deal openly or forthrightly about sexual matters. Bishops probably wanted to handle these matters quickly and quietly and get on to other concerns. Does this indicate 1) a cover-up evidencing a callous disregard for the welfare of children, 2) a justifiable fear of gravely harming the Church by being open about this issue, or 3) an, in hindsight, bewildering incompetency? Probably a combination of the second (and in their defense, note how these revelations have hurt the Church) and third (no one suggests the bishops did anything right). Still, I hesitate to charge them with the first.

"Cultural Cues Available
"The vast majority of bishops were good and decent men, and none of them had any training, or much help, in dealing with sexual deviants. Nor were they schooled in the intricacies of public relations in a world with a 24/7 news cycle. A Jesuit would be appointed provincial and in a matter of weeks go from decades of scholarly pursuits to a six-year term as an administrator of some 600 to 1,000 men, without a day of management training. They cared deeply about children, but what could we expect them to have done, given the times and cultural cues available to them?

"They didn’t act any differently from the family who kept a close eye on Uncle Eddie at Thanksgiving or the school principal who kept Mr. Jones away from the first and second graders. If the bishops and provincials had covered this up, there would not be hundreds of thousands of incriminating letters and other documents in Church files.

"Even parents were not always immediately outraged. Even they did not initially call for priests to be put in jail. The first reaction to Gauthe was to get him “help.” In 1972, Gauthe was caught after molesting three boys. Parents confronted him. In his deposition Gauthe stated, “They simply asked me if I had been involved with any of the children, and I said, ‘Yes.’ And I asked them if they would help me find a good psychiatrist.” A lady made an appointment for him. “And,” he said, “I simply kept it.” Gauthe said the parents paid for these sessions, which lasted several months and that he did not report them to Church superiors”.

"In the 1980s, a Jesuit in California moved to Los Angeles where he was able to more easily and often visit his brother and his family. He was caught molesting his nieces by his brother, an LAPD police officer. His brother, a cop, didn’t arrest him. He told him he needed help. “I threw him out of my house,” Larry Lindner said. He urged his brother to seek treatment but did not report him to authorities. “I trusted him,” Larry Lindner said. “I told him, ‘I’m not going to ruin your life or ruin your career. Just go get help.’ ... I should have had him arrested right there. But he’s still my brother, and I did what I thought a brother should do”."

Roberto Jung said...

Part 4/4

"Many bishops who acted like those parents in the Gauthe case or Officer Linder are being castigated for not acting as omniscient CEOs. In reality, the relationship of bishop to priest ought to be more like brother to brother than boss to employee. The bishops had to consider and care for all the Church: the victims, the victimizers, and everyone who would be affected by revelations of abuse.

"In 1990, Judgment, a good and balanced movie starring Keith Carradine and Blythe Danner presented the excruciatingly difficult choices bishops confronted. In one scene, the bishop wants to reach out pastorally to the family of children abused by a priest character based on the real life Gilbert Gauthe. The lawyers tell the bishop that, if he meets with the family, he will be admitting guilt. He is told that he can speak with the family or save the diocese from financial ruin. But he cannot do both.

"In the age before Oprah’s and reality TV’s constant self-revelation, the world and the Church felt that some things were not aired in public, much the way universities don’t place date rape info in their recruitment materials, nor do banks highlight the history of any embezzlers in their midst. Today, some bishops are unjustly held to a standard neither they, nor anyone else at the time, expected them to meet. Many of those bishops are dead. Many who were bishops and provincials in the 1980s gradually began to realize that a radically different approach was needed.

"Zero Tolerance Policy
"Since 2002, the Church has had a policy of zero tolerance. If anyone accuses a priest, that priest is immediately removed from ministry until the matter is resolved. Although false accusations are rare, priests are completely vulnerable to whomever wants to make a baseless claim. Priests must never engage in any kind of abuse. “When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants”

"The problem isn’t zero tolerance. The problem isn’t celibacy. Ninety-six percent of the priests were not pedophiles, while many married men are. The problem isn’t homosexuality. The investigators from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice told the bishops last fall that there is no connection between homosexual priests and pedophilia. The high incidence of boys being molested by priests was due to the fact that priests had easier access to boys. When Father Bill took the altar boys on a camping trip, he was considered a “great guy.” If Father Bill had suggested taking the fifth and sixth grade girls on a camping trip, people would have thought that weird. The problem isn’t callous, insensitive bishops or incompetent provincials. Most of them did the best they could with the resources and within the cultural mores available at the time. The problem is: what do we do now and in the future?

[paragraph about the faithful continuing in Catholicism skipped to save space]

"We need new Catherines of Siena, Francises of Assisi, Ignatiuses of Loyola, Dorothy Days, Thomas Mertons, Oscar Romeros and Dan Berrigans to reinvigorate and renew the Church. The Catholic Church is the largest private provider of social services in the United States. We cannot allow Catholic schools, soup kitchens, nursing homes, hospitals, social outreach programs, family service organizations, prison ministries, AIDS ministries and myriad other local, national and global charitable institutions to fall victim to the present crisis.

"The thousands of children harmed can never be forgotten or ignored. But let’s not compound the crimes of a small percentage of priests by letting their actions destroy not just the souls and lives of too many children, but also the mission and ministries of the whole Church. TP"

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks very much for the article.

Roberto Jung said...

You're welcome. Please disseminate the article as widely as you can--it's the best response to the "cover-up" charge I've ever seen. And here's the missing paragraph from part four--for the sake of completeness:

"The amazing reality is that so many Catholics are sticking with the Church. Recently, I presided at a firstcommunion celebration. A packed church accompanying some 40 second graders, the boys looking cool in blue suits and the girls in an array of white dresses, the parents hovering as they walk up with their child to receive the Lord in the Eucharist, the grandparents, brothers and sisters, the teachers and the school’s big kids in the choir and as altar servers: the Church continues."

Ross Earl Hoffman said...

John Bugay Honestly. Do you REALLY think, these Anti-Catholic attacks, ACTUALLY work, against the "Elect"? Why don't you actually focus ON YOUR own Salvation."WORK OUT, your Salvation with FEAR AND TREMBLING." And come to grips, with the FACT, St. Paul is clearly teaching, we MUST be worthy to receive the Eucharist. YOUR anti-Catholic nonsense, ONLY affects YOU. We have the Valid Sacraments, to assure us, of a worthy Participation, in the Body and Blood of Christ, which is the Holy Mass.The ONLY APOLOGY we should see, from YOU, is your lack of sincerity, as a Christian. If I were YOU, I would take sometime, and actually LEARN, what your own very Catholic Bible is teaching. 1 Corinthians 11.23-29

"For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Again, how telling! Note how as early as the time St. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians around AD 56 the Eucharist was understood literally. Also, if the bread and wine used for the Mass remained merely bread and wine, it wouldn't make sense for St. Paul to have stressed that receiving Communion unworthily would bring down a stern judgment on us.
Sincerely, "A very happy Ex-Fundamentalist now Catholic! In Christ through Mary Ross

Paul Hoffer said...

I wonder if Mr. Bugay has the moral courage to respond to this article:

http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/abbott/100424#fn42

According to the studies cited in the article between 1950 and 2002, there are an average 260 reports of child molestation by Protestant clergy and volunteers per year compared to 84 incidents by Catholic clergy. These numbers are backed up by another study that suggests that 0.2 percent and 1.7 percent of priests are pedophiles, compared to 2 to 3 percent of Protestant clergy.

Given our flawed human nature and how Satan works, sexual sin is something that will always plague the Church, perhaps because it is the aspect of us--the relational and unitive qualities of our sexuality which most reflects the Imago Dei--that Satan hates the most about us as human beings.

God bless!

Jim Paton said...

"stop now what you’re doing"

The Bugay doth protest too much, methinks.