Unedited

Below, in descending order, are Steven’s thoughts on clerical abuse.

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Saturday, 11.17.18

Re: Nothing new

Below is an article from the November issue of Messenger of Saint Anthony, which highlights passages from Saint Anthony’s sermons about the corruption of the clergy in his time.  Saint Anthony lived from 1195 to 1231, by the way.

So should we take comfort in knowing that the behavior of priests is nothing new?

I think not!

As we know, knowledge of these acts and sermons about them do nothing to dissuade the behavior.  Note that the corrective action taken eight-hundred years ago was to send the miscreants off for two years of “penance in a remote location.”  That’s pretty much the same thing that has been going on in the twenty-first century.  Church progress equals zero.

But what HAS happened is that the laity has grown in power and involvement subsequent to Vatican II despite the best efforts of the clergy.

Cue news anchor Howard Beale and the film Network, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”

Clergy, your server has delivered your check, and it’s time to pay up.

Link of interest…  Corrupt clergy

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Thursday, 10.25.18

Re: Why they stay.  Why they can’t.

This interactive article was published in today’s electronic New York Times.

I think we can identify with each of the ten individuals spotlighted in it.  There are those who stay and those who have left.  Some are angry, some not so much, but all are disgusted and saddened.  Some wait for change, others work for it.  All are shaken, but no one blames God and has abandoned him.

They each are a piece of the puzzle.  But there are over a billion pieces in our Catholic puzzle; and right now, they do not all fit together to make one meaningful picture.  Therein lies the core challenge for the Church.

But back to basics.

We were all taught in Catechism that “confession is good for the soul.”  It is a requirement for Catholics to heal the broken relationship with God, to restore the state of grace in us.  We cannot obtain absolution and true forgiveness for our sins without it.  It’s time for the clergy to step into the confessional.  Too bad for them that it is a public one.  But then, they have worked for centuries to hide what has been happening, so their penance cannot be concealed if the church is to heal.

For our confession to be valid, we must state and mean, “I will sin no more and avoid whatever leads me to sin.”  So must the clergy do this.  And then the kicker–they have to prove it to us.  Over time… a long time.  We will not heal in a week.

Link of interest…  Why they stay.  Why they can’t: New York Catholics wrestle with the faith over abuse allegations

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Friday, 10.19.18

Re: Alternative rationale

This morning’s New York Times (NYT) article on the Justice Department’s investigation into the Pennsylvania Catholic diocesan scandal included the following paragraph:

The Associated Press reported that the subpoenas, which sought testimony as well as records, were aimed at finding any evidence of federal crimes, including whether sexual predators were reassigned, people were instructed not to contact police or any children were taken across state lines for illicit purposes.

We know that many of the predators were reassigned, so it appears that there is a de facto violation of federal law.

While there is some satisfaction in the Feds going after the problem, it is out of character for this administration to pursue any kind of sexual misbehavior.  His nibs, the Prez, is too vulnerable, eh?  So, what’s up?

The same NYT article continued with this:

The grand jury report this summer has continued to reverberate through Pennsylvania. On Wednesday night, the State Senate adjourned without voting on a measure, prompted by the grand jury report, that would create a brief window for victims of child sexual abuse to sue their abusers, and institutions that may have shielded them, even after the civil statute of limitations had passed.

So, the majority Republican Pennsylvania Senate would not pass legislature to temporarily suspend the statute of limitations so the victims of abuse could sue either the perpetrators or the Church.

It may be a stretch, but it appears to be out of character for the Republican Party to pursue any kind of sexual misbehavior as well.  Need more proof of this sweeping condemnation?  Ask about the bill that was introduced to change the law that applies to Congress regarding sexual harassment.  That stink from months ago has disappeared from public view and is going to die because of Republican majority suppression.

So, why are the Feds in a Republican-controlled government going after the Church when the behavior is not something that bothers them much?

My Machiavellian mind says it is a ruse to finally remove the tax-exempt status for religious organizations, to allow income and property to be taxed by both federal and state authorities.  Of course, this would have to be applied to all religious organizations equally in order to be constitutional— Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Shinto, and even animist religions would be subject to the new law.

And my Machiavellian mind says that if that happens, all of the other religions will hold the Catholics responsible and will form a solid block of animosity and opposition to the Church as a result.  Whoa!  That has the potential to make the Protestant Reformation look like a good day!

Then my Machiavellian mind tells me that the Republicans may have found a whole herd of cash cows to offset the moronic tax cut for the wealthy/corporations that was passed.  At the same time, it totally diverts attention from their assaults on human decency, the environment, scientific integrity, and the use of this nation to further enrich the rich–among other things too numerous to list.

As my imagination goes down this path, I keep remembering the Law of Unintended Consequences and the adage, “Be careful what you ask for.”  While I do not think we should back off on any pressure we are putting on the Church and its hierarchy, I do recommend we think about a bit of restraint and give the world’s largest bureaucracy some (not a lot, just some) time to respond to the crisis.

In the strategic planning process, we define where an organization is now, what the desired end state should look like, and then build action plans to get us from here to there.  General Colin Powell observed that the Iraqi War was basically a failure because there was no unified concept of what the world should look like AFTER the war.  We went in wanting Saddam gone but had no plan for what to do next.  We have to define the end game before the first shot is fired.

Reformation of the Catholic Church demands a strategy and a plan.

And that need points out that we have three BIG problems facing us (as Catholics, not simply Call to Action):

There is so much secrecy and has been so much cover-up in the Church that we cannot define with any measure of certainty where we really are now.

Our emotional desire for change and an open Church is still fragmented.  There is no universally accepted concept of what the Church should be when the dust settles.  I doubt that such a concept is possible given the full spectrum of reactionary traditionalists to radical reformers that we have in our ranks.

We not only don’t have a plan, we barely have a clue.  There’s an old Chinese saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

I’m confident in saying that we will not see the desired Church in our lifetime.  I doubt that we will see a coherent and widely accepted concept for such a Church either.  What we have now is unacceptable— but we don’t even know how unacceptable it is.

So it appears that we are in the infancy of Step One.  Therefore, our efforts need to be focused on peeling away the secrecy.   WE THE PEOPLE must be fully aware of what OUR clergy are doing and how OUR Church is operated so that we understand reality as it is today.  That alone is going to be a major reform and will alter the relationship between the faithful and prelates.  We need to be prepared for more unpleasant surprises, shady deals, unacceptable behaviors, and sins that will shake our allegiance.

So be it.

Okay, Catholic clergy.  Your personal embarrassment from going “open cassock/open habit” is nothing compared to the global embarrassment our Church is experiencing.  For the good of the Church and as part of your penance, time for confession.

Remember, it’s a sacrament.

Links of interest…  Call to Action (CTA)…  Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania face federal inquiry into sexual abuse

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Thursday, 10.11.18

Re: What happened to the Catholic Church?

Some of you may have parts one and two in the National Catholic Reporter— really illuminating, written dispassionately, albeit with well-placed irony.  If not, both are worth the time to peruse reporting of factual matters, not hysteria or one-sided opinions.

Two things that leap out at me are:

  1. Secrecy begets continuity of immorality and illegality, and the Church has perfected secrecy.
  2. Celibacy was mandated about 1100 AD in order to eliminate ownership claims against Church property by priests’ heirs.  It was all about the money and had nothing to do with holiness or “marriage to the Church” or other such nonsense.

Even though factual and reported in journalism style, the articles cannot disguise Mr. Jones’s revulsion at some of the behaviors happening behind the scenes.  He also points out aspects of the Church bureaucracy and management that are admirable.

The latter gives some hope that there is a foundation for revision and healing.  But the key players have to be changed.

Links of interest…  National Catholic Reporter: Accountability…  What happened to the Catholic Church: Part One & Part Two

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Monday, 10.8.18

Re: Church and state

Pennsylvania is a great case study.  Despite the sweeping indictment, it illuminates the two-faced nature of the hierarchy, offering public promises of open records while frantically taking legal steps to keep documents sealed.  It also shows the reluctance of politicians to change the law regarding the statute of limitations despite the massive public support for that.  Could it be that the Church has its hand in their pockets?

We have to keep the pressure up on both church and state.  I fear they are tied together far more incestuously than we know.  There is more to it than meets the eye.  The legislatures have been wanting to make religious property subject to taxes— but the have to apply it to all religions, not just Catholic properties.  And then they will probably have to make it applicable to all non-profits, with disastrous results to many entities.

Oh, don’t forget that the NRA is a tax-exempt non-profit.

Our list is growing.  It used to be used-car and insurance salesmen.  Then we added lawyers.  In recent years, politicians jumped into the cesspool.  Now we include clergy.

There are dangers to generalization, of course.  But we have come to recognize the greater dangers of trusting those who are supposed to serve us.

Link of interest…  The nation’s investigations into the Catholic Church are only just beginning

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Saturday, 9.29.18

Re: Vatican II

As mentioned last week, we’re attending the Fullness of Truth conference in Austin.  Mass today was to honor the Feast of the Archangels.

It was more than merely an “Extraordinary” Mass in Latin. It was a full-on formal St. Michaelmas High Mass as celebrated between the fifth and eighteenth centuries.  We had seminarians helping with the Gregorian-chanted portions, multiple altar boys (no girls, of course), Deacons kneeling on the stone floor but not assisting in the ceremony, and naturally the Priest with his back to the congregation doing things no one but an altar boy could see and saying things only that boy could hear.  Even the Epistle and Gospel were sung in Latin.  One had to kneel up front for Communion— on the tongue only, mumbled phrase in Latin to go with it.

Six candles, incense by the ritualistic hierarchy (altar and cross get three sets of two thurible waves, priest gets one set of three waves, deacons each get one set of two waves, each altar server gets a single wave, and entire congregation gets one wave center, one left and one right), and, naturally, a collection.  Pure old school Catholicism.

And it really showed why Vatican II’s reforms to the Mass were right and why the clergy’s resistance to fully implementing the revisions are part of our current crisis.  Even a part of the Mass was called the “Secret” of you recall.  I think the mystery of the Mass is related to God’s participation, not what the priest is doing at the altar.  But it exhibited the priest’s power and how things are not to be shared with us commoners.

It was offensive, not beautiful.  It was exclusive, not for us or with us, and it showed that ONLY the priest talks to God.  Baloney!

The Latin Mass needs to go away.  It is part of the abusive system, focuses on the power of the priest, is male-exclusive, and highlights a language that means nothing to most.  It was a way to weaken Vatican II by re-authorizing exclusive power by the Church and emphasizing the separation of the clergy from the laity.

Oh, and the celebrant was from the Holy Cross Order, the Crosiers, who went bankrupt in the US after paying off scandals from child abuse by priests and are now based out of Brazil.

Small wonder that the “old way” was being espoused.

But then there was God’s sense of humor to offset the darkness.  The proper Gospel for the Michaelmas is Matthew 18:1-10.  So the Crosier priest had to elaborate on Matthew 18:6, “… he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.”  He called on the archangel to destroy the demons that had possessed the church and caused the current crisis.

He failed to note that the demons are wearing Roman collars.

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Re: Added note

Deli had to leave the Mass before Communion.  It was hypocrisy for her to stay.  I’ll admit I participated in the Eucharist but had to depart before the Benediction.

The Deacon who administered Communion to our section of the church had to read the sacramental blessing in Latin from a printed card he held in his off-hand.  If you have not been to an Extraordinary Form Mass, the Priest/Deacon makes the sign of the cross with the host before each communicant and says, “Corpus Domini Nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam, amen,” meaning “may the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting, amen.”  The communicant says nothing because the amen has already been spoken.  (Note: As an honors student in Latin with five years of study, I attest that this Deacon had lousy pronunciation of Latin!)

The Crosier priest wore the old style cassock with a black leather belt cinched at the waist, another affectation from decades past.   I’m kind of surprised he did not wear a biretta to go with it.  There were other retroactive displays, but I’ll leave it at these.

Links of interest…  Crosier list of credibly accused (abuse revealed)…  Fullness of Truth: Angels & Demons…  What is a St. Michaelmas high Mass

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Friday, 9.14.18

Re: NYT op-ed

This morning’s edition of the New York Times has an op-ed authored by the entire editorial board.

In the opening paragraph, the summary is on the mark: “The unending revelations of clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups demand radical, public, convincing systemic change.”

Link of interest…  The Catholic Church’s unholy stain

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Wednesday, 9.12.18

Re: Managing the crisis

Most of us have heard one or more of the many management gurus repeat the “Rule of P-7” in their spiels.  In case your memory is a bit hazy, that stands for “Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.”  It’s a good place to start for many organizations.

The Church is no exception, of course.

In an effective planning process, a key step is identification of weaknesses and vulnerabilities and taking effective steps to mitigate them.  Failed!

In managing an organization’s quality performance, either of products or services, a core tenet must be an “all-out crisis response” to dissatisfied customers.  As Catholics, we not only constitute the church itself, but we are also the customers of the Church’s processes (note big and little “C” use).  Failed!

An organization is nothing more than a group of human individuals aligned to accomplish a common purpose.  If there is no alignment, the organization will not progress towards its goals.  If it does not take into account the human needs of its members, it will frustrate them and sow its own seeds of discord.  Mandatory vows of celibacy violate one of the most basic needs of humans, so the Church institutionalizes one of the roots of its problems.  Failed again!

It seems like time for a new “Rule of P-7” for the Catholic Church.

  1. Protest – the cover-up is as bad as the crime because it allows it to continue.  We the church must stand up.
  2. Publicity – the records must be opened and the guilty identified.
  3. Purge – the guilty must be removed.
  4. Punishment – civil statutes of limitations may have expired, but there is no time limit on sin.  There must be action.
  5. Penance – by the Church with sincere humility.  And with visible commitment to “avoid what leads us to sin.”
  6. Positive change – to include women and the laity in all rituals and the management of the Church.
  7. Promptness – do it now!  Stop putzing around.  This is not a “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” headache!

After centuries of abuse of power, taking advantage of the people, and flaunting of royal privilege, the French Revolution removed its aristocracy.  Today I hear sympathy with the “Off with their heads!” shouts of the masses in the late 18th Century.  If the Church does not see this crisis of trust as potentially more disastrous than the Protestant Reformation, it may face its own Bastille Day soon.

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Sunday, 9.9.18

Re: Cartoon

“I know my sheep, and my sheep know me…” (John 10:14).

So, in keeping with Jesus own words, the people (who constitute the church) have been treated like sheep.  The priests are even called “pastors of their flock.”  We are considered to stupid to find our own pastures or protect ourselves from predators.

But who has led us to slaughter?  Our lambs are now victims.

Today’s comics include this one.  It contains multiple messages for us about the Catholic crisis.  The more I look at it, the more I see.  I’m sure unintended.  Or not.

Stephan Pastis has a BA in Political Science and a Juris Doctor.  He is a Greek Orthodox Catholic.  Perhaps NOT.

Links of interest…  Pearls Before Swine…  Stephan Pastis (facebook)

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Re: Associated Press

The article below appeared in today’s Corpus Christi Caller-Times.  It is from the AP news feed.  I thought several phrases were spot-on.

  • Paragraph 3: “it’s up to them to confront the problem and save the church”
  • Paragraph 9: “we are the Church, every bit as much as the cardinals and bishops”
  • Paragraph 15: “waiving confidentiality agreements for all past settlements”
  • Paragraph 16: “there’s no reason why we can’t take this issue and make the solution our own responsibility”

There is no mention of Call to Action (CTA).  As an organization that has been around for some time and that is a proponent of changes in the Church that have the potential to counter some of the scandalous behaviors now coming to light, CTA should be standing up and taking advantage of the publicity opportunity.  Yes, that is capitalizing on the dreadful.  But only a vocal, active and involved laity will be effective in countering the hierarchy’s obfuscation and suppression of records.  Just as LUPE and other immigrant support organizations are standing up to ICE and DHS and the Justice Department and gaining popular support, CTA, FutureChurch, SNAP and others must form a coalition based on commonalities and take the Vatican to the mat.

Links of interest…  Call to Action…  Catholic laity demand change amid scandals…  FutureChurch…  LUPE…  SNAP (call for grand juryin Texas)

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Tuesday, 9.4.18

Re: Gospel

In today’s Gospel, we find this passage:

What is there about his word?  For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out (Luke 4:36).

Isn’t it interesting that the clergy, especially those elevated to high office, have abandoned Christ’s teachings and Godly ways, have become infested with demons of all kinds, whereas the laity is now stepping into the role of Jesus, are starting to command the evil spirits to come out?

But why should it be otherwise?  Two things to keep in mind:

Only Saint Peter was placed in charge of his church by Jesus, and only the original Apostles had divine commissioning to “do this in memory of me.”  The clergy claims that every ordination can be traced directly back to Jesus, that the “laying on of hands” is a divine lineage, and so we must obey them because they “are Jesus” in their actions.  But ever since the original group, our leadership has been elected by others (mostly men).  Thus the Church now has over 2,000 years of introducing human fallibility.

We are the church, not the hierarchy that struts in finery, lives in luxury and keeps all records in secret to protect itself.  Why should we abandon Christ and His word?  Which Jesus should we follow, the one who taught us love and gave us the Lord’s prayer and the Beatitudes and died for us, or the ones who claim Jesus’ mantle while embracing the Evil One?

Time to cast out the demons.

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Wednesday, 8.29.18

Re: National Catholic Reporter article on clergy abuse

I believe Jaime Manson’s statement about moving on simply reflects a total lack of confidence that the Church will take action and that individuals cannot trust the Church to protect them, prevent further abuse, or remove the perpetrators.  The Church has spent over 2,000 years perfecting how to keep its hands in our pockets and to insure the masses are enslaved to its dictates by threat of eternal damnation.  It will not fix itself, nor will it help us.  If we do not take control of our own emotional and physical well-being, we will remain in thrall to the abusers— who are still in power.

I think it is time for Call to Action to rise to the cause of justice, not merely social justice, but complete justice for all members of the Catholic Church.  In the United States, every state should convene a grand jury like Pennsylvania did, publish the results, and name names.  Every state should abolish the statute of limitations on sexual abuse and predation of the innocent.  The diocesan records must be opened and made available to the public and to the courts, and the guilty should be put away.  Any religious named in a grand jury report must be removed from office immediately.

If ever there was an opportunity for a pope to give credibility to the now-weakened office, Francis can do so by finding a modern equivalent of Gehenna and casting the guilty, cardinal to deacon, into that pit.  Sure, we’ll pray for them and the Church; but ACTION is demanded if trust is to be restored.  We ALL must do penance in order to obtain forgiveness!

There’s an old saying about leadership, that one “oh, s—” overwhelms all the “attaboy’s” one has ever received.  The Church hierarchy has amassed an incredible array of “oh, s—‘s” and almost no “attaboy’s” of late, so there is a long way to go before we can— or should— believe it is worth our trust again.

I spent twenty-five years as an officer in the US Navy.  I was there in the early 70’s when the service did something about its racist and discriminatory practices regarding blacks and other ethnic minorities, such as Filipinos and Hispanics.  I was there in the 70’s and 80’s when the services admitted that society’s drug problems had pervaded our ranks, threatened our mission effectiveness, and had to be stopped.  I was there in 1991-92 when the Navy’s Tailhook scandal erupted, and I became a group facilitator/presenter on the effects of the sexual predation and alcohol abuse that was both tolerated and prevalent in the officer corps.  The point is that we recognized our faults, we acknowledged them publicly, and we DID something about them.  The guilty were identified, punished, or removed from our community; and policies of zero-tolerance were established.  Do all of those continue?  Yes.  And when discovered today, they result in swift and strict justice.

Until the Church does something similar, it cannot and will not be trusted.

Am I threatening to leave the Church?  No.  Am I going to stop going to Mass?  No.  Are there priests I trust?  Yes.  Are there bishops I trust?  Not at the moment.  Are there cardinals I trust?  No.  Do I trust the pope?  Only if he dusts off his old Jesuit discipline and holds himself and the rest of the clergy accountable.  We’re all from Missouri now, so show me.

It’s clearly a case of “physician, heal thyself.”  We don’t really need investigatory councils run by the laity.  But we sure could use an old-fashioned Spanish Inquisition by the clergy on itself.

Links of interest…  Call to Action (peace)…  In Dublin, the rejection of the pope was the reckoning of the people

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