Columns Opinion Thomas Reese: Signs of the Times

How can the church punish bad bishops?

In this Nov. 14, 2011, file photo, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prays during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual fall assembly in Baltimore. Pope Francis has accepted McCarrick's offer to resign from the College of Cardinals following allegations of sexual abuse, including one involving an 11-year-old boy, and ordered him to conduct a "life of prayer and penance" in a home to be designated by the pontiff until a church trial is held, the Vatican said. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(RNS) The recent sex abuse scandal involving Cardinal Theodore McCarrick raises once again the question of how the church can punish bad priests and bishops, especially when the state cannot because of the statute of limitations or other reasons. In the bad old days when the church had the Inquisition, the church could sentence bad clerics to prison, torture or death.

So, what can the church do today?

The truth is that, except for expulsion from office, the church can do little unless the cleric is willing to accept the punishment. The church no longer has a police force to compel anyone to do anything, although if a priest is financially dependent on the church, he may have little choice but to do what he is told. Otherwise, the church has no more power over a priest than any corporation has over an employee. A priest or bishop can refuse to accept punishment and simply walk away.

Clerics are capable of doing the same bad things as anyone else, from breaking the Ten Commandments to violating civil and criminal laws. After the state does or does not do its job, the church is confronted with the question of what to do.

The church’s hope for clerics is the same as its hope for any sinner – that they repent and amend their ways. As a result, punishment or penance (like prayer and fasting) is normally looked on as medicinal.

Even excommunication, the expulsion of a person from the church, is seen in canon law as medicinal. The hope is that the excommunicated person will repent and return to the church. This is why excommunication does not work as a punishment for child abusers. If they repent and confess their sins, their excommunications would have to be lifted.

The normal ecclesial punishment for priests who abuse children is expulsion (laicization) from the priesthood, even for those who repent. Exceptions can be made for the elderly and infirm. The church does not want to wheel an old priest with Alzheimer’s out of a nursing home and leave him on the sidewalk, even if he was an abuser.

Lawyers and public relations advisers recommend that bishops expel abusive priests and cut all ties to them. This reduces future liability and avoids accusations of being soft on the priest. Some, however, fear that if a priest is cut loose without supervision, he will be more likely to abuse again.

The alternative is to place the priest in a monastery, a retirement home for priests, or other facility where he will not have access to children and where he cannot leave the property without permission and supervision. This is as close as the church can come to putting a priest in prison.

If the priest is unwilling to accept such restraints, he would be expelled and lose the financial support of the church. Such confinement would be safer for children than expelling him into the general population, but if he ignores the restraints and abuses again, the church’s liability would be off the charts, especially if church officials did a poor job of supervision.

Religious orders have been more willing than bishops to keep their abusive priests under supervision and confinement. Religious communities feel they, like a family, are responsible for their members, for better or for worse. Bishops have tended to cut ties with abusive priests unless they are elderly or infirm.

The McCarrick situation is unusual. At the request of Pope Francis, the allegations against McCarrick were investigated by the Archdiocese of New York and found credible and substantiated. At this point, if he were a simple priest, the archbishop of New York could have asked the Vatican to laicize him. Because McCarrick is 88 years of age and frail, instead the archbishop probably would have sent him somewhere free of children where he would stay until he died. In any case, he would not be allowed to act as a priest again.

Since McCarrick is a bishop and cardinal, the next step is up to the pope who has ordered him to refrain from any priestly ministry and to spend his time in prayer and penance until “accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.” It is not unusual to order someone to refrain from priestly ministry prior to trial, but the injunction of “prayer and penance” gives the impression the pope has already made up his mind about McCarrick’s guilt.

In addition, the pope accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals, something that normally would have happened only after he was found guilty. There has not been a resignation from the College of Cardinals since 1927, when French Cardinal Louis Billot resigned because of political disagreements with Pope Pius XI. Other cardinals accused of abuse or covering up abuse have not lost their red hats.

It is not clear how the trial will be conducted. The pope could appoint a special tribunal or he could send the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles cases of abusive priests.

Tom Reese in front of Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome in 2005, where Pope Clement XII imprisoned Jesuit Superior General Lorenzo Ricci until he died in 1775. Photo by Thomas Koller

Church trials are mostly conducted by the judges reviewing documents submitted by all sides rather than through direct testimony and oral arguments. In any case, it would not be done in public.

Even if McCarrick is convicted, the final judgment and possible punishment would be up to the pope.

Since McCarrick is elderly and frail, it is hard to believe that the pope will laicize him and throw him out on the street. Since he has already resigned from the College of Cardinals, there is little more that the pope can do to him than he has already: a life of prayer and penance away from the public eye without the right to exercise his priestly ministry in public. If the cardinal refuses to accept this punishment, the church can expel him from the priesthood and cut off his financial support.

In earlier centuries, popes did put priests and cardinals in jail. Pope Clement XIII, for example, unjustly imprisoned the Rev. Lorenzo Ricci, the Jesuit superior general, in Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome until he died in 1775. That, of course, is no longer possible. Only the state has such powers today.

Few would want the church to have such police power today, but if the state is unable to punish an abuser because of the statute of limitations, it is disappointing to both victims and the public to see an abuser go unpunished. Unfortunately, there are legal and practical limits to what the church can do in punishing abusive priests and bishops, especially if they refuse to cooperate.

About the author

Thomas Reese

The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest, is a Senior Analyst at RNS. Previously he was a columnist at the National Catholic Reporter (2015-17) and an associate editor (1978-85) and editor in chief (1998-2005) at America magazine. He was also a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University (1985-98 & 2006-15) where he wrote Archbishop, A Flock of Shepherds, and Inside the Vatican. Earlier he worked as a lobbyist for tax reform. He has a doctorate in political science from the University of California Berkeley. He entered the Jesuits in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1974 after receiving a M.Div from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

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  • By eliminating the positions of all priests and bishops!! Their rituals are no longer relevant in the 21st century.

  • Two responses:

    1) “The alternative is to place the priest in a monastery, a retirement home for priests, or other facility where he will not have access to children and where he cannot leave the property without permission and supervision. This is as close as the church can come to putting a priest in prison.”

    From what I’ve been told by credible sources, abusive priests and at least one abusive bishop who have taken this option have often lived a kind of country-club existence inside the monastery or facility that took them in as “punishment.” I have doubts about whether this is a viable punitive option.

    2) “Religious orders have been more willing than bishops to keep their abusive priests under supervision and confinement.”

    I suspect this is true on paper but not in reality in many cases. I personally know at least one monk who has supposedly been confined to his monastic grounds after having abused minors, but who freely leaves the monastic grounds and is in contact with minors after he does so. I suspect that there are a lot more cases like this.

    If the church’s ability to curb or punish errant priests and bishops is limited, then secular laws need to be much stronger to keep people, especially minors, safe from folks like this with a penchant for and history of abuse.

  • This is really a fairly simple issue, despite the usual Reese’ complexities.

    1) If a crime was committed, and the bishop lives in a country with a fair and functional criminal justice system, the solution presents itself. From the Church’s perspective all that is left is providing transportation to the arrest, an attorney if required, and a de minimus post prison accommodations if the cleric is elderly, or short-term assistance obtaining employment if the cleric is not. And, of course, laicization.

    2) If the statutes of limitations have passed, or the individual resides in a country without a fair and functional criminal system, laicization followed by de minimus support contingent on residing under appropriate supervision – homosexuals to convents, pederasts to monasteries.

    3) If the crime is not punishable under the civil statutes, laicization followed by de minimus support contingent on residing under appropriate supervision – homosexuals to convents, pederasts to monasteries, would be appropriate.

    The reality is that without a crime the civil authorities can punish, and unless the cleric is elderly and dependent on the Church for support, the Church’s hands are tied.

    For example former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland had two invitations to move to Benedictine abbeys rescinded after being forced out of the see of Milwaukee in disgrace for a homosexual affair which led to his using almost a half million dollars of the archdiocese’s funds to pay hush money.

    He lives alone in an apartment, which he can apparently afford with his own income (e.g., royalties from his self-serving memoir “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop” and some other sources) and is excluded from the archdiocese’s clerical functions.

    Weakland apparently was “soft” on sexual abuse by priests, moving abusers from parish to parish and hiding their histories.

    http://archive.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/78431087.html/

    As a result the archdiocese wound up declaring bankruptcy from lawsuits, its church life in tatters.

    But what he did was not a crime, and the Church has no power to do anything beyond his removal.

  • In many of these cases Church officials have known (or should have known) for some time that there is a problem. Their strategy has been to hide the problem. As a practical matter, that means that the statute of limitations is usually passed before the problem becomes public. Perhaps Church officials could do something really radical – address the problem immediately by turning the offending cleric over to the appropriate police authority.

  • So, what can the church do today?

    Instead of focusing on the punitive aspects after a crime has been committed as this article does, why not try an ounce of prevention instead? I’d start by restoring an ancient practice that existed for the first thousand years of the church’s existence: allow married priests. The traditionalists/originalists ought to approve of that, right? This would at least provide priests with a healthy, institutionally-approved sexual outlet. Now, their sexuality gets all bottled up and suppressed until finally the pressure builds up and bursts in the arms of some unsuspecting minor in the most inappropriate ways imaginable. Naturally gay priests would be still left out of the picture, so their sexuality would remain screwed up but at least the straight ones would have a chance of becoming more well-balanced. In this new scenario the gay priests would of course eventually be purged as the pressure to marry mounts, but frankly, they’d all be better off seeking a different profession where their spirit wouldn’t be killed. Thankfully there are lots of professions out there.

  • The evil are to be removed from Jehovah God’s chaste Christian congregation –

    “You must remove the evil person from among you.” – 1 Corinthians 5:13

    The first century Christians were certainly organized and kept track of its members – not just those who attended. For instance, Hymenaeus and Alexander were members who had to be disfellowshipped – or dismembered from the body of Christ – because they became apostates thus becoming Antichrists – Titus 3:10, 11; 1 Timothy 1:19, 20; 1 John 2:18, 19.

    1 Corinthians 5 also details how a member of the congregation in Corinth was likewise disfellowshipped for his crass sexual immorality.

    This measure lovingly protects congregation members from rapists, murderers, scammers and Satan’s ministers among other evildoers.

  • That they “have known” and “(t)heir strategy has been to hide the problem” is unfounded.

    In the case of McCarrick there apparently was never a criminal act.

  • Multiple studies have demonstrated that celibacy among psychosexually mature individuals does not lead to “sexuality (getting) all bottled up and suppressed until finally the pressure builds up and bursts”.

    The problem is that individuals who should never have been ordained managed to get ordained.

    “Naturally gay priests” should not occur at all. Going forward if Canon Law is followed they won’t.

  • Their rituals are no longer relevant in the 21st century. Eliminate their jobs now!!

  • Expulsion is fine, along with notification of the proper authorities. Unlike the bad old days of the Inquisition, we now have legitimate systems of justice to punish crimes. What does being ‘old and frail’ have to do with whether McCarrick should be thrown out? Expulsion simply means you don’t get all the perks and privileges (and access) that comes with employment, not that you’re tossed naked in a dumpster.

  • While sexually psychological mature people may not engage in pedophilia, allowing married priest would enlarge the pool of candidates for the position of pastor. Therefore, there would not be the desperation to keep or approve the few that are willing to be “celibate” priests by allowing deeply flawed persons to be come or continue as clerics .

  • The very first thing the church must do to address this problem is to be serious and sincere about addressing the problem.

    Church history thus far in this matter is not encouraging. The church talks a good game, but is clearly more interested in protecting itself than its members.

  • McCarrick apparently did commit a crime since a man has come forward who claims that McCarrick sexually abused him when he was only eleven years old. That’s a crime. Now whether McCarrick can be convicted for that crime in a court of law is another matter, given the statutes of limitations and the vagaries of the penal system.

  • I understand that you eschew urls, but “a man has come forward who claims that McCarrick sexually abused him when he was only eleven years old” without any support whatsoever doesn’t go anywhere.

  • There is no reason to “enlarge the pool of candidates” by dropping celibacy.

    Once the Pink Mafia is expunged from the seminaries, qualified candidates will not be run off and the situation will be correct itself.

    Dioceses which have done that over the decades – Lincoln, Nebraska, for example – have had zero lawsuits and full seminaries.

  • McCarrick looks so thoughtful in the photo.

    “Hmm. Should I choose seminarian A or seminarian B”.

  • I would not use the term “gay priests” Myself. They may well be priests. They may well be same sex attracted— for once, I can use that term without barfing. But no. They are not gay. They may well be homo-hating homos, or self hating homosexuals. but not gay.

  • Your armchair analysis, i.e. that all gay Catholic priests are self-loathing, may at first blush seem reasonable, but the reality belies your claim. I have known more than one gay Catholic priest in my long years on this earth and none of them has been self-loathing. As they explained to me, when they entered the priesthood everyone, both church and state, was homophobic. There was no distinction. Now things are different, but after a certain age it’s difficult to change professions due to rampant ageism in the workplace. Leaving the priesthood after a certain age is therefore easier said than done. So they remain, doing their best, while marking time until retirement. For such people, I should think a certain amount of charitable understanding is in order. Several of these people have told me that in their counselling they have helped young gay people come to terms with their sexuality in ways that could get them fired, but they felt it was important enough to save a life to take such a risk. Such stories will likely infuriate certain posters here who will immediately yell, “See! I told you so!” But those stories are out there, hidden away from public view, and they happen all the time, apparently. May gay priests are doing good work – some would say God’s work, and I think they deserve credit for that whether the church, or people like you, is willing to recognize their efforts or not.

  • I understand you, and I won’t disagree. The men I knew in that position— well, we’re talking 25-45 years ago. I have stated previously that I have no doubt the majority of priests, hetero or homo, are faithful to their vows and do good work. I’ve known a few. And I’m absolutely certain that several of the gay ones have saved more than a few young lives. I’ve never said anything different.

    Frankly, I’m not happy with the “people like you” designation. Too much like BobWorld. At the same time, I can wonder why they would stay with an organization, handling the host, dispensing sacraments, when thatsame organization calls them morally and spiritually unfit to do anything of the sort, when that organization tries to pin the crimes of the self-loathers on innocent people, as several of our current posters do as a matter of course. If they are willing to take the risk of “losing their jobs” for others, one might wonder why they are not willing to do the same for themselves. One might wonder why their voices are not being heard more often. They are there, of course. We have both read the stories of this priest or that coming out, and receiving the support of their congregations. Or resigning.

    What they are NOT doing is keeping quiet in the face of the homobigotry put out by their church.

  • “Frankly, I’m not happy with the “people like you” designation.”

    No, I’m sure you don’t. You tar a whole group of people unfairly without any regard to their individual circumstances and then you get called out on it. No one likes being called out but sometimes it needs to happen nonetheless.

  • I don’t think I tarred a whole group of people, but rather defended a whole group of people, as I have done consistently whenever the Usual suspects start their attacks on ALL GAY MEN EVERYWHERE AND AT ALL TIMES.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree.

  • If you don’t want to be tarred and feathered along with a whole group of people then I would suggest you try restraining yourself from doing the same to others. As for agreeing to disagree, yes, I think that’s probably for the best.

  • Right, because there has never, in the entire history of the world, been a heterosexual sexual abuser, so all worries of that happening once the “pink mafia is expunged” are for naught. Uh huh.

  • I am still waiting for the support for criminal activity with an 11 year old you mentioned earlier.

    The “Pink Mafia” in the seminaries was and is well-documented, and it was facilitated by bishops like Rembert Weakland and Theodore McCarrick.

    Certainly there are heterosexual abusers. Proper vetting of candidates can greatly reduce but never eliminate bad apples.

    Unfortunately the greater portion of the problems did not occur with heterosexuals.

    Since all crime prevention is probabilistic in nature, the combination of enforcing the existing canons against ordaining known homosexuals, and also the existing guidance on the remaining heterosexual candidates should substantially reduce problems in the future.

    My concern in the USA is that the USCCB is already suggesting the use of psychologists to sort things out with candidates. That was the work around the bishops like Weakland and McCarrick used to undermine the vetting process, and the operation of Canon Law on abusers, during the escapades now ending.

  • “Unfortunately the greater portion of the problems did not occur with heterosexuals.“

    For the obvious reason that for most of the church’s history altar girls were not permitted so therefore the only easy prey available to predators was boys. Duh.

  • It’s not the Church’s job to “punish” bad bishops any more than it’s a CEO’s job to punish a former employee. When it comes to a bishop or priest who’s engaged in egregiously scandalous behavior, the Church’s responsibility should be to expeditiously and transparently disassociate themselves from that person. If criminal activity was possibly involved, they should also report him to law enforcement with full disclosure of whatever information they may have.

    The clerical abuse scandal was exacerbated by bishops who mistakenly viewed child abuse as a moral issue instead of a criminal one. They thought they could handle it with forgiveness, counseling and do-overs. We now know how disastrous that approach was. It must never be repeated.

    Punishment is the purview of parents and the criminal justice system. When it comes to bishops and priests, the Church is neither.

  • One quibble – For someone like McCarrick, who enjoyed being the toast of the town, handing out awards and going on “goodwill” missions, and reaping the benefits of his position, a life of prayer in seclusion is punishment. However, I do agree that more needs to be done to keep people, especially children, safe.

  • The research supports a different conclusion.

    I do understand your disdain for facts, duh.

  • Certainly no anti-religious sentiments there, simply cool calm reason intended to elicit thoughtful reflection.

  • “It’s not the Church’s job to “punish” bad bishops any more than it’s a CEO’s job to punish a former employee.”

    Canon Law does, in fact, provide punishments for certain acts against religion and against the Church.

    The Church is not a corporate entitity, the Pontiff is not the CEO, and the bishops are not employees.

    The clerical abuse scandal was exacerbated by bishops who – as McCarrick demonstrates and Weakland demonstrated – had their own issues clouding their judgment. Through the use of psychologists they tried to cast child abuse as a psychological issue rather than a moral issue and a criminal issue.

    They thought they could handle it with counseling, which of course excused themselves at the same time.

    Ultimately punishment is the hands of the deity, but the Canon Law provisions for dealing with clerics, including punishments, should be enforced.

  • What you’re not happy with from BobWorld is the same thing Elagabalus is not happy about – facts.

    Defining homosexual orientation as intrinsically disordered, sex acts between same sex and unmarried persons as immoral, and the rest of the ball of wax is not homobigotry, regardless of the opinion of JoeMyGodWorld assembled.

  • I was being sarcastic. Roy Moore is a hetero pedophile while disproves your hit on gay people.

  • I was being sarcastic.

    Roy Moore is an old man and there was no “hit on gay people”.

  • Same sex attracted men may be called to the priesthood and celibacy, the same as some opposite sex attracted men. Believe it or not, there are same-sex attracted men who are emotionally balanced and mature. I wish the powers-that-be would recognize that God created human sexuality on a continuum and that being non-heterosexual is simply a natural variation from a norm, not a sin.

    I don’t think that a call to the priesthood and a call to celibacy have to be the same thing. And that is the first problem that needs to be recognized.

  • Oops. I meant to say are. I’ve edited it to the correct sentence. The point is that gay or straight people can be sexual abusers.

  • I absolutely agree with you. I have no issue with those men, gay or straight, who have entered the priesthood and live their lives with dignity and integrity, because they are emotionally balanced and mature. As for the call to celibacy, jesus himself said to let those who can do, do it.

  • False from Bob Jose Arnzen Carioca as usual. Bob-Jose, your god doesn’t exist to punish anyone, and has no hands, due to its non-existence.

  • Yep.

    In fact, the term of the church itself ran out long ago, and never should have been. Church management has merely succeeded in perpetuating the Christian myths beyond the term limit, much like what has happened in many other kleptocracies.

  • In other words, totally opposite from what we typically see from you, Bob Jose Arnzen Carioca.

  • Bob Jose Arnzen Carioca, your beliefs have no support in evidence whatsoever. So go away.

  • The “Pink Mafia” exists in the seminaries.

    Ben in Oakland, no friend of mine or Catholics, described it.

    It is hardly a phrase I coined:

    https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/revealing-open-secrets-catholic-church

    “He talks about gay bishops having what he dubbed a ‘Pink Mafia,’ promoting their own to positions of power and influence.”

    http://www.virtueonline.org/pope-benedict-and-rowan-williams-study-contrasts

    “He also strongly opposes homosexuality, ridding gay seminarians dubbed the ‘Pink mafia’ from US seminaries.”

    http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2012/05_06/2012_06_07_DigitalHairshirt_MoreSexual.htm

    “I have not heard good stories of St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. I know of at least one instance where a priest on the faculty there made sexual advances to a seminarian. I have heard stories that the seminary – and ultimately the Diocese of Orange – is largely controlled by ‘the Pink Mafia,’ that is, a group of priests who are gay and look the other way when a brother priest may engage in questionable behavior.”

    The phrase has been in common use for many years by both conservatives and liberals.

  • If same sex attracted men believe they are called to the priesthood, they will hit a blockade given the current Canon Law and implementing legislation governing admission to seminaries and to orders.

    Same sex attraction is a disorder, one which precludes ordination. That ship has already sailed:

    http://www.clerus.va/content/dam/clerus/Ratio%20Fundamentalis/The%20Gift%20of%20the%20Priestly%20Vocation.pdf

    “c) Persons with homosexual tendencies”

    “199. In relation to persons with homosexual tendencies who seek admission to Seminary, or discover such a situation in the course of formation, consistent with her own Magisterium, ‘the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called `gay culture’. Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies’.”

    Suggesting that putting men with a same sex attraction into all male seminaries – clearly more than a slight “near occasion of sin” – is a good idea is near fantasy.

    And this nothing new. The paragraph above simply reiterates the 2005 guidance, which reiterated the constant guidance the Church has given.

  • How odd.

    Just a couple of days ago you were taking the opposite, relating the story of your friend the “Irish (ex)Catholic”.

  • Maureen Fielder probably wants women, married men, and openly gay men ordained. That is different from the scare tactic that conservatives use to ban priests who identify openly as gay from seminaries.

  • I remember you now.

    You used to a poster at the now closed National Catholic Reporter comments.

    Your posts there were even worse than your posts so far in this communication.

    1 – “Pink Mafia” means just what the quotes I provided describe, and it used by both liberals and conservatives.

    2 – You have no idea what Maureen Fielder wants. Attributing the use of the phrase to a fabricated straw man enemy was silly.

    3 – There are no scare tactics being used to ban homosexual priests. Under Canon Law as it existed from the 16th century to today homosexuals should never have been ordained, not currently and not in the past. The results of doing so demonstrate the wisdom of that.

  • “Your posts there were even worse than your posts so far in this communication.”

    You mean I take no BS for homophobes.

    “2 – You have no idea what Maureen Fielder wants. Attributing the use of the phrase to a fabricated straw man enemy was silly.”

    I think that we can probably assume that Maureen Fielder is cool with women priests and openly gay priests.

    “There are no scare tactics being used to ban homosexual priests. Under Canon Law as it existed from the 16th century to today homosexuals should never have been ordained, not currently and not in the past. The results of doing so demonstrate the wisdom of that.”

    Why not? A gay man who is mature in his sexuality can be a good priest just like a straight man. Right now there are no married priests, no openly gay priests, and no female priests. It seems the current situations is a recipe for closeted gays who are immature and lying to themselves about their sexuality.

  • While I understand Elagabalus’s charitable impulses, I am dismayed that so many “good” priests have chosen, over the years, to keep silent about the homophobia and misogyny in the Catholic Church. Yes, now they may be old, and now it would be difficult for them to support themselves. But this is nothing new. There was definitely a time, for many years, when secular society was light-years ahead of the Church regarding both homophobia and misogyny. If all of the “good” priests had begun speaking out openly and loudly back then, who knows — it may have made a difference. There is strength in numbers. If enough had spoken out, that it would have been hard even for John Paul II to get rid of them all.

  • Just so we are on the same page:

    1 – If you are calling me a “homophobe”, you are on the wrong page.

    2 – Your argument appears to be with YOUR interpretation of the phrase “Pink Mafia”, not mine, not Maureen Fiedler’s, no one else’s – e.g., “You weren’t talking about some scary ‘Pink Mafia.’”

    3 – When it was pointed out that a variety of people of different viewpoints use the phrase, you immediately engage in mind reading, which you repeat in the post to which I am responding – e.g., “I think that we can probably assume that Maureen Fielder is cool with women priests and openly gay priests.”

    4 – “Why not?”

    Because under Canon Law as it existed from the 16th century to today homosexuals were never supposed to ordained, not currently and not in the past. It’s their rules, not yours, and their decision, not yours.

    If that displeases you, you know who to write.

    I am not sure what you’ve been up to since National Catholic Reporter, but it certainly was not boning up on how to engage in fact-based rational discussion with someone in a discussion group.

  • The reason why priests stayed silent was that the consequences of speaking were quite unpleasant.

    Along with those in the episcopate running interference for homosexuals – McCarrick, Weakland, Bernadin, et al – the second tier of bureaucrats and monsignors were even more common and in many ways scarier.

    For example, I personally know two priests who wrote the Holy Father about McCarrick before he was raised to the episcopate. The Holy Father never saw the letters. But someone(s) did and their assignments from that point forward to their retirements varied between Purgatory and Siberia.

  • “1 – If you are calling me a “homophobe”, you are on the wrong page.”

    My comments were against homophobes and the like.

    “2 – Your argument appears to be with YOUR interpretation of the phrase “Pink Mafia”, not mine, not Maureen Fiedler’s, no one else’s – e.g., “You weren’t talking about some scary ‘Pink Mafia.’””

    It is my interpretation based on how the far right uses it.

    ” “I think that we can probably assume that Maureen Fielder is cool with women priests and openly gay priests.””

    She is a far left Catholic Church reformer. What do you think she wants? To get rid of Vatican II.

    “Because under Canon Law as it existed from the 16th century to today homosexuals were never supposed to ordained, not currently and not in the past. It’s their rules, not yours, and their decision, not yours.”

    It is something laypeople have the right to debate about and will one day hopefully influence the Church hierarchy.

    “I am not sure what you’ve been up to since National Catholic Reporter, but it certainly was not boning up on how to engage in fact-based rational discussion with someone in a discussion group”

    Rational discussion = agreeing with what I say.

  • Apparently with you everything is “agreeing with what I say”.

    I assure you that with your approach and where you’re posting you’re not going to influence the Church hierarchy unless you’re intending to influence it to do the opposite of what you want.

    If you ever happen to get any facts to go along with your wide-ranging strong opinions, we can converse.

    Otherwise, I think I had enough of the opinions all by themselves and unsupported at that other location, which mercifully closed.

  • We are arguing about things on a discussion board. It is what people do. And I have no idea who you are, but you were probably trolling there.

  • I’ve been here a h-ll of a lot longer than you have.

    And you haven’t change a bit – which is unfortunate.

  • Do you think that I am going to suddenly going to turn into a good little submissive Catholic hausfrau? Sorry to disappoint.

  • No, my recollection was that you were an older, if not elderly, female who combined a bad attitude with a near total lack of information.

    Since, unlike National Catholic Reporter, Disqus allows blocking, I’ll save us both the aggravation and block immediately after posting this.

    Go pick one of your pointless fights with someone else.

  • LOL, I am a milennial so your recollection suxs. But I guess it makes conservatives feel better to pretend all Catholic women under 40 pine to be broodmares for Jesus. As for bad attitude and lack of information, this is code for does not agree with me.

    And you are the one who was saying homophobic things, not me. I was just correcting you, not trying to pick a pointless fight.

  • I hear what you’re saying and it has a great deal of validity. What I find hard to stomach are the young ultra-conservative closeted priests who have been churned out of seminaries during the conservative reigns of JPII and B16. I thought we were beyond the era in which young gay Catholic boys were steered toward the priesthood as a way of making their “unfortunate situation” more palatable by placing it within a socially-accepted profession for men who “aren’t the marrying type.” Sadly we aren’t it would seem, given the amount of lace-bedecked Tridentine vestments you see worn by the younger generation of priests who obviously indulge in sublimation into the realm of frilly vestments as a sub-conscious way of expressing their gayness. I tend to prefer butcher garb myself.

  • I was advised that he’s “Ed Hu” (just one of his former pseudonyms on NCR). I blocked him.

  • LOL. Still trying to convert people to Opus Dei. Thanks. I will do that as well. All Ed’s other pseudonyms are blocked.

  • I find them hard to stomach, as well. I also find it thoroughly obnoxious that the institutional Church, on the one hand considers gays to be “disordered”, but on the other hand has set up a system whereby what you describe does happen with young gay Catholic men. In that system, they are even more thoroughly brainwashed. And, then everyone is surprised when their psycho-social maturity is stunted. From my perspective, this tends to destroy the lives of young men (both gay an straight) who choose to become priests and perpetuates a dysfunction that appears to have no resolution in sight

  • Yes, Bob Jack Jose Arnzen Carioca, you’ve been obsessively spewing your falsehoods here for a long time, and you are still dishonest, and still an AS$HOLE.

  • This sad history has been repeated all over the world. It’s no wonder that people turn away from religion with disgust!

  • I think you’ve got it exactly right.

    The history of the church’s dealings in this matter shows that the bishops and higherups have been very well-aware of the problem, and thought they could cover it up. A good example is the way they sent offenders to that facility in New Mexico to be “cured”; similarly, the way they moved offenders around, always keeping parishioners in the dark.

  • Hi, Monica! I’m on Twitter and Facebook under the same name and I’ve added your email address to my Contacts List! So great to hear from you!!! I’m in touch with a lot of the old gang! Love and Hugs from The Baroness!!!

  • Wow! I’ve been trying to find you. Some of the NCR folks asked me to put together a blog where we can share again without troll. If you’re interested, check it out at aggiornamento.org
    Love – Monica

  • Thanks! I just went and bookmarked it. Looks spectacular! I will take a closer look tomorrow as it’s 4am now and my brain is no longer working, Lol! I missed you! <3