The report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania has shocked the church in the USA and around the world. This also comes at a time when a report on sexual abuse among Benedictine monasteries in the UK was released and details crimes of a similar nature. Teenagers and boys were raped, coerced to perform homosexual acts, and tortured in sadomasochistic orgies using chains, leather, and whipping devices.
If what the individuals who committed these crimes did was not bad enough, the greater scandal is in the systematic cover-up of these crimes by many bishops and priests in the Church hierarchy. This is not a situation of individual cases, or where private justice was made through mutual agreements between an abuser and the abused with the bishop mediating. It was a complete denial of any crimes with the abusers being shielded from the effects of their actions and not providing any sort of recompensation, and then putting the same abusers repeatedly in situations where they could and did commit the same abuses again only to hide the crimes again. The more one investigates, the more it appear that there are few priests and even fewer bishops who care about the effects of their actions, let alone attain competency.
The Pennsylvania report details six diocese in the state, and it is the worst scandal to date. This is not the end of the scandal, but the beginning because of the large number of dioceses in the United States. What will be found in archdioceses in major metropolitan areas with a known history of sexual abuse such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., or New York has the potential to dwarf the scandals listed in Pennsylvania report in terms of the number of crimes and their atrocious nature.
The anger of the laity against the hierarchy is real and justified, and has increased with the casual indifference and lack of action being taken by many bishops over the scandals. Instead of removing and assisting with the investigations, many are responding with hackneyed, blase statements used since the sexual abuse scandal was first exposed in 2002 and with no actual changes being made.
The fiercest winds of a hurricane are on the outside columns of swirling air going around the storm as it moves. However, the calmest part is the center of the storm, known as the “eye.” When one is in the eye of a hurricane, it would seem as though the storm as passed and all is calm for a time. It is after the eye passes and one in within the eye wall and moving towards the bands of swirling rain that one returns to the storm itself.
In this hurricane of anger, sadness, frustration and a thirst for long needed answers, it is important to take a moment and remember that at the center of the sexual abuse scandal must be a calm, methodical, and evidence-based approach with the pursuit of justice as best as one is able to mete it out in this life as the goal.
At a time when many people are righteously upset, the legitimate, natural, anger and healthy desire for justice that people have can be manipulated by men with evil intentions to attack Christianity and the Church so as to empower themselves and promote evil ideologies. This is another great crime that the sexual abuse scandal has precipiated, for because of the actions of many in the Church hierarchy, they have greatly harmed the many and important moral works the Church does in society, the most important of which is he serving as a bulwark between the government and the governed.
The Church of renaissance Europe was filled with corruption and scandal in the days leading up to the Protestant Revolution. Many of Martin Luther’s criticisms of corruption, abuse, and hiding misdeeds in the Church during his time were justified because they were true. This is not where Luther erred. His error was that in his legitimate criticisms, he used them as a way to start a separate church on a basis of Germanic nationalism with the sins of the Italian clergy as his justification.
Luther’s creation of ein deutsch Gott fur ein deutsch Volk removed the church from her role as a mutual binding and separating force between the rulers and the ruled, and made her a subject that echoed the voice of the rulers to the ruled. The philosophical equivocacy established by the Protestant movement was that being a good Christian was synonymous with obedience to the zeitgeist and patriotism. This advanced the conclusion that one does not need religion in order to be a “good person,” that it is a club for some people but not others, that as long as one is a “good citizen” there is no moral problem.
The revolutions beginning in France in the 18th century and continuing through the 20th century destroyed the historical function of the Church that she once had in virtually all societies around the world. While lacking the power of the past and in spite of the many problems she has endured, she continues to be the largest moral force as a contiguous bloc. The same cannot be said about any form of Protestant/Evangelical Christianity or even the Eastern Orthodox, because while there are many churches, none of them speak with a unified voice and theology, agreeing in whole on nothing except their rebellion against the authority of St. Peter. Their lack of power and influence on a global scale is shown in the fact that many have large councils where they are members, but they are incapable of accomplishing much at all outside of an occasional statement on paper.
It is time to clean the Church out of her filth. It does not mean starting a new church, or promoting anti-clericalism, or laws about religions and sexual abuse.
This is not to say at all that priests or bishops involved in abuse should be moved or coddled. If there is legitimate evidence against them, such as that contained in the PA report, the individuals or groups need to be dealt with accordingly.
The Church has always said that a priest who commits sins of the nature described in the report needs to be turned over to civil authorities for prosecution. In accordance with this, let it be done quickly.
That said, a tweet in which Michael Voris was mentioned caught my attention:
We have criticized Michael Voris before- here and here. It is true that Voris has made notable, legitimate, and normal statements that reflect the genuine anger of people about the scandal. However, anybody who makes a casual, non-specific statement that the FBI should be raiding chanceries across the USA in the name of “fighting sexual abuse” is doing something that is highly dangerous.
This is not to say that there are chanceries that shouldn’t be raided. If there is evidence to support a heinous crime, then appropriate legal steps must be taken, and if that means a raid on certain chanceries, so be it.
The danger is that such a general statement promotes the idea of bringing government into the Church in order to take control over it using the abuse of these priests as a justification for “regulation.” Such is attempting to undermine and destroy the Church’s state as a buffer between the rulers and the ruled in the name of correcting an abuse, which was the error and ultimate goal of the Protestant Revolution. The rulers of Germany, the nordic nations, and England did not ultimately care about the religious abuses, but the saw the abuses as a lever by which to cause a revolution to destroy the Church’s presence and assert their own power over the Church and the government.
The concept of using one evil to justify another is found throughout history among men with malicious intentions. This is the reason why the “counter-jihad” movement is evil, because while it will often make true criticisms of Islam, it is but using the deviancy of Islam to promote ultranationalism and eugenics as the solution. The real, deviant behavior of the Muslims is used as the justification for marketing darwinism to the public.
One of the biggest threats to the Church and all religious institutions in the USA in the 501(c)3 tax exempt status that churches for the most part must accept lest they are unable to pay government property taxes and are forced to close. This has been a known target of many groups for years, especially the LGBT, who wishes to use “anti-discrimination” laws to strip the status from groups who won’t accept their views. If the LGBT were to win, it would effectively force churches to either change their theology in order to continue to receive tax exemptions, or to be forced to shut down or greatly reduce in size and influence, replicating the same effects as when Henry VIII forced the monasteries and many churches closed in his seizure of Church assets in England.
America has a tendency to pass laws in response to incidents to justify a man’s salary or political seat that are long-term harmful to many without actually addressing the root causes of why a certain incident happened. It is not a surprise that most of the abuse that happened was homosexual. However, because a super majority of the USA supports homosexuality and has even criminalized criticism of homosexuality in many places, the role of the LGBT would not be discussed except as an additional note if there was to be a serious legal or congressional inquiry.
It is possible that if continual cases of sexual abuse in the Church come out, which they will, this may be used as a way to pass laws saying that churches found guilty of “covering up” sexual abuse would lose their tax exempt status. This would neither be justice nor would it address the problems that caused the abuse, but it would be a convenient and highly American-styled way to shut down and destroy the Church that gains the social approbation of the masses and a legal justification for whatever added measures the government may choose to implement later.
Let the abuse cases come out that need to come out. Let justice be served, and whatever needs to be exposed be exposed for the health of everyone. However, let not the genuine zeal for justice and truth be hijacked by men with evil intentions, using the sins of the Church for personal gain at the long-term cost of all just as they were five centuries ago in Luther’s Germany or Henry VIII’s England.