Friday 31 August 2018

The crisis in the Catholic Church is a crisis for civilisation

I was moved by a remark the polymath David Goldman, an observant Orthodox Jew, made on Facebook yesterday.
A note to my many Catholic friends: My prayers are with you in this most difficult time. The Catholic Church is the founding institution of the West and the godmother of all the European nations. Its distress weakens civilization.
I only now see what a great danger the Catholic Church and the world is in because of priests interfering with minors, and how very extensive the evil has been, after reading the report of the Pennsylvania Attorney General's grand jury investigation two weeks ago.
If you didn't read about it, the report alleges that 300 priests interfered with a thousand children over seventy years, in one American state alone. These terrible crimes were kept hidden for many years.

The report of the Royal Commission in Australia, published in December, contained things that are outside the remit of a secular body, like the advice that celibacy for priests should be optional, but much more importantly the absolutely devastating allegation that no fewer than 7% - 7%! - of Australian priests have been guilty of abusing minors. 

Can this really be true?

Catholics (I, at any rate) had imagined that the number of guilty men was a microscopic percentage of priests. I had read Andrew Brown (a careful Guardian journalist who describes himself as 'a very Protestant atheist') saying that the reason so many cases of Catholic priests had come to light was that the Catholic Church was more transparent than other institutions and that child abuse is widespread everywhere. 

I no longer think this is convincing and hope it is not true.

Then there is this story, published this week, of nuns in Vermont killing children in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Grand guignol, except it is true apparently.

Back in 1995 Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, caused a flurry in the press when he said that 
Christianity might diminish into a barely discernable presence
and might survive only in cysts resembling the kibbutzim of Israel.

The end of Christendom is happening at the same time as the meaning of the sexes, of sex and of marriage is being rethought from first principles and Europe becomes, with Pope Francis's ardent approval, increasingly Muslim.

This is the setting for the seemingly never-ending child abuse scandals.

Europe, and especially Western Europe, is in the midst of a crisis of civilizational morale..The demographics are unmistakable: Europe is dying. The wasting disease that has beset this once greatest of civilizations is not physical, however. It is a disease in the realm of the human spirit ... Europe ... is boring itself to death. Europe's current demographic trend lines, coupled with the radicalization of Islam that seems to be a by-product of some Muslims' encounter with contemporary, secularized Europe, could eventually produce a 22nd-century, or even late-21st-century, Europe increasingly influenced by, and perhaps even dominated by, militant Islamic populations ... it is allowing radicalized 21st-century Muslims - who think of their forebears' military defeats at Poitiers in 732 ... as temporary reversals en route to Islam's final triumph in Europe - to imagine that the day of victory is not far off.
David Goldman went on in 2005 to say

From an institutional vantage point the Church appears weakened beyond repair. Not only the faith but also the faithful are at risk. I hold out no hope for today's Europeans.
My brilliant friend Bunny Sheffield said that people who do not believe in their religion are destined to be ruled by people who believe in theirs. This is much the conclusion of Douglas Murray in his devastating book 'The Strange Death of Europe'.

Now the terrible discoveries about paedophilia, pederasty and the way in which they were covered up have become entangled with what is obviously a well-planned attempt to undermine the present Pope and even force his resignation.

ishop Vigano alleged, in a move timed to spoil the Pope's visit to Ireland, that he informed the Pope of allegations of unspeakable crimes committed by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. According to the Archbishop, he told Pope Francis that when Pope Benedict XVI discovered the truth he ordered Cardinal McCarrick to leave the seminary where he was living, dedicate himself to penance and avoid public life. In fact, the Cardinal defied the Pope's orders. Despite being told this, Pope Francis nevertheless gave McCarrick an influential position in his circle.

Why did Benedict's attempt to isolate McCarrick (which sources close to the Pope Emeritus apparently confirm) not succeed? I suspect that if we knew we would know why Benedict abdicated.

The reason he gave, that he was too old to travel the world, did not make sense. Popes before Paul VI never left Italy and Paul VI only made nine forays abroad in his 15 year reign.

Archbishop Vigano's motives or his views on the present papacy do not matter - his allegations mean the Pope has lost his authority, unless he can explain his conduct. This he has refused to do.

The innumerable child abuse crimes are also entangled with the discovery that many senior clergymen, in the Vatican and around the world, are practising homosexuals - something that deeply shocks Catholics but no longer necessarily shocks non-Catholics - and the allegation, from conservatives, that most of the cases of paedophilia are in fact pederasty, which is to say sexual activity between homosexual men and adolescents. 

That a large proportion of the cases which are spoken of as paedophilia are not paedophilia but pederasty is undoubtedly true.

I have seen it written that in 80% of cases of interference with minors the victims are boys who have reached puberty but I do not know of evidence for this. A priest friend referred me to the John Jay report back in 2004. Looking up that report, I found that in this case the largest group of alleged victims (50.9%) was between the ages of 11 and 14, 27.3% were 15-17, 16% were 8-10 and nearly 6% were under age 7. Overall, 81% of victims were male and 19% female. Male victims tended to be older than female victims. Over 40% of all victims were males between the ages of 11 and 14.

But, of course, only roughly half the children in the age group 11 to 14 would have reached puberty.

The press rarely explains what is meant by sexual assault, a phrase that covers a multitude of sins, but the 2004 report went into detail. 

Priests allegedly committed acts which were classified into more than 20 categories. The most frequent acts allegedly committed were: touching over the victim’s clothing (52.6%), touching under the victim's clothes (44.9%), cleric performing oral sex (26%), victim disrobed (25.7%), and penile penetration or attempted penile penetration (22.4%). Many of the abusers were alleged to have committed multiple types of abuse against individual victims, and relatively few priests committed only the most minor acts. Of the 90% of the reported incidents for which we had specific offense details, 141 incidents, or one and one half percent, were reported that included only verbal abuse and/or the use of pornography.

What is to be done? The Pope's words in Ireland asking forgiveness for the Church now sound pretty disgusting. Are liberals or homosexuals to blame for these terrible crimes or are the old school conservative clergy? 

I am not clear, but it is clear that the smoke of Satan is in the Church, as Pope Paul VI said all those years ago.

Archbishop Blaise Cupich of Chicago commented tellingly on the allegations by Archbishop Vigano: 
“The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this. 
"Quite frankly, they also don’t like him because he’s a Latino.”
The Archbishop of Chicago later claimed to have been quoted out of context, but all quotations are out of context and his words deserve a lot of meditating on.

I am sure the Pope will not abdicate over this, though he might abdicate due to old age. In any case, he suddenly has little stature or authority any more, which would make his papacy pointless, were it not for his power to appoint liberal bishops and cardinals.


  1. Good to have this clear summary - thnx

  2. Sixteen years and roughly $3 billion in financial settlements later, the scandal is back. This time its focal point is Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C. — a man who had been promoted to top positions in the church despite being credibly and repeatedly accused of a range of acts of sexual predation, including the years-long abuse of a boy (whom McCarrick had reportedly baptized as a baby) starting when he was 11 years old.
    As if to underscore that the problem goes far beyond a single wayward prelate, the revelations about McCarrick, which broke in mid-July, were quickly followed by the release of an exhaustive (1,400-page) grand jury report that identified 1,000 cases of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of more than 300 Catholic priests in the single state of Pennsylvania (where I live with my wife and children). Other states are apparently preparing similar reports of their own.
    And now this tsunami of scandal? A decade and a half after Cardinal Law resigned in disgrace (only to be given a compensatory luxurious sinecure at the Vatican)? Does anyone seriously believe those pews won't be far, far emptier a decade from now, once the remaining parishioners absorb the reality that a church hierarchy that gets off on wagging its crooked little finger at the behavior of lay Catholics behaves behind closed doors as if it considers those impossibly stringent teachings to be a colossal joke?

    The core of the church's problem isn't personal immorality, or institutional corruption, or hypocrisy. The core of the problem is ugliness.

  3. I was horrified by this:
    "Over the past few decades, similar scandals have been exposed in countries around the world. In most cases, clerics of various rank have been credibly accused of abusing (usually but not always male) children and teenagers, and of breaking celibacy vows with seminarians and others over whom they serve in positions of authority. When such acts have been brought to the attention of those higher up the church hierarchy, the accused have rarely been punished, often moved to new dioceses (where they have frequently repeated the behavior), and sometimes promoted to positions of great power and influence in the church.

    The pattern has been repeated over and over and over again. Early in the 2000s, one wave of scandal crashed over the American church with allegations of abuse and cover-up roiling dioceses across the country, with the Archdiocese of Boston, overseen by the formidable Archbishop Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, hit especially hard. One priest in Boston allegedly raped or molested 130 children as church officials moved him from parish to parish over decades. In the end, a total of 271 members of the clergy were publicly accused of child sex abuse in Boston alone."

  4. As for ugliness the Catholic Church is much uglier since the Second Vatican Council and the loss of the old Mass. This is much more than merely a loss from an aesthetic point of view.

  5. Il y a une chose plus terrible que la calomnie, c’est la vérité.

  6. Many of these abuses long predate the arrival of Muslims in Europe and have nothing to do with Islamic inroads into Christian culture. That said, an interesting read on the situation.

  7. The Church should have acted decades ago to weed out homosexual priests. Of course the real problem is that the Church (and tragically this applies to all the Christian churches) no longer has any appeal whatsoever for normal heterosexual men. Christianity is a religion for women, girly men and homosexuals.

  8. Christianity might diminish into a barely discernible presence

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that's already happened. Europe has been firmly post-Christian for several decades. It's already over for Christianity.

    This is a very big problem. The enemy is, as always, liberalism. Liberalism is the evil of all evils. And it's hard to see how it can be fought without religion. But it's now fairly obvious that if it is going to be fought with religion that religion is not going to be Christianity.

    It looks like the final battle between Good and Evil will be Islam vs Liberalism. We can only hope and pray that Islam wins.

  9. Christianity has collapsed in Europe (and is decline in the United States) and the people are not having babies. Islam is expanding into a void - one can hardly blame Islam for expanding into new lands when it finds opposition to it to be so weak. Even arguing against Muhammed (Mohammed) and the religion he created risks punishment in many European countries. Reading out the words against Islam of such people as Prime Minister Gladstone and Winston Churchill in the United Kingdom risks being severe punishment. The idea of converting Muslims seems to be a nonstarter. Converting them to what? As the West no longer believes in Christianity (even in the United States - the elite despise Christianity).

    1. "Converting them to what?"

      After 9/11 I thought that the radical Muslims would be swallowed up by video clips, Coca-Cola, flat screens, burgers, Mall-cinemas, MTV, cars, holidays, other Western status symbols.

      I'm wondering if the 2nd or 3rd century Romans thought that Christians would gradually yield to the attractions of the circus, gladiator and animal fights, chariot races, etc.

    2. The idea of converting Muslims seems to be a nonstarter. Converting them to what?

      Yes, that's the problem. What Muslims have is a living religion that gives their lives meaning and purpose. Why would they give that up for a dead religion like Christianity, or for liberal secularism? They've seen what liberal secularism has done to the West.

  10. If you forbid your priests from having normal sexual relations within marriage then why is anyone surprised that the job only seems to attract men with perverted predilections? Why do the Greek or Russian Orthodox Churches not have this problem? The Catholic Church is a corrupt, useless left-wing institution which weakens civilisation. Catholic means Universal. Universalism = globalism. It's deserved demise is to be celebrated.

  11. Many thanks, Paul. An excellent analysis.

  12. The Revolutionary Fellowship of Pope Montini, Jacques Maritain and Saul Alinsky

    In 'The Peasant of the Garrone' published in 1966, Maritain writes of his own relationship to a fellow revolutionary, Saul Alinsky:I see in the Western world no more than three revolutionaries worthy of the name—Eduardo Frei in Chile, Saul Alinsky in America, ... and myself in France, who am not worth beans, since my call as a philosopher has obliterated my possibilities as an agitator…. Saul Alinsky, who is a great friend of mine, is a courageous and admirably staunch organizer of “people’s communities” and an anti-racist leader whose methods are as effective as they are unorthodox.

    Alinsky wrote his Reveille for Radicals specifically at Maritain’s request, and Alinsky gave him the exclusive rights to the French translation. In a letter of recommendation for a foundation grant to Alinsky, Maritain described him as “practical Thomist”—an example of just how elastic was Maritain’s so-called Thomism. In the same letter, he described Alinsky as “a great soul, a man of profound moral purity…” It was Maritain who also urged publication of Alinsky’s last work, the infamous Rules for Radicals (1971), which would influence the careers of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Rules is dedicated to “the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom—Lucifer.”

    The 30-year-long intimate friendship between “old Jacques” and Alinsky gave rise to a connection between Alinsky and Maritain’s foremost disciple, the future Pope Paul VI. Montini was then Archbishop of Milan, to which post he had been sent off without being made a cardinal after Pius XII lost confidence in him on account of his Modernist tendencies.

    In his study The Radical Vision of Saul Alinsky, P. David Finks notes that “For years Jacques Maritain had spoken approvingly to Montini of the democratic community organizations built by Saul Alinsky.”[14] Accordingly, in 1958 Maritain arranged for a series of meetings between Alinsky and Archbishop Montini in Milan. Before the meetings, Maritain had written to Alinsky to tell him that, as Finks recounts: “the new cardinal was reading Saul’s books and would contact him soon.”[15]

    There were three meetings between Montini and Alinsky in Milan during the late spring of 1958. We will never know what exactly passed between Montini and Alinsky during those “three wonderful meetings” in Milan, but we do know that upon his return to Chicago from Italy, Alinsky wrote as follows to George Shuster, two days before the papal conclave that elected John XXIII: “No, I don’t know who the next Pope will be, but if it’s to be Montini, the drinks will be on me for years to come.”

    Saul Alinsky and "Saint" Pope Paul VI: Genesis of the Conciliar Surrender to the World
    Written by Christopher A. Ferrara

  13. A sociopathic cardinal and kingmaker caught retrospectively with his pants down is big news. That the pope knew and covered for him is even bigger.

    Then appeared Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò of Kosovo...

    For all its ugliness and the pity of it, there is a strain of burlesque in the administrative disarray Viganò revealed. Careers and reputations, including that of Benedict XVI and John Paul II, are implicated in the mismanagement. The shambles precedes McCarrick. Church governance seems to be descending into French farce: La Cage au Folles acted by vowed celibates with stellar resumés.

    As happens with many shockers, there is often nothing surprising about them. The Most Rev. Vincent Paglia, of recent Catholic memory, provided dress rehearsal for the current scandal. But Paglia operated in Italy, out of sight of mainstream American media. His rise in the Vatican nomenklatura corresponds to McCarrick’s. The parallel is instructive.

    Appointed bishop by John Paul in 2000, Paglia commissioned an out-and-proud homoerotic mural —with a depiction of himself in it—for his cathedral in 2007. The artist was an Argentinian gay noted for transgressive imagery. No matter. Benedict raised him to archbishop five years later and named him president of the then-Pontifical Council on the Family. In 2016, with the mural still intact, Francis appointed him president of the Academy for Life and grand chancellor of the St. John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family.

    The true scandal, now as before, lies in the basis for each man’s confidence that he could broadcast his inclinations—Paglia on a cathedral wall, “Uncle Ted” in bed with his “nephews”— without fear of censure. On what protections did their certainty rely? Who were the enablers of these cocksure avatars of male bonding? From how high up the ecclesial ladder did their insurance come?

    Thirty years ago, A.W. Richard Sipe, a psychiatrist and ex-Benedictine who authored three books on celibacy and the priesthood, predicted: “When the whole story of sexual abuse by presumed celibate clergy is told, it will lead to the highest corridors of Vatican City.” Now it has.

    The upward reach of McCarrick’s disgrace cautions Catholics against taking refuge in facile invocations of Jesus’ great promise: “I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.” That pledge was made to a fellowship, a community of believers, not to the Roman ecclesiastical structure.

    Maureen Mullarkey

  14. I read today what this looks like to a fan of political Islam: perhaps against the benchmark of the Brotherhood, the fellowship of catholics is invisible:

    I find that I understand Catholicism less than Islam, and not for lack of trying.