Thursday April 1, 2010

Editorial: Pope Deserves Strong Defense, but Catholic Church Problems Still Far From Resolved

Editorial by Steve Jalsevac

April 1, 2010 ( – The current media storm over the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandals is a déjà vu for LifeSiteNews (LSN). We’ve been here before – in 2002, when the U.S. clergy scandal storm broke. LifeSiteNews extensively covered that saga for the next few years. And we must cover today’s developments as well – for very good reasons for the cause of life and family. For those new to LSN, see those reasons spelled out in the 2002 page “Why is LifeSite Covering This Issue?”

This time, however, the danger is greater. It has become more international and menacing, threatening even Pope Benedict, who has done the most in recent years to purge what on Good Friday 2005 he called “the filth” out of the Church and also out of modern society. Clearly, that is a major reason he is such a target.

It is not coincidental, in my opinion, that this is also happening while the White House is occupied by the most aggressively anti-life and anti-Christian U.S. president in history. It is also important to note that Barack Obama has co-opted many influential Catholic dissidents, with some of his key henchmen being rabidly anti-Catholic “Catholics” such as Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sibelius.

This development is also not coincidentally taking place as the aggressively anti-Christian European Union machine has finally consolidated its political power hold over Europe.

There has been an international media saturation of news stories focussing on the Pope since the New York Times published its error-riddled hit piece against Pope Benedict’s supposed personal negligence regarding two clergy abuse cases. Some of the articles that followed have been among the most biased, reckless and hateful of the Church that we have ever seen since LSN began.

Deal Hudson of asked Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, “Why do media like the New York Times and the Washington Post hate the Catholic Church and the pope? What’s the source of the animus?”

Donohue replied, “it stems from three issues: abortion, gay marriage, and women’s ordination. So, when they can nail the Church on promiscuity, they love it. The goal is to weaken the moral authority of the Church so it won’t be as persuasive on issues like health care.”

Our several news reports have made it clear that Pope Benedict has been the victim of unjust accusations and that almost all the new revelations are about incidents that occurred decades ago, during the same time period that was the focus of the 2002 U.S. clergy sex abuse blow-up – the 1960s to early 1980s. The rate of clergy abuse incidents has continuously and dramatically decreased since John Paul II became pope in October 1978.

However, we must also report that evidence reveals the Church leadership has in many ways brought this current catastrophe upon itself. Unless it rapidly makes crucial changes still called for, there is certain to be a devastating reckoning – if not this time around, then in the years not far ahead.

Although there have been many positive changes in the Church in the U.S. and Canada and in Vatican policies since the horrific 2002 revelations, LSN has continuously warned that the fundamental problems that led to the abuses and subsequent crippling of the Catholic Church have still been far from fully resolved.

Three issues are still of great concern:

  1. The overwhelming unwillingness of most bishops to exercise their authority in response to serious rejection or indifference towards issues of critical Catholic beliefs and norms – especially regarding moral issues. That is, the bishops have not been actively upholding the faith with consequent serious harm resulting to the faith and lives of many people.
  2. The public scandal of criminally negligent or otherwise seriously negligent or corrupt bishops still not having been appropriately held personally accountable. It has instead been the people in the pews and past large benefactors, who had nothing to do with the scandals, whose contributions have unjustly been taken to pay billions of dollars for settlements and obscene lawyers fees. The victims of abuse have been denied justice.
  3. The still on-going unwillingness to face or even mention the corruption caused by the tolerance of homosexuality within the clergy at all levels, including bishops and cardinals, within the religious orders and within Catholic Church institutions and colleges and schools. There has been much improvement on this item, especially thanks to Pope Benedict’s strong re-affirmation of the rule that homosexuals must not be admitted into seminaries; but there is still far, far more that must be done to rid the Church of this widespread, cancerous influence within the Church body.

See the June 2002 LSN Special Report, “Roots of Sexual Abuse in the Church: Homosexuality, Dissent and Modernism,” which reveals why it was almost inevitable that more explosions would eventually occur.

A March 25 National Post article by Fr. Raymond de Souza, “Culture change in the Church,” is worth special attention because of its astute analysis of why many Catholic Church authorities have themselves to blame for much of what has taken place.

De Souza has been far above the pack in the honesty and insightfulness of his reports on this issue. We strongly recommend that the article be read in its entirety. However, here are a few samples:

“In the 1960s, like much of society and after the Second Vatican Council, the Church simply abandoned her disciplinary life. Doctrinal dissent was not corrected, but often celebrated. Liturgical abuses, both minor and outrageously sacrilegious, were tolerated. … A priest could preach heresy, profane the Holy Mass, destroy the piety of his people and face no consequences. The overseers decided to overlook everything. It is any surprise, then, that when accusations of criminal immorality emerged they too were dealt with inadequately, if at all?”

The journalist Catholic priest expands, “A culture of laxity had so infected bishops that their disciplinary muscles had severely atrophied. It was not as if they were vigilant rulers in all aspects, but perversely indulgent of sexual abuse. Indulgence was shown to abuses of all kinds. So latitudinarian had the clerical culture become that even modest attempts at doctrinal discipline were widely mocked…”

De Souza concludes, “The abdication of discipline in the Church has taken a terrible toll. Slowly though we are becoming more Catholic and restoring the years that the locust hath eaten.”

And I would agree with Fr. De Souza that the Church has improved, in many cases substantially. Many, but not all, North American seminaries have been completely transformed and for at least the past several years these institutions have been ordaining thoroughly vetted, well-formed and holy young priests who will in turn renew the Church in the years ahead.

However, numerous situations that LSN has encountered in recent years – such as the homosexual, pro-abortion former gay prostitute Quebec priest who is still in good standing in his diocese, and many more unresolved Church scandals in the US, Canada and in most European nations – indicate that the Church has a very long way to go yet to be restored to what it should be.

Quite revealing have been the CCHD, Kennedy Funeral, Development and Peace, and Recife affair scandals, among others. Denials, attacking and belittling the messengers of problems, and bishops refusing to publicly acknowledge and act upon these serious issues is still the common Church response.

Also significant has been the lack of resolution of the USCCB film office staff praise for pro-homosexual films such as Brokeback Mountain and the unwillingness of a large majority of bishops to adhere to Canon law and refuse communion to unrepentant, notoriously public pro-abortion, pro-homosexual U.S. Catholics such as Nancy Pelosi and Kathleen Sibelius, in Canada Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and in Britain, former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Canon law was also regularly ignored during the decades of the sexual abuse outbreak.

All of these things and much, much more, reveal that the very same “culture of laxity” that abetted the sexual abuses is still entrenched among a large proportion of the bishops in the West – although, thankfully, this is changing.

The lessons of 2002 appear not to have been absorbed yet. However, a small, but growing number of a heroic, new generation of bishops is emerging. They are acting and speaking in a manner that should be expected of bishops – without that crippling fear of public opinion, lawyers, insurance companies, the rage of dissidents in their dioceses or the intimidation of their brother bishops. They instead fear the accounting they will have to give God – the only thing in the end that really matters.

These new, faithful bishops are far less inclined to belittle or otherwise shrug off hurting faithful Catholics who bring genuinely serious concerns to their attention. Conversely, the negative response to Catholics who disrupt the ‘don’t disturb me’, ‘always be positive’ and implicit ‘avoid the cross’ culture demanded by the generation of bishops from the scandal era, is reported to still be very common.

Most of the improvements that have taken place in recent years owe their initiation to mass media publicity, criminal charges and lawsuits – not to bishops on their own going against the established order and deciding that enough was enough. In other words, the bishops were forced to finally act. We should be thankful for what the media brought out in the open in 2002. And now, the evidence in Ireland, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and more nations, as well as in North America, is that much more still needs to happen.

So, while necessary defensive actions should and must continue against false charges and opportunistic wolves attempting to use this crisis to take down the main defender of traditional morality and religious belief, it still remains that the cleansing of the Catholic Church, by the Church, must also continue – with urgency.

The pro-life, pro-family movement of the world, believers of all faiths, and others who value traditional principles, all need the Catholic Church to be what it is called to be. Without this, the Culture of Death, the decline of freedoms and the sufferings of the vulnerable will expand exponentially.

The radical social engineers, depopulationists and totalitarian elites are pushing intensely now for that to happen. One has to question whether they had a hand in planting the corruption within the Church that started near the end of the Cold War. They need the Catholic Church out of the way more than anything else. We can’t let them do it.