A hot commentary on the European priest sex scandal

March 23, 2010

In many ways, the Europeans are 10 years behind the US (in other ways, they are 10 years ahead, which I will elaborate on one day).  So, the Europeans have been enjoying their own version of a massive priest sex abuse scandal, from Ireland to Austria, about 10 years after such scandals rocked the US.   Naturally, alot of people are casting about for reasons.  Why did this happen?  Gerald Warner, a conservative Scottish politician and publisher, has made his opinions known, writing specifically about the Irish abuse cases.   You should go read the whole thing, it is brilliant as a polemic.  I think the author oversimplifies things, but has a major point - the abuse is not about priestly celibacy, it is about loss of faith.  It always has been - the modernists cave to the world, and then it is anything goes - literally. 

Warner’s comments have set off alot of other commentary in return.  Fr. Z has a really good post  generally agreeing with most of Warner’s points, but cautioning against traditionals becoming triumphal.  Fr. Longenecker adds his comments, as well, again, largely agreeing with Mr. Warner.   Fr. Blake of St. Mary’s in Brighton disagrees with Warner’s vituperation, but does think alot of the weakening in spirituality and mysticism that was done ‘in the spirit of Vatican II’ played a significant role. 

And me?   I think it’s largely spot on.   Accepting that Warner is speaking in the broad generalities imposed by a 100o word limit, his criticisms have a great deal of merit.  This abuse is caused by a lack of faith.  Most of this lack of faith has come from worldly influence, the infection of modernism in the church that used to be called ‘the spirit of Vatican II.’  I don’t think the documents of Vatican II or the council’s efforts are necessarily to blame (except that the documents were vague and not centered sufficiently on Christ), but the illusory ’spirit’ invoked in the name of the Council, which was used as cover for the efforts of the modernists and the revisionists, is heavily to blame.  

Below, an excerpt, with Fr. Z’s comments in red:

How could clergy transgress so gravely against the doctrines of the Church? What doctrines? These offences took place in the wake of Vatican II, when doctrines were being thrown out like so much lumber. These offenders were the children of Paul VI and “aggiornamento”. Once you have debauched the Mystical Body of Christ, defiling altar boys comes easily. 

The “neglected” sacraments and devotional practices that the Pope says could have prevented this did not just wither on the vine: they were actively discouraged by bishops and priests. [This is where I need to intervene.  I am sure that some of the more traddy stripe are crowing as they read.  I would remind them to supress that reptilian brain-stem a little and recall – before reading the next self-affirming quote – that we are all in this together.  When clergy and lay people of the Church fall down, every one suffers.  The whole Church needs to help the fallen to rise again.  We need to do that by raising the level of holiness, of penance, and worthy worship, just a rising tide raises every boat.  Read on, now, and feel that affirmation…] In the period when this abuse was rampant, there was just one mortal sin in the Catholic Church: daring to celebrate or attend the Latin Tridentine Mass. [And that is pretty close the the truth!] A priest raping altar boys would be moved to another parish; as for a priest who had the temerity to celebrate the Old Mass – his feet would not touch the ground. [They were – and in some places still are – treated in much the same way.]

Ouch, man, that’s gotta hurt.  But, it’s hard to argue that what Warner says was, and to an extent still is, true.  Here in Dallas, we all know that priests like Rudy Kos, active sicko child molesters, were moved around to hide them, with the Diocese making strenuous efforts to keep them in the fold.  Meanwhile, saying a Latin Mass in this town would get you banished to the extreme ‘burbs, if you’re lucky to even remain a pastor.  What does that say of the priorities involved? I want to clarify here - the incidents I reference above did not occur under the present Bishop.   But how far have we come from those days?   Far in some areas, but not nearly far enough in others.  There is a still certain hostility to reverence, orthodoxy, and tradition in some quarters in this diocese, and still a tendency towards heterodoxy and dissent.  Things are improving, but very slowly. 

One of the most important areas of improvement is to get back to stressing SIN!  We are all inherently sinful.  We need God’s grace more than anything!  Too much, we have allowed a ‘go along to get along’ mentality to creep in, and even some of our better priests have trouble taking the Sacrament of Confession as seriously as it should be. Fr. Longenecker:

We all need repentance in the face of this. We all need to turn again to the awareness that the devil is real, that sin is real, that nice people are capable of terrible evil. We must be on our guard. We must believe in the power and reality of the sacraments. We must be New Testament Christians with missionary zeal, the discipline of ascetical prayer and a warrior spirit.

Yes.  I agree.  What is needed is a true dedication to the Sacraments in the Church, serious, sacrificial prayer and serious sacrificial living.  There used to be a very deep sense of the seriousness of the Faith in the Church, but much of that spirit has been lost.  It is important to get it back.  And the laity will have to lead alot of that effort, as has been done in the past.

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