some of the 30 or so problems that led to the priestly and episcopal sexual
crimes of the last several decades.
have tried to provide at least one excerpt from the book that helps illustrate
the point somewhat.
YOU NEED TO
BUY AND READ THE BOOK for several reasons
1) One of
the issues I didn’t list – homosexuality.
His discussion of homosexuality’s role in all this is MUST READ, very
accurate, nuanced and important
2) In order
to give a true understanding of the issue, he intentionally describes what
actually happened in order to not try to gloss over the damage done to the
Those sections are obviously
hard to read, and if you have a hard time reading what happened, imagine having
it happen TO you.
I believe, as does
Podles, that knowing exactly what happened to victims is part of actually
taking this crisis seriously.
are the problems that Podles identifies:
Faulty view of the priesthood by the laity
explained: “I received my religious training in the Catholic school and I was
trained that the priest was the equivalent of God or Christ on earth and that
they should be obeyed.” (49)
lack of Episcopal courage
knew that bishops, even if not themselves corrupt, hated confrontation and bad
publicity even more than they disliked child abuse.” (69)
Problem 3: Priests and repressed anger
“Twice the number of priests scoring in the clinically significant range of the overcontrolled hostility measure were found in the hospitalized sexual abusive group…these priests had repressed their anger to a far greater degree than the general population does.” (466)
“Gilbert Kilman, a child psychiatrist, commented, “What amazes me is the lack of outrage the Church feels when its good work is being harmed. So, if there is anything the Church needs to know, it needs to know how to be outraged.” (467)
“A little reflection will make it clear that there is a big difference between the person who knows solely that something is evil and ought to be opposed, and the one who in addition also feels hate for that evil, is angry that it is corrupting or harming his fellow-men, and feels aroused to combat it courageously and vigorously.” (468)
“Josef Pieper concludes his analysis of the place of anger in the virtuous life, “Only the combination of the intemporateness of lustfulness with the lazy inertia incapable of generating anger is the sign of complete and virtually hopeless degeneration. It appears whenever a caste, a people, or a whole civilization is ripe for its decline and fall.” (507)
no uniform code of punishment
that the protection of our glorious priesthood will demand, in time, the
establishment of a uniform code of discipline and penalties” [Fr. Fitzgerald in
In 1957 there was no such code;
in 2007 there is still none…”If the discipline were more uniform and certain,
priests before ordination could be instructed and duly warned, and this would
be a deterrent to the initiation of these vicious habits.” (91)
form a network of unknown size, and the only way to disrupt it is to remove any
priest who even once is discovered to have abused a minor, however distant it
may be.” (495)
priests and seminarians psychologically immature
stated [in 1971 to the USCCB] “Everyone agrees that there exists a crisis in
the priesthood…20-25% have serious psychiatric difficulties…60-70% suffer from
a degree of emotional immaturity”
gave 10 recommendations.
confusing pedophilia and sex with those who are past puberty
December, 1985, Peterson wrote an executive summary and sent it to every bishop
in the United States, who mostly ignored it.
Peterson’s summary pointed out that the problem of abuse among priests
was not really pedophilia, which is sexual attraction to children who have not
reached the age of puberty, but sexual activity with teenagers.” (96)
“Most of the
abusers were sexually involved with teenage boys.
It is difficult to classify a male’s sexual
attraction to sexually mature teenage boys as a mental illness or disorder
without also classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder.” (285)
this, priests who were sexually involved with teenage boys were sent for
treatment as if they were pedophiles” (286)
thinking of pedophilia as a mental illness
is not in the same category as schizophrenia. Pedohiles are not delusional and
they can control their actions.
not abuse children on the street, but rationally and calculatedly get access to
children…Pedophiles are almost excused by those who call them “sick”, as if
they cannot help themselves…They are not so much sick men in need of a cure as
criminals who should be punished.” (289)
far worse than disorderly sexual desire leads men to corrupt and torture
children, and this evil has not been identified by the Church and therefore
cannot be purged from the Church.” (503)
Problem 8: priests
who witnessed abuse said nothing
Booth, Porter’s superior and the pastor there, walked in. “Father Porter jump
right up,” Merry said. “First Father Booth looked at Father Porter, and then
back at me, and then back at Father Porter, who was zipping up his fly.
Then Father Booth shook his head and walked
out the door.
He didn’t say a word.”
in lots of cases, abusive priests reported being cured but were still abusing
wrote Bishop Connolly, “I am feeling much better and doing very well.
There have been many temptations, as you can
imagine, but thank God, with His grace, I have handled them well.
The next day he molested two children.” (117)
the laity did not want to hear that their priest was a criminal
life miserable for her until she left the parish.
Kathryn D’Agostino heard Gauvreau’s warnings
and explained that “I didn’t believe her.
I didn’t think she was lying, but I thought she was deluded.
From what I knew of this guy, I thought it
was impossible.” (164)
John Leonard of the Richmond diocese was sentenced to jail in 2004 for
assaulting two teenage boys.
the reaction of the laity: “Church members have supported him for the entire
time and no support was seen more than when he left court and his congregation
cheered him.” (425)
1991 trial, the atmosphere was hostile, said Laura Recker, a former Maricopa
County, Arizona deputy attorney…the priest’s supporters taunted the victims’
families and swore at her.” (425)
Priesthood is a helping profession – priests need to set up proper boundaries
surveys have shown that one out of ten physicians has had sexual contact with a
of members of the LA County Psychological association showed that “17% of the
men in private practice indicated that they had engaged in therapist-client
sexual intimacies” (293)
the priesthood attracts and can foster narcissism
the public and performing aspects of the position and the opportunity to foster
a dependant group of admirers.
in sexual liasons is part of the larger and continuous pursuit of fulfilling
their need for admiration, devotion and unquestioned love (Arelene
The new Catholic liturgy
places far more emphasis on the personality of the priest-presider than the old
liturgy did.” (300)
Treating the problem without punishment and only treatment
and treatment are not mutually exclusive.
An abuser should be punished for his actions, but he may also (in rare
cases) sincerely want to get rid of the desire for children or lean how he can
lessen the chances of his acting on it – after he gets out of jail” (305)
spiritual disciplines: fasting, vigils, silence, ceaseless prayer – do not seem
to have been prescribed.” (306)
The history of places offering treatment for priests is a complete dumpster
Most of the
places were run by abusers themselves, abuse took place, crazy techniques have
been tried…pages 305-320
gay subcultures in seminaries and presbyterates
Bleichner, a Sulpician who worked in seminaries in Baltimore, San Francisco,
and Washington D.C., observed that after the Second Vatican Council, “seminaries
suddenly began to develop gay subcultures that encompassed faculty and
students…Rev. Donald Cozzens wrote that “the need gay priests have for
friendship with other gay men…had created a gay subculture in most of the U.S.
A similar subculture has
occurred in many of our seminaries.”” (322)
“Some of us
found refuge in a campy, secret subculture poor in genuine emotional intimacy
but rich in the bitchy humor for which we gay men are ‘Will and Grace’
We had women’s names for one another,
and for some of our teachers.
each other’s style of dress and gossiped among ourselves about who was ‘going
out’ with whom.” (324)
heterosexual unfaithfulness leads to a culture of secrecy
“the underground nature of un-celibate behavior, both homosexual and
heterosexual…has made possible a brand of adult dishonesty and manipulativeness
in which pedophiles find convenient shelter” (329)
Media and culture subtly supportive of man-boy sex
“A stream of
gay fiction, praised by the mainstream press such as the Washington Post,
sympathetically portrays man-boy sex…Others make heroes of Oscard Wilde, Roman
Polanski…the media horror at the exposure of the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic
priests has not been entirely convincing.
Both advertisements and entertainment sexualize teenagers and critics
continue to praise Polanski, who cannot enter the United States because of an
outstanding charge of child molestation…Judith Levine won an award from the Los
Angeles Times in 2003 for her book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting
Children from Sex” (340)
the centralization of ecclesial power in Rome
centralizing so much power in itself, the papacy has made it impossible for
groups of bishops to discipline erring fellow bishops, made it impossible for
bishops to discipline priests who are members of religious orders, and made it
very difficult for bishops to discipline their own diocesan priests.” (407)
The law protected Churches
in Massachusetts in 1983 exempted the Church from requirements to report sexual
Police often did not arrest
1977 spotted the Rev. Edward T. Kelley apparently engaged in a sex act with a
teenage boy in a parked car.
knew the priest, but instead of arresting him, the police contacted Bishop
Bishop Daily explained
that the “archdiocese of Boston had a long understanding with local law
enforcement officers that
officials rather than the police would ‘take care of’ priests implicated in sex
abuse cases.” (434)
prosecutors did not want to prosecute priests because of votes
priests was not a good career move.
was hard to get a conviction, and the laity would be mad at the prosecutor, as
would the bishop.
The only people who
would be grateful were the victim and his family.
Prosecutors can count potential votes.” (434)
Judges behaviors often protected the Church
soften pre-trial discovery requirements for churches, and in court decisions
that order church documents produced in discovery to be sealed and kept
The courts created a “law-free”
zone for sexual abuse, and the abusers took advantage of this to commit abuse
with impunity.” (437)
theologians should look at their own responsibility when offenders like Paul
Shanley start applying [their] theological speculations.” (441)
diagnosis of the contributory causes of the Catholic priest scandals can
overlook the role of dissent among theologians…how many of the priests and
bishops who have brought such suffering to minors and scandal to the public
were encouraged by teachers and theologians to cut corners and dissent from the
truth of the Catholic Faith and moral teaching?...a climate of dissent was
promoted by wholesale dissent from Catholic sexual ethics” – Fr. Matt Lamb
Guindon, who taught moral theology at St. Paul’s University in Canada until his
death in 1993…taught that an adult having sex with prepubescent children did
little or no harm.” (457)
Catholic Reporter published an account by a priest who was sexually involved
with a teenage boy.
The priest wrote “I
read a book on situation ethics.
basic theme was that no act is objectively evil; its morality or immorality
depends on the situation.
from this that all sex acts are basically good since God had created us sexual
beings…There is nothing good or evil in itself; only the consequences make it
so.” … he was ordained and had sex with teenagers. (461)
nominalism (that the only thing that makes something right or wrong is the
authority of God, that right and wrong don’t correspond to anything out in the
real world nor in a person’s nature): “If things are wrong only because God
forbids them, not because they harm the good of the human person, the only
action necessary to make repentance complete is to seek the pardon of God.
The sin has caused no harm to anyone except
the sinner…if, however, actions are forbidden because they harm the human
good…the harm that the sin has done in creation remains…the sexual abuse victim
of a priest is still suffering from severe distortions of his sexual identity
and feelings of being betrayed by the God-ordained messenger of salvation.”
“He is not
guided to a moral maturity in which he sees, loves and pursues the good through
the exercise of all the virtues, but instead follows arbitrary commands, the
logic of which he cannot see.
infantilization prepares the ground for sexual abuse.” (479)
Psychology replaces theology in certain places after the council
Coulson set up a massive group therapy program for the IHM nuns…under these
facilitators direction, the nuns got in touch with their inner selves. What they discovered there was that they did
not want to be nuns and they did want (at least some did) to be lesbians. The order disintegrated within a matter of
months…Rogers and Coulson gave the same program at St. Anthony’s Seminary. When the friars there looked into their inner
selves and affirmed their deepest desires, a good proportion of them (about one
quarter) discovered that what they really wanted most of all was to have sex
with 14 year old boys, which they proceeded to do for the next twenty years.”