Journal 02/24/2013 (a.m.)

    • In A Perspective on Clergy Sexual Abuse by Thomas Plante, a psychiatrist specializing in abuse counseling and considered an expert on clerical abuse, he states “approximately 4% of priests during the past half century (and mostly in the 1960s and 1970s) have had a sexual experience with a minor.”[39][40] According to Newsweek magazine, the figure is similar to that in the rest of the adult population.[41]
    • Although there are no figures available on the number of sexual abuse cases in different regions, in 2002, The Boston Globe reported “clearly the issue has been most prominent in the United States.”[7] The United States is the country with the highest number of Catholic Sex Abuse cases,[citation needed] leading Thomas Plante to surmise that the “crisis in the United States reached epidemic proportions within the Church, the likes of which haven’t been witnessed before.”[39][not in citation given]
    • The 2004 John Jay Report was based on a study of 10,667 allegations against 4,392 priests accused of engaging in sexual abuse of a minor between 1950 and 2002.[57]
    • The report stated there were approximately 10,667 reported victims (younger than 18 years) of clergy sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002:
    • The 4,392 priests who were accused amount to approximately 4% of the 109,694 priests in active ministry during that time.
    • No one [in the Vatican] thinks the sexual abuse of kids is unique to the States, but they do think that the reporting on it is uniquely American, fueled by anti-Catholicism and shyster lawyers hustling to tap the deep pockets of the church. And that thinking is tied to the larger perception about American culture, which is that there is a hysteria when it comes to anything sexual, and an incomprehension of the Catholic Church. What that means is that Vatican officials are slower to make the kinds of public statements that most American Catholics want, and when they do make them they are tentative and halfhearted. It’s not that they don’t feel bad for the victims, but they think the clamor for them to apologize is fed by other factors that they don’t want to capitulate to.
    • In November the Vatican published Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation for Persons with Homosexual Tendencies, issuing new rules which forbid ordination of men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.” While the preparation for this document had started ten years before its publication,[158] this instruction is seen as an official answer by the Catholic Church to what was seen as a “pedophile priest” crisis.[159]
    • The US National Review Board cited the preponderance of adolescent males among the victims of clerical sexual abuse of minors in its report.[160] The document was criticized for what some see as its implying that homosexuality is tied to the sexual abuse of children.[161]
    • Two researchers reported that abuse cases had “steeply declined” after 1985 and that responses to abuse had changed substantially over 50 years, with suspension becoming more common than reinstatement.[166]

       

      In a statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on 22 September 2009, the Holy See stated that the majority of Catholic clergy who had committed acts of sexual abuse against under 18 year olds should not be viewed as paedophiles, but as homosexuals who are attracted to sex with adolescent males. The statement said that rather than paedophilia, “it would be more correct to speak of ephebophilia; being a homosexual attraction to adolescent males[…] Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17.”[167]

       

      However, Margaret Smith and Karen Terry, two researchers who worked on the John Jay Report, cautioned against equating the high incidence of abuse by priests against boys with homosexuality, calling it an oversimplification and “an unwarranted conclusion”, as “participation in homosexual acts is not the same as sexual identity as a gay man.”[168][169] Tomasi’s move angered many gay rights organisations, who claimed it was an attempt by the Vatican to redefine the Church’s past problems with paedophilia as problems with homosexuality.[170]

       

      The empirical research shows that sexual orientation does not affect the likelihood that people will abuse children.[171][172][173] Many child molesters cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children.[171]

    • In April 2010, in response to extensive negative publicity and criticism of the Pope, the Vatican entered what the Associated Press called “full damage control mode”.[174] Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, during a visit to Chile, linked the scandal to homosexuality.[175] In response to widespread criticism of that statement, Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi said Bertone’s statement went outside the remit of church authorities while maintaining that “the statement was aimed at ‘clarifying’ Cardinal Bertone’s remarks and should not be seen as the Holy See ‘distancing’ itself from them.” He also noted that 10 per cent of the cases concerned paedophilia in the “strict sense” and the other 90 per cent concerned sex between priests and adolescents.[176] Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper, said the continuing criticism of Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican in handling the clerical sex abuse crisis is part of a media campaign to sell newspapers.[177] The Pope issued a statement that the “Church must do penance for abuse cases”.[178]
    • In 2010, BBC reported that the latest research by experts indicate that Catholic priests may be no more likely than others to abuse. However, a major cause of the scandal was the cover-ups and other alleged shortcomings in the way the church has dealt with the abuses.[188]
    • Robin Pomeroy did her best impression of a publicist in a nearly one-sided article for Reuters on Tuesday that spotlighted homosexuals in Rome “toasting the departure of the worst Church leader they can imagine” – Pope Benedict XVI. Pomeroy quoted extensively from LGBT activist Franco Grillini, but failed to mention his radical left wing politics, which included a run as a Communist Party candidate in Italy in the 1980s.
    • Under Benedict, Grillini says, the Church has gone to more conservative “extremes” due to the “fierce competition” from radical Islam and evangelical Christianity.
       
        “They are trying to stem the competition posed by the religious radicalism of Islam or Christian fundamentalism by adopting the same message … The Catholic Church is squeezed by competition from new religious extremes that I believe represent the real danger in today’s world.”
  • tags: pope

    • Bob Woodward’s been banging the tables of various talk shows for weeks, making the same fairly banal point: The White House proposed sequestration as part of a package to raise the debt limit in 2011. Watching Woodward in action has been disconcerting for the many reporters who covered the story in real time. Did the White House float sequestration as a “trigger” to force a better, later deal from Congress? Yes. Would this have ever become an issue if Republicans hadn’t chosen to hogtie the debt limit and hold a sixgun to its head for six months? No. So who cares?

         

                  

          

      Banal, like I said, until Woodward’s Friday Washington Post column on the topic. The Post blasted this out to its news alert list with the subject “EXCLUSIVE: Obama Misled; He and Jack Lew Planted Seeds For Disastrous Sequester.” That cranked it up from banal to outright strange.

    • I asked him why journalists, framing the selection of a new pope, can write so easily of arguments for women in the priesthood or changes in the moral structure of the church, yet strenuously avoid what is at the root of the church: faith in God.

       

      “That’s why you always get it wrong,” said Cardinal George, laughing. “Even when your facts are right, your story’s wrong. It’s not fair to ask journalists to acknowledge the Holy Spirit, is it? But they don’t see religion as a variable, if you like. It’s independent of politics or economics, but they tend to reduce it to what they’re good at: reporting on countries, reporting on corporations. And so that’s the framework, and those frameworks are partially true, but they’re not fundamentally true. …

    • It was time to give him a printout that spoke to Benedict’s warning of that crisis of faith, a recent essay by Rod Dreher in The American Conservative magazine. It contained a passage from the Catholic theologian Larry Chapp:

       

      “… One thing that is being overlooked in all of this is Benedict’s statement that the reason why the Church needs someone with more physical strength at the helm is because the faith of the Church is facing what he calls a ‘grave crisis.’ … I think he is saying there is something uniquely dangerous in the current situation of the Church and that unique thing is the de facto apostasy of so many within the Church, up to, and perhaps especially including, many members of the clergy and religious.”

    • “Always, the first question is ‘Does it square with the faith? Will we betray the Lord if we do this?’ And that’s what is hard for (journalists) to understand,” he said. “The question of the ordination of women, we’re not free to change a sacrament that we believe has come to us from Christ. We’re just not free to do it and that’s very hard for some people to understand, because if they want it and believe that it’s a good thing and you can talk that way, then why can’t you do it? Only because you’re fusty and obstructionist and out-of-date …

       

      “The larger question: Is there now such a sea change in Western culture that people can’t believe; that they aren’t open to belief?” he asked. “That therefore you have to be your own god in a way. ‘You have to do just what you want to do in the way that you want to do it. You have to follow your own dream.’

       

      “Well, it’s important to follow God’s dream.

    • “So we could say maybe (some) people have lost the gift of faith because we’ve created a society where people can’t believe. It’s impossible — well, not impossible, never impossible, but very difficult — to believe because it goes against the grain to say, ‘I surrender my life.’ Maybe it’s why marriage is in such difficulty because when you’re married that’s what you do. You surrender your life to a woman or a man, a husband, a wife. Well, faith means you surrender your life to God.”
    • I really do think that its time for a pope from the Global South. Benedict is the last pope from the twilight of Christianity in Europe. May the next successor of Peter be from among peoples of the globe who still affirm with vigor Peter’s confession.

       

      It will be extremely irritating to watch media commentators claiming in the days and weeks to come that the next pope has to liberalize to keep the Church from falling down. This is exactly wrong, not only theologically, but sociologically. It is true that Christianity is waning in the West — but the liberal churches are declining faster than the conservative ones.

  • tags: pope

  • tags: pope

  • tags: pope

  • tags: pope

    • And many leaders have resigned because of the opportunity to accept a better position. John C. Calhoun quit as U.S. vice president in 1832 to become a South Carolina senator because he could do more for states rights in that position. But no pope is going to find a higher role.
    • Celestine V, 1294, overwhelmed by the job. A saintly hermit, he needed just five months to realize he was out of his depth. (For this “Great Refusal,” Dante assigned him to the Inferno.)
    • In a French television interview, Guenois made another compelling argument against the notion that the “Vatileaks” report prompted the Pope to resign. By all reports the Holy Father has been considering resignation for months. (Guenois believes that he made his decision in March of last year, after his trip to Mexico and Cuba.) The “Vatileaks” report was submitted on December 17. “I say that the Pope’s decision to resign had nothing to do with the information in this report,” Guenois concludes.
    • The members of the curia are worried about the latest developments in Latin America, where there is a shortage of tens of thousands of priests, and where many rural churches are abandoned. Millions are defecting to the Protestant Pentecostal churches. The Protestant pastors are true entertainers, their services are shows for tens of thousands of people, they sing and dance, and many sell CDs by the millions.
    • The Catholic Church hasn’t found an effective response yet, though it has made some rather helpless attempts. Some Catholic priests, known as pop padres, are now holding their services in giant venues, and their masses have come to resemble pop concerts. Still, this hasn’t stopped the growth of the Protestant churches.
    • Africa too is hoping for a change of course. In 2010, 15.5 percent, or about 180 million of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, were Africans. Thanks to demographic changes, their continent, along with Asia, is among the major growth regions in the global faith market. Tens of thousands of church institutions built by missionaries in the last 150 years, such as schools, hospitals, orphanages and AIDS wards, feel like islands of hope on a continent plagued by mass poverty. The church wields considerable political influence in countries that are unable to perform their social duties. The Catholic Church is considered the only functioning national institution in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example.
    • But the popularity of Pentecostal churches and Protestant sects is also on the rise. Both proclaim a simple feel-good gospel, a much more appealing message to many of the poor than the doctrines of the Catholics, Anglicans and mainstream Protestants.

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Journal 02/18/2013 (a.m.)

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Journal 02/15/2013 (a.m.)

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Journal 02/14/2013 (a.m.)

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