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Saturday, August 31

CATHOLICS AND JEWS:

Almost three weeks ago, the BishopsÍ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the National Council of Synagogues released a now infamous document titled> ñReflections on Covenant and Missionî. (The BCEIA is a sub-committee of the National Council of Catholic Bishops.) Among a number of objectionable statements was the claim that,

while the Catholic Church regards the saving act of Christ as central to the process of human salvation for all, it also acknowledges that Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God. . . . [The Jewish peopleÍs] witness to the kingdom, which did not originate with the Church's experience of Christ crucified and raised, must not be curtailed by seeking the conversion of the Jewish people to Christianity.

Though the document is badly written in the way one expects of documents produced by episcopal committees, this passage and others seem in fairly straightforward contradiction to chapter 11 of St. PaulÍs letter to the Romans, and to the official documents of the Catholic Church, not least the recent Dominus Iesus.

Carl Olson, the editor of Envoy magazine, gives a useful critique of the document and contrasts it with some relevant statements from Dominus Iesus, in an article titled "Jews Don't Need Jesus?". He is especially good at pointing out how much of the wording is vague and ambiguous, in a way that sleights the Gospel but does not quite say something demonstrably heretical. He concludes:

It seems to me that this recent document from BCEIA, while filled with good intentions, suffers from a fear of offending. This timidity and lack of assurance results in confusion. Although some might say the confusion comes from the document being a complex, nuanced document, such is not the case. There are nuances, but there is also confused and murky thinking. A comparison to the quotes from Dominus Iesus make this deficiency apparent.

Olson does a good job in exposing the confusion and murk. But from my reading of the document, I think the problem is not only that it contains ñconfused and murky thinking,î though that is a very big problem in a doctrinal statement issued by Catholic bishops. Confusion in thought is no more allowed to bishops writing public statements than it is to doctors writing prescriptions or the plans for major surgery. It is part of their job to be clear, and they are guilty of malpractice when they're not.

The problem with Reflection on Covenant and Mission is also, and mainly, that the bishops are wrong on a crucial point, and wrong on a matter so clear in the Scriptures and the teaching of the Church that they have no excuse. If the Jewish peopleÍs ñwitness to the kingdom . . . must not be curtailed by seeking the conversion of the Jewish people to Christianity,î then what did St. Peter think he was doing that first Pentecost, preaching to all those Jews? And what did St. Luke think he was doing, making such a fuss about it in his history of the early Church?

I am willing to grant that read as a whole, the document is not as bad as the newspaper stories made it sound. But that is only to say that it deserved a ñDî, not an ñFî.


8:38 PM


Friday, August 30

BAD FORTUNE: I just finished the sad story of a priest in Ireland, accused of pedophilia, who committed suicide at the start of his trial: A Message from Heaven: The Life and Crimes of Father Sean Fortune, by Alison OÍConnor.

Fortune was a con artist who liked both money and sex with boys. Like all good con artists, he played upon human weakness to get his way.

The boys were weak by nature. They were afraid of Fortune, and they thought no one would believe them if they told what he did to them.

Fortune also played upon the weakness of his bishop, Comiskey. Comiskey had the traditional Irish affliction of drink (ïTis a curse, ïtis a curse) and the general episcopal unwillingness to get into a fight with a popular and formidable priest. Canon law makes it hard for a bishop to discipline a priest. It is much easier to ignore complaints from poor parents and boys.

Fortune also played upon the weaknesses of the laity. The Irish respected the priests who ministered to them under the dark days of the penal laws. To be a priest at that time was to court death. But peace and moderate prosperity brought careerism; the priesthood became a ticket to an easy life, and a way for pedophiles to get access to boys and to avoid the legal consequences.

Is the respect for priests that many Irish had a weakness? Automatic respect was no longer justified. The laity had the responsibility of discerning which priest merited respect and which merited jail, and many of the laity, especially older women, refused to take this responsibility and supported Fortune to the end. Many were also superstitious, and had apparently never heard of the sin of simony. They tried to buy blessings and healings from Fortune.

Comiskey played the role of the responsible progressive. He said all the right things about protecting children from abuse, and then gave Fortune a parish after several accusations of child abuse. He asked for a public discussion of priestly celibacy as he was brushing off numerous complaints about FortuneÍs erratic behavior. A BBC special on Fortune eventually (after this book was written) forced Comiskey to resign in shame, but with a bijou retirement residence paid for by his diocese.

The psychiatrists come across as quacks. They gave Fortune a clean bill of health. Why? They asked him if he had any sexual attraction to children or had ever had sex with a child, and he said he hadnÍt. How could he be lying? The shrinks had no other way of finding out what was going on except by asking Fortune. To admit that a patient might lie placed the whole diagnostic enterprise in question.

The police and public prosecutor also dropped the ball on the initial accusations. Why? They refuse to say. Fortune is dead, case is closed, no questions please. They probably didnÍt want the trouble that prosecuting a popular priest would have caused.

Con artists play upon personal and corporate weaknesses to get what they want. Sometimes the weakness is not culpable ¿ the children were pure victims. Sometimes the weakness is culpable; some parents didnÍt want to press charges because of the problems it would cause; Comiskey lived an alcoholic fog and was a coward. Bruce Ritter in New York discovered he could evade supervision by the archdiocese, the Franciscans, the State and the city by giving each the impression that the other was supervising him. It would have been work for each institution to query the others to verify that Ritter was being supervised, and bureaucrats are not found of unnecessary work.

Personal and instructional weaknesses in the Church and the state have allowed child molesters to harm children. The weaknesses are manifold and have to be disentangled in each case, although they follow certain patterns. If I ever get my book written, I hope that I will start untangling the skein.


4:19 AM


Thursday, August 29

MEN, WOMEN, AND ñRELIGIONî:

Ignore the byline. I am posting the following for my colleague Steven Hutchens.

I would suggest a preliminary thesis to explain the reason for higher female participation in religion, as described by Rodney Stark in the entry below: because "religion" is an essentially female construct that answers to typically female desires. If, for example, we are to take Schleiermacher's essence of religion as "a feeling of absolute dependence" as phenomenologically accurate „ and I think this reflects much of the attitude and action of religious people „ can one think of an attitude more repugnant to men, who wish to contain and discipline their feelings in favor of developing the strength that makes for self-reliance in service not only to themselves, but others?

Ask the wives of men who will not stop plowing just because there's a bit of lightning about, or won't visit the doctor for a little pain in their chests. These are not the kind of men who will go to church to listen to some wimp in a lacy gown telling them they ought to be Nice to their enemies, the modern corruption of the Lord's command to love them „ that is, the command that includes "anyone who won't work won't eat."

We need to make a division between religion and the faith and practice of the Church to order them properly to one another. The more religious we become in the sense of making affections dominant, the less faithful we will be. So I put it to you: Religion is female and excludes men; Christianity is male and includes women.


5:41 PM


SEX AND RELIGION:

The abstract from an article by Rodney Stark for an article titled "Physiology and faith: addressing the 'universal' gender difference in religious commitment" in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (Sept. 2002):

That men are less religious than women is a generalization that holds around the world and across the centuries. However, there has been virtually no study of this phenomenon because it has seemed so obvious that it is the result of differential sex role socialization. Unfortunately, actual attempts to isolate socialization effects on gender differences in religiousness have failed, as have far more frequent and careful efforts to explain gender differences in crime. There is a growing body of plausible evidence in support of physiological bases for gender differences in crime. Making the assumption that, like crime, irreligiousness is an aspect of a general syndrome of short-sighted, risky behaviors leads to the conclusion that male irreligiousness may also have a physiological basis. If nothing else, this article may prompt creative efforts to salvage the socialization explanation.

This makes sense to me, and Stark offers the arguments and data to prove it. The article is well worth tracking down, though unfortunately the JSSR is not available on the web, except to members of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Most academic libraries should carry it and you should be able to order it through interlibrary loan at most public libraries.

Touchstone ran an interview with Prof. Stark, conducted by Mike Aquilina, titled A Double-take on Early Christianity. Though not a Christian, Stark is the author of the fascinating book The Rise of Christianity: how the obscure, marginal Jesus movement became the dominant religious force in the Western world in a few centuries, which argues, to put it crudely, that Christianity worked in an extraordinary way and therefore succeeded. I highly recommend the book.


1:14 PM


JAMES HITCHCOCK'S COLUMNS:

Those of you interested in cleverly written, provocative, and sometimes profound observations on Christianity in the modern world will want to check out the columns of James Hitchcock, author of several highly praised books, a professor of history at St. Louis University, and senior editor of Touchstone. The columns can be found at James Hitchcock Column (all right, it's a dull title), part of the website of Women for Faith and Family, a Catholic apostolate led by his wife Helen, a contributing editor to Touchstone.

To give you a sample of Jim's writing, among the most recent columns are:

Modernism's limited vision, a dissection of the skeptical movement called "Modernism," which suggested that Christians meet the challenges of the modern world by giving in.

Will there be chocolate in Heaven?, a very clever explanation of the different contributions of Plato and Aristotle to the Christian understanding of things.

Perils of "Progressivism": John Walker Lindh's search for Truth, a reflection on the effect of a certain sort of "progressive" mind and life that seems to have driven the young Mr. Walker to extremist Islam.

And finally, because he recommends my book, Knowing the Real Jesus (available here), his column The saints and doctrine in full:

Recently a Catholic journalist wrote, "You know when you have met someone you think is a saint: instead of feeling inferior, you feel enormously affirmed."

That seems to me one of those statements which the author would find it impossible to defend if asked. Does it follow that everyone who "affirms" us is a saint? Or that anyone who reminds us of our failings cannot be one? By this description the perfect saints would be what psychologists call "enablers" - those who may not themselves do destructive things but in various ways support those who do.

I thought of this while reading a new book called The Saints' Guide to Knowing the Real Jesus, by David Mills. (The author and I work together on the board of the ecumenical journal Touchstone.) Interest in Jesus never wanes, although one might say that each age reinvents him. Right now there is a large industry proposing to help people find Jesus, ranging from the very traditional to New Age.

David Mills had the very Catholic idea of going back to what the Fathers of the Church said about Jesus, on the assumption, taken for granted throughout much of Christian history, that they were closer to the sources than we are and therefore understood better what the message of Jesus really was. It is also relevant that most of the Fathers were saints, the kind who were far more likely to remind people of their sins than to "affirm" them.

Today's culture encourages an approach to Jesus in which he is our brother and our friend. We are urged to love Jesus as he loves us, and to extend that same love to our fellow men. So far, so good.

But Mills points out something about the Fathers which now strikes many people as odd - they were extremely concerned with doctrine, with knowing and proclaiming formal truths about Jesus. Thus the early Church was torn apart by, above all, the question of Jesus' exact relationship to the Father (the Arian heresy). At one point the dispute centered on one syllable of a Greek word - whether Jesus was "the same as" the Father or merely "like" him.

So important were these beliefs that creeds were written to embody then, one of which is still recited at Mass and in baptism. The Church placed enormous emphasis on "orthodoxy" ("straight teaching"). Not only were Christians supposed to live as Jesus commanded, they were supposed to probe the divine mysteries to the extent that God had made possible.

The Fathers might thus seem like ivory-tower scholars insulated from the world. But Mills reminds us that some of them suffered martyrdom for their beliefs, which for them were literally life-and-death issues. What was at stake was not some academic theory but the vital truth of the faith itself.

Sometimes modern Christians talk as though they have discovered "orthopraxis" ("straight action"), meaning that now we live the Gospel, not speculate about it. But the early Church which placed so much emphasis on correct belief was even more demanding than we are of appropriate Christian behavior. They had much higher standards of conduct, and they scrutinized catechumens very carefully before admitting them to the Church.

The modern way of looking at religion owes much to the philosophy called Pragmatism ("if an idea seems to work, don't worry if it can be proven"). It sets up a conflict between orthodoxy and orthopraxis, implying that those who emphasize the former must be deficient in the latter.

The truth, as Mills shows, is just the opposite. How can one follow Jesus if one does not even know who Jesus is? What an odd kind of love it is that shows so little curiosity about the beloved. As a modern thinker put it, ideas have consequences, and if you start out with erroneous doctrines you will probably end up losing your moral compass as well.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta is the great contemporary example of someone who considered it of crucial importance to accept all the teachings of the faith and was also heroic in living that faith. I met her once. She was not in the least pretentious, but I'm sure that all of us in the room definitely felt inferior.


7:59 AM


RIVERA ON CLONING:

Appearing on the always interesting Boundless website and worth reading: "Attack of the (Real Life) Clones" by Roberto Rivera, a fellow of the Wilberforce Forum and one of Touchstone's contributing editors.


7:25 AM


Wednesday, August 28

ORTHODOX IN QUEBEC: The disappearance of Marxist regimes has led to a large Orthodox imagination to Quebec. The Romanians are perhaps especially attracted because of the historic connection between Romania and France. There are 35,000 Romanians in Montr³al. Father Georges used to have 3-4 baptisms as a year; now he has 30-40.

The Orthodox presence has not gone unnoticed among Catholics. Mathieu Perreault reports in La Presse: (26 August 2002, my translation):

The Orthodox liturgy is regularly mentioned by those Catholic groups who are reflecting on ways in which to make the mass more attractive. The Orthodox Churches have preserved the sense of mystery, of the sacred, of a beauty which appears almost na¥ve to Western cultural canons.

In Europe, Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna credits the preservation of his vocation to the Eastern Churches; the Pope has tried to effect a rapprochement with the Orthodox.

But the Orthodox alas has not escaped the post-Catholic atmosphere of Qu³bec. The Orthodox community has grown.

But Father Georges fears that according to the measure in which they are acculturated, the faithful take on the sacrilegious habits of the Qu³b³cois. His son, who is 29 years old, doesnÍt go to church except once a month and lives in concubinage with a woman. ñUntil he was 16, he came to mass every week, lamented the priest. And he said to me ñWhy should I get married. There are so many divorces!î Even Marxist materialism did not succeed in attacking the faith of the Romanians. Here, there are too many goods, too much materialism.î

When I was on a hiking tour of rural Qu³bec, our guide had a small child, but explained that she and her boyfriend were not married because they were Catholics and didnÍt believe in divorce. I think she, and the son of the Orthodox priest, were not simply being self-indulgent. The lack of fidelity in marriage and the lack of fidelity in the Church are closely connected; in the Old Testament the prophets denounced IsraelÍs infidelity as adultery. Adultery and divorce strike at both the heart of the family and the heart of the Church. The parents sin and the children suffer, generation after generation.


4:33 PM


HINDU HOLY COWS:

Worth tracking down is a report in the Saturday, August 17th New York Times titled "Holy Cow a Myth? An Indian Finds The Kick Is Real". (Unfortunately, the article is only available online for purchase.) It reports on a new book, Holy Cow: Beef In Indian Dietary Traditions by Dwijendra Narayan Jha, an historian at the University of Delhi. The book „ described by a spokesman for the World Hindu Council as "sheer blasphemy" „ is published in this country by Verso.

Mr. Jha has announced that "The prohibition on beef-eating has been made a mark of Hindu identity, but this is historically not true," which has not made him friends in India, which is 80% Hindu. He had to travel to the university under police escort for ten months. A court banned his publisher from publishing the book until a recent court order lifted the ban. (Western scholars, the article says, have known this for 100 years.)

According to the article, Gandhi referred to the cow as "our mother" and said that protecting cows was"the central fact of Hinduism." Killing cows is illegal in several Indian states.

But while cow veneration and vegetarianism may be the hallmarks of Hinduism today, Mr. Jha complies copious evidence that this has hardly always been the case. Citing sources ranging from the ancient sacred scriptures, the Vedas (circa 1000 B.C.), to Sanskrit epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata (200 B.C. to A.D. 200) as well as data from archaeological digs, Mr. Jha contends that "the 'holiness" of the cow is a myth and that its flesh was very much a part of the early Indian nonvegetarian food regimen and dietary traditions."

. . . Even the Budha, on record as opposing animal killing for either food or sacrifice, was apparently not above the occasional carnivorous nibble. Mr. Jha cites passages from early Buddhist texts suggesting not only that the Buddha ate meat but that a meal of contaminated pork may ultimately have been what did him in.


Scholars give different explanations of the development of the ban on eating meat. One group suggests that the cow was too important to the Indians' life and economy to kill.

Other scholars, however, say that the taboo probably owed more to factors increasingly integral to Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist thought: the belief in reincarnation, which blurred the lines between humans and animals, or nonviolence.

It is an interesting article, describing, in the Mr. Jha's words, the "battles lines" drawn between "the ideas of cultural pluralism, rationality and democratic values" and "Hindu fundamentalism and cultural nationalism." The Christian should feel some sympathy with both sides, because the Faith has both supported and benefitted from rationality and been a victim of rationalism, and in such cases as the study of a religion's ancient sources the distinction is not always clear and not always drawn rightly.

On a related matter, I do wonder how much the growth of vegetarianism in the West is a product of the vague and defuse pantheism of most post-Christian people. People who feel themselves at one with the universe will feel a degree of hesitation before eating another part of it, which is by definition part of themselves as well.

But at the same time being one with the universe means that you do not have any reason to be kind to any other part of it, because it is by definition part of yourself as well and you may choose what you will do to yourself. Hence, to take an example I have seen many times, you can refuse to eat meat while feeling free to abort your baby.


9:46 AM


Monday, August 26

YEA MCGILL! We are dropping off our number 2 son at McGill. He is inheriting his brotherÍs apartment. The brother just graduated, and decided it would be easier to move to a new apartment rather than clean.

McGill has also gotten the attention of NewsweekÍs college rankings. The Gazette reports with delight:

McGill is the only Canadian institution on a list of 12 hot colleges for 2003.

When we met the Principal, Bernard Shapiro, he asked us why our first son had chosen McGill. We said, honestly, that McGill was a good school, but Montr³al was an even greater attraction; it was the only place where one could get a good English language education in a French speaking city. Shapiro must have remembered my comment, because he told the Gazette:

"It's the only place in North America where someone who wants an English-language education can find themselves immersed in quite a different culture and language,"

And what a city! Montr³al is safe, fun, and has food as good (and sometimes better) than Paris (except for the McGill cafeterias of course ¿ perhaps they hire British cooks to boil the food for 6 hours before serving).

All this comes at a third the cost of an American private university:

Foreign students pay about $9,000 a year for tuition at McGill, compared with $30,000 U.S. or more at top private universities in the U.S.

The disadvantage: it does get to 30 below at times, but college students are young and need to burn off all the food and alcohol. The legal drinking age is 18, but when our 18 and 22 year olds took our 14 year old into a bar and ordered a pitcher of beer, the waiter without being asked gave the 14 year old a glass. The real drinking age seems to about 6. There is little public drunkenness ¿ as in most Latin cultures, beer and wine are foods, and our sons assure us, (and I think that they are telling the truth) that binge drinking common at so many American colleges (including Catholic ones} is unknown at McGill. It would just be too gauche to even consider.

Montr³al has the temptations of any big city or big college town, but the amount of fairly wholesome amusements and diversions (in which I include the excellent Canadian beer) at least dilutes the power of temptation.

One through college, two in college, and three more to go. We should get an award for our support of higher education.


3:09 PM


Sunday, August 25

VIOLENT PARENTS:

The Boston Globe reports that:

A seven-year study of several hundred children debunks the notion that youth violence has strong roots in poverty, gender and race, pointing instead to such factors as excessively violent households and painfully shy behavior.

The study released Wednesday by Harvard and Brandeis University professors suggests statistically what people know intuitively: The amount of aggression children witness in their parents „ from "smacking kids on the bottom to beating them up, from people yelling at each other to physical fights" „ is a powerful predictor of how violent the children will become, said author Kurt Fischer, a professor of education and human development at Harvard.


I have two reactions to this sort of report. One: I am glad that the influence of parents is recognized as being greater than race, class, and sex. Two: I wonder whether itÍs accurate. People of the academic class are often hostile to the nuclear family. To read the news stories on such studies and the book review sections in our elite newspapers is to find that the family is a generally bad place, in which husbands beat wives and abuse children. I wonder whether the report, perhaps unintentionally and as a matter of planted assumptions in the researchers, found what it was expected to find.

I know nothing about these researchers, but I remember another Harvard study reported by The Globe about fifteen years ago. It claimed to find that working mothers spent just as time with their children as mothers who stayed at home with them, which was absurd on its face. The article went on, in Globe fashion, to quote at great length (forty or fifty column inches, I think) all sorts of experts explaining how the study proved that working women could have their cake and eat it too (this is my gloss, obviously, but this is what the writer meant) and that all those right-wingers who worried about such things were wrong, wrong, wrong.

A few weeks later, National Review ran a story on the study by someone who had actually read it. As you will expect, the study was designed to find what it found. It defined spending time with your children as spending what the study considered ñquality timeî with one child at a time, and only counted the time if it lasted (if I remember rightly) at least five minutes. That this is incompetent social science didnÍt seem to bother anyone, as the study found what, judging from The GlobeÍs gurgling and cooing, was what everyone wanted found.

This left out trips to the grocery store with your children in which, if you shop like me, you talk with them a lot, answer several dozen questions on subjects ranging from philosophy to economics, challenge them to help, and generally enjoy their company, but which would not count as time spent with your child under this studyÍs definitions. it left out 98% of the significant time a stay-at-home mother spends with her children and all the time the children spend observing her, in which they learn a great deal about life and how to live it. Such studies breed some cynicism about their successors.

The test of whether the study is actually useful is whether the researchers and those who use the study draw the conclusion that the family is so powerful and irreplaceable in the formation of the childÍs moral life, that it is the place to teach those lessons about "values" the schools are supposed to teach, or the conclusion that the family is so powerful and irreplaceable in the formation of the childÍs moral life that the government must do something to curb violence in the family by restricting parents' freedom. If they come to the second, some closer attention to their methodology is required. If the come to the first, some closer attention to their methodology may be useful, but at least they are not using it to attack the family.

One other finding was of some interest to me:

In a related finding that baffled some specialists, Fischer and Watson also uncovered a much smaller connection between child violence and family income, race or gender. Previous studies have shown that boys are more violent than girls, that children raised in poor neighborhoods are more likely to exhibit violent tendencies. Fischer says it's a matter of degree: Boys and girls may show the same level of problem behavior, although the kinds of crimes they commit are different.

It has always seemed to me, as someone who has read a bit of sociology and observed the world around me, that the feminist could only claim that females were less violent than males by defining violence as the sort of thing a male usually does. A man thumping his wife is violent (as it is) but a woman psychologically torturing his husband is not (though it is). This seems to me to fail simply as a description of the world we live in.

The Christian makes no claims for the special innocence of men or women. Though he holds that men and women are different, he does not hold one of them less fallen, and assumes that the forms in which original sin manifests itself in each will often be different though morally and spiritually equivalent. This is obvious to the Christian, though it baffles some specialists.


4:40 PM


CAN AN ABUSER BE FORGIVEN? A reader raises the question:

According to the story, Coonan was ordained in 1989. These events allegedly happened 14 years prior.

So it was not a case of a priest molesting anyone.

Perhaps the events are true. Perhaps Coonan had a conversion experience that led him to abandon his former ways and then to the priesthood.

Should St. Paul forever be treated as the Saul who held the coats of the stoners of Stephen? Or is there redemption?



In a related story, Amarillo is losing many priests because the bishop recruited pederasts from St LukeÍs. None of them offended after they came to Amarillo, but now they are being removed.

Is Zero Tolerance Christian? Does it deny the possibility of repentance and redemption?

There are two questions involved:

One: Is the sexual molestation of children forgivable?

The answer is, fortunately for all of us sinners, is that every sin (except the sin against the Holy Ghost) is forgivable. Abortion parricide, genocide, all can be forgiven, if the sinner repents.

Two: Does sexual involvement with children or adolescents forever bar a man from the priesthood?

A priest, like all Christians, is a sinner. but he has an office within the Church that demands he have a character that can be respected and trusted even by outsiders. An embezzler can be forgiven; but he will never get a job as an accountant. He also should want to make restitution if at all possible.

Sexual involvement with small children is infamous, like murder-cannibalism or incest, and should completely bar a man from the priesthood, even if it occurred long ago and the man repented of it and was punished for it. CoonanÍs victims were 12 ¿ I think that involvement with boys that age is infamous, even if a man repents of it

But how about involvement with sexually mature adolescents? If a man is 17 and has intercourse with his 17 year old girlfriend (or maybe even boyfriend), would that forever bar him? I think not; fornication, even when it is technically statutory rape, is not infamous.

The borderline cases are involvement with adolescent boys, especially by a man after he becomes a priest. Any sexual involvement of an adult with a minor is abusive; if the adult is in a position of authority over the minor, the abuse is worse; if the adult is in a quasi- paternal relationship with the minor (ñFatherî) the abuse has overtones of incest; if the adult uses his religious position or the sacraments to seduce a minor, the act is gravely sacrilegious. A man who impersonates a priest and pretends to say mass is, I believe, barred from ordination. I think that the sexual abuse of children is even worse.

There are borderline cases, and Zero Tolerance will almost certainly be rejected by the Vatican, but American Catholics have lost their ability to trust the bishops to apply common sense and equity to difficult cases. Nothing will work until the bishops regain the trust of the laity.


2:42 PM




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