Finally, here is my two-cents worth regarding the 07 June 2012 CBC Ted Scmidt interview. I make these comments because of the timing and content of the interview. As those who follow the site know the interview came on the heels of the Rob Talach press conference in Moncton, New Brunswick, and that on the heels of Archbishop Richard’s announcement that he has retained Justice Michel Bastarache to negotiate a deal/establish a “conciliation” process with victims of Father Camille Leger and victims of other clerical sexual predators in the archdiocese.
My problem with the whole interview was that it had next to nothing to do the pros and cons of the Bastache deal, or Father Camille Leger, or, as in the case of the Bathurst Diocese/Bastarche deal, the archdiocese keeping a lid on the magnitude of the sex abuse scandal in the archdiocese and the identities of the perpetrators. As far as I’m concerned all the interview did was deflect from the subject at hand and raised the question: the dirt going to be swept under the carpet again? By accident or design it got people, myself included, side-tracked into talk of women’s ordination and celibacy.
Those who follow the site know that I have tried to steer clear of these issues on Sylvia’Site. I have discovered that once the topics are on the table discussions/arguments/debates take off and, in short order the victims are forgotten: we lose sight of the victims, their perpetrators and the cover-ups. And as much as we debate and argue nothing is going to change in the immediate future on celibacy and it will never change on women’s ordination – meanwhile the victims suffer and the cover-ups continue.
So here I go. I committed to comment. I will. I have fiddled around with this off and on over the weekend. There is much I would like to say but finally concluded that here I am tying myself up with this when I could and should be making better use of my time.
Lesson learned 🙁
A few points:
(1) Re the Church as an institution unwilling to change
There have been numerous changes in the Church over the past 60 years, and especially, for example, since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), for example: Mass in the vernacular, the priest saying Mass facing the people, the Novus Ordo Mass, female altar servers, reception of Communion in the hand vs on the tongue, elimination of the overnight fast before receiving Holy Communion, women in the sanctuary, female canon lawyers, female chancellors, female “chaplains” in Catholic schools, the virtual elimination of the clerical collar: ditto the virtual elimination of the “habits’ worn by many orders of nuns.
There are doctrines and dogmas which can not be changed and will never change, such as, for example and to name but one, the ordination of women. Holy Orders is one of the seven Sacraments. Only baptized males can be validly ordained.
I would agree that there are those in the Church unwilling to change when it comes to laicizing/defrocking ALL known predatory clergy. I heard nothing about fighting for such a change. That I do believe such a change would go a long way to changing the Church for good, and I personally believe that that can, should and must be done.
(2) Re education of priests from abroad
There is much said about the quality, or lack thereof, of priests from Europe, but no mention of the fact that it is impossible for we in the pews to know if the priest from abroad who suddenly surfaces in a Canadian sanctuary is a known sexual predator who has been quietly recycled and dumped upon unwitting parishioners in a foreign land.
I think it goes without saying that in this day and age we would be remiss if we failed first and foremost to demand that as far as is humanly possible the priest in the sanctuary, school, diocesan centre, hospital, seminary or university is not a known sexual predator.. All the education in the world is for naught if a priest is a sexual predator. Ditto what’s the point if those foreign priests who land in Canada are well-educated but happen to be recycled or fugitive molesters?
That aside, it is the rare priest indeed who is not “educated” – most now have an under-graduate degree and a minimum of one post-graduate degree.
But never mind the degrees, what of their piety? Are they truly men of God – holy and prayerful men in love with God and His Church whose burning desire is the salvation of souls, both their own and ours? I would rather one priest like the simple Cure of Ars than 20 with two or three degrees tucked behind their names. True, both piety and education can co-exist, but, were I forced to choose between a highly educated and holy priest I would opt for the holy priest hands down.
(3) Re living in a democracy, and letting the well-educated laity in the Church have a greater say in running the church
Education is not the be-all and end-all. If laity are educated but spiritually bereft they have little to offer the Church.
But why do they want to run the Church in the first place?
As for living in a democracy, the truth is not reliant upon and transcends public opinion and the vote of the majority. The Ten Commandments, for example, were not put to the Israelites for a vote. Nor to my knowledge did God poll the Apostles before He chose Peter to be the “rock’ upon which he would build His Church.
(4) Re Pope John Paul II acted like a commissar, and we live in a democracy
There is criticism of Pope John Paul II as some sort of commissar, but no mention of his abject failure to exercise his God-given authority to ensure that predators were defrocked and that those bishops who knowingly harboured and wilfully recycled such clergy, and in the process blatantly lied to and/or deceived the flock were likewise defrocked I can add here that for all of his wonderful writings and travels it was rare indeed for Pope John Paul II to exercise his God-given authority to sanction clergy who consistently undermined and/or condemned Church teaching. I don’t see why anyone would view him as a commissar. Pope John Paul II was very lenient – far too few predatory and/or dissident clergy were sanctioned under his reign.
(5) Re 30 million have left the Church in the last 15-20 years
Yes, multitudes have left the Church. I don’t know the numbers or percentages, but I do know that countless Catholics, many of them victims and their families and friends, have left specifically because of the sex abuse scandal and cover-up. There are others who have left because they thought the Church had changed too much. And others who left because they thought the Church hadn’t changed enough.
(6) Re people organizing alternatives to the Church
I think it goes without saying that such is the history of Christendom, and the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
(7) Re ordination of women and married men
The inference is that ordaining women or allowing priests to marry would solve the sex abuse scandal.
As I have said before and will say again, someone please give me proof that men who are married or are free to marry do no molest.
Regarding women’s ordination, as I have said before, women are capable of molesting children, both male and female. Women are as capable as men of being cruel. They are as capable as men of lying to and deceiving others. They are as capable as men of not believing a child who alleges abuse at the hands of a priest, or of not believing an adult who alleges he/she suffered childhood sexual abuse at the hand of a priest. And they are every bit as capable as men of abusing authority.
One situation sticks in my mind of a nun taking the stand to defend the indefensible,. At the sentencing hearing of Ottawa’s Father Ken Keeler Sister Eleanor Hennessey took the stand to testify to Father Keeler’s good character. Depsite Father Keeler’s guilty plea it was like pulling teeth to get her to admit that Keeler had indeed molested those boys. Here’s how I recorded that scenario back in 1993:
Crown: “. . . I suppose that you were surprised to hear that [Father Keeler] had committed these acts?”
Sister: “Well, yes, I guess I would say that. But, I — I — it doesn’t — we want to be on with the healing now.”
Crown: “Yes. But, were — were you surprised to learn that he had committed these acts?”
Crown: “And, do you believe that he committed these acts?”
Sister: “I’m not here to judge, that is not my position.”
Crown: “You heard him plead guilty to the charges?”
Sister: “Yes. And I respect his — his statement.”
Crown: “But, apart from respecting it, do you believe that he committed these acts?”
Sister: “I don’t think that’s my — that’s my part in being here. I have not really gone into that. I’m — I’m more inclined to — to see what we can do now for the young people, for Father Ken, for the community.”
Crown: “Are you refusing to answer the question ma’am?”
And after all of Sister’s barely audible stammering and stuttering and hesitation, finally. . .
Sister: “Well, I — I would have to take Father Keeler’s word. He has given his word. So I would have to take it.”
Crown: “So you believe he committed these acts?”
Sr. Eleanor aside, I don’t know how we have reached a point where clerical predators are in essence being excused for their sins and crimes because of the disci0pline of celibacy and exclusion of women from the priesthood..
I don’t excuse the man who runs around on his wife with the claim that his wife is, for example, pregnant or terminally ill and therefore sexually unavailable any more than I excuse the priest who sexually abuses a child with the claim that, for example, he is unable to marry or women are excluded from the priesthood.
All of that aside, the issue of ordination is a doctrine of the Church. It will not change. That does not mean that there will not be theologians, priests and bishops who dissent from Church teaching on women’s ordination. That has been happening for years. Nor does it mean that many a canon lawyer will not undermine church teaching and encourage debate on the topic. Despite constant reminders that the issue is closed to debate, many a canon lawyer has been encouraging debate on the topic for years.
And how pray tell does this all tie into clerical sexual abuse in the first place?
The U.S.-based Women’s Ordination Conference was in fact founded in 1974, long before the sex abuse crisis saw the light of day. Indeed, truth be told, WOC was founded by those advocating the ordination of women and had nothing to do with clerical sexual abuse. I often say and do believe that those who spear-head the ordination of women are now trying to ride the coat-tails of the sex abuse scandal and cover-up to further their agenda.
I will add to that that over the past years I have attended many conferences and gatherings sponsored by women who advocate for women’s ordination, and in so doing attended “liturgies” which were not remotely Catholic and in fact, in many an instance, were directed to the worship of the goddess Sophia, or the four corners of the earth, or Mother Earth. I personally have no desire to worship either Sophia, or the four corners of the earth, or Mother Earth, nor do I have any desire to belong to a church which does. I don’t think most Catholics do.
(8) Re Irish priests disciplined for saying there should be female priests
Most if not all the priests in Ireland who have recently been ‘disciplined’ have been challenging and undermining Church teaching on women’s ordination for years.
Why should they not be disciplined? The problem as I see it is that the discipline is long overdue, and there are countless others around the world who should likewise be disciplined.
(9) Re surveys show smartest and brightest walked into Church when lot left – not just because of celibacy
Regarding priests who left the Church, yes, many left in droves in the heady and early post-Vatican II days. Some left to marry. Others left because they thought the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council had gone too far and the Church as they knew it was disappearing. And yet others left because they thought things had not gone far enough.
(10) Re parish priests are sick and just can’t take it any more
Many parish priests are sick because of the abject and consistent failure of Church authorities to defrock clerical sexual predators and to deal with the sex abuse scandal and cover-ups honestly.
Other are sick because they are viewed with scepticism by a laity which paints them with the same brush as predators, and this unfortunately because of the failure of Church officials to defrock all predatory priests.
Many are sick because countless clergy who have openly and publicly dissented from Church teaching for years have never been disciplined.
Others are sick because fellow priests have been silenced for enunciating Church teaching.
Still others are sick because Catholic universities and seminaries have allowed dissenters and/or known predators to teach.
And, yes, there are those who are sick because women can not be ordained, and because of the discipline of priestly celibacy. And, true enough, there are those who are sick because of the belated censor of a handful of priest and nuns who have dissented form Church teaching for years, and because of Church teaching on abortion and homosexuality and pre-marital sex.
I am going to leave it at that and bring this to an end. Now, my questions:
(1) What does all of this do to prevent the victims of Cap Pele being used and abused and re-victimized via the Bastrache deal?
(2) How does this prevent former Supreme Court Justice Michal Bastarache and Archbishop Richard from sweeping the facts and names of predators and those who covered up for them under the rug?’’
(3) What does it do to force Bathurst’s Bishop Vienneau to reveal the names of the predatory priest – dead and live – who were identified as such during the Bastarche/Bathrust deal?
(4) What does this do to get disclosure of the fee being footed by the Archdiocese of Moncton to pay Mr. Bastarche to do its dirty work?
(5) What does this do to ensure that known predatory priests currently serving in Moncton archdiocese are identified and removed?
(6) What comfort does this give to the victims?
(7) What does it do to encourage victims to come forward and find their voices?
I talked to Raymond Fougere this morning. I have his permission and will say a few words on our conversation later. Raymond has already contacted Michel Bastarache and is awaiting a call back.
The weekend was busy busy busy with our little four-year-old grand-daughter keeping us on our toes and on the go from dawn to dusk. She is a sweetheart (Grandma speaking!) – gave us many hours of sheer pleasure and many a good laugh, We ‘did’ hot dogs, ice-cream cones, Barbie dolls, painting , pancakes, playgrounds, cartoons, corn-on-the-cob, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, blowing bubbles, dress up and, of course, bed-time stories. Lots of fun 🙂
Thank you for all who offered prayers for my brother-in-law. He came through his surgery and is now going through the difficult days of recovery.
A reminder that Father Daniel Miller has a court date this Wednesday (13 June 2012) in Renfrew: 9:30 am, Renfrew courthouse (127 Raglan St. S.) Renfrew, Ontario. I believe this is still to merge the two sets of charges.
Enough for now,