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Pope Francis poised to punish convicted bishop.

During a press conference on the return flight from the Holy Land yesterday, Pope Francis did that thing he does: he made some news. The pope revealed that he would soon meet with abuse victims, promising to "move forward on this issue with zero tolerance"--and he announced that three bishops were "under investigation." One of them "has already been found guilty, and we are now considering the penalty to be imposed." He didn't name the bishops, nor did he elaborate on the details of their cases.

Naturally, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests was not impressed. "Francis made three meaningless abuse comments today," according to Joelle Casteix, western regional director of SNAP. "None of them are significant in any way. All are disappointing because they amount to more public relations instead of real action." SNAP's executive director, David Clohessy, echoed that sentiment in his comment to the Boston Globe: “This means nothing,” he said. Francis's remarks are just “another savvy public-relations move that will protect no kids, expose no predators, prevent no cover-ups, and punish no enablers.’’

Really? I understand that SNAP must ritually denounce anything a bishop has to say about the sexual-abuse crisis. But isn't this what SNAP wants? To see bishops held accountable for their failures to protect kids from abusive clerics? Did Clohessy absorb what Francis actually said? The pope explained that three bishops are being investigated, that one of them has already been found guilty, and that the Vatican is figuring out what sort of punishment to mete out. This is anything but meaningless. Because, as everyone at SNAP knows, there aren't many bishops who have been convicted of a crime during this long scandal.

We've known for some time that Rome was investigating at least three bishops. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, formerly of Edinburgh, resigned in February 2013 following allegations that he'd had sexual relationships with priests. The Vatican announced that it was investigating him last month. Chilean auxiliary Bishop Cristian Contreras has been accused by other priests of abusing a fifteen-year-old. Vatican investigators have been dispatched to look into the matter. And Polish Archbishop Josef Wesolowski is also being investigated by the Vatican, after it was alleged that he had engaged the services of teenaged "rent boys." He's been recalled from his post as apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic apparently to stand trial as a citizen of the Holy See.

But none of those men have been "found guilty," as the pope put it (at least not yet). There haven't been many. In 2012 a Canadian bishop was convicted of importing child pornography. The Holy See swiftly laicized him (a terrifying punishment indeed). The only bishop I can think of who has been "found guilty" and gone unpunished is Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph. He was convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse. Is he the bishop Francis was referring to? Hard to say, because Francis didn't say what kind of guilt he was talking about--civil or canonical. Finn's spokesman says he doesn't know. But it sounds like he won't have to wait too long to find out.

About the Author

Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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The O'Brien, Lahey, Contreras, and Weolowski cases are all about bishops who are suspected of having themselves done something related to sex abuse. They are priests who seem to have committed various reprehensible sexual deeds, and who also happen to be bishops.

Bp Finn is different because he himself has not personnally done anything that had anything to do with sex abuse. His case, roughly, is about misusing his episcopal authority for cover-up. He was convicted because he is bishop - because of his authority, and therefore of his responsibility. That's the kind of accountability that SNAP is asking for.

I think that Pope Francis is saying that bishops don't get speicla tolerance by virtue of being bishops: if they commit sex abuse and are found out, they'll suffer consequences just as they would if they were simple priests. But I have yet to see anything on his part suggesting that anything will happen to a bishop who covers up and fails to report a case of sex abuse.

Nevertheless, I am happy to read that he will meet with abuse victims. That's a first step for him.

There's still no accountability for bishops who covered up abuse.

The enabling bishops should have been the first targets -- they are still in a position to enable even more abuse.  And Bishop Finn, although he is the only one who has been convicted of enabling, is not the only enabler still in office.  I'm thinking of Cardinal George, who even in the last 5 years has switched an apparently guilty priest around.  And there are others.   And I think that those American bishops who have not subscribed to the Dallas Charter should be next.

Is Pope Francis only going to censure bishops who are abusers and not censure the enablers?  Will a lack of a civil investigation get some of them off the hook?  Sad to say, none of this is clear.  

SNAP and the UN Committee on Torture want bishops punished, but surely if the bishops' crimes are as egregious as alleged they should be investigated and convicted under the civil justice system. Why do we not hear SNAP and the UN Committee blasting the remissness of the justice system? Not a fashionable target?

In the diocese of Oakland, we're engaged in an important, but far less serious struggle; it's another "let's shoot ourselves in the foot" business regarding contracts for teachers in Catholic schools.  A local high school student began a petition on Change.Org which now has almost 3600 signatures.

What has that to do with this topic?  One wag suggested in his comments that teachers who violate the terms of the contract be sent to another school, just like the offending priests.

 

You can find the petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/diocese-of-oakland-please-change-this-co...

Why do we not hear SNAP and the UN Committee blasting the remissness of the justice system? Not a fashionable target?

SNAP has lobbied legislatures to extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. With increasing attention on the issue of human trafficking (not exactly the same thing but related), I hope that there will be more international pressure to pass laws protecting children and minors from sexual exploitation. That is not specific to priests and bishops of course, general changes to legislation across the board but, obviously, the Church would comply. Indeed, I would expect them to support such legislation; and happily they are. Attention is being paid to this issue with the World Cup occurring in Brazil.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/20/us-soccer-world-trafficking-idUSBREA4J0IS20140520

 

Part of the effect the UN's decision that sex abuse was torture would have had was to do away with the SOL problems that face abuse victims ... no statute of limitation on torure.

The "decision that sex abuse was torture" is on the face of it  category confusion that will only bring embarrassment to the UN and solace to torturers.

Sex abuse is torture. Period. No confusion. Just a profound notice that children will no longer be easy prey.

Stop has the right to be suspicious until cover-up bishops are punished. And not just a token amount. History favors snap in this call and that is the point. 

I think not. I think it will bring embarrasment to the Vatican who argued that it didn't exercise direct control over its priests worldwide. The Vatican accused the panel of sloppy reasoning. It insisted the committee was wrong “to give the impression that all the priests serving around the world are indirectly, legally tied to the Vatican.”

That is absurd on its face. Good heavens! What of Vatican I's statement:

 

"The Roman pontiff enjoys....full and supreme power of jurisdiction, not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and governance of the Church dispersed throughout the world"

 

I believe that there is something called a motu proprio that is binding on all Catholic priests and bishops worldwide. Translations of text require authorization from the Holy See before being binding. Additionally, the Dallas charter required approval from Rome before being able to be legislated. The Pope needs a gift from the president of the USA; preferably the plaque that read: "The buck stops here". That is leadership!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought this article explained the "sex abuse as torture" concept pretty well ... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-center-for-constitutional-rights/under...

Snap. Not stop.

Michel Foucault prophesied that the next wave of scapegoating and witchhunting, since Jews and gays are now off-limits, would be directed against pedophiles. He did not foresee that this would refer to any sexual connection between and adult and minor, as well as many rapports between minors themselves. He did not foresee that a UN committee would subscribe to the demonization of pedophiles (and of all minors who report either at the time or later, when adults, that they wanted, loved or lusted after adults) to the point of identifying any such connection as Torture (to the immense delight, of course, of real torturers who have successfully argued that waterboarding in not torture or that torture is necessary and justified).

I am not a prophet like Foucault, but I predict that the frenzy about sex with minors and the blind application of mandatory reporting of it will come back to bite the frenzy-mongers themselves in the tail. Already we saw that SNAP had the greatest difficulty in handling a man with a pedophile problem among their own officials, for they had cut off every avenue of mercy, understanding, or pleas for nuance and moderation. Far from making them more understanding of the bishops, it seems to have hardened them in their fanaticism, and led them to cut off their former colleague leaving him to rot in jail.

The UN also committed a category error in equating papal primacy with Vatican State having legal authority over priests and bishops.

If a cleric stole money, the Vatican could not prosecute him directly for that. It is up to the civil law. 

If a lay Catholic committed a sexual crime against a child, the church could not directly punish him or her for that -- it is a matter for the civil law.

The Vatican could attach the penalty of excommunication to such a crime, as it does to abortion. But the UN is making itself ridiculous in telling the Vatican how to administer its spiritual penalties.

In fact, the UN zealots are frustrated because they have been unable to prove any connection between crimes against children and the Vatican, despite a case in the Hague.

They are also annoyed that no bishops have been penalized under the civil law, except one in France who refused to collaborate with the law enforcement agencies and Bishop Finn, who got a mere rap on the knuckles.

Of more than 300 complaints received about US clergy in the last year or so, only 2 concerned people who were minors in 2013.

SNAP must also be very annoyed that the UN committee made recommendations to the Vatican but did not issue judgments or condemnations, contrary to what Gerard Slevin expected.

By Pam Spees's reasoning any abuse that can in some cases lead to suicide is to be categorized as torture. This would include school bullying, spousal abuse, abusive or traumatic relationships between adults, loss of employment, poverty, etc. 

There are lots of mad psychiatrists around who urge people to regard their traumas as rooted in some form of sex abuse. One man with a long psychiatric history accused a dead teacher who had watched him naked in the showers in school (along with other students) of occasioning a lifelong trauma. Now he can wheedle more compensation by claiming to be a torture victim. The rampant unfairness of such a system of reasoning should be apparent.

If the cleric stole money, he would be censured under some form of ecclesiastical law that ultimately would have to be signed off on by the Vatican. 

But Joseph's logic would suggest that sexuality can NEVER be used as a weapon. That children and minors are NEVER exploited. The reality is they are. 

As an example, even though we have a free maket system, that still does not make price gouging  to a criminal offence. When it is and when it isn't is an issue of law and case by case evidentiary procedures. But in order for that to occur, you need to present the evidence. A victims word is not enough. Hence, that is the problem of covering up, it prevents the fair administration of justice which is a practical virtue. Why do you think we have laws for obstruction of justice?

@ Claire:

"I have yet to see anything on his part suggesting that anything will happen to a bishop who covers up and fails to report a case of sex abuse."

Actually, the pope's comments were in response to this question, which specifically spoke of bishops who fail to do their part, morally, legally and otherwise: 

"You spoke harsh words against the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, the priests. You have created a special committee to better address this issue at the level of the universal Church. In a practical sense: we know now that in all the local Churches there are rules, strong moral and often legal, imposed in cooperation with local civilian authorities, in one way or another. What will you, if there was a bishop who clearly has not honored, did not comply with these obligations?" 

[Original in Italian: Lei ha parlato con parole molto dure contro l’abuso sessuale dei minori da parte del clero, dei preti. Lei ha creato una commissione speciale per affrontare meglio questo problema a livello della Chiesa universale. In senso pratico: sappiamo ormai che in tutte le Chiese locali ci sono norme che impongono un forte obbligo morale e spesso legale a collaborazione con le autorità civili locali, in un modo o nell’altro. Cosa farà Lei, qualora ci fosse un vescovo che chiaramente non abbia onorato, non abbia osservato questi obblighi?]

With that said, I also don't think he was talking about Finn. As I have said elsewhere several times already, Finn will remain where he is, unless both (a) people of the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph and (b) the USCCB do something to make it "impossible" for him to continue his episcopal ministry, which neither party has, as far as I know.

As to the incredibly sad, ugly problem of clergy sexual abuse and episcopal coverup, John W. Feehily said it best in another thread: "Francis will take steps to address this but not in a way that could ever satisfy the cynics."

Yep. 

 

 

Of course I do not suggest that sexuality can never be used as a weapon, or even as an instrument of torture, as at US rendition camps for example.

What I do say, is that not all sexual improprieties are torture, and even injurious sexual encounters or jiltings that cause deep distress are not torture.

If a cleric stole money there would be no expectation from law enforcement or from the UN that the Vatican administer punishment. Even the cleric's local bishop would not be held to such an expectation. Even the parishioner might say -- father did wrong, father paid the price in civil punishment, now let us move on, no need of ecclesiastical sanctions.

My logic, George D, alleges, is that minors are never exploited. Of course minors are often exploited, by sexual predators. It is highly illogical of George to deduce that I am somehow so stoopid as to deny this. But not all exploitation is torture. Redefining exploitation as torture is stupid and illogical.

Really, people should respect ordinary logic in these discussions.

I believe that concealment of evidence of  sexual offenses is a very widespread practice. If a parent discovered that her son had had sex with a 15 year old prostitute years before his marriage, and she then called the police to notify them, ruining her son's marriage, her children's future, her own relationship with all the family, I think a reasonable case could be made for her burying the evidence. Countless other similar judgment calls can be conceived. SNAP itself faced one with Taylor, and that should make them sympathetic to church authorities who have had so many thrust upon them.

Why does Francis not just fire the bishops/cardinals who have been shown to have covered up sex abuse ... Brady, Mahony, Law, Finn?  He can fire a bishop who spends too much money on a home but not those who made the continued  sexual abuse of children possible?  I've seen no explanation for why he cannot do this and I assume he just does not *want* to do it.

Crystal, he might have to fire himself too. Brady was a junior cleric in 1975 when he signed the protocol of a meeting where a young sex abuse victim was bound to secrecy. Do you think Argentina was more enlightened then? Why not ask all candidates for the papacy to provide a complete paper trail of all their decisions to ensure that they meet the high ethical standards set by SNAP?

 

Francis talks a lot about mercy, and I am pretty sure that one of the aspects he has in mind is to resist the lust for vengeance, the scapegoating of pedophiles, the moral panic about adolescents' sexuality that pervades American culture (which at the same time is awash with pedophile-toned advertisement and pornography). 

Actually, just as in the case of his predecessor, there is a vocal campaign to present Francis as complicit in child abuse. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/pope-francis-was-often-...

http://beforeitsnews.com/crime-all-stars/2014/01/is-pope-bergoglio-going...

If Bergoglio were forced to retire as Pope, his successor would probably swing the church back to the right. Brady, Comiskey, Donal Murray, and several other bishops whose retirement was called for were men of the Vatican II stamp, intelligent and pastorally endowed, and their replacements spell a shift to the right for Irish Catholicism.

Be careful what you ask for!

@ Joseph S. O L: 

"... there is a vocal campaign to present Francis as complicit in child abuse." 

This reminds me of what then Cardinal Bergoglio said in his book-lenghth interview. When asked why he did not defend himself against all the smearing campaigns that were going on, (e.g., that he was complicit during the Dirty War, etc.), Bergoglio responded by saying that first, there is no point in stooping to their level by getting into the back-and-forth, and then shared this anecdote: while visiting a synagogue, a little prayer from the Book of Hebrews entered his mind, and he prayed, Lord, may I bear this mockery in silence, and how that gave him much peace and joy. 

So yeah, I don't think Francis cares one bit what the cynics, naysayers or as he called them, sourpusses have to say about, well, anything, to which I'd say: good for him, and may God continue to give him much strength to go on. 

 

 

Why not? Easy. Because Christians hold themselves and their leaders to a higher standard than secular justice. 

to CW: There's still no accountability for bishops who covered up abuse.

 

Do you just cut and paste your comments from an old master sheet?  If not, it sure feels like you simply repeat tired, unreflective responses week in and week out, year in and year out.  So boring.  And these certainly do not engage the points raised in excellent posts like these from Grant

Joseph

There is no panic over adolescent sexuality; just an awareness of what long term effects sexual abuse/exploitation have on a person. As more people talk about, awareness grows. Hopefully ethical awareness as well. Legislation is one, and only one way, for this to occur.

For example, Gabor Mate works with hardcore drug users on Vancouver's east side. He operates a safe injection site. He states that over 90% of the women who visit the clinic and are also engaged in prostitution of one type or another were sexually traumatized as young people. Now, correlation is not causation but surely, even you, would admit that it is a factor in their development.

Secondly, in reality, the situation of the mother of the son who visited a 15 year old prostitute is not a scenario that plays out. Obviously. The only cause for concern would be if he had a fixation and was going after 15 year old girls when he was 40. Then, she might begin to detect a pattern as they discover pornography on his computer of young adolescent girls, etc. Then, there is increased suspicion. Maybe a pattern of engaging in prostitution. Then he might be charged after an incident and in the police investigation, it would be discovered that there is a series of patterns of him engaging in this behaviour over the course of decades. Not all of which would be admitted to court but it would be known by the wife, mental health professionals, etc. , etc.

Sound far fetched? It happened here with an assistant Crown Attorney. A young girl was discovered murdered. In her diary was the name of several prominent people in the community included was his name. Now, he was not involved in the murder but obviously there was follow up whereupon it was discovered that he had in fact been engaged in sexual relationships with her when she was 15. Oh, and she had been in an out of youth court for various charges while he was the Crown and while he was involved in snorting coke, drinking and having sex with her (and others)! And no, he did not provide any conflict of interest to his boss. He was subsequently fired, and disbarred.

Oh, and how about this for a final bit of irony. The women who had to testify were all adults who at one time had engaged in prostitution but had moved on and their names would be in the paper. Not all the other Johns. Nice, eh! 

How many people do you think want to go through with a trial and all that? Few. That is why there are few prosecution but far more exploitation than we are aware of.

I am not talking about being prudish, just trying to establish some ethical parameters for sexual behaviour. Why is that so hard for you to grasp?

Why not ask all candidates for the papacy to provide a complete paper trail of all their decisions to ensure that they meet the high ethical standards set by SNAP?

How about any ethical standard! Bishop Williamson, of the SSPX, had his excommunication lifted. It would have taken a whole 30 seconds of using google, bing, or any search engine to discover his anti-semitic, holocaust denying, Jew blaming, attitudes. All of this came to light after the lifted excommunication when the press who also have access to google and bing discovered it! Says a lot about the vetting process or lack thereof.

 

 

 

 

Of all the damned rabbit holes to go down, how did we end up at the UN?  

At the risk of staying on-topic: Grant's post has it exactly right.  Whether or not the pope has checked off every single box on SNAP's wish list, SNAP and other advocates of abuse victims should be cheering this move to hold bishops accountable.  

And if Grant's speculation is correct, that Finn is the bishop who is about to have the boom lowered on him, then what could there possibly be to complain about?  But I don't think I'm crawling very far out on a limb in predicting that SNAP will find something.  'It didn't happen soon enough.'  Or, 'The punishment isn't harsh enough.'  SNAP talking points pretty much write themselves.  

Here is what SNAP's spokespersons should have said: "This is a welcome move.  We applaud the Holy Father for his actions.  While there are still many other problems to be addressed, let's hope this is a first step to bringing about justice and healing for the victims we represent.  We pledge our support for this effort on the part of the institutional church."

SNAP had a chance here to not let the pefect be the enemy of the good.  It failed.  

 

Maria : you're right about the journalist's question, but it seems to me that the pope's answer sidesteps the issue of cover-up, so I stand by my earlier comment.

"Abuse of minors
At the moment there are three bishops under investigations: one has already been found guilty and we are now considering the penalty to be imposed. There are no privileges. … A priest who does this betrays the Body of the Lord, because this priest must lead this child, this boy, this girl, to sanctity, and this boy or girl trusts in him; and instead of leading them to sanctity he abuses them. This is very serious. It is like, by way of comparison, holding a black Mass. You are supposed to lead them to sanctity and instead you lead them to a problem that will last their entire lives. In a few days' time there will be a Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae with some survivors of abuse, and then a meeting with them. … But we must move forward on this issue, with zero tolerance!"

(http://visnews-en.blogspot.it/2014/05/the-pope-returns-to-vatican-and-sp... )

The Italian version is here: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/0...

George D on ethical parameters. Of course it is highly unethical for a man to have sex with a 15 year old prostitute. My question was whether it is necessarily unethical not to denounce him to the cops years later when doing so will destroy his whole family.

 

" The only cause for concern would be if he had a fixation and was going after 15 year old girls when he was 40."

 

So let bygones be bygones? But that is not what the SNAP-minded say. Even misbehavior dating back 40 or 50 years must be pursued till the last ounce of flesh has been taken, irrespective of the present consequences.

 

 

 

I realize that it is convenient and, maybe among dotCommonweal-ers, even fashionable to condescendedly criticize SNAP.  Or, label them whiny complainers that can never be satisfied further infantilizing and stigmatizing them so that we don't have to believe their horror stories of abuse.

Many on this blog would obviously prefer that the victim left naked in the ditch in the pararble of the Good Samaritan remain there, be quiet and suffer in silence. 

It must be very threatening to folks for survivors to have the courage to stand-up and tell their stories of abuse and exploitation.  I guess it just doest fit into the dominant mythology of many of the folks on this blog.  

That must be a terrible cross for you guys to carry to have to tolerate survivors seeking justice?  It would be so much easier to suppress our collective guilt if survivors would just shut-up about their torture and abuse. 

SNAP's job is to promote awareness that survivors of abuse and exploitation at the hands of priests and bishops have been waiting a LONG, LONG time for justice.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously wrote from the Birmingham jail:  "Justice too long delayed is justice denied."

SNAP's job IS NOT to be a cheerleader for a complicit hierarchy in the greatest scandal to rock the church since the crusades and the Inquisition.

BTW:  Is it just me, or did Joseph O'Leary really try to parade his odious ideology about how the rape and sodomy of children by adults is in some way normative human sexual behavior?  This has crossed over into "North American Man/Boy Love Association" (NAMBLA) territory!   

Really, O'Leary?  Your words:

Michel Foucault prophesied that the next wave of scapegoating and witchhunting, since Jews and gays are now off-limits, would be directed against pedophiles. He did not foresee that this would refer to any sexual connection between and adult and minor, as well as many rapports between minors themselves.

Redefining exploitation as torture is stupid and illogical.

 

Has Commonweal and its editors - erstwhile mavens of Catholic probity - given up their journalistic responsibilities?  Where are our thought police when we really need them?

@ Claire:

Well, we'll just have to wait and see, won't we.

In the meantime, I still maintain that the problem of Finn is not the pope's to address, but the people of Kansas City-Saint Joseph and the USCCB's.

As a curious aside, the reporter who asked the quetsion was an American, who could have easily specified his question by naming names (e.g., "For example, in the US, there is this bishop, etc.etc.), but he and the other English speaking journalists whom he was representing, for whatever reason, chose not to. 

By contrat, the next reporter, from the Spanish-speaking group, named names, or rather, a name, i.e., Cardinal Bertone (which the Vatican's official transcript had conveniently left out, lol) in his questioning re. recent Vatican financial scandals.

To which I'd say: English speaking journalists =chickens; Spanish speaking journalists = well played.

 

Michel Foucault prophesied that the next wave of scapegoating and witchhunting, since Jews and gays are now off-limits, would be directed against pedophiles. He did not foresee that this would refer to any sexual connection between and adult and minor, as well as many rapports between minors themselves.

Foucault also thought that concern over AIDs was homophobic hysteria. He was wrong about that too. 

Jim

 

Fr. O'Leary's quasi - NAMBLA support is well known. He writes under his own name so caveat emptor! Obvious for anyone who has ears or eyes. Why his bishop has given him a pass is beyond me. His public comments amount to at least unprofessional conduct. Oh well....More of the same. QED

That must be a terrible cross for you guys to carry to have to tolerate survivors seeking justice?  It would be so much easier to suppress our collective guilt if survivors would just shut-up about their torture and abuse. 

Suddenly, it all makes sense: everything Grant has ever written here about victims, perpetrators and the hierarchy that enabled the crimes: that entire corpus has actually been part of a giant conspiracy to discredit victims of sexual abuse and obstruct justice.  Quick, Grant, retire to your secret underwater headquarters before your plans are foiled for good!

 

Any bishop who is personally guilty of sexual abuse of anyone should not be protected from civil law by the a Vatican that says it is deciding what to do.  The civil authorities should have first crack at the miscreant; church punishment should be secondary.

Any bishop who has covered up sexual abuse is guilty of aiding and abbetting, complicit in the crime and most likely is an accessory after the fact.  I don't know what laws other countries have in these matters, but the US is quite explict about these crimes.

The Vatican can pussy-foot around all it wants, but a crime is a crime and is subject to civil punishment irrespective of any formal church determination.

Michel Foucault prophesied that the next wave of scapegoating and witchhunting, since Jews and gays are now off-limits, would be directed against pedophiles. He did not foresee that this would refer to any sexual connection between and adult and minor, as well as many rapports between minors themselves.

That is one of the most stomach-turning and horrifying statements I have ever read in these comments.  I literally cannot believe that anyone can compare  innocent victims of scapegoating and "witchhunting", including Jewish people and gay people, to pedophiles - to sexual predators who prey on children.   Pedophiles are not innocent victims. They are criminals.

I have seen Mr. O'Leary defend pedophile priests countless times, supposedly on the grounds of "unproven" allegations or reaching to claim that the boys seduced the men.  I would hate to know why he is so quick to defend the indefensible.

But this kind of statement goes beyond even those statements. Pedophiles are criminals of the worst kind.  The large majority of the victims of priests were aged 14 and younger - these are kids.  Only a small % were 16 or 17, and exploiting them was also evil. 

Mr. O'Leary's comment is an attempt to defend EVIL.

 

It does not have to be either or. Right now Snap is acting the way it should as the pope is acting the way he should. Snap has been disappointed so many times. The pope has to marshall his officials to action in a disciplined way. Too early to fault either. To condemn either at this point is premature. Pressure is important on both sides to be fair. Hopefully a coalescense will occur. 

As for pedophiles the emphasis should be on their making amends. Rehab, of course. But the key is to follow the important steps of AA listed below.  Without that they have no credibility. 

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make 

amends to them all. 

 

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do 

so would injure them or others. 

 

People who have been reading this blog for a long time are used to tuning out certain types of comments by Father O'Leary. What else is to be done? Asking for offensive comments to be removed would go against the principle of open discussion. The guidelines (https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/commenting-guidelines) have fairly clear rules for deleting comments: "ad hominem attacks; off-topic; containing inappropriate or offensive language, advertising, copyrighted material, or suspicious information,"

and I don't think Fr O'Leary's comment fits those. Comments reacting in protest would distract from the topic under discussion. So, what to do other than tuning out?

Fr. O'Leary thinks independently, and writes things that raise hackles.  Let's take a look at some of the things that he has written under this post.  Fr. O'Leary wrote:

SNAP and the UN Committee on Torture want bishops punished, but surely if the bishops' crimes are as egregious as alleged they should be investigated and convicted under the civil justice system. 

My view: Fr. O'Leary has a point.  We recently focused here on a case in St. Paul/Minneapolis where the district attorney declined to prosecute a bishop who has shown questionable judgment.  Except for Bishop Finn, I'm not aware of any other American bishop being charged in aiding and abetting abuse, whether for failure to comply with mandated-reporting laws, or for conspiracy, or anything of that nature.  Nor do I think that, in today's political, legal and media environment, any American district attorney or judge would fear for political reasons to put a Catholic bishop in the dock.  It seems reasonable to conclude that instances of sitting bishops behaving egregiously enough to warrant criminal charges are pretty few and far between.  That is not to say that bishops should be exempt from civil and ecclesiastical sanctions.  They shouldn't.  I'm not aware of Fr. O'Leary ever claiming otherwise. 

Fr. O'Leary also wrote:

The "decision that sex abuse was torture" is on the face of it  category confusion that will only bring embarrassment to the UN and solace to torturers.

My view: Fr. O'Leary is correct about the category confusion. The UN also recently claimed that restrictions on abortion are torture(!)  Distorting the meaning of words does nothing to help victims, but it does discredit the UN's claims to be a locus of clear thinking and moral righteousness.  Fr. O'Leary's statement that misusing words in this way has the potential to "bring ... solace to torturers" also is correct.  For the same reason, I've written here before that I don't think the word "survivor" should be used to describe any and all victims of sexual abuse.  

Fr. O'Leary also wrote:

Michel Foucault prophesied that the next wave of scapegoating and witchhunting, since Jews and gays are now off-limits, would be directed against pedophiles. 

My view: perhaps Fr. O'Leary could present a quote or explanation from Foucault that would put this in context; as a bare-bones statement, with no surrounding context, it seems like kind of an odd thing for Foucault to say.  But I don't find it far-fetched that sex offenders are scape-goated.  In the US, sex offenders (most of whom seem not to be classified as predatory) must register with the state for the rest of their lives, and their identities and addresses are publicly available to anyone on the world on Internet-accessible registries.  I'm told that, because of these registries, sex offenders frequently are harassed, both by private citizens and by the police and other law enforcement officials.  I'm sure they find it difficult to get good work, even if whatever tendencies led to the commission of the crimes are well-managed.  I believe that, in prison, sex offenders are at disproportionate risk of violence from other inmates.  I know that most of us don't shed any tears when registered sex offenders are mistreated in our communities, or beat up or killed in jail.  But as Christians we're called to care even about them.  

Overall, I don't agree with everything that Fr. O'Leary writes.  Like most of us who comment frequently, he sometimes gets his facts wrong.  I also have found Fr. O'Leary to be thoughtful, well-read, and fearless in his opinions.  And once in a while he flashes some breathtaking brilliance.  When he's wrong, he should be corrected - fraternally (and please, apply the same standards to me!).  I'm glad he's willing to think against the grain of public opinion here at dotCom.  The victims'-advocacy complex isn't and shouldn't be exempt from critique.  And if his comments are too upsetting, they can always be skipped over.  

 

We have no idea who the 3 bishops are that Pope Francis said were being investigated. Why didn't he make their names public and tell the public what they were being investigated for? 

--- Also, meeting with victims is one thing, but he already knows what to do to protect kids today.

Quoted by pope: " We must go ahead with zero tolerance"
What is Pope Francis going to do about the bishops and cardinals who do not follow the "zero tolerance" policy.?  The pope's grandiose promises and words do not protect kids.
Tragically the sex abuse and cover up within the church hierarchy throughout the world is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they are still not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called "zero tolerance" policy is not being followed by the bishops who created it. They don't have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their power and the institution rather than protecting innocent children.

Everyday the pope delays in taking significant actions to demote, fire and discipline the high ranking church officials who continue to protect the child predators, another child is being sexually abused within the archaic system. And Pope Francis needs to immediately disclose the names and the reasons that he claims 3 bishops are being investigated.

Delays and silence are not an option anymore. It only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.
Judy Jones, SNAP,  Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,

Sorry if I seem to be repeating myself.  It's just that many people have been hoping Francis would take action against bishops who have covered up sex abuse.  But as far as I can tell from the news stories I've read, the only bishops who are being investigated are those who have been abusers themselves.  So, this is *not* news, unless, of course, bishops who abused children in the past have never been investigated or punished by the Vatican up until now.

Jim Pauwels @ 2:19 pm:

Well said.

Bravo.

 

Jim P,

Please Jim. O'Leary compared Jews and Gays to Pedophiles. As Ann pointed out pedophiles are criminals.  Nobody said that O'Leary never said anything that is correct. But this statement is outrageous and deserves, well, the outrage.

Survivors are rightly wary of a new meeting with the pope. Benedict did not have a clue and acted as if he were in space at the meeting with survivors. Francis, I am certain will be different. But one can understand the survivors hesitancy. 

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/abuse-victims-leader-popes-meeting-gesture

 I also have found Fr. O'Leary to be thoughtful, well-read, and fearless in his opinions

Are you on bath salts? 

Thank you, Bill.  I debated posting at all. But I am indeed  "outraged" by that statement. I too have agreed with some things Mr.O'Leary posts, but have also noted his consistent pattern of defending pedophile priests and defending bishops who protect pedophile priests.   I never commented before on any of  those posts, but comparing innocent victims of scapegoating with criminals who prey on children was a step too far for me to swallow without protest.  It is over the line - an absolute insult to Jews and gays.   I too am exercising my right to "free speech" on this board by expressing my outrage at this comparison.  One hopes that statements such as that one are challenged and not just allowed to slide by as one man's opinion because of a misguided understanding of what is and is not "censorship".  Challenging someone's ideas here is not censorship.

Jim P, it may be unfortunate for the sex offenders that convicted sex offenders must register as such later. But as a mother and (as of one month ago) grandmother, I am very glad that those who prey on children have at least few obstacles put in their way.  The relapse rate is very high among those who commit these crimes.  The children MUST be protected as much as possible. That is something that too many bishops (and so far, too many popes) simply don't "get". 

Are those who refer to JOL as "Mister" rather than "Father" rejecting his priesthood, or just committing an error?

I refer to "Fr" Robert Sirico and "Fr" Z in quotes because I personally reject any claim they choose to make as a priest, a status for them which must have a couple of bishops heading for the confessional on a regular basis.

While Finn remains unpunished, he is still punishing others.

 

"Colleen Simon had her dream job, working at her church to feed hungry families. It was a job, she says, "I was called to by God."

And then last week, she was fired because she is married to another woman.

Colleen has devoted her life to helping the hungry. She's in a loving, committed relationship. Even now, she bears no ill will toward her church, instead praying for "the day when we are all loved and embraced by our churches."

If Colleen Simon is not fit to serve the poor at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Kansas City, no one is.

One of Pope Francis's top bishops in Italy recently called for including gay Christians in church life, less than a year after Francis himself called for a new tone. But the local bishop, Robert Finn, seems not to have gotten the message."

@ Jim Pauwels:  My sainted sixth grade teacher, Sister Mary Adelaide, often intoned:  " Tell me who your friends are and I tell you who you are."  I think you just hugged a Tar Baby in your embrace of JOL. 

It is written in Proverbs (13:20): 

"He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."

Pauwels, you should know better:  Just because the local district attorney doesn't bring criminal or civil charges doesn't mean that our hierarchs have clean hands, or aren't complicit in the rape and sodomy of children.  

Hierarchs have bought the best criminal lawyers money-can-buy to "reduce their legal exposure" - I think that's the operative legal wording?  

You seriously can't think that if Cardinal Mahony wasn't sitting on a mountain of money during all those years of omnipotence he wouldn't be doing time right now at San Quentin?  [Independent estimates have it between 5 and 10 $billion portfolio - including the exclusive use of a helicopter to flit around LA without getting trapped on the freeways].  

You can buy a lot of Get Out of Jail Free cards with that kind of money!  Think of all the politicians and district attorneys Mahony is still carrying around in his hip pocket!

Sister Adelaide also warned us that "sins against the Holy Spirit" included sins of omission and willful ignorance.

Btw, John Allen reports that the Vatican has clarified that the pope may have referred to bishops who themselves are accused of commiting abuse, rather than of enabling or covering up abuse by clergy under their supervision.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world/2014/05/27/perils-let-all-hang-out...

 

I think you just hugged a Tar Baby

What a repugnant term.  

 

 

Lynchmob mentality is much in evidence here. Jim Jenkins sees all pedophiles as rapists and sodomizers. Pedophiles are adults who have troubling attractions to prepubescent children, and who constitute some 1% of the population. When they commit sexual offenses these are very rarely in the form of penetrative sex, as Jenkins surely knows.

Foucault saw clearly that since Jews and gays are no longer considered criminals in the West, the urge to find scapegoats would be invested in witch hunts against pedophiles. To say this is not to justify sexual offenders, merely to point out the dynamic underlying a great amount of the peculiar hatred directed against them, and indeed now extended to all adults who have any sexual contact with under-18s. 

For those not blinded by hatred and moral hysteria, Foucault's views are well worth studying. One can begin with good old Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Morality_and_the_Law

"Foucault sees the emergence of a new penal system, with the focus changing from criminal acts to the definition of dangerous individuals. He predicted that a society of dangers would come:

"We’re going to have a society of dangers, with, on the one side, those who are in danger, and on the other, those who are dangerous. (…) Sexuality will become a threat in all social relations, in all relations between members of different age groups, in all relations between individuals. And sexuality will no longer be a kind of behavior hedged in by precise prohibitions, but a kind of roaming danger, a sort of omnipresent phantom, a phantom that will be played out between men and women, children and adults, and possibly between adults themselves. It is on this shadow, this phantom, this fear that the authorities would try to get a grip through an apparently generous and, at least general, legislation and through a series of particular interventions that would probably be made by the legal institutions, with the support of the medical institutions."

"He identified the fear of others’ sexuality as the reason for this change:

 

"The legislator will not justify the measures that he is proposing by saying: the universal decency of mankind must be defended. What he will say is: there are people for whom others' sexuality may become a permanent danger".

Actions speak louder than words. It's as simple as that. Or John Locke: "The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thougts."

Certainly, Francis' words are encouraging, and after decades in the desert, any nod to accountability is like coming upon some much-needed water in that desert.

Still the hints that this or that could be, followed by a clarification that no, not quite, (referring only to perpetrator bishops, not enablers); or naming a commission on sexual abuse with word variously that its efforts will not address prior cases, or maybe they will in some fashion; or that canon law procedures are lacking for bishop accountability, but will be addressed by the commission perhaps in x years --- despite specific canons that could easily be applied NOW if only the will existed. (Canon 1389 para 1 and 2) And on and on. 

A year of bits of hope here and there is a welcome change in the atmosphere, and not to be dismissed. But fatigue has set in waiting for what could be done in a papal minute: removal of a dozen complicit bishops by Francis under whatever face-saving figleaf he wants, or not. I believe every bishop would sit up straight on a dime and get the message. 

Show, don't just tell, please. Dreams delayed too long have a habit of drying like raisins in the sun.

 

I read Foucault's work and think that he is correct in terms of people now feeling they are subject to a sexuality (e.g homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality). He argues in History of Sexuality that sexuality as it is constituted today only emerged in the nineteenth century when the category of the homosexual was born.

But that still leaves us with his preference for predicating sexuality on desire. He returns to the Ancient Greek conception. But, he admits that the Greeks envinced an entire ethical system in which desire was controlled and managed and the ruler was one who could control desire.

It is not fear of others sexuality regarding children no more than it if fear of others spirituality if I object to psychics conning  money out of vulnerable people, nor fear of others economy when I object to Madoff's economic scheme, it is that sexuality, like every other form of human interaction requires ethical regulation and control. His issue is with what kind of control.

But again Foucault had his own issues with sexuality and mental health and although he wrote brilliantly about both, he was not cloaked with infallibility.

We have reached a near global consensus around sexuality. NAMBLA is marginalized in the gay community. Aside from Fr. O Leary, I have not heard any prominent gay activist call for their inclusion.

The reason for this is simple. New voices have emerged. And these voices are of people who have been sexually abused and the impact this has had on their life, their relationships, their sense of self. Some things are rightly abhorrent to us.

That fr. O 'Leary fails to understand or appreciate that is due to...well I have already been there ....finis..you are all smart people

Something that still is beyond my comprehension is the mindset of bishops shown in this example:

It took eight years after 2002 to change a directive to bishops in USCCB audits from this: 

“If the victim of abuse is biologically an adult, but mentally under the age of 18, should the allegation be included?

NOT unless the abuse started when the individual was under the age of 18.”

to this interpretation:

The more grave delicts against morals as of 2010 include: 

"the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years; in this case, a person who habitually lacks the use of reason is to be considered equivalent to a minor."

 

 

Jim P. --

How much of the reports at  Bishops Accountability from competent sources like D.A. offices and legal deposiitons, and from respected local newspapers have you ever read ?  Given your defense of Fr. O'Leary, it sounds like you're avoiding mountains of evidence.   See for instance this account from the Philadelphia Office of the District Attorney about the notorious Fr, Brennan and Msgr. William Lynn's efforts to keep him out of jail.

Philadelphia Priest Charged with Rape, Office of the District Attorney, September 26, 2013

Here's more (from the NYT) about Msgr. Lynn, who actually went to jail:

Msgr. William Lynn of Philadelphia Is Convicted of Allowing Abuse - NYTimes.com

And Bishop Accountability has about $2B more of similar reports and some depositions, including some from some bishops. 

Anybody who hasn't read a lot about the scandal in respected sources really isn't entitled to a serious opinion about it.  I'd even go further:  making excuses for some of those (censored) is a sin.

BishopAccountability.org - Documenting the Catholic Sexual Abuse and Financial Crisis - Data on bishops, priests, brothers, nuns, Lawrence Murphy, Pope Benedict, Ratzinger, Bertone, CDF, Brendan Smyth, Ireland

 

Michel Foucault was probably the greatest historical anthropologist of our times. His forte was to look at current thought-forms and practical policies in the long perspective of history and to show that what seems natural and inevitable to us today is actually contingent and alterable. His work gave great offense to conservatives who wanted to believe their mental universe was unalterable valid for all times.

 

One can easily imagine the questions that this profoundly critical thinker would have posed to the claim that "We have reached a near global consensus around sexuality." Sexuality! As if that could ever be wrapped up in a global consensus. Of course the New England Puritans reached such a consensus too, though they'd have called it biblical rather than global. But Americans have a desire to make their own ideologies global, as in their disastrous attempt to impose their version of democracy on Iraq.

"NAMBLA is marginalized in the gay community. Aside from Fr. O Leary, I have not heard any prominent gay activist call for their inclusion." Are you nuts? I have never called for the inclusion of NAMBLA either, and I am amused to find myself dubbed "a prominent gay activist"! 

 

"The reason for this is simple. New voices have emerged. And these voices are of people who have been sexually abused and the impact this has had on their life, their relationships, their sense of self. Some things are rightly abhorrent to us."

Fair enough. There are many accounts of child abuse in older literature too, but it is true that these voices are given more exposure and respectful listening now than in the last two centuries.

However, there are many other voices that have been censored, especially in the USA, for instance the voices of people like my great friend Senator David Norris who said that he would have been grateful as an adolescent to have had an older man to initiate him into sexual life. Of course the frenzy-mongers attempted to demonize Norris for this.

Also censored are the voices of psychiatrists who query monochrome accounts of adult-minor sexuality as always traumatic. 

"That fr. O 'Leary fails to understand or appreciate that is due to...well I have already been there ....finis..you are all smart people". It is due to my openness to a plurality of voices rather than to the monocular ideology currently regnant in the USA. George D's locker-room innuendo tells us more about him than about his targets, as is always the case with bullies.

 

 

I dug up the actual remarks of David Norris: ""I cannot understand how anybody could find children of either sex in the slightest bit attractive sexually ... but in terms of classic paedophilia, as practised by the Greeks, for example, where it is an older man introducing a younger man to adult life, there can be something said for it. Now, again, this is not something that appeals to me.

"Although, when I was younger, I would have greatly relished the prospect of an older, attractive, mature man taking me under his wing, lovingly introducing me to sexual realities, treating me with affection, teaching me about life."

 

 

Sex with children is wrong if for no other reasin than they cannot make an informed consent. 

 Sexuality! As if that could ever be wrapped up in a global consensus. Of course the New England Puritans reached such a consensus too, though they'd have called it biblical rather than global. But Americans have a desire to make their own ideologies global, as in their disastrous attempt to impose their version of democracy on Iraq.

 

From the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:

http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

 

Article 34

States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:

(a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;

(b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;

(c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.

 

 have never called for the inclusion of NAMBLA either

Huh?

It is due to my openness to a plurality of voices rather than to the monocular ideology currently regnant in the USA. 

You are making NAMBLA's case on this board. At a minimum, I am sure you would be considered an honourary member!

However, there are many other voices that have been censored, especially in the USA, for instance the voices of people like my great friend Senator David Norris who said that he would have been grateful as an adolescent to have had an older man to initiate him into sexual life.

 

There are accounts of concentration camp inmates who found their captivity the best thing that happened to them, accounts of people in residential schools who found positive aspects of their experience. Heck, my sister in law is Ukrainian and visited her Great Aunt in the Ukraine. She actually was a maid to Nazi officers. When my sister in law, incredulous, asked what the experience was like, she replied that she had never been treated better in her entire li

So do these anecdotal voices now mean that we have to reconsider concentration campls, residential schools, and the legacy of the Nazi's?

You are familiar the the Stockholm syndrome.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/mental-disorders/stockholm...

Ten-year-old Natascha Kampusch disappeared on her way to school in Austria in 1998. In 2006, 18-year-old Natascha Kampusch reappeared in a Vienna garden after escaping from her captor's home while he wasn't paying attention. In a statement to the media read by her psychiatrist, Kampusch had this to say about spending eight years in a locked cell beneath her kidnapper's basement: "My youth was very different. But I was also spared a lot of things - I did not start smoking or drinking and I did not hang out in bad company." By most experts' accounts, Kampusch is in a traumatized state and appears to be suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

People suffering from Stockholm syndrome come to identify with and even care for their captors in a desperate, usually unconscious act of self-preservation. It occurs in the most psychologically traumatic situations, often hostage situations or kidnappings, and its effects usually do not end when the crisis ends. In the most classic cases, victims continue to defend and care about their captors even after they escape captivity. Symptoms of Stockholm syndrome have also been identified in the slave/master relationship, in battered-spouse cases and in members of destructive cults.

 

 

I haven't read the comments but I wanted to comment on sex abuse and torture -- Rape is considered to be a form of torture and so other forms of sexual abuse should be too, even if they don't meet some kind of statutory definition of rape.  But it's important to note that the significance of this in the application of international conventions, particularly, conventions against torture and in the processing of humanitarian visas, such as for asylum and where the law of the land, human trafficking (T visas in the U.S.).  Not every act of rape or sexual misconduct will qualify as an act of "torture" under the convention against torture, or for asylum, but typically where a governing authority either uses rape and other sexual assault as a form of torture (many do) or, more controversially, where its policy or practice of refusing to investigate or punish sexual assault essentially makes those actions permissible, and thus subjects people to systemic, irremediable abuse.  In countries that are trying to make progress in combating sexual abuse and rape, the use of these categories can become very controversial.  Anyway, "torture" has a generic meaning but it also has a specific meaning that gives rise to certain legal and humanitarian relief because it represents not just the actions of specific individuals but the practice or de facto or even sometimes the de jure policy of a government.  I think it's important to understand what the UN is talking about when it issues reports on the use of "torture."  It is rarely aimed at individual actions.

Ann - yes, I have read news stories and have plowed through a few depositions, although the ones I have seen were pursuant to civil actions brought by private individuals, not criminal charges brought by the state.  Yes, I'm at least somewhat familiar with the case of Msgr. Lynn, who is not a bishop.  In your comment, you didn't note that Lynn's conviction has been overturned, apparently for reasons that are pertinent to this discussion: the appelate court ruled that the child endangerment laws were misapplied in his trial and conviction.  As far as I know, no Philadelphia archbishop, current or former, has ever been charged with a crime related to the sexual abuse of children, although the Philadelphia DA's office has tried mightily to make it happen.  

Nothing I've written here contradicts any of that.  If you disagree, please go ahead and connect the dots: produce a quote from my comments, and then produce some evidence that contradicts it.  As I wrote, I'm open to fraternal correction.

The point I made which you seem to be objecting to, is that aside from Bishop Finn, we don't see bishops being charged with crimes.  Fr. O'Leary had written, "surely if the bishops' crimes are as egregious as alleged they should be investigated and convicted under the civil justice system. "  And I noted that he has a point.  We've discussed many bishops here who have covered up or enabled abuse by other clergy.  We've seen many instances of settlements with victims.  Several dioceses have pursued bankruptcy because of their liability for past sexual abuse.  Nobody here is defending bishops who have behaved badly.  And yet there are almost no criminal convictions of bishops, or even criminal charges brought against them.  Perhaps this is due in part to inadequate laws (e.g. statutes of limitations with too short a window), and perhaps some of it is due to inadequate law enforcement (e.g. dioceses who have clout with police departments), although as I noted, I think this is not nearly as likely now as it would have been 10 or 20 or 30 years ago.  But my supposition is that a large part of it is that prosecutors don't believe they can make the charges stick, i.e. the criminal cases against bishops have not been strong enough to pursue.

And for the high crime and misdemeanor of not disagreeing in the strongest possible terms with everything Fr. O'Leary has written here, you suggest that I'm not entitled to have an opinion, and that I've committed a sin?  Ann, do you not see that you're vindicating another point of Fr. O'Leary: that there are aspects of a mob mentality that are prevailing even here? My suggestion would be, put down the pitchfork and douse the torch :-)

 

For the record - and the good Fr. O'Leary's personal edification, "penetrative sex" is not required, nor is it constitutive, to satisfy the legal definition of rape and assault.  

Jim Jenkins makes an important point here, one that (apparently and infuriatingly) needs to be made.  I would add that neither is penetrative sex required to satisfy the church's definition of abuse under the Dallas charter and associated norms.  If I'm not mistaken, no physical contact whatsoever is necessary to qualify as abuse.  The Ratigan case, involving child pornography, surely would be one example. As another example,  Rand Richards Cooper once wrote a personal and terrifying piece in Commonweal about verbal grooming (abuse?) by a priest when he was a child.

Writing and thinking about these things fills me with revulsion.   

 

I remember at the time of the abduction of the boy from Manhattan that as advocate from Nambla were making the talk show rounds until public outrage relegated them back to their cages.
THANKS to George for clarifying .

Joseph,
What would Foucalt say about the Pakistani et alii
Who murder their women if they choose love?

Joseph O'Leary's defense of pedophiles is disturbing in so many ways. Especially when he quotes Foucault as if that would make his stance right. Secondly, age of consent is important. But when it is done by  a priest, psychiatrist or anyone else in a superior or supervisory position, it is still a most terrible offense or crime. Defending child abusers in this sense is as worse as when Cardinal Dolan or even Francis, say that most abuse happens in families. 

Whether this happens in families, clergy or anywhere it is an unspeakable evil. That sympathy should be diverted to the offendors rather than the victims is a real outrage. How is it not being an enabler when one campaigns for sympathy for such abusers. No one here is clamoring for the death penalty. We just want to see such people far away from children. 

Thanks Jim for the link to Rand Richards Cooper's superb essay. It's a thriller. From the first paragraph it brings back memories of the excitement of taking risks and, less directly, the pride of dealing successfully with shady situations. It gives me a bit of nostalgia for what it was like to be a teenager - that  sense that one could play with fire with impunity, that feeling of invulnerability. We adults may read it and find it terrifying, because we know that things can go wrong and people can get hurt to the core, but the youth living it did not know that.

I wish I could write like that.

 

On a more recent thread, Matthew Boudway cites and makes available an important essay by Michael Walzer  entitled "A Foreign Policy for the Left." Walzer's analysis is by analogy, applicable to some of the discussion about the Church's problem with clerical sex abuse. Some people who comment on this issue appear to be committed to the "dogma" that the Church's hierarchy is fundamentally self-serving and corrupt, while some others seem to be committed to the "dogma" that the hierarchy always acts for the best. Walzer ends his piece by insisting that in dealing with serious matters of policy there are no acceptable "short cuts" and no defensible "pretenses." The taxing hard work of getting as much specific information as is feasible and making as many clarificating distinctions as the issue calls for are always in order. Indeed, intellectual honesty demands doing this work. Only then can one be sure that he or she is not being defamatory or callous.

Bernard - it's a useful comparison.  What I've seen in this particular thread is a commitment to the "dogma" of SNAP righteousness that brooks no criticism, and/or that interprets any criticism of SNAP as being the equivalent of an apologetic for pedophiles.  

I would like to see SNAP be committed to telling the truth, whether the truth reflects poorly, well or in-between on the church hierarchy.   When, on occasion, the hierarchy manage to get something even marginally right, I'd like to see SNAP give those developments some positive reinforcement, but it seems that it never does.  I'd also like to see SNAP be willing to be a mediator for peace and reconciliation between the victims it purports to represent and the church.  SNAP statements tend to come across, to my reading anyway, like pre-trial posturing by plaintiff's attorneys (so much so that I suspect that's precisely what they are).

Much of the anecdotal evidence I've seen about victims paints a picture that, by and large, they're not a particularly militant and hostile group, nor that scoring a big payday from the church is what motivates them.  My impression is that they seek wholeness and healing in their broken lives, if that is to be had, and they seem to feel deeply that the clergy that hurt them should never permitted to do that again to anyone else.  Yet SNAP is the very model of militancy and hostility.  There is a disconnect here.  Just my impression.

 

I think some people here are playing on an ambiguity when they accuse me of "defense of pedophiles". 

I think pedophiles are folk with a difficult sexual orientation who should be helped fit into society. I do not defend or approve sexual exploiation or children, and I do not defend, pace Ann Olivier, sex with minors, and more than our Savior defended or approved of prostitution or adultery, though of course accused of doing so.

Where I do think Michel Foucault was right was in identifying the dynamic between the moral panic about pedophilies as continuing under a different heading the moral panic about Jews and gays in the past. In each case the target group are depicted as the main source of social evils and a "they" who are alien and unspeakable and have nothing in common with "us".

 

 

"and more than our Savior" should read "any more than our Savior"

I think that the words"raping and sodomizing" were used by Jim Jenkins to suggest that most clerical and all pedophile sexual abuse is penetrative; I merely pointed out that statistically such penetrative rape is a rarity in both categories. When Jenkins says "rape", then", he means STATUTORY rape, which can cover offenses varying from molestation as damaging and violent as rape, to inappropriate touching or photographing, to any form of sexual contact with people as old as 17. For instance if the bishop had stroked the confirmand inappropriately as falsely alleged a few weeks ago he would be a rapist in Jenkins's usage, and perhaps a torturer as well. At some point such language becomes so misleading as to be irresponsibly inflammatory.

Jim P. --

I don't fault Fr. O'Leary for his opinion that there are some minors who welcome older lovers. I even said the same thing myself on this blog some time ago. I don't doubt that tbere are a few.  But even if there are, that does not justify an adult entering into a sexual relationship with the minor  because, as Crystal just noted, minors cannot make adult judgments. So I do fault Fr. O'Leary for his practically non-stop appeal to sanction such relationships. 

Actually my main problem is not with what JOL says, it's with what he doesn't say.  Oh, he says pro forma that children ought not to be abused, but he shows no understanding or empathy whatsoever of the suffering of the thousands of victims whose lives have in fact been ruined by the clerical perverts.  

Yes, the perverts are to be pitied if they are mentally ill.  However, the bishops are NOT mentally ill.  They are responsible for their actions, and that's why my main complaints have been against them and will continue to be against them.  And whether or not their pull with the police prevents their arrest or some legal technicality keeps them out of jail is irrelevant -- if the evidence against a bishop and/or his delegated authority as presented in responsible journals and depositions and official reports is so over-whelming that as a member of a jury one would have to find him guilty, then that bishop needs to be censured publicly by the community at large over and over until he is removed from office so that he'll not be able to enable any more damage.  

As to the "mob" mentality of most of the American public, what makes you think that the bishops are being (figuratively) lynched?  Can the public make a mistake?  Sure. But the history of some of the enablers has been so egregious that it's *extremely* unlikely that in their cases the press has been wrong.  See Law, Mahoney, Bevilaqua, and Rigali for instance.  Do read more about those particular bishops at Bishops Accounability. Apparently you just haven't read nearly enough to see their hisories clearly.  

"the perverts are to be pities if they are mentally ill"

But clearly pedophilia is not a mental illness, but rather a problematic sexual orientation, as the APA tried to say lately, but were forced by the bullies to withdraw.

Nor is sex between adults and minors a sign of perversion on either side. It is immoral only because of the minor's lack of full consent and because of the social consquences which are destructive.

I think the debate would be much more wholesome if people spoke frankly of their own attraction to teenagers; this would give them some sympathy with the offenders/sinners who acted on that attraction.

Putting the offenders in another world as "them" or as "perverts" or "monsters" is just the type of witch-hunt thinking I have been criticizing here.

My concern for the victims of child abuse is by no means pro forma, which is the very reason that I do not use is as a rhetorical ploy. 

 

 

 

 

Fr. O'Leary --

I have said on this forum before that I have known of two cases of a very young girl genuinely falling in love at a very young age -- one of my best friends and one of my grandmothers.  Both girls eventually married the objects of their affections, and their obviously fine marriages lasted until the death of their husbands in old age.  But both of those girls were exceptionally mature emotionally and intellectually.  I myself always preferred the older adolescent boys and 20 year-olds when I was 14. But that does NOT mean that my attraction to them was mature -- I assure you that it wasn't.  It was superficial and definitely not long-lastig which true love is.  And the same is true of ALL the other girls and women I knew.  In other words, my own experience indicates that the odds of an adolescent truly falling in love is miniscule.  Not that I didn't have some real friendships with some boys, but what lasted didn't have the depth of true love.  

Given the common experience of people I've known and of the wise people I've read, you are simply wrong that the instances of  adult-child  true love is common enough for sociey to sanction it.  The practical problem is this:  it is essential that  parents be the ones responsible for the welfare of their children, and the vast, vast majority of chronological childen are just that -- children.  Yes, there are a few exceptions (children who are exceptionally mature for their age),  but the law has to be made to protect the vast majority of children (the ones who are not mature).  So society refuses to condone adult-child sexual relationships even if there are exceptional pairs -- and society is right to do so.  Otherwise we would risk many children being victimized by sexual predators who *claim* to love them.  The fact is that the vast majoirty of sexual overtures to children by adults are overtures from preditors, not from adults who reciprocate the true love of a child-adult.  And so the laws must stand.  Granted, this might be difficult for the exceptional pairs, but if they *truly* love each other they can wait a few years for the sake of the common good of children who are not mature.

Your own arguments in favor of changing the laws indicate that you yourself are too immature to see the  complexities of the problem. 

Well thanks for your honesty. I had crushes on schoolmates, and they might have become sexual if the climate were more liberal and if they were reciprocated -- would that have been damaging? I rather think loneliness, lack of human warmth, lack of demystified communication were what was really damaging. A more laidback and open attitude to adolescent sexuality would be to the benefit of all. After all, a kiss is a pretty unambiguous thing, which does not send mixed messages. Adolescents may not truly fall in love, but their calf love may nonetheless be a sound phase in their development, even a necessary one. I think many clerics whose psychosexual development was put in cold storage in seminary resume with adolescent calflove, sometimes directed to adolescents, and that this is a major component in what is perceived as predatory pedophilia.

I do not say that " instances of  adult-child  true love are common enough for society to sanction it" -- though like you I do know of cases where a love-affair began as early as 13 and continued for decades. I agree with you that true love is not a child or adolescent thing at all -- I think Shakespeare sows plenty of seeds of skepticism in Romeo and Juliet. But I do think that very many if not all adolescent boys would love to have sexual experience, some with older men (at my age I am becoming aware that there is a vast continent of young men and women who just adore old ones!). I urge a wise understanding, not moral approval, and not moral panic and repression either.

I was not aware that I made "arguments in favor of changing the laws"; maybe you are referring to Michel Foucault, but I do not necessarily agree with everything in wiki links that I post. I have never made any arguments about the age of consent, though I did argue in public court for decriminalizing homosexuality in Ireland.

I would think 16 is a reasonable age of consent. I have never got involved in an argument abou this as far as I remember.

But note that law and morality are distinct. That something is legal does not make it moral and conversely that something is immoral does not mean it need be illegal.

 

But clearly pedophilia is not a mental illness, but rather a problematic sexual orientation, as the APA tried to say lately, but were forced by the bullies to withdraw.

What on earth are you talking about? It never was considered an orientation in either the fourth edition or the fifth. It is a paraphilia, was then and is now. And also this:

 

"APA stands firmly behind efforts to criminally prosecute those who sexually abuse and exploit children and adolescents. We also support continued efforts to develop treatments for those with pedophilic disorder with the goal of preventing future acts of abuse,"

 

 

Bernard:

The taxing hard work of getting as much specific information as is feasible and making as many clarificating distinctions as the issue calls for are always in order. Indeed, intellectual honesty demands doing this work.

This is the process currently underway but it is challenging and difficult as it buts up against the historical structure of the Roman Catholic church, defensiveness of clerics and religious, reticence of episcopal leadership around lay led processes, silence, shame, embarrasment, concerns over legal liability, financial considerations. For example, to address the issue of the legacy of residential schools in Canada, a truth and reconciliation commission was established. That takes commitment and work. In many respect, SNAP is doing this or could be doing this. At issue is the openness with which the RC church is open to having an external body present to it findings and recommendations.

http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=3

So, what model is currently being proposed to address this at a systemic level?  Furthermore, where is the willingness to examine the structural issues that lent themselves to creating such a culture of cover-up, etc.? According to a psychiatrist brought in by the Vatican to examine the issue, there was no appetite in Rome for an enquiry of this type.

What is required is a structure that will operationalize the idea you are suggesting and currently, aside from SNAP, no such structure exists in the Church.

 

Have tried to avoid this string of depressing back and forth with JOL - it is merely a repeat from an earlier post that went to 85 comments.

Some interesting facts:

- JOL continues to cite from Wikipedia (not exactly a robust source of information)

- George D - as on the ealier post, JOL has little to no behavioral health background, education, or experience.  He has never worked with the DSM IV Revised or the pending DSM V, etc.  He shows a marked inability to understand MH categories; DSM axis information; and on each axis, actual diagnoses or that some folks have multiple personality disorders.

- Will ignore the NAMBA stuff (Grant has gone around and around with JOL on this and has repeatedly cautioned him when he strays too far).  But, JOL has his own interpretation of sexual abuse - his own age cut offs; his own understanding of impact (or lack of impact - always interesting that he shows or mentions victims infrequently and on the earlier post it was clear that he has had no interaction with victims (he stated that he vicariously puts himself in their place and this leads to his conclusions).

- Specifically, in terms of Ratigan and Finn (which was the earlier post topic), JOL expresses disbelief that internet pornography is that *dangerous*; he disputes that it might lead an abuser to increased activity - e.g. actual in person violations; etc.  He also thinks that abusers can reach some *magical* age at which they are no longer a risk?

- In terms of Ratigan - see these links and the last 15 comments - I posted five *myths* - he, of course, denied that he believes these myths (please scroll back through his comments and you can see why I connected them to JOL)

His last comment (he does have to have the last word):

"Bill de Haas prints five statements in bold print -- none of which I agree with. He nonetheless calls them "JOL myths".  They are statements which he must suppose to be tacitly implied in something I wrote. If so, they simply prove what is obvious all along, that he is so blinded by hectoring indignation as to be incapable of reading with care.

The only point on which he expresses concrete disagreement with anything I actually claimed is in regard to Fr Ratigan. De Haas shared the American belief that massive use of imprisonment as a panacea is what society needs. Fortunately wiser and more enlightened attitudes are also represented among Americans, as in this"

Here is the link to Francis and the appeals board for abusing priests:  https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/pope-establishing-commission-hear-appeals-accused-priests?page=1

Some highlights:

- JOL always has a tendency to move the goalposts when his statements are corrected; found to be inaccurate, or he can't substantiate what he claims.  He ends this post after 86 comments by trying to shift the Ratigan discussion to equating the Ratigan 50 year sentence to an *issue across all of US criminal sentencing"   Thus, we should be outraged at the Ratigan sentence because, like all of those unjust drug sentences, etc, Ratigan has been treated unfairly.  (btw, JOL also tries to equate murder and Ratigan; oblivious to the US justice system requirements that murder charges are based upon intent, crime, victims, etc. so that courts/judges see manslaughter, 1st, 2nd degrees, etc., etc.  He is trying to compare apples to oranges (again)

- In terms of Ratigan, review his statements.  He advocates for a lesser sentence but then makes comments that reveal that he did not know the extent of Ratigan's duplicity; the fact that one of his victims was Ratigan's own niece; it is obvious he have never read the court transcripts; that Finn had to settle with two different county district attorneys for crimes that happened in both counties, etc.  Rather, he says that I am "blinded by hectoring indignation as to be incapable of reading with care."   (the arrogance and sheer ridiculousness of his statement is overwhelming...as many of you have stated above, JOL has his meme - let's talk about blindness, hectoring, indignation, etc....PLEASE.

Here is one link that addresses the UN Torture explanation (and gets to George D's Mental Health descriptions, etc.  And, am amused, since JOL repeats his UN *category* issue....as you can see above, JOL has real trouble with actual categories in the behavioral health field; the psychological manual of diagnoses and conditions, etc.  Nothing like the pot calling the kettle black.): 

Might want to study up on *religious duress*   http://www.awrsipe.com/Doyle/2008/2008-11-27-Religious_Duress5.pdf

 

JP - you state:  ".....district attorney declined to prosecute a bishop who has shown questionable judgment.  Except for Bishop Finn, I'm not aware of any other American bishop being charged in aiding and abetting abuse, whether for failure to comply with mandated-reporting laws, or for conspiracy, or anything of that nature.  Nor do I think that, in today's political, legal and media environment, any American district attorney or judge would fear for political reasons to put a Catholic bishop in the dock.  It seems reasonable to conclude that instances of sitting bishops behaving egregiously enough to warrant criminal charges are pretty few and far between.  That is not to say that bishops should be exempt from civil and ecclesiastical sanctions"

Where to even begin; other than to say that you need to educate yourself and do more than a casual reading through appropriate and comprehensive sources.

Points:

- you cite the archdiocese of Philadelphi former archbishops as not having been charged.  You do understand that, under current and past state laws, there are statutes of limitations and that the delay, legal appeals; (Bevilacqua was a licensed civil and canon lawyer and leveraged/used these antiquated state SOL laws to his complete advantage - e.g. legal appeals; bullying victims into signing silencing settlements; threats of church punishment; moving abusers from one end of the archdiocese to the other; moving offenders to other dioceses, exerting political influence on district attorneys and state legislatures, etc.  It was not that he shouldn't have been charged, it was that legally and technically, no district attorney could do it.  (even now, there is a supreme court appeal on Msgr. Lynn and the interpretation of a historical law and how it should be understood)

- your statement about victims and survivors - please explain that one?

- sorry, but there are plenty of district attorneys who still will not file criminal charges because of fear; pressure from outside groups, etc.  Your statement appears to be naive.  Minneapolis-St. Paul - no charges again because, whether we like it or not, the district attorney has to go by the letter of the law and the current, antiquated laws protect Nienstedt...oh yeah, his former chancellor's depostions has been released and he encouraged Nienstedt to resign twice)

- then, you say - *few and far between* - really, document that one for me?   Just in 2014, we have George again with McCormack and others (another deposition is pending); Nienstedt; Chaput/Lynn and the appeals; Meyers; Gallup, NM bankruptcy; Listecki and Milwaukee bankruptcy; Dolan and the cemetery; Kurtz in Louisville, Winona diocese, Archbishop Carlson in STL and his repeated legal appeals; Newark; Phoenix; Belleville, Rockford - this is just a partial list.

 

@ Bill deHaas:  I sense your real frustration with JOL.  There is a part of me that believes that he is only encouraged by the attention his outrageous ideology engenders.  The usual clinical response is that you don't give narcissists the thing that they crave the most:  attention.

What should we do?  Lies and prejudice must be confronted in the public commons or they will become normative.

What I can't understand is that Commonweal editors get all exercised about blogger comments that they determine to be tasteless or "snotty" but seem to escape behind their journalistic barricades of "free speech" especially when JOL continues to parade his odious ideas.

I don't know what the best strategy is here?  Maybe they figure that JOL needs more sunshine not less on his ideas in order to further discredit them?

My initial impulse is to continue to speak-out especially when the ideology, if left unchallenged, could be harmful or detrimental to children or survivors.

George, you wrote:

in Canada, a truth and reconciliation commission was established. That takes commitment and work. In many respect, SNAP is doing this or could be doing this. At issue is the openness with which the RC church is open to having an external body present to it findings and recommendations.

http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=3

So, what model is currently being proposed to address this at a systemic level?  Furthermore, where is the willingness to examine the structural issues that lent themselves to creating such a culture of cover-up, etc.? According to a psychiatrist brought in by the Vatican to examine the issue, there was no appetite in Rome for an enquiry of this type.

What is required is a structure that will operationalize the idea you are suggesting and currently, aside from SNAP, no such structure exists in the Church.

The level of mutual mistrust prevents the sort of progress you're calling for.

In the US, the only bodies I'm aware of that have been able to work with the church to tackle the systemic issues within the church are intra-church bodies: the USCCB and the Holy See, and the various bodies and entities they've created or contracted with, such as the national and diocesan review boards that have been set up pursuant to the Dallas charter .  The work these church bodies have done is roundly and, in my opinion, oftentimes unfairly derided by the self-appointed arbiters of church comportment.  The topic of Grant's original post, SNAP's all-too-predictable dismissal of the Holy Father's off-the-cuff press conference remarks, certainly is a case in point.

You suggest that SNAP is doing, or could be doing, the hard work needed to get processes of truth-telling and reconciliation established.  Conceptually, you might be right,  But I have to say that I'm not aware of anything that SNAP is doing or ever has done that is designed to bring about reconciliation.  A quick visit to their website reveals a series of press releases, virtually all of which seem to be devoted to publicizing accusations and/or reporting on progress of court actions.  I don't think anybody here is denying that this is necessary work; but is it directed toward peace and reconcilation?  I don't see it.

So long as SNAP maintains its habitual stance toward the church hierarchy - i.e. complete mistrust and hostility - I don't really see any hope that SNAP could become an instrument of peace and reconciliation.  

In your comment, you didn't mention Voice of the Faithful.  I don't know whether and to what extent VotF is still viable - I don't see or hear much about it anymore - but at its inception, there was hope that it could become a catalyst for bringing about both reform and reconciliation.  Perhaps it is still possible that VotF or something like it could serve that mediator role.

Ultimately, any body that wants to cooperate with the church in bringing about reform of church processes and practices has to be willing to do exactly that: cooperate with the church.  Suing the church, and blasting the church in the media, are two tactics that make it virtually impossible to cooperate with the church.  Wisely or not, victims' advocates have chosen to pursue war, and as often is the case, war make it difficult to bring about peace.

 

Bill d, you wrote, in response to my comments suggesting that charging bishops with crimes isn't a slam-dunk:

you say - *few and far between* - really, document that one for me?   Just in 2014, we have George again with McCormack and others (another deposition is pending); Nienstedt; Chaput/Lynn and the appeals; Meyers; Gallup, NM bankruptcy; Listecki and Milwaukee bankruptcy; Dolan and the cemetery; Kurtz in Louisville, Winona diocese, Archbishop Carlson in STL and his repeated legal appeals; Newark; Phoenix; Belleville, Rockford - this is just a partial list.

Bill  - yes, you and I agree that statutes of limitations prevent perpetrators in older cases from being charged; I said as much in my original comment, so I'm not sure why you felt the need to belabor it in your reply.   But not every case of abuse is outside the window of SoLs.  The charges recently brought against McCormack certainly are for crimes that occured within the limits of the criminal SoL in Illinois.  But even though McCormack has been charged, to my knowledge no bishop or other diocesan official has been charged (so far).  And my opinion, as a resident of the State of Illinois, is that the State's Attorneys in Illinois (which, as some readers may not be aware, is what district attorneys are called in Illniois) would not fear for political reasons to charge a diocesan official or a bishop.  

You're right, too, that dioceses and bishops have lawyers, and some of them are pretty good.  I don't know what the solution to that is, nor that it needs a solution, as it's a core principle of American justice that everyone is entitled to legal representation, and many, many criminals who also have good lawyers nevertheless are charged with crimes, and quite a few of them are convicted.  

To the best of my knowledge, none of the cases you've listed here have resulted in criminal charges (so far) against bishops.  Certainly, some of them have been sued in civil court, and some of them (or their representatives) have appeared before bankruptcy judges.  Those are not criminal charges.  

You and I agree that, whether or not criminal charges have been filed, at least some of these bishops almost certainly were negligent and/or complicit in bringing about the abuse of victims.  And being left off a government's indictment list or an arrest warrent doesn't and shouldn't shield any church official from ecclesial justice.

 

Ultimately, any body that wants to cooperate with the church in bringing about reform of church processes and practices has to be willing to do exactly that: cooperate with the church. ...  Wisely or not, victims' advocates have chosen to pursue war, and as often is the case, war make it difficult to bring about peace

Jim P, you have a point as far as the reality that the path chosen by SNAP has not led to any publicly visible reforms in how the US bishops conduct business. What they have done is keep the story alive. And if there ever is to be any real reform, the story has to be kept alive until it finally happens.

As we all know, the only effective pressure raised against the culture within the church that has led any reforms at all has been the impact of the global media spotlight on sexual abuse in the church.

It was the Boston Globe that broke the story wide open even though many others, including National Catholic Reporter, had been writing about it for a long time. It is only because of those who have decided to stop playing by the bishops' rules and start playing hardball in the public arena, leveraging the public, secular media, that the story became front page news.  Without this, nothing would have changed.  There is still much that MUST change and that is that there MUST be sanctions against bishops who protect priests who are a danger to kids. Until that is done, this wound will continually be ripped open again, over and over again. 

The results of the initial media firestorm led to the creation of Review Boards and to the Dallas Charter (ignored with impunity by several bishops that we know of, including Cardinal George), and to some policies at the parish level.  The Review Boards are only window-dressing in some dioceses and don't even exist in others. The policies that were adopted are good, but are limited in their impact, which is mostly on lay employees and volunteers, as well as lower level clergy such as deacons.  The hierarchy is still protecting itself. 

You criticize SNAP's approach and fault them for not cooperating with the instituion. But, if there is no cooperation, it is because the hierarchy do not wish to cooperate with any lay group. Most bishops still refuse to allow VOTF to meet on church property.  When the Bishop in Australia (Geoffrey Robinson) who spent nine years investigating the sexual abuse of kids in his country wrote a book about the sources of this evil in the church, he was roundly condemned, especially because he does not shrink from pointing out church teachings that contribute to the corruption that led to protecting priest/pedophiles, nor does he shrink from pointing out that Rome itself and its popes contributed signicantly to the clerical culture that has nutured the evil of enabling pedophilia in the church to be protected. When he came to the US to do a book tour, every bishop of every diocese where he was scheduled to speak by Catholic groups forbade the use of any Catholic property at all. I saw him speak at the nationaql 4H Club headquarters after the church that had planned to host the talk in DC was told by the bishop (Wuerl) that they were forbidden to do so.  In Los Angeles, the cardinal bishop who issued this order was none other than Roger Mahoney.

I can't think of even a single example of the hierarchy of the church ever "cooperating" with any indpendent lay group that is not among those who speak out about anything at all as regards real reform. If they are good "obedient" lay groups like the K of C, who raise money for the church by the millions, the bishops will "cooperate" with them.. If they don't control the organization and its leadership, the bishops simply close the door in their face. And of course, if they exercise full control over the organization either directly or indirectly, then it is almost 100% a certainty that there will be no genuine efforts towards reform.

Jim P, I would be genuinely interested in knowing from you how any lay persons or lay-run organizations that are totally independent from hierarchical control can "cooperate" with the bishops without sacrificing their integrity?

So far, what little progress has been made has been the result of an adversarial process aided by the exposure of the truth by the secular media.  So, specifically, what do you suggest SNAP and others do?  They have excellent reasons to be adversarial because they have learned not to trust anything the bishops do or say on this matter. We have all seen the PR spin that Rome belatedly started putting on this situation - the meetings with victims by Benedict, the words of regret. But these have turned out to be empty words - not followed by action against those who enable(d) crimes against children. Rome talks out of both sides of its mouth as a matter of policy. 

How can you trust Rome when it twists and turns in order to avoid accountability? How can you trust an organization that attempts to claim it has no authority over priests and no authority to remove bishops who facilitate child rape and molestation when it has no problem at all exercising this supposedly non-existant authority to remove any priest who publicly declares support for women's ordination? Who wasted little time forcing out Bishop Morris of Australia for the same "crime" ?  Rome has removed several bishops for financial improprieties (why is it that money is always their first priority?), and a few when their own sexual abuse of seminarians came out. It appears that the bishops now under investigation are probably among the latter, not among those who protected child rapists.  It seems that sexually abusing adults who happen to wear Roman collars is a far more egregious sin in the eyes of the men of Rome than is enabling the sexual abuse of children.

EVERYONE, incuding SNAP would like to see this scandal (the protection by Rome of bishops who protect(ed) pedophiles) go away, would like to see the wounds begin to heal. But, Jim, it's not going to happen unless the bishops decide to cooperate with laity - not the other way around. The laity are pretty much helpless and the bishops have left SNAP and others few choices other than the confrontational route.

Ultimately, any body that wants to cooperate with the church in bringing about reform of church processes and practices has to be willing to do exactly that: cooperate with the church.  Suing the church, and blasting the church in the media, are two tactics that make it virtually impossible to cooperate with the church.

Jim P.,

Cooperation suggests and usually requires people working together on pretty much an equal footing, open to believing that at least some of the ideas brought to the table by others may be truer and more practically useful than one's own, and willingness to cede some measure of authority and control in order to reach reconciliation. Is that the history of the Church? Is that its posture today?

People resort to screaming in a frustrated and futile hope of overcoming voluntary deafness.

We have all seen the PR spin that Rome belatedly started putting on this situation - the meetings with victims by Benedict, the words of regret. But these have turned out to be empty words - not followed by action against those who enable(d) crimes against children. Rome talks out of both sides of its mouth as a matter of policy. 

I do not believe that for pope Benedict it was just a PR spin. I believe his regret is genuine, and his words were not empty, but he meant what he said.  I don't think his relative lack of action was due to cynicism. Maybe he was caught between his realization of the evil of clerical sex abuse and his views on church governance and power in the church. We need someone creative, imaginative, and turned to the future, to get us out of this dreadful rut.

Now that Benedict is no longer pope, can't we lay to rest his mistakes and faults in leadership, and accept that he is a person of respectable character? We can even afford to risk erring on the side of optimism when thinking about him - now that he's not in power, what's the harm? And once he dies, he'll presumably be declared a saint, continuing the tradition of canonizing popes!

 

your statement about victims and survivors - please explain that one?

Sure - it's pretty straightforward.  The word "survivor" generally is reserved for people who made it through a genocide alive, or cancer patients who beat the odds.  

In an earlier comment, I gave two examples of non-physical circumstances of abuse, one of which (the Ratigan child pornography photos) certainly constitutes child sexual abuse, and the other (Richard Rand Coopers' experiences as recounted in his Commonweal article from a few years ago) arguably also would be considered abuse.  You and I would agree that both the subjects of Ratigan's photos, and Cooper as a boy, were victims, and I daresay SNAP wouldn't turn away either victimized group.  But I wouldn't assign the term "survivor" to either one, because to the best of our knowledge, neither's experience was life-threatening.  Of course, the lives of some victims of sexual abuse, either during the actual experience of abuse, or via its after-effects, really are at risk, and perhaps they are entitled to use the term "survivor".  What I object to is using "survivor" as an across-the- board term to refer to victims of abuse.  Let's use "survivor" where it's warranted, and use "victim" as our general term.

 

Now that Benedict is no longer pope, can't we lay to rest his mistakes and faults in leadership, and accept that he is a person of respectable character?

I don't really want to forget the bad stuff that occurred on B16;s watch - I think he did a lot of damage.  In the area of sex abuse, the  Lawrence Murphy case (the school for the deaf) is an example ... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8587082.stm ... and ... http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/movies/mea-maxima-culpa-alex-gibney-do... .... but there was so much more ... his unecumenical stance towards Protestants and Islam and Judaism, his embrace of the SSPX, the return of the Latin mass, the missal translation, the pushing of sainthood for Pius XII, his anti-LGBT statements, etc.

Thanks, JP.....guess my training across a number of areas where you find victims is (simplistically) to move *victim* to *survivor*.  My use of these terms has nothing to do with *Ilfe threatening* - in fact, see most sexual abuse as *soul murder* and so would argue that it is life threatening (in that sense).

Realize that victim may have a specific use in descriptions of events, etc. but survivor conveys to treating professionals that a *victim* has reached a point of integrating what has happened and is able to move forward (this doesn't mean that the event(s); victimization, etc. is forgotten but that it no longer keeps the person frozen in time)

Not sure that it is helpful (especially when most events happened years ago) to continue to refer to these folks as *victims* - my experience is that folks who have been treated find that term to be problematic; insulting; etc. 

Would suggest using *survivor* as our general term and *victim* when it is applicable - recent event; person who is still dealing with the impact; someone who has not been able to move to *survivor*; describing historical events, periods of time, etc.  So, IMO, use survivor when addressing or describing actual folks and victims when detailing a historical case, those hurt by a specific priest abuser, etc.  For example, the *victims of McCormack* but when detailing a specific McCormack target or talking directly to someone who has been hurt, would call them a survivor.

Sorry, have never seen your *life-threatening* distinction in professional literature.

 

Jim P, I would be genuinely interested in knowing from you how any lay persons or lay-run organizations that are totally independent from hierarchical control can "cooperate" with the bishops without sacrificing their integrity?

If we step back from the topic of sexual abuse and widen the range of topics, we see that there are many lay-run organizations that work reasonably well with the church authorities.  I'm thinking of service organizations like St.  Vincent de Paul chapters, educational organizations like some of the independent Catholic schools, and some of the Catholic professional organizations (e.g. doctors' and lawyers' groups).  I think you're a bit hard on the Knights of Columbus - most of the Knights aren't particularly doctrinaire nor culture warriors; they belong to the Knights because they like the social and community-service aspects, and the Catholic identity aspect.  My observation is that they tend to raise money for local community service organizations much more than for the Holy See.  And beyond these organizations, there are many, many instances of church-lay or clerical-lay cooperation: we see this all over our parishes, and in organizations like Catholic Charities.  I don't think it's far-fetched for a lay organization to cooperate with the church authorities. 

Anne, overall, I agree with quite a few of the points you made.  I don't mean to place all, or even much, of the blame on SNAP for the level of mistrust that exists.  But even so, I do think it gets some things wrong.  

You're right that sue-the-church-and-shame-it-in-the-media has gotten us to wherever we are now.  But I'm not sure that wherever we are now marks a ton of progress.   Someone (Fr. James Martin?) once said something like, 'We'll know we'll have turned a corner when the church authorities are able to thank the victims who have forced them to confront their misdeeds.'  I don't think we're there.  And I wonder whether the sue-and-pubicly-shame strategy will get us there.  Suing, it seems to me, is about the least effective way to elicit cooperation.  Once a lawsuit is filed, the logic of legal attack and legal defense takes over. 

And even though conflict and confrontation may have made some progress, I do wonder whether it is the only, or the best, way forward.   George has pointed us to a different model in Canada: a path of mediated reconciliation, apparently initiated by the Canadian government(?)  Whether that would fly in the US, I don't know. 

 

JP - sorry if I replied with just one example and a rather broad example - SOL.

Using McCormack as an example - his abuse may fall within the state of Illinois SOL but a state or district attorney also has to look at more than just SOLs.  In the McCormack case, who had responsiblity; who had the knowledge; and where those folks by law mandated reporters?  Like SOLs, mandated reporting laws are non-existent; rather new; or antiquated.

Another example you often see - a priest abuser is a member of a religious community and the diocese/bishop/chancellor argues that he is the responsibility of his religious order;  the order, in turn, says that the abuser was working for the diocese and thus the bishop is responsible.  What is a district attorney to do?  File charges against both?

There are other complex legal rulings that impact these types of decisions - and these, in turn, are weighed by the district attorney - will the case go on for years; will there be multiple appeals; are there reliable witnesses willing to testify; if the case moves forward, will it be costly to the county or state; staff time; etc.  Too often, these cases may hinge on only one or two witnesses who may or may not be reliable in the eyes of a jury or judge - and so, a district attorney makes a judgment call.

Agree with your last paragraph completely.  Too bad that it appears to work almost in the reverse.

 

Cooperation suggests and usually requires people working together on pretty much an equal footing, open to believing that at least some of the ideas brought to the table by others may be truer and more practically useful than one's own, and willingness to cede some measure of authority and control in order to reach reconciliation. 

John - that's a beautiful image (really).  How do we get there?  I'll work with anyone with a good plan to get us there.

 

 

Bill - re: "victim" and "survivor" - as you probably know, I don't have clinical training, and I wasn't aware that "survivor" has a technical, clinical usage.  Interesting distinction you make.  And very interesting point re: "soul killing".

 

...many lay-run organizations that work reasonably well with the church authorities.  I'm thinking of service organizations like St.  Vincent de Paul chapters, educational organizations like some of the independent Catholic schools, and some of the Catholic professional organizations (e.g. doctors' and lawyers' groups)

Thanks for your response, Jim.  Unfortunately, it doesn't answer the question of how SNAP can get the bishops to work cooperatively with the laity who are advocates for the victims of priest sexual abuse - victims of predators who were able to become serial abusers because bishops failed to stop them, protecting them instead. 

It's apples and oranges.

The groups you cite are those who carry out many missions of the church for the bishops - they do the actual work while the bishops "direct" from above, or at least give them their blessing when they show up for PR events and fundraisers.  And if some of those groups ever were to get a little uppity and decided to do something not in accord with the bishop's wishes, it is very likely that the surface cooperation would cease.

 The types of groups you give as examples of "cooperation" with bishops are not attempting to get the bishops to repent - to express genuine remorse (instead of empty words of regret), proven by actions, specifically by the resignations of at least a few of the worst offenders, voluntary resignations or at the request of Rome.

SNAP (and millions of other Catholics) want to see Rome ACT instead of talk - by sanctioning bishops who facilitated serial sexual abusers just as they act against bishops who steal money from the church or against a bishop who publicly supports re-examining the teachings on women's ordination. Rome ACTs when the PTB want to act. They sit on their hands when it comes to bishops who protect priests who are a risk to children (and Ratigan IS a risk to children).

Since Rome and the bishops have refused to ACT when it come to bishops who enable child rape and molestation, and refuse to even talk with groups like SNAP, those groups really have no choice but to continue to respond to the bishops' hardball game with hardball.

I seriously doubt that if groups like SNAP and BishopAccountability had not continued to keep these stories front and center through media exposure and, yes, litigation, even the little "progress" that has been made would not have been made. Rome finally got the message that it better at least pretend to be concerned for the victims, creating a couple of meetings with Benedict and victims, accompanied by lots and lots of empty reassurances and PR spin. I live in Washington DC and I know spin when I see it. 

SNAP is performing a service to the whole church - not just past victims, but potential future victims - by continuing to hold the hierarchy's feet to the fire. If SNAP and similar groups in Ireland and elsewhere had just kept quiet as the bishops wanted them to, it is unlikely that Benedict would ever have even spoken the words of regret (as ultimately meaningless as they were) or that Francis would have created the new commission.  It is progress - very slow, and very painful, but progress. And even this little bit of progress wouldn't have happened without those who are willing to keep fighting, such as those in SNAP.

One can hope that at some point Rome and the hierarchy will recognize that it is they who are the offenders, not SNAP and others who work for the victims and work to reduce the chances for potential future victims. There is no safety for kids in this church if the PTB continue to  fail to sanction bishops who protect pedophiles and do not develop written policies that clearly spell out the obligations of bishops to report alleged criminal behavior to the civil authorities. As we all know, the Italian bishops recently refused to accept just such a requirement for the bishops of that country.

So, if you have any ideas as to what other approach SNAP might take that reflects the real world of church rather than an idealistic fantasy church, I still would hope to hear them. As things stand now, it seems SNAP and similar groups have no choice but to treat the bishops the same way the bishops treat laity who cross them and the same way most bishops treat victims - even now.  

Claire, I am with Crystal.  I do not see Benedict as having done much good for the church, but he did inflict a whole lot of harm on it.  Being scholarly does not mean someone is "saintly".

John Paul II is not a "saint" and I will never refer to him using that term. The combined reigns of JPII and Benedict led to the biggest outflow of Catholics from the church since the Reformation

, The trend of canonizing or trying to canonize every single man who holds the office of pope is ridiculous and has made the designation "saint" almost completely meaningless - sort of like an honorary degree given to celebrities at college graduations. 

Crystal: I just don't see the point of continuing the criticism. Benedict no longer has any power. Criticizing him seems almost like a habit. It's like an ingrained negative attitude. I don't see what benefit it has. What is the point, except to let your thoughts traveled along well-trodden paths, like someone stuck in a world of negative thoughts? We could try to be generous and focus on his qualities and accomplishments instead, and that might be better for everyone. We can give a rest to the old complaints.

I prefer to focus my criticism on whoever currently has authority.  :)

Anne: I agree that canonizing popes because they're popes is ridiculous. That comment of mine was ironical. 

Claire, I see your point.  I find it hard to let go of stuff  ;) 

How do we get there?  I'll work with anyone with a good plan to get us there.

There you go again, Jim P., with the easy questions. :-)

As a total non-expert, I begin with the assumption that no one right now has a complete answer, and no one has a good plan. So when we don't know the whole way to where we need to go, let's start with the steps we do know, and hope that that very willingness will lead us on and enlighten us. We have some recent examples of reasonably successful truth and reconciliation efforts that defused bitter conflicts. Let's study them.

To set up a t & r commission on sexual abuse of children, begin with a round table and randomized seating to avoid the appearance of sides confronting each other. There should be no sides in an effort to protect children. But there should be many voices expressing every relevant view, including some that will be hard to listen to. Around that table we must, of course, have members of the Church hierarchy, but lay Catholics as well, for they have been deeply affected; representatives of victim advocate groups and of the victims themselves; legal experts and law enforcement personnel; medical and psychiatric professionals; possibly even experts in corporate management. Also at the table, if they are willing, should be some admitted abusers, for they will have their own peculiar expertise to tell of, and it should be heard.

How are these people to be selected, and by whom? I don't know, but I believe that in each of the groups I just mentioned, even, I dare hope, in the last one, there are people of good will who may be asked to serve. Good will is indeed the key. In the beginning, every member must make an effort to put aside—not perhaps forever, but for now—every preconception, claim of privilege, fear, defensiveness, resentment, loathing, and desire for revenge. The first job is to listen, not only to the words of others, but for that mysterious movement that sometimes brings a divided assembly to substantial agreement. I have witnessed that, allthough not in as grave a matter as this one.

Discussion should begin with what is already largely agreed on: the nature, scope, and gravity of the abuse; and the necessity of ending it now. (No occasion there for shouting or recriminations.) That will build some consensus, which will be needed and severely tested in later sessions, when accountability, legal consequences, and reparations will be on the agenda.

At that stage, no one should expect to get everything he wants or to avoid everything she doesn't want. Without foretelling the outcome, I think and hope that the Church would need to accept and admit that however inspired its pronouncements on faith and morals may be, the narrow and tightly held governance of the Church and the self-serving shortsightedness of many of its leaders created this disaster and are an unanswerable argument for significant change. Victims and their families will receive, I hope, a full and frank acknowledgment of what they have suffered and generous help in recovering. Perhaps some who enabled that suffering will be held accountable; perhaps some will even confess their failures. But in a world where millions of children die of starvation every year and millions more of preventable diseases, perfect justice is so rare that we might not know it if we saw it. Still, even imperfect justice would be more than we have now.

I may in this be putting a heavier load on good will than it can bear. But for many years I believed and said that the apartheid regime in South Africa would only end in a horrific bloodbath. I was delightfully wrong, and ever since then I have been a believer in the power of good will.

Well Bill de Haas and Jim Jenkins continue to froth against a JOL of their own imagination, one of them crying "where are the thought police when we need them?"

I agree that I am not an expert, but nonetheless I seem to be more informed on the recent controversy about categorizing pedophilia as a sexual orientation, and on recent discussions on the actual relations between watching porn and acting out sexual crimes.

I am not some benighted idiot. I have the human experience of 65 years to draw on, as well as frequent conversations with psychoanalyst friends, mosly Lacanians, who agree with me on these issues. I am also a scholar of literature, versed in Rousseau, Sade, James, Gide, Tanizaki, Joyce, Auden, Alan Bennett and other relevant authors, as well as relevant critical commentators such as Foucault, Derrida, Paglia, Kincaid. 

It is on the basis of reflection, forty years of it, that I have drawn my personal conclusion that the sex abuse scandal is "20% substance, 80% Salem". This is a thesis I am prepared to discuss rationally with all comers, and it is a sad confirmation of my estimate that so many prefer to scream and call for censorship.

 

EVERYBODY had read those authors. Literally everbody. That kid on the bus blasting music on his phone without any earbuds? His friends are all Lacanians, too. The woman checking meters? Wrote her thesis on L'archéologie du savoir. Alan Bennet is starring in the next season of True Detective  with the ghost of Jun'ichirō Tanizaki. EVERYBODY knows these authors--and you are still as messed up as a tackle box that fell down a flight of stairs.

JOL - you just sealed the deal with another *let's move the goalposts* comment. 

Your experience, knowledge, credentials, etc. - appears to come down to:

- I read great literature (and, of course, my interpretation of this literature is the only truth)

- my *vicarious* experience of victims makes me an expert

- you state:   ".....recent controversy about categorizing pedophilia as a sexual orientation, and on recent discussions on the actual relations between watching porn and acting out sexual crimes. My Lacanian friends support this."

What a joke - many of us commenting here have spent decades in the field; have degrees, have done peer reviewed studies and papers; continue annually to re-credential and re-license and base our actual experience (treatment of victims; clinical experience; etc.) on what the US professional associations best practices and protocols are.  These best practices and protocols are developed via thousands of professionals, peer reviewed studies, university trials, etc.  (vs. your 65 years of life - what a sad and pathetic attempt to justify your *mixed up tacklebox*)

So, the bottom line - JOL's sole opinion supported by his wiki friends vs. actual experience and solid research and clinical expertise.  You know, your approach is the same one that many US bishops use - they have the *sole opinion supported by what - whatever they make up*....sad, sad, sad.

BTW - Lacanian proposals have been both rejected and found to be false by the professional standards of today - even Wiki's summary has a bold statement stating that their description has not been properly vetted).  No professional association; no university setting; no research school; no insurance company will accept; approve; or support their unproven hypotheses. Not only has psychoanalysis/Freud fallen out of disfavor decades ago, but Lacanian ideas take Freud even farther down the rabbit hole)

Just love it - pedophilia is a sexual orientation - really??? The proposed DSM V will categorize it as a *disorder* - a mental illness characterized by sexual attraction to children (not a sexual orientation in the way you are using it above - please be precise).  That being said, there are many disorders/mental illnesses that can create criminal behaviors.  Just because you have the disorder does not absolve an adult of their responsibility to find treatment; observe commonly defined laws about public behavior, etc.  Example - we recognize alcoholism as a medical condition but, at the same time, that does not justify driving drunk - much less injuring or killing someone while driving drunk.  Same with the pedophile.  What we do know that is different, is that alcoholism can be *cured* or *managed*  in one sense; pedophilia can not be cured or *managed* without appropriate external safeguards.

 

John P - you're on a roll.  If you can beat that into shape and put it in letter form, I'll sign it with you.  Then let's send it to the USCCB, SNAP, VotF, the American Psychological Association, the Attorneys General of all 50 states, and anyone else we can think of that would be a stakeholder.  

Anyone else on board?  I'm serious as a heart attack.

 

A follow-up to John Prior's comment this morning at 4:50 about the importance of good will.

In this issue of cleerical sex abuse, as in many other serious conflicts that we face both in our personal lives and as members of institutions and political entities, we all need to keep reminding ourselves that we all are both fallible and in need of forgiveness. None of us has a corner on truth or goodness. All of us have made and continue to make mistakes and commit faults.

The explicit admission of our common condition in these respects ought to guide us in our search for ways to heal the harms that, each of us in our own ways has not only contributed to but also suffer from.

We know that there must be civil laws that deal with crimes and punish them and that there ought to be appropriate accountability expected of us for what we do and say.

Jim Pauwels is right, I think, to say that we presently don't have structures that promote this attitude of mutual respect and forbearance. These is in so many matters a long history of institutionalized distrust, contempt, and self-serving that has begotten and continues to beget  hostility, even hatred.

Following the lead of Pope Francis in his emphasis on forgiveness and mercy --both giving them and acknowledging that we ourselve always need them-- each of us can look for ways to address the multiple serious harms  we confront that manifest a firm commitment to forgiveness and mercy.

What John Prior sketches is a useful picture of what we might well wish for. Sure, it's utopian, but utopian visions have their uses, so long as they are recognized as beyond complete attainment. They serve to remind us of just how needy we all are,

Rather than denounce and condemn, we all would do well to remember that even the worst of us ( pedophiles, tyrants, etc) are God's beloved children , each of whom deserves fundamental respect whatever he or she has done or will do. Our speech and conduct should reflect this truth.

Fr. O'Leary --

Perhaps the particular sexual interests of the authors you respect so highly  has given you a distorted idea of ordinary children's notions and feelings about sex.  You need to read more widely.  For starters, you might try "Tom Sawyer".

I have read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, years ago; but what exact relevance do you find in them? Thomas Mann and Robert Musil seem to me more probing and realistic about adoescent sexuality, which does not seem to have been a topic for Mark Twain at all.

On clerical sex offences, I found juicy things in Newman (warning his priests in Birmingham not to take the boys to their rooms any more,because very natural gestures of affection would be misinterpreted by  "the world"), in Bernanos (whose lonely, saintly country priest hugs an altar boy emotionally and is tarred by the locals as a pedophile), and in the beloved Canon Sheehan, who has this in "Luke Delmege":

 

"Was this to be his life? Dreary days, spent in idleness and unprofitable attempts to raise a helpless and dispirited people; and dreadful evenings, when he could not escape from himself, but had to face the companionship of thoughts that verged on despair." (p. 343)

"The morning was fine, and a gray mist hung down over field and valley, and wet the withering leaves, and made the red haws, that splashed the whole landscape, as if with blood, glisten and shine. But the mist could not conceal the gray, lonely fields... 'It's a land of death and ruin,' said Luke." (p. 332-3)

"'I have seen colouring across the moors and the breasts of the mountains that would make an artist's fortune, could he fix it on canvas. And, then, certainly the little children are very attractive. The one thing that strikes every English visitor to Ireland are the children's eyes – das Vergissmeinnicht blauste Auge!'" (p. 348)

"Luke thought, and was tempted. He said goodbye to the mother, and stooping down touched with his lips the wet, sweet mouth of the child. He walked away, leaving serious wonderment in the child's mind, but infinite gratitude in the mother's; but he had to steady himself against a tree for a few moments, whilst a current of strange, unwonted feelings surged through his veins… it was a fatal kiss! Luke had examined his conscience rather too scrupulously that night, and decided that these little amenities were rather enervating, and were not for him." (p. 360)

http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/07/father_bovary.html

 

Note that here Canon Sheehan is sketching a situation of affective starvation and immaturity, and a a gesture that would be characterized as a pedophile offense today. Some people today are urged by their therapists to search for memories of abuse in their past. They remember how a priest sat them tenderly on his lap when they were 8 and perhaps kissed them on the cheek, and they retrospectively decide they have been abused. 

Canon Sheehan wrote his autobiography and consigned it to the flames at the urging of his clerical friends -- a loss to be regretted.

I wrote:

"I seem to be more informed on the recent controversy about categorizing pedophilia as a sexual orientation, and on recent discussions on the actual relations between watching porn and acting out sexual crimes."

But Bill de Haas says:

- you state:   ".....recent controversy about categorizing pedophilia as a sexual orientation, and on recent discussions on the actual relations between watching porn and acting out sexual crimes. My Lacanian friends support this"

The last five words here are ADDED BY BILL DE HAAS. In fact my sources for both pieces of information are such AMERICAN sources as the Washington Post: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/31/apa-correct-manual-clari...

"What a joke - many of us commenting here have spent decades in the field; have degrees, have done peer reviewed studies and papers; continue annually to re-credential and re-license and base our actual experience (treatment of victims; clinical experience; etc.) on what the US professional associations best practices and protocols are.  These best practices and protocols are developed via thousands of professionals, peer reviewed studies, university trials, etc.  (vs. your 65 years of life - what a sad and pathetic attempt to justify your *mixed up tacklebox*)"

All of this for drawing de Haas's attention to a news story he seemed unaware of!

 

"Not only has psychoanalysis/Freud fallen out of disfavor decades ago, but Lacanian ideas take Freud even farther down the rabbit hole)"

Nonetheless, my Lacanian psychoanalysts friends deal with real people, suffering people, including victims of child abuse, and it is on that basis that I respect what they tell me.

"Just love it - pedophilia is a sexual orientation - really??? The proposed DSM V will categorize it as a *disorder* - a mental illness characterized by sexual attraction to children (not a sexual orientation in the way you are using it above - please be precise)."

As I understand it, this is in response to "an uproar on the Internet that the APA had designated pedophilia as a sexual orientation in its new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as DSM-5 or DSM-V."

 

Bernard Dauenhauer has some golden words:

 

"In this issue of cleerical sex abuse, as in many other serious conflicts that we face both in our personal lives and as members of institutions and political entities, we all need to keep reminding ourselves that we all are both fallible and in need of forgiveness. None of us has a corner on truth or goodness. All of us have made and continue to make mistakes and commit faults.

"The explicit admission of our common condition in these respects ought to guide us in our search for ways to heal the harms that, each of us in our own ways has not only contributed to but also suffer from..."

 

 

Joseph

They remember how a priest sat them tenderly on his lap when they were 8 and perhaps kissed them on the cheek, and they retrospectively decide they have been abused. 

Let's break this down:

Now, let's assume that the situation that is being recalled is the one from your literary selection.

but he had to steady himself against a tree for a few moments, whilst a current of strange, unwonted feelings surged through his veins… it was a fatal kiss!In point of fact, the child recalling that event, is not wrong.

Their impressions are correct. They were not consciously aware of or inviting a kiss with sexual connotations but they felt it. They were unable to process it at the time as they did had not developed the sexual awareness to differentiate between various meanings of gestures. But they knew that this was somehow different. And, in fact, it was different by the authors own admission. He had, in fact, intended a sexual kiss, for which he was later aroused and then shook it off.

I am not saying that it is abuse but it is confusing. In the later adolescents mind, they will think, is this normal? Is this intended to be secret? The implied secrecy is clear by the authors own admission. So there is guilt and shame associated with it.

The child would process this and understand it to be exactly what it was. Their antennae was not wrong. It will force them to re-evaluate the relationship with the person. Now, not just a part of the family but instead a kind of leering, secretive, lech. Or something..

You find it very easy to identify with Luke.  Can you try to identify with the child? Do you have that capacity?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks, JOL - you appear to be trying to bait and switch.  You quoted originally that pedophilia is sexual orientation (you really don't know because your education and experience in this area is neglibible).  You also said:  *on recent discussions on the actual relations between watching porn and acting out sexual crimes."  (please, prove to me that there is no connection or that it isn't an area to be concerned about?)

Really - again, you are obviously completely unaware what has been going on as the DSM V is being developed.  You found this dated article in the Washington Times which is now your go to resource on professional, clinical, and in depth discussions about diagnoses, treatment, etc.  (oh yeah, you added the phrase, *As I understand it* - based upon your reading of an article in a newspaper)

I responded that you are confused about the use of the phrase - *sexual orientation*.  Not sure what your point is by now posting a link to the Washington Times?  I then did go on about the term sexual orientation, etc.  (you characterize this as *an uproar on the internet*).  You tried to defend your on-going meme of clerical abusers by citing that some folks think that pedophilia is a sexual orientation (guess the next step is to defend their right to act on that sexual orientation?)  My drawing attention to your misuse of the term was to highlight what I know is happening and has been happening for well over three years - the professional discussions that weigh & contribute to developing the DSM V.  (JOL has no awareness of this; doubt he even knows how the DSM is developed; nor does he know that some of us commenting have been asked, or have contributed, or have been part of the development of the DSM V especially around the issue of pedophilia based upon our professional and clinical expertise.  BTW - it is not an internet uproar - it is a scholarly process that has been used over and over with earlier versions of the DSM....your description gives aware your lack of knowledge and, of course, you again give credence to a second or third hand source (a newspaper account); as if it is the credible repository of truth).

You then try to again defend your Lacanian friends - *they deal with real people, suffering people, including victims of abuse.*

Where to even start; the confusion and ignorance is so deep - Lacanian psycho-analysis is a philosophical approach that describes one way of trying to understand human behaviors.  Its goal is *understanding* rather than *modifying, changing behaviors.*   Even if a victim could understand the violation via Lacanian developmental philosophy, what happens next?  The process could take years and its purpose is for the victim to insert his/her abuse into an *artificial framework* that tries to explain behaviors.  Facts - very few people are aware, much less, access Lacanian psycho-analysis.  It can be expensive, take years,is not proven; is not approved or accepted by current professional associations, universities schools of social work, psychology, psychiatry, etc.  Beyond what you allege as personal conversations, doubt you could document or show actual Lacanian treatment of victims of sexual abuse.

Reality - current research and experience works with violated individuals so that they can address the damage - depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, eating disorders, suicidal ideation; self-harm; family separation; alcohol/drug abuse, financial issues.  At the same time it addresses real physical/mental issues that impact living - treatment and therapies try to begin a healing process of the spirit and soul.  It is a wholistic approach that covers the medical, psychological, mental, and family damage....the best treatment focuses not just on the individual but the family system in which he/she lives and works.  (and this is the significant difference between a Lacanian approach vs. all other approaches)

John, JP, and others - am all for forginveness and mercy.  But, let's keep all of this in context - we have two over-arching issues:   clerics who abused (and what to do with them) and bishops/Rome that have covered up and lied about these activities.

My comments to JOL have to do with his meme and misquotes masquerading as authorities.  His tendency is to pick and choose about a field of human behavior that he is totally unaware of.  Thus, he knee -herks based upon emotions.

Yes, there has been a 35 year process to better understand clerical abuse; to develop and implement safeguards.  Yes, the psychological professionals also had to develop their understandings and approaches (but, please keep in mind that when bishops blame the psychological experts; and we drill down, usually what you find is that the specific bishop ignored the psychological recommendation; ignored or was not able to oversee the monitoring and treatment program of a cleric; ignored treatment facility recommendations e.g. St. Luke's).  And the bishop would then move the abusing cleric without ever informing or involving the treating professional.

I have friends from the seminary and even a classmate who are clerical abusers - given what I know, etc., I support them, pray for them, can provide forgiveness, etc.  But, those efforts are based upon that clerics decision to be forthcoming; to follow his personal safety program; thus, to use sacramental language - it is a comprehensive approach to the sacrament of reconciliation - decision to admit, accept responsibility; to not only have a purpose of admendment but actually follow that *plan* and work (if possible and applicable) to heal the violations that they were reponsible for.   Anything else is merely *cheap grace*.

 

My comment here has nothing to do with Fr. O'Leary's exchanges with Bill de Haas. It is exclusively in response to the passage in the last paragraph of Bill's 1:08 pm comment this afternoon.

Cncerning some abusers whom he knows, Bill says: "I support them, pray for them, can provide forgiveness, etc. But those efforts are based upon that cleric's decision to be forthcoming, to follow his personal safety program..." etc.

Bill, As I understand Christian forgivenes, it is to be given UNCONDITIONALLY, with no prior conditions placed upon the one in need of forgiveness. It may well be that your forgiving serves to prompt the wrongdoer to repent. But even if he or she does not do so, you and I are still called upon to forgive.

Some civil and ecclesiastical officials have the responsibility to protect other childfren and adults from future dangers from those who have already abused. But they too, even as they impose restrictions on abusers, must do so in ways that show that these restrictions are future directed, aiming at restoring both victims and perpetrators to acceptance as respected members of the community. This is their responsibility, regardless of whether the perpetrator makes any efforts to reform. The door must always be open.

Unless I am mistaken, civil authorities in some places are already taking steps in this direction with some prisoners who are sentenced to life in prison without parole. To be sure, these officials look for signs of reform before including a prisoner in these programs. The Christian call to forgive is, I believe, even more radical. Especially for those of us who are not officials there is no Gospel warrat to withhold our forgiveness from anyone. Ever.

Fr. O'Leary --

In re Tom Sawyer and Twain -- you have totally overlooked Tom's attraction to Becky Thatcher -- she doesn't even draw a mention.  For you she isn't even part of the story.  I suggested looking at  Tom because he is a paradigm of boys his age -- he's interested in girls, not older boys, much less men (except as role models).

And the readings you recommend to me are, again, about *adult* males' thinking about boys -- not about boys thinking about girls.  You seem to have no understanding whatsoever of the mindset of typical boys.

I second what George . just said to you:  "You find it very easy to identify with Luke.  Can you try to identify with the child? Do you have that capacity?"  The answer is apparently No. You seem to be thoroughly enchanted by what gay men think of and feel about boys.  Try to picture what goes on in the heads of typical boys, i.e., girls, not men.  The last thing a typical boy wants is to be hit on by a man. 

I think the problem is when justice is still left in the wind and people want to move to "forgiveness." I also don't think anyone ever has any business telling survivors that they need to forgive their abusers.

I think the problem is when justice is still left in the wind and people want to move to "forgiveness." I also don't think anyone ever has any business telling survivors that they need to forgive their abusers.

Both of these points are exactly right.

 

 

Bernard - let me think about what you have said.  With Abe, think that a Christian is called to more than just *unconditional forgiveness*........you qualify that by inserting the role of leadership, etc.  Wonder if we, as the church community, don't all play a part in that.  Just my opinion but one of the failures I perceive over the last 20 years is that we too often have left the future directed and oversight to only the episcopal or civil leadership - would suggest that it has to be a *communal responsibility.*  One of the continuing scandals for me is that the majority of clerics don't want to know about the abuse; don't want to be involved; live in denial; or blame others.

There is the distinction between *forgiveness* and *forgetting*.....thus, I can unconditionally forgive my classmate but I do not forget what has happened and my forgiveness carries with it a responsibility to support him so that the conversion continues.  IMO, to just unconditionally forgive is only part of the process and can be an escape.  Also, catholic sacramental thinking sees *contrition* and *restitution* as necessary before there is forgiveness. 

Your definition of *unconditional forgiveness* sounds too much like *cheap grace*.  If you say that I am called to *unconditional mercy* - well, now I can agree with everything you state.  Sin is more than just *individual* - it is also *social*.  In fact, part of the clerical sexual abuse is that it is also a social sin - it tears at the fabric of the eucharistic community and calls for conversion and metanoia for all of us.  (BTW - use a parallel approach in counseling called family system - you don't just address the victim; you address the whole family and/or system)

Again, your definition of *unconditional forgiveness* seems too unilateral - leaves little room for conversion and metanoia....and sometimes that metanoia needs to be a communal conversion.  (which, IMO, is sadly still missing from the church's response - bishops/Rome have not made the conversion.)

But, to your point, would probably say to myself that forgiveness is the middle ground between justice and mercy.  To forgive is to love.........guess I may not be there yet in terms of what you say, Bernard.  OTOH, in my own way and with relationships with classmates, I find that I can forgive unconditionally and yet (probably because of the work I do) I always have some *doubt* and thus expectations. 

You call me to a scriptural/poetic love - unconditional forgiveness.  I can agree (yes, I fall short at times) & yes, the door should always be open but would add some questions:   from scripture and the example of Christ, must have a willingness to forgive and to love unconditionally  which means letting go of vengenance, hatred, bitterness; at the same time, IMO, forgiveness is a loving relationship; it is dialogue; it is an action between two people or within a community.  Thus, to unilaterally offer forgiveness and move on is not my idea of the fullness of *unconditional forgiveness*; any more than it is unconditional love.

This discussion has strayed a bit.  The issue of forgiveness of abusers is distinct from the issue of protecting kids from priests who target them for sexual abuse.  The topic of this story was the ambiguous statement that three bishops are under investigation for abuse.  

Protecting the kids does not hinge on what the men in Rome decide to do about bishops who abuse seminarians who are legal adults.  One bishop is himself accused of the procurement of boys for sexual use.  But, he himself is the probably abuser.

The issue most Catholics are concerned about is the bishops who are enablers - the bishops who fail to protect kids from priests who abuse kids by maintaining secrecy and simply moving the abusing priests to new positions. It happened a lot in the past, and it is happening now.

The Catholics of the world who are "outraged" about this are still waiting for Rome to hold accountable  the bishops who protect priests who are a danger to kids.  This has not been done, and it appears that it will not be done any time soon. It has nothing to do with the DSM or with forgiveness of pedophiles, or even with justice.

It's about protecting the kids going forward - that's the bottom line.

The children are not safe until bishops KNOW that they WILL be held accountable by Rome if they fail to report sexual abuse to the proper civil authorities and not just through secret channels to Rome.

Bernard - realize that my professional training intrudes upon my effort to life scripturally but please review this link:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/spycatcher/201404/why-predators-are-attracted-careers-in-the-clergy

One interesting point among many:

"5.   Many religious organizations preach forgiveness, even for felonies. For predators this is truly a godsend. This means that if they get caught, they can ask for forgiveness and chances are it will be given, in a pious but naïve effort to help the lawbreaker “learn from his mistakes.” Unfortunately, the predator sees this as an opportunity to sharpen his skills and to do his crime again, perhaps this time more carefully.

This apparently is what happened so many times with Catholic priests who were eventually convicted of serial child abuse. They were systematically “forgiven” along the way and thus they left behind a Grand Canyon-sized “debris field of human suffering” – namely children scarred for life, not to mention the trauma of the childrens’ families and the crisis of faith triggered among many devout Catholics as these transgressions were exposed.

If you are only casually familiar with what went on with the priests and the thousands of victims, you must read the Pulitzer prize-winning book Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church, by the superb investigative staff of The Boston Globe. And if that doesn’t rake at your heart, then Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, by Leon J. Podles should make you cringe, cry, and cogitate.

6.   Because religious organizations preach brotherly love, even when someone has done horrific crimes, there will be those gullible enough to defend the predator or willing to look the other way. The book Betrayal, by the Boston Globe has account after account of exactly that kind of exactly that kind of sickening indulgence. But you don’t only have to look at religious organizations; just look at how many still defend, poodle-like, Jerry Sandusky, the convicted ex-football coach at Penn State, even after so many revelations of child abuse. In the book, Betrayal, there is example after example cited of parishioners, even fellow priests, staunchly defending priests convicted of serial offenses.

 

 

The bishop is the "probable" abuser of kids, not "probably".

“Bill, As I understand Christian forgiveness, it is to be given UNCONDITIONALLY, with no prior conditions placed upon the one in need of forgiveness. It may well be that your forgiving serves to prompt the wrongdoer to repent. But even if he or she does not do so, you and I are still called upon to forgive.”

Then why are the conditions to receive absolution (forgiveness) during the Sacrament of Reconciliation unconditional?  As I was always taught (and maybe things have changed since the 1950s:

The sacrament requires that an individual express sorrow (contrition) for at least any mortal sins committed. It also requires an intention to reform (sin no more). The penitent confesses the sins to a priest and then agrees to perform the penance that the priest has imposed. Unless these conditions have been met, the absolution does not "take."

Darn:  s/b:    "Then why are there conditions to receive absolution (forgiveness) during the Sacrament of Reconciliation?" 

Jim: I think that in the case of the prodigal son, the father was forgiving him all along, but it would only "take" once the son was ready to express sorrow etc. Giving forgiveness is unconditional, but receiving forgiveness is only possible if one is well disposed. It seems to me.

Briefly, I'll stand by what I said. In my view, Claire has it exactly right.

Forgiving is not incompatible with punishing. It is incompatible with casting the guilty party out of the community without any indication that he or she is always beloved and welcome to rejoin the community whenever he or she chooses to act in ways that are compatibvle with membership in a loving community.

Abe, helping survivors to forgive, but not using coercion to do so, is part and parcel of helping survivors to recover. See Hannah Arendt, "The Human Condition." I admit that she leaves the door open for exceptions, but I think that doing so is inconsistent with her main argument.

"In re Tom Sawyer and Twain -- you have totally overlooked Tom's attraction to Becky Thatcher -- she doesn't even draw a mention.  For you she isn't even part of the story.  I suggested looking at  Tom because he is a paradigm of boys his age -- he's interested in girls, not older boys, much less men (except as role models)."

Like most readers of Twain, I remember chiefly Tom's friendship with Huck. But as I said, it's many years since I read either novel and I admit that "Tom Sawyer" seemed rather thin to me whereas "Huckleberry Finn" is evidently a great masterpiece.

Now please understand that I have nothing against sturdy exclusively heterosexual boys. Many of my best friends are ardent lovers of women and have shared with me their sexual stories in rich detail. So, yes, I do have some understanding of the mindset of typical boys, if there are any such creatures! But there are also gay boys, and they should not be treated as falling outside some "paradigm". Conventional boy-girl stories do not count as explorations of teenage sexuality, in my opinion, unless they deal with pubertal stirrings and the actual discovery of sexual fantasy, desire, and orgasm. 

"And the readings you recommend to me are, again, about *adult* males' thinking about boys -- not about boys thinking about girls.  You seem to have no understanding whatsoever of the mindset of typical boys." Well Twain was also an adult male writing about boys, just like Musil when he wrote "Törless"; Musil, you will be happy to hear, was heterosexual and not interested in boys, though he did shock the world by the incestuous plot of the second half of his great unfinished novel, "The Man Without Qualities".  I should add Franz Wedekind, the celebrated creator of "Lulu", which has a lesbian dimension, as well as of the scandalous "Spring Awakening", a truer account of typical boys than what Twain could offer.

"I second what George . just said to you:  "You find it very easy to identify with Luke.  Can you try to identify with the child? Do you have that capacity?"  The answer is apparently No."

I don's identify with Luke at all -- the story rather shocks me -- yet it comes from a family-friendly priest writer beloved in Ireland. 

"You seem to be thoroughly enchanted by what gay men think of and feel about boys.  Try to picture what goes on in the heads of typical boys, i.e., girls, not men.  The last thing a typical boy wants is to be hit on by a man."

Of course typical boys think of girls but untypical boys think of men. Moreover, typical boys are not necessarily horrified at the thought of being hit on by a woman any more than atypical boys are horrified at the thought of being his on by a man. Is the bottom line here just homophobic prejudice?

Bill de Haas queries my expertise, oddly, since I claim none, only common sense. He says bishops made the same mistake of relying on common sense, and in some cases that is true. But the usual complaint against bishops is that they relied on "expert" psychiatrists and not on common sense.

I let Bill get away with a rather outrageous dismissal of Freud and Lacan, two highly instructive writers -- I have the Studienausgabe of Freud and 15 volumes of Lacan's  Séminaire on a shelf in front of me as I type this. I sit in on discussions among Lacanians in Paris whenever I can, and I often hear them say that Lacan is only a useful means to draw on for ideas in treating the patient, not a blueprint. It is in American that Freudianism became a sterile dogma, and Lacan's whole effort was to rescue Freud from bureaucratic positivism and go back to seeing the patient as a human being who had something to say. 

"You quoted originally that pedophilia is sexual orientation (you really don't know because your education and experience in this area is neglibible)."

No, I said the the DSM people got into trouble for saying the pedophilia is a sexual orientation.

"You also said:  *on recent discussions on the actual relations between watching porn and acting out sexual crimes."  (please, prove to me that there is no connection or that it isn't an area to be concerned about?)"

I do not have to prove anything, or to take a side on this issue; I merely refer you to a discussion of which you seemed unaware.

"Really - again, you are obviously completely unaware what has been going on as the DSM V is being developed.  You found this dated article in the Washington Times which is now your go to resource"

I merely brought the discussion to your attention. If your were aware of it all along, why did you not say so?

"you are confused about the use of the phrase - *sexual orientation*.  Not sure what your point is by now posting a link to the Washington Times?  I then did go on about the term sexual orientation, etc.  (you characterize this as *an uproar on the internet*)."

The phrase an "uproar on the internet" is not mind but the Washington Post's. The uproar was because the text of the DSM called pedophilia a sexual orientation, in much the same sense as homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, asexuality are sexual orientations.

"You tried to defend your on-going meme of clerical abusers by citing that some folks think that pedophilia is a sexual orientation (guess the next step is to defend their right to act on that sexual orientation?)"

I have never defended clerical child abuse or any child abuse.

"My drawing attention to your misuse of the term was to highlight what I know is happening and has been happening for well over three years - the professional discussions that weigh & contribute to developing the DSM V.  (JOL has no awareness of this; doubt he even knows how the DSM is developed; nor does he know that some of us commenting have been asked, or have contributed, or have been part of the development of the DSM V especially around the issue of pedophilia based upon our professional and clinical expertise.  BTW - it is not an internet uproar - it is a scholarly process that has been used over and over with earlier versions of the DSM....your description gives aware your lack of knowledge and, of course, you again give credence to a second or third hand source (a newspaper account); as if it is the credible repository of truth)."

But the newspaper quoted the DSM manual. I am interested to hear that you are among those who got the manual changed.

If I may now resort to common sense, I would have to say that pedophilia is in fact a sexual orientation, and that the pedophile is drawn to children and not to adults just as the homosexual is drawn to males and not to females. This is an unfortunate orientation, but not in itself a mental illness. By the way that was very much the approach taken in the very first books on sexology that I read at the age of 14, which regularly commended "Goodbye Mr Chips" as a paradigm of the sublimated pedophhile.

"You then try to again defend your Lacanian friends - *they deal with real people, suffering people, including victims of abuse.*" They do not need defending -- they are good men and women who have done much good.

"Where to even start; the confusion and ignorance is so deep - Lacanian psycho-analysis is a philosophical approach that describes one way of trying to understand human behaviors."

This is incorrect. Lacan was a clinician as are all my Lacanian friends. I ALSO have friends who use Lacan in literary criticism, but they are not the practicing psychoanalysts I was referring to.  

"Its goal is *understanding* rather than *modifying, changing behaviors.*   Even if a victim could understand the violation via Lacanian developmental philosophy, what happens next?  The process could take years and its purpose is for the victim to insert his/her abuse into an *artificial framework* that tries to explain behaviors."

This is completely wrong. My closest Lacanian friend is a warm-hearted hands-on practitioner who insists that empathy is the primary virtue of an analyst (with patience and other professional virtues second, and mastery of psychoanalytical theory a distant third). Of course the patient is not asked to master Lacan or Freud. The patient is encouraged to speak and is assured of a patient and respectful listening, helpfully punctuated to bring him or her to deeper selfknowledge and psychological freeing. Behavior modification has been stupendous in some cases, people moving from lifes of despair and addictive repetition to mature and stable loving relationships.

"Facts - very few people are aware, much less, access Lacanian psycho-analysis."

There are plenty of grateful patients of Lacanian analysts in Buenos Aires, Paris, Boston, and Dublin.

"It can be expensive, take years,is not proven; is not approved or accepted by current professional associations, universities schools of social work, psychology, psychiatry, etc."

If you can recommend cheap therapists whose methods are proven I am sure many will be grateful. I would be leery of a university department of psychology that banned Freud and Lacan just as I would be leery of those analystical departments of philosophy that scoff at Kant and Hegel. The "current professional associations" evidently do not include the many psychoanalytical associations, so this is totally circular.

"Beyond what you allege as personal conversations, doubt you could document or show actual Lacanian treatment of victims of sexual abuse."

Personal conversations with a psychoanalyst seem to me a privileged source of information. Since you are the expert, you should have access to case histories in the literature. You surely are not suggesting that victims of sexual abuse do not go to Lacanian analysts or that the latter refuse to treat them?

"Reality - current research and experience works with violated individuals so that they can address the damage - depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, eating disorders, suicidal ideation; self-harm; family separation; alcohol/drug abuse, financial issues."

Most of those issues were discussed with me by my closest psychoanalytical friend. They are the staple of his practice it seems.

"At the same time it addresses real physical/mental issues that impact living - treatment and therapies try to begin a healing process of the spirit and soul.  It is a wholistic approach that covers the medical, psychological, mental, and family damage....the best treatment focuses not just on the individual but the family system in which he/she lives and works.  (and this is the significant difference between a Lacanian approach vs. all other approaches)"

Surely all psychoanalysts discuss the family background of the patient.One of my friend's patients had a tormented relationship with his father which was resolved, or began to be resolved, at the father's deathbed. If you mean organizing therapy sessions for the whole family, I think you will find that this meets huge resistance (oops, sorry for the Freudian jargon!) from the families.

"My comments to JOL have to do with his meme and misquotes masquerading as authorities."

Show me a single misquote!

"His tendency is to pick and choose about a field of human behavior that he is totally unaware of.  Thus, he knee -herks based upon emotions."

Really?

 

Jim Jenkins should listen carefully to Mayor Bloomberg's magnificent Harvard speech. The thought police are on the move all over the world, as in Russia, Iran, China, North Korea, and it is Un-American to call for them and to call for censorship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zhfn2zgFFJ8

Looking at "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" I see that Becky is a totally unmemorable Mädchen around whom there is absolutely no sexual interest. Tom spends a night in a cave with her -- and nothing happens! Now I remember how touched I was by the movie of "The Prince and the Pauper" in tender years, another "boy loves boy" story.

Albert E. Stone's Afterword to the reprint edition comments on the strange asexuality of the novel: "Twain... shied away from the fact of sexuality in curious young minds... Sexuality inevitably implied adolescence, growth toward adulthood. With part of his mind he turned his back on such implications... Presexual innocence absolved Twain from confronting certain aspects of maturity, especially physical love and marriage, which neither his abilities nor his predilections equipped him to develop satisfactorily. Boyhood... was a safer, more congenial area..."

Should Twain be enshrined in the pantheon of great American gay writers? -- along with Melville, James, and Whitman, not to mention Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal and Edmund White and Gertrude Stein and Emily Dickinson and James Baldwin and Truman Capote and Willa Cather and Allen Ginsberg and Lilian Hellman. I am not ashamed to say that I have read these great people with pleasure and learned a lot from them about human nature, though Abe Rosenzweig may dismiss this as artsy-fartsy.

I see that Twain has been "outed" here: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/features/twains-outing/100324.article

"I have never defended clerical child abuse or any child abuse.
 

Fr. O'Leary --

You say you don't defend child abuse, but you urge empathy for pedophiles who do abuse, pedophilia not being a disorder.  Do you think that pedophilic actions are generally not child abuse?

 

I have a friend who has struggled with his pedophilic orientation all his life, and I do urge empathy for him. Remember that a few short years ago we talked in the same way of gays as we now do of pedophiles. You suppose that this must inevitably mean that I approve of people committing sexual offenses against children. Again, I suggest you make some distinctions here. Dostoyevsky, to judge from his novels, had strong pedophile tendencies (see The Insulted and Injured) yet he also expressed horror at child abuse (as in the famous suppressed chapter of The Devils).

I am pretty sure that some of the posters here have benefited in their own personal lives from the moral relativism that flooded the church in the 1960s and have indulged all kinds of sexual high jinks under the banner of freedom of conscience. They should have empathy for those who have been equally powerfully tempted but by a form of sexuality that is antisocial when acted out and that is heavily criminalized. Let the sinless one cast the stone.

In the past, pedophiles were more accepted in our society on the premiss that they sublimated their sexuality in a maternal tenderness for their young charges, -- the "Goodmye Mr Chips" idea. Just the other day a good kind man who was a living Mr Chips was smeared as a pervert long after his death, based solely on the perception, undoubted accurate, that his affectivity was directed overwhelmingly toward children. Salem.

Joseph:

They should have empathy for those who have been equally powerfully tempted but by a form of sexuality that is antisocial when acted out and that is heavily criminalized.

 That people struggle with these is obvious. That they get help is also obvious.

When they act out on these and the ecclesiastical culture tacitly and actively supports such activity is problematic and what is being objected to.

Let the sinless one cast the stone.

Please avoid projecting your sexual fantasies on to the rest of the readership under the guise of some facile piety. You need to sort these issues out on your own.

 

Thanks, George D - here is a recent description of where we are from a neuro-science standpoint:

(taken from an article about mental illness and gun control)

"Our knowledge of the human brain is increasing exponentially. Consider just a few recent advances: The Human Connectome Project is in the process of mapping the brain. And the maps the Project is producing are not the rough, schematic sketches of just a few years ago but a detailed guide to "every twist and turn of the 86 billion neurons in the human brain." The mapping, it is suggested, will be helpful in diagnosing not only brain trauma, such as concussions or strokes, but a wide variety of psychiatric conditions "such as post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and dementia."  (or pedophilia)

Scientists are not yet able to read people's minds. Such a task involves multiple levels of consciousness and would be difficult to accomplish. On the other hand, neuroscientists have demonstrated the capacity to access the visual contents of dreams. And neurologists are also exploring ways in which deep brain stimulation can be used to relieve if not eliminate entirely the symptoms of major depressive disorder, Parkinson's disease, and even Alzheimer's.

"Can We Predict Crime Using Brain Scans?" So asked the headline of an article in Psychology Today, dated April 17, 2013. A neuroscientist from the University of New Mexico conducted brain scans of 96 convicted felons about to be released from prison. The scans focused on identifying neurological signatures of the convicts' impulsiveness, since it is known that poor impulse control lies at the root of many types of crime. The scans revealed that telltale markers in the anterior cingulate cortex correlated with poor impulse control and high recidivism rates. Indeed, "the level of brain activation predicted how long it would take before the person committed the [next] crime."

Brain science, in other words, has advanced to the point where we can see into the brain, alleviate the symptoms of mental illness, and even make credible predictions about future misconduct."

So much for the Lacanian approach which plays with fire.

Re: forgiveness.  It's an interesting discussion, but I think there is a lot of groundwork that would need to be laid before that is possible.  What John P and I were discussing - and which I hope catches the imagination of folks here - is the possibility of some structures to bring about truth and reconciliation.  In my view, the truth-telling comes first.  And of course the burden for truth-telling is on the church authorities.  

This is one of the chief reasons I've been so critical of the civil lawsuits (and of SNAP): they are aimed, at least in part, at bringing the truth into the light of day, but they are also inimical to bringing the truth into the light of day, because the costs to the church (which, as I've been known to point out here, is not guilty of abuse) are so astronomically high that the church has a huge stake in minimizing truth-telling.  And, as I've also been known to point out here, those huge sums of dollars don't really do much - or anything - to help the survivor heal.  They are the punishment that is imposed because that is the type of punitive damages that civil courts are geared to impose, and because entrepreneurial plaintiff's attorneys want money.  Undoubtedly, some victims want it, too.  Who wouldn't want several million dollars of someone else's money?

Ultimately, one of the things that I'd want a truth and reconciliation process to accomplish is to uncouple from truth-telling the horrendous costs of truth-telling that civil judgments and settlements impose.

Once the truth is known, then there is the possibility of justice, which can't be entirely set aside, but which may also need to be somewhat attenuated for the sake of peace and reconciliation.  I believe that is the outcome we've seen with truth and peace commissions in other parts of the world?

 

Some people here seem not to understand a crucial difference in various sexualities.  The crucial difference is age. lf two adults choose mutually to have a sexual relationship, whether gay or hetero, society does not see a problem that needs addressing, at least criminally.  When any adult - gay or hetero - seduces or forces sex on a child or young teenager, it is both morallly and criminally wrong.  

To compare the change in sexual mores in the culture due to the "sexual revolution" that led to acceptance of pre-marital sex and homosexuality as being the "same as" pedophiles who act out their "inclination" with children is outrageous.

Just because an adult is attracted sexually to a young person or child does not mean he/she has the "right" to have sex with that child. It is against the law even when the child is willing (few older teen-agers want to have sex with old people and  younger children do not want to have sex with anyone).  A friend's stepson is currently in prison precisely because he "acted" on his attraction to his 14 year old babysitter. He claims she "consented" (legally a 14 year old cannot "consent"), she claimed rape. Legally it was rape either way and he is now doing time - as he should be.  He committed a crime and the Lolita defense does not stand up.  

Priests who sexually molest anyone younger than the age of consent are criminals. The bishops who protect pedophile priests and move them to new parishes where they can molest again are accessories. 

Sympathy for the "poor" pedophiles who just can't help themselves and act out their sexual fantasies with kids need to be helped but  they also must be kept away from kids. If they have actually molested a child, jail is called for along with whatever psychiatric help they can get.

Empathy for pedophiles who act on their  "inclination" is misplaced.  The pedophile is not the victim, the children are the victims.   The pedophile is an ADULT and adults must protect kids, not exploit them.

More locker-room gibes from George D, and Bill de H seems to have sunk into the most positivistic materialism when he claims that "brain science" has put paid to psychoanalysis. Has he any idea of how much people suffering from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia have suffered because of positive scientists who refuse to listen to their voices, refuse to talk to them, and instead treat them as objects for brain scans, treatment relying primarily on drugs, and (in the past chiefly) electric shock therapy and lobotomy?

"Empathy for pedophiles who act on their  "inclination" is misplaced."

Jesus had empathy for the adulteress. Twenty years ago liberal Catholics would have said empathy for gays and lesbians who act on their "inclination" is misplaced; love the sinner and hate the sin. In the case of pedophiles, even "love the sinner" has gone out the window.

Of course the pedophile orientation does not give people the right to sexually abuse children -- it is hardly helpful to repeat the obvious. The constant insinuation that catholic bishops collude with pedophiles in the sense of justifying or excusing their behavior is just as unfair and projective as George D.'s locker-room stuff.

"To compare the change in sexual mores in the culture due to the "sexual revolution" that led to acceptance of pre-marital sex and homosexuality as being the "same as" pedophiles who act out their "inclination" with children is outrageous."

The John Jay report made that correlation, and to me it is totally obvious. In the 1970-80s millions of Catholics, including gay priests, decided that there was no sexual sin any more and began to act out their sexuality. Some priests acted it out with minors. Others, genuine pedophiles, became child molestors. I find it questionable that people who accord themselves vast freedom in the pursuit of their sexual lives, ignoring traditional morality, see themselves as infinitely remote from smelly pedophiles because they are not breaking the civil law. (Though I would note that in many jurisdictions those who practiced homosexuality in the 1970s, 1980s, and in my own country 1990s were criminals just as much as pedophiles who acted out were -- so the advice to keep on the right side of the law did not have the same lucidity has it has now acquired, when it means keep on the right side of the age of consent.)

Most older gay men were criminals in their youth, given the laws against homosexual behavior. Most liberal Catholics have boldly transgressed against authoritative morality. When they invest such energy in lambasting pedophiles (defined as anyone who has ever had sexual contact with anyone under 18), identifying them as rapists and torturers who must be lock away from society, since their taint is ineffacable, I can only wonder what the real moral dynamics underlying this are, and I believe the Gospel shed light on them.

It is immoral and criminal to prey on children and young teens who are, by definition, unable to give adult consent to the sexual relationship. Comparing this behavior to adult sexual relationships is wrong - and indefensible - no matter how many logical contortions those who defend pedophilia as simply one more "normal" variation on sexuality go through in a transparent attempt to defend the indefensible.  Those who twist and distort the horrific nature of these crimes in an effort to excuse the pedophiles  need to look inward to examine the "real moral dynamics" going on within their own moral decision-making. 

Certainly it would be stupid "to defend pedophilia--the orientation, I presume you mean--as simply one more 'normal' varians on sexuality" -- it is a quite problematic sexual orientation. My friend who has struggled with this orientation describes it as an antisocial orientation.

It is indeed immoral and criminal to prey on children and young teens who are, by definintion, unable to give adult consent to the sexual relationship.

"Comparing this behavior to adult sexual relationships is wrong and indefensible" -- well, you may have missed that SNAP folk do so all the time -- they compare adult relationships that they consider abusive or exploitative with child abuse.

Of course there are points of comparison. Indeed in Ireland up to 1993 both adult gay relationships and sexual abuse of minors were treated as equally offensive in law, with a higher sentence threatened for the former.

Also in a climate of sexual license abuse of minors is just as likely to occur as the various forms of prostitution, perversion, adultery, promiscuity, laxity that you are so careful to put in a separate moral compartment. Those who contribute to such a climate can be accused of aiding and enabling pedophiles as well.

 

 

Another point that has always troubled me is the connection between one's personal sexual freedom and the vast abortion industry. 

Bill deHaas, two related comments about your remarks of yesterday at 11:06 am concerning neuroscience:

1. In recent years, there has been an interest in what is called "neurolaw." Some people at places like Stanford, Vanderbilt, and Pittsburgh have suggested that the resuylts of neuroscientific analyses be given legal force. The obvious problem with this suggestion is that it would subject some people, determined by neuroscientific evaluations, to legal penalties not for what they have done but for what they have a tendency to do. Conceptually there's not a lot of difference between this sort of proposal and the proposals that have been made in the past by eugenicists. I'm opposed.

2. There is a fundamental conceptual prob lem with some of the claims being advanced for what neuroscience can do. Here's the problem. Scientists Jack and Jill examine subjects Mary and Phil. Presumably, on the theory, the conclusions that Jack and Jill reach about the conditions of mary and Phil are the outcome of the neural activity in Jack's and Jill's brains. In short, what comes out of such an examination is two sets of neurological activity. Why should any normative force be attributed to what Jack's and Jill's brains have yielded rather than to what anyone at all's brains would yield if they were examining Mary and Joseph? Why not rely on what Mary and Phil have to say about Jack's and Jill's analysis? As you can see, this problem is generalizable to all people. There is no obvious reason for giving normative status to anyone's neural firings. All you can get from the neuroscience analysis is a factual report of what its procedures can detect. Judgments about what normative conclusions one might draw from these facts is another matter.

Maay neuroscientists are aware of this problem and avoid making the sort of normative claims I am questioning here.

I would be committing the " fallacy of ignorance" were I to claim that this problem is insoluble. But it is not unreasonable to doubt its solubility. Until it is solved, it would be unrreasonable to ignore it.

Jim P.,

On May 31 at 11:47 am, you asked me to put my thoughts on reconciliation into the form of a letter. I have struggled with that, having no credentialed expertise that might gain the attention and respect of those addressed. But while we certainly want and need the knowledge of experts, I think what we are seeking is something more fundamentally human and, I hope, widespread. Anyway, this is what I have come up with.

 

To ________:

 

We are a group of Catholic men and women, but others as well, who believe that the controversy and bitterness that have come in the wake of revelations of sexual abuse of children by clergy are hampering discovery of the truth, hardening hearts, prolonging the crisis, and thereby putting more children at risk. We must do better.

 

The way forward will more surely come, it seems to us, by stepping back from defensiveness and vindictiveness and seeking the truth, wherever it leads. For in protecting the innocence of children, there must be more that unites us than divides us. Let us not be afraid to learn where that unity may take us.

 

We are proposing a plenary meeting of representatives of all who have a stake in this matter: Catholic clergy and laity; victims and victim advocates; medical, psychiatric, and legal experts; and any others who have a view that should be heard. We ask only that participants leave their preconceptions, fears, and resentments at home, and bring their good will, willingness to listen, and openness to change with them.

 

We know that such a meeting would have no official status and could be no more than an expression of a widely shared hope. But that may be exactly what is needed now.

 

Will you consider joining us in this attempt to find a reasonable resolution to a grievous matter?

 

Sincerely,

It lacks any specifics on location of meeting or agenda, which we don't have. Apart from that, I am sure that you, or anyone, can suggest improvements.

Thanks, Bernard.  Don't disagree with what you have stated.  Wasn 't my intention to link these advances with any type of legal concepts or decisions.

Rather, it was to reply to the *misguided* focus on Lacanism as a treatment option.

Also, given the lack of current psychological studies and research to even be able to *test* to determine conditions such as pedophilia; its impact; its length of risk, etc.  In fact, currently we have to rely upon psychological tests that are inexact, at best, and eventually upon actual behavioral experience.  It's not like we can do a blood test and arrive at a diagnosis of pedophilia.

But, neuro-science is moving forward such that it may lead to both medications that give us a better chance of controling behaviors and of predicting risk patterns for the future.

Why is it "misguided" to see psychoanalysis as a treatment option for victims of sexual abuse and for pedophiles? 

As to neuroscience, imagine if a brain scan of Benjamin Britten revealed he was a pedophile, and he were branded for life on that deterministic basis. In fact he sublimated his pedophilia and made it a central plank in his work as the chief musical educator of England's children as wel as in his sublime compositions. Life is far richer than neuroscience imagines. Freud and Lacan had a deep and penetrating understanding of human life and the human heart, as is reflected in the brilliance and beauty of their literary style in their respective languages. They are a resource for healing that should be drawn on.

I suspect that the phobia against Freud and Lacan in some positivist circles is due to the way that psychoanalysis has been translated, systematized, and imposed in the English-speaking world. Lacan's critique of American Freudianism is a potent corrective to that.

Does that mean that Lacan is a positivist?
And, again, you miss the point about neuro-science...who said that it would *brand* someone for life and it would be *deterministic* (perish that thought). What was said is that we don't know at this time but developments might lead to a better ability to both treat and know the risks and thus accomplish what you think Britten did (all on his own).
Freud - yes, he began and provided insights into human development. Reality - developments have led to see the narrowness and limitations of Freud's psycho-analytic approach. Moreover, psycho-analysis is a long term treatment modality whose goal (again) is not to change behaviors so much as to understand them. Decades of experience has taught us that very few people respond to psycho-analysis nor is it a effective and efficient method of dealing with depression, anxiety, sexual abuse, OCD, substance abuse, even suicidal thoughts. (and, no, this is not a phobia except in your mind...it is based upon actual experience; millions of documented cases and results/outcomes). In fact, any reliable study of depression as a result of sexual abuse shows that the best practice is treatment that is both pharmocological with one on one counseling. There is little evidence that 90% of depressives gain any type of positive outcomes via psycho-analysis. Try as you might to spin your imaginery scenarios, data, actual results, and outcomes across millions of cases only highlight your *misguided* defensive position.

As I understand it, Lacan was a humanistic thinker very opposed to positivism. He criticized American positivism for making the Freudian ego an ideal to be cultivated as a means of social control, whereas the ego is rather a massive defense-formation, the prison of narcissism, about which, following Buddhism and the French moralistes, we cannot be too skeptical. The true subject, "je," is formed by overcoming 

"The narrowness and limitations" of Freud are best overcome by pursuing psychoanalysis on a broader and more pluralistic front, which I take Lacanians to be doing.

Pharmacology has probably done more for depression than ANY form of psychiatric treatment, but this does not mean that psychiatry is useless or that the goal of understanding depression as something more than a chemical disorder is a stupid one. It is true, I guess, that psychoanalysis is more interested in understanding than in "behavior modification", and thus more interested in creating human freedom than in being an auxiliary to law enforcement agencies. So in a sense psychhoanalysis is "philosophical", but that does not mean just idle speculation. The "results" may not be fully measurable according to positivist criteria. Similarly "scientific" study scoffs at prayers and its alleged results, but cannot measure the attunement to human and divine depths that prayer produces.

 

 

 

 

 

Something dropped out of my post. "The true subject "je" is formed by overcoming the ego."

John P - what a marvelous letter you've written.  I am ready to sign it.  Now to figure out who to send it to :-)

 

Guys! Instead of pushing this onto a 4th page, come here (https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/cheever-weiner-draper) and talk about Mad Men and/or Game of Thrones. I am pretty sure that  batshit crazy theories about pedophilia are less interesting than your batshit crazy theories about Jon Snow's parentage.

Yet another scandal, the mass grave of kids who died in a home run by the Bon Secours sisters between 1925 and 1961. Since my mother was saved from death by a modern medical intervention at their hospital in Cork in 1952, I will not speak ill of the sisters. We cannot judge the situation in the impoverished Ireland of the decades just after independence. Those who call for an end to the RCC because of how illegitimate babies were neglected should also call for an end to the Irish Republic -- perhaps it would have been richer had it opted to stay in the UK. They should remember that in many European countries up to the 1950s illegitimate children did not have the same rights as others. And note the political  response to a similar scandal a few years ago (not involving the RCC this time): http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/SP13000418

 

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