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Archbishop Chaput on the Belgian Raid

In a recent talk in Eastern Europe, Archbishop Charles Chaput criticized increasing ant-Christian sentiment in the West. He gave as an example the police raid of the Cardinal's residence, which he characterized as being conducted without due process.It seems to me the only question to be asked is whether the Belgian police followed the established procedures they would have followed if investigating any other suspects of child pornography and child abuse. (Belgian due process applies--not American.) And that question, it seems to me, should be asked. The procedures seem very rough. But I don't know the answer--maybe they are always very rough. I've only seen FBI raids on television.If this is the way the police proceed in every case, then it seems to me there is no question of discrimination against Christians--though there may or may not be separate reasons to call into question police procedures. Law enforcement officials should proceed the same way when investigating bishops, priests, rabbis, imams, and lay people of all stripes. We are all equal under the law. No one is above the law. There is no "benefit of clergy," so to speak. (There also should be no "benefit of celebrity, "---but that's a separate blog post.)Surely, Archbishop Chaput cannot be saying that members of the hierarchy deserve preferential treatment at the hands of secular law in the matter of investigating child abuse? Can he?UPDATE: The search was ruled illegal--but it's not clear why.

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.



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I doubt Archbishop Chaput wants to protect pedophile and/or law-breaking priests. But I have little doubt that he believes clergy deserve special treatment. That he believes this is inherent in the way that he inserts his voice into every discussion. He believes he has a special right to be heard by everybody. I detect little humility in his public statements. He believes he is special. - TL

"A comprehensive attack on religious freedom, and specifically upon Christianity, the archbishop explained, has already begun. "And who exactly are these people in power who have planned this attack and are implementing it? Are the seven Catholic justices of SCoTUS perhaps front guys for Profs. Dawkins and Dennett? Hmm. Just who are these godless power-mad people? Have they infected the political parties? Which ones? Which offices do they hold? Do they operate underground like the French Maquis? The Archbishop's Cold War rhetoric would have been appropriate when the USSR government and its allies were explicitly committed to destroy relligion. But now? This is paranoia.And the sadest part is that the Archbishop still doesn't understand that policemen world-wide now have reason not to assume what they assumed in the past -- that Catholic bishops will 1) protest children from molesters, and 2) co-operate with police when the police have a duty to demand co-operation. Maybe the Belgian police are anti-clerical. (I really do find it impossible to believe that Cardinal Sunens would countenance molesting children.) Maybe their methods were too extreme. But it's certainly premature to postulate a culture-wide anti-Catholic conspiracy comparable to 20th century Communism largely on the basis of some extreme discovery methods in tiny Belgium. Perhaps those actions were outside Belgian law. But surely the legal processes used by, say, the attorney-general in Massachusetts to obtain evidence from certain obstreperous bishops were careful, public, and legal, and they were processes which in the end proved eminently warranted.

Have always wondered if Chaput had a box of old Charlie Coughlin tapes and watches these nightly. This is embarrassing.

Abp. Chaput's talk can be found at: is the pertinent paragraph:"Earlier this summer we witnessed the kind of vindictive thuggery not seen on this continent since the days of Nazi and Soviet police methods: the Archbishops palace in Brussels raided by agents; bishops detained and interrogated for nine hours without due process; their private computers, cell phones, and files seized. Even the graves of the Churchs dead were violated in the raid. For most Americans, this sort of calculated, public humiliation of religious leaders would be an outrage and an abuse of state power. And this is not because of the virtues or the sins of any specific religious leaders involved, since we all have a duty to obey just laws. Rather, its an outrage because the civil authority, by its harshness, shows contempt for the beliefs and the believers whom the leaders represent."

It was ruled illegal, wasn't it? I read that all the evidence seized has to be returned and can't be used for prosecution. Only the Tighty-Righty (Jimmy Mac's phrase) Catholic sites mentioned it, though. Could be inaccurate.@Ann. I'm sure they didn't think Cardinal Suenens had voluntarily covered up pedophilia. I think the suspicion was that incriminating documents had been secreted in his tomb without his permission.

And as a bonus, a Godwin's law violation!

Thanks Joe. Felapton--that's the question. Where did you see this?He's claiming that a) the purpose --the goal-- of the raid was to humiliate the leaders. That's a strong claim. The police don't call you up and say, "We're going to raid you in a half hour." They don't want you to destroy the evidence. In the U.S., there'd have to be a warrant--a judge would have to sign off on it.I think Ann is right on the assumptions--the assumption that bishops will not cover up for child molesters has been falsified, so is no longer applicable in assessing probable cause, if it ever was."It is an outrage because the civil authority, by its harshness, showed contempt for the beliefs and believers whom the leaders represent." Uh, no. The leaders don't represent us when they do bad things. They do it all on their own.

Wow.. a rant by A/B Chaput ..a country with a Catholic king and most likely Catholic police.. Nazi/Soviet?? 'and raided by agents'? interesting word use.. The US Federal grand jury in LA has been investigating Cardinal Mahony for a year. that seems like due process with immunity given to two clerics... no rush to judgement there. Of course lying to FBI AGENTS has tripped up others. e.g. Martha. Stewart, Scooter Libby, Gov. Blago.

Regarding the update, the story says the ruling is going to be appealed, so apparently the matter isn't settled.

"We face an aggressively secular political vision and a consumerist economic model that result in practice, if not in explicit intent in a new kind of state-encouraged atheism."Examples that come to my mind immediately: in France - stores used to be closed on Sundays, now the laws are changing (providing more and more exceptions) and more and more employees must work Sundays. - Sports practices and events for children are often scheduled on Sunday mornings, conflicting with church. - Catechism classes traditionally take advantage of school-free Wednesdays and happen on Wednesday morning, but there is the recurring threat of having school on Wednesday mornings, which would jeopardize Catechism classes in their current organization. - The time devoted by public TV to broadcasting Mass and Catholic shows on Sunday mornings has recently been reduced. - Conferences in my field usually start early on Sunday morning, with travels on Saturday, making Mass attendance a challenge. - Then, there is the outlawing of burqas on the street, the rampant discrimination against Moslems and Jews, etc ...But here are the examples cited by Abp Chaput in addition to the Belgian raid. They show his obsession with homosexuality and abortion. "In the United States, a nation that is still 80 percent Christian with a high degree of religious practice, government agencies now increasingly seek to dictate how Church ministries should operate, and to force them into practices that would destroy their Catholic identity. Efforts have been made to discourage or criminalize the expression of certain Catholic beliefs as hate speech. Our courts and legislatures now routinely take actions that undermine marriage and family life, and seek to scrub our public life of Christian symbolism and signs of influence.In Europe, we see similar trends, although marked by a more open contempt for Christianity. Church leaders have been reviled in the media and even in the courts for simply expressing Catholic teaching. Some years ago, as many of you may recall, one of the leading Catholic politicians of our generation, Rocco Buttiglione, was denied a leadership post in the European Union because of his Catholic beliefs."

Maybe the Belgian police are working with "The Illuminati"Sorry, I just watched the Tom Hanks flick "Angels and Demons" :)

"Surely, Archbishop Chaput cannot be saying that members of the hierarchy deserve preferential treatment at the hands of secular law in the matter of investigating child abuse? Can he?"Was that a SERIOUS question? Does the pope wear red shoes? Of COURSE Chaput expects special treatment for ecclesiastics. It comes with the fancy duds and general Catholic population obsequiesness.Europe is long past the days when Catholic Christianity was favored as a matter of course. The population in general seems to be becoming substantially secular in attitude and beliefs. To expect Catholic Christianity to be granted certain priviliges, particularly when its views on marriage, abortion and homosexuality (among others) are counter to the prevailing sentiments, is naive at best.In this day and age, Catholic Christianity has to re-earn whatever actual respect it had in Europe. The threat of excommunication no longer holds the slightest weight anywhere, particularly there.

The Buttiglione situation is kind of interesting. He was nominated for a position in which he would have much say over minority rights, and as a devout Catholic, has stated that homosexuality is sinful, and has said that "The family exists in order to allow women to have children and to have the protection of a male who takes care of them"He said to the commission that he would not allow his personal beliefs to cloud his judgement in these areas. His leadership was refused, but I wonder whether, if it had been accepted, Chaput would have been denying him communion if he had made any decision outside of church teaching. At least now he will not have a section of the Catholic blogosphere suggesting he should not have a catholic funeral when he eventually dies.(Or maybe he would not have acted in a manner considered appropriate in European political circles)

"Surely, Archbishop Chaput cannot be saying that members of the hierarchy deserve preferential treatment at the hands of secular law in the matter of investigating child abuse?"I don't know if that's what he's saying but actually, I don't have a problem with it, within limits. I imagine there's a fair amount of leeway afforded to authorities in terms of their approach and tactics. Unless there's a good reason not to, I believe clergy (as well as certain others) deserve "preferential" treatment. If we expect clergy to be held to a higher standard, aren't we obligated to accord them a higher standard? At least until the individuals have given us reason not to, I would say.

Mark, does that apply to imams and rabbis as well? In particular regarding doing raids of their offices when foul play is suspected - whether it concerns child abuse or, say, terrorism?

I'd like to present a couple of other snippets from Archbishop Chaput's talk - which I urge everyone to read in its entirety (the link is provided above by Fr. Komonchak) while holding any contempt in suspense."Tertullian once famously said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. And Slovakia is the perfect place for us to revisit his words today. Here, and throughout central and eastern Europe, Catholics suffered through 50 years of Nazi and Communist murder regimes. So they know the real cost of Christian witness from bitter experience -- and also, unfortunately, the cost of cowardice, collaboration and self-delusion in the face of evil.""The Enlightenment-derived worldview that gave rise to the great murder ideologies of the last century remains very much alive. Its language is softer, its intentions seem kinder, and its face is friendlier. But its underlying impulse hasn't changed -- i.e., the dream of building a society apart from God; a world where men and women might live wholly sufficient unto themselves, satisfying their needs and desires through their own ingenuity."This is a startling and thought-provoking thesis: that the Enlightenment which we've learned to lionize in our primary school training is the direct precursor to the 20th Century "murder regimes"; that the malice toward Christianity and religion in general continues, albeit masked in a fairer face now; that Christians are called to resist it; and that we can draw upon the experience and resources of the first Christian martyrs to frame and sustain our resistance.If this thesis is true, it will take a lot of persuading to get folks to accept it. I don't know that many Catholics in the US instinctively look to the martyrs. Of course, if the thesis is true, the difficulty in teaching it shouldn't dissuade us.

MArkDeference was what happened in N Ireland, deference allowed murder to take place and go unpunished. Deference allows terrorism as long as it is Catholic terrorism. Maybe we shouldn't have deference any more, until the Church shows it will not abuse it.

JP: This is a startling and thought-provoking thesis: that the Enlightenment which weve learned to lionize in our primary school training is the direct precursor to the 20th Century murder regimes; that the malice toward Christianity and religion in general continues, albeit masked in a fairer face now; that Christians are called to resist it; and that we can draw upon the experience and resources of the first Christian martyrs to frame and sustain our resistance." It certainly is startling! But Jim I have heard you own archbishop link this cause and effect as well as one that holds Descartes responsibile for the waywardness of modernity. Are hierachs so steeped in theology and philosophy that they've never had time to read real history?

"It certainly is startling! But Jim I have heard you own archbishop link this cause and effect as well as one that holds Descartes responsibile for the waywardness of modernity. Are hierachs so steeped in theology and philosophy that theyve never had time to read real history?"Margaret, I assume from your question that you have not yet embraced the thesis :-)I've read my archbishop talk about the Enlightenment, at a Commonweal forum, a number of years ago now. It seems that it is not unique to Archbishop Chaput.History is amenable to a variety of interpretations. The experience of the French Revolution was one of crisis for the church, much more so than would have been the case for the (non-French) rest of the world. Since then, the church seems to have viewed the Enlightenment with a skeptical eye.

I dont know if thats what hes saying but actually, I dont have a problem with it, within limits. Mark Proska:I hope you are sitting down. I'm going to pretty much agree with you here. Where you have separation of church and state, it seems to me the state must approach the church with caution and sensitivity. This does not mean the state should let church officials get away with breaking the law. Likewise, because we have freedom of the press, the state must approach the press with caution and sensitivity.

Regarding the Enlightenment, check out Vox Nova. Many of the official contributors there feel it's where the West took a wrong turn. It's kind of the Second Fall of Mankind.

Jim and Margaret - the dear archbishop's grasp on history can best be described as "cafetaria catholic".....see this link to what actually happened in Slovakia which was perpetuated by the Franciscan and catholic hierarchy. Not a pretty picture as my daughter says. This is a brief synopsis of the Ustasha and the catholic regime in the Slovakia region during WWII.'s pontificating (if I may borrow from a recent Imbelli reply) has little to do with facts and much to do with his own opinions and myths.Enlightenment or Science or Technology - brought new ways of thinking, organizing thought, etc. How this was used or manipulated or abused depends on the folks who used these advances. His sweeping generalizations and his attempt to blame only reveal his lack of historical knowledge.

Bill - that article appears to be about Croatia, not Slovakia.

Hmm. Consider this (from an article referenced recently in the "Pets and People" conversation below)."Postscript: After writing this article, I was curious to know what some of my friends and colleagues would consider to be the world's most dangerous idea at present. When I asked them, a large majority answered, without hesitation, "religion." Margaret Somerville is director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University, and author of The Ethical Imagination: Journeys of the Human Spirit."Not irrelevant; not anachronistic or outmoded; but dangerous. This would seem to be rather powerful evidence that important parts of Chaput's thesis are in fact true: that the secularist Left is widespread among cultural elites (as university professors), and that they are hostile to religion. Their opinion about religion is preposterous, but at least in this particular academic environment, it seems to be the norm.

From the NCR Online account: "Lawyers representing the victims of sexual abuse, as well as some members of the now disbanded Interdiocesan Commission on Sexual Abuse are outraged. The commission disbanded after police confiscated their files"I don't understand this. Are the victims outraged at the police, at the interdiocesan commission, or at the court for saying the documents must be returned? Or what? Have the victims themselves been heard from? And what evidence if any are the police claiming to have which prompted their action?Sounds to be that the Belgian media are having a very hard time getting background on this story. Sounds like there are lots of sealed lips all around.

That story, as Jim Paulwels points out, is perhaps about Slovenia, not Slovakia. I know that western Europeans have trouble distinguishing among all those Slavs, but please do try. Not that the Slovak puppet Republic of WW II is anything to be proud of. I was once asked, by a fine historian, no less, "Well, after all, what is the difference between Czechs and Slovaks?" "If Slavs," I said, "were to make a similar remark about the Irish and the English," would you object? Of course, I did have the advantage of having had a saintly grandmother who, when asked if her husband had been a Czech or a Slovak, spat on the floor and said: "Think I'd marry a Czech!"

Ann: I suspect the NCR article may have copied and pasted a sentence or two from the June article, rendering the writeup confusing. Here is my understanding. Back when the raid happened: the victims had entrusted the Interdiocesan Commission on Sexual Abuse with their witness accounts, with the understanding that those would be confidential. After the police confiscated the files, there was no clarity about the extent to which the contents might be public. The victims, outraged, felt their trust had been betrayed and didn't want to talk to the commission any more; the commission felt it was impossible to work any more and disbanded.Now: the court have decided that evidence unearthed by the police raid cannot be used in the investigation; in fact, it sounds as though, because of this raid, the court will stop all investigation of cases that had "come to light" before the raid. The victims' lawyer is furious.

Thanks, Jim and Fr. K. Realize the difference between Slovakia and Slovenia. Sorry for the apparent confusion. My point (poorly made) and why I chose the link - Chaput references that his talk in Slovakia was a good place to talk about Catholic who suffered throughout central/eastern Europe - "Here, and throughout central and eastern Europe, Catholics suffered through 50 years of Nazi and Communist murder regimes. So they know the real cost of Christian witness from bitter experience and also, unfortunately, the cost of cowardice, collaboration and self-delusion in the face of evil.In fact, the actual history as evidenced by the article about Slovenia is much different than the black and white picture referenced by Chaput. That is all I was trying to say.

Broadsides against "the Enlightenment" such as those apparently made by Archbishop Chaput and Cardinal George are not only unwarranted, but border on intellectual huckterism. As Margaret's post suggests, anyone who took the trouble to pay attention to history would find such broad generalizations intellectually irresponsible. First, the Enlightenment was not all of a piece, nor were its effects. Rousseau is not Voltaire and neither of them is Diderot. There was a German Enlightenment ( e.g., Kant) that is distinguishable from the French Enlightenment. And there's more nuance to all this for anyone willing to work to see it.The broadside against Descartes is similarly mindless. I'm no Cartesian, for what I take to be good reasons. But whether one likes it or not, he made very important contributions to the sciences. His "Discourse on Method" alone would earn him an honored place in Western intellectual life.And then, do Chaput and George and their followers notice that post-modernists such as Foucault are strong critics of much that is called Enlightenment thought? Chaput and George do nothing to establish the seriousness of the Catholic intellectual tradition when they make intellectually irresponsible remarks such as these.Finally, note the vacuousness of talk about "history taking a wrong turn." In retrospect we can find watershed moments. But again, the trajectory of history is not ever seamless and talk about it as though it were a unitary trajectory is always tendentious at best.

Doesn't anyone wonder what they found?

Clare--Rabbis? Yes. Imams? Not sure. Don't know enough about what it takes to become an imam, what their responsibilities are, how laudable their efforts are, as a group. The few I do hear about do not inspire confidence, but that's a woefully small sample.Michael--Thanks, deference rather than preferential better captures what I was trying to affirm. No doubt it has been overdone in the past, with deplorable repercussions. But I want to live in a world where certain professions, the clergy among them, are accorded greater deference by society. If we lose all hierarchy, we step back from the angels, without even knowing. And if we have too much of a "wait and see" attitude, we're partly to blame for what we end up with.David--Mirabile dictu, good thing I was sitting down. Now, about your penchant for addressing me so formally

May I also add to this black and white picture:- credible evidence that hundreds of priests in Poland cooperated with the Communist regime- that during WWII, Polish, Czech, Ukrainian Catholics participated in the slaughter of Jewish people- from western Europe, French Catholics including the hierarchy collaborated with the NazisQuote from Martin Luther King that seems applicable to folks such as Chaput who paint with such a black and white brush:"I have begun to realize how hard it is for a lot of people to think of living without someone to look down upon, really look down upon. It is not just that they will feel cheated out of someone to hate; it is that they will be compelled to look more closely at themselves, at what they don't like in themselves. My heart goes out to people I hear called rednecks; they have little, if anything, and hate is a possession they can still call upon reliably, and it works for them. I have less charity in my heart for well-to-do and well-educated people - for their snide comments, cleverly rationalized ones, for the way they mobilize their political and even moral justifications to suit their own purposes. No one calls them to account. The Klan is their whipping boy. Someday all of us will see that when we start going after a race or a religion, a type, a region, a section of the Lord's humanity - then we're cutting into His heart, and we're bleeding badly ourselves. But then, I guess there's lots of masochism around!"- Spoken in the course of a personal interview, January 10, 1963, in Atlanta, Georgia

Claire --Thanks for the interpretation. It makes sense. Poor victims.What AB Chaput's speech indicates to me is that he is just now discovering what has been known not just for years but for centuries: that the Enlightenment included thinkers highly inimical to the Christian Churches, thinkers whose influence is still felt today in some quarters. But he seems to have no awareness of the good that the Enlightenment brought, nor does he realize that many Westerners have had reason to despise many Churchmen. That such latter-day fear gives rise to conspiracy thinking is itself scary..

"Chaput and George do nothing to establish the seriousness of the Catholic intellectual tradition when they make intellectually irresponsible remarks such as these."As I see it, between the 17th and 20th centuries the Church suspended its intellectual tradition. and ABs Chaput and George are continuing that non-tradition. There were in fact great men of science (Galileo, Newton and Leibniz leap to mind) who were believers. So what did the Church do? Close its mind and put Galileo under house arrest.. Oh, well, I guess putting up a statue of Galileo 450 years after he died is better than nothing.. Barely.

Oops -- make that 350 years after his death.

Archbishop Chaput should have checked with the Pope before trashing the Enlightenment ...Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, July 29, 2005From the beginning, Christianity has understood itself as the religion of the Logos, as the religion according to reason...It has always defined men, all men without distinction, as creatures and images of God, proclaiming for them...the same dignity. In this connection, the Enlightenment is of Christian origin and it is no accident that it was born precisely and exclusively in the realm of the Christian faith....It was and is the merit of the Enlightenment to have again proposed these original values of Christianity and of having given back to reason its own voice... Today, this should be precisely [Christianity's] philosophical strength, in so far as the problem is whether the world comes from the irrational, and reason is not other than a 'sub-product,' on occasion even harmful of its development-or whether the world comes from reason, and is, as a consequence, its criterion and goal...In the so necessary dialogue between secularists and Catholics, we Christians must be very careful to remain faithful to this fundamental line: to live a faith that comes from the Logos, from creative reason, and that, because of this, is also open to all that is truly rational.

". . . surrendering as its primary warrant any intrinsically religious experience or evidence."JAK --Yes, a separation of philosophy and theology developed that wasn't present in the medieval period. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. When philosophy is hamstrung by theologians the effects can be disastrous too. The self-satisfied theologians Lonergan mentions,; t;he ones who "had all the answers" no doubt alienated not only the scientists but potential philosophers as well. There was no room for real originality or dispute. To me the official Church's biggest problem is that it doesn't realize just how ignorant it is of the intellectual developments of the last 600 years. Yes, back to the late Middle Ages. . As I see it, the Church's downgrading of modern ideas didn't begin with the Enlightenment, it went all the way back to the late middle ages with its excommunication of Ockham. The great irony is that Ockham was criticizinng the Pope's theology of property rights while Ockham defended the Franciscan theology of poverty! I'm sure his theory of separation of church and state didn't help either The Vatican still loves to blame him for being a the inventor of the modern over-emphasis on personal autonomy. There were also some late Spaniards who did significant work on human rights, but you don't hear much about them either. Descartes, of course, has fared as badly. You'd think that the later theologians would have caught on that given the hegemony of science over explorations of the material world that the theologians needed to explore and explain the spiritual/mystical level of our reality. Rahner, of course, did get into this somewhat. He saw the need for mystical/contemplative experience, but I don't know that he saw that a philosophy/theology of such experience is necessary if there is to be dialogue with the seculars.. Did he call for that? There is still a tremendous amount of work to do, I think. We need a whole new philosophy of man, including especially understandings of soul and consciousness, plus a metaphysics of the body that incorporates contemporary physics, chemistry and biology. Not to mention a philosophy of purported religious experience. Yes, philosophy can look at such evidence,thereby rejoning philosophy and theology.Where is that new Aquinas!

Jeanne --No doubt all Ratinger says is true. But he does not seem to realize that the severe problems with aspects of the Christian mysteries (e.g., the problem of evil, the Trinity, God becoming man, etc.) lead many secularists to *rationally* reject religious faith. There's the rub. To listen to Ratzinger you'd think that all is well in philosophy and theology. It isn't.

Ann: You wrote: "As I see it, between the 17th and 20th centuries the Church suspended its intellectual tradition. and ABs Chaput and George are continuing that non-tradition. There were in fact great men of science (Galileo, Newton and Leibniz leap to mind) who were believers. So what did the Church do? Close its mind and put Galileo under house arrest.. "I quite agree that the Catholic intellectual tradition was suspended particularly in the long eighteenth century when, as Paul Hazard pointed out long ago, the scientific revolution and the ideas of the Enlightenment transformed the culture of the West. One historian of theology referred to this time as an Epigonezeit, a time of second-rate imitators. Apart from some great scholars of history, there is hardly a single Cathlic philosopher or theologian whose name is still remembered. In fact, from Pascal and Descartes to the nineteenth century, how many Catholic intellectuals would have to be mentioned in a history of western thought? Theologians retreated to what Lonergan called their "dogmatic corner," where they could remind one another how much they were certain of. Othere have used metaphors of exile and marginalization as seminaries replaced universities as the places where theology gets done. Karl Rahner remarked that you could compare a textbook in theology from 1741 and another on the same topic from 1941 and, apart perhaps from the addition of a few new "opponents," not be able to tell which had been written in the eighteenth and which in the twentieth century, even though greater cultural transformations had taken place during this period than the ones that took place between Augustine and Aquinas.So there was a great failure. Henri de Lubac blamed it on a faulty theological anthropology that in principle accepted that the sceinces were capable of fully understanding the "natural" while theology would confine itself to the "supernatural." Michael Buckley's At the Origins of Modern Atheism makes a related point. Here is how Yale University Press summarizes his argument: In this book, Michael J. Buckley investigates the origins and development of modern atheism and argues convincingly that its impetus lies paradoxically in the very attempts to counter it. Although modern atheism finds its initial exponents in Denis Diderot and Paul dHolbach in the eighteenth century, their works bring to completion a dialectical process that reaches back to the theologians and philosophers of an earlier period. During the seventeenth century, theologians such as Leonard Lessius and Marin Mersenne determined that in order to defend the existence of God, religious apologetics must become philosophy, surrendering as its primary warrant any intrinsically religious experience or evidence. The most influential philosophers of the period, Ren Descartes and Isaac Newton, and the theologians who followed them accepted this settlement, and the new sciences were enlisted to provide the foundation for religion.Church leaders no doubt had a role to play in this failure, and perhaps it is they whom you intend in speaking of "the Church's" having "suspended its intellectual tradition," but the philosophers and theologians shouldnt be held blameless for the marginalization of Catholic thought in the modern era. For many of them the exile was voluntary.

The sciences now require so much prior technical study that it seems all but impossible to simultaneously acquire a knowledge of science sufficient that scientists will respect your opinion of it, and a knowledge of theology sufficient to be a theologian. What about other faiths? Do you think that others have better succeeded in incorporating scientific progress in their thought?

Claire --Take heart. Towering geniuses can do great things Consider the philosopher Leibniz, one of the smartest people ever and a believer. He was known even in his own day as a great scientist/mathematician. He invented calculus, and he build the first arithmetic maching, so good that the British made him a member of the Royal Society. He made important, even foundational contributions to logic, philosophy of math, metaphysics, physics, ethics, ethics, theology, library science, social studies, and philology. HE did all that in his spare time -- he was by profession a librarian, historian, a diplomat, and counsellor to political powers-that-be. Much of his work wasn't appreciated for 200 years. It's still being mined. My point is that towering geniuses can do amazing things. So keep on the look-out for that new Aquinas.Oh -- I forgot -- he was also one of the first ecumenists and thought up the foundations of computer science.

Ann: You wrote; "To me the official Churchs biggest problem is that it doesnt realize just how ignorant it is of the intellectual developments of the last 600 years. Yes, back to the late Middle Ages."I don't know what to make of this sentence because there is no such thing as "the official Church" capable of being ignorant or knowing. I suspect you may be referring to the hierarchy, and in particular to pope and bishops. Wouldn't it be more precise to speak of them, and then we might be in a position to seek to know how many of them are "ignorant of the intellectual developments of the last 600 years." You also wrote: "Youd think that the later theologians would have caught on that given the hegemony of science over explorations of the material world that the theologians needed to explore and explain the spiritual/mystical level of our reality."This dichotomy is precisely what de Lubac and Buckley regret in modern theologians and Catholic philosophers. It implies that there is a "natural" world to which the "supernatural" has no relevance. The dichotomy they deplore led to theologians being content with trying to understand the world of the "supernatural," which ever increasingly appeared to be marginal and irrelevant to the new worlds under construction in the last four hundred years. De Lubac was accused of "naturalism" when he proposed that theology be conceived not only as an understanding of the faith but as an understanding of all things by means of of the faith. This would apply in particular to the spheres that the human sciences, the Geisteswissenschaften, claim hegemony over. This was also one of the points Newman made in his Idea of a University.

JAK --P. S. I can't blame the modern Catholic philosophers and theologians. In the first place as you point out, they have largely been trained in seminaries where the Index of Forbidden Books had a strangle-hold on the minds of the students. I don't think you can over-estimate the evil that that book did. Further the Vatican wielded -- and continues to wield -- the power to destroy careers and excommunicate with barely a hearing. No, you don't get burnt at the stake anymore, but Rome still has the ability to freeze out new thinking. And it does.By the way, I once did a fast check of a number of leading 20th century Catholic intellectuals. The number of converts is huge. But what I think is most significant is that those converts mostly did not go to Catholic universities. In other words, it was easier to find Christ in the market-place of ideas than in the Church's monasteries.

JAK --About "the offiicial Church". Well, if the bishops aren't the official Church (by reason of their teaching office) then who is? As to which ones have been ignorant of the intellectual ferment of the last 600 years, it seems to me that we just have to look around and ask: where ARE the knowledgeable ones? But you can't count or name people who aren't there. Or maybe the bishops were really reading books on the Index under their covers by flashlight and thinking up new theological thoughts to meet the challenges of the godless atheists, but I ask you: who were they???? (OK, so that was nasty. But they're maddening.) About uniting theology and philosophy, given the poor quality of the philosophy of man/human nature these days (and I'm speaking about *all* such philosophies, not just Catholic ones), I don't think the theologians have much to work with The scientific advances, both in the purely physical sciences and in psychology (which has or should have both body and mind/soul as object) have just been too huge for most philosophers to do much signivicant work. We simply need a towering genius. I think that philosophy of man needs to be developed better before the theologians have much to offer, with the exception that they can start to show the scientists that there is a lot of evidence that there are very probably unique sorts of experience which are called "religious" and "spiritual" and "mystical" and that these experiences are present across cultures and across times. Unless the theologians get that point across not only will the scientists remain ignorant, but so will many of the educated Catholic lower clergy and laity. But the bishops have to make it clear to the neuroscientists and others that what they're looking for is quite, quite varied even though surprisingly widespread. Right now the neuroscientists seem to think there is only one kind of "mystical" experience, and if Zaehner is right, it's the essentially schizophrenic kind that the psychiatrists (rightly) reject as noetically sound. Complexity, complexity. complexity, complexity . . . And, yes, I do blame the bishops for all these lacunae. They, being bishops, had access to books on the Index and whichever other books they thought needed reading. And, yes, they should have talked back to Rome if necessary to get their work done.\

I don't deny that Roman authorities often imposed a heavy shadow on the work of theologians, philosophers, and scholars, but I do blame some of the latter. There was an awful lot that might have been done that was never even attempted in the all-important eighteenth century. All that Catholic thinkers counterposed was a mediocre and eclectic mess. There was no vital intellectual life to pass on. Then the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era threw most of European society and culture into chaos for another forty years, and when it was over, the Church had lost several of its most important universities, and there was no living tradition to draw upon. The Church was living, Newman said, on the intellect of past ages. When some life began to show itself toward the end of the nineteenth century, the anti-Modernist crackdown smothered it, and it wasn't until the 1930's that theologians and scholars began to peek over the rim of the foxholes to see if it was safe to come out. It was then that there began the theological and pastoral movements that bore fruit in the Second Vatican Council. In his famous speech to the Roman Curia, 22 Dec 2005, leapt from Thomas Aquinas to the Council for examples of successful engagements with contemporary intellectual challenges.

What I find so frustrating about Archbishop Chaput's talk is that he does not seem to grapple with the fact that the positions he's advocating have already been considered and rejected by large swaths of people --for what they believe to be good reasons.There is an overwhelming consensus in this country, for example, that premarital sex is not always wrong, and that contraception is morally permissible. (Incidentally, those judgments do not necessarily imply relativism--they just imply moral disagreement.) That consensus is reflected in the law. Those social debates, so to speak, are closed--and his side lost. Society is moving on.Leave aside the merits of these cases. What Chaput seems to be suggesting, implicitly, is that the Church ought never be said decisively to lose a social or political argument, that it always ought to have a place at the table of social leaders, and that it ought not to bear the consequences of being judged to be on the wrong side of an argument.But structurally, that cannot be the case in a liberal democratic society. And so I see him, implicitly, suggesting that the problem is liberal democratic society, which does not systematically preserve a place for the church as a social authority and stake holder. This is a prediction: I would not be surprised if he began reading down "religious liberty" in the next ten years in a "heremeneutic of continuity" between pre-Vatican II views and Vatican II. Brian Harrison, I believe, wrote a book arguing this position.

Ann: You have misunderstood me. I think you should speak of bishops, and popes, rather than of "the official Church," and then discuss whether or not they are ignorant. I just don't like sweeping generalizations--except my own, of course! It's a sad story all around, and there's enough blame to go around. As for the sceince-theology debate, apart from the sheer difficulty of the people on either side in understanding the other, there is often outright opposition, also. Lonergan loved to quote Butterfield to the effect that the rise of modern science outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and the Reformation to the rank of mere episodes, mere internal displacements, within the system of medieval Christendom. But few have made the effort to address the basic methodological challenges posed by the emergence of the modern natural and social sciences. Lonergan's "generalized empirical method" was his effort.

Cathy: Yes, there are people who are attempting to do that with "Dignitatis humanae"; you don't have to wait ten years for it. Bishop Williamson thinks it ludicrous.

Cathy --I agree with practically everything you say. I would like to add, however, that though AB Chaput is fighting already-decided battles, he at least seems to do some reading . However, he doesn't seem to realize that the Enlightenment is not only largely over, but also that the atheist Enlightenment has largely *lost* its intellectual battles. No more for them the hope that society without God can become a secular paradise, no more the hope of answering all scientific questions, little hope at the moment of a consisten physics, no more noble savage. Yes, relativism is still strong in the social sciences, but at the farthest edges of science a skepticism is starting to set in even about the possibility of science itself. As best I can see, atheism isn't so common among the highly educated -- agnosticism is, and people are starting to search for meaning again. (See, for instance, the Washington Post's blog, On Faith.) But the hierarchy has few answers for them because it doesn't seem to know what the people's questions are. Tragically, the hierarchy is almost completely unconnected to the young people except for the relatively few highly conservative ones.As to an ethical system that can ground the laws of a democratic society, I doubt that will be possible till the psychologists have a clearer picture of what human nature is., and, again, we need both better psychology and a better philosophy of human nature to do revise our public ethics. I am encouraged, however, by the very, very common use of the phrase "human nature" these days by the psychologists. Apparently some of them actually think there is such a thing. When Skinner was king I don't think they talked about human nature. So I have hopes that eventually psychology will develop a roughly accurate model of what it is to be a rational animal. No doubt it will satisfy neither the old psychologists nor the old bishops. But on, I say, (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to a revised ethics.

I thought the jumping off point of this thread was what happened in Belgium - on the front page of the website news headlines today is that Cardinal Daneels offered to cover up the abuse b ya Belgian Bishop until he retired a year later.It strikes me that most of the discussion here is whether key figures in the Church, who have juridical leverage, have the intellectual honesty to grapple with issues that are not consistent with what Rome holds or that sullies its image.IMO, the Chaputs, George, Rigali, Burke of this world live in the context of loyalty first of all and that can trump intellectual honesty if needed.It's not a matter of whether they believe it or not or ar ewell intentioned or not, but that cast that prohibits engaing significant questions say of sexuality or the role of women or the protection of children.To borrow a phrase, they are much about "refuting" their critics who are the ones to blame for any discord.Sad recent stories about the "terrorist" IRA pries or the "empty tomb" in Italy seve to show the shallowness of that approach, which, undoubtedly though, will continue.

It was, Bob --but I guess the topic evolved. Do you have a link? If the police knew that, the ideacof a raid licks very different.

The story is featured on the msnbc website. Probably a wire service story. clear whether the police knew about this at the time of the raid.

Here is the link to the report: Kaveny - good post and others seem to be focusing on different parts in terms of responses.Directly connected to the Belgium situation - have a number of questions and there seems to be some open-ended areas yet to be decided or determined:a) recent judicial ruling that the onsite seizures were not legal - guessing that this will be appealed or reconsidered....this is the ruling of just one judge (not sure what the specific Belgium law or case law is on this ruling?)b) there seems to be confusion around the victims and their records in terms of confidentiality??c) the appointed victims' committee head resigned in frustration over these police raids and subsequent announcements about the records' confidentiality...not sure if there is any final decisions around this or if that is even the correct timeline or sequence of events?d) there does appear to be a disconnect betwee what the committee head was responsible for and what the bishops' shared with him in terms of abusers, priest abusers, the bishop abuser, etc.e) another disconnect - despite the records confidentiality situation; more and more victims are coming forward? so, not sure what that means.Do we really have enought information to even know what or how this will end?

Just a sidebar to the big discussion here between Ann and Fr. KomonchackThere is reason to think that there is no final solution, no "last word" to be said, concerning the basic issues about human nature or God or the relationship between them. Instead there is no alternative to an interminable exploration of these questions. It does not follow that this interminable exploration is doomed to futility. Rather, that what it means to be human is in part to engage in this exploration. Dead ends have already shown up and will continue to do so. But part of their deadness is their pretense to be "ends." I take it that Christian thought at its best has always acknowledged that it is necessarily "en route." Unfortunately, it has all to often been claimed to have "gotten all the way to the truth." But that's just to say that these claims are themselves always evidence of having strayed into a dead end.Lest this be seen as "relativistic," consider the fact that there is always room for another poetic or musical exploration. If regards truth not as some sort of correspondence between some x and some y, but rather as the coming into light of some feature or facet of reality, then it need not surprise us that this coming into light is, at least for us in this life, interminable.So yes, watch out for dead ends, but keep exploring and honoring the others' explorations.

P. S. to my comment above. We'll never finish with exploring the Bible and its implications. As an Orthodox Jewish colleague of mine put it, one of the Bible's main messages is that we'll never figure God out. Similarly, there is good reason to believe that there is no definitive science, no "last word" about physics. But that doesn't mean we can't get ongoing illumination about God and physics, etc.

Bernard --If there is no human nature, if we are in fact not all similar beings in some extremely important ways, then all is lost. But even the psychologists are realizing that, yes, there are commonalities, and they're worth exploring. But I think what you seem to be suggesting is right. There is about us all a certain indeterminacy, an unfulfilled part that none of us has ever completed. It's the ground of our longing that St. Augustine talks about. It seems we are an openness to we know not what. Enter the existentialists. And the scholastics who saw our very rationality (both intellect and will) as *constituted* by this undetermined but determinable potential. Actually, I think Bishop Chaput is trying to get at some final description of what it would be to be human *in this life*, some one way to live successfully. But there are many ways, and he seems to find that rather disturbing. We need about a dozen threads on human nature. So much -- everything, almost -- depends on how one views it.

Ann, how one views what it is to be human is surely important. There are some dreadful views that deserve rejection. But why should I think that there is some definitive propositional formulation that would say exactly what it is to be human? There is no such definitive account to say just what Homer's Odyssey means, Nor what the meaning of World War I is or what language is. Nor of what sanctity is? So why should I expect such an account of what it is to be human?We explore. Or as Heidegger would say, to be human is to ask the question of the meaning of Being? Note: We ask, we don't get a final answer.

Bernard --If we have no description at all that fits all of us, then why do we really talk only to each other? Why not talk to the cow or the garage door for that matter.True, there is no one specific, defining *end* for everyone of us, but just as certainly we *begin* as the same sort of thing. It's our indefinite capacity for being and good hat is the same in all of us, our essential openness to completion by others, most obviously by God, according to the theologians. (This is what an Aristotelian might call a "capacity" theory of ends in current terminology, or a "potential" for actualization by others in the old vocabulary.) Enter again the notion of suitability or fittingness, though what is fitting for or completes or complements one person is not always what is fitting for another. As I see it all of creation as it develops is a movement to instantiate, as it were, aspects of the infinite God, though of course this can never be done completely. (I think process philosophy has a good bit to say about this. Have been meaning to read some more Whitehead.)

Cathleen, if you can understand French and if you really want to know some of what motivated the police, you can look at . I stumbled upon it; it looks like an official report to the Belgian justice. According to it, this Mr. Mahieu met in 2004 with Cardinal Danneels to warn him against what he thought was an attempt to blackmail him, told him about some videotape showing the torture of two girls, on which a group of people including some well known Belgian politician appeared; but the Cardinal's only reaction was: "Do I appear on the video?" --- what!??It's a bizarre story that has become seedy enough that I don't care to dig into it any further, but, if it is not entirely fabricated, it would go a long way to explain the behavior of the Belgian police during the raid. Abp. Chaput would certainly look silly if Cd Danneels turned out to be a criminal.

Claire --I read a bit of French. The site says it's for writers, and I assume that means it's mainly for people who do creative writing. Let's pray that it's just a very clever fabrication. Can it get any worse?

I hope it's just a site for creative writers. That theme was done, though, in Primal Fear, starring Richard Gere and Edward Norton--I never saw the ending coming.

Ann,I can readily agree with much of what you say in your Aug.28, 8:53 pm comment. But I would suggest that there is something "apophatic" about each of your claims. That is, we're in trouble if we deny them, but what each of them positively means remains open to interminable inquiry. For example, I myself follow Ricoeur in his account of the distinctive capacities that constitute a human person. But with him I have to acknowledge that the evidence for insisting on the fundamental distinction between persons and other entities has been and is likely to continue to be subject to not unreasonable contestation.Another way to put matters is: We find ourselves compelled under pain of a kind of performative contradiction to affirm that we are all born into a world in which our perceptions are either correct or can be corrected by further perceptions, our thinking is generally accurate or can be made more accurate by further thinking, etc. But it doesn't follow that we've definitively answered any substantive questions about what it is to be human or God, or matter, or justice, etc. It's not that we might be wrong about everything. It's rather that we never have what Descartes would call certitude about anything other than formal objects such as mathematical entities. And of course, just what the general status of mathematics is is itself a still debated matter, a matter I can't even begin to get into.

Ann, concerning science and the understanding of what it means to be human: I don't think the explosion of knowledge necessarily should cause us to start entirely from scratch in figuring out what it means to be human. I think there are different kinds of knowledge; science excels in accumulating the (mostly) provable mechanics of how the world works but that does not comprise the sum total. Think about the idea of a skill. This requires knowledge and some skill-related knowledge can be passed on but I cannot immediately transfer the skill involved in playing the piano to anyone else and no one else can transfer the skill involved in playing golf to me. The guilds of old reflected this division, being about the acquisition of skill through practice and experience vs. the straight acquisition of knowledge.And think about ideas such as art and music. Is art created today more artish than art created 3000 years ago? Is music created today more musical? I dont think so. Even with the explosion of scientific knowledge, some things dont change, particularly those related to the mysteries of existence and of the human heart. Rather than looking for a new Aquinas to integrate it all, I would look for clues in the old Aquinas, together with an intelligent and open reading of science and what it might mean to the question, mediated by a good dose of common sense.

This just turned up on the NYT site. The last paragraph but one mentions the police raid, but omits the fact that it has been ruled illegal. What does that mean? Is the fact not in the NYT database? Did the Catholic press exaggerate the degree of exoneration the ruling confers? Is it the same old tendency to make the Church look bad the NYT has shown in the past? Confused, here.

"there is something apophatic about each of your claims. That is, were in trouble if we deny them, but what each of them positively means remains open to interminable inquiry. "Bernard --Indeed. We remain infinitely, or at least indefinitely, open to what is others. (Interesting, that difference between "infinite" and "indefinite". Hmm.)". . . with him I have to acknowledge that the evidence for insisting on the fundamental distinction between persons and other entities has been and is likely to continue to be subject to not unreasonable contestation."Ann replies: Indeed. But I've always been something of a skeptic about human potentials, including our potential for certain knowledge."I have to acknowledge that the evidence for insisting on the fundamental distinction between persons and other entities has been and is likely to continue to be subject to not unreasonable contestation."Ann replies: I'm not sure just how skeptical you mean to be here. Are you saying that we can't be sure there are other minds? If so, I have to say that that might possibly be true. But *all* indirect knowledge is contestable. The bad thing about the problem of other minds is that it is so often such a practical problem -- other people can be threats. However, it seems to me that this just corroborates our judgment that there *are* such things as other people."We find ourselves compelled under pain of a kind of performative contradiction to affirm that we are all born into a world in which our perceptions are either correct or can be corrected by further perceptions, our thinking is generally accurate or can be made more accurate by further thinking, etc."Ann replies: Again, I think I must have been born a skeptic. I've never had such confidence that in my own knowing processes. Yes, they work pretty well, and they sometimes can be corrected, but beyond that, no., I'm not too sure of what I think, unless it is something a priori or directly before me and essentiaally uninterpreted. But there is little knowing such as that.but all we need for a metaphysics are some pretty primitive data. And the evidence for the world and others is so compelling usulaly that for practical purposes philosophy doesn't really count except that its puzzles are a lot of fun. As to lacking certitude, I think that that is much, much more of an affective problem than a cognitive one, usually at any rate. .

Jeanne --Your Thomism sticks out all over you :-) For Thomists self and things present few problems epistemologically (we cna always correct our judgments based on faulty sensaations/interpretations, say they), and can go on to discover not only the laws of nature but what people are and what people are *for*. In fact, I think Thomas will remain popular forever because his is the "common sense" view of being human. Or at least the Western common sense of what it is to be a person. Actually, I think that Thomas' optimism has been extremely influential in making science *possible.* Westerners used to be thoroughly optimistic about human powers of knowing -- just look at the Enlightenment. I think its optimism about rationality can be traced back to Aquinas.He made that strain of the Enlightenment possible. But enter David Hume. He is the founder of the other great Enlightenment strain -- the skeptical one, even though he himself said he rejected the conclusions that reason led him to, viz., that there is no real evidence of an external world, there is no causality, and there isn't even a self). Western philosophy has been trying to get past his problems ever since.So I expect the Aristotelian/Thomists to return to dominance, if for no other reason than that seems to be the practical ("common sense") thing to do. Aristotle's/Thomas' assumptions have certainly led to scientific discoveries, and no doubt will lead to more. But there are still great questions about the non-material part of our experience that "science' in the contemporary sense can't answer because so-called "science" is about the measurable and consciousness as such can't be measured. Not totally anyway. So those scientific hybrids, the psychologists, are having (and have been having) great methodological problems. (The last thing most of them want to get into is phenomenology/introspection.) So I don't expect much from them until they get over their problems iwth non-measurable entities and procedures. But some are opening up a bit.I should note that the current meaning(s) of "science" itself are becoming extremely problematic. But that's a whole other thread or two. But it's kind of scary at the moment because some "scientists" have even given up on rationalty. I mean some of the neuroscientists studying mystical experience. .

Felapton --Check out the site Claire posted. If the data posted there is real, the Belgian police will have the last laugh. Only it is none of it funny. Some is horrible.

Ann, if you mean by a "description that fits all of us" something that we take to have been definitively established, then there are miles between yoour position and mine. If however your claim is that we need some "working hypothesis" of what it is to be human to guide our explorations, a hypothesis that is at bottom heuristic rather than definitional, then we can agree.Separately, i fear that our comments on this pot have lost whatever interest they may have had for others and perhaps we would do well to await another thread for which our discussions would be more apposite. What do you think?

Bernard --If there is nothing we share, then why do we call us all "humans"? Perhaps what we share is trivial, but then maybe we're trivial realities. I'm not sure we share the same questions about "being human", which would, of course, lead to to our having different answers, even different sorts of answers. So I don't know where our discussion would be appropriate. But I doubt this is the thread for it. You have gotten me a bit interested in Ricoeur, though :-)

Will A/B Chaput now explain how abuse cover-ups by a Cardinal is a part of the magisterium and something the Church has always taught? since this is the other shoe dropping maybe some shoe throwing should become the appropriate lay response.

@Ann Oliver,Hi Ann. But we suspect Claire's site is unreliable, right? It could be the sort of place people publish calumnious accusations under the guise of "fiction." My best theory goes something like this: somebody on the prosecution/victims' side of the thing has been leaking damaging information ever since the raid. These tapes are about the third such leak. The judge who ruled the raid illegal may have been reacting to the pervasive leaks; he may have thought they somehow make it impossible for the case to be tried objectively. Now the prosecution/victims are making a demonstration to the appeals court's judge. As to the NYT, the most probable hypothesis is that they just don't have all the information in their database, or they forgot to check the database.

Felapton: totally unreliable, I agree. Anyone may publish anything they want there, true or calumnious. There is no rule! I am frankly not sure whether I should have linked to it. If no journalist has picked it up, maybe that means that we should assume that it's nonsense? (That website has published some sensitive but true information such as a Microsoft internal doc on online surveillance, so not everything there is rubbish.) for a translation of the transcript of the tapes. It's terrible quality (probably automatically generated) but sufficient to see that the quotes of Cardinal Danneels' hush suggestions have not been cherry-picked. I don't know why Reuters, AFP, NYT etc. are talking about this story but no one is bothering to provide a proper translation. Wouldn't people rather read and judge for themselves than have to rely on a journalist's comments?

Felapton ==Being unreliable is not an automatic reason not to quote it. Iin fact, I didn't repeat in my own words the accusations that were made because without corroborating evidence we can't fairly conclude that the documents are real. But as Claire points out there has also been some true and important stuff on that site. In the case of this Danneels report, unhappily in my judgment it has the ring of truth, as outlandish as it also seems. The presentation is such that it would have required a lot of resources/money to produce such official-looking documents. Not to mention that the police seem to believe he is a very bad guy. I pray it is a hoax. But who would do such a thing? To what purpose? Why smear Cardinal Danneels reputation to that degree? We now know that Cardinals sometimes behave abominably. For instance, I wouldn't have believed that Cardinal Law behaved as he did recycling those abusers, but the evidence against him is overwhelming, and Rome even rewarded him subsequently. We simply cannot trust the people in the Cardinal confraternity any more because we now know the extent to which bad behavior by bishops is tolerated, plus something like 14 bishops, including a Cardinal, have themselves been abusers. The culture is, with respect to cover-ups, simply rotten, and it *needs to be seen for what it is*. This brings up that old moral quandary -- when *should* we repeat what might be only gossip or lies but also has some evidence in its favor? I say that IF -- repeat IF -- there is serious evidence then we need to make it known, particularly to those in a position to check it out. I"m thinking of the press or the police or whomever is in a position to take needed action. There are highly responsible newspaper people who participate in this blog, so I made reference to the Danneels charge, hoping one or more of them will try to check it out. Last but far from least, please consider this: if the Cardinal is innocent the accusation *should* be checked out because the damaging stuff is already out on that site.One way or another, the truth should be spoken

Hi Ann and Claire,I have no objection to quoting material of questionable reliability. I just wonder how to weigh it appropriately in formulating an idea of what might be going on. Maybe I'm confused about which tapes we're talking about. The information about the tapes quoted by the NYT, in which the Cardinal urges the Bishop's nephew to stay quiet, are clearly pretty reliable. But the tape alluded to in another post, which suggests the Cardinal may have been doubtful about whether he was present at the torture of two girls, seems unsubstantiated. Shocking, but probably fabricated. When life seems to be imitating the movies, it's usually just somebody's imagination running wild.I suspect the answer to Claire's question (Why isn't it being reported more generally?) is that anything that is leaked can't be used in court and the prosecutors are still hoping to use what they have.As to the question who would want to smear Danneels, it is not a coincidence that the "translation" turned up on a site called "Catholic Conservation." Danneels has been an object of opprobrium to the Tighty-Righties for years. He was considered squishy on all the issues on which the TRs are adamant.I have no idea why Belgium has such seemingly furious anti-clericalism. Maybe somehow the Church got mixed up in the ethnic rivalry? In other places, where the Church has been associated with some really bad guys in the recent past (Mussolini, Franco, Salazar, Pinochet) it's more understandable. No choice but to wait and see right now.

"There is an overwhelming consensus in this country, for example, that premarital sex is not always wrong, and that contraception is morally permissible. (Incidentally, those judgments do not necessarily imply relativismthey just imply moral disagreement.) That consensus is reflected in the law. Those social debates, so to speak, are closedand his side lost. Society is moving on."Cathleen, didn't you think, though, that your observations are in keeping with the tenor of his talk - that in the relationship between the church and the larger society, the larger society is increasingly antagonistic to the church and what it teaches, and the church can look to the 20th century experience in Eastern Europe to learn what to expect, and how to cope. I think he realizes full well that large swaths of people have moved on. He's grappling with what the church does in response.

Jim, that's an interesting question. I do not, myself, sense that he is grappling fully with the idea that people have considered and rejected the Church's position on these issues for what they consider to be good and sufficient reasons--I think he still caricatures them as the "culture of death," or selfish, or benighted etc. And I think he believes the Church has a right to be in the moral conversation because it's the Church--and to insist that the conversation make room for it. I think not doing that is what he means by being anti-religious. I think the consequences he sees for the Church are exaggerated and paranoid. If Belgium were Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia--there wouldn't have been a search warrant in the first place, and a judge wouldn't have thrown out the evidence. And there would be no free press to complain.He should watch Sophie Scholl. There's no Roland Friesler involved in this.And incidentally, I think he' receive a more sympathetic reading if he interpreted people a bit more charitably. So do we all!

God help us.

Felapton --Yes, the written report on the net is claiming there is a second tape. The police and/or the media could easily check out the written stuff on the net. If the police have already done so, and if it the tape *is* real, it would certainly explain the police's extraordinary behavior. Real or unreal I think the whole thing needs to be checked out, The Cardinal needs exoneration if it isn't true.

"And I think he believes the Church has a right to be in the moral conversation because its the Churchand to insist that the conversation make room for it. I think not doing that is what he means by being anti-religious."Cathy --Agreed. And I think that one of his big misunderstandings is that he thinks the media et al will take the Church seriously if, as the Official Church regularly does, it just says what it believes are proper morals but offers little or no evidence in support of the Church teachings. When Catholics give reasons they are welcomed. Consider Maritain in France and even world-wide and Alasdair MacIntyre in the English-speaking world. They give reasons for their views and are respected by non-Catholics. I also agree he is not entirely fair to the seculars. That is probably a hang-over from the days of the Index when churchmen were terribly ignorant of just what their opponents were thinking, and so the opponents were demonized. Heaven forbid that a Kant or a Hume might have been an honorable man!

@ Joseph A. Komonchak on August 28th, 2010 at 11:59 amI understand the Catholic Church to believe that the magisterium, consisting of the Pope and Bishops, is the divinely appointed authority in the church whose purpose is to teach and establish the true faith without error. If one accepts this, then it seems perfectly logical to me to describe the magisterium as the official church when it comes to pronouncements about not only the particulars of Catholicism but Christianity at its core.

Jimmy Mac: It's a pet project of mine, to try preserve the word Church for the whole bunch of us, and, when one means pope and bishops, to use those words, or the hierarchy, or even Church officeres.

Felapton, sorry I got you confused. My last comment had two paragraphs about two independent incidents. The first paragraph was about a report on a web site, not corroborated by anything else, not picked up by any media, but that, if true, would be pretty damning for Cardinal Danneels. The second paragraph was about a transcription of the tape of the conversation between Cardinal Danneels and a sexual abuse victim -- a tape confirming our belief in the hierarchy's secrecy and callousness towards victims, that was abundantly commented by newspapers this weekend.

JAK: from your lips to the magisterial ears!

We should forward Austen Ivereigh's piece at America to Arb. Chaput!

Bob - AB Chaput would just have a "mental reservation".

A defense of Cardinal Danneels by his lawyer can be found at:

I myself don't believe we have sufficient information to make any judgments about this matter, and won't have sufficient information until we know the basis for the raid.

Discussions of the observance of the right to privacy against unreasonable search and seizure in Belgium, and/or whether hierarchs like Chaput have the capacity for intellectual honesty are helpful, yet they miss the real dynamic at work in Chaput's claim to special status before the law and under cultural customs.Chaput is first and foremost an ambitious politician in the world's (technically, in western civilization) oldest feudal oligarchy. His political advancement is dependent on impressing his patrons in the Vatican, and protecting their mutual prerogatives and assumed high station of the clerical understanding of the world. Chaput, like most if not all his brother bishops who have been selected under the Wojtyla and Ratzinger regimes, is also a fierce reactionary ideologue. Chaput is a real Opus Dei zealot, but we at least know where he is coming from.If these lenses are absent in any of our analysis, then we are missing the forest for the trees.P.S. Kaveny is right about insufficient information until we know the basis for the raid. We don't know what motivated the decision to go ahead with the raid by Belgium officials. A former prosecutor and now superior court judge here in California, and fellow parishioner at Newman Hall in Berkeley, shared a speculation with me that the police agents probably didn't observe all the requirements of the Belgium "search laws," but obviously felt their "investigative tips" were highly probably to produce what they were really looking for.

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