Sorrow, Anger, and Response: A Choice

The recent revelation of episcopal scandal is what drives my sorrow, anger and response. This scandal is different than the one in 2002. Then, I attributed the sins of the priests to ancient history, reliance of bishops upon psychologists and insurance companies, and delegating their decisions to others in positions of authority. I also consoled myself with the fact that it was only a small number of priests compared to a much larger whole of faithful and holy priests that I knew personally. Personal failing, i.e. Judas of Iscariot, is different than the systemic entrenched abuse of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

The massive scandal enveloping the Church is NOT the same as in 2002. It is not ancient history, not relying upon outmoded theories of pederasty, and not driven by protection of the reputation of the Church. No, it is much different to me. This time, the scandal is a direct result of homosexual predation and its attendant subversive culture with the resulting blackmail and cover-up by those in the highest levels of authority. Some Catholic journalists and laymen knew but did not do their jobs of honest and heroic reporting, thus aided this predation. Yes, there were some females involved, but the vast numbers spanning decades of surveys clearly shows this is homosexual in nature. The John Jay Report, one report among many, shows this to be true[1].  A correct diagnosis of the problem is imperative for an accurate solution.

A subversive homosexual predation culture breeds loss of souls, multiple generations alienated from the Church, the probability of blackmail, and diocesan bankruptcy. Follow the money a dictum that applies.

The priesthood, and moreover the episcopate, has been compared to other positions of trust because in part we must use tangible realities to explain intangible ones. As with all analogies, they ultimately fail. A priest has some characteristics of a therapist or teacher but is not a therapist or teacher. A bishop has some characteristics of a CEO but is not a CEO. These ordained men have a sacerdotal character imprinted on their souls at ordination that laymen do not.

This spiritual mark cannot be removed. The indelible sign on his soul is what points to the fundamental difference of the ordained man. He is an alter Christus, persona Christus. The bishop, following in the steps of the Good Shepherd, is to be a shepherd to the shepherds within his diocese. He is called to be a father to his sons. This filial relationship, which has been betrayed so profoundly, points to a second major cause of the Scandal of 2018.

The Scandal of 2018, as I call it presently, can be compared to a five-alarm fire. With a five-alarm fire, many fire departments are called in to put it out and safeguard the public. Different fire departments and their responders have different tasks, all necessary to contain the unfolding disaster. There are many components to fighting a fire and not any one can be neglected. Neither does this mean that each task has the same level of importance.

The Holy Father and some ecclesiastics point to the sin of clericalism. I do not know how Pope Francis or they define clericalism. I have provided one definition as a point of discussion.[2]. An untoward deference to the episcopate is a sign of clericalism that can lead to both ignorance of what is going on in the diocese or seminary as well as protection of criminals and reprobates by the bureaucracy. Both ignorance and cover-ups come at the expense of truth and justice.

The current Mega Dioceses with attendant auxiliary bishops have contributed to this massive, massive crisis. Returning to the concept of bishop as father, a good father is attached to one home, one bride, and if blessed from his wife, one family. This was the concept of the diocese as envisioned by the Church Fathers. Dioceses that have multiple bishops resemble more of a conglomerate and less of a family. I note Italy has 227 diocese for 57 million Catholics, and the United States has 167 dioceses for 70.4 million Catholics. It is time to increase the number of dioceses and reduce their overall size.

Dr. Taylor Marshall does an excellent job discussing how auxiliary bishops came into existence in the 1500’s.[3]Jay Scott of First Thingsproposes a direct tie of clericalism to auxiliary bishoprics.[4]The “I do not know” idea floated by some bishops is evidence of Mega Dioceses as part of the problem.

As a lay Catholic wife, mother, grandmother, what can I do? What is my response? I could choose the path of Martin Luther or Catherine of Siena, one of my patron saints. Martin Luther in the face of grave scandal chose the path of revolution. He decided to leave the Church, founded his own church, and he brought many people with him.

Frankly, I get Luther’s choice and when this Scandal broke last week, I had to reassess my own response. Luther could rightly look to those responsible for reform in the highest offices and think they were not up to the task. His soul, and those he loved were at stake, and the price was too high to pay.

However, there is another response, that of Catherine of Siena, a laywoman of a menial social position living during another Church Scandal, that of the Avignon Papacies. Relying on the strength of the Lord, her realization of personal sanctification, and attending to authentic doctrine, she helped pave the way for authentic reform in the Church. The Church holds her out as a role model for all ages with her designation as Doctor of the Church. Her writings have not ceased to be in print since the fourteenth century.

So too, I must continue to pursue those authentic means of sanctification that have served the saints so well through the ages. Regular worthy reception of the sacraments is imperative. Reading Sacred Scripture within the framework of the Divine Word in all of its richness is critical. Sacred Scripture cannot, and was never meant to be, read in isolation from the Body of Christ. This Mystical Body helps the individual understand and be formed by it. How one encounters this Body varies with each person’s circumstance. For our family, fidelity is the mark of authenticity. How is the liturgy celebrated, the homilies proclaimed, the people living their day-to-day lives? These are key indicators used in discerning where I go to be spiritually fed.

As a commentator, I will use both my blog and video channel to provide information for my fellow seekers of truth. To that end, I have added a new category, Scandal 2018, on my blog. Unlike the Scandal of 2002, the Internet can provide a conduit of information and support. I choose to know and not live on the isle of denial.

Dear colleagues we each have choices to make. Sorrow and anger give way to choice. I cannot presume to dictate what choice you must make. Catherine of Siena indicates the path “for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. Joshua 24:15

For those who like videos, I offer a link to my video channel

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                  [2]Catholic EncyclopediaRev. Peter Stravinskas Ed, (Our Sunday Visitor: Huntington, IN 1991) pg 224 with introductory remarks by Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua & Archbishop Theodore McCarrick

Clericalism= A pejorative term that refers to an excessively professional attitude or conduct on the part of members of the clergy. It is often combined with the opinion that the clergy are somehow superior to the laity. Manifestations of clericalism can be found in an undue attachment to or use of clerical garb, other signs of the clerical state or other privileges.


            [4]”As for the auxiliaries, who are by far by the most numerous of the titular bishops, these exist primarily for one reason: to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the parishes of large dioceses. I submit that this is a deformation of the episcopate. If a diocese is too large for its proper pastor to serve, perhaps that diocese should be broken into smaller local churches.

Eliminating auxiliary bishops would also remove a chief temptation to clerical careerism. At present, priests work to become auxiliaries so that later they can become diocesan bishops and eventually be promoted to metropolitan archbishop. But the custom of moving bishops from one diocese to another is deeply contrary to the spousal significance of the bishop’s ring.”