Saturday, March 20, 2010

There will be no fat bishops in Ireland

Go here for the full text of the Pope's letter to Ireland.

B16 has proposed the establishment of churches or chapels devoted solely to "Eucharistic Adoration" as the remedy for the Irish Catholic sex abuse scandal.

He has also asked that the bishops and clergy devote prayer and fasting from today through Easter of 2011 as reparation for the sins of the priests and religious abusers.

So, in America, we call this the TV show "The Biggest Loser". If I were an Irish Catholic, I'd be clamoring for the bishops to step on the scale in public today so that a year from this Easter, the faithful will be able to determine just how sorry they really were about this situation.

And I know whom I'd be assigning to scrub the floors of those chapels of Eucharistic Adoration.

Seriously, if no mitered heads roll, this letter may not be enough.

14 comments:

Birdie said...

I read the entire letter. I'm not sure, but I think I saw a feeble call for justice for the children. Benedict calls for child safety norms that conform to canon law. What is that law? Is that not the law that permitted the secrecy in the first place? Does it include civil action and transparency at all stages?

His "concrete initiatives" amount to sending guilty parties to their rooms for a year to think about what they've done and then to have someone give them strong talks about the rules. He states "Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm." That's it? I am a believer in the power of genuine prayer, but we earthbound believers need evidence of genuine remorse and reparation in the form of justice. We need to see some serious housecleaning if we are to believe that the institution genuinely has concern for us—and not itself.

His part, he says, is to write this letter and make a few visits to give some of those talks. He holds up the example of St. John Mary Vianney, who states that "the priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven...he is the steward of the Lord; the administrator of his goods." I see no humility here. That is the primary qualification I seek in one who can tell me the truth about God; a true person of God will not draw attention to self but instead disappears in the effort to point to God.

Benedict closes with "I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland." There it is: his goal is to save the church.

Tony, I have a question for you. Benedict refers to "insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries..." You said something similar in recent comments elsewhere. What would you like to see happening in the education of the priesthood?

ewe said...

Has anyone considered incarceration?

Father Tony said...

I think the Pope is saying that the bishops should fully aid the civil authorities in the applications of justice that are within their authorities, but really, the bishops should consider the option of monastic incarceration as a remedy and as a punishment for men who cannot manage the freedom and responsibility of ministry in a socially acceptable way.

Sebastian said...

"Monastic incarceration!" These guys need jail time. And monasteries are not places to send felons and bishops! We monastics have our own charisms, and they don't include babysitting wayward clergy. Send them to the courts, not the cloisters.

Father Tony said...

Dear Sebastian,
Of course I agree that civil justice and jail may be warranted and shoul dnot be precluded by any construct by the bishops, but, while process is served, there should be a monastery specifically set up to house these men. A place in which they bind themselves to a life of penance and prayer. I am quite certain that some orders would volunteer to provide provide such a place. If not, the bishops should jointly create such a place. It should not be a "country club". If an order chooses to run it, those monastics should not be baby-sitters but rather spiritual guides to fallen men, administering the bitter pill. I think your words are too harsh. Please reconsider your position.

Birdie said...

I'm sorry, but I cannot call a man who sexually abuses children someone who "cannot manage the freedom and responsibility of ministry in a socially acceptable way." I understand that some of those children were older teens and willing and some of those priests made foolish decisions. The bottom line is they used the trust of their position to gain power over a minor. Each case must be examined individually, but incarceration is certainly a viable response to those whose victims were unwilling and young.

ewe said...

FT. I completely agree with you... AFTER THEIR PRISON SENTE NCING HAS BEEN FULLFILLED. Then they should be forced to the monastic setting you suggest much like others go to a halfway house. But after serving their sentence in prison. That is what you mean right?

Father Tony said...

Again, Birdie, I am not saying that jail is anything less than appropriate but the fact is that while each case goes through scrutiny - either civil or ecclesiastic - these priests are being coddled and allowed a type of sanctuary (i.e. protection) in rectories where they have no work to do. If I were a bishop, I'd want to make a strong statement and demonstration of real sentiments of contrition for what had happened on my watch. This would be part of it, and if a priest declined the hard time I proposed then I'd show him the door. I think you have misread me.

Father Tony said...

Yes, ewe, absolutely AFTER their prison time and ALSO BEFORE it during the sometimes years it takes to process these cases through court.

Catholics above all others understand the prescription of penance, but it's been a long time since penances were anything more than symbolic. I am proposing real public penance and mortification. If these priests and bishops don't want to embrace that, shame on them and toss them to the wolves.

Birdie said...

I did indeed misread your words and I apologize. I should have known better.

ewe said...

I understand what you are saying. It reminds me of how hard forgiveness can be. We forgive to forget and sometimes forget to forgive.

Father Tony said...

and even if the victims can never forgive, a year of serious penance, self-denial and mortification on the part of the bishops and priests who were innocent would certainly speak loudly to all Catholics. It won't make things right, any more than handing out millions of dollars to the victims will make things right, but it would really be the only option for a believable apology. They cannot apologize from the pulpit for a terrible sin and then walk to the rectory and tuck into a prime rib and a bottle of Dewars. That is not how it works.

ray said...

I think it is called showing some remorse..... but it is not evident at this point.

copp3rred said...

The crux we in the modern, often secular world are faced with is the fact that the Catholic church hierarchy does not recognize the primacy of secular law. St. Augustine is still a living saint...

Unless the church recognizes abuse as the domain of civil law, it will refuse to cooperate with earthly justice.