If you’ve seen the trailer or read a review of Calvary, you may get the impression that the movie is a mystery set in a quaint Irish village. If you’ve read interviews with the director or cast, you may get the impression that the movie’s deeper message has something to do with the sex abuse scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church.
Many non-Catholics and lapsed Catholics cannot get enough of the sex abuse scandal, even though the rates of abuse are reportedly much higher in many (US) public schools. Reports of abuse conducted outside of the Church are often cast off with a shrug, and not met with screams that public education must be reformed and calls that teachers must be married. It is not my intention to minimize the claims of those who have been injured and emotionally hurt by sex abuse, but to plead for a degree of perspective, especially from the media who report on such matters. Abuse of this nature is reprehensible and criminal.
The movie’s name, Calvary, suggests that there will be a sacrifice of an innocent. Calvary, of course, is the spot where Jesus was crucified, but to many Christians, “Calvary” is amplified to mean the crucifixion itself. “The road to Calvary” is not necessarily the geographic route that Jesus walked dragging his cross, but encompasses the events leading up to the crucifixion. The potential of this imagery is powerful, and is not mined to the fullest extent by writer/director John Michael McDonagh.
The movie has a promising beginning with an epigraph from St. Augustine:
Do not despair;Â one of the thieves wasÂ saved.
Do not presume;Â one of the thieves was damned.
For the uninitiated, when Christ hung on the cross, there were two criminals, commonly believed to be thieves, who were crucified at the same time, one on his right and the other on his left. One of them taunted Jesus, and dared him to “save yourself and us” (Luke 23:39). The second admonished the first by saying: “‘Don’t you fear God…since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom'” (Luke 23:40-42). Jesus turns to the second criminal and answers, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.'” (Luke 23:44).
St. Augustine directs our attention to the first thief who, by echoing the jeers of the Roman soldiers and the elders, damned his soul to perdition. Even as life dripped from his body, he wanted to be in the cool crowd and to be accepted by his tormentors.
If St. Augustine’s remark is meant to be foreshadowing, it is a confused foreshadowing. While nearly every sin of man is exposed during the film, no thievery has been confessed (accusations made, maybe, but no facts). Perhaps “thief” is meant to be “sinner” and that is a thread that can be followed for a little bit, before it unravels. It cannot be said with any confidence that anyone in the movie was or will be saved, and perhaps they all were or will be damned.
The movie opens in the confessional where the priest is warned that he’ll be killed on the following Sunday, and the suggestion is made that maybe he should get his “house in order”. The “penitent” tells the Father James (played by Brendan Gleeson) in startling graphic terms that he had been harmed by a priest in his youth and childhood and reasons that that the priest must pay, even if he is not personally guilty of sodomy.
The appointment for murder on Sunday is a little perplexing, and if the priest were meant to be a Christ figure, one may be inclined to think that he would meet his doom on the Friday before.
Characters and their assorted sins float in and out of the picture. With few exceptions, their lives neither seem intertwined nor dependent on one another. The priest’s daughter (legitimate daughter; born in marriage before he was widowed and took up his vocation), Fiona, enters, recovering from a failed suicide attempt. At one point, in the confessional, she asks her father if suicide is a sin, and he says that he had to give the matter some thought. He didn’t say that he was going to consult the Magisterium, but the viewer is led to believe that the fruit of the priest’s own thought would be able to provide the answer.
Inexplicably, Father James is called on to visit a serial killer/cannibal, who seems neither penitent nor contrite. It seems that he called for the priest more or less for his own amusement, to lessen the tedium of confinement. The murderer snivels, “God made me.” Modern audiences can fill in what is unspoken: God made me; ergo, He must accept and celebrate all that I do.
There is a sexually frustrated young man to whom Father James suggests pornography as a means of relieving his tension. The young man has already availed himself of the outlet, and is on to transsexuals. Father suggests that be might try his hand in Dublin, where the lasses may be more agreeable. The young man thinks that his own salvation will be to enter the military, which causes a problem for the priest: “The commandment, ‘thou shalt not kill’ doesn’t have an asterisk.” “What about self-defense?” asks the young man. “That’s a tricky one, all right,” says the priest.
There is the town floozy, to put it nicely, who is married to the butcher but who is sleeping with the mechanic (among others, so it seems) but all three march up to receive the host, and it is all okay. God made them, too.
There is the elderly writer that Father visits and brings food and drink. He requests a gun from the priest, to help him off this mortal coil, should the need arise. Father does manage to procure a gun from Inspector Stanton, but first we have to be introduced to his unstable gay lover who slyly suggests that he also passes time with the bishop.
This gun, unlike Chekhov’s, is tossed off a cliff and is rendered useless—that is, after the priest takes in too much beer and whiskey and shoots up the pub. This is after a quite moment when the proprietor confidentially tells him that he is facing foreclosure.
The nearest thing to the thief is the rich man, played by Dylan Moran (Black Books). He fears that charges will be brought against him for financial irregularities. His family has already left him, and it is just himself rambling around in his old house, where he is free to urinate on masterworks of art. It is a small mercy that the rich man does not gallop in with his checkbook to save the day for the pub owner or that the town does not band together to hold a raffle and a bake sale to save their favorite watering hole.
There is tourist who is mortally injured in a traffic accident and Father is called in to give last rites. The widow, who survived, is perhaps the most faithful and godly character in the movie, but she is only on screen for a few minutes. She is heartbroken, but she will survive. Father asks her to pray with him, and he starts, “Hail Mary, Full of Grace…” This may be an error, as I don’t know if the intention was to pray the rosary, which usually begins with the Apostles’ Creed.
After his bad night at the pub, the priest (inexplicably) heads to Dublin under the soothing tones of Roger Whittaker. We see him in the airport where he encounters the widow again, and we see a worker lean on her husband’s casket as easily as he would lean across the bar. Apart from showing the lack of reverence for the dead, it is not clear why the priest went to Dublin.
The movie is crisscrossed with other characters and events that may or may not be related to the denouement, and the viewer is left with a mystery. The movie is billed as a “black comedy”. There are light moments, and there are genuine comedians playing dramatic roles, such as Chris O’Dowd and Mr. Moran; however, “comedy” may be an overstatement.
In an interview with the San Diego Reader, writer/director John Michael McDonagh said:
(Having been married) I think that the priest is more able to comment with authority on moral issues. He’s somebody who has lived a full life. If he’s, say, mediating between a warring couple, he can actually speak about marriage and sex and everything else. I mean, most priests obviously can’t, and yet they do. Why have they got that authority to talk about something they don’t know anything about? Father James has it. But also, he struggled with alcoholism. So, he’s suffered, and he’s battled, and he’s not an entirely saintlike person. But he’s trying to be…
The writer/director has had some religious education when he was younger, but there are some gaps in that he doesn’t quite grasp the teachings of the Church or fully appreciate the gifts of scripture and tradition. A priest does not have to have the misery or joy of married life to intervene in a troubled marriage. In fact, even with Father James’s vast experience with married life, he was unable to bring peace to the butcher’s difficult marriage.
Perhaps it was a tricky one, all right.
How does anyone know what the two thieves said to Jesus?
From the Internet, where else?
It was a public execution, Christ’s mother, her sister, Mary of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and St. John were present. Any of these could have described the conversation between Jesus and the thieves to Luke (to say nothing of the unnamed female disciples, the Roman soldiers, Jewish authorities, and anonymous bystanders who were also present).
Sounds like there’s more moral certainty in the Veronica Mars movie than this one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veronica_Mars_%28film%29
This resembles “Noah”, hollywood’s attempt at making “moral” religious movies that they want to sell to everyone, rather than a specific audience. The result seems to be a lousy movie that few like. I don’t expect that to change.
The statement “You have neverâ€¦â€¦so you don’t know” serves two purposes. It is designed to shut down discussion from people who might disapprove and to convince those who want to enter the discussion to participate in the act. Thus, if you want to discuss drug addiction, you have to have been an addict. If you want to discuss pornography, you have to watch it. It’s a really useful statement for shutting down all those “judgmental” people and increasing participation in whatever behaviour. It’s very useful for things like theft, addiction, etc where no one other than theives and addicts can comment.
This is an insult both to honest Catholics and to the US school system.
First, your citation says nothing like what you claim, that “many” US public schools have higher rates of abuse than the Church does. If you think it does, please provide the page and paragraph where you think it says that.
Second, teachers have not taken the oaths that a Priest takes to refrain from any sexual activity. Nor have they taken the other oaths that a Priest has taken.
Third, I find no reports from the schools comparable to the shameful shuffling and reshuffling of priests from one parish to another once they’d worn out the rectums of the local children. This to me is the sickest part of the Catholic illness, the involvement of the Church hierarchy, not just to protect the priests from the consequences of their past actions, but to allow them to continue merrily ruining the lives of child after child.
Next, I find no reports of any conspiracy in US schools, or anywhere for that matter, comparable to that of the Cardinals and Bishops in covering up the actions of the priests. I don’t find school superintendents conspiring like the nobles of the Church did.
In short, that is the most damnable and pathetic set of excuses for the actions of the Church that I have ever seen. Read what your Pope has said. He hasn’t trotted out any of these paltry reasons you’re trying on, or attempted to justify the sick actions as you have done.
Briggs, this piece is the worst you’ve ever posted. You should be ashamed, to have some mealy-mouthed apologist try to pull the wool over the eyes of your readers in such a despicable fashion.
And as for the author, you have pleaded for a “degree of perspective”, and there’s mine. From my perspective, what the Catholic Church did was hundreds of times worse than anything ever seen in US schools. It was an organized conspiracy to rape thousands of innocent children, wherein Priests were routinely just shifted to another parish when their abominable practices were discovered.
I defy you to find anything worse in recent history, save perhaps the actions of another religious group in Rotherham.
I know you might not like that perspective, but it is there nonetheless. Your Pope has the same perspective as mineâ€”all of this is a terrible stain on the Church, one that will not be removed by trying to minimize it or handwave it away as you are doing. For shame, my friends, for shame that such as yourselves should attempt to defend and minimize the crimes of the Church.
Finally, you seem surprised that people were and are upset by the Catholic sex scandal. For me, as for many others, we keep waiting for someone who is above the rank of a private in God’s army to get charged with a crime. Bishops and Cardinals were certainly accessories to horrendous sexual crimes both before, during, and after the fact â€¦ where are the trials and convictions for those folks?
You say we in the public “can’t get enough of the sex abuse scandals”, but the real problem is, to date at least we can’t get enough CONVICTIONS out of the sex scandals. And as long as that is true, people will not be satisfied with your mealy-mouthed, namby-pamby excuses and attempts to weasel out of responsibility for a widespread conspiracy by Priests and Bishops to rape innocent children, and to cover it up afterwords. That one you’ll have to wear until we see some action, not just some noble sounding words and throwing a few priests under the bus.
For a nice example of the Tu Quoque (Latin for “you too”) logical fallacy [though with a curious disclaimer woven in] read the second paragraph in this essay:
“Many non-Catholics and lapsed Catholics cannot get enough of the sex abuse scandal, even though the rates of abuse are reportedly much higher in many (US) public schools. Reports of abuse conducted outside of the Church are often cast off with a shrug, and not met with screams that public education must be reformed and calls that teachers must be married. It is not my intention to minimize the claims of those who have been injured and emotionally hurt by sex abuse, but to plead for a degree of perspective, especially from the media who report on such matters. ”
(Curiously, Briggs has on more than one occasion specifically addressed this fallacy…)
THE UNDERLYING PRESUMPTION in the above paragraph, made in the first two sentences, is the author either fails to recognize (or worse discounts) the fundamental issue is that the Roman Catholic Church as a unified Institution collaborated quite effectively for years/generation(s) to both conceal the abuse AND by various actions & inactions perversely help facilitate the continuation of the known abuses by the known abusers.
Such institutional misconduct occurring across national borders & continents has no comparison anybody has identified.
To even suggest that what the Catholic Church did as a unified multi-national/multi-continent-spanning institution did over decades/generations is in any way comparable to the conspiratorial cover-ups by ad-hoc groups of individuals in this or that education system (whose misconduct is generally revealed much sooner and is not reflective of the larger institution’s position) , etc. is bizarre for the scope of understatement.
What the Catholic Church did occurred on a scale & timeframe possible by its vast size and the coordinated willful participation by its officials — no state educational system could possibly hope to emulate the equivalent if it wanted to.
Consider what the author of the essay didn’t address: The Priest consults the Bishop about the credible threat against the Priest; the Bishop concludes that because of a lack of repentance by the person making the threat, the sanctity of the confessional would not be breached by alerting the civil authorities. Given how profoundly sacred statement made in the confessional are, this is very revealing: there’s no problem in finding a loophole for violating the sanctity of all statements made in the confessional — when a Church Authority is threatened.
Those pedophile priests are known to have been quietly moved when outed in a given parish to continue their abuses elsewhere — both the manner in which many were initially outed (not in the confessional) and the recurrence of the behavior indicates a lack of repentance. But as members of the institution, the priests were protected — at the ongoing expense of children victims.
What the movie presents as metaphor is the Church’s inability to effect any meaningful positive change in the community.
In the movie one sees that many of the members of the community are, at their core, are as rotten as Dorian Gray, in the movie/story, “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” In that analogous story, Mr. Gray recognizes the extent of his evilness in his hidden picture. In Calvary, instead of a painted portrait, the priest is privy to the same evil in the community.
In Dorian Gray, ultimately at the end his evil is destroyed by his own hand–a powerful act of contrition.
In Calvary, the Priest is a metaphor for the Catholic Church which has enabled much evil, but which still has not made any contrition — the Priest is made to die as symbolic of the unrepentant thief on the cross.
Calvary is not about a scapegoat-style sacrifice such as associated with Jesus; it is a symbolic desired punishment for the Catholic Church, a punishment (even a meaningful institutional act of contrition) the Catholic Church has yet to fulfill.
Many so-called “lapsed Catholics” [author’s generalization] are “lapsed” only relative to the institution of the Catholic Church which, still, endeavors to maintain its outward image [like Dorian Gray]; they are not “lapsed” relative to the theological doctrine the institution so callously violated for intuitional self-interest. That’s a distinction the author appears not to comprehend.
“They are not â€œlapsedâ€ relative to the theological doctrine the institution so callously violated for intuitional self-interest. Thatâ€™s a distinction the author appears not to comprehend.”
So these many lapsed Catholics that no longer attend Mass or believe in this or that particular, or entirety, of the creed are still Catholics, hey?
teachers have not taken the oaths that a Priest takes to refrain from any sexual activity.
With young male children? I was not aware that an oath was required.
I refer you to for it non-complete bibliography of studies/reports/newspaper articles/academic papers/etc on the issue. I doubt anything done by the Catholic Church compares to the absurdity of the Bellevue (Washington State) School District asking the teachers union to sue the school district so that it wouldn’t have to reveal the public records of teachers with sexual misconduct discipline. That you are unaware of the extent of sexual abuse in public schools and the depths to which administrators will go to keep it that way is only proof of how effective those administrators have been in keeping the issue out of the public eye. Every so often it boils over, like when in the early 1990s Ronald Walter Price went on Geraldo and bragged about how he’d been bagging students for 25 years, but if the Catholic Church as an institution were as dedicated as public school administrators have been in covering up abuse and covering for abusers then the movie under review would never have been made and no one would make priest jokes.
Briggs, substitute “church” by “IPCC”,” priest” by “concensuss scientists”, “catholics” by “lay warmists” and “laped catholics”by climate sceptics” and notice how now you are performing a perfect noble cause corruption.
and “child molesting” by “science molesting”
5 SEPTEMBER 2014 AT 4:36 PM
Thanks for that most interesting document, max. Unfortunately, much (and in some instances most) of what they are talking about is what they call “non-contact sexual misconduct”, which includes such vague categories as “suggestive looks” â€¦
Suggestive looks? Give me a break. What I’m talking about is priests buggering little boys, not suggestive looks. Those are very different things.
Is there sexual abuse in US schools? Yes. Have administrators in some cases tried to cover it up? Yes. However, I do not find anything anywhere near as wide-ranging, long-lasting, or well-protected as the actions and the cover-ups of those in the Church. Nor do I find any examples from schools such as those many, many examples where a Priest was simply transferred to a new parish, over and over again, when new allegations against him surfaced.
Finally, when sexual abuse (not misconduct but actual abuse) is discovered in US schools, usually everyone involved goes down, in particular those at the top. See the Penn State scandal as an example. But where are the numerous Bishops, Archbishops, and Cardinals who assuredly did the crime, but are certainly not doing the time? Sure, some priestly pawns were sacrificed, but what about the other chess pieces?
The only bright spot I see in all of this are the actions of the current Pope. Previous Popes just looked the other way and ignored the ongoing transfer of priests. This guy seems more serious, and I wish him well.
All the best,
much of what they are talking about is what they call â€œnon-contact sexual misconduct
As was also the case among the priests. A problem can be any size so long as one may play with the definitions of the terms.
Of course, Dr. B. may wince over their statistical analyses; esp. the use of p-values and chi-square.
It is unfortunate how the highly biased coverage of the Church scandal has led people like Willis to invalid conclusions.
No, the Church did not act “as a unified institution” to cover this stuff up. Yes, Church bureaucrats at levels up to Bishop engaged in cover-ups. Surprise – they, too, are human and subject to bureaucratic incentives. And, they should be condemned. The Church is composed of sinners, after all, and some of them are really horrid.
But missing from the common view is any understanding of what was going on. Over 85% of the abuse cases were actually homosexual statutory rape by homosexual priests – where the “children” were post-pubescent. Such behavior is appalling and criminal, but recognizing its character should lead people to a more nuanced understanding. A “purple mafia” of gay priests arose in some seminaries where such un-chaste behavior was rationalized as being consistent with Church doctrine.
This also took place during the rise of dodgy psychological theories, where therapy was preferable to punishment. The Church was hardly alone in falling for this nonsense, and its doctrine of correction through confession and meditation likewise led to an incorrect belief that these predators could be corrected. Some of the transfers were bureaucratic ass-covering and others were in the actual belief that the malefactors would not re-offend.
It should also be recognized that any institution which deals with children, or especially young males, tends to be infiltrated by predators, whether homosexuals going after teenagers, heterosexuals going after teenagers of the opposite sex, or actual paedophiles going after either sex at a young age. Yes, the Church was a useful place for such people. So was the Boy Scouts, which had its own scandal and was under massive attack until it finally knuckled under to the gay mafia. So were (and are) the public schools, which also being large bureaucracies, have engaged in the same sorts of coverups as the Church – the difference being that the media is not actively hostile towards public education, while it is towards the Church.
5 SEPTEMBER 2014 AT 7:51 PM
Thanks, John. Since that was not my conclusion but Ken’s, I’m not sure how I got swept up in your blanket condemnation.
No, they should not be condemned.
They should be convicted.
The fact that they have not been even charged, much less had to face their accusers in open court, is an deep stain on the church. I keep waiting for them to confess their sins to the people that they harmed, and man up and take their punishment. Instead they’ve used every excuse and every legal or illegal trick under the sun to escape their just desserts.
I can’t tell you how repulsive that point of view is. I don’t want a “more nuanced understanding” of why priests bugger underage boys, whether pre- or post-pubescent.
Here’s a clue, Johnâ€”they do it for the same reason every other pervert does itâ€”because it feels good and they don’t care if childrens’ lives get ruined in the process. What’s to understand?
Screw understanding, I don’t want understanding. I want the priests and their oh-so-holy protectors and co-conspirators to be punished just like any other criminal conspiracy, no matter how much in the way of gold cloths and purple slippers and miters and croziers they have.
PSâ€”Since many, many of the Catholic abuse cases haven’t come to light, and in a lot of cases may never do so, I fear I don’t understand how you can claim that “over 85% of the abuse cases were actually” one way or another. How would anyone know?
One thing we do know. 100% of the Catholic abuse cases were clearly illegal and immoral, and the cost in human lives ruined has been unbelievable. The Pope actually seems to get that, and has apologized and reached out to the victims â€¦ folks like yourself, on the other hand, continue to provide excuses and explanations and ask for “understanding” for the perpetrators.
Color me unimpressed.
I am deeply offended that you would even consider that I am trying to justify the behavior of the sex offenders. Where you get that from my writing is beyond me. I strongly urge you to re-read.
I did, however, attempt to explain the details, and I did so for one reason: so you and others would understand that the prevailing media narrative about the Church scandal – the 97% consensus if you will – is wrong. It is incomplete and biased, in ways that are telling.
If you understand that, there’s a chance you can come to realize that, while these offenses were grave, criminal, wrong in every way, the campaign against the Catholic Church is also wrong, deeply wrong. It is an orchestrated effort to destroy the moral legitimacy of a 2000 year old organization; to destroy the work of the 500,000 priests who did not offend; to get the Church out of the way of those with immoral intent. Those who offended against children victimized not only them, but all of mankind by also feeding this effort.
You can choose to ignore the facts. Go ahead, you would be in the company. of a whole lot of others.
As an aside, the 85% number comes from the John Jay report, one which is hardly flattering to the Church. It is also the reason that the Church, having opened up its ranks to homosexuals, has now closed them for any new priest candidates. Make no mistake: not all of the offenses were by homosexuals. But also make no mistake: the media has done everything they can to cover up these facts.
“It is an orchestrated effort to destroy the moral legitimacy of a 2000 year old organization …”
The offending priests and those who shielded them already did that.
“… to get the Church out of the way of those with immoral intent”
The Church got itself out of the way. People are calling on it to get back in the way, by doing what’s right. Like the second thief at Calvary, the Church has to confess, repent, and take the just punishment for it. Jesus didn’t save the second thief from being crucified by the secular authorities. The Church must not save the priests and bishops from the same fate.
“Those who offended against children victimized not only them, but all of mankind by also feeding this effort.”
This was likely the Bishops’ excuse in the first place. The Church depends on its spotless reputation and moral authority in its work to ensure the salvation of the world. Thus one is trading harm to a few individuals against harm to the whole of humanity. It would be easy for someone immersed in the internal culture to see it that way.
But moral authority is defined by reality, not perceptions. You have to tell the truth, even if you know you will be punished unjustly for it (Calvary again).
“It is also the reason that the Church, having opened up its ranks to homosexuals, has now closed them for any new priest candidates.”
If so, that’s another highly unpleasant aspect to the Church’s behaviour. It sounds like you’re blaming it on homosexuals generally – as if to say “what do you expect if you allow sodomites into the priesthood?” That’s pure prejudice.
Homosexuals are subject to the same moral considerations as heterosexuals. Both are equally capable of finding adult, consenting partners. Both are equally capable of abstinence. It’s not an excuse for them, they’re no less morally responsible for their actions. Rape is not excused by heterosexual desire – you would not ban heterosexuals from the priesthood because of it. Theft is not justified by the desire for wealth, and sloth is not justified by the desire for an easy time. Desires have nothing to do with it, it’s what you choose to do about them that matters.
The proper response is what it is for any organisation. You do what you can to vet your public representatives. You set up the means for people to report such problems safely, you investigate carefully to distinguish false accusations from true ones, and so far as you can, do no injustice to either side, and you try to make sure justice is both done and seen to be done. Your good reputation will follow from that, but is secondary to it. You must see to it that true justice is done, whatever the consequences to yourself or your reputation. Even if you get crucified for it.
How can a failure to charge A with a crime be a deep stain on the Church? That is entirely the responsibility of the civil authorities, like the DA, Crown Prosecutor, and the like.
dover_breach: I have a convicted sex offender living nearby. If I drive by his house and he has a dozen kids there, and I don’t call the police but just ignore it, am I not at least in part responsible? I knew and did nothing. I walked away from a drowning person and said and did nothing. How is that not my fault? (I think that’s a common excuse from wives/husbands of incest perpetrators. It’s not their responsibility to do anything. It’s for the authorities.)
Also, saying a kid is ruined for life is just as evil as the act of abuse itself. You didn’t break the kid, but you damned him to being forever ruined, damage, broken, and on and on. You give exceptional power to the perpetrator to damage childrenâ€”expecially if you call it “the worst thing that can happen”. That so many people grow up and think their lives are ruined by abuse is testatment to how effect this damage is. It’s flat out evil to tell someone their life is ruined.
an deep stain on the church
It’s even more of a stain on psychiatry, since at the time of the crisis it was believed and taught that the best treatment for offenders was “counseling” and separating them from the scenes of the temptation, and the greatest concern for the young men was that their plight not be made a public spectacle through which they would relive the events over and over. It was generally believed by the scientists that youngsters would “get over it” given time.
In what has to be the worst case of timing in publishing history, a child psychologist released a book chiding America for repressing children’s sexuality just before a big fat target of opportunity wandered into the media crosshairs. A priest in Chicago was criticized for allowing a teenaged boy to live in the rectory with him, but the Usual Suspects played it as Unfair Criticism of a black priest who only wanted to save the young man from life on the streets. How dare we be so judgmental, you racist! A few years later, and the pravda had changed, and he was rounded up.
The 80%+ figure comes from statistical analyses of the accusations performed by a variety of agencies, like the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of CUNY. Discussion can be found here:
What is remarkable about the figure is how it reverses the usual pattern of abuse, in which young women are abused ten times more often than young men. In the priestly scandal of 1965-85, it was 4:1 male on male. Among high school teachers it largely women on young men and male teachers on young women; although two noteworthy cases in this local area have featured lesbian gym teachers. One was sentences to wear an ankle bracelet. Don’t know about the other.
Sheri, I’m talking about situations in which this was actually brought to the attention of authorities. In circumstances where this was not the case, as YOS says, the nonsense of the times was to deal with such situations in the manner he describes, not only regarding the church, but in other institutions involving children, e.g. a teacher would be quietly moved from one school to another in the public system, or in the private, quietly dismissed but free to move to another school in another town or city. Yes, I agree, this was absolutely appalling.
As for your second para., I haven’t said anything of the sort.
Willis, Catholic priests do not take celibacy vows. It is Catholic monks that do.
In fact practising married Catholic priests do exist.
dover_beach: My second paragraph was not directed at you. My sincere apologies for not labelling it so. I now see your point was that the authorities decide who to prosecute. Then the question would be how many priests were actually turned in to the police for investigation, right? If the church did not turn these priests in or they moved them, the church is at fault. If the priests were turned in, then who was prosecuted is a matter of the law’s choosing, not the church (or schools or whomever turned the perpetrator in).
Sure, but the church is not the only institution, or individual that could have made a complaint to the police.
Yes, they do. The married priests you’re referring to are those that have undertaken the sacrament of marriage prior to becoming a priest. the Church in these instances does not ask that potential priest to break his vow.
â€œIt is an orchestrated effort to destroy the moral legitimacy of a 2000 year old organization â€¦â€
The offending priests and those who shielded them already did that.’
No, they did not. If that had been the case, the Church would have lost its moral legitimacy centuries ago. The Church is composed of humans, sinners, and they err. It is only Church bashers who imagine that it must be perfect. It cannot be.
‘â€œâ€¦ to get the Church out of the way of those with immoral intentâ€
The Church got itself out of the way. People are calling on it to get back in the way, by doing whatâ€™s right. Like the second thief at Calvary, the Church has to confess, repent, and take the just punishment for it. ‘
Oh, nonsense. The Church is there and has always been there. Do you really think the Church, with its over half a million priests and nuns has to repent for the misbehavior of a few? Which organization of humans is as pure as you demand the Church to be? The Church has apologized. It has reformed its practices, rejecting the idiotic advise of modern psychologists, adding multiple checks and balances (so that even laity have to be trained in detecting child abuse), and (at least in the US) no longer allowing homosexuals into the priesthood, even as it welcomes them into the Church.
‘â€œThose who offended against children victimized not only them, but all of mankind by also feeding this effort.â€
This was likely the Bishopsâ€™ excuse in the first place. The Church depends on its spotless reputation and moral authority in its work to ensure the salvation of the world. Thus one is trading harm to a few individuals against harm to the whole of humanity. It would be easy for someone immersed in the internal culture to see it that way.’
That a few Bishops made this error does not remove the fact that, indeed, those offenders harmed the Church’s mission.
‘But moral authority is defined by reality, not perceptions. You have to tell the truth, even if you know you will be punished unjustly for it (Calvary again).’
In that case, most of the critics of the Church have lost whatever tiny moral authority that they have. Furthermore, their continued attacks, decades after the problem, show real animus, prejudice and bigotry. This is not surprising, as the Church’s message is hated by many.
‘â€œIt is also the reason that the Church, having opened up its ranks to homosexuals, has now closed them for any new priest candidates.â€
If so, thatâ€™s another highly unpleasant aspect to the Churchâ€™s behaviour. It sounds like youâ€™re blaming it on homosexuals generally â€“ as if to say â€œwhat do you expect if you allow sodomites into the priesthood?â€ Thatâ€™s pure prejudice.
Pure prejudice is judging a group based on inaccurate facts, as you are doing. The Church knows what to expect from “allowing sodomites into the priesthood” – it did that experiment, and the results are the largest cause of your condemnation. But heck, facts don’t matter when you can yell “prejudice,” do they! No, homosexuals are not the only cause of the Church scandal, but in the US, they are the greatest cause by far.
“Homosexuals are subject to the same moral considerations as heterosexuals. Both are equally capable of finding adult, consenting partners. Both are equally capable of abstinence. Itâ€™s not an excuse for them, theyâ€™re no less morally responsible for their actions. Rape is not excused by heterosexual desire â€“ you would not ban heterosexuals from the priesthood because of it. ”
Yeah, it was that thinking that got the US Church into trouble. The logic was: priests are supposed to be chaste, so who cares if they avoid heterosexual or homosexual sex. Very logical, but in practice, it failed. The Church still retains many homosexual priests – by this time, they presumably have proven that they, at least, adhere to this.
‘The proper response is what it is for any organisation. You do what you can to vet your public representatives. You set up the means for people to report such problems safely, you investigate carefully to distinguish false accusations from true ones, and so far as you can, do no injustice to either side, and you try to make sure justice is both done and seen to be done. Your good reputation will follow from that, but is secondary to it. You must see to it that true justice is done, whatever the consequences to yourself or your reputation. Even if you get crucified for it.’
Yeah, I suppose it is news to you that this is what the Church has already done.
I tire of this preaching by those who are willfully uninformed. They represent the long lasting stain of anti-Catholic prejudice in the English heritage.
6 SEPTEMBER 2014 AT 1:49 AM
Thanks, John. I got it from the part where you are looking for a “more nuanced understanding” of the behavior of the priests. It appears I was mistaken, so I’d suggest in future you choose your words more carefully.
The prevailing media narrative is that there were a number of priests who were illegally and immorally preying on children, and that in many, perhaps most cases they were being actively protected from their richly-deserved punishment by their superiors concealing their crimes and foisting them off on yet another unsuspecting parish.
Please point out to me the errors in that narrative.
John, as soon as someone starts shouting about an “orchestrated effort” I start to laugh. Just who is “orchestrating” the attempt to hold the guilty priests, bishops and cardinals responsible for their crimes? The Bilderburg Group? The New World Order? International Jewry?
And how are the efforts being “orchestrated”? Email? Coded radio messages?
Sorry, but your anti-Catholic conspiracy theory doesn’t even pass the laugh test.
As to an “effort to destroy the moral legitimacy” of the Church, the guilty priests, bishops, and church officials have been doing that quite thoroughly. Not me. Not the Bilderberg Group, or whoever you claim is “orchestrating” the attempt to hold the guilty responsible. The Church, through its own actions, has terribly wounded its own moral legitimacy. It has nothing to do with me.
Nor is it an attempt to “get the Church out of the way”. Is there some part of holding the guilty responsible, and punishing them for their crimes, that is unclear to you?
IF, when this whole thing first came up, the Church hierarchy had said to the police, “We will help you, we are ashamed of what some of our priests have done, we’ll open our records to you”, then you might have a moral argument.
But that’s not what happened. For decade after decade, in almost every instance, the Church hierarchy closed ranks, refused to open their books, refused to cooperate with the temporal authorities, transferred the priests to some faraway parish, didn’t report the crimes to the police, and generally did whatever they could to bury the scandal and prevent the punishment of the guilty. The actions of the Church officials are what is destroying “the work of the 500,000 priests who did not offend”. When the higher-ups in an organization are complicit, everyone gets tarred with the same brush.
Everyone understands that sometimes people commit crimes, including sexual crimes . What people don’t understand is the Catholic Church doing whatever it could possibly do to prevent the arrest, trial, and punishment of pedophile priests.
So don’t come busting me for costing the Catholic Church some of its moral legitimacy. Your church leadership has been doing very well at destroying their legitimacy on their own, your bishops and priests don’t need any help from me, nor have I offered any. This is a disaster that the Church has brought on itself. It has absolutely nothing to do with me or anyone other than the Church authorities.
PSâ€”Again, let me say, that was then and this is now. Near as I can tell, the current Pope is a caring, honest, decent man who is willing to face this particular problem (and many others) head-on. This has not always been the case in the past. His selection and his comments have already made a difference in the discussion. So I have great hopes that the Augean Stables might actually be cleaned, although it is admittedly a Herculean task, and I sincerely wish him well in this and almost all his endeavors.
It’s incredible that you treat what happened too often though not everywhere at a diocesan level as if it was orchestrated by the Vatican. To be honest, I’d like to see a lot more detail before people started spouting off the most heinous claims in a generalized fashion.
What point are you making here? Is it that chastity is one of the causes of sexual abuse? Well, then you’ll have to explain why sexual abuse is far more prevalent among those that are sexually active.
The assistant coach at Penn State is a case in point. The district attorney declined to prosecute based on an earlier allegation by a parent. Later, he disappeared and they found his car on the banks of the river. The investigation into Michael Jackson got stonewalled. Nothing was ever done about Woody Allen, and even Roman Polanski seems to be doing okay.
6 SEPTEMBER 2014 AT 2:38 PM
I said nothing about the Vatican. I choose my words cautiously. You are the very first person to introduce the word “Vatican” into this discussion. Read my quote again.
I said that in the past, in most instances where priests were accused, the Church hierarchy (by which I meant some combination of those with more authority than the parish priest) did its best to obstruct justice rather than seek justice. You are the one reading “VATICAN” into that statement.
And I stand by that statement 100%.
While it is true that the vast majority of abuse cases were homosexual, it is not true that the vast majority of homosexual priests committed abuse. In fact, going by year-of-ordination of accused priests, most of the abusers during the crisis had been ordained before the requirements were loosened.
Basically, the priesthood had been used for a very long time as an excuse for not having a wife or girl friend. It was part of the closet. And some men entered never intending to keep their vows. (The same may be true of some who entered later, more openly.) A homosexual friend of mine dropped out of the seminary because of the constant pressure by those he called “the old queers” to pressure him into sex. Several seminaries appear to have been “captured” in this way; although a clean-out began in the mid-1980s after some visitations.
For decade after decade
1965-1985, approx. After that incidents dropped sharply. From 2000 to 2007, there were fifteen allegations of childhood sexual abuse in the American Catholic Churchâ€”an average of less than two per year. OYOH, a 2007 Associated Press investigation identified 2,570 public school teachers who, from 2001 through 2005, had their teaching licenses â€œtaken away, denied, surrendered voluntarily, or restrictedâ€ as a result of sexual misconduct with minorsâ€”an average of 514 per year. And note that the first figure is for allegations and the latter is for incidents substantive enough to warrant administrative action.
Guess how many newspapers headlined that AP investigation. The disparity in magnitude is enough to raise doubt as to whether the well-being of minors was ever the paramount concern.
When you accuse “the Church” you are accusing the Vatican, and that is incorrect. When you accuse “the Church” you are accusing the 1.2 biliion of us who make up that Church. You are accusing the 500,000 or so priests.
Go ahead and rant about the priests and their enablers if it makes you feel better. By now, they have mostly been taken care of. But when you attack the Church, admit that you are attacking the Church.
And, even if that is not your intent, it is the intent of the campaign against the Church. One does not need Bilderbergs or whatever, There is nothing secret about this campaign, there is nothing bizarre. It is a widespread movement in the West to damage the Church wherever possible, because the Church stands in the way of a lot of “progressive” goals – particularly for those who seek approval to screw everything, all the time (except for kids, although that will change too).
One has to be blind to ignore the existence of a movement, a political and cultural movement, to legitimatize all sorts of sexual behavior opposed by the church – especially promiscuity and homosexuality. This movement is widespread, and has at its vanguard people who will stop at nothing to remove from the public sphere anyone, and especially any institution, that stands in their way. The most vehement, if not the most numerous of these folks are those pushing for gay rights. They are intentionally trying to limit Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church, to worship within the Church. They are destroying Catholic Charities by requiring them to oppose Church doctrine in order to be licensed or receive necessary funding. Do you not understand that these people, prominent in the media, have seized upon the sex abuse scandal in the Church for that purpose. They have kept it alive decades after it the Church took action to reduce the abuses, and after those abuses abated, and they do this to harm the Church. Sure, they claim to be seeking “justice” for those harmed, and they will continue to spout that line, as they diminish the Church, long after the problem has gone away.
The people being most harmed by this movement are children, even as the movement anoints itself their protector. The destruction of Western sexual mores shows up primarily in divorce and promiscuity, which results in children growing up outside of loving families. That is perfectly fine with the sexual revolutionaries – they celebrate it.
All of this is why the child sex scandal is so perfect for their purposes. What better way to get the Church out of their way than to continue to beat the drum that the Church cannot have authority because it is itself guilty? This is why the theme never dies; why it is a favorite plot line over and over again in Hollywood movies and TV shows. Destroy the moralists and then you don’t need to live morally.
While it is true that the vast majority of abuse cases were homosexual, it is not true that the vast majority of homosexual priests committed abuse. ”
And this is certainly true, which is why the Church retains so many homosexual priests. But it is also true that homosexual priests proportionately were far more likely to be offenders, which is why the Church had to take the unhappy step of denying homosexuals entry into the priesthood in the future.
6 SEPTEMBER 2014 AT 4:59 PM
In your mind, perhaps. Me, I’m accusing the priests and bishops and cardinals who were guilty. It’s a semantic problem. When I’ve been saying “the Church”, I meant just thatâ€”the organization of priests, nuns, bishops, arch-bishops, cardinals, and the Pope as an official structure that calls the shots and makes the decisions.
I do NOT mean the 1.2 billion people who ATTEND that Church. When I say the Church, I mean the hierarchy of the church itself. So I’ll use the term “Church hierarchy” in future to avoid confusion.
As to what the Church hierarchy are or are not guilty of, that’s an individual matter. It is significant, however, that as far as I know the first official public statement made on this question in modern times that I know of comes from the current Pope â€¦ which means that the previous ones either didn’t know the priests were abusing children and being protected, or didn’t care to admit that priests were abusing children and being protected. I’m not sure which is worse.
That’s part of the problem, John. Nobody knows how deep the rot goes, and we sure aren’t going to find out from the Church hierarchy.
No thanks to the Church hierarchy for that. It has happened despite the actions of the Church hierarchy, not because of their actions.
My friend, if I were to attack the Church, you’d know it, and there’d be no mistaking it. I am NOT attacking the Church.
I invited you before to tell us who is “orchestrating” the purported anti-Catholic campaign. Heck, for all I know you might think I’m either orchestrating or orchestrated myself.
Unfortunately, you have declined to provide any details about who is orchestrating the campaign, and how they are coordinating it. Instead, you resort to more handwaving.
If you have evidence of such orchestration, of not just individual actions but a coordinated “widespread movement” against the Catholic Church, please bring it to the table. Otherwise, I’ll have to conclude that you are a conspiracy theorist, and let it go.
You continue with your assertion that it was the Church’s hierarchy that was implicated in the coverup, even as you admit that you don’t know that with “Nobody knows how deep the rot goes.” And you’re sure we won’t find out from the Church hierarchy. So, in the absence of evidence, you deduce guilt. I’d say, Willis, that you are attacking the Church, and doing so even though you admit you have no evidence – you are sure they are covering something up, and you’re apparently sure because you don’t see evidence so they must be covering it up, or some such fantasy.
As to the campaign against the Church, no additional evidence is needed. Just turn on your TV, or read or watch the news, or watch or read modern fiction. The Church is constantly under attack in those venues. It doesn’t need some master group to “orchestrate” it. I’m talking about a movement, not some hidden conspiracy.
I won’t further try to dissuade you. Your mind is made up. You are in the company of a large number of people who are happy to find the Church guilty, evidence or not. Enjoy the company.
So you chose the phrase ‘Church hierarchy’to exclude the Vatican – or other supra-diocesan authorities – even while referencing past popes in order to be ‘cautious’. Quite.
6 SEPTEMBER 2014 AT 9:55 PM
Thanks, dover. Last I looked, the Pope and the Vatican are different things. I did not mention the Vatican in any context. I did speak of the Popes. I note that you have not disputed the factual nature of anything I said.
6 SEPTEMBER 2014 AT 6:47 PM
We know for a fact that people higher up in the Church hierarchy supported and enabled the priests who were buggering the boys. We know that rot exists. We don’t know how far that rot goes, nor are we likely to.
However, the silence of the Church authorities over decades of priests buggering children (as I clearly explained above) leads us to one of two conclusions. Either they didn’t know, or they knew and didn’t say. I find it very difficult to believe the first of these possibilities, and I’m not sure which one is worse.
We also know for a fact that in many, perhaps most of these cases the Church authorities did not report these crimes to the police when they knew about them. Again we don’t know how deep the rot goes there â€¦ but the fact we don’t know how deep the rot goes doesn’t mean make the rot disappear …
So no, I’m not “assuming guilt” of some in the Church hierarchy from the absence of evidence. I’m assuming guilt from the active coverup perpetrated not just by the priests but by others in positions of authority. Hey, those priests didn’t transfer themselves to other parishes when they were found out …
And I’m assuming guilt from the historical lack of cooperation by the Church officials with the authorities. And I’m assuming guilt from the absence of any official acknowledgement of the problem by anyone from the previous Popes on down.
How far it goes, as I said, is an individual question, and the current Pope has been clear and courageous on this matter. And certainly huge strides have been made in this area already, thankfully the worst of the abuses are behind us.
All the best,
One is a person the other a building? Or are you alluding to the difference between the Holy See and the Vatican?
So not attending to your general claims is evidence of their factual nature?
7 SEPTEMBER 2014 AT 1:18 PM
Thanks for that, dover. Since I didn’t mention the Vatican in any context until someone else brought it up, I was not alluding to the Holy See or anything else. I was making a statement to try to clarify John’s assertion that
I was simply pointing out that “the Vatican” is neither the Church nor is it the Pope. They are three very different things, and that (at least on my planet) saying something about the Pope or the Church means nothing about “the Vatican”.
As I said, I choose my words carefully. If I’d wanted to say something about “the Vatican” I would have â€¦ but I didn’t. And since I didn’t, the focus on “the Vatican” by you and John is immaterial to what I’ve said. If you want to discuss “the Vatican” with John, please do so, but it’s of no interest to me in this discussion.
When I make a factual claim and no one disputes it, it is indirect evidence of the factual nature of the claim. In fact, since (outside of mathematics) little can be proven, only disproven, the lack of someone disproving a claim is the basis of all statements of scientific validity.
So yes, dover, when I make a claim and neither you nor anyone comes up with any evidence to dispute it, it is indeed evidence that my claim is trueâ€”indirect evidence, to be sure, but sometimes that’s the only kind that we have.
For example, John claimed that 97% of the “prevailing media narrative” about the Church was untrue. I said:
Since neither John nor you nor anyone has pointed out any errors in that statement about the “prevailing media narrative”, yes indeed, dover, that is indirect evidence that it is true. Now, you could disprove it by showing that I was wrong â€¦ but until and unless you do so, your silence speaks volumes.
Regards to you,
“When I make a factual claim and no one disputes it, it is indirect evidence of the factual nature of the claim. ”
No, in this case it is evidence that we tire of dealing with this unending, unceasing, seemingly eternal completely pointless (except for the purposes of harming the Church and her good works) litany.
I notice Willis has not commented on the links provided to the John Jay report. Or Nussbaum & Nussbaum’s statistics about the relative prevalence of chickhawking among other groups. One is reminded of the bland response of the president of Harvard when he told Dershowitz back in the day that Harvard limited the number of Jews matriculated there because “Jews cheat.” Dershowitz replied that other students also cheated, and the president said, “Don’t change the subject.”
Willis is also assuming that all accusations were true and accurate, and that all of them involved buggering. This is not supported by data. Some of the cases involved unwanted touches, hugs, and other gestures that might have been only misinterpreted signs of affection.
One of the items raised by the movie the review of which was this post’s point was that a would-be murderer holds a priest responsible for crimes he has not done. The same is true more broadly in the scandal, during which the cautious approach of some bishops who, accepting the psychological science of that time that recommended counseling (by psychologists) and no publicity, and who contended that there was no permanent harm done to the young men, are now retroactively held to the shifted standards of today.
British religion reporter Ruth Gledhill, writes:
The narrative of a bishop secretively transferring priests he knows to be incurable, repeat offenders from parish to parish doesn’t fit the time when these things took place.
Mary Eberstadt, who had written “Pedophilia Chic” about the o-so-enlightened attitudes of the cultural elite, reminds us of what was going down back in the day in a retrospective “How Pedophilia Lost its Cool”: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/12/how-pedophilia-lost-its-cool
Problem-solvers also learn that one cannot solve a general problem by attacking particular cases.
YOS: My contention exactly (Mary’s). Pedophilia is vilified and turned into a cruel eternal damage to children in order to make sure SOMEONE is wrong. Pedophiles are hated because everyone cannot be morally rightâ€”there has to be a wrong. Adultery, fornication, mulitiple partnerts, homosexuality all have the green light. Someone’s light has to be red.
Ye Olde…Thanks for the clarity.
It is also ironic that a significant gay rights theme has been a push to lower the age of consent – to legalize the behavior which was the primary cause of the Church scandal.