The Holy Father has just called for all to “condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person” and for all “to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.” and he called for all to care for victims of abuse encouraging a“…solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse. “ But do Catholics even care?
I have found that very few Catholics care to hear the Holy Father’s words. Especially among “traditionalist” or even liberal Catholics they feel very comfortable in not doing anything. They feel that all of the abuse occurred in the past, that there is a complete record of it, and that morally they are not required to do anything about it. They feel that all the Holy Father needs to do is to basically remove Cardinal Wuerl and Cardinal McCarrick and very little else needs to be done except address the old well documented cases, and they will not need to lift a finger to do anything else.
They are wrong on all three counts. There are probably dozens if not hundreds of undocumented or new cases that came after the 2003 sexual abuse scandal that embroiled the Roman Catholic Church. Some of these new cases uncovered in August of 2018 include the Kalin, Townsend, and Benton cases. This also includes the recently uncovered new cases at Saint John’s seminary.
The existence of these newly uncovered cases show that there are quite possibly dozens if not hundreds of more cases to be found. This requires the active participation of the laity, and the Pope himself condemned the idea of “leaving it up to Rome” or “leaving it up the Pope” or “leaving it up to a future Pope” or “leaving it up to the Bishops.” All of these ideas of the laity being passive are forms of clericalism which he critiques.
This will require us all to “condemn”, “combat”, and have “solidarity” as the Pope suggested. Failure to do so will leave many of these new victims without “care” and a policy of coldness towards any future victims will discourage any new victims from coming forward. Ironically the Anti-hierarchical and anti-Papal traditionalists in Catholicism are probably the most resistant to the idea of “condemning” and “combat” against sexual abuse. They are under the mistaken illusion that all of the abuse cases happened far enough in the past to be well documented, and all the Pope needs to do is “pull a lever” and remove a handful of bishops and cardinals and everything will be fixed. They feel they don’t need to stay on top of things and learn of new atrocities as preparation to combat them. These passive Catholics feel that if they have sufficient “thought” or “feeling” inwardly, that it absolves them from action to condemn or combat these atrocities.
They are wrong.
In fact, they are engaging in what the Pope himself has condemned- clericalism. They are advocating and practicing a tight-lipped old fashioned laity that refuses to mention new abuse cases and to expect the bishops and hierarchy to do all the work. A return to the clericalism that they themselves have condemned in the past and which the Pope has also condemned. The Pope is calling for something different than this. What has the Pope called us to do? There are four overlapping stages.
- Fasting and prayer which will arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse leading to,
- We in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person leading to,
- Combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience leading to,
- Supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary.
Ironically only a handful of Catholics at this point are fulfilling the Pope’s intentions. Namely Michael Voris of Church Militant and JD Flynn of Catholic News Agency, Rod Dreher and a handful of other Catholics.
Ironically it is Michael Voris, the former homosexual and the often critic of the Papacy and the current condition of the church who is best fulfilling the “condemning” and “combatting” which the Pope has called for. Michael Voris as a spokesman for St. Michaels Media and Church Militant is perhaps one of the most obedient Catholics to the instructions of the Pope given on August 20th, 2018 on how to condemn and combat this Crisis.
The condemning is, of course, is different from the combatting. Once we have a sufficient number of Catholics willing to “combat” this evil it is possible to employ legal but tough strategic measures against abusers which are currently not available due to a lack of manpower. One of the many tiresome complaints that I have heard, is Catholics refusing to combat this evil because ‘only clerics have the authority to sort it out’. This is absolutely an excuse.
- With one person, you can do a quick live streaming ‘interview’ of a cleric involved in pederasty or the coverup of the same.
- With five people you can stand up during their Mass during a homily and interrupt their words.
- With ten people, you can show up on the sidewalk outside of their residence for a few hours and sing hymns and prayers.
- With twenty people, you can send in applicants for jobs working near them to infiltrate their organizations and learn their secrets.
- With a hundred people you can effectively but partially blockade their usage of authority, and confront them going to and coming from work.
- With ten thousand people you can fill the streets of an entire neighborhood and effectively control the area.
It is entirely possible to interrupt the life of someone involved in these atrocities and prevent them from exercising authority. There are numerous tactics and logistics of activism that can be done depending entirely on the support and number of the laity to carry them out. This can be done without disrespecting them or persecuting and without harming them. It is entirely possible for the laity to exercise authority over them. But the fear of activism and ‘acting up’ must be overcome. We have various multiple futures that can result depending on how much the laity will act about this issue.
Future One is that all Catholics condemn these new cases as they come out, combat this evil, and have solidarity with the victims. This is not happening currently but would be the best resolution to this crisis and enable sufficient pressure to be put on all abusers to enable the judicial measures necessary both for the past cases and the current unknown ones. I would hope they would include St. Basil’s prescription of religious imprisonment of pederasts and pedophiles, the constant monitoring of the abuser, and forced short rations of food as well as manual labor and prayer and mortification. However, the implementation of the most powerful of ‘juridical measures’ against all past abuse cases and against the future dozens or even hundreds yet to be uncovered would require all Catholics be willing to “condemn”, “combat”, and “care” in massive numbers they have never done so before.
Future Two is that only a handful of new Catholics help condemn these new cases as they come out. We have JD Flynn, Michael Voris, and a handful of other journalists with precious little support from the rest of the church if the lack of interest in these new cases is any indication. The process of uncovering new cases will be slow and halting. Some Catholics will be supportive of these victims, while others will be frightened and confused and refused to show solidarity to the victims out of the fear of “losing” politically once the “reputation” of their diocese and church is at stake. Eventually,y the Pope may be able to implement partial juridical measures but since there is very little effort to “condemn” or “combat” or show “solidarity” this would leave as of yet dozens to hundreds of new cases unpunished and allow predators and amoral leadership to remain. Perhaps a few priests guilty of pederasty would be ‘laicized’ which is no punishment at all- they would be free to continue in society and seek work in a civil society not capable of condemning them.
Future Three is that things continue as they are. A very difficult effort as only a handful of Catholics condemns the abuse in the new cases as they are uncovered. Most Catholics trying to ignore that there is a mountain of new cases to uncover and wishing it goes away either out of clericalism or out of defensiveness in the culture war but definitely not out of solidarity of the victims. I see the confusing anger among traditionalists who on the one hand condemn “clericalism” as having created the crisis but on the other hand engage in passive “clericalism” as the only solution to the Crisis. A few more conservative Catholics have figured out that implementation of RICO.
RICO or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 would allow the federal government to go subpoena all of the older case files of abuse cases hidden away in diocesan buildings. Most of these cases took place under bishops now dead or retired, with perhaps a handful of current bishops or cardinals actually having been involved with them.
The problem with the laity refusing to “condemn” or “combat” or show “solidarity” in this situation is numerous. As the subpoena could only uncover older cases- quite often the statue of limitations would have expired. This would leave all of the currently hidden and new cases uncovered and would mean countless victims would not be helped. A few people in the hierarchy could go to jail, there could be numerous fines and shutting down of churches. There are laws on statutory rape that might be applied if a priest or bishop or deacon had done a terrible act with someone below the age of consent.
However, the age of consent laws would not be applied say, if it were an older priest and a younger priest above the age of consent. Or a bishop and a seminarian above a certain age. Secular law is powerless after a certain point to deal with cases of sexual abuse. In short,
RICO would leave the current Aamerican lavender mafia networks in place. As long as they have been discreet enough to not been caught, the corruption of evil would remain in place.
RICO would not persecute a bishop or a rector or a priest “seducing” or coercing in a homosexual sense a seminarian who was ‘above the age of consent’ because such sodomy is legal. It would be entirely toothless against such evil.
RICO is an excuse for Catholics who do not want to confront the atrocities or networks of often same-sex attracted clerics and their supporters who are embedded within the church from the level of laity all the way up to Cardinals in the Vatican. As the Pope suggested, we should read the Vigano letter and make up our own minds- he only saw a small portion of the Lavender Mafia but it is doubtless all through the church.
To create the necessary climate where religious “juridical measures” could be employed against all abusers both past and the many unknown ones we still have at present it will require all Catholics to respond to this conscription by the Pope. It will require them to “condemn” and “combat” and have “solidarity” even if they do not feel like doing it. It will require the impossible, Catholics willing to break with their cultural habit of being quiet about scandal and fearful of making a “fuss” and hoping someone else takes care of the “mess” and instead transform into being willing to enter into a crusade against it.
I ask you to stay up to date with the new atrocities as a handful of journalists continue to publish them. If you are a critic of Pope Francis, I ask you to not ignore the ‘American Lavender Mafia’ or its activities and if you are on social media and have spent more time criticizing the Pope then about the news items breaking about the American Lavender Mafia then you take a strong hard look at your priorities and start condemning these new atrocities as they come out.
If you feel like your “emotions and thoughts” are a sufficient response along with your past work and of course your “dislike of the Pope” then I suggest you need further prayer and mortification. Why is this? Because if you have enough energy to share on social media or with your friends your dislike of the Pope but not enough energy to learn new cases as they come out and also share them then you have insufficient solidarity with the victims of abuse and need to pray and fast to receive the grace to do so. Useful journalists to follow for this include St. Michael’s Media, Catholic News Agency, Rod Dreher, and others.
If you feel that the appropriate response to these atrocities is a passive hope that the clerics will take care of it then you are engaging in clericalism and you are not doing anything to help uncover these atrocities. If you feel that engaging in clericalism combined with an open critique of Pope Francis is doing something then by omission you are accepting these networks of atrocities to remain in place in the church.
Finally, after you have engaged in prayer, fasting, and condemning I encourage you to organize or to participate in activism. There were recently a few dozen activists outside of Cardinal Wuerl’s residence peacefully and prayerfully singing hymns. There are millions of Catholics in that DC area, where were they? It is not the inward emotion and thoughts that are sufficient eventually we must act upon what is right and condemn and combat these atrocities.
Who is going to save our church? Don’t look to the priests, don’t look to the bishops. It’s up to you the laity… – Archbishop Fulton J Sheen