Thursday, December 30, 2010

Interesting Comments from a Bishop

A reader referred me to these comments by a bishop.

I obviously would disagree with him totally regarding the implication of a necessary connection to traditional liturgy and all-male liturgical ministry. As far as I know, the abusers were not disproportionately conservative, and certainly not disproportionately traditionalist. Yet (part of the whole point of this blog), it is obvious that in traditionalist circles there is too often a conflation of triumphalism and clericalism and authoritarian ideology with the beauty of the traditional liturgy.

And such attitudes clearly lead many "good Catholics" to put on rose-colored glasses when it comes to dealing with the very human bureaucracy which is the institutional church. So what he has to say about clericalism is interesting coming from a bishop (though I'd argue that an all-celibate institutional sociology does go hand-in-hand with it structurally...):
For priests who offended, I'm not sure that their abuses grew out of the rule of celibacy; abuse happens within otherwise good families too. I'm more convinced that it grew out of the clericalism of the past. That clericalism risks raising its head today among those who again are looking for identity in status, not service. They want to be treated differently. There are those who set high standards of morality for lay people, while they blatantly violate those same standards themselves. There are those who go to extremes to express the Mass in a particular way, whether it is in the Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form, in a so-called Vatican II rite or Tridentine Rite, through the "People's Mass" or the "Priest's Mass". Some want to put the priest on a pedestal, whilst the people are consigned to be privileged spectators outside the rails. Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments and rubrical gestures abound. Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick. To many in our Church and beyond, this comes across as triumphalism and male domination. This clericalism conceals the fact that the Church as an institution has often acted in collusion with what I can only regard as structural sinfulness. It has paid dearly for it and is untrue to its humble Founder, Jesus Christ. This underlying culture of clericalism has to end and never happen again.
Still, I wonder if he'd go so far as to support the structural reforms necessary to deconstruct that clerical culture, namely: eliminating the idea of the priesthood as always a full-time salaried profession (as opposed to possibly a part-time volunteer ministry), opening the secular priesthood to married men, and de-institutionalizing priestly training in the monasticized seminary system.


sortacatholic said...

While I disagree with the Bishop's confrontational tone and direct correlation of traditional or conservative liturgy and child abuse, he is right from some angles. Both forms of the Roman Mass are prone to clerical egotism through sentimental, gaudy, or ideology-driven celebrations of the Mass. The Consilium's disastrous decision to essentially mandate Mass versus populum (Septugaesima 1965 in the US) encouraged many priests to act as therapeutic cunselors or entertainers rather than servants of the altar. We've all been to a "Fr. Talk Show" Mass where the first words aren't "In the name of the Father ..."
but "Hey! Good Morning everyone! Today we celebrate the loving and sharing ..." dreck. "Fr. Talk Show"'s glib verbal dysentery immediately shifts the Mass of the Catechumens from preparation for the Sacrifice in our midst towards a rip-off of a cheap syndicated talk show. I suspect that there is a connection between this type of celebration and child abuse. Paul Shanley in Boston used a sociopathic "empathy" during Mass to lure victims and assuage doubts about his ephebophilia/adult rape.

Nevertheless, clerical egotism is also quite possible in the EF. Solemn Masses with gilt tassels flying about, plenty of "fussy" altar movement, and a preoccupation with musical performance sometimes portrays a no-so-subtle infatuation with theatrics, performance, and self-centered acting to the detriment of robust contemplative worship. Given the relative scarcity of EF celebrations, I am glad for the worship when it's available. Still, "liturgy queen" solemn Masses overstimulate and often alienate. I would rather hear a clearly said and slow Low Mass than watch a gaggle of grown men get their thang on. Participate in drag nite at the local gay bar if you want to work your inner diva. Better, then, to leave Mass as the union of heaven and earth through sober and meditative worship.

Who Am I said...

"I suspect that there is a connection between this type of celebration and child abuse."

What are you on ?

The root cause of it all is clericalism ala "Nobody questions the religious". One thing is honouring and respecting the office of a member of the clergy, another is deifying the individual.

sortacatholic said...

You are utterly right that the root cause of the child abuse scandal is clericalism. My critique of faux-emphatic, self-centered celebrants is merely a subsidiary factor also influenced by my distaste for anything sentimental or "therapeutic".

While it is true that most adult Catholics even in my generation (I'm 30) were taught to obey priests unconditionally, most priests did not seek adulation and absolute obedience. However, one consistent trait of abusive priests is a deliberate sociopathic cultivation of "charisma" and demands of absolute obedience from victims.

sortacatholic said...

Oh, and yeah, I'm on something. My drug of choice is Coke Zero. Pepsi Max will do when I'm desperate or traveling in Europe. The aliens will find me in an incorruptible state after all the aspartame I've ingested. I'm no saint, you can bet that!

Who Am I said...

"However, one consistent trait of abusive priests is a deliberate sociopathic cultivation of "charisma" and demands of absolute obedience from victims."

It depends on the kind of abuse in question. Every abuser has their bag of tricks, from the charismatic to the cold and indifferent abuser. They (the abuser) know what works for them and the abused party (That made me want Nacho Cheese dip for some reason XD.).

I likewise don't tout the party line that homosexuals are to be EXCLUSIVELY blamed for the abuse scandal. Was there SOME level of homosexual abuse in SOME cases, for sure, but to say that ALL cases are homosexual in nature is horse pucky. The cases are WAY more complex and remind me of this:

Honestly, wouldn't a grown male homosexual seek out someone at the age of consent in the rectory (or by misusing the confessions in a confessional) ? See how that begins to fall apart.

"I'm no saint, you can bet that!"

I'm no saint either, believe me. :P

sortacatholic said...

I remember when the dean of the Roman diocese called for all the gay priests in the diocese to come out and leave. I nearly fell off my chair laughing. Who would be left? Gimme a break. There are plenty of gay priests, and we shouldn't be ashamed of that. The vast majority of them are good men that do their job. A number are rotten pedos. More sleep around with adults. Heck, there are even gay men who seek out relationships with priests. (I know such a "priestwrecker" personally.) I think the latter men are despicable, but my friend is a total man whore. Think gay male analog of Snooki. I'm not expecting him to be a vanguard of chastity.

I agree that a some of these abuse cases involve sexually immature and mentally ill men that prey on kids without a clear gender preference. That's sick, disturbing, and worthy of concern. However, I could care less if a gay priest has consensual adult sexual relationships and/or goes to gay bars. That's between him, his bishop, and God. Not my problem. Same goes for priests that have "housekeepers". If it's adult and consensual, I don't care to know anything.

Who Am I said...


This is what I was getting at:

‎"III. Sex with children is a reenactment of a painful past

Many pedophile truly bond with their prey. To them, children are the reification of innocence, genuineness, trust, and faithfulness - qualities that the pedophile wishes to nostalgically recapture.

The relationship with the child provides the pedophile with a "safe passage" to his own, repressed and fearful, inner child. Through his victim, the pedophile gains access to his suppressed and thwarted emotions. It is a fantasy-like second chance to reenact his childhood, this time benignly. The pedophile's dream to make peace with his past comes true transforming the interaction with the child to an exercise in wish fulfillment."

Who Am I said...

"IV. Sex with children is a shared psychosis

The pedophile treats "his" chosen child as an object, an extension of himself, devoid of a separate existence and denuded of distinct needs. He finds the child's submissiveness and gullibility gratifying. He frowns on any sign of personal autonomy and regards it as a threat. By intimidating, cajoling, charming, and making false promises, the abuser isolates his prey from his family, school, peers, and from the rest of society and, thus, makes the child's dependence on him total.

To the pedophile, the child is a "transitional object" - a training ground on which to exercise his adult relationship skills. The pedophile erroneously feels that the child will never betray and abandon him, therefore guaranteeing "object constancy".

The pedophile – stealthily but unfailingly – exploits the vulnerabilities in the psychological makeup of his victim. The child may have low self-esteem, a fluctuating sense of self-worth, primitive defence mechanisms, phobias, mental health problems, a disability, a history of failure, bad relations with parents, siblings, teachers, or peers, or a tendency to blame herself, or to feel inadequate (autoplastic neurosis). The kid may come from an abusive family or environment – which conditioned her or him to expect abuse as inevitable and "normal". In extreme and rare cases – the victim is a masochist, possessed of an urge to seek ill-treatment and pain."

"VI. Sex with children guarantees companionship

Inevitably, the pedophile considers his child-victims to be his best friends and companions. Pedophiles are lonely, erotomanic, people.

The pedophile believes that he is in love with (or simply loves) the child. Sex is merely one way to communicate his affection and caring. But there are other venues.

To show his keen interest, the common pedophile keeps calling the child, dropping by, writing e-mails, giving gifts, providing services, doing unsolicited errands "on the kid's behalf", getting into relationships with the preteen's parents, friends, teachers, and peers, and, in general, making himself available (stalking) at all times. The pedophile feels free to make legal, financial, and emotional decisions for the child."

I've gotten into a HOST of arguments that PEDERASTY (pedophilia,hebephilia and ephebephilia) and not homosexuality were the root of the problem. Were some of the pedophiles involved homosexual, yes. However, because it expressed itself in a homosexual manner does not indicate that it the pedophile/hebephile/ephebephile was indeed homosexual. I won't stand for scapegoating.