Is Vatican II to blame for the sex abuse scandal?

The Catholic Herald UK reports

Mgr Peter Smith, former chancellor of Glasgow archdiocese, said the Church accepted conventional wisdom of the 1970s that it was “better to repair the [abuser], to fix them or to redeem them”, than punish them. In that era priests accused of abuse could be sent for therapy rather than face criminal charges.

The paper is reporting Mgr Smith’s words with the strong insinuation that Vatican II is to blame for the scandal. I’m not sure if that’s what he really meant, or if his comments might be taken out of context. But I have most certainly heard other Catholics say outright that we can pin the sex abuse scandal on the laxness, the sloppiness, and the psychological sentimentality of the 70’s and Vatican II’s implementation. Vatican II, at least the way it played out in many places, was all about letting go of mean old rules and regulations, and doing what felt good, they argue. Of course we had abusers.

But they are forgetting one thing: Almost 70% of the abusive priests were ordained before 1970. They weren’t formed in feel-good Vatican II seminaries. These were old school guys. They are the ones who were molesting kids, and their world was the world that allowed it to happen.

The sex abuse scandal has three components:

1. Priests abusing kids;
2. The Church knowing about it, and letting it continue; and
3. Various people either not believing kids or parents who reported abuse, or being too in awe of priests to do anything about it, or blaming the kids for the abuse.

This third one has absolutely zero to do with any touchy-feely spirit of Vatican II, and everything to do with what Vatican II set out to change in the Church, because it needed changing.

Priests did not suddenly begin to abuse kids in the early 70’s (although the reports of alleged abuse peaked then; which is not to say that there was necessarily more abuse, but only that more people reported it). Many of the victims who came forward to report childhood abuse, after the Boston Globe‘s work started to gather steam, were children in the 1950’s. At that time, it was unthinkable to criticize a priest, unthinkable to believe that Father could do wrong, unthinkable to go over a priest’s head. There simply wasn’t any precedent for doing such a thing, other than, like, Martin Luther.

Sex abuse by clergy wasn’t a problem of loosey-goosey, post-sexual-revolutionary perverts infiltrating an institution that had heretofore been utterly chaste and holy. This was a problem of a horrible marriage between two deadly trends in the Church and in the country as a whole: the nascent sexual perversions that pervaded 1950’s American culture, and the institutional perverted understanding of authority and respect.

Where do you suppose the sexual revolution came from? Out of nowhere? It never could have happened if things weren’t already rotten underground; and it was just as true in the Church as it was everywhere else in the country. It’s a lie that things were wholesome and pure in the 50’s. But that grotesque artifice of happy, shiny exteriors worked exceedingly well together with the “Father knows best,” mentality. If Doris Day had to smile and have perfect hair no matter what, good Catholic families had to be respectful and obedient to their pastor no matter what. There was no room for going off script, even when lives were at stake.

Children who were molested were too afraid to speak up, because it was Father.
Parents who knew their kids were being molested were too afraid to speak up, because it was Father.
Parents who reported abuse were not believed, because it was Father.
Kids were rightly afraid that no one would believe them. Parents were afraid that their reputations would be ruined. Parishes were afraid that their reputations would be ruined. Bishops were afraid that their reputations would be ruined. And so this horrible carapace of silence was formed to cover up and cover up and cover up, shift the blame, shift the responsibility, and never look at the person at the heart of the problem.

And yes, the errors of the 70’s perpetuated the problem. It is very true that in the 70’s, the 80’s, and beyond, the Church and the rest of the country believed that one could simply see a therapist, attend a few classes, and not be a real danger to kids anymore. That was horrible. But it was no worse than the attitude it replaced, which was that Such Things Never Happened, and if they did, we Simply Don’t Talk About Them.

Of course, dreadful to say, the abuse scandal almost certainly goes back further than the 1950’s — centuries further — but those victims aren’t alive to give their testimony. But at very least, we can put to rest the idea that this hideous stain on our history came about by means of the Vatican II-style “Church of Nice.”

It’s always tempting, when we see gross behavior, to blame it on those who speak of mercy, of forgiveness, of healing. It’s tempting to think, “If we just clamped down and got tough, like we did back in the old days when everyone wore hats, then we’d have none of this nonsense!”

But the real lesson here isn’t that mercy is an error. The real lesson is that mercy and forgiveness can be abused just like innocence can be abused, and that evil is endlessly adaptable. It will grab hold of whatever weakness, foolishness, and wickedness is popular in any age, and it will put it in the service of sin.

Hell is overjoyed when we learn all the wrong lessons from suffering. Violation of innocents was horrible enough. Let’s not compound the outrage by trying to root true mercy, true forgiveness, and true compassion out of the heart of our Church.

***
Photo by Milliped (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

39 thoughts on “Is Vatican II to blame for the sex abuse scandal?”

  1. The hushing up of sexual abuse is not peculiar to the Church. In Britain the “Yewtree” investigation brought to light the abuse by media celebrities such as Jimmy Saville and other TV and radio presenters. A now deceased but at the time very popular politician called Cyril Smith, an MP for Rochdale (who was adopted as a child and strongly anti-abortion) has been accused of systemic child abuse during his term in office. Even a former British prime minister, called Ted Heath has been linked to pedophile rings and the exploitation of children. And the Rotherham child exploitation scandal is still rocking the establishment with finding that show that for decades some groups of male pakistani immigrants had organized the systemic sexual abuse of hundreds of vulnerable girls in the area but the police and politicians turned a blind eye: As wiki says “The failure to address the abuse was attributed to a combination of factors revolving around race, class and gender—contemptuous and sexist attitudes toward the mostly working-class victims; fear that the perpetrators’ ethnicity would trigger allegations of racism and damage community relations; the Labour council’s reluctance to challenge a Labour-voting ethnic minority; lack of a child-centred focus; a desire to protect the town’s reputation; and lack of training and resources.”

    Sadly, child abuse seems widespread and pervasive.

  2. “…evil is endlessly adaptable. It will grab hold of whatever weakness, foolishness, and wickedness is popular in any age, and it will put it in the service of sin.”

    So true and powerful.

  3. I’m sorry–I hit “send” too soon. It should be that the faces of the priests later convicted were circled, in the graduation day class photo from 1960. The visual impact of the photo was simply stunning.

  4. I think not enough attention is given to the fact that after WWII, there is good evidence indicating that the powers-that-be in the seminaries were actively recruiting homosexual young men, and/or young men who would be pliable enough to bend to their will. Some years back, my late husband and I watched a documentary about the sexual abuse problem on CAN-TV (a public TV station out of Indiana). The documentary was apparently too “toxic” for Chicago stations to touch. The film was put together by the abused man who blew up the Boston sex abuse scandal by finding the “smoking gun”–that the hierarchy knew about his abuser’s proclivities before assigning him to his parish, where he simply got a supply of “fresh meat” before being transferred yet again. This was in 1962.
    In the film, that now-deceased priest’s class photo from ordination day in 1960 shows a huge class of new priests, with the facts of those who would be convicted criminally of child sexual abuse–it was well over 10% of this large class. This means that they were being actively recruited at least as early as 1956.
    Also, good people, please remember that the late Cardinal George pulled a truly shameful bit of data manipulation to get the John Jay study to show that the problem was mostly sexual abuse of adolescents, and not pre-pubescent boys. He ordered that the age of adolescents be moved down from 14 to 10, in order for the study to produce the results he wanted in advance.
    The complete data as to what would be revealed should the age be moved back to 10 from 14 has never come out, to the best of my knowledge. I think we all know why.

    1. That bit about Cardinal George is complete nonsense. There is absolutely no evidence he had anything to do with the report. The whole point of the report was to hand it over to an outside organization, and not have the bishops do it.

      Plus you mistate the ages. it was 11, not ten. This was properly done, I think, because it is well known that homosexuals go after kids as they reach puberty. Puberty is around 12 or later for boys. I have never heard that Cardinal George had anything to do with it, so as usual, people are making things up to tar him.

  5. “Almost 70% of the abusive priests were ordained before 1970.”

    In other words, tenured clergy, or the men with the most influence throughout the American church after Vatican II.

    “It’s a lie that things were wholesome and pure in the 50’s.”

    Things weren’t morally “better” 5 to 10 years before on a societal scale?. Ask any family living in San Francisco in 1967 if they thought things were changing for the better or worse.

    “[T]he nascent sexual perversions that pervaded 1950’s American culture, and the institutional perverted understanding of authority and respect.”

    You cite no facts to support this conclusion.

  6. Several seminaries were, and are, known as hotbeds of gay lifestyle back in the underground late 1950s and on up. Reform efforts finally attempted at institution of the Vatican since local bishops refused to deal with the issues. The priests who matriculated were not celibate, and were foisted on parishes as wolves among sheep, sexually active men who practiced seduction of minors as well as all manner of other sexual impropriety, homosexual and heterosexual.

  7. I don’t think these men are truly priests, any more than people who commit abuse against children in schools are truly teachers. Rather, these people are predators, wolves in sheep’s clothing, likely intentionally seeking out positions of authority which they can leverage for there own perverted benefit.

  8. I don’t see that Msgr. Smith’s comment equates VII with being the problem, although what he says is true. So then the piece launches into the usual narrative to cover the implosion of the Church since VII- that the time before then was not as great as made out to be so the crisis now doesn’t look so bad. (I am not saying VII is solely to blame for the implosion.) I would seriously question the use of the heterodox “America” and Fr. Reese as a source for reliable info. & question some of the conclusions they claim. (Although the use of such as a source tells us something about the author.) America obviously wants to steer the idea away from homosexuality being the problem and any indictment of their favored 1960’s-1970’s church. There is certainly some twisting of the data and ignoring other data. However, this still doesn’t address the fact that most of the time frame considered is still 60’s- early 80’s, so regardless of when they were ordained most of the actual occurrences happened in the time frame under question. And we are not talking so much about pedophila which arguably was bound to come out at some point but acts of homosexuals with adolescents & teenagers. So it is still highly relevant to ask what was happening during those decades and the most certain contribution they had, again noting we are talking about homosexuals who felt free to act out and were allowed to continue. So there is also great truth to saying that if we did clamp down there would be less of this problem. Someone who probably wasn’t around in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and does not know how it was should be careful of what they say, e.g., “It’s a lie that things were wholesome and pure in the 50’s.”

  9. John Jay College report to the USCCB of 2012 showed that 81% of the abuse was perpetrated by homosexual men on post-pubescent boys. The Vatican has long banned the admittance of homosexuals (or even those who support a “gay culture”) to seminary, but Bishops have rebelled and allowed this to happen.

    The standard operating procedure for handling of abuse in any setting was taken from the American Psychiatric Association during the 1970’s through the 90’s. The standard process was to remove the offender from the setting of the abuse and transfer them elsewhere for treatment. The hierarchy in the United States followed secular, contemporary psychiatric procedure–to its own detriment. This does not mean that members of the hierarchy did not actively seek to cover up abuse, which did happen as well.

    According to US insurance reports, child abuse in protestant sects is just about as bad as in the Catholic Church; except that we do not have numbers for more than 75% of protestant sects as the insurance is not required and these sects are unable to afford it. Those who do have it, access to over 60% of the numbers is unavailable as it is considered proprietary information. The main insurance companies in the United States are: Church Mutual Insurance Co, GuideOne Insurance Co, and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co. While the abuse we know of in protestant sects is nearly identical to abuse in Catholic Churches, we are dealing with a minor subset of the numbers in protestant sects. Thus, the abuse is far worse on their side of the fence.

    Considering all of this, child abuse in secular organizations is nearly 8 times worse than Catholic and protestant abuse combined. If you did not know any of this information or did not research it, you would think the profession with the greatest statistical amount of child abuse was a Catholic priest, when in reality it is public school teachers and those in the secular educational system. There is clearly a media bias to shape perceptions.

    For instance, after the 2012 John Jay College report was issued to the USCCB, the USCCB stated that there was “no main cause of abuse,” completely ignoring the clear connection of sodomite-related abuse. Being politically correct is apparently more important than protecting our children. As a side note, openly sodomite clergy was not tolerated nearly as widespread as it has been after the Second Vatican Council. Literally, the inmates are running the asylum.

  10. In the 1970s and even into the 1980s that was the way of all of society treated sex offenders. Only later did researchers realize that the treatments were not enough. Vatican II is an official teaching of the Church. It’s not touchy-feely or any other such nonsense. I’ve read all the documents and to me it is nothing more than orthodoxy with some adjustments. Maybe it’s time to stop blaming Vatican II and start blaming those who misinterpreted for their own selfish needs and also start blaming something that started back in the Garden: Original sin.

  11. As far as the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal in Boston is concerned, Cardinal Cushing knowingly ordained homosexuals/pedaphiles to the priesthood when he was enthroned in 1944. There was no adequate screening back then, and with Boston being a major archdiocese that exported priests across the country the problem spread. Any single young man with an Irish last name was admitted to one of three seminaries: St. John’s (still going, sort of), St. Thomas Aquinas (defunct), or Cardinal O’Connell Minor Seminary (defunct). Vatican II and the dumping of the TLM only liberated these thugs.

  12. That was the way all institutions dealt with abuse (YMCA, schools, etc) back then ~ hush it up and move them away, get some distance from whomever. They did not have the studies and information that we have now.

    1. Agree with you that there are countless other organizations with as-bad-or-worse records of abuse and coverup. However I do not share your confidence that abuse is dealt with any better now than “back then.”

  13. What is being said is not that the abuse of children by priests (predominantly, although not exclusively homosexual relationships with teen age boys) was caused by Vatican II, which as Mrs. Fisher points out, would be foolishness, but that the tepid response and the practice of trying to “cure” abusers and return them to pastoral work was an outcome of the diminishing of sin and punishment by some in the church after Vatican II. There certainly was an increase in the number of homosexuals in the priesthood in the wake of Vatican II and it is entirely possible that a part of the cover up was homosexuals “taking care of their own.” It is also to be acknowledged that many times, when children claim an authority figure (priest/minister, doctor, teacher, coach) has engaged in such behavior, those in authority (including parents) reject it in disbelief that that person could be doing such a thing; such also often explains the reluctance of victims to come forward. The fact remains that a small number of priests engaged in illicit, illegal behavior, that many of their victims were reluctant to come forward and that the church hierarchy often tried to hide the problem and dealt with it badly.

  14. I held my breath before I began to read this, afraid of another scapegoat, this one ostensibly the sexual revolution. To this excellent presentation I would add that there are centuries of documentary evidence that this is an institutionalized horror. You could search the depositions of Rev. Tom Doyle, OP, who often serves as an expert witness in clergy abuse trials because of his experience as a canonist and as a former aid in the DC nunciature. He is oft maligned by the institution as a result, but is a hero. Furthermore, you might consider the elephant in the room: the secret (legal) lifestyles of many gay and straight clergy who gave cover to predators in order to hide their own dalliances. It is this problem which endures which might have some root in the sexual revolution.

    1. Doyle is problematic. He is on youtube in favor of gay marriage, etc, the whole shebang. Something is not right there.

  15. I agree with the foregoing, but would add one other thing that I think also contributed to the problem: certain aspects of clericalism, particularly those which contributed to the view of the Church as being such a special and separate society that it could be immune from the normal rules governing the rest of society. Most priests are a cut above the rest of humanity, but in the end they are only men subject to temptation as much as the rest of us. A lesson we should have learned from this horrible debacle is that every one of us needs to have the fear of God put into us by the law requiring that each and every one of us also be subject to the punishment of men. Without this salutary threat, only the very best of us will never stray from the right path. The aspects and practices of clericalism which prevented this truth from being applied to the Church predated Vatican II by many centuries.

  16. The Vatican II devastation was a long time coming, read the first 4 paragraphs of Paschendi Dominici Gregis from 1907. It’s just a useful landmark because it was a massive tactical victory for modernists making use of the same weaponized ambiguity JPII later used to abuse men’s authority and Pope Francis is now using to abuse marital fidelity.

    1. This is for JustTheFacts, sorry–

      I tried to unsubscribe from this thread. I think you are really, truly, deluded and possibly have mental health issues regarding your ideas of the perfection of the people who have struggled as Catholics, not just in Ireland, but frankly anywhere. I think you confuse what is doctrine “on this rock I will build my Church” with the people given the mandate to do their duty–which actually brings us back to the original subject.

      I also want to thank you for defending this position. The Catholic internet has allowed me to sample a very broad range of conservative Catholics, and as one who used to be an apologist for that Kool Aid, you grant me great relief for every time I begin to think I have been too hard on the soldiers of the Gnosis.

  17. Spot on.

    Has anyone written a good book on this subject? A couple of years ago when that scandal in Ireland bubbled to the surface about all of those babies found in a septic tank, I asked the gods of the combox, “WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED TO IRELAND?”

    A friendly Catholic historian answered, stating that Catholic formation in Ireland had its roots in post (Cathar?) influenced seminaries in France. Only later did the Irish have their own seminaries, but the seed was planted.

    Can something similar be traced to Protestant/Puritan Catholicism in this country?

    Does anyone have stats of abuse in countries like Italy, or maybe Eastern European Catholic countries? Portugal? I wonder about Spain too. Franco obviously had a chilling effect upon normal Catholic life there. I’m told that most young Spaniards declare themselves to be atheist now (as a reaction to extreme conservatism), but I don’t believe it, I think they have a deeply Catholic identity that is still suffering the birth pangs of a more mature understanding of the Faith.

    It doesn’t come as a surprise that countries that fostered stunted/repressive ideas of human sexuality produced priests that had/have problems.

    My friend who is still a fairly new Jesuit tells me that human sexuality was never even addressed back in the day. They were told that their only option was to “live like angels”. The problem with that is pretty obvious.

    1. Anna Lisa, please do some research regarding the Ireland “scandal” you mention. It was made up and subsequently debunked.

      1. I don’t believe it was made up. I also don’t believe that pure evil reigned there like some would have it. The Magdalene Homes and misguided institutional abuse was not made up either.

        Apologizing for misguided choices doesn’t threaten my Catholic faith in any way.

        1. You don’t “believe” it was made up? But Elsie didn’t ask you to believe her. She asked you to *look up* the facts for yourself. Did you bother to do so?

          1. Nobody should judge the past entirely by present standards. All of humanity is moving, learning and trying to go forward. I have no desire to judge the nuns. I’m sure there were saints and sinners. What I bother to do is look at the big picture, and how we can *learn* from the past instead of staking out a position in a tower and becoming embattled. Pax

          2. Does it not occur to you, Anna Lisa, that in order to “learn from” the past as you claim to want to do, you have to know _what_ the past actually was? You have to know the true facts. Otherwise you aren’t learning *from the past*, but from what you imagine or *assume* the past to have been – and that’s not real learning, its just you reechoing to yourself what you already have in your head.

        2. Sorry, much of it was made up. If you read the McAleese report, you will find that the whole Magdalene laundries thing was made up. The report found that no one was treated any different in those laundries than anywhere else in Ireland at the time.

          i. Physical abuse
          33. A large majority of the women who shared their stories with the Committee said that they had neither experienced nor seen other girls or women suffer physical abuse in the Magdalen Laundries.
          34. In this regard, women who had in their earlier lives been in an industrial or reformatory school drew a clear distinction between their experiences there and in the Magdalen Laundries, stating clearly that the widespread brutality which they had witnessed and been subjected to in industrial and reformatory schools was not a feature of the Magdalen Laundries.

          1. The only sin that can’t be forgiven is the one we refuse to acknowledge.

            An obsessive/compulsive need to refuse to admit to any wrongdoing, *does* however qualify the sinner to be given mercy due to their mental illness.

          2. Anna Lisa, why are you refusing to deal in facts, but instead in platitudes. No kidding, of course, a sin has to be acknowledged to be forgiven, but it also has to have taken place in order to need to be acknowledged. Doug and other commenters are trying to deal with that prior question of whether these things indeed took place. It’s a legitimate topic to investigate. Seeking the truth by careful investigation is a necessary part of arriving at real justice. Are you interested in real justice or do you prefer just leaping to conclusions without careful investigation? If you have evidence showing the report Doug quotes is a false or incomplete or unreliable report, by all means, provide that evidence. Then, you’d be in a position to apply your platitude about forgiveness. But not until that question of whether a sin was even committed has been answered.

    2. With regard to the “babies in the sceptic tank” if you consider the mortality rate of new-borns in Ireland at the time, and the number of unwed girls who went through the place over the decades in question statistically a serious historian would expect to find the graves of hundreds of dead babies.

      Secondly, it seems that the structure was a cistern of some sort, originally, not a sceptic tank, that had been modified to hold their remains.

      When the mortality rate of the institution in question is the same as the mortality rate in the general population then the fact there were graves of dead babies does not seem either deliberate or due to negligence.

      We know that 796 babies died. Statistically it seems that their deaths must be placed in the context of Irish poverty and history in general, rather than blamed on the institution specifically.

      We don’t know how many babies are buried in the location. That has never been checked.

      It has been called a concrete septic tank, but it could equally be a concrete burial chamber (peculiar to Ireland). That has not been verified either – but it’s more emotive to call it a septic tank.

      Why did institutions such as this exist? Why did the workhouses in England? BTW the last workhouse in England closed in 1948. Why were 118,000 home children sent to Canada from Doctor Bernardo Homes in the UK?

      Why was there such poverty in Ireland? Did the UK and British Imperialism have any role in that? I have ancestors who emigrated to Liverpool and Manchester during the Potato famine, when Ireland was a net exporter of food to the UK.

      What “apologists” were concerned about in this story was the unleashing of anti-Catholic glee brought on by the very poorly researched, and often plainly false “journalism.”

      The truth is probably that the nuns were financially, emotionally and physically overburdened and were not able to cope as well as they would wish, but that they did as well as they could with the living, and afforded whatever dignity they could to the dead given their lack of resources.

      Again this says far more about the times than about the nuns.

    3. Anna Lisa,
      Please do some additional research on the articles alleging babies were found in a septic tank outside a former Catholic orphanage in Ireland. This article was thoroughly debunked by the woman who had been doing the research. The “septic tank” was part of a cemetery where babies who had died (mostly in the early 20th century, before either antibiotics or vaccines were available, and when the infant mortality rate was extremely high across the board).
      The woman who did the original research was thoroughly shocked to find that an English journalist (do not underestimate the level of hostility between the Irish and the English to this very day–my late husband was Irish, and believe me when I say it is unbelievable) had taken her basic research and had manufactured an anti-Catholic, anti-Irish hate piece out of whole cloth.
      Conclusion: you should not idly believe everything you read on the Internet, even when (or especially when) everyone is baying like a pack of outraged hounds. I would not even say, trust but verify. I would say do not believe any of it until it has been either thoroughly proven or disproven, as the case may be.

  18. I would rather the blame be on Vatican II than the way many Catholics, led by Michael Voris, blame the gays. Mr. Voris enjoys saying all gay men want to molest children. Incredibly wrong and unfair.

    The blame lies with the people in charge at the time. Instead of removing the priests they moved them to other parishes which gave those men more opportunities to abuse. By not removing the abusers the Church was able to save face and keep their parishioners as members of the Church. It’s really that simple.

    I don’t care that counseling is what was recommended. Any rational person would have made sure the abusers were not given opportunities to abuse again.

    1. I have yet to hear Mr. Voris say that “all gay men want to molest children”. He has claimed, as the 2004 John Jay report affirmed, that 80% of the abuse victims were males and the majority of those were post-pubescent. It is difficult not to see at least a correlation between giving in to same-sex attractions and being one of those who abused adolescent and teenaged boys. That should in itself give pause to a secular culture that now celebrates that attraction, but instead our culture has that and other sexual celebrations on fast-forward. Abusing priests and careless bishops need a light shed on their abuse. Some of that light will reveal that any sexual celebrations outside the bonds of holy matrimony are leading away from God, not toward Him. In that direction lies further, future abuse.

    2. Sus, please give me just one direct quote from Michael Voris saying that “all gay men want to abuse children.”

      Thank you in advance.

    3. The problem is not homosexuality, but _practicing_ homosexuality. Outside of marriage, the Church considers sexual expression to be fornication, a self-pleasuring form of self-idolatry, regardless of with whom you express it. A former homosexual who found spiritual healing in the church, Mr. Voris is all too keenly aware of the effect that harboring practicing gay priests has had on Catholicism. The Church is not here to help you wallow in your spiritual struggles; it’s here to help you transcend your spiritual struggles. Having an ‘out’ and practicing priest is not only a sin, but a theological disaster, especially if he is acting out his fantasies with young, trusting parishioners. Voris is against predatory, corrupt, unbelieving homosexual priests—that’s what he means.

    4. The “blame” lies with the sodomites who abused young people…..end of story. They chose to abuse people…..sodomy leads to other abuses.

    5. It really is impressive (in a bad way) that the Church is never ever ever ever…ever remotely to blame for anything she is accused of. The top-down, authoritarian structure of the Church, the enormous emphasis on obedience to the clergy, the hostility of the hierarchy to anything remotely resembling accountability, the angelisation of priests so that it was an Unthought for the Great Unwashed laity to accuse them of the tiniest fault, the narcissisism of Rome, the low moral character and lust, ambition, pride, moral cowardice, arrogance, moral blindness, and other vices of the clergy and religious (they too are as guilty as Hell !), made this ghastliness all but inevitable.

      This makes past accusations of clerical wrongdoing, formerly thought to be slanders, all too credible. It has also completely destroyed the idea that bishops are in any way more qualified to speak for, to, or about God than we laity are. If anything, they are probably further from Christ than we are.

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