Would a female priesthood disrupt sex abuse?

Let’s just let women be priests.

Right? These damn men can’t keep their hands to themselves, whether they’re straight or gay or pedophiles or ephebophiles or married or allegedly celibate, so the hell with them. Let’s just let women have some power for once, and put a screeching halt to all the abuse, all the lies, all the cover-ups.

I keep hearing this argument, and now I’m going to respond.

First, one more time, with feeling: female Catholic priests are an ontological impossibility, and the Church could not ordain women even if it wanted to, any more than it could ordain butterfly as dragonflies. We like butterflies. But they are not dragonflies, and dragonflies are not butterflies. So it’s not going to happen. The Church is not going to start ordaining women priests.

But if somehow it were possible to do — or if, say, the pope decided to appoint women cardinals, which is theoretically possible — would the presence and influence and oversight of women be the clean sweep we’re looking for? Just clean out all that nasty male sexual aggression, perversion, and abuse and replace it with clean, honest, feminine integrity?

I’ve asked myself this sincerely, and I keep coming back to two words: Dottie Sandusky.

Dottie Sandusky has been married to her husband Jerry for over 50 years, and she still stands by her man. She had no idea what was going on in the basement of her own home, in the shower, in the bedroom, in the locker room, in that marriage, in that man’s heart, for decade after decade after decade, as she shared a life with him. She could have blown the whistle any time, but she didn’t. She says she didn’t know.

But if she didn’t know, it’s because she dedicated her life to not knowing. And so have countless other women who’ve come into contact with countless Jerry Sanduskys, in sports, in education, in medicine, and in the Church. He couldn’t have done what he did if she wasn’t willing to do what she did, which was nothing.

We need to stop indulging in the kind of magical thinking that says, “Women just being women will fix everything.” Let’s look at a few non-magical facts:

Women do abuse. When women do have authority over people with less power, they do abuse them. Sexual abuse by women, whether against men, against other women, or against children, is far more widespread than most people realize. Men and boys are less likely than women and girls to report being sexually abused; and pop culture still halfway thinks it’s funny or kinky when, for instance, a female teacher has a sexual “relationship” with a male student. But it’s still statutory rape even when the adult is female, and it’s still predatory; and it does happen in the Church, when women do have power over vulnerable people.

Women are just as capable of cruelty and abuse as men. They are perhaps less inclined to use sex, specifically, as a weapon, but they do wield what weapons they have. If women were priests and bishops and cardinals and seminary rectors and had the respect, authority, and invulnerability that goes along with those roles, the kind of abuse might look different, but there’s no evidence to suggest there would be less abuse. If women had the power that bishops have, women would abuse that power, because women are human.

As Leticia Adams says:

Rape and sexual abuse of children have nothing to do with sexual orientation or sexual gratification. The goal is not sex, the goal is power, control and to destroy another human being.

Hunger for power and control, and the desire to destroy. Those are not male desires; those are human desires.

But the second part of the answer is: Whoever the perpetrator is, abuse doesn’t flourish in a vacuum. The decades or centuries of abuse that we’re continuing to uncover today could never have happened without the silence and complicity of women.

There were women everywhere — everywhere –who knew what Larry Nasser was doing to all those girls. He could not have gotten away with his abuse for all those years without the complicity and silence of dozens or maybe hundreds of women who chose not to say anything, who put pressure on girls to doubt themselves and blame themselves for what happened to them.

You might say that women do report abuse, and are less likely to be believed, because they are women. Maybe? But there were also a good number of men blowing the whistle on abusive priests, and they went just as unheard. Meanwhile, the savagery with which women turn on other female whistleblowers is breathtaking. I have seen it myself.

Why do women allow abuse to happen? Same reasons as men do:

They can’t think beyond the false dichotomy of “likable person who does a lot of good” and “ravening monster.” Sometimes an abuser is both. Sometimes a man runs charities, helps people, is kind, and is a true friend and support to many . . .  and also rapes people. This phenomenon is magnified a hundredfold if the abuser is a priest, and his accomplishments have some spiritual weight. The congregation can point to how he’s invigorated the parish, how well he understands scripture, how reverent his liturgy is, how stirring his sermons, how well the school is doing, how many babies he baptizes every year, and tell themselves, “If he were truly a bad man, would he be doing all these good and holy things?” We aren’t comfortable with acknowledging that the same person can do some very good things and also some very bad things. It disrupts our understanding of how well we know people and how well we can know ourselves, so we reject the possibility of contradictions, and instead opt for blind loyalty.

They know about it, but they blame the victim. For a variety of reasons, they don’t want to acknowledge that the abuser is an abuser, so they shift the blame to the victim. We saw this with Fr. Groschel; we saw this with . . . lord, you know where we saw it. Everywhere. My friend who was raped at gunpoint heard two women wondering what she had been wearing at the time. It makes us feel less vulnerable if we can figure out some way the victims brought it on themselves.

They know about it, but they keep quiet because they love the Church. They think it would hurt the Church if it went public even more than it hurts the victim to be abused. You know what I think about that.

And sometimes, they just don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to put their own jobs at stake. They don’t want to disrupt the familiar. They don’t want to interrupt the flow of goodies that come their way, so they learn to live with the status quo. They don’t want to threaten their own security, and so they tell themselves whatever they need to tell themselves. They slowly and steadily put more and more of their conscience to death, until they simply don’t care about other people.

When I first started to realize the depth of corruption in the Church, I told myself that I needed to be willing to follow the story wherever it goes. As a faithful Catholic female advocate for victims of sexual aggression, I cannot be content to give the easy answers. I want to say,  “It’s the traddies’ fault!” or “It’s the fault of the sexual revolution!” or, most enticingly, “It’s men’s fault!” Those frigging men. Right?

But that doesn’t answer it. It’s just another red herring. It’s not the evil of maleness that is the problem. It’s the evilness of humanity. It’s the weakness and corruptibility of human nature. We don’t need more women on the inside. We need more clear-thinking, courageous women and men on the outside, willing and able to see clearly and speak loudly, and, most importantly, capable of bringing the guilty to justice.

Thrusting more women into existing power structures won’t disrupt anything. It’ll just give more women the opportunity to become complicit.

 

 

 

45 thoughts on “Would a female priesthood disrupt sex abuse?”

  1. “Rape and sexual abuse of children have nothing to do with sexual orientation or sexual gratification. The goal is not sex, the goal is power, control and to destroy another human being.”

    I think this is another false dichotomy. I think that it is incredibly naive to say that abuse has nothing to do with sexual gratification. There are other ways to abuse, other ways to assert power, “safer” ways, even more effective ways. The fact that it is *sexual* abuse means something, and we guarantee that we will never solve this problem if we refuse to acknowledge that sex has at least something to do with it.

    That doesn’t mean that it isn’t also about power, nor even that it can’t ever be only about power in some cases. But I don’t understand why this keeps getting repeated. I often see it stated from the same corners who want to protect sexual license and are trying to insulate that ideology from the natural connections to abuse. That I understand, they don’t want to admit the ways that sexual “liberation” in attitudes can lead to sexual slavery in reality. But I do not understand the push from people within the Church to embrace this idea.

    Certainly, it is not only about sex. And that is why those who place all their hope in doubling down on sexual purity are doomed to fail. But it IS about sex, and that is why those who place all their hope in dismantling the structures of power are doomed to fail as well. We need solutions that confront the complex nature that is this cancer in our society, and especially the particular version of that cancer in the Church.

  2. Your point about false dichotomy of abusers really hit home for me.

    My spiritual advisor in college helped me through a very stressful time in my life. I was suffering from OCD manifesting as scruples and he was able to give me genuine help through it.

    He also once sexually assaulted me in the confessional, right before I graduated.

    A big part of me processing it has been the fact that the bad that he did, while still bad, doesn’t mean that the good didn’t exist. But the good existing doesn’t mean the bad didn’t, either. The relationship is all so much more complicated than you’d think.

    (The college in question has since shut down due to lack of funds, and I did report him to his diocese).

  3. Let me assure you lesbianism and feminism victimise females who join the types of female religious sisters who have mutated into strange groups or “sisters” or “sisters living out of community”. These bully and get involved in causes that are about destroying religious life. These groups are also guilty of other forms of abuse such as physical violence.

  4. Arguing that women might be just as bad as men is not very persuasive. The question is surely more one of balance. Excluding women as ineligible or unfit from church ministry sends in itself a dangerous message about how women are seen. We are all flawed but in a church in crisis women can play an important role. Some shift in the balance of power would not be a bad thing. Jesus was not bogged down by hierarchical layers and immutable roles in his teaching.

  5. Amen, Andrea! You have well described the formation for celibate priestly ministry that seminaries need to give.

  6. *EXCELLENT COLUMN*, Simcha. You stated it all so logically.

    Why is it, whenever disaster strikes, the usual suspects start the “let’s ordain women” and “let’s let priests marry” argument? Being a woman, or being married, would not have prevented Archbishop McCarrick and other creeps like him from keeping their hands to themselves. No – as I and many others see it, the real problems need to be addressed, resolved, and not permitted ever to happen again. That is, the homosexual and pedophile infiltration into our seminaries, schools, parishes, dioceses, and Orders, and the abuse of authority.

    You put it beautifully as to why the answer is not women’s clergy, and I cannot improve on it. As for married clergy, I must say, I am lucky to see my husband for one or two hours per day. Between work, church and volunteer responsibilities, and caring for his invalid mother, there is very little waking time we spend together. And we were not blessed with children. Can you imagine being married to a priests, with 12-16+ hour days, whose time is not his own, and having to raise children on your own? Not exactly the formula for a close, happy family and married life. Really, I think Jesus and the Church knew what they were doing with the priestly celibacy requirement.

    God bless all here, and please say a Memorare or St. Michael prayer at the end of every Mass you attend for the spiritual protection of our brokenhearted Church.

  7. This is actually a pretty funny topic. Especially before the Apostolic Visitation initiated under the prior papal entourage, and them sanitizing websites, the various “sisterhoods” sites agitating for female priesthood resembled more wiccan communities of left wing social activists, most of whom even in charters espouse only political social issues of left political wing nature.

    And the main thing always standing out as to these groups and leaders for female priesthoods is that they may as well have been cross-dressers of the highest order, and as bulldog “butch” as they come.

    Immediately giving rise to thoughts of what really was going on with these “religious” orders in the first place, whom one would suspect are no better than one from the McCarrick School Of Seminary Management.

    And these women WOULD be some of the first ordained if it ever happened, helped along by same group up higher in the food chain even into the Vatican top echelons who helped initiate this current crisis, who even now are excusing that same idea, along with married priests, due to shortages.

    While ignoring a very base fact as for shortages, that for decades, it has been apparent that verile heterosexual men interested in the priesthood have seen what manner of strange bookish often effete folk have been coming out of seminaries, and would rather flip burgers than live with that sort of crowd.

        1. And i have boatloads of caritas, love….for God, for Christ’s Body and name profaned daily by these folk who sponge off his people and Holy Church, living profane lives contrary to his revealed Truth. Inhabited mainly otherwise by functionaries who strive for no more personal love of God and holiness than a rock.

          I grieve deeply for and with Christ daily, and love him and his people with all my heart, especially all those like me who stumble and fall almost by the minute, but who turn back to him with tears, and true contrition.

          Meanwhile, these master manipulators run entire western swaths of Holy Church, where real holiness only an obstruction to rising in the hierarchy, and where complicity and duplicity reign supreme.

          The real solution is people striving to be saints, and sending those who strive hardest, to seminaries. THEN we would have true shepherds worthy of that awesome other name for Christ.

      1. umm…I was phrasing things in a polite way as to what manner of men are handpicked for seminaries from parish level on up, as suitable candidates. Perhaps I should have said wall flower. This crisis is not something spontaeously generating, but, self generating the only way it can.

        By handpicking confused fresh young meat to manipulate, and help build a very large structure within the Church, subverting near every teaching by “smile and say how good, no matter how bad the sin”.

        To put this crisis in misdirected Freudian sex classifications rabbit hole, is to ignore 2000 yrs of constant teachings, and say my vote counts more than yours, because you are dead. When we teach we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses

        1. and imagine what true good could have done with the $3 BILLION in the USA alone, of OUR hard earned and donated money, which accomodating these cretins has cost us.

          Perhaps $20 BILLION worldwide squandered due to this hydra within Holy Church, subverting her mission to draw people into a loving total union with God, and instead frittering it away in study groups and marches on pro-this and pro-that, often in diametric opposition to constant Church teachings.

          1. Meanwhile, will leave all this misdirected topic of conversation as to the real problem, same as the curiously timed death penalty catechism misdirection from what is the true crisis within the Church, and let you have at it. Including being accused of lack of charity. I have the same charity as against invading hordes in Spain or Austria.

            And repeat what many a saint has observed. The actual, factual, practicing, striving to be holy REAL Church is a LOT smaller than most think it is, especially those who think it all about inclusive managerial styles, and showing external worldly aimed “charity” as a holy smiley face.

  8. The musings of any particular official in the Vatican notwithstanding, female cardinals are not “theoretically possible.”

    Members of the Sacred College of Cardinals are, in effect, the honorary clergy of the Diocese of Rome, who choose one of their own to serve as Bishop of Rome, and who is by virtue of that appointment the Supreme Pontiff. Historically, those laymen who were members of the College were, in fact, part of the minor orders (porter, lector, exorcist, acolyte). They had to be male, as only males could aspire to Holy Orders. As women cannot aspire to Holy Orders, they cannot be minor clerics, therefore they cannot be members of the Sacred College of Cardinals.

    No, not even in theory.

    1. “Members of the Sacred College of Cardinals are, in effect, the honorary clergy of the Diocese of Rome”

      That’s the thing, they don’t have to be. They can be anything the Church chooses them to be. They exist as a convenient mechanism to choose the pope, but they exist as a creation of the Church and so as a part of discipline, not dogma. If the Church decided that it would make more sense for a panel of lay men and women to choose the pope and call them Cardinals, then she could do just that. We could debate whether it is a good idea, but since “Cardinal” is not one of the holy orders, she could theoretically do it.

    1. I think we do nobody any service by blaming groups such as homosexuals for these abuses. The assumption usually goes: “Since those abused are inordinately boys, then men interested in other males must be largely to blame.” This ignores the fact that boys were inordinately available to these priests with little oversight, and that sexual assault/rape has much more to do with power and domination than sexual arousal or pleasure.

      All we do with these accusations is further alienate homosexuals who are in great need of God’s love and mercy. Unless we can confirm that the majority of priests committing abuse were homo or bi sexual, we should not assume this to be the case because the perpetrator and the victim often share the same gender.

      1. We must face the facts. Homosexuality, which has *no* place in our institutions, the condoning and encouragement of homosexual activity, as well as pedophilia and abuse of authority, is indeed part of the problem. Archbishop McCarrick was not only a pedophile predator, but a homosexual predator, seeking out little boys, seminarians, and priests. And he abused his authority over seminarians and priests to force them into submission. And he wasn’t the only one by far.

        You say, “This ignores the fact that boys were inordinately available to these priests with little oversight.” We should be able to trust a full-grown man, an ordained priest, to keep his hands to himself. You are blaming the child, and the child’s parents, for being raped, as well as seminarians and priests who were abused, instead of the real criminal and sinner, and those who protected and rewarded their evil behavior.

        No. Ignoring the facts and leaving innocent, chaste children, seminarians, and priests open to assault and endangering their souls is not the answer. I am far more worried about protecting these innocents than worrying about alienating homosexuals, pedophiles, or abusers of authority. The Church has never turned away chaste homosexuals who live within the teaching of the Faith, so it isn’t a case of alienating anyone. But we cannot permit them access to our seminaries, schools, and positions of authority and in the clergy of our parishes, seminaries, dioceses, and Orders. It is clear that our leadership wrongly believed it was more important to look the other way and condone homosexuality, pedophilia, and abuse of authority than to follow Church doctrine and to protect the souls and dignity of those under their care.

        1. I never once blamed a child for anything in my post; I simply pointed out that young boys were the children available to abusers, and thus absorbed the majority of the abuse. With female servers becoming more normalized, I ‘d expect future abuse cases to reflect their growing numbers. It’s not about gender, for the reasons I’ve already pointed out previously.

          You seem to recognize that chaste homosexuals exist, even now, some of them are among our priesthood, and their attraction to other males (albeit disordered) has not resulted in them committing abuse on young boys. Our attraction to adults (same or opposite sex) does not mean we are attracted to youth, after all. Should they be excluded from the priesthood in the future? Should current homosexual priests be defrocked? Neither decision is up to you or me, and I submit to the Christ-breathed authority of the church on such matters.

          1. I think, *absolutely* gender enters into this. It wasn’t all about children, as horrific as that is – seminarians and priests, all men, have been attacked by homosexual predators. This was found to be credible by no less than Cardinal Dolan. Your premise does not hold water.

            I did *not* say anything about chaste homosexuals being in the priesthood or about them being attracted to boys. Do not put words into my mouth or change my meaning to fall into line with your agenda. I said, “the Church has never alienated chaste homosexuals”, not mentioning or indicating homosexual priests, and that I am more concerned about protecting the innocence, chastity, and dignity of our children, seminarians, priests, and lay men and women than alienating homosexuals. I do indeed think homosexuals in the priesthood should leave. I hope I am clear this time.

            Church teaching states that homosexuality is disordered, and that homosexuals are not to be admitted to the priesthood. Obviously, what we are going through now is part of the reason for this. What is called for now is faithfulness to orthodox, unadulterated Church teaching from our leadership, and all of us *living* it.

      2. Where did I blame anybody? But yes now that you bring it up it’s pretty clear that the majority of these cases are male/male…..you want to spin that go right ahead. But regardless I think it was pretty clear my comment was directed at the false notion that women can be priests and the theology that discounts that is the same why homosexual men can not be priests. Pope Benedict’s essay was excellent but if you want to explore further there is a talk by Dr. John Bergsma called The Crucifixion: A Marital Act, A Priestly Act

      3. This strikes me as nonsensical. In those cultures in which women are kept secluced from men as a matter of course, it might be possible to argue that the sex of sexual assault victims is not especially important in determining the sexual orientation of rapists etc. But in cultures in which women do not live in seclusion – the majority of the Western world today – it is silly to suggest that those who commit rape do not choose their victims based on their own sexual preferences. As you say, priests have much easier access to adolescent boys than to girls, but they can certainly fraternize with adult women without any great difficulty if they want. It’s much more likely that the reason so many victims of this abuse crisis are male is that the men who abused them made a choice, consciously or otherwise, to enter a profession in which they had every chance of access to adolescent boys and young men. As for the abuse of actual male children, it’s not that all gay men would abuse children; it’s that gay men who may want to abuse children know they’ll have more opportunity to do so in the Church than out of it.

  9. Can I offer a thought about an alternative power structure, something we don’t have yet, but which seems theologically possible?

    https://attheturnofthetide.blogspot.com/2018/08/bring-on-mothers-of-mercy.html

    “… Women cannot be ordained priests, that is for certain. But why would we assume that women could not constitute a sort of court of appeals in the canonical structure of the Church? Call them the Mothers of Mercy, to be established at the diocesan and the Roman levels. Perhaps they would constitute a religious order, or perhaps they would be something akin to the modern movements, open to qualified lay women and women religious of unimpeachable integrity, orthodoxy, and skill. All the women would be trained and professionally prepared canon lawyers and/or theologians, empowered to serve both as counsel and as judges in canonical cases. Canonical sentences could be appealed with the Mothers of Mercy. The rulings of the Mothers of Mercy would be like the rulings of Our Lady–requests made of her Son, phrased as requests, but never denied.

    Further, some of the Mothers could perhaps also serve as advocates, as defense counsel to the poor and the weak, to those who would not otherwise have canonical representation–abuse victims; students; religious who are challenging their communities, or laity who do not have resources, but who need redress of liturgical, theological, or other issues.

    Perhaps there could even be Mothers of Mercy with investigative powers when they were called upon to advocate for those with no other advocate, with no other recourse in the ordinary structure of the Church, or after the usual avenues were exhausted, who could look into financial, theological, liturgical, or other issues raised by laity, priests, seminarians, or others who would not normally have clout or power in the structure of the Church. They would have the ability to see whatever documentation they sought, speak to whoever they needed to speak to, all bound by the rights guaranteed by canon law, but otherwise, plenipotentiary.

    And at the international level, why not have either a sort of supreme appeals court of Mothers of Mercy or a Mother of Mercy at the top? A last court of appeal, who could even, in certain cases, request and obtain clemency or even overturn certain juridical rulings of the Holy Father? And at the Roman level, an investigative service, prepared to come to the assistance of local Mothers who were confronted by cases of such size or with so many victims in need as to make broader assistance necessary.

    Again–this would simply match the structure of the Church on earth to that of the Church Triumphant, of Our Lady’s role in the Kingdom of God. She is Advocate for all; the Refuge of Sinners; the Mother of Mercy; the hope of the oppressed. She is the Queen Mother, the gebirah, the voice of the voiceless, the defender of the defenseless. She can efficaciously plead clemency for even the guilty, for those who would otherwise be damned, be condemned by the fairest, most just court in existence. And she vindicates the powerless, the innocent, the oppressed. She comes to the aid of those under attack, as Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, makes abundantly clear in his Champions of the Rosary. Why shouldn’t some of her daughters here on earth serve in the same way? …”

  10. I think what people are thinking is that they want sexually healthy people in religious life. For too long, religious life was a refuge for sexually unhealthy people. They would never be questioned about why they weren’t dating or marrying, they’d be respected, even revered (another huge piece of this scandal — undue reverence given by lay people towards religious).

    The Catholic Church has a very unhealthy, stunted, immature attitude about sex. It’s not so bad now as it used to be, but it was never, ever a healthy thing. The focus on the “sins” of women, all while giving boys a pass. Keeping secrets, never talking, never speaking about sex. Sex was dirty, pregnancy a punishment, a curse.

    And still, in 2018, a very unreal attitude towards gay people. If gay priests and sisters are expected to remain silent about their sexuality, to keep it secret, don’t ask, don’t tell, hush-hush, then we can’t be shocked when we find that bishops and cardinals kept sexual secrets, including the secrets of sexual abusers.

    I think opening up the priesthood, at least at the parish level (orders can make their own rules as suit their various missions), to married men opens the door to more sexually healthy men.

    It’s not like there will never be abuse again, especially in situations where adults are given authority over children, but we can’t poo-poo an option to make the Church healthy by pointing to bad examples.

  11. I have to say that yes – I agree – women are not inherently better or less sinful than men.
    Maybe we should consider what, about how the Church IS and is structured, might lend itself to this horrible phenomenon of abuse. How about unchecked power? When Pope Francis said we need to be a “church that is for the poor and is poor,” maybe he saw a real connection between actual intentional poverty (not destitution but not comfortable designer rectory either) and the bare-bones humility that is drawn out of it. Poverty is not just about “financial insecurity,” but comes with the full complement of accessories: feeling unseen, being voiceless, not feeling like a respectable member of society, working hard and getting nowhere. So many lay people know and live this burden, that it is scandalous to me for their parish priest to be excused from these realities, when he is supposed to be standing in the person of Christ. Maybe instead of being afraid of scaring off future or current priests by including poverty in their professed vows, it should be claimed as the means to personal integrity in service to others. Being without power is very Christ-like. The Church, in my opinion, would be well served by moving the priesthood closer to this reality.

  12. How about we start talking about what IS wrong with the current set up? It seems like our collective (lay and ordained) refusal to look at what is wrong adds to whatever problems we have. I work at looking at why large organizations have the problems they do. I would say that 1) ignoring problems and then 2) pointing fingers when things go wrong is part and parcel of large organizations.

    How can Catholics do better?
    1. By taking ownership of our faith and our communities. The laity want to think that the Church should act as a well-oiled machine, regardless of how we share our time, our attention or our resources. Our $2 in the collection plate and refusal to volunteer or ask questions why the Finance committee never meets is on us.
    2. By being honest about our challenges. Why are priests pushed around to new parishes when there have been issues? Why does no one question how a priest has a beach house? We don’t have many priests and it’s a bottleneck issue for Catholics. No priests, no parishes, no Masses. Any given priest then has enormous room to do whatever. It’s a job people are very reluctant to fire you from.

    We’re in this pickle for complex, yet obvious reasons. How about we start with honesty and humility and a firm resolve to do better?

  13. I See where you are coming from on this but the problem has gone beyond what many people see. Catholic faith is being destroyed in whole generations in previous stronghold countries. I spent last week with decent Catholic families in Ireland before the popes visit, most have between 80 to 100% lapsed in the current generation. It wasn’t a loss of faith in God just the Church.
    The deeds of the ordained of both genders have ripped out the heart of a previously rock solid Catholic nation.
    The leadership that remains needs to hit their knees and stay there until God talks to them or retires them.

    1. “The deeds of the ordained of both genders….”

      Women cannot be ordained. Only men, since the only offices that have that are deacon and priest. Nuns and brothers are not ordained; the term for them is “religious”, as in “The deeds of religious of both sexes….” In this current mess, however, it was the laxity or outright malfeasance of some in the episcopate (bishops and up) that led to it, and the fallout from it. Please pray that the Spirit inflames the hearts of the faithful to help Him cleanse and reform the Church.

  14. Question – Simcha – about shifting the blame to the victim -yes, I have certainly seen this, but I do not know what you meant about Fr. Groschel – “We saw this with Fr. Groschel.” What are you referring to?

      1. Thanks for that link: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/31/nyregion/in-interview-the-rev-benedict-groeschel-says-abuse-victims-can-be-seducers.html

        It surprises me that Fr. Groeschel would have said that, though perhaps this gives insight into what some of the bishops may have thought in the past. Good that he and his religious order corrected that statement at the time, and perhaps it is possible he was not thinking well after that serious head injury plus advancing senility as they said – but even so, hard to comprehend how that could have been said. His statement perhaps gives some insight into how wrongly some people have been looking at this (i.e. that older teens may been seducing priests). As the grand jury report shows, there were some very young children involved, and physical abuse along with sexual. The abusers have caused both spiritual and emotional harm that for many has lasted for a lifetime. It was NOT their fault. And regardless of the age of the victim, seminarians should be learning very quickly and clearly what is required, so that no priest is vulnerable to being “seduced” by a teenager – which is not what was happening at all in any case. The “blame the victim” mentality is making me angry – angry that we can still see some of this even today, in a video of a homily that was posted to the internet. I won’t post the link to it because I don’t want to have new “blame the victim” statements given any notice. Sad to read what Fr. Groeschel said, though, and hard to understand but perhaps that nonsensical thinking is part of why these behaviors were allowed to continue for so long. I think the bishops really need to sit and listen to the victims state what happened and how it affected them, as was done at Larry Nassar’s trial over several entire days. Anyone in the church who has been victim blaming and viewing abuser-priests as victims in this needs to have a dose of reality to really understand what went on and why it absolutely has to stop. They should have to be confronted with the evil that they have allowed to flourish.

      2. The thing is, I worked with troubled kids and I know what he was getting at. We had tons of kids who knew no other way to interact with people except in very sexually charged ways. The institution I worked for understood that and did a lot of training of staff to emphasize that troubled kids will exhibit certain behaviors that they’ve learned BUT it is still the job of the adults to respond appropriately rather than in kind.
        That’s my issue with a fair amount of safe environment training though: too much focus on trying to make kids protect themselves, and not enough on teaching adults to BE adults no matter what a kid might be doing.

        1. “The thing is, I worked with troubled kids and I know what he was getting at.” Well, I’m a psychiatrist and I know that teens can indeed behave in all kinds of ways. Yes. BUT – the priests and bishops are not just random people who never in their lives heard of this stuff before. I read that the grand jury report included cases from 70 years ago, which would have been in the late 1950’s. The Boston scandal broke a good while ago. Lawsuits and payouts have been going on for a very long time now, so if they bishops ONLY wanted to listen to their lawyers, not even considering their role as pastor of ALL the people in their diocese, including the 7 years who got raped, and the 9 years olds, and those of all different ages who were physically and sexually abused – they might have had a thought to really ingrain this into their seminarians that you just do not do these things. For decades now, it is normal for bishops to obtain psychological tests to evaluate the mental health of candidates for seminary. It is generally expected that men who are selected for seminary should be psychological stable (not sociopaths or sex addicts) and then there is that whole period of “formation” in which they develop their identity as priests. During that time, they should learn almost reflexively to avoid what we used to call an “occasion of sin.” Don’t be alone with a seductively dressed female if that would be a source of temptation. Don’t get out the liquor with a 16 year old boy. Use judgment in advance so that you do not commit a crime. They should know these things, and have the mental and emotional equipment to be the adults, to be the priests. If they can’t do that, if they are going to be too tempted by children, if they are going to drunk and then more vulnerable to acting improperly – if they don’t have the mental, emotional, spiritual capability of representing Jesus Christ and his church, they should NOT be retained in that role – because the bishops know the verse about the millstone and the neck, and they are not helping an abuser priest eternally if they cover for him and keep in a role where he will commit crimes again and again. Sadly, it is not only the bishops. Surely many have read about the situation in the seminaries, well, things that McCarrick has done, and things other seminarians and former seminarians have written about. Instead of training and forming priests who understand to keep themselves away from situations that can lead to temptation – the situations in some seminaries are teaching seminarians that it is fine to be drunk, it is fine for seminarians to have sexual activities with others in the seminary, and it is good to party a lot. Here is a link to an article by a former seminarian in case anyone missed this among so much other news – grand jury, McCarrick, etc. – so this is one of the seminary reports: https://onepeterfive.com/letter-omalley-seminary/ Just saying, the men in charge of some of the seminaries, alongside the bishops, are not doing a proper job of screening or formation if this is the lifestyle – private parties late at night, drinking, immoral behavior. When seminarians are trained in a cesspool where immoral behavior is openly accepted, it is not so surprising that they do as they were taught. The role of the seminaries in this cannot be overstated. They nurtured and enabled the predator priests and bishops who did all the things in the grand jury report. They were formed to do exactly that. So now – I have to say, I am sorry, when I hear defenses of the predators based on “these kids” – it sickens me. We need to have hearings where the victims can state how this affected them, just as was done with Larry Nassar – where the victims can speak to the bishops and to the church who can see it televised and understand until we all stop blaming children – and many of the victims were very young – it makes me ill. The seminarians must be screened and trained – and MOST priests do not find themselves seduced by children or teens. So it is certainly possible to live a life of chastity. But we need to have men who are capable of living chastely, to train them to live in that manner, and to require it. Those who can’t – can’t be priests. OR bishops. But it sounds like we need massive education for the whole church and to hear from the victims, when people can even think, yes, but these teens. Well, yes, these men should be priests and not criminals. No one has to rape children, and I am sickened by any suggestion that the victims were in any way to blame. The priests and the bishops are representatives of Jesus Chris, and he never, ever would have harmed a child. Ever.

          1. I agree with what you wrote, I just think Fr. Groeschel was a good man and got hugely misinterpreted. And seminary formation (not to mention secular teacher training, etc) does need to include not just “don’t be a seducer” but also “here’s how to handle a situation with a seducer and also the totally-different-but-problematic someone with poor social skills who needs redirecting.”

          2. Or also, here is how you live out a tough calling in an honest way. Here’s how you can live chastely and fully. Here’s what resources there are to handle the stress of your job.

            Then follow up on it. See what is actually happening in parishes. How priests are handling stress, etc. Too many parishes are fiefdoms. Why does no one care if parish councils don’t exist or never meet? Accountability is hard and takes effort from above and in the pews. We’ve chosen the easier way out of hoping that things are OK for too long.

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