Thursday, 10 July 2008

And it keeps on going....

Updates on a few ongoing sagas, all of which need our prayers....

  • on Cardinal Pell, you can watch an interview with him on The 7.30 Report if you enjoy watching train wrecks. Lateline also offers more revelations (they are certainly spinning it out for all it is worth, but hopefully this is it??);
  • Anglo-Catholics have now asked the Pope for a 'magnanimous gesture' that will allow them to come across en masse, so pray hard it all comes off -see Damian Thompson;
  • the state of play on the SSPX remains completely unclear! Here is my suggestion. Take a look at their Australian website - it lists out all their priests - so pick one (perhaps whoever is resident in or nearest to your town, or one of those at the seminary) and pray for him to return to full communion with Rome...

And of course, as the big day(s) gets nearer, the most important question that should be on all our minds is...what will the The Chaser boys do this time (and lets hope the Cardinal has actually briefed the Pope on who and what they are, because I'm thinking getting dressed up and in for this one will be all too easy for their creative talents...)!

Finally and more seriously, the pilgrims have started arriving, so do pray for the success of WYD.


Peter said...

someone should hand the g**bc over to the secular arm

David said...

I am tired of hearing about this so-called "case" with which the ABC is using as a stick to beat one of their favourite objects of hatred and derision.

It seems to me that the priest was not a pedophile per se but a garden-variety homo (in that he had a thing for post-pubescent men, not little boys), who never should have been accepted into seminary in the first place. Now if the good Cardinal said that on the ABC he would have been excoriated as a "homophobe".

Similarly, the "victim" here may have been "curious" or "confused" or whatever, but that doesn't change the fact that the priest's failure to observe his promises of celibacy were serious breaches of trust and grave sins. Whether or not they were in this case, illegal, or the sort of "back-door shennanigans" that the ABC habitually glorifies (particularly when engaged in by bearded-drag queens and assorted blokes and sheilas dressed as Cardinal Pell, parading down Oxford Street) is another question.

What does need to be said, however, is that there is something seriously wrong about our modern seminary formation processes, particularly in regard to spiritual formation.

Some bloggers have commented that the "sexual abuse crisis" is more correctly a "homosexuality crisis", and that, in the US, for example, some 80% of payouts to victims have been to men who were abused as post-pubescent teenagers or young adults.

Hence, the exclusion of homosexuals from seminaries makes sense from a practical point of view. Even John XXIII said as much in the 1960s - that, essentially, seminaries are an occasion of sin for homosexuals, and therefore homosexuals should never be admitted to seminaries. Sodomy runs rife in prisons and boarding schools; we should not allow it to happen in seminaries. End of story.

But say that on the ABC, and the luvvies would have fits....

On a similar topic, Fr Bennetts in Rome said this:

on the UK equivalent of the Collins/Purcell petition.

Here's a big quote dealing with sexual abuse - it's relevant both in the context of "garden-variety homosexuality" and actual pedophillia: is clear that the pathology of child abuse amongst clergy is not reducible to the question of celibacy, since the abuser is one who will abuse in or out of a stable relationship. I won't deny that there have been problems - but much of them has been due to a tendency to reduce clerical celibacy to an "imposed discipline" rather than the deepest expression of the heart of the priesthood as the spousal relationship of Jesus Christ to His one bride the Church. Perhaps what we should question is not celibacy but rather the deplorable lack of formation - theological, personal, human, psychological, spiritual and ascetical - that has characterised the liberalised form of seminary and clergy formation since the Council. Without such foundations celibacy is going to be harder to live; but the knock on effect is that this lack of formation and liberalism in doctrine has meant that many of our people have not been formed well for relationships and for marriage. The cultural crisis of sex and relationships which has characterised our modern era has had a very destructive effect in the lives of so many of our people and they have been ill-served by the Church whose clergy were not formed in the deeper catechism of Christian living and the ideals of Christian holiness in life. [bingo!] So I think it is too simplistic to situate "the sexual difficulties of so many celibates in the last few decades" within the context of celibacy as an "imposed discipline": one needs to address the profound doctrinal/spiritual/moral crisis since the Council and the sudden shift of culture since the 1960s - that's the wider and more complicated context....

Anyone who has observed the holiness of life of priests educated in, say, an FSSP seminary compared to that of some of our younger diocesan priests will understand the truth of that statement.

Terra said...


While I agree with you that the ABC is doing its usual, and there are several bizarre features of this case (not least that the priest and the victim evidently continued to meet and talk after the assault in question), the problem is that the case really does illustrate everything that the Church has done wrong over the last several decades, from seminary training onwards to dealing with the complaint.

The assertion that the priest in this case is a pedophile does in fact seem to be correct at one level - another case against him found proven by the Cardinal related to an 11 year old altar boy. But he has also admitted to assaulting a 16 year old girl, and of instances relating to other men. So hard to know how to classify him really!

Your point about seminary formation is clearly correct - and indeed from the admissions Fr Goodall has made, the problems were evident at that time (he apparently propositioned two of his fellow seminarians).

Meanwhile in Perth, the controversial Bethel community has been closed, and Archbishop Hickey has apologised for not acting sooner....

The truth is I hate reading about this stuff, and even more writing about it. But as the horrors continue to unfold, I think we have a duty to do both - it is our shared shame.

The current system of waiting until a complaint is received doesn't appear sufficient to me. We need to fix the seminaries, and restore orthodox doctrine. And there needs to be a systematic assessment of the state of spiritual health of priests, some re-education on asceticism and orthodox theology, and some better support mechanisms put in place.

David said...

Thanks Terra,

I hate reading this stuff, too, and, as someone with many non-Catholic family members, I hate being asked about it even more.

Hence I must have avoided (subconsciously, I suppose) delving too deeply into the other cases in which the priest had been involved. Whatever "objective disorders" this priest has, the current controversy arises out of one of homosexuality.

That said, there are aspects of the complainant's demeanour and presentation which would lead me (were I a trier of fact) to "treat with some caution" any evidence he might give.

I don't know how, in practice, the Church would weed out seminarians with disordered passions, if those seminarians were determined to "stay under the radar". I suppose, it comes down to old fashioned gut feeling on the part of spiritual directors. That, unfortunately, sometimes results in the exclusion of good men because seminary faculty members think there may be something "not quite right" about them. That underlines the enormous responsibility given to vocations / seminary spiritual directors.

What you say about, essentially "auditing" our priesthood is spot on. Many will hate the very notion, but obligations for "continuing professional development" exsist in many professions, and indeed, we are all supposed to grow in our spiritual life throughout our lives, to the extent of our capacity so to do...

As it is, it's only when something goes wrong that priests are sent off for a spiritual check up. The fact is, we do have priests who perhaps, in prudence and with the benefit of hindsight, ought not have been admitted to seminary, but fixing that is going to be enormously difficult.

I'd go so far as to say that there needs to be a comprehensive re-orientation of the priestly life along traditional lines; in major things like orthodox doctrine and spirituality, holiness of life and spiritual fatherhood, through to superficially minor but nontheless important things like clerical attire. So much damage has been done to the priesthood by liberal formation, that this will take decades to correct.