Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why the Irish abuse letter concerns me

It's not that I haven't seen it before.  A document from anywhere over the last two thousand years is released, and the press heralds it as 'Smoking Gun Proves Cover Up of Abusive Priests!'  Like many things so released, there can be defenses made, as they are being made here, and over here is a good example from Jimmy Akin.

My problem is, yeah, from a very legalistic viewpoint, from a very 'assume innocence until beyond a reasonable doubt' perspective, this just might be more much ado about nothing.  But defense of this, and so many other examples of 'stunning evidence' over the last few years, involves a certain 'hey, it may look bad, but if you look at it from the Church following every jot and tittle of canon law, then it's not that bad.  It's just the way the Church does things the way it does them.'  The problem is, this is all happening while thousands of lives are being irreparably damaged, while entire faiths are being destroyed, and lives altered forever.  While it's going on. 

This doesn't prove that the Church is evil, this doesn't prove that the Church was even wrong.  What it does prove, and what it aids, is that classic Protestant scree against the Church that Catholicism is where the heart and soul of the Gospel of Christ gets entangled in the eternal arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or the demand that the holy and sacred copy machine not be placed along the south wall.  Sure, lives may be at stake, but we must do diligence at all cost, and if that means some lives slip through the cracks while we run the numbers, so be it.

I'm not saying that was the attitude of those involved.  I'm not saying there is guilt or innocence.  I don't know.  I just know that when things look stinky, they stink.  A picture of a pile of manure has about the same impact as actually standing next to a real pile of manure if you think about it.  Impressions are impressions. 

All of this is to say that there may well be a need for the Church to rethink its current strategies for bureaucratic administering of the Faith.  As charming as it is to imagine the Church as just a bunch of lovable Ents who get around to things when they get around to them, it's not so charming when we remember the all important dignity of the individual that the Church is constantly reminding every other government and nation in the world about on a constant basis.  Even one child so harmed should be enough to shake the systems and structures of the bureaucratic institution to its core.  At best, this shows a marked lack of anything but doing diligence at all costs, even if the rusty wheels turning slowly means a few lives ruined in the process.  That's the best you can say about many of the defenses over the years.

Let's hope it doesn't get any worse. 


  1. I can't say I agree. You appear to want it both ways. On one hand, you say the Church is victim of a smear campaign. Then you go on to say that even without evidence, it is still guilty. Guilty of what? It has done everything it could to stop the abuse. It has been ahead of most secular authorities in its efforts to bring those guilty to justice. There is nothing in this or any other release that suggests a cover up. Yet you invoke anti-Catholic polemics to justify a rant against the Church nonetheless.

    I'm starting to have a hard time coming to your blog. At first it was enjoyable. No, you are not a professional writer. That much is clear. But you had some good ideas, some good insights, and I enjoyed the whimsical way in which you express yourself. But in the last month or more, I can't see anything particularly Catholic about your blog, if barely Christian. When you do mention Catholic, it is to criticize it. I understand that things may not be what you want them to be in your life, but it isn't the fault of the Church. If you get over the possibility of thinking that, it might help you focus more on a Catholic blog, rather than a blog about anything but Catholic musings.

  2. RobLog
    Sorry that you feel that way. I enjoy this blog very much.
    Dave has never said he was a professional writer. He has said that he is still trying to find his place in The Church, but it seems to me that you may be making it a bit harder on him by saying "if barely Christian" I find no evidence of any such cause for that. You are being rather harsh in your comments. He is saying that the church should try to move a little faster on these things. That is all I read in it. The faster the better to help eliminate problems where they arise. The church should be leading the charge to demonstrate how best to deal with this problem. A problem that is in so many facets of life - not just the Catholic church, but for so many years it has not dealt with it quickly or in a timely maner that other institutions regularly do.

  3. RobL

    I'm the same, sorry you feel that way. Just like DS has said, I never claimed to be a pro writer. Just one throwing ideas out there and seeing who picks them up. I've been pleased, since I have no 'community' I belong to, no name to go with, and no links to other online communities, that I have already obtained the followers and regular readers that I have.

    And I'm always willing to admit to a need for improvement. But I think you miss my point, which I made - I think - a couple months ago. My blog's musings are Catholic because I am Catholic. That is why I bother to post the things I post at all. Do you think I would even care what the press says about the Catholic Church if I wasn't Catholic? I want people who come here to see something that says 'This guy is Catholic.' It's true, that my passions tend to be on things like history, politics, and monitoring the news. That's just the way the ball bounces. But hopefully always filtered through the prism of my Catholic faith and world view.

    Also, I have no desire to be an official apologist. There are plenty of those already, and the burden is great. I'm enough of an apologist simply being Catholic.

    As for the job/life issue. Sure, it's not what I wanted. We lost half of what we had and are still trying to root through life in order to have become Catholic. And I do take issue with some groups who say 'oh heck, thousands are doing it and it all works out just fine.' Especially when a thousand nuances are not mentioned in that equation. But it doesn't have to do with spite, or getting on the Church. It's merely my observation that any full time clergy who wants to become Catholic had better damn well count the costs, because there is no safety net between St. Patrick's and Rome to catch them outside of the good graces of a diocese here or a parish of good hearted folks there. Even once that is realized, however, I would hope they would decide that pearl is worth the price, even if it means the whole field.

    But in it all, I merely look at the Church the way I see it. I am not an apologist, so my job is not to take any criticism or complaint and twist it around to some vague 'well the Church is always right, so it must be the fault of 'those Christians' over there.' I don't have to twist and turn things to make sure the Church always smells clean and pretty. I can say sure, it darn well needs to make some changes, and possibly a little faster than it has. I know there are advantages to not just rushing in and changing things, but if we really believe the Holy Spirit will never allow the Church to stray, speed shouldn't be a concern, correct? While making some speedier decisions to keep up with the rapid changes, revelations and needs of he world might only do some good.

    At least IMHO. Hope this helps.


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