Not Quite the Woodstock Defense. More Like a Confession.

I find myself frustrated by the press coverage of the John Jay report on the Church scandals even before the report itself is released later today. The New York Times write-up characterizes it of the “blame Woodstock” school.

Understanding that the scandals festered in a sexually permissive relativistic culture isn’t assigning blame, it’s getting at facts and admitting we have a problem we share with all of humanity.

It’s no breaking news that Catholics didn’t stand athwart the sexual revolution enough yelling Stop! Even the university chartered by the Catholic bishops, there was dissent on moral teaching on sexuality. If we had all rallied to Humane Vitae, that would be one thing. But quite another thing happened in our seminaries, other schools, churches, and lives.

As George Weigel has written, we didn’t have the courage to be Catholic.

Confronting that is a necessary exercise. For the Church and for our culture. And, yes, for the children.



  • AnneG

    Gordon & ALL, According to a lot of research done in the sexual abuse scandal:
    Prior to the late ’50’s or early ’60’s a priest accused of molestation was immediately removed and sent to a place with no contact with children. (This is in contrast, btw with the way secular society used to deal with the issue, just ignore it.) After that time Cardinal Law and others listened to the psychologists who said the pedophiles could be cured. We know they were not and what should have been done was never done. Also, society in general had an attitude that the victim should just get over it. Now, of course, victims want to get even.
    Although there will always be instances of clergy molesting those in their care, most of these cases took place 30+ years ago. So, cries for justice are a little late. Pretty much it is being done.
    The whole sinful mess is awful. Abuse does terrible harm to children and is very hard to recover from. Money, however, will not cure the problems caused. The Church has done a responsible job dealing with this sin in the Church, among Her members, much better than in any other area of society. May God heal the victims, bring the guilty to repentance and show mercy to us all.

  • John

    I find I must hope that your sense of justice isn’t as warped as it seems. You seem to think that we still have a serious problem. Thousands of abuse allegations have been investigated and dismissed, a relative few–but VERY high profile–cases have been pursued and settlements made. By your comments, you seem to me to imply that law enforcement and the courts haven’t done THEIR jobs.
    If sex abuse and coverup remained today as rampant as you seemingly imply, various media outlets would be on it the second they had a chance. It’d be a great chance for them to earn ratings at the Church’s expense.
    Certainly, leftward-leaning organizations would be all too eager to expose the wrongdoing of those eevvvilll Catholics.

    Yet, in spite of all the incentive to razz the Church, the latest stories I’ve heard in this regard address crimes that occurred AT LEAST ten years ago, if not more like 30 to 50.

    If the problem runs as deeply as you suggest, I should be seeing at least monthly stories about this priest or that bishop who’s going to jail or who’s paying a fine as punishment for abuse, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, or SOMETHING. Anything that a prosecutor could cook up to halt malicious actions by legal means.

    But even with all the incentive that secular outlets and legal authorities have on this, I’m seeing..almost nothing.

    Are you sure you aren’t too interested in revenge?

    As to the concerns about other faiths, public schools, or Boy Scouts: Why do you insist we shouldn’t be every bit as concerned about those potential cases?
    Do you somehow believe that only Catholics and/or ex-Catholics deserve justice? Or do you believe that non-Catholic persons have less culpability before God for their crimes?

    I don’t think anyone has suggested that these priests and bishops did nothing wrong. I think the article (and comments) make quite clear that our Church has made some very serious mistakes.

    But unless we’re merely re-hashing old errors or able to prove something new and evil has begun, I think it’s time to move on.

    The old horse is dead and buried. We need to use the new one properly, lest we fail again.

  • Jay McNally

    Matt B is delusional, as are most bishops and Vatican officials on the crisis. At this stage it’s hard to fathom who they think are listening to their current plea that priests raping children is/was OK since public school teachers have done the same: A few weeks ago no less than the archbishop of New York put Boy Scout leaders in the same category as Geohegan, Shanley and Koss.

    I came to see the situation up-close when I was expected to participate in the cover-up of a pedophile priest when I was editor of a diocesan newspaper in 1993. At that time editors and reporters at diocesan papers were being fired and some publicly quit in protest over the lies that their bishops were expecting them to commit to help keep pedophile priests in play.

    For perspective, a lot of bishop’s misdeeds took place after the 1992 film, “The Boys of St. Vincent” was out on tape. Matt B might find it hard to believe, but even then there was a widespread belief (even among Catholics psychiatrists) that priests shouldn’t be screwing children or teens. Even then “the best advice” was that abusive priests shouldn’t be near children and some stated publicly that bishops should report the criminal behavior to the cops.

    Yet, we see in the Philadelphia grand jury report of 2003 that Cardinal Bevilacqua (a lawyer) went to great lengths to lie to victims, their families and everyone else about the pedophiles he secretly was sending to distant parishes where he knew they would find new victims. You can read the 2003 report online at And this year we learn that Cardinal Rigali is still at it! He denied it at first, then apologized, then hired an investigator who affirmed he was living a lie about protecting children. Some 20-plus priests were removed.

    So Matt B, it’s simply and categorically false that “the Bishops followed the best advice that the psychological sciences could give them at the time.”

    The “crisis” never was that some priests went off the rails. The crisis has ALWAYS been that some bishops nurtured, defended, covered-up and enabled criminal child abuse for decades. They still haven’t quite owned up to it, and the Vatican STILL keeps scores of these twisted, deceitful men in office.

    It’s always been about the corruption of the bishops. Still is.

    • Matt B

      If I’m delusional, Jay, you’re disillusional. A Monsignor friend of mine had a saying: “Come to work for the Church and lose your faith.” You may have fallen victim to this syndrome. I certainly find your allusion to bishops “keeping (child molesters) in play” to be hugely cynical. “Shouldn’t be screwing children or teens” doesn’t seem like a decision made by bishops, but rather the staffing arrangements of a pimp. When you’re talking about “twisted deceitful men,” are you sure you’re not referring to the US Congress, or the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals? (Of course if you were talking about Congress, you’d have to broaden it to include “hardened viragos”. I sympathize with the virulence of your feeling on the matter, Jay. And I concede your first hand familiarity with some of the facts. But I’m differing with you in a big way on your conclusion. If you keep your head pointed down, all you’ll see is dirt. Try staying off that muckraking website. Read the Bible instead.

    • Matt B

      As I read your account more closely, Jay, I can now hazard an opinion. You were not terminated from the diocesan newspaper for any matter of conscience. It was rather for your sloppy use of sources, and your egregious mixing of opinion and fact. Your vicious inuendo, and unattributable accusations (clearly originating from your own unstated misgivings), combined with the unreasonable overestimation of a marginal film, and a clearly partisan website, show that you are a scandal-monger, sir. Do you work for the National Catholic Reporter?



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