Tag Archives: sex abuse crisis

Vatican seeks Guidelines in dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith delivered a circular letter to the world’s bishops asking for help in working for the common good of the faithful –protecting children from abusive priests. The CDF wants each of the bishops’ conferences around the globe to develop the appropriate processes assist the diocesan bishops in helping victim, educating the ecclesial community, forming priests, and being clear agents of charity and justice.

Cardinal Levada’s letter to bishops.

The Circular Letter can be read here.
The explanatory letter from the Press Office

Is the Pope’s Irish proposal reasonable?

Haven’t been thinking of the Pope’s letter to the Church in Ireland regarding the sexual abuse problems in a while? Let’s start thinking anew: the year of prayer that the Pope asked for is coming to an with Easter. I’d like to know what’s different.

No one I know takes issue with what the Pope has been doing with the sexual abuse matters. That may be a point of criticism of me and my friends, but I don’t have all the answers to such a complex issue such as pedodphilia and ephebophilia and I tend to lean toward diagnosing the problem not merely from psychological and sociological criteria but most importantly from spiritual criteria. What does one do with sin in one’s spiritual life? My experience with secular and religious clergy, religious sisters and brothers, and of course the laity, is that there is lots of mediocre spiritual lives in the Catholic; I might even argue for an acceptance that there are a lot of spiritually dead men of the cloth pastoring souls today. Since the Pope’s March letter to Ireland of a year ago I have been thinking and praying about the matter, as you have you some concrete initiatives to address the situation, in addition to a special investigation into the way certain dioceses took responsibility for the crimes.

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Diarmuid Martin: Church in Ireland had grown beyond what’s legitimate: self-centered & arrogant

The Catholic Church in Ireland is facing what we in the USA continue to face and the Church in parts of the world also face or will face: sin. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, is working overtime to renew himself and the Church he leads to a deeper contrition and to a renewed sense of mission as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Like Saint John the Baptist, Archbishop Martin tells us clearly that self-centeredness and arrogance are not legitimate virtues for Catholics to allow to dwell in the heart and in the way one acts. What the Archbishop says about his Church can be said of us personally, and the Church in the USA. Time to change!!!! As the Baptist says, “I must decrease and He –Jesus– must increase.

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The Gospel of this morning’s
Mass recalls that great figure: John the Baptist. John’s task was to announce
the coming of Jesus. He was called to reawaken a sense of expectation among a
people that had grown tired and distant from God
. He was called to bring
renewal to institutional expressions of religion which, at the time, had so
often become fossilised into mere formulae or external ritual
. John’s work was
extraordinary. He attracted thousands to come out into the desert to see
him.  He wrought conversion on a vast scale.

John was a man who stood out.
His strange dress – the wild camel hair and the leather girdle – was not chosen
as a publicity gimmick or a trademark.  His message was one that spoke of
rising above conventional ways of thinking, conventional expectations and
attitudes.  He shunned the external amenities of a comfortable life
because he wanted to show his absolute dependence on God. His detachment
from life’s comforts gave him the freedom to truly recognise the message of

The figure of John serves as a warning to us today, to all believers, to
the Church and to Church organizations of every age of our need to draw our
strength from Christ alone, rather than from identifying with the cultural
patterns and fashions of the day
, which in any case come and go.

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The Pope & his cardinals met today

the new cardinals.jpgBilled my some as extra-ordinary, but likely seen by insiders as ordinary, Pope Benedict met with his cardinals and the new cardinals –24 of them– he intends to make tomorrow, in a forum where information is exchanged and consultation given. The meeting of Pope and cardinals was conducted in the context of prayer. Prayer and exchange, not the making of decisions was the format. It is estimated that about 150 of the worlds 203 cardinals met today. Topics ranged from the sacred Liturgy and religious freedom, but also the exercise of religion, secularism, conversion and entering into full communion with the Catholic Church to healthcare. Since this is also the 10th anniversary of Dominus Iesus, the document which recalls that salvation comes uniquely and universally through the person of Jesus Christ, the Pope and cardinals will reflect on the impact this document has made since its publication.

cardinal shelters from rain.jpg

Some cardinals expressed their frustration and exhaustion over the sexual abuse crisis, but their feelings aside, this is a central issue that needs to be corrected right now. Certainly people are worn down by the continuous attention the sex abuse crisis has garnered, but the credibility of the Church to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation is at stake if the immoral actions of priests, bishops and laity is not dealt with in forthright manner. Pope Benedict is doing the hard work now, as he has done in the past, to clean up the moral rot found in the Church.
The Vatican Radio has a report.

Responding to an Episcopal priest on giving communion to a dog

The other day I made a post on this blog about a Canadian
woman priest giving Communion to a dog
. A reader of the Communio blog, Lydia
wrote to me saying:

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the US.
The Anglican Communion does not have priestesses. I am sure that you know
that. Perhaps you are just being sarcastic.

Personally, I would rather have my
Church known for giving communion to a dog than for the fact that many of my
priests molested children, in countries all over the world, and that
my Bishops did all that they could to ignore complaints about the abuse,
to hide the problem, and to protect the offending clergy.

My response to Lydia

The dictionary defines a priestess as a female priest. It’s a perfectly good
English word; in fact, the Anglican C.S. Lewis wrote an essay called, “Priestesses
in the Church.” If the word “priestess” has a strangely non-Christian
sound, perhaps that is because in churches that claim apostolic succession,
there is no precedent for female priests. As Lewis pointed out, there have been
many religions with female priests (priestesses), but these religions are very
different from Christianity as it has been known for 20 centuries.

In any case,
the word “deaconess” is not considered offensive, so why should
“priestess” be so considered? If masculine imagery for divine transcendence
needs to be balanced by feminine imagery of divine immanence, why not say that
priest and priestess together represent the divine more fully, like Yin and
Yang? My impression is that many modern Anglicans (including women
clergypersons) think on those lines. So why fight about the sound of a word
when its substantive meaning is considered OK?

As for the Catholic Church being
“known for” molestation of children and minors: well, the Anglican
Church in Canada and Australia has been racked by similar problems, particularly
in residential schools, with some dioceses being nearly bankrupted. I am saddened
by the Anglicans’ troubles since the attacks on their schools is an indirect
form of anti-Christian persecution at the hands of a hostile state. As such,
this abuse hysteria threatens us all because it is premised on the assumption
that the sins of a few abusive clergy should be avenged on the entire Body of
Christ. In the case of any other group besides the clergy, this would be
considered unjust prejudice and overreaction.

Statistically speaking, Catholic
priests are no more likely to molest than ministers of other religions; it’s
just that we are a much larger church and that our dioceses are legally set up
as a corporation sole, thus inviting crippling lawsuits and lots of bad
publicity. That said, I do agree that we Catholics are not in a position to
cast any stones on the sexual abuse issue. And so this blog has not done so.

liturgical abuses and irreverence are a different sort of issue. These
liturgical-sacramental aberrations are public acts done in an official
capacity, not secret sins or obvious crimes. And, in fact, I do emphatically
criticize and abhor similar liturgical abuses among Catholics and wish that
more Catholic parishes had the reverence and decorum to be found in many
high-church Episcopal parishes. It’s not a matter of either side of the
Reformation divide being free of sin or failure: it’s just that without an
authoritative center of communion and teaching and practice, Anglicanism can’t
easily set any parameters for legitimate diversity within itself. And
Archbishop Williams himself would sadly admit that that is unfortunately the

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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