Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Inconvenient Truth

The secular press is being manipulated by dissident Catholics. Those who are calling for the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI are doing so for either illogical and fallacious reasons OR to serve a clandestine agenda to destroy the credibility and ultimately the authority of the Roman Pontiff. One group means well INSOFAR as they purport to have the common good in their intent. While protecting children from abuse is a magnificent and proper goal, the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that merely because he was Archbishop of Munich in 1980, he de facto is responsible for the transfer of an accused pedophile priest. Likewise, that same logical fallacy attempts to implicate Pope B16 with a case in Milwaukee just because he was Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There is no cause and effect evidence to demonstrate these allegations. That Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) was in charge is accurate. What he knew and when he knew it are not being accurately delineated in the secular press. Furthermore, the media is grossly distorting the facts regarding a Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis .  Rather than being a smoking gun proving a conspiracy of cover-up and plausible deniability, in reality, it is a very specific response to a very specific and rare phenomenon.

The document in question was issued in 1962 and dealt with the sin of solicitation in the confessional. In other words, it was an instruction to bishops on how to handle the heinous instance of a priest molesting someone during the sacrament of Penance. Canon law imposes an automatic excommunication for any confessor who absolves his accomplice or victim in a sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue. The necessity of SECRECY was not and never was to protect the culprit, instead, to protect the victims AND the sacrament of confession itself.

Since a priest can NEVER divulge the identity nor the sin confessed by any penitent, EVER, how does a bishop proceed using due process to ascertain the guilt and then impose the proper punishment upon the offender? How can evidence be gathered when no names can ever be revealed? Most cases of sex abuse occur OUTSIDE the sacrament, so this is a very limited but nonetheless still horrible crime. But all the penitents of the same confessor need to know their identities are still safe even if they never were victimized. All penitents need to trust in the total and absolute inviolability of the seal of confession. No one, not even the Pope can command a priest to ever reveal who went to him for confession and/or what was confessed. No civil or ecclesiastical authority can supercede this. Hence, some norms had to be drawn up to protect the identities of ALL penitents as well as the sins they confessed. THAT is the only secrecy involved. The secular press perverts the intent of the legislation and insinuates a conspiracy of secrecy. Are not court records of minor children SEALED so that identities cannot be revealed? Are not adoption papers kept confidential?  The document is NOT a recipe for omerta (Mafia code of silence) in the Church. Instead, it is a safeguard for the Seal of Confession.

Finally, those dissident Catholics who want to see the demise of priestly celibacy; who want to see female clergy; who want to allow same-sex marriages; who want to allow abortion and contraception, et al., are now using the mood and climate to stir up public disdain for the hierarchy and the Magisterium. The are abusing the abuse cases by using them for their own agenda. They are taking facts out of context and manipulating the conclusion so as to promote their own ideology. Since they had no ammunition to discredit then Cardinal Ratzinger and now Pope Benedict, they throw as much mud and filth as possible HOPING something will stick. But it shall not. Pope B16 is INNOCENT. He is also the Vicar of Christ for life. The so-called 'public-image' of the Catholic Church may not be as sparkling or as palatable to the world as before, but so what? DOING the right thing for the right reason is more important than APPEARANCES. Papa Ratzinger has ALWAYS acted with integrity, honesty, justice and out of love for God and Holy Mother Church. While some may disagree with some of his prudential judgments, HE is the Pope, they are not. He answers to GOD and not to the press, not to vox populi and never to opinion polls or to popularity.

As said before and before, again and again, often it is MIDDLE MANAGEMENT to blame. They buffer what information gets to the local bishop or to the Pope. Spin-doctors are not just found in secular politics but in the Church too. They do not belong, but they are there. Just as some of the Apostles argued among themselves who was the greatest, churchmen today sometimes concern themselves with vain concerns. The common good is better served when ALL diocesan officials and all the clergy and laity are on the same page and seek to know and do the will of God and the good of the Church. Personal needs must be superceded by the larger need of the common good. Recent popes have had that in mind, sadly, some under them and way down the ecclesiastical food-chain have other ideas.

In the meantime, PRAY FOR THE POPE.  He needs our support more than ever. And tell anyone who asks that the Church is not governed by the media or the public. She is the Bride of Christ and the Pope is the Vicar. ANYONE guilty of child abuse (be they a cleric or layperson; be they a priest or parent, sibling or relative, teacher or coach) should be punished but as always the ends never justifies the means. Therefore, we can never do evil no matter what good what come from it nor how much harm would be prevented. Thus, we must do right and encourge others to do likewise.


rpg3 said...

Spot on Father, spot on! Thank you for this beautiful and refreshingly intelligent piece, in comparison to some of the other nonsense that I have read, trying to discredit Pope Benedict. In these difficult times, I am drawn to those beautiful moments following his elevation to the Throne of St. Peter where His Holiness requested the prayers of the faithful, that he may not flee from the wolves. How touching were these words! Pope Benedict has proven himself, time and time again, to be truly a faithful and a good shepherd to the Mystical Body of Christ. Rest assured that the Holy Father and you, Fr. Trigilio, are/will be in my prayers. Incidentally, do have a most blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter Season!

Al said...

"abusing the abuse cases by using them for their own agenda" IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! They don't care about the victims, just using them to undermine 2000 yrs of Catholic Church teaching.

Just another mad Catholic said...

Dear Reverend Father

While I'd run a mile from anyone advocating same-sex 'marriage', contraception or woman clergy surely mooting the idea of ordaining married men does not a dissadent make?

I say this only because I recently attended a Eastern-rite Church where the priest is married with a family, Fr McCloud just seems so much happier compared to some of my latin-rite clergy friends, all of whom are fine priests but sometimes you can see the pain of regret in their eyes when they are around large 'faithful' Catholic families.

Surely Father I am not a dissident based simply on the fact that I think the Eastern discipline could in theory one day become the model for Latin-Rite clergy?

Padre Giovanni Trigilio said...

MEA CULPA, I should have been more specific. I MEANT to say, those who insist on eradicating mandatory celibacy in the Latin (Roman) Rite as opposed to the perennial and time-honored tradition of the Eastern and Byzantine Churches who have always had an option of married clergy (except the episcopacy). Western Rite dissidents claim celibacy is the cause of clergy sex abuse of children even though 85% of all cases are done by married men (laity), especially fathers, brothers, uncles, relatives, then neighbors, coaches, teachers, etc. Clergy are the smallest number but get the most press coverage, sadly, sometimes because of their serial nature.

Nonetheless, I respect and revere the Eastern tradition of the option of married priests while I respect and honor the Latin tradition of celibacy. Those Anglican and Lutheran clergy converts who get ordained as married men do not bother me, either. They are a great blessing to the Catholic Church

What annoys me are those dissident Catholics who maintain you can dissent from Humanae Vitae or Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. You cannot.

Anonymous said...

Just another mad Catholic,

Not for nothing, but do you want to know what your post reminded me of?

When the birth control pill started making the rounds among Catholics in the sixties, the oft heard reason for caving in to contraceptives was that the couples who used birth control were more kind and loving to each other and everyone else. Not like those stodgy baby machine families beset with stress and financial woes!

Sorry. But I don't recall in my 56 years seeing "pain" on the face of any priest for not having married. And the multitude who left in the sixties and seventies, the majortiy of them didn't know how unhappy they were until the psychologists, who were sent in to revamp them, told them. They had plenty of time in the seminary before ordination to realize the major step they were taking.


As for our Holy Father and the tiresome liberals calling for his resignation, this is news? Every few years they do the same thing. They called for John Paul II's resignation too. And as for the homosexual problem in the Church, this is news too?

I think that they are trying to, at long last, cause a formal split in the Roman Catholic Church.


Just another mad Catholic said...

Just to clarify

I am not trying to try and find an imaginative way around Humanae Vitae or Ordinatio Sacerdotalis as the dissidents do.

annoyamous - perhaps your priests are genuinely not bothered, there are some I know of from big families who have lots of brothers and sisters and lots of nephews/nieces. Most of the priests I know personally are from quite small families, there maybe lies the difference.

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