Skip to comments.Inside the Pandora’s Box
Posted on 01/31/2003 8:29:01 AM PST by NYer
It goes without saying that if priests had kept their vow of celibacy there would be no sexual-abuse scandal. But we still hear the claim, from Voice of the Faithful and others, that celi-bacy is somehow the fundamental cause of the crisis. How does such an obvious contradiction get so much attention in the media and take hold of the public mind?
To put it bluntly: The months of scandalous headlines have opened a Pandoras box of complaints from Catholic dissenters and anti-Catholics. The scandal has united the Churchs enemies within and without.
What makes fighting this formidable coalition so difficult is that it marches under the banner of democracy. Dissenters say the laity should be able to vote on priests in the parishes, bishops in the chanceries, and controversial Church teachings. Anti-Catholics say that sexual abusers are incubated in a hierarchical, authoritarian structure where there is no public accountability or scrutiny.
A recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times (December 6, 2002), written by philosopher Crispin Sartwell, put the common complaint this way: Many Catholics think that the problem of abuse can be solved by internal reform of the church. But the idea that the institutions of the church could be made transparent and accountable is incompatible with the basic structure of Catholicism, which is a hierarchya pantheon of intercessors, from priests to saintsempowered by God to interpret his will to the world.
Saying that democracy is the cure for corruption in the Church is almost as absurd as arguing that the elimination of celibacy will end sexual abuse. Since when did the election of political representatives ensure their virtue? How often have we seen an electorate willfully return a scoundrel to office?
Those of us who defend the Churchs teaching are not against democracy any more than those of us who defend unborn life are against choice. The key is in the distinctions that must be made when we use these words. Dissenters never start admitting distinctions because they know that the argument will be lost.
I experienced this firsthand when I went to Boston recently to meet with truly faithful Catholics who were united in their opposition to Voice of the Faithful. We first met at the 11 a.m. Mass at the cathedral led by Cardinal Law. There were protesters outside the cathedral, so I decided to listen to what they had to say. However, I was quickly recognized and a dispute appeared inevitable.
When some members of Voice of the Faithful accused me of misrepresenting them, I asked them to clarify what they really stood for. One spokesperson, Jan Leary, said all they wanted were three things: for bishops to report all allegations of sexual abuse to civil authorities; an assurance that the ten-year statute of limitations would not shield abusers; and total transparency of diocesan records regarding abusers.
I told her that we were in total agreement on these procedural matters. Why, I then asked her, if this is all you want, do I hear so many members of the VOTF challenging Church teaching? She seemed not to understand the distinction between procedure and doctrine, because she then accused me of not listening to her.
The distinction is a simple one, but crucial for Catholics in understanding the vocation of the laity. The expertise of laypersons is welcome in the Church, but it cannot undermine the authority of the bishops in matters of faith and morals. There is no doubt that lay expertise is badly needed in chanceries around the country at a time when bishops have made blunder after blunder both in management and public relations. Bishop Gregorys decision to create a National Review Board was an important step, both symbolically and substantially, toward bringing bishops closer to lay experts who have not been complicit in the bad decisions of the past. (Its regrettable that some bishops have taken umbrage at some of Governor Keatings commentsthe board is doing good work, and we need to move on.)
The Church is a mystical reality and a historical institution. As a historical institution, the Church needs the expertise of the laity. The sacred deposit of faith has been entrusted to our bishops; however, there will never be a day when Catholics vote on it. Priestly celibacy is the most visible reminder that the Catholic Church stills believes in a truth that is not subject to public opinion or the democratic process. No wonder its being attacked.
Why, I then asked her, if this is all you want, do I hear so many members of the VOTF challenging Church teaching?
But they don't really care about the crime anyway. For them, it's all about discrediting the Church because the Church says abortion and homosexuality are things to be avoided.
Egan in New York publicly and intentionally snubbed the Lay Review Board; he wouldn't say Mass for them, nor would he allow any of his auxiliaries to, either.
Egan's got skeletons, and he's scared to death of the other shoes that will drop in his direction.
What a childish, churlish man!
The foster care system anyone?
His predecessor, John Cardinal O'Connor was a true leader. His funeral was a slap in the face of many catholic politicians who support the pro-choice agenda.
Who appointed Egan as his replacement? Was it Law? And, if so, what jurisdiction does he have over NY?
In this case neither the pro-celibacy nor the pro-marriage proponents look to the Bible for guidance.
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
When the representatives of the Church (Paul and Silas) taught the Bereans, the Bereans looked to the scriptures for themselves to find out if the teaching was true. The scriptures were their ultimate guide, not the leaders of the Church. God called this "noble."
I thought the pope himself picked Egan and made him a cardinal to boot.
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