Them’s fighting words

Our old friend Advocatus Diaboli has been grumbling away, but I have managed to persuade him to keep quiet. I can’t do that forever, and it would be cowardly of us not to face up to his points. So I post his latest complaints below, for you to look at – and, I hope, to set him right. I have numbered them for reference.

I go, and then I come back. But it stays the same, doesn’t it. Ok, I don’t want to be boringly repetitive, but you really do try my patience.

1) Perhaps the oddest issue is the row about the incantations you use at your services. I don’t know why you wanted to alter them all, but you have. And the result is that half of you are in a tizzy about this word or that – as if it mattered a light in a world where people starve and kill each other on a daily basis. You should get real. And I see that one Catholic publisher has got the sales rights for all the new books that have to be produced. Creating an artificial monopoly is a real money-spinner for someone. But it has nothing to do with the justice you all talk about. Anyhow, shouldn’t your Church provide them free – on an exchange basis? It was they who demanded the change in the texts, why should you pay? I should think just one Raphael out of the Vatican would do it – with change to spare.

2) There’s an equally odd fuss about transport for getting your children to your special faith schools (those of you who don’t have Chelsea tractors, of course). If you choose to send them there, then you pay to get them there. The truly needy get help by law anyhow. We are living in times when everyone has to bite the bullet. Real wages are down, benefits are down, so council services are down. And the first council service to go should be the discriminatory subsidy for faith schools. And it should never come back.

3) I see your sex scandals go on and on. Now it’s a big Catholic school, an abbey. Your priests seem to think that faith education is best done in a bedroom, with trousers down. And don’t you run to close ranks before anyone finds out! Mustn’t have scandal, must we? Meanwhile, you continue your strange custom of not allowing your priests to get married. (Unless, of course they’re ex-heretics; you’ll break all the rules to poach.) So you’re either going to get applicants who are a bit odd about women in the first place, or discover later that they can’t keep their urges down – and they’re beautifully placed to satisfy them. All right, I know you tell them that they’re naughty boys. But you can’t get out of it that way – it’s the system, stupid. Not just bad apples but a bad barrel.

4) And one final thing that has happened since I wrote last. You may put up a good case for condoms not helping with epidemic Aids, but what have you done about married couples? If one is infected either you can say that it’s OK to use condoms for protection, or you can say that it’s much better to infect your partner than to wickedly protect them, or you can admit that you simply can’t make up your mind. As far as I can see, you daren’t say the first because of the publicity; you can’t say the second because it drives a coach and horses through your strange “natural law” principles; and you can’t say the third because that’s equivalent to saying that it’s OK, at least until you can think of a reason why it isn’t. I guess you’re hoping that with increased effective medicine it will all go away. Meanwhile a number of your all too faithful servants will have gone away to their graves. If this isn’t a dereliction of duty for an organisation which claims divine inspiration for its moral teaching, I’d like to know what is. (And don’t tell me that your Church is busting a gut providing medicines for the sick in Africa. Maybe they are, but how would that justify a single unnecessary death caused by fundamentalist moral teaching?)

Your friend Advocatus Diaboli

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Advocatus Diaboli, Bio-ethics, Church and Society, Moral judgment and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Them’s fighting words

  1. Iona says:

    Dear Advocatus Diaboli

    As regards your point no. 1 above, I am personally very much inclined to agree with you. I was ok with the old words, and I’m ok with the new words except that it’s a bit of a pain unlearning the old ones in order to learn the new ones. As for the new missal, I shan’t be buying one for a very long time, as I take “Magnificat” and all the prayers and the readings are in that, – all it takes is a couple of bookmarks inserted before Mass.

    • Horace says:

      Unlike Advocatus Diaboli I do think that the liturgy is important.
      In the ’50s my Protestant friends used to admire services in the Catholic Church for their reverence, organisation and beauty.
      A little while ago I attended a memorial service for a neighbour in an Anglican church and was struck by the fact that this surpassed similar services in our own church in precisely these same features.
      The new revised translation will not restore our liturgy but is a step in the right direction. At least instances where the vernacular version was clearly what the writers thought we should to say, and not what the Latin actually said, seem largely to have been eliminated.
      The most egregious example was, perhaps, the translation of ‘Dignum et justum est.’ as ‘It is right to give him thanks and praise.’ – – at a meeting a few years ago when we discussed this point, I suggested that a really up-to-date and “modern” translation might be ‘That’s cool man!’ which at least conveys the original meaning; but, of course, nobody took me seriously!

  2. Iona says:

    Dear Advocatus Diaboli

    As regards your point 2 above, again I am rather inclined to agree with you about expenditure, but feel strongly that it’s unfair that the Chelsea Tractor brigade can get their children wherever they want them, whereas some families who can’t afford more than a few second-hand bicycles may be obliged to take their children out of the faith school of their choice and which reflects their religious beliefs and practice. Now maybe that’s what the Vatican should sell its Raphael for.

  3. Iona says:

    Point 3 – oh, come on, Advocatus Diaboli. Celibacy doesn’t drive men to abuse children. The vast majority of men who abuse children sexually are – if not actually married – in a position to engage in sexual activity with consenting adults; and indeed, often are actually doing so, in addition to what they are doing to children. Christian churches which are happy for their pastors to marry, as well as non-Christian religious groups, not to mention non-religious categories such as teachers, social workers and police officers, have higher rates of child abuse than among celibate Catholic clergy.

    (I must admit I haven’t actually researched this myself. I’m going by figures I have seen quoted in various publications over the last year or three)

    • Quentin says:

      Advocatus Diaboli says,
      I fear that I let this slip by, disarmed by your infuriating politeness. But I really can’t allow myself to let you get away with the “everyone else is doing it” excuse. Your Church has made so much of its condemnation of sexuality, and swanked so much of its holiness that I can’t avoid your own expression: whited wall.
      Why don’t you look up the Telegraph of 17 December. You’ll find a report on sexual abuse in the Dutch Catholic Church. Apparently one in five children in Catholic institutions were abused. It goes on:
      “Children in Church organizations were twice as likely as non Catholics to be exposed to abuse and the mild severe or very severe sexual behaviour was covered up by senior clergy.”
      The fact is that sexual abuse has been institutionalised in the Catholic Church, and at every level, every bit as much and more as racial abuse was institutionalised by the police.
      Just tell me how much more do your holy and trusted-by-everyone priests and bishops have to do before you accept that the Church has lost its claim to holiness and is rotten to the core?
      If you don’t believe that having a clergy of normally married men (with their own children vulnerable to abuse by their priest neighbour) wouldn’t change attitudes towards sexuality in a healthier direction, then I wonder what evidence would convince you.

      • Horace says:

        I think that my mother’s reply to this question [Why should priests not be married?] might appeal to you {Advocatus Diaboli}.
        “We have enough trouble needing to support our Parish Priest with weekly donations without having to support a wife and several children as well!”

      • st.joseph says:

        Advocatis Diaboli.

        You say that ‘our Church has made so much of its condemnation of sexuality, and swanked so much of its holiness’.
        I agree with you there. And isn’t it wonderful that it does.
        The great pity is that there is so much sin in the world or I ought to say in humans even priests,believe it or not.
        It shows how naive you are in thinking that priests are imunefrom sinning.Or do you believe that all priests are child abusers? And that there is no-one holy in the Church.

      • Iona says:

        The information that has recently come out about the abuse of children within Dutch institutions is indeed appalling (I did not read of it until after my post above, by the way).

        But the fact remains that marriage – or, ready accessibility of sexual relations with a consenting adult within marriage or outside it – does not reduce the likelihood of child abuse. This being so, ending the celibacy rule for Catholic clergy is not especially likely to redirect any potential child abusers among them into more acceptable sexual pathways.

        In a case known to me directly (and which made the headlines in national newspapers at the time), a vicar with a wife and five children was found to be in possession of a huge amount of child pornography. His wife even knew about it.

  4. Iona says:

    Dear Advocatus Diaboli,

    I’ll grant you Point 4. Personally I feel it’s more important to ensure that the infection isn’t passed on. I suppose the ideal solution from the Church’s point of view would be total abstinence.
    But are we sure that using a condom WILL prevent infection? – After all, condoms have a failure rate in preventing conception, even though a woman is only fertile for a few days each month; so surely they must have a failure rate in preventing the HI virus being passed on, especally given that the infectious agent is presumably active all the time.

    • Quentin says:

      Advocatus Diaboli says:
      I think Catholics have a paranoia about condoms. the question is not: are condoms infallible? but: are they substantially better than nothing? To which the answer is: Yes, in spades
      I see that your st.Joseph is on about chastity yet again in the corks and bucket thing. I just think I’ll pop over and ask him/her a question or two.

  5. st.joseph says:

    Dear Advocatus Diaboli.
    No 1.I like the new Text an improvement . It is a long term expenditure and will last for all time.

    No 2. I didn’t go to a Catholic School only for 5 years-and the Nuns would stand me in the front of the class and show me up saying to the others ‘ that I had come from a heathen country England and she knows more than you ‘lot’ who have been here in Ireland. It made me embaressed and then I shut up! It was all down to my grandmother!
    My children didn’t go to a catholic school at all.
    My grandchildren did and 3 still do, that cost my daughter on bus passes, but then she could afford it But I will remark on the parents who do have their children Baptised so that they can go.
    I must be honest and say that parents have the first responsibility to teach them the faith, and to check on their religious instructions!.
    My grand-daughter at 11 when going to secondary school was baffled with IVF for her homework-need I say more! My son then became a Foundation Governor at her school.
    No 3. Priests who abused children would have abused anyway. Presumedley they thought there would be more opportunity in the church and safer. If they were married their children would be at risk and if the were homosexual they would be amongst some likeness to their sexuality.
    Read ‘Good Bye Good Men
    No 4. I think the same as Iona.

  6. Rahner says:

    Advocatus Diaboli, Your views seem to me to be rather uncontroversial – but then I would say that wouldn’t I?

  7. mike Horsnall says:

    Dear AB,
    Enough of this boring old nonsense, can you or anyone explain what Mass (in physics not theology) is? I’ve been trying to figure it out for years and can’t quite get my head around it.. If you do have the lineage of your name then I’m sure you have been long enough around to explain things to a layman that would be great as then I might understand what the Hicks Bosun field is and might be able to draw one or two far fetched theological conclusions from concerning it.

  8. Quentin says:

    Advocatus Diaboli writes

    Thank you Mike. You have asked a question which is beyond my competence because it is a very specialist field. But I will say a couple of things. First of all you must learn to spell boson correctly, othgerwise people will think that it’s an old sailor who goes round blowing on a high pitched pipe. Next, bear in mind that Niels Bohr said that anyone who understood quantum physics must have got it wrong. It’s stranger than we can imagine.

    Baiscally the boson is a missing item in the equation in the standard model of particle physics. It’s needed because without it we don’t seem to be able to account at the nuclear level for the mass which should be present. If it’s not there either the standard model is wrong, or equation must be abndoned or solved in some other way – as yet unknown. But the theories tell us that the boson will not be detected because it breaks down immediately. So we can only find its action indirectly through the relics of its decay.

    You can see how important the answer might be because the physicists search for the “theory of everything”, that is, a theory which links sub atomic particles and the gravity which Newton described. The boson is sub atomic but it has mass (required by gravity) so you can see how important its discovery could be as a further step.

    • Horace says:

      The following quote may be of interest:-
      From Alister McGrath; Professor of Theology at King’s College London, and President of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.
      “Some tell us that science is about what can be proved. The wise tell us it is really about offering the best explanations of what we see, realising that these explanations often cannot be proved, and may sometimes lie beyond proof. Science often proposes the existence of invisible (and often undetectable) entities – such as dark matter – to explain what can be seen. The reason why the Higgs boson is taken so seriously in science is not because its existence has been proved, but because it makes so much sense of observations that its existence seems assured. In other words, its power to explain is seen as an indicator of its truth.”

  9. mike Horsnall says:

    Thanks AD,
    I have it figured out now. Mass is a function of the number and density of atoms. Force is the resultant of mass and acceleration. As far as I understand it weight is the atraction of gravity acting on a substance. I still havent quite figured out gravity. The reason I am interested in the whicks dosun particle is that I like the idea of there being a field that defines everything and gives it form…we would use Logos I guess. I am a great fan of the intense strangeness of things by the way. Teilhard de Chardin is a great favourite of mine though his theories can get a little fascist if taken too literally. By the way, do you know when the world will end?

  10. mike Horsnall says:

    Horace,
    Thanks for that great quote. I have a few books by Mc Grath, he is an excellent writer. The thought that something exists which we cannot see but explains everything reflects Paul writing on creation all those thousands of years ago; I’m becoming a great fan of this Wicks Blosun thing.

  11. Ion Zone says:

    1) We aren’t in a tizzy because the wording is different, we are in a tizzy because it is now pretty clunky. And this is the first time in forty or fifty years that the wording has changed, and you don’t really need to buy a new book. I haven’t. And even if you did it is doubtless that more publishers will pick it up as time passes. The changes happened barely a couple of months ago and the publishing industry can often take a year or more to put out a book (and generally want a monopoly when they do….). Compare that to other things that you actually have to buy different versions of the same book for. Such as D&D, which is currently in its Nth update (there have been way more than four editions, let me tell you!). This is not a big deal.

    2) Faith schools DO NOT GET A SUBSIDY. They get the exact same amount of money as every other school, however they do get given extra funds by the church. Faith schools provide a high quality of education that embarrasses state schools and they provide a valuable education. they should be the norm, if anything. Read this: http://www.cesew.org.uk/standard.asp?id=6104

    3) We are talking about a few bad apples. Granted the Church handled the scandal badly, but the papers have made it out to be far worse than it actually is. This is exactly the same thing that happened in the secular homes a few years before, people just didn’t have such a big target to blame for it. According to the American Ministry of Health and Welfare, 83.3 percent of abusers are the child’s parents, and 87.2 percent of child abuse occurs in the home. Children are far more likely to be abused in school by a teacher than anywhere by a priest. It is not helpful for you to overstate the severity of this problem and make it into a major argument against Christianity. Especially as Christian ethics are the very thing that condemn Child abuse in the first place. Pedistry in places such as pre-Christian Greece was seen as being good and desirable – think about that.

    4) The first part of this is a fine point. I would say it is up to the couple. The Church says they are Ok for gay prostitutes. This is a genuine moral question and it needs a lot of though, especially since the papers will simply ignore everything that is said apart from the Pope declaring condoms to be 0k, and launch into mockery mode. Can you really blame them for not wanting to be hasty over a declaration on this?

    And yes, the Church is providing medicine to Africa – over half its total medical care, in fact. Including help for people suffering from AIDs (including gays) and advice that involves an actual on-the-ground understanding of Africa’s climate and culture – a place where rape is extremely prevalent and the sun cooks condoms in their wrappers.

    A little research (lifestyles . com – condom facts) indicates that even the constant body heat from keeping them in your wallet is enough to degrade them to uselessness in short order. they recommend that, ideally, you store them just *bellow* room temperature. Oh dear.

    • Iona says:

      Ion Zone, I don’t think the Church has exactly said condoms are ok for gay prostitutes. I think the Pope has said that the use of a condom by a HIV+ male prostitute in order to reduce the risk of infecting his customers is an indication that he is moving towards a more responsible and charitable outlook than previously when he did not use a condom.

      • Quentin says:

        I have said this before — but no one takes any notice. So I will try once more. The condemnation of contraceptive use by the Church appears in Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae and the Catechism. In all cases it refers only to married couples — and it is on the nature of sexuality in marriage alone that it is based.

        The Church has no comment to make on the use of contraceptives in acts which are themselves unlawful. Why should it have? It might just as well issue an edict on condoms being used as decorative balloons. Those who partake in unlawful acts must decide whether or not they have an obligation to protect themselves and their partners against conception or disease. That’s a no brainer to anyone who isn’t a moral imbecile. Indeed the remark to which Iona refers indicates that the Pope regards taking precautions in such cases as a positive step.

        (None of this affects the wrongness of contraceptive measures which are potentially abortifacient, which st.joseph has had reason to point out to us.)

  12. Quentin says:

    Advocatus Diaboli says,
    Let me pass over your inability to read what I have said about the provision of school transport to faith schools and your failure to mention that the issue of marital Aids is no longer under consideration by the Vatican, and move straight on to your frankly shocking comments on child abuse.

    Catholic children have traditionally been brought up to regard a priest as an alter Christus – someone to be revered, someone who has the authority to speak in the place of God. Suffer little children – yes little children suffer from a lifetime of betrayal. Who was Christ hardest on? Not the tarts and the bankers, but the Pharisees – the whited sepulchres filthy within. And he was hard because they held themselves out to be the pious religious leaders. Yet all you can say is, “O there are other people just as bad.” You really don’t understand do you?

    And the guilty priests are far from the worst of it. Inadequate personalities, with their sexuality unresolved, placed a in a lonely position of unchallengeable authority tend to become delinquent. But the same cannot be said for the Church authorities who were quite prepared to risk endless further abuse in order to protect their tails. If I charitably assume that their sympathy was not founded in a similar propensity to their evil priests, they were still culpably irresponsible. Would you hand over the care of your bank account to a repeat fraudster? I think not. Yet again and again this was allowed, except that it was not the authorities who were put at risk, only the Catholic children – who really didn’t count when measured against God’s Anointed and the preservation of the Church’s sullied name.

    If you should think that I make up the evidence, then look up the Dutch Deetman Report just published. I give you a couple of quotes to savour.

    “Children involved in Church organisations were twice as likely as non-Catholics to be exposed to abuse and the ‘mild, severe or very severe sexual behaviour” was covered up by senior clergy’… The Deetman report estimated that one in five children in Catholic school institutions between 1945 and 1985 suffered abuse, twice the average level in the general Dutch population.”

    As long as Catholics like you are prepared to overlook and excuse an ecclesiastical structure corrupt right up to its gills, people like me will think it right to remind you. And I expect good Catholics and the good clergy (all of whom have been betrayed) to support me.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Yes,
      Can’t see a huge amount of ‘charity’ here AD ..or for that matter a huge amount of much beyond your clear pleasure in self righteous moralising. Have you any idea how many ‘church authorities’ are involved or what proportion of the whole they represent? Has it ever occurred to you that the ‘cover ups’ you relish in were misguided attempts at rehabilitating something which was then thought curable or at least capable of being chemically ameliorated? You perhaps have noticed the chiefly historical nature of this sad chapter in the life of the church and that the incidence overall of such abuse has by now dramatically fallen-yet you cannot let it go can you? You cannot let it go because you enjoy your self righteous indignation don’t you? Your blanket condemnations flow from a hardened nature and you are right; people like you will always harp on about such things as righteous anger and whitened sepulchres-principally because it makes you
      feel good about yourselves doesn’t it? Sorry friend it won’t wash, go away.

  13. st.joseph says:

    Advocatus Diaboli.
    To add to my comment above (19th_
    Would you suggest that single men were not allowed to be ordained-and also keep single men away from all children in society as they will put them in danger of being abused.
    When the Church cleans up child abusers do you think that it will end there.
    What will end is ‘that they will stop child abuse every where when attention has turned away from the Church.
    The way I see it is that the Church is suffering now ,so that everywhere will be exposed in the end.
    It is easy to turn our attention away from the abuse of children in other areas especially abortion whilst condemning the Church. But if thats what it takes so be it.
    Hopefully a new creation will come from this ,and the world will begin to look at sexuality the way the Church does teach!
    I mention Chastity ‘again as it seemed to bother you. And in case you dont understand what it means, it isn’t celibacy or marriage. It is being ‘pure of heart’

  14. Ian Cairns says:

    Yes AD, good Catholics and good clergy have been betrayed and we do support much of what you say.The Church as an institution has lost the moral high ground. Our problem is how do we regain what we have lost. What do you think? I think it should be through prayer and self-denial on a massive scale. The life style of the hierarchy should be frugal and seen to be frugal. We need to accept criticism in a humble and contrite manner. No doubt you would prefer the whole Church to be dismantled but where would your raison-etre be without us?

    Geordie.

    • Rahner says:

      “The Church as an institution has lost the moral high ground. Our problem is how do we regain what we have lost. What do you think? I think it should be through prayer and self-denial on a massive scale.”
      The Vatican is operating with what is basically a 19 century ecclesiology. What is needed is a reform of the structure of the Church and of the roles in that structure from layperson to Pope so that the exercise of teaching and authority are appropriate for this century. Without this kind of reform no amount of piety will be effective.

  15. st.joseph says:

    Ian Cairns, I dont think I should accept criticism for the sins of others.
    Even priests!I will accept criticism for my own sins, but I wont make any apologies for the fact that I am a Catholic.

  16. claret says:

    There is an answer as to how to move forward on this issue of child abuse but the Church will not take it and that in itself is a continuation of a kind of abuse in that it still looks to protect itself rather than grasp the whole issue head on.
    Great strides have been made (eventually, and far to late in the day,) in putting in procedures to try and prevent child abuse in the future but the essential question is never asked much less answered. Viz: What is/was it about the structures of the catholic clergy that attracted paedophiles disproportinately to its ranks ?
    It needs a separate , non clerical , commission to answer this question and then make proposals as to what is needed to rectify the matter and for the Church to commit itself to faithfully implementing those proposals.
    What we have now is a sticking plaster on an ‘open wound’ and AD is quite right in that the Church cannot compare itself with anything else on this question of rampant child abuse by a significant number of its clergy followed by a policy of ‘cover up’ by those in a position to have done something about it. To attempt to somehow minimise the harm done by some kind of league table of abusers of which the Church is near the top but not quite there is a disgrace.
    Such a commission might well find that the whole issue of ‘priesthood’ is highly questionable. Much as it grieves me to write about it a significant number of priests somehow see themselves as being so different from the rest of society that they do not have to conform to society’s ‘norms’ of behaviour. They are encouraged in this highlty suspect view of themselves as ‘special’ by the Bishops who are themselves priests.
    I say this an an ordained man.

  17. Rahner says:

    Maybe you would like to be nominated as Pope!!
    I think I’d make a pretty good job of it. The first thing I would do would be to re-write the useless CCC.

    • st.joseph says:

      Rahner, I hope you realise you are bordering on heresy!Or maybe even a heretic ,as that is what the Dictionary calls an’opinion contrary to doctrine of Christian Church , or to accepted Doctrine on any subject,!!
      I would love to read your ‘new’ CCC.
      Perhaps you will give me a taste of it, although I have tasted it already!!.
      My mother had a saying and it would fit you it is ‘Flying in Gods Face’.
      I would be careful, He may clip your wings!!

    • Quentin says:

      No such luck, Rahner — I’m next up for the job, and I guess that I’m older than you so you can take over from me and clean up my mess. I have rehearsed my first press conference (the bit after I say how unworthy I am etc) and I don’t want to waste it

  18. mike Horsnall says:

    Well chaps I hate to say it but I’ve just come in from walking on the water…..Claret, what is an ‘ordained man’?

  19. mike Horsnall says:

    Yes St Joseph you are probably right I just wanted to get to the bottom of the phrase to see what it meant coming from Claret himself. Anglicans use the phrase a lot you see so I was-and still am curious as to whether Claret is a catholic deacon, Anglican Vicar, presbyterien churchwarden or whatever species he may be.

  20. Quentin says:

    Advocatus Diaboli writes,

    With reference to your contribution of December 19, above.

    Yes I am going away, Mike, but not because of you. I imagine that your diatribe is pretty much what the Pharisees must have said when Christ’s remarks were reported to them.

    Of course what I am referring to is historical; I can only report in the past tense. But it’s not so far in the past is it? Ealing Abbey and its shocking history was made public roughly in the last month. The condemnatory report on the Dutch clergy was only published during the last week. But I will admit that I could find nothing in the papers this morning, so perhaps we should all forgive and forget – it was all too long ago.

    You see, you miss the point completely. What you should be asking yourself is what characteristics, culture, custom etc could have allowed such a terrible episode to happen? And are the culpable elements still present – possibly muted because of the scandal, or because of the lawyers? Cultures do not change overnight and a corrupt system – in this case a medieval approach to an authority of domination rather than an authority of love – is hydra headed. Unless you can see this and become, at least to the degree open to you, an agent of change, you become part of the problem.

    No, I am not hardened, nor do I hope for the dismantling of the Catholic Church, and I am sorry that this should have been rashly assumed. But I would like to see a Catholic Church recognise the extent to which it has diverged from its Founder, and to get working in order to live up to its calling.

    I go because I have said what I needed to say, and because some of you at least were prepared to listen. Doubtless I shall come back – if Quentin allows me.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      No AD its not the pharisee in me at all. What makes you think all of these questions have not been asked already, what makes you think that there has not been much rending of the heart. As to what has allowed it well the answer is sin quite simply-and as far as I can gather most of those culpable are either in prison, defrocked or dead. Give me some simple firm precise evidence that you personally have that is not already in the public domain- some extra grubby little secret perhaps- that justifies your persistent glorying in this sad subject and then magnifying it out of all proportion with your foolish demands…away with you hypocrite!!

    • Rahner says:

      AD, Come back soon!

  21. st.joseph says:

    Advocatus Diaboli.
    May I ask you one question before you go or maybe tw0.

    1st. Are you a member of the R.C. Church.?
    2nd.You seem to know all the problems surrounding child abuse-so what in ‘your’ opinion ought we be doing as a Church-both hierarchy and laity.?

    Ian Cairns had the answer in his comment- prayer- Rosary as Our Lady asked for. Maybe not only from the laity,as I believe they do their share of prayer, but the hierarchy.
    The thing that puzzles me is- how can a priest who Celebrates Holy Mass ,can then abuse a child.
    They must be ill.
    It may seem as though we are making excuses for our priests as you may think in your comment and dont take it seriously, and where you say that we revere the priest-yes maybe we revere his priesthood but not the man!

  22. Geordie says:

    Pardon my ignorance but could someone tell me what CCC stands for. I like to know what needs to be re-written. Tank you in advance

  23. Geordie says:

    Correction: Thank you

  24. claret says:

    I am an ordained Minister of the Roman Catholic Church and in good standing with it. I am what is sometimes termed a ‘late vocation’ and therefore have the benefit of comparing what i see now with what i saw in the secular world of work and that is why I am often appalled by what I see.
    Of course I only witness the smallest of fractions of Catholic Ministry and I do not doubt that as always with these things we know that the vast majority of Ministers are doing a good job in difficult circumstances.
    However let me give a few examples of the errors of whcih I am talking of in very general terms, many of which appear on this blog:

    1. A few bad apples. Not so. Quentin has pointed to the situation in Ireland and Belgium where is it is described as ‘institutional.’ There are many other examples.

    2. Most sexual abuse is worse in the home etc. Here we are not comparing ‘like with like.’ The Church should be a beacon of light and hope for everyone and in particular children and especially those in its care. Many families are sadly dysfuctional and we have had the privilege of being called upon to help children of such families and yet in many cases have lamentably failed to do so and if anything have made those situations even worse.

    3. We are no worse than other denominations etc. There is no comfort in not being top of some kind of perverse league table of offenders. However when a story breaks in the media of some clerical abuser what denomination is the first to come to mind?

    4. It is an historical case. Sadly this is trotted out by Bishops as though it is some kind of mitigation. The victims of these historical cases are not some old dusty files on a shelf somewhere but real victims of appalling abuse.

    5. Pre-judging outcomes of investigations. Much better to wait for the conclusion than speculate on the outcome.

    6. Over emphasis on false accusations. False accusations are devesatating to those involved but are still miniscule in mumbers to the overall picture.

    Lay people have been badly let down. The Catholic Church that does so much good in the world will be forever tainted with the knowledge of what has been prepetrated to inummerable victims. Hiding our heads in the sand and ‘moving on’ as one blogger on here as said is not a choice to make. How can the Church ‘move on’ when on an amost daily basis further revelations come to public knowledge.

    This is my last blog on here. I see even in some of the comments made that there is a disturbing ‘head in the sand’ attitude. ‘Shoot the messenger.’ and ‘turn a blind eye’ etc.
    A great hurt has been done to the longest surviving institution in the world founded by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ There is a lamentable lack of will to identify why this has occurred, why it continued unchecked and of how it can be put right.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      You’ve dodged it and I’m still curious to know, are you Deacon,Priest or Bishop?

      How do you know that all this continues ‘unchecked’ If we take the situation in Ireland for example -which is I agree clearly an institutionalised evil-then from what I can see there are steps afoot both from church and state to wrestle with the strange state of clericalism that seems so much part of Irelands sorry history. I don’t really understand what a ‘head in the sand’ attitude can be right now with lawyers politicians and media all over the issues like ants. Are you saying that the church has made no moves in the direction of improving its vigilance towards recruitment or has made no attempt at all to clean out its stables and if so where is your proof of that? Fine to wring your hands on a blog but tell us precisely and exactly what steps should be taken that are not right now under way?

    • Horace says:

      When I was a medical student in Ireland around 1950 I knew an elderly gentleman – a good ‘quiet’ catholic, Mass every Sunday, Holy Communion once or twice a year after Confession. He was a carpenter by trade (master cabinet maker in fact) a good father to his family, enjoyed a glass of Guinness in the evening, followed the badger hounds up the river at weekends.

      I particularly remember that if anyone tried to criticise a priest in his presence he would say “We must remember that priests are human beings just like us.”

      It was only many years after his death that I learnt that his father had deserted his mother shortly after his birth. He had been brought up in an orphanage from the age of three and had learnt his trade in the associated industrial school.

      You may imagine my surprise when I discovered that the institution where he had been raised and learnt his trade was one of those particularly castigated in the Ryan Report!

  25. Horace says:

    st.joseph – my point was rather that we don’t always see the good in institutions!

  26. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Horace.Yes I understand that,
    Just making another point.
    People do have good points, but often it goes unnoticed.We so often look at their failures and fail to bring out the good in them. Write them off so to speak if they dont live up to our expectations.
    A comment I may have made before- But when my daughter was about 5 and I was meeting her from school. There was a very large family I believe about 15 and one little boy from that family was wearing no shoes, running home in the wet.
    As he passed us by I said to him -‘Your feet must cold’. My daughter indignantly said to me ‘Dont speak to him Mummy, he lives up the maisonnettes (a very rough area could -never get anything on Credit if one lived there). I was appalled at her attitude and she learned a lesson after that and is a very kind person now.Incidentally all the children in that family proved people wrong in the years to come!

  27. mike Horsnall says:

    I have a similar story of a similar kind of man-brought up in a Brothers orphanage in Ireland-knew some of the complainants. That kind and dedicated man is now a retired priest.

  28. Iona says:

    Claret – if you’re still with us –

    re your point 3 in your long post above: you say “what denomination is the first to come to mind” if a new example of abuse is reported, – obviously expecting the answer “RC” – but isn’t this because abuse in the Catholic Church is over-reported compared to abuse in other churches, not because it happens more?

    and your point 6 – “false accusations are miniscule” – Are you sure? How do you know? Where are you getting your statistics from? False accusations against teachers by schoolchildren are extremely prevalent.

    And, Advocatus Diaboli – go if you must, but come back soon. You are the catfish in the tankful of cod (will explain the reference if you haven’t seen the film).

  29. Iona says:

    Possibly it’s neither here nor there, but:
    when I was being “instructed” (which was in the early 1980s) the subject came up of who could or could not be permitted to take communion. My mother – unbaptised and with no religious beliefs – was working for the YWCA, and had attended a YWCA conference in Holland hosted by the Catholic church there. A priest had celebrated Mass, and invited everyone, believers or not, baptised or not, to take communion. So my mother took communion.
    The priest instructing me made a comment to the effect that the Dutch Catholic church was a law unto itself and did just what it felt like, regardless of rules or practice in the Church as a whole.

  30. st.joseph says:

    Claret.
    I sense your -if I maybe so bold as to call it despair in your last comment.
    I have given it a lot of thought and I was reluctant to make a comment.
    Neverthless I will.
    We all at times feel despair when the Hierarchy do not live up to our expectations.
    You in your vocation as a priest, me in my vocation as a lay catholic, when we are disappointed and feel we have been ‘sold ‘out-for want of a better word.
    We all do our best and try to live up to the expectation that the Lord wants for us all.
    But once we give in to despair I believe we are falling into the trap that Satan sets for us all.
    It may look as though he is winning at the moment, and given enough rope, he like Judas will hang himself in the end!
    I think often of Jesus’s words ‘I will be with you until the end of time. I find consolation in that.
    I am sorry you will not be commenting anymore on the blog, as I have taken great comfort from your comments and knowing you will put the situation right at least myself when in doubt.

  31. Quentin says:

    As we come to a gradual end of our consideration of these issues – and indeed we have a new column to think about from this afternoon, it may be helpful if I write just a few words.

    I generally call on Advocatus Diaboli when I think it may be useful for us to examine what the world thinks of us. He is very conscious that the role of Advocatus Diaboli requires him to make the strongest case that he can (just as used to be the so in the process of canonisation when the claims for the candidate had to be tested to the full). And he really does his homework.

    Have we learned from him? You may or may not think so.

    First, in the matter of transport for faith schools, we saw the danger of reacting automatically without listening to what our critic is saying. The issue was the subsidy of providing transport, not of providing faith schools. Showing people that we have understood the point they are making is always the first stage in getting them to look at things differently. There is a perfectly good counter to AD’s remarks here, but it never appeared.

    Second, someone attempted to deal with the marital aids and condoms issue, but unfortunately knew less about it than AD. An obvious lesson here.

    In the matter of child abuse, AD made it clear that he regarded this in the light of a serious symptom, rather than an issue in itself. He wanted to know whether this alarming episode was just one of those things – now old history best not raked over. Or whether fundamental change was needed to look at the way the Church exercised authority, and how much was the result of the superbium of the hierarchy. Some of you grasped this point, others seemed to have allowed defensiveness to get in the way. Unfortunately defensiveness at different levels in the Church may be exactly what will stop things being put right.

    So I would like to think that we all learned something. And AD knows that I think that we have.

  32. mike Horsnall says:

    Happy Christmas all, I’m off on sabbatical for awhile.

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