How far can you go?

It is many years since I first read David Lodge’s book How Far Can You Go? But re-reading it this month took me back to the 1950s and 1960s when I – like many others – was struggling with the issues which faced young and impoverished Catholic married couples. It was uncannily vivid and uncannily present to me as the old forgotten scars began to itch. The characters, in Lodge’s account, eventually came to some sort of terms by concluding that Hell did not exist. But that seemed to me to be a dangerous assumption.

The word which comes to mind is legalistic. The Catholic life seemed to depend on a switch: pressed one way – and you were en route for Heaven: pressed the other way and you were en route for Hell. While around this central notion there were ideas of holiness and virtue, these were negligible compared to the position of the switch.

For the sake of respectability we often argued in terms of missing Mass on Sunday, the inflamed area was of course sexuality – how far can you go? Not only were the temptations strong but the whole range of sexuality was the territory of intrinsic evil. From the immodest thoughts wilfully entertained through to, say, bestiality it was mortal sin all the way. Addressing some old school friends from Beaumont at a dinner a few years back, I told them that I had not so much entertained immodest thoughts as invited them in for the weekend. The burst of laughter told me that I was not alone.

Thankfully it wasn’t until later that I read Aquinas on the subject, and found that any “unnatural” interference with the sexual act was more reprehensible than adultery, seduction and rape. Hard to believe, but here it is, ST II II 154 Art 12. Here, law clearly took precedence over love of neighbour.

The dangers of legalism are manifest. First, any kind of spiritual growth is stifled, and the practice of religion can turn into a wasteland of anxiety rather than invitation to joy. Next comes casuistry – the manifold ingenious ways in which one might avoid the letter of the law. I remember repeating to my wife a let out I had picked up on the grapevine – that if you punctured a condom with a pin you were still very safe but you could not be accused of arresting the seed. My wife laughed like a drain – she was a convert from the Church of Scotland via Anglicanism so she still had an intact conscience, darn it. Even the get-out of full knowledge and full consent was empty. We knew what was identified as mortal sin (everything in the sexual area), and we had free will – together with the promise that we always had sufficient grace to resist.

Perhaps worst of all was that the vocation of love and holiness turned into a vocation of survival.

Looking back from what I believe to be a much more intelligent and constructive form of Catholicism, I wonder how much of the old attitudes I retain beneath the surface. The ruling document is JPII’s Veritatis Splendor(1993), a very full document covering the span of moral theology. The easiest way to summarise its drift is: no change. He systematically condemns the various developments, or – as he might say – betrayals, which some moral theologians had been favouring. We are back with the law, back with intrinsic evil, back with damnation at the elbow. There is certainly a more benign approach and a deeper understanding of the weaknesses of human nature, but beneath the surface the same rocks and shoals remain.

I am by no means repudiating the concept of law in the sense that it marks the points in which an action or a choice, regarded objectively, transgresses the boundaries of love. But it is the nature of law to be hard edged while our vocation to be perfect is admirable but vague. It is the law which bites.

Lodge’s characters decided that Hell did not exist. A solution for them but not for me. The Church’s position is much as it ever was. The lists of sins remain the same. The gravity of sins remain the same. The conditions which rule the guilt of sins remain the same. The punishment for sin remains the same.

Am I alone in this? Was it different for those of later generations? Does guilt still loom in the mind? I would like to know.

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About Quentin

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

101 Responses to How far can you go?

  1. mike Horsnall says:

    Quentin, hate to say this but, after three readings, much of this stays opaque. Perhaps a couple of short sentences to say what it is, straightforwardly, you want to know?

    • Quentin says:

      Mike, I try not to be opaque, and I am sorry for any lack of clarity. Let me try again.

      David Lodge was illustrating a widespread situation in which young couples were lost in a jungle of legalism, and quite unable to match the sexual expression of their marriages to the demands of the Church. Being of that generation I identified with that. I regarded the effect as extremely damaging to their spiritual lives, and potentially to their relationships. The outcome of this for them, and perhaps for later generations, has been a broad abandonment of the Church’s moral teaching, and a largely unspoken rejection of the Church’s possible contribution to sexual morality.

      I wonder whether these later generations have escaped this sense of guilt by rejecting the Church’s solemn teaching on contraception as bunkum, and whether this has affected their relationship with the Church, if they indeed have continued to practise.

  2. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Guilt certainly does linger in the mind. Consider a situation: through weaknes or for whatever reason, I have reached a position in which I must either hurt someone else who is already very vulnerable, or hurt my conscience. I believe my conscience is the more resilient; any thoughts?

    • Viincent says:

      It does appear that sex is very prone to guilt and shame, and this is by no means confined to Catholics or religious believers. This may be because the damage potentially done by improper use of sex means that we have developed these inhibitions as a form of protection. The first instance was Adam and Eve’s shame at being naked – uncalled for since there was no one around to see!
      Meanwhile there is no doubt that the Church’s fear of sexuality over the ages has resulted in a very negative attitude. This was largely corrected by Vatican II, but old habits die hard. I think that the Church has much to answer for.

  3. Brian Hamill says:

    My answer to Quentin’s (and David Lodge’s) title-question is ‘As far as you (both of you in the case of sexual intercourse) are ready, willing and able to accept gracefully the consequences of your actions’. This is the area of adult responsibility. I used to inform my Sixth Formers that if they got their girl friends pregnant, it was the girl, not they, who had to choose one of three rather negative ways forward: first, abortion, which would have unknowable but probably disastrous consequences for both her physical and mental well-being, and, according to her Faith, spiritual also; secondly, having the baby and giving it up for adoption – heartbreaking at the very least; and finally, having the baby and looking after it, which will affect her life in a thousand ways, many of them negatively. They sat there in total astonishment since it had not been put to them like that before and many came up to me afterwards and thanked me.

  4. John Candido says:

    The Church has quite a nerve asking for sexual conformity; something that it appears cannot be assumed on some members of the clergy given newspaper headlines regarding sexual abuse. To compound matters the Church, in the immediate past expected and encouraged unquestioning conformity, rigour, legalism, and that unfortunate coupling of scrupulosity and guilt. It is a rather sad set of circumstances; what!

    It gives me no joy to say that the Roman Catholic Church has completely lost all credibility on the issue of sexual morality. If it is to recover any shred of social respect, it must commission an international forum of theologians, sociologists, psychologists, sexologists, geneticists, medical authorities, etc., in order to re-examine our near constant teaching on sexual issues, with the hope of a new Christian sexual ethic.

    One issue that I have in mind is to critically examine the historical doctrinal role that St. Augustine had in combining elements of Manichaeism, the Greek philosophical dualism of Socrates, et al, and using the creation story with its emphasis on original sin, to form a wholly negative view of sexuality. I hold the view that St. Augustine has a lot to answer for on the issue of our sexual doctrine. I suggest that St. Augustine should be considered the doctrinal progenitor of the global clerical sexual abuse scandal, currently consuming the Catholic Church.

    • Mike Horsnall says:

      “..I suggest that St. Augustine should be considered the doctrinal progenitor of the global clerical sexual abuse scandal, currently consuming the Catholic Church….”

      Perjaps we should arrest him then…….goodness John, what next?

    • twr57 says:

      One thing you can’t accuse St Augustine of is lacking sexual experience. Are you hoping that after the rethink the Church will support same-sex marriage, John?

      • John Candido says:

        I don’t think that anyone should hold their breath regarding any future international theological commission, which will critically examine the Church’s doctrine on sexual morality. The authority to do so can only come from Pope Benedict XVI, who is not exactly renowned for initiating a quick response to the global sexual abuse scandal. In fact, if one were to examine the unvarnished specific role Cardinal Ratzinger played as head of the CDF, and the specific role of Pope John Paul II during the eruption of the crisis worldwide, it would leave a rather bad taste in one’s mouth.

        As to what I would hope for in any future international theological commission; it is not something that I have any control over. Any proposed commission should be absolutely free to arrive at any set of conclusions that they see fit, as well as publishing the inevitable conclusions of those who disagree with any findings. Both the final report and any dissenting conclusions should be published in several languages and promptly placed on the Vatican website for all members of the Church to examine. Secret reports have a habit of disappearing.

        If the commission were composed of equal numbers of conservative, moderate, and liberal theologians, a plethora of married and single lay people who can convey their experiences of married and single life, and qualified scientists who have expertise in sexuality, medicine, genetics, psychology, sociology, etc., I will be happy enough. Doing nothing will doom our Church to further ignominy and decay. Are you suggesting that the Church should bury its head in the sand and do nothing?

      • Quentin says:

        We do of course have a near precedent — at least with regard to one issue. That was the Papal Commission on contraception. There were high ecclesiasts, top moral theologians, and even an expert married couple. Most of those who attended started with the view that the traditional doctrine should be maintained. But, by the time they finished, the recommendation, by a large majority, was that the traditional doctrine should change. However the Pope, after being lobbied by the minority theologians, simply refused to budge. The primary reason appears to have been that they could not alter such a long tradition of teaching.

        You probably remember the detail but, if not, search Stop Press on this site, and go down to the relevant article.

  5. claret says:

    I agree with John Candido that the Church has lost all credence of authority in its teachings on sexuality in view of the abuse scandals that have rocked the Church and will remain as a legacy for centuries to come in much the same way as the Inquisiton has.
    Indeed on Question Time last night the words’Catholic’ and ‘sexual abuse of children’ were linked by two of the panellists when it was not even relevant to the question posed but the question did allow them to introduce yet again in public, and on TV, the horrors of clergy sexual abuse of children in the care of the Catholic Church.
    For all Catholics it places in context the nature of sexual sin when abuse was allowed to continue ( perhaps unwittingly in some cases,) by clergy guilty of mortal sins , and, of course crimes against the State.

  6. John Robinson says:

    Dear Quentin,
    I share your anxieties on this subject. Celibacy is a true and valuable vocation, but, I think, a rare one; too difficult for many men who want to be priests or religious (for one reason or another), and so undertake to be celibate. Yet the teaching of our Church on sexual morality has largely been determined by such celibate men, who generally would not have experience of sexuality in its obvious context of a loving marriage. I doubt whether they are competent to teach on the subject, and I often wonder about the extent to which their teaching represents the projection of their own personalities rather than the truth about sexual morality. Such teaching would, I think, be more reliable if it derived from those among the body of the faithful better qualified to teach on this subject. And we are only just entering the phase of our history when such people, who will be largely lay folk, both men and women, might begin to have an authoritative voice in the Church.

  7. Mike Horsnall says:

    Can’t really see the logic here. How can a wave of scandal due to the immoral activities of a few be said to challenge the settled teaching of a church? Rather like saying we need a new house because the wallpaper is torn. Catholic teaching on sexuality, as far as I understand it, is for Catholics. I am a catholic and am of sufficient intelligence to understand this current scandal has no remote connection to teaching on birth control-one is doctrine and the other is frank abuse by criminals-even I can see that. Sexuality, chastity,continence, fidelity, birth control is a key area of religious life and one where we probably all, at some time or another have to make difficult choices.

    • Rahner says:

      “Catholic teaching on sexuality, as far as I understand it, is for Catholics.”

      But surely if this teaching is based on the Natural Law it must be applicable to every human being?

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Rahner,
        Yes, I agree with you on this somehow, that it should be at least. But I don’t think the edicts on conduct are authoritive for every human being- as far as I understand it the church has a prophetic voice but it only asks (nay demands?) obedience of those who follow.

  8. Iona says:

    Claret:
    Indeed on Question Time last night the words’Catholic’ and ‘sexual abuse of children’ were linked by two of the panellists when it was not even relevant to the question posed but the question did allow them to introduce yet again in public, and on TV, the horrors of clergy sexual abuse of children in the care of the Catholic Church.

    Possibly this reflects on the BBC rather than on the Catholic Church. Appalling though it is, sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy has been carried out by a far smaller proportion of the whole than in almost any other group you care to name.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      John Robinson,

      “…I doubt whether they are competent to teach on the subject, and I often wonder about the extent to which their teaching represents the projection of their own personalities rather than the truth about sexual morality. Such teaching would, I think, be more reliable if it derived from those among the body of the faithful better qualified to teach on this subject…”

      I wonder how much of this teaching actually originates in the period of celibacy and how much comes from the time before that -when apostles were entitled to wives I mean. But it does pose and interesting question. I have been for some time convinced that the mores and methodology of the church -in trying to produce holiness that is-are fundamentally monastic in nature-forms of prayer, rules of life etc all coming from the monasteries. If one tries to draw-from scripture alone, e.g. Pauls letters to theThessalonians a picture of how christians should behave one comes to the conclusion that it is fundamentally something like this:,sit down,shut up, live a quiet life, pay your dues and be good to one another.

    • Singalong says:

      Iona, I think this is a very valid aspect of the matter, and well worth making. It is dreadful that even one case could occur, but it does help people of good will to consider it fairly and in some sort of context. I do not think it will make any difference to those who are determined to be hostile.

  9. claret says:

    Iona
    The BBC , whatever its failings, cannot be held responsible for the comments of panellists on Question Time who are not given notice of any of the questions to be put to them.
    The fact remains that despite how we would wish it otherwise, and no matter now small in numbers the abusers may be , the damage inflicted on the reputation of the Catholic Church is horrendous and to try and pretend otherwise is ridiculous. What other organisation, meant to be for the good of society, has been exposed as so wantonly cruel as the Catholic Church in its dealings with the most vulnerable ? How quickly we forget ( but no such memory loss in the wider secular world,) the damning published reports into the abuse in Ireland with even more to come.
    The abuse scandal reflects on all aspects of moral teaching. In any public debate , even if the subject is not child abuse, ( for which the Church is almost synonomous with,) it is often soon turned round to it. For example commentators in favour of same sex marriage and abortion soon round on th Church by throwing the issue of child abuse into the arean. Viz. “The Catholic Church should concentrate on the horrors of the child abuse scandals and not gay marriage etc.”
    Those commentators on here who find some kind of solace in the ‘small numbers’ of clergy involved are getting their comfort from a very cold source.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Claret,
      “..What other organisation, meant to be for the good of society, has been exposed as so wantonly cruel as the Catholic Church in its dealings with the most vulnerable ?…”

      Our local hospital is,as we speak, under an enquiry for gross negligence leading to the deaths of hundreds of lives over a 10 year period-people round here are far more incensed about that than the Catholic Church. Mainly now we are all appalled at Rochdale councils apparently negligent behaviour leading to the 80 charges of sexual assault of minors currently in the papers-or Oxford undergoing a similar trauma. Sheffield has just woken up to the gross negligence of Hillsborough and the traducing of Liverpools innocent dead. Remember Alder Hey hospital a few years back and the unauthorised use of body parts. Wait till the government enquiries into standards of Care homes gets full publicity How about United Carbide and Bhopal? It is clear that what has happened requires action but I think you are reacting to your own sense of betrayal as much as anything else when you make the statement reproduced here.

  10. claret says:

    Mike,
    Have the scandals you draw attention to been reported on throughout the world? Are the public in Australia appalled at the goings on in Rochdale Council ? I doubt if even the public in Rotherham are concerned.
    The problems associated with child abuse are now being widely reported on in Australia. We hear about them here in England and about the abuse in many countries all over the world especially in the West. Are you oblivious to the scandals in the USA ?
    The Catholic Church takes it teachings direct from Jesus and has a Christian duty to behave in a Christian way. The abject failure to do so, coupled with the cover ups and gross sinfulness, cannot in any sense be compared with Hillsborough or any other such tragedy.
    Sense of betrayal ? Yes indeed I have but this is as nothing compared to those who have been abused . These betrayed victims are mainly children, vulnerable people, and those who placed their trust in those who represent the Catholic Church that is charged with a Christian duty of the temporal works of mercy.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Claret (and Rahner)

      I am responding here to your to your quote…for the good of society.. you said and it should have been clear I was speaking of the cover up over Hillsborough not the event itself. To take the analogy further-any one day in Alleppo-where the State whose duty it is to preserve life destroys it counts for the same-I think it is your own sense of shame and outrage which magnifies so. Of course I see the scandal, what makes you think my heart is harder than your own? Of course I was abjectly ashamed. Now I see a contrite and chastened church trying its best. Forgive.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Sorry, the ‘forgive’ bit was glib.What I meant was reconcile, make changes, punish the perpetrators, compensate the victims and move on. As to the other points, if you wish to know what preoccupies the world today-our corner of it at least then look at the broadsheets-it is not the catholic church. As to whether the evil done is any worse for it being done by priests I do not know the answer to that-teacher,doctor,nurse policeman, priest-I dont somehow quite see that point. Perhaps it is because I don’t have an especially high view of priests anyway other than as being men like myself trying to follow a particular path. For me the dangers in making such extreme statements as yours-and it is that which I am challenging here-is that ‘The Roman Catholic church ‘ is not, in reality, its hierarchy but is the countless heartbeat and small impetus to good of its laity. Set against that, set against Cafod, set against all the good over all the years I would think that the stain of which you speak is not that great though, of course if I were a victim I would not be impressed by this discussion. As to Rochdale, its not the point that no one cares Claret-its that the thing took place and is probably taking place in care all over the country. As to the ‘reputation’ of the Catholic church-I don’t think that matters much, what does matter is the reality of what it /we does/do.

    • John Candido says:

      Here here!

  11. Geordie says:

    Mike, I don’t think Claret magnifies the outrage and shame, because it is worse for a priest or religious to abuse children and it is even more shameful for bishops and other clergy to cover up the crimes. As Rahner says about other abusers, “…. none of these people or institutions claimed to be following or representing Christ…..”
    Their actions have done harm to children, families, fellow clergymen and the Church as a whole. Very few people would condemn the whole NHS because of a scandal in one area. But the whole Church suffers because of the cover-ups by our leaders. Others who suffer are those who may have been drawn to the Church and then are repelled by subsequent scandals. They have lost all the spiritual consolations and support which the Church can give them.

    • Singalong says:

      Some of the worst damage must be to young people who are particularly intolerant of hypocrisy. The abuse scandal combined with low standards of religious teaching in many Catholic schools, and the onslaught of sexual permissiveness, hedonism, scepticism and atheism, make it miraculous that any of them keep and develop their faith.

    • Vincent says:

      This for what it’s worth is how I see it. I agree with all the condemnations of paedophile behaviour and cover up in the Church. This is terrible, and the damage it has done is terrible. Then, to stop me getting my knickers into a twist, I ask myself: can I look back and say confidently that I have never betrayed my baptism; or that I have always shown a good Catholic example; or that I have never done anything in private which might do the Church harm if it were known; or that I have never harmed another innocent person through my cruelty or lack of care?

      That, I fear, takes the wind out of my sails. The Church is just like me — it is a body which is a blend of lower nature and higher nature, material and spiritual. Let him who is without sin…

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        Vincent – Well put!

      • John Candido says:

        I sincerely take what you have written on board Vincent. That is fine, as far as it goes. But it doesn’t alter the need for the Church to do something that is significant and important with the global clerical sexual abuse scandal that it is confronted with. To do nothing is clearly not an option. My proposal of an international theological commission is something along the lines of something significant that the Church can do. It will in all probability not get up in the present papacy.

        If not, what is the Church going to do that will improve matters? If not an international theological commission, then maybe it should provide genuine healing, genuinely admit fault were fault lies, for the Church to be absolutely contrite by saying sorry to all of the innocent victims, introduce a no tolerance approach to perpetrators and enablers by dismissing them and presenting their alleged crimes to the legal system, and introduce policies and procedures that will prevent such abuses occurring in such numbers ever again.

        Even if it is most unlikely that it would ever be authorised, I would suggest that my final point will only be fully implemented if sexual theology were to be critically assessed by an independent team of theological, lay, and scientific experts, working as a team for the future benefit of the entire church. I live in hope for it to be taken up by a future pontiff.

      • tim says:

        Well said, Vincent! I agree 99%. The 1% arises from the second sentence. I agree with all the condemnations of paedophile behaviour. Priests have no excuse for it. I don’t agree with all the condemnations of cover-up. There may be excuses for that, at least in principle – sometimes. You need to look at each case and consider the motives and actions of each participant, the evidence and the circumstances. Was what was done (by way of cover-up) morally wrong, or no more than an error of judgement? With hindsight, we may know what should have been done – and this should help us to ensure that grievous errors are not repeated. But everything is easier with hindsight. No doubt there may have been deliberate cover-ups of criminal behaviour in bad faith (if anyone cares to post links to accounts of such, I will read at least some of them) . I’m not prepared (on the basis of what I know at present) to assume that this was the rule or even what happened in most cases. That assumption is only appropriate for those who believe (and want others to believe) that the Catholic Church is malign and corrupt throughout.

  12. claret says:

    The whole point of my drawing attention to the abuse crisis ( as have other commentators on here,) is that it goes to the very heart of the matter in relation to authoritive teaching by the Church on sexual morality.
    The evidence is stark and cannot be argued against in the sense that a Church which teaches on matters of sexual morality has no credence in the wider world ( where it once had,) because it has been immersed in sexual scandals of the most deprived sort, and more such scandals seem to be only waiting to be discovered.
    Even in our own Catholic press there has hardly been a single week gone by in the last decade when they have not had to report on at least one abuse scandal.
    Vincent is right that most of us cannot hold ourselves up as models of virtue but the Catholic Church is not an individual and none of us would claim any authority for teaching the world on sexual ethics.
    We need to stop cluthching at straws of comfort and face up to the reality that the abuse scandals have fatally damaged the Church and deeply hurt many of its adherents.

  13. tim says:

    Claret, what you say is to a great extent unarguable, but…! There is no doubt that the authority of the Church to pronounce on sexual morals has been damaged to an appalling extent. ‘Fatally’ we must not accept. Even ‘irreparably’ would not do. We have to set about doing whatever we can to repair the damage. Here I do not see John C’s Commission as being the answer. John has, I think (apologies if I am making a false assumption), the idea that the Church’s teaching on sex has specifically contributed to the abuse problem. I don’t believe this, though I would not rule it out a priori if there is evidence to the contrary. But we can ask – if the Church did change (let’s say ‘develop’ as that sounds better to conservatives like me) – if the Church did ‘develop’ its teaching on sex, would this be sufficient (in the present climate) to restore its authority on this topic? It might simply add to public derision. What we have first to do is to ensure that no more children are abused by priests. When it is clear this has been done (everywhere and by everyone) we may hope (as a by-product) once more to have our views on sexual morals taken seriously.

  14. mike Horsnall says:

    No, I’m sorry this is not acceptable. Claret has said this:

    “..What other organisation, meant to be for the good of society, has been exposed as so wantonly cruel as the Catholic Church in its dealings with the most vulnerable ?…”

    This seems to me to say that across the world the Catholic Church stands out as the most deliberately cruel of institutions because of the horrible crimes it has committed in the name of good. I’m sorry but this is simply wrong. I am not ashamed of my church and nor will I see it thus traduced.

    • John Candido says:

      I’m sorry Mike Horsnall, but your response is not acceptable to me. What Claret has written is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the recent sexual abuse scandal which has manifested itself globally, and his contribution can only be conceptualised as fair comment. I am afraid that both Mike Horsnall and Tim to some extent don’t get it. Much like some members of the hierarchy, they don’t get it also.

      Perpetrators are one category of fish; enablers are quite another. They have both broken the law. It is obvious what perpetrators have done. What about enablers? They could be charged with either accessory after the fact, and/or obstructing the course of justice. If enablers or perpetrators have lied in a court of law while they are under oath, as have several Archbishops and Cardinals in America, this is known as perjury.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        John, thats because, as usual you have ignored or cherry picked to suit yourself. Read the quote and answer this, is the Roman Catholic Church the most wantonly cruel institution on the earth because of the horrible nature of its crimes committed in the name of good…try yes or no without adding in spurious links or pseudo intellectual sidestepping.

      • John Candido says:

        ‘…is the Roman Catholic Church the most wantonly cruel institution on the earth because of the horrible nature of its crimes committed in the name of good?’ (Mike Horsnall).

        You have not fully read and digested Claret’s quote. Before he said anything about the Roman Catholic Church being ‘wantonly cruel’, he prefaced it with ‘what other organisation, meant to be for the good of society’.

        ‘What other organisation, meant to be for the good of society, has been exposed as so wantonly cruel as the Catholic Church in its dealings with the most vulnerable?’

        You go on to ask me, ‘…try yes or no without adding in spurious links or pseudo-intellectual sidestepping.’ (Mike Horsnall).

        Some answers to questions cannot be a simple yes or no due to the complexity or sensitivity of the situation at hand. The preface to part of my answer is that for those who are guilty of being either a perpetrator or an enabler in a court of law; they are most wantonly cruel. If I were to look at the wider church you have got to ask yourself, how many perpetrators and enablers have there been, and has this been localised and episodic, or global and pandemic? I am afraid the truth of the matter is that it has been global and pandemic.

        The point that both Mike Horsnall and to some extent Tim have not factored in is have these abhorrent instances of child sexual abuse been a one off, or has the pattern of perpetrators and enablers been replicated from one diocese to another, all around the world? The reality is that the child abuse scandal has sadly been replicated from one diocese to another, ad nauseam.

        As both enablers and perpetrators have not been forced to act in this manner, you would have to ask given their many years of training and formation in moral theology, why have they done what they have done, and why has this scandal been worldwide? I believe that this phenomenon has to be explainable in terms of the culture of the Roman Catholic Church and its sexual doctrine. This is why I am calling for an independent theological commission of both clerical and lay experts, to investigate this scandal. It must happen sooner or later. Someone should commence a global petition that could be placed on the internet, which can be presented to Pope Benedict XVI when a sufficient number of signatures are collected.

        The knowledge and responses of enabling Bishops around the world has simply been appalling. If ever there have been instances in history of the trashing of both their calling and of their holy office; this is it. Their attitudes to using whatever legal avenues are available in order to limit or dodge their criminal and financial obligations, is nothing more than rank self-interest. Some of them stoop as low to publicly discount, malign, and pillory the horrific experiences of innocent children, when absolute contrition would be the only correct response. Is this being wantonly cruel? Yes.

        What was the Vatican doing during this scandal? The responses of some curial officials and heads of Congregations in the Vatican leave much to be desired. The response of both Cardinal Ratzinger as head of the CDF and Pope John Paul II during this crisis has been nothing but a dereliction of duty, the harbouring of criminals from due process of law, and one of enablement. This is why Pope Benedict XVI will most likely not authorise an independent commission of inquiry into the child sexual abuse scandal. It comes too close to the bone.

      • tim says:

        John. “If enablers or perpetrators have lied in a court of law while they are under oath, as have several Archbishops and Cardinals in America, this is known as perjury.” Agreed, it is correctly so known. If. This is a specific charge. Please provide specific evidence of it – one instance will do, to begin with, I won’t insist on ‘several’ – or withdraw it. To be clear, I don’t say you can’t provide such evidence, but I want to see it and be able to test it. “Everyone says” won’t do.

      • John Candido says:

        If I may quote from one monograph called, ‘Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: the Catholic Church’s 2,000-Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse’, written by Fr. Thomas P. Doyle O.P., Psychotherapist A.W. Richard Sipe, & Patrick J. Wall III, Published by Volt Press, 2006, Los Angeles, USA.

        ‘It was the legacy of the Kos trial to expose the way the Church conspired to hide abusers and how abuse really operates. The height and breadth of the Church’s denial and its prevarication even under oath continued to astound ordinary concerned Catholics and not only in Dallas. For instance, on November 23, 2004, Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles swore in a deposition that while he was a Bishop of the dioceses of Fresno and Stockton, California, he knew,’

        ‘…of no Priest between 1962 and 1985 who violated his celibacy.’ (Cardinal Roger Mahoney).

        ‘He said this in defiance of reason and common-sense, and despite three egregious cases of sexually abusive Priests under his jurisdiction during that time period. One Priest spent time in prison; another was sent back to his native country; and the third left the Stockton diocese when Cardinal (then a Bishop) Mahoney was in charge.’

        ‘Cardinal Mahoney said he had forgotten the two cases when he denied, on the witness stand, knowing about any abusers at the trial of the third priest, Fr. Oliver O’Grady in 1998. When faced in 2004 with his hand written documents to police and others, he simply said he had forgotten these incidents and his involvement with them.’

        (Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes, 2006, Doyle et al, p. 178-179).

      • John Candido says:

        General commentary on perjury and the sexual abuse scandal by Psychotherapist A. W. Richard Sipe.

        http://www.richardsipe.com/Comments/2010-07-15.htm

  15. Iona says:

    John Candido – “maybe it should provide genuine healing, genuinely admit fault were fault lies, for the Church to be absolutely contrite by saying sorry to all of the innocent victims, introduce a no tolerance approach to perpetrators and enablers by dismissing them and presenting their alleged crimes to the legal system, and introduce policies and procedures that will prevent such abuses occurring in such numbers ever again.”

    But hasn’t this already been done or, is being done, at least in the UK? I’m the “safeguarding” rep for my local church, and from guidelines sent to me it certainly appears that the “no tolerance” approach and immediate presentation of alleged crimes to the legal system has now been in force for some years (fortunately, I may say, I have never yet had to act on them).

    • tim says:

      Quite. It certainly should be being done elsewhere, if it isn’t, and it is very possible that more and better could be done here.

      • tim says:

        John C (October 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm). Thanks for the requested evidence, which seems to be of the character and quality demanded. I may find it difficult to get hold of, so my reply will not be immediate. But if it is unduly delayed, feel free to remind me!

  16. Quentin says:

    This has been a very interesting discussion. There seems to be general agreement about the facts but not how people feel about them or assess their effects. This is useful because we need to be aware that our ‘siblings in Christ’ can be hurt and scandalised in different ways.

    Unless you feel that you have something new and important to say at this juncture, I am wondering whether this could lead on to an examination of another aspect of the Church which, in the long run, may prove to be more important, and about which we can actually do more. It is summed up in a para from Independent Catholic News(http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=21154 ):

    “In Quo Vadis, her first book since leaving the Presidency of Ireland, Mary McAleese has produced a masterful and highly accessible study of how Vatican II’s teachings on collegiality, or how power and responsibility were to be shared between the Pope and the college of bishops within the Catholic Church, have either been sidetracked or not yet come to fruition, depending on how you interpret the events which followed the Council up to the present day.” (continues)

    Is it possible that a listening and sharing community might have avoided some of these problems, or at least found better ways to handle them? “Look at these Christians, see how they love one another!” is an awkward reminder.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      The abuse scandal is undoubtedly a hideous blot on the reputation of the institutional church, whatever the personal culpability of those involved in any way. However, there are signs of its becoming an obsession, poisoning discussion of other topics to the detriment of possibly more pertinent contributions from a broader constituency. Is that what we really want to happen?

      • Singalong says:

        It can also become a witch hunt, with innocent people being falsely accused out of malice or in the hope of financial compensation. The time taken to investigate and eventually clear at least one priest we have known was years, and inevitably thoughts of no smoke without fire still linger in some quarters. It has all been real martyrdom for the priest concerned which has its spiritual value of course.

    • Singalong says:

      “Look at these Christians, see how they love one another!”

      I think that there is not much hope for the Church except where this can be said, and until it can be said of the whole Church.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        It probably is said of the local church already, but when your quote was written so were the Corinthians squabbling fighting and fornicating like a bag of cats-we have to be real about our fallen state otherwise its all cloud cuckoo land.

      • Singalong says:

        Thank you mike, you are right, things are never going to be perfect in this world, and never have been, but the institutional Church sometimes needs to be seen to be trying harder. I am wondering about the Pope`s butler, Paolo Gabriele, and how he has been and will be treated.

  17. Iona says:

    Certainly, many sections of the secular media seize triumphantly on the sexual abuse scandal as a convenient stick with which to beat the Church.
    Somewhere earlier in this discussion, somebody (Claret?) pointed out that the BBC’s Question Time programme can’t be held responsible for the views expressed by its participants. However, it can be held responsible for the balance or lack of balance of likely opinion when it is choosing those participants. Does it ever have anyone from “Catholic Voices”, for example? (This is not a rhetorical question, – I rarely listen to “Question Time”).

    The secular media regularly focuses intently on anything sexual to the exclusion of other or wider issues. Remember when that “book length” interview with the Pope came out? Book length it was indeed. And in all that book, there was one brief mention by the Pope of the possible use of a condom by a HIV-positive male prostitute, in order to avoid passing the virus on to his customers. And out of all that book, what was the one item that was snatched up and publicised and endlessly discussed by the media, everything else in the book being ignored?

  18. claret says:

    Iona,
    Perhaps you would be kind enough to read my comments again about Question Time. How could the BBC apply balance to every expression of opinion when they don’t know what panellists are going to say ? The question posed to the panellists was not about the abuse scandals in the Church but on a separate matter of child abuse however but it is a sad indictment of the Church that whenever the words ‘child abuse’ are introduced into a discussion ( as on here!) then the Catholic Church is almost inevitably given as an example of just how bad it can be !
    Even now , today, this minute, the Church is failing miserably to get to grips with the problem. The procedures to prevent abuse in the Church in the UK are now held up as an example of good practice but has the Church imposed the same systems on other countries with significantly large Catholic populations? Not a bit of it.
    Fresh revelations from Australia are now emerging and when you lift a stone then all sorts of things crawl out, but our best effort is to hope it will all eventually be exposed and we can ‘move on’ while hopelessly clinging the to the premise of a few bad apples.
    Only it never gets to that stage. If tomorrow you heard that a member of the clergy had been arrested for child sexual abuse what denomination of the perpetrator would come first into your head first ?

    • Iona says:

      I’m not saying they should apply balance to every expression of opinion made by their panellists. I’m saying they should apply balance in their choice of panellists.

  19. John Candido says:

    ‘…the Melbourne Archdiocese has not reported a single case to the police; the community can only assume these paedophiles have been shielded by the hierarchy.’

    This quotation has been taken from the latest article in The Age newspaper by Ms. Judy Courtin entitled, ‘The Latest in PR Spin’. Courtin is a lawyer that is currently doing a PhD in Monash University’s law faculty located in Melbourne. It fills me with revulsion and anger to think that nearly every Archbishop in Melbourne’s history has either been an enabler and/or most likely guilty of being an accessory after the fact.

    Paedophilia amongst Catholic Clergy and its enablement and concealment by the hierarchy, cannot by logical extrapolation, be confined to the 20th and 21st centuries. As the culture and sexual doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church extends across the globe and throughout history, the prevalence of paedophilia, their enablement, and the concealment of criminality by members of the hierarchy, can reasonably be extrapolated in all dioceses internationally, and throughout history.

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/the-unholiest-of-pr-spin-20120926-26li3.html

    In another Age article entitled, ‘Priests call for Abuse Inquiry’, in March 2012, there is growing bewilderment, revulsion, and independence from members of our hierarchy, amongst priests of the archdiocese of Melbourne, who want to see that victims are cared for properly, and that Church models for the investigation and compensation for victims be reviewed and overhauled.

    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/priests-call-for-abuse-inquiry-20120328-1vytj.html

  20. Vincent says:

    The problem with temptations to which others succumb is that we can never be confident that we would not have succumbed ourselves, if we were in the same situation. Imagine being a bishop, who loves the Church and defends its reputation, having to deal with an errant priest. As was generally accepted at the time, you believed that the priest’s action was a one off. The priest is fully repentant and self condemnatory; he has sworn that he will never offend again. You believe him. You feel sorry for the victim, but the damage has already been done. In any event the priest has indicated that the victim was, at the very least, provocative. Should you, in addition to all that, ruin the priest for a single, never to be repeated, lapse? And think of the scandal to the Church and its effect on people’s faith.
    If you are confident that, standing in that bishop’s shoes and circumstances, you would not hesitate to turn the priest over to the police, then you are more confident than I am. And I suspect that you would be wrong: It is only those who are alive to their vulnerability who can guard against it.

    • Singalong says:

      Your Comment sets out perfectly my thoughts about the abuse scandal, and the conversations I have had about it with family and friends, though not in discussions with everybody. I think a very important factor was thinking of the scandal to the Church, and its effect on people`s faith, which was always taken very seriously in the past, especially before the recent escalation in the dissemination of news and information, the culture of openness, and the near impossibility now of hiding such behaviours indefinitely, as we are seeing with the current news about Jimmy Saville.

      Perhaps also, there has been in this country a reluctance to involve the State, a wish to “keep it in the family”, inherited from our past history, when Catholicism was outlawed, and even after Emancipation, we were “different” and associated with Irish immigrants and French teaching orders in many cases, both of which involve me personally. This would make it very difficult to report cases of abuse to the police, and start legal prosecutions. It would also make it difficult to help and understand the effect on victims so that they could be properly helped without the glare of publicity or the lure of financial compensation.

    • John Candido says:

      ‘In any event the priest has indicated that the victim was, at the very least, provocative.’

      You have got to be kidding me, right?

      ‘Should you, in addition to all that, ruin the priest for a single, never to be repeated, lapse? And think of the scandal to the Church and its effect on people’s faith.’

      Well what about the child, or children in multiple cases, who are the innocent victims of abuse? Don’t their concerns rate a mention? Looks like the suffering of innocent children, including those who are ‘provocative’, don’t register as important as the concerns of the priest, his Bishop, and the institutional church.

      Why don’t we consult the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Chapter 18: verses 6 & 7, and consider how prophetic these verses are in relation to the sexual abuse scandal?

      Jesus is quoted as saying,

      Verse 6:

      ‘If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.’

      Verse 7:

      ‘How terrible for the world that there are things that make people lose their faith! Such things will always happen – but how terrible for the one who causes them!’

      (‘Good News Bible’, Catholic Edition, p. 1336)

    • St.Joseph says:

      I can not resist but to say ‘Well said Vincent’.
      Someone sees the ‘full’ story at last!

  21. mike Horsnall says:

    Yes this is pertinent. There is a strange reluctance -very evident on this site to allow of the humanity that lies behind any of these cases, of the difficulty and the complexity. Its easy and probably emotionally satisfying at some level to throw up the hands in horror, quote relevant scripture, then fulminate. Of course we must blame the church, of course they must all be monsters, of course there must be conspiracy everwhere and those who made errors of judgement must at very least be suspect-far more likely guilty of something that we don’t know about yet. Yet we look around at the lives we know and are part of at home or in the workplace and what do we see but bumblings along, institutional mediocrity, failings of discipline. In this kind of soil grace abounds as does the simple everyday kindness that makes life beautiful and allows us to gloss over one anothers weaknessess-unfortunately this human ground- greatly evident in our local parishes- is also fertile soil for evil. A friend of mine prosecuted one of the offenders not long ago and the outcome of the case was a long jail sentence.However when asked if there had been any connivance or cover up the answer was probably not, human error yes but real conspiracy quite unlikely.

  22. Vincent says:

    Now let me tell you a story. I do so because it happened this very day, 3 October. I was chatting to a small group of friends, and as it was in my mind, we got around to the subject of child abuse. To our surprise John (not his name) said that he had been abused as a young lad. He told us the story. It hadn’t been desperately serious, and John had got away quickly, and received immediate support from his parents. Someone asked him how he felt about it. John gathered his thoughts, and then – broke down in tears. Now John is just not that sort of man. He is a retired policeman, in his 70s.

    In truth, “they know not what they do”.

  23. claret says:

    I really do despair ( a sin is it not?) but the comments of Vincent and those who seek to explain away the abuses , and those who protect the abusers, as it all being some kind of excusable human error take no account of the fact that this is nothing new. The hierarchy have known for years what has been going on, all they had to do was pick up a Catholic newspaper and read about it. We have been fed an almost daily diet of one abuse scandal after another, almost all of them accompanied by a revelation of knowledge by those in a position to have exposed it but who deliberatley chose to put the ‘benefit’ of the abuser before the abused.
    These were not, in many instances, isolated cases but repeated acts of barbarity with lifelong implications for the victims. Whole Catholic institutions were ruled by a climate of fear and parts of the Church became a haven for those whose sexual predeliction was for the harm and degradation of mere children.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      I fear we have run into circularity on this subject.

    • Vincent says:

      Claret, I am now bewildered. I have never sought to excuse anything. I am well aware of the terrible sin of paedophilia and well aware of the wickedness of indirect collaboration by authorities, and the long term damage caused thereby. What I have suggested is that we can only afford to be puffed up with righteousness if we are confident that, when we are tempted by the sorts of sins we are tempted by, we will always be strong enough to resist.
      I accept without question that you are not tempted by paedophilia and that you would unhesitatingly take any incident you knew of to the attention of the authorities. If you ask me to, I will even accept that you personally are never subject to temptation. And that, if the Devil were to break through your otherwise impregnable exterior, you would always be strong enough to resist. Sadly, I cannot say the same of myself.

  24. Mike Horsnall says:

    I share this bewilderment-mainly my comments about perpetrators have been in terms of appropriate prison sentences and punishment. No one is talking about excusability Claret. Also I would guess anyone in this British culture who has reached say pensionable age will have read- many times in their life- of cover up paedophile rings, in the care system,the prison system, public schools, religious schools etc etc. We all know the stories of how paedophiles protect one another and how collaboration and cover up goes on-no one is any longer surprised by child abuse either in the home or in the offices of those who should care. Personally I have followed issues both in Anglican and Catholic churches over the years -not to mention para church agencies. I have read up on them and watched all the documentaries etc simply to keep abreast of the events. I have canvassed opinions from all manner of people from police officers, priests, barristers, social workers over the years and when working for Samaritans I listened to many individual stories of abuse. So I am not an excuser Claret nor do I hide from the facts- but your comments- about the Catholic Church as a whole are wrong as far as I can see and deserve the challenge they have recieved. Perhaps I should be more shocked-as you seem to be, by the uncovering of rings within the our church but I am not, religious organisations attract problem individuals as do churches but this does not mean the church as a whole has become corrupt or vile as you seem to suggest and steps are being taken-you should think carefully about what you have said on this public site.

  25. John Candido says:

    Let me preface what I am going to say with the fact that Claret does not need my assistance to defend him. If my memory serves me well, he was a policeman before he became an ordained Catholic priest, and the police are generally made from pretty tough stuff.

    Mike Horsnall has made what I consider to be a very inappropriate threat to Claret about Claret’s public comments concerning the worldwide clerical sexual abuse scandal, in order to silence or moderate his thoughts on the blog. Mike Horsnall has pointed to the fact that Claret is a priest, and thinks he should be more careful and circumspect about his publicly aired opinions.

    Firstly, as the entire scandal in its global manifestation is a matter of public record, one can hardly accuse Claret of making the story up. Calumny or libel, are completely out of the question as he has both not mentioned any one personally by name, and he has not in any way told lies about any person or the Roman Catholic Church.

    Secondly, his comments can only be viewed as fair commentary about the crisis, and nobody, not even the Pope or his Bishop can do anything proper about them.

    Mike Horsnall, you have a right to your point of view as others have, even if Claret, other people, and I don’t share them with you. But please don’t threaten anybody on this blog again, because your threatening comments are completely inappropriate and out of place.

    • John Candido says:

      I have forgotten to add that as Claret has chosen to be known by his nom de plume (an assumed name under which a person writes), how can anybody know his identity, or what diocese he is attached to, for that matter?

      • Vincent says:

        But I don’t want to press my thoughts too far. Perhaps a fairer response to Claret would be simply to remind him of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor who in 1983, knowing of child abuse allegations, sent the priest concerned to be chaplain at Gatwick – believing that he would not encounter children, and not knowing at that time that child abuse was rarely a one incident offence.

        M-O’C was sadly mistaken, and I have no doubt that his decision was a wrong one. Nor has he any doubt either in the light of his greater understanding. He has expressed his great regret. But no one as far as I know believes him to be any other than a very good man who, in ignorance, followed his objectively mistaken conscience.

      • Quentin says:

        I do not know whether Claret is a priest or not. Nor is it any of my business. What I do know is that this Blog would be weaker without the benefit of his sage comments.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      John Candido,
      You really need to stop misreading me-its getting quite bad. I have no idea what Claret does for a living nor have I in any way traduced his name or threatened him-wake up John.
      “… ‘What other organisation, meant to be for the good of society, has been exposed as so wantonly cruel as the Catholic Church in its dealings with the most vulnerable?’

      This statement is wrong, un verifiable and a highly personal opinion; it is worth challenging and I have challenged it and continue to do so. When we challenge a statement on here-which anyone is free to do- we do so in good faith aware that we are dealing with anothe human being; but this subject raises strong feelings-so I will not pursue your risible accusation of threatening behaviour’, stop it John-no one needs a knight in white.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        John Candido,
        But, just for interests sake:
        “Mike Horsnall has made what I consider to be a very inappropriate threat to Claret about Claret’s public comments concerning the worldwide clerical sexual abuse scandal, in order to silence or moderate his thoughts on the blog. Mike Horsnall has pointed to the fact that Claret is a priest, and thinks he should be more careful and circumspect about his publicly aired opinions. ..”
        Show me on this thread where I have pointed to Claret being a priest? I’m interested since, as I say I have no idea what Claret does. Show me John where I have said this, look carefully through my words John then show me, precisely. Also John, precisely again, show me where I have threatened anyone. Show me also John, precisely, where you think I have accused anyone of falsehood? Point to the actual words John, show off your talent for accuracy.

    • Iona says:

      Mike Horsnall has made a threat to Claret? Where? What threat? I have searched back and can’t see anything I can interpret as a threat.

  26. John Candido says:

    Of course you are right Vincent, in that there are always members of the hierarchy who have made innocent mistakes in this scandal, who have sincerely followed their objectively mistaken conscience. However, there are probably many more instances of members of the hierarchy who are guilty of enablement under law, and can also be categorised as an accessory after the fact.

    This exception to the rule does not mean that the Roman Catholic Church does not have to impose global regulations, policies, and processes, on all dioceses throughout the world, in order to stymie any further incidences of child abuse. Genuine errors and any other form of exceptionality, also does not preclude the overwhelming need for the Catholic Church to authorise an independent, international theological inquiry, on the global clerical sexual abuse scandal. This must be followed by the report being published in several languages, and promptly placed on the Vatican website, for any interested person to examine.

    As night follows day, this will most assuredly happen. I am absolutely convinced of this. If not under Pope Benedict XVI, then a future pontiff will do what has to be done. He will authorise and implement future articles of canon law, as well as an independent inquiry, in order to restore the Church to the proper esteem of all members and the broader public. Simple self-respect will force a future pontiff’s hand to act.

    The global clerical child abuse crisis will be a very significant harbinger of future ecclesiastical reform. It will eventually lead to the reform our sexual doctrine, our present clerical culture, and of canonical law governing child safety, in all dioceses around the world. It will also lead to the reform of collegiality between lay people, Priests, and Bishops, in all nation-states, and true collegiality between national conferences of Bishops and the Holy See. After these reforms have been embedded, we will have a far more listening church, which is in fact one of the objectives of the Second Vatican Council.

    The sexual abuse scandal has been a frightfully injurious blow to the standing of the Roman Catholic Church in our time. In both an unfortunate and consoling sense, this crisis will be seen in future, as a searing cross that abuse victims, their families, and the entire Roman Catholic Church has endured, in order for the entire Church to mature into a more human, listening, and empathetic people of God. Our Church will be fired by a burning need for justice, and the need for institutional reform. It will rise to its responsibilities in future. Of this, I have absolutely no doubt.

    • St Joseph says:

      We may then ‘maybe’ get back to getting to the Truth of human sexuality within marriage,it is not only the laity who need to have a proper conscience -but priests and Bishops also.
      Many years ago when these abuses were taking place the seriousness of it was not examined closely enough. Remember the days when the attitude was ‘dirty old men’ used as an example . We were all aware of that so-I can understand young children under the age of 10 in those days being innocent in the knowledge of sexual abuse-but not now when the majority of offences are with older children.
      Now children at the age of 11 are having sexual relationships and morning after pills- they are well aware of any abuses inflicted on them -so I believe that the time time has come to stop persecuting the Church-every blow is a ‘blow to the Lord’ who is full of forgivness.
      I dont think when I face Him-he will ask ‘were you abused’ but ‘How much did you forgive’
      A little thought to Claret- Do you think that a priest ought to devulge a sin of abuse to the police?

      I often think about – St Pauls first letter to the Corinthians Chpt 6.
      C Recourse to the Pagan Courts. and perhaps to much publicity has put more coal on the fire that what is true and opened up a tin of worms for financial gain.
      One example of how the very young speak to-day- watching a soap a few weeks ago-a young girl of about 8 asked her pregnant sister- ‘Who knocked you up’?
      What a shame -I am paying my TV Licence to watch that-also 2 homosexuals on Mr & Mrs. Those are the things we need to be Apostles on -and leave Holy Mother Church alone now! Just look to the good She does.

      • St Joseph says:

        P.S.
        All the recent news about a Celebrated and TV Exposure last night, all I can say to that is, I was a young teenager 15-16 in the fifties and if anyone had put their hand up my skirt etc- he would have had a smack around his face. So what is all the fuss about? More financial gain I suppose!

  27. St Joseph says:

    Sorry .The word above is not Celebrated and-but Celebrity on=

  28. Mike Horsnall says:

    John Candido,
    Where are you with your elaboration of my threats? Where is your careful instruction in this matter? Where are all your sociological findings on this important issue… where indeed is your gracious apology?

  29. Mike Horsnall says:

    John Candido

    “…..,Our Church will be fired by a burning need for justice, and the need for institutional reform. It will rise to its responsibilities in future. Of this, I have absolutely no doubt….”

    One final question..If what you say here is true how can the Roman Catholic Church be the most wantonly cruel of institutions at one and the same time as being fired by a burning need for justice? Is it the most reprehensible institution upon the earth now and hoping to be reformed at some stage in the future or what?

  30. John Candido says:

    Mike horsnall,

    You don’t have to believe me; see if you can get a hold of a copy of this book,

    ‘The Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis: Reform and Renewal in the Catholic Community’, by Paul R. Dokecki PhD, (Psychologist) 2004, Published by Georgetown University Press, Washington D.C.

    This book is a real eye-opener. It examines the crisis as to its likely aetiology (causes), and also envisions several future institutional reforms that the Roman Catholic Church may well initiate in future, in response to the crisis. I warmly recommend this title to everybody who reads SecondSight, who might also be interested in the global clerical sexual abuse crisis, and what the Catholic Church might do about it in future.

    Dr. Dokecki is a Catholic layman and an American academic psychologist, who teaches at Peabody College, Nashville Tennessee. His CV can be examined here:

    http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/kennedy_pdfs/people/Dokecki%20bio%200408.pdf

    His contact details are here:

    http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/site/people/1448/dokecki-paul.aspx

    As to the matter of your previous comments that I have interpreted as ‘aggressive’; why don’t you clarify them for everybody’s benefit? Looking back at them; I will concede that they can be interpreted in a number of ways. Instead of only protesting your innocence; you need to clarify them ASAP.

  31. mike Horsnall says:

    Hi John,
    Rather a shame if thats the best you can do mate, sorry for you really.

    • John Candido says:

      Are you reluctant to clarify your remarks? If so, why?

      • Mike Horsnall says:

        Simply because you are the only one making accusations John, its all there in simple letters, get your dictionary out, try your best to read what is actually there. Read Iona Oct 6 11.02 pm if you need it spelling out.

      • John Candido says:

        Well I disagree with you. I am the only one making a criticism about your post, which is confined to your final sentence of the 3rd of October 2012 at 10:33 pm. I have copied the ‘offending’ phrase below this paragraph, and it can be interpreted in a number of ways.

        ‘…you should think carefully about what you have said on this public site.’

        Either for Claret to be more reasonable or acceptable, or for him to broadly agree with other assessments on the issue of ecclesiastical corruption, or as an implied or implicit threat to him, to take greater care or due diligence, so that he may be more circumspect or silent about his public comments on ecclesiastical corruption. Even though I have been the only one to criticise you that does not mean that there might be others who can see the point that I am making, and who would rather not express this support in writing.

        Assuming that you are completely innocent of any intended threat to Claret, I will say that I am sorry for unavoidably and unintentionally hurting your feelings in anticipation of your correction. This is not to be taken as a full apology, which will only be forthcoming after I am satisfied that you had not intended to threaten anybody. I will come to this conclusion after you have clarified the exact meaning of your phrase, so that its meaning is not ambiguous. If you would rather not rewrite your phrase for whatever reason, we will have to agree to disagree on its meaning.

  32. Mike Horsnall says:

    Well done John, I will disarm the rottweiler.

  33. John Nolan says:

    Wow, Mike! Trying to argue with John Candido is like wading through treacle. I congratulate you on your dogged perseverance.

  34. St Joseph says:

    Thinking about the points Quentin makes in his post ‘How far should we go’ I wonder how many of us think now that we are older, that we have more of an understanding about our human sexuality, and the way we have matured in our faith.
    He says in his post ‘human natures weakness’s’.Well our human nature as I see it is what Jesus came to teach us how to live that life in Grace from our Baptism-not as our fallen parents Adam and Eve.
    We are now redeemed and ‘expected by Gods grace to be able to live in the Spirit and Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ (and our neighbour )who showed us how to obtain that spirit of love for Him and His Holy Church with the power of the Eucharist and the Sacraments.
    If we are commenting here as matured Catholics we will be able to associate with each other with that understanding-if not there will be lots of difficult situations and disagreements!

  35. Mike Horsnall says:

    Some big ‘ifs’ there St Joseph…glad you have a high view from where you sit at least…

    • St.Joseph says:

      Just a matter of Faith and Reason- a little common sense and trying to follow in Our Blessed Mothers footsteps- I pray for our priests that ‘if’ they would do the same- then we would have had less sexual scandals in the church and in the future-.That’s a really big IF!
      She can teach us a thing or two. ‘The Imitation of Mary’ is a good book to follow
      I would be a little concerned if at my age, a mother and grandmother if I was not moving upwards-and not carried out my responsibilities towards my children.-and that they do the same from this generation.to the next and so on…… I am not bothered if that sounds presumptuous- The Lord is my ‘judge’!

  36. John Candido says:

    I see that the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal has led to the BBC’s Director-General, Mr. George Entwistle, to authorise several inquiries into this serious issue. The Roman Catholic Church should take cognisance of this and initiate an independent, international inquiry of the global clerical sex abuse scandal. The number of abused children would be far greater in number than the number that Savile would have abused in his time. If it is good enough for the goose, it is good enough for the gander.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/video/2012/oct/13/jimmy-savile-bbc-george-entwistle-video?intcmp=239

    • St.Joseph says:

      If we look into ALL the cases of sex abuse it would be a lot greater than the Catholic Church, I doubt if one priest alone had abused as many as J S.
      We must keep things in perspective.

  37. John Candido says:

    Currently in Melbourne, the state government of Victoria has initiated an inquiry into the sexual abuse of children by clergy. A former Catholic priest, who is currently a professor of Intercultural Studies, Professor Des Cahill of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, gave a submission calling for the abandonment of celibacy. He has also posited that around one in fifteen Catholic clergy is a child abuser.

    Cahill believes the Roman Catholic Church is incapable of reforming itself because of its internal culture. He has described the church as a holy and unholy mess, except where laypeople or religious sisters run things such as schools or welfare agencies. He has called for an eminent Catholic persons group, consisting of mainly laypeople, in order to usher in reforms such as greater transparency and accountability. And that ‘Catholic priests offended at a much higher rate than other men.’

    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/one-in-20-priests-an-abuser-inquiry-told-20121022-2816q.html

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-22/child-sexual-abuse-inquiry-continues/4327568

    In other news, the relatively newly installed archbishop of Perth in the state of West Australia, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, has acknowledged the loss of the church’s authority in sexual morality. He has suggested that the Church must shoulder some blame for its loss of community standing.

    He has written,

    ‘One of the reasons why our voice is not heard or respected when we seek to proclaim our beliefs is the shameful reality of sexual abuse by clergy, religious and other Church personnel,’

    Archbishop Costelloe further wrote.

    ‘As the new Archbishop of Perth, I would like to express my own horror of these terrible crimes, which have brought so much suffering to so many people. The victims of sexual abuse deserve our compassion, our admiration and our support.’

    The Archbishop went on to apologise to victims and their families.

    http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=33720

  38. John Candido says:

    Currently in Melbourne, the state government of Victoria has initiated an inquiry into the sexual abuse of children by clergy. A former Catholic priest, who is currently a professor of Intercultural Studies, Professor Des Cahill of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, gave a submission calling for the abandonment of celibacy. He has also posited that around one in fifteen Catholic clergy is a child abuser.

    Cahill believes the Roman Catholic Church is incapable of reforming itself because of its internal culture. He has described the church as a holy and unholy mess, except where laypeople or religious sisters run things such as schools or welfare agencies. He has called for an eminent Catholic persons group, consisting of mainly laypeople, in order to usher in reforms such as greater transparency and accountability. And that ‘Catholic priests offended at a much higher rate than other men.’

    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/one-in-20-priests-an-abuser-inquiry-told-20121022-2816q.html

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-22/child-sexual-abuse-inquiry-continues/4327568

    In other news, the relatively newly installed archbishop of Perth in the state of West Australia, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, has acknowledged the loss of the church’s authority in sexual morality. He has suggested that the Church must shoulder some blame for its loss of community standing.

    He has written,

    ‘One of the reasons why our voice is not heard or respected when we seek to proclaim our beliefs is the shameful reality of sexual abuse by clergy, religious and other Church personnel,’

    Archbishop Costelloe further wrote.

    ‘As the new Archbishop of Perth, I would like to express my own horror of these terrible crimes, which have brought so much suffering to so many people. The victims of sexual abuse deserve our compassion, our admiration and our support.’

    The Archbishop went on to apologise to victims and their families.

    http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=33720

  39. John Candido says:

    The Prime Minister of Australia, Ms. Julia Gillard, has just announced a national Royal Commission into all forms of child abuse by any institution, secular or religious, in order to freely examine how it occurs, why it is happening, and what can be done to prevent it in future. This Royal Commission will formally have the broadest set of questions or terms of reference, and in consequence, will have no formal end date. This will mean that it will most definitely continue its examination of its terms of reference for many years to come.

    It is important to realise one important consequence of this most welcome initiative. It could lead to the intervention of the state into religious culture, such as celibacy, amongst others, in order to protect children in the care of any lay or clerical persons, in any number of contexts. This dynamic can lead to important areas of ecclesiastical reform, which could be imposed by the state in the interests of protecting innocent children, from structures or any sacred culture that could endanger them.

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/pm-announces-abuse-inquiry-20121112-29862.html#poll

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