Friday, February 01, 2019

The Preferential Option for the Criminal

As mentioned previously on this blog, there is going to be no restoration of the West until a re-evangelisation of the people occurs.  For a variety of reasons, I don't feel that the Protestant churches have the ability to execute this function, which leaves the Catholic Church as the only institution capable of doing so. If the Catholic Church fails, it's all over. Fortunately we have the word of Christ, so we're going to win.

However, as things stand, the Catholic Church is in a lot of trouble and is fighting for its survival. Therefore before any re-evangelisation can occur it needs to get its own house in order and therefore its problems, and the battles to fix them, are of vital concern to anyone with an interest in a Western restoration.

From my perspective the Church has several deep theological and structural faults which have seriously hampered its ability to tackle Modernism. The sexual abuse saga in many ways illustrates some of the problems affecting the Church and I think it's worthwhile looking into them in order to diagnose, and then work out correctives to these institutional pathologies. And as an aside, I think that Francis is correct in that a simple "judicial" approach to this affair is wrong, and that a deeper analysis of the problem is required.

As I see it, the institutional failure in response to this crisis has several dimension which include.
1) Clericalism, which in this instance is the presumption of priestly impeccability by virtue of holding the office.
2) The avoidance of scandal. Which in this instance meaning the preservation of reputation at the expense of truth.

3)The influence of materialistic psychology which viewed moral fault as an "organic disease" which absolved the the guilt of perpetrator by removing responsibility because "he was sick".

4) Theological developments in the 20th Century which elevated the role of Mercy at the expense of Justice. i.e. the victim doesn't matter.
I actually think that this last one (4) is probably the biggest issue. Issues like homosexuality and greed are actually peripheral, as they they determine the types of crimes committed not the institutional response to them. What reports into the corruption of the Church have shown is that it was equally inept at punishing or reporting crimes no matter what their nature. Hetero's, homo's and thieves were all given free passes.

I suppose a good illustration of what I'm getting at is by looking at latest amendment to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the subject of the Death Penalty.
The death penalty

2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.

Astute readers will notice that the whole focus on the entry is primarily on the criminal and their redemption, secondarily on the protection of society, with there being no mention at all of the justice owed to the victim: The victim doesn't matter.

The recurring theme in the sexual abuse saga, across all continents, is the fact that the complaints of the victims were dismissed, suppressed or not openly acknowledged, and that priests were given multiple opportunities for redemption at the expense of their victims. Given the consistency of this response across various times and cultures it points towards an institutional feature and not a local anomaly.  It was standard operating procedure to have a presumption in favour of the priest at the expense of the victim.

I don't think that it was explicit malice that drove this presumption, rather theological developments in the 20th Century have led the Church to develop an implicit doctrine which results in a real world "preferential option for the criminal"..... at the expense of the victim. It may not be formally stated as such but it's what happens in reality. Being merciful to the wicked means being unjust to their victims. It's this institutional and cultural imperative--despite the well meaning natures of many who had to investigate sexual crimes within the Church--that led to the total organisational failure with regard to the protection of minors. It's a systemic problem with its roots in modern theology with its strong emphasis on the personal aspect of the faith at the expense of its communitarian " Church" dimension.

What the old guys understood and what the new guys have forgotten is that the thing about Mercy and Justice is that they are in opposition, and a theology which focuses exclusively on Mercy is one that is going to downplay Justice. They knew that the good ordering of society was just as necessary as the redemption of the criminal  and that's why they came down hard on the criminals in the past, sometimes too hard. They knew, as magistrates and judges, that they had a duty primarily to the victim and to the criminal to see that justice was done, otherwise they would be answerable to God. Letting the criminal off the hook was just not going to cut it.

Paradoxically, this new theology of mercy is just as likely to result in injustice to the criminal as well. If the primary metrics have now become redemption of the criminal and protection of society who determines when this has been achieved, how do long to prison sentences last? You don't have to be that bright to see the horrific potential for abuse in real world settings.

My own understanding of Christianity leads me to the conclusion that God is merciful, in fact He wants to be merciful: He's not a hanging judge. But the existence of Hell leads to the implicit conclusion that this faculty of mercy is at His discretion and is not always exercised. There are also good reasons to believe that his mercy may at times be conditional and that he is primarily just. This new theology seems hard to square up with scripture and tradition and goes a long way to explaining the mess in the Church and the reforms needed. This isn't just about homo's and sexuality as the Trads would like you to think, the problem is far deeper.

BTW, this isn't a swipe at Francis. From my perspective he's a mixed bag as a pope but he does seem to have grasped, in a way that his predecessor's haven't, that this is a far deeper problem than first appears.  He seems to have a good grasp of the structural reforms needed while being blind to the theological ones.  Fortunately, he seems to have the capacity to change his mind, whether he does so is a different matter altogether.

26 comments:

Ingemar said...

Francis grasps the problem? Francis is PART of the problem.

https://www.barnhardt.biz/2018/09/12/nuclear-bombshell-argentinian-whistleblower-interview-bergoglio-allows-the-catholic-elite-in-rome-to-have-access-to-gustavo-veras-child-sex-slaves/

dienw said...

Babylon is not going to save the West; its destruction will.

c mayy said...

I have a hard time seeing Francis as other than an opportunist. He acts only when forced to, and then his "actions" are more dialogue, obfuscation, delay in the hopes whatever crisis rears its head goes away or is forgotten. The only concrete actions he takes are against those that threaten his personal power.

But I do agree - the homo problem is symptom, not the cause. The cause, as you say is the over-emphasis on mercy without justice, or, as I would put it, without true repentance.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic church is unmoored from sound doctrine. They may be close to the pier, but they have unmoored themselves from the Bible.

Proverbs 30:5,6 (ESV)

Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Matthew 5:18 (ESV)
For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a
dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Hebrews 13:8 (ESV)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.


You cannot add or take away from the Word of God.


In the Catholic Church:

You add priestly celibacy, when _Peter_ had a mother-in-law, and you get pedophilia and homosexuality.

You take away capital punishment and you do not have a just society. When God set up a country, He had capital punishment and a lot of it, yet the Catholic church is trying to be holier than God.


In the protestant churches:

If you add teetotaling, you seem to create massive amounts of illegal activity around skirting this legalism. Teetotalers from the 19th century were trying to be holier than Jesus by disallowing alcohol. Jesus' _first_ recorded miracle was water-into-wine served to people who had already consumed all the existing wine! You cannot be holier than God. If you add or remove, you will be proved a liar.

If you take away the requirement that elders and pastors be men, then you get massive decline in church attendance, massive male participation drop off, drift from doctrine, and more creeping feminism.



I'm not sure how the Catholic church returns to sounds doctrine, but allowing papal creeds to overrule the Bible seems to be a recipe for drifting.

We protestants are cursed and blessed by an ability to schism. We can't seem to organize, but when you corrupt one church or denomination, you can schism and return to sound doctrine in another denomination or local church. For my family, the protestant church gets a red flag if it has a female pastor or if they support homosexuality or if they deny the divine inspiration of the bible.

Hoyos said...

@Anonymous

The celibacy thing is not entirely fair, there are married priests and always have been, albeit in a small minority. I really don't think there's a connection either to deviancy. Deviancy of convenience happens when the natural means are removed, these guys are just celibate not in prison. However, even protestant churches have problems, as does the BSA, or anywhere a predator can hunt for his preferred prey. That they are there isn't shocking, even though it's sickeningly awful it's what predators do, that it's blown off or covered up by hierarchy is way, way more shocking.

On the death penalty, it's not much different than protestants per se. There's always some, even the influential who go off on a tangent. The Bible cannot be overruled either in Catholic or in orthodox Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox doctrine.

Phariseeism is a natural human failing, an almost universal tendency along with Sadducceeism; I've pondered it a lot and I think the essence of the Pharisee is that the system becomes more important than the thing itself. That's not a criticism of system, systems are necessary and helpful. Catholics and Protestants are full of men who end up pushing a system and forgetting the point, the love of God and movement towards Him.

Trying not to write an essay, and a bit OT, but here goes. Catholics and Protestants routinely use awful arguments against each other. You can tell they were developed and approved of by other Catholics or Protestants and weren't really "field tested". The Protestants attack the Catholic Church for believing things that are actually straight condemned by Catholic doctrine. The Catholics attack the Protestants by assuming that Protestants believe things along Catholic lines ("We've go one church, you've got thousands" No Protestants have one church, and routinely cross denominational lines for many purpose, the denominations exist for a separate reason).

Anonymous said...

With regard to priestly celibacy, of course it selects for homosexuality. Two scenarios:

1. You are a strong Catholic with a normal heterosexual strong drive to be with a woman, then you have to choose the priesthood or women. Women are a very strong motivator for most men and they are very hard to stay away from.

2. You are a strong Catholic with unfortunate homosexual tendencies. You knowyou shouldn't act them out, so why not be a priest. Hopefully it will help younot fulfill the urges that you have and can stay celibate.

Yes yes yes protestants have real and very serious problems and I don't claim that we are doing it all right. Yes, some protestant pastors do engage in pedophilia, *many* youth pastors use their status and position to bang chicks in the youth group, and *many* pastors use their status and position to sleep with women that come to them for council. However, the depth of the pedophilia problem in the Catholic Church is outrageously great in magnitude. They added priestly celibacy, which Paul does not require and Peter did adhere to. This addition to the teachings are causing the Catholic Church to be proved a liar.

Yes, here I am field testing my argument that priestly celibacy is an immoral addition to christian orthodoxy and is causing severe and systemic issues in the Catholic Church. Do you deny that the Catholic Church has an outsized problem with pedophilia? Paul specifically says in 1st Corinthians 1:8 "But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." This option is not allowed to the men in scenario 1. They will end up having to leave the priesthood if they follow Paul's recommendation. That's a tough pill to swallow if you think you're supposed also be a priest.

Hoyos said...

Yes they are hard to stay away from, that’s why it’s a sacrifice. St. Paul was celibate, and had a high opinion of it. But if course it’s not required.

Regarding gays thinking Why not be a priest? Because canon law says you shouldn’t.

There just isn’t a connection between celibacy and pedophilia. Hell, most men at any period of time aren’t having regular sex. If you say that celibacy makes you into a pervert, there just isn’t the evidence for it. Men will get frustrated and maybe have some problems, but it really doesn’t lead to that extreme of a reaction in normal men. You’re conflating things because you have a view of sexuality that is borderline Freudian, that if it’s repressed it will come out in unhealthy ways. I guarantee that you’ve experienced sexual frustration and not once wanted to rape anybody. See? It just doesn’t work like that.

The problem is overwhelmingly a homosexual related pederasty problem in practice and the outsized problem is due to corruption in the hierarchy. It’s complex but Taylor Marshall has a good series on this, if you know who that is.

mdavid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MK said...

anon: We protestants are cursed and blessed by an ability to schism. We can't seem to organize, but when you corrupt one church or denomination, you can schism and return to sound doctrine in another denomination or local church.

Laughing here. How can one schism to "sound doctrine" when nobody (by definition) agrees on what is said "sound doctrine"? I think your comment must be from The Onion...

SP: ...but he does seem to have grasped, in a way that his predecessor's haven't, that this is a far deeper problem than first appears. He seems to have a good grasp of the structural reforms needed while being blind to the theological ones.

One word: Vigano. Francis is corrupt, period. His predecessors, for all their faults, were not.

Anonymous said...

Hoyos,
If it is not required to be celibate, then why can't priests who "burn with
passion" exercise an escape hatch that Paul *specifically* says is available to them. This is an *added* legalism that is a contradiction to scripture as it both constrains an existing escape hatch mechanism that Paul describes and adds a new requirement.

Yes, Paul speaks well of celibacy, but he doesn't *mandate* it, which is what the Catholic Church has chosen to do. This is an *addition*:

Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

MK,
Protestants have traditionally espoused "sola scriptura", which is scripture as highest authority. Yes it is up to interpretation, but at least _it_ doesn't change. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has indeed added priestly celibacy - a burden far too great for many a man. I'm aware that there are forces in the Catholic Church attempting to overturn priestly celibacy, but the sin of adding to God's words is a great evil and the wages of sin is death. The death emanating from this addition to Gods word is the pedophilia crisis that is showing its face.

Anonymous said...

The best living Catholic novelist is probably Gene Wolfe (I don't read enough fiction to sure). Here's what he said in an interview about the death penalty (minor spoilers for "The Book of the New Sun"):

"I didn't want my readers to be able to dismiss violence and pain with some platitudes about "Oh, violence—how terrible!" It's very easy to say how terrible it is to beat a man with a whip, or lock him up for 30 years of his life, or to execute him. These are indeed awful things. But when you are actually in authority, you find out that sometimes it's absolutely necessary for you to take certain distasteful actions...What are you going to do with someone like John Wayne Gacy—who used to live about eight miles from where we're sitting right now—if you're not going to be willing to lock him up for the rest of his life? If you let him out, he's almost certain to start killing more innocent people. I wanted Severian to have to face at least the possibility that being an agency of pain and death is not necessarily an evil thing. That's one recognition he must come to grips with when he decides to leave a knife in Thecla's cell to help her commit suicide. He's partially responsible for the blood he sees seeping from under her cell door, just as every member of a society is responsible for the blood shed by people it decides to execute."

@MK: Reformation historian Brad Gregory has pointed out that endless schism was inherent in the doctrine of sola scriptura from the start and the only thing that allowed coherent Protestant confessions like Lutheranism and Calvinism to develop was the formation of State churches that regulated orthodoxy in the much same way the Catholic Church did. During periods when State churches didn't exist or didn't actively regulate orthodoxy (the very early Reformation, Cromwellian England, 19th Century America) there was a massive and swift proliferation of sects all claiming to be Christian but having drastically non-complementary views. This despite the early reformers' (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc.) clear desire to have one global protestant church.

@anon: The historical norm is that a large minority of Catholic priests are straight but have mistresses or concubines. This is bad but it will always exist to some extent. Again, the early protestant reformers only complained about this problem. Zwingli lived with a concubine when he was a Catholic priest. If the Catholic Church of the 1520s had the same problems it had in the 1970s I'm sure the protestants would have brought it up.

Both St. Paul and the Council of Trent affirm (and Protestants deny) that celibacy is a higher state of life then marriage, the question is to what extent should it be required for priests. Protestants can explain the religious who fails in regard, because they view the human will as inherently corrupt and ruled by the passions, but they can't explain religious who actually succeeds in keeping these vows by developing the Christian (and Aristotelian) virtues, because that's "salvation through works".

Anonymous said...

@Hoyos:

"No Protestants have one church, and routinely cross denominational lines for many purpose". This is an historical development that grew out of the practical failure of Protestants to reach a consensus on doctrine. It was unknown to and would have shocked the first and second generation of protestants.

Luther viewed Zwingli as an awful heretic, worse than the Pope, for denying the Real Presence (and vice versa); the Calvinists and Zwinglians viewed the Anabaptists as awful heretics, worse than the Pope, for denying infant baptism and social hierarchy (and vice versa); etc. etc.

MK said...

anon: Yes, Paul speaks well of celibacy, but he doesn't *mandate* it, which is what the Catholic Church has chosen to do. This is an *addition*:

You really don't understand the Catholic Church.

RCC celibacy is just a administrative option (for economic reasons). Catholics have no theological problem with married priests. But it makes sense to use unmarried priests so their focus in on their flock not their family. We Catholics are spoiled having such free labor at our disposal.

Your problem is you think the Church "owes" something to people wanting to be priests. It doesn't. The priest serves the flock and nobody has a right to be one. If you want to get married as a RC, just get a job or be a Deacon. Nobody owes anybody squat.

The Social Pathologist said...

Thanks everyone for the comments.

@cmayy

The cause, as you say is the over-emphasis on mercy without justice, or, as I would put it, without true repentance.

But here's the problem, repentance in the perpetrator may qualify for mercy to the perpetrator but does bugger all for the injury to the victim. It is possible to forgive the criminal for his SIN but punish him for his CRIME.

Take the whole McCarrick saga for instance. The Church could have forgiven him for his sin and ensured that he did not go to He did not go to hell while at the same time remove him from his office and report him to the police. His soul would have been saved and justice served.

@Hoyos

I've pondered it a lot and I think the essence of the Pharisee is that the system becomes more important than the thing itself.

That's a good point but I think it's incomplete. I think there is an element of hubris involved as well. It's the notion that by knowing and living by all the rules one has a complete knowledge and understanding of God. The thing about the Pharisees is that they were SURE that THEY were right and that Christ was wrong. They knew that God had nothing more to teach them.

@MK and others.

One word: Vigano. Francis is corrupt, period. His predecessors, for all their faults, were not.

And yet most of the abuse happened on their watch, not on Francis's.

Truth.

From what the Jay Report Says the worst stuff happened during just before V2 and until the Mid 80's. Francis was not minding the shop then.


Look, I'd cut Francis some slack. He is a revolutionary Pope but not in the way conservatives portray him to be. I think that what he is trying to do is get rid of the traditional model of Catholic social organisation where the Pope does everyone's thinking for them. To understand him, you have to understand the concept of collegiality. What he wants essentially is for the Church "as whole" to agree on things, not simple obey the Pope. What may surprise many is that the Church of Benedict and JP11 was a "modern" Church and Francis is trying to do is revert it to a more medieval model. What the Trads are saying to him is "You tell those heretics what they need to do." and what Francis is saying is work it out yourselves first. he doesn't want to be a dictatorial pope he wants to be an affirmative one. This, of course, is freaking out the Trads who are used to following the rules knowing that it will ensure their holiness. i.e. Pharisiasicism. Hence his annoyance with them.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Anon

Thank you for your comments. It may surprise you but I'm broadly--with some reservations--in agreement with them.

They may be close to the pier, but they have unmoored themselves from the Bible.

Respectfully, while you may disagree, I don't think that the Bible itself is a complete encapsulation of the mind of God. Christ himself, in John 14:16 and 14:26 says that there is more to know. Catholic "Tradition", in this context, is that knowledge, and so, yes, Catholics do "add" to the Bible.

However, for this addition to be legitimate it has to be consistent with the Bible and I think that you're correct in that some unmooring has taken place. I interpret the Bible like Scalia interprets the constitution:I'm a biblical textualist. And there are some "modern" and "old" Church teachings which I can't square up with it. As you correctly state, when you veer from the texts too far you're going to stumble. As the Master said, you judge a tree by its fruit and Western Catholicism is a dying tree. This should have alerted the clergy that something is seriously wrong, but their stock standard response is to blame everyone except themselves.

Both St. Paul and the Council of Trent affirm (and Protestants deny) that celibacy is a higher state of life then marriage, the question is to what extent should it be required for priests.

I think that is a very legitimate question.

I understand that there are many pragmatic reasons for limiting the priesthood to celibates but I think that we, as Catholics, kid ourselves that this restriction doesn't introduce new problems.

Firstly, the practice of celibacy does NOT increase the risk of sexual abuse. I think that the Jay report stated that the rate of abuse by the priesthood was between 4-10% priests. I think that rate of abuse in the lay heterosexual community is about 25%.

What's interesting about the sexual abuse figures that have come from the U.S. is that majority of victims were male, as opposed to community sexual abuse where the majority of abuse victims are female. Ergo, most of the abuse in the Church is homosexual in nature.

What I think that that celibacy does do is produce is single-sex environments which can easily be co-opted by homosexuals. And it does look like that this has definitely been the case. From what I can see, approx 15-30% of priests are gay in orientation, much higher than the 3% in the community.

There is a problem.

Anonymous said...

''I don't feel that the Protestant churches have the ability to execute this function''

The body may appear dead. But if past indicates anything. They are not to be counted out.

Anonymous said...

''What I think that that celibacy does do is produce is single-sex environments which can easily be co-opted by homosexuals. And it does look like that this has definitely been the case. From what I can see, approx 15-30% of priests are gay in orientation, much higher than the 3% in the community.''

The best thing to do is for all sexual misconduct is file a police report 1st. There is no other way to combat this.

Make sure those rapists end up in prison.

The cops and due process seem to the most effective way to deal with this.

Anonymous said...

Church militant TV advocates this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOe_Ws_z7sk

David Foster said...

In St-Exupery's unfinished novel 'Citadelle' (published in English under the unfortunate title 'Wisdom of the Sands'), the narrator is the ruler of an mythical desert kingdom. In one passage, he visits a man who he had condemned to death, and considers pardoning him. But he concludes that he must not do this, because:

"By his death, I tighten certain springs which must not be permitted to be relaxed"

The Social Pathologist said...

@ Anon

The body may appear dead. But if past indicates anything. They are not to be counted out.

Believe me, I'm not crowing about Protestantism's demise. I hope I'm wrong but I'm not seeing much to help me change my mind.

@Anon

The best thing to do is for all sexual misconduct is file a police report 1st. There is no other way to combat this.

Agree, but the question is why didn't they do this. Given the extent of the problem in a variety of different jurisdictions, it points to more than human mendacity but rather points towards some kind of systemic problem. Lot's of guys who covered up the crimes thought that they were doing the morally right thing.

@David

"By his death, I tighten certain springs which must not be permitted to be relaxed"

St Expury is right.


The Social Pathologist said...

@Anon

Church militant TV advocates this:

Voris is an example of the worst kind of deceiver out there. By mixing a lot of truth with a few lies, the lies fly under the radar; all under the name of orthodoxy. The fundamental premise of orthodoxy is truth, yet the truth of that the sexual abuse crisis is not a product of modernism and has existed in both traditionalist and modernist environments. JPII knew about it and did nothing. In Ireland, a lot of the abuse happened Pre-V2. Voris spins a subtle lie but a lie none the less.

MK said...

JPII knew about it and did nothing. In Ireland, a lot of the abuse happened Pre-V2.

You remind me of an American! We all think the world or the Church or somebody owes us something, rather than the blunt reality that we are all sinners, including the Chruch. Anyone who thinks Francis, or JPII, or anyone can "fix" human sin with better structure is loco. Our culture is sexually sick, and it makes sense it's going to pass down to the Church in some way. It would be amazing if it didn't.

And knowing about sex abuse, and figuring out what to do about it, are two very different things. "Doing nothing" is pretty much the reality for any large institution. Hell, B2 just quit he was so disgusted. Everyone seems to think they know the cause and the right answer, like Voris or you. I laugh since I can hardly run a 2-digit family and I have more power than the pope in that venue.

MK said...

Regarding the liberal vs conservative theme, keep in mind Francis is morally corrupt. A good example that works through this: https://frmarkdwhite.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/mccarrick-verdict/. Note I never was a Francis hater, just being honest about the data. I've seen zero data suggesting B12 or JP2 were corrupt.

Kevin Smith said...

What about Orthodox? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also continues to grow.

Paul D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul D. said...

Protestantism for all its reference to the "Bible" is nothing more than Bibliodalotry which worships a book over God, Himself.

If Protestants love God prove it by loving His Church rather than creating nothing but heresy and division through personal pride in a race to create as many churches as there are ways to multiply error.