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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Monday, August 27, 2018
by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published August 20, 2018, at NCRegister.com.
The fact that Archbishop McCarrick’s preferred sex partners are male and Weinstein’s are female should not distract us from this most basic point.
Both men live by the sexual revolutionary creed.
Harvey Weinstein (L); Archbishop Theodore McCormick (R) (Weinstein (Sam Aronov / Shutterstock.com), McCarrick (© Mazur_catholicchurch.org.uk/via
Question: What do Harvey Weinstein and Theodore McCarrick have in common?
Answer: That vow of celibacy they took.
Oh. Wait. Maybe not.
All kidding aside: Weinstein and McCarrick do have something important in common. They are both powerful men who believed they were entitled to use people sexually.
As everyone knows by now, countless people have been coming forward with stories of sexual abuse, harassment and rape in the movie industry (Weinstein, Kevin Spacey), politics, (Al Franken), media, (Matt Lauer), sports, (Larry Nassar), and now, the Catholic Church. Victims include men and women, boys and girls of all ages: children, teenagers and adults in subordinate positions to the predator. All this happening at this particular time allows us to see both the root cause and the ultimate solution.
The root cause of this problem is the same in both its Catholic and non-Catholic varieties. Men like Archbishop McCarrick and Weinstein think they are entitled to sex. And they both have (or used to have) enough power to take whatever they wanted. The fact that Archbishop McCarrick’s preferred sex partners are male and Weinstein’s are female should not distract us from this most basic point. Both men live by the Sexual Revolutionary Creed:
Sex is a private recreational activity with no moral or social consequences. Everyone is entitled to the sex lives they want, with a minimum of inconvenience. Any sexual activity is morally acceptable, as long as the participants consent. Believing all this is called being “sex positive.”
In practice of course, this is a sham. In practice, the richer, the more powerful, the more influential can manipulate the terms of “consent” out of all recognition. The sexual revolutionary ideology creates cover for the predator, especially the well-connected, powerful predator.
It is truly astonishing how many people accept and live by the Sexual Revolutionary Creed, without considering that they themselves might one day be the “prey,” instead of the “predator.”
I believe this is why the #MeToo movement, while producing many good fruits, has ultimately stalled. People are genuinely appalled by Weinstein’s abuses. But these same people don’t really know what to do about it. Do you recall the starlets’ inept protest at the Golden Globes? They made a pact to wear black as a protest of the objectification of women. But some of them choose black dresses, the immodesty of which, let us say, undermined their statement.
The problem? These starlets wanted to protest the exploitation of women, without protesting the ideology that made objectification socially acceptable in the first place. These women are hanging on to things they should not be hanging on to. They want to keep their pills and their pornography and their view of themselves as progressive. They want to be “sex positive” and never be caught in the predatory trap that the sexual revolutionary ideology makes possible.
This also suggests the ultimate solution.
We need to give it up. All of it. As Catholics, we are better positioned than anyone else to lead this charge. We already know that we shouldn’t be using each other sexually. Our Church has taught this since apostolic times. We already know that we shouldn’t be using contraception. Blessed Pope Paul VI predicted it 50 years ago in Humanae Vitae. The widespread social and moral acceptance of contraception leads to a “lowering of moral standards.”
That is why it is so appalling and inexcusable when powerful prelates of the Catholic church are implicated in sex abuse themselves or in covering it up in others. These men are using their position of power and authority in the Church to provide cover for their self-indulgence. They enjoy their worldly double-lives.
At the same time, the impact of these double lives goes far beyond the immediate harm to their immediate victims. These men are not too likely to be giving sermons on the evils of sex outside of marriage or of contracepted sex. Their silence has been a contributing factor to the advance of the sexual revolutionary ideology throughout society. Their corruption undermines their brother priests who are living godly lives. And the scandal of the predatory priests casts a cloud of suspicion over innocent priests. Instead of being the guardian of traditional sexual morality, the Catholic Church has become a symbol of hypocrisy or worse.
Of course, everyone reading this article is deeply troubled, ashamed, embarrassed, by all this. We wonder “How could this happen?” and “Why don’t’ the bishops do something?” and so on. I take nothing away from those feelings or those questions. You should be upset. The bishops should do something.
But I believe you can actually do something to help, regardless of what the bishops choose to do or not do. My suggestion: Let go of any part of the sexual revolution that you are holding on to. Maybe you agree that abortion is wrong, but you think contraception is OK. Maybe you are one of those parishioners who complain if the pastor preaches on pro-lifetopics. Maybe you are one of the parents in a Catholic high school who thinks the “gay” gym teacher shouldn’t be fired just because she married her same-sex partner in a public ceremony.
Stop cutting corners on Church teaching. Your witness against sexual abuse will be more compelling. You will be more motivated without the nagging hint of doubt dragging you down.
And trust me on this. You will feel better. I can remember when I finally admitted to myself that contraception was wrong, and I needed to confess it. I felt so light after that confession, I skipped across the parking lot.
Our current conflicted attitude reminds me of people back in the day who might have said, “Well, slavery isn’t so bad. We should just regulate the working hours and conditions of the slaves. And then we could have all the economic benefits of slavery without going overboard with something as radical as abolition.” What would we think of someone who reasoned that way? We’d be saying, “No, we cannot come up with enough regulations to make the principle of one person owning another anything but abusive.”
Treating sex as an entitlement is part of the sexual revolutionary air we breathe. We imagine, “If we just put another Band-Aid on this, we can all have the sex we want, without anyone getting abused. Or at least, I won’t get abused.”
There are not enough Band-Aids in existence to fix this.
No one is entitled to sex. Not Archbishop McCarrick. Not Harvey Weinstein. Not you. Not me. Let’s go all in for the full truth.
Posted on: Monday, August 20, 2018
by Claire Chretien
This article was first posted August 8, 2018, at Life Site News.
According to Pope Francis-appointed Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, homosexuality in the clergy isn’t the main issue in the sex abuse crisis, and saying so is a “diversion” away from the real issue, clericalism.
“In the weeks since allegations were made against Archbishop McCarrick, some commentators and clergy have suggested that allowing gay men to be priests has created a culture ripe for the kind of abuse Archbishop McCarrick is alleged to have committed,” the Jesuit publication reported. “But Cardinal Cupich said he ‘would be very careful’ in accepting that conclusion, noting that similar claims made during the height of the child sexual abuse crisis in the 2000s were refuted by an independent 2011 report compiled by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.”
Cupich also praised the Dallas Charter, the U.S. bishops’ document on dealing with sex abuser priests, as having been effective at removing now ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, even though it specifically avoids addressing consequences for predatory bishops. He made a number of other comments about the need for “a review to confirm if policies that already were in place were not followed” and how “shocked” he was to learn about McCarrick’s pederasty.
“Cardinal Cupich sounds more like a bureaucrat than a pastor,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute and the author of the forthcoming book The Sexual State, told LifeSiteNews. “I am particularly concerned that he is recycling the old canard from the 2002 go-round of clerical sex abuse: ‘this has nothing to do with homosexuality.’”
“Both the 2004 and the 2011 John Jay Reports concluded that 80% of the cases of sexual abuse of minors were of adolescent boys,” she pointed out. “That has something to do with homosexual activity. The current crisis is about seminarians being sexually harassed by their superiors. That has something to do with homosexual activity.”
Austin Ruse, President of the Center for Family and Human Rights, echoed Morse’s sentiments.
"Cardinal Cupich continues the false narrative that the sex abuse scandals in 2002 had nothing to do with homosexuality when in fact, more than 80% of the cases were adult men assaulting teen boys,” the international pro-life and pro-family activist said. “Then and now this scandal has everything to do with homosexuality. We simply will not allow them to get away with this narrative, particularly since McCarrick's sexual predation was on adult men.”
George Neumayr, author of The Political Pope: How Pope Francis Is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives and a book about former President Obama’s attacks on religious freedom, had strong words for Cupich and Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the latter of whom recently said the U.S. bishops should investigate themselves.
“These charlatans don’t need a new bureaucratic panel; they need an exorcist,” he wrote on Facebook.
Father Thomas Berg, a professor of moral theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary, tweeted that Cupich’s “immediate defensiveness about homosexuality in the priesthood...typifies what is so wrong in episcopal culture.”
Fr. Thomas Berg@frtberg
The immediate defensiveness about homosexuality in the priesthood; improved H.R. policies can fix this; “someone dropped the ball”
#McCarrick case: #rubbish @CardinalBCupich typifies what is so wrong in episcopal culture.
Dr. Janet Smith, a moral theologian at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, said, “I believe that [Cardinal] Cupich is correct that clericalism is a great problem in the Church perhaps as seriously for how priests and seminarians are treated by their fellow priests as laity are treated by priests. Too many priests are petty tyrants who will not share power and who wield their power to their own advantage rather than to serve others.”
“So yes, clericalism does need to be addressed and one hopes that when the problem of homosexual networks in diocese[s] and orders is eliminated, other problems in the priesthood can be addressed,” she told LifeSiteNews. “What those who are involved in homosexual networks are guilty of is not just ‘sexual misbehavior’ or ‘sexual misconduct’; it sometimes involves assault and misuse of power and just plain old mortal sin.”
Another thing Cupich said to America was that he thinks the Church needs new structures to report what the magazine described as “sexual misconduct not involving children.” America wrote:
“If there was a misstep in this, so that people did not have the means by which they could put forward a complaint with objectivity and security, [knowing] that it would be acted on, then we need to put [that] in place,” Cardinal Cupich said.
But, he said, there is no need to “invent any new machinery” in order to adopt policies for reporting such allegations.
“An H.R. department would know how to help us do that, and we should learn from those best practices,” the cardinal said.
“We have heard so many stories of priests brave enough to report immoral sexual advances and forced sexual contact that have been ignored by bishops or which have been used against the priests who report, to very much want to have an investigation into dioceses to find out whether bishops have [dealt] well or poorly with reports of priests, heterosexual and homosexual, who have behaved immorally and been reported,” Smith continued. “This is a deep ugly problem that simply good ‘HR’ offices are not capable of addressing.”
Michael Hichborn, President of the Lepanto Institute, said Cupich’s interview “shows that he is either completely out of touch with reality or he is a liar.”
“His praise [for] the Dallas Charter for the protection of children as ‘effective in removing the former Cardinal’ is a sick joke!” Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “That charter was not only drafted by McCarrick, but it specifically omitted bishops from actionable culpability. How could it have played a role in McCarrick's removal when all of the bishops who would have known about what McCarrick was doing were complicit in covering it all up?”
Hichborn, too, noted it is bizarre that Cupich would say the John Jay reports – which showed that most priestly sex abuse cases involved post-pubescent males – proved homosexuality in the clergy is not a major issue.
“It simply isn't possible that the main driving force behind the scandal isn't homosexual priests when the vast majority of the victims are males,” he said. “And since he read the report, Cardinal Cupich knows this.”
“Given the revelations surrounding Archbishop McCarrick, it's clear that there has got to be a complete and thorough removal of ALL homosexual clergymen from the Church,” said Hichborn. “All of them! And it won't happen unless the laity not only demand it, but withhold their financial contributions to the bishops until we are sure that every single homosexual priest is removed.”
“The lay faithful are not going to be diverted by attempts to change the subject. Clergy living active homosexual lives are causing a lot of problems in the Church,” Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews. “They are hurting their victims.They are also hurting the good, holy and innocent priests who are all under suspicion.”
“If the bishops won't face these problems, the laity will have to find new and imaginative ways of applying pressure,” she warned. On her blog, she crunched numbers from the John Jay reports to demonstrate how they do, in fact, show homosexuality is a big issue in clerical sex abuse cases – and that the reports are “no comfort at all in today’s context,” given they do not address harassment seminarians face from superiors and the problem of adult-on-adult sexual predation.
Ruse called for scrutiny of those in the Church who support parishes that defy Catholic teaching on sexual morality.
“Our investigations should include all those who support and promote so-called gay affirming parishes and even those who deny the homosexual angle,” he said.
Dr. Smith said a purge of sexually corrupt priests will leave the Church with a “small priesthood” but one that is more pure.
“Bishops must go through their memories and files to dig out what accusations there have been of sexually sinful behavior by priests but especially by priests involved in networks that harm other individuals,” Dr. Smith suggested. “If the bishop doesn't have ‘proof’ of the alleged immoral behavior [he needs] to use what moral means there are to obtain [it].”
“And then they should ask unrepentant priests to seek laicization. We will have a small priesthood and likely fewer parishes...but we need a [clergy] that
strives at all times for holiness and who can truly manifest their stature of being ‘in persona Christi’ in more than a window dressing way,” said
Posted on: Saturday, August 11, 2018
Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., Research Associate of the Ruth Institute, Answers Questions on The Clerical Sex Abuse Scandal
Is the current Catholic sex abuse scandal related to homosexuality?
Yes. The current scandal includes mostly revelations about male on male sexual abuse of seminarians, where the victims are adults. These kinds of cases were not even considered in the responses to the 2002 scandal, which was about the criminal abuse of minors.
Was the 2002 scandal also related to homosexuality?
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned two reports, one in 2004 and in 2011, by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to study the reported cases of clerical sex abuse from 1950 through 2002 and 2010 respectively. Both reports found that over 80% of the victims were neither girls, nor pre-pubescent children (true pedophilia), but pre-teen and teenage boys. These results clearly indicate that the problem was male on male predation by priests against under-aged boys.
Is there a “homosexual subculture” which exists within certain Catholic institutions?
Yes. In a 2002 survey of a national sample of 1,852 Catholic priests by the Los Angeles Times, 44% responded "yes" when asked if there was a "homosexual subculture in your diocese or religious institute". To the question, “In the seminary you attended, was there a homosexual subculture at the time?” 53% of recently-ordained priests responded “Yes” (reported in Hoge and Wenger, Evolving Visions of the Priesthood, p. 102. Their own concurrent survey yielded 55% “Yes” to the identical question.)
Books by former seminary rector Donald Cozzens and psychologist Richard Sipe have described how such subcultures encourage and cover up sexual misconduct. Predatory priests and superiors can abuse the confessional by grooming victims who confess sexual temptations. Grossly immature priests are clueless about the extent of the harm they are causing. Cozzens, who writes from firsthand experience, relates that sexually active homosocial groups were at times so dominant that heterosexual men felt that they did not fit in, and left the seminary.
How has this “subculture” contributed to patterns of abuse within the Church?
Sipe chronicles, from mental health records and public court documents, a culture of denial and cover-up by confessors, spiritual directors, faculty, and senior clerics. Sipes wrote presciently in 2011 about what he called the “Cardinal McCarrick Syndrome.” Powerful clerics, including bishops, escaped exposure and penalty even though everyone knew about their predatory behavior and abuse of power. The sense of entitlement shown by senior clerics to seminarians eerily parallels the situation of Hollywood executives to young actresses and actors.
Pictured: Father McCarrick and James in the 1970s. From the New York Times article.
Do these findings suggest that the time has come for the Church to relax its teaching on homosexual activity?
Actually, the exact opposite is true. These findings do not contradict Catholic teaching. The Church holds that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”, which means they are inherently incapable of fulfilling the purpose of human sex relations, like blindness is inherently incapable of fulfilling the purpose of sight. Further, homosexual acts actively interfere with godliness and human well-being. Though individuals can achieve Christian maturity through chastity, self-denial, and self-control, a homosexual inclination is not a recommendation for Church leadership. In fact, since 2005 Catholic norms have formally prohibited any known homosexual man from being ordained. Honestly, applying these norms consistently would have avoided a tremendous number of problems.
Isn’t it rank hypocrisy on the part of the Catholic Church, which seems to be dominated by homosexually active men, to continue to condemn homosexual practice?
Someone once said, “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.” The failure to live up to the teachings does not prove anything one way or the other about the value of those teachings.
Is allowing priests to marry a potential solution to this problem?
Celibacy is not a scapegoat, and married priests are not a panacea. In my research on married priests, I found that married priests are statistically no less likely to engage in minor sex abuse as are celibate priests. At this point, we need to focus on removing abusers and enablers from positions of power. We can talk about other issues such as the discipline of celibacy once we’ve solved this problem.
The Ruth Institute believes the facts show that:
About Fr. Sullins-- The Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute. He recently retired as Professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. Dr. Sullins is a leader in the field of research on same-sex parenting and its implications for child development. He has written four books, including Keeping the Vow: The Untold Story of Married Catholic Priests, and over 100 journal articles, research reports, and essays on issues of family, faith, and culture.
He was ordained by Cardinal McCarrick in 2002, during the height of the sex abuse crisis of that year. Fr. Sullins feels a profound sense of personal disappointment and betrayal, along with a desire to see holiness and trust restored in our hierarchy.
For interviews with Fr. Sullins, or Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, please email Elizabeth Johnson at media (at) ruthinstitute dot org.
Posted on: Tuesday, August 07, 2018
by Friend of Ruth, Joe DeVet
The following response was given to a volunteer for Engaged Encounter, who asked for an opinion on Cardinal Farrell's remark that priests don't have credibility in marriage preparation.
Posted on: Monday, August 06, 2018
By Jenet Jacob Erickson
This article was first published on August 5, 2018, at Deseret News.
Once again, Roe v. Wade finds itself at the center of a Supreme Court nomination battle. And regardless of whether Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, there is no question that scientific advancements have “remade” the abortion debate. With ultrasound imagery and innovations in neonatology, a developing fetus is no longer referred to as “a mass of tissue,” even by abortion advocates. Public opinion reflects this change. Strong majorities of Americans, across demographic groups, oppose abortions in the second (65 percent) and third trimesters (81 percent). And even in the first trimester, a majority (53 percent) agrees abortion should be illegal when the woman’s only reason is not wanting to have a child.
Whether abortion means terminating a developing life is no longer debated. That is clear. The debate now centers on what abortion means for women. In the face of public support for some abortion restrictions, pro-choice advocates argue, “abandoning abortion rights means abandoning women.” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue claims that those who advocate for restrictions on abortion are “not really anti-abortion. … They are against a world where women can contribute equally and chart our own destiny in ways our grandmothers never thought possible.”
But Hogue’s claim belies a damaging assumption. One we must take seriously. She assumes that women cannot be equal to men unless they act destructively against their bodies and the developing life they carry. Essentially, women are told that by sacrificing life they can achieve an “equal” life.
As Harvard visiting scholar Erika Bacciochi explains, abortion advocacy assumes a “troubling natural inequality” for women because they get pregnant and men do not. Abortion eliminates that difference so women, like men, can enter into sexual relations without commitment, “free” to become, both socially and economically. But to do so, women must act “affirmatively and destructively” on their bodies to imitate men.
In the words of pro-life scholar Camille Williams, in essence, women are reduced to “defective men,” living “at the mercy of our bodies, too weak, irrational and incompetent to resist irresponsible men who impregnate us, and too politically weak to shape our educational institutions and workplaces” to accommodate the gift of our fertility.
Abortion does not remedy inequality for women. It entrenches it by refusing to acknowledge and respect the sexual difference between men and women. Instead of shaping our educational institutions and workplaces to respect, protect and support women’s childbearing, abortion encourages us to ignore it. Instead of seeking remedies for the challenges and injustices faced by pregnant women, abortion “submits” to them, masking and not responding to the realities women face.
The assumptions underlying abortion have also undermined the responsibility men and women feel for each other, and the life they create. Abortion on demand teaches that relationships are terminable at will — that love, sacrifice and commitment are contingent upon self-interest and fulfillment. It says not only to a developing person, but to the mother herself, “I will love and care for you when it works for me.” But in the rejection of her pregnancy, she is also being rejected. To denigrate the gift of life unavoidably denigrates the person who carries that life.
As sociologist Mark Regnerus’ research found, “Sex among singles used to occur in and during the search for someone to marry. … The average woman could and did count on seeing evidence of commitment before sex, because sex risked pregnancy. … Now having sex and thinking about or committing to marry are two very different things.”
The tragic result is fewer marriageable men, less commitment, and a sexually permissive climate where women are easily objectified. Permissive abortion allows men to be absolved of responsibility for the gift of life that may result from their sexual relationships, whether aborted or not. And so, ironically, since Roe v. Wade, the out-of-wedlock childbearing rate has grown from 5 percent to 41 percent with profound negative implications, especially for low-income women and children. Although abortion is often marketed as a means of planning for child-rearing, easy access to it has undermined our capacity to form the committed relationships children depend upon.
A culture of abortion is ultimately antithetical to the equality women deserve, and it undermines the desire many women have for committed relationships with men as husbands and fathers, and with the children of those fathers. Given the long-term implications of the assumptions underlying a culture of permissive abortion, we can and must do better for women.
Jenet Jacob Erickson is an affiliated scholar of the Wheatley Institution at BYU.
Posted on: Thursday, August 02, 2018
People are outraged about the revelations of Cardinal McCarrick’s lifetime of sexual abuse of minors and seminarians and are proposing ideas for reform. For now, we're focusing on the most important thing: the suffering of a little boy.
James was 11 when Fr. McCarrick began abusing him. James asked for help, but no one believed him. He began acting out, got into drinking, drugs, and trouble with the law. People were even less inclined to believe him against the word of a priest. All this compounded the trauma.
After Cardinal McCarrick’s other crimes were exposed, James told his story to the New York Times and to journalist Rod Dreher.
This message is for James, wherever he may be. We want to tell him that people care about what happened to him. The people who covered for Fr. McCarrick or looked the other way, were wrong. When someone tells us about abusive situations, we pledge to listen, take them seriously, and do what’s needed to help.
Your signature will show James, and other victims of sexual abuse, that you care.
Pictured is Fr. McCarrick with James in the 1970s. This photo was published in the New York Times.
James' interview with Rod Dreher is here: