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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: Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Jennifer Roback Morse sees a whole collection of “social issues” as, in reality, one giant issue: what is the meaning and purpose of human sexuality?
This article was first published August 23, 2018, at Catholic World Report.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse is releasing a new book, The Sexual State, published by TAN Books. The theme of the book is summed up by its subtitle, “How elite ideologies are destroying lives and why the Church was right all along.”
Dr. Morse is founder of the Ruth Institute, “dedicated to finding Christ-like solutions to the problems of family breakdown.” She is a Catholic author, speaker, and academic; her Institute “has accumulated decades of research to support individuals and families harmed by divorce, the hook-up culture, and other forms of family breakdown.” She is married with two children (one adopted from Romania), and regularly speaks at religious and pro-life conferences on the Christian view of marriage and sexuality, and the ill effects of the Sexual Revolution. She lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
She has a doctorate in economics and taught at Yale and George Mason University before leaving academic life to care for her two children. She reflected, “Having my own children changed my perspective. It showed me how much children need their parents.”
She recently spoke to CWR about her new book.
CWR: What prompted you to write The Sexual State, and what do you hope readers will get out of it?
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse: I have been on the front lines of public policy discussions surrounding the definition of marriage, surrogacy, and above all, the impact of the Sexual Revolution on children. I felt it was time to pull all the pieces together in one place. I hope readers will see that what seem to be a whole collection of “social issues” are really one giant issue: what is the meaning and purpose of human sexuality?
CWR: Why did you choose to title the book The Sexual State?
Morse: I am convinced that the Sexual Revolution did not just arise out of nowhere, like a hurricane blowing in from the Gulf. The Sexual Revolution is the creation of rich and powerful ideologues who need the help of the State to achieve their fantasy ideology.
CWR: The subtitle of your book is “Why the Church was right all along.” Is the timing of this subtitle poor, considering that we’ve begun another round of revelations about clergy sex abuse and cover-ups?
Morse: It is a sorry situation, isn’t it? What I meant to say in that subtitle is that the Church’s teachings are correct, and have been all along. I did not mean to imply that every person in the leadership of the Church is doing the right thing. Most reasonable people would agree that if all prelates lived according to Church teaching, we would not be in this mess. We could trust and respect them, as we would really like to be able to do. In that sense, the Church’s teachings are daily being proven correct.
CWR: Who do you think ought to read The Sexual State?
Morse: The Ruth Institute has been developing the concept of victims and survivors of the Sexual Revolution for the past five years. I mostly wrote the book for them, to give them the visibility and affirmation that they deserve and need. I include among the victims children of divorce, reluctantly divorced people, post-abortive women, refugees from the hook-up culture or the gay lifestyle, as well as their family and friends who have been watching in horror from the sidelines.
People such as therapists, teachers, clergy, and others in the helping professions will find insights that will help them assist their clients and patients. Silencing the victims has been a key part of the sexual revolutionary strategy. The Sexual State will help the helping professions see just how pervasive the social “gas-lighting” really is.
I also believe the book should be read by all Christians who hold to the orthodox, ancient teachings of the Church on marriage, family, and human sexuality. The views that are currently considered “Catholic” were once the common beliefs all of branches of Christianity.
And, the book is for all activists for any of the social issues, such as life and marriage issues, who will find clarification and support in this book. This includes anyone who is fed up with being called a bigot, or who refuses to be silenced by sexual radicals.
CWR: Explain what you mean by the ideology of the Sexual Revolution.
Morse: The Sexual Revolution consists of three interlocking ideologies:
The Sexual State devotes a section to each of these ideologies. I give a brief history of how it came to be embedded in law. Above all, I illustrate the extensive propaganda that supports each of these ideologies.
CWR: How did you personally begin to recognize this ideology and devote yourself to combating it?
Morse: This has been cooking in my brain for a long time. I returned to the Church in 1980s after a 12-year lapse. I left the Church over sexual issues at the age of 20. I came back over sexual issues, when I realized the Church was right. I had only a dim idea of just how right the Church was, though.
It was the experience of adopting a two-year-old boy from a Romanian orphanage and giving birth to a little girl in the same year that gave me the key insight of my life: kids need their own parents. All the things we had to do to help our son develop and overcome the losses he experienced just kicked in naturally for our little girl. At that time, I was teaching economics at George Mason University. I realized: holy cow, if kids don’t have the time and attention of their parents, we can’t have a society.
That was the key idea of my first book, Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village. When I wrote that book in 2001, I was worried about divorce and day care and single parenthood. Those problems have not gone away. Instead, the forms of family breakdown and separating children from their parents have grown more intense and permanent, things like third-party reproduction and same-sex parenting.
If children don’t have a right to their parents, no one has a right to anything. I will never stop talking about this.
CWR: What about adoption? You’re an adoptive parent. How can you say kids are entitled to their biological parents?
Morse: Adoption is a wonderful back-up plan if the biological parents can’t be there for their kids for some reason. The fact that adoption works reasonably well most of the time does not give us license as a society to separate children from day-to-day contact with fit parents. This kind of separation routinely takes place in divorced and single-parent households, and we seem to think this is perfectly okay. I will never say it is okay, no matter how often it happens.
We were (and are) good parents to our son. But I could see that for my boy the best thing would have been that none of this had ever happened to him, and that he could have been with his parents. What he went through in that orphanage never should have happened. That is why I say, in the absence of an unavoidable tragedy, kids are entitled to a relationship with their natural, biological parents. And all children, and hence all adults, are entitled to know their identity. That rules out the falsified birth certificates such as some adoptees and all children of anonymous donor conception receive from the State.
CWR: You say that the elite are pushing the ideology of the Sexual Revolution on the broader population. Who are the elites, and what are some of the ways they advance this agenda?
Morse: The “elites,” as I use the term, include the rich, the powerful, and the influential, in any field of endeavor. People like Warren Buffet and George Soros in our time, and John D. Rockefeller III and Katherine McCormick in times past, have financed the spread of the ideologies. Academics produce and promote the research. Entertainment elites like Harvey Weinstein create the propaganda. Their motives are varied but include the fact that some of them are making money, and some of them desire social permission to do what they want sexually without fear of social sanction. And let us not forget: some of them are just plain old-fashioned population controllers.
I also sometimes use the term “Managerial Class” to call attention to how much damage has been done by the college-educated, inflicted on those lower down on the socio-economic ladder. It is a scandal, really.
CWR: You cite the Catholic Church as the one large international organization combating the ideology of the Sexual Revolution. How would you sum up the Church’s view of sex and family life, and how does it contrast with the ideology of the Sexual Revolution?
Morse: Pretty simple, really. Start from the proposition that kids need and deserve their own parents and reason logically from there.
In other words, you end up with traditional Christian sexual morality. There is more to Catholic theology of marriage, of course. But at this moment in history, protecting the basic human right of every child to a relationship with both parents is an achievement worth celebrating.
CWR: What are your thoughts on the 50th anniversary of the release of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, which restated the Church’s opposition to the use of artificial contraceptives?
Morse: God bless him a thousand times. We needed that. The contraceptive ideology convinces people that sex is a sterile recreational activity, with reproduction thrown in as an afterthought for people with quirky lifestyle preferences. Without that core belief, the whole Sexual Revolution goes down the drain.
CWR: Does the sexual misbehavior of prominent figures in the Church make it more difficult for the Church to proclaim her teaching on sexuality and family life?
Morse: No kidding. We now know why so many clergy refuse to preach or teach on the sexual issues, and why so many dioceses have a lackluster record in this regard. There are way too many men using their position of authority and respect in the Church to pursue their private sexual purposes.
However, this makes it even more important that faithful Catholics take up the challenge of educating themselves, living the Church’s teaching, and sharing it with others. We can’t wait for the clergy to put their houses in order.
CWR: How do you think the many stories of sexual misbehavior by prominent people that have been coming out recently are related to the ideology of the Sexual Revolution?
Morse: You know, for the longest time, I did not want to deal with sexual abuse. I told myself, “sexual abuse has been around since time immemorial: it is not really fair to blame it on a 20th-century ideology. Besides, I have enough other victims and survivors of the Sexual Revolution to deal with.” And if I’m honest with myself, I have to say that I put off dealing with sexual abuse, because the topic is just upsetting and awful and icky.
But now I see that the Sexual Revolution really is profoundly implicated. The Sexual Revolution provides “cover” for predatory sexual behavior. After all, the bottom line of the ideology is that sex is an entitlement. Who believes that, I mean really believes it? The rapist, that’s who. The already-powerful are further empowered to take what they want sexually, because we are all convinced it is nothing more than a sterile recreational activity with no moral or social significance.
It is actually an astonishing situation. Everyone in society believes they are entitled to sex. No one seems to believe that they might someday become the “prey” rather than the predator. We can now see that “consent” is a pretty flimsy basis for deciding when sexual activity is appropriate. I mean, consent is certainly a necessary condition, but it is not a sufficient condition. The starlet on Harvey Weinstein’s proverbial casting couch may have consented in some sense. But most people can now see that “consent” under such circumstances is nowhere near an adequate standard. Too few people are willing to think through what the alternative standard of “appropriate” sexual conduct would be. That is why the women in the pink pussy hats are not going to get to the root of this problem. They are not willing to let go of the ideology that drives sexual abuse. They don’t want to give up their pills and pornography.
Fortunately, the Church has been thinking about this for a long time, despite the dreadful deeds of some in our hierarchy.
CWR: When will your book be released, and how can people get a copy of it? How can they follow the activities of the Ruth Institute?
People can sign up for our free weekly newsletter. We are talking about these issues regularly, and there is really a lot going on. My colleagues on the Circle of Experts also have a lot of valuable information from a variety of disciplines, which we share on our Ruth Speaks Out blog.
We generally post something funny on our Facebook page in the afternoon. We do that to relieve
some of the grimness associated with this topic. Come over and have a laugh. Stay for the substance of our work.
Posted on: Saturday, September 08, 2018
By Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published September 3, 2018, at National Catholic Register.
COMMENTARY: Faithful Catholics can change some of the incentives the hierarchy has been allowed to operate under.
I know you are upset. I’m upset. The revelations of perverted men using the priesthood for their own purposes has shaken everything we thought we could count on. Most proposals for reform require cooperation from the very same people who have already failed us. These ideas still leave us, the ordinary Catholic in the pew, at the mercies of men we no longer trust.
What can we do for ourselves? I’m going to put on my “economist hat” here: We can change some of the incentives the hierarchy operates under.
One positive development is that more witnesses are coming forward to testify. Just as the #MeToo movement gave courage to people harassed in the private sector, people are telling their stories of abuse in church settings. We are getting a clearer picture of the constraints victims and whistle-blowers are operating under.
Why don’t the innocent priests tell? Why doesn’t the church secretary or housekeeper who sees something amiss tell someone? For that matter, why don’t the victims themselves tell? We are finding out why.
The victims fear no one will believe them. Think of poor “James,” the now 60-year-old man who revealed his story of being abused by Father Theodore McCarrick for 20 years. “James”tried to tell his parents. They did not believe him, against the word of a respected priest. James began getting into trouble, doing alcohol and drugs. The family thought Father McCarrick could straighten him out. They encouraged him to spend more time with their son.
James was 11-years-old when this began. He was a little boy. His entire childhood was spent with no one listening to him.
We also have heard from what we might call indirect victims, including whistle-blowers and innocent clergy. Potential whistleblowers fear retaliation. They maylosetheir church-related jobs. Their reputations may be slung through the mud. The priests are telling their stories, too. We are learning the pressure they face to conform. We’ve heard of whistle-blowing priests who were essentiallybanished. Some good and holy menare living under the thumbs of corrupt superiors, including bishops, seminary rectors or heads of religious orders.
What if these victims, whistleblowers and innocent clergy knew that somebody had their back? What if the church secretary knew someone would give her another job if she got fired after telling what she knew? What if seminarians knew they could call someone who would show up at the seminary and make a stink? What if someone had listened to James instead of scolding him and sending him to his room without dinner?
This is what we can do: Listen to the victims. Even if you cannot do another darn thing for them, at least you have affirmed them that they are not crazy. We have no idea how much that might mean to someone. That is why I wrote up thispetitionfor “James” and other victims of abuse. It just says, “We believe you.” It is not much at this late date. But better late than never. Sign it.
You are now officially an activist. Take the next step. Listen to the whistleblowers and innocent clergy. Be prepared to support them if they need it. I’m not talking about a pat on the head. I’m talking about giving a job to the housekeeper who gets fired. Offer the extra bedroom in your home to the innocent priest whose bishop “sends him away.” Write a letter of reference so the poor guy can get another job.
Recently, I have encountered several seminarians from different dioceses, heading back to school at different seminaries. In each case, I looked the young men straight in the eyes, and handed them my business card. “My personal cell number is written on the back. If there is any hanky-panky in your seminary, I want to hear about it.” In one case, the young man’s mother was present.
Okay, I’m just one person. But what if every seminarian went off to school with a few phone numbers in their pockets? These actions may not sound like a big deal. But a bunch of little things can add up to a big deal indeed.
If abusers thought they would get caught, would they be less likely to abuse? Yes, obviously. If the witnesses who are potential whistleblowers knew they would be supported by faithful Catholics, would they be more likely to blow that whistle? Yes, obviously. If the guys doing damage control thought the whistleblowers had alternative sources of support and employment, would that fact reduce their ability to silence the whistleblower? Yes, of course.
All this points to one thing: Being the backstop, the backup plan, providing the alternative support system means that we are changing the incentives under which the Church operates. We don’t need anyone’s permission. We don’t need a decision from the bishops’ conference or an intervention from our state’s attorney general. We can just make it known that we are ready to help.
The one thing economists know is this: People respond to incentives in a systematic and predictable way. We can’t solve everything. But that is no reason to do nothing. It is a reason to do what we can. We can stand prepared to make nuisances of ourselves. In a nice and respectful way, of course. But a nuisance just the same.
The collective unwillingness of the laity to make a stink has been part of the cultural milieu that has allowed these wounds to fester. I believe this is called “clericalism:” undue deference to the clergy. We can put a stop to that, no matter what the bishops’ conference does.
Maybe you can’t picture yourself stalking a bishop’s home or office, like a dogged journalist should. But surely you can picture yourself listening to someone, supporting someone, reaching out to someone. Start right now. Call that seminarian or former seminarian. Call that person you knew years ago who tried to tell you something that you didn’t want to hear at that time.
Your material support may mean the difference between the person telling what they know or remaining silent. Your willingness to listen may be a psychological lifeline to someone who feels isolated.
Let the chattering classes keep chattering. You and I can become part of the listening, supportive Church. And we will make a difference, no matter what the bishops do or don’t do.
Posted on: Tuesday, September 04, 2018
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published July 11, 2018, at Crisis.
Scott Hahn is a prolific Biblical scholar with a huge fan-base among orthodox Catholics. He doesn’t need my help promoting his new book,
The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of Social Order.
But I need some help from him. I need his help convincing my pro-marriage policy-wonk friends that our defense of marriage needs spiritual and theological
arguments, along with natural law arguments, because what we are doing isn’t working.
Losing the Public Policy Argument
No serious person can deny it: marriage, the institution of one-man-one-woman-for-life, is getting clobbered in public policy debates. I’ve been involved in pro-family debates for a long time and I’ve used plenty of social science data and logical reasoning. I’m convinced the secular world needs more than secular arguments.
We have lost the male-female requirement for marriage. We have lost the presumptions of permanence and sexual exclusivity. And day by day, the natural common-sense constituency for lifelong married love is eroding. People who cheerfully voted in favor of man-woman marriage ten years ago, now refuse to admit it. Have their opinions really changed that much? Are they afraid to say what they really think? For whatever reason, we no longer have the constituency we had even a few short years ago.
We could blame rogue Supreme Court justices for the Obergefell decision, but we can’t blame no-fault divorce on the courts. Legislatures enacted no-fault with nearly no resistance in state after state. Vast bureaucracies have emerged to enforce custody plans and financial settlements. No major religious body has offered any serious challenge.
What are we saying in defense of marriage? I was in the trenches of the Proposition 8 campaign in California. We were not supposed to bring up the Bible. We were not supposed to talk about homosexuality at all, and we certainly were not supposed to bring up gay sex. The campaign organizers encouraged us to say, “kids need a mom and a dad.” But one would look in vain for any official statement from the Prop 8 campaign that “kids need their own mom and their own dad.”
This rhetorical strategy was good enough to win Proposition 8 in California in 2008. By 2012, the proponents of de-gendered marriage had adapted to our arguments. We never adapted to theirs. We started losing and have yet to recover.
We’ve got plenty of people defending religious liberty, but we do not have nearly the institutional support for explaining why our churches believe what they believe. Seldom do we hear even the churches themselves explaining why homosexual practice is wrong, or why man-woman marriage is the only real marriage. Heck, today, we can hardly defend the obvious proposition that men and women are different, and that male and female are genuine categories.
I have come to believe that a big part of our problem has been fear: we are afraid to get into the additional issues that a full-throated defense of the ancient Christian teachings would involve. If we say, “kids need their own mom and dad,” we will have to confront the millions of kids who lose contact with a parent due to divorce or unmarried parenthood. If we say, “third party reproduction is intrinsically immoral,” we will have to confront the non-gay uses of sperm and egg donation and surrogacy. If we say, “men and women are different,” we might have to confront the entire Feminist Establishment. And if we dare to say, “gay sex is wrong,” we might just have to say that there are moral limits on sexual activity, even adult, consensual sexual activity. And once we say that, oh boy, we really have opened the door to a complete confrontation with the entire modern sexual revolutionary structure.
Dr. Hahn is not afraid of any of these issues. He doesn’t talk about all of them in this book, of course; that is not the point of the book. But one can easily surmise that he won’t flinch in the face of tough questions. His theological position, based on Scripture, tradition, and, yes, reason and evidence, is coherent. Many of our non-religious positions are not internally consistent. So, how “practical” does that make us when this is what we put forward?
Losing the Hearts of Married Couples
Even more importantly, Hahn’s analysis shows that the natural law arguments for marriage are not enough to sustain the love of married couples. We can explain the value and benefits of marriage all day long to our non-religious neighbors. And of course, we should. But we should not delude ourselves into thinking that rational explanations are enough. Reason alone will not keep our marriages together when the going gets tough.
As Dr. Hahn puts it:
If we only aim for a society built just around natural marriage, denuded of divinity and sacramentality, we might achieve it, but not for long. Even if we all had a perfect (secular) understanding of permanence and exclusivity and openness to life—and even if divorce and artificial contraception were banned by law—we would find the expectations of marriage impossible and intolerable.
Without the healing power of God’s grace, our brokenness would immediately reassert itself, each person’s in its own unique way. The resulting new feedback loop would gut the renascent culture of marriage: the living out of marriage would degrade as people cut corners and ignored strictures, which would in turn degrade the norms we fought so hard to establish (pp. 127-128).
Social science supports his point. Regular religious practice is a “protective factor” against divorce. This is our nerdy way of saying that couples who go to church regularly are less likely to divorce. Regular religious attendance during adolescence is correlated with lower chances of divorce in adulthood. As Dr. Hahn puts it: “Marriage without God is possible in theory, but not in practice.” We do our young people no favor by dodging this point.
Besides, no one wants to hang on to a sinking ship. Young men especially, thrive on living up to a worthy challenge. Dr. Hahn gives them one:
Let’s avoid surrendering essential first principles and compromising the faith for short-term reprieves. We’re probably not going to witness any spectacular mass conversion to sanctity in our lifetimes, so let’s be heroic in accepting short-term humiliation—only an apparent defeat—without compromise (178).
In The First Society, Hahn delivers the theological insight we’ve come to expect from him. In the process, he delivers a practical program for defending the family in our hostile secular world. No more confining ourselves to “scientific” or “natural law” reasons for our beliefs. While there is nothing wrong with those reasons, they are not enough. We have been leaving our best player, Jesus, on the bench for far too long. Dr Hahn says, “Now is the time to speak Catholic truth with clarity and boldness.”
I completely agree.
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:
Posted on: Monday, July 30, 2018
I was always taught to respect the clergy. But what do we do when the clergy harm each other?
By Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published on July 20, 2018, at The Stream.
I was always taught to respect the clergy. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Should criticism be necessary, let it be as gentle as possible. But what do we do when the clergy harm each other? Cardinal Kevin Farrell’s recent comments about priests lacking credibility for preparing couples for marriage amounts to an attack on every priest in Christendom. He makes an unnecessary criticism, in a harsh manner. Worst, his comments bring disrespect to the priestly office itself. A bit of thought, plus a brief look into the Cardinal’s background, may help explain his comments, wrongheaded though they are.
Let’s review the Cardinal’s comments:
During an interview … Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, said that ‘priests are not the best people to train others for marriage.’
They have no credibility; they have never lived the experience; they may know moral theology, dogmatic theology in theory, but to go from there to putting it into practice every day … they don’t have the experience.
Sweeping statement. No benefit of the doubt. Harsh. One cannot doubt the Cardinal’s meaning, because he made similar comments last September.
If he is trying to say that laity should be involved with marriage prep, I can get behind that. (I educate the public about Church teaching.) Farrell could easily have invited more lay involvement without taking a swing at his fellow priests. He could have simply said, “We’re overworked. Help!!” No one would have batted an eye.
Cardinal Farrell seems to be joining the non-Catholic critics of the celibate clergy. But these critics focus on the wrong thing. The scandal is not unmarried celibate clergy. After all, many of Jesus’ apostles were celibate. Today’s biggest scandal is the lack of clerical celibacy.
Which brings me to a curious detail in Farrell’s background, as reported by the Catholic News Agency:
In 2002, he became an auxiliary bishop of Washington, serving as moderator of the curia and vicar general, a chief advisory role, to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, with whom Farrell lived in a renovated parish building in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood.
McCarrick is having his “MeToo” moment. Major media outlets have revealed decades of McCarrick’s sexual harassment of seminary students. Some have gone so far as to say that “everybody knew” about McCarrick’s conduct.
Perhaps this explains Farrell’s doubt about his brother priests’ competence to prepare couples for marriage. Maybe some priests Farrell knows really do “have no credibility” for preparing couples for marriage, including some formed under Bishop McCarrick. We could say that some of them were “deformed” or “malformed.”
For example, Priest A’s story was reported in two separate sources. He was the object of McCarrick’s attentions. He went on to have sexual acting-out problems himself, and eventually left the priesthood. Being formed under someone like McCarrick could leave scars that affect a man’s priesthood.
Not all priests have disgraced themselves. Nor have all priests had their formation twisted by their superiors. For every story of scandal we read about, there are many more stories of holiness and grace that never make the headlines.
In any case, truly celibate clergy have tremendous credibility. They have a lot to offer young couples preparing for marriage: their experience of a lifetime of self-giving, self-sacrificing love. Young couples need this preparation for marriage, every bit as much as communication skills and budgeting tips. Cardinal Farrell’s comments swept all priests into the same basket. His comments most harm the truly celibate, self-sacrificing priests.
I have no doubt which side I support in this clash between a cardinal making unfounded claims and the rest of the clergy. All I can say is, “Speak for yourself, Cardinal Farrell.”