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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 19, 2019
COMMENTARY: Healing the crippling wounds abused people suffer.
Yet for all our intimacy, Walter contained within his heart a dark secret he didn’t share even with me. As a little boy growing up on a farm in Missouri, he’d been sexually abused by his sadistic older brother Bob, who frequently threatened to kill him. Only after we converted to Catholicism did this unspeakable secret from his tortured past at last come to light.
Seeing Walter’s sober face, Father Bruce took him immediately into the rectory. I stood alone in the church parking lot and waited, as Walter revealed secrets to Father Bruce that even I had never heard.
After 45 minutes, the two finally emerged from the rectory, and Father Bruce said to me: “Sue, here’s what I want you to do: I want you to ask Walter to tell you what happened when he was 7 years old. He may not want to talk about it. If he doesn’t volunteer to talk about it every two or three days, I want you to ask him about it. Just listen. Get all the details. But don’t get all emotional. Remember Joe Friday on Dragnet? I want you to be like that: ‘Just the facts, Ma’am.’”
For the next month, as we sat side by side sipping our morning coffee, we talked daily about what happened when Walter was 7. Bob held loaded guns to Walter’s head and giggled as he toyed with the trigger. He sat on the bank of a pond laughing as little Walt, who couldn’t swim, almost drowned. But the worst was that he repeatedly raped Walter in the barn and in the root cellar and threatened to kill him if he told anyone. Walter had every reason to believe Bob would carry through on this threat. The abuse was so severe that for most of Walter’s life, unknown to me, he had been suffering five or six flashbacks a day.
After 38 years of marriage, I was at last able to understand the strange anxieties and explosive anger attacks I’d witnessed, which seemed to come out of nowhere and which I’d found inexplicable in a man who was otherwise so deeply loving and sweet.
Father Bruce counseled Walter to forgive Bob (who had died years earlier) and even to pray for his immortal soul. Many non-Catholics might find such advice an outrage, as if forgiveness somehow means letting an evildoer off the hook. But trusting God, Walter listened. And in the process of praying for Bob, Walter himself was transformed: No longer a helpless victim, he became an ennobled intercessor.
On Jan. 13, 2006, Walter wrote in his personal journal:
“Sue and I had a lovely talk this morning. We talked about the problems I had with Bob. But this time we didn’t talk about just what happened. We talked about how it has affected me now. I said I was still angry with God, because Bob may have had the free will to do all that to me, but God should have stopped him somehow. No matter what, that should not have been allowed to happen. God is able to bring good things out of bad, but the bad still happened. I began thinking about that, and I decided I was still angry with God, angry enough that I would not become creative. That’s what I was doing. I was sabotaging my creativity. Every time I would get creative with my writing or my art, I would ruin it. That’s how mad I was at God. What can I do to get rid of this permanently? I don’t know. But this realization, coupled with the understanding Father Bruce gave me that I was still obeying Bob by not wanting to talk about what he did to me, has been a big relief. I now feel like I’ve had a harness taken off of me.”
After this entry in his journal, I don’t know exactly when it happened, but Walter was no longer angry at God — nor at Bob. Christ had healed him. Brimming with gratitude and joy, he announced to me the violent flashbacks that had tormented him for nearly 60 years were suddenly gone.
When Christ, the timeless One, enters into time, he makes “all things new.” It is to the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit that we receive the peace that passes all understanding.
It is certainly necessary to expose sex scandals in the Church. Evil flourishes in darkness and must be exposed to the light. But the continual mainstream media emphasis only on sex-abuse problems within the Church tends to obscure the reality that, within her sacred walls, the Church simultaneously contains the power of God to solve those problems and to heal the crippling wounds sexually abused people like Walter suffer.
Faced with horrifying sex-abuse scandals, many Catholics understandably ask, “Where is our Lord Jesus Christ in all this?” The answer is this: He’s hidden at the center of it all, taking our suffering into himself on the cross, recreating the world, and transfiguring all our pain into joy.
Posted on: Monday, August 12, 2019
The clergy sex-abuse scandal has irrevocably changed Catholic culture. Ordinary Catholics are comfortable today doing and saying things that would have been unthinkable to them just a few short years ago. And this is a good thing.
More than changes to Church governance, the policies and procedures, changes in what ordinary Catholics expect of themselves have the potential to improve the health of the Church. We have the potential to help the victims find healing and justice. And our new sense of what is acceptable behavior has the potential to pressure the clergy themselves into better behavior.
The ongoing drama in the Diocese of Buffalo, New York, illustrates these points. Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone has come under fire for covering up clergy sexual abuse. The diocese released a list of 42 credibly accused priests. However, the local TV station found more than 100 names. The FBI is investigating the diocese. A federal grand jury has subpoenaed two retired judges who are overseeing a diocesan program to compensate abuse victims. The usual mess.
In a slightly new and different twist, the diocese recently placed several priests on administrative leave for issues not directly related to sexual abuse of minors.
A local news source reports:
“According to the diocese, ‘unsuitable, inappropriate and insensitive conversations’ took place during a social gathering of seminarians and priests on April 11 that some seminarians found to be offensive.”
Five priests and 14 seminarians were present at this pizza party at a local rectory. Three priests were placed on administrative leave. The other two priests were reprimanded for not doing enough to stop the inappropriate conversation.
Of the 14 seminarians present, five have been interviewed as of this writing. They tell a mutually consistent story of (very) crude conversation that most Catholics would regard as (really) inappropriate for clergy.
To say that the diocese has “trust issues” would be an understatement. Many local Catholics don’t trust anything that comes out of the chancery or Christ the King Seminary. This cloud of suspicion is a basic fact of our current Catholic culture, and it affects how people respond.
When the pizza-party story broke, I saw people defending one of the priests on Facebook. They were sure Bishop Malone was trying to get rid of this priest, whom they regarded as good and orthodox. Eventually, more evidence came out confirming the seminarians’ story that the priest in fact made the inappropriate comments. But the original reaction shows how little trust people have in the Catholic establishment in Buffalo.
I also saw people connecting the dots between priests’ sexually explicit talk in the presence of seminarians, a priest having a “romantic interest” in a seminarian and clergy sexual abuse of minors. In the public mind, tolerance of one issue leads to tolerance of the other issues and to an environment of clergy covering for each other.
Do we, as members of the general public, have all the facts? No, of course not.
In the nature of things, we cannot have all the facts about a private gathering. This is obviously not the healthiest environment for getting to the truth of important matters. But the diocese has only itself to blame. Its pattern of nontransparency induces people to project the worst possible interpretation onto uncertain situations.
This a noteworthy change in Catholic culture. Once upon a time in post-World War II America, Catholics revered their priests. Bing Crosby’s Father Charles O’Malley would never harm anyone or tell a lie. Catholics and non-Catholics alike trusted Bishop Fulton Sheen. Even in the post-Vatican II theological free-for-all, dissenting and faithful Catholics alike would have been uneasy with the assumption that a bishop was lying to them.
Those days are long gone. Questioning clergy and their motives is no longer a marker for disrespect, dissent or anti-Catholicism. We are light-years away even from the scandals of 2002. Back then, some of the best investigative reporting was done by news outlets that also pushed for heterodox changes in Church teaching. Back then, people who loved the Church’s magisterium tried to minimize the scandals. But now, in the post-McCarrick era, Catholic laity across the theological board believe it is socially acceptable, and even praiseworthy, to blow the whistle.
Bishop Malone’s personal secretary, Siobhan O’Connor, was fond of him. Yet she was the person who released incriminating documents. Why? She listened to the victims. She was never the same afterward. She concluded that standing with the victims was serving Christ and his bride, the Church.
A local news reporter, Charlie Specht, has conducted extensive, relentless investigations of the diocese. (Type his name into the search bar of WKBW News along with “clergy sex abuse” and you’ll see what I mean.) Unlike the crew of lapsed Catholics and atheists at The Boston Globe who revealed Cardinal Bernard Law’s malfeasance, Specht is a devout practicing Catholic. He loves and respects the Church. He wants her to be what she ought to be.
One more, unambiguously good sign: The seminarians did not cower. They spoke out. They may get kicked around by their formators. We don’t really know what is going on internally. But these men knew that they would have support from the Catholic community and the general public.
I don’t know if the Pope or the U.S. bishops are going to come up with changes to canon law or new policies and procedures. Personally, I think the old policy was good. Obey the Ten Commandments, especially Nos. 6 (Do not commit adultery) and 8 (Do not bear false witness.) As Buffalo whistleblower O’Connor said, “There’s nothing wrong with the code of conduct. It needs to be enforced.”
Catholic culture is changing. Clergy, priests and bishops, you’re on notice: We are watching. We aren’t leaving the Church. Neither are we staying and going back to “business as usual.” Deal with it, gentlemen. This is the new reality of Catholic culture.
And ordinary practicing Catholics, take heart. Your vigilance is making a difference.
Posted on: Monday, July 15, 2019
Update! Shortly after sending this press release, we learned that the re-sentencing hearing for Fr. Michael Guidry has been postponed until September 19. We are appalled by this delay, which only prolongs the suffering of Guidry’s victims. We call for a speedy resolution of this issue: the maximum sentence allowable by law for Fr. Michael Guidry.
In April, Fr. Michael Guidry pleaded guilty in Opelousas, Louisiana, to sexually assaulting a 15-year -old boy. Guidry was sentenced to seven years in prison, out of the ten-year maximum sentence.
Fr. Guidry has requested, and been granted, a hearing to reconsider his sentence. The hearing will take place July 18.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., President of the Ruth Institute, will attend the hearing. Dr. Morse is an outspoken critic of clergy sexual abuse and cover up. She is also a passionate advocate for the victims of the sexual revolution, including victims of clergy sexual abuse.
Morse believes the sentence should not be reconsidered. “The family and other victims had achieved some degree of closure and relief from the April 30th sentencing of Fr. Guidry. Going back into court undoes the sense of finality, and revictimizes those who have already been through so much,” Morse said.
Morse explained: “When I say ‘victims’ -- plural -- I include Oliver Peyton, the immediate victim, who woke up to find Fr. Guidry performing a sex act on him. I also include Oliver’s family and the members of the community, who were shocked and disheartened by the revelation that the abuser, a priest in his 70s, had betrayed their trust.”
“Lastly, I’m talking about the victims of child sex abuse everywhere who have been watching this case. Every new case, such as Fr. Guidry’s, can be a traumatic and ‘triggering’ event, especially for those who suffer PTSD symptoms. Every slap-on-the-wrist sentence revictimizes the victims. If the judge wishes to reconsider this sentence, I sincerely hope he will resentence Fr. Guidry to the 10-year maximum permitted by law."
Morse noted: “No new facts have emerged. Fr Guidry is still as guilty as he was in April when Judge Harris originally sentenced him. I will drive to Opelousas to say so in the presence of Oliver Peyton’s family, and anyone else who cares to listen.”
The Ruth Institute works to empower victims and survivors of the sexual revolution – including victims of divorce, abuse and the LGBT culture. In April, the Institute held the first-ever Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where the Ruth Institute has its international headquarters.
Dr. Morse’s latest book is The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives (and how the Church was Right All Along).
For more information on the Ruth Institute: http://www.ruthinstitute.org/.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse: email@example.com.
Posted on: Thursday, July 11, 2019
“The Sexual Revolution says we’re all entitled to sex. But who actually believes such a thing? The rapist, that’s who!” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, President of the Ruth Institute.
Ruth Institute Founder and President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D. said that Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein and former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick were all enabled by society’s acceptance of the ideology of the sexual revolution.
Writing in the July 10th National Catholic Register, Morse noted that all three were aided by “a belief system that claims that sex is an entitlement. They operated according to the tenets of the most powerful ideology in the world: the ideology of the sexual revolution.”
Morse urged us to reject the rationalization that, “The rich and powerful have always been able to buy their way out of problems.”
Yes, wealth, fame and power aided predators like Epstein. But the tenets of the sexual revolution softened up their victims. These tenets include: Sex is no more than a physical act. What are you ashamed of? And everyone is entitled to do whatever they can get away with.
“This toxic belief system is destroying individual lives and leading to social chaos,” Morse observed.
The Ruth Institute opposes this with “The Catholic belief system which tells us no one is entitled to sex. Children are entitled to a relationship with both of their parents. Women and men are entitled to the love and loyalty of their spouses.”
“Our belief system of traditional Christian sexual ethics has made us Public Enemy No. 1 of the sexual revolutionaries,” Morse added.
The Ruth Institute works to empower survivors of the sexual revolution – including victims of divorce, abuse and the LGBT culture. In April, the Institute held the first-ever Survivors’ Summit in Lake Charles, LA.
The Institute has been particularly effective in researching the crisis of clerical sex abuse, with its reports on homosexuality and the priesthood being cited around the world. In a June 10 story, The Washington Post quoted Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano on the importance of the Institute’s research.
Since the beginning of 2019, Dr. Morse has addressed leaders and activists at the Family Research Council and been interviewed on the Mike Huckabee Show on TBN and “The World Over” with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN.
For more information on the Ruth Institute http://www.ruthinstitute.org/
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on: Tuesday, May 07, 2019
The Ruth Institute’s first annual Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution (April 26-27, in Lake Charles, Louisiana) was highly praised by participants. All agreed that the caliber of speakers and content (which covered Survivors of Divorce and Survivors of the LGBT subculture) were exceptional.
Here are a few of the comments from speakers and participants:
“The Summit revealed to me many different survival stories which involved deep pain. However, their stories all ended in hope because they turned to God. It also gives me hope to see everyone that attended was united to God’s plan for marriage and family.” Al Chlupacek -- Chemical Engineer, Indianapolis
“Thank you all. It was incredible, and a real shot in the arm. Now we all have work to do. But I feel like at least we know our fellow soldiers in this battle! It’s a rough world out there, and sadly, many of our ‘enemies’ are fellow Christians… It’s a battle from within and without. But I’m so pleased at the depth of intelligence and holiness on display this weekend! God bless you all! And thank you, Dr. Morse! You are a true solider for Christ!” Leila Miller – Catholic author, Phoenix
“This was a very meaningful conference. I enjoyed the scholarship, the personal testimonies, and all the informal conversations and relationship-building in between. I look forward to ongoing conversations with many of the wonderful people I met this weekend. The experience was powerful and inspiring.” Matt F. Johnson – humanitarian and disaster relief, Washington, D.C.
“Thank you Mr. And Dr. Morse plus your team for putting together such a conference. I learned a lot. Thanks also to you all that took time to do papers and share with us your stories. It gives me hope as an African to see the good side of America. You people are amazing. Hopefully we do this in Africa, too? God bless you all.” Ann Kioko, CitizenGO Campaigns Manager for Africa, Nairobi
“I just want to tell you all how very honored I am to have had the pleasure to work with all of you this weekend in this critical endeavor! Mr. & Dr. Morse, you are both tireless in your efforts and I have great respect for you both. Thank you - and the Ruth Institute's extremely capable staff and volunteers -- for showing us all such genuine kindness and hospitality. This weekend will go down in my memory as one of great blessings and fellowship. To be gathered with so many others who recognize the beauty, goodness and critical importance of marriage and the traditional family was a such a true honor and pleasure.” Christy Fitzgerald – Registered Nurse, Case Manager, Hickory, N.C.
“This Summit was a bright moment for recovering from a toxic family culture and beginning to build something better. I want to add my thanks to everyone as well, for sharing your stories and journeys and scholarship and standing for marriage, life and children. Patti and I were both deeply touched by the accounts of struggle and overcoming and finding new life and sanctity in the pain of marriage and parental loss. For me, one of the most fruitful times was also breakfast at the hotel, when I was blessed to, and saw others too, encourage one another and build friendships and mutual support and plot ministry strategies in a fellowship free-for-all. There are not many other places something like that could happen.” Fr. D Paul Sullins, Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute
“I hope everyone realizes just how innovative this was. For all the many ‘pro-family’ groups out there, almost none of them seriously confronts the divorce system, connected issues, and the government machinery behind it. I also noticed other ways in which the various speakers were ‘pushing the envelope,’ and I for one think that we have nothing to lose, and much to gain, from continuing and even increasing the push.” Stephen K. Baskerville, Purcellville, Virginia
“To get the inside scoop on the extraordinary Survivors Summit, be sure to check out the various presentations at the Ruth Institute’s website, and on its Facebook page. Be forewarned that the truth about these problems is not easy to handle. However, the truth shall set you free.” C. Preston Noell, American Society for Tradition, Family and Property, Washington, D.C.
“Don’t sit on the sidelines. Now that you understand the devastation caused by the Sexual Revolution, help us to fight for the family and cultural sanity.” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute
Posted on: Monday, May 06, 2019
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published February 28, 2019, at One Peter Five.
While the Vatican’s decision to laicize Theodore McCarrick was a valuable step, it is not, and cannot be, the end of the affair. Mr. McCarrick was the elephant in the room at the recently concluded Vatican summit. We still don’t know who promoted McCarrick’s rise and whose careers benefited from McCarrick’s protection. At least one person has the power to bring this affair to a more satisfactory conclusion: Mr. McCarrick himself.
Ever since Archbishop Viganò made his explosive charges about McCarrick, all eyes have been on Pope Francis. “The Holy Father should respond to these charges.” “Pope Francis could release the documents that would answer these questions once and for all.” And it is quite true that Pope Francis could take steps that would resolve at least some of the questions.
It is also true that the greatly anticipated book by gay French atheist Martel, In the Closet of the Vatican, essentially confirms the most damaging of Archbishop Viganò’s claims: Pope Francis knew about McCarrick’s homosexual activity. According to Martel’s sources, “Francis was initially informed by Viganò that McCarrick had had sexual relations with over-age seminarians, which was not enough, in his mind, to condemn him.”
We forget that there is one other person in a position to know the full truth of Viganò’s charges: Mr. McCarrick himself. McCarrick could confirm or deny some or all of the suspicions. McCarrick could answer the tough and important questions. How did he rise through the ranks? Who protected and promoted him? Whom did he protect and promote?
I’m not saying I expect a full confession from McCarrick, or that he could “heal” the Church or anyone else. He could, of course, repent. But at this late date, who in his right mind would take him seriously? If Mr. McCarrick started, all of sudden, professing contrition and sorrow, we’d all wonder what he was angling for. God can know the truth of McCarrick’s heart and heal anyone of anything. The rest of us would need more than words.
On the other hand, he might inadvertently do something constructive, as a side-effect. Assume for the sake of argument that McCarrick really did use his fundraising abilities and his power in the Church to promote the careers of men of homosexual sympathies. Assume that Pope Francis was aware of this. Assume further that some of McCarrick’s power arose from the power of secrets. He had dirt on a lot of people. The people who had dirt on him didn’t want to reveal it, because he might reveal the dirt he had on them.
This system of mutual secret-keeping is a bit like the old Mutual Assured Destruction strategic balancing act from the Cold War. Once one side fires a missile, the other side has an incentive to retaliate. The mutual fear of total annihilation kept both sides from pushing that big red button. As crazy as that system sounds, it did keep peace, albeit an uneasy peace, for quite a few years.
Apply that same logic to McCarrick and his friends. The Mutual Assured Secret-Keeping game is now over. McCarrick’s old friends and allies kicked him to the curb. All those people whose rise to power he engineered, all those people who owed him their careers, all those people whose secrets he kept, they all betrayed him. They offered him up as a scapegoat to make the public outcry over clergy sex abuse go away. Why should he keep their secrets now? He might as well retaliate.
He could get revenge. He could make a lot of money, selling exclusive rights to his tell-all memoirs to some enterprising journalist or publisher. As an added benefit, the public would finally get a fuller picture of what actually happened. He has nothing to lose now by spilling his guts. (If he does have something to lose, that suggests another whole layer of deception about even more deeply hidden costs and benefits. But that is purely speculation at this point.)
He does have an interest in exaggerating things that make his enemies look bad, or downplaying things that make himself look bad. But the names he would reveal would be substantially correct. He would have an incentive to skewer those who let him twist in the wind in his hour of need. That might include the senior cardinals whose promotion he promoted, or even Pope Francis himself. He might, in the end, corroborate Viganò’s charges.
On the other hand, who would believe Mr. McCarrick if he tried to frame someone completely outside the orbit of homosexually inclined or heterodoxy-inclined senior prelates? “I, Theodore McCarrick, secretly aided the rise of Cardinal Burke. Bishop Athanasius Schneider and I used to secretly hang around together. Cardinal Sarah and I are old pals.”
That type of frame-up job just wouldn’t fly. If he had sexual dirt on any of his orthodox former colleagues, such as the dubia cardinals, he would have revealed that information a long time ago.
The best possible end to the McCarrick Affair is that Mr. McCarrick tell all he knows. He might do it for all the wrong reasons: revenge, greed, spite. He might not do it for the good of the Church or his immortal soul. No matter. People often do the right thing for the wrong reasons. The entire Body of Christ would benefit, whether McCarrick intends it or not.
Please, someone: Offer Mr. McCarrick a book deal.
Posted on: Tuesday, April 30, 2019
The Ruth Institute’s Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution (April 27) was a success by any measure. The Summit, which took place in Lake Charles, Louisiana, included Survivors of Divorce and Survivors of the LGBT Culture.
The Summit was preceded by an Awards Banquet the evening of April 26. Those honored were Dr. Robert Gagnon, recipient of the Scholarship Award, and Jeff Morgan, who received the Activism Award. Both spoke the next day.
Moira Greyland Peat, who received the Public Witness Award, was the banquet’s keynote speaker. Author of The Dark Side of Avalon, Moira survived years of sexual abuse by her mother, famed science fiction writer Marion Zimmer Bradley. Many commented that while her testimony was emotionally exhausting, it also provided a necessary antidote to the cliched version of the gay lifestyle pushed by the media.
The Saturday Summit included keynote addresses by Dr. Stephen Baskerville (Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College on How No-Fault Divorce Empowers the State), Mrs. Leila Miller (author and Catholic blogger on The Lifelong Impact of Divorce On Children),
Dr. Robert Gagnon (Professor of New Testament at Houston Baptist University, on What the Church really teaches about homosexual activity)
and Fr. Paul Sullins (Ruth Institute Senior Research Associate, on The Impact of Same-Sex Parenting on children and the impact of the homosexual subculture on clergy s*x abuse).
There were also testimony panels on Abandoned Spouses and Adult Children ofDivorce – and Adult Children and Spouses of gays, lesbians and transgenders, and refugees from the gay lifestyle).
A participant remarked: “These are tragedies the mainstream media, the divorce industry, and the gay-friendly culture do their best to ignore.” Another added: “I’ve been reading about the abandonment, betrayal and trauma of divorce for years. But hearing these speakers made the devastation real in ways that news stories and academic reports can’t.”
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ruth Institute Founder and President, challenged participants to use the knowledge they acquired to help shape the debate over the Sexual Revolution.
“Don’t sit on the sidelines. Now that you understand the devastation caused by the Sexual Revolution, help us to fight for the family and cultural sanity,” Morse declared.
The entire Summit will be available on podcast and YouTube soon.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact email@example.com
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family in the public arena and build a Civilization of Love. Click here for more Information on the Ruth Institute.
Posted on: Saturday, March 09, 2019
Ruth Institute President Calls Response to Request That Cardinal Mahony Withdraw from Education Conference “Pathetic”
“Pathetic.” That’s how Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. characterized the response from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to the Institute’s petition calling on Cardinal Roger Mahony to withdraw as a speaker at the L.A. Religious Education Congress (March 22-24).
“The Cardinal has become a symbol of the mishandling of sex abuse complaints,” said Morse. “For him to address a Catholic education conference at this time is wildly in appropriate.”
Morse notes that, as head of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 1985 to 2011, “Cardinal Mahony had a terrible record of covering up sex abuse, to such an extent that the Archdiocese was forced to pay $660 million in damages – the largest such settlement in the Church’s history.”
In response to a request from America magazine, Carolina G. Guevara, archdiocesan communications director, stated that Mahony “apologized for mistakes of the past” and “met personally with victims and established a Victims Assistance Office to ensure that they would receive the support to help them through the healing process.”
Said Morse, “To call the horror of clerical sex abuse, and the Cardinal’s role in covering it up, ‘mistakes of the past’ is an understatement of epic proportions.”
“It’s good that Cardinal Mahony met with some victims of crimes he may have helped to cover up,” Morse observed. “But, if he’d acted responsibly when he was in a position of authority, there wouldn’t be as many victims in need of healing. Guevara’s statement is a weak rationalization for inexcusable conduct that diminishes the suffering of victims. Imagine how they will feel when he speaks at a conference where he will, in part, interact with youth.”
Morse added: “For the sake of victims, and the pain that never goes away, the Cardinal should do the decent thing and withdraw from the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.”
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to fighting the Sexual Revolution and helping survivors to heal. It defends the family at home and in the public square and equips others to do the same.
To sign the petition asking that Cardinal Mahony withdraw from the L.A. Congress go to https://citizengo.org/en-us/
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on: Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Bishops need to regain the trust of their flock.
by Fr. Paul Sullins
This article was first published August 24, 2018, at Mercatornet.com.
Paul Sullins is a sociologist and Catholic priest with four books and over 100 journal articles, book chapters and research reports on issues of faith and culture to his credit. He has studied the issue of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and gives his views on the current crisis in this MercatorNet interview. A former Episcopalian priest, Fr Sullins was ordained as a Catholic priest by then-Cardinal Ted McCarrick.
MercatorNet: It didn’t seem possible for any more surprises to pop up. And then there was Cardinal McCarrick, or rather, ex-Cardinal McCarrick. And then there was Pennsylvania. Is anything else coming down the pike?
It's very likely. The Pennsylvania grand jury report was clear that the misbehaviour they could find and document suggested that there was more out there that they couldn't find or document. Recently an American bishop spoke of a homosexual subculture among the bishops, something that's often been suspected but never acknowledged.
We had an abuse scandal in early 1990s people often forget about, then in 2002, and now 2018. I hope it all comes out; it would be painful but also very good for the Church.
I hope American Catholics will have a #MeToo moment which will encourage many victims to share their stories. It may be a quixotic hope, but the best thing the bishops could do is to disclose anything further themselves, voluntarily in confession, before the knowledge is forced out of them by action of law.
A few priest perpetrators have done this (all abusers of women, by my count, but I could be mistaken), but to my knowledge no bishop has said, "I did the following (previously undisclosed) actions or made the following errors in judgement that I now realize were sinful and betrayed the trust of God's people. I thought it was right at the time, and no law is forcing me to say this, but my conscience now convicts me that I was more concerned for the career and good image of the priest than the healing of the victim. I ask the forgiveness of the victims involved, and I am submitting my resignation to the Holy Father."
Nothing could restore trust in our episcopacy more than some statements like this. I wouldn't completely put this kind of revival past our bishops, especially if we pray for it to happen. But I'm not holding my breath.
MercatorNet: The media’s focus has been on male homosexual predation in Catholic institutions. But if reports like the Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s were made for other churches or large organisations, would the results be significantly different?
The results would not be significantly different in the scale of abuse; it's actually somewhat lower among Catholic clergy than for comparable groups like Protestant clergy, schoolteachers, camp counselors.
But those groups experience predominantly male-on-female abuse, while for Catholic priests it is predominantly male-on-male abuse. The numbers are very clear on this: in the John Jay Report (2004), female victims were a majority only for the 5 percent of abuse that was with prepubescent children; 95 percent of the abuse reported was with children over the age of 8, and of these incidents 83 percent were male-on-male abuse. The 2011 John Jay Report states: "More than three-quarters of the acts of sexual abuse of youths by Catholic priests, as shown in the nature and scope study, were same-sex acts (priests abusing male victims)." In the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report, 77 percent of abusers were homosexual predators.
The Church has a particular, unique problem with male-on-male predation by priests. The highest estimate I know (Richard Sipe's) of the proportion of Catholic priests with homosexual orientation is about 25 percent. By this estimate, 83 percent of the abuse in the John Jay Report was perpetrated by 25 percent of priests. Statistically this implies that (most conservatively) same-sex attracted priests were 15 times more likely to engage in child sex abuse than opposite-sex attracted priests.
MercatorNet: The late Richard Sipe, a sociologist and a former priest, claimed that a large proportion of the Catholic clerical community was not practicing celibacy. In your experience is that true?
There's no way to know for sure, but I doubt it. In multiple anonymous surveys, for example by the Los Angeles Times, only a small proportion of priests report that they are not celibate, or even struggle with celibacy. The John Jay Report, written by secular social scientists with no axe to grind on this issue, concluded that celibacy was not a factor in child sexual abuse by priests.
Sipe (who did valuable work on this issue, and who sadly passed away only a few weeks ago) left Catholic religious life to marry; and based his conclusions on clinical samples he saw in his psychiatric practice, not the general population of priests, so his conclusions may well be biased. The John Jay Report notes that 80 percent of priests who seek or are remanded to treatment for sexual misbehaviour are not practicing celibacy.
MercatorNet: In the distant past, failures in celibacy took the form of concubinage or love affairs as in The Thorn Birds. Are homosexual attachments more damaging for spiritual health of the Catholic clergy?
Is it more spiritually damaging to sodomize than to rape, or for a male victim to be sodomized than for a female victim to be raped? Aquinas would say yes, and at some level of moral reasoning I would have to agree. But both are heinous crimes, and the distinction is not very dispositive in this crisis, in my opinion.
Any sexual attachment by a priest in violation of his vow/obligation of celibacy is damaging to his spiritual health (though the causation may run more the other way; a lack of spiritual health leads to seeking a sexual attachment). I would not want to make abstract comparisons in the present situation.
MercatorNet: You’ve mentioned the existence of homosexual cultures within some Catholic seminaries. When did this begin? What made it possible?
Short answer: probably in the 1970s, due to the general rise in sexual laxity during the Sexual Revolution that invaded Catholic thinking and life.
Donald Cozzens, a prominent seminary rector, in a controversial 2000 book, raised the concern that friendship networks of gay priests and seminarians in most dioceses or seminaries in the United States had become an exclusive subculture or clique “who interact continually with each other and seldom with outsiders, and who develop shared experiences, understandings and meanings.”
Such cliques had become so pervasive, including among seminary faculty, Cozzens argued, that they tended to marginalize heterosexual seminarians or priests. Cozzens argued that “straight men in environments populated by a significant number of gays experience a sense of destabilization. They wrestle with a certain self-doubt, a feeling that they don’t fit in. On both psychic and spiritual levels, they are not ‘at home’.”
Cozzens’ concerns echoed those made by psychoanalyst Richard Sipe in a series of influential books on the sexuality of Catholic priests. Using institutional and expert reports, Sipe found that during the 1980s, compared to the 1960s, “the reporting of homosexual behaviours increased significantly and the reliable estimates almost doubled”. The difficulties were concentrated in a minority of dioceses with high concentrations (the estimates were between 42 and 75 percent) of active homosexual clergy.
The main cause of this situation, Sipe alleged, was a shift away from the structure of highly regulated seminary life beginning in the early 1970s which led, in the closely confined all-male environment of the Catholic seminary, to the development of homosocial organizations in some seminaries that encouraged “relationships with sexual objects”. The secrecy of the confessional and a culture of official denial hindered church authorities from addressing the problem.
Subsequent research has confirmed Cozzens’ and Sipe’s concerns. In priests surveys a majority ordained the past twenty years responded “yes” when asked if there was a homosexual subculture in their seminary.
In formal Catholic teaching the presence of homosexual men in the priesthood is problematic on its face, and so their prevalence constitutes a disadvantage of celibacy. Catholic teaching holds homosexuality to be a disordered inclination which is not conducive to godliness and human well-being. Though persons, through self-denial and self-control, can achieve Christian maturity in spite of the condition, it is not a recommendation for Church leadership. Catholic norms formally prohibit any known homosexual man from being ordained.
MercatorNet: As long ago as 2008 Richard Sipe published documented allegations about Cardinal McCarrick on his website. They were openly available. Yet no one in authority acknowledged them. What was going on?
No idea. Clearly a lack of interest on the part of the hierarchy to investigate.
MercatorNet: The US Catholic bishops say that they are determined to purge their own ranks of abusers and colleagues who are soft on abuse. Do you think that they will eventually succeed? If they do, will the crisis be over?
The US Catholic bishops cannot be trusted to solve this problem, which is largely of their own making. This is true even though a good bit of the accusations against them is unfair. It will take papal intervention. I support the idea of a mass resignation, with the Pope ruling on which resignations to accept, as happened in Chile. This would put the problem squarely in Pope Francis' lap. Where it should be.
MercatorNet: You are a former Episcopalian priest who converted to Catholicism. You were ordained by Cardinal McCarrick. You must feel betrayed by him, but has it shaken your faith in the essentials of the Catholic Church?
None of this affects my faith in the Church, whose indefectibility comes from Christ himself. Jesus weeps with the victims, and that is where the Church should be. The grace of the sacraments does not depend on the perfection of any ordained person to be effective (else persons at my Masses would be in big trouble). No bishop who has ever ordained anyone has been sinless, and the sins of the man who ordained me don't dismay me from the faith in the slightest.
(I could go on at length. We all come to the Church because we are sinners, not because we are righteous. Almost all the patriarchs and saints committed serious sins. David, the most celebrated king of Israel, in whose lineage Christ was born and who was called a man after God's own heart, committed adultery and murder. Good and evil are not commensurable; we are not saved by the good we do; one's good doesn't make up for one's evil, and one's evil doesn't prevent one's good.)
Frankly, I encountered worse difficulties on this issue (homosexual abuse by clergy) in the Episcopal Church, but they were not at all shy to report to the police, and more successful in keeping it out of the press.
I have a profound sense of betrayal and dismay, not just by McCarrick but by all our bishops, who overlooked and enabled him, to the extent of secret settlements. Now when I hear a bishop say something or make a decision, I have to wonder, what is he not telling us? What gross sin is he hiding?
Rev. D. Paul Sullins is Research Professor of Sociology and Director of the Leo Institute for Catholic Social Research at the Catholic University of America, and Senior Research Associate at the Ruth Institute. He has written four books and over 100 journal articles, book chapters and research reports on issues of faith and culture. His latest book is Keeping the Vow: the Untold Story of Married Catholic Priests (Oxford, 2015). Formerly Episcopalian, Fr Sullins is a married Catholic priest with an inter-racial family of three children, two adopted.
Posted on: Monday, February 25, 2019
Put an end to the exploitation of an 11-year-old boy.
Imagine this scenario: A married mother and father encourage their 11-year-old daughter to dress in sexually provocative clothing. They take her to a strip club and allow her to dance onstage. The patrons throw money at her. No one touches the girl in any way, given the environment. What are we to think of these parents?
Now imagine this scenario: A priest invites an altar boy to spend evenings with him. The priest encourages the boy to dress in women’s clothing. The priest tells the boy how nice he looks and how wonderful it is that he is expressing his true self. The boy and the priest spend time together watching videos of men in drag. He arranges for the 11-year-old boy to perform at a nightclub that caters primarily to a homosexual clientele. The patrons throw money at the boy. No one, including the priest, touches the boy, at the club or elsewhere. What are we to think of the priest?
These completely hypothetical scenarios are based on the real-life events of an 11-year-old boy named Desmond. He wears women’s clothing. His parents say he chooses the clothing and he enjoys wearing it. His choices are not just ordinary women’s clothing, but provocative women’s clothing.
In fact, his choice of clothing is stereotypical drag-queen clothing. His parents have arranged for him to have his own website, “Desmond Is Amazing,” to showcase his talents as a drag performer.
I don’t know if anyone has inappropriately touched him. But his parents did arrange for him to perform at a gay nightclub, where the patrons threw money at him.
If a mother and father did this to a little girl, we would think there was something seriously wrong with them. If a priest did this to a little boy, the whole country would be in an uproar.
We would instantly recognize either of these situations as exploitation and endangerment of an innocent child. We would recognize the nightclub performance as sexual grooming. Any adult who supported this would be regarded as a scoundrel. Some people might call on Child Protective Services to take the child into custody or demand the local authorities confiscate the nightclub’s liquor license.
I bring this up not to remove Desmond from his parents or to shut down the New York nightclub that hosted Desmond’s performance.
Instead, I want to issue a challenge to people who identify themselves as part of the “LGBTQ community”: Please stand up and publicly object to this.
I’ve seen a few individuals who describe themselves as “gay” or “liberal” objecting to this on social media. I am urging more of you to speak up.
The “Gay Establishment” could put a stop to this egregious exploitation of a child. They could speak publicly about boundaries and the innocence of childhood. In addition, it could probably solve this immediate problem without public incident. Someone from the Human Rights Campaign or other advocacy organization could quietly call up Desmond’s parents: “Look, we’ve spent millions of dollars convincing Middle America that transgenderism is harmless, heteronormativity is unnecessary, and that we aren’t interested in sexualizing children. You are creeping people out. Knock off the gay-bar scene with your 11-year-old.” I bet Desmond’s parents could be persuaded.
If those who consider themselves “sexual minorities” or “gender-nonconforming” were to speak up, the Gay Establishment just might listen.
Do these organizations really speak for everyone who identifies as “LGBT” on every issue? How about on this particular issue — of whether an 11-year-old should be performing in a nightclub of this type?
I raise this question from my own experience as a nonconforming, nonfeminist woman. Establishment feminism does not speak for me. Oh, sure, they try to create the impression that they speak for all women all the time. But they don’t speak for me or most of my friends. They have never spoken for me, and I have been a woman my entire life. That is what makes me wonder whether the Gay Establishment really speaks for all the people who identify themselves under its umbrella.
If they really want to contribute to the well-being of this preteen, they should speak out against his sexualization. Urge them to speak up on social media against this sexualization of a child. Urge them to write to the Human Rights Campaign, or any other advocacy group they may support. You can write to these organizations, as well. They will be more likely to listen to you than to me.
Then maybe we can put a stop to the exploitation of this child.