Priest: “The Catholic Church is really two Churches now.”

The relaxation of the role of the priesthood, what Kreitzer calls a “denigration of genuine priestly charism of the ordained while instilling a false sense of clericalism in the laity,” helped contribute a worldwide sex abuse scandal lying dormant but that would soon emerge, like a full-blown virus, many years down the road. “It fit with the times when priests were encouraged to escape the sanctuary while the laity flocked to it,” Kreitzer writes, meaning that, if the Church could change a 1,500 year-old liturgy in a couple years, then anything was changeable—and possible, even behavior related to Allen Ginsberg’s famous line, “This form of life needs sex.”

While some sexual abuse cases occurred prior to the Council, most occurred in the 1960s and 70s, when the Church was in the midst of its so-called “springtime.”

According to Thomas Plante, Professor and Chair of Psychology, Santa Clara University, the average age of the priest abuser in 2002 was 53. That means that the vast majority of abuse cases coming to light today are from 20, 30 and 40 years ago, the post Vatican II years, when ‘ liturgical experimentation’ was at its height. At that time not much was understood about sexual abuse. It wasn’t until the early 1980s, as Plante suggests in his book, Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned, that serious research began in this area.

Abuser priests identified by Church authorities 20, 30 or 40 years ago, were given the usual Bayer aspirin treatment: a therapeutic slap on the wrist and 30 days of isolated prayer in a faraway retreat. After that, they were discreetly recycled and farmed out to a different parish setting. It was all very much like signing off on a traffic ticket, or getting your mouth washed out with soap, sans the obligatory cold shower.

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