The Dallas Morning News documented that year the fact that two-thirds of U.S. bishops were involved in cover-ups of sex abuse.

twothirds

There were several factors at work in the sex abuse crisis—including misguided compassion for abusive priests, a “magical” attitude toward the effects of repentance and confession, and a misguided faith in the power of pop psychology to treat incurable diseases like pedophilia and deadly sins like Lust.

But the main driver of the scandal, as the fearless Catholic journalist Philip Lawler explained in his authoritative book on the abuse crisis, The Faithful Departed, was simple worldliness: A vast and powerful Church infrastructure was built up by heroic missionaries and fiercely faithful, impoverished Catholic migrants—who came here legally when the U.S. needed an almost infinite supply of strong Sicilian ditch-diggers and chaste Irish nannies. The kind of men who founded the American church were a lot like the men who founded the U.S. government—heroes willing to risk life and limb, to face ridicule and thankless toil in a cause most people thought hopeless. (Imagine George Washington in a mitre.)

The Church continued to grow as faithful men sternly schooled in Jesuit spirituality and Thomist theology faced down hostility and anti-Catholic mobs, to build a massive network of Catholic parochial schools, and resist evil laws imposing Prohibition and eugenics. (You might think of these men as the Andrew Jacksons and Abraham Lincolns of the episcopate.)

As time went on, and Americans began to accept that Catholics really weren’t filling their church basements with dynamite and scheming to make the pope our king, life for bishops became a lot more comfortable. It started to attract a different kind of man, with another set of priorities—glad-handing, ward-heeling power brokers, more in the mold of Lyndon Johnson.

When a crisis of faith erupted over birth control, it turned out that the upper ranks of the clergy were largely composed of men like Richard Nixon or William Jefferson Clinton. Those were the kind of men who were faced with the tough choice of turning an abusive priest over to the police—and facing the public scandal and possible lawsuit—or covering up for him and either bribing or intimidating the victims into silence. The scandal was the love-child born of the world and the flesh, but the Devil did play his part. He served as matchmaker.

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1 Comment

  1. Well John 2:15, we are told not to love the world, or things of the world or we do not have the love of Christ within us!
    Worldliness has invaded the clergy! I know of a priest who wears alligator shoes and smokes in public, this is a Man of the World!

    I like the way you used American Presidents in comparing the different types of faithful men!
    It is amazing how the Roman Catholic Church emerged in a anti Catholic climate. After the Civil War we lost all diplomacy, with the United States. Ronal Reagan reestablished diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

    The Bishops, that coverup Sex Abuse are HURTING the Reputation of the Church and are renewing old prejudices!


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