Catholic Writers: ‘Enough Already,’ ‘Compromises’ on Catholic Teachings ‘Led to Widespread Corruption’

The Associated Press
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via AP

Catholic writers are denouncing the continued compromises on Catholic teaching by the Church’s bishops, asserting they are a cause of the culture of lies and deceit that has ripped through the Church in the form of sex abuse scandals.

A senior editor at First Things writes at the Catholic Herald the continued “truces” on Catholic teaching made by leaders of the Church over the past 50 years have promoted nothing less than a culture of deceit and lies that must be eradicated.

Matthew Schmitz asserts the Church’s sex abuse crisis “casts doubt on the whole post-Vatican II settlement.”

He and other Catholic scholars and writers are reacting to a grand jury report released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that details sex abuse by hundreds of Catholic priests in the state and the ensuing cover-ups by Catholic bishops.

According to the report:

Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls too. Some were teens; many were pre-pubescent. Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography. Some were made to masturbate their assailants, or were groped by them. Some were raped orally, some vaginally, some anally. But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.

The report is released in the wake of the removal from ministry of former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, following allegations that he sexually abused boys and engaged in sexual misconduct with seminarians.

Schmitz notes that following the allegations against McCarrick, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, DC, “told an interviewer: ‘I don’t think this is some massive, massive crisis.’”

Wuerl – who served as bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006 – was accused in the grand jury report of mishandling cases of abusive priests during his tenure. The D.C. archdiocese subsequently erected a website – the “Wuerl Report” – that served to defend the cardinal’s management of the cases. As the Catholic Herald reports Thursday, the website was removed in the wake of staunch criticism.

According to the Herald:

Catholic writer Elizabeth Scalia, a prominent critic of the website, said: “This is the sort of action we usually see being taken by a Chairman of the Board, or a CEO, or a politician, and that’s very telling; it exposes a mindset that is geared toward management and administration, with a less-than-optimal pastoral sensibility on display. It’s all too much of the world.”

Schmitz and other Catholic writers assert the McCarrick revelations and the Pennsylvania grand jury report show that the jig is up.

“Men at the highest levels of the Church knew the rumours about McCarrick and took no action,” he writes. “As a result, the allegations have gravely damaged the credibility of the whole hierarchy. If bishops expect to be taken seriously as witnesses to Christ, the crisis is massive indeed – as the revelations from Pennsylvania underline.”

Similarly, writing at the “Catholic Thing” in the wake of the McCarrick scandal, Catholic scholar Anthony Esolen proclaimed, “enough already:”

Let us hear no more about pronouns from you priests, prelates, and Catholic writers who perpetrated outrages upon the souls and bodies of young priests and seminarians, and you who covered for them, for reasons best known and kept to yourselves, but for no reason sufficient to excuse you, and to prevent you from doing the honorable thing. If you have a position of authority, and you did nothing, you should resign. You may be replaced. You are not indispensable. Enough already.

Schmitz points to Pope Paul VI’s failure to discipline priests and bishops who rejected his 1968 Humanae Vitae teaching on birth control as the starting point of the Church’s decline into relativism.

“The result was an uneasy truce: the teaching was formally upheld, but obedience to it was not demanded,” he explains.

Similarly, in 2005, numerous bishops ignored the Vatican’s directive to ban men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” from the priesthood.

The slow drip of compromise and truces has done nothing to invigorate the Church, as Schmitz observes that only 39 percent of American Catholics now attend weekly Mass – as opposed to some 75 percent in 1955.

“In recent months, I have attended a Mass at which Christ was assigned gender-neutral pronouns, and one at which the homilist proposed that he may have had biological brothers and sisters. (So much for Mary’s perpetual virginity.),” the writer relates. “At another, I was invited to join a ministry that openly rejects Christian teaching on sex.”

He asserts the lies and cover-up must stop here if the Church is to continue with credibility.

“Upholding Catholic teaching on paper but not in reality has led to widespread corruption and contempt for authority,” Schmitz concludes. “Preserving the peace has required a culture of lies. This is the culture that allowed men like McCarrick to flourish. One way or another, we must sweep it away.”

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