March 4, 2019

Embracing Caesar at the Expense of God

The Catholic Church’s recent summit on sexual abuse was a disgraceful failure.

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” —Jesus of Nazareth in Mark 12:17

Dedicated “progressives” assume that every organization, regardless of its composition or mission, should align itself with “progressive” sensibilities. Thus for example, the military should be required to lower standards so women can qualify for front-line combat units, even if it sacrifices the ruthless efficiency and unit cohesion necessary to carry out dangerous missions. Or the Boy Scouts should allow openly homosexual leaders to serve, and girls and transgender boys to join, even if it costs them thousands of members.

Yet if there is one organization that should stand as a stark alternative to social engineering — along with the inevitable intimidation engendered by leftists to enforce it — the Catholic Church ought to be that organization. That it is not is utterly demoralizing to millions of Catholics whose faith is tarnished, not by the tenets of Catholicism itself, but by the rank immorality of the organization’s leadership, whose sole mission is to protect and enforce those tenets.

To be blunt, the Church has long had a sexual-predator problem, engendered chiefly by homosexual priests. Yet to even acknowledge that reality is to invite the inevitable accusations of homophobia. “The crisis over sexuality in the Catholic Church goes beyond abuse,” states a New York Times article. “It goes to the heart of the priesthood, into a closet that is trapping thousands of men.”

Utter nonsense. No one is required to enter the priesthood. But those that do should be expected to comport themselves with Church doctrine, including the vow of celibacy one promises to maintain, the Church’s stance against same-sex marriage, and a host of other requirements that define Catholic priesthood. Nonetheless, many of the priests interviewed by the Times think the Church should adapt to their sensibilities, lest they be “trapped,” and the Times attempts to make that ludicrous case in exactly the manner described in the opening paragraph of this piece. “The sexual revolution happening outside seminary walls might as well have happened on the moon, and national milestones in the fight for gay rights, like the Stonewall riots, on Mars,” the paper states.

Leftist-defined societal “revolutions” and national “milestones,” many of which are emblematic of our increasingly immoral and coarsening culture — the one where a substantial portion of a leftist-dominated political party now advocates for post-birth abortions — are precisely what the Catholic Church is supposed to stand against. Yet for leftists, the ideas that the Church should stand apart from societal vicissitudes, and that its followers can “love the sinner, but hate the sin,” are viewed with contempt. Those who embrace them are dismissed as “bitter clingers,” some of whom should be persecuted for adhering to their faith.

Moreover, Catholics are somehow supposed to take comfort that the Times, The Washington Post, and the Huffington Post assert there is no link between sexual orientation and predatory behavior, despite the reality that approximately 80% of the known victims have been male.

“Gay priests are in the cross hairs,” asserts American Jesuit Father James Martin, who has advocated for the church to embrace LGBT members with more compassion.

Not gay priests, Father Martin. Vow-breaking, sexually predatory gay priests who comprise the overwhelming majority of offenders.

Moreover, the problem is immense. The Washington Post published a country-by-country accounting of abuse highlighted by nations such as Australia, where a survey found that 4,444 people were abused at more than 1,000 Catholic institutions between 1980 and 2015; Germany, where at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014; and the United States where a Pennsylvania grand jury report found that approximately 300 priests sexually abused at least 1,000 children in six dioceses since the 1940s.

Fortunately, some of the Church’s leaders refuse to be cowed. Prior to the Vatican Summit on Child Protection, Cardinals Raymond Burke and Walter Brandmüller wrote an open letter to the presidents of bishops’ conferences attending that summit, urging them to address the root causes of the clerical sex-abuse scandal. “A decisive act now is urgent and necessary,” the cardinals stated, urging attendees to face “plague of the homosexual agenda,” and a “climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence.” “Sexual abuse is blamed on clericalism,” the letter adds. “But the first and primary fault of the clergy does not rest in the abuse of power but in having gone away from the truth of the Gospel.”

Unfortunately, their message fell on largely deaf ears. “Pope Francis’s closing address to the Vatican Summit on Child Protection was a disgraceful display of excuses and evasions,” asserts columnist Marc Thiessen.

Thiessen cited several damning quotes, including the pope’s contention that a “great number” of abuse cases are “committed within families,” that bishops should focus on “other forms of abuse” experienced by “child soldiers,” “starving children,” “child victims of war” and “refugee children,” and that the clergy should combat “sexual tourism.”

Yet the capper was Francis’s assertion that the Church must “rise above” those who “exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by the little ones,” which Thiessen rightly characterizes as a deflection: Francis still refuses to name the names of those bishops and cardinals who covered for their fellow clergymen, or hold them responsible for doing so. “Indeed,” Thiessen adds, “Francis’s decision to focus the summit exclusively on ‘the protection of minors’ was a cynical ploy to avoid addressing questions of accountability, or the rampant sexual abuse of vulnerable adults by their religious superiors.”

Even worse, the pope has rejected the idea of convening a tribunal aimed at trying bishops who ignore or cover up abuse, and he refuses to release documentation revealing the details of former archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s decades-long track record of depredations — and the patronage network that protected him.

Can the lid be kept on? Another major scandal is reaching critical mass in New York, precipitated by an easing of the state’s statute of limitations. Even before the hundreds of cases expected to be filed, it has been revealed that 1,260 sexual-abuse claims have been resolved and at least $228 million paid in compensation over the last two years by New York’s eight Catholic dioceses. The ensuing litigation may drive some of those dioceses into bankruptcy.

“The Vatican ‘summit’ may have postponed the reckoning, but that reckoning is coming,” declares Catholic journalist Phil Lawler.

Or not. As Thiessen explains, those who could spearhead genuine reform “seem to be more concerned with preserving their worldly privilege and power than restoring the church’s moral integrity.”

That is tragic, especially in America, where other major institutions, including the FBI and the DOJ — whose entire reason for being is about protecting integrity as defined by the Rule of Law — have been equally defiled by privilege-preserving mandarins.

Church leaders have become more invested in transitory politics and political correctness than eternal truths, highlighted by a contemptuous conspiracy of silence to protect those who should be removed from their ranks.

In short, they have wholly embraced Caesar — at the expense of God.

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