No More Half Measures: Pope Francis Must Resign

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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108 Responses

  1. Maribou says:

    My skepticism about this is entirely founded on “But how much worse might the next guy be???” principles.

    The curia is slavering for an excuse to get rid of this guy. And not because they aren’t vested in covering up abuses.

    Which is not a good reason, at all, to disagree with you.

    But I find I can’t shake it.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Maribou says:

      I agree. Pope Francis’ replacement is more likely going to be worse than better on this issue and myriads of others.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

      PS The still-religious part of me is also like “there is a reason why THIS person is pope at THIS time.”…. but given that the reason could well be that he is the sort of person to confront and acknowledge his own culpability by resigning (who knows? but he could be), that isn’t really an argument for or against.Report

      • As far as my argument for the Pope’s resignation, I am basing it strictly on standards of leadership I would apply universally. Leadership wise it is what should happen. I understand and have respect for the theological ramifications of traditional Catholic belief regarding the role of the Pontiff spiritually, but that is for another discussion. My argument here is strictly temporal, leaving the spiritual to other people at other times.Report

        • Will H. in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

          The argument doesn’t make sense.
          Where it breaks down is the jump from drawing parallels in similar situations; in particular, the dissimilarity of the resignations of persons directly responsible to demanding the resignation of someone not directly responsible.
          To wallpaper over this gaping hole is an ungrounded assertion that the person at the top should be held personally liable for every underling, and stretches concepts of accountability out of shape.

          I can’t see a general from the army saying, “One of my NCOs screwed up really bad long before I ever came to this job, and did something I never would have authorized. I guess I’ll just have to resign.”

          Apart from the unstated premises of the argument, the fundamental misunderstandings of leadership theory and organizational behavior, there is also the fact that Francis *IS* the transition guy.
          In proper context, the demand here is for a different transition guy, and it fails to address Francis’ tenure; instead, transferring the recency of the report to the acts which the report describes, while giving no reason for doing so.Report

          • I appreciate your comments and reading but disagree.

            History is full of high ranking officials taking the fall and blame for lower level subordinates, often ones they never had direct interaction with. In the military a low ranking individual can take an action that results in that persons entire chain of commanded being held accountable. Your name is top, you are responsible. The Pope is responsible for the church. The only alternative is that he is a figurehead without the power to do anything meaningful, in which case there is no need for him to be there. Either way he should go.

            I do not buy the “transition” argument at all. There is an assumption that Francis doing something meaningful about this, which we see no evidence of after 5 years of him being in the position, and a further assumption someone better will be next. Only something cataclymsic will effect change, since abused children clearly isnt enough, and the leadership thing to do would be for Francis to clean house then resign himself. That might be enough to shock the system to change. Otherwise the Catholic Church is just rearranging hats, and the next guy will be veiled with the same “transition” argument.Report

            • Will H. in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

              HiOrganizationally, were Francis to resign, his methods, as well as the man, would be disavowed– that door closes.
              I don’t see a successor redoubling efforts; more likely to move on to some more pressing issue.
              I believe they understand their duty, and their first duty is not to non-Catholics.

              I don’t see a sitting Secretary of Education resigning over educational failures from the 1970s.

              And, because there is a general suspicion against persons who dissent from the Leftist doctrine*, here we go into TMI territory:
              I was raped the day I came out of the crib. I spoke with the rapist much later, when I was 18, and was informed that he knew when my mother became pregnant with my younger brother that she would take me out of the crib to put the new baby in it. He waited several months for me, and ensured my life was fairly hellish for several years following.

              That said, dissolving the family going back several generations is not a desirable solution.
              Killing the grandfather would have little effect.

              There is no consideration of the victims in this.
              The victims would, very likely, be happy with being made to feel as full members of the family, while providing for their safety.

              * I changed my mind as to relating the matter, having determined it counter-productive to dwell on the ever-present.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

      Yeah, another Pope Benedict sure as hell isn’t going to tackle this thing head on…Report

    • I’ll amend my proposal to dissolving the curia, then the Pope can resign. They can go to.Report

      • @andrew-donaldson Well, if we’re going into the realm of temporal utter wishful thinking (not that I disagree with you) ….

        My dream response is that, after the dissolving of the curia, this could lead to the recognition and promotion of the members of the Association of Roman Catholic Womenpriests back into the fold of the mainstream church (which they consider themselves to be part of already). To the best of my knowledge, none of them – including the male priests who are part of the organization – are implicated in any of these scandals, which puts them miles ahead of most of the existing hierarchy.

        And we already know they’re willing to buck tradition and insist on doing what they consider to be the right thing, in the face of serious opprobrium.Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to Maribou says:

          Sure, men have had 2000 years to run the thing and look where it’s gotten us. Maybe the next 2000, or at least 1000, should be all women from priests all the way up to the Pope. After that, maybe they can cautiously consider the idea of letting some men back into the power structure, on a limited basis.Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    The way I see it is that there are about a billion Roman Catholics in the world. Roman Catholics want the Catholic Church to be different things. Many are fine with the Roman Catholic Church the way it is now and believe that with just a little work and prayer the Catholic Church can totally get rid of clerical sexual abuse. Seriously, I heard clergy and lay Catholics express this opinion on an NPR show about the Pennsylvania Grand Jury findings. Others believe that radical change is needed but can’t agree on what that is. Some argue that the Roman Catholic Church must get more liberal, end clerical celibacy, ordain women, accept LGBT people etc. Others believe that the only way to end the current clerical sexual abuse scandal is a further return to tradition.

    When you combine the lack of agreement about what needs or should be done with every organization’s desire to maintain perpetual existence, you are going to get no change. Even though I’ve seen some non-Catholics argue that the Catholic Church must disband, sell off its’ assets, and distribute them to the abused and the poor. This is obviously not going to happen. Hundreds of millions of Catholics, even those utterly horrified at the scandal, would object to this radical solution. Neither is there going to be a big reform to the left because the most ardent Catholics are either fine with the Roman Catholic Church as it is or want it more traditional.Report

    • InMD in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I think the issue is less the sexual abuse itself and more the cover up. This isn’t to say that the abuse is acceptable or that those who perpetrate it shouldn’t be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But priests are human. Some number of them will commit crimes. Always have always will. It’s the Church heirarchy’s apparent inability to not engage in cover ups thats doing the real damage.

      Sometimes I think the cover ups are enabled in part by the Church’s failure to liberalize further on matters of sex and sexuality. It seems like there’s this bizarre blindness to things the clergy says shouldn’t exist when its happening among them. This may sound harsh but I also think the celibacy requirement itself simultaneously attracts maladjusted people and creates an environment where even those who don’t engage in misconduct struggle to empathize with just how ugly and awful this stuff is to the laity. Like you say, others disgree and think more traditionalism is the answer. But I do think they could avoid those bigger questions if they’d just enforce accountability and immediately involve the authorities in every allegation. I have never understood why that’s so hard.

      Apologies for the rambling.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to InMD says:

        The Catholic Church is also organized/centralized and even hierarchical in a way that many other religions are not. Abuses like this are not unique to Catholicism and they happen like this even when the clergy are allowed to marry whom they please. But there is something about the organized nature of the Catholic Church that allows for the cover-up.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          “But there is something about the organized nature of the Catholic Church that allows for the cover-up.”

          As opposed to the organized nature of families, schools, boy scout troops, gymnastics organizations, etc etc etc etc?

          I think the extra horror about the coverup stems from the fact that these folks are, in theory, supposed to be *holy* by their own and their parishioner’s standards, not from some organizational aspect that is missing anywhere else. Heck, there’s definitely something about an institution being held up as “holy” even in a secular sense (as families, sports teams, etc are) that shields them for being uncovered… but I don’t think the Catholic church is special in that regard.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

            (I’d note that my mind has changed about this. I used to think it was “The Catholic Church” and “my own family”. But that’s not true, it was compartmentalizing that I was doing as part of dealing with things — kind of the opposite of “doesn’t this happen to everyone?” as a coping strategy discussed elsewhere.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Maribou says:

            There is *one* thing unique about the Catholic Church tho: clerical celibacy. For hundreds of years* people have been complaining about sexually inappropriate conduct of priests.

            * Eg., the Lollards in 1395.Report

            • Maribou in reply to Stillwater says:

              “For hundreds of years* people have been complaining about sexually inappropriate conduct of priests”

              For hundreds of years* people have been complaining about sexually inappropriate conduct of virtually anyone who didn’t conduct themselves in the same way they themselves did. More like thousands.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Maribou says:

                Sure, but those institutions don’t require celibacy.

                Seems like a pretty obvious institutional difference compared to families, schools, boy scout troops.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Stillwater says:

                @stillwater My point is (or part of it, which apparently requires spelling out) that requiring or not requiring celibacy seems to have little impact on whether people abuse other people.

                Access seems far more relevant.

                Eg what I said before – that more children are abused by people who *live* with them than by anyone else, and more children by family members than by other trusted adults.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Maribou says:

                requiring or not requiring celibacy seems to have little impact on whether people abuse other people.

                Access seems far more relevant.

                So, some impact. Is there data comparing the frequency of sexual abuse perpetrated by people who take a vow of abstinence and those who don’t? Eg., a comparison between priests and ministers?Report

              • Maribou in reply to Stillwater says:

                @stillwater I don’t know – my stats that don’t somehow involve families are out of date because I wasn’t personally struggling to come through non-familial sexual abuse trauma in the last 5 years.

                But if you want to present some evidence that there is an impact at all, I’d be glad to see it. (Seriously. If there is evidence of a significant impact, and it’s actually that simple in this case, that’d be less depressing than my current hypothesis is.)

                Though honestly I’m intellectually-close-enough-to-despondent about this problem ever being solved at all on any level that even if you dig some evidence of such up, I’ll probably just be skeptical about how much abuse is never caught or proven anyway.Report

              • atomickristin in reply to Stillwater says:

                Priests vs. ministers would be shoddy science, given that the main source of celibate individuals would be coming from a culture/institution where this type of behavior was widely tolerated and possibly even encouraged. Priests are not exactly a randomly chosen sample group of celibates, yk? They come from the tainted pool Some care would have to be taken to find celibates from lots of walks of life so as not to affect the outcome of the study.

                I have a vibe some people – not Stillwater, of course, no one here, but some people – like to blame Catholicism’s problems on celibacy for the same reason men’s bad behavior is often explained away by them not getting laid enough. To absolve them of at least part of the responsibility for it. It’s almost as if some people believe men are incapable of functioning ethically without periodically draining themselves of their precious sap and if denied that release, who knows what they’ll do. Explode, probably. Almost like men are not fully responsible for their behavior if they’re pent up. Like they’re beasts or monsters or something instead of humans who are capable of self-control.

                “He cheated on her – she must not be putting out enough”
                “Why would Bill Cosby drug women/Harvey Weinstein rape anyone? He could have any woman he wanted! He wasn’t pent up at all! Therefore he must be innocent”
                “Brock Turner couldn’t help it, he was a teenage boy with a prone unconscious vagina…er, I mean woman…laying right there in front of him”
                “Incels deserve sex and women are denying us so therefore women deserve to die”
                “Priests were probably only molesting kids because they couldn’t molest women”

                I guess I’m just not that charitable because I think people have a responsibility to not molest children, etc, even if they aren’t getting their pee pees attended to as regularly as they might like. After all, even as borderline insane with sperm retention as some of these priests apparently were, none of them did it on Sunday mass in front of the parishioners so they had to be capable of at least SOME measure of self control.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to atomickristin says:

                Priests vs. ministers would be shoddy science, given that the main source of celibate individuals would be coming from a culture/institution where this type of behavior was widely tolerated and possibly even encouraged.

                Seems like it would be good science, to me, IF the relevant issue is the role celibacy plays in sexual abuse perpetrated by people in similar institutional roles. But I think you’re actually granting most of my point here: that the culture of the Catholic Church, one which permits sexual transgression by priests, including abuse of children, who are then shielded from consequences by higher ups is shaped in part – maybe even large part – by the perverse doctrine of clerical celibacy.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Stillwater says:

                This is a fundamental misunderstanding of celibacy, equating it with mere abstinence; much like an insistence that fasting is merely being hungry, or going without food.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

                To clarify, it is often the case that a thing is much different from the material from which it is made.Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to Maribou says:

            Although in those other categories, we’ve put at least some of the abusers in jail. We’ve punished the institutions to some degree (I still think the Penn State football program should have received the “death penalty”). The Big Ten is about one more scandal from disaster, and the Catholic Church seems like it’s far worse than the Big Ten in terms of “lack of institutional control”.Report

          • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Maribou says:


            [Saul:] “But there is something about the organized nature of the Catholic Church that allows for the cover-up.”

            [Maribou:] As opposed to the organized nature of families, schools, boy scout troops, gymnastics organizations, etc etc etc etc?

            I interpreted Saul to mean “as opposed to, say, something like the American Baptist Association.” I’m sure there are abuses in many local Baptist congregations, but the ABA, as far as I know, doesn’t exercise the type of control or assume the type of responsibility that the Roman Catholic Church does.

            Or….if that’s not what Saul had in mind, it reflects my views of the matter.Report

  3. Mike Dwyer says:

    I’ll just echo what some of the others are saying: If ever we needed Francis, it is now. He is a reformer and the best hope for something actually being done about this.Report

    • I hear people saying it, and I see lots of words written about it, but respectfully to everyone who holds that opinion when is that reform coming? He has been Pope for 5+ years: what tangible institutional changes has happened regarding these types of abuses? I know it isn’t all his fault and he inherited it, but he’s in charge and has the title. He came up through the very ranks of the church that are still covering these things up. It’s on him to show us, not tell us, this will be stopped and made right.Report

      • @andrew-donaldson

        I think that it is very tempting to hope for some grand Hollywood-esque gesture, but that isn’t how things actually work, especially in an institution that has existed for over 2,000 years. It’s a very, very slow process. Look at our crumbling infrastructure in the U.S. We know we need to spend trillions on fixing it and yet, not much happens. I’m not sure if we’ll see any reforms that really impress outsiders, but they may begin to move the needle internally. I know that isn’t satisfying, but it’s the reality of things.Report

        • Understood, but the reality of things is also 2000 of abuse and lack of institutional control of the Catholic Church. Abuse and covering up of children and others being harmed will never be acceptable under the guise of “it’s a slow process” elsewhere and shouldn’t be here. I hate being a hardass on this point, I really do. I like being understanding of both sides and reasoning it out. But this situation calls for big bold action, regardless of precedent. And the upper levels of the Catholic Church is making this more and more a black and white, right and wrong, issue with each passing scandal-with themselves on the wrong end of that equation.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        It’s on him to show us, not tell us, this will be stopped and made right.

        Bad idea. This is like trying to get Tony Soprano to lean on his people to stop committing crimes. If that’s what we’re waiting for, we’ll wait forever.

        Organizations of this size are amoral and the people who run them do so because they do the best thing for the organization. What we need to do is control our own actions, i.e. we can’t micro-manage the Pope, but we can make it in the best interests of the Church to deal with this.

        Give the Church some 9 and 10 digit financial punishments and treat the entire problem as the criminal matter it is. Conspiracy to commit rape is a crime. These guys aren’t just some innocent bystanders, they’re the bosses of these guys and they’re actively preventing the legal system from doing it’s job. So treat them like the hardened criminals their actions suggest they are.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to Dark Matter says:

          Local Priest read a letter from our Bishop(?) or whoever runs the local area to our church during church time (I’m not in that state).

          I really can’t do justice to his letter, it was extremely well written. Someone skilled spent a lot of time on it, maybe more than one someone. “To make sure this never happens again“, much (unhappy) spin, no flinching from calling what happened evil or even from describing what happened.

          So, stripping away the emotional bullshit, we have the following.

          1) If you know of anything like this going on locally, call some Bishop.

          Translation: We’re going to continue attempting to maintain a parallel system of justice and handle all of this internally. There was NO MENTION of contacting the police or the church doing so.

          2) Serious Prayer and Fasting as an action plan.

          Translation: Yes, I’m serious.


          Observations of what was missing:

          1) In theory the Pope could order all records everywhere to be handed over to the police, or even just order that going forward. Not going to happen.

          2) In theory the Pope could impose excommunication on any Bishop doing something like this, or even just kick them out of the church. Not going to happen.

          3) No mention of punishment for the people in charge of the 70+ year coverup… to be fair I seriously doubt our local guy is part of that command structure… but I also doubt that actually matters.

          4) All of this hits the radar as a standard management practice, so it’s a structural problem that’s probably everywhere. My expectation is the difference between those 6 administrational structures and ours is they’ve been investigated and had every rock overturned while ours has not.

          The church really believes in forgiveness and prayer as solutions. So a Priest gets caught, he confesses, does penance, is forgiven, and is transferred somewhere else with a clean slate for a fresh start (just like everyone else who takes the eucharist every week). Then the cycle starts over.

          Asking the Church to deal with this issue is extremely difficult because they’d need to confront multiple sacred cows. The Eucharist isn’t working. Forgiveness isn’t working. Prayer isn’t working. Priests remain sexual creatures. And then on top of that we have the whole “embarrassment to the institution”, AND the solutions would presumably involve the loss of to the Church of their separate “legal” system so they’d have to give up power.

          So the people we’re asking to deal with this lack the background and legal/social tools to do it. It’s like trying to force someone who has never seen a hammer to build a house for you. It’s a bad idea. Society needs to deal with this itself and NOT try to force the church to do it.Report

  4. Chip Daniels says:

    I keep thinking of how this is not isolated to the Catholic Church, or organized religion, anymore than #metoo is isolated to Hollywood, or Joe Paterno is to sports or the Scoutmaster scandals to civic organizations.

    Its axiomatic that wherever we have men in positions of power, they abuse those under them.

    This is the system we have accepted. This has always been known on some level, even if only whispered about or understood with a smirk and a nod.

    Once again, I connect this back to the eternal search for sex slaves, now robots, who have all the human attributes except rights or power.

    I acknowledge that this spray of diffuse accusation, sweeping across the entire male gender (because yeah, its almost always men) can easily become a evasion and deflection to avoid action.

    But I think specific action should start with electing more women, promoting more women in positions of power, and lowering the chasm of inequality of wealth and power.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Its axiomatic that wherever we have men in positions of power, they abuse those under them.

      Its axiomatic that wherever we have men in positions of power, some subset of them will abuse those under them.


      • Will H. in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        @oscar-gordon Not so much.
        It still neglects the fundamental issue is one of betrayal of trust.
        Sex is merely the medium, for all the focus on it.

        The most reliable stats I could find show that 1 in 5 persons who sexually molest children are female.
        Still, that neglects that females are much, much more likely to prostitute their children to a molester, for money, goods, or services.
        I don’t know if the full extent of that has ever been studied, but I suspect the numbers come out to be fairly even among the sexes when this is taken into account.Report

  5. Stillwater says:

    On another thread you referred to Trump revoking Brennan’s security clearance as “mostly symbolic” even tho there’s a direct and predictable causal chain linking that action to chilling effects and more within the intelligence community and beyond. Seems to me, tho, the phrase appropriately applies to Francis resigning over this scandal, but maybe even moreso: his resignation would be almost *entirely* symbolic.

    That isn’t to say I have any good ideas on how the Church resurrects its image in the eyes of the laity. Not being a Catholic, it’s not my job and personally I don’t think it can be done internally to the Church structure. Convictions sending everyone complicit to prison might go some distance to achieving that end tho. Maybe instead of Francis resigning Catholics should start a gofundme to pay plaintiff’s attorney fees to fry those MFers.Report

    • It’s fair to say it would be symbolic. In the case of the Catholic Church, which is heavy on meaning in symbolism, such an unprecedented thing might just be shocking enough to effect real change, which is why I bring it up. Radical is called for, symbolism or not that would be a good place to start.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        I’m not sure how the Pope resigning is more radical than realizing hundreds of priests have been sexually abusing thousands of children over a 70 year time frame and all of it was known to and covered up by Church leadership. Francis’ resignation would be in perception and in fact an entirely empty gesture. Instead he should open up Church records to inquiring minds.Report

  6. Doctor Jay says:

    I’m not Catholic. My impression of Francis is that he is a hundred times more likely to make things better than Benedict was, and that he was selected for that purpose. I’m relieved that @maribou
    above gives the same impression.

    That he should get caught on the wrong foot on this demonstrates how difficult it is to confront this sort of thing. Most in an older generation, and maybe in my generation, would much prefer to ignore this sort of thing.

    Francis has focused, much to my satisfaction, on pastoral care. This issue has a huge impact on pastoral care, and he would do immense good for the church if he were to express his humility and lead them in a discussion of abuse, and some thinking about how to change so as to prevent this.Report

  7. Burt Likko says:

    The problem is the Curia, not the Pope. The only bit of damning accusation in any evidence marshaled against Francis is this:

    Without question, Pope Francis was given inaccurate information by the Chilean bishops; he had ample reason to be angry with them. In his unpublished letter to the bishops, he revealed that his investigators had found evidence of dishonesty, of covering up abuse, of transferring guilty priests from one diocese to another. But can the pontiff have been unprepared for this sort of episcopal dishonesty? Was this not the same pattern that had emerged fifteen years earlier, when the scandal erupted in the United States? Throughout his pontificate, Francis has regularly acted as if he had not been fully briefed on the sex-abuse problem.

    (Empahses added.) Well, doesn’t Francis have good reason to question whether he’s been given the whole story? At every step along the way, he’s found high-ranking clerics hadn’t told him the complete truth. When people in positions of power and trust lie to their own superiors and resist investigation and audit, that’s a very hard problem.

    Now consider the realpolitik of the situation: this is a reform-minded Pope who apparently only barely commanded enough respect of his then-fellow Cardinals to attain the Papacy, and only then after his predecessor was the first Pope in something like 600 years to step down, because his own leadership was directly implicated by so many moral scandals. But the faction of Cardinals that elected Benedict XVI would love to get another revanchist Pope in the place of Francis. These are the people who steered the Church into this position in the first place.

    If there is going to be reform in the RCC, this Pope is the very best shot at leading it. What Francis needs to do is not resign, he needs to purge. Any ordained priest, of any rank, who is found to have abused children or concealed the abuse of children needs to be given an opportunity to resign, and if they don’t, they are at risk of being defrocked at the Pope’s sole discretion.

    Catholic parents around the world need to know that their children are safe in the care of the Church’s priests. If I were a Catholic parent, I’d be wary and on my guard, and that isn’t a particularly wonderful attitude for a member of the faithful to have towards an institution that already faces so many other challenges to retaining the allegiance of its congregation.

    And to answer @andrew-Donaldson’s question above about when reform is coming: the answer is, after the purge. With a Curia that Francis packs himself, he should get less resistance to issuing necessary reforms than he surely already has got.Report

    • I respect and don’t particularly disagree with any of Burt’s main points here. But again, Pope Francis has had 5 years to do so; either his is unable or unwilling to take more direct action, either way as a leader that means he is ineffective at time when inaction is intolerable. I understand he may be limited by inner workings. My inbox is currently filling with comments about “you don’t understand the inner workings of the church.” To me that argument is irrelevant. If there is wide spread abuse in a company we don’t concern ourselves with its “inner workings”, or a university that cover abuses “inner workings”, and we shouldn’t here either because the “inner workings” is what is allowing the problem to perpetuate in the first place. Anyone bound by the “inner workings” is never going to be able to overcome them.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I hear echoes of “If only the Tsar knew!”

      This makes me remember what echoes eventually followed: “The Cossacks work for the Tsar.”Report

    • Maribou in reply to Burt Likko says:

      “If I were a Catholic parent, I’d be wary and on my guard,”

      As long as you weren’t one of the Catholic parents who were themselves abusing their children, or someone else’s. Or I guess you *would be wary and on your guard*, but for very different reasons. I mean, I get your point – and obviously not the vast majority of Catholics, or of priests for that matter – but I think it’s *really* important in all of this institutional (well-deserved) shame not to lose sight of the fact that children are still more likely to be abused by an adult who lives with them than by anyone else. Not to set up a “family good, church (or institutions) bad” dichotomy that obscures a more disastrous truth.

      I think in the Catholic context this is especially important because
      a) church teaching has long counseled people to forgive and absorb abuses and stay with abusers (my mom was so counseled, albeit by someone who did not, as she did not, realize that my father’s abuses extended to her children even further than they did to her)
      b) seeing all these priests conspiring and forgiving priests probably makes Catholic familial abusers more confident in their f’d-up justifications for and/or denials of what they do, not less.

      It’s really important, I believe, to see this as a systematic problem that infects *every* institution of sufficient size (including the mass corpus of “family” as an institution in our society) and not as something that horrible institutionally-shielded actors do *to* families (where families are sacred, innocent, and would otherwise never have this particular sin). That is certainly true in individual cases – there are families being intruded upon by institutionally powerful abusers, families who would otherwise be healthy and unharmed – but it is a piece of a much bigger and awfuller truth that yes, we culturally do not want to face. That it happens to children in all walks of life, and more often from a family member than from someone – even a trusted someone – to whom they are not related.Report

      • Doctor Jay in reply to Maribou says:

        My sister, the social worker, has a heartbreaking story about her intervention in a family, where she was trying to convince the women (mother and daughter) that they didn’t have to put up with the sexual abuse of the daughter.

        In this case, she was successful, but only after overcoming the resistance of “it’s just something everybody lives with”. It just reminds me that there are very large populations who think this sort of thing is just something everybody has to live with. That’s the part that was heartbreaking.Report

        • Em Carpenter in reply to Doctor Jay says:

          Not quite the same, but it reminds me of when I was a young prosecutor, trying to explain the cycle of domestic violence to a victim in an effort to get her to cooperate in the prosecution and leave her situation. She said “there is no more violence in my relationship than any other.” He had punched her in the eye, and she didn’t deny it. She just thought it was normal in relationships.Report

          • Doctor Jay in reply to Em Carpenter says:

            It might not be quite the same, but it breaks my heart just the same.Report

            • Will H. in reply to Doctor Jay says:

              @doctor-jay @em-carpenter
              I have been thinking about this extensively since first reading this.
              Something didn’t sit quite right, and I couldn’t quite pinpoint it.

              Because this overlaps with two exchanges overheard by me, but of which I was not a part, to get you on the same page, I offer the following:

              #1: I overheard, quite uncomfortably, an exchange between two women. The one doing most of the talking was complaining about how she deserves to be loved for who she is, etc.
              What made this revolting is that I had to wonder if this theoretical fellow loving this woman for who she is would deserve as a partner a woman he would not smell her BO from across the room as she entered.
              What is it that makes a person deserving, or (more properly) entitled?

              #2: “Why do women b!tch so much?” the man asked his wife. This, after telling her several times her statements were “bullsh!t.”
              His conclusion was that women run their mouths for the purpose of running their mouths, while their concerns are generally baseless.
              I apologized to her the next day, as soon as I saw her. I am diminished whenever I fail to stand up to a bully, regardless of who is being bullied.
              FWIW, the correct answer to his question is, “Because so many men are such horrible listeners.”

              The situations are not even remotely close.
              The one involves an adult making their own decision, while the other involves an adult making a decision for a child.
              Not even close.

              From the stats I’ve seen, domestic violence occurs in some 10% of all relationships, but this is not distributed evenly; e.g., a recent study shows 40% of police officers surveyed self-reporting violence against their partner within the past 12 months (note: I believe this has more to do with untreated mental illness among police officers, and the professional barriers to obtaining adequate mental health services.)
              Those characteristics which correlate strongly with domestic violence are not uncommon: Poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, etc. Those things do not occur in a vacuum, and they tend to cover broad areas.
              Sad though it may seem, the woman getting hit has probably normalized it due to her circumstances and social circle; the “social cement.”
              Until her habits change, the outcomes she experiences are unlikely to change. Every man she becomes involved with will likely become an abuser to her, as long as she keeps fishing in the same pond.
              She’s going to keep having pot roast for dinner if she keeps putting pot roast in the crock pot.
              What she needs is a different recipe.
              Change the recipe, change the dinner.

              Just as the repulsive woman is repulsed by the repulsive men she attracts, and the bullying man will ensure a grouchy and out-of-sorts wife by his own behavior, until that woman gets a new recipe every dish she cooks will taste the same.

              The needed change is an internal one, though it expresses itself outwardly by natural motion.

              I gave a brief overview of my own childhood abuse upthread. I can give all sorts of details (everything you can possibly think of, down to the detail of the wood grain), and it doesn’t affect me. I am no survivor. I am one who overcomes.
              As one who overcomes, I see survivors as (redacted – maribou). That is fully insufficient for my purposes.
              To help conceptualize the difference, consider one who merely survives a broken leg. Then, consider one who overcomes the break in the leg. Two totally different outcomes.

              The very suggestion that I may ever obtain justice in relation to that abuse is completely misguided, wholly inane, and is tantamount to an act of self-aggrandizement.
              There *IS* no justice for the victims, just as there is no justice for the wrongfully convicted later exonerated. There is no act which can make that person whole.
              The only viable option is to take up the leftovers and build. Further, it is important to remember, through that process, that these are two distinct activities.

              Do I will harm to my abuser?
              No. It is sufficient for me to be away from the situation, untouchable by it. He will make his own trouble in due time. His own habit will lead him to those life circumstances, that internal landscape.

              Do I not wish for him to be held accountable?
              By whom, exactly? For all its shiny gild, the law enforcement apparatus is geared entirely toward brutalization– the prosecutor, the presiding judge, the police– all are directed toward placing this person in a penal institution of some kind, for one purpose– to be brutalized.
              Of what value is this form of accountability which requires it of me that I should mould myself into that which I revile?
              I chose to be something else, rather than to mirror the conduct of a monster.
              Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
              I understand that to mean all oppressors, without differentiation or distinction, and not merely one which has harmed me, personally.

              The objective of life remains the same: To obtain those things of benefit, while avoiding those things which are harmful.
              Some get stuck on that path.
              They are stuck by their own will.

              As the saying goes, “Make up your mind, and your ass will follow.”

              And to be clear, the mother referred to, in my eyes, has no excuse for not wanting a better life for her child.
              I struggle to remain neutral on the matter of the mother. I feel I do not have sufficient information to make a valid or informed judgment.Report

              • @will-h Thank you, sincerely, for your in-depth and mostly incredibly thoughtful response.

                I redacted the short portion of your comment that I did because, while I understand your argument about the difference, there are many ways to interpret words in the English language, and it isn’t ok to talk about people who choose to use the word survivor for themselves in those terms, on this site. You don’t have to respect it, obviously, but you do have to talk about them more respectfully.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Maribou, Moderator says:

                @maribou-moderator :
                I do understand that you acted in good faith.
                However, much as in the previous dustup over terms, this is an important distinction which is central to a countervailing philosophical position.
                That it is unpalatable to some is to be expected– *ALL* radical positions are (and make no mistake about it, this is radical, in that it overturns certain social structures).

                Personally, I believe “gender identity” should be re-named the “identity delusion,” and extended far beyond mere gender.
                This is grounded on the concept of self-image, which I believe to be more accurate than “identity,” which implies a complete person.
                Further, I believe it harmful to have such a limited understanding of gender as to consider certain sex acts as gendered. Good for girls and boys, let’s say.
                Or, I could say something like: “Come, sit in my lap with that male identity of yours, and see what happens. I know where to put it in such cases.” But I’m not going to do that. I have standards.

                Gender Identity– Big, hunky stud
                Sexual Preference– Married women

                I really do hope this would help in the two of us arriving at a more nuanced understanding.
                We are very, very much alike, you and I; more so than you would intuit.

                I left enough here for the comment to be readable after you edit it.
                I have no hard feelings about the matter.
                I just wish you could see how exclusionary your concept of inclusion is. Perhaps over time.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Will H. says:

                I’m going to leave this here exactly as is, at least for now, because I try not to react other than in words, out of fury.



                I understand the distinction, which is why I left *the distinction* in. I redacted the unacceptably disrespectful language that was *completely unnecessary to making your point*. You are smarter than to need to have said those things in that way, to have conveyed the distinction, and in fact simply *removing* those phrases basically conveyed the same distinction.

                One part of what you just said, however, is completely unacceptable in general by site standards and to me as a human individual person.

                It’s this part, if you are unclear:
                “Or, I could say something like: “Come, sit in my lap with that male identity of yours, and see what happens. I know where to put it in such cases.” But I’m not going to do that. I have standards.”



                This is exactly the sort of completely inconsiderate, and yes, harmful, verbal interaction that led to me refusing to correspond with you further via email lo these many years ago.

                Just because we both know very personally that it is *far far far x 1000000* less bad than many other things does not make it acceptable. That is NOT an okay standard to deploy.

                Doubling down on the offensiveness/ personal animus level when you get redacted by the moderator is, for the record, *also* not particularly considerate or respectful or civil or whatever word we’re using for “common sense decency” around here these days.

                And asserting in strong terms what I think or feel or “intuit” is just plain mistaken, or at least your claims have been persistently mistaken *about me* for years now, as they are in this comment.

                Please feel free to continue discussing this topic, but you will need to do so without attacking other people who have experienced abuse – regardless of whether or not they have in your or anyone’s judgment “overcome” it – and without directly, personally, and quite vividly threatening me with the use of abusive language in a way that is itself verbally abusive, also. Whether that’s what you’re trying to do, or not, is no longer relevant to me at this point in our interactions. You keep doing it.

                Those things are not *negotiable* @will-h, and I don’t really care at this point whether that leaves you with hard feelings or not.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Maribou says:

                I certainly did not intend to threaten you, or to make you feel threatened.

                When I threaten someone, I want to do so knowingly, that I may do so with gusto, fully and vibrantly.

                No, I don’t understand, not much at all.

                What I do understand is that you are very attached to certain words.
                That is an issue of attachments, not one of words.
                The words themselves are merely totems.

                I only vaguely remember the email exchange you speak of. Dead business, on this end.
                If there is something about it that’s bugging you, please address me directly.
                We can agree right now that I won’t respond in any way. I don’t want to make you feel threatened. Call it “vent time.” Besides, I love puzzles.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Will H. says:

                To eliminate any ambiguity, let’s let this subthread die here and Will, I would avoid interacting with Maribou further in this post’s comment section.


              • Will H. in reply to Will Truman says:

                Though this does raise some interesting issues, e.g., the notion that considerations of gender are the one form of human cognitive function which are 100% free of cognitive bias, the reaction of “fury” where anger is a secondary emotion, et al., I will resist, for the time being, teasing out those threads of interest from among the tapestry woven, according to your stated wish.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Doctor Jay says:

          This mindset may be part of the reason why hushing it up might have seemed like the least bad thing to do to some people — if you think that this sort of thing is something to be discreet about, sure, but nothing that you can possibly change or be rid of, like people needing to urinate, then you’d not be so morally shocked at covering it up.

          Having considered it something shameful to be hidden away and maybe limited, but beyond your ability to possibly change, it may feel like a massive shock and surprise to hear it called something so ugly as “concealment and abetting serial rape of children.” That, of course, is what it was, but in the minds of people who thought this way, they used other ways to refer to it, let lacunae form in their minds.

          I need to stop going down this pathway right now and go take a walk because the whole concept is awful, all the more so for having seen a way to understand the awfulness.Report

          • Dark Matter in reply to Burt Likko says:

            Given how often it comes up, and how widespread it is, I assume the whole “shield those in power” is an instinct. Ergo all this “reasoning” is just intelect papering over what we instinctively want to do.

            Presumably going against the powers-that-be in a tribal environment is a bad idea.Report

    • J_A in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Now consider the realpolitik of the situation: this is a reform-minded Pope who apparently only barely commanded enough respect of his then-fellow Cardinals to attain the Papacy, and only then after his predecessor was the first Pope in something like 600 years to step down, because his own leadership was directly implicated by so many moral scandals. But the faction of Cardinals that elected Benedict XVI would love to get another revanchist Pope in the place of Francis. These are the people who steered the Church into this position in the first place.

      If you read Rod Dreher’s comment threads (and a hat tip to him for having relentlessly pursued this issue), you will see a large plurality, perhaps a majority of commenters arguing that Pope Francis needs to go because he is a heretic soft on “the gheys”, and that, when the Church expels every last gay priest, all that will remain will be the pure, chaste, and very manly (kid you not) orthodox priests, led by a pure, manly, very orthodox Pope who will bring back Latin Masses and meat abstinence, and all will be well again, just as it was between AD 33 and AD 1959.Report

  8. Kolohe says:

    Frankly, I always thought Bennedict resigned because otherwise he was going to be implicated in some substantial coverups, & Francis was elevated as part of the house cleaning.

    Now, I’m doubtful of that theory.Report

    • Near as I can gather his health issues were extensive and legit. I’ll take Benedicts word for that, and his actions and low profile since give a lot of credence to that.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Kolohe says:

      That’s a conspiracy theory, with as much evidence as the 9/11 Truthers would demand. It kills me that people actually think they know what goes on in an organization like the Catholic leadership. Why do we think that Francis is better than Benedict? As near as I can tell, Benedict did more to remove dangerous priests than anyone has. But I don’t know. No outsider can. No insider can know, either, not in an organization as big as the Catholic Church.

      Francis has a friendlier face and ad libs. Benedict looks German. If one of us political nuts used this kind of reasoning to argue for a particular Speaker or President, everyone else would stomp him.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Pinky says:

        @pinky I don’t think either of them had or have nearly as much power as people attribute to them. (Temporal power.)

        But my judgment of their relative characters, as fallible human beings, and openness to change (or not) is based on extensive reading and pondering, not on what you claim it’s based on. I’ve written, albeit a long time ago, an academic paper using the arguments of a young Fr. Ratzinger (who wrote a book about Vatican II contemporaneously, or nearly so) to argue against later theology espoused by Cardinal-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Ratzinger. And that was just the start of my studies of his words and actions.

        My study of Pope Francis is not yet as extensive as my study of Pope Benedict has been, but I could not disagree more with your assumptions about where *my* assumptions are coming from.

        And your assumptions are just that, assumptions, no one here has necessarily used anything close to the “reasoning” you scoff at in your final paragraph.

        It’s not that I even disagree with you that we don’t and can’t *know*, it’s that I think it is perfectly allowable, as part of processing what has happened and trying to figure out what the heck anyone can do about it, to *speculate*.

        People who didn’t want the general public to speculate about their choices and reasoning shouldn’t become Cardinals. (Or, pragmatically though not as justifiably, priests at all… gossiping about “Father Dear” is itself almost an institution in the old-fashioned parishes where I grew up.)Report

        • Pinky in reply to Maribou says:

          I’ve read a couple of his books, too. I’d like to think I know quite a bit about his mind. Does that mean he hasn’t done terrible things, or that he’s not a bad manager, or he doesn’t have blind spots I don’t know about? I’d take Benedict in a second over Francis if it were my choice, but I could be completely wrong, and there’s no way on this earth I’ll ever know.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Pinky says:

            Sure, I acknowledged that. I also said that speculating and discussing is part of processing what’s happened for many folks (as it is in all such cases), and claiming that people’s reasoning is on the “Francis has a friendly face and Benedict looks German” level is specious.Report

  9. Of course all the outrage about this is justified, but in my view its incomplete.
    Doctor Jay, and
    Em Carpenter, comments touch on it. In both cases I’m confident Dr J’s sister and Em did all they could. But in my experience as a CPS worker I saw times when the higher ups caved to pressure from church officials not to pursue a case, accepting the church’s remedies (relocation, pastoral counseling etc.). If it happened here it happened other places too. So I’m left wondering how much of the responsibility for all this lies at the feet of local officials who made/allowed cases go away when there was the basis for proceeding, at least with more investigation.Report

  10. Aaron David says:

    The Catholic Church has put its foot wrong at every point along the way in this matter. Now, I am not a Catholic nor an ex-Catholic and so don’t have an ax to grind along those points. But first and foremost among anyone’s mind should be the children, the adult children and anyone else harmed in this whole scandal.

    I have zero faith that this pope, reformer or not, will be the one to bring an end to this mess. Why? Because he has done nothing to publicly signify that this is a disaster of untold (literally) proportions. Reaching for PR solutions is a sure sign in a case like this that he doesn’t grasp the implications of the damage done. And any good CEO or head of state should grasp how damaging this is. And make no mistake, while he may be the spiritual leader of the church, his position is as much political as metaphysical.

    No, the pope who will end this is one comes in with the understanding that he will need to deal with this issue, whether in Pennsylvania or Ireland, first and foremost. And that there is no way to sweep it under the rug. And that pope will have to have one foot in the reformer group and one foot in the hardline group. There is simply to much difference between the two to bridge the gap to get this handled.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Aaron David says:

      And that pope will have to have one foot in the reformer group and one foot in the hardline group.

      Nah. That pope doesn’t exist. A person who signals he’s gonna clean house is a person who will not get elected. The only hope for the Church at this point is the criminal justice system.Report

  11. Maribou says:

    Update for them as what’s interested, the pope wrote a letter (much more his official-official statement than the short official comment that came out immediately following the grand jury report):

    Much of it is what believers will find comforting/hopeful and most other folks will find platitudinal (I suspect?), but there are a couple of quotes that I found interesting / hopeful aside from my own spiritual yearnings (figuring out which parts I found worrisome / not-hopeful may be left as an exercise for the reader):

    “Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives.[2] This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”.[3] Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.”

    “May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.”

    (emphases mine)Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Maribou says:

      Very platitudinus. The quoted passages read like a variant of the “thoughts and prayers” mantra offered to shooting victims and their families, but this time the thoughts and prayers are for the Church itself. The shout-out to “judicial measures” even falls a bit flat since he’s not saying he’s going to initiate that sort of thing himself, just that people should “support” them if they were to occur. It’s almost like Francis doesn’t think he has any power to *act* on this issue.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Stillwater says:

        @stillwater I can totally see why it would read that way. But I put those passages in my “Pope-letter to what actually happens” translating hopper and all kinds of wild-eyed reform seems possible that was always going to be shut the fish down before.

        In a part I didn’t quote before, for example, he says “We abandoned the little ones” and specifically says it’s time for solidarity with the victims. Which sounds like “whatever”. But the last time a pope started talking about solidarity (to the best of my recollection), it was JP II and the Polish trade union

        It’s kinda code for “shit’s about to get real”.

        You know, we’ll see if ANYTHING actually happens and I don’t think he has all that much power, temporally at least, and the skeptical side of me is infinitely skeptical. Like, could not be more so.

        But if in a hundred years, no one can believe the Catholic Church used to work the way it does now, this letter will be one of the things ecclesiologists point to when they talk about the history of the change. Not a huge thing, necessarily, far smaller than the wrongs it is responding to, but a significant one in a way that previous responses mostly have not been. (Regardless of what the form of that church might be, and what I might think of it myself. If things Change, this will be part of why.)Report

        • @maribou You a correct that within the context of church-speak it is something. My opinion, however, is that the moment calls for casting aside all church speak, and nuance, coding, in favor of direct statements. The same power structure that requires such coding and nuance is the one responsible for the covering up and excusing of the crimes in the first place.Report

          • @andrew-donaldson

            “the moment calls for casting aside all church speak, and nuance, coding, in favor of direct statements.”

            I don’t think he literally knows how to do that or is capable of it.

            To your original argument, that he should resign, I don’t think there is *anyone* in the Catholic church who could conceivably become Pope, who is capable of it without being an example of the kinds of problems generally lumped under clericalism and/or likely to be a cure worse than the disease. See this guy who wants to go on a witch hunt for homosexuals and contraception users:

            In despite of all knowledge and reason…. but he’s *really* direct and straightforward about it.Report

            • I find the turn by some-and a lot of it is being pushed by forces inside the Catholic Church itself-to try to make the abuse scandal a homosexual issue an outrageous deflection attempt, that requires far more than a comment section to rail against.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                The John Jay report found 80% of the sexual abuse cases were male-on-male. A sizable percentage of the victims were in their teens. Combine those with the many stories of seminarian abuse (over 18, but comparably subordinate and naive), and you have a very high number of male victims in the 12-25 range.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Pinky says:

                @pinky And pedophiles tend to be opportunistic about the sex of their victims, or if not, to seek out environments where children of the sex they prefer molesting are more easily available than the other. And the church offers access (ugggh but it seems to have been accurate) to *male* altar servers, *male* seminarians, etc etc etc. It’s no more a “scandal of homosexuality” to any not-already-biased eye than the US National Gymnastics stuff (which extends well beyond that one doctor) is a scandal of heterosexuality. Merely a reflection of the context in which the abuses occurred.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Maribou says:

                I believe that ephebophiles tend more toward having a “type” – but this is my work computer, and confirming that would require a search I’d rather not have in my history. Besides, 80% is really high to be just a matter of opportunity, especially as so many of these stories involved schools.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Pinky says:

                @pinky That’s not true, either the type for ephebophiles OR the the 80 percent is high to be a matter of opportunity.

                And when I brought up to Andrew that the directness and lack of nuance he was asking for weren’t likely to lead in the direction he would like, but rather in the direction of witchhunts for people he did not want witch hunted, I really was NOT opening up the floor for a discussion of whether homosexuality is the cause of pedophilia (or ephebophilia).

                So don’t bother doing research to try and get there.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Maribou says:

                This is like the third time in the past couple of weeks that you’ve told me that one side of a subject is inappropriate for a discussion of that subject.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Pinky says:

                @pinky Yes, because you keep trying to argue outside of bounds of what is welcome to be argued on the site.Report

              • Andrew Donaldson in reply to Pinky says:

                Something to discuss and look into. Right after you deal with the systematic covering and excusing of the abuse and shielding of the abuses by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church first.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                Step one is to identify the problem. Half of the problem is the covering up of the crimes. If the other half is largely homosexual abuse, we should not hide from that.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Pinky says:

                @pinky There is a huge distinction between “what type of abuse is this” (whether or not one agrees about said type) and what the cardinal said which that homosexuality is *the reason why the abuses occurred* and the root problem that needs to be scourged. Well, that and the use of birth control.

                Treating homosexuality as a problem that needs to be scourged is outside the bounds of our conversation here on this site. Treating arguments that it is so as something to cite statistics over, that you apparently think favor said arguments, is also outside of bounds.Report

          • Dark Matter in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            I was talking to another numbers guy yesterday and he claimed those 300 Priests are about 5% to 10% of the total.

            That’s a huge percentage for this sort of thing, especially considering it’s a lower bound made from what they had solid evidence. If we double that for a WAG then it’s 10-20% which is crazy. It’s also abusing children, not abusing other adults/money/substances.

            So EVERY Diocese, even the small ones, have at least one Doctor Nassar with the Bishop knowing about it and hiding it, most have a LOT MORE than one.

            If the Church is serious about dealing with this, they quietly fire all of the offenders. Given that there will be significant push back from the Bishops, there will need to be a number of them fired too.

            I find it hard to believe a mess of this scale can be handled without people noticing (firing 20% of the Priests, even gradually, will have side effects). I find it hard to believe it happens given the really high level of institutional push back and the deep reluctance to admit there’s even a problem.

            We’ll know the Pope is serious when he starts firing Bishops left and right for this. The example of Cardinal Law wasn’t reassuring.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Dark Matter says:

              The cases go back 70 years, so we wouldn’t see so many defrockings even if everyone involved were removed from the priesthoodReport

              • Dark Matter in reply to Pinky says:

                Pinky: The cases go back 70 years, so we wouldn’t see so many defrockings even if everyone involved were removed from the priesthood

                Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia currently has 619 Priests (wiki). That report didn’t have all the assuations, just the most credible and serious 300 of them (there were at least another hundred more).

                70 years is why we’re not talking about half of the Priests needing to be removed. Instead, at 10% we would be talking about 61(ish) Priests. These are people they know, people they’re friends with, people inside the system, people who have admitted their sins, accepted the eucharist, and been forgiven by God.

                The entire system is built to prevent everyone but the Bishop from knowing who is who, so from the point of view of 500 or so Priests, their fellows would be forced to leave for no reason.

                That’s a huge amount of institutional pain even if none of them are higher ranked, or maybe even Bishops themselves. This “I’m an asshole, you’re fired” style of leadership works well for Trump but Bishops aren’t pure sociopaths.

                Very clearly from the point of view of the Bishops, the lesser evil has always been shielding the predator priests and the church itself. The greater evil has always been throwing them out of the church, or worse, showing off the church’s own sins. From their point of view, the church’s problem is that they’ve been caught.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Dark Matter says:

                The report covered 6 of the 8 dioceses in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia wasn’t one of them. There was an earlier investigation of that diocese that found, I believe, 60 suspects.

                You said that the system is built to keep everyone but the bishop out of the loop, but that’s not right. In half of the dioceses in the report, they listed other diocesan officials. In my experience, the bishop knows a tiny portion of what goes on in his diocese; most of the administrative work takes place in the chancery office.

                How many of the chancellors or secretaries had ill will? I don’t know. I see three possible motivations for their bad acts: longstanding friendships, the inertia of bureaucratic thinking, and true immorality. I think that in the worst cases, there’s a critical mass of bad priests and abuse becomes the norm.

                As for getting rid of abuser priests, I remember something that St. Thomas More said about his England: people say that there are too few priests, but the real problem is that there are too many.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Pinky says:

                The report covered 6 of the 8 dioceses in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia wasn’t one of them.

                Fair point. That there are so many sex abuse reports on the Church, and that they’re so similar, kind of supports my overall point that there are serious structural problems here (although pointing to your own mix-up for support isn’t normally a good tactic).

                the real problem is that there are too many.

                :Amusement: Yes, and that they’re somehow supposed to be experts in morality.Report

  12. Dark Matter says:

    Now here is something new. Claims Francis knew about someone real bad and was covering for him… and calls for him to resign from an ex-Bishop.

    Edit: Also