Sunday, April 25, 2010

Greeley: Implementing a revolving door at the rectory

Fr. Andrew Greeley is at it again, or at least this week's reprinting of his article makes it look like he is. Apparently someone at "US Catholic" thinks his 2007 article is timely again. It is an argument for some sort of short term priesthood. And look who commented!
By tour86rocker (not verified) on Sunday, April 25, 2010
Marriages and ordinations are more alike than people are saying here. Catholics can't divorce but they can separate for a good reason. They remain sacramentally married (unless they were never validly married in the first place). It's the same with priests, they can be separated from their ministry for a good reason but they remain ordained.

It is unnatural for man and wife, who are one flesh, to be separated, but it can become necessary if the husband is abusive, for instance. If a priest's actions abuse or scandalize the faithful, he should be separated from his spouse (the Church) as well.

It is unnatural for a sacramentally ordained priest to be separated from the ministry that his nature is indelibly ordered toward after ordination. Why on Earth should it ever become common to make temporary promises with your lips when your very soul makes a commitment for a lifetime? It's like the body speaking a lie against the soul.

I agree with my fellow critics, this is psychologically related to the male aversion to commitment in this culture. So many fathers are emotionally distant from their wives and children and are looking for an out. So many marriages end in divorce due to a privation of manhood! Apparently some priests are looking for an out, too.

(Greeley's reference to monks and nuns who make temporary vows is a big, fat red herring intended to confuse those who don't understand the sacrament of Holy Orders. Religious sisters and brothers don't take part in any sacrament as a virtue of entering a religious order. The religious brothers and sisters are apples and the priest is an orange. Ask me why if you're wondering. It's just really unfortunate that Greeley lumps all forms of religious commitment together into one big ball of "stuff that keeps you from getting married". Religious life is supposed to be freely and joyfully chosen, not burdensome!)

In short, we'd quickly see liturgical and catechetical horrors yet-unheard-of. And I, for one, have heard of too many already. Implementing a revolving door at the rectory is the surest way to keep our shepherds' memory of tradition very myopic and there would be no reason for them to be concerned with episcopal censure, after all, their swing at being a priest would be just a temporary volunteer position (albeit with a lot of educational prerequisites!) that they'd soon move on from. And don't forget, they'd probably move on to marriages with the same privation of commitment. If you thought you'd seen failed Catholic marriages before that day...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Honest Journalism on the Abuse Scandals and Journalism Scandal, A Short List

Church is on the side of the victims, not the abusers:
Tearful pope says church will better protect young: from Associated Press
Cardinal Hummes: ‘Above all we are on the side of the victims’: from Catholic World News
Abuse victim in Malta: Pope Benedict XVI is a 'saint': from Catholic News Agency

Process to protect children is shown to have improved:
Evidence of Renewal: from National Review
U.S. bishops tracking foreign priest abuse complaints: from the Washington Post
Bishop Wenski: "Crisis...has been surmounted": from Orlando Sentinel

Pope was never personally responsible:
Fessio: Let's Get the Story Straight: Defrocking and Divorce: from Insight Scoop
The mob should lay off. The pope is completely innocent: from The Guardian (UK)
Abp Nichols: The Church is not trying to cover anything up: from The Times (UK)

Dishonest Journalism:
Journalists abandon standards to attack the Pope: from Catholic Culture
Ed Koch: Anti-Catholicism Evident in Media: from Zenit
Why is the unashamed child abuser Polanski lauded while the repentant Pope is vilified?: from Daily Mail (UK)

Defenders of Pope:
President of the Italian Senate condemns 'unmerited' attacks on Pope Benedict: from Catholic News Agency

Figures about real abuse prevalence are lower than people think:
How Spotlights Leave Many Other Things in Darkness: from Archdiocese of Washington blog
**Weigel: Scoundrel Time(s): from First Things
The media fires up its inquisition: from the Star Tribune
Forgotten Study: Abuse in School 100 Times Worse than by Priests: from Life Site News
Sex Abuse by Teachers Said Worse Than Catholic Church: from NewsMax

Opportunities for improvement:
Prominent Chicago Catholic Calls On Pope For Tougher Action: from WBBM Chicago

Voris: A Little Balance, Please!

Nobody is comforted about the priest abuse scandal by learning that teachers abuse more, anyway. It's NOT a comfort and I think it makes us look bad to to lean heavily on such an argument.

We should be saying instead that we're doing all that we can to kick out pedophiles and pederasts in the priesthood and screen them out before they make it into a seminary. Our bishops have implemented reforms that have reduced such new cases of such abuse to approach the more acceptable level of zero.

Voris did an interesting thing here. At minute 3:00 he started to explain that there was a reason that there were more abuses by teachers than by Catholic priests: there are more OF them. Instead of doing the intellectually honest thing and calculating the abuses per teacher and abuses per priest, he just sort of CHANGES the subject. I didn't like that he did that. I believe that God is best served by truth.

So I decided to calculate it myself. I had to listen to the video about three times to write down all of the number of abuses and then I looked up the number of priests and teachers (of minors) in the U.S.

Voris (or Shakeshaft?) does us a disservice by giving us only apples to oranges comparisons of abuse figures. But for my calculation I'm accepting their average for the 1990's of 29,000 abuses per year by teachers and 220 per year by priests.

According to US News & World Report, there were about 32,300 Catholic priests in the US in 1995. That makes it about 8 abuses per 1000 priests in 1995. <1>

Another article from the same periodical claims there were 2.5 million teachers in 1996, making it about 12 abuses per 1000 teachers in 1996. <2>

These aren't the best data sources and I failed statistics twice, so I'm open to criticism. I'd say that although teachers appear to have abused more, the rate is too close to say which one abuses more in any given year. And the abuse prevalence of priests and teachers is almost equally unlikely, to such an extent that neither group should be stereotyped by it! I don't have the right data to compare apples to apples but the data I have would have to be off by magnitudes to make a difference, and I don't see any reason to assume that this is the case.


#2 is the best I could find after searching for an hour, an hour of my life that I'll never get back. We don't know what teachers that number includes or excludes, like preschool, special ed, private schools, parochial schools, etc. (or, where it overlaps with priest-teachers)