Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Secrets of the Vatican"? A response

A reader and long-time friend recently shared with me the following response he wrote to his non-Catholic mother who saw the documentary, "Secrets of the Vatican" (Frontline, Feb. 25, 2014), about Vatican corruption and queried him about it:

I didn't see the documentary, so I can't begin to comment on all of its claims.That said, some non-journalistic perspective may be helpful to you in understanding the situation as it actually exists.

1) Homosexual activity is, by most measures, described as occuring between people of the same sex.

2) Most of the crimes, unspeakable sins, too, were committed by men against boys. (This activity was, therefore "homosexual", regardless of the cause or excuse.) Yes, their behavior was bad, both morally and legally. No amount of "nuance" can or should change that. If they have confessed their sins to a priest and received absolution, they are forgiven in the eyes of God. We know this because each one of us has the same offer: confess your sins, be truly sorry for them, and receive a penance and absolution. It is possible, therefore, that these priests may go to heaven, (to quote Pope Francis, "Who am I to judge?") just as it is sure that if they aren't sorry and die with these (presumably) mortal sins on their souls, they will spend eternity in hell.

3) Since these actions were committed by men, and the victims were boys, one of several things could be true: a) homosexual behavior is a deformed, twisted expression of sexuality (because, as some people say, the reason they behave this way is that they have "repressed sexuality", and thus they act perversely; if they could marry and have "normal" sexuality, this would never have happened); b) homosexual actions must be approved by the Church, and there is, therefore, no victim, no crime, no sin, nothing to clean up and nothing to blame bishops with; c) in other cases of homosexual assault (if what these priests did was wrong, then the crimes were both sexual and assault) similar penalties should be sought, but no denomination or group of people who preaches less repressed sexuality should even have the problem.

4) There's an illusion being created by some folks in media outlets, that Pope Benedict and Pope Francis teach different doctrine on matters of sexuality. Good Pope Francis is "pastoral" and Bad Pope Benedict was "doctrinal". To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, "the nostrum if doctrinal then not pastoral is un- historical". Whatever people can say against Pope Benedict, it can't be said that he attempted to "cover up" or ignore the problem. Read his Stations of the Cross on the Good Friday before his election in 2005. Or, if you prefer, read accounts of his visit to this country. Most of the media were stunned that he kept bringing up the subject instead of being on his back foot by having the media raise the issue. When he said what they reported as "If someone uses a condom, this would be a sign of a step in the right direction", the reporting showed that it wanted the Pope to have said one thing, when in fact he had said something entirely different. (Using a condom when performing the evil these priests did wouldn't have changed the morality for the better!) When (IF) it happens, the real news will be "Media accurately report Church teaching and actions", but it will be a cold day in Hell before that happens on more than a microscopic level. I have my winter gear, just in case.

5) It is widely believed that the Vatican Bank has had book-keeping problems for years. It is (similarly-widely) believed that one reason for the book-keeping problems is active homosexuals in the Curia. In this sense, the Curia is the problem, but there's that homosexual problem again. I don't know about the actual state of the Vatican Bank, but I can believe there are "irregularities" there. When these problems exist, they don't exist because of people following the teaching of the Church, but because of disobedience to the teaching. The solution isn't changing the rules to allow what they did (or allegedly did) either in the Vatican Bank question or the pedophilia/pederasty one, but to remove those who failed to do their jobs in accord with the teaching of the Church. That, of course, requires bishops (and the Pope) to uphold and enforce not merely doctrine, but discipline -- but that gets us to Bad Pope Benedict again.......

In short, the solution is more of Papa Benedetto, not more un-hinged pastoral conduct. "Pastoral" conduct too often tells a sinner "I'm ok., you're ok., and what the pope says doesn't really matter anyway". If one tells this to divorced and remarried lay Catholics, can one expect clergy (including embezzlers and pedophiles) to want to hear anything else?

God bless,

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