Here is a cool video I saw.
Here is a cool video I saw.
By Samuel Gregg on 5.6.11 @ 6:08AM
It was inevitable. In the lead-up to John Paul II's beatification, a number of publications decided it was time to opine about the direction of Benedict XVI's pontificate. The Economist, for example, portrayed a pontificate adrift, "accident-prone," and with a "less than stellar record" compared to Benedict's dynamic predecessor (who, incidentally, didn't meet with the Economist's approval either).
It need hardly been said that, like most British publications, the Economist's own record when it comes to informed commentary on Catholicism and religion more generally is itself less than stellar. And the problems remain the same as they have always been: an unwillingness to do the hard work of trying to understand a religion on its own terms, and a stubborn insistence upon shoving theological positions into secular political categories.
Have mistakes occurred under Benedict's watch? Yes. Some sub-optimal appointments? Of course. That would be true of any leader of such a massive organization.
But the real difficulty with so much commentary on this papacy is the sheer narrowness of the perspective brought to the subject. If observers were willing to broaden their horizons, they might notice just how big are the stakes being pursued by Benedict. This pope's program, they may discover, goes beyond mere institutional politics. He's pursuing a civilizational agenda.
And that program begins with the Catholic Church itself. Even its harshest critics find it difficult to deny Catholicism's decisive influence on Western civilization's development. It follows that a faltering in the Church's confidence about its purpose has implications for the wider culture.
That's one reason Benedict has been so proactive in rescuing Catholic liturgy from the banality into which it collapsed throughout much of the world (especially the English-speaking world) after Vatican II. Benedict's objective here is not a reactionary "return to the past." Rather, it's about underscoring the need for liturgy to accurately reflect what the Church has always believed -- lex orandi, lex credendi -- rather than the predilections of an aging progressivist generation that reduced prayer to endless self-affirmation.
This attention to liturgy is, I suspect, one reason why another aspect of Benedict's pontificate -- his outreach to the Orthodox Christian churches -- has been remarkably successful. As anyone who's attended Orthodox services knows, the Orthodox truly understand liturgy. Certainly Benedict's path here was paved by Vatican II, Paul VI, and John Paul II. Yet few doubt that Catholic-Orthodox relations have taken off since 2005.
That doesn't mean the relationship is uncomplicated by unhappy historical memories, secular political influences, and important theological differences. Yet it's striking how positively Orthodox churches have responded to the German pope's overtures. They've also become increasingly vocal in echoing Benedict's concerns about Western culture's present trajectory.
But above all, Benedict has -- from his pontificate's very beginning -- gone to the heart of the rot within the West, a disease which may be described as pathologies of faith and reason.
In this regard, Benedict's famous 2006 Regensburg address may go down as one of the 21st century's most important speeches, comparable to Alexander Solzhenitsyn's 1978 Harvard Address in terms of its accuracy in identifying some of the West's inner demons.
Most people think about the Regensburg lecture in terms of some Muslims' reaction to Benedict's citation of a 14th century Byzantine emperor. That, however, is to miss Regensburg's essence. It was really about the West.
Christianity, Benedict argued at Regensburg, integrated Biblical faith, Greek philosophy, and Roman law, thereby creating the "foundation of what can rightly be called Europe." This suggests that any weakening of this integration of faith and reason would mean the West would start losing its distinctive identity. In short, a West without a Christianity that integrates faith and reason is no longer the West.
Today, Benedict added, we see what happens when faith and reason are torn asunder. Reason is reduced to scientism and ideologies of progress, thereby rending reasoned discussion of anything beyond the empirical impossible. Faith dissolves into sentimental humanitarianism, an equally inadequate basis for rational reflection. Neither of these emaciated facsimiles of their originals can provide any coherent response to the great questions pondered by every human being: "Who am I?" "Where did I come from?" "Where am I going?"
So what's the way back? To Benedict's mind, it involves affirming that what he recently called creative reason lies at the origin of everything.
As Benedict explained one week before he beatified his predecessor: "We are faced with the ultimate alternative that is at stake in the dispute between faith and unbelief: are irrationality, lack of freedom and pure chance the origin of everything, or are reason, freedom and love at the origin of being? Does the primacy belong to unreason or to reason? This is what everything hinges upon in the final analysis."
Ooh, you're in trouble!
Sarah Palin loves the limelight. Despite that and the limitations that she shares with other people who rely more on instinct than on study to answer political questions, Palin also has an impressive talent for living rent-free in progressive heads. That talent has little to do with her appearance or her willingness to coin words like "refudiate," but lots to do with the way she embraces life and faith publicly. No one else with comparable name recognition demolishes progressive dogma just by getting up in the morning.
Without ever leaving her comfort zone, Palin introduced a corollary to Ramesh Ponnuru's assertion that "abortion corrupts everything it touches." Ponnuru wrote that more than ten years ago, in a career-making 1998 essay called "Dead Reckoning" that rocked both National Review and First Things. Whether Sarah Palin ever read the piece matters not at all.
Palin can be every bit as prickly or superficial as her enemies claim, but together with son Trig and daughter Bristol, the winsome Wasillan and her underrated husband bookend Ponnuru's point by reminding anyone paying attention that pro-life witness refreshes some people and infuriates others. You might even say that there are echoes in the deceptively pedestrian Palin lives of what C.S. Lewis once called "the weight of glory." (I'll pay no attention to criticisms of overreach or "dysfunctional karmic antennae" from people who said nothing when a San Francisco newspaper columnist described our current president as a "lightworker" before his ham-fisted attempts to treat 300 million people as a community in need of organizing went kablooey ).
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend can't claim the Palin cachet, but the former lieutenant governor of Maryland is not above calling for close air support in her country-club battle with Palin-****conservatism. Townsend took to the pages of the Washington Post earlier this month to defend her uncle John against charges of malpractice that Sarah Palin had leveled against him in her book, America by Heart. Ironically, although her essay suggests that Townsend found the Palin book title saccharine, and its content fey, twee, or manipulative, she read the book anyway. They all do.
Long before shooting a moose on camera to send at least one leftist into "late night fist-pumping delirium," Caribou Barbie wrote, in effect, that John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association subverted American principle rather than expressing it. As even younger readers may have heard, that speech was Kennedy's "Don't hate me for being Catholic, because I won't take orders from the pope" sop to evangelical Protestant leaders whose support he needed at the time.
Washington Post editors gave Townsend 1,500 words to defend her uncle's attempt to compartmentalize his faith, but the "coulda been a contender" lament that they got for their trouble only exposed Townsend as another palooka in a family full of them.
Townsend asserts that she gave America by Heart a careful reading, from which she came away sure that Palin supports an unconstitutional religious test for public office. Inconveniently, we have to take Townsend's word for that, because Palin actually says no such thing: the closest she gets is to express disappointment at John F. Kennedy's failure to reconcile his "private faith and public role," and his unwillingness to tell fellow countrymen "how his faith had enriched him." Palin did not use Hilaire Belloc as a counter-example, but he would have been a better choice than Mitt Romney, whom she did mention. In 1906, when Belloc ran for a seat in the British Parliament as a representative of the Liberal party, his stem-winding stump speech included a ringing affirmation of faith: "Gentlemen, I am a Roman Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day. This [taking a rosary out of his pocket] is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell these beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that he has spared me the indignity of being made your representative."
John F. Kennedy would have done well to follow that precedent, only he didn't, and so one of his nieces was left to burnish a flawed legacy.
Deeply suspicious of the dog whistle for conservatives that she seems to think Palin keeps in a drawer near her Naughty Monkey shoes, Townsend reasons that any such testimony by JFK would have opened the door to American theocracy, and praises her uncle for having had wisdom enough to realize that his religious beliefs were nobody else's business. By then, the opposing camps are plainly visible: Palin says "Cards on the table, please," while Townsend parries with "To demand that citizens display their religious beliefs attacks the very foundation of our nation."
Who makes more sense? Enter Rev. Charles J. Chaput, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Denver, Colorado. Archbishop Chaput is not a man who can be credibly accused of operating from a theology of "Christian Dominionism," as some of Palin's more excitable detractors say she does. But in phrasing that Sarah Palin would approve, Chaput called JFK's 1960 speech "sincere, compelling, articulate -- and wrong."
Speaking this past spring at Houston Baptist University, Archbishop Chaput noted that "Real Christian faith is always personal, but it's never private." That was one of the things about which John F. Kennedy was mistaken. Moreover, said Chaput, Kennedy's remarks in Houston "profoundly undermined the place not just of Catholics, but of all religious believers, in America's public life and political conversation." And "Today, half a century later, we're paying for the damage."
In other words, Sarah Palin's criticism of the Kennedy approach to faith accords substantially with criticisms offered by another Christian of unquestioned acumen. Not only that, but Chaput came loaded for bear, quoting another scholar to buttress the point that John F. Kennedy "secularized the American presidency in order to win it."
This is not a debate that Townsend can win. She thinks Sarah Palin is making a subtle bid for a new Inquisition, but if Townsend had familiarized herself with Archbishop Chaput's similar argument, she would have known better. Instead, she writes about the "deep current of faith" in the Kennedy family, praises Uncle John for courage of the kind that Henry V tried to kindle in his men before the Battle of Agincourt, and dances around Senator Ted Kennedy's support for abortion (correctly described by Sarah Palin as "directly at odds with his Catholic faith") by disingenuously suggesting that Catholic moral teaching is of no more import than whether the Third Sunday of Advent is marked by rose-colored candles, because "the hierarchy's positions can change," and "in our church, we have an obligation to help bring about those changes."
Ha! We may as well cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war, because Townsend leaves no room for concepts like fidelity to "the deposit of faith" or (as Christians in the Reformed tradition sometimes put it) "standing firm in the faith once delivered to the saints."
When Palin contends that "morality cannot be sustained without the support of religious beliefs," Townsend misreads this acknowledgement of our collective debt to Judeo-Christian intellectual and religious capital as "a wholesale attack on countless Americans." Has she never heard John Adams' famous quip that "Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other"?
And here is this Christmas' Urbi et Orbi Message!
By George Neumayr on 4.16.10 @ 6:08AM
Modern society, at the level of rhetoric, loves children "unconditionally." But at the level of reality, its indifference to them borders on the surreal. Society increasingly places bald conditions upon loving them: Are they wanted? Are they perfect? If not, abort them; if not, re-design them.
The post-Roe slogan "Every child a wanted child" had a eugenic frost on it, but now the slogan might as well be updated and made even more explicit to read: "Every child a perfect child." Few people seem to care or notice, but society is passing through a brutally eugenic period of history.
The latest news from Britain -- that scientists and couples in pursuit of disease-free children have developed an in vitro fertilization technique to produce "three parent kids" -- will probably generate yawns. It will be seen as just one more impossible-to-referee "ethical dilemma" teed up by an indifferent media to wash over the masses before they click to the next channel.
Apparently eighty "three parent" embryos died in the first trial, but that won't cause too much consternation in a culture of choice and control which accepts blithely all the grim experiments and ruthless selection that those words imply. The lead researcher in the trial has been quoted as saying casually, "What we've done is like changing the battery on a laptop." Such quotes make one think of Mary Shelley's withering take on the Enlightenment, Frankenstein, in which the real monster in the tale isn't the monster but the scientist.
This test run happened in the United Kingdom, but America is pretty far down this path too, having crossed the threshold of the total eugenics of designer children a while back.
Germline genetic engineering, which allows scientists to manipulate the genes of an embryo, is moving forward, as is preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which gives scientists the power to select the most desirable embryos for in vitro fertilization.
"These are grown-up people expressing their reproductive choices. We cherish that in the United States," Jeffrey Steinberg, a director of fertility clinics that specializes in designer embryos, told the press several years back. "These people are really happy when they get what they want."
The bewildered children of surrogate IVF techniques are less thrilled. In 2006, one of these children, Katrina Clark, wrote an angry column in the Washington Post saying, "We didn't ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and confusion."
"We offspring are recognizing the right that was stripped from us at birth -- the right to know who both our parents are," she wrote. "When I read some of the mothers' thoughts about their choice for conception, it made me feel degraded to nothing more than a vial of frozen sperm. It seemed to me that most of the mothers and donors give little thought to the feelings of the children who would result from their actions."
One can imagine the "three parent kids" from Britain, should they survive, joining her ranks. In the years to come, psychiatrists will have to open up separate practices for the "identity issues" of surrogate IVF children, and Dr. Phil and Oprah will probably roll out very special episodes on their discontent.
Previous ages regarded the creation of orphans as cruel; this one considers it enlightened. While the New York Times and company inveigh opportunistically against child abuse in the Catholic Church, they steadily advance a culture that specializes in its more disguised and celebrated forms: the child abuse of abortionists, eugenicists, IVF scientists, and "safe school" czars.
VATICAN CITY — Breaking developments that update the post below: Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi today issued a written commentary that rejects accusations of a Vatican cover-up on priestly sex abuse and says efforts to personally involve Pope Benedict XVI in questions of abuse have clearly failed.
Father Lombardi's note makes three main points:
1. The German bishops' conference has taken the right approach to discovering and dealing with abuse cases, in a way that might serve as a model in other countries. One point underlined by the bishops is that the issue of celibacy has no connection with the issue of pedophilia.
2. An interview with Msgr. Charles Scicluna, who deals with sex abuse cases at the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, shows that far from trying to hide such cases, the congregation — under the leadership of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict — has made a far-reaching effort to discover and punish these crimes.
3. The Archdiocese of Munich has made it clear that the pope, when he was archbishop of Munich, was unconnected with decisions involving a priest who relocated to the archdiocese and later committed abuse.
"It is evident that over recent days some people have sought — with considerable persistence, in Regensburg and Munich — elements that could personally involve the Holy Father in questions of abuse. To any objective observer, it is clear that these efforts have failed," Father Lombardi said.
The note was titled "A clear route through stormy waters." Here is an English translation released by the Vatican Information Service:
At the end of a week in which a large part of the attention of the European media has been focused on the question of sexual abuses committed by people in institutions of the Catholic Church, we would like to make three observations:
Firstly, the line being taken by the German Episcopal Conference has shown itself to be the right way to face the problem in its various aspects. The declarations of the president of that conference, Archbishop Zollitsch, following his meeting with the Holy Father, recap the strategy laid down in the conference's recent assembly and reiterate its essential operational aspects: recognition of the truth and help for victims, reinforcement of preventative measures and constructive collaboration with the authorities (including the judicial authorities of State) for the common good of society. Archbishop Zollitsch also unequivocally reiterated the opinion of experts according to whom the question of celibacy should in no way be confused with that of pedophilia. The Holy Father has encouraged the line being followed by the German bishops which – even taking account of the specific context of their own county – may be considered as a useful and inspiring model for other episcopal conferences that find themselves facing similar problems.
Furthermore, an important and wide-ranging interview given by Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, promoter of justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gives a detailed explanation of the significance of the specific canonical norms established by the Church over the years to judge the heinous crimes of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. It is absolutely clear that these norms did not seek, and have not favored, any kind of cover-up of such crimes; quite the contrary, they initiated intense activities to confront, judge and adequately punish the crimes in the context of ecclesiastical legislation. And it must be remembered that all this was planned and set in motion when Cardinal Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation. The line he followed was always one of rigor and coherence in dealing with even the most difficult situations.
Finally, the archdiocese of Munich has replied, with a long and detailed communique, to questions concerning the case of a priest who moved from Essen to Munich at the time in which Cardinal Ratzinger was archbishop of that city, a priest who subsequently committed abuses. The communique highlights how the then archbishop was completely unconnected with the decisions in the wake of which the abuses took place. Rather, it is evident that over recent days some people have sought – with considerable persistence, in Regensburg and Munich – elements that could personally involve the Holy Father in questions of abuse. To any objective observer, it is clear that these efforts have failed.
Despite the storm, the Church clearly sees the route she must follow, under the sure and rigorous guidance of the Holy Father. As we have already had occasion to observe, it is our hope that this torment may, in the end, help society as a whole to show ever greater concern for the protection and formation of children and adolescents.
The Vatican on its handling of sex abusecasesPosted on March 13, 2010 by John Thavis
VATICAN CITY — In an unusual move, the Vatican has provided extensive details of its handling of priestly sex abuse cases in recent years and has strongly defended Pope Benedict XVI against accusations of covering up such crimes.
The information came in a lengthy interview granted to the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire by Msgr. Charles Scicluna, an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who deals with cases ofpriests accused of abuse of minors.
Msgr. Scicluna made a number of interesting points:
– The allegation that Pope Benedict covered up sex abuse crimes is "false and calumnious," he said. As head of the doctrinal congregation, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzingerhandled such cases with wisdom and courage, and as pope he has dismissed many priests from the clerical state.
– TheVatican's insistence on secrecy in theinvestigation of these cases by church authorities does not mean bishops or others are exempt from reporting these crimes to civil authorities (a point made in our recent article on the same topic.)
– Since 2001, when the doctrinal congregation took over juridical control ofaccusations of sex abuse by priests against minors, it has processed about 3,000 cases, dealing withcrimes committed over the last 50 years. About 60percent of theses casesinvolved sexual attraction towards adolescents of the same sex, 30 percent involved heterosexual relations, and the remaining 10 percent were cases of pedophilia.
– Most cases have been handled without a church trial, because of the advanced age of the accused, and the penalties in such cases has usually beenthe impositionof strict limitations on the priest's ministry. About 20 percent of cases resulted in a church trial, with most of the accused found guilty.In the most serious cases, about 10 percentof the total, the pope has dismissed the offender from the priesthood, and in another 10 percent the priest has been laicized at his request.
– The number of new cases of sex abuse by priests has declined; last year there were 223 cases reported from around the world. And while the majority of the 3,000 or so cases handed by the Vatican since 2001 have been from the United States, by last year U.S. cases had dropped to about 25 percent of the total.
The interview was translated into several languages and distributed this morning by the Vatican press office. Clearly, it's a message they want to get out. Here is the Vatican's English-language version:
Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna is the "promoter of justice" of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He is effectively the prosecutor of the tribunal of the former Holy Office, whose job it is to investigate what are known as delictagraviora; i.e., the crimes which the Catholic Church considers as being the most serious of all: crimes against the Eucharist and against the sanctity of the Sacrament of Penance, and crimes against the sixth Commandment ("thou shall not commit impure acts") committed by a cleric against a person under the age of eighteen. These crimes, in a motu proprio of 2001, Sacramentum sanctitatistutela, come under the competency of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In effect, it is the "promoter of justice" who deals with, among other things, the terrible question of priests accused of paedophilia, which are periodically highlighted in the mass media. Msgr. Scicluna, an affable and polite Maltese, has the reputation of scrupulously carrying out the tasks entrusted to him without deferring to anyone.
Monsignor, you have the reputation of being "tough", yet the Catholic Church is systematically accused of being accommodating towards "paedophile priests"
It may be that in the past – perhaps also out of a misdirected desire to protect the good name of the institution – some bishops were, in practice, too indulgent towards this sad phenomenon. And I say in practice because, in principle, the condemnation of this kind of crime has always been firm and unequivocal. Suffice it to recall, to limit ourselves just to last century, the famous Instruction CrimenSollicitationis of 1922.
Wasn't that from 1962?
No, the first edition dates back to the pontificate of Pius XI. Then, with Blessed John XXIII, the Holy Office issued a new edition for the Council Fathers, but only two thousand copies were printed, which were not enough, and so distribution was postponed sine die. In any case, these were procedural norms to be followed in cases of solicitation during confession, and of other more serious sexually-motivated crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors.
Norms which, however, recommended secrecy…
A poor English translation of that text has led people to think that the Holy See imposed secrecy in order to hide the facts. But this was not so. Secrecy during the investigative phase served to protect the good name of all the people involved; first and foremost, the victims themselves, then the accused priests who have the right – as everyone does – to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The Church does not like showcase justice. Norms on sexual abuse have never been understood as a ban on denouncing the crimes to the civil authorities.
Nonetheless, that document is periodically cited to accuse the current Pontiff of having been – when he was prefect of the former Holy Office – objectively responsible for a Holy See policy of covering up the facts…
That accusation is false and calumnious. On this subject I would like to highlight a number of facts. Between 1975 and 1985 I do not believe that any cases of paedophilia committed by priests were brought to the attention of our Congregation. Moreover, following the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, there was a period of uncertainty as to which of the delicta graviora were reserved to the competency of this dicastery. Only with the 2001 motu proprio did the crime of paedophilia again become our exclusive remit. From that moment Cardinal Ratzinger displayed great wisdom and firmness in handling those cases, also demonstrating great courage in facing some of the most difficult and thorny cases, sine acceptionepersonarum. Therefore, to accuse the current Pontiff of a cover-up is, I repeat, false and calumnious.
What happens when a priest is accused of a delictumgravius?
If the accusation is well-founded the bishop has the obligation to investigate both the soundness and the subject of the accusation. If the outcome of this initial investigation is consistent, he no longer has any power to act in the matter and must refer the case to our Congregation where it is dealt with by the disciplinary office.
How is that office composed?
Apart from myself who, being one of the superiors of the dicastery, also concern myself with other matters, there are the bureau chief Fr. Pedro Miguel Funes Diaz, seven priests and a lay lawyer who follow these cases. Other officials of the Congregation also make their own vital contribution depending upon the language and specific requirements of each case.
That office has been accused of working little and slowly…
Those are unjustified comments. In 2003 and 2004 a great wave of cases flooded over our desks. Many of them came from the United States and concerned the past. Over recent years, thanks to God, the phenomenon has become greatly reduced, and we now seek to deal with new cases as they arise.
How many have you dealt with so far?
Overall in the last nine years (2001-2010) we have considered accusations concerning around three thousand cases of diocesan and religious priests, which refer to crimes committed over the last fifty years.
That is, then, three thousand cases of paedophile priests?
No, it is not correct to say that. We can say that about sixty percent of the cases chiefly involved sexual attraction towards adolescents of the same sex, another thirty percent involved heterosexual relations, and the remaining ten percent were cases of paedophilia in the true sense of the term; that is, based on sexual attraction towards prepubescent children. The cases of priests accused of paedophilia in the true sense have been about three hundred in nine years. Please don't misunderstand me, these are of course too many, but it must be recognised that the phenomenon is not as widespread as has been believed.
The accused, then, are three thousand. How many have been tried and condemned?
Currently we can say that a full trial, penal or administrative, has taken place in twenty percent of cases, normally celebrated in the diocese of origin – always under our supervision – and only very rarely here in Rome. We do this also in order to speed up the process. In sixty percent of cases there has been no trial, above all because of the advanced age of the accused, but administrative and disciplinary provisions have been issued against them, such as the obligation not to celebrate Mass with the faithful, not to hear confession, and to live a retired life of prayer. It must be made absolutely clear that in these cases, some of which are particularly sensational and have caught the attention of the media, no absolution has taken place. It's true that there has been no formal condemnation, but if a person is obliged to a life of silence and prayer, then there must be a reason…
That still leaves twenty percent of cases…
We can say that in ten percent of cases, the particularly serious ones in which the proof is overwhelming, the Holy Father has assumed the painful responsibility of authorising a decree of dismissal from the clerical state. This is a very serious but inevitable provision, taken though administrative channels. In the remaining ten percent of cases, it was the accused priests themselves who requested dispensation from the obligations deriving from the priesthood, requests which were promptly accepted. Those involved in these latter cases were priests found in possession of paedophile pornographic material and, for this reason, condemned by the civil authorities.
Where do these three thousand cases come from?
Mostly from the United States which, in the years 2003-2004, represented around eighty percent of total cases. In 2009 the United States "share" had dropped to around twenty-five percent of the 223 cases reported from all over the world. Over recent years (2007-2009), the annual average of cases reported to the Congregation from around the world has been two hundred and fifty. Many countries report only one or two cases. There is, then, a growing diversity and number of countries of origin of cases, but the phenomenon itself is much reduced. It must, in fact, be borne in mind that the overall number of diocesan and religious priests in the world is four hundred thousand, although this statistic does not correspond to the perception that is created when these sad cases occupy the front pages of the newspapers.
And in Italy?
Thus far the phenomenon does not seem to have dramatic proportions, although what worries me is a certain culture of silence which I feel is still too widespread in the country. The Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) offers an excellent technical-juridical consultancy service for bishops who have to deal with these cases. And I am very pleased to observe the ever greater commitment being shown by Italian bishops to throw light on the cases reported to them.
You said that a full trial has taken place in around twenty percent of the three thousand cases you have examined over the last nine years. Did they all end with the condemnation of the accused?
Many of the past trials did end with the condemnation of the accused. But there have also been cases in which the priest was declared innocent, or where the accusations were not considered to have sufficient proof. In all cases, however, not only is there an examination of the guilt or innocence of the accused priest, but also a discernment as to his fitness for public ministry.
A recurring accusation made against the ecclesiastical hierarchy is that of not reporting to the civil authorities when crimes of paedophilia come to their attention.
In some English-speaking countries, but also in France, if bishops become aware of crimes committed by their priests outside the sacramental seal of Confession, they are obliged to report them to the judicial authorities. This is an onerous duty because the bishops are forced to make a gesture comparable to that of a father denouncing his own son. Nonetheless, our guidance in these cases is to respect the law.
And what about countries where bishops do not have this legal obligation?
In these cases we do not force bishops to denounce their own priests, but encourage them to contact the victims and invite them to denounce the priests by whom they have been abused. Furthermore, we invite the bishops to give all spiritual – and not only spiritual – assistance to those victims. In a recent case concerning a priest condemned by a civil tribunal in Italy, it was precisely this Congregation that suggested to the plaintiffs, who had turned to us for a canonical trial, that they involve the civil authorities in the interests of victims and to avoid other crimes.
Check out this Video.
By Ken Blackwell on 2.17.10 @ 6:08AM
President Obama is big on civility. He talks a very good game. But his nominee for a top slot at the Department of Justice -- Dawn Johnsen -- is a leading exponent of incivility. Johnsen worked with the ACLU for years. And she joined ARM -- the so-called Abortion Rights Mobilization -- to strip the Catholic Church of its tax-exempt status because of its pro-life advocacy. The Catholic Church eventually won that case -- but not until it had spent years and millions of dollars defending itself. The Catholic Church was just the biggest ARM target. If it had succeeded against the Catholics, it surely would have come after the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod.
If Mr. Obama is serious about civility he needs to withdraw Dawn Johnsen's nomination. If she is confirmed, we will see a radical anti-Catholic, pro-abortion zealot influencing not just every policy of the Justice Department -- but every policy of the entire federal government.
We are seeing an anti-Christian programmatic pogrom. "Pogrom" is the word for anti-Jewish raids by Cossacks and others in Czarist Russia, but a programmatic pogrom best describes what we see happening now. These are not isolated attacks. And while we no longer have Cossacks, we do have left-wing bloggers who actually call themselves Kossacks (after the Daily Kos).
In North Carolina, the Catholic college Belmont Abbey is threatened with closure for its refusal to dispense contraceptives. Radicals are not impressed with the college president's response: We don't give contraceptives to women staffers -- or to the monks! Here, the local branch of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission smells discrimination.
In Washington, President Obama's nominee to the federal EEOC, Prof. Chai Feldblum of Georgetown University, is blunt: If there's a clash between the gay agenda and religious liberty, your liberties lose. If confirmed, she would be in position to pursue the pogrom nationwide.
On the West Coast, the Christian Legal Society (CLS) is under assault from the Hastings Law Center of the University of California. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Christian Legal Society v. Martinez this term. Radicals are trying to force CLS to accept officers who are openly homosexual. David French, speaking for the pro-family Alliance Defense Fund, says:
"The Left is trying to create a right that destroys a right. As of now, there is simply no widely recognized right of private citizens to join any private expressive association they want to join -- regardless of their belief or conduct. In fact, even in the campus environment, only the courts of the Ninth Circuit have forcibly opened private associations to non-adherents."
Creating rights to destroy rights. That sums it up well. The Supreme Court has already spoken to the issues raised in this case. In Boston, gay activists demanded to be included in the city's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. But that parade was organized and run by an Irish veterans' group that did not want its message hijacked by homosexuals. The Supreme Court in 1995 slapped down their claim 9-0.
The Supreme Court also recognized the right of association of the Boy Scouts. The Court ruled in 2000 that James Dale could not force the Scouts to keep him as a Scout leader after he had declared his homosexuality.
All of these cases put great financial burdens on churches and private colleges and voluntary organizations like the Scouts and the Christian Legal Society. The threat of lawsuits by well-funded, media-backed leftist activists forces too many groups to cave in to pressure. And all our rights suffer as a result.
President Obama is forever "reaching out" to Christian groups. He is happy to breakfast with Christians and defend himself from charges that he is a Muslim or a non-citizen. But when it comes actually to protecting the rights of Christians and Jews, where is his administration?
It's hard to call for an end to the culture wars when your own side is manning the barricades. So far, Mr. Obama's eloquent words are not matched by deeds. They remind me of the beefy Chicago Alderman who was told he needed to lose weight. He took up jogging. But he soon quit that, complaining that when you jog, "there's nobody to knock down." Is Mr. Obama's idea of amity and concord one where we are all knocked down?
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