by John LaBriola, an absolutely essential and comprehensive handbook on
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OF EVIL AND MEDIA: CHURCH WILL RECOVER WHEN IT GOES BACK TO SELF-DISCLOSURE AND HUMILITY
By Michael H. Brown
Random notes on the scandal: First, let me state that when I started out as a journalist in the 1970s, The New York Times was about the best friend I had. It helped me in an intense fight with a chemical polluter (and then my own publisher) over the toxic disaster known as Love Canal, and when a book of mine on the situation was published, The Times trumpeted it in a powerfully positive review that was splashed over more than a page in its prestigious Sunday book review section (which back then all but dominated the world of publishing) and named it one of the books of the year.
It set me on my way. In no time, the book was on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including the big national ones like Today, and I was on the college-lecture circuit, speaking at a hundred of them over the next ten years.
The newspaper -- by far America's most influential -- also ran three adaptations associated with the book in The New York Times Sunday Magazine -- again, back then, a potent journalistic endorsement, one that was followed by Congress becoming deeply involved, President Jimmy Carter visiting the site, and the issue of hazardous waste becoming a national one, with government taking emergency measures to help victims, especially those suffering what appeared to be birth defects and miscarriages.
When I lived in Manhattan, two of my best friends worked for The New York Times (one is now national editor), and I often had lunch with another who was an editor at the magazine. I used their phones and library.
My point is that I considered The Times to be a friend and benevolent societal force, and in many ways, it was. But that was then. It has been a long time since I felt that way. As I was undergoing my conversion in the early 1980s (or more accurately, my return to Catholicism), I began to sense something deeply wrong with the newspaper, and of course with the media in general.
There was this cold, alien feel, spiritually. They can take shots at Rome, but the feeling in their newsroom is the extreme opposite of the warmth at a place like, for example, the Vatican.
When I would go to The Times, I suddenly felt like I was in this big dark cavern, and to my befuddlement, when I returned I felt great spiritual agitation. I never associated The Times with evil, but that was the feeling I got once I came back to Catholicism as a daily communicant.
There is a real evil in the secular humanism that dominates America's media (ask even Father Gabriele Amorth).
While The New York Times is no longer as powerful as it once was, it has shown in the past week that it can still raise eyebrows around the world, rattling even the Vatican, which gave the media a golden opportunity by not tending to explosive revelations years ago, when abuse first indicated it would rise like a sea monster. The priest scandal has quickly escalated due to an article in the "newspaper of record" about the abuse of deaf students in Wisconsin, and it is sad that the Church has given its enemies -- and most secular media are its enemies -- this opportunity. Want to see the wayward media? See this.
Twice the Church had the chance to head off such attacks -- once when the scandals first broke in a big way following reports of abuse in the Boston archdiocese by another newspaper, The Boston Globe -- owned by The New York Times -- in 2002, and then a second time five years ago when Pope Benedict was installed as pontiff.
It was on Good Friday in 2005 -- as the Vatican readied to name a successor to John Paul the Great -- that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger decried the "filth" that had crept into the priesthood (and filth it is).
Through some fissure had come the smoke. Unfortunately, it stopped there. The statement could have been followed by a major thrust in exposing its own dirty laundry, but instead the Church opted to try to keep abuse low-profile and there was the continued drip-drip of disclosure -- diocese to diocese, newspaper to newspaper -- that has now caused serious damage.
Twice there should have been a "declaration of urgency."
Twice opportunities were missed as the Vatican reacted far too slowly in a world now dominated by the nano-second transmission of the internet. Only after the horse left the barn were there full-scale inquiries.
The abuse crisis found roost in the Church because of the modernism and psychology that swept into seminaries (excusing all behavior, and even inspiring deviancy); the societal pressures that now dissuaded heterosexual men away from priesthood and its celibacy; the trend toward feminization; and the Church's move toward a strictly institutional body that forgot its mystical side, and did anything necessary to protect that institution.
It is now becoming excruciatingly clear that the problem erupted during the 1960s and 1970s as a tsunami of wanton (truly, "anything goes" sexuality) washed around the world and across all segments of humanity. (See this chart.) Those with homosexual inclinations sought safe haven in seminaries as a way to explain their bachelorhood and fell into the spirit of temptation, while in other cases the evil one deceived masculine priests into thinking they too were of this inclination -- and had a right to use young people. Devoid now of exorcism and devotion, the Church had no mechanism of deliverance.
Evil reigned -- and did so largely through the media, which promoted the "sexual revolution," homosexuality, and even pornographic films (self-righteous though the media may now be).
My father always said that the Church feared nothing more than it did scandal. He always repeated that. I wondered why back then. I wonder no longer.
We are seeing an assault from all sides. The scandal was greatly nurtured by an explosion of clerical pride and intellectualism, an atmosphere whereby a priest could do no wrong (as their number fell, they were increasingly placed on a pedestal), and an attitude that the Church could do no wrong and was beyond reproach. Walls of the institution separated it from reality and kept it on a medieval time frame when it came to reaction.
It was only after the horse was out of the barn that there was an apostolic "visitation" to seminaries, and this visitation basically found no problem, when in fact there is still homosexuality. It is only now that convents are being studied (after they were decimated).
We need to be honest. We need to be candid. It is the truth that sets us free. And the truth is that the situation continues to explode around us. There was first the volcano in the U.S. and then Ireland and now the rest of Europe. Remarkably, Germany is now on fire, and there are rumors Italy is next. Archbishops in Switzerland and Austria have apologized before the scandal reaches them -- most intelligently, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn in Austria, who declared a day of repentance Wednesday. This is a remedy: don the sackcloth.
Forget the intellectualism that brought the Church closer to the mentality of The Times than to Jesus (and placed us under a yoke -- and judgment -- of secularism).
Even Hindu friends of Catholicism have expressed shock at the extent of abuse. Is it any more than in other realms? The sexual abuse of young people is amazingly rampant across all segments of society, and the focus on the Catholic Church has been disproportionate and often unfair.
But there have been truly shocking cases. Look no further than Father Marcial Maciel from the Legion of Christ, who led an incredible, bizarre double life. Abusers have been everything from Catholic broadcasters (see recently Arizona) to bishops.
Here is a list of known abuse cases, and where they occurred. Some say the rate of abuse among priests was only half one percent or less. And in many dioceses, that may be true -- although it is hard to reconcile with the 256 accused in Los Angeles, the 204 in Boston, the 61 in Milwaukee, and the 43 in Albany (which only has 160 priests at any given time).
For Albany to be at half a percent it would have to have had 9,200 priests during the past fifty years.
Notice how the dioceses with high rates tend to be the most liberal ones (readers, no doubt, of papers like The Times).
I myself lived in Albany, and at least two priests who visited our home were later accused, along with another who couldn't visit due to stricture over his past abuse and one more who had been placed in a school, with children. Another was at a shrine. The bishop had been accused. Sad times!
We love our priests.
We have met incredible ones. Dozens and dozens. We meet them across the continent.
There are far more holy priests that misguided ones. What a white martyrdom they suffer!
But we must expose darkness. We must also let God break down the walls of institutionalism.
Thankfully, the Church has halted practices such as carrying the Pope on a chair, which is impossible to imagine Jesus doing.
Let us wash feet as He did. On this day of Judas, let us also realize how many former Catholics have turned into enemies.
The deeds of some priests have been unfathomable -- evil by any standard of society. Just as unfathomable, the Church -- whether in the U.S. or Europe, or Canada, or Australia -- shuffled them around, allowing still more kids to fall in harm's way. The Church was motivated by an instinct at priestly brotherhood, by a feeling that it is aloof from the rest of society, and because it considered the transgressions more a sin than a crime (against nature).
Indeed, mercy was the motive in cases that thus far have involved the pontiff.
This is not evil.
The Church was petrified at what the secular media would do if cases were exposed, and did not realize the way a family is damaged when a boy is abused. It had lost touch. It needs to regain it. The manger was not meant for evolution into an ivy tower. Let our hierarchy come back to the charisms of the ancient Jerusalem streets.
As for the faithful, they are well prepared:
Church problems (and these are the biggest since the papacy moved to Avignon in the Middle Ages, and was rife with similar abuse) are part of the "signs of the times."
A month before The Times weighed in, an alleged seer in Brazil claimed he was "told" on February 25 that to "pray much for the Church of my Jesus. The Church will drink the bitter cup of suffering. The darkness of lack of faith and of infidelity will spread more and more within the Church. A great scandal will shake the faith of the people and the Church will lose much. I ask you to keep your flame of faith alive. Don't go away from the truth. Accept the Gospel joyfully."
Protesters in London have demanded the Pope's resignation and some in Switzerland called for a registry of pedophile priests, the Associated Press reports, but Catholic leaders in places like Lubbock, Texas, are carrying on as usual this Holy Week.
"We are much bigger and much stronger and much more multidimensional than this one terrible problem that has plagued the Church," said Monsignor David Cruz, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Church. "We cannot let this one issue define who we are."
Indeed, the Church will survive and will become stronger as it purifies, as it returns to humility.
Wherever it comes from, the aforementioned seer had another message on March 30:
"Pray for the Church. The Church of my Jesus will drink the bitter cup of suffering. It will come to the most painful moment. After the pain will come, for the righteous, victory."
[resources: Prayer of the Warrior and Spiritual Warfare Prayers]
[see also: Levada to The Times: halt attack, Exorcist says devil behind paper, Swiss bishops apologize, Paul VI 'warned' in 1963, Vatican moves as lawyer tries to get Pope to testify under oath, Milwaukee archbishop: mistake in debacle was at diocesan level, Bishop: Weakland at fault for debacle, An evil monster?, Going for the Vatican's jugular, The Big Lie, 'Our Church will no longer be punching bag', Denver archbishop scores 'media frenzy', The myth of pedophile priests, and Priests told to refocus on holy living]
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