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No Stone Left Unturned Except One: Vatican II

Marian T. Horvat

We’ve been assured that no stone has been left unturned in the efforts by the American Bishops to clean house in face of the clerical sexual scandal of homosexuality and pedophilia in the United States. Two reports released on February 27 at a press conference in Washington were to provide proof of the thorough work of self-cleansing being carried out: one, the supposedly comprehensive report prepared by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the other, an analysis of those findings by the National Review Board, commissioned by the US Bishops at the June 2002 Dallas meeting.

Bishop Gregory

The crisis is "history," Bishop Gregory announced.
Just wishful thinking...    America, March 15, 2004
And so, with this, the facts would have been presented, the root causes identified, and the guilty all dismissed from ministry. That would be the final verdict handed down on the Bishops. Addressing reporters at the press conference was Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the US Conference of Bishops, who stated with finality, “The terrible history recorded here is history” (New York Times, February 28, 2004).

Gregory went on to assure us that known offenders are no longer in ministry. This, however, just isn’t true. Let me offer only a few recent facts to the contrary:

• Even as the reports were released, the Bishop Accountability website listed eight priests facing civil suits for child molestation who continued to serve in parishes in the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

• As Philip Lawyer, editor of The Catholic World Report noted, Archbishops Weakland and Sanchez – confessed offenders – continue to function as Prelates, “performing Confirmations and receiving the full dignity of the office they disgraced” (CWR, April 2004).

Bishop accountability is a reputable internet source about the Catholic sexual abuse crisis and the bishops' responsibility for it

• Since the release of the reports, more new and grave allegations against ecclesiastics have risen. To mention only several cases involving Bishops, investigations are underway on the alleged pedophilia of Bishop Dupre of Springfield (who incidentally has resigned), and Bishop Howard Hubbard faces accusations of sexual misconduct and covering for an Albany ring of homosexual priests.

Clearly the book hasn’t closed on homosexuality and pedophilia yet, as Bishop Gregory so hastily concluded.

The lacunae in the two reports on pedophilia

The report that intended to close the question on pedophilia in the clergy had some essential weak points.

First, the John Jay report lacked the major requirement of impartiality necessary for an objective study. To be impartial, the results must be issued by a person or organ that enjoys the prerogative of independence – with no links to either party in the trial, be they links of blood, money, or any other kind; no external pressures; no personal interests. Although its name suggests an official organ of justice, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice is not independent. It is just a private company hired by the Bishops to make a survey about themselves. That is, the Bishops were paying the bill.

Second, it also fell short in another important requisite for its findings, which is objectivity. The data for the survey were furnished by the Bishops themselves, without any guarantee that they were giving all the information they should. That is to say, it gave the results the Bishops wanted to give to issue findings against themselves - something enough to silent the general indignation.

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Credible cost numbers?   America, March 15, 2004
Third, granted that some data are shocking – the admitted number of pedophile priests was 4,450 abusing some approximately 11,000 children. The financial data, however, that reported $572 million in legal damages and attorneys’ fees to settle lawsuits seems to me clearly fabricated.

Indeed, in April 2002, America magazine, a well informed Jesuit organ, had already estimated that from 1985 to early 2002 (that is, 17 years), the costs of Church out-of-court payments added to the jury awards were reaching the milestone of $1 billion dollar (April 22, 2002, p. 3). Two years later, the John Jay report gives us a figure for the more extensive period of 1950 – 2002 (that is, 52 years) that is almost half of that amount! It is hard to believe this figure wasn’t falsified by the company at hire just to please the Bishops. And if it was, how seriously can we take the data it collected on other topics?

Finally, the National Review Board report, which looked beyond the data to analyze the causes of the scandal, forgot to point out the one that I believe is the most important: the moral laxity introduced in the Church by Vatican Council II and the subsequent reforms it inspired. Actually, it was this aggiornamento [adaptation of the Church to the modern world] that changed the traditional morals of the Church regarding sexuality, and invited priests and religious to indulge in all kinds of moral extravagance, including pedophilia and homosexuality.

I admit that the Bishops’ initiative to release these reports reveal a certain amount of humility on their part and a show of good will to face the crisis of pedophilia. They had already demonstrated some of this in Dallas. Let it be said that it was a laudable effort. But per se it does not resolve the crisis. Principally when one sees that the reports left out or purposely falsified important points.

Therefore, the solution for the pedophilia crisis has still not been found.

General tolerance of the American Episcopate toward homosexuality

As for homosexuality in the clergy, Bishop Gregory affirmed at the February 27 press conference:
“We do not wish to disparage or in any way to denigrate the very generous and faithful service of any of our priests who may be homosexually oriented but have been absolutely faithful to the promises they made.” (Chicago Sun-Times, February 28, 2004).
Such an avowal clearly implies that priests can be homosexual.

The same Prelate then suggested that homosexual candidates to the priesthood should not be totally banned. “We as Bishops should not simply be examining those who may have a homosexual orientation,” he ambiguously stated (ibid). His main concern, he added, is not homosexuality, but rather other “unhealthy psychological behaviors,” such as selfishness, narcissism, and distorted self views. In short, Gregory is taking a stance that admits homosexuals in the seminaries.

If these comments reflect the thinking of the Bishops Conference, and so it would appear, it would mean the Bishops have already adopted a policy of receiving homosexuals in the seminaries and ordaining them as priests, which to date has been publicly denied.

The report of the National Review Board also avoided the suggestion of any outright prohibition against homosexual seminarians. Instead it affirmed that the “paramount question” is whether a candidate for the priesthood is capable of celibacy and chastity, not sexual orientation. And while the report acknowledged the existence of a homosexual network in seminaries and chancelleries, it failed to propose the obvious solution for the matter: Dismiss the homosexual seminarians and fire those who promote this vice or protect the homosexual.

Therefore, we can see that the statement of Bishop Gregory, as well as the conclusions of the National Review Board, are both clearly favorable to homosexuality.

Rome hasn’t spoken, the case is not closed

The classic adage Roma locuta, causa finita [Rome has spoken, the case is closed] does not apply here. If one is waiting for Rome to issue a strong command to put a stop to homosexuality in the seminaries and priesthood, or to divest pedophile priests of their orders, I suspect he will be waiting a while longer.

A lethargic cardinal in a chair with a cigar

A slowness to act and suspect indifference from Rome

Catholic World Report, March 2002
Up to now, despite the gravity of the crisis and the urgent requests of many faithful for such action, the Vatican has shown a suspect indifference to condemn either of these two abominations. It has shown a similar slowness to act in dismissing Prelates for either being pedophiles themselves – as in the 1995 case of Cardinal Herman Gröer, Archbishop of Vienna – or for covering up pedophile priests – as the recent case of Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston. How many other cases of pedophilia in the High Clergy has the Vatican covered up? No one knows.

It is not just the Vatican, generically speaking, but the post-conciliar Popes themselves who are responsible for elevating many pedophile or homosexual priests to the dignity of Bishops. Indeed, it is very difficult to imagine that the Popes, who are provided detailed information on the lives of everyone of the Hierarchy, would not know when a priest named as a candidate for Bishop is homosexual or pedophile.

This tolerant approach toward homosexuality and pedophilia was reflected in a report commissioned by the Vatican, "Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: Scientific and Legal Perspectives," also released in February. The report, to be published by the Pontifical Academy for Life, was based on a Vatican sponsored symposium of scientific experts held last April, and represents the Vatican’s first comprehensive study on sexual abuse.

The panel of scientific experts categorically disapproved the zero-tolerance policy regarding pedophile priest suggested by the American Bishops, and recommended that it be reconsidered. On the controversial question of whether a homosexual inclination alone should disqualify someone for acceptance in a seminary, the panel cautioned haste in applying proscriptions and advised further study on the topic. One expert suggested, for example, that screening for homosexuals should “not seem too invasive” by asking direct question on the psycho-sexual history of the candidates (Zenit, March 4, 2004). The report reflects the thinking of the Vatican, we were told.

Now, make no mistake about it. This policy by the Vatican and Bishops regarding the vices of pedophilia and homosexuality is something new. It stands in open conflict with the constant teaching and attitude of the Church before Vatican II that made no concessions toward the sins of Sodom. Instead of castigating these vices against nature following the example of St. Paul who warned that sodomites would not possess the kingdom of God, the leaders of today’s Church would be following a different course that does not, and cannot, lead to a real cleansing in the ranks of the Church.

A root cause studiously avoided

Where did this new tolerant attitude originate? What was the root cause of the homosexual and pedophilia crisis in the Church?

The review board of the American Bishops, analyzing the data of the John Jay report, pointed to a legacy of 40 years of theoretical and practical dissent from the teaching of the Church, flawed seminary formation, and the failure of Church leadership to confront these problems or punish the wrongdoers. Such causes certainly are weighty, but they don’t get to the bottom of the problem. The board that promised to leave no stones unturned in the effort to uncover the root causes for the crisis conspicuously did not touch the most important stone in its search. As I noted above, no one pointed to the moral leniency that was established in the Church because of Vatican Council II. Neither the Pope nor the American Hierarchy will budge that stone.

Priests in Gay Parade

Priests march and mingle at a gay parade under the Dignity banner in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral
And what happened in the Catholic Church in America because of Vatican II? A new morals was established as a relativist sexual philosophy began to triumph over traditional morals. Under the pretext of adaptation to the modern world, the Church actually adapted to a Freudian psychology, which combated the traditional morals and emphasized sexual drives and urges could not be repressed without damage to the human psyche.

Priests, religious and seminarians, influenced by this new approach and disposed to shed the yoke of the supposedly oppressive traditional morals, embraced license and liberty. Eager to leave behind both the privileges and the privations of the priestly “caste” and become one with the people in the spirit of Vatican II, Bishops and priests fell prey not only to the natural vices of the world – no one denies the sexual explosion and the consequent flood of priests who left the priesthood to marry – but also the unnatural vices of homosexuality and pedophilia.

This point is demonstrated in A.S. Guimarães’ timely new book, Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia. I can do no better than to encourage those who would delve deeper into the problem to read it. I would especially like to plead an objective reading from conservative Catholics who would stop short of putting any blame on Vatican II, or even less on the conciliar Popes, for the deluge of immorality unleashed since then in the Church world-over. This is not an emotionally charged book. There is much cold evidence in this work for those who love the truth.

I conclude my article with the words Guimarães closes his analysis:
“The crisis of homosexuality and pedophilia in the Church is no more than a consequence of a broader moral crisis. This moral crisis, in its turn, is but one aspect of the larger phenomenon of Progressivism that strikes also at ecclesiastical institutions, laws, teachings, and Catholic dogma itself.

“The root cause of this change is a titanic event, simple to identify, although only a few have the courage to see it for what it is and point to it. It is Vatican Council II.”


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Posted on April 10, 2004

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