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Fr. Thomas Doyle: the Vatican’s most critical insider | Holy Post | National Post

John Allen offers a comparison of assessments of the Church's handling of the sex abuse scandal between Pope B16 and Fr. Thomas Doyle - the Vatican priest who deals with the victims and their lawyers. I fear that Fr. Doyle has a point - one that I've written about here many times: the principal scandal is that children have been sexually abused by clerics, and then abused by the hierarchy's response to their allegations.

Essentially, the Church is on fire. The faith of generations is turning to ash in front of our eyes as neglect and a perceived ongoing disrespect for victims rights (with the aim of 'preventing scandal' that would 'damage the faith' - a worthy end but morally fatally flawed means). I acknowledge that the fires have burned down in North America as Bishops are finally beginning to understand the moral carnage their predecessors have wrecked upon the Church and the faithful. Generations of savings from Catholics have been sacrificed thanks to a failed strategy that was geared more towards 'cauterizing the damage' rather that seeking justice in bringing these predators to the civil authorities. Of far greater importance are the millions of souls that have been (temporarily I hope and pray) lost to the Church. The embers of rage that wracked the faithful as week after week brought the filth of the scandal higher and higher up the ecclesiastical chain of command is giving way... but alas for many, the warmth of faith has been extinguished by a cold indifference to the voice of the Church in today's debates.

This is an exact repeat of what happened one generation ago in Quebec in the wake of the 'Révolution Tranquille' and it is indeed soil poisoned to the arguments of faith. Anger is at least an expression of emotion that implies an attachment to the Church; indifference means that this link is extinguished. I do not deny for a moment that the situation is hopeless... but it falls now to a few priests and faithful to work to rebuild the Church under difficult circumstances in which we can no longer assume that our message will be granted the benefit of doubt as to our good intentions. This repository of good will has been spent over the past 20 years in vain attempts to 'prevent scandal' to the faith. The irony is that it is these acts that provided the 'coup de gras' to the faith of many.

So long as we remain prayerful, mutually connected with meaningful liturgy that feeds and sustains their faith, and trusting in the saving power of Christ's message as a 'better way', we will succeed. But there is no doubt that if the entire hierarchy truly gets its act together, it will make the work seem lighter. Modernizing its instruments of communication and administration are essential steps along that way... and these steps will come as younger clerics more attuned to the post-modern society (and NO!!! I do not count myself them!!!) work their way up the structures of the Church. Quebec faces an opportunity over the next few years as over half of the Bishops will soon retire - and Cardinal Quellet, who taught in both 'La Grande Séminare in Quebec and the North American college and thus has personal knowledge of the best and the brightest among many young priests from his home province will be choosing their replacements. The same is eventually going to happen to all the Canadian Bishops as they are replaced when they retire due to age or ill health, but just as Quebec led us into this new hostile environment, it might too provide us with the first steps towards an authentically renewed Church in Canada.

Fr. Thomas Doyle: the Vatican’s most critical insider | Holy Post | National Post


  1. It seems as if you do actually agree with all the charges levied by the 'grumpy' atheists you so unfairly maligned. Anger really is the appropriate response to the rape of children and your paltry response and excuses don't cut with Doyle or your atheist critics.

  2. jim stevenson31 December, 2010

    Benedict XVI has stated that the sexual abuse crisis has theological roots. He states that it is the moral relativism or proportionality of contemporary social ethics, that is its primary cause. By this, I think he means that by the exchanging of absolute "prohibitiva" or "thou shalt nots" for a relativism that speaks of lesser and greater evils such things became accepted by some. Although I totally disagree with Benedict`s conclusion, I do think another kind of proportionality was at work in the crisis, encapsulated in the question of what is most destructive to the church: the sacrificing of the priests and bishops involved in the abuse and its cover up -- or justice to the victims of the abuse. Sadly the powers that be chose against the victims; and as far as I can tell they are still doing so.

  3. Jim:

    B16 is correct. The culture and values that claimed ascendancy in the 60's & 70's rendered impotent the assumptions about candidates that stepped forward to enter the seminary. Assumptions about how these men reasoned led elder priests to take for granted that they would understand the context of theological teachings. For example, whereas they had been educated in scholasticism, logic and latin as part of their pre-seminary training, virtually anyone who received their secondary education once Catholic schools accepted to teach provincially imposed curriculum in exchange for full funding experienced none of this. Further, to be 18 years of age meant something different in the 30's through the 50's than it does in more recent generations. Levels of personal maturity assumed by these professors simply did not exist among these now 'late stage' adolescents who streamed into the seminaries.

    I once suggested to a professor that as Gestalt philosophy taught that meaning was ascertained by a relationship with others, he had essentially rendered himself obsolete through his decades teaching in the Seminary as he neither understood the times nor the young men seated before him each day during classes. He didn't appreciate my contention at the time, but if he were alive today, it would be hard for him to argue his case.

    con't below....

  4. con't from above...

    So yes, B16 was correct in that the defective formation of candidates in the wake of the tumult of of 60's & 70's led to morally compromised priests in the years that followed... priests who also rose to positions of authority within the church, leading to a phenomenon referred to as 'lavender chanceries' which excused and hid the offenses of their peers from civil authorities. My old friend Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus (RIP) repeatedly wrote throughout those days that it was not an issue of celibacy that was fueling these scandals, but rather a crisis of immaturity and infidelity to one's commitments in life. Add this to wisdom offered to me by the chief engineer of a paper mill who stated that if his end product is not turning out as it should, he begins by looking at the wood product that's starting to work its way through his plant and it becomes clear that the solution to a crisis of infidelity is to ensure that the men who are being formed to be priests are sufficiently capable and mature to remain faithful to the commitments as a priest. Thankfully, this is being done and hopefully there are now enough time and safeguards in place throughout the formation process to weed out such inappropriate candidates for the priesthood.

    Fr. Tim

  5. Hi Tim,

    Perhaps you can explain to us what you mean by "lavender chanceries". Are you implying that chanceries were overrun by homosexually oriented priests, who in turn hid and excused the actions of pedophile priests?

    Are homosexuals somehow more inherently tolerant and protective of pedophiles than heterosexuals?

    Are homosexuals more prone to disregard the suffering of children in favour of the institutional Church's reputation than heterosexuals?

    While you are busy supplying us with the empirical evidence you no doubt have to demonstrate that homosexuals are worse than heterosexuals in this regard, perhaps you can also tell us why B16 continues to shelter Bernard Law in Vatican City instead of facing his accusers in the US?

    It is most instructive and interesting to learn that all of the problems of the Church seem to have nothing to do with its own structures, attitudes, governance, and theology.

    The holy spirit did not fail, the wisdom of the hierarchy did not fail, the ideas and beliefs of the insitution are not at fault - is all down to the fault of homosexuals.

    You speak of a failure of maturity in priestly candidates, but I have to wonder how mature it is for a Church to continually blame others for one's own shortcomings?


  6. Martin: Those who inhabited the 'lavender chanceries' are not necessarily homosexuals. They were those staffed with clerics who were compromised by their personal convictions regarding what constituted 'abuse' and thus they were willing to 'excuse', 'forgive' and shelter predators. If you remember back to the Bishop who sent me to the seminary (and your Bishop at the time as well) he certainly was guilty of giving the benefit of the doubt to questionable candidates rather than accept a negative assessment from other priests or fellow seminarians. I most certainly dealt with a 'lavender chancery' during those years - and I had no reason at the time to question anyone's sexuality. (Morality, view of justice... yes; sexual orientation... no)

    As to your rhetorical questions about homosexuals, you know as well as I do that there is no connection between sexual orientation and probabilities of being an abuser.

    BUT... you do have to acknowledge that there has been a stubborn sub-set of the gay community that does not respect the 'inconvenience' of age limits when it comes to choosing sexual partners (NAMBLA etc.) and that they are used as circumstantial evidence by those who to try and link the GLBT community with the abuse of young aged boys. Through the exigencies of the media coverage of such predators priests as Geoghan (sp?) in Boston, and the fact that priest victims have tended to be of the same sex has cemented this connection in the minds of some. Thanks to folks like you, I've been educated and have come to accept the weight of evidence supports no such statistical connection. There was no need to assume that I intended any insult or derogatory assessment of the homosexual community.

    As to the failure to adequately address the immaturity of candidates for the priesthood, I can only suggest that you look back to some of our mates 26 years ago and answer that question for yourself. You know my answer.

    Here's hoping 2011 will be year of health and happiness for you and yours! Happy New Year!


  7. Hi Tim,

    Interesting - whenever I hear the term "lavendar chancery" or "lavendar mafia" bandied about by the religious right, it is usually as a slur against homosexual priests. It seems you have some other meaning in mind - what that meaning is, I am still not clear about it.

    No matter. You have diverted our attention from B16's own inexplicable and continued sheilding of Bernard Law by making the entire LGBT community carry the water for NAMBLA. May I remind you, there is also a stubborn subset of the straight community that continues to rape children. They are called pedophiles. Please note that I do not slander the entire straight community (or even priests) with the crime of child rape.

    I am sure that I have no need to remind you that Father Charles Sylvester raped little girls. The only connection I see between Geoghan and Sylvester is that they were priests at the time of their crimes. This is a horrible tragedy - but it is raised to a whole new level of wickedness when the RCC hierarchy looks the other way!

    Perhaps the problem is not homosexual priests in the RCC, but rather closeted, self-loathing, homosexual priests. Encouraged to live in the closet by their theology and the blessed Church, they have learned to despise and decieve themselves, that they will sacrafice anything to keep their secrets.

    As the LGBT community has stated for decades, the closet is a truly dark place...and your Church continues to endorse and perpetuate that closet. If you are looking for the root causes of the evil within your Church, may I humbly suggest you begin your search here.

    As for the immaturity of preistly candidates during the 1980's, I do not dispute the point. But as I recall it, they were all sponsored by an older generation of clerics who were every bit as psycho-sexually immature as their younger charges. Your Bishop was born in 1917 and my Bishop was born in 1929. They were not the products of the swinging sixties, but the products of a twisted self-loathing Catholic theology of the body.

    Which leaves many of us with just one question - when will you and the Roman Catholic Church stop blaming the media, moral relativism, the cultural, psychology, the victims, and homosexual priests for these crimes?

    Despite our sometimes barbed exchanges, I also wish you a prosperous and healthy new year! Let's all hope for, and work towards, a better world in 2011.


  8. Jim Stevenson01 January, 2011

    Fr. Tim,
    How does the case of Marciel Maciel Delgado fit into the proportionality relativistic misinterpretation of Vatican II?

  9. Jim: 'Proportionality relativistic misinterpretation of Vatican II' ??

    Maciel Delgado was the fatally flawed founder of the Legionaries of Christ. He formed the community into a virtual personality cult that protected him from facing the responsibility for his crimes. These issues have been addressed by B16 who suspended Delgado and then taking over control of the order by appointing a new head.

    What does any of this have to do with Vatican II?

    Fr. Tim

  10. Jim Stevenson01 January, 2011

    As I understand Bendedict XVI`s analysis of the sexual abuse crisis, it was the misinterpretation by liberal theologians of Vatican II`s decrees that led to relativisitic ethics.

    My point about Fr. Maciel is that he was protected by different members of the Curia for the forty years after charges were first presented to the Holy See in the late 60`s. He was also defended by Neuhaus and others who saw the crisis in terms of lax liberal theology. It seems that even John Paul II was complicit in the cover up. The scandal is not in Fr. Maciel`s disgraceful life so much as it is in how he was effectively protected until the very last years of his life, when to his credit Benedict XVI confined him to a life of prayer and penitence - but did not laicize him. At the same time his victims and his exposers such as Jason Berry were ruthlessly vilified. As far as I know, no one else, none of the cover upers, who were guilty of moral breaches and some of civil crimes were ever disciplined in any way.


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