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Perhaps it is time for me to say something about the scandal rocking the Catholic church. Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread, I suspect. My perspective is different, being a conservative, liturgical Protestant, a Lutheran, as it were.

First, a few caveats:

  • We have only a report from a grand jury, in one state, Pennsylvania. We do not have indictments, let alone convictions. Will they come? That remains to be seen. But there is enough smoke here for all the wildfires in California. Surely the other states, and yes, Europe as well should be looking into this. But it is not yet time to build the gallows.
  • However bad it may be, and it appears to be bad, indeed, it remains a small share of the clergy. Do not condemn with a 12″ roller when a trim brush is wide enough.
  • But to condemn and punish is not enough, why did this happen, and mind, this is not the first sex scandal in the Church. How to avoid it in the future is the key thing here. In a sense, the past really is prologue.

As I said above, I’m a Lutheran, one of the causes that led Luther to start the Reformation was the sexual conduct of priests in Rome. So it would be easy for me to say, more of the same. That’s a poor attitude, much as it’s a common one these days.

But Rome is the root of Christianity in the west, whether one is Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, or whatever else. That is where we all started, and but for the Grace of God, it could be (and sometimes has been) any of our churches.

Anybody remember Jimmy Swaggart? Yeah, didn’t do Christianity a lot of good, did he? How about Rev. Tom Bird, a Kansas Lutheran pastor who killed his wife when she became inconvenient to his affair with the church secretary. There are others, big and small. We are all fallen sinners, we can only try. And that’s why we need to weed out these things. And both of those examples, and others, were, they went to prison, as they should.

Matt Walsh, a Catholic, and a columnist for The Daily Wire said with characteristic bluntness…

The Catholic Church in the West is beset by a plague. An infection. A virus that must be rooted out and utterly destroyed. There must be a purge in the Church. And the purge must be ruthless and brutal and uncompromising.

Indeed so, and it must include the hierarchy that covered up the instances. In the examples above, there was little to no cover-up, and no lasting damage was done. As so often, it’s not the crime but the coverup.

He has a point, I suspect. Kim Hirsch, an LCMS Lutheran writes on Victory Girls Blog,

Many years ago, I read a book entitled, Goodbye, Good MenWritten in 2002 by Michael Rose, a Catholic reporter, it tells how these scandals come from the seminary, where liberals in the church have allowed homosexuality in the name of “tolerance.” There is also prejudice, he maintains, against traditional seminaries.

Here’s what Rose said in an interview with a Catholic publication in 2002:

In bringing the “sexual revolution” into the Church, liberals have welcomed—even preferred—radicalized active homosexuals to orthodox seminarians in the name of “tolerance.” Now that tolerance has been exposed as a toleration of criminal acts.

Mind you, this book is now 16 years old, and we’re seeing yet again another sexual scandal. The crisis will not go away.

Maybe, one of the underlying problems, since this is predominately a Catholic problem, is the celibate priesthood itself, combined with clericalism, of course.

Father Richard McBrien, who was a professor of theology at Notre Dame, believed the church should drop the celibacy requirement for priests. In 2004, he wrote why it’s a problem:

But that requirement of the priesthood will attract a disproportionately high percentage of men who are sexually dysfunctional, sexually immature, or whose orientation will raise the question – are they attracted to the priesthood because of the ministry, or because it is a profession that forbids one to be married?

And there is something else, most of these are young men, and do any of us really think young men do not run on hormones, and those drawn to leadership, more than most?

I don’t know, and as the saying goes, not my church, but some thoughts for you Catholics to mull over, which is my main purpose here. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, but do think why this is so much a specific problem in your church. Part of it is a powerful, traditional hierarchy, as well, I suspect, but the CofE has that as well. It appears to be a distinctive of, and a distinctive problem for, the Catholic Church.

And pray, of course, as we will be praying for your Church as well as our own.