I am a convert to the church just as of this Easter Vigil. My husband, who did not convert, just had me watch Spotlight. Needless to say I am very disheartened. My town was named as a place that had abuse scandals. But not only my town but many, many other places. Thousands upon thousands of cases . I joined the Catholic Church because I have come to believe that it is he church that Christ founded. Do you have any advice for me? If this is the church that Christ founded how can these cover ups still happen? Pope Francis seems to have a good grip on this but is that enough? Any further reading you would recommend would be so very appreciated. My husband has been very supportive of my spiritual journey but I feel like this has really brought a lot of issues to light. I am starting to doubt my decision now. How can I raise my daughter in a church that has such a large cover up of these issues from the top down? Very upsetting.
Read “Why Be Catholic” by Patrick Madrid.
I have not seen Spotlight so I cannot comment on the movie itself. I also have no plans on seeing it. But my cynical side reminds me that Hollywood and the Media, along with the liberal types that control it tend to be anti-religion in general and anti-Catholic in particular.
Statistically, the incidents of pedophile priests is much lower than, say, coaches, scoutmasters, day care workers, etc. and other adults who work with children on a regular basis. The only reason the whole pedophile priests thing made the news was because the alleged (and sometimes guilty) offenders were Catholic clergymen and the media will never pass up a chance to portray people of faith in a negative light. I guess it somehow makes them feel morally superior or something.
Again, I have no intentions of seeing Spotlight but if I were to do so, I’d take the whole thing with one very large grain of salt and consider the source.
The person you need to discuss this issue with is your priest. Having said that, the percentage of priests who abused or abuse is far smaller than those in power in the secular world. I’d be more worried about coaches, teachers, counselors, etc. because that is where the greatest number of abuses happen, go undetected and/or are covered up.
At the time most of these abuses took place it wasn’t even a crime in most places. We can’t imagine that now days, but it was the case 20, 30, 40 years. They were considered indiscretions or sins, not crimes. The police didn’t arrest people for it, and the courts didn’t prosecute. Psychiatrists thought of it as a disorder that could be cured–and they tried. Bishops were told that priests who underwent such cures could go back to parishes. No one is hounding the psychiatrists after all this time (who were just as ignorant as the rest of society), but they contributed to the idea that no one need know about it. Victims and their families took pay-offs and didn’t pursue it in the courts because it wasn’t being done. Like abuse of wives, it simply wasn’t considered a social ill that needed to be addressed, but rather a “family problem” that could be fixed within families/local communities.
None of this excuses abuse. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just giving you a bit of history here, not defending anyone. It’s easy in 2016 to sit in judgment on crimes that took place decades ago, but at the time feelings were very different. Like sex in general, it wasn’t discussed, it wasn’t addressed and it wasn’t considered an issue. Of course it was, but it took some time to rid our society of certain taboos that hindered rather than helped victims, and here we are today.
The Church has taken several steps to solve this problem starting in the seminaries, in the parishes, and in how bishops handle such cases. We’ve come a long way. Movies like Spotlight give the impression that bishops didn’t care. It’s not that they didn’t care, but rather that they didn’t know how do deal with something that had never been thought a crime, but sin. They’re not officers of the courts, after all, but ministers to sinners, be they priests or anyone else. They made terrible mistakes, but it wasn’t out of callousness, but out of ignorance, misunderstanding, bad advise, and a mistaken idea that abusers could be salvaged in their ministries. Bishops know better now. They realize the great damage done to victims. Not that it can’t happen again, sin is still sin and crime is still crime and people will commit both. But they have made great progress, and now it’s much less likely to happen than in public schools and the secular world that likes to dredge up old abuse cases in order to tell themselves that they are immune from having it happen to them.
Were some priests pedophiles? Yes. Did some bishops cover it up? Again, yes.
But these are sins which are condemned by the Church.
The Church is the very body of Christ (Colossians 1:24). Do not allow the sins of others to have power over you, especially the power to make you leave the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
For what it’s worth, I resisted seeing “Spotlight” until a few days ago when I rented it on Netflix. Living near Boston the whole matter is quite painful and close to home in many ways. Two priests I was friendly with were caught up in this. The movie is factual, sobering, and not anti-Catholic. I don’t believe - and was quite sensitive to this - that the movie portrayed the Faith in a biased light. Those portrayed negatively deserved to be so. The movie was non-sensationalistic, which really surprised me.
We have long passed the point (see the Franciscan scandal in Pennsylvania just a few weeks ago) where we can take any comfort in, or use as a defense, that abuse incidents at the hands of Catholic clergy may be statistically lower than in other child-oriented settings. 14 years after Boston, and more than a decade after the Dallas Norms, that just won’t wash.
Covering up crime is wrong.
You probably wouldn’t have wanted for follow Jesus back in the 1st century then. 1/12th of his leaders were evil-- and He appointed them Himself.
There will always be Judas’s among the 12. Jesus Himself said that the wheat and chaffe will grow together.
These priests and bishops are just as able to be damend as anyone else. Having a mitre or collar doesn’t exempt you from mortal sin.
The catholic church is protected from teaching error and guides people into all truth for the sake of the people. God doesn’t protect the pope or bishops from error because they are so impressive and impeccable. He protects them from error so that we sheep are not led astray by false teaching. The teacher himself can still sin, but God protects the teachers from dogmatically giving us error for our sake, not for their sake.
I believe st athanasius said that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.
To put it more simply “Do not leave Peter because of Judas!”.
The pastoral advice I’ve heard is that we as Catholics should not disregard this movie, but be properly outraged at the sins committed.
The Church has the fullness of truth. Jesus promised that. But Jesus did not promise a perfect Church. Judas betrayed our Lord. Peter denied him. I find the following parables helpful.
Matthew 13: 24 Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants[c] of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants[d] said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Matthew 13: 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
Jesus is speaking of our current times, not of the times after the Parousia [well, the harvest and pulling in of the net is Judgment, but before the harvest and before the net is pulled in is our current times]. Evil men and weak men will be in the church, and men in the church will do evil deeds. They are not immune from sin. Do not feel like you have to defend actual evils that men have done, such as this. The crimes committed and their covering up was undoubtedly wrong.
You say that your husband has been supportive of your conversion. So I am wondering why he “had me watch Spotlight”.
There are many other good points in previous posts but this part makes me wonder?
Hold fast to Jesus of Nazareth the Risen Lord and his Church.
Do not allow the sins of men or the mistakes of men (some seeking to do good but being misinformed etc) …be they Judas or others …keep you from him and his Church. Keep you from* true life! *
But the more recent cases are abnormalities, not what we can expect in the vast majority of our parishes. There are programs to prevent this from happening, at least as far as it is humanly possible. And the bishops are now aware that these abuses are crimes and are complying with the law when the such cases are reported to them. It’s not the pervasive problem it once was when seminaries didn’t screen candidates with this potential problem in mind. In most cases old incidents are dredged up, they certainly were in MN where I live–so certain persons could collect huge sums of money, making money off the sufferings of others, and in order to oust our very orthodox bishop who wouldn’t kowtow to the homosexual agenda being pushed by the political elite.
It’s not all clean and nice on the accusing side of this whole thing. There’s a concerted effort to destroy the Church’s influence in the public square. Bringing up old, solved cases in a movie isn’t done just for entertainment–it’s done to reblacken the Church in the public’s mind because the Church is one of the few large institutions who stands against the perversion and sins society wants us to accept as normal. Child sex is next on their agenda–that’s a given. But as long as they can make mileage out of people’s outrage over old cases, it’ll do as a weapon, for now. Don’t kid yourself, Hollywood is no friend of the Church. They don’t even care if they make money off of films like this as long as it continues the impression that the Church is full of child abusers just itching to get their claws on innocent children. Sure they were even-handed in telling the story–they can afford to be since the film gets people to question their faith and stirs up hatred for the Church. If you don’t think that was their motive in making it, I think you are quite naïve.
I did see Spotlight.
Some say that the film was anti-Catholic. Some say it is in fact, pro-Catholic.
Really, it was neither. It was an artistic representation of a significant time in recent history, one in which, sadly, the villains were members of the Catholic clergy.
But our LORD never promised that those who served His religion would never be villains; in fact, Scripture is full of such people, from the sons of Eli, to King David himself at one point in his life, to the prophet Hananiah at the end of the kingdom, to the high priest Caiaphas. And the venality of human life did not change with the Testaments.
But as flawed as the Church is, being a body of sinners; it remains the body of our LORD. That is what is important.
One of the named characters in Spotlight features the name of a man who fought abuse doing the deeds of a man who condoned them. The producers could not see why the man in real life who bore the name was upset.
Hollywood does not care about justice or accuracy.
That said, of course it is disgusting that members of the Church would prey upon children, or protect predators instead of kids. But that is not God’s fault or the fault of the whole Church. It does show how hard it is to fight sin, and how sin can create more sin.
That was nice of him. Think that through. :mad:
It is true that the Catholic Church has experienced this problem. So have the Protestant churches. And the Boy Scouts. And the public school systems. ALL of them tried to cover it up, too. (You can find all this online.)
Now, that’s not a good thing, but it shows that Catholic bishops are human. That said, there is a deeper issue which should put your mind at ease: This is nothing new and it is not surprising to God. Here’s why.
THE IMPACT OF SIN ON CHURCH AUTHORITY
If a Church leader is guilty of gross immorality, does his sin invalidate his position or authority?
Many would say that it does, and they often use this line of reasoning to justify their denial of the authority of the Catholic Church. They cite historical events such as the Crusades, the Inquisition or reign of the Borgia Popes as evidence that the Church has lost its claim to moral and spiritual authority.
Such a response, however, is unbiblical. For example, Scripture states that Jesus knew “from the beginning” who would betray him – namely Judas, whom Jesus calls a “devil” (cf. John 6:64–71). This fact is significant, since Judas was selected as an apostle even though Jesus knew that he was corrupt.
Another example would be found in Jesus’ teaching on “Moses’ seat” found in the opening verses of Matthew 23: “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.’” (Matthew 23:1-3)
“Moses’ seat” is a phrase that referred to a position of legitimate teaching authority held by the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. Later, Jesus condemned these men as “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “blind fools,” “serpents,” and a “brood of vipers.” But in the passage above, Jesus specifically instructed the crowds and his disciples to obey these leaders – despite their corruption – because of the authority of their position. That is sobering stuff.
If it were true that immorality invalidated a religious leader’s authority, then why did Jesus command his followers to “obey and do everything” the scribes and Pharisees tell them? Jesus merely admonished his followers not to follow their hypocritical example. There is not even the slightest hint that their positions had been forfeited or abrogated because of their hypocrisy or immorality. If anything, the reverse is true because Jesus validated these leaders’ office by telling people to obey them. From this, we see that sin and corruption found in the individual office holders has no impact whatsoever on the authority of the office itself.
In the Parable of the Weeds found in Matthew 13, Jesus tells His disciples to anticipate corruption within the Church. He said:
Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. "The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ (Matthew 13:24-30)
Notice it is not the world at large that is being described but rather the “kingdom of heaven” or Church that is portrayed as the field containing both wheat and weeds. Jesus does not indicate that weeds (sinners) should be uprooted from the field (Church) until the separation done at the time of the final harvest.
Of course, sin and corruption in Church leadership should never be condoned but neither should they surprise us. The Church is not a paradise for saints who are already perfected but a hospital for the spiritually sick who are being healed.
Jesus clearly taught that sin would be present in the Church, but He also taught that sins of individual Church leaders do not invalidate the authority of the positions those leaders hold. These sins, whether real or imagined, do not undermine the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church and do not provide an excuse for those who refuse to acknowledge and obey her. The authority given by God to the Church and the office of the Papacy is the same today as it was in the days of Peter, Linus, Anacletus and Clement because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Finally, we should consider the following from Pope Piux XII’s 1943 encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi:
And if at times there appears in the Church something that indicates the weakness of our human nature, it should not be attributed to her juridical constitution, but rather to that regrettable inclination to evil found in each individual, which its Divine Founder permits even at times in the most exalted members of His Mystical Body, for the purpose of testing the virtue of the Shepherds no less than of the flocks, and that all may increase the merit of their Christian faith. For, as We said above, Christ did not wish to exclude sinners from His Church; hence if some of her members are suffering from spiritual maladies, that is no reason why we should lessen our love for the Church, but rather a reason why we should increase our devotion to her members. Certainly the loving Mother is spotless in the Sacraments by which she gives birth to and nourishes her children; in the faith which she has always preserved inviolate; in her sacred laws imposed on all; in the evangelical counsels which she recommends; in those heavenly gifts and extraordinary grace through which with inexhaustible fecundity, she generates hosts of martyrs, virgins and confessors. But it cannot be laid to her charge if some members fall, weak or wounded. In their name she prays to God daily: “Forgive us our trespasses;” and with the brave heart of a mother she applies herself at once to the work of nursing them back to spiritual health. When, therefore, we call the Body of Jesus Christ “mystical,” the very meaning of the word conveys a solemn warning. It is a warning that echoes in these words of St. Leo:
[indent]“Recognize, O Christian, your dignity, and being made a sharer of the divine nature go not back to your former worthlessness along the way of unseemly conduct. Keep in mind of what Head and of what Body you are a member.”[/indent]
A very good thread to read indeed!
There’s something like 430,000 priests worldwide…many of the sexual abuse cases go back to the fifties and sixties…there would have been many more priests in those decades…the number that have come and gone during the last 60 years or so must run into the millions I suspect…only a small percentage of those were responsible for those terrible crimes…the majority have been decent faithful priests…sadly a few rotten apples spoil the barrel…rather than dwell on that think of the many good deeds carried out by priests…nuns…religious orders…Catholic laity over that same period…feeding the hungry…helping the poor and the needy…tending their medical needs…and many other acts of mercy and charity that go unnoticed by the secular media…the church has been involved in doing what Christ commanded his church to do for the last 2000 years…that has never changed…if your local church has a Godly priest…if you enjoy the people you meet there…are you looking forward to be involved in the life of your church…if you look forward to mass and the blessed sacrament then you are fulfilling your role as a good Catholic…don’t be discouraged by the actions of a few…or listen to those who might point fingers at you for being a Catholic.