Pope Benedict’s 2010 Christmas Address to the Roman Curia

It’s just been put up on the Vatican Website and can be read here. I will expand this post when I have had time to read it.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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9 Responses to Pope Benedict’s 2010 Christmas Address to the Roman Curia

  1. Tony says:

    In my view this is an incredibly dissappointing message that, in the context of abuse, focusses on the ‘sins’ of priests but ignores the wider issues.

    In his review, On the crisis, does the pope have it right?, John Allen pulls his punches:

    Fourth, some critics say that a focus on proportionalism ignores other factors which were arguably more central to the crisis, such as a self-referential clerical culture, the church’s drive to protect its institutional self-interest, and a perception that while priests are now subject to tough discipline, bishops too often remain “above the law”.

    Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, who has studied the crisis extensively and who has long been a critic of the church’s response, says the “core issue” is “the lack of accountability of complicit bishops, and the lack of penal measures against bishops who have themselves sexually abused minors.”

    The perpetrators of abuse and their enabling bishops were formed in a pre-VatII age. To assert that

    In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children.

    is utter garbage in the context of the ‘ideological foundations’ of abuse.

    No child, no parent, no decent human being ‘theorised’ that a priest raping a child was in ‘conformity’ with anything remotely resembly morality.

  2. Arabella says:

    Hello Faz,

    you say that for Pope Benedict to assert that “In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children” is utter garbage in the context of the ‘ideological foundations’ of abuse.

    In the 70s there was a movement pushing for society to accept sexual activity between adult men and boys. The most prominent group was the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). This group indeed theorized that such activity was in conformity with the good of man and even children.

    • Tony says:

      There have been such groups since the Romans and the Greeks, Arabella. There are such groups now. The suggestions that they form the ‘ideological foundation’ of clerical abuse at its height is a red herring.

      What changed in the post VatII church was a new openness — I know, for better and worse — about sexuality and a new more critical attitude to traditional organisations and cultural practices. In this context people finally had the courage, albeit many years later in some cases, to break out of the culture that dared to speak of abuse and dared to name priests, brothers and nuns as perpetrators.

      Before that we just don’t know how bad the situation was because people had a different attitude to children and a different attitude to the church. That’s the change that anyone old enough to remember the pre-VatII church has lived through. And, yes, I acknowlege that this was not confined to the church, but I hold the church to higher standards.

      Clericalism and mandatory celibacy are much more important factors to recognise as ‘ideological foundations’ for abuse, IMO, but they’re too uncomfortable and too close to home for church leaders to face.

  3. Christine says:

    In the 70s there was a movement pushing for society to accept sexual activity between adult men and boys. The most prominent group was the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). This group indeed theorized that such activity was in conformity with the good of man and even children.

    Arabella is quite correct. Brings to mind the infamous defrocked priest Paul Shanley of Boston:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Shanley

    “Shanley first gained notoriety during 1970s as a “street priest” and icon of the Progressive movement whose writings included “Changing Norms of Sexuality”.[1] During the 1980s, Shanley served as pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Newton. In 1990, he was transferred to St. Anne’s in San Bernardino, California. While there he and another priest, John J. White, co-owned “a bed-and-breakfast for gay customers 50 miles away in Palm Springs”.[2]

    Father Shanley had earned “the nickname the hippie priest for his long hair and outspoken views, including his public rejection of the church’s condemnation of homosexuality.” [3] He attended the meeting at which NAMBLA, the male homosexual pedophile organisation, was formed.[4]”

    But this is a much wider societal problem. A local Presbyterian minister was just arrested for being part of a porn ring that accumulated and distributed child pornography, including images of sexually abused children. The man is married with a family and even though the police have retrieved hard evidence his congregation says it is “supporting him” until a final resolution is made.

    • Tony says:

      Again, Paul Shanley was a product of the pre-VatII church and was formed at time when, according to the Pope, ‘proportionism’ wasn’t so dominant.

      Quoted in the John Allen article is Margaret Smith a data analyst for a John Jay study:

      … there was a “dramatically lowered incidence” of abuse among priests who graduated the seminary in the 1980s, some of whom were formed in the 70s when proportionalism was still in vogue. As a result … if anything, proportionalism is “arguably associated with a decrease rather than an increase” in abuse.

      The era may have allowed the likes of Paul Shanley to be more brazen but it also was a time when people felt that they could expose him. Trouble is, that exposure didn’t stop at the perpetrators, it also pointed to the bishops who were the enablers. It is right to focus on the perpetrators, but the enablers are part of the problem too and the church hasn’t faced up to it.

  4. Christine says:

    Trouble is, that exposure didn’t stop at the perpetrators, it also pointed to the bishops who were the enablers.

    No argument there, Tony, but it’s interesting that Paul Shanley’s morphing from a pre-Vatican II formation to a “Progressive” position didn’t, when all is said and done, have much to do with his behavior and what he considered “acceptable.” And the Presbyterian minister, of course, was not bound by celibacy rules.

    • Tony says:

      From what I understand, Christine, the worst paedophiles are more than capable of building two very distinct personalities. One that reflects the best of priestly behaviour on the outside and the worst behind closed doors.

      And I’m not saying that mandatory celibacy is some simplistic explanation of clerical sexual abuse, but I am saying that it needs to be examined fearlessly as a factor and I can’t see evidence of that.

      • jules says:

        Really faz what ought to be examined fearlessly as a factor is not mandatory celibacy , what needs to be admitted more is the role that molesting homosexuals have played in the abuse scandal .

  5. Christine says:

    From what I understand, Christine, the worst paedophiles are more than capable of building two very distinct personalities. One that reflects the best of priestly behaviour on the outside and the worst behind closed doors.

    Well, yes, I would certainly agree with that and that is why I don’t give much credence as to whether the perpetrator was formed in the “pre” or “post” Vatican II environment. The same could be said of the married Western men who take trips to Thailand and other poor Asian areas to solicit children.

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