We have featured the writing of Vinnie Nauheimer before on Catholica — way back in 2008. He returns today with what many are lauding as his most powerful commentary yet on the Scandal of Clerical Sexual Abuse. This commentary was originally published on Frank Douglas' "Voice from the Desert" blog and a link to that was posted earlier in the week on the Catholica Forum. We republish an unpdated version here courtesy of Vinnie. As an institution we need to start acknowledging our fallibility. Even bishops and popes are timid and fail in their responses to a crisis like the present one engulfing the institutional Church.
The Silence of the Clergy...
Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing". Living proof of this quote comes from the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. Raping, sodomizing and molesting children is intrinsically evil. Yet the clergy, as a whole, has remained incredibly silent about these deplorable crimes. In doing so, the evil of sexual abuse has triumphed at all levels of the Church. There is no better quote to describe the excruciating pain caused by the global silence of priests, bishops and cardinals regarding the vile sexual crimes committed against children. Or is there?
"Show me the leaders and I will show you the troops," speaks volumes too!
There are one-hundred-eighty-five cardinals. Not a single cardinal has ever publicly spoken out against the pope's woefully inept handling of the clergy abuse scandal. Neither a cardinal nor a pope has ever removed a bishop from office for his sexual abuse of minors or for protecting priests who have sexually abused minors. This is a travesty of justice as well as a mockery of Jesus Christ and his teachings. Not one cardinal out of 185 cardinals can be called a survivor's advocate. This fact alone confirms the all-encompassing grip evil has on the higher echelons of the church. The triumph of evil is crystal clear at the cardinal level of the Roman Catholic Church.
Worldwide there are roughly five-thousand bishops. Out of the 5,000 bishops, there are only two bishops who are vocal critics of the Roman Catholic Church's handling of the clergy abuse scandal. Both are retired. They are Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit and Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Australia. Not only are they public critics, but both are also advocates for victims of clergy abuse. Both have been banned from speaking in many dioceses and have suffered numerous other indignities at the hands of cardinals and their fellow bishops. Bishop Robinson said the following about clergy abuse,
"Sexual abuse is all about power and sex, so to counter abuse, we must be free to ask serious questions about power and sex in the institution of the church. Without this freedom, we would be attempting to respond to abuse while handcuffed and blindfolded."
Noteworthy also is the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin. Not only has he apologized to survivors, but he also demanded the resignations of several bishops steeped in the clergy abuse scandal. Recently, two of the bishops who were forced by Martin to send their resignations to Rome, had them refused by the pope thereby making the Archbishop look the fool. At the bishop level, evil has triumphed as timid bishops mimic their leaders. Two retired bishops and one active out of 5,000 is an extremely small percentage. Once again evil triumphs because good men do nothing.
However, there is an area of clergy abuse where we can find a larger percentage among bishops. According to bishopaccountability.org in the United States, there are seventeen U.S. bishops credibly accused of sexual abuse. Seventeen out of 425 active and retired bishops is four percent. That number only applies to the bishops in the United States! Is it any wonder why silence is golden when it comes to bishops in the United States? Not one bishop has ever been laicized and that includes the notorious Bishop Patrick Ziemann who was arrested for having oral sex performed on him, in his car, by a priest who wore a pager in order to be summoned by the bishop for sex. Who protected this bishop? None other than Cardinal Levada, the man appointed by the pope to fill his old position as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Once again evil triumphs!
Show me the leaders and I will show you the troops.
The number of priests worldwide is just over four-hundred-thousand. Of these four hundred thousand priests there are only a handful of well known outspoken priests who are survivor advocates. Frs. Tom Doyle and Bob Hoatson are the best known both in the United States and globally. Let's say there are in fact 100 vocal priests worldwide. One hundred priests is a miniscule fraction of one percent of the 400,000 priests: .00025 to be exact. Sadly, these are the troops who march to the tune of their bishop who marches to the tune of the cardinals and the pope.
Any human being with even a thread of humanity understands that the rape, sodomization and molestation of children by clergy or anyone are inherently evil acts. Despite the heinous nature of these crimes, despite the outcry from the victims, despite the outcry from Grand Juries and Special Inquiries, there remains a deafening silence among 99.9% of the Roman Catholic Clergy. There has been a great deal of speculation about the cause or causes of this Roman collar silence. We will look at the three leading causes of this silence and the arguments supporting them. They are: The Superiority Complex, The Wet Monkey Mentality and a complete and utter Lack of Faith.
The Superiority Complex...
Medieval Kings operated on the principle of Divine Right, which is defined as: "the doctrine that kings derive their right to rule directly from God and are not accountable to their subjects; rebellion is the worst of political crimes." Other definitions add this phrase, "any attempt to depose a monarch or to restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God." Welcome to the centuries-old operating philosophy of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Nowhere is this false ideology of Divine Right more clearly stated than in Vehementer Nos an encyclical promulgated by Pius X in 1905.
"It follows that the Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of persons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful. So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors."
However, Pius X was not alone in his assumption that priests are on a higher level than the laity. Consider the arrogance of this title: Conference of Major Superiors of Men. Who but arrogant, self-serving, elitists would give themselves a title that proclaims them superiors of men? Not to worry, Mother Superiors have their organization too, The Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious. These groups are made up of all the "Superiors" of the various groups of orders that comprise the religious community other than diocesan priests. One might ask this reasonable question, "Does using the word superior in their title really make them feel superior?" The answer is clear in this passage written about the sexual abuse scandal several years ago by then-director of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Fr. Ted Keating.
"The days of the pass or station house adjustment for Father or Brother by the Irish cop or prosecutor are over. Either we will learn to become more comfortable in the gaze of the rude and scoffing multitude (depending on our attitude) or we will be dragged kicking and screaming into a new future for religion and religious life"
There are two things to note in this statement. The first is the unequivocal admission by Fr. Keating that priests, who committed crimes, were not arrested by police. The second is Keating's use of the term "the rude and scoffing multitude." Using these words to describe the laity is his tacit acknowledgement of Pius X's statement on superiority of the clergy. This too is an admission that there are those in the priesthood who believe they are superior to mere mortals. This is the height of arrogance and one has to wonder how the laity would react to knowing they were referred to as the "the rude and scoffing multitude"? The director of the Conference of the Major Superiors of Men has demonstrated by his words that their superiority complex is real.
The irony of the superiority over the rude and scoffing multitude is that is that believers of this warped philosophy lose touch with their humanity. This one sentence "the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and like a docile flock to follow the pastors," explains the utter contempt heaped upon victims of clergy abuse and their families by priests, bishops, cardinals, and yes, even popes. This attitude made it easy for bishops to transfer sexual felons from one parish to another because they have contempt for mere children. This attitude makes it easy for bishops to lie to authorities because civil authorities are, in their minds, beneath them. This ingrained false superiority complex allows bishops to withhold evidence from the civil courts, lie to the world about the extensive nature of clerical sexual abuse and maintain a holier than thou attitude. Slavery cannot exist unless one group believes they are superior to another group and the enslaved group accepts their inferior status. The act of believing one is superior then makes it okay and even easy to use and abuse those beneath them however they see fit and treat with utter contempt anyone who would question their decisions. Welcome to the philosophy that has perpetuated clergy sexual abuse over the years.
This fallacious thinking along with the culture that perpetuates it must cease. It will when people realize, of their own accord, that God made them in his image and likeness: Intelligent beings capable of loving, thinking and creating. We were not created to be a "docile flock" led around by our noses by those who purport to speak for God, but who reject his teachings every time the teachings either interfere with or threaten their money and power.
The Wet Monkey Mentality...
The Wet Monkey Mentality is the phrase used to describe why some populations act in seemingly irrational ways. The phrase is derived from an experiment where the main objects of study are five monkeys in a cage, with a banana, a set of stairs, and ice water which is used as the behavior modification mechanism. Here is a summary of the experiment:
Inside a cage containing five monkeys, a banana was hung from the ceiling and a set of stairs was put under the banana. When one of the monkeys tried to go up the stairs towards the banana the remaining monkeys were sprayed with ice water.
If you substitute truth for the banana, this theory provides an excellent explanation for the almost universal silence by the vast majority of the clergy on the subject of the clerical sexual abuse of children. Speak the truth in public and you are viciously attacked. Could this theory explain the incredible lack of support for clergy abuse survivors by all but a miniscule number of clergy? Yes! Does the Wet Monkey Mentality explain the personal attacks on the person of Fr. Tom Doyle, the first outspoken advocate of clergy abuse survivors, who was accused of heresy, fired from his job as an Air Force Chaplain and declared persona non-grata by any number of fellow priests and bishops? Yes! Can it explain why a Pennsylvania bishop went through extraordinary machinations to find the nun behind the non-de-plume Sr. Immaculata; whose letters to the editor chastising bishops and cardinals were carried in newspapers around the United States. Does it account for the terrible things said about and done to Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who only after retiring, spoke out against the church and condemned its role in the cover-up of the clergy abuse scandal? Does it account for Bishop Geoffrey Robinson being forbidden from speaking in any Catholic Church or on any Catholic Church property by bishops and cardinals across the United States?
Yes, the Wet Monkey Mentality explains all of the actions taken by the church against these few and those unnamed who dared to challenge the prevailing norms by speaking the truth about the clerical sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church. These courageous clergy members Tom Doyle, Tom Gumbleton, and Geoff Robinson as well as others, who spoke out, were pounded relentlessly by those with the Wet Monkey Mentality as a lesson for the rest of the worldwide clergy.
Loss of Faith...
Some twenty years ago, while attending a meeting, I heard a young woman tell this story: "I have two constant companions, I call them my pets. One is called fear and the other is called faith. Whichever one I feed is the one that grows." I never saw her again, but I have survived and thrived remembering her words and while looking at causes for the deafening silence of good men and women about such an evil issue as child abuse her words came back to me yet again. I maintain that the silence of the clergy is due to their lack of faith in God and the message of compassion in the Gospels. The clergy of the Roman Catholic Church is feeding their fear and not their faith! They fear scandal as if scandal could hurt God. Yet scandal can only hurt men. They fear being found out for the despicable acts they've committed, witnessed and concealed; they fear for their material possessions, their power, their wealth and their false superiority.
If priests, bishops and cardinals had unquestioning faith in God, they would not be afraid to speak out against the evil that has triumphed because of their silence. They would not be afraid of losing their jobs, their pensions, their cushy parish, their shot at purple or red buttons and the biggest prize of all, the white hat. In other words, they would lose their fear of naming evil whether that evil is committed by a priest, bishop, cardinal or pope. Their faith would sustain them if they would just feed it. Fear has frozen the voices of too many good men in the priesthood because they have lost their faith in the God. A crash course in the Acts of the Apostles might help the remaining good members of the clergy, who wish to serve God and not their superiors, find their tongues. We can all pray that the Holy Spirit will once again ignite the flame of faith in Jesus and his teachings by restoring faith to those who have chosen to serve.
Only men steeped in fear can keep silent about the travesty of justice and the horrors of sexual abuse that are occurring and have occurred in the Roman Catholic Church. It is almost impossible to believe that out of 5,000 bishops worldwide there are none who remember who they represent. Equally implausible is that there are none who are not appalled by the actions of their fellow bishops, cardinals and the pope relative to the sexual abuse of children by clergy members. The same can be said for the 400,000 priests around the world. There must be more than a handful of priests who want to cleanse the church by driving out the despoilers of our children along with those who protect them.
The current hierarchy has brought the Church to the brink of collapse; the triumph of evil. Those that have remained silent have encouraged it by their silence! Now is the time to oppose it! Tell the clergy to get some gumption from their boss; the one who died on the cross. Let he who has ears hear!
What are your thoughts on this commentary?