To quote Monsignor Charles Pope of the Diocese of Washington, DC:
Clarity is rare.
If you haven’t read Archbishop Carlo Maria Vignano’s third letter, well, it can be found right here. Msgr. Pope courageously and forthrightly discusses it here, and comes right out with Archbishop Vignano’s “bottom line,” with which I wholeheartedly agree. From the Archbishop’s letter (my emphasis):
[T]his very grave crisis cannot be properly addressed and resolved unless and until we call things by their true names. This is a crisis due to the scourge of homosexuality, in its agents, in its motives, in its resistance to reform. It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy, and it can only be eradicated with spiritual weapons. It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn the abuse, claim to weep for the victims, and yet refuse to denounce the root cause of so much sexual abuse: homosexuality. It is hypocrisy to refuse to acknowledge that this scourge is due to a serious crisis in the spiritual life of the clergy and to fail to take the steps necessary to remedy it.… the evidence for homosexual collusion, with its deep roots that are so difficult to eradicate, is overwhelming. …To claim the crisis itself to be clericalism is pure sophistry.
None of this is about people with disordered inclinations, whether it be inclinations towards adultery, fornication, or lust; inclinations towards excessive drink, inclinations towards sloth, gluttony or greed; or inclinations towards engaging in sex with others of your own sex. All of us have our own crosses to bear regarding disordered inclinations. The problems come when we act on these inclinations. The problem – the systemic problem, the crisis in the Church - is men, ordained as priests, engaging in homosexual activity, and using their positions as priests to further their activities.
...Whatever the number or percentage of philanderers (i.e., ‘womanizers’ among the priesthood – TC) — one is too many — the much larger number of homosexual offenses (80 percent) in clergy sexual delicts shouts for attention. But few, very few bishops or Vatican officials are willing to talk openly and clearly about it. This must change if any solutions are to be credible and trust is to be restored with God’s people. Excluding any reference to active homosexuality in the priesthood is like excluding any talk about cigarette smoking as a cause for lung cancer. It results in a pointless and laughable discussion that no one can take seriously. Will any other bishops follow the lead of Archbishop Viganò and a few others, such as Bishop Robert Morlino? It remains to be seen, but credibility remains in the balance.
The US Bishops have just finished their confab in Baltimore, convened at the expense of those of us still willing to put cash in the collection plates. These men flopped around pretty much one might expect. You can get as much on the Baltimore spectacle as you can stomach in lots of places – the National Catholic Register, the new Catholic Herald "America" section (which is excellent, by the way), or whatever venue you like. I personally doubt that the USCCB, as a body, has the courage to address this: "Is Catholic clergy sex abuse related to homosexual priests?"
I have said before, do not use this as an excuse to “give up” on the Church. Fr. Z had some calming thoughts on the matter here. The truth is, I am as disgusted with the antics of highly-placed churchmen as anyone, maybe more so: if I discharged my professional obligations as stupidly and incompetently as your average bishop, I’d not only be unemployed but might even be in jail. However, if watching this freak show is painful for me, how much more so it must be for those seminarians, priests and bishops who have given their lives to Christ and His Church, and who truly want to be good and faithful priests. I believe these men – those who desire to be good and faithful priests - make up the majority of the clergy. More than ever, they need our support.
I am grateful for Msgr. Pope, and all those priests (and bishops, yes, there are a few) who are showing clarity and courage on this. It cannot be easy.
Valete, ut cureate.