This year the religious symbolism of Easter could not be more resonant for the Catholic Church. Each day from Good Friday to Easter Sunday offers the Church a profound spiritual message as it confronts the horrific effects of the crimes of clerical sexual abuse, which have convulsed the church, first in the United States, and now in Europe.

Start with Good Friday, the day that commemorates the death of Jesus of Nazareth. On that day, Jesus willingly surrendered himself to his fate, which would lead to his brief trial, his grueling torture, his arduous walk to Calvary and his ultimate crucifixion. The Catholic Church, too, is undergoing a kind of crucifixion.

But not in the way that you might think. And not in the way that you might think of "the church."

Because I'm not talking about the hierarchy here; nor am I talking about the recent critiques of the Church in the public square. I'm talking about something else, something more fundamental: the "People of God," to use a striking image from the Second Vatican Council, which transformed Catholics thinking about the church. Despite the common parlance, "the church" is not simply the hierarchy -- the bishops, archbishops, cardinals and popes -- but the men, women and children in the pews, particularly those who are poor or suffering in any way.

Thus the primary and greatest suffering in the Catholic Church in past decades has been among the victims of the crimes of sexual abuse, which destroys lives and entire families. It is a scourging for them, as surely as Jesus was scourged at the pillar. These are the victims; these are the crucified ones; these are the Christ-figures in our midst.

Read the full article on Huffpost

Comments

JIM MCCREA | 4/5/2010 - 4:47pm
Ah, yes - Angelo Sodano.  He should be the START of the cleansing catharsis!  Isn't there some small island to which he could be "retired" for a life of prayer and penance?
 
http://www.vowsofsilencefilm.com/news/IT_112105.pdf
Anonymous | 4/5/2010 - 3:22pm
I am not lashing out at the victims as I am with those who call for a cleaning of house with certain bishops and members of the Vatican - Cardinal Angelo Sodano comes to mind - and a better response from those around the pope - who did not screen the talk and inappropriate reference to the Jews on Holy Saturday should be removed!
 
That being said, I do not know any vicitims of priestly abuse but I do know several vicitims of sexual abuse by family and coaches etc.  My comments address all abuse because they address the root causes - it is not just individual evil at play here - it is a plague of social and ideological evil of modern civilization.
 
Also, my comments are mostly directed towards those who try to use this crisis - and their propensity to scapegoat - to thier political or ideological advantage. 
 
The smear campaign against Benedict is more about politics and an attempt to nuetralize (or, for those on the inside, to liberalize or modernize) the moral teaching of the church in the public square than it is about abuse.
Franz Kuo | 4/5/2010 - 2:06pm
Brett,

If you were a victim of abuse at the hands of a priest, would any of the arguments you've made really resonate? Would they offer any comfort? Would they restore any sense of trust in a sacred institution that betrayed you?

I'm not a victim of abuse myself, but I can imagine how hurt and scarred they've been first by the abuse and next by the institutional church's dismissive treatment of the abuse.

We, as the Church, need to recognize our problem and work to fix it. Fixing it includes accepting our faults and reaching out to those who've been hurt by us (collectively), not lashing out at them. Please stop lashing out. We're supposed to be on the same team here.

Peace,
Franz

PS - Bravo Father Jim! Let's all have the courage to require this death to usher in a renewed, more Christ-like Church.
Anonymous | 4/5/2010 - 12:47pm
Bravo, Brett.

No one is saying that the church hierarchy should be let off the hook, here; the point is that chopping off the head fails to address the root of this complex problem: the exhaultation of sex in modern society.

The church has long recognized how sexual amorality leads to the degredation of a society; hence its unshakable adherence to positions that are unpopular in liberal circles: homosexual acts as sin, no birth control, no abortion, no divorce. Unfortunately, liberalism and its associated views on sexual freedom, has infiltrated the clergy, and we are witnessing the fruits of that tree. Make no mistake, these deplorable acts against children are sexual, despite liberal attempts to paint this as pedophilia that is somehow caused by the evil Catholic church and its hierarchy.

So once the hierarchy is cleaned up, what is the solution to the root of the problem? For the church to attempt to reverse a culture a depravity that is so wisely accepted in the world even by its own priests? Succumb to the culture, recognizing its irreversibility, and change its doctrine, else risk losing even more of its membership? Or just leave things as they are, keeping a watchful eye on its priests but leaving chruch doctrine undisturbed?
Vince Killoran | 4/5/2010 - 12:21pm
We're dealing with systemic coverups and a failure to change.
 
When Brett writes of "society/culture" it is important to remember that the bishops and the Vatican ARE at the root of the problem, i.e., they have played a primary role in making this society/culture both inside and outside the Church.
Anonymous | 4/4/2010 - 10:31pm
Dan,
 
Your ad hominem attack lacks effort and thought.
 
Society/culture and individual conduct are closely intertwined...I am a Catholic, not a libertarian.
Dan Hannula | 4/4/2010 - 10:23pm
This is as far as I got and my head exploded:Brett Joyce: "Perhaps, Fr. Martin, it was the dissident theologians who were much more closely aligned with cultural revolutions at the time (including the sexual revolution) who lead some clergy away from the true faith?"
OMG! Are you seriously claiming that the "culture" not sinners who abused power, are to blame! What ever happened to personal responsibility? I thought that was one of those right-wing talking points a few years ago.  I guess it depends on whose ox is being gored.  Are you drinking the same stuff as Glenn Beck?; progressives are the new communists you know. Or, perhaps, you've been chatting with the Red Queen.
Mona Villarrubia | 4/4/2010 - 10:21pm
''If we can let those old patterns die, the Catholic Church can be reborn. It can be a church more willing to confess its sins, more willing to seek forgiveness, more willing to do penance. Simple, humble, poor - like Jesus.''I used to find great hope in the Vatican II model of the church as the People of God, in contrast to the more traditional Institutional model. But, with respect to Reverend Martin, it is not the church in the sense of People of God, it is not the church in the pews, that needs to experience these ''deaths,'' it is the institional church. The people of God are already suffering, their faith already dying. As Martin eloquently points out, victims of clerical abuse have lived their own personal Good Friday for decades. It is not the People of God who have been guilty of clericalism, abuse of power, deception and obfuscation, it is not they who need to ''die'' to clericalism it is the heirarchy. I don't have hope in the institutional church any more.My Good Friday has lasted too long; my faith longs for an Easter rising. But I fear that my faith in the church will remain in the tomb.
Anonymous | 4/4/2010 - 10:15pm
PS - the reason that Maureen Dowd writes such anti-Catholic screeds on the NYTs op-ed pages is that she cannot stand the fact that the Church sets objective standards of behavior for those who belong to it. 
 
She can not stand that it limits individual action by moral decree - she, like the french radicals, believes "it is forbidden to forbid!"
 
Dowd is not disappointed alright, but she is only disappointed because the Church does not agree with her liberal, subjectivist and radically abstracted idea of human nature.
 
As Benedict said: " The world cannot tolerate this kind of resistance (to it's regime of subjectivism); it demands conformity."
 
The Church represents non-conformity to modern ideas of human nature and this is why she is targeted in the manner that she is.
Anonymous | 4/4/2010 - 9:57pm
I wish I could agree with you, Jack, but never in history have humans been so atomized and adverse to objective standards of behavior.  As they said in Paris in the 60's, it is now "forbidden to forbid." 
 
There is no such thing as sin according to modern man...and this is new.
 
Dostoevsky describes it as such in Crime and Punishment:
 
"When he was better he rememberd the dreams he had while he was feverish and delirious.  He dreamt that the whole world was condemned to a terrible new strange plague that had from to Europe from the depths of Asia.  All were to be destroyed except a very few chosen.  Some new sorts of microbes were attacking the bodies of men, but these microbes were endowed with intelligence and will.  Men attacked by them became at once mad and furious.  But never had men considered themselves so intellectual and so completely in possession of the truth as these sufferers, never had they considered their decisions, their scientific conclusions, their moral convictions so infalliable.  Whole villagess, whole towns and peoples went mad from the infection.  All were excited and did not understand one another.  Each thought that he alone had the truth and was wretched looking at the others, beat himself on the breast, wept, and wrung his hands.  They did not know how to judge and could not agree what to consider evil and what good; they did not know whom to blame, whom to justify.  Men killed each other in a sort of senseless spite."
 
Sin is nothing new - the destruction of the very notion of sin is.  That is what we are dealing with now.
Anonymous | 4/4/2010 - 9:28pm
I apologize for the typos.

Brett: I agree with your understanding. In the letter cited below the Pope speaks of a need for unity, charity and mutual support. An excerpt from -

PASTORAL LETTER
OF THE HOLY FATHER
POPE BENEDICT XVI
TO THE CATHOLICS OF IRELAND

"...I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.

Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland in the fullness of God’s own truth, for it is the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32)".

When I understood my right reltionship to God and my own sin,I enountered my Savior and need for salvation. I think that where this encoutner is missing, we rely on ourselves, to our own detriment. We are blinded by sin. Can we never assume that the Bishop of Rome is led by the Holy Spirit? Must we always assume that we have all the answers?

John Raymer | 4/4/2010 - 9:17pm
Brett,

You are correct in saying "There is also a veritable plague of sexual/moral deviance rampant in ALL our insitiutions of the modern society - in homes, schools, other denominations, the military and the government..." But I would submit that it has always been so. These problems are as old as sin.

1. My own analysis suggests that the difference between now and the past is the information revolution. In the past it was easy to sweep things under the rug and keep them secret. This is now much harder with the internet. This explains why the abuse scandal erupted around 2003. Ten years ago you and I could not have had this conversation.

2. I believe that the Church is called to a higher standard of accountability than any of the other institutions you named. If it were not so, then why even have a Church? This means it is not reasonable to compare the actions of the Church to the military, government, etc. even though we might want to.

3. A few very bitter people might want to destroy our pope. But I think most angry Catholics just want him to lead in truth - even Maureen Dowd of the NYT. The reason she writes so negatively about the Church is that it must have disappointed her tremendously at some point. This disappointment can only be overcome by the Church living up to Her calling as the Bride of Christ. [Read the Prophet Hosea.]

4. When the pope leads in truth, the bishops will follow and the Church will follow. If the pope wavers, so will the bishops and so will the Church, which will result in chaos, turmoil, lost souls and schism. Christ was afraid of the cross (prayer in Gethsemane) but followed through in doing His Father's will. Our pope is in Gethsemane right now.

Blessings, peace, and goodnight.
Anonymous | 4/4/2010 - 9:15pm
Brett: I agree with your understanding. In the letter cited below the Pope speaks of a need for unity, charity and mutual support. An excerpt from -
PASTORAL LETTER
OF THE HOLY FATHER
POPE BENEDICT XVI
TO THE CATHOLICS OF IRELAND

"...I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.

Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful".

It seems that some want to devise their own answers. Can we never assume that the Bishop of Rome is led by the Holy Spirit? It seems that some want to devise their own answers.

I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland in the fullness of God’s own truth, for it is the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32)".

When I understood my right reltionship to God and my own sin,I enountered my Savior and need for salvation. I think that where this encoutner is missing, we rely on ourselves, to our own detriment. We are blinded by sin. Can we never assume that the Bishop of Rome is led by the Holy Spirit? Must we always assume that we have all the answers?

Anonymous | 4/4/2010 - 8:24pm
I agree with the need for transpirancy and responsibility as this "mess" is being cleaned up; however, to put it as simply as possible, it still begets the question of where did this mess originate.  The bishops did not abuse children, deviant clergy did.
 
But why stop there?  There is also a veritable plague of sexual/moral deviance rampant in ALL our insitiutions of the modern society - in homes, schools, other denominations, the military and the government...
How did this happen?  It is a big picture question about morality and ideology - and when one is part of the lynch mob or the sacrifical crowd, one tends not to ask "big questions" - lest you also be found culpable and found next in line for the gallows...
 
Scapegoating one man will not save us.  And especially when that one man - Benedict - is a lone voice calling us back to God - via faith and reason- in the wilderness of the moral wasteland of modernity...
John Raymer | 4/4/2010 - 8:08pm
While Mr. Ratizinger may be innocent in his personal life, Benedict XVI, as the head of the Church, bears the full weight and responsibility for the actions of those under him. Likewise for the bishops. That is what leadership is all about.

Scapegoating occurs when a leader ducks and pins the responsibility on a subordinate. Asking our pope and our bishops to lead us by example is not scapegoating - it is asking them to do their jobs.

It is my personal opinion that most of the day-to-day evil in the world occurs because people simply don't do their jobs. Eventually, all of these individual bits of evil accumulate into a big, nasty, entangled mess. The only way to overcome this evil is for people of good will to be diligent in their lives and make sacrifices of charity that go beyond what would normally be expected of them. For those with big job titles, that means their sacrifices must be all the greater.
Vince Killoran | 4/4/2010 - 7:54pm
I just don't understand Brett's reasoning, i.e., "The pope - and secondary issues such as celebicy - are not the root of this crisis - modern ideologies that pervert the essence of human nature and its relation to God are..."
 
It seems like he is saying, "Pay no attention to the coverups and evasions of justice."  Can you imagine excusing Richard Nixon for Watergate by saying his behavior was "secondary" and, as citizens, we should instead  pay attention to "modern ideologies."  The bishops and the Vatican ARE at the root of the problem.
Anonymous | 4/4/2010 - 7:27pm
Jack writes: "My hope is that our bishops and pope will live up to their calling and face the cross as Jesus did - so that we as the Church can pass on through this hell to the resurection."
 
You are essentially calling the the sacrifice of an innocent man - pope Benedict - so that the crisis may pass - this is the very essence of cycle of archaic sacrifice that was destroyed by Christ on the Cross! 
 
The sacrifice of the scapegoat is an illusionary remedy to the problem at hand - there will be another crisis and another sacrifice down the road unless we follow Christ - who exposed this deadly system for the lie that it was.
 
I aboslutely agree that there should be full disclosure on the part of the Church and structrual changes (as have been effective in the American Church); however, the scapegoating of the heirarchy will not solve this problem in the long run.  And the problem is not celebicy - as expounded on by Fr. Martin in a recent piece on the blog - the problem is rejection of God and the primacy of the modern individual.
If you think that our modern commercial/political culture does not worship the abstracted will of the individual (including an abstracted and atomized sexuality) - and that this ideology has not infected many in the church - then you must be observing a different culture entirely. 
 
The pope - and secondary issues such as celebicy - are not the root of this crisis - modern ideologies that pervert the essence of human nature and its relation to God are...
John Raymer | 4/4/2010 - 4:13pm
And don't forget, it is we, the Church, who claim salvation under the blood of the sacrified God. We should be honored if the world is calling us to have the privledge of following in our Lord's footsteps. Our hope is not in avoiding suffering and death but in the resurection that follows. [At least that is what I heard in church this morning.]
Kate Smith | 4/4/2010 - 4:10pm
Fr. Martin, I read your whole article on the Huff Post.  It really touched me. 
Thank you for writing it.
John Raymer | 4/4/2010 - 4:05pm
Brett,

This problem belongs to all of us who claim the Catholic Church. But our church is hierarchically organized, which puts the accountability and responsiblity for leadership at the top. Until our leaders - bishops and popes - lead us to full, open and complete public repentance, the Church will remain stuck in the darkness of the scandal. My hope is that our bishops and pope will live up to their calling and face the cross as Jesus did - so that we as the Church can pass on through this hell to the resurection.

The claim that the problem is new and the result of "individulistic, relativistic liberalism" is ungrounded in historical fact. The main reason that the Protestants rejected clerical celibacy was that adultery and "unspeakable acts" was a serious problem in the Sixteenth Century. [Other bloggers have extended the line further back, but I can only document it the XVIc.] The abuse has nothing to do with liberalism and everything to do with sin allowed to fester in the dark.

St. John says the following:

"If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and the truth is not in us."

All that I ask is for the Pope and our Bishops to tell the whole truth without spin and without reservation. Who among them committed abuse? Who moved whom where and when? For what reason? Why are they afraid to say? Until they can do that in the public media without reservation, they make Christ a liar and the Church has no credibility for anything.
Anonymous | 4/4/2010 - 3:26pm
Either we surrender to the will of God through the imitation of Christ - or we continue to defend our individualistic ideologies and self-absolutions through scapegoat mechanisms.
 
While much more can be done to prevent human evil such as abuse inside and outside of the Church, the real scandal here is that even we Christians still participate in the pagan world's call for sacrifice and the associated safety of the crowd calling for the head of the scapegoat.
Anonymous | 4/4/2010 - 2:46pm
Read Rene Girard! - as the papal household preacher cited the other day.  The events occurring now are memetic in nature and are directly related to scapegoat theory.
 
Fr. Martin and the press (who represent the domiant liberal culture) correctly see the injustice that has occurred (as we all do); however, they refuse to look at their own part in the abuse scandal - namely their promotion of individualistic and relativistic liberalism and the destruction it has released into the society at large and in the church itself.
 
They call "crucify him" (to pope Benedict) because they need someone to place responsibility on - someone to be sacrificed - so that they can clear their own conscious and avoid their own culpability. 
 
They want the established power structure in place - the status quo of modern liberal ideology - rather than address the root causes of sexual and moral deviancy. 
 
This is how power works - through sacrifice.  If we destroy the pope as the final act in this terrible drama then it is ended and we do not have to look into the pride and untruth in our own hearts. 
 
Christ has shown us the way beyond this - the truth and love of God - however, we must choose to follow him...
John Raymer | 4/4/2010 - 1:50pm
Fr. Martin has said something quite important but we are all too busy shouting "crucify him" to listen.

Our most important calling as Catholics - as Christians - is to follow as closely as possible in the footsteps of Christ. Nothing else really matters except as it truely and faithfully guides us in that path. Not popes, not bishops, not magisterium, not Vatican II.

Christ's path is through the scourging, the mocking and the cruifixion. If we are to overcome the abuse scandal we must willingly accept these things upon us as Christ did. And then we can die to our pride, our embarassment, our fear of scandal and judgement. We might lose our property and some might go to jail. But is only in laying ourselves open to the full and complete truth that we can follow Christ through the grave and into our resurection.

And in case you haven't been watching, our Church could really use some resurection.
Beth Cioffoletti | 4/4/2010 - 8:55am
Isn't it time we stop giving "the Church" so much power over us?
Michael Bindner | 4/4/2010 - 7:11am
A further parallel is the feeling of the victims and their families - and even those who expected more of the Church - of feeling abandonned by God. At this point, only God can raise them up - just as the Father raised Jesus up. In this case, however, God comes in the form of the body of Christ on earth - the Church (and as Father Jim says, not necessarily the hierarchy).
Beth Cioffoletti | 4/3/2010 - 9:06pm
I am having a hard time understanding the way the current "scandal" in the Catholic Church is being discussed.
You say: "Thus the primary and greatest suffering in the Catholic Church in past decades has been among the victims of the crimes of sexual abuse, which destroys lives and entire families."
Really?  The primary and greatest suffering?
Supposedly we are all concerned with the children.  Innocent children who were touched (or more) by weird priests.  The bishops kept it all hushed up for years and moved priests around, sometimes again to places where they could abuse children.Well, ok.  That’s all pretty disgusting.What confuses me is how outraged everyone is.  Yet, just the other day a Judge ruled that a 12 year old boy would be sentenced to life in prison with no chance to ever get out, and I don’t see anyone getting upset.   The NY Times is not there to write stories.  The Catholic Church is not saying anything.You might say that this kid “deserves” it.  After all, he killed his father’s fiance and her unborn child. The Judge says that “a more horrific crime is hard to imagine.”Twelve years old and no more chances.Every day we throw children away.  Who even mentions the suffering of these kids and their families?  Somehow I have a hard time believing that this scandal in the Catholic Church is about protecting children.  Rather I think it is about protecting power.  Political power. 
Anonymous | 4/3/2010 - 6:32pm
Father: The Church instructs us. We are to do penance and reparation. Christ said that "unless you do penance you shall ALL perish". So we need not fear or be anxious. Fr. Hardon SJ explains in beautiful simplicity-

"You do not offend God with impunity. You do not sin without retribution. You do not ignore the will of the Almighty and expect the Almighty to ignore what you do.

What bears emphasis, however, is that this retribution is either to be paid willingly, with our penance and reparation, or will be paid unwillingly within the divine punishment.

The divine logic is simple, awfully simple, and all we have to do is learn what God is telling us. Either we do penance and reparation because we want to, or we shall suffer (against our will) the consequences of our sins in this life, and in the life to come.

But remember, this penance and reparation is to be done not only for what we have personally done wrong. It is for ALL the pride and lust, for ALL the cruelty and greed, for ALL the envy and laziness and gluttony of a sin-laden human family.

God is merciful and in fact as our Holy Father has told us, Jesus Christ is the Incarnation of divine mercy. But God's mercy is conditional. It is conditional on our practice of penance and reparation".



Anonymous | 4/3/2010 - 4:24pm
"There are numerous studies that connect this period to skyrocketing levels of divorce, the spread of sexually transmitted disease, rape, sexual assult and out-of-wedlock births. '
Great, Brett,  as an educated layman you  have 'solved ' all the sex sins, Now give studies that show how venacular masses, altar turn arounds, taburnacle placements, etc gave us 9-11, Iraq, beheadings in mexico, earthquakes in Haiti. etc.
WE ARE TALKING  Coverup not sex sins HERE.
T
'
Anonymous | 4/3/2010 - 4:20pm
Fr. Martin - and the dominant culture/press - are stopping there because they were looking for a scapegoat - and they found one.
 
It is much easier to call for another to "die to one's self" than examine one's own conscious and one's own culpability in evil (no matter how well intentioned).
Vince Killoran | 4/3/2010 - 4:14pm
"While Fr. Martin is right to criticize the bishops, he is wrong to stop his evalution there."
 
He is stopping his criticism there because it is the secrecy, privilege, and power of the bishops that is at issue in this crisis. 
Anonymous | 4/3/2010 - 3:59pm
Kevin,
 
I agree with you about the complexity this all and I am simply asking questions as opposed to providing answers.  My post was a response to the piece that Fr. Martin placed on NPR and a request to evaluate his own ideology's (and order's) part in the crisis - as opposed to simply focusing on the hierarchy's poor handling of the issue after the fact.
 
I am an educated member of the laity and I believe strongly in challanging entrenched (liberal, relativistic) clericalism ;)
 
As for the serious matter at hand, there is a definite corraltion between the cultural revolutions and liberalism of the 60s and the breakdown of the moral fabric of society.  There are numerous studies that connect this period to skyrocketing levels of divorce, the spread of sexually transmitted disease, rape, sexual assult and out-of-wedlock births. 
 
Why??  Because human sexuality was deconstructed - its unitive and procreative natures were seperated.  When sex is nothing other than recreation or individualistic love/lust then it can be degraded to horrific lows - to quote Dostoevsky "I started from unlimited freedom, I concluded with unlimited despotism."
 
While Fr. Martin is right to criticize the bishops, he is wrong to stop his evalution there. 
 
Time to look at his own liberal ideology and its unintended consequences...and to quote Fr. Martin directly: "Dying to self, painful as it is, always leads to something new."
KEVIN MULCAHY | 4/3/2010 - 2:49pm
Brett,
However deluded the 1960s were about sex, it was generally a question of "free love" between consenting adults, not preying upon children.  I'm not sure the case you make is that convincing.  If they had followed the 1960s approach, one would have expected rogue priests to have relatively open affairs with adult partners rather than furtive assaults upon children and adolescents.  Pedophilia is the result of a seriously disturbed and stunted sexual development, not just a casual and thougtless attitude towards sex.  I don't mean in any way to defend adult promiscuity, but it is a different order of offense from child sexual abuse.  And the correlation between the increase in abuse in the 60s and 70s and the sexual revolution is only a correlation, unless there is better evidence of an actual cause-effect relationship.
What seems a likely cause to me is the inadequate screening and formation of seminarians, combined with a sense of deference to the Church on the part of parents and victims that delayed the accusations for years and decades.  But there is probably no simple answer-likely a very complex confluence of events.
Anonymous | 4/3/2010 - 2:42pm
Brett Joyce must not have gotten the memo.
Here is the  memo; We are Stopping the  blaming of the messengers who reveal/condemn abuse..We are going into hunkerdown stance..Cardinal Levada's blaming NYT with 20 references did not work. no more talking/releases for one week.  
A/B Williams, Canterbury  just threw the Irish Church under the bus. I sense .NYT is getting bored;  cable TV booking Donahue 24-7 .. Irish bookies give 6-4 odds on Benedict resignation. Is that bet 6 to get 4? 
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/world/europe/04church.html?hp
don't blame NYT again .... this is a copy job..
David Nickol | 4/3/2010 - 2:26pm
Brett Joyce:
 
Could you cite anything by "dissident theologians" that might have led priests in the sixties and seventies to feel more free than priests of earlier times to abuse children? 
Anonymous | 4/3/2010 - 12:49pm
While some points here are very well taken, doesn't the liberal cleric such has Fr. Martin have his own unique brand of "clerical arrogance"?  And hasn't this ideology also contributed to the epidemic of abuse?"
 
While it was the hierarchy that did a poor job of handling the abusive priests - this does not get the root of the story.  Perhaps, Fr. Martin, it was the dissident theologians who were much more closely aligned with cultural revolutions at the time (including the sexual revolution) who lead some clergy away from the true faith?
 
Why was there such a massive increase in abuse during the decades of the 60's and 70's, as shown in the John Jay Report?
 
http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/the-pattern-of-priestly-sex-abuse/
 
I am not saying that the hierarchy is not at fault with their cold corporate handling of this; however, it appears you are addressing the symptoms and aftermath rather than the root cause of this crisis. 
 
You blame the "other side" while ignoring those implicated who are close to your ideology - an incredible similarity to the actions of the men you criticize...
 
 
Jeanne Doyle | 5/6/2010 - 4:38pm
Dear Mr. Joyce,
Why do you think Fr. Martin is scapegoating the Pope?  In his article, he wrote, " What needs to die is a clerical culture that long fostered power, privilege and secrecy. What needs to die is an attitude that had placed concern for a priest's reputation above that of a child's welfare." 
I don't read an indictment of the Pope here.  I read a call to "the church," all of us, to let go of our pride, let go of these abusive clergy members-even if the number of Religious drops even more dramatically-protect our most vulnerable members so that we can live on as a church.  Only you keep mentioning the Pope.  Maybe you know in your heart that pope Benedict has the power to lead us in the rebirth Fr. martin is calling for. 
Thank you, Fr. Martin.  Your article was inspirational to me.