"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Tuesday 24 August 2010


It may be useful to say something about the rite of Pius Vth and its relation to the post-Vatican II version of the Mass.     I was a fly on the wall during Vatican II, a monk-priest-student at Fribourg University in Switzerland.   Council fathers stopped off on their way to and from the Council at our seminary, and they were invited to my room to be interrogated by the English Benedictine group at the university.   Thus  I jumped right into the controversy of the time.  I also met people involved in the Council when I spent six months  at San' Anselm in Rome in 1977, attending a week conference on liturgy at the Institut Saint Serge in Paris and at the Oxford Patristic Conference which I attended. Any way my understanding of what happened at Vatican II and in preparation for the new liturgy is different form many of the views I have heard expressed in recent times.   My only claim to authority is that I am contemporary with the events under discussion, and that I was there, if not physically, but spiritually, and in contact with some of those who were actually taking part: not all of them, not most of them, but one or two of them.   When those who wish to return to the old days talk about the motivation behind the changes after Vatican II, they rarely give the reasons I heard then and, sometimes, let their fantasies run away with them.   For instance, one myth that is repeated by some conservatives who want to distance the Papacy from the liturgical changes, that Pope Paul VIth was so ill and under medication that he allowed innovations  that a healthier, more alert Paul would not have allowed, is utterly and completely false.    No one was a more alert, enthusiastic participant in the changes that took place than Pope Paul VIth.  He, along with Dom Cipriano Vagaggini, was the joint author of Eucharistic Prayer III, and he was responsible for the offertory prayers, even though some liturgists in the group wanted to abolish all prayers at the offertory.   His own background was the Ambrosian Rite, and the two short offertory prayers, although different from it, were nevertheless influenced by that rite..   It is helpful to look at some of the ideas that were floating around at the time.

1)   The missal of Pope Pius Vth had departed from Tradition in one important way: the basic model used as a norm for other forms of Mass in the Tridentine Rite was the priest's private Mass.   Thus, when he celebrated a public Mass, he said the readings even when they were read to the congregation as well.   This reinforced the idea that the Mass is celebrated by the priest for the congregation who may or may not be present.   The liturgists, on the other hand, wanted a return to what they considered to be an understanding more in keeping with Tradition in which the Mass is the Church and the Church is the Mass, where the bishop (and priest in his name) presides but in which everyone has his or her proper place, and that Christ acts, not only in the priest's role, but also in the reading of the Word, the singing of hymns, and in the prayers of the faithful.   The first move was to reform the Tridentine Mass with the 1962 Missal promulgated by John XXIII and used during the Council.   This is now called the extraordinary form of the Roman rite.  Also, as the present pope has noted, there was a marked separation between piety and liturgy before Vatican II; and, for hundreds of years, no saint had his spirituality formed by the liturgy.   People were encouraged to say the rosary during Mass, and the liturgy, for all its beauty, remained a closed book to most.   In seminaries, too great an interest in liturgy was considered unmanly.  Indeed, one of the causes of the liturgical disasters that have taken place since the changes is that it was implemented by priests and sisters who had a highly inadequate theology of the sacraments which they learned before the council and a highly inadequate formation in liturgy which, before the council, they took every effort not to learn.   Then, "bingo!!", they read the document of Vatican II on the Liturgy and became instant experts.  There has been a "continuity of ignorance" from before Vatican II that made the changes necessary in the first place and then often frustrated the outcome intended by the liturgists once the changes were put into effect.

The altar was given a new prominence.   If you look at Liverpool Catholic Cathedral or Leyland parish church, which were built before the reforms but were influenced by the ideas behind the reforms, everything is centred around the altar which is an imposing table of stone.   The new liturgy was centred on the altar, not on the tabernacle.   It is the place of sacrifice and, therefore, the place of God's presence, his mercy-seat or throne, just as in the Holy of Holies.  Its surface is where heaven and earth meet, where the Father sends the Spirit to make manifest the presence of his Son as our sacrifice to the Father and as the Father's gift to us as food.   It is so sacred that some liturgists did not want either candles or book on the altar, let alone a crucifix - but this was impractical.   Also, how can you give liturgical expression to the idea that the Church is the Mass and the Mass is the Church?   This was an idea that had been sown among theologians, Orthodox and Catholic, by Afanassiev, a canon law professor in the Institut Saint Serge in Paris.   How could we express this idea in the liturgy?   It may surprise Orthodox readers, especially those who rejected the changes, that my own inspiration was the icon of the "Hospitality of Abraham" by A. Rublev. In the Mass and at that table we as Church participate in the very life of God!!!  I knew that Orthodox express their immense respect for the altar by putting it behind an iconstasis; while we westerners show our respect for the altar by exposing it.   I put the difference at the level of our liturgical differences with the Semitic people: Jews and Syrian Orthodox show their respect by covering their heads when they pray; while we take our hats off when we enter a church for the same reason.   In all those years, I never heard given as a reason for having the priest facing the people that it is because he needs to see them, or they need to see him. Both priest and people need to see the altar (at least, in the West ).  Although I have been present at Masses where priests have behaved as though the really significant thing is the connection between them  and the people;  I have always put this down to liturgical ignorance;  so I was shocked when I read that Cardinal Ratzinger believed that the reason behind the change is to enable priest and people to watch each other!!   As he said, "What a ridiculous idea!" - but the idea came from him!!   It is an "aunt sally" to knock down and not the real reason. The "hermeneutic of continuity" that he advocates and is so important, if applied consistently, must lead us to notice that in the extraordinary use and in the ordinary use, what they have in common is that both priest and people face the altar: and that is the liturgical truth, equally true in both versions of the Roman Rite.

2)   Another problem that had to be corrected was the enormous presence of the Roman Rite in the Catholic Church at the expense of others..   During the centuries after the Council of Trent, the Catholic authorities had pursued a policy of liturgical imperialism based on the false premise that what is Roman is superior to any other expression of Catholicism. This was unCatholic and sectarian.    Until the 17th century, a large part of Italy was Byzantine, very often in communion with pope and patriarch, but not converts from one church to another.   Also, the Gallican rite disappeared in France except for the rite of Lyons that is limited to that city.  The Mozarabic Rite, which is very rich in liturgical material, was confined to a chapel in Toledo Cathedral.   Eastern Rites existed, but they were confined, like Indians in their reservations, to their geographical areas and had no means by which they could expand, and many eastern churches had become latinized.    All rites were equal, but some rites were more equal than others.  This meant that the "post sanctus" and the epiclesis had no place in Catholic thinking or spirituality.      Do we change the Roman Canon by inserting a "post-sanctus" and an epiclesis?   But the Roman Canon is as ancient as any other and has its own integrity and balance.   Do we simply adopt an Eastern anaphora as an alternative or to be celebrated on certain days?   But that would confuse the faithful who, quite rightly in the Roman rite, accept the moment of consecration as the words of institution.    The only alternative was new eucharistic prayers which split the epiclesis into two, as in Alexandria, but they would have to be made out of traditional materials.   This is what happened. The Catholic Catechism says that "the unfathomable richness of the Mystery of Christ is such that no liturgical tradition can fully express it," and that the different liturgical traditions complement each other (1201).   That being the case, the world wide dominance of the Roman Rite, expressing as it does only one tradition, albeit a very important one, has brought about the need to recuperate something of what was lost from the rites that died out because of its advance and to be open to the other traditions.   In Archbishop Hilarion's words, the liturgy is the Gospel according to the Church; and, just as each of the four gospels expresses the same Gospel, each in its own way, yet together they form a whole, so each liturgical tradition expresses the fullness of the Christian Mystery, each in its own way, while together they form a whole. 

3)   The young Joseph Ratzinger considered the adoption of a eucharistic theology of the church, where the Eucharist is the Church's constitution and the liturgy is the source of all the Church's powers and the goal of all its activity, as THE major achievement of the Council.   Eucharistic unity replaced jurisdiction as that which binds the. Church together. This is what is happening.ether, both locally and universally.    With this new paradigm, the individual dogmas of the Church look different and are placed in a different order.   Jurisdiction, both local and universal, gains its christian characteristics from the liturgy which is the source of its power.   Tradition is centred on the process by which the liturgy is passed down from one generation to the next.  General councils exist to defend, protect and enhance the "orthodoxy" of our worship - "orthodox" meaning "right belief" and "right worship" or "right glory".Here are som consequences:  y as the source of itsLike everything else, an ecumenical council looks to the liturgy as the source of its powers and as the goal of its activity.  These are some of the consequences:

  •  As liturgy is supreme and jurisdiction  comes out of it and can only work within its context,  jurisdiction cannot create a new rite or destroy an old one.   Rites gain their legitimacy from the continual synergy of the Holy Spirit and the Church from the time of the Apostles until now expreyssed in the liturg.  Within a Catholic context, a "new" liturgical rite does not make sense.  Hence the importance of the "hermeneutic of continuity"  New prayers and texts are possible, but the creation of a post-Vatican II liturgy unrelated to what went before it or rejecting what went before it would be uncatholic.   Also, because the liturgy is a  product of the synergy between the Holy Spirit and the Church, church authorities have no authority to abolish it.  Neither Pope nor Council can abolish the work of the Holy Spirit!! They can improve, refresh, renew, because it is still a human process.
  •  Neither the Pope nor the bishops have the authority to abolish the old Mass.   On the contrary, their function is to facilitate, improve it, because they are the servants of Tradition, not its master.   Neither can they give the status of a Catholic liturgy to the Book of Common Prayer which was a definite break with the past.   The new Anglican Use is designed to re-integrate Anglican tradition into Catholic Tradition from which it was rudely separated.   In concrete terms, this means re-integrating that tradition into the Roman Rite. This is what has been proposed.  The post-Vatican II liturgy is a modern version of the traditional Latin Roman liturgy which has taken the shape it has for reasons we have given above.   It has yet to become 100% satisfactory; but we can trust the synergy between the Holy Spirit and the Church to gradually bring this about.ad
  • The centering of Tradition on the liturgy has brought out the importance of the patriarchates as protectors, and centres of unity in their liturgical families.   Each liturgical family expresses the fullness of the Christian Mystery, but in its own way.   In concrete terms, this means that it must be so independent from Rome that it does not become latinized under Roman influence - it has happened before. The inner integrity of each lirurgical family is important for the Church as a whole.   However, the openness of all liturgical families to each other is a necessary effect of Christian ecclesial love. We NEED each other.   Negotiations between Orthodox patriarchates resemble negotiations between independent nations precisely because there is no organ by which Orthodoxy can function as an organic whole.  However, the only organ that Tradition offers them is Rome, which they reject.   We can admit that the reason for this is, in part, because Rome has used worldly models to understand its own role; but this doesn't always have to be so. 
  • The Eucharist presents us with a Church that is fully present in each local church but which binds the churches together into one organic whole, with a unity based on the identity of all churches with each other, and the identity of episcopal authority in each church.   The fundamental teaching of one bishop in his diocese is identical to the teaching of all other bishops in the Church because, according to St Cyprian, every bishop sits on the episcopal seat of Peter.   However, how does a bishop know that he is being faithful to his function, especially in times of controversy?   According to St Irenaeus (d.170 ad), he looks to the see of Rome which has the charisma veritatis
  • Jurisdiction cannot be allowed to become an obstacle to.the flow of ecclesial love that binds the Church together all over the world.   This love transcends national boundaries, being the work of the Holy Spirit,. To do justice to the nature of the Church which has both local and universal dimensions, jurisdictions which stop at national orcultural boundaries will only work if they are relativized by a universal jurisdiction that transcends boundaries.   That is the function of the Petrine Ministry.   Thus, the new paradigm  for understanding Catholicism does not automatically abolish differences with Orthodox, but it does give us a common language to discuss them  and  does open up questions we can explore together.

Friday 13 August 2010


This is not a normal subject in this blog, but the two articles have been posted in Irenikon byArchbishop Anthony, an Orthodox archbishop in the United States.   I am grateful to him.   It is a fine example of that cooperation between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church which has been advocated by both the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow against forces of militant secularism that have certainly used the child abuse scandal as a weapon against the Church.

RE: [Irenikon] sexual abuse is not a 'Catholic problem'

Archbishop Anthony to Irenikon
show details 11 Aug (1 day ago)

  Now we have real evidence – sexual abuse is not a ‘Catholic problem’

But we still have a fight ahead: the media are out to get us
By William Oddie on Monday, 9 August 2010
Last week, I suggested that having comprehensively and repeatedly apologised for the small number of priests who have in some way sexually abused children and young people, it was time we moved on to the offensive against those who (often with an undeclared anti-Catholic agenda) continually assert that the Church is in some way particularly prone to this disgusting crime. I referred to a Newsweek article which said that “priests seem to abuse children at the same rate as everyone else”.
The fact is, however, that not only is the Catholic Church NOT an endemically paedophile organisation, the evidence is now emerging that, in fact, even Newsweek is exaggerating: it’s not that “priests… abuse children at the same rate as everyone else”: actually, according to Dr Thomas Plante of Stanford University and Santa Clara University, “available research suggests that approximately two to five per cent of priests have had a sexual experience with a minor” which “is lower than the general adult male population” – in which the percentage of those who have interfered with minors “is best estimated to be closer to eight per cent”. In other words, children who have anything to do with priests are between 1.6 and four times LESS likely to be abused by them than by anyone else.
“When,” asks the blog La Salette Journey, giving these and other details, “will the media acknowledge that the sexual abuse of children is not a ‘Catholic problem’?” The fact is, suggests the writer, Paul Anthony Melanson, that “the media are not so much concerned with the welfare of children as they are with unfairly portraying the abuse of children as a ‘crisis in the Church’ ”.  For example, the state school system in the US has a considerably higher rate of sexual abuse than the Catholic Church: according to a report prepared for the US Department of Education entitled Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, “9.6 per cent of all students in grades 8 to 11 report… educator sexual misconduct that was unwanted.”  This report has been virtually ignored by the media.
But the penny is just beginning to drop. An article by Jim Dwyer in the New York Times reported (April 27) that the New York State legislature is now addressing the fact that child abuse is not only a problem for the Church, but for the whole of society. “Should it be possible,” asks Dwyer  “… to sue the city of New York for sexual abuse by public school teachers that happened decades ago? How about doctors or hospital attendants? Police officers? Welfare workers? Playground attendants? … To date, New York City has been publicly silent…. but sees the possibility of enormous expenses.”
Well, join the club, New York City. As Dwyer’s article points out: “Since 2004, Catholic dioceses nationwide have paid $1.4bn to settle claims of abuse, many from acts from the 1970s or earlier… Yet [he continues] there is little evidence to show there is more sexual abuse among Catholic priests than among clergy from other denominations, or, for that matter, among people from other walks of life.”
That’s the bottom line. This is a problem we share with everyone, though actually we are less guilty of it than society as a whole and are doing a lot better in acknowledging such child abuse as does exist. We need to get that, and the evidence for it, firmly into our heads. We have a battle ahead: we all need to be prepared for it.

RE: [Irenikon] sexual abuse is not a 'Catholic problem' Part II


Archbishop Anthony

 to Irenikon
show details 11 Aug (1 day ago)


Sexual Abuse in Social Context: Clergy and Other Professionals

Special Report by Special Report by Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights


The purpose of this special report is to put the recent scandal in the Catholic Church in perspective. It does not seek to exculpate anyone who had anything to do with priestly sexual misconduct, but it does seek to challenge those who continue to treat this issue in isolation. Indeed, to discuss the incidence of sexual abuse committed by Roman Catholic priests without reference to the level of offense found among the clergy of other religions, or to that of other professionals, is grossly unfair.

Specifically, this report was prepared to guide the discussion that will inevitably follow two major studies that will be issued on February 27. One of them, a national study on the extent of sexual abuse of minors by priests since 1950, will be released by John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. The other is a study of the causes and consequences of the abuse crisis; it will be released by the National Review Board that was established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Both studies were done at the request of the U.S. bishops.

It is the belief of the Catholic League that no meaningful conversation can take place on this issue without having some baseline data regarding the incidence of abuse that occurs outside the Catholic Church. That was the sole intent of this special report, and if it contributes to that end, then it will have been a success.

William A. Donohue, Ph.D.

The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems was developed by the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Human Services in partnership with the States to collect annual statistics on child maltreatment from State child protective services agencies. For the year 2001, it was found that approximately 903,000 children were victims of child maltreatment, 10 percent of whom (or 90,000) were sexually abused. It also found that 59 percent of the perpetrators of child abuse or neglect were women and 41 percent were men.[i]

In 2001, clinical child psychologist Wade F. Horn reported on the work of researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. The researchers found that nearly 20 percent of low-income women, recruited through family planning, obstetrical or gynecological clinics, had experienced child sexual abuse.

Horn summarized the researchers’ findings on poor women as follows: “Family friends and acquaintances compose the largest group of perpetrators (28 percent), followed by such relatives as uncles and cousins (18 percent), stepfathers (12 percent), male siblings (10 percent), biological fathers (10 percent), boyfriends of the child’s mother (9 percent), grandfathers and stepgrandfathers (7 percent), and strangers (4 percent).” Horn was struck by the fact that 10 percent were biological fathers and only 4 percent were strangers. “Which means,” he said, “86 percent of the perpetrators were known to the family, but were someone other than the child’s father.”[ii]

According to Dr. Garth A. Rattray, about the same incidence of abuse occurs among all the socio-economic classes. For example, he reports that “about 85 percent of the offenders [of child sexual abuse] are family members, babysitters, neighbors, family friends or relatives. About one in six child molesters are other children.” Unlike the first study cited, Rattray reports that most of the offenders are male.[iii]

It is obvious that children are much more likely to be sexually abused by family members and friends than by anyone else. This suggests that if preventative measures are to work, they must begin in the home, and not someplace else.

According to a survey by the Washington Post, over the last four decades, less than 1.5 percent of the estimated 60,000 or more men who have served in the Catholic clergy have been accused of child sexual abuse.[iv] According to a survey by the New York Times, 1.8 percent of all priests ordained from 1950 to 2001 have been accused of child sexual abuse.[v] Thomas Kane, author of Priests are People Too, estimates that between 1 and 1.5 percent of priests have had charges made against them.[vi] Of contemporary priests, the Associated Press found that approximately two-thirds of 1 percent of priests have charges pending against them.[vii]

Almost all the priests who abuse children are homosexuals. Dr. Thomas Plante, a psychologist at Santa Clara University, found that “80 to 90% of all priests who in fact abuse minors have sexually engaged with adolescent boys, not prepubescent children. Thus, the teenager is more at risk than the young altar boy or girls of any age.”[viii]

The situation in Boston, the epicenter of the scandal, is even worse. According to the Boston Globe, “Of the clergy sex abuse cases referred to prosecutors in Eastern Massachusetts, more than 90 percent involve male victims. And the most prominent Boston lawyers for alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse have said that about 95 percent of their clients are male.”[ix]

In a database analysis of reports on more than 1,200 alleged victims of priests identified by USA Today, 85 percent were males.[x] In another study by USA Today, it was determined that of the 234 priests who have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in the nation’s 10 largest dioceses and archdioceses, 91 percent of their victims were males.[xi]

Much has been made of a survey done by the Dallas Morning News which claims that two-thirds of the nation’s bishops have allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to continue working. But the problem with the survey is its definition of abuse—it includes everything from “ignoring warnings about suspicious behavior” to “criminal convictions.”[xii] Thus, the survey is of limited utility.

The data on the Protestant clergy tend to focus on sexual abuse in general, not on sexual abuse of children. Thus, strict comparisons cannot always be made. But there are some comparative data available on the subject of child sexual molestation, and what has been reported is quite revealing.

In a 1984 survey, 38.6 percent of ministers reported sexual contact with a church member, and 76 percent knew of another minister who had had sexual intercourse with a parishioner.[xiii] In the same year, a Fuller Seminary survey of 1,200 ministers found that 20 percent of theologically “conservative” pastors admitted to some sexual contact outside of marriage with a church member. The figure jumped to over 40 percent for “moderates”; 50 percent of “liberal” pastors confessed to similar behavior.[xiv]

In 1990, in a study by the Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith and Ethics in Chicago, it was learned that 10 percent of ministers said they had had an affair with a parishioner and about 25 percent admitted some sexual contact with a parishioner.[xv] Two years later, a survey by Leadership magazine found that 37 percent of ministers confessed to having been involved in “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a parishioner.[xvi]

In a 1993 survey by the Journal of Pastoral Care, 14 percent of Southern Baptist ministers said they had engaged in “inappropriate sexual behavior,” and 70 percent said they knew a minister who had had such contact with a parishioner.[xvii] Joe E. Trull is co-author of the 1993 book, Ministerial Ethics, and he found that “from 30 to 35 percent of ministers of all denominations admit to having sexual relationships—from inappropriate touching to sexual intercourse—outside of marriage.”[xviii]

According to a 2000 report to the Baptist General Convention in Texas, “The incidence of sexual abuse by clergy has reached ‘horrific proportions.’” It noted that in studies done in the 1980s, 12 percent of ministers had “engaged in sexual intercourse with members” and nearly 40 percent had “acknowledged sexually inappropriate behavior.” The report concluded that “The disturbing aspect of all research is that the rate of incidence for clergy exceeds the client-professional rate for physicians and psychologists.”[xix] Regarding pornography and sexual addiction, a national survey disclosed that about 20 percent of all ministers are involved in the behavior.[xx]

In the spring of 2002, when the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church was receiving unprecedented attention, the Christian Science Monitor reported on the results of national surveys by Christian Ministry Resources. The conclusion: “Despite headlines focusing on the priest pedophile problem in the Roman Catholic Church, most American churches being hit with child sexual-abuse allegations are Protestant, and most of the alleged abusers are not clergy or staff, but church volunteers.”[xxi]

Finally, in the authoritative work by Penn State professor Philip Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests, it was determined that between .2 and 1.7 percent of priests are pedophiles. The figure among the Protestant clergy ranges between 2 and 3 percent.[xxii]

Rabbi Arthur Gross Schaefer is a professor of law and ethics at Loyola Marymount University. It is his belief that sexual abuse among rabbis approximates that found among the Protestant clergy. According to one study, 73 percent of women rabbis report instances of sexual harassment. “Sadly,” Rabbi Schaefer concludes, “our community’s reactions up to this point have been often based on keeping things quiet in an attempt to do ‘damage control.’ Fear of lawsuits and bad publicity have dictated an atmosphere of hushed voices and outrage against those who dare to break ranks by speaking out.”[xxiii]

Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive vice president of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly, reports that 30 percent of rabbis who changed positions in 2000 did so involuntarily, and that sexual abuse was a factor in many instances.[xxiv] The Awareness Center devotes an entire website to “Clergy Abuse: Rabbis, Cantors & Other Trusted Officials.” It is a detailed and frank look at the problem of sexual abuse by rabbis.[xxv]

The problem of sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses is evident among church elders but most of the abuse comes from congregation members. “The victims who have stepped forward are mostly girls and young women,” writes Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times, “and many accusations involve incest.” There is a victims support group available, “silentlambs,” that has collected more than 5,000 Witnesses contending that the church mishandled child sexual abuse.[xxvi]

According to one study, .2 percent of athletic coaches nationwide have a criminal record of some sort of sexual offense. This translates to about 6,000 coaches in the U.S. who have been tried and found guilty of sexual offense against children.[xxvii] It is not known how many more offenders have escaped the reach of law enforcement.

Between 3 and 12 percent of psychologists have had sexual contact with their clients. While today virtually every state considers sexual contact with a client as worthy of revoking a psychologist’s license, as recently as 1987 only 31 percent of state licensing boards considered sexual relations between a psychologist and his or her patient grounds for license revocation.[xxviii] What makes this statistic so interesting is that many bishops in the 1980s took the advice of psychologists in handling molesting priests.

The American Medical Association found in 1986 that one in four girls, and one in eight boys, are sexually abused in or out of school before the age of 18. Two years later, a study included in The Handbook on Sexual Abuse of Children, reported that one in four girls, and one in six boys, is sexually abused by age 18.[xxix] It was reported in 1991 that 17.7 percent of males who graduated from high school, and 82.2 percent of females, reported sexual harassment by faculty or staff during their years in school. Fully 13.5 percent said they had sexual intercourse with their teacher.[xxx]

In New York City alone, at least one child is sexually abused by a school employee every day. One study concluded that more than 60 percent of employees accused of sexual abuse in the New York City schools were transferred to desk jobs at district offices located inside the schools. Most of these teachers are tenured and 40 percent of those transferred are repeat offenders. They call it “passing the garbage” in the schools. One reason why this exists is due to efforts by the United Federation of Teachers to protect teachers at the expense of children.[xxxi] Another is the fact that teachers accused of sexual misconduct cannot be fired under New York State law.[xxxii]

One of the nation’s foremost authorities on the subject of the sexual abuse of minors in public schools is Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft. In 1994, Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan did a study of 225 cases of educator sexual abuse in New York City. Their findings are astounding.

All of the accused admitted sexual abuse of a student, but none of the abusers was reported to the authorities, and only 1 percent lost their license to teach. Only 35 percent suffered negative consequences of any kind, and 39 percent chose to leave their school district, most with positive recommendations. Some were even given an early retirement package.[xxxiii]

Moving molesting teachers from school district to school district is a common phenomenon. And in only 1 percent of the cases do superintendents notify the new school district.[xxxiv] According to Diana Jean Schemo, the term “passing the trash” is the preferred jargon among educators.[xxxv]

Shakeshaft has also determined that 15 percent of all students have experienced some kind of sexual misconduct by a teacher between kindergarten and 12th grade; the behaviors range from touching to forced penetration.[xxxvi] She and Cohan also found that up to 5 percent of teachers sexually abuse children.[xxxvii] Shakeshaft will soon be ready to release the findings of a vast study undertaken for the Planning and Evaluation Service Office of the Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Education, titled, “Educator Sexual Misconduct with Students: A Synthesis of Existing Literature on Prevalence in Connection with the Design of a National Analysis.”[xxxviii]

The issue of child sexual molestation is deserving of serious scholarship. Too often, assumptions have been made that this problem is worse in the Catholic clergy than in other sectors of society. This report does not support this conclusion. Indeed, it shows that family members are the most likely to sexually molest a child. It also shows that the incidence of the sexual abuse of a minor is slightly higher among the Protestant clergy than among the Catholic clergy, and that it is significantly higher among public school teachers than among ministers and priests.

In a survey for the Wall Street Journal-NBC News, it was found that 64 percent of the public thought that Catholic priests frequently abused children.[xxxix] This is outrageously unfair, but it is not surprising given the media fixation on this issue. While it would be unfair to blame the media for the scandal in the Catholic Church, the constant drumbeat of negative reporting surely accounts for these remarkably skewed results.[xl]

Without comparative data, little can be learned. Numbers are not without meaning, but they don’t count for much unless a baseline has been established. Moreover, sexual misconduct is difficult to measure given its mostly private nature. While crime statistics are helpful, we know from social science research that most crimes go unreported. This is especially true of sexual abuse crimes. At the end of the day, estimates culled from survey research are the best we can do.

By putting the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in perspective, it is hoped that this report will make for a more fair and educated public response.


[i] “Child Maltreatment 2001: Summary of Key Findings,” National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, www.calib.com/nccanch, April 2003.

[ii] Wade F. Horn, “Common-sense article about abuse,” Washington Times, February 6, 2001, p. E1.

[iii] Dr. Garth A. Rattray, “Child Month and Paedophilia,” The Gleaner, May 14, 2002.

[iv]Alan Cooperman, “Hundreds of Priests Removed Since ‘60s; Survey Shows Scope Wider Than Disclosed,” Washington Post, June 9, 2002, p. A1.

[v]Laurie Goodstein, “Decades of Damage; Trail of Pain in Church Crisis Leads to Nearly Every Diocese,” New York Times, January 12, 2003, Section 1, p. 1.

[vi] Interviewed by Bill O’Reilly, Transcript of “The O’Reilly Factor,” May 3, 2002.

[vii] Bob von Sternberg, “Insurance Falls Short in Church Abuse Cases; Catholic Dioceses are Forced to Find other Sources to Pay Settlements,” Star Tribune, July 27, 2002, p. 1A.

[viii] Thomas Plante, “A Perspective on Clergy Sexual Abuse,” www.psywww.com/psyrelig/plante.html.

[ix] Thomas Farragher and Matt Carroll, “Church Board Dismissed Accusations by Females,” Boston.com, February 2, 2003.

[x] Janet Kornblum, “85% of Church Abuse Victims are Male, Research Finds,” USA Today, July 24, 2002, pp. 6-7D.

[xi] “The Accusers and the Accused,” USA Today, November 11, 2002, p. 7D.

[xii] Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin, “Two-thirds of Bishops Let Accused Priests Work,” Dallas Morning News, June 12, 2002, p. 1A.

[xiii] Dale Neal, “Methodist Clergy Instructed in Sexual Ethics at Conference,” Asheville Citizen-Times, May 14, 2002, p. 1B.

[xiv] Cal Thomas, “Their Sins only Start with Abuse,” Baltimore Sun, June 19, 2002, p. 9A.

[xv] James L. Franklin, “Sexual Misconduct Seen as a Serious Problem in Religion,” Boston Globe, October 23, 1991, p. 24.

[xvi] “Pastors Are People, Too!”, Focus on the Family, May 1996, p. 7.

[xvii] Teresa Watanabe, “Sex Abuse by Clerics—A Crisis of Many Faiths,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2002, p. A1.

[xviii] Cal Thomas, “Their Sins only Start with Abuse,” Baltimore Sun, June 19, 2002, p. 9A.

[xix] Terry Mattingly, “Baptists’ Traditions Make it Hard to Oust Sex-Abusing Clergy,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, June 22, 2002, p. C2.

[xx] “Assemblies of God Tackles Problem of Porn Addiction Among Ministers,” Charisma, January 2001, p. 24.

[xxi] Mark Clayton, “Sex Abuse Spans Spectrum of Churches,” Christian Science Monitor, April 5, 2002, p. 1.

[xxii] Philip Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests (New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 50 and 81.

[xxiii] Rabbi Arthur Gross Schaefer, “Rabbi Sexual Misconduct: Crying Out for a Communal Response,” www.rrc.edu/journal, November 24, 2003.

[xxiv] Roger Lovette, “Religious Leaders Must Learn to Handle Conflict Constructively,” Birmingham News, April 28, 2002.

[xxv] See www.theawarenesscenter.org/clergyabuse.

[xxvi] Laurie Goodstein, “Ousted Members Say Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Policy on Abuse Hides Offenses,” New York Times, August 11, 2002, Section 1, p. 26.

[xxvii] Michael Dobie, “Violation of Trust; When Young Athletes Are Sex-Abuse Victims, Their Coaches Are Often the Culprits,” Newsday, June 9, 2002, p. C25.

[xxviii] “Sexual Misconduct (ROLES): New Research Therapy Doesn’t Deter Sexual Misconduct by Psychologists,” Sex Weekly, September 15, 1997, pp. 27-28.

[xxix] Michael Dobie, “Violation of Trust,” Newsday, June 9, 2002, p. C25.

[xxx] Daniel Wishnietsky, “Reported and Unreported Teacher-Student Sexual Harassment,”

Journal of Ed Research, Vol. 3, 1991, pp. 164-69.

[xxxi] Douglas Montero, “Secret Shame of Our Schools: Sexual Abuse of Students Runs Rampant,” New York Post, July 30, 2001, p. 1.

[xxxii] “Schools Chancellor: Four Teachers Barred from Classroom,” Associated Press, June 12, 2003.

[xxxiii] Charol Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan, In loco parentis: Sexual abuse of students in schools, (What administrators should know). Report to the U.S. Department of Education, Field Initiated Grants

[xxxiv] Ibid.

[xxxv]Diana Jean Schemo, “Silently Shifting Teachers in Sex Abuse Cases,” New York Times, June 18, 2002, p. A19.

[xxxvi] Elizabeth Cohen, “Sex Abuse of Students Common; Research Suggests 15% of All Children Harassed,” Press & Sun-Bulletin, February 10, 2002, p. 1A.

[xxxvii] Berta Delgado and Sarah Talalay, “Sex Cases Increase in Schools; Many Acts of Teacher Misconduct Not Being Reported,” Sun-Sentinel, June 4, 1995, p. 1A.

[xxxviii] The study is in draft form and is not yet available for quotation.

[xxxix] The dates of the study were April 5-7, 2002. It was reported in Roper Center at University of Connecticut Public Opinion Online, Accession Number 0402247. Hart and Teeter Research Companies did the survey.

[xl] The Catholic League took pains to credit the media with fair coverage of the scandal. See the “Executive Summary” of the Catholic League’s 2002 Report on Anti-Catholicism. It is available online at www.catholicleague.org.

Thursday 12 August 2010


The life and death of Jesus were one long fight against the powers of evil.   He fought disobedience with obedience unto death, pride with humility, hatred with love; and  behind the relatively feeble attempts of human beings to be evil, an evil mitigated by an apalling ignorance of the things of God, Jesus saw a reflection of Satan's presence: he saw it in human sin and even in human illness and death, and he set out to save humankind and to utterly conquer the devil.
On the cross Christ won the decisive victory over sin, death and the devil, and God the Father raised him to a new resurrected life, a life without a trace of any of these because it is a sharing in the very life of God.   Since then, his death, resurrection and ascension have become the pathway we all have to tread, led by the Holy Spirit,  to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity as sons and daughters of the Father, and the cross has become the sign and proclamation of Christ's victory

Although the victory of Christ was and is decisive, it is only complete in heaven where Christ is strong, and it is only complete in all its effects in Jesus and his mother. .  On earth where Christ is weak, where human beings need to tred in faith the path of obedience, humility and love,  carrying our cross in Christ.s footsteps, it is the Church's task to manifest God's power in our weakness and to proclaim Christ's victory on the cross.   The Christian life was seen in the early Church as a constant conflict between devil and God in which Satan's angelic powers come up against our faith in Christ which is an invincible weapon.   In this context we must place the the monks who went out into the desert to seek out places where  the devil might be hiding, places like graveyards and deserted pagan temples.   Once, St Anthony of Egypt was so attacked by the devil that he was thought to be dead; but, after this, God gave him a host of new charisms, an air of gentleness and compassion and a wonderful gift of inspiring others: his "passion", inflicted by the devil, led inevitably to a special participation in the resurrected life of Christ.   To become a monk, especially a solitary monk, was a challenge to the devil; and, if the monk remained faithful to the end , he became a vehicle of Christ's victory. over "the devil, the world and the flesh".   In spite of the dreadful suffering inflicted on him, when St Anthony of Egypt was asked if he was afraid of the devil, he began his answer with another question, "Who is stronger, a human being with the Spirit of God inside him or the devil?   Why!!   The devil cannot even control a herd of pigs"

It is in this context that we can understand the Medal of St Benedict.   Like his brother monks in the deserts of Egypt and Syria,   there are many stories of St Benedict's encounters with the devil, none of which resulted to the devil's advantage; and his faith in Christ's cross had greater force than anything the devil could do against him.People wear the medal in the hope that St Benedict's intercession will win for them a similar victory over temptation and the wiles of the devil; and the medal is often used by exorcists in their encounters with possessed persons.

The more important side of theSLATED medal is the cross, even though it is often called the reverse side.   At the top is the Benedictine motto "PAX" which means the peace that the world cannot give, but only God.    Against the background, in the four segments formed by the cross, there is CSPB which stands for "CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI", WHICH MEANS "Cross of Our Holy Father Benedict".   On the vertical bar of the cross there are the letters C.S.S.M.L. which stand for "CRUX SACRA SIT MIHI  LUZ". This is translated as, "Let the Holy Cross be my Light".   On the horizontal bar there are the letters NDSMD which stand for "NON DRACO SIT MIHI DUX" or, in English, "Do not let the demon be my guide."   Around the periphery of the medal (right side) are the letters V.R.S.N.S.M.V. which stand for, "VADE RETRO SATANAS.  NUNQUAM SUADE MIHI VANA" which means, "Get Behind Me, Satan.   Never Suggest Vane Things To Me"   On the other side of the cross are written the letters, S.M.Q.L.  I.V.S. which stands for "SUNT MALA QUAE LEBAS IPSE VENENA BIBAS" which, when translated means, "What you propose to me is evil.   Drink your own poison."   All this together is a prayer of exorcism to be used when tempted.

On the other side of the medal there is the figure of St Benedict holding a cross in one hand and the Rule in the other.   At his feet is a cup with a viper in it: remembering the time when his own monks wanted to poison him, and a raven that saved him from eating poisoned bread.  These two miracles remind us that, when he can, the devil uses human beings to do his will.



iT ALL BEGAN IN 2005 when a man called Porras invaded our land.   When we arrived he was already on the land, claiming that it had always been his.   He never actually lived there, only claiming to do so, and importing farma aninmals and family the night before a judicial inspection and evacuating everybody and everything the night after.   He appears to be poor, living like any peasant with his family, but he is an expert at lying with appearances   He takes advantage of the confusion and corresponding corruption and delays that surround anything to do with land and its ownership to invade peoples' land and then either leaves it to its original owner for a substantial fee or keeps it and sells it.   Sometimes he buys legally a small plot in an area where no one is actually living, and then lays claim to the lot.   With the help of corrupt officials and forged documents, he strives to cause such confusion that only highlt trained lawyers can shed legal light after years of litigation well beyond the pockets of the avarage land owner.  A couple of years ago, Porras sold a piece of land he legitimately owned to a businessman for $360,000, and offered him possession of the land immediately above what he had bought as a gift.   In fact, Porras did not own the land he offered alongside the original sale.      In our case, he did not reckon with our Bro. Mario, a medical  before he became a monk, with a brain like a knife, who has patiently cut through the confusion and unearthed the corruption that supported Porras who may well be sent to prison.

The actual status of the land above the monastery is that it belongs to the state but we now have legal possession.   However, in order to finalize our ownership of the land the state can sell it to us; but we must prove that we are using it and that we intend to stay there.   Lima is gradually spreading in our direction, and he who owns the land could become a multi-millionaire when time is ripe for building.   If that is why we want it, then the state will not let us have it.  They do not accept projects we present to them for future action because, once owned, we can throw away the projects and build or sell.  Hence our plans for planting trees does not count because it could be an elaborate lie to get our hands on prime building land.   On the other hand, we cannot start immediately on our very real forestation project without permission, and the red tape connected with such a permission is abundant: we have been trying to obtain that permission for years!!   However, if we are not actually using the land, then we will not be allowed to buy it, and it can always be liable to attack by Porras and people like him who know how valuable the land is going to become.   That was the problem over a year ago: there was an urgency to do something : we could be inspected at any time as part of the process to purchase the land from the state; but there was no actual concrete sign that we were putting the land to use.  Help came from an unexpected quarter, and the result is the "Cross of St Benedict".

A small group of people, members of a Catholic lay community that runs a television channel called Pax Tv , hit on the idea of building a cross of St Benedict at the highest point on our land.   They saw it as a centre of pilgrimage because the medal of St Benedict is in wide use throughout Latin America even by people who know nothing of St Benedict or of Benedictines.  This could be a place where people are evangelized - which is their pre-occupation - and would confer economic benefits on the monastery that gains most of its money from visitors.   They were devotos of St Benedict because Pax Tv is under his patronage and the community tries to live by his spirit.  They recruited an engineer who does not belong to Pax.   They are accustomed to make difficult things possible.   Firstly, a female member of Pax has a husband who is managing director of Cement Lima, and that company provided all the cement necessary.   "How can we get the building materials up the steep side of the hill?" I asked anxiously.   Smiles all round, "God will provide." they said contentedly.   One of them is a recently retired general of the Peruvian Airforce and had been in helicopters.   The airforce did a two day "training exercise", at the end of which, all the materials were where they were supposed to be.

Then came a hitch.   Just when I thought everything would be plain sailing, the small group from Pax Tv told me that, because of a decision of their community, they would have to switch their support for our project to  project of their community.   They were going to build a church in a poor area of Lurin and establish medical services, activities for the children and job training for adults.  I think this was a right decision, a true ordering of priorities; but it left us in an awkward position.  We had no money!!   "Don't worry," said one of them, "I am convinced that this project to build a cross has God's blessing.  That being so, Providence will provide: God always does."    Thus, all our materials were at the top of a hill; and there was no prospect of bringing them down again.   Cement Lima would never help us build the new monastery if we cannot manage to build the cross!!   We were stumped.  I bit my finger nails for several days.   Then - Gracias a Dios - the engineer who was not a part of Pax told me that he would pay for it himself.   So it was built.   It is thirteen metres high and, when it is illuminated, will be visible from the sea.   It has yet to be painted white, with the medal of St Benedict outlined in black.   Then electricity will be taken to the top of the hill and reflecters built.  However, this will only happen when a bridge has been built over the canal that separates our own property and that which has yet to be bought.   Then there will be a straight path built.  The alcalde has offered us the use of the machine to do this together with the driver.   His engineer has drawn up the plan for the bridge.   Places will be prepared along the way where our engineer is going to put the Stations of the Cross

Last Good Friday, Br Mario took a group of people on retreat up to the top in the first Stations of the Cross.  On July 11th, Solemnity of St Benedict, after a Mass in which we sang the whole of St Benedict's Mass with Gregorian Plainchant, Father Luis took the people on another Stations of the Cross.   At the top, he formally blessed the cross in the presence of the alcalde, a representative of Pax Tv, members of the Airforce and the Police, the engineer and a host of others.   Since then, people come to walk to the cross on Sunday afternoons, and a few youth groups have also come.

Our lawyers were enthusiastic because it is the only convincing evidence that we are here to stay and are not just speculators in property waiting to make a killing.   They kept on asking when it was going to be built, fearing that the inspection of our property would happen before the cross.   Father Luis in his address at the top of the hill, said that our land would one day be green, a garden of the Virgin in which the tree of life grows, a place where people will encounter God.  He mentioned a parallel between this place and Athos.

  Religiosidad Popular likes nothing better than a pilgrimage, and nothing proves our commitment to the land more than a thirteen metre "Cross of St Benedict" set in concrete.   Every further step in the construction and every public act of worship associated with the cross confirm public recognition that this is Benedictine territory. Of course, once bought, with the land securely in our possession, there still remains the main role of the cross.   In the last photos, as Father Luis and the people start leaving, people go up to touch the cross.   With the blessing of the Church it has become holy.   It is what the whole of creation was designed to be, a point of contact between God and ourselves.

Monday 2 August 2010


This is a wonderful Russian film with English sub-titles about a hermit who belongs to a small monastery in the North of Russia.   The story takesplace in winter.   In this film you see something of genuine monastic spirituality where the hermit has the courage to be reduced to nothing so that God can shine through.   It shows how someone who completely dedicates himself to God and, by so doing, brings others into contact with God.   Happy watching.

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