Monday, August 13, 2018

Blame-the-Gays Game in U.S. Catholicism and What Rhetoric of Moral Decay Is Really About: Who Gets Blamed and Who Gets Mulligans

Things I'm reading lately that, to my way of thinking, belong together:

In the previous round of the blame-the-gays game, from 2002 on, much was made of the supposed culpability of liberal Vatican II bishops such as Rembert Weakland. The idea was that the new breed of John Paul II hardliners would sort it out. Men such as John Nienstedt and John Myers. Oh wait … really?

In one generation you and I have witnessed this country sliding from a nation who once shared a moral vision based on Judeo-Christian ethic to a nation floundering in moral decay. In one generation we have watched our nation who once believed in lifelong marriages to the same spouse to a divorce rate now well over 50 percent. We have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity. 

Responding to comments that the clerical sexual abuse crisis is a result of the sexual revolution and the loss of sexual morals, [Fr. Hans] Zollner [of Center for Child Protection at the Gregorian University in Rome] urged caution and an objective study of the facts. 
"The statistics from the Royal Commission report in Australia indicate that the abuse had its peak in Australia in the '50s and early '60s, which was way before the sexual revolution took place, so this goes against that argument," he said. Studies from the United States, Ireland and Germany also show that most abusers did their seminary training and were ordained before the sexual revolution.

Encouraged by evangelicals, the administration of President Ronald Reagan funneled millions of tax dollars into school abstinence programs. Faith-based organizations developed purity curricula and devised ways to reach teens and young adults outside the church’s grasp. Groups like Silver Ring Thing and True Love Waits launched an empire of rallies, concerts, and events—complete with merch—to attract impressionable adolescents, many of whom went home wearing silver "purity rings." 
But something unexpected happened this past year. Even as large swaths of evangelicals were starting to question their religious instruction on sex and gender, the #MeToo movement threw the wheels off and #ChurchToo was born: Powerful, male evangelical leaders began to fall as women who had historically recoiled from the "feminist" label began writing about assaults they had suffered within their church communities, and how the abusers had masked their guilt under a shroud of piety. 

Images of a handwritten letter sent to Amnesty International Executive Director Colm O'Gorman regarding his views on the forthcoming Papal visit have gone viral, due to its fiercely intimidating and derogatory nature. 
O'Gorman, who is an outspoken victim of clerical abuse, posted pictures of the abusive letter on Twitter, which refers to him as a 'fairy' as well as a number of gay slurs.
'Proof as if it was needed that the trolls aren’t just an online phenomenon,' he wrote.
The letter features a number of menacing threats directed towards O'Gorman, as well as a number of strong claims suggesting that the Pope will not listen to O'Gorman's beliefs due to his sexual orientation. 
The writer of the letter also heavily defends the Catholic Church.

"'Young people of Ireland, I love you!' 
My heart nearly burst when I heard him [Saint John Paul the Great] say that. It was a time when people didn’t often tell us that we were loved, not in that way, and I believed him. I believed every word he said. 
It's different now, though. Now when I hear that same voice say those same words I don't feel that joy. Instead I feel terribly sad. Sad for that 13-year-old me, heartbroken and sick for him. 
You see, just over a year after that, I was raped for the first time by a priest. A priest who used my blind faith in the goodness of your institution to get into my home, take me away and repeatedly assault me. 
That priest had been ordained just four months before the visit, and your church knew then that he was a child abuser. He had sexually assaulted a group of boy scouts while a seminarian. The scouting association had barred him for life as a result, but your church made him a priest and then sent him off and let him abuse for years with impunity. 
He made it along to the papal visit. He was in the Phoenix Park for the Mass, at the Papal Cross beneath which you will celebrate Mass when you arrive here soon.

Bishops look to the pope for leadership. But in the worst scandal of his papacy, John Paul ignored serious allegations of abuse against Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the archconservative religious order known as the Legion of Christ. In fact, the pope defiantly praised the long-accused pedophile for six years after a group of Maciel’s victims filed a canon law case in 1998…. 
On February 23, 1997, Gerald Renner and I published an investigation in the Hartford Courant of Maciel with on-the-record accounts by two Spaniards and seven Mexicans who accused him of abusing them when they were seminarians in Spain and Rome in the 1950s and ’60s. Boys cut off from family, awed by the charismatic leader called Nuestro Padre, they were stunned by his morphine addiction, bewildered as he whispered claims of his permission from Pius XII for sexual activity because of chronic pain. Maciel refused to be interviewed, but claimed innocence in a statement. The Vatican refused to make any comment. 
William Donohue of the Catholic League responded immediately with a letter to the Courant, scoffing at the allegations. The order set up a website, LegionaryFacts, which charged the accusers—and us—with fomenting a conspiracy against Maciel. Father Richard John Neuhaus, an influential Catholic conservative and editor of the journal First Things, called the accusations “scurrilous” and proclaimed Maciel’s innocence "a moral certainty." William Bennett, a national lecturer on ethics who later became a CNN analyst, also voiced support for the Legion. Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon, who lectured at the Legion university in Rome, derided the accusations and praised Maciel's "radiant holiness." George Weigel, a biographer of John Paul, weighed in for the Legion, too. These conservatives were in the pope's corner: in the fall of 1997 John Paul had appointed Maciel to an important religious conference in Rome. 

Wikipedia, "Theodore Edgar McCarrick": 

Pope John Paul II appointed McCarrick Archbishop of Washington in November 2000. McCarrick was formally installed as the fifth archbishop of Washington at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on January 3, 2001. On February 21, 2001, John Paul made him a cardinal, assigning him as cardinal priest to the titular church of Ss. Nerei e Achilleo. He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI.

Catholic Diocese of San Diego, "Most Reverend Robert McElroy": 

In 1996 Bishop McElroy was made a prelate of honor by Saint John Paul II and appointed Pastor of Saint Gregory Parish in San Mateo by Cardinal Levada. Bishop McElroy had the immense happiness of serving in this same parish for more than fifteen years. 
Bishop McElroy was appointed auxiliary bishop of San Francisco by Pope Benedict XVI on July 6, 2010 and was ordained by Archbishop George Niederauer at Saint Mary's Cathedral on September 7, 2010. 

(Thanks to Sarasi and MarkWilliam for pointing me to material cited here.) 

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