Clean House in the Catholic Church

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Patrick J. Buchanan – March 20, 2002

With the Catholic Church reeling from its exploding scandal of pedophile priests, the enemies of Tradition believe they have found an opening through which to drive their latest “reforms.”

According to The Washington Post, the archdiocesan paper of Boston, the Pilot, editorialized Friday that “the church needs an open discussion of the number of gay priests, the exclusion of women from the priesthood and what to do about celibacy.”

Adds the Post helpfully, “The latest buzzword in Catholic institutions of higher learning is ‘clericalism,’ a pejorative for an in-grown elite that is increasingly out of sync with the laity’s views on contraception, homosexuality and the role of women in the church.”

As cafeteria Catholics seize on this scandal to mount and ride their hobby-horses, anti-Catholics are chortling. This is even better than bashing Pius XII. Yet, even the most loyal of Catholics and their faithful priests must concede there is something rotten in our Church.

Not only did Cardinal Bernard Law protect Father John Geoghan, who abused 100 Catholic boys over a career of seduction, molestation and rape, the cardinal moved him from parish to parish like a Mafia don providing safe houses for one of his button men. Rather than act as the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, Law covered up the predator tracks of the wolf preying on his lambs.

Nor are pervert-priests confined to Boston or even the United States. While Law has suspended 10 priests and belatedly reported to authorities on possible abuse over decades by 80 others, Cardinal Roger Mahoney has dismissed a dozen priests from his Los Angeles archdiocese and turned their files over to police.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has evidence of abuse by 35 priests over half a century. The Manchester, N.H., diocese reports another dozen. In Palm Beach, Fla., a second bishop has resigned after admitting to molesting a boy. Pedophile priests have been exposed in Ireland, Canada, Poland, Australia, Britain, France, Mexico and Austria.

Thousands of altar boys and Catholic children have been abused, their lives ruined. The Church has been disgraced, and an outraged faithful made to pay hundreds of millions in damages because of bishops who were derelict in their duty to weed child predators out of seminaries and sanctuaries, and turn them over to the police as the serial criminals they were.

A corporate executive who put a sexual harasser in charge of young women would be fired. Catholic bishops who failed in their managerial and moral duty to protect innocent children should be sent to monasteries to do penance the rest of their lives.

But the counsel offered by the Pilot and Post would not save the Church, but compound the disaster. What the Church needs, to restore its moral authority, is to stand up to the moral confusion of modernity, not embrace it. That way lies total ruin.

Can anyone believe that ending celibacy and allowing priests to marry would persuade pedophiles like Geoghan to stop preying on boys? If celibacy has not for centuries been inconsistent with sanctity of the high moral authority of the Church, when did it become so? Answer: Only since the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, which is part of a Cultural Revolution whose aim is the overthrow of traditional morality as taught by the Magisterium of the Church. The Church’s role, with the guidance of the Holy Ghost, is to resist the revolution to the death.

As for ordaining women, that would require the rejection of 2,000 years of Catholic teaching and an unstated admission that numerous popes, whom Catholics believe to be infallible on matters of faith, were wrong. It would cause a schism in Catholicism. Consider the chaos of an Episcopal Church where the ordination of women and homosexuals has sent many of its finest priests fleeing to the Catholic Church.

If ever a moral crisis called out for the firm smack of legitimate authority, it is this crisis of the Catholic hierarchy. Many of the highest prelates in the American Church have failed dismally in their stewardship and should be stewards of the faithful no longer.

His Holiness needs to clean house. Pope John Paul II should send a representative to the United States to order the immediate retirement of any bishop who failed in his duty to expel pedophiles from the priesthood. And as the Church teaches that homosexuality is a moral disorder, a proclivity to the unnatural and immoral, homosexuals should be quietly dismissed from all Catholic seminaries. If the Boy Scouts can have the moral courage to stand up to establishment abuse and reject homosexuals as scoutmasters, why cannot the Catholic Church?

Considering the results of the Second Vatican Council, perhaps it is time the Holy Father called for a Second Council of Trent.

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