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September 26, 2005
Scandals Shall Come, Moral Relativism Shall Follow?

One of the more blog-conscious members of the mainstream media comes from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Frank Wilson, the book editor of the Inquirer, has not only encouraged bloggers in general (and myself in particular), he now has his own blog -- Books, Inq. Frank loves books, but he also has a deep and abiding Catholic faith and writes provocatively and passionately about it.

Today, Frank reviews the issue that has faced the Catholic Church over the past decade and more, sexual abuse, in light of a new grand jury report on the crimes and abuses from the Philadelphia diocese. He writes that the report makes the Starr Report on Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky "seem wholesome by comparison". But what disturbs Frank more than the crimes committed by the priests is the excusing of sin by the Church as mental disorders, waiving any spiritual responsibility for these crimes from both the priests who committed them and the Church hierarchy that ignored them:

In Saturday's Inquirer, Cardinal Rigali was quoted as saying that "in every single case reported to Archdiocesan officials, action was taken based on the best medical attention available." What about sin, your Eminence? I realize that, for many, it's an archaic term, but I believe it is still used in Catholic moral theology. Even if one admits that the moral failings of the priests in question were to some extent mitigated by a measure of psychiatric disorder -- and I think it's a stretch myself -- those moral shortcomings remain both obvious and grievous. ...

Why, confronted with acts the Church designates as sinful -- rape, corruption of innocents, abuse of authority, to say nothing of blasphemy -- did they evince no moral response? I go to confession and tell the priest I'm having an affair and I'll be told to repent and clean up my act, not see a shrink. Bishops and priests seem ready enough to bloviate about sin to the laity, but when it comes to their wayward colleagues -- oh, they need treatment. What the priests cited in the grand jury report needed was arrest, prosecution and conviction. Moreover, even if Archdiocesan officials had a hard time discerning the moral dimension of the problem, what about their plain duty as citizens? When you know that a felony has been committed, padres, you're supposed to report it.

I know for a fact that this betrayal runs deeper for many members of the faithful than the acts themselves. Most people understand that criminals retain primary responsibility for their crimes, and the sinner for his sins. Those who enable such acts must take responsibility for their acts of commission and omission as well. Where we have an issue is when the Church that teaches us this makes excuses for their own, and hides behind the psychobabble and moral relativism against which they inveigh in every other possible situation. That betrayal of their own doctrines appears hypocritical and oddly convenient, and strips the hierarchy of its moral standing to identify sin and demand repentance, both of its members and of society in general.

Read all of Frank's post, and be sure to blogroll Frank and keep him on your spiritual reading list.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 26, 2005 8:30 PM

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» Philly jury finds diocese covered up from Hoodathunk
That the Church cannot be charged legally with a crime should be of no matter to us as Catholics or to our clergy. It is matter of right and wrong, honor and cowardice, grace and sin. The scales must be set aright again. [Read More]

Tracked on September 26, 2005 10:52 PM

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