Liturgical Abuse & Sexual Abuse

One of the constant issues faced by an orthodox Catholic who is faithful to the magisterium (teaching authority of the Church) is that of liturgical abuses. I avoid going to the local parish, due to the abuses that take place there, including consecration of the precious blood in a decanter (which is then poured out onto the chalices like some common drink).

As noted by the present Pope – then Cardinal Ratzinger – the problem underlying such priestly abuses, and the accompanying lack of stern judgement by the bishops, is the over-emphasis of subsidiarity (the horizontal dimension) and in the disrespect for principles and authoritative jurisdiction (the vertical dimension). In such a case, a Catholic should be aware that the same mindset that accommodates liturgical abuse is the one that accommodated sexual abuse:

Ratzinger believed subsidiarity had allowed too much local interpretation, and failed to serve the interests of objective justice, both in allowing for due process and the right of defense for those accused, and in requiring just penalties for those found guilty.
…Until Ratzinger began to introduce reforms, Bishop Arrieta wrote, the norms of Canon Law were applied in local chanceries with “the constant fluidity that characterized the normative framework of the postconciliar period.”
…In a radio interview, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, the active homosexual poster-boy of the liberal “progressive” wing of the American Catholic Church, accused the Vatican and Ratzinger of having ignored the case until Murphy was too old to be tried.
After the secular media had taken up Weakland’s accusation against Ratzinger, however, it was revealed that Murphy’s victims had actually started complaining to authorities, including the Church, in the 1950s, but Weakland had waited until 1996 to inform the competent authorities in Rome.

The problem is traced back to ‘horizontalism’, and the accompanying over-emphasis of ‘local interpretation’ (over accountability to one’s superiors) and ‘constant fluidity’ (over proper exercise of principled jurisdiction). The fault, then, is due not to the proper magisterium of the Church, but to such abuse of subsidiary principles by the bishops:

But wasn’t Ratzinger in charge while all this was going on? Didn’t it happen on his watch? No. From 1981 to 2001 he was in charge of a department that dealt with defrocking, but not with suspensions and penalties for paedophile priests, which were the responsibility of local bishops. A number of bishops failed to suspend the abusive priests, some of whom continued to abuse. That is the scandal. It has been exposed and dealt with, and a number of bishops have, as a result, resigned. More important, guidelines are now in place to prevent it ever happening again.

The present Pope had consistently acted in accord with proper jurisdiction and authority, and worked to restore balance where there was inordinate emphasis on such subsidiarity, by reemphasizing the authority of the Holy See on these matters:

in the past 20 years, no one has done more to address the problem, to root out the corruption, than Pope Benedict XVI.

  • It was then-Cardinal Ratzinger who recognized that individual bishops (and other Vatican officials) were not taking the abuse problem seriously enough, and called for a new policy putting the Vatican in charge of discipline for priests accused of abuse.
  • It was Cardinal Ratzinger who pressed for tough investigations of a powerful Austrian cardinal accused of abuse, and for dismissal of an abuser who had founded one of the most influential religious orders in the Church.
  • It was Cardinal Ratzinger who spoke passionately about the urgent need to purge the Church, to remove the “filth” from the priestly ranks.
  • It was Pope Ratzinger who told Irish bishops that they would be held accountable for their failures to correct the abuse problem.

In the local lack of jurisdiction and ‘tolerant’ modus operandi that accepts priestly abuse but disregards the true good and the rights of the faithful (RS. 18), there is a natural link between liturgical and sexual abuse, and this is recognized by a Bishop, formerly a priest in one of the most orthodox dioceses in America; Lincoln, Nebraska:

…Bishop Vasa said he connected the scandal of clerical child abuse with the widespread legitimisation of dissent from Catholic teaching: “I have become increasing convinced that there may be another much more subtle form of episcopal negligence which also has the potential to harm children, not only emotionally and physically, but primarily spiritually.” This could occur when “those commissioned by the Church to be witnesses to and examples for them give witness to values or beliefs incompatible with the authentic teachings of the Church.”

It is evident in dissenters such as Charles Curran, who actively promote sexual deviancy, including homosexuality (which constituted majority of the abuses):

…”clashes with church authorities finally culminated in a decision by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger [now Pope Benedict XVI], that Curran was neither suitable nor eligible to be a professor of Catholic theology.”[2] The areas of dispute included publishing articles that debated theological and ethical views regarding divorce, “artificial contraception”, “masturbation, pre-marital intercourse and homosexual acts.“[3]

If such thinking is what underlies ‘local interpretation’ and ‘constant fluidity’, which often allows for tolerance of dissent and disregard for the rights of the faithful, the abuse cases would be the logical consequence and follow-through of such dissident thinking. If sexual abuse was to be stumped out in the Church, the same underlying mindset present in liturgical abuse must also be eliminated.

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