Mix Appropriate Anger With Confidence

REGISTER SYMPOSIUM: The more closely the Church identifies with any culture, the more its problems penetrate her work.

Gustav Doré (1832-1883), “The Temptation of Jesus”
Gustav Doré (1832-1883), “The Temptation of Jesus” (photo: Public Domain)
THE EDITORS
What to Expect From the Vatican Summit?
CARDINAL WILFRID NAPIER
Love, Care and Justice Must Be Paramount
MARIE COLLINS
Plea for Commitment and Transparency
CARDINAL GERHARD MÜLLER
The Rotten Fruit of Secularization
JANET SMITH
Overcoming a Credibility Crisis
ARCHBISHOP CHARLES CHAPUT
Mix Appropriate Anger With Confidence
ROBERT ROYAL
Create Space for Bishops to Take Action
ARCHBISHOP CARLO VIGANÒ
The Lord Will Never Abandon His Church
FATHER ROGER LANDRY
Renewing Spiritual Fatherhood
AL KRESTA
Stay With Us, Lord, For It Is Nearly Evening

This Register Symposium is not a physical conference, but a written collection of shared reflections from independent contributors with specialized knowledge regarding the clergy sexual abuse crisis. The nine experts have been asked to reflect on the root causes of the problem, and the most effective path forward for the Church.

 

In terms of a root cause: The sexual revolution of the 1960s reshaped our culture and impacted everyone, including clergy. It’s right for people to demand a higher standard of behavior from bishops and priests. The Church, especially her leaders and ministers, must live a holy witness in order to be credible. But it’s unwise to think that the Church is somehow immune to the dysfunctions of the society where she pursues her mission.

The more closely the Church identifies with any culture, the more its problems penetrate her work. That’s not an excuse for any past wrongdoing, it doesn’t make a poisonous record any less ugly, and it doesn’t diminish our very serious obligation to help survivors of clergy abuse to heal, for however long that takes. 

Facts are facts, though, and if we really want to solve the abuse crisis, the data are clear that the sexual abuse of minors is far more widespread, including in public institutions, than simply a “Catholic clergy” problem.

Within the Church herself, I’ve met very few parents who think the abuse problem is mainly about clericalism or the abuse of power. Those things may be factors, but predatory homosexuality played a major role in most of the abuse cases we know about, and laypeople are well aware of it.

Ignoring or downplaying that reality only undermines the efforts of the Church to purify her work. I also worry that Rome tends to see the abuse crisis as mainly an “American” problem, when cases in Latin America, Europe and elsewhere show that the sexual abuse of minors is clearly a global Church crisis.​

Finally, we bishops do need to be accountable for our actions on the abuse issue, and faithful laypersons need to have a greater role in ensuring that.

In my experience, most American bishops are genuinely good men who have been, and are, committed to protecting their people and purifying their own hearts of any tolerance or complacency toward the abuse crisis. 

I hope laypeople will mix their appropriate anger with a confidence that their bishops are listening to them and sincerely determined to make things right.

Archbishop Charles Chaput is the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco celebrates the ‘Mass of the Americas’ using the extraordinary form of the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Nov. 16, 2019.

Msgr. Charles Pope and Limiting the Latin Mass (July 24)

Historically, changes to worship have always cause intense reaction. Reaction to Pope Francis’ decree Traditionis Custodes limiting the use of the Traditional Latin Mass is no different. Msgr. Charles Pope helps us sift through the concern and frustrations many Catholics have we expressed. Then, in an Editor’s Corner, Matthew Bunson, executive editor for EWTN News, and Jeanette De Melo discuss the Napa Institute conference and a roundup of Catholic news.

Photo portrait of American poet and Catholic convert Wallace Stevens (1879–1955).

The Art of Catholic America (July 17)

Art, music, literature — in a word, beauty — have in the life and history of Catholicism been a great evangelizing force. For a lesson in this we often turn to the lasting masterpieces and legacy of Christendom in Europe. But what about on our own shores: Is there an imprint on the U.S. from American painters, poets and the like who were Catholic? On Register Radio, we explore American artists and Catholicism in the U.S. with Robert Royal, founder and editor in chief of The Catholic Thing. Then we look at the ways the sexual revolution has impacted the professions — particularly education, psychology and medicine — with Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute.