By Selwyn Duke
Wisdom from the mouths of politicians is a rare thing. Not so surprising, though, when the statesman in question is Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. I don’t know how many of you are acquainted with him but, when he speaks, it behooves us to listen.
An opportunity to listen has arisen, since comments made by Santorum about the Catholic Church pederasty scandal have been brought to light by the media. In a piece written for Catholic Online about three years ago, Santorum explained the genesis of the abuse by saying,
“Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.”
For daring to say the emperor has no clothes, Santorum has been scored by the court of the nakedly immoral. He even received reprobation from its chief reprobate on the Senate floor, the corpulent curmudgeon of caustic commentary himself, Ted Kennedy, who labeled Santorum’s remarks “insensitive” and called on him to “apologize” to the people of Boston. But such a tirade from ol’ Kennedy is nothing new – he’s just doing what he does best. After all, as history shows he never had the potential to be a crackerjack NASCAR driver. As for Santorum, no apology will be forthcoming, nor should one be. For, Rick Santorum is absolutely correct in his analysis, and I'm going to tell you exactly why.
Before I proceed, I must preface my remarks by emphasizing that in no way should they be construed as an attempt to absolve those guilty of such heinous abuse of responsibility. In no way do I want to be seen as taking a leaf out of the book of those who impute terrorism to American foreign policy, the Rodney King riots to our allegedly racist, “black rage”-inducing institutions, or whatever other transgressions they seek to sanitize to whatever events or policies they seek to demonize. No, on the contrary, I believe in punishing transgressors so harshly that only the most anomalous of maniacs would dare follow in their footsteps. I believe there’s a causal relationship between Singapore’s draconian punishments and her tranquil, Apian Way-like streets. My conception of rehabilitation is squelching the convict’s Devil-may-care spirit with a liberal dose of Devil’s Island.
But once guilt has been established and punishment meted out, it’s appropriate to turn your attention to ferreting out the root causes. This has been attempted by the mainstream media, but not in any kind of sincere way that reflects depth of thought and illuminates the issue. Instead, not surprisingly, the sordid affair has been used by anti-Christian forces as an occasion to buttress an agenda that includes elimination of priestly celibacy and the ordination of women, and to pillory a two-thousand year-old institution that refuses to bend to the will of the social-engineers to whom that agenda is dogma.
What I’m about to say may shock you. It may offend you. It may even raise your ire. The sexual abuse and the consequent cover-up, as egregious as they were, were not the scandal – they were symptoms of the scandal. The real scandal is a lack of fidelity to age-old Catholic teaching. To put it differently, the origin of the problem lay in an embrace of the liberal values of the age and the subjugation to them of the Christian understanding of morality. Sadly, some prelates of the Church, charged with the holy task of molding consciences, saving souls and transforming culture through the propagation of Christian truths, instead allowed the culture to transform them.
Before I can elaborate on that, however, I must address what is a prerequisite for fully understanding the problem. Something that has been camouflaged must be clarified. That something, is homosexuality.
You’ve most likely heard the unconventional conventional wisdom: “the abuse was not homosexual in nature. Homosexuality and pedophilia/pederasty are two entirely different matters.” Dare to contradict this, and you’re a homophobe and will be accused of trying to divert attention from the main problem, which, curiously, always remains ill-defined.
So let’s analyze this logically. You can divide people into three basic groups: those who are attracted predominantly to members of the opposite sex, those who are attracted predominantly to members of their own and those who are attracted to both. Within these groups there are subgroups, such as individuals who are attracted mainly to: older people, people their own age, younger people, teenagers or children. The salient point is, however, that regardless of what subgroup you find yourself in, it doesn’t change the fact that you fall into one of the aforementioned basic categories. Now, if that category is that of “those who are attracted predominantly to members of their own sex,” there’s a name for it. That name is homosexuality.
Another important point is that the abuse in question primarily involved teenage boys. Why is this significant? Well, a man who has affairs with teenage girls might be called many things, among them a statutory rapist or a defiler. Never have we heard, though, anyone, anywhere maintain that such a man wasn’t a heterosexual. Why then, would we entertain for a second the notion that a man who has affairs with teenage boys isn’t a homosexual? Very curious indeed.
I know, I can hear the hue and cry from the Velvet Lobby now. Take note, though, of one of their pet arguments, for it’s really quite interesting. They’re wont to say that it’s wrong to put the onus on homosexuals because, among other things, most pedophiles are married men. “Why, they’re married men and heterosexuals! So don’t you even think of trying to lay the blame at the doorstep of the Velvet Lobby!”
But think about that for a moment, about how such a defense betrays them. If they truly believed that pedophiles were in a category by themselves, why would they so readily say that one can be both a pedophile and a heterosexual? Why, when homosexuality and pedophilia are the issue, do they instinctively and fervently insist that “ne’er the twain shall meet,” but then just as reflexively create a marriage between pedophilia and heterosexuality in the next breath?
We know the answer. They don’t really believe what they have to say; they’re merely falling back on whatever propaganda serves their ends at the moment. Now that this groundwork has been laid, there’s one more stumbling block that must be overcome if one is to understand why the fingerprints of liberalism are all over the Church sex scandal.
Many take issue with the thesis that a “mere ideology” could have a hand in such abuse. In fact, there’s a rather prominent, babbling brook of a pundit who, in his famously facile fashion, dismissed the idea by saying that “Ideology had nothing to do with it.” But what is ideology? When people like that pundit scoff at such an assertion, it bespeaks of a tremendous misunderstanding of ideology in general and liberalism in particular.
The problem is that these individuals define ideology too narrowly, in that they conceive of it as something that is restricted to the realm of politics. However, to put the lie to such a notion you have to look no further than a dictionary; consider the following definition of “ideology” from Dictionary.com: “1. The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture.” Clearly, it’s no stretch to consider “ideology” to be largely synonymous with “world view.”
Moreover, it occurs to me that even if you were to view ideology as being restricted to the things of government, how could you think it narrow when the scope of government has become so wide? After all, gone are the days when government confined itself to its basic functions, such as maintaining a military, building roads and providing police forces. We now live in the age of the nanny state, with a government program for every perceived problem. The government tells us how to run our businesses [the EEOC], raise our children [anti-spanking laws], deal with grief [school grief counselors], just to name a few examples, and each and every year government’s role expands further. It seeks to satisfy our material, psychological and emotional needs, as it takes on the mantles of the family, charities and church.
Most significantly, though, I ask you, what “mere ideology” has adopted this statism, this goal of creating an all-encompassing government, ostensibly capable of satisfying every need and want of man’s flesh, mind, heart and, dare I say, soul? Furthermore, what ideology’s adherents seek to transform even non-governmental entities, such as the Church [priestesses, married clergy, etc.], the Boy Scouts [seeking to change their rules through legal action] and the family [the excesses of Social Services]? That “mere ideology,” my friends, is liberalism. Even if other ideologies are narrow, how can anyone fancy that liberalism shares that quality when its goals are the widest imaginable? In its quest for that elusive Utopia, nothing is sacrosanct, nothing is exempt during its inexorable, indefatigable march toward the total transformation of government, tradition, culture, and the very mind of man.
When one realizes this, it becomes apparent that the untenable claim is not that liberalism had a hand in the Church sex scandal, but the rather fanciful notion that a large group of people could have been born and bred in this culture without quite a number of them falling victim to liberalism’s wiles. Let us now look for the footprints of what truly is the characteristic spiritual disease of our age.
You may not realize this, but some seminaries have been knowingly ordaining men with homosexual inclinations for many decades now. The question is why? After all, definitive Church teaching states that homosexual feelings are “disordered” and that homosexual acts are gravely immoral. And while merely possessing the feelings themselves is not sinful – after all, they may emerge within an individual through no fault of his own – the Church has long held that they do render one unfit to join the priesthood. In fact, a 1961 Vatican document stated clearly,
“Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers.”
This position was reiterated on September 5th, 2002 by Pope John Paul II, when he said,
“It would be lamentable if, out of a misunderstood tolerance, they ordained young men who are immature or have obvious signs of affective deviations that, as is sadly known, could cause serious anomalies in the consciences of the faithful, with evident damage for the whole Church.”
So, why were these directives ignored? The answer is that instead of embracing and applying the Catholic understanding of human sexuality, certain prelates embraced and applied liberalism’s secular misunderstanding of human sexuality. You see, one of the latter’s tenets is that there is a moral equivalency between heterosexual and homosexual behavior and that neither tendency is psychologically healthier than the other. And, of course, once you believe that, it quite logically follows that homosexual tendencies shouldn’t disqualify a man from anything, including the priesthood.
Of course, it should be obvious that this liberal misunderstanding of human sexuality has deeply permeated Christian circles. Why, we’ve not only seen certain denominations bless homosexual relationships and ordain openly homosexual individuals, we’ve also seen the Episcopalians confirm a practicing homosexual bishop. Needless to say, Catholic teaching forbids this, but would anyone suggest that every single Catholic prelate is immune from the corrupting forces that have so warped the thinking of the religious leaders in question?
So, the deadly embrace of that twisted liberal view of sexuality explains the willingness to ordain homosexual men, but it also explains much, much more. For instance, everyone has negative inclinations, but not everyone acts upon them. Often, however, the main determinant in this is the individual’s environment, in that the more prohibitions [legal or social] there are against untoward behaviors, the less likely it is that people will give free reign to darker impulses. Remove the stigma from perversion, though, and more people will engage in it. This isn’t opinion, but Human Nature 101. It isn’t theoretical, but precisely why the fraudulent Kinsey Reports are credited with helping to foment the sexual revolution. The liberal, if-it-feels-good-do-it mentality and equating of perversion with normalcy made it easier for the abusers to rationalize their actions.
Then there’s the issue of why some prelates treated the abusers with kid gloves and swept their dark deeds under the rug. Undoubtedly, the imperative of avoiding scandal – something that is emphasized in Catholic teaching – weighed heavily in their decisions. But that good should have been outweighed by greater goods, such as the need to protect the innocent and the fact that these were crimes that screamed out to Heaven for justice.
So, why did these prelates lack the perspective that informs that such acts are beyond the pale? It is clear to me that they didn’t truly understand the gravity of the transgressions. It is also clear to me why. It was due to their having been infected with the aforementioned liberal, laissez-faire sexual dogma, combined with the embrace of another tenet of liberalism: the notion that compassion trumps justice and forgiveness obviates punishment.
It’s simple, really: they had become somewhat inured to such perverse acts by having been influenced by that liberal tenet that draws an equivalency between homosexual and heterosexual behavior. Thus, instead of viewing the sexual abuses as abominations and becoming appalled, in their minds the offenses were akin to heterosexual affairs. And while the latter also constitutes a precipitous fall from grace, viewing the offenses through that prism does soften the impact. Add to this the counterfeit compassion that tolerates all and punishes none, and you have a recipe for a dysfunctional milieu in which moral reality is turned on its head, a place where the malevolent spirit is liberated and the righteous chained.
Needless to say, liberalism’s apologists will bristle at my diagnosis of the problem. But what do they offer as an alternative? Nothing much, really; their best solution is childish obfuscation, as they suggest that somehow, some way, allowing priests to marry would have ameliorated this evil. Here, I suppose, are the two lines of reasoning on this.
First, a perfectly normal man has taken a vow of celibacy but finds that he is approaching meltdown, as he battles flesh overcome with burning desire. So, the perfectly normal man thinks to himself, “Let’s see, since there are no women nearer than the third pew, I’ll make overtures toward the first teenage boy I find.” In the process, this perfectly normal man inexplicably ignores the fact that having an affair with a woman is a far lesser sin. Even more inexplicably, this perfectly normal man doesn’t seem to be dissuaded by the fact that while falling into the arms of the woman in the pew won’t get him thrown in prison for twenty-five years, committing perverse acts with the altar boy may. Yes, I see this happening.
Of course, the more thoughtful critics might retort with the second line of reasoning, which states that allowing priests to marry would attract men who would be less likely to be interested in such perverse behavior in the first place. Curiously, this is at variance with what liberals imply with the claim that “most pedophiles are married men,” a contradiction that is, as yet, unexplained. Methinks it shall remain so.
There is no doubt that my explanation will make me a pariah in certain quarters. I’m sure that I may be accused of both excusing the inexcusable and doing the damnable: using the inexcusable as a political battering ram. But critics great and small, know this: Catholic dogma doesn’t teach that punishment is a dirty word and sodomy a clean act, liberal dogma does. Catholic dogma doesn’t teach that sexuality is a matter of taste, liberal dogma does. Catholic dogma doesn’t subordinate justice to counterfeit compassion, liberal dogma does. Catholic dogma doesn’t teach that “If it feels good, do it” and “If it’s politically-incorrect, don’t say it,” liberal dogma does.
Yes, you liberal critics, what caused the scandal wasn’t an all male, celibate priesthood or what you might superciliously dismiss as “antiquated dogma”; it was your dogma. So, please, spare us the self-righteousness and the self-serving prescriptions for religious reform, and be careful before you cast too many stones. For, the transgressors are not as unfamiliar to you as you may fancy. In fact, I’ll tell you who they are. They are the man in the mirror.
The officers of the Church whose acts of comission and omission created and facilitated this scandal are guilty, guilty as sin. But their first sin in this tragedy was not painted in neon, not anything at all that the nescient journalists with clumsy powers of reason who gleefully attack Christendom would ever discern. No, this sin was their failure to obey their enjoinment to uphold their Church’s dogma, their willingness to rationalize away the unpopular until the guiding light of truth was obscured by the veil of the spirit of age. It was then only a matter of time before the pied piper of liberalism lured them into Lucifer’s lair.