A Century of Silence

That is the penance pronounced for the Pope and the Cardinals and Archbishops and Monsignors and Priests. The crimes that have been perpetrated and protected by the authorities of this Church are sins against innocent children; Jesus spoke directly about how dire His displeasure is for those who harm children.Therefore the penance should be something memorable. The entire hierarchy of the Church shall take a vow of silence for the next hundred years; furthermore, the man who is declared the heir of Peter may no longer indulge himself in the delusion that he is infallible, regardless of what hat he wears or which balcony he peers out from. Finally, the vow of celibacy must be renounced as the perversion of nature it is.

Peter may have been the Rock of the Church, but he denied His Lord three times; Jesus had a fine sense of irony. He never would have wanted one of us claiming to speak with Divine Infallibility. There were plenty of disciples that He weren’t going to deny even knowing Him in His hour of need; yet Jesus chose Peter as His Rock anyway. This is one of the reasons why ironic doubt is a pillar of my faith. It makes it easier to appreciate that the man who is occupying an office once held by Julius Caesar is also the heir of St Peter.

This may sound like Catholic bashing. It is not. I was baptized a Catholic. In the Jubilee year I walked into St Peter’s through the Porta Sancta. I have a deep appreciation for the priceless history and cultural value of the Church in addition to the good works it carries out across the world. I would not want the Church destroyed. I would like it reformed, but it is going to take some deep cleaning to scour out the oldest corners where the darkest bits of evil are hiding. A hundred years of silence would do the trick.

*I meant to post this yesterday but I guess it didn’t take.

8 Responses to “A Century of Silence”

  1. Two things I’m confused about.
    1. Julius Caesar was Pope?
    2. In the same paragraph you talk about child molestation and the clerical oath of celibacy. Are you saying that child sexual abuse is perpetrated by those who aren’t allowed to have sex with adults? Sex abuse is a lot like rape in that almost always it is not about sexual desire, it is about power. (Except in cases like date rape etc…) I’m not sure there is a relationship between celibacy and child abuse. Was I misreading what you wrote?

    As a candidate for ordination and a married father, I see merits for both sides of the clergy celibacy argument. I think the value of it depends on the role of the clergy. I certainly would not want lessons on life or advice on marriage from a celibate priest. However, asceticism (of which celibacy is a huge part) is a very important spiritual discipline.

  2. dr slappy Says:

    Julius Caesar held the title of Pontifex Maximus. When Constantine switched the Empire to Chrisitanity, The head priest of Jupiter Optimus Maximus became the head priest of Jesus H Christ.
    I underwrote that passage and confused issues; I believe that the kind of people who are attracted to making a vow of celibacy are people who have deep seated issues with their sexuality. Does that make sense?

  3. Ponitfex – OK, same title but not Apostolic Succession
    “I believe that the kind of people who are attracted to making a vow of celibacy are people who have deep seated issues with their sexuality.”
    Really? WOW! So, Buddhist monks, Vedic priests Christian monks? I’m stunned speechless by this comment.

  4. While I do understand your point in regards to celibacy, I don’t think the vow of celibacy is a motivating factor for people considering priesthood. It’s probably more about helping people, and serving God. Perhaps it’s after celibacy is adhered to for an undetermined amount of time do individuals perform perverse acts.

    Reform is obviously necessary but it’s my experience that traditional religious structures, specifically this one, are often too rigid to rectify their transgressions. Now the hierarchy faces a crisis in terms of credibility, of which it seems they have none.

  5. I need to learn how to form sentences. (The last sentence in the last post doesn’t make sense.)

  6. Gandhi used to have prepubescent girls sleep in the nude with him to test his willpower. Celibacy is an extreme act; this doesn’t mean every individual who chooses it is some dangerous freak, but it does mean there is something in their makeup that is out of the ordinary. Perhaps the personality that seeks out the monastery is more suited to celibacy than the personality that seeks out the priesthood. All I know is that the original St Peter had a mother-in-law, so the poor son-of-a-bitch better have been getting some.

    Reform is always possible if the people involved decide they really want it to happen. While this is absolutely an institutional failure of Biblical proportions, these were still individual people making the decisions that led to these revelations. They don’t have to choose to keep doing the wrong thing. Everyone can choose, and we can always be surprised.

    Also, I don’t want to imply that I think that simply lifting the celibacy restriction would make the problem go away for ever. It wouldn’t. There are teachers, doctors, psychiatrists, and many, many other people who have taken no vow of celibacy whatsoever who still perpetrate these kinds of crimes. I just think it might help a little bit to have some family men in the ranks.

  7. I would say that a healthy sexual life is critical to maintaining balance in one’s thinking. Abstaining not only from sexual activity with others and in the Catholic’s case, their own bodies, I think helps encourage deviant behavior in some. Add in the mandate of absolute power and unhindered access to youth and I think you have a toxic environment for all involved.

    What I find interesting and distrurbing is that the majority of perpetrators are male. Anyone have any thoughts on why men seem to perpetrate most of the violence in this world against women and children? Before I get hate mail…I understand a good majority of men do not abuse or commit violence. But the statistics are clear.


  8. Winston,

    Agreed. Celibacy is not the problem. Abuse is. For many of the orders of the priesthood, I believe they would better understand the creation by more fully participating in it. i do however see that for other orders of ministry celibacy and other forms of self-denial can be a spiritual discipline.


    No, a good majority of men do not abuse others but almost all abusers are male. I have a seminary professor who has done a bunch of research on why that is. He believes that abuse is simply about power. By definition, abuse is sexual contact with someone in a subordinate position. In a male dominated society it is almost ontologically impossible for a woman to be sexually abusive. (although clearly it happens.) I can’t imagine why on earth you would want to but if you want to read more about this he has a great book on it. http://www.amazon.com/Abuse-Power-Theological-Problem/dp/0687006848

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