Scandal Versus Culture*
Mother Church and the Rape of Her Children
 A.W. Richard Sipe
“The church is my mother. Sometimes she acts like a whore, but she is still my mother.”
- Dorothy Day

A familial mythopoetic construct permeates the teaching and experience of the Roman Catholic Church, that is: —We are all brothers and sisters under one God the Father; Jesus is our brother; he is the bridegroom of the Church our Holy Mother. Clergy are meant to be spiritual fathers who instruct, forgive, and heal as visible representatives of God’s word. They are also agents of Mother Church who protect her children.

Medieval spirituality was infused with the metaphor of a maternal divinity—God as Mother and Jesus as Mother—each the solicitous divine parent. The phrase, Deus Pater Materque (God, Father and Mother) is forever memorialized in mosaic in some medieval churches (Torcello, 1006 C.E.). Julian of Norwich eloquently articulated “a [maternal] divinity whose chief characteristics are protecting, nurturing and sustaining.” (Long, 1995; Bynum, 1984) [1] The current crisis in the church is the betrayal of the expectations of maternal protection and nurture from mother church. Saint Peter Damian (1149 C.E.) called sexual violation of spiritual children by priests “incest” and implored Pope Leo IX to impose zero tolerance for priests who sodomized children.[2]  

The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has vibrated with shock waves consequent to the widespread knowledge of the existence and extent of priests’ and bishops’ sexual involvement with young people. When the Boston Globe printed its first articles of a “relentless, no-stone unturned investigation” into clergy sexual abuse on January 6, 2002 a seismic shift of unimaginable magnitude reverberated around the world. Bishop Gregory Aymond labeled that moment as “a time of terror…. [for what] was within our family.”[3] The revelations provided the tipping point against deep-seated expectations for purity, protection, and guidance from the Catholic Church and her clergy. The aftershocks resound worldwide in what can be characterized as the biggest religious challenge to Rome and the Vatican since the Protestant Reformation.

The perspective I contribute on this cataclysm is behavioral—harvested from clinical interaction with clerical victims and abusers alike during my participation inside and out of the clerical system. That experience formed the core of a 25-year ethnological report of the celibate/sexual behavior of clergy including sex with minors. (Sipe 1990, 1996)[4] Since that time I have had an opportunity to review hundred thousands of legal document pages that record testimony about Catholic clergy sexual abuse in the United States.  

We can measure what the church has learned about clerical sexual behavior by examining five issues that are foundational to understanding the area of Roman Catholic clergy abuse: secrecy, scandal, crisis, celibacy and culture.  

Secrecy: The explosive public exposure of sex abuse of minors by U.S. Catholic clergy that precipitated the Dallas meeting breached the secret lives of priests and bishops and the secret operational structure of the church as never before in the United States.  

Blind obedience to the pope is demanded of all prelates and its implications are best exemplified in the vow cardinals take, “never to reveal to anyone what is confided to me in secret nor to divulge what could cause damage or dishonor to the Holy Church.”[5] Secrets (not truth) confirm power. Secrecy is a major tool of clerical control and an operational imperative.  The emphasis on secrecy as an essential element of administrative control has led to the production of an ever more fragile house of clerical cards and the escalation of a culture of untruth. The credibility of bishops and clergy, especially in sexual matters, has been cracked to its foundations in America (and Ireland); and as of 2010 European countries are rocking with revelations similar to those familiar to Americans. 

The whole of human sexuality is suffused with an air of secrecy (despite flagrant displays in secular culture); exposure is doubly troublesome for Catholic clergy. According to church teaching all sexual activity outside marriage is considered sinful; serious sins must be submitted to a priest in confession to be kept secret by him. Sexual behavior is customarily exercised in private; acts labeled sin (or perverse) are ordinarily hidden; some behavior is relegated to a “secret life.” Bishops and priests propagate an expectation that they are perfectly celibate and chaste; therefore any sex for them is secret sin. A public relations spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, proclaimed on national television that stories about celibate violations were exaggerated testifying, “I am convinced that 99 and 44/100 percent of priests keep their celibacy”. However, the weight of factual documentation forever crushed the presumption of universal clerical sexual purity. A “scarlet bond” of priestly brotherhood binds the sexual activity of bishops and priests in a circle of secrecy. Violations, even pedophilia, were “family matter” to be kept secret within the clerical circle.

Investigations of clergy abuse conducted in Ireland during the past decade (Ryan Report, May 2009, Murphy Report, November 2009, Clone Report, April 2011) have led to conclusions similar to Grand Jury investigations in the United States, namely: the church mobilized its forces to maintain secrecy, avoid scandal, and preserve material assets and image rather than protect children.[6] **

Documents made public prove beyond any reasonably doubt that some bishops and priests are sexually active even with minor boys and girls and superiors cover up these crimes. Once the well-guarded secret accounts of clergy sex were ruptured they indeed became like Humpty Dumpty. Cardinals, bishops and even the pope cannot render substantiated reports again secret. Proof that they knew and covered for the abusers is documented.  

Sex abuse of minors is only one aspect of a secret world of the church and clergy. Once visited the clerical secret world can never again revert to a terra incognita. Therein rests the scandal of truth. 

Scandal: Canon law and instructions to the faithful are clear. Do not give scandal—that is: do not say or do anything that could damage the image or reputation of priests or the church—or give the enemies of the church ammunition for attacks. There is no question that the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, Ireland, and mainland Europe is embroiled in a major scandal that predictably hinders the pastoral work and efficacy of priests and bishops. They are compromised; in many quarters they are held up to derision and suspicion. Records of individual and corporate immorality are now so broadly disseminated that no revision of history will be able to reverse or neutralize the judgment of priests who believe with Fr. D’Arcy (2010) “that part of the human structure of the church is rotten to the core.”[7]

Nearly half of the U.S. Catholic population (48 percent) believes that more than 6 percent of priests have abused minors (CARA 2007) at the same time many Catholics (33 percent) are aware and satisfied with the bishops’ handling of the crisis. In 2008 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported that, “Approximately one-third of the survey respondents who say they were raised Catholic no longer describe themselves as Catholic. This means that roughly 10% of all Americans are former Catholics.” Although the connection between the proportion of men and women who were raised Catholic yet no longer identify themselves as Catholic and the revelations of the scandalous behaviors of priests and bishops is pregnant for research, no causal relationship has yet been proven.   

But the scandal of abusive clerics achieved such notoriety in the past decade that secular culture is redolent with allusions, references, and jokes about priests and children as if violation of minors, especially boys is “a given” in clerical society. Some of the shocking details of abusive behavior slowly became explicit in legal procedures. Accurate and provocative words like “raped” and “sodomized” became common in press accounts of priests’ behavior.

Public relations were preeminent to counter revelations. Rome learned its importance as the abuse scandal touched home. The Vatican dismissed the scandal as “the petty gossip of dominant opinion” shortly before June 11, 2010 when Pope Benedict XVI insistently begged forgiveness “from God and from the persons involved, while [we promise] to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again” Later the Pope reflected, “The greatest persecution of the church does not come from enemies on the outside, but is born from sin within the church.” Apologies and promises lack meaning while American bishops (or the Pope) maintain a preoccupation with secrecy and scandal-control without any “discernable change” that is the circumstance in 2012. 

The Catholic Church writhes in an uncontrollable and irreversible scandal that includes the ever-expanding knowledge that priests and bishops once presumed celibate, in fact have steady lovers or anonymous sexual encounters, father children, help partners procure abortions, or become addicted to pornography. (Sipe, 2003) Another dimension to the sexual scandal is the significant proportion of clergy who are homosexual—many active—at the same time the Vatican condemns gayness as “intrinsically disordered”. The scandal has monumental consequences. The Catholic Church is in crisis.  

Crisis: The dangers posed by a crisis demand action. Great turning points in history can be traced to the decisions made in response to crisis. The Roman Catholic Church is enmeshed in an-as-yet unaddressed crisis of epic proportions and historic dimensions. The public exposure of the surprising extent of clergy sex abuse of minors (6 to 9 percent in U.S. is documented) and the collusion of bishops to cover up crime is currently some deterrent to clergy abuse. Dallas reactions to the scandal—from oversight and preventive education to public relations—are helpful, but limited by damage control and fall short of any real reform.*** The problem exposed in the scandal is systemic. The crisis dimensions of the scandal are immense by any historical standard and have so far outstripped the capacity of any hierarchy to address them adequately.  

Since the Dallas Accord awareness of clergy abuse has escaped beyond American attention and borders. The Danish physician John-Erik Stig Hansen (2010) said, “Sexual abuse by Catholic priests is a global problem inherent in the way the hierarchy of the Catholic church (sic) functions. This is not new.” What is new are the questions raised, the intensity and urgency of their presentation plus the potential of radical danger to established power systems that decisive change would effect.

The clerical scandal pinpoints the centrality of the crisis—human sexuality. The pope, bishops and priests now do not have sufficient credibility in areas of life and behavior to intervene effectively. Church teaching is largely effete about abortion, sex before marriage, after divorce and remarriage, contraception, homosexual relationships, masturbation, or the use of condoms to avoid HIV exposure. 

The larger challenges of the crisis are not limited to behaviors, but impinge on the structure of ministry— dangerous questions about power. Why is priestly ministry limited to men? Why can’t women be lawfully ordained? Does the all-male-power-structure generate and perpetuate misogyny and homosexual promiscuity? Is mandatory celibacy necessary, or even desirable for diocesan clergy? Should clerical celibacy be perpetual? Is blind obedience to a pope moral? Is the phenomenon of  “creeping” infallibility inconsistent with tradition and destructive to the Christian mission? 

The Roman Catholic Church is in a crisis mode because unsolved issues are vibrant and prominent in the minds of many thoughtful Catholics and crucial to the continued membership of some.  No protestations of sorrow or apologies or amends for the harm inflicted by abusive priests and the neglect of bishops to protect the vulnerable will solve the basic problems exposed by the scandal of abuse. The system—clerical culture—is the arena where decisive battles will be won or lost. The battle lines are drawn as they have been in every reformation era of the church. Crisis questions exposed by the sex abuse scandal are grounded in a clerical culture that some view inadequate and corrupt. Irish priest, Brian D’Arcy (2010) portends the true arc of crisis when he writes, “A combination of bad theology, the dysfunctional abuse of power and a warped view of sexuality, have contributed to…‘the systemic failure’ to protect the most innocent and the most vulnerable children. I believe that the evil clerical culture which pervades our institution right up to the Vatican bureaucracy itself needs to be dismantled.”  

Mandated Celibacy: Religiously motivated clerical celibacy can be generative. It embodies the maternal elements of Christian ministry—to protect, nurture and support the faithful, especially “the little ones” that Jesus called to himself. The violation of this commitment is central to the crisis. The rape of Mother Church’s children merits in Jesus’ words a millstone and drowning—a reaction distinct from the tolerance and cover up practiced by the American and worlds’ bishops. 

Celibate practice and achievement is vital (but unessential) to the Roman Catholic priesthood. It is the one obligation designed to ensure that clergy “adhere to Christ with an undivided heart and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humankind”. (Canon 277) Some lapses of celibate practice (sin) can be humanly expectable and even to a degree tolerable. Reformations ensue when clerical sexual violations reach a magnitude sufficient to destabilize the essential equilibrium between the faith community and the hierarchy/clergy. Violations have reached a degree that has mortally wounded Roman Catholic ministry.  

Sociologist Anson Shupe (2007) has written insightfully about the Roman Catholic expectation of clerical celibacy as le don—(the gift)—the core of the social exchange between the hierarchy/clergy and the members of the faith community.[8] Celibacy is the basic social contract between the Catholic Church and her members. Medieval historian Mayke de Jong hits close to the mark in the statement that it was from sexual purity that the priesthood was believed to derive its power. Of course, the power is in celibacy practiced not merely pledged. Public confidence in the practice of clerical celibacy has currently deteriorated beyond repair. 

Celibacy has conveyed clerical power because it is anchored in the awe inspiring presumption of dedication and selfless sacrifice embodied in the prospect of foregoing all sexual pleasure in order to serve others. The litany of canonized saints—predominantly vowed celibates—sets a standard of perfection and provides examples of heroic service. 

Seemingly impenetrable bulwarks protect mandated celibacy as a requirement for ordination to the priesthood. Millennia-old tradition and centuries-old church law reinforce the claim of validity. Despite lack of scriptural backup and in the face of solid theological dissent recent popes have said that even they do not have the authority to revise the requirement.  

Concern for the protection and preservation of church property—a practical if seemingly mundane reality—staunchly reinforces the celibacy law. This preoccupation is not merely of recent origin (Laeuchli, 1972).[9] Control of clerics’ bodies—has been coupled with questions about control of inheritance and ecclesiastical property (Trexler, 1974)[10]. Of the five duties listed for pastors in 1500 C.E. the first four had to do with the protection of property.

The requirement of a promise of non-marriage and perfect and perpetual chastity prior to priestly ordination—whatever of its undeniable spiritual reality when practiced—is one means of organizational control and power.  

Throughout the centuries the profusion of regulations and penalties concerning priests’ sexual behaviors show how assiduously the Church wanted to control clerical activity, to avoid anything that could compromise the priest’s power over the laity, keep him subservient to authority, and financially dependent.[11] Several Irish priests named their conundrum (Smyth, 2010): “One disturbing aspect [of the crisis] for me is what I call a ‘convenient silence’. Why were we so silent? Why didn’t we speak up?” [12]

Clerical Culture: Roman Catholic clergy live, breath and have their being in a culture that is distinct from secular social groups. Priests and bishops seem like ordinary men, but they operate in a unique reality. Roman Catholic clerical culture is male-dependent and male-dominated. It is a homosocial society in doctrine and operation. There is no other culture that equals it in this regard. Its theological structure is exclusively male: God the father, son Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit are male realities.[13] All ecclesial power and authority is grounded and mediated exclusively by men—pope, cardinals, bishops and priests. They are automatically granted status and respect, even if not assent, in secular society. Despite the fact that nuns (and women) have formed the shock troops and standard bearers of the church their role as “authorities” is strictly limited. Priesthood is denied women. 

Clerical culture is a visible and powerful social and spiritual force that justly merits credit and respect. It also provides great theater. Some external trappings set clergy apart. They render a sense of spiritual security and unyielding tradition especially when dressed in the rainbow range of colorful flowing Mass vestments. Bishops are impressive performing ancient rituals accompanied by plainchant or operatic polyphony. Billowing incense and ballet-like choreographed movement executed in magnificent sacred spaces convey an otherworldly reality. Baptisms, weddings, and funerals are memorialized in towns and villages and made memorable via these men and ritual services.

Roman Catholic clerical culture seems open, apparent, and accessible. It is not.[14]

Prompted by the crisis informed religion writers are beginning to explore the geography of clerical culture (Fox 2009). [15] Its inner terrain is neither obvious nor easily traversed (Papesh 2004).[16] The finer workings of the clerical culture are not fully accessible from the outside. Clerical culture has been intricately constructed and finely honed over a period of centuries.  Indoctrination and inculcation into clerical culture are processes that take time to absorb and understand. They include: the adjustment to the interaction of a an all-male society, in an obedience dominated, authoritarian “total institution,”(Goffman, 1961)[17] established by God, where life-long employment and support are guaranteed, and a single orthodoxy is acceptable, where secrecy is equated with loyalty and is woven into the fiber of operational interactions, and where external appearances—bella figura—take precedence over truth and honesty. All the time members profess perfect chastity. 

The investigation of sexual abuse and the resignation of unparalleled numbers of ordained men from the priesthood has led to greater reflection and investigation of the uniqueness of the clerical culture (Murphy-McGill, 2010).[18] Irish Jesuit, Derek Smyth, (2010) spoke from his heart of knowledge about the clerical system when he said, “For clerical culture, new structures are not sufficient, as there appears to be an innate abuse system within this culture. Even though it may now be forced to address the issue of sexual abuse, abuse may rear its ugly face in other forms.”[19]

Clerical culture is psycopathogenic. That means that the elements that constitute the operation of the celibate culture favor, select, produce, and promote men who tend to be what were formerly termed sociopaths. Nothing has exposed this core of the culture more clearly than the abuse of minors and the involvement of the most exalted members of the hierarchy who cover up for crimes.  

The stated goals of the church are holy, dedicated to truth and service. Claims that clerical culture rewards untruth appears counter intuitive. Operationally the culture’s shared values and practices function to preserve itself regardless of the means used to retain control and image. The clergy sexual abuse crisis has underscored the American bishops’ maneuvers, fair or foul, to avoid scandal, maintain secrecy, and preserve financial assets. Those are the conclusions of Grand Jury Reports (Suffolk Co, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Philadelphia, Kansas City, etc.) and A Report on the Crisis of the Catholic Church in the United States issued by the bishops’ independent review board and chaired by Keating/Burke. (February 27, 2004) 

The dichotomy between the Church’s stated goals and values and its operational methods and practices produces and encourages clerical hypocrisy. Sociopaths (psychopaths) are not men who fail to know right from wrong; they are men who know what is right, but don’t care (Cima, Tonnaer & Hauser, 2010).[20] The advertised altruistic agenda of clerical life makes it an exquisite cover for sociopaths and men vulnerable to narcissism. Work with clerical abusers reveals a profusion of  “altruism in the service of narcissism.” Every clinician who has treated large numbers of priest abusers gives witness to the conclusion that narcissism is a significant personality component of priest predators. 

More broadly, clerical culture produces in many men an acquired situational narcissism, characterized by a sense of entitlement, superiority, lack of empathy, impaired moral judgment and self-centeredness. Identification with and incorporation into a powerful and godly institution can confer a sense of grandiosity and moral justification for one’s personal behavior. These qualities favor a man’s promotion within the clerical system.  

The dynamic between the two sets of opposing values encompass clergy from the ordinary parish priest to cardinals. A study commissioned by the American bishops, (1972 Kennedy-Heckler) [21] indicated that two-thirds of catholic clergy are psychosexually underdeveloped. They claim eight percent of priests are mal-developed; certainly this includes a number who abuse minors. The shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that have been exposed in the sex abuse crisis—so named by the bishops in 2002characterizes the institution of the Church just as much as its stated values and goals do. Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (2008) describes the operation of clerical culture: “Unfortunately there are priests that aim at becoming bishops, and they succeed. There are bishops who don’t speak out because they know they will not be promoted to a higher see, or that it will block their candidacy to the cardinalate. This type of careerism is one of the greatest ills in the church today. It stops priests and bishops from speaking the truth and induces them into doing and saying only what pleases their superiors—something that is a great disservice to the Pope.”[22]

It is important to understand clerical culture because culture trumps reason every time.

Conclusion: The title of this volume—Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: A Decade of Crisis:—is actually a question. What has the Catholic Church learned?  No one in June 2002 could possibly imagine the worldwide scope or dimensions that questions about abuse by Roman Catholic clergy would assume by 2012. The head of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, Wilton Gregory, proclaimed triumphantly in 2004, “the problem is history.”  

My reflections focused on five fundamental issues that impinge on the Catholic Church and underlie its processes of learning about and preventing clergy sex abuse: secrecy, scandal, crisis, mandated celibacy, and clerical culture.  

Secrecy was and remains foundational to the operation of the Catholic clerical world. Reviewing several thousand legal procedures over the past ten years demonstrates to me how assiduously—and violently—American cardinals and bishops fight to keep incriminating and embarrassing documents secret.  

Within a decade, the fulminating scandal fed by revelation upon revelation of Catholic bishops and priests abusing boys and girls and superiors covering up their crime spread like a string of Chinese fire crackers from Boston’s Back Bay to the Vatican and Pope, from Dallas to Dublin and Bishops Conferences around the world. Sex abuse by priests is no longer a secret, but a scandal properly so defined: a widely publicized allegation or set of allegations that damages the reputation of an institution, individual or creed. Clergy abuse of the vulnerable is the biggest scandal the Catholic Church in America has ever faced and most probably equals the Twelfth and Sixteenth Century scandals in Europe. For example: tapes recorded during an April 2010 meeting between a victim, his bishop abuser, and a cardinal (Danneels of Belgium) reveal the prelate urging the victim not to tell anyone that the bishop sexually abused him. The European press claimed the tapes provided some of the most damaging documents to emerge in the scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church. 

Again in 2010 another cardinal, Dario Castrillon Hoyos of Columbia, used the familial argument to defend keeping priest abuse secret saying, “it [reporting priest abusers to the police] would have been like testifying against a family member at trial.” He also claimed in a radio interview reported by the Associated Press “that Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was involved in a 2001 decision to praise a French bishop for shielding a priest who was convicted of raping minors.” 

Not long after February 27, 2004 when the Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States was published and made public along with the John Jay Report Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke who served as interim Chair of the National Review Board said that the bishops did not want change, but only “business as usual.” She spoke in 2010 about the problem of “untruth” she sees in the church and the bishops.

The scandal of sex abuse by Catholic clergy has been a public relations nightmare—gargantuan and impossible. No spin makes gruesome facts go away. Many priests and bishops have violated in criminal ways their responsibilities as representatives of Mother Church. Scandal, of course, is not the real problem no matter how distressing; the crisis of betrayal of Mother Church’s children is the crux of the scandal. However, the question remains: has the church learned anything about truth and transparency in the past decade?  

There is wide based agreement that the Catholic Church is in a crisis mode. The crisis has to do with human sexuality—specifically bishops and priests who present themselves as celibate and chaste while they violate minors and the vulnerable under the cloak of their religion. The denial, rationalization, lies, and cover up of clerical crime by Church authority is in evidence and provides an ongoing scandal and crisis. 

There are repeated calls for the abrogation of the requirement of celibacy for ordination to the priesthood. Whatever the merits of the arguments, they will not solve all the problems of clerical sexual malfeasance. Bishops and priests exist in, maintain, and assiduously preserve a clerical culture within which secret sexual activity by clergy is tolerated. 

 Celibacy and chastity are taught in an educational mode and structure established for diocesan clergy at the Council of Trent. That tradition is dependent on a monastic-like schedule (horarium) and a system of sacramental confession and spiritual directors. It is no longer effective. Despite rules and screening procedures a significant number of clerical candidates are sexually active with one another or with priests—sometimes faculty. Celibate observance of religious order clerics has not proved better. But sexual activity in the clerical culture is not introduced from the bottom-up—from candidates for ordination—but from men established in the culture—priests, spiritual directors, rectors, superiors, even bishops. Homosexuality is a predominant operational orientation in clerical culture form Rome to Los Angeles.[23]

Culture always trumps reason. Is it possible to revise clerical culture? History, theology and human nature all conspire in favor of reforming dysfunctional systems eventually. Theologically, clerical culture is mutable, no matter how firmly grounded in custom and tradition. Jesuit Bernard Lonergan (1967) wrestling with the possibility of  “transition of organization and structural forms in the Church” said among other things: “there is in the historicity, which results from human nature, an exigence for changing form, structures, methods; and it is on this level and through this medium of changing meaning that divine revelation has entered the world and that the Church’s witness is given to it.”[24]

Literary critic, Lionel Trilling (1965) talks about the power of forces that change culture. Somewhere in the mind “there is a hard, irreducible, stubborn core of biological urgency, and biological necessity, and biological reason, that culture cannot reach and that reserves the right, which sooner or later it will exercise, to judge culture and resist and revise it.”[25] There is hope.

Prevention of sexual abuse by priests and bishops presents a daunting agenda. A revision of clerical culture is required to deal effectively with clergy sexual violations of every stripe. The burden transcends the capacities and limits of law and psychiatry and rests squarely on the very core of religion and spiritual transformation—in theologian Bernard Haering’s words on “absolute sincerity and transparency.” Prevention will not occur without discussion of the realities of sexuality, celibacy, and the development of explicit and honest norms for sexual responsibility and accountability for human behavior on every level of the church. The darkness of secrecy breeds betrayal, abuse and violent assault. Revelations over the last decade have proved that. A Mother Church, that sustains, nourishes and, protects her children demands light, accountability, openness and truth. That is the task unveiled over the past ten years. It is vital that the Church respond. Any church that cannot tell the truth about itself runs the risk of having nothing significant to be heard. 

*This appears as a chapter in Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: A Decade of Crisis, 2002-2012. Plante & McChesney, Eds. 2011. 

** The first Grand Jury investigation of sexual abuse within any diocese in the United States was that of Rockville Center, New York by the Suffolk County Supreme Court issued January 17, 2003. The conclusions of every other Grand Jury report of a US diocese are similar:

“The response of priests in the diocesan hierarchy to allegations of criminal sexual abuse was not pastoral—In fact, although there was a written policy that set a pastoral tone—It  Was a Sham"… “Victims were deceived; priests who were civil attorneys portrayed themselves as interested in the concerns of victims and pretended to be acting for their benefit while they acted only to protect the diocese”… “These themes framed a system that left thousands of children in the diocese exposed to predatory, serial child molesters working as priests.” P.106

 The evidence before the Grand Jury clearly demonstrates that diocesan officials agreed to engage in conduct that resulted in the prevention, hindrance and delay in the discovery of criminal conduct by priests. They conceived and agreed to a plan using deception and intimidation to prevent victims from seeking legal solutions to their problems.”- P.173.

***Although the bishops of Manchester, New Hampshire and Phoenix, Arizona were considered candidates for indictment on charges of child endangerment, civil authorities made accommodations for them to avoid legal action. Only in March 2011 was a chancery official, Msgr. William Lynn, indicted for criminal child endangerment as a result of a Philadelphia Grand Jury report. On October 14, 2011 Bishop Finn of Kansas City, Missouri became the first US bishop indicted for failing to report a priest child abuser. The records of many Catholic dioceses and religious orders are justly vulnerable for similar criminal actions. Prosecutors in Los Angeles spent years investigating Cardinal Roger Mahony, the former leader of the L.A. archdiocese, and other top officials. The facts are not entirely apparent what led prosecutors the last year to conclude that they lacked sufficient evidence to bring charges against Mahony. That story has yet to be told.

[1] Long, Thomas L. (1984). “Julian of Norwich's Christ as Mother and Medieval Constructions of Gender”; also Cf. Caroline W. Bynum, (1984). Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages.

[2] Peter Damian. (1990). Letter 31. Vol. 2. Trans Blum. Washington, D.C.: CUA Press.

[3] Aymond, Bishop Gregory. (2007). Woodstock Report. June. “Six Major Lessons Learned from the Sex Abuse Crisis”. “First: June 2002 was a time of terror…it was within our family.” Secondly, “errors that Church leaders made. Thirdly, “experienced the sin, the infidelity, the brokenness of individual clergy and of the Church Leadership.” The final three points are more academic. Currently he serves New Orleans as archbishop.

[4] Sipe, A.W.R. (1990). A Secret World: Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy; (1996). Sex, Priests, and Power: The Anatomy of a Crisis. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

[5] English translation 1988; also 2003.

[6] Grand Jury Reports: (2003) Suffolk County NY; Massachusetts; (2005-11) Philadelphia; etc.

[7] Fr. Brian D’Arcy. (2010). New Catholic Times. Dublin, February 1.

[8] Shupe, Anson. (2007). The Spoils of the Kingdom: Clergy Misconduct and Religious Community. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois.

[9] Laeuchli, Samuel. (1972). Power and Sexuality: Emergence of Canon Law at the Council of Elvira. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

[10] Trexler, Richard. (1971). Synodal Law in Florence and Fiesole, 1306-1518. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana: Citta Del Vaticano.

[11]Doyle, Sipe, Wall. (2006). Sex, Priests & Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2000-year paper trail of sexual abuse. Los Angeles: Volt Press.

[12] Smyth, S.J. Fr. Derek. (2010). The Irish Times. February 9.

[13] Although Holy Ghost/Spirit is predominantly a masculine reality some minor mystical/historical reflections on the Spirit as a female principle exist.

[14] Kluckhohn, Clyde & Kroeber, Alfred (1952). Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. New York: Harvard series. This critical thinker and anthropologist compiled a list of 164 definitions of culture.

[15] Fox, Thomas C. (2009). “Cardinal Bernardin, clerical culture, nuns and homosexuals”. National Catholic Reporter. August 10.

[16] Papesh, Michael L. (2004). Clerical Culture: Contradiction and Transformation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

[17] Goffman, Irvin. (1961). Asylums: Essays in the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. [prisons and monasteries are included] New York: Doubleday.

[18] Murphy-Gill, Meghan. (2010). “Is clerical culture to blame?” U.S. Catholic.March 25.

[19] Smyth, S.J., Fr. Derek. (2010). The Irish Times. February 9.

[20] Cima, Tonnaer & Hauser. (2010). “Psychopaths Know Right from Wrong but Don’t Care.”

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience: August 11.

[21] Kennedy, Eugene & Heckler, Victor. (1972). The Catholic Priest in the United States: Psychological Investigation. Collegeville Minnesota: the Liturgical Press.

[22]Martini, Cardinal Maria. (2008). The TABLET. London: June, 14.

[23] I Milinari. (2004) Shroud of Silence: An account of sex in the Vatican by five staff members. [Translated from the original Italian that was banned in Italy and published in Canada]. In 2006

Cardinal William Levada told students at the North American College in Rome that they should keep their sexual orientation secret. In 2009 Cardinal Roger told his priests to handle priest sex abuse as a “family matter”.

[24] Lonergan, Bernard J.F. (1967). A Second Collection. “The Transition from a Classicist World-View to Historical-Mindedness.” Ryan & Tyrrell, Eds. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. (1974).

[25] Trilling, Lionel. (1965). Beyond Culture. 1978. New York: Harcourt.