Friday, June 11, 2010

It's All The Devil's Fault

The Devil's priestly victims gather to listen to the chief victim.

Pope sees the Devil behind timing of sex abuse crisis
by John L Allen Jr - National Catholic Reporter - Jun. 11, 2010

Since the Catholic sexual abuse crisis erupted a decade ago, there have been numerous attempts to explain its causes, from a lack of fidelity to an over-emphasis on celibacy and clerical privilege. This morning in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI pointed to a deeper unseen force lurking behind the crisis, especially its timing: the Devil.

It’s no accident, the pope implied, that precisely as the Catholic church was celebrating a “Year for Priests” in 2009-2010, the sexual abuse crisis once again took on massive global proportions.
“It was to be expected that this new radiance of the priesthood would not be pleasing to the ‘enemy,’” Benedict XVI said. “He would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world.” (I hate to be a party pooper, but one could also see this just the exact opposite. What if it was the work of the Holy Spirit exposing the hidden clerical abuses of the 'enemy'?)

The term "the enemy" is a traditional Catholic way of referring to the Devil.

The line drew applause from the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for a Mass bringing the "Year for Priests" to a close. The Vatican said that some 15,000 priests from more than 90 countries were on hand for the event.

Benedict said that the sexual abuse of minors amounts to a direct contradiction of the meaning of the Catholic priesthood.

“So it happened in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light – particularly the abuse of the little ones, in which the priesthood, whose task is to manifest God’s concern for our good, turns into its very opposite,” the pope said.

Those comments came as part of Benedict’s homily for the closing Mass of the “Year for Priests," which also marked the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Benedict XVI did not allude to recent criticism of his own role, or that of the Vatican, in responding to the crisis.
(Of course not, it's the devil, not the system.)

In the run-up to this morning's Mass, some had speculated that Benedict might use the occasion to unveil dramatic new policy measures on the sexual abuse crisis. In fact, the pope did not announce any new initiatives, but instead referred to the crisis in a more spiritual key as a “summons to purification.” (Yes, God forbid it be seen as a call for accountability and transparency--or for reform of the clerical system.)

As he has on numerous occasions in the past, the pope apologized both to God and to the victims of abuse, and pledged to prevent such abuse in the future.

“We insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again,” the pope said.
“In admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation, we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey, so that the Lord will protect them and watch over them in troubled situations and amid life’s dangers,” he said. (Yes, this has worked so well in the past, this notion of trust the system to fix the system. Kind of like BP.)

Had the “Year for Priests” been merely a celebration of the human performance of priests, Benedict said, it would have been ruined by the revelations of the sexual abuse crisis. Instead, he said, the crisis should make the church embrace its faith in God with new “courage and humility.” (Why? Because we're supposed to be afraid of your definition of the devil?)

Later, Benedict XVI invoked the image of the shepherd’s rod, saying that using the rod to correct those who go astray can be a “service of love.” (Oh my.)

The use of the rod, the pope said, clearly applies to taking a firmer hand on the sexual abuse crisis.

“Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated,” he said. (He got this right. The question is what took so long for our 'leadership' to see this simple fact.)

On other matters, Benedict XVI rejected a “functionalist” understanding of the priesthood, treating it as comparable to other jobs or professional roles. Instead, the pope insisted, the priesthood is not an office but a sacrament.

Ultimately, he said, the priesthood expresses the “audacity of God,” who considers flawed men capable of “acting and being present in his stead.”

The pope argued that a priest must make present a God who is actively involved in the affairs of the world and in individual human lives, as opposed to the unknown deities of the ancient world or the “watchmaker” God of the Enlightenment, who creates the world and then withdraws from it. (A priest has no control over the relationship between God and a given person. To even think this implies the priesthood has some control over God, but then that is the assumption of Benedict's idea of priesthood.)

God actively looks after the world, the pope insisted, including laying down clear moral laws – not to control human beings, but to see them flourish.

“Wherever God’s loving concern is perceived as getting in the way, human beings go awry,” he said.

“We understand that these rules from God are not chains, but the way which he is pointing out to us,” the pope said. “As priests, we need to communicate to others our own joy at the fact that we have been shown the right way.”

In addition to being firm on sexual abuse, the pope also called for greater vigilance about deviations from the faith.

It has nothing to do with love, Benedict XVI said, “if heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away, as if it were something that we ourselves had invented.”
That remark likewise drew applause, the only other time the crowd this morning interrupted the pope's homily to affirm a particular line. (Projection, projection, projection.)

As a footnote, Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the former Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II and still the dean of the College of Cardinals, was a principal concelebrant of this morning's Mass. It was Sodano's first major appearance alongside the pope since his remarks at the Easter Sunday liturgy, comparing criticism of Benedict XVI on the sexual abuse crisis to "petty gossip," drew wide international criticism. (Wow, Benedict is either totally blind or totally pig headed, since Sodano is the poster child for the excesses of clericalism.)


First off I think it is notable that the only two lines which drew applause were the lines about the devil being behind the attack on the priesthood and that heresies are chipping away at the faith. This tells me everything I need to know about the mindset of the people who were in attendance. They see themselves and the Pope as blameless in the face of these two ancient enemies of the Church. They may be victims, but they are not part of the problem, they are the solution.

Catholicism as a viable force for good in post modern society is in serious trouble. If there are any hierarchical authorities out there who really care about this Church, they need to man up and stop this papal march to oblivion. The laity in the first world need to stop supporting this idiocy because it really does promote misery in the developing world, laying the burden of that misery unfairly on the backs of the poor, especially women and children. That's what Liberation Theology was all about. It's one those 'heresies' that threaten the rich and the complacent and the self centered savers of their own souls. If this is the devil's work then Christianity has been flipped on it's head and Benedict wants me to believe black is white and white is black.

To be honest, I am at a loss for words. Maybe I'm just not 'simple' enough for Benedict.


  1. "We insistently beg forgiveness from God..."

    Bolding is mine. Really? There wasn't a better choice of words here? 'Incessantly' would be the word I’d have used as it indicates true humility. ‘Insistently’ tells me that Mr. Pontiff is looking to further transgress against his victims. As in ‘you simply must forgive me and I won’t stop harassing you until you do’. This is NOT true repentance of any kind in my view. Am I the only person who is struck this way?

  2. Good catch anon. That is truly an interesting word choice. It sort of goes with a point I brought up in yesterday's post. Benedict sure looks like he is demanding God answer his prayers the way Benedict wants them answered. That is not the hallmark of a person who has made any spiritual progess at all. That is scarey indeed.

  3. While the Pope "insistently" begs for forgiveness from God and from those who were abused, he ignores the cries from the Laity for the Priests and the Pope to forgive Liberation theologians, progressives and liberals, women priests, gays for having a different opinion and who did not abuse anyone.

    The Pope is not in relationship with the People of God. He is at war against the People of God and will not even listen as he has closed his eyes and his ears and insists on condemning anyone and everyone who does not agree with his world view or his narrow view of God. He is the Chief Priest for Catholic Pharisees who value canon law and external rituals more than in valuing human beings as children of God. The Pope's view of "shepherding" is to use the rod rather than the love of God to unite us to our brother, Jesus.

    "The use of the rod, the pope said, clearly applies to taking a firmer hand on the sexual abuse crisis."

    Sounds like a warning of a pronouncement for physical abuse if one is caught in sexual abuse. Not a very Christian response if you ask me. It is an Opus Dei's members answer though as resorting to violence, even against themselves, is seen as "love."

    St Teresa of Avila would often say "God save me from pious nuns." I say, God save us from pious Popes and priests and laity who believe that a whooping is loving!

    This papacy is creating more violent people. The Pope is blind.

  4. "The use of the rod, the pope said, clearly applies to taking a firmer hand on the sexual abuse crisis."

    Good God. You couldn't make this stuff up. I'm getting a little queasy.

    Satan? Benedict is about as relevant as the Church Lady

  5. I realize what you gave us here were "extracts" but honestly when you try to "grasp" how Benedict views the priesthood and the sexual abuse crisis and how the laity should apparently simply obey the priest, I have a hard time grasping what in the heck he's getting at. It all sounds "made up" - defensive - as if he's grasping for "meaning" but everything he says is such a 'stretch' that altogether it begins to look like the ravings of someone who's gone round the bend... and is describing his 'visions' which simply don't "hang together" - and one by one they hardly hang alone.

    I keep searching for a description of his strange verbiage... and it begins to sound almost like Sarah Palin. Abstraction upon abstraction - whether pro or con. Assertion after assertion. But what in the heck does it all mean? Other than: I have spoken. Trust what I say. This is how I want you to see and believe and obey.

    Very strange manner of speaking... And no way can I glean meaning out of the words...

  6. "insistently beg"

    Ok, maybe "insistently demand" or maybe "humbly beg" - but the two together form a paradox. And that's characteristic of the strange, strange "presentation" of words (for it's not even a strung together series of thoughts... but rather a bunch of words that, to me at least, bear no discernible meaning). It's not even "thinking" - just strings of words that sort of paint a rosy picture. Again - a fantasy of sorts, but not even a well strung together fantasy.

    I keep stretching to describe it. And it's not just this time and these words - it's his style of "communicating" (though it doesn't communicate!).

  7. I know exactly what you mean TheraP. It's sometimes like two different people are speaking in the same sentence, or he's trying to put together two different trains of thought, or something.

    I can't get how a man whose supposed to be theologically sophisiticated comes up with this kind of juvenile spirituality. I'm frequently left in a state of cognitive dissonance. Maybe he is too.

  8. "He [i.e. the devil] would have rather preferred to see it [i.e. the priesthood] disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world."

    This man's vision of the priesthood is idolatrous, if he thinks God is present in the world only because of the priesthood.

  9. Prickliest that has truly struck me about this entire year. Benedict has been desparately attempting to make an idol of the priesthood. It's a form of Catholicism where the sacramental magic of the priesthood makes the priest God Himself--and by extension the Papacy most God like.

    In the end, it's really been all about Benedict.

  10. ## That's one more for my list of excuses - satandunnit.

    This is no better than "The devil made me do it" - the type of thinking is the same.

  11. Satan is very real, exists, & is allowed by God to tempt us...and succeeds often enough.

    But what Ratzy is doing here is rather brilliantly complex. He is not just hiding behind the Devil ('he made us do it'). No, it is far craftier.

    In his parlance 'the Devil' is personified in the Church by those who refuse to be mindlessly obedient to the clergy. Who will not shut up about the abuse crisis. Who want what the Gospel mandates; justice & equity for all.

    The 'influence of the Devil' will be routed by more strict OBEDIENCE to the the model of Opus Dei.

    As to 'we insistently beg forgiveness from God..." this shows that he does not believe in God.

    For starters, there is no point in asking forgiveness if you are not really sorry. If you cannot put aside ALL pretenses & excuses, and say: 'it is MY fault'. That is the basis of true contrition.

    Neither Ratzinger nor the majority of the hierarchy truly think they have done anything wrong. At best, some of them may be sorry it happened. But they are NOT sorry for their individual personal involvement - be it great or small. Nor are they sorry for what they have done to the abuse victims.

    ...or to Christ, whom they have wounded by their sins.

    Once I am truly sorry....with no blame-shifting, equivocating, or rationalizing.....admitting to God that I have done "X" & am sorry for breaking His Law, offending my friendship with Him AND for the hurt I have caused to my brothers & sisters......I only need to say "I'm sorry" to God once.

    He is neither deaf nor too busy to hear me. Once is enough, and He forgives me. Then I atone for what I have done via some sort of penance/sacrifice/mode of amendment.

    But to 'insistently beg...' means I lack Faith. And Jesus taught that Faith is necessary to being made whole.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  12. "In addition to being firm on sexual abuse, the pope also called for greater vigilance about deviations from the faith."

    The greatest "deviations from the faith" are the abusive priests and their enablers. Who is going to be vigilant about their conduct when it comes to so-called "deviations" from the faith?

    Does Opus Dei determine what these "deviations" are? In my humble opinion, the entire notion that forbids freedom of conscience that this Pope desires to straightjacket into the forbidden has less to do with faith in God and more to do with a "deviation from the faith."

  13. The dismantling of Vatican II by this Pope seems a "deviation of the faith."

    The "visitation" / Inquisition of the women religious "liberals" is a "deviation of the faith."

    Creating a political situation in the US whereby women are at the mercy of priests who are not doctors who will dictate their "faith" (which is a deviation from Christ's teachings) in matters of their own health and general well being for their children and families.

    The Pope is interfering, crossing a boundary into matters in which he is not capable of spiritually handling by playing a part in which he sees himself as "god", in my humble opinion, because his view of "faith" and the Papacy itself is a deviation of the faith.

  14. Regarding the staff of the shepherd. Was its use to punish or was it for the shepherd to lean upon and a symbol for God.... to rely on God.... to lean on God..... for the shepherd's walk with the Lord.....????

    Is the Pope misunderstanding the purpose of a shepherd's rod?

  15. Furthermore, I find it pertinent that Benedict has a literal sense of the scriptures in its parts in much the same way as a musician who only knows how to read & rely on the written score of a musical composition and has a strict adherence to just playing the notes on the page and believes playing it differently is a "deviation" from the intentions of the composer.

    The written score is only a guide of tempo, rhythm, key and not how to play the piece and is not the emotional content of the piece of music. A conductor chooses how he/she believes the composer intended the music to be played and it may or may not actually be what the composer intended at all.

    It is interesting to note that Benedict is a musician of sorts, or at least I have heard he does play the piano. The classical composers he admires so much, and as well so do many, were very skilled at improvisation. Improvisation played a larger role during the time of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. It has only been recently, in the last hundred years or so that the written score has become more important than improvisation.

    When we write our words here, we are improvisational writers. We do not solely rely upon the quotes of others, or a Catechism, or of translations dictated to us. We are able to see the forest for the trees and gather the emotional content in much the same way that a improvisational artist would.

    I may post some of these ideas on one of my sites. For more info on this see

  16. Continued from that thought: It has only been recently, in the last hundred years or so that the written score has become more important than improvisation.

    "One of this controversy relates to the fact that this score-centric approach has lead to performing styles that emphasize metrically strict block-rhythms (just as the music is notated in the score). This eventually led Sol Babitz to speak of "sewing machine Bach".
    Some quotes that highlight this criticism of modernist overvaluing of the score:
    [...]one of the most stubborn modern misconceptions concerning baroque music is that a metronomic regularity was intended (Baroque Interpretation in Grove 5th edition by Robert Donington)
    Too many teachers, conditioned to 20th Century ideas, teach Bach and other Baroque music exactly the wrong way. This leads to what musicologist Sol Babitz calls "sewing machine Bach."[25]
    [...] tendency to look alike, sound alike and think alike. The conservatories are at fault and they have been at fault for many years now. Any sensitive musician going around the World has noted the same thing. The conservatories, from Moscow and Leningrad to Juilliard, Curtis and Indiana, are producing a standardized product.
[...] clarity, undeviating rhythm, easy technique, "musicianship". I put the word musicianship in quotes, because as often as not, it is a false kind of musicianship - a musicianship that sees the tree and not the forest, that takes care of the detail but ignores the big picture; a musicianship that is tied to the printed note rather than to emotional meaning of a piece.
The fact remains that there is a dreadful uniformity today and also an appalling lack of knowledge about the culture and performance traditions of the past. (Music Schools Turning out Robots?[25] by Harold C. Schonberg)"

    This all sounds so familiar to me regarding the teaching of the RCC and where it has straight-jacketed creativity and freedom of conscience and thought.

  17. Benedict it seems is creating a sewing machine Catholicism and sewing machine priests.

    word verif is fistical

  18. Fistical as opposed to mystical......

  19. Butterfly -

    Your observations about Ratz & classical music - and of modern classical music performance is totally...right on!:)

    I know a wee bit about classical music myself & I could not agree more. It is also an excellent comparison basis for the 'radiant priesthood' which Ratz speaks of:

    It stinks.

    I have heard my share of 'well qualified organists' for whom only a shotgun would correct their "technique".

    Sure...they have this & that degree, & studied with some exalted teachers. But they FLAY...nor PLAY... music. All the notes are correct, but not one iota of sensitivity or genuine musicianship is present.

    As a clue: hymns are not 'run-on sentences'. One plays punctuation marks as minor breathing rests. So you should play it as you would speak the words. And there should be small 'rests' between each verse. For breath - and dignity. The music must 'speak' the meaning of the words of a hymn.

    Then there is the matter of adding something of yourself to everything you play. Making the music 'tell a story'. Only when it does, have you truly made a piece 'your own'.

    On top of all this, most organists (from observation) do not believe in God. Or at best as an abstract concept....or talking point.

    Why would priests hire such ppl as organists? Because they correctly reflect their own....'faith'.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  20. Butterfly:

    Thanks for the musical analogy. And it literally reminds me of a patient of mine from long ago. He had difficulty "practicing" though he was an extremely accomplished piano player - in a university music program. So I suggested to him to improvise when he practiced (and this was for stuff like Bach and Mozart etc.). I told him to play for himself when he practiced, reminded him that in those days improvisation was the "rule" and the score written down as a guide. So to "practice" by improvising and then, when he went to his teacher, to play the music "as just one version" of how it "could" be played.

    And that image of yours is such an excellent image of our lives and of God. God created us as unique persons - irreplaceable. And there is no way God was looking for humanity to behave like "soldiers" presenting themselves for "inspection" and marching in lock step. Jesus never expected that of his disciples. So God presents us with themes we can "play" but it seems to me "harmony" is the goal, not slavish idolatry of the "score" as presented by a faraway old man who has never had to earn his keep or work within the give and take of a close relationship.

    Seems to me that God is the "conductor" - the Spirit invisibly nurturing and blowing breath into the beautiful music of each life and the beauty of the whole. But the pope wants to 'assume' that role, dares to assert that we should follow his music, instead of listening to the voice of our Beloved Counselor/Conductor - whispering within.

    If the pope believes the Spirit wants him to be a robot, then let him obey that. But the Spirit within me is NOT whispering: Be a robot. Nor do I hear "worship the pope".

    Even these vestments! They do not promote "harmony" in my view. They are discordant. They distract, draw attention to the wearer. God loves hiddenness, I think. God loves to hide within the human heart, within the beauty of nature, within every facet of the universe. God clothes himself with creation.

    I think the pope has gone off the rails!

  21. Great Comments. Butterfly on my first read through the analogy that came to mind went even further. It's as if he's decided not only should everyone play from the same score but we should all play the instrument--except for the clerical caste which play the drums and maintain the rythm.

    And then I thought the only composer we're allowed to play is John Phillip Sousa as we march along in unison.

  22. Mouse - "Sure...they have this & that degree, & studied with some exalted teachers. But they FLAY...nor PLAY... music. All the notes are correct, but not one iota of sensitivity or genuine musicianship is present."

    There is something deeper that we must enter into that makes music or scripture come alive in us and mirror life, bring life that is good for the soul and our well being.

    Are you a musician Mouse?

    TheraP, that was a great suggestion you gave to your patient, to improvise. To improvise is to contemplate perhaps. Agreed, the "conductor" for the great composer is God's Holy Spirt for God's divine purposes, a divine mentor, always guiding the composer to get beyond the self and this world and enter into the spirit of which is sent to teach the soul something it needs to know for its enlightenment, growth, and for God's purposes. One is transformed in the process.

    Thank you also TheraP for posting on your blog a link to Sister Wendy. I've been having trouble logging into your blog. I actually understood what she was talking about in the process of contemplating. It is the same process at work when I read something. There has to be some time to contemplate and listen for the spirit to enlighten us, to grasp the meaning of things. One also learns about the self in the process.

    Schools don't teach this stuff. They teach one to go into the world and get a job and now there are a lot of unhappy people doing things in which they never get to know who they really are. Everyone's a boss and controlling. Most are lost in some corporate Sousa band playing the same tune day in and day out. The world is more geared to what people want or need for themselves as material things, to take care of their material needs, and not the things that will bring them peace, love and joy. The banks steal our lives when the payment for housing is bankrupting us.

    The world takes advantage of the energy of its youth for its own purposes. The Church hierarchy does the same thing utilizing the same rules of judgmentalism & control. What really gets to me is that I am an outsider in my own Church & yet I am connected to God. I am an outsider in the music world which has become very ghettoized into genres. I don't seem to fit in anywhere in this world today.