Notre Dame Ducks!

Once again @NotreDame ducks, this time during the most important crisis the Church has faced in a long time, the sexual abuse calamity. #GoCatholicND Click To Tweet

As it becomes ever clearer that the McCarrick episode is at the epicenter of the sexual assault tumult, Father Jenkins’s decision to leave in place the Archbishop’s honorary degree until some distant proceeding in Rome, should it ever occur, becomes ever more perplexing and disturbing.

As we have shown, the revocation of Bill Cosby’s honorary degree upon conviction and before appeal is compelling precedent for revoking Archbishop McCarrick’s honorary degree right now. Father Jenkins’s assertion that, instead, the Cosby precedent supports his action is so transparently baseless that one must wonder what the real reason could be.

In our previous bulletin, we said that a special reason for Notre Dame’s following Catholic University, Fordham University, and Portland University in rescinding McCarrick’s honorary degree is to avoid the inference that Notre Dame is holding back because of its long relationship with McCarrick.

There is another reason that has become more important because the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report has again spotlighted homosexual assault as the dominant feature of the sexual abuse calamity. In his preying on boys, seminarians, and young priests, McCarrick is the archetypical clerical offender. Notre Dame should be seen as at least as repelled by this behavior as it was by Cosby’s assaults on women.

Before we proceed in our analysis of new developments, we should mark the general boundaries of our inquiry.

News about the reignited sexual assault disaster has unfolded in so many directions so rapidly that a decent sense of our limitations obliges us to leave to others the coverage of many aspects of this story. That includes for the most part the allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano about the involvement of Pope Francis in the McCarrick affair.

Still, since we are following these developments closely, we may from time to time refer our readers to resources that we think might be helpful with respect to issues we bypass. To that purpose, you will find here a comprehensive analysis of the Vigano affair sent to us by an alumnus; here a briefer evaluation by an informed commentator; and here an essay on the Pope’s silence that, while critical, does cite papal defenders.

What we will deal with in this and subsequent bulletins are aspects of the crisis that more directly relate to Notre Dame – this time, more on the McCarrick honorary degree issue in light of the Pennsylvania grand jury report as well as a report on the recent appearance on campus of one of the McCarrick/Vigano players, Cardinal Joseph Tobin.

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report – McCarrick, The Paradigmatic Offender

We have examined every file of sexual abuse in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. While one would not suspect it from the news coverage, the Report largely tells what we already know from the 2004 and 2011 reports of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, though in much more detail.

The news is good and bad now, as it was then.

  • The bad news is first, of course, the damage done to so many innocent young victims by so many priest predators. While the report includes a number of questionable incidents, the catalog of truly awful cases is large and appalling.
  • The second piece of bad news is the way some bishops tried to hide or deflect some complaints or were slow to take action. There is more about that here than in the John Jay reports. But dark as the record is in some places, it doesn’t come remotely close to supporting this wildly extravagant declaration by the grand jury:

But all of them [the complaints] were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institutions above all.

The Report is plainly a political document, and that is too bad, but it should be taken seriously nonetheless because of the facts it discloses.

  • The good news is that, while sexual abuse has not been wiped out, the crisis appears to be over. The Pennsylvania data track the national data. Sexual assaults began mounting in the 1960’s, peaked in the 1970’s and 1980’s, fell sharply in the 1990’s (27 cases), and bottomed out in the 2000’s.
    Specifically, there were six cases in the decade beginning in 2000 and have been four so far in the 2010 decade. The grand jury could find only two individuals to indict, one for a 1991 offense (a guilty plea) and the other for alleged offenses between 2004 and 2010 (contested). (The statute of limitations is 12 years or before the victim turns 50.)
    The short of it is that the procedures put into effect by the bishops beginning in the 1990’s and more comprehensively in 2002 and the efforts of those manning Catholic schools have made them safe places for children.
     The Grand Jury acknowledged this, if somewhat grudgingly, in a section of the report that might as well have been in Sanskrit for all the publicity it got:

We recognize that much has changed over the last fifteen years…. It appears that the church is now advising law enforcement of abuse reports more promptly. Internal review processes have been established. Victims are no longer quite so invisible.

  • Finally, the data confirm that clerical sexual abuse is overwhelmingly homosexual. Of the 244 files in which the sex of the victims is recorded, 201 (82%) were male and only 43 (18% ) were female. And of the 10 cases since 2000, only one involved a female victim.
    This 82% figure is astonishingly close to the 81% homosexual abuse proportion in the massive John Jay College of Justice report covering    1950-2002. And the proportion of male victims is surely even higher because the homosexual predators were more likely to be serial abusers.
    This heavy preponderance of male victims is even more striking than may appear because it runs counter to sexual abuse of minors outside the Church, where “studies have consistently shown that in general girls are three times more likely to be abused than boys.”
  • Note we are talking about pederasty, not pedophilia. Almost all the cases involved adolescents, together with some pre-adolescents and young men.

This is only the beginning of these potentially catastrophic investigations. Thumping the Catholic Church over child abuse is a profitable pastime for a good many politicians. So far, investigations have been announced in six states : New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and New Mexico.

It is in this context of this calamity that Father Jenkins treats Archbishop McCarrick, its archetypical offender against boys, seminarians, and young priests, with more forbearance than Bill Cosby.

Homosexuals as Priests

Of course, only a very small percentage of homosexual priests have been abusers, and there are countless numbers of good and holy homosexual priests.  Nevertheless, the Vatican has long considered it unwise to ordain homosexuals. As early as 1961 the Vatican declared that homosexuals “should be barred” from seminaries,”  “since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers.”

But this injunction was widely ignored, so that the disclosure in the early 2000s of widespread clerical sexual abuse was accompanied by a number of accounts of homosexual influence and sexual activity in seminaries. Citing Notre Dame’s the late Rev. Richard P. McBrien, “a leading liberal theologian,” Ross Dothan has described how “seminaries became known for their gay subcultures” — “Pink Palaces” – “which in turn tended to turn off heterosexual candidates” (Bad Religion (2012) pp. 97-8). As McBrien told PBS,

Men who may have a genuine vocation to go into a seminary feel very alienated by the gay culture. I don’t say this in any homophobic way. It’s just a fact.

When the consequences in terms of sexual assaults became clear, Pope Benedict in 2005 reinforced the ban of persons with “deep seated homosexual tendencies.”

And just this past May Pope Francis instructed Italian bishops on this issue, “If in doubt, better not let them enter.”

Still,  it is certain there are a large, if indeterminate, number of homosexual priests among the clergy. Estimates range from ten to sixty percent. And, again, there is reason to doubt how rigorously the  ban has been honored. Unhappily, reports of a “homosexual subculture” in the Church from bottom to top are beginning again in the wake of the McCarrick scandal.

Archbishop Vigano, for example,  wrote:

These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders . . . strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church.

And Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, in a statement on the Vigano letter, declared:

It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord.

As if by way of proof, the Boston and New Jersey seminaries are now under scrutiny amid reports of homosexual misconduct.

How About Notre Dame?

Fortunately, there have been no reported clerical sexual assault cases at Notre Dame for some time. But in his First Things article Why Men Like Me Shouldn’t be Priests, homosexual Catholic author Daniel C. Mattson points to a more subtle but no less important danger from the presence of homosexual priests:

Thus, a grave problem with homosexual priests is the high number of them who don’t agree with the Church’s teaching on sexual morality and covertly (or overtly) undermine this teaching, both in the pulpit and in the confessional.

It would unduly extend this bulletin to review the actions and events at Notre Dame that have been in tension with the Church’s teaching, but we will do so shortly. For now, we close with a report about what Cardinal Joseph Tobin had to say last week at Notre Dame.

Cardinal Tobin at Notre Dame

On August 31, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, spent a day at Notre Dame giving an address and meeting with faculty, students, and seminarians. If there is an investigation into the McCarrick affair, Cardinal Tobin will be a subject. A successor to McCarrick in Newark, Tobin has acknowledged he heard “rumors” about McCarrick’s homosexual beach house encounters with seminarians but didn’t check them out because they were too “incredulous;” Vigano says McCarrick championed Tobin’s promotion with Francis; and now Tobin is himself faced with allegations by six priests of a “gay subculture” and sexual misconduct in his seminary.

McCarrick’s support of Tobin would be easy to understand, for Tobin is a leading proponent of muting the Church’s condemnation of homosexual sex. He endorsed Father James Martin’s book on homosexuals and the Church, which says not a word about the Church’s teaching; he has celebrated a LGBT Mass and has declared, “The Church is moving on the question of same sex couples;” one of his priests openly supports same-sex marriage and celebrates “Gay Pride” Masses; and the dissident gay organization New Ministry has singled Tobin  out for praise (and Cardinal Dolan for criticism) on a range of LGBT issues.

[popup_trigger id=”11432″ tag=””]Accordingly, what Tobin told (click for complete quotes) his Notre Dame audience in response to questions is unsurprising:[/popup_trigger]
  • On the causes of priestly sexual abuse: The “root problem” is “clericalism” – “the casting of priests and bishops as a class separate from everybody.”
    Not a word about the overwhelmingly homosexual character of the crisis. Not a hint as to why “clericalism” somehow produced largely homosexual rather than heterosexual predations.  As Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane has declared, “It is not clericalism, it is an immoral crisis.”
  • On seminary screening: “If you are asking whether people are quizzed about their sexual orientation when they come to the seminary, well as far as I know, they are not in the Archdiocese of Newark.”
    Not a word about Pope John Paul II’s injunction, reinforced by Pope Francis, that persons with “deep seated homosexual tendencies” should not be admitted to seminaries. The recent charges of homosexual transgressions in his seminary may testify to the consequences. .
  • On the Vigano letter. The letter is “sarcastic, biting, ironic,” and “[I]t is really hard to believe that Pope Francis is guilty.”
    Nothing like the measured view of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the President of the USCCB, that “the questions [Vigano] raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence.”


The Pope’s declaration that he “will not say a single word” about the Vigano allegations probably rules out a canonical trial in the McCarrick affair, so we have urged Fr. Jenkins to announce that, if there is no word of a trial by some specified date, he will revisit the honorary degree question.

On the broader front, plainly the bishops should promptly order an independent investigation of the McCarrick affair to hold to account all who knew but did not tell, and they must establish a general procedure to deal with complaints against bishops. The original and respected lay Review Board has asked to be reappointed. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB, has sketched the outlines of a plan for the November USCCB meeting. It would be heartening were Father Jenkins to put Notre Dame on record in support of the Cardinal’s initiative.

At this point, Notre Dame is missing in action in the most important crisis in the Church for a very long time.

Join Our Petition Opposing Father Jenkins’s “Contraceptive Culture.”

This is the fourth time Fr. Jenkins has publicly brushed off the objections of his and the University’s bishop. Recall The Vagina Monologues and Queer Film Festival and the honoring of President Obama and Vice President Biden. It is time for all alarmed by the growing breach between Notre Dame and the Church to speak up.

We invite all members of the Notre Dame community – alumni, students, family, faculty, staff – and all concerned Catholics to join the petition we have prepared urging the Fellows and the Trustees to maintain the existing exclusion of contraceptives from Notre Dame’s policies and to end promptly the provision and subsidy of abortifacients.

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