Tuesday, December 17, 2002

It Didn't Begin With Cardinal Law

Here's a thoughtful behind-the-scenes analysis by noted conservative Catholic pundit Michael Novak on William F. Buckley's National Review Online web site:

The Boston Disease: What Remains After Cardinal Law

One of Novak's chief points was that the Boston archdiocese had been ripe for sex abuse scandal long before Bishop Law was sent there:

...The reputation [of the Boston diocese] for lax discipline that had started long before Cardinal Law's time did not compel his immediate attention on his arrival in Boston....

...Cardinal Law faced four huge moral deficits in the Archdiocese of Boston. The first is an unusually tribal and mutually protective, ranks-drawn-up clergy, circling around its own three-generation tradition of moral fault; a pattern of "weakness" or "corruption" in some few, but covered over and unpoliced by the others, in a long-standing and defensive posture.

The second is a 40-year period of massive moral dissent from Catholic moral teaching, especially in regard to sexual and "gender" questions, in the principal Catholic institutions of learning in Boston... This fairly systematic dissent, through which some have boldly called the theology of Pope John Paul II (and Paul VI before him) wrong, mistaken, and based on untruths, has had the inevitable effect of weakening the sense of right and wrong in those faced with severe sexual temptations....

Third is a laity in very large numbers living in open dissent and rebellion, and encouraged in this by many clerical voices — even among their own pastors — first on many small things but gradually on many increasingly large things, too. ...They seem to abhor the most-distinctive features of the Catholic Church, most notably full communion with Peter, the bishop of Rome. They seem embarrassed also by her traditional and not-at-all-new teachings of embodied personhood, the physical/sacramental nature of reality, the full and rich sexuality of Catholic teaching (expressed in so many great works of literature, painting, and music down the ages), the nature of matrimony, and most obviously the tradition of celibacy and chastity as high ideals affecting the lives of all....

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