Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Frank Bruni Has It Wrong: Sexual Abuse of Children Has Nothing--Repeat--Nothing to Do With Religion.

In yesterday's Times, Frank Bruni took on sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community, but he couldn't resist a slap at the Catholic Church.  I write to comment on one pernicious passage in Bruni's op ed essay:
Frank Bruni
Photo credit NY Times

But some of the same dynamics that fed the crisis in Catholicism--an aloof patriarchy, an insularity verging on superiority, a disinclination to get secular officials involved--exist elsewhere. And the way they've played out in Orthodox Judaism illustrates anew that religion isn't always the higher ground and safer harbor it purports to be. It can also be a safe haven for wrongdoing.
In this passage, in my mind, Bruni is implying that religion sometimes play a roll in sexual abuse. But that simply isn't true.

The sexual abuse of children has nothing to do with religion--any religion, and certainly not the Catholic religion. Sexual abuse is about the abuse of power for perverted purposes and it takes place in every realm of every culture.

The law books are full of court cases that document sexual abuse by teachers in the public schools and the cowardly efforts by school administrators to cover it up. We've often seen sexual abuse by elected politicians that have nothing to do with religion. Witness Jerry Studds, the Congressman from Massachusetts, who was censored by the House of Representatives for an inappropriate sexual relationship with a Congressional page.

Jerry Studds in Washington
The Church's sexual abuse scandal was a terrible thing--the worst thing to happen to the Church since the first Spanish padres stepped onto the beaches of Florida in the early 16th century. Catholics need 
to understand it certainly, and we need to act decisively and even ruthlessly to stamp out all vestiges of abuse in our Church.

But the priests who raped Catholic children do not represent the Church. They used the Church for their evil purposes and that is all. If there is a Hell--and I think there is--they will certainly be there. And the Church leaders who covered it up may be there with them. They will surely spend a substantial amount of time in Purgatory.

But let's not let our enemies use this tragedy to hector us into abandoning fundamental tenets of Catholic doctrine--doctrine hammered out over centuries in the crucibles of martyrdom.  Now is the time to stand fast and reaffirm the ancient Faith.

In my mind, the best analysis of the sexual abuse scandal is The Faithful Departed, Philip Lawler's study of the collapse of Catholic culture in Boston. Lawler explains how the archbishops of the Boston Archdiocese began compromising fundamental Catholic doctrine more than half a century ago. So intent on staying in the good graces of Boston's secular elites (many of whom despised Catholicism), these archbishops set the stage for the epic sexual abuse scandal that broke the back of Catholic culture in Boston--once the crown jewel of the American Catholicism.

So--it was weakness, compromise and cowardice that set the stage for the Church's sexual abuse scandal, and these vices have nothing to do with Catholic doctrine or with the ecclesiastical structure of the Church.

Frank Bruni has repeatedly criticized the Catholic Church and its beliefs in the pages of the New York Times. He is like a wolf stalking a wounded caribou. Personally, I don't think Bruni and the Times will stop criticizing the Church until it abandons its doctrine on marriage and sexual morality and meekly submits to the dictates postmodernism.

But I for one am not willing to see our Mother Church neutered or destroyed by postmodernism. And I will bet my soul that the Church will recover from the sexual abuse debacle that torments us now and will flourish again in American culture and that it will continue as the Bride of Christ until the end of time--long after the New York Times is as forgotten as a moldy old book from the ancient library of Alexandria.

References

Frank Bruni, The Faithful's Failings. New York Times, July 23, 2013, p. A19.

Philip F. Lawler, The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston's Catholic Culture. New York: Encounter Books, 2008.

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