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A cardinal qualification

Pope Benedict XVI continues to apologize for the abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, saying Friday: "We too 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." As The Times has noted, the Vatican -- after initially trying to blame the scandal on the media, secularism and post-Vatican II changes in the church -- has shifted to contrition mode. It also has made it clear that accusations of abuse by priests be reported to civil authorities.

But if the pope really wants to do everything possible to prevent future abuse -- and episcopal cover-ups -- he should make a clean record on this subject a requirement for advancement in the church. Before the end of this year, Benedict is expected to name at least 12 new members of the College of Cardinals. It would be a dramatic gesture if he excluded from consideration any bishop who has been credibly shown to have turned a blind eye to abuse.

Even better, the pope could elevate to the college clergymen -- and even laymen, who could be ordained as deacons -- who have spoken out against the hierarchy's complicity in hushing up or sugarcoating clerical abuse. Bringing critics into the ecclesiastical inner circle wouldn't guarantee that the church would live up to its new-found commitment to accountability, but it would be a dramatic gesture.

-- Michael McGough

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Craig Thomas

While I appreciate the thoughts that you have given in this particular article, it is yet another production of the ignorance of the worldwide Church. The College of Cardinals is not a representative government, it is not a senate, it does not have constituents. The purpose of the College of Cardinals is to safeguard the liturgy, traditions, and doctrines of Christ. While it is admiral that the writer of this article would like to see increase accountability in the areas of the Church, the College is not meant to work the way that the author would want it to.

Furthermore, the Vatican has expressed several times its contrition on the matter of the scandals. The problem that most people don't understand is that the amount of people convicted of sexual abuse in the Catholic clergy are a lot less than that of the Evangelical Christian leadership. Recent studies have shown that while 2 percent of Catholic clergy have been accused of some sexual deviance, Evangelical clergy rank at 10 percent, which is 5 times more likely to have a problem.

The Vatican has done significant work in trying to close off admission to seminaries young men who have the propensity to have problems in sexual areas, as well as provided for secure environments throughout the 8 years of seminary to work on sexual identity and celibacy, tools that were not in place years ago.

Overall, the problem is not the College of Cardinals or the enforcement of that body, but rather many other issues. This is a common mistake, and usually made out of ignorance.


Per the Catholic leader's entreaty for forgiveness, there is a difference apparently between "your brother"--eligible for forgiveness--and those from whom "woe-unto-him" offenses come; in addition, it seems to be central to basic Christian doctrines of forgiveness that repentance--not just a mind change, but actual repayment for injury--is a condition related to salvation:

1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3 Take heed to yourselves: If your brother trespass against you, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. Mt. 18.15
4 And if he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him.
Luke 17

More than just a heartfelt entreaty for forgiveness, though, repentance seems to involve money and goods. In the following stellar example of repentance, the "sinner" declares that he will give half his goods to the poor and restore fourfold that which he has taken without right. No-one in the Catholic organization has willingly, from the heart, sincerely "repented" according to this definition--no-one offered nor, without being coerced by the courts, would ever have given anything in reparation to the wronged families. So when this Pope says "We instantly beg forgiveness" as if there is no need for reparation, he falls obtusely short of effectual repentance. Inasmuch as "fall short" is just a synonym for "sin," the Catholic leader's stance seems to be a sin.

7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
8 And Zacche'us stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house....
Luke 19

david clohessy

McGough is absolutely right. Who is promoted in an institution shows what that institution values. As long as the Pope elevates compromised clerics, he sends the message that it's still "business as usual" with clergy sex abuse and cover up in the church.

David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143), 314 566 9790 cell (SNAPclohessy@aol.com)

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

Forgivness presupposes the admission of mortal sins and crimes against the humanity of thousands and thousands of children worldwide and JUSTICE for those victims whether it is in the Archdioceses of Los Angeles, Philadelphia or Boston.

However what is happening is the vicious opposition against necessary Statute of Limitation reform in state after state by bishops and their state's Catholic Conference.

Jesus did not say ACT JUSTLY but not if it costs too much. What I remember Jesus saying is NOT TO COUNT THE COST.

The pope's words have yet to be followed up by meaningful reform including the disciplining of bishops who protected and covered up for rogue priests and didn't give one thought to the violated children.


Professor Marci Hamilton and Sister Maureen Paul Turlish on NPR's Radio Times on WHYY in Philadelphia, April 12, 2010


Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims' Advocate
New Castle, Delaware, USA

John De Salvio

To Craig Thomas:
Can you please cite the "Recent studies" about Catholic vs Evangelical clerical sexual abuse?
Could you also please define what you call "sexual deviance"?



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