I've hoped against hope, ever since my own crisis of conscience back in 2005, to learn that the Catholic Church has taken meaningful action to clean up its Augean stables of clergy sex problems. Tragically, that hope has been in vain. Many new scandals have rocked the Church over the past few months.
CNS News recently reported: "Vatican Cardinal’s Secretary Arrested for Hosting 'Cocaine Fueled' Homosexual Orgy Near St. Peter’s". This is a particularly disturbing report, as the senior priest concerned is said to have been recently recommended for promotion to Bishop. He also allegedly used a vehicle with Vatican diplomatic license plates to smuggle cocaine into the Vatican to fuel his orgies. (It's not surprising that homosexuality is encountered in the Vatican, of course. Back in 2013, Vanity Fair ran an in-depth exposé about it, and a year later, a former commander of the Pope's Swiss Guard claimed that there was a "gay network" in the Vatican.)
A major sex scandal erupted last year on Guam, where a former Archbishop and many priests have been implicated in the abuse of children and teenagers. The scandal has only grown since then. What's more, allegations of uncanonical practices and misuse of donated funds have led to even more problems for the Guam archdiocese, making it more difficult to focus on the sex scandal and deal with it as it deserves.
A couple of weeks ago, a priest was recalled to the Vatican from that nation's embassy in Washington DC after he was alleged to have trafficked in child pornography. One presumes that the cleric will face due process in the Vatican . . . but there's no guarantee of that, of course. After all, some of those most responsible for the child sex abuse crisis in the US Catholic Church have found a form of sanctuary there (for example, Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston).
Internationally, sex scandals have continued to plague the Catholic Church. The head of the Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brian, stepped down after being exposed as an abuser - but was not defrocked. It's been alleged that South America has become a "safe haven" for priests accused of child abuse in other countries, particularly the USA - and that's without taking into account the home-grown sex scandals afflicting Catholic churches in that continent. Observance of celibacy in the Catholic Church in Africa is conspicuous by its absence in many areas (I can confirm this from personal observation during my travels in that continent). The worldwide list of countries affected by sex scandals in the Catholic church, particularly child sex abuse, is simply staggering.
There may be those who think I'm anti-Catholic by publishing this information. I'm not. I was born and raised Catholic, and I daresay I'll never change my Catholic outlook on life. However, as I wrote during the height of the Catholic child sex abuse scandal in the USA, my perspective changed when I was asked - no, ordered, as were all priests - to lie to our people about it. I wrote extensively about that dilemma several years ago, and about my response to it.
Tragically, I truly and sincerely believe that most of the "establishment" of the Catholic Church - the cardinals, archbishops, bishops and administrators who run the Church - have no intention whatsoever of taking stronger action to root out immorality and sex abuse of every kind, unless and until they are forced to do so. They see their priority as protecting themselves and the institution of the Church, instead of putting the interests of the people of God first, as they should. They are, I believe, a perfect example of Dr. Jerry Pournelle's "Iron Law of Bureaucracy":
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:
- First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.
- Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
In my opinion, the "Iron Law" perfectly describes the Catholic Church hierarchy today - and perfectly explains why it cannot and will not confront the problems of immorality and sex abuse among its members. That's truly sickening - and it leaves those of us who believe, out in the cold.
Protestant evangelist Bob Mumford once defined secular humanism as "what you get when the world evangelizes the Church". I suspect that's a very accurate description of what's happened to many of the leaders of the Catholic Church. May God protect us from them . . . and lead them to repentance and conversion, to save their souls from the consequences of their choices.