Many children and youth have been wounded by the sinful and criminal acts of clergy. Recent news about the sexual acts with seminarians by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, allegations of the abuse of children in various dioceses in Pennsylvania, and claims of sexual harassment at St. John’s seminary in Boston, and in other countries is very disturbing and demoralizing.

Those who have been hurt deserve justice, and our support and prayer. Some have found healing through the love of others, through prayer and professional counseling, but many remain deeply wounded and estranged from the Church. Acknowledgment of harm done to them and reparation are important steps in their healing and necessary for justice.

Those who have committed this abuse and covered it up are guilty of serious offenses. Jesus’ words about those who offend children are very strong and need to be heard: “… whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Mt 18:6).

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former papal nuncio to the US (2011-2016), has made serious allegations regarding the promotion of McCarrick to the See of Washington, and the later lifting of sanctions imposed on him by then Pope Benedict XVI. Following these allegations, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, has rightly asked the Holy See to make public the record which will indicate who knew about Archbishop McCarrick’s past crimes and covered them up.

There has been a serious erosion of trust in the Catholic Church. In the year 2002 the news of sexual abuse of minors by clergy caused mistrust in the clergy. Although the failure of bishops was criticized, the focus was payment to the victims and protection against future abuse. But the recent revelation (2018), of the promotion of McCarrick as Archbishop of Washington in 2001 and subsequent elevation to cardinal of the Catholic Church has understandably shocked the faithful. The shepherds of the Church have failed to protect the flock, and in some or many cases abused the flock, just as prophesied by Ezekiel: “Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep; no longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them” (Ezek 34:10).

For justice to be served, and to restore the trust of the faithful and society, the truth must be told about sexual abuse by clergy. What are the causes for such abuse? Why have bishops systematically protected wrongdoers, and how have they managed to do this?

Jesus taught: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Jn 8:31-32). Unless the truth about these actions is known, the same abuses will be committed and go unpunished. Without the truth, the lost trust in the Church and its shepherds will not be regained.

Many lies are also coming into broad daylight. The following are two that are particularly striking.

The first lie is that clerical sexual abuse has nothing to do with homosexuality. On the contrary acts of sexual abuse have been committed primarily by men and on male children or youth. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s 2004 report indicates that 81% of the victims were male, and 78% were 11 years of age or older. Between male homosexual behavior and abuse of children of any age there is a close relationship. This does not mean most homosexuals indulge in such abusive activities, but that abuse of children and youth is predominantly of a homosexual nature. This is corroborated by that fact that the gay movement accepts so-called man/boy love, and the National Association of Man/Boy Love (NAMBLA) was accepted in 1985 as a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Association. The above, however, does not refer to persons with same-sex attraction who are striving to live chaste lives.

The rejection of the Church’s moral teaching on sexuality and chastity in many seminaries, and the promotion by bishops of homosexual candidates to the priesthood, and on same-sex marriage, has further eroded the Church’s teachings, and facilitated an environment of moral decay among the clergy, which has resulted in widespread abuse of children and youth, and the practice of homosexual behavior among clergy.

The second lie is the systematic cover-up by many bishops of those guilty of these abuses: that there is a structure that promotes the election of gay-friendly bishops, who in turn protect one another and promote their friends to the episcopal office, perpetuating their power.

Psychologist and former priest, Richard Sipes explains:

Often, the history of clergy abusers reveals that the priest himself was abused – sometimes by a priest. The abuse may have occurred when the priest was a child, but not necessarily. Sexual activity between an older priest and an adult seminarian or young priest sets up a pattern of institutional secrecy. When one of the parties rises to a position of power, his friends are in line also for recommendations and advancement. The dynamic is not limited to homosexual liaisons.[1]

Fr. Timothy V. Vaverek denounces this pastoral abuse of power by the Church’s shepherds: “It must be recognized, then, that diocesan or Vatican bishops who repeatedly fail to vindicate victims exposed to various forms of clerical abuse demonstrate a level of corruption or dysfunction that itself constitutes an abuse of power. These failures are much more than mistakes. Such behavior has become second nature to these bishops in the administrative exercise of their office.”

We must have the courage to get to the truth and to speak the truth about sexual morality and immorality. In a series of lectures in 1852, Blessed Newman once referred to the sexual offenses of an ex-Dominican priest, Giacinto Achilli, who had been sentenced by the Roman Inquisition for sexual immorality. As a convert to Protestantism, Achilli was lecturing in England with the purpose of attacking the Catholic Church. Although what John Henry Newman said about Achilli was true Newman was sued for libel. He lost in court but won a moral victory among Catholics by suffering for the truth.

When Catholics seek the truth, and boldly defend it, trust in the Catholic Church and its bishops and priests will be restored. But the truth must be told clearly, in faithfulness to Christ.

In our next blog post we will examine the prophetic role of the lay faithful in this matter of great importance.

[1] Quoted by Paul A. Rahe in “American Catholicism: A Call to Arms.” The quote continues: “Priests and bishops who know about each other’s sexual affairs with women, too, are bound together by draconian links of sacred silence. A system of blackmail reaches into the highest corridors of the American hierarchy and the Vatican and thrives because of this network of sexual knowledge and relationships.”

Like this article?

There is a clear picture that emerges from these glimpses into life at The Oratory School: Education was in service of man, not the other way around. Play found its proper place, not only as a balance to rigorous academic study, but as an important part of human development.

O most Sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus, Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and Thou beatest for us still.

Leave a comment

What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: "We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son's is another, the Holy Spirit's another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal."

Our Books

About Cardinal John Henry Newman

Purchase Book

A Guide to John Henry Newman will interest educated readers and professors alike, and serve as a text for college seminars for the purpose of studying Newman.

Review by Catherine Maybanks
(Catholic Herald, April 1, 2023)

Review by Serenheed James
(Antiphon, April 2023)

Purchase Book

Fr Peter Conley takes us on an exciting journey into the spirituality and inner life of Saint John Henry Newman.

Purchase Book

Endorsement by Neyra Blanco (Amazon)
I bought this book for my son and he loved it, he wrote this review and urged my to submitted: “I think this book has a very beautiful message, because it shows how the young Newman was so determined to achieve his dream of becoming a priest, but even after his dream he continued to work in the church with passion until the day he died, it’s so admirable that even Newman so old and so weak still had that urge to continued his work of being a priest. And the book is well written with words not too complicated with very enjoyable texts and well illustrated pictures. I highly recommend this book for a 5th grader.  

Purchase Book

What is a Classical Liberal Arts Education? Why is it so important for the development of a person?

Fr. Juan R. Vélez answers these and more questions you might have about University Education in the 21st century. This book is aimed for parents, prospective University students, and educators. It will help you discern why adding Liberal Arts electives to your education will help it form it better, and help the student learn to reason, and not just learn.

He also explains how many Universities have changed the true meaning of Liberal Arts, and the subjects, and gives advise on how to choose College Campus, Subjects, and Teachers.

A wonderful book that every parent should also read way before your children are College bound. A Liberal Arts education can start earlier in life, even from home.

Purchase Book

Endorsement by Christopher Moellering (Goodreads, September 14, 2019)
In Passion for Truth Fr. Vélez gave us an outstanding biography of Cardinal Newman. In this work, he provides a concise overview of his thought and his devotion. This is a great work for someone who, perhaps hearing of Newman for the first time because of his beatification 13 October, 2019, wants to know more about this English saint.Vélez is a wonderful writer in his own right, and the frequent quotations from Newman round out the work nicely. I especially appreciated the frequent citing of Newman’s Meditations and Devotions, which show a different side of his spirituality than his more well-known works, Development of Christian Doctrine and the Grammar of Assent.

Purchase Book

Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman, endorsement by Illow M. Roque (Amazon, September 3, 2010)
“There is a time to put direct inquiry on hold and give ourselves to prayer and practical duties.” Sound advice from one of the earlier, thought-provoking reminders in this sparkling gem of a book: Take Five | Meditations with John Henry Newman, written by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Juan R. Vélez and published by Our Sunday Visitor. This particular paragraph, referenced above, which begins with a direct quote from soon-to-be canonized priest, cardinal and poet, John Henry Newman: “Study is good, but it gets us only so far . . .” is actually the 15th in a series of 76 concise, logically organized meditations moving from the elementary to the sublime. Each meditation–one per page–is built upon the great man’s writings and remarkably rich spirituality. Whether taken whole in one reading or in part page-by-page over a course of weeks and months, these wonderfully insightful meditations will open up, even to the busiest reader in the midst of the world, a unique pathway into prayer and contemplation. My advice to spiritual inquirers at all levels, from the novice to the spiritually adept, is to follow the authors’ recommendation to use this book as a guide for daily prayer and meditation. The structure of the book itself is ideal: first, the authors introduce us to Cardinal Newman, the man, where we are given the opportunity to get to know him through a brief sketch of his life and spirituality at the beginning of the book. This is something readers will likely find themselves referring to again and again, prompting many, I suspect, to even wider explorations of this most gifted Christian leader. Then comes the meditations, consisting of a short summary of Newman’s thoughts on subjects taken, as the authors explain, from various salient points for which Newman is justly remembered: The pursuit of objective religious truth; Teaching on the Virtues; Defense of the Catholic Church; A devout spiritual and moral life; and Generosity and loyalty in his friendships, which sets the topic and tone for each meditation to follow. Each meditation consists of an excerpt taken from Newman’s thirty-plus volumes of writings and diaries. Next comes three brief and extremely useful sections entitled: “Think About It,” which establishes a prayerfully resonant tone throughout the book; “Just Imagine,” which provides a vivid, prayerful experience of the Scriptures that tie in, and finally, “Remember,” a pithy summation which the authors suggest may be used as a daily aspiration. Each meditation is given its own page, which makes it ideal for daily reflection for readers on the go. This book is a must have for every serious Catholic who wants to take their faith to the next level, which is to respond appropriately to the universal call to holiness and seek interior union with God.
Sermon Blog
David Warren

Newman, Education and Sport

There is a clear picture that emerges from these glimpses into life at The Oratory School: Education was in service of man, not the other way around. Play found its proper place, not only as a balance to rigorous academic study, but as an important part of human development.

Read More »
Sermon Blog
David Warren

The Mystery of the Holy Trinity

What is the doctrine of the Trinity? The Athanasian Creed, in common use around the sixth century, formulates it this way: “We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity, without either confusing the persons or dividing the substance; for the person of the Father is one, the Son’s is another, the Holy Spirit’s another; but the Godhead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one, their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.”

Read More »
About Newman
Fr. Juan Velez

The Eucharistic Presence

We call His presence in this Holy Sacrament a spiritual presence, not as if ‘spiritual’ were but a name or mode of speech.

Read More »