The theological roots of the present crisis

An ambiguous attitude to “human sexuality” on the part of “mainstream” moral theology led in time to bishops effectively turning a blind eye to sinful behavior among clerics.

(Photo by Stefan Kunze | Unsplash)

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany put his finger on the root of the present crisis caused by the McCarrick affair. It is, he said, “sin and a retreat from holiness, specifically the holiness of an integral, truly human sexuality.” He adds immediately: “In negative terms, and as clearly and directly as I can repeat our Church teaching, it is a grave sin to be ‘sexually active’ outside of a real marriage covenant.”

What a relief to hear such plain speaking from a bishop!

This clear teaching of the Church has been, at best, obfuscated for some 50 years, as indicated by the way the term “sin” has almost vanished from normal ecclesiastical discourse and holiness is rarely seen as the goal of morality. That obfuscation, it seems to this writer, is not only at the root of the phenomenon of aberrant sexual behaviour among clergy, as others have pointed out. [1] My thesis is that the same obfuscation is also at the root of failure of religious superiors to face up to such sinful behaviour and to deal with it decisively.

It is not insignificant that the Pandora’s Box opened up by the McCarrick scandal should occur during the very year the Church is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the promulgation Humanae Vitae. In the midst of all the celebrations, however, little attention has been given to fact that the Church’s teaching on the central principles of Catholic sexual morality newly articulated by Pope Paul VI was almost immediately rejected by dissenting theologians within days of its promulgation. Before the text of the papal document could have reached Washington, DC in the pre-fax-machine (and pre-email) era, Professor Charles E. Curran of Catholic University of America whipped up some 87 signatories to a letter that publicly rejected its teaching. Soon the list of signatories reached some 300, when, as Cardinal Stafford once testified, huge pressure was put on theologians and priests to sign, even though few if any could have actually read the document. Similar dissent was expressed in other countries throughout the world, though perhaps not as aggressively as in the USA or Germany.

For the first time in the history of the Church, leading theologians openly dissented from the Magisterium. And this happened even though Pope Paul VI expressly affirmed his authority as Successor of St. Peter to interpret the natural moral law as clarified by Divine Revelation in order to answer to the grave issues raised by demographic and cultural developments in the modern world (cf. HV 4). It was rejected as “non-infallible,” as though what is be accepted as authoritatively binding in conscience was limited to (rare) infallible ex cathedra pronouncements.

Three years after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, which was broadly perceived as having upturned the traditional teaching and praxis in many areas, the appeal to the Church’s teaching authority no longer carried much weight. It was effectively replaced by the newly found weight of the magisterium of the theologians—to which many bishops were also in thrall. The result was that a number of prominent episcopal conferences—most remarkably that of West Germany (unlike that of East Germany)—came out with ambiguous statements on their reception of the encyclical. Their carefully crafted messages amounted to instructing the faithful to take note of the beautiful official papal teaching, but then judge for themselves as to whether it applied to them in their situation. This was proposed under the rubric of “following one’s conscience,” a seriously mistaken understanding of the meaning of conscience that characterized (and still characterizes) the dominant school of moral theology.

Humanae Vitae was promulgated in the fateful year 1968, the height of the sexual revolution. Soon the influence of that revolution began to seep into theology—and so into the seminaries, which at the time were full of young men susceptible to the seductive appeal of a more “liberating” approach to sexual morality. That new approach surfaced almost immediately after the rejection of Humanae Vitae. Thus, for example, in 1974, the Dominican theologian Donald J. Goergen published The Sexual Celibate. In it, he asserts, among other things, that “being celibate does not mean being asexual”; “chastity is not intended to lead one into a ‘no-touch’ style of life”; “when affectionate and genital feelings enter homosexual friendship, one should recognize and accept their presence. This does not mean the relationship is unhealthy.” It became “the reference book” on sexuality in the seminaries in the 1970s. One reviewer of Goergen’s book concludes that, though quite controversial when first written (in the previous year), “Goergen has seemed much more ‘mainstream’ since this book…was published.

How mainstream such ideas had become can be gleaned from the book Human Sexuality: New Directions in Catholic Thought, edited by A. Kosnik and others (1977—incidentally, this was the year one Theodore Edgar McCarrick was appointed auxiliary bishop in New York). The 322-page “Kosnik Report,” as it came to be known, was the product of a study commissioned by the Catholic Theological Society of America. It reflects the extensive literature on the subject that was part of the response to Vatican II’s call to moral theologians to renew their discipline. The theological views (and especially the “pastoral guidelines”) of the report became a standard approach to the teaching of moral theology and to pastoral practice. The authors claimed that contemporary theology was moving beyond the earlier, traditional approach based on outdated notions of morality and sexuality. “The book made excuses for masturbation, cohabitation, swinging, adultery, homosexuality, and even bestiality.”[2] The criticism by the Doctrinal Commission of the American Episcopal Conference (1977) fell on deaf ears, as, indeed, did the 1979 Declaration by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the book.

Its “pastoral guidelines” were based on the dominant school of fundamental moral theology which denied absolute moral norms as proposed by such prominent names as Charles E. Curran, Richard A. McCormick, S.J., Bernard Häring, C.Ss.R., and Josef Fuchs, S.J. Rejecting the Church’s teaching that any acts, such as homosexual acts, are intrinsically wrong, the writers of the report claim that “the objective moral evaluation of a person’s action must take into consideration the context of that person’s moral stance, the circumstances of the action, and the effects that issue from it” (p. 211). This is what became known as proportionalism, the “Catholic” version of situation ethics.

The report’s understanding of sexuality was primarily based on “the empirical sciences”—in effect those inspired by the now-discredited Kinsey Report. The new approach to sexuality found expression in the writings of Charles E. Curran, Donald J. Goegen O.P., Philip S. Keane S.S., and others, which were developed in the wake of public dissent from the teaching of Humanae Vitae. Once fertility is decoupled from the conjugal act, then most sexual acts within or outside marriage can be, if not actually justified, as  least excused, the report claims, as long as they “are conducive to creative growth and integration of the human person” (p. 92). Sexuality, it claimed, is the Creator’s ingenious way of calling people constantly out of themselves into relationship with others. Sexual differentiation (male or female) is consequently reduced to an accidental physical condition of no essential significance, since the sexual impulse is simply “biologically tied” to procreation (and thus will be “biased” in the direction of heterosexuality). As a  result: “All else being equal, a homosexual engaging in homosexual acts in good conscience has the same rights of conscience and the same rights to the sacraments as a married couple practicing birth control in good conscience” (p.216).

There is no mention of pederasty or pedophilia in the report. The only vague allusion to such criminal behaviour would seem to be in a paragraph dismissing widespread “myths” regarding homosexuals. There the claim is made that “proportional to their numbers in the population, heterosexuals are more prone to child molestation than homosexuals” (p. 212). Whatever about the general population, child molestation by clerics is some 80 percent homosexual. But this fact was generally ignored in earlier outcries over clerical sexual abuse. Why?

Space does not permit me to engage in any detail with the opinions of the Kosnik Report. Leaving aside significant factors such as psychological immaturity, innate proclivities, etc., these views of the theological establishment are mentioned here as contributing significantly to the spread of homosexual behaviour among seminarians and (later in life) clerics. The new approach to sexual morality also gave free reign to those with aberrant proclivities, in particular if they were in positions of authority over seminarians and priests. Even more significant in the wake of McCarrick is the way this very ambiguous attitude to “human sexuality” on the part of “mainstream” (i.e., dissenting) moral theology led in time to bishops and religious superiors effectively turning a blind eye to the sinful behaviour among clerics which they must have known about, even if they disapproved of it. When dealing with deviant sexual behaviour, the report generally recommended counselling. (Tragically, bishops all too readily accepted such advice.) Moral guilt is minimized, if not actually ignored.

Many clerics and bishops now in office would have been trained in (or at least exposed to) this “mainstream” moral theology. And even when their own intact moral instinct disapproved of such behaviour, those in positions of responsibility rarely had the theological means of justifying their better instinct—and so would have felt insecure as to how they should respond. (This, of course, is apart altogether from the role of more “human” factors such as cowardice and careerism on the part of bishops.)  The theological uncertainty would also have played into the clerical self-protective tendency to cover-up.

In all likelihood, the uncertainty as to the sinfulness of homosexual behaviour may also be the reason why, as Ralph Martin wrote the following in his recent letter to “troubled Catholics”: “To this day, there are quite a number of ‘gay friendly’ parishes in even ‘good dioceses,’ where those afflicted with homosexual temptation are not encouraged to live chaste lives or offered effective correction, but instead are confirmed in their sexual activity. It seems many bishops are afraid to tackle the local ‘homosexual lobbies’ and choose to turn a blind eye.”

Like the cover-up, turning a blind eye to wrongdoing is also to sin against justice. All sexual sins are by their very nature sins against justice. But the injustice done by religious superiors to the victims of clerical sexual abuse of any kind (and to his or her family, indeed to the wider community) by failing to discipline the perpetrator or, worse still, to cover-up the crime is even graver still. The Church in recent decades has been vocal in its commitment to social justice. But it seems to have given little attention to the virtue of justice: the acquired personal disposition to give to others what is their due. It is part of tough love.

The attempt by Pope St. John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor (1993) to overcome the malaise in fundamental moral theology (at the core of which is the denial of intrinsically evil acts) was generally ignored by “mainstream” theologians. Most bishops probably had little idea as to what the Pope was talking about in Veritatis Splendor—an admittedly difficult and dense text. The Pope’s Wednesday audiences on the Theology of the Body, as well as his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, were part of Rome’s various attempts to correct the mistaken notion of human sexuality as manifested in the Kosnik Report. Mainstream moral theology ignored them, and indeed any of the other similar documents produced by Rome. The CDF’s Instruction on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, for example, was sharply criticized and rejected by the same theological establishment. Their claim regarding a dual magisterium (that of the theologians and of the Pope) put authoritative papal teaching, at best, on a par with the alternative, progressive views of moral theologians, but usually considered the former as inferior to the latter (since the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium was seen as conservative and rigid), thus encouraging the faithful to choose which opinion he or she preferred. This “choice” was then seen as acting according to one’s conscience.

In the course of the 50 years since leading theologians dissented on the teaching of Humanae Vitae, bishops came more and more to relinquish their own teaching authority. But equally fatally, they tended to turn a blind eye to the sinful behaviour of their clerics—and, it would now appear, of their fellow bishops, though this is yet to be proved.

This tragic development—which, apart from the real scandal it gave and continues to give (scandal understood in the strict sense as causing disbelief [cf. Mt 18:6]), resulted in unspeakable damage to seminarians and clerics at all levels, spiritual, psychological and even physical—can be traced back to the denial of sin, more specifically, the denial of intrinsically immoral acts. In his statement of August 1 (the feast of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, the patron of moral theologians, as it happened), Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo concluded frankly: “Our Church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality.” That this fact has been publicly acknowledged by the president of USCCB is a real sign of hope.

But the crisis of sexual morality is rooted, as already mentioned, in an even deeper crisis, namely that of fundamental moral theology. This in turn reflects (and contributes to) the moral crisis at the root of modern, post-Enlightenment culture. Solzhenitsyn, in his controversial commencement address at Harvard 40 years ago, identified the source of the modern crisis affecting Western civilization as the humanistic way of thinking that emerged initially with the Renaissance:

This humanistic way of thinking which had proclaimed itself as our guide, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man, nor did it see any task higher than the attainment of happiness on earth. It started modern Western civilization on dangerous trend of worshiping man and his material needs.

The failure to admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man and the search for happiness in this world are interrelated. Both are predicated on the denial of Transcendence (and so the denial of conscience as the antenna of Transcendence, that inner sense of right and wrong) and so the denial of the universal call to holiness as man’s goal in life. Both are materialistic—reducing moral behaviour to a calculus of advantages and disadvantages to the autonomous self. Both constitute the essence of secularism. That secularism has seeped into the very fabric of the contemporary theology.

The road to recovery and renewal will be long and difficult. Opposition can be expected from the theological establishment, those who have effectively lost their authentic Catholic conviction. Writing in 1997, Matthew Lamb noted: “There is no doctoral program in North America with a rigorous ratio studiorum that offers an integral formation in the doctrinal and theoretical traditions of Catholic teaching” (that situation has, in the meantime, been radically changed with the establishment of theology faculties such as those at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ave Maria University, and similar colleges).

The process of renewal must give priority to the state of moral theology. Striving after holiness must become the goal of all moral theology. Recent decades have seen major advances in the development of different schools of moral theology which, rooted in Revelation, are in harmony with Church teaching and are inspired by the recovery of virtue as preferred mode of moral reflection. That approach has been sanctioned by its use in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And new Catholic universities have been founded to foster such Catholic theology in the full sense of the term. These developments are signs of hope not only for North America. Renewal must evidently be accompanied by prayer and penance (including public penance) by clerics.

It would greatly help to kick-start a more widespread process of theological renewal were Pope Francis to authorize an affirmative answer to the second of the Dubia:

After the publication of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (cf. n. 304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor n. 79, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?


[1] In the wake of the 2002 scandals, Father Matthew Lamb wrote: “No adequate diagnosis of the contributory causes of the Catholic-priest-abuse scandals can overlook the role of dissent among theologians. I am afraid that we theologians have failed to acknowledge our own failures and the lies, to use St. Augustine’s strong language, which we have been communicating in our teaching and writings,” (Theological Malpractice: The Roots of Scandal, dated October 2, 2002). See also George Weigel, The Courage to be Catholic (New York, 2002).

[2] Matthew Lamb, Theological Malpractice, op. cit.

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About Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, SVD 11 Articles
Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, S.V.D. holds both a Ph.D. in Theology and is Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, Ireland. A former doctoral student under Joseph Ratzinger, Twomey is the author of several books, including The End of Irish Catholicism?, Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of Our Age (A Theological Portrait), and Moral Theology after Humanae Vitae. In 2011, Benedict XVI awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal to Fr. Twomey for outstanding services rendered to the Church and to the Holy Father.


    • “Rem Acu Tetigisti.” I think autocorrect has played you false. (And every time I read that I think of Jeeves, and giggle).

  1. To ignore sin.

    I remember the reading of the ‘Sexual Celibate’.

    What a piece of work – obfuscation and the denial of objective sin. How many ‘theologians’ of the time were also flipped and instead bowed to the world?

  2. Thank you thank you thank you. It feels like being thrown a lifesaver to hear clerics speak truth in conntrast to magical realism, accommodationist bridge building, and bureaucratic blather.

  3. But this kind of problem goes way back. Recently, the bishop of Harrisburg decreed that the names of all bishops since 1947 be removed from all buildings. According to one Pennsylvania grand jury member, the investigation could have gone even further back in time, except that everyone mentioned in those records have already passed away. And over half a millennium ago, St. Catherine of Sienna wrote against such deviant clerics. And over half a millennium before that, Pope St. Gregory the Great decreed the kind of punishment such clerics should receive. This kind of problem in the Church is very old. And why else would Humanae Vitae be “immediately rejected” by most of the Church’s theologians, if the problem was not deeply entrenched already?

    • During and after Vatican II Church discipline almost completely collapsed, because the discussions and conversations around the Council had created many delusions and unrealistic expectations about sexual morality issues, mainly about contraception and the possible abrogation of priestly celibacy. Meanwhile, modernist theologians who weren’t champions of Papal authority were on their way of getting respectable. So just at a time when the genie was getting out of the bottle, Paul VI came with his Encyclical. Because Humanae Vitae was published in this complex cooked-up atmosphere, it was perceived as a counter attack from the traditionalist camp and immediately caused the well-known rebellious reaction that was so detrimental to the moral authority of the Church.

    • Your mention of St. Catherine of Siena brings to mind the book “To the Priests Our Lady’s beloved sons.” These writings in the form of messages began in the 1970’s, and already then a crisis in sexual morality among priests and religious was described along with other deviations that were symptomatic of what was going on. Unfortunately, almost no one then recognized the true gravity of the situation until it became a matter for the courts and the media.

  4. Let’s hope that we will see agreement with this diagnosis from the Bishop and public mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    Dare I hold my breath?

  5. The tipping point has been reached.
    Joe&Mary Pewsitter have stopped vomiting and have checked
    out of the current swamp-church.
    The captitolpunishment CCC thing is s distraction.
    The real issue is an out of control, take no prisoners
    homosexual Catholic clergy. Over $2billion in fines.
    No mas, basta, adios Francisco.

  6. As painful as the hideous sexual scandal is, it cannot be compared to the abuse of our theological patrimony — the perennial Magisterium of the Church — at the hands of men vowed to not only adhere to it, but preserve and proclaim it boldly.
    The perennial Magisterium is our understanding of Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition — Divine Revelation. The Holy See, our episcopate, the theological academy — have seen fit to consign this ineffable priceless treasure to the dung heap and substituted their own understanding of Darwin, Marx and Freud as its substitute.
    Give us back the treasure imparted to us by the Most Holy Trinity.
    Consign yourselves to the place you saw fit to place the pearl of great price.

  7. I appreciate Fr Twomey’s remarks. What he says is important and helpful. But hasn’t the Holy Father publicly praised Fr Bernhardt. Häring’s work as the proper direction for moral theology? And didn’t he affirm something tantamount to proportionalism in Amoris Latitia? Not mention deliberately ignoring the dubia?

    Alas this is not simply a theological misstep, but a rebellion on the part of those in the highest ecclesial offices against the teachings of Christ. It began with theological dissent, but has ended in apostasy.

  8. After reading several articles about this continuing train wreck, I’m reminded about a quote which seem quite appropriate, “None is so blind as he who will not see.”

  9. You may like to check out: After Asceticism: Sex, Prayer and Deviant Priests by Patrick Guinan (Guynan) (Author). My copy gives the Linacre Institute as the authors.
    The following was copied from Amazon.
    After Asceticism provides a close up look at the clergy sex abuse crisis still rocking the Catholic Church. The first study of its kind, it shows how the infiltration of therapeutic psychology on the training and lifestyles of clergy spawned a cavalier attitude in many priests and bishops about sex and prayer, causing the collapse of ascetical discipline with its devastating effects in the sex abuse crisis. Chapters probe the findings of the John Jay Report on clerical sexual misconduct; that sexual misconduct by priests was rare in the first half of the twentieth century because of the dedication to ascetical discipline; why the volumes of past research on the psychology of priests failed to predict the sexual crisis; whether homosexual priests can remain chaste. After Asceticism moves beyond criticism to an eye-opening explanation on how self-denial, fasting, and religious devotion work together to bolster attitudes and behavior for complete sexual abstinence. After Asceticism draws the connection between the ancient ideas about sex, prayer, and spiritual friendship with modern scientific research on the biology of fasting and the psychology of hope. It warns, however, that as society becomes more deeply immersed in pagan sexuality, the Catholic Church will remain mired in sexual crisis absent a return to its ascetical tradition.

    • This is an excellent addition to an excellent essay. This latest crisis is a great blessing to expose fully one of the many catastrophes caused by the rejection of the basics for Christian discipleship. “Who am I to judge?” is yet another symptom. It is the Pope’s job precisely to judge. Perhaps the big youth gathering in October in Rome should be postponed until this mess is cleaned up.

      • Christ exhorts all of us to judge.

        “And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?” Luke 12:57

        Apparently the Society of Jesus – as only one example – has excised that verse from their copies of Scripture.

    • A valuable citation. Thank you for pointing out this reference. It sounds incredibly on target — a bullseye, to be precise. Hopefully there is a Spanish edition for Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Arturo Sosa and Tucho Fernandez to dip into.

  10. As H above mentioned- Bishop Gainer of Harrisburg has publicly announced that the names of all former bishops of Harrisburg since 1947 will be erased from churches and church buildings. Including the now- sitting Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wuerl.

    As Jesus prophecied: the dry wood is stacked for burning, and the fire will be unquenchable.

    Come Holy Spirit…with the fire of your Love…


  11. The favorite theologian of Pope Francis, Cardinal Kasper, has taught generations of young Catholics that the Gospel miracle accounts are all “legends.” (Jesus the Christ, Kasper, 1967, pp 90-91…reprinted 2011).

    Pope Francis has praised Kasper to the moon, calling K a “great theologian” who writes “theology on its knees.”

    Why deny the obvious: Pope Francis is not a Catholic believer. And it is a huge scandal that he owes his election to numerous men publicly known to be sex abusers and coverup artists: McCarrick, Danneels (on the balcony when F was introduced to the world), Mahony of LA (Governor Frank Keating called him the head of the Cosa Nostra of the US sex abuse coverup mafia, and Leon Panetta corroborated that) and Maradiaga of Honduras…protector of his henchman the recently resigned criminal sex abuser and embezzler Bishop Pineda…and persecutors of the good seminarians in the erupting Honduran Seminary scandal.

  12. McCarrick (then President of the U of Puerto Rico) also crafted the Land of Lakes statement in 1967, whereby Notre Dame, Fordham, Georgetown, BC and othe “Catholic” universities declared they would no longer teach according to the Catholic faith.

    90% of Catholic colleges, and the Bishops of the USCCB, follow the direction of the unrepentant arch sex abuser McCarrick, and ignore the direction of Pope JP2 (in Ex Corde Ecclesiae) to turn away from McCarrick’s Land of Lakes betrayal.

    Let that sink in: the college presidents and US Bishops have for 50 years sided with the direction of an unrepentant fraud and criminal manipulator, and for 2-3 decades, disobeyed the direction of a saint.


    • Fascinating. I had no idea he had a history in the academy. They do some digging down there and they will find some bodies.
      The fact that he was operative in the crafting of the Land O’Lakes statement is chilling. I always ascribed that deliberate debacle to Hesburgh. What a cast of characters.
      The past fifty-six years really have been nothing less than a nightmare.

  13. To CWR and all readers: I want to correct myself in my mistaken sense that Bishop Gainer’s removal of Bishops names included Cardinal Wuerl. Cardinal Wuerl was not Bishop of Harrisburg, but Pittsburgh. The article also included speculations about implications for other Bishops who have served in PA, including Wuerl as Bishop of Pittsburgh. I either conflated the 2 dioceses myself (or the article may have).

    I withhold any judgment on Wuerl’s implications in coverups in PA, pending release of the PA sex abuse investigation…btw now and 14 Aug.

  14. Might be better titled “The Prophetic roots of the present crisis” as this seems to be a fulfillment of prophecy…

  15. The points raised in this article are very similar to the whole “trans” issue. It would seem that the dissident theologians are basically making conscience a social construct, and are proposing a “trans” theology. Evidently they think that sin and holiness exist only between the ears and have no larger external reality.

  16. I am not sure Father Twomey expected to unleash such a raft of angry (mostly conservative) commentary –not to mention anger at Pope Francis!?! To link the clergy abuse scandal to the theological dissent over Humane Vitae seems simplistic. As someone above noted, the abuse went on before HV, not only after. Also the commission set up by Popes JH 23 and Paul VI to study the issue of contraception was divided in the end — a majority approved of some sort of contraception used in conscience but the minority report (including Carol Wotilja) won the day — largely on an argument about preserving infallibility. Francis’s remark “who am I to judge?” is exactly in the spirit of Jesus in St John’s gospel CHapter 8. Who are you to judge?

      • Yeah. And she completely missed the prophetical parts of Humanae Vitae, about what was likely to happen with contraception – and did.

    • When a doctor issues a diagnosis it is their medical judgement as to the health of the patient. Sometimes the result of this medical judgement requires a course of treatment that in some cases can cause the patient pain and discomfort. A doctor with bad medical judgement engages in medical malpractice.
      To me the non-judgmental modern Church looks less like a field hospital for sinners and more like a bad hospice where people are permitted to bleed out and die spiritually, lest they be given a course of real spiritual health care that might demand something of them and the spiritual health care provider.
      We are in the fix we’re in because the Church gave the offenders too much uncritical 70 times 7 forgiveness, and similar uncritical seemingly unlimited mercy. Sometimes mercy can be a cover story for moral cowardice and desertion.

    • Ironic that you engage in judging the motives of others while invoking the Pontiff’s poorly formulated prudential remarks about intrinsically disordered sexual deviants masquerading as Priests. Better brush up on your knowledge of Scripture, Barbara.

      “And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?” Jesus Christ, Luke 12:57

  17. I have a copy of the Kosnik Report – easily available on Amazon. I read several essays in it and didn’t find anything as blatantly off-base as those cited by Twomey, but I’ll look again. What hits you on the head, however, is the almost extraordinary faith given to the curative powers of therapy. We know now that not only was Kinsey a fraud, but so was Freud. I don’t suggest that therapy is entirely futile, but postwar America was a land where the shrink was king. Now the field of behavioral studies is one gigantic argument on fundamental assumptions on why people do what they do with no end in sight. But if there’s a single bishop in America that thinks a abusive priest can be be “fixed” by a therapist, the man is badly misinformed. The truth played out in the 70s and 80s was that a priest with a “problem” was given a retreat, some therapy and a transfer to new surroundings meant often that the Church was simply relocating the problem – often several times.

    • This reminds me of remarks by Dr. Jordan Peterson last night on The Next Revolution, about therapy “they convince you that you are fine, just accept yourself” This has been a bane to humanity as a whole and not just deviant priest of the church. The entire attitude of the world being as St. Peter’s was when he said, “be kind to your self Lord…,”. Yet Jesus knowing better replied, “get behind me Satan..”. Therapy has become the crutch of a world trying to avoid responsibility or consequences for our own lives.

  18. The photo used at the head of this article is the Aula Palatina in Trier, Germany.
    It is an Evangelical Protestant ie Lutheran church.

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