Father Gabriele Amorth, who you may recall is calculated to vanquish demons at a workday rate of one every 2.42 hours, warns us that recent press unflattering to Pope Benedict XVI was “prompted by the devil.” Especially the work of the New York Times.
The 85-year-old exorcist explained to News Mediaset in Italy:
There is no doubt about it. Because he is a marvelous Pope and worthy successor to John Paul II, it is clear that the devil wants to ‘grab hold’ of him.
How do we explain this to the bishop-besieged NYT?
Andrew Sullivan is a gay Catholic who gently suggests:
Surely we can all assent to the notion that a Christian militia of the type now accused of planning domestic terrorism is not Christian. This is why I call them Christianist. Anyone planning to murder innocents by way of IEDs cannot plausibly call himself or herself a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.
To which Skeptic PZ Myers replied at some easy-to-read length, asserting that there are Christians (the real thing). And Christianists, a term William Safire traced back to Andrew Sullivan, who on June 1, 2003, wrote:
I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam.”
No friend of matters mystical, Myers of course fences almost everyone we know up with Christianists, but that’s a part of what he does. Whereas most of us may seriously entertain the possibility that the Hutaree are Christianists. And we are not.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who can be slow to act and whom we have criticized for lack of force, rebuked Church of England clergy for complaining of persecution in England while Christians elsewhere face “terrible communal violence” and are “living daily with threats and murders.”
He was referring in his ecumenical Easter letter to a group of Church of England Bishops who in a letter last week to the Sunday Telegraph asserted widespread British persecution, including “numerous dismissals of practising Christians from employment for reasons that are unacceptable in a civilised country.”
Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia wrote in response to the letter to the Sunday Telegraph:
To my knowledge, even the most extreme pressure groups like Christian Concern for our Nation and the Christian Legal Centre who are stoking and reinforcing the Christian persecution complex, haven’t made the claim that there have been “numerous dismissals”. So far they have pointed to only a handful of examples where there is some alleged injustice. Rarely have this small number involved dismissal. And even where (if?) they have, upon further investigation, the claims have tended to fall apart. Indeed, in one case, it even seemed to be the intervention of Christian campaigners which brought the dismissal about, after confidential client details were given to a national newspaper. In another, CLC claimed dismissal and then reinstatement, when dismissal never actually seems to have occurred.
Williams suggested in his letter today that attention be focused instead where the need is compelling and the risk of meeting it considerable:
When St John tells us that the disciples met behind locked doors on the first Easter Day (John 20.19), he reminds us that being associated with Jesus Christ has never been easy or safe. Today this is evident in a wide variety of situations – whether in the terrible communal violence afflicting parts of Nigeria, in the butchery and intimidation of Christians in Mosul in recent weeks, in the attacks on the Coptic faithful in Egypt, or in the continuing harassment of Anglican congregations in Zimbabwe. As we mark the thirtieth anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador, we acknowledge that Christians will never be safe in a world of injustice and mindless fear, because Christians will always stand, as did Archbishop Romero, for the hope of a different world, in which the powerful have to let go of privilege and rediscover themselves as servants, and the poor are lifted up into joy and liberty.
By comparison, the secure incantations to civil fear of the five prominent bishops and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, pale.
Christa Brown challenged Baptist ethicist David Gushee’s echo of self-exculpatory Baptist propaganda in an
otherwise now, as revised, excellent commentary on churches and sexual abuse. To his credit, Gushee responded:
Christa, I thank you for this challenge, and grieve along with you that the evidence leads where it does. I should not have written that last paragraph as it now stands.
The keystone statement in Christa’s blog, to which Gushee’s comment is attached:
There is simply no comparative data to support David Gushee’s suggestion that, for Protestants, the problem has more to do with married ministers who “have affairs,” while for Catholics, the problem has more to do with priests who abuse kids. To the contrary, the data that exists — two decades’ worth of insurance data gathered by the Associated Press in 2007 — suggests exactly the opposite. It suggests that Baptists likely have every bit as big a problem as Catholics with clergy who sexually abuse kids.
Today a revised version of my article will appear on ABP that reflects the lessons learned through this exchange. Thank you.
Gushee revised his column. His introduction says:
(Editor’s note: The original version of this column, published March 29, contained an assertion — regarding differences in clergy-sex-abuse scandals between the Roman Catholic context and the Protestant context — that many readers found unsupportable. The author agreed to change the column. The version published below contains a slight alteration to the second sentence of the second paragraph, elimination of what had been the eighth paragraph, and a replacement of the final paragraph.)
His revised conclusion [bold face is ours]:
An angry population of abused Christians and those who love them and advocate for them is demanding that churches of all types stop the child sexual abuse in their midst. While many other structures of modern life have heightened the protections offered to children, the churches have lagged behind — with disastrous consequences. The Baptist situation may be no better than the Catholic, only shielded more deeply from view. This situation demands reform, immediately, for the sake of the vulnerable and abused children among us — not to mention for the sake of the gospel witness, so desecrated by the abuse behind our stained-glass windows.
Please read the entire piece here.
Father Tom Doyle, now 65, was a canon lawyer for the Vatican embassy in Washington when he was assigned to investigate a Lafayette, Louisiana, case of a pedophile priest who admitted molesting more than 30 children. Ruben Rosario of Pioneer Press discussed in an interview with Doyle how the priest’s local archdiocese officials decided to hide the crimes and transfer the child predator from one parish to another, where he abused again.
Doyle, a fellow priest and a criminal defense attorney reacted in 1985 by assembling, on their own initiative, “a 100-page report warning church officials to come clean about the abuses and respond to the needs of victims rather than protect abusive priests from secular prosecution or protect — at all costs — the church’s status and image. The report, sent to virtually every U.S. bishop, was largely ignored.”
His initiative and prescient warning were followed by victim advocacy — a path which led to demotion, the status of a pariah and ultimately cost him his job.
He told Rosario that the church can regain its reputation and restore lost confidence in it:
Doyle: To begin the process of restoration, I believe that the current pope needs to stand up and make a public apology. Not that those mistakes were made in the past — they always do in the past tense and there’s a subtle message there that this is in the past and not now. The pope should say: “I’m sorry for what I did in my negligence to allow this to happen. I’m sorry that I did not fire bishops when I knew they were covering up.”
But I don’t believe that will ever happen in my lifetime.
Doyle: Because to protect their own self-identity, they will cling to the premise that they are appointed by the Almighty and are the vicars of Christ and the essence of the church. They believe this will dissolve their power. It’s all about control, and it’s all about power.
Read the entire interview here.