Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Neuhaus on Problems of the Roman Church

Neuhaus in First Things:

Beginning in the 1780s and up through the nineteenth century, some Catholic laity were attracted to the voluntaristic idea of church membership and church government that they saw in the Protestant denominations around them. Parishes elected lay “trustees” who took charge of the temporal affairs of the churches, including the salaries and, in some cases, the appointment of clergy. This American model, as it was called, was encouraged by a few bishops such as John England of Charleston, South Carolina, but Rome and the great majority of bishops viewed it, correctly, as a form of “congregationalism” incompatible with the Catholic understanding of the divine constitution of the Church. Trusteeism was effectively suppressed by the end of the nineteenth century, being replaced by patterns of what the NRB rightly calls the “clericalism” that has much to do with the “Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States.” Still today, priests, and priests who become bishops, are trained to take alarm at the slightest hint of “trusteeism.” That is why, among other things, parish pastors expend inordinate time and energy on the minutiae of administration that could be better handled by laypeople. That is why bishops engaged in the practices of autocracy, secrecy, and cover-up that contributed so powerfully to the current crisis.


The incidence of reported abuse increased significantly in the 1960s, peaked in the ’70s, and then decreased in the ’80s and ’90s even more dramatically than it had increased during the prior two decades. During the entire period studied, 4.3 percent of diocesan priests were accused but only 2.7 percent of priests in religious orders.


Of the more than four thousand priests accused of abusing minors, more than half (56 percent) had only one allegation against them. Three percent had ten or more allegations. These 149 priests accounted for almost three thousand (27 percent) of the allegations. Of the 109,694 priests in active ministry during these 52 years,...

Neuhaus in a different article says

It would appear that there are many more incidents of priests having a sexual relationship with an adult woman or man than with minors. Such relationships are, in many cases, not viewed as a major problem because they usually do not have legal, financial, or public relations consequences for the Church, and are therefore deemed to be “nobody’s business.”

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