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The Very Big Deal Catholic Crisis

I have been in Italy one week, and have had countless rich, stimulating conversations with Italian Catholic friends. Yet I find that I struggle to convey the gravity of the scandal roiling the US Catholic Church. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to many folks here. Some think it’s nothing more than a political attack on Pope Francis. Others agree that it’s bad, but they say the Church has always been corrupt to a certain degree, and don’t grasp why Americans are so worked up about it.

“The thing you have to understand about Italians,” said a journalist friend today, “is that we think the Church has always been there, and always will be. And we think that the Pope is usually right, whoever he is. It’s our natural stance.”

(Mind you, he wasn’t justifying it, only explaining to me why there is so much resistance here to the idea that this current scandal is a Very Big Deal.)

Well, I wish I could print out Jonathan V. Last’s new piece in the Weekly Standard [1] and hand out copies to every Italian Catholic I meet who is interested in talking about the scandal — and even those who aren’t (because it truly is a Very Big Deal). This is the best piece I’ve yet read summarizing the situation and delineating its stakes. It is a lucid review of what we know about the scandal, and what it means. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Last sums up the McCarrick situation thus:

If true, this would mean that we have one cardinal who was a sanctioned sexual predator, (at least) one cardinal who turned a blind eye to this man’s crimes as they were happening within his jurisdiction, and a pope who didn’t just look the other way but took affirmative steps to help both the criminal and his enabler.

And if all of that is true, well, then what? The potential answers to this question aren’t very nice. They include: schism, the destruction of the papacy, and a long war for the soul of the Catholic church. Because the story of Theodore McCarrick isn’t just a story about sexual abuse. It’s about institutions and power.

Yes, exactly. It is about sex, and it is about money, but at bottom it’s about power, and its abuse. More:


The institutional damage is done not by the abusers but by the structures that cover for them, excuse them, and advance them. Viewed in that way, the damage done to the Catholic church by Cardinal Wuerl—and every other bishop who knew about McCarrick and stayed silent—is several orders of magnitude greater than that done by McCarrick himself.

By way of analogy, consider the dirty cop. About once a week we see evidence of police officers behaving in ways that range from the imprudent to the illegal. It has no doubt been this way since Hammurabi deputized the first lawman. But while individuals might be harmed by rogue cops, the system of law enforcement isn’t jeopardized by police misbehavior. The damage to the system comes when the other mechanisms of law enforcement protect, rather than prosecute, bad cops. If that happens often enough, citizens can eventually decide that the system is broken and take to the ballot box to reform it. The laity have no such recourse with the church.

This point cannot be emphasized strongly enough! People have been saying to me for a dozen years now, “Why did you leave the Catholic Church over pedophile priests? Every church is going to have pedophiles. That doesn’t make the teachings of the Church untrue.”

Yes, I know.

It wasn’t the pedophile priests that did in my faith. It was the bishops who protected them. That is, the men who ran the system were so morally and spiritually corrupt that in most cases they went out of their way to protect pedophile priests at the expense of children and their families. A priest friend back in 2002 told me that it was impossible to understand the sexual abuse scandal apart from a more general crisis in the Catholic Church. For example (he said), bishops protected these pedophile priests in part because they had lost a sense that the Church is supposed to be about something greater than serving the perceived interests of its ruling class (the clergy). The failure to react like any normal human being would to a sin as horrific as child molestation was in part a manifestation of a loss of sense of sin, period. Bishops had come to see themselves primarily as managers of an institution — an institution whose chief goal was its own perpetuation.

I could go on like this on a number of topics. The point is, the Church crisis is, as the kids like to say these days, intersectional. At some juncture, I quit believing that the US bishops, on the whole, cared about anything but protecting themselves. Once I lost that faith, it became hard to hold on to the belief that my eternal salvation depended on maintaining communion with them. I have said before that leaving the Catholic Church was, for me, like being an animal with its leg caught in a trap, who chews off its own limb to escape. From what was I trying to escape? The certainty that there was nothing I or anyone else could do to change things. The bishops were willing to lie to everyone, including themselves, to preserve their power and status. If the Pope wasn’t willing to bring about justice and reform, then it wasn’t going to happen, period. Many of my friends had the inner strength to bear that. I did not. The weight of anger and depression broke me. People who fault me intellectually for losing my faith might as well blame a man with broken legs for dropping out of a marathon.

I don’t want to have those familiar theological arguments again in the comments of this thread. I’m simply trying to amplify the point that J.V. Last makes in his essay: that because the Catholic Church’s ecclesial structure, there is no way for people within it to hold bishops to account. It’s especially a Catholic thing, but not exclusively a Catholic thing. Four years ago, a reader of this blog named Steve Billingsley left this comment on a thread:

I served for a decade as a pastor in the United Methodist Church – whose U.S. membership has declined over 30% in the last 45 years despite a very real and vibrant plurality of theologically orthodox (small “o”) members (and a booming membership in Africa and Central and South America). I served in one of the saner and more healthy regions (Central Texas) and was continually frustrated by the persistent tendency to major on minors and a denominational bureaucracy that was self-indulgent and clueless. (When I left the UMC ministry – my district superintendent told me that he (along with over half of his colleagues) was on anti-depressants and that he suspected that when he retired he wouldn’t need them anymore.)

Understand – I’m not against anti-depressant medication – it can literally be a lifesaver for folks suffering from clinical depression – but he was telling me that his job environment was so toxic that he needed to drug himself to cope (and frankly saw no irony in that fact). This is just symbolic of the denial that so many in leadership in these denominations live in. Our annual conferences were multi-day exercises in self congratulation and furrowed brow deliberation over countless resolutions that accomplished nothing other than solidify the entrenched political power of the denominational apparatchiks. Clueless old-school church politicians fighting over the remaining scraps of organizational power deluding themselves into thinking all is well.

I wouldn’t characterize it as a “liberal” vs “conservative” divide or even simply as orthodoxy vs heresy. It is taking the faith seriously enough to wrestle with serious issues in one’s own life and the life of one’s church and to trust that the faith that was delivered to us by our forebears through centuries of struggles, victories and defeats is not to be lightly cast aside for passing trends and the spirit of the age.

This is pretty close to what I observed among the Catholic bishops. It wasn’t so much that they were evil (though some, like McCarrick, were) as that they just didn’t take things seriously. Maintaining organizational power — now that was something they took very seriously.

I wish to point out yet again historian Barbara Tuchman’s three aspects of why the Renaissance popes lost half of Europe to the Protestant Reformation:

1. obliviousness to the growing disaffection of constituents
2. primacy of self-aggrandizement
3. illusion of invulnerable status

Tuchman said that these are persistent aspects of folly, and recur throughout human institutions. It seems to me, though, that those in religious authority are especially vulnerable to them, because they convince themselves that they are working for God, and so everything they do must be correct because of the fact that they do it.

Back to Last. He writes about the deep confusion with which Francis has governed in his pontificate, and how radical Francis has been, and the long-term consequences of this pope’s actions, for which he refuses to be held accountable in any way (e.g., refusing to acknowledge the dubia, which are the Church’s mechanism for allowing cardinals to compel a pope to clarify things theologically). Last argues that Francis is laying the groundwork for a total renovation of Catholic teachings on marriage, family, and sexuality. And:

Whether or not it’s coincidence, the American bishops in the most jeopardy now—McCarrick, Wuerl, Cupich, Tobin—are also the ones closest to Francis and most supportive of his desire to revolutionize the church.

Last concludes with four options out of this crisis: papal resignation (extremely unlikely, and a bad idea); surrender (shrugging it all off, and thereby letting the wicked triumph); schism (a bad idea); and resistance.

By “resistance,” Last means the laity withholding funds from bishops, and organizing for the long game — like, laying the groundwork for future papacies. That seems to me to be the only reasonable path forward for Catholics, but as Last puts it in this piece, that is a political option (politics being the method by which power is organized and distributed).

The deepest and most necessary form of resistance, though, has to be in the daily lives of the faithful. I conceived The Benedict Option [2] as a project of Christian resistance to post-Christian modernity. It would be necessary for Catholics even if a vigorous Benedict XVI were still on the papal throne. It is necessary for us non-Catholics too. The core problem facing all Christians in the West these days is not primarily political, though politics (in the sense that I indicated in the previous paragraph) are part of it.

But as Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the longtime personal secretary to Benedict XVI, said this week in the Vatican, the gravity of the crisis engulfing the Catholic Church today gives the Benedict Option a certain urgence.  [3]

Read the whole thing. [1] I’m not kidding — please, read it. Every word.

I was in a taxi coming back to the hotel from lunch in Milan when an American Catholic friend texted me a link to Last’s piece. I read it in the car, then we continued texting about it. I told my friend that it deeply concerned me that so many Italians — including, of course, within the Vatican — simply do not grasp the seriousness of the moment, and the threat it poses to the stability of the Catholic Church. Many seem to be more afraid of moralism than the self-destruction Wuerl, McCarrick, and Francis are wreaking on the Church. He added:

And of course Ivereigh, Faggioli and others are trying to spin this as an American thing and to quarantine the contagion.  We’ll see what happens.  It looks like an irresistible force colliding with an immovable object.  But when you expand the field of vision from the abuse crisis, narrowly speaking, to the bigger picture as Last has done, its hard to think the irresistible force can ultimately be resisted.  There’s something world-historic going on here.  And it’s going to be very, very rough.

Yes, it will be. Remember: Father Cassian of the monastery of Norcia said three years ago that Christians who want to make it through the darkness coming upon us with their faith intact had better do the Benedict Option. He couldn’t have foreseen this particular crisis, but now that it’s here, his words have incredible potency.

Finally, I want to share with you a powerful short piece from The Federalist, written by two Protestants who are worried about the Catholic crisis, and who explain why every Christian should be. [4] Excerpt:

It is absolutely essential that Catholics grasp the depth of this crisis.  As we have said, we think it will become as severe and as comprehensive as the crisis of the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. With remarkable swiftness, Catholicism simply collapsed in what had been Catholic strongholds — most of Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Scotland, and very nearly France. In recent decades, Catholicism has likewise lost its grip in what had been bastions — like French Canada, Spain, Ireland, and Brazil.

Forty years ago, virtually the entire population of southern Ireland turned out to welcome Pope John Paul II. A few weeks ago, the Irish population essentially shunned [5] the visiting Pope Francis, and the Irish prime minister gave him a stern lecture [6] on his church’s reduced place in that country. What would St. Patrick, who, despite just escaping from slavery in pagan Ireland, returned to the island after hearing the screams of the damned in his dreams, think of the church today?

As goes Ireland, so will go the rest of Roman Catholic Christendom. The church in Germany has been rocked by scandal and there are thousands of known-victims [7]. Already, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is under judgment in Chile, the United States, Australia, France, and Honduras. The crisis has long since gone global.

In fact, as the Catholic scholar Benjamin Wiker has argued [8], the current crisis is more threatening for the Catholic Church than the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. For one thing, the Reformation began in a society that was still overwhelmingly Christian. Some historians of the pre-Reformation period even argue that Christian piety was deepening and broadening in the run-up to the Reformation, and that the Christian laity was already assuming a more prominent role in managing church affairs (a development greatly accelerated by Lutherans and Calvinists). But the contemporary Western world seems rapidly to be losing whatever residual Christianity was left in it. That makes a Catholic recovery more problematic.

Read the whole thing.  [4]

As the authors, Willis L. Krumholz and Robert Delahunty, point out, it simply will not do for Catholics to assume that because the Church has been through something like this before, and survived, that it will do so again. The Church in the West has never faced a crisis like this, precisely because it is happening in a post-Christian culture, and in a media environment in which news travels globally in an instant. Pope Francis’s strategic silence in response to the Viganò testimony might have worked in every previous century, but not this one. Technology, and the change in consciousness that it effects, will not let him get away with it.

And because this scandal is about power, the Church’s leadership cannot forget that the crisis occurs in an age of radical individualism, which is to say, radical democracy. As a cultural and psychological matter, people do not feel bound to remain under the authority of a hierarchy they deem corrupt or in any way unacceptable. Maybe they’re wrong to think that way, but that is what it means to live in modernity. The Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor says that we live in “a secular age” not because everyone has left religion behind, but because unlike prior to the Reformation, everyone knows that religion is at some level a choice. Everybody knows people who are not believers, and who seem to be doing okay. There are far, far fewer external boundaries — in law and culture — to keep individuals bound to particular religions, or religious institutions. This is the world we live in.

If you had looked out at, say, the Netherlands in 1955, you would have seen what looked on the surface to be a coherent, vibrant, popular church. And you would have been massively shocked when just a few years later, everything collapsed. Same with Ireland in more recent times. If you think America is an exception to this trend, you are not only wrong, but dangerously wrong.

Archbishop Gänswein used plainly apocalyptic language in his talk in Rome this week. This is a man who, serving Joseph Ratzinger as secretary since 2003, has been at the very summit of the Catholic Church. Now he’s talking soberly about this crisis as being perhaps part of the last and worst trial before the Second Coming.

Think about what that means. Think about the significance of a man who has seen what Georg Gänswein has seen, saying that.

The storm surge has just begun for Catholics. Prepare. 

UPDATE: An Italian friend shared with me Father Antonio Spadaro’s tweet, which I’ve reproduced with the translation. You want to know one reason why Pope Francis is badly mishandling the scandal? This genius is one of his top advisors:

UPDATE.2: An Italian-speaking reader writes with a more accurate translation of Spadaro’s tweeet:

The Vigano affair is an internal matter related to the tensions within the Church in the United States. Created by ecclesiastical squabblers, it is a poison produced by a body of political-economic interests who have found in the Church a bogus “moral” refuge. Will we not soon see that the poison kills the diseased body which produced it?

100 Comments (Open | Close)

100 Comments To "The Very Big Deal Catholic Crisis"

#1 Comment By Houstonian On September 14, 2018 @ 9:00 pm


This just in: DiNardo just as hapless. Listen to the recorded interview with the (male) victim who was told he should have spoken up sooner. Not a good omen for DiNardo’s Vatican visit.

#2 Comment By Andrew S. On September 14, 2018 @ 9:06 pm

Withholding funds from bishops won’t work unless laity make it clear why they’re not giving money. Instead of just skipping Mass or not putting anything in the collection plate, I suggest placing a copy of Last’s Weekly Standard article in your church envelope in lieu of money. Any relevant article in the press about the most recent stage in the episcopal coverup of sex abuse will work just as well. The parish clergy–especially those who are not wired into the news or who get their Catholic news exclusively from Catholic Digest and the like–will be confronted with the visible resistance from their own parishioners, which they won’t be able to characterize as some mysterious far-off bogeyman along the lines of Spadaro’s fantasies. Tell your priests WHY you’re withholding the money. That’s key.

#3 Comment By Hound of Ulster On September 14, 2018 @ 9:24 pm

I, a convert to Orthodoxy, say ‘let it burn’.

If my choices are between mass-market ‘liberal’ capitalism, and the degenerate culture it produces, and the modernist barbarism of the self-appointed ‘defenders’ of ‘Western civilization (TM)’, I say let it die.

And build a New Byzantium on the ashes, just as our Orthodox forebearers did after 476 AD.

#4 Comment By Sara On September 14, 2018 @ 10:00 pm

I’m willing to accept the premise that those four cardinals and Pope Francis want to change the theology of the Church although I am a little confused about how 4 can force 120 to do something, but we’ll forget about that for the moment. Let’s just say it is a fact that these 5 want to change the Church and have played a long game to do so.

The tie in that Last makes between this political coup and the abuse crisis is that 80% of victims were male and “it’s strange that the people who most want to open the church sacramentally to homosexuality are the ones strenuously ignoring the abuse”. I’m not trying to troll when I say that seems to me to be a very major charge with little evidence presented. The covering up of abuse cases seems to me to be virtually universal in scope and involving all levels of the hierarchy, not just now but in the past as well. Let’s not forget that Cardinal Law covered up for a ton of abusive priests including a single one who abused at least 130 kids! And Benedict XVI made him ArchPriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome making him a Vatican citizen (which some saw as an attempt to protect him from criminal prosecution although I don’t think his behavior was actually illegal at the time). Are they part of the gay cabal?

So, yeah, I see a political coup that may rip the church apart but I don’t see it as part and parcel of the sexual abuse scandal. They are related in that homosexuality is a component of both but that’s about as far as it goes, I think. I’ll also note that coverups and poor responses by the church (lack of repentance, legal shenanigans, etc) were evident in other scandals like the orphanages, laundries, etc and so are not unique in any way to the sexual abuse scandals. Going even further, the protection of the institution seems to be the way of it in universities, Hollywood companies and a wide variety of other organizations.

#5 Comment By Netherbury On September 14, 2018 @ 10:11 pm

I, too, thought Last’s analysis was excellent. Only I would add a fifth possible outcome: Getting Francis to resign and bringing Benedict back.

#6 Comment By MikeS On September 14, 2018 @ 10:16 pm

Now that this is an international big deal, I notice that some of your commenters who used to object that it’s not such a big deal, are not commenting anymore.

#7 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 14, 2018 @ 10:24 pm

“… if the gates of hell were to prevail against the Catholic faith … every other expression of Christ-following will eventually go down with it.”

It’s a disaster, for sure. But that complete collapse of Christianity would happen only if the Roman Catholic organization really were the sole representative of God on earth no matter the crimes of its rulers. The fact is, the universal church, the individual Christians to be found in all denominations, Roman or not, will never be snatched from Jesus’ hand, regardless of what worse fate awaits unfaithful corporate entities and hierarchical bureaucracies. The gates of Hell will not be opening to receive them, no matter the disposition of popes, prelates or pedophiles.

#8 Comment By PoppaG On September 14, 2018 @ 11:14 pm

Benjamin Bravo wrote:

1) With respect… (you) quit. This makes it very difficult to believe your overly alarmist apocalyptic reports.
– As an Orthodox priest, I continue to get the same impression from Rod’s articles. If Rod left the Roman Catholic religion behind, why such intensity?

Benjamin Bravo wrote:
2) The Church is always already about salvation, not power. Luther failed to grasp this. So do you. She either is or is not the one true faith, nothing else ultimately matters. Why should I let human weakness and malice, no matter how profound and ugly, destroy my salvation in the Body of Christ?
– Excellent point, Benjamin! If one is a believing RC, who accepts their church as the historic one, scandals should only call one toward a personal survival strategy – not departure. On the other hand, an Orthodox Christian (such as Rod) should view the RCs as a group of Christians who a millennium ago fell away from the historic Church (i.e. the Orthodox Church), such that no “strategy” to save the sinking ship would matter, or could change her course.

If the RCs are the historic Church, they won’t sink. Any Orthodox Christian, however, would see the current situation as the gates of hell prevailing against a breakaway group.

Where is Rod on this?

#9 Comment By John On September 14, 2018 @ 11:23 pm

I am not a member or active supporter of the Society of St. Pius also known as the SSPX. They are a priestly society who lead by AB Lefebre, a French prelate, refused to accept certain aspects of the last Catholic ecumenical council (V2).

For that stance and because he ordained four bishops without Papal approval he was excommunicated by JP 2. Benedict XVI revoked the excommunication after he became Pope. However, the society is still in an irregular situation, they still have not been recognized by the Church as a canonically accepted society.

I have never heard many sexual abuse problems among them. But if they had any they must have handled it well or their many modernist, liberal detractors would have made sure to widely publicize it.

Those Catholics who contemplate leaving might the Church should consider adhering to the Society, especially bishops. Those who elect to join are not denying the Pope, even PF. They would continue at Mass to pray for the Francis. The present Society bishops, priest, and faithful do at every Mass. What they refuse to do is to accept the changes in teachings and praxis where the innovations of V 2 violate constant Catholic teachings, officially held by everyone and always, up until the closing of the Council in 1965.

The SSPX bishops do not control the Society. The bishops only provide the sacraments (which are valid but not licit, except for confession and marriage, those exceptions were approved by Pope Francis). The Society is governed by geographically based Superiors who are simple priests.

Interestingly, that governing model seems too be more modern and more flexible than the feudal system still prevailing in the Church every where else. The Chair of Peter does not become superfluous. Quite to the contrary it seems to be restored to its original purpose Jesus proposed for Peter.
Today the successor of Peter is acting in an arbitrary fashion; prefers political ideology and ignores the commands of Jesus to his apostles to go out and teach all nations about the gospel.

The present hierarchy is also more interested in staying in charge than protecting the flock from abusive clergy.

If our Pope and bishops would follow their original charges, our present problems would be coming from the outside and not chiefly from the inside. We the sheep have rabid dogs guarding us. That is our problem that needs to be urgently remedied.

#10 Comment By anon_the_second On September 14, 2018 @ 11:37 pm

As hard as it is we MUST pray for Francis. He alone is in a position to turn the Church back onto the straight and narrow road before she goes over the cliff and takes many millions of souls down with her. I would like to share this image which I came on yesterday. It shows Francis confronting what he has done. It awakened in me a keen sense of charity towards him and his desperate companions. Pray that this outcome can be averted. It is not too late!


(The source is The Onion but even a stopped clock, etc.)

#11 Comment By Carlo Cristofori On September 15, 2018 @ 1:02 am

As much as I appreciate your invaluable reporting on this, I continue to get the impression (despite your repeated denials) that you are propagandizing for Roman Catholics to jump ship. After all — that is the only course of action a reasonable and thoughtful person like Rod Dreher found intellectually and spiritually available.

Your write so much more powerfully of the “Benedict Option” (and the massive Satanic problems which beset the Church) when you are writing or presenting in a Catholic context. It is so unfortunate you are not in communion with the Church.

[NFR: I absolutely do not propagandize for Catholics to jump ship. If Catholics (or Protestants, or anybody else) wants to speak with me about what I have found in Orthodoxy, I am happy to do so. The crisis we are all in is one that cannot be “solved” by converting to Orthodoxy. That is my message. If you want to stay Catholic, then I encourage you to do things within your own tradition that will strengthen your faith in Christ and your resilience in the face of modernity. I have said this over and over again. It does not imply that I think all versions of Christianity are equally true — I don’t believe this — but it does say that in promoting the Benedict Option, I attempt to speak from a more ecumenical point of view. — RD]

#12 Comment By education realist On September 15, 2018 @ 4:32 am

I’ve said this before, but I’m really astonished that I see no one considering the other possibility–namely, that this isn’t a deep dark secret the church is hiding by looking the other way, but that the church itself is actively supporting and encouraging sexual predators and has been for decades, if not more.

So above, some asks: “I don’t support RCC bishops at all, but could you clarify what, in your view, is the mechanism that causes all US RCC bishops to be that corrupt..?”

and Rod answers: “I think that the system must select for men who never rock the boat”

Why is it not equally likely, if not more likely, that the church leadership is actively sexually offending with young children and teens, and that it’s impossible to advance unless you are either an eager offender or someone who understands that the price of moving ahead is to ignore the offenders?

Rod has addressed this possibly indirectly, by talking about the “gay priest” phenomenon, but that still makes it sound as if it was just a fluke. I think the possibility should at least be considered that the Catholic church is an organization that decades or more ago became permeated by sexual predators (or some combination of gay non-predators and otherwise) and that this is just how it is. That any non-gay, non-predator person called to the priesthood was the fluke, not the other way round.

#13 Comment By VikingLS On September 15, 2018 @ 5:40 am

@Chris in Appalachia

There is already a church that has the same apostolic tradition. It’s called the Orthodox Church, and no you do NOT have to be Greek or Russian to attend .

Depending on where you are in Appalachia I might even know a local parish.

#14 Comment By JonF On September 15, 2018 @ 6:52 am

Re: I, a convert to Orthodoxy, say ‘let it burn’.

I don’t, too many people of good faith would be hurt.

And I tried to say this yesterday but my phone went wonky. Rod does a bit of a bait and switch here, seguing from the abuse outrages to Francis attempts to modify church praxis (no, not doctrine). But the two have no necessary connection: the crisis began well before Francis; pontificate and conservative popes (cough– JPII– cough) flubbed it too. The crisis is much bigger than Vatican politics (though the latter have certainly played a role, and not under Francis, in preventing the matter from being properly addressed) and the business should not be used to further anti-Francis intrigues. The solution needs to involve the whole church, not just this or that faction.

#15 Comment By Italian Guy On September 15, 2018 @ 7:38 am

Here’s a better translation:

The Vigano affair is an internal matter related to the tensions within the Church in the United States. Created by ecclesiastical squabblers, it is a poison produced by a body of political-economic interests who have found in the Church a bogus “moral” refuge. Will we not soon see that the poison kills the diseased body which produced it?

#16 Comment By Ted On September 15, 2018 @ 9:17 am

Hound of Ulster: Orthodox triumphalism. That’s a new one on me (outside Dostoevsky). Can’t say I’m liking it much on the hoof.

Matt in VA: “Conservative Christians have fifty billion keyboard Chestertons and approximately zero real-life leverage.” Wow. Boy can write. And tell the truth.

Wish the Last article was as good as Dreher seemed to think, largely because of what Matt in VA writes (also could have done without the neocon commercial in the middle section). Not that the piece is bad, it’s mostly, though, JUST TOO EARLY to suggest any course of action because NOBODY KNOWS WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN and there are too many moving parts. Plus, if you’re like me, you’re still suffering from PTSD. Mostly, as Matt in VA points out, Last tied this horror too closely to doctrine. That is a mistake, because it’s partly inaccurate. While it’s critical to keep hammering at JPII’s toleration of corruption and predation, and skipping many steps, what this particular mess has done is expose the post Vatican II Church’s DOCTRINAL incoherence (yes), not something you could say about Catholicism in the past.

#17 Comment By Susan On September 15, 2018 @ 9:18 am

The Patrick option is more daring. He got free from slavery, then rushed BACK into harms way to rescue others.

I would compare your escape from Catholicism to the abolitionists who were socially hounded out of the South. They secured a more comfortable life for themselves in the north but entrenched slavery even more by their absence than if they had stayed to fight.

An imperfect analogy because the Church is divine unlike the South. But for that very reason it is more worth fighting for.

[NFR: I don’t consider that I “escaped” from Catholicism. And you seem to presume that I still know that Catholicism is true, but I made a conscious choice to leave it, knowing that. This presumption is simply false. — RD]

#18 Comment By Another James On September 15, 2018 @ 9:57 am

Chris in Appalachia says:
September 14, 2018 at 1:52 pm

I hope God will call “retired” Pope Benedict to take the traditional Catholics away and start a new Christian church that still has the Apostolic succession that the Catholic Church is always crowing about. I would support that. Then, in the old Catholic church, let the dead bury their own dead.

Now that is an intriguing thought.

#19 Comment By Eric Mader On September 15, 2018 @ 10:07 am


How would you answer PoppaG’s questions above? You have often stated your basic solidarity with Catholicism as a bulwark of the West, so of course there’s that.

[NFR: And that’s 80 percent of my “intensity” on the issue. The rest is care for my many Roman Catholic friends, who are suffering. Back when I was in college and working at the campus paper, I heard a rumor that there was going to be something big happening at Jimmy Swaggart’s church on Sunday morning. I couldn’t stand the guy, and hoped he was going to be brought down somehow. I was in the audience at the Family Worship Center for Swaggart’s big, teary “I have sinned against you, my Lord” confession speech. I immediately felt satisfaction over it, along the lines of, “You hypocrite, you’re getting what you deserve! You and your gullible followers!” But then I looked around and saw all the people sitting around me, sobbing. Most of them were dressed like working class and poor people. I walked back to my car feeling ashamed of myself over my contempt for those people. Their hearts were breaking, and breaking hard. I’ve always remembered that lesson — and I’ve always had a special anger for religious leaders who betray the trust of the common man. I should also point out that from a purely journalistic point of view, what’s happening to the Roman Catholic Church right now is by far the biggest religion story in the world. — RD]

#20 Comment By Sid_finster On September 15, 2018 @ 10:08 am

The Hound accurately describes the only thing that will save Christianity (the only thing the BenOp will do is buy time until the West collapses) and our earthly selves as well.

A.I. Solzhenitsyn wrote a prophetic essay: “Repentance and the Life of Nations*. Unfortunately, we rarely repent or change our when all seems well.

It’s only when we hit rock bottom.

#21 Comment By VikingLS On September 15, 2018 @ 10:10 am

“I, a convert to Orthodoxy, say ‘let it burn’.”

I, as a 20 year convert to Orthodoxy, say you need to to confess this statement as a sin, and if your priest says it’s okay, you have a bad confessor.

“Hound of Ulster: Orthodox triumphalism. That’s a new one on me (outside Dostoevsky). Can’t say I’m liking it much on the hoof.”

New converts a frequently flaming jerks about other forms of Christianity.

Hound of Ulster probably can’t see the similarity between his “let it burn” comments and the Bolsheviks who persecuted his fellow Orthodox, or the Muslim extremists who are doing it now, but it’s there, and as an Orthodox all I can do is apologize for my “brother” in the faith.

He’ll either leave Orthodoxy, or he’ll grow out of it.

#22 Comment By VikingLS On September 15, 2018 @ 10:12 am

@Chris in Appalachia

Okay, now Hound of Ulster has obliged me to add, PLEASE do NOT judge Orthodoxy on the basis of the enthusiasms of Orthodox Christians who post online.

#23 Comment By Sid_finster On September 15, 2018 @ 10:24 am

@Prof CJ: as someone who has family in Poland, who was partly educated in Poland, who worked in Poland and who speaks a fair amount of Polish at home (although I have not, afaik, a drop of Slavic blood in me) the reasons for Poland’s apparent blithe prosperity are because it can export its unemployment and social pathologies to the EU, and at the same time take advantage of remittances and massive EU structural adjustment payments.

#24 Comment By Just a Baptist On September 15, 2018 @ 11:57 am

Benjamin Bravo wrote:
2) The Church is always already about salvation, not power. Luther failed to grasp this. So do you.

So did Jan Hus.
So did William Tyndale.

#25 Comment By Rob G On September 15, 2018 @ 11:58 am

~~I don’t consider that I “escaped” from Catholicism. And you seem to presume that I still know that Catholicism is true, but I made a conscious choice to leave it, knowing that. This presumption is simply false.~~

Unfortunately, with a certain type of Catholic that’s always the presumption. Triumphalism dies hard.

#26 Comment By Houstonian On September 15, 2018 @ 12:05 pm

@Matt in VA

…maybe that is your impression of conservative Christians because you yourself need to get off your computer screen and get out more…

There are quiet “good works” out there for the love of Hod and neighbour that genuinely help others. This work is by those not seeking “leverage” or man’s approval. Come to my neck of the woods and I’d gladly give you a tour of what bits of the Kingdom look like.

#27 Comment By Houstonian On September 15, 2018 @ 12:07 pm

love of God (obviously)

#28 Comment By EngineerScotty On September 15, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

And build a New Byzantium on the ashes, just as our Orthodox forebearers did after 476 AD.

Except Byzantium isn’t really that much better than Rome. It has different problems, of course; as the currents of history took the West and the (European) East in different directions. But the impulse to tear anything down and replace it with something new and shiny is always a dangerous one. The new Byzantium will be built by many of the refugees from the old one, and you will not be able to control the outcome.

#29 Comment By Ted On September 15, 2018 @ 12:59 pm

Carlo Cristofori: have you ever read “Catch-22”? Most of the book is a series of seemingly loosely connected horror/comic/absurdist episodes in which it is hammered home pretty effectively that the military is, well, horror-comic absurd. But something happens to Yossarian, the protagonist, we’re not permitted to see (like Mme Sosostris) until near the end. Here’s what it is: coming back from a bombing run, a kid named Snowden is hit. Yossarian, the skipper, applies a tourniquet and thinks Snowden’ll be ok. Snowden keeps saying “I’m cold.” Then Yossarian opens Snowden’s jacket and his insides fall out. No tourniquet is going to help him. And then it is brought home that the military is not only absurd, but a death-dealing machine, death is what it’s in business for, and Snowden may already be dead. That’s why Yossarian is crazy throughout the book. The book isn’t perfect, but nobody’s who’s read it can ever forget that scene, at least I haven’t met one.

That’s kind of like what last summer felt like. With all the silly liturgy, and the brutalist architecture, and the mealy mouthed prelates, and the social-justice sermons, one thought it was still, you know, CATHOLICISM, and that somewhere there were grownups who were going to bring us to port. But there weren’t. Snowden is already dead. And Dreher has known this for 15 years. Don’t you think he deserves some slack cut? I’m leaving the Catholic Church, and it wasn’t this blog that made that decision for me. Uncle Ted did.

#30 Comment By Madeline Fickinger On September 15, 2018 @ 1:08 pm

This is so scary. What are we, the people in the pews, supposed to do? As Peter said to Jesus,”Lord, where do we go?” or words like that? I will not give up my faith. The bishops and Frances can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.

#31 Comment By Fr Martin Fox On September 15, 2018 @ 1:30 pm

RE: Chris in Appalachia’s idea of former Pope Benedict starting a new Church…

It’s not going to happen. It’s wrong all sorts of ways.

First, Benedict’s health probably is fragile, and his sense that he lacked the strength to govern is still there and surely worsened.

Second, Benedict said he resigned freely. If so, then he ceased to be pope. He has absolutely no claim to lead the Church. None at all.

Third, any such attempt discredits itself. You cannot at the same time claim to be the vanguard of authentic Faith when you directly reject an article of that Faith.

#32 Comment By Kirt Higdon On September 15, 2018 @ 1:46 pm

Rod is much more familiar with Italy and Italians than I am, but I have read and get the impression that Italians are used to corruption in the Church. They also tend to be proprietary, to consider the Church “cosa nostra” (our thing) just as the Sicilians so consider the Mafia. Hence to them, the accession of Francis (a 100% ethnic Italian though an Argentine native) to the papal throne would seem like a return of the papacy to its rightful owners after a couple of foreign interlopers.

#33 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 15, 2018 @ 2:10 pm

“It is so unfortunate you are not in communion with the Church.”

I am of a certainty that Rod Dreher is in communion with The Church, and that I am, too.

Not everything in Roman Catholicism is of God, nor are its claims to exclusivity sustainable.

One could say that the absolute corruption doesn’t mean the corrupters don’t speak the truth.

But do they speak the truth?

One might as well claim that the Soviet Politburo still spoke the truth about the goodness and inevitability of Communism, despite their own behavior debunking it. For them, it clearly had no truth claim for them, by the proof of their faithless behavior.

So it is for those who’ll stand before the Lord, and claimed they prophesied in His name, but will be told He never knew them.

The disciples wanted to discipline those others preaching in Christ’s name – but Jesus told them to leave them alone. It will be sorted out by God who was really following Him, but not by any hierarchy.

#34 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 15, 2018 @ 2:22 pm

“It does not imply that I think all versions of Christianity are equally true — I don’t believe this — but it does say that in promoting the Benedict Option, I attempt to speak from a more ecumenical point of view. — RD]”

I believe it’s a good faith attempt.

However, I think everyone should bear in mind as to whether or not various “official” forms of Christianity are true, that salvation does not depend upon understanding and subscribing to even the most perfect and complex theologies that have been developed.

Were you able to look into the minds of any group of worshipers at any church, you would not find people whose understandings are complete or even without some error, but a range of diversity of thought, even if such really do love God and have accepted Jesus, and are by the Holy Spirit transformed and increasingly following His Way.

Salvation is not just for the educated, those with a high I.Q., or those who adhere religiously to doctrines set out by hierarchs or authorities. That is not what it takes to be acceptable to God.

What does He say?

“What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied, “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus said. “Do this and you will live.”

#35 Comment By sara On September 15, 2018 @ 2:48 pm

[The failure to react like any normal human being would to a sin as horrific as child molestation was in part a manifestation of a loss of sense of sin, period. Bishops had come to see themselves primarily as managers of an institution — an institution whose chief goal was its own perpetuation.
“I don’t support RCC bishops at all, but could you clarify what, in your view, is the mechanism that causes all US RCC bishops to be that corrupt..?”
and Rod answers: “I think that the system must select for men who never rock the boat”]

Do you think that the emphasis on obedience to one’s superior is part of the problem? The structure of the hierarchy is literally “medieval” and feudal – a very strict hierarchy with absolute obedience and loyalty to one’s direct superior. Is there any theological reason for that? Is there any reason, other than to sustain the power of individuals within the church right now, to maintain the strict hierarchy?

It would seem to me that the hierarchy is not THE cause of the sexual abuse crisis or the lavender mafia but it enabled both in a way that a more modern system with distributed power and checks and balances would not.

#36 Comment By sara On September 15, 2018 @ 3:12 pm

This is little stuff, really, when you’re talking political coups, but I’ll still throw it out there.

Thinking about that video of the priest saying that abusing kids wasn’t really a sin, it was a “joke” or “satisfying a need” made me wonder how he got like that. We are all masters at deceiving ourselves and rationalizing our own bad behavior but this is really baffling. It made me wonder what sort of effect it has on a priest to hear confessions frequently and over a long period of time. The effect, I would guess given group psychology, would be to normalize sin. Could it be that hearing confessions is something that should be considered a sort of “combat” assignment that priests get rotated into and out of on a schedule?

About the obedience thing, I realize that a priest has a higher call to obey God and church teachings over a superior priest but the emphasis on obedience and the strict hierarchy added to personal preservation and protection of the institution make it pretty hard to see that, at least it certainly seems so, given the widespread cover-ups.

It seems to me that the Catholic Church wants to simply state how things should be and then expects them to be so. (Did anyone just hear Captain Picard say “Let it be so”? Ok, maybe it was just me.) When it is NOT so, changes need to be made. It blows my mind that the Pontifical Commission re sexual abuse recommended a tribunal to judge bishops in 2015 and nothing has been done to “make it so” in spite of PF officially approving it.

#37 Comment By rick allen On September 15, 2018 @ 3:19 pm

If I may, I’d like to cast my vote with the fools who think this a scandal rather than a cataclysm.

I did “read the whole thing,” and it was pretty much a re-hash of the scandal until I got to about here:

“The most outré of the pope’s initiatives, however, have been his efforts to dismantle the restrictions on admittance of divorced and remarried Catholics to communion…. If such a change is accomplished, the Catholic church would eventually be forced to change all of its teachings on marriage, sexuality, and the family: Divorce, pre-, and -extra-marital sex would all then be sanctioned by the church.”

Well, of course for some time a faction in the Church as been tagging Francis as Antichrist for this. I just don’t go with the idea that, if some part of discipline is relaxed, the next thing you know we’re celebrating Holy Adultery. It seems a typically hysterical reaction to the kind of thing that’s always gone on.

Francis has done what popes have always done about scandal–convene a synod. That’s how the Church operates. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometime the pope is as complicit as anyone in the abuses to be addressed. Anyone who’s unhappy about it is free to go to any of a thousand other Christian communions.

#38 Comment By sara On September 15, 2018 @ 3:36 pm

@ PoppaG says: September 14, 2018 at 11:14 pm
“Benjamin Bravo wrote:
– As an Orthodox priest, I continue to get the same impression from Rod’s articles. If Rod left the Roman Catholic religion behind, why such intensity?
– On the other hand, an Orthodox Christian (such as Rod) should view the RCs as a group of —-Christians who a millennium ago fell away from the historic Church (i.e. the Orthodox Church), such that no “strategy” to save the sinking ship would matter, or could change her course.
If the RCs are the historic Church, they won’t sink. Any Orthodox Christian, however, would see the current situation as the gates of hell prevailing against a breakaway group.
Where is Rod on this?”

I think Rod answered this in his response to @ Carlo Cristofori says: September 15, 2018 at 1:02 am. Here is the last sentence of that response:
[NFR: It does not imply that I think all versions of Christianity are equally true — I don’t believe this — but it does say that in promoting the Benedict Option, I attempt to speak from a more ecumenical point of view. — RD]

I’m protestant and I care about this. I’ve put in quite a lot of time on it, reading various things including the John Jay reports. I think it is important to our society and to Christianity as a whole. It is possible to believe something true while recognizing that it is possible to be wrong. This is called humility. There is a great deal of overlap between Catholics and the Orthodox and even a great deal of overlap among the various versions of Christianity. There are people who are not capable of understanding theology – are they damned to hell? There are plenty of people who are cradle whatevers who don’t and never have understood the theological differences between different groups but truly believe there is a God and Jesus died for them – are they damned to hell? Perhaps you will think me too “MTDish” but it is my belief that God looks at the heart. Having a list of rules and beliefs to claim gives one a sense of control and a sense of holiness and obedience if one does a pretty good job of adhering to them and that is comforting but no one who is human can ever meet the standards of God. That does not mean that we should not try and do the best we can but the very best saint who ever lived still needed Jesus to get to heaven. And the thief on the cross when to heaven without a single word of theology. If it makes you happy to judge Rod’s faith, it’s your choice to do so. I prefer to judge his personality, wit, logic and sarcasm and leave the faith part to God. To each their own.

#39 Comment By Andrew On September 15, 2018 @ 4:25 pm

I disagree with Last, which RD seems to endorse, that financial withholding and disapproval is the most attractive or even only option. Indeed, I don’t see schism as anywhere near as avoidable or even unthinkable as they do. It would be ugly though, that’s for sure. Going unsaid is just what is going to happen when, presumably before Francis as is statistically likely, Benedict XVI, who will be 92 next spring, dies and the more traditional side of Catholicism reacts around the world. Will those Catholics simply accept a funeral presentation and go on as if nothing unusual has happened as Francis and his allies continue to try to liberalize the college of cardinals for any of his successors? I frankly doubt it. Many will believe and behave as if the legitimate Pope has just died. I don’t even find it unthinkable that those who were close to Benedict may comment or release paperwork proof subtly indicating that Benedict himself felt this way post-2013. We certainly have not heard the truth and whole truth about what happened 5+ years ago. Commentators have severely underestimated in my view just how unusual his stepping down was and the suspicions that have now been raised among more orthodox Catholics around the world by the subsequent actions of Pope Francis. Back in 2013, Pope Francis was NOT, people should remember, described as being a terribly liberal or ideologically radical Pope, not by most of the western press at any rate, of course, who, granted, in their pro-sexual revolution, secular way, want exactly that in a Pope. Many Catholics too young to remember the pre-John Paul II Church have been shocked by him; I certainly have been. A schism may be coming whether Catholics want it or not.

#40 Comment By Arthur McGowan On September 15, 2018 @ 4:36 pm

There are two totally PUBLIC mortal sins of the American hierarchy that hardly anyone is mentioning.

1) About 60,000 people (as compared with about 2,000 who were arrested at segregated lunch counters sixty-some years ago) were arrested at abortion clinics from about 1975 to 1993. Then the movement was crushed by the federal government, with no word of protest from the USCCB. Only one bishop taught the cops in his diocese the truth: Removing an obstacle (such as a human being) that is preventing a crime is to become an accomplice to the crime. Thus, cops who removed rescuers made themselves accomplices to abortions. That one bishop was René Gracida. And he provided the police with letters to present to their superiors, informing them that obeying orders in this case was a mortal sin.

2) Giving Communion to abortion enthusiasts in public office. This is ALWAYS grave matter–a mortal sin.

Any Catholic who wants to know whether the hierarchy has been reformed doesn’t need to engage in any sort of inquisition. Just watch:

1) Have the USCCB and your bishop apologized for their dereliction (or their predecessors’) in the matter of pro-life rescues.

2) Has the USCCB rescinded its OFFICIAL POLICY (Cf. “Catholics in Political Life.”) that a bishop may “legitimately” give Communion to pro-aborts? Has your bishop stopped coercing or allowing priests to give Communion to pro-aborts?

#41 Comment By ChrisR On September 15, 2018 @ 5:54 pm


To the insider, nothing is worse than causing scandal for the Church. And it is easier to sweep scandals under the rug if one can console oneself with the belief that the true life is a supernatural life. Clericalism is underpinned by supernaturalism. So while it is true that the institution needs to change, it is also true that long-established teachings may need to be looked at again. I suspect that one of the reasons that immanentism is so consistently demonised is that it brings with it a focus on what is going on in this world. When St Paul wrote of us all being changed from one degree of glory to the next, he was speaking of the here and now. All of our faces are resplendent. In the orthodox tradition the uncreated light is a real light, but in the west we have moved away from this knowledge. Conveniently for many as it turns out.

#42 Comment By Mia On September 15, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

One question I’ve been meaning to ask about the McCarrick scandal is what has been discussed either in or outside of the church regarding McCarrick’s personal connections to secular politicians in the US and around the world. I seem to recall that he went on some mission to Iran to get some political prisoners freed during his time of prayer and penance or something, but if that’s so, under whose authority would he be doing that? It matters if he was really tight with many powerful secular people because as much as people want to believe dealing with these issues is just cut and dried and easy, I know from experience it isn’t just because of these sorts of behind the scenes balance of power issues that people don’t see but that come into play. In a place like DC particularly with its reputation for being a spy center for the world, repercussions may not be normal for what seem to be uncontroversial actions:


We aren’t talking about some country priest here but major cities of world powers and one of the oldest political and religious institutions in the world, both of which bring with it quite an ugly reality far removed from the rest of the church’s rather pedestrian understanding of life and modes of operation.

So far we’ve kind of cut McCarrick off from everyone but the pope and Cardinal Wuerl, but the cast of characters is actually quite large and far-flung. (And I’m not super impressed by characterizations of Pope Benedict’s so called sanctions on McCarrick either, which seem to have been half-hearted and weakly enforced if enforced at all. Then there’s the fact this was known all the way back to John Paul….)

The Italians understand corruption and aren’t as surprised by these things. After all, the mafia have been among some of their most devout (at least superficially) for decades.

#43 Comment By Mia On September 15, 2018 @ 6:07 pm

“As hard as it is we MUST pray for Francis. He alone is in a position to turn the Church back onto the straight and narrow road before she goes over the cliff and takes many millions of souls down with her.”

I think my point of uncertainty here is whether men who get to these positions actually have any power in the institutions they serve at all to do much. Are they the king everyone must obey no matter what, or are they figureheads that everyone just flatters and deceived while the real power brokers behind the scenes are pulling the strings and keeping the figurehead both in the dark and ineffectual. I’ve read a lot of history to be skeptical any leader has such unrestrained and absolute power, so I need more proof they can just wave their magic wand and get rid of all of the evildoers.

#44 Comment By Mia On September 15, 2018 @ 6:13 pm

“Viewed in that way, the damage done to the Catholic church by Cardinal Wuerl—and every other bishop who knew about McCarrick and stayed silent—is several orders of magnitude greater than that done by McCarrick himself.”

Wrong. Most adults I’ve ever met won’t intervene in all sorts of ugly and criminal situations, and most of them aren’t religious. McCarrick committed a greater crime if he’s a rapist. Bureaucratic bumbling, no matter how ridiculous, is not on the same level, and it’s intellectually dishonest to equate them. (Wasn’t there some woman who commit suicide over people saying this about her regarding Weinstein?)

#45 Comment By PoppaG On September 15, 2018 @ 11:34 pm

Rod wrote:
“And that’s 80 percent of my “intensity” on the issue (i.e. Rod’s response to the Roman Catholic crisis). The rest is care for my many Roman Catholic friends, who are suffering.”

– Thanks for this very fair answer, Rod.

While I would encourage you to encourage your Roman Catholic friends to become Orthodox, and to plumb the depths of the Christian spiritual life in the Historic Church, I believe you are correct that this will not “solve the problem” facing the West.

As Orthodox Christians, we each need to deepen and strengthen our own foundation in Christ and His Church, then we will really have something to offer the world.

As St. Tikhon of Zadonsk said, “Ours must be an Orthodoxy of the heart, not just of the mind”. I think Rod agrees, yes?

#46 Comment By Mark VA On September 16, 2018 @ 5:23 am


Powtarzasz bzdury i stereotypy o Polsce które Zachodnia Europa lubi słuchać – cała Polska “patologiczna” ekonomia stoi na zachodnich pieniądzach? Nawet Ukraincy śię nie zgadzają z twoja opinią – a w mojej opinii, wykolejoną wyobraźnią. Naucz się czegoś, Sid:


P.S. I’m impressed with Google’s Polish to English translation – excellent job, Google!

#47 Comment By Peter On September 16, 2018 @ 11:01 am

Very good descripton of the situation and the dangers the Church is facing. I only miss one thing: where is Christ in this story? Would God have overlooked something? The disciples all ran away when Jesus began his way of the Cross. Should we follow the apostles, or should we follow Our Lady and Saint John who stood under the Cross, knowing that the Lord would rise? The Church – the mystical Body of Christ – will rise!

#48 Comment By Gail Hoffman On September 17, 2018 @ 1:17 am

It is a very big deal and we may very well be in the end times… As far as the sex scandal, I’ve read that there is a lot more that is yet to be revealed…
All that being said, despite all of the evil dealings and deeds, including cover-ups, perpetuated by those in high places in the Catholic Church, I will still remain in the One, Holy, Apostolic Catholic Church founded by Christ. The devil and his minions want the total destruction of the Catholic Church and so they are trying to get people to sin and to leave the Catholic Church in droves. However, the Catholic Church is Christ’s Church and the evil done by some, even many, of its members cannot make the Church itself evil. As Archbishop Sheen said, “Judge the Catholic Church not by those who barely live by its spirit, but by the example of those who live closest to it.” There are many Saints of the Catholic Church who show the one, true Catholic Church. For example, Holy Mother Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint Padre Pio, Saint Peter Damien, Saint Therese, Saint Thomas Moore, Saint John Fisher, Saint Monica, Saint Augustine, Saint Lawrence, etc., etc., etc. All of the evil doers though the centuries cannot stop Jesus’ one, true Catholic Church. Please, pray, asking God to help you. God bless you.

#49 Comment By Dan Green On September 17, 2018 @ 9:37 am

If one cares to do some research, one would probably find, the Catholic Church down through the ages, as they say, has always been corrupt. My guess is going forward, when the US media moves on, to tomorrows new hype, the whole pedophile gay mess will go away. Lawyers will get their take for the next while, but that too will exhaust itself. What the Catholic Church should worry about is, attendance and membership, in western Democracies is in steep decline.

#50 Comment By Anastasios On September 17, 2018 @ 10:35 am

“I, a convert to Orthodoxy, say ‘let it burn’.

If my choices are between mass-market ‘liberal’ capitalism, and the degenerate culture it produces, and the modernist barbarism of the self-appointed ‘defenders’ of ‘Western civilization (TM)’, I say let it die.

And build a New Byzantium on the ashes, just as our Orthodox forebearers did after 476 AD.”

Except, of course, our Orthodox fathers and mothers did no such thing. What arose on the ashes of the Western Roman Empire was Western Christianity, which eventually evolved into the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches we see around us. At what point Western Christianity ceased being Orthodox (or, as they would say, at what point the East ceased being Catholic) is a matter of great dispute, but in the long run what arose in Rome was Rome, not New Byzantium.

I suspect that, should the Catholic Church in America burn, New Byzantium will not arise here, either. America in the 21st century is a much more hostile environment for such a development than Italy in the 5th century. What would rise in America would be America, not Byzantium, or Moscow, or Jerusalem, or any such. Think on this, and its implications, before picking up a torch.