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desertion in the face of the enemy

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 10, 2005

When the Catholic Church rids its clerical ranks of the Grahmanns and the Richards, and starts producing bishops and priests with even half the moral courage of Gen. Mattis, the vocations crisis will solve itself. Until then, no man graced with valor and honor will long to give up his life to run with a herd of moral geldings.

That's Rod Dreher in the Dallas Morning News, putting into measured, and white-hot, words the exasperation felt by many Catholics, not in response to the sex scandals, but in response to the lack of response by their own pastors. Turning to their clergy at a time of crisis, they anticipated gutsy moral leadership, and found instead weak men -- men literally blubbering in fear and shame, emptied of all but a few catchwords of pop psych, protesting innocence and, in an eerily infantile way, pleading for forgiveness in the same breath: "I never tried to hide anything and never had anything to hide and besides I said I'm sorry!"

There's much in Rod's editorial worthy of discussion. I'll just single out one point:

I used to think it'd be great if my boys grew up to be priests. Now I'd rather they joined the U.S. Marines: men with chests, men with backbones, men who know evil when they see it, and who aren't afraid to fight.

Back in March 2002, near the apex of the media frenzy, Maggie Gallagher wrote this:

I have two sons. As I sat in the pews last Sunday, obediently praying for an increase in religious vocations, the thought occurred: If one of my sons wanted to dedicate himself to a life of chastity, poverty and obedience, forsaking marriage (and my grandchildren!) for God's sake, would I trust my child to the care of people now running American Catholic seminaries? Should I? Should any mother?

Folks, this is not a rhetorical question. This is a serious problem. Is it morally responsible for Catholic parents to permit their sons -- to the extent that they have influence in the matter -- to submit themselves to the moral dangers of the priesthood? Put aside the factor of the gay subculture and the risk of sexual predation and ask yourselves this question: would the real 17-year-old in your care, imagined as a 26-year-old formed by the seminary, be more likely or less likely to be a man who speaks the truth? Having given the Church a boy, would you get a man, or a moral gelding?

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Show 20 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Feb. 16, 2005 6:51 PM ET USA

    No one is concealing anything. That is an outrageous assertion. It is a rule for everyone which facilitates a range of commentary. I'm willing to bet that most commentators have frequently identified themselves with their viewpoints and comments, when it was appropriate in other kinds of fora. ID'ing sounds more like someone's attempt to intimidate and repress facts. Face it, Diogenes says nothing but the truth. Can't attack the message? Attack the messenger! Heard that strategy before?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 16, 2005 3:28 PM ET USA

    Fr Keane, you've got a point. It is a little easier to speak the truth or provoke controversy if one conceals one's name. However, even if one chooses to conceal one's name, it is appropriate and even obligatory, once certain conditions have been fulfiled, to speak the truth. Fr. Pat Dowling (ps, I'm not Diogenes)

  • Posted by: - Feb. 16, 2005 12:41 AM ET USA

    Here's my question: while we're on the topic of "moral geldings," isn't it the ultimate sign of moral castration to post one's objections to the various outrages against the Catholic faith under an assumed name? I mean here "Diogenes," who, I assume, was not given that name upon baptism. Just curious. James Thomas Keane, SJ

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2005 10:32 PM ET USA

    I would not go so far as to suggest there was no problem. Just that the problem lay in the silence of any victims there may have been. As far as ending abuse is concerned, it really is a little late to bring it up twenty to sixty years later when many more may have been victimized. Certainly today, every seminarian who does not complain must be understood as testifying that he never came across any attempt of sexual abuse. Silence would be so inexcusably complicit.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2005 12:34 PM ET USA

    I watched part of an interview on EWTN (no less) last night with an apparently well regarded Bishop from Someplace, USA. Asked a direct question re the quality of our seminaries, his answer was so positivly stated that you would never think we had any problem at all, regardless of the forthcoming compromised visitation. I no longer think any protest about anything from anyone will have an effect. Either a stone wall faces us, or the Bishops are in La-La Land. Either seems entirely plausible.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 13, 2005 11:28 AM ET USA

    Is that really true? Or is it simply an assumption? If it is really true, one should not fail to file a formal complaint of some kind. If that fails there is the civil authority and the press. But it won't fail. The address is: Cardinal Prefect, Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, Vatican City, Europe. Just put two 37 cent stamps on it and wait four weeks. Less if you fax.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 12, 2005 9:06 PM ET USA

    Recourse to higher powers in these days usually gets you nowhere.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 12, 2005 12:26 PM ET USA

    Is it perhaps the case that young men kicked out of the seminary for whistleblowing neglected to have recourse to higher authority? Was this their own neglect? Were they not enablers?

  • Posted by: Ross Dee - Feb. 12, 2005 11:03 AM ET USA

    If a young man is called by God, he should go to the seminary and become a Priest. However, if a Bishop, or Monk, or Cardinal, or Priest, or another seminarian tries to do something "Evil" to the young man he should "Beat the Hell out him" and tell the preditor to "Begone". If the head of the seminary kicks the young man out and not the preditor, so be it , the seminary is rotten to the core. If the preditor is removed immediately, the word would get out that "Evil' will not be tolerated.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Feb. 11, 2005 1:37 PM ET USA

    Rod, If we want our sons to help the Church, then they should become Federal Prosectors; at the current rate of degradation, the Federal Dept of Justice will be running most diocese before much longer.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Feb. 11, 2005 1:34 PM ET USA

    You'll get better moral catechesis from Dr. Phil, the spiritual director of the female pope, Poprah. Don't laugh -- I think someone could write a very provocative essay explaining the parallel between the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and their dispensing of moral advice and the pop culture icons above. I may give it a shot myself, before the Imam wields his scimitar and lops off my next thought.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 11, 2005 10:34 AM ET USA

    Re a comment about "groups" - Monks, Friars, Jesuits, countless Societies, Sisters, Brothers -all great examples of silver bullets from the past. They are largely gone. It seems God has chosen not to reload his six shooter. "Enough good examples!", He seems to say. Now He wants US to go the distance for Him in our ordinary little lives and work. We have all we need - the Mass, the Sacraments, good example - now let's do it. Get the help you need (who doesn't) and just do it. He'll do the rest.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2005 9:30 PM ET USA

    Where are we as a Church? Our young are now leery about the Seminaries, Catholic parents are fearful of children going to "Catholic" Colleges and our Parochial Schools can't wait to teach sex education. Someone mentioned Ignatius and Francis, two great Jesuits. We need a group like the Jesuits of old to rise up and lead the Church out of this mess; but the question remains; where is that group?

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2005 8:46 PM ET USA

    Trjimc, I went through in the '60's. I'm glad you were nobody's punk. But homosexuality and homosexual prostitution is not what seminaries are about. It is expected of a person who aspires to priesthood to resist such if the situation arises, just as it is expected of any human person to resist degradation. Rod Dreher should not fear for his boys unless they are geldings to begin with.

  • Posted by: frjimc - Feb. 10, 2005 4:47 PM ET USA

    Pat -- I daresay your seminary years were not the same as mine. In the 80s and 90s, those (like me) who DID stand up to seminary predators were soon either dismissed outright for alleged thought crimes, or were harassed so continually by superiors that they (usually) either took it as a sign that they were sick homophobes or that God's church didn't want them. Speaking as one who endured, my contemporaries wondered at how I managed. No good mother or father would want that for a son.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2005 4:37 PM ET USA

    45 years ago I read a book called "Man the Saint". It was about "Be a man!" It didn't seem to go over as well as I expected. Maybe we have wimpy priests because we have wimpy fathers. Our feminized Church today doesn't seem to know the meaning of mortification and penance. The new age guru, Fr. Raymond Brown, used to say "Change your mind and believe the Gospel", but mercy and forgiveness follow sorrow for sin, as in 'repent'. When we have more Catholics we will have more priests, I think.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2005 11:15 AM ET USA

    This is severe. There are still men who are not afraid to enter seminaries. The ability to stand up to predators perhaps separates the men from the women. I may have been just an ugly little boy but in my seminary years I never came across such a predator. And if I had it would have cost him.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2005 11:14 AM ET USA

    Where are the shock troops? They are driven out of dioceses by bishops that do not want them. The good, the valiant, the faithful elite troops, the special forces, are persecuted, harrassed and prevented at every turn from working in dioceses or parishes. The homosexuals, the weak, and the political opportunists, however, get promoted right up the line. It breaks my heart. We are not being persecuted from outside, but from within.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2005 9:23 AM ET USA

    Dreher's column struck home. Vocations will not inspired by moral geldings who inhabit most chanceries. We need shock troops like those led by those great 16th century basques, Ignatius Loyola and Francisco Xavier. Where are the shock troops for the 21st century? Perhaps the Legionaries of Christ or Opus Dei? Perhaps organizations yet to be formed. Reform won't come from the timid hearts who lead the USCCB.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2005 8:56 AM ET USA

    This is unfortunately the totalitarian, managerial (aka Burnham) Church bequethed to us by a juvenile, feminized, therapeutic, sentimentalized hierarchy which demands obedience only for the sake of obedience and which values psychology and "divinity studies" over theology. The surrender to and the effects of the "Enlightenment" (their own term) are still coming home to roost. The pursuit of earthlyFraternity, Equality, and Liberty - all mutually contradictory - leads to schyzophrenia.

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