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?

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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