Fr. William J. Bausch: His Chickens Come Home to Roost

by James Likoudis


James Likoudis examines the book, Breaking Trust: a Priest Looks at the Scandal of Sexual Abuse by Fr. William J. Bausch. He says that Fr. Bausch is remarkably candid in blaming the bishops of the United States and the NCCCB for disgracing the Church before the general public and playing into the hands of sensationalist Media and anti-Catholic bashers. He shows how how Fr. Bausch has himself contributed to that same loss of moral credibility as a long-time dissenter from Catholic teachings.

Larger Work

The Wanderer

Publisher & Date

The Wanderer Printing Company, August 25, 2005

In a small volume "Breaking Trust: a Priest Looks at the Scandal of Sexual Abuse" (Twenty-Third Publications (2002) - 113 pages), a well-known dissenter priest and author, Fr. William J. Bausch, examines the clerical sex scandals that have already cost the Church in the U.S. a billion dollars, not to mention the severe damage done the Church's credibility.

As the notice on the back-cover of the book observes:

"Fr. William J. Bausch is a retired priest in the Diocese of Trenton, N.J. He is the author of over twenty books on parish life, spirituality, homiletics and story telling. He is also a popular worship leader and seminar presenter."

In this little work Fr. Bausch known to many as a quite liberal and controversial priest vents his distress at the sexual scandals which have ravaged the Church. Echoing the views of many outraged Catholics, he is remarkably candid in blaming the bishops of the United States and their National Conference (NCCCB) for disgracing the Church before the general public and playing into the hands of sensationalist Media and anti-Catholic bashers. He notes the loss of the Church's moral credibility in a secularized and sexualized American society where "anything goes" morally.

"There is a loss of trust in the Church and the loss of respect. The Church has lost its moral capital. How can people listen seriously to the Church's teaching on abortion and chastity when its priests are unchaste. How can people take the Church's admirable teachings on social justice to heart when it has been unjust to pedophile victims? How can the Church's stance as a moral leader endure in the face of scandals? How can people give credence to the Church's teaching on family life, on the care and education of children, when it lets its own children be violated?" (p. 19)

The above are good questions, and it will be seen how Fr. Bausch has himself contributed to that same loss of moral credibility as a long-time dissenter from Catholic teachings.

In "Breaking Trust" he chooses to focus on the American bishops' failings. They are to be blamed for compromising the Church's moral authority, for the present "Crisis of leadership" in the Church, and for losing the Church's "political clout" as increasingly hostile Federal and State legislation threatens the Church's interests. Moreover, "The impact [of these clerical scandals] on priests has been searing".

"The bishops knew of the existence not only of many homosexuals in the priesthood and in the seminaries, but also of the fact that many of them were unchaste."

He scores the U.S. bishops' "indifference and incompetence", "negligence and cover-ups", and unwillingness to do away with what he stigmatizes as a clerical culture of secrecy and deceit. From the 1980's, he writes:

"Bishops knew of the increasing shortage of priests, the large number of homosexual seminarians and priests, the existence of clerical sexual abuses — they have known about all these issues for decades."

He catalogues the sexual misdeeds of bishops in various countries including:

"at least 5 American bishops... accused of sexual involvement with boys under 18." (p. 8)

Fr. Bausch does not hesitate to call for the resignation of bishops who failed miserably to protect children from sexual predators. "There are no sanctions for bishops who mishandled abuse cases" (p. 108). He even relates one of his own fantasies, i.e., dreaming of a "new religious order: the Order of Penitent Bishops who, having resigned, gather in community and devote themselves to prayer and fasting and works of mercy." (p. 72)

Together with many other authors, he properly distinguishes between pedophile-priests and those who are ephebophiles, i.e., homosexual abusers of adolescent boys. But more interesting is Fr. Bausch's belief that it is "undeniable" that... "many priests-estimates vary from fifty percent to sixty percent - are gay" (p. 53), and that "there is a significantly higher percentage of homosexual priests and seminarians than there are in society at large" (p. 56). Whereas many faithful Catholics would express moral outrage at this distressing situation (the spread of sodomy among priests), Fr. Bausch does not share their alarm. He discloses a rather curious stance regarding the large number of homosexual priests who are unchaste. Lamenting that "Holy Mother Church is stained with sin" (p.18), he registers no objection to the risky proposition of welcoming homosexual- oriented candidates to the priesthood. In fact, his book betrays a troubling accommodation to gay culture. It may be noted that his statistics are drawn from certain dissenters like former priest A. W. Richard Sipe and Fr. Donald Cozzens who have their own axes to grind against the Church. Fr. Bausch reveals his own agenda as he makes use of the shortage of priests and of exaggerated statistics concerning homosexuals in the clergy to press for the abolition of the Church's discipline of mandatory celibacy for priests of the Western Church!

"The conclusion is obvious. Given the current context of a large number of gay priests, plus a critical need for clergy, it would seem wise to open up the priesthood to married men... change mandated celibacy to optional celibacy" and "welcome back many priests who have left to get married." (p. 59)

Scare tactics are invoked to enlist readers to his cause. He informs them that the "Church may not survive" because of a disastrous priest shortage.

"The Catholic priesthood is drying up... the sacramental life of the Church is in imminent danger of disappearing..." (pages 64, 67)

Fr. Bausch admits that "celibacy stands out as a powerful sign and witness to love", but contrary to the discipline of the Church as set forth in the teaching of Vatican II and the repeated affirmations for the maintenance of mandatory celibacy by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, his book constitutes a propaganda piece to agitate for optional celibacy and to influence his readers to do the same. He even argues that "Given the extremely high percentage of gay clergy, optional celibacy opening the door to heterosexuals would be welcome" (!) (p. 64).

But there is more to Fr. Bausch's agenda for "change, reform and renewal" in the Church than matters of discipline. He also repeats his doctrinal dissent from the infallible teaching of the Church on contraception. Here is his arrogant dismissal of "Humanae Vitae":

"Rome has let them [the laity] down too many times, especially on the birth control issue; what the pope said on this matter, ignoring his advisors, was promptly and universally rejected. 'Rome' or curial pronouncements, though listened to with respect, just doesn't command total allegiance any more. There is an old Latin saying. 'Roma locuta est. Causa finita est.' 'Rome has spoken. The case is closed.' The average American Catholic today responds, 'Forget it. The discussion is just beginning.'" (p. 76)

He cheerfully tells his readers:

"We must not opt out of the Church but give it a new face." (p. 90)

His Church with a "new face" will be one that no longer has "a collective mentality of subservience to Rome" (p. 82). It will be a Church wherein Bishops share collaborative ministries and "authority" with the laity. "What we are talking about is a whole new restructuring of the Church" (p. 77).

In various places, Fr. Bausch also reveals his sympathy for women's ordination to the priesthood. Despite the massive failure of the dangerous sex education programs the bishops have unfortunately tolerated and encouraged at every level of the Catholic educational system (such objectionable "programs in human sexuality" have only resulted in a sickening tolerance for all sexual sin, including that committed by homosexuals and lesbians), he is pleased that more sex education for children will be provided and as early as kindergarten.

"Finally, the nation's Catholic schools have inaugurated sex abuse prevention lessons for children as early as age five. Actually, such programs began appearing in the 1980's, after the scandals of that time, programs like 'Good Touch, Bad Touch, and Safe Touch'. These programs are being intensified and upgraded. Here's the bottom line: we're moving on." (p. 81)

It should be recalled that Fr. Bausch has long been involved in "sex education". He promoted not only the notorious "Becoming a Person" sex instruction program when he was Director of Cana Conferences for the Diocese of Trenton, NJ. but also his own vile book "A Boy's Sex Life". This book published in 1969 was intended to be read by boys (with its explicit and graphic details about sexual intercourse) and also aroused the anger of parents across the nation. In the latter book he early expressed his dissent against the Church's teaching prohibiting contraception:

"May the married couple use contraceptives? The general answer, according to Pope Paul's encyclical 'Human Life' is no. To disturb such a loving act is wrong. However, the use of contraceptives for the married is not always a sin. This is so, at least for reason I can explain here, because no other recourse is left and contraception is resorted to, though not as a way of life. There are cases when nothing works but using contraceptives. The couple who do resort to their use, as long as they realize that this is not the best and the most normal way to prevent children, as long as they realize that a genuine value is being hurt (much against their will) then although they are doing wrong, they do not sin. Contraception for them is building their love (even though in a defective manner) to strengthen their initial commitment." ("A Boy's Sex Life", pp. 158-159).

In another book published in 1988 by Twenty-Third Publications,"Becoming a Man: Basic Information, Guidance and Attitudes on Sex for Boys", our priest-sex educator declared:

"If they (teens) won't stop having sex, then, as the lesser of two evils I would agree that it is better that they use condoms which will reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of infection. Our Catholic bishops have reluctantly said the same thing." (p. 140)

As might be expected of a dissenter like Fr. Bausch, in blatant opposition to Humanae Vitae he proposed seven different methods of artificial contraception (pp. 158-160). With regards to a youth masturbating, he stated that the Church "does not condemn the boy or say that masturbation is a sin" (p. 52).

In view of our author's concern at the "Scandal of Sexual Abuse" in the Church, a particularly disturbing section of his book is the chapter on homosexuality. He repeated the Scriptural distortions of those seeking to justify sodomy and who have argued that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing to do with sexual activity but rather with a sin of inhospitality ! In addition, Fr. Bausch even suggested (without any scientific proof) that the cause of homosexuality might be genetic or hormonal, and that therefore homosexuality should be considered a matter of acting out one's nature. In all this there is a marked soliciting of sympathy for homosexuals, an endorsement of the "gay rights" movement, and suggestion that gays "come out of the closet". He quotes favorably Rev. Robert Nugent, leader of the pro-homosexual "New Ways Ministry" (an organization censured by the Vatican) and recommends an article on sexual ethics by the No. 1 dissenter from Catholic moral teachings, Fr. Charles E. Curran, the Rochester, NY, priest who was stripped of his license to teach Catholic theology. As credible resources for readers, he recommended the works of the worst dregs in American sex education (such stalwarts of the anti-Catholic organization, the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States -SIECUS- as Mary Calderone, Sol Gordon, Evelyn Duvall, and Judy Blume).

That is the background for the peculiar treatment of homosexuality and the "gay subculture"in the Church that is displayed in "Breaking Trust".

The trust of Catholic bishops given such "sex educators" as Fr. Bausch as well as their reliance on such dissenter theologians as Fr. Walter Burghardt, S.J., Louise Sowle Cahill, Fr. Richard Mc Brien, and former priest Eugene Kennedy — all favorably mentioned in the book, explains much regarding the cancerous growth of the "culture of dissent" presently plaguing the Church. Similarly, the unfortunate dependence of the American bishops on the psychological and psychiatric "sexperts" who advised the "therapeutic treatment" of pedophiles and fostered a faulty understanding of homosexuality is in large part responsible for the moral corruption unleashed in the Church and now so evident. As one of the nation's leading experts on Obscenity and Pornography, Judith Reisman, recently noted:

"Catholic bishops relying on 'sexperts' is nothing new. For years, bishops have sent seminarians and priests to Kinseyite, anything-goes sexologists who totally reject Catholic teaching on sex. These professionals mis-evaluated, mis-counseled and mis-trained hundreds of clergy. They 'cured' sexual predators, then returned them to parishes, where they assaulted more teens and children. The bishops need to fire their trendy 'sexperts' and hold them legally responsible for their roles in sex crimes against hundreds of children." ("The Washington Times", 8/26/02)

There is no question that in "Breaking Trust" Fr. Bausch shows himself quite aware of the "socio-sexual revolution" of the Sixties with its denial of moral absolutes, its "sexualization of everyone", and its non-judgmentalism furthered by the "experts". Nevertheless, he once again reveals a long- standing spiritual blindness towards unchaste sex education programs and a refusal to acknowledge that they are but another form of child abuse and coupled with the serious violation of the rights or parents.

It should also be clear that in his book "Breaking Trust", Fr. Bausch reveals his own "Breaking Trust" with the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church. He dissents from the Church's teaching on contraception, expresses sympathy for women to be ordained, agitates for optional celibacy contrary to the Church's repeated insistence that mandatory celibacy be maintained, sanctions offensive sex education directed at innocent children, and accommodates himself to a "gay subculture" existing in the Church and subverting its morality. To his mind, "gay priests" can also be "caring, competent servants" (p. 77).

The publication and distribution of this book (written by an avowed dissenter from Catholic teaching) raises some serious questions concerning the fidelity of its publishers to Catholic teachings and the failure of Church authorities to issue suitable warnings regarding the tidal wave of dissenting books emanating from alleged Catholic publishers. Fr. Bausch's book does not have an Imprimatur but those responsible for Twenty-Third Publications obviously share Fr. Bausch's views on contraception, "optional celibacy", women's ordination, sexual education in Catholic schools, and welcoming homosexuals for ordination to the sacred priesthood. Fr. Bausch's vision for a Church with a "new face"(and an anti-Papal one at that), was and is calculated only to foster further a schismatic "Culture of Dissent". Readers will be influenced to adopt views at odds with the Church's Doctrine and Discipline. It should also be obvious that any accommodation to and acceptance of Fr. Bausch's views on homosexuality and "gay subculture" would only accentuate the very problem at the root of all the scandals he himself laments in his work — namely, the spread of homosexual vice (sodomy) declared by "The Catechism of the Catholic Church" to be one of "the sins that cry to heaven for justice" (CCC, n. 1867).

Wanderer readers seeking more information concerning Fr. William J. Bausch's "theology" may care to examine three more of his books: "A New Look at the Sacraments"; "Ministry-Traditions, Tensions, Transitions"; and "Take Heart, Father". Priests will find to their dismay Fr. Bausch denying the immemorial doctrine of the Church that Bishops succeed to the place of the Apostles. Moreover, Fr. Bausch holds that since nowhere in the New Testament is the word "priest" used, that the early Christians rejected the notion of priesthood and sacrifice completely! The death of Jesus, he claims, replaced any further need of temple, sacrifice or priesthood. He registers his heretical denial that the Apostles were made priests at the Last Supper and that they passed on a measure of their priesthood to the men we call Catholic priests today. He insists that there is no cultic priesthood in the New Testament, and that it is a later innovation. Fr.Bausch sets forth yet another heretical view that the early Christians would be puzzled by the Council of Trent's affirmation that the sacrament of Holy Orders confers power to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

It should be evident that Fr. Bausch's "sacramental theology" destroys faith in the teaching of the Church that Christ did indeed institute the Holy Eucharist as a sacrifice to be offered in His name by priests ordained for that purpose. For Fr. Bausch, Holy Orders does not confer a special "indelible character" and he even denies that there is a fundamental difference between the offices of bishop and priest.

His books dealing with Ministry in the Church, simply put, are a danger to faith, of priests and laity alike. So is his volume "Breaking Trust: a Priest Looks at the Scandal of Sexual Abuse."

James Likoudis Page

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