Vacuity and violence: the Court and public schools

As I watched the television coverage of James Holmes, the Denver mass murderer, and more recently the coverage of the Charleston mass murder and the Cincinnati suicide-by-cop, to say nothing about Ferguson and others, I kept asking myself one big question: Has there been anything in the background of these murderers that has tried to teach them that it is wrong, seriously wrong, mortal-sin wrong to murder anyone, to say nothing of mass murder?

In a recent story about Holmes, we learned that he told his psychiatrist that he wondered about the meaning of life. That’s obviously an important question, but what a difference between Holmes and the Maritain couple. As I understand it, Jacques Maritain and his wife Raissa, both philosophers, had thought deeply about this and from their secular perspective had concluded that there was no real meaning to life. They had further concluded that it seemed logical, therefore, to commit suicide to end their meaningless existence. Fortunately for them and for us, they met a Catholic philosopher, I think it was Leon Bloy, who explained that there is very real meaning to life, and he helped lead them into the Church where they did great work.

As I wrote in my previous commentary, on the afternoon of the day of suicide-by-cop in Cincinnati, I asked a young black woman about her Cincinnati public-school education. She told me that not only had she never heard anything about the Commandments in her high school but also that they were forbidden to say the American pledge of allegiance because it contains “under God.”

Contrast that completely secular approach with the words of President George Washington in his Farewell Address in 1796: Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. How did we get from there to the practical atheism of our day?

I suggest that it started with the anti-Catholicism of the mid-19th century as Catholics became more numerous via immigration and the Church began to educate its children in its own schools since the public schools were de facto Protestant religious schools. Anti-Catholicism showed its colors very clearly again in 1922 as Oregon made it illegal to attend Catholic schools (overturned in 1923). A decisive step toward complete secularization was taken in 1963 when the Supreme Court banned the last traces of religion in public schools such as Bible reading and prayer. Another key step was taken in 1970 when the Supreme Court in Lemon misread the First Amendment prohibition of the “establishment of religion” to mean the exclusion of anything that was friendly to the free exercise of religion.

That’s a short one paragraph description of how the U.S. Supreme Court has led to the current situation. It started with anti-Catholicism, then became anti-Christian, and ended up as anti-religion. (For much more, see Mere Creatures of the State by William Bentley Ball, 1994.) No teaching of religious faith. No teaching of religious-based morality. And, as I understand it, no teaching of any objective morality.

The huge problem that confronts the nation right now is that widespread experience shows that we need to learn and practice morality. The Ten Commandments are not for God’s benefit but for ours. The reality is that a community needs to instruct its members about the commandments that have to govern human relationships. George Washington was right. The bottom line is that members of a community need to learn to police themselves or the community will turn into a police state.

The Cincinnati police chief has been given an impossible assignment—to come up with a plan that  will greatly reduce our violence within 90 days. The other day there was a walk against violence, and another shooting occurred within a few yards of the walkers.   In fact, there were three shooting deaths within 24 hours.

What school-age boys and girls are learning in this godless and morally bankrupt environment is that the purpose of education is to help you make a lot of money. Not a few have figured out that dealing in drugs and sex is a fast way to get that money, and that violence is a fast and final way of dealing with a competitor. Aside from fear of punishment which in turn nurtures hatred for the police, what other motivation are they given not to shoot those who stand in their way?

In this environment created by the U.S. Supreme Court and the public schools, the question is not “Why do they do violence?”   The real question is “Why not?”

John F. Kippley, June 27, 2015.

For a commentary on a significant omission in Laudato Si, see Sheila’s blog at http://nfpandmore.org/wordpress/. Scroll down if necessary.

 

 

 

Suicide by Cop

National attention has been given to the mass murder of nine black people in Charleston, South Carolina. On June 17, parishioners were attending the Wednesday evening Bible Study service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. A young white visitor had come for other purposes, and after listening for about an hour—and almost changing his mind—he used his Glock 45 caliber pistol to shoot and kill nine people including the pastor who was conducting the services. The headline in the USA Today section of our Saturday morning paper read ‘HATE DOESN’T WIN,’ reflecting the words of other parishioners and relatives who had let the Christian message of loving your enemies penetrate their souls.

That was Wednesday night, June 17. On Friday morning, June 19, we in Cincinnati experienced an equally senseless murder. A 21-year-old black man, Trepierre Hummons, placed two 911 calls about a man waving a gun and behaving in a threatening manner. When the first policeman, Sonny Kim, responded, he saw the situation. The mother of Hummons had become concerned about her son and had found him in the street shortly before Officer Kim arrived. The newspaper report read this way:

“As Hummons approached Kim, police say, Hummons’ mother stood between the two men and told Kim, ‘I’ll take him home.’ Then her son drew his gun. And Kim drew his. Hummons shot Kim multiple times and, soon after, wrestled away the officer’s Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun, police say. He then began shooting at a probation officer who had stopped to assist on his way to work. Another police offer, Tom Sandmann, came under fire as soon as he arrived on the scene. While Hummons’ mother tried to help the dying Kim in the street, her son turned Kim’s gun on Sandmann and began firing, police say.   Sandmann took cover behind his car, returned fire and fatally wounded Hummons.”

The paper reported that the seeds of this disaster were possibly planted early that morning, just after midnight. A woman filed a sex offense report against Hummons who was well known to the police. Hummons’ mother later told police that her son was having troubles with his girlfriend and wasn’t acting like himself. Early in the morning he had texted his friends, “I really love you and thank you for all you’ve ever done for me.” On his public Facebook page he posted an ominous message: “I love every last one of y’all to whoever has been in my life … you’re the real mvp.” The message was dated at 8:55 a.m., just eight minutes before he placed the first 911 call about a belligerent man with a gun.

This came as Cincinnati was already reeling or being roiled about the number of homicides that are up considerably from last year at this time. The police chief was recently ordered to come up with a plan within a very short time to stop this violence.

That is a very bad joke. Aside from turning the city, or at least its hot spots, into a police state, how can any city stop its violence in 90 days? The roots are deep.

That same Friday afternoon, after I had finished a business transaction, I asked the young black female clerk if she had grown up in Cincinnati. Yes, she had. I asked if she had ever heard anything about morality or commandments in her public education. She replied in the negative and then added that in her high school they were not permitted to say the Pledge of Allegiance because it contained the words “under God.”

Concerning both of these tragedies, many will ask themselves, “Why?” Or is the better question, “Why not?”

More on this next week.

Engaging Islam and the Islamists

Pope Francis was in the online news recently because of what he said about Islam in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. “Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence” (n. 253). In this document of 288 numbered sections, there are 217 references, but there are no references for this statement regarding Islam. In response, the onepeterfive.com blog listed quotations from seven saints and a recent scholar who would have a hard time agreeing with the papal statement.   Some of the statements by Catholic saints were made just prior to their being killed by Muslims for their refusal to convert to Islam. The papal wishful statement was in the context of hoping for mutual understanding and for better treatment of Christians in areas of Muslim dominance: “I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries!” To which we can all say “Amen.”

Henry Kissinger made the headlines this week (9/9/14) with his new book, World Order (Penguin Press) in which he discusses the role of the West and especially America in responding to the rising challenge of militant Islam. According to the USA Today article (9/9/14), Kissinger thinks the United States “needs to strike the terror group in retaliation for the decapitation of two American journalists, then eliminate it ‘as an operating force in the region’ .”

That seems to be the conventional wisdom this week. But it was just a month ago that the papers were filled with reminiscences and second thoughts about the wisdom of European countries going into all-out war over the murder of Archduke Ferdinand of the Austria-Hungary empire by a crazy Serb 100 years ago this past August. In my opinion, there is ample justification for a military response to ISIS, but the double murder of two Americans is a small part of it. Their murders have served to get the attention of President Obama, but any action based primarily on revenge or showing how tough we can be is bound to be ultimately tragic and fruitless in the long run. And, after all, America is not exactly innocent. Our liberal society murders some 4,000 unborn children every day, and the exclusion of God from public life and education is yielding such a high murder rate that these killings barely make the news.

A huge problem in America is the near deification of democracy. In terms of centuries of world history, Western democratic republics are still an experiment. They are based on Christian principles of the dignity of the human person, respect for minorities, and long-term self-interest that does not always seek what is best immediately for one’s own pocketbook. As St. John Paul II pointed out, the West is forgetting its own history and the faith on which Europe was based. It is all too easy to slip from democracy into demagoguery.

That’s sort of a long winded way of saying that as the secular but once-Christian West engages ISIS in what the latter sees as primarily a religious war, the West had better be clear about its limited objectives. May we be spared any talk about converting the Islamic world to democracy.   As Kissinger noted, the United States has “been in five wars since World War II, and in only one can we say we’ve reached the objective stated. So we should state the objective that does not get us into an endless conflict.”

For a model, Kissinger suggests the 1839 Treaty of London which guaranteed the neutrality of Belgium, a small country that had been the battleground between other forces because of its strategic location. Others have suggested the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia as a model—it concluded the Thirty Years war in which northern Germany had kept trying to impose its Protestantism on southern Germany. Will it take 30 years of warfare with militant Islam to arrive at an agreement not to try to impose your religion by force? But if conquest and conversion by force is built into the nature of Islam, can there ever be a peace that is more than a truce?

It seems to me that the bottom line has to be constant prayer for the conversion of Islam. We have been praying for the conversion of Russia for almost 100 years, and today we can see great progress.   Russia has converted from its embrace of Communism. To be sure, its nationalism is up and running, and there is still much to pray for, but we have no grounds for discouragement.

So, it seems to me that there needs to be a very widespread and continued effort to spread the idea of praying simultaneously for the conversion of Islam and for the conversion of America and Europe as well as for the continued conversion of Russia. Perhaps my Seven Day Bible Rosary can help some folks in praying the daily rosary.

John F. Kippley, September 13, 2014 Click on the Seven Day Bible Rosary near the top of this website.

 

 

From Sanger to Same-Sex “Marriage”

Have you ever wondered when and how the same-sex-marriage proposition got started?  It was 100 years ago that Margaret Sanger began her literary efforts to promote contraception.  It is clear now that these efforts prepared the way for the contemporary societal acceptance of sodomy under its current euphemism of same-sex marriage.

It was in 1914 the Sanger started her own paper, The Rebel Woman, and began to circulate it via the U. S. Postal system.  This brought her into conflict with the existing obscenity laws, and in August she was arrested and given six weeks to prepare her defense.  Instead, she wrote a book on contraception and fled to England where she imbibed more of the evil philosophy of Havelock Ellis who publicly advocated for the societal acceptance of contraception, masturbation, and sodomy.  That’s  When and How the idea of same-sex “marriage” was conceived although not yet explicitly proposed.  Sanger returned to the States in 1916, eventually went to trial, received a very short sentence, and successfully used the legal proceedings as free publicity for her cause.

The promotional work of Ellis in England and Sanger in the United States led to much discussion in the 1920s about the social effects of accepting contraception.  One such idea was “companionate marriage” — legal marriage, deliberate childlessness via contraception, divorce for any reason, and remarriage.  The reformers considered the cycle of divorce and remarriage to be social progress, but they did have a proviso.  If the partners have a contraceptive failure, they must remain together for the sake of the child.

Secular humanist Walter Lippmann brought a critical eye to these developments in his 1929 book, A Preface to Morals.  He did not disagree with the basic argument against unlimited family size, but he found fault with the way the argument was advanced.  He saw that it was folly to argue that this information could be kept to married couples because human curiosity would make certain that everybody would soon know it.  “Now this is what the Christian churches, especially the Roman Catholic, which oppose contraception on principle instantly recognized.  They were quite right.  They were quite right, too, in recognizing that whether or not birth control is eugenic, hygienic, and economic, it is the most revolutionary practice in the history of human morals (1999 printing, 291, emphasis added).

He then summarized his review of the sex talk of the Twenties in this way.  “What has happened, I believe, is what so often happens in the first enthusiasm for a revolutionary invention.  Its possibilities are so dazzling that men forget that inventions belong to man and not man to his inventions.  In the discussion which has ensued since birth control became generally feasible, the central confusion has  been that the reformers have tried to fix their sexual ideals in accordance with the logic of  birth control instead of the logic of human nature” (306, emphasis added).  How sadly true.

That was 1929.  The very next year, the bishops of the Church of England debated the marital contraception issue.  One of their retired members, Bishop Charles Gore, a leader of the “conservative” group, argued that the acceptance of marital contraception would lead logically to the acceptance of sodomy.  Despite this clear warning, the Church of England formally accepted marital contraception in August 1930 although with some reservation.  The Church of England thus became the first organized religious body calling itself Christian to accept the practice of marital contraception.  In my opinion, this was even more important than the efforts of Margaret Sanger in explaining the acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control by Christians whose churches had previously condemned it.  By 1958 the Anglican bishops were openly advocating marital contraception, and early in the 21st century they were accepting sodomy even by their own married bishops.  Ellis and Sanger had replaced Genesis and Romans.

The bottom line is this:  Once you accept marital contraception as a matter of principle, there is no logical way to say NO to heterosexual sodomy within marriage, and there is also no logical way to say NO to same-sex sodomy and even its masquerade as same-sex “marriage.”  As Professor Raymond Dennehy of the University of San Francisco wrote some years ago, once you accept contraception, “any orifice will do.”

Martin Luther was correct when, in his commentary on the Sin of Onan, he called the contraceptive sin of withdrawal a form of sodomy.  That applies to all unnatural forms of birth control.  Thus it is not surprising that huge numbers of contracepting couples who call themselves Christian see nothing wrong with same-sex “marriage.”  It’s hard to call wrong what you yourself are doing in your own marriage.

When married couples engage in mutual masturbation, that’s a form of marital sodomy.  That also applies to oral and anal sexual copulation.  I can imagine that practitioners of same-sex sodomy might say something to this effect—“Some of you married heterosexuals are doing our kind of sex and calling it okay for yourselves.  Why shouldn’t we do sodomy and call it marriage?”

I think everybody dealing with human sexuality or who even reads the papers has to know that oral sodomy is practiced — sometimes widely — by heterosexuals, married and unmarried and even teenagers, as well as homosexuals.  Yet, to the best of my knowledge, the only natural family planning books that teach explicitly against these immoral behaviors are those written by my wife and me.  It only takes a few lines to say these things, so space cannot be a consideration.  A related question—Is this basic moral teaching contained in any of the marriage preparation texts and courses used in Catholic parishes?  I don’t know, but if any reader can cite any such books or programs, please let me know.

If the purpose of preparation for Christian marriage is to help couples live a morally good life and to build up the Church, why aren’t these things being taught in every marriage prep and NFP course and text?  Is the mission of the Church advanced by omitting these basic moral teachings?

John F. Kippley, also at www.nfpandmore.org

The Little Sisters and the Obama Supremacy

The year 2013 ended with U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor ordering a temporary halt to the enforcement of the U. S. Health and Human Services birth control mandate against the Little Sisters of the Poor.  This is an organization founded by Saint Jeanne Jugan in France in 1839 to take care of the poor and has had a home here in Cincinnati since 1868.  The number of people they care for exceeds what the Sisters themselves can do, so they have employees.  The Obama administration insists that the Little Sisters provide any current or prospective employee with “free” birth control of whatever kind they might want.  The Little Sisters operation in Denver is the subject of the litigation, but the judgment will apply to all locations as well as to similar religiously based organizations.

As believing Catholics, the Little Sisters believe that the practice of contraception is immoral and do not want to facilitate it.  The HHS has proposed what it calls an “accommodation” for Catholic organizations.  They don’t have to pay for the contraceptives directly or even directly pay for the insurance to provide it.  The Wall Street Journal (Jan 3) explained it this way:

“The problem is that to qualify under the ‘accommodation,’ religious organizations must sign a legal contract with their insurer certifying that the religious organizations refuse to subsidize contraceptive services. ‘This certification is an instrument under which the plan is operated,’ the contract notes, then informs the insurer of its ‘obligations’ under the rules.

“Those include a command that the insurer ‘shall provide’ contraception to all enrollees, supposedly independently and for free. The political point of the accommodation was to pretend that the costs of contraception or abortifacients are nominally carried by a third-party corporation, but the insurers are really only the middle men. The Little Sisters thus argue that signing the certification contract directs others to provide birth control in their place and makes them complicit.”

The contract that HHS insists must be signed is not just a piece of paper.  It is an acknowledgement that the State has the right to force Catholics and others to contradict their religious convictions under pain of severe penalties.  As the WSJ concluded, “This case is simply a raw assertion of state power directing the religious to follow orders. Thus ObamaCare forces women who have taken a vow of chastity and minister for the dying to implicate themselves in what they consider to be grave moral wrongs.”  For the entire article, see http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304325004579298542674477308

Such raw power has been used before by a State power that will stop at nothing to compel Catholics to abandon their faith.  Two egregious examples suffice.  In 1534 subjects of King Henry VIII were required to accept his Oath of Supremacy that recognized the King as the supreme head of not only England but also of the Church in England.  For refusal to sign this piece of paper, Saints John Fisher and Thomas More were beheaded in 1535.

The French Revolution provided the context for those terrorists to attempt to exterminate the Catholic Church in that country.  The Civil Constitution of the Clergy was passed on 12 July 1790 to completely subordinate the Church to the French government.  Hundreds of non-subscribing Catholic priests were imprisoned on ships at Rochefort.  I don’t know how many of these died, but 64 of them are recognized as having died a martyr’s death there in 1794-1795.  Not only priests but infants and children were killed by the French revolutionists.  For more on this, see http://newsaints.faithweb.com/martyrs/MFR06.htm.

Every President wants to be remembered for his legacy.  So that his legacy does not include such visible persecution of faithful members of the Catholic Church and others, please pray for the conversion of President Obama, his Cabinet, and the Supreme Court Justices who will ultimately have to judge the constitutionality of the HHS birth control mandate.

John F. Kippley, also at www.nfpandmore.org

What the President Really Wanted to Say

President Barack Obama asked me to prepare some material for his State of the Union address, but I was so flustered that I failed to deliver it in time.  However, he has thanked me profusely for the following and given me permission to share it with you.

After the usual introductory remarks….

One of my fellow Democrats, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a man who has long gone to meet his Maker, addressed the issue of poverty when he was an Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Johnson Administration.  This was one year after President Johnson persuaded Congress to get serious about alleviating poverty with his Great Society program.

As some of you may remember, Mr. Moynihan addressed the poverty of black families in 1965 and suggested that the black family structure might have something to do with poverty.  At the time, the black out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate was 24% and the white rate was 3%.  His paper was treated as controversial, but many in Congress thought he might have a point, so in the ensuing years Congress has done every thing it can to make contraception and abortion universally available with a special focus on black communities.  Since that time, however, the white folks have managed to increase their single-mom rate by eight times to reach the level of about 24 or 25%, and the black single mom rate has increased to 70%.  In other words, if the government effort to provide contraception and abortion was to reduce the out-of-wedlock birth rate, it has been a colossal failure.

We all know that the single greatest new source of poverty in these United States is the household headed by a single woman with children.  We all know that those babies born into that situation have, in baseball terminology, two strikes against them.  And we know that they frequently do not do as well in school, are less likely to graduate from high school, and are more likely to spend some time in jail than those children born into a family headed by a male father and a female mother committed to each other and to their children.

We all know this is expensive, but perhaps we don’t all realize just exactly how  expensive it is.  A friend of mine in Ohio did a bit of research on the internet and came up with a price tag of $123 billion dollars each year for what he calls the cost of the Sexual Revolution that you have all heard about.  I realize that in terms of trillion dollar budgets that may not sound like much, but, you know, a billion here, ten billion there, and another 123 billion here and there—that starts to add up, and I think we can all agree it shouldn’t be ignored.  Especially when the results have not been helpful to families.

Then there is the even more important human cost of men and women spending part of their lives in prison because they got off to a poor start in life.

Something else we all know is that we have kicked God and his Commandments out of the public schools of these United States.  We have let ourselves be cowed by those who have claimed that any mention of God and his Commandments is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution which states very clearly, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791 when George Washington was president.  And we all know that he and the Congress did this so no particular church could be made the Established Church in this country.  Many people came to this country just to get away from that situation.  But there is no reason to think that our founders were setting up a completely secular anti-religious nation.  After all, toward the end of his second term as the first president of the United States, George Washington stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

Now that I have outlined the problem, I know that you are expecting me to propose something that will cost an additional $100 billion dollars a year.  But I have a surprise for you.  It’s a very simple plan called “Let the money follow the child.”  All tax-generated funds will go to schools of the parents’ choice.

I am sure that you all agree that we need to eliminate discrimination, but sometimes not everyone is aware that the greatest remaining case of discrimination in this country is against those parents who want their children to receive an education someplace other than their local public school.  Frequently this amounts to religious discrimination.  This is similar to the tax Christians have to pay in some Muslim dominated countries.  Do we really want that sort of discrimination in this country?  It has never been shown that it is dangerous for this country to have citizens educated to respect the morality enshrined in the Ten Commandments.  Let’s put into effect our realization that President George Washington was really onto something when he said that religion and morality are indispensable supports for political prosperity.

The economic consequences of this will be significant.  It will certainly lead to many new good paying jobs.  There will be lots of new schools to be constructed or old ones to be renovated.  These will need lots of new teachers.  Furthermore, if more and more of our young people are instructed on the biblical principles that God has a plan for sex and that it involves postponing sexual involvement until you are married, there will be a dramatic decrease in pre-marital sex and babies.

Lastly, I propose a significant step towards ending our wars with the Islamists.  Let’s stop giving them the grounds for calling us The Great Satan.  Let’s ban completely the exporting of pornography, abortion, unnatural forms of birth control, and the propaganda for same-sex marriage.  Let’s help less developed peoples with food, not filth.

Stop discrimination.  Let the money follow the child.  Food not filth.  Why not?

John F. Kippley, also at http://www.nfpandmore.org

 

Pedophilia: Why the Rise and Fall?

The recent (January 16) grilling of Vatican officials by United Nations officials about the sexual abuse of minors by priests plus its cover-up by dioceses does not seem to have revealed anything new.  It seems to be primarily a way of trying to oust the Holy See from the UN and a victory for the habitual anti-Catholics.  Left unexplored and unanswered are the more interesting questions.  Why was there this burst of immorality by priests directed toward children and adolescents? 

After the news of this sexual scandal exploded in 2002, the US Bishops appointed a disinterested group to study it in detail.  The result wasThe Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010, A Report Presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the John Jay College Research Team” dated May 18, 2011.  A month later I published a blog on it on a now-discontinued website.

What follows is a slightly shortened version of that article.  Unfortunately, I can no longer find the Report at the USCCB website, and the PDF I found elsewhere no longer has the two graphs mentioned below.  The information may be there, but it is not as visible in 2014 as it was in 2011.

______________

In my [2011] review, I found the most interesting statistics were in two graphs, Figure 2.3.1, “Annual Count of Incidents Reported and Priests Accused, by Year” and Figure 2.3.2, “Distribution of Alleged Incidents of Abuse by Date of First Instance.”  The first shows an increasing number of incidents reported each year during the Fifties, a marked jump in 1960—the year the birth control Pill was so widely publicized and accepted, continued increases with another large increase in 1969—right after the dissenters and millions of Catholics thumbed their noses at the traditional moral teaching affirmed by Humanae Vitae, a continued climb to 1980, and then a marked decline each year to 2002, somewhat below what it was in 1950.  In other words, when the Scandal was publicized in 2002, it was already over, at least in terms of sensational numbers.

The second graph more or less paralleled the first.  Of special interest was a 100% increase in the numbers of “first instance” from 1959 (150) to 1960 (300).  The numbers of “first instance” then dropped back to about 200, then slowly increased to just over 300 in 1968, and took another huge jump in 1970 to about 425.  Beginning in 1981, the numbers gradually fell to about 25, slightly less than in 1951, and way less than in 1950 when approximately 125 first instances were recorded.

I found nothing in the report that attempted to explain this rise and fall of the incidences of sexual abuse by priests and deacons, so I will offer my own interpretation.  The gradual increases in the Fifties may be due primarily to the increases in the numbers of priests in the Fifties.  The gradual decline from 1981 to 2002 may be due partly to the gradual aging and decrease in numbers of priests in that period, but see also below for possible theological influences.  The significant increases in the Sixties occurred at a time when traditional sexual morality was being questioned not only in the culture but also within the Catholic Church.  The huge increases in both the “Annual Count” and “First Instance” in 1960 so parallel the widespread societal acceptance of the [birth control] Pill that it is difficult not to see an association.  Similarly, the large increase in the Annual Count (1969) and First Instances (1970) parallel the widespread Catholic rejection of Humanae Vitae and the entire Tradition of sexual morality that the encyclical represents.  Thus I maintain that the theological maelstroms of the 1960s and the 1970s had a significant causal effect on the great Scandal that was taking place in those years.”

There is no shortage of evidence that thinking leads to behavioral changes and then to more such thinking and further changes.  In his 1929 book, A Preface to Morals, secular humanist Walter Lippmann criticized the “progressives” of his day for adopting the logic of birth control and abandoning the logic of human nature.  The expanding use of barrier methods of birth control during the Roaring Twenties led the revisionists to think that if it is permissible to separate having sex from having babies, it would also be permissible to separate sex from marriage itself.  And, without children to care for, they further speculated that it would be progressive to marry, have contraceptive sex, and then divorce when boredom outweighed immediate pleasure.  They even gave it a name—companionate marriage.

The very next year, the Anglican bishops gathered for a periodic meeting at the Lambeth Palace of the Church of England and debated the birth control issue.  “Conservative” Bishop Charles Gore argued that the acceptance of contraception would open a Pandora’s Box of sexual and social evils including the acceptance of sodomy, but his side lost the vote.  Thus in 1930 the Church of England became the first organized church to accept contraception, but Gore’s witness provides a wonderful example of being able to foresee the effects of the logic of birth control.  By the early 21stcentury, the Church of England had not only accepted marital contraception but also sodomy and even the ordination of openly homosexual bishops.

The battles of the Sexual Revolution within the Catholic Church were fought in the 1960s with many essentially thoughtless articles during the early Sixties advocating the acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control.  Almost every writer qualified his or her comments by pledging full acceptance of Catholic teaching once the Pope clarified it.  Most of those writers became active dissenters, however, when Pope Paul VI issued his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which clarified the issue by reaffirming the traditional teaching that marital contraception is seriously immoral.

Less than two years later, self-styled revisionist Michael Valente spilled the beans about the logic of birth control, saying that in rejecting Humanae Vitae the revisionists had also rejected the entire natural law theory on which, he said, it was based.  Therefore, according to Valente, they had no way to say a firm NO to any imaginable sexual behavior between consenting persons.  He specifically included bestiality.

In 1971, the generally liberal journal, Theological Studies, published my article, “Continued Dissent: Is It Responsible Loyalty?” in which I showed that the decision-making principles of arch-dissenter Fr. Charles Curran could not say a moral NO even to spouse swapping.  No one ever complained that I had created a straw man, but neither the Valente book nor my article had any slowdown effect on the birth control propaganda by other Catholic writers.

The point of this bit of history is that what passed for moral theology regarding sexuality during the Sixties and Seventies—and perhaps well into the Eighties in some places—was garbage.  It couldn’t say NO to anything of mutual consent.  In 1977 Paulist Press published a book by the Catholic Theology Society of America that so reflected this thinking that it drew an analogy between Catholic homosexuals doing sodomy and Catholic married couples doing contraception.  They used cautious wording, but the inference was clear that while both behaviors contradicted the formal teaching, they were really okay and the teaching would have to change.

Now, imagine someone who is taught, at least by inference, that Catholic teaching on sexuality is wrong and that sodomy is loving behavior.  Imagine that the person who imbibes this erroneous teaching is a Catholic seminarian or priest with a same-sex attraction.  What is to keep him from putting his inclinations into action?  One might say that he should know that such actions with a minor and especially with a prepubescent are both illegal and wrong, and I agree.  But also in the theological and sexual milieu at the time was the rallying cry of some homosexuals, “Sex before eight or it’s too late.”  Assuming that such a slogan reflected their real thoughts, one could imagine that they thought a bit of coercion or persuasion might be permissible, somewhat like a parent exercising coercion or persuasion to get their children to eat their vegetables.

Every Catholic bishop knows well the axiom, Agere sequitur esseAction follows being.  Or more loosely, “What you do follows from what you are.”  They also know that to a large extent, what you think is what you are.  After all, isn’t the whole purpose of Christian education to help the student think with the mind of Christ and thus act as a Christian should?

I am quite aware that even when people have had the best education about morality they can still cave into weakness and sin, but I maintain that it becomes much easier to engage in sinful behavior if one has been trained to think that traditional moral teachings are wrong.

The bottom line consists of questions, not answers.  In the analyses sponsored by the US Bishops since the 2002 exposure of the Great Scandal, where is the analysis of the moral theology taught to the sexual abusers both in the seminary and in their later seminars and reading?  Have admitted offenders been asked about their overall thinking about sexual morality?  Was their thinking influenced by the fact that the US Bishops continued to employ Fr. Charles Curran at the Catholic University of America for 19 years after he led the dissent from Humanae Vitae?  (One dissenting priest told me that I was in dissent from the bishops because I disagreed with Fr. Curran whom the bishops continued to employ.)  In short, if education is deemed important, what effort has been made to examine the seminary moral theology of the Sixties to the present?  If it has been made, what, if any, changes have been made?  And if that effort has not been made, why not?

To return to the gradual decline in the Scandal starting in 1981, it’s very possible this was related to the efforts of Pope John Paul II to reaffirm authentic Catholic teaching on sexuality.  The Synod on the Family in 1980, the near martyrdom of John Paul II on May 13, 1981, the publication of Familiaris ConsortioThe Apostolic Exhortation on the Family in late 1981, and his continued “Theology of the Body” lectures certainly had their good effects, and one of them may have been to reorder the thinking of many priests and deacons with a same-sex attraction.  Thinking does affect action.