It was a bit of a storm last week, a "perfect"
one, the biggest
tempest in a few years, actually, in the unfortunate realm of priestly sex abuse.
There was the Academy Award -- an Oscar -- for
Spotlight, a documentary-like movieabout the Boston Globe's dogged exposure of
abuse in that archdiocese, an expose that even the
Vatican's quasi-official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, praised as a
positive service to the Church and public at large.
Exposing evil is the first step in dispelling it.
There was the specter
of Cardinal George
Pell of Australia -- now a major Vatican official, overseeing its finances --
having to testify under oath for two hours about his role as a prelate in dealing with reports
of homosexual rape back in his old diocese. He said that "evil was done" and heard ghastly
accounts from an area known as Ballarat of men who, after they were abused,
committed suicide. He could "not defend the indefensible," he honestly told
interrogators. "There's a tendency in the Catholic Church too and sometimes it's
better, sometimes it's worse, but for good or ill the Church follows the
patterns of the societies in which it lives." (Of course, Christ said not to be
of the world. "Do not go in the way
of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans," He advised in
At the same time, a splash was made, again in the
U.S., in Western Pennsylvania, where a
grand jury released a report on how two bishops in the Altoona-Johnston
diocese covered up hundreds of abuse claims. It unleashed the most lurid and
disheartening accounts in some time.
Elsewhere, others came forward in
the wake of the movie and news stories
with additional allegations.
No doubt, some of the claims are suspect. But we
all know there has been a real crisis that started
with special earnest in the 1950s and into the 1960s and especially the 1970s.
It still shocks. And while rules, regulations, and bureaucratic policies have
been put in place to prevent future such horrors, as well as to take care of current
claims, the Church still needs to address a key reason for abuse: a demonic -- a
satanic -- infiltration of the priesthood. This isn't just society or
The devil got a foothold in many seminaries and
Smoke came billowing through the cracks.
One study in the U.S. says that 4,392 clergymen
-- mostly priests -- were accused
of abusing 10,667 people, with 75 percent of the incidents
taking place between 1960 and 1984. During the same time frame there were
109,694 priests, it said. The truth sets us free.
When the windows of the
Church were opened after Vatican Two, to allow for fresh air and sunshine, there
were not enough safeguards, it seems, to keep out the dust and grit and insects
that also travel in the wind.
To know this -- that real, dark spirits were involved -- is
not only to hear the words of Cardinal Pell but to read testimony such as
that of Neal Gumpel, from Connecticut, who was assaulted in a most serious,
violent way, by a Jesuit, in 1974. "I never
really believed in angels or demons or ghosts until that night," Gumpel
recently recounted. "Because when he turned me around and looked at me, his
eyes were black. I'm talking scary, horror film black." Through the years, we
have spared our viewer/readers the vast majority of details involved in
horrendous cases. But they make clear the need to address this issue at its
roots all the more compelling: the spiritual level -- not just the institutional one.
It is a more important matter -- fighting supernatural evil -- than involving
the Church in geopolitics.
Satan went after
the Church just as Pope Leo XIII foresaw in an October 13, 1884, vision and as the
Blessed Mother warned at LaSalette, where, reputedly, she told Melanie Calvat,
that "priests, ministers of my Son, the priests, by their wicked lives, by their
irreverence and their impiety in the celebration of the holy mysteries, by their
love of money, their love of honors and pleasures, have become cesspools of
impurity." Their intelligence, it said, would be "bedimmed." Convents would
become "the grazing grounds of Asmodeas and his like." (Asmodeas is major demon).
This part of the LaSalette message was accepted by some
bishops and Popes and rejected by other bishops and cardinals.
For your discernment.
But one can say that -- again as Cardinal Pell pointed out
-- it is the fruit of following the societies of men.
We hear directly from young priests how modern seminaries
discourage traditional, conservative men from entering -- how there is really no
shortage of those who want to be priests, but rather a shortage due to rejection
by modernistic seminary screeners (often women whose litmus test for an
applicant is his stand on homosexuality or female priests). We know of
seminaries where young men have to say the Rosary clandestinely; perhaps it's
considered "old fashioned" -- or does it rub certain spirits the wrong way?
But back to the point: whatever the case, the sheer number
of abuse cases, the "indefensible" happenings in the Church, the wrecked lives, make us know that
it involved that
"murderer from the beginning," called Satan (John 8:44).
Call it what it was. Demons
invaded Christianity in a big way. In some cases, abuse priests may have even
been "plants" by the wrong spirit. They have besmirched so many of our
excellent priests. We must remember that there are nearly a million of them
worldwide -- and thank God, their numbers are
swiftly growing in places like
Africa and Asia. Most are holy. They are special. The Church is not in decline.
It simply needs to reinstitute spiritual warfare and
fasting and penance and move
away from the aridity of politics and academia. We can start on the right path
by bringing back the Prayer to the Archangel Michael (notice how much
infiltration occurred after that was stopped) and do what Christ said, when He
told his disciples that they would be known by "casting out demons in my name
and healing." See Mark 16:17. Let us replace much of the psychology in seminaries with
courses in the mystical theology that used to be taught and
have every parish establish a healing/deliverance service if they don't have one,
along with extended Confession --
heal, as Jesus directed.
Deliver, as He did.
This will go a long way not only in preventing future atrocities, but in
bringing people who yearn to feel the Holy Spirit back to church on Sundays, not
just on Christmas and Easter.
[Feedback: "Dear Mr. Brown, Thanks for your very
skilled article on priests abusing children. As an abuse victim, (one time
event and I was not raped or anything super serious), I appreciate the care and
insight in dealing with this issue. Do not forget our Lady's warning to Sr.
Marianne Torres in Ecuador in 1610? as our Lady of Good Success where the devil
would induce immoral men to become priests in the late 20th century. An
interesting note about my case, partway through the attempted seduction process,
Father so and so called a married priest, not a minister, from another religion
and asked him to come over and join in the seduction process. He was really
foul. Anyways after a couple hours, I was able to get away with only being
touched in a certain area (grabbed) but the damage was done as I began the
process of avoiding Mass which led to the New Age and other bad things, etc.
And I was a young person on the parish liturgy committee at the time when it
happened. In retrospect, I wish I had said something but I remained silent. I
then allowed the devil to wreak havoc in my life. I am so thankful that the
Holy Spirit called me back to the Church 14 years later and who knows who was
praying for me in Heaven. I thank the priests so much who helped me heal. I
learned later that Father so and so had molested someone when he was a
seminarian. He probably molested more than 10 from what I can ascertain.
"Eventually, he was suspended in 1990 and
defrocked some years later. I thank the Bishops for eventually realizing the
psychologists were wrong and beginning in the 1980s the process of removing
priests from ministry so no more damage could be done. I thank the Bishops
again in 2004 for formalizing this policy nationwide. And I thank Cardinal
Ratzinger for consolidating all the efforts into his department at the Vatican,
going through the thousands of files and determining what should be done in each
outstanding case. I try to defend the Church for holding the line until the
late 1950s, for Pope John XXIII's ordering that homosexuals should not be
admitted to seminary (who listened?), and for those bishops like Bishop D'Arcy,
once he became bishop of South Bend, Indiana in 1985, made it a priority to
clean house which he completed in 3 years. See his online report. I regret
that so many innocent priests have had their priesthood and lives ruined by all
the false accusations such as Father Gordon MacCrae in New Hampshire. Most of
all, I regret all the damage done to the thousands of victims especially those
like me who remained silent and did not sue the Church. I pray that they come
back to the Faith and experience the joy of receiving our Lord once again" --