Apostasy Caused the Sexual Abuse Scandal

Goodbye Good Men 202x300 - Apostasy Caused the Sexual Abuse Scandal(This article previously was published in OnePeterFive.)

The horrifying news from France last fall that some 3,000 priests sexually abused 330,000 children over 70 years points to another scandal within the Church: too many priests who have little fear of God and scant regard for core Catholic teachings.

The perpetrators’ behavior is not typical of those who believe in the Catholic doctrines of hell, purgatory, and justice. Many of them may not believe in God at all (or may not have believed, in the case of the deceased). Other deviant priests and bishops likely adopted the New Age concept of God being some kind of impersonal life-force. Still others no doubt consider God as being all love and mercy and no justice, in which everyone goes to heaven regardless of what wrongs they do.

The sexual abuse scandal is part and parcel of the corruption of Catholic seminaries that took place in the 1970s and especially 1980s as described in Michael S. Rose’s Goodbye! Good Men. He focuses on American seminaries, but undoubtedly the same thing was happening in France and elsewhere in the world.

The good men he refers to were orthodox-minded seminarians who only wanted to embrace and deepen their knowledge of age-old Catholic concepts. Shockingly and ironically, in many cases they were dismissed from seminaries, or were forced to keep their orthodoxy under wraps. They were considered “rigid and uncharitable homophobes.”

While not the case at all seminaries, in many of them homosexual activity and pornography flourished – and official Church teachings as laid out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church were scorned by many professors, seminary deans, and vocations directors. In fact, it could be argued that those places were positively anti-Catholic.

At one seminary, “’a large number of students had been convinced by some liberal teachers that sexual promiscuity with the same sex was not a violation of celibacy,’ an outrageous distortion of Catholic teaching.”

As Rose tells it, it wasn’t uncommon throughout seminaries that non-marital sex was considered fine, homosexual acts normal, and contraception morally acceptable. Celibacy was discouraged. Other anti-Catholic viewpoints among professors included: the Bible isn’t to be taken seriously, all religions are equal in the eyes of God, the Pope isn’t infallible, the Real Presence is a myth, Jesus isn’t divine, and his miracles were fabrications. One formation program even pushed Gnostic and New Age practices such as crystals, tarot cards, and Ouija boards.

Seminarians lost their faith, as did priests of that era, many of whom abandoned their vocations. Many faithless men continued in the priesthood. In an interview with LifeSite’s Jonathan Van Maren, Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts professor and Crisis contributing editor Anthony Esolen spoke of priests who lost almost all of their faith and who are in a state of apostasy. “And they’re still priests – that’s the job they were trained for, they don’t know how to do anything else. And they infest the churches.”

Without faith in God, especially in a God of justice, people are more prone to doing bad things. With scant regard for the teachings of the Gospels or for the moral precepts of the Catholic faith, some priests may have been in a constant state of mortal sin (absent confession) either from engaging in illicit practices themselves or by signaling to others that it’s fine to do so.

“The notion that God is watching you even when others are not is probably the most powerful civilizing force in all of human history,” writes author and commentator Jonah Goldberg. In the Catholic tradition, not only God is watching your every move, but so are angels and devils, the latter all-too eager to testify against you on your judgement day. But a sexually abusing priest of weak faith is devoid of any perception that God or any other supernatural entity is watching him. Or he has a New Age notion of God. Or he thinks God is only love and mercy and that there’s no hell. In accordance with authentic Catholic teachings, God is certainly full of love and mercy but He’s a God of justice as well.

To test whether people change their behavior if they think supernatural entities are watching them, some years ago while at the University of Arkansas, professor Jesse Bering and colleagues conducted an experiment in which they had undergraduates take a test on which it was easy to cheat. A portion of them were told the ghost of a (fictitious) dead graduate student recently had been seen in the testing room. Sure enough, that group as a whole cheated a lot less than the control group.

Pedophile priests, many of whom scorn authentic Catholic teaching, likely think no one is watching them whether natural or supernatural entities. By contrast, those who fully believe in Catholic doctrines think God always is watching. “God knows what you did. God is going to punish you for it. And that’s an incredibly powerful deterrent,” the University of Edinburgh’s Dominic Johnson told National Public Radio. “Everywhere you look around the world, you find examples of people altering their behavior because of concerns for supernatural consequences of their actions. They don’t do things that they consider bad because they think they’ll be punished for it.”

The type of God one believes in can make a big difference as well. While it isn’t popular these days to paint God as being judgmental and punitive, that perception of God elicits better behavior. In another experiment, Azim Shariff and Ara Norenzayan of the universities of Oregon and British Columbia, respectively, administered a math test to several dozen undergraduate test subjects, who afterward were asked about their views of God. Atheists and agnostics cheated significantly more than those who considered God to be punishing and justice-minded. As for believers in an exclusively loving and forgiving God? They cheated as much as the atheists and agnostics. “How much you believe in God matters less than what kind of God you believe in,” wrote the researchers.

Lacking a belief in God and/or a belief in authentic Catholic doctrines of a loving, merciful, and justice-minded God, there’s much less incentive to stay on the straight and narrow. It’s what led to the priestly sexual abuse scandal in France, the U.S., and elsewhere.

Fortunately, today the seminaries by and large are in much better shape. The vast majority of the sexual abuse took place in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in the U.S. and France – although from reading today’s news, one wouldn’t realize that since media outlets wish to push the narrative that the situation is still as bad as ever. And thank God that compared with older generations of priests, the younger generation of priests tend to be more religiously orthodox. They’re more cognizant that God is keeping close tabs on them. That’s a strong deterrent against sexual immorality and abuse.

On Campus, Secularism Breeds Suicide

4203539 300x300 - On Campus, Secularism Breeds Suicide(This previously was published in American Thinker.)

It’s no coincidence that mental illness among America’s younger generation is at all-time highs, while their religious practice is at all-time lows.

In October 2021, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill cancelled classes for a day for its 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students, who were urged to consider it a “wellness day” in the wake of two on-campus suicides and an attempted suicide.

Colleges and universities are in the midst of a full-blown mental health crisis.  UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said as much during his announcement.

In a 2019 survey, an unbelievable 45 percent of undergraduate and graduate students “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function” at least once during the previous 12 months, according to the American College Health Association.  Sixty-six percent of students “felt overwhelming anxiety” and 43 percent “felt overwhelming anger.” More than one in ten students – 13 percent – seriously considered suicide.

All of those numbers were up substantially from several years earlier.  And post-Covid, the situation is even worse.  In a Jed Foundation survey, 63 percent of students said their mental health has declined since the start of the pandemic.

Pandemic-induced social isolation, of course, has contributed to the rise in depression and anxiety.  On college campuses, another factor has got to be intense academic demands, negatively impacting sleep time.  The proliferation of electronic communications, which discourage face-to-face interaction, also harms wellness.

But a prominent factor is the decline in religious practice.  From 2009 through 2019, religiously unaffiliated young people skyrocketed from 27 percent of that population to 40 percent, according to Pew Research.

Tyler VanderWeele is with the departments of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Harvard T.H.  Chan School of Public Health.  In 2016, he along with Harvard colleagues Shanshan Li and Ichiro Kawachi juxtaposed Center for Disease Control statistics depicting a sharp rise in suicides during the preceding decade and a half, and Gallup polling data showing a sharp decline in weekly church attendance.  The scholars extrapolated that nearly 40 percent of the increase in the suicide rate stems from the drop-off in religious attendance.

It’s ironic that among organizations, publications, and counseling centers that cater to suicidal students, there’s nary a mention of church.  That’s unfortunate, because literally thousands of peer-reviewed studies have determined that regularly going to church, synagogue, mosque, or temple improves mental and/or physical health.  In fact, one of the pioneers in this field, Baylor’s Jeff Levin, started conducting these studies at UNC-Chapel Hill back in the late 1980s.  If only UNC’s mental health counselors would refer to their own university’s ground-breaking research.

Another pioneer in the field, Harold Koenig of Duke, conducted a systematic review of 141 studies on the relationship between religion and suicide; 106 of them concluded religious practice is associated with fewer suicides or suicide attempts, less suicide ideation, and/or negative attitudes towards suicide.

And it’s weekly attendance that’s key; most studies have found that private religious activity without churchgoing isn’t associated with better mental health.  Why? The scholars say it’s the communal, face-to-face interaction that does much to enhance wellness.  Other explanations include having a keen sense of meaning and purpose thanks to one’s faith, and putting others before self such as through church-sponsored voluntary and charitable activities.

Those going to church at least two-dozen times a year are less than half as likely to take their own lives than those going less often, according to George Mason University’s Evan Kleinman and Brown University’s Richard Liu.  They write, “Frequent attendance at religious services may be an indicator of consistent exposure to others who provide social support.…The current findings are consistent with (Thomas) Joiner’s interpersonal theory of suicide, which posits that having a sense of belonging is negatively associated with suicidal desire.”

Francie Hart Broghammer is the chief psychiatry resident at UC Irvine Medical Center.  She writes that religion can instill meaning and purpose, and give meaning to suffering.  “I have seen this first-hand, time and time again,” she recounted, “with many of my patients reporting they would have attempted suicide long ago if they did not have faith, which provided them with hope in otherwise hopeless circumstances.”

College is where you go to gain the world and lose your soul.  Professors push their anti-religion ideology upon impressionable young minds.  To atheists, we’re just bodies and no soul.  As the prominent atheist Richard Dawkins bleakly remarked, “You are for nothing.  You are here to propagate your selfish genes.  There is no higher purpose in life.” Or as another observer put it, we’re nothing more than “the forward edge of the sludge of evolution.” With that in mind, why go on living?

College students are taking that to heart – by permanently halting the beat of their own.

“Imagine No Religion” Becoming Reality

Imagine no religion 2x2 - "Imagine No Religion" Becoming Reality

Illustration credit: clipart-library.com

It’s symbolic – and ironic – that in Europe following terrorist attacks, the unofficial anthem of choice is John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

After the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris in which 130 people died, a pianist attracted the attention of millions via the mainstream press and social media when he played Imagine outside one of the places of carnage, The Bataclan. The previous February in the aftermath of killings in Copenhagen by a radical Muslim, tens of thousands of Danes sang Imagine at memorials across the country.

“Imagine there’s no heaven …. No hell below us … And no religion too,” go the lyrics.

It’s symbolic because religionless is what western Europe has become. Churches are closing for lack of worshipers. Only about 5-10 percent of the French go to church regularly. That percentage is even less in Denmark.

So the ethnic Europeans (as opposed to ethnic Arabs there) largely have attained one of the sentiments longed for in the song: no religion. They have abandoned the Christian faith.

Are they better off without Christianity? The all-to-common terrorist attacks there, along with the growing incidence of crime, suggests they are not.

European society still retains some Christian values. They include compassion, humility, generosity, self-control, and helping the poor and downtrodden. But as Christianity retreats, so do those values.

To be sure, John Lennon wasn’t totally off base. Isn’t it reasonable to conclude that God would want us to worship him in one consistent manner, rather than a through a multiplicity of belief systems, all contradictory with one another? The latter could indeed lead to mayhem.

In addition to the practical consequences of declining Christian values, there are spiritual consequences. As is taught over and over again in the Old Testament, turning away from God invites less protection from God. He protects us from the evil one all the time. Without such protection, the whole of the earth would degenerate into one big slaughterhouse.

That’s what’s happening in Europe. As America turns further away from God, we too tread on more dangerous territory.

It behooves those in Europe, America, and other Western nations to return to their Christian roots. Otherwise, expect more terrorist attacks for a long time to come.


(Excerpts of the above originally published in Newsmax.)

A Weak Reason for Leaving the Church

A weak reason for leaving the Church Camille Paglia 2x2 - A Weak Reason for Leaving the Church

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Some time ago America magazine interviewed social critic Camille Paglia wherein she discussed her abandonment of Catholicism.

“I asked the nun what still seems to me a perfectly reasonable and intriguing question: if God is all-forgiving, will he ever forgive Satan? The nun’s reaction was stunning: she turned beet red and began screaming at me in front of everyone. That was when I concluded there was no room in the Catholic Church of that time for an inquiring mind.”

Why doesn’t God forgive Satan? According to theologians, even if God did forgive Satan, he wouldn’t come back to God. Angels’ intellects are far superior to those of humans, and once they make a decision – which Satan (i.e. Lucifer) did when he chose to rebel against

512px Camille Paglia no Fronteiras do Pensamento São Paulo 2015 21601555036 150x150 - A Weak Reason for Leaving the Church

Camille Paglia. Photo credit: Fronteiras do Pensamento via Wikimedia Commons.

God – they accept and embrace that decision as final, with full knowledge of the consequences.

Moreover, God did not provide a plan of redemption for the angels (which includes Satan, a fallen angel) as He did for mankind.

It’s silly to leave the Faith because a nun couldn’t adequately answer that question.

One should not leave the Catholic Church based on personal preferences or based on dissatisfaction with a nun, priest, or other representatives of the Faith. One’s criteria for joining or leaving the Faith only should be based on whether the Faith is true – which it is.

By rejecting the Church, Ms. Paglia is taking an extreme risk. Best not to set oneself up for a rude awakening when it’s time to plop down on that judgement seat.

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