36 3 mins 9 yrs

Rod Dreher brings the magnitude of the Catholic church’s systemic hypocrisy all the way home.


A man in his 20s wakes up in bed one night to find a priest, his spiritual advisor, holding his genitals:

Basically, I was caught between two things. I wanted to jump off and rip his head off, and unless I could do that, I could do nothing. I thought about it and I might have been okay to do it, but my dad told me once a guy hit a priest and his arm was frozen forever. Now, Father U, regardless, whether he’s a killer, a rapist, a mass murderer, whatever, he’s still a priest. And I’m afraid to hit someone who was, although he’s that kind of man, he is an alter Christi [“another Christ”].

That’s from the 2003 deposition of a former Roman Catholic seminarian wo was just one of the young men who accused the Society of St. John priest Carlos Urrutigoity of molestation. Fr. U., having been driven out of the Diocese of Scranton in the US, is now running an orphanage in Paraguay, where his bishop, relying in part on the judgment of Fr. Benedict Groeschel, says Father — now Monsignor — Urritigoity is innocent, the victim of an American witch hunt.

I came across that passage while going over some documents the other day, and I can’t quite get it out of my head. I’ll be honest with you: it made me glad for my Protestant upbringing. As much respect as I had for priests after I became Catholic, it never would have occurred to me to think that a priest who grabbed my genitals was due anything but having his block knocked off. I think that short passage finally made me understand why no little Catholic boys’ uncles took molester priests out back and whaled the tar out of them. That psychological paralysis that comes with being convinced that a priest is a magic man, untouchable.


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36 thoughts on “The Paralyzing Power Of Clericalism

  1. So great has been the betrayal, words can’t describe it

    This was the perfect crime for them – attacking the youngest, who would never be believed, then. One hopes that no one would be silent now.

    If there is a Hell, there are many priests, bishops, cardinals and a few recent popes down there. The fish stinks from the head. Don’t tell me they didn’t know.

  2. No great mystery there, Daphne. Young children will take the word of adults on trust. If Mommy says that Father Murphy is a magic man, a magic man he surely is.

    Unfortunately, Mommy has never examined her own belief regarding clergymen. It’s fair to say that that belief is not in fact her “own” but is among a great many nonsensical beliefs handed down the generations.

    Clerical child-rape is among the many abuses that proceed from unexamined beliefs. Over here at present we have the case of Jimmy Saville, a mouthy disk jockey who allegedly abused every young girl he could, and apparently with the connivance of several of his bosses at the BBC.

    How could Saville get away with it? Simple. The media had told the mothers of those girls that he was a “star”. As such, he could do no wrong. He was, in effect, a magic man to rival any priest, bishop, mullah, prophet or pope. Or indeed any king, queen or emperor.

    Do you see a pattern emerging? Conditioning. It’s the curse of every culture.

    But there’s a surefire way to combat it. Teach your children to think for themselves. Swallow your own prejudices—chances are, you learned them from your parents and teachers—and have your kids examine stuff for themselves. That way, they’ll start to see the world as it really is.

    They’ll discover that magic men do not exist.

  3. It is a crisis that they never addressed correctly and seem incapable of addressing correctly.

  4. Richard,
    Nice to see you back btw, we’ve missed you.
    I agree with everything you say.
    It is inescapable that the young will be dependent on parents and adults for help in framing their own world view. Children of necessity are impressionable.
    Some attitudes are an integral part of a cultural, passed down from generation to generation. Change comes at different rates in different cultures.

    I have said before that the Catholic Church in particular has held power and control through the priesthood. The priests themselves are held accountable to the Church hierarchy -also through fear. A secretive organisation is ideal ground for secretive practices to occur.
    According to my worldview (which I know you reject!) all men are sinful and flawed. There is corruption and perversion everywhere, not just in the Christian churches.

    Parenting is one heck of a responsibility. You don’t want to frighten the life out of your children by telling them how bad the world can be. You need to provide for them, protect them, encourage them and accept they will consciously and unconsciously learning from you and your behaviour. You yourself will be a major part of shaping their world view. A bad tempered, hypocritical, philandering atheist can do just as much harm to a young mind as a Catholic or a Baptist.

  5. //A bad tempered, hypocritical, philandering atheist can do just as much harm to a young mind as a Catholic or a Baptist.//


    Agit8ed, no comment on the “Christian Theocrats” thread?

    The church with all its all-male institutions obviously attracted gays. Many gays also seem to have a strong social and caring attitude to others and society, and that no doubt brought in a lot of this kind of guy, from which people, all over the world and in our inner cities, benfitted.

    I heard from my brother a story only recently that sticks in my mind and still makes me laugh. My mother had always dreamed that her first-born Patrick would maybe have a “vocation”. He was apparently a thoughtful and quiet lad and liked going to church, so she was encouraged. When he was around 15, a priest came around the school looking for boys who were considering entering the priesthood and who would like to go off to a retreat to pray and contemplate this greatest of god’s mercies. Patrick more or less got himself volunteered and off he went.

    The retreat was in some old building somewhere out in the bog, and the boys were quartered in dorms. The very first evening, just after they arrived, the boys all jumped into their bunk beds and the priest dropped in to say the rosary with them.
    After they’d finished and the priest had gone a few minutes, flashlamps were suddenly switched on all around and the boys jumped out of ther beds, pulled off their pyjama bottoms and started a wild and mad cavorting around the room. My brother – alas in a bottom bunk – was petrified, and pulled the blankets over his head, but he was spotted by one of the lads who pulled it back and started wagging his er…. holy member in front of Pat’s face.

    When he returned he was even quieter than before, but that was the end of vocations for him. He then found his true calling in the guitar and ultimately became a musician.

    But that’s the way it was. These boys had apparently been to several of these “retreat” bashes and new what they were going there for. Inevitably many of them made it to the priesthood. They were good lads, but each had his inclinations and preferred male company.

  6. Noel,
    ” A bad tempered, hypocritical, philandering atheist can do just as much harm to a young mind as a Catholic or a Baptist.”
    Did I say that?
    I most certainly did! 🙁
    What I meant was in the context of religious hypocrisy, there are always people who can appear outwardly good and devout, whether they be Catholics or Baptists (I threw a Baptist in for balance :))
    It doesn’t mean the faith is necessarily wrong, only that like Bassets sweets, you can find allsorts in the bag.

    Your brother obviously had a narrow escape, and the Catholic Church has a lot to answer for. There were a few instances of homosexuality at my boarding school, but I think most of us were too innocent to understand what it was all about.
    Personally I never did see the attraction of another bloke’s penis -cut or uncut..

    Don’t forget, I worked with sexually abused children in residential care. I know that abuse comes from all kinds of people. I know too that some children are subsequently unable to form normal healthy relationships -which also bears out what Richard is saying about conditioning.
    Re Christian Theocrats I didn’t see it. I will have a look later, but right now I have a shed to put up.

  7. “So great has been the betrayal, words can’t describe it” –

    Exactly! a betrayal by the ultimate authorities and teachers of Western cultural morality. The very last place where we should expect to find such depravity.

    That the Chuches have been regarded in such high esteem for so long shows how much trust we have placed in them collectively. What ‘the Church’ says goes!, and that has long been accepted without question or doubt.

    Quite apart from the betrayal of their congregations they have damaged the very concept of faith that any religion is based on, – that is what makes this such a serious matter.

    This betrayal surely signals the possible collapse of one of the pillars of western civilisation.

    That our system of government, both legal and judicial, has virtualy ignored such depraved activity, which incidentally, it has known about for generations, also raises questions.

    The lack of any serious repercussions for the perpetrators of abuse, not just in the religious community but among the population in general, seems to indicate enough sympathy for the deviants that a ‘blind eye’ is turned.

    Recent events and news gives the impression that the practice of child sexual abuse is pretty wide spread at all levels, no doubt, aided and abetted by the internet. Even without the religious considerations, child abuse is among the most heinous of crimes.

  8. I think it it the elevation of the institution over the faith itself that made the problem grow. Sadly, the best priests don’t rise as fast as the political ones and therefore I worry that real reform will be difficult.

  9. I don’t necessarily know that it is sympathy for the deviants that is a main issue here.

    It is the desire of organizations – any organization – to protect itself at all costs.

    Any organization without checks can become the most evil thing in the world- a corporation, a church, the military, a political movement.

    In places like Ireland, the Catholic Church had a great additional bulwark in that it was associated with national identity. For many, the Protestant Christian alternative was never an option, as it was permanently tainted by association with the invader and his state church and by the bigoted Paisleyite strains of so called Protestantism, so wildly different from Protestantism in other European lands, found up north.

    Ultimately, though, all blame goes to the strange, celibate, bent hierarchy, all the way to the top, many of whose members betrayed all, including the God they skillfully pretended to serve.


  10. Noel,

    ‘Many gays also seem to have a strong social and caring attitude to others and society, and that no doubt brought in a lot of this kind of guy, from which people, all over the world and in our inner cities, benfitted.”

    Your sentence raises a few points.

    I would dispute that ‘gays’ are necessarily child abusers, likeley maybe, but not necessarily.

    That abusers may well have a caring attitude to others, – but it seems – ‘at a price’, and the damage done to those ‘paying the price’ are rarely the ones who benefit from any possible ‘caring attitude’.

    Similar to hookers, but they are more honest and less hypocritical, and no one is doing anything against their will.

  11. Ernest, I’d say the proportion of child abusers among gays is probably more or less the same as among hetrosexuals.

    My story, I think, shows that many gays were attracted to the life of the priest and all-male society from the time they were young – instinctively, not in any devious sense. Obviously some of them liked the idea of sex with older men, that’s usually the way things go.

    Now, if you were to put a group of heterosexual men in charge of an isolated school of teenage girls, several of whom were more than willing partners in sex acts with older men, you are likely to get the sexual contact between the two of the same kind and same rate as between gay men and youths in church institutions.

    Much of what happened was of course plain abuse. But the image of the predatory priest and the innocent young lad was not always typical. Our idea of what went on in these places is at the moment very black and white, and this will suffice for the moment for blowing away the kind of prissiness that used to protect the real bad guys. But I fancy with the passage of time this simple black and white will be complicated by large areas of grey, as is usually the case.

  12. Noel,

    I quite agree, – things are never that simple, however, we in the West are supposed to be among the leaders when it comes to improving what we call civilisation. It isn’t all just about materialism, it should also be about improving general intellect and – for want of a better word, – morality. With all the advantages we have at our disposal today should we not at least be attempting to improve the ethical lot of humanity above that of mere bestiality? which is about all that ‘giving in to primal urges’ is about.

    I don’t mean that in any puritanical or religious sense but in an instinctive feeling for what is ‘right or wrong’. In this instance the sort act that would invoke the response of ‘I wouldn’t like my son or daughter to be involved in that!’.

    Of course there will always be the perverts who have to do the most disgusting things, anything that makes them feel ‘edgy’ and different from the herd, loss of their self respect notwithstanding, – it is when the general feeling towards such acts becomes ‘acceptable’ rather than for what it is, that we have societal problems.

  13. Ernest,

    “Similar to hookers, but they are more honest and less hypocritical, and no one is doing anything against their will.”

    I can’t believe you wrote that. Do try googling “forced into prostitution” and visit any of the 15,600,000 pages those keywords throw up—throwing up being the appropriate response of every decent individual to such horrors.

  14. Richard

    I think fairly clearly Ernest is only referring to genuinely consenting and willing Prostitutes.

  15. I am no expert on the subject but clearly across the spectrum of the business you will find women who on balance are Ok with the way they earn a living. I doubt if any girl plans prostitution as a career aim , and like most other work it is economic necessity that prompts women to become prostitues but I think obvioulsy some women are much better at coping with it psychologically than others.

  16. //Does such an animal exist? Genuine question.//

    Richard, is that a serious question?

    If it is, go out and ask them.

  17. Noel,

    I have gone out and asked them. And I’ve yet to meet a prostitute who chose her “profession” willingly. Don’t believe me? Ask them yourself. I guarantee you you’ll hear stories that would turn your stomach.

    You know the old canard, the one that goes: Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. Well, if that’s the case, how did the first johns get the wherewithal to pay the first whores? See where I’m going with this? If the demand weren’t there then there wouldn’t be prostitution.

    But it’s a puritanical thing, isn’t it? Those scarlet women and jezebels leading our fine, upstanding menfolk into sinful ways. Fie upon them!

    Yet another of those fine “truths” that are a product of conditioning. Our wonderful culture is full of them.

  18. There are many jobs out there that people wouldn’t do if they had other options. Does it make it forced labour? Is working in McDonalds forced labour (ie slavery) simply because you had no other options?

  19. “I have gone out and asked them. And I’ve yet to meet a prostitute who chose her “profession” willingly.”

    Is that because they were contemplating you as a client ? 😉

    Sorry Richard, I couldn’t resist that…

  20. I have also heard of prostitutes who earn such a lot from it, and probably spend like mad as retail therapy and just don’t want a modest income, as opposed to poverty, any more.

  21. //I have also heard of prostitutes who earn such a lot from it, and probably spend like mad as retail therapy and just don’t want a modest income,//

    That’s exactly it.

    I don’t know what kind of people Richard was talking to or where he found them, but Colm’s scenario is unfortunately more likely than the absurd situation Richard describes.
    There are at least hundreds of thousands of prostitutes, and probably well over a million, working in Europe. They earn on average quite well, more than the average worker and much more than what they would otherwise be earning.
    Most of them are legal prostitutes and free to leave the profesion any time they want.

  22. Noel,

    Sure. Keep on telling yourself that millions of women choose to become human lavatories.

  23. It depends what you define as choice. If they were able to make similar money doing something else then they probably engage in prostitution. But the same can be said for most menial jobs as well. Is a menial job forced labour?

  24. Gosh yes, Seamus, you may be onto something with those menial jobs.

    Right after I’d googled “forced into prostitution” and evoked more than 15 million pages, I googled “forced into working at mcdonalds”.

    The search results astonished me.

  25. I just googled “9/11 conspiracy” and it sent back 6.5 million pages. The number of hits on google does not indicate the level of an issue. How about using your own brain for a start rather than google?

    If a person is “forced” to do something not by a person, not by a group, not by a threat of harm or physical injury, but is “forced” by their own financial position then that means people who work menial jobs are in fact slaves.

  26. Seamus,

    Do remind me how many pimps McDonalds and Burger King employ. My brain has let me down when recalling the numbers 🙁

  27. If a person is “forced” to do something not by a person, not by a group, not by a threat of harm or physical injury, but is “forced” by their own financial position then that means people who work menial jobs are in fact slaves.

    Well that’s a bit of a stretch. You can say that we’re all ” wage slaves ” then, since we all need to eat, but if you go that far, nothing means anything and we’re all slaves unless we’re Warren Buffett.

    Tote that barge! Lift that bale!

  28. Not all prostitutes work for pimps. I’ll admit I’m not as knowledgeable about hookers as you seem to be but the vast majority of them are not trafficked or forced into it by another person. They decide, because of their personal circumstances, to become involved. That is not forced.

  29. That is my point Phantom. If a person is “forced” by personal financial circumstance (like most prostitutes but also like most menial and low wage workers) then it isn’t forced.

  30. OK, understood.

    Work is good, anyway, incl honest work behind a counter at McDonalds. Nothing in the world wrong with it per se.

  31. I don’t know. I worked for 3 months in McDonalds and I think I lost about 3 stone. It had a wonderful ability to put me off food.

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