In a column that appeared in the Citizen and online at Canada Online, David Warren yesterday discussed Archbishop Lahey lightly, but our culture of Deviance as he calls it specifically in a thoughtful article that warrants reading. Mr. Warren also houses his articles, on his blog David Warren Online, and that article is there also.
Mr. Warren's writing is incisive, cutting to the quick. He starts by indirectly commenting on Archibishop Lahey and the amount of media coverage his recent arrest has garnered, along with condemnation of himself, the Catholic priesthood, and then of course the entire Catholic Church. Contrast that with the hero like status that known pedophile Roman Polanski has in the press. Where the article gets interesting is when Mr. Warren starts to comment on "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Here he goes:
This is the one against "adultery," which, when finally understood, embraces all sexual activity outside the holy estate of matrimony, admits no exceptions before, during, or after marriage, and thus applies with perfect equality to, e.g., homosexuals and all Catholic priests.He then goes on to expose what we all know in our minds and hearts is universal sexual hypocrisy:
Now there was a time, so recent in history that I can remember it myself, when there was general agreement that all forms of "sexual impurity" were sinful. And not only sinful, but wrong. The expression, "living in sin," which survives today as a drollery, once conveyed disapprobation, even among the sort of people one thought of then as liberals.
This did not mean the Commandment was universally observed, and in some sections of society there was probably always some degree of winking. Secretive hypocrisy also (probably always) flourished in other sections. But the normative value of the Commandment was such that the hell gates were never opened on what, in my lifetime, we learned to call "the sexual revolution."
And while today's sermon is not on that sexual revolution, per se, it must be understood as the background condition for all post-modern hypocrisy. This is because, once we have lost the nearly universal societal assent to what constitutes unlawful behaviour -- and I don't mean "unlawful" in the bureaucratic sense of contrary to some pettifogging written law, but rather in the profound sense of contrary to the moral law to be discovered by humble logical enquiry into cause and consequence within nature herself -- we have truly opened the hell gates.He was not trying to excuse Archbishop Lahey for his sinfulness, but to acknowledge his humanity and the difficulties of maintaining vows of celibacy in this epoch. But, then he goes after the church for its liberalism, and for the problems that is created for itself, by moving priests who were pedophiles away from the place where they offended, into some treatment, and then back into the field again, thinking that they'd been healed. Reminds me of the Ontario College of Teachers giving back teaching licenses to sexual offenders now. Even the Church knows better NOW.
And it is in the nature of hell gates that you cannot open them just a tiny little bit. For if I may speak in a way that my reader may take metaphorically, even if the writer is inclined to take it literally, the devil makes it his business to present plausible arguments for the opening of hell gates just a tiny little bit -- in the knowledge that the great floodwaters stored behind them will force the rest of the opening.
One cannot understand the phenomena of priestly abuse without understanding the condition of the whole society in which a priest must somehow try to function. Sworn to celibacy, with all the gravity of a holy vow, yet (at least in principle) inexperienced in the ways of the world, he is subjected quite possibly to more temptation than anyone not so sworn can imagine. And everywhere he turns he is confronted with the allurements of that sexual revolution.
Here is his conclusion:
The idea that the Church should solve her problems today by taking the latest advice from the Zeitgeist is beyond the fatuous. What she has in fact been learning, the hard way, is not to make accommodations to the ways of the world. Instead she must stand rigidly by both letter and spirit of her own inhuman (because divinely appointed) tradition and laws.
That every Catholic will feel shame in the exposure of a failed priest could go without saying; perhaps it has now been said too much. The sins of our Fathers are identical with the sins that are epidemic throughout our society, and let me estimate that there are, as I write, more than a million laptops in North America with child pornography saved to folders. It does not follow that the Catholic Church alone needs cleaning up.