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Neuhaus on Problems of the Roman Church

February 10th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

in First Things:

Beginning in the 1780s and up through the nineteenth century, some
Catholic laity were attracted to the voluntaristic idea of church
membership and church government that they saw in the Protestant
denominations around them. Parishes elected lay “trustees” who took
charge of the temporal affairs of the churches, including the salaries
and, in some cases, the appointment of clergy. This American model, as
it was called, was encouraged by a few bishops such as John England of
Charleston, South Carolina, but Rome and the great majority of bishops
viewed it, correctly, as a form of “congregationalism” incompatible
with the Catholic understanding of the divine constitution of the
Church. Trusteeism was effectively suppressed by the end of the
nineteenth century, being replaced by patterns of what the NRB rightly
calls the “clericalism” that has much to do with the “Crisis in the
Catholic Church in the United States.” Still today, priests, and
priests who become bishops, are trained to take alarm at the slightest
hint of “trusteeism.” That is why, among other things, parish pastors
expend inordinate time and energy on the minutiae of administration
that could be better handled by laypeople. That is why bishops engaged
in the practices of autocracy, secrecy, and cover-up that contributed
so powerfully to the current crisis.


The incidence of reported abuse increased significantly in the 1960s,
peaked in the ’70s, and then decreased in the ’80s and ’90s even more
dramatically than it had increased during the prior two decades.
During the entire period studied, 4.3 percent of diocesan priests were
accused but only 2.7 percent of priests in religious orders.


Of the more than four thousand priests accused of abusing minors, more
than half (56 percent) had only one allegation against them. Three
percent had ten or more allegations. These 149 priests accounted for
almost three thousand (27 percent) of the allegations. Of the 109,694
priests in active ministry during these 52 years,…

Neuhaus in
a different article says

It would appear that there are many more incidents of priests having a
sexual relationship with an adult woman or man than with minors. Such
relationships are, in many cases, not viewed as a major problem
because they usually do not have legal, financial, or public relations
consequences for the Church, and are therefore deemed to be “nobody’s

  1. Frank
    February 11th, 2009 at 20:08 | #1

    Indulgences are coming back too:


    "February 10, 2009
    For Catholics, Heaven Moves a Step Closer

    The announcement in church bulletins and on Web sites has been greeted with enthusiasm by some and wariness by others. But mainly, it has gone over the heads of a vast generation of Roman Catholics who have no idea what it means: “Bishop Announces Plenary Indulgences.”
    In recent months, dioceses around the world have been offering Catholics a spiritual benefit that fell out of favor decades ago — the indulgence, a sort of amnesty from punishment in the afterlife — and reminding them of the church’s clout in mitigating the wages of sin.
    The fact that many Catholics under 50 have never sought one, and never heard of indulgences except in high school European history (where Martin Luther denounces the selling of them in 1517 and ignites the Protestant Reformation) simply makes their reintroduction more urgent among church leaders bent on restoring fading traditions of penance in what they see as a self-satisfied world………."

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