Thursday, June 14, 2012

Do those who produce The Catholic Free Press really understand the gravity of child sexual abuse?

Just how serious is the sin of scandal when committed by a priest? St. Alphonsus De Liguori, a Doctor of the Church and a moral theologian, explains that, "The Lord ordained in Leviticus that for the sin of a single priest a calf should be offered, as well as for the sins of the entire people. From this Innocent III concludes that the sin of a priest is as grievous as the sins of the whole people. The reason is, says the Pontiff, that by his sin the priest leads the entire people into sin ('Unde conjicitur quod peccatum Sacerdotis totius multitudinis peccato coaequatur, quia Sacerdos in suo peccato totam fecit delinquere multitudinem' - In Consecr. Pont. s. I.)

And, long before, the Lord himself said the same: 'If the priest that is anointed shall sin, he maketh the people to offend.' Hence, St. Augustine, addressing priests, says, 'Do not close heaven: but this you do if you give to others a bad example to lead a wicked life.' Our Lord said one day to St. Bridget, that when sinners see the bad example of the priest, they are encouraged to commit sin, and even begin to glory in the vices of which they were before ashamed. Hence our Lord added that worse maledictions shall fall on the priest than on others, because by his sinful life he brings himself and others to perdition.'...says St. John Chrysostom, the life of the priest is the root from which the people, who are the branches, receive nutriment.

St. Ambrose also says that priests are the head from which virtue flows to the members, that is, to seculars. The whole head is sick, says the Prophet Isaias;...from the sole of the foot unto the top of the head there is no soundness therein. St. Isidore explains this passage in the following words: 'This languishing head is the priest that commits sin, and that communicates his sin to the whole body.' St. Leo weeps over this evil, saying, 'How can health be found in the body if the head be not sound?' Who, says St. Bernard, shall seek in a sink the limpid water of the spring? Shall I, adds the saint, seek counsel from the man that knows not how to give counsel to himself? Speaking of the bad example of princes, Plutarch says, that it poisons not a single cup, but the public fountain; and thus, because all draw from the fountain, all are poisoned. This may be said with greater truth of the bad example of priests; hence Eugene III has said that bad Superiors are the principal causes of the sins of inferiors...St. Bernardine of Sienna writes that many, seeing the bad example of the scandalous ecclesiastic, begin even to waver in faith, and thus abandon themselves to vice, despising the sacraments, hell, and heaven." (St. Alphonsus De Liguori, Dignity and Duties of the Priest, pp. 142-144, 149).

In recent posts, I have examined how Father Jonathan Joseph Slavinskas has had nothing but praise for the late Father Joseph Coonan, whose ministry was tarred with scandal.  Specifically, Father Slavinskas said that Fr. Coonan was a "great influence" who helped "nourish" his vocation.  This praise for a priest credibly accused of abusing children was published in The "Catholic" Free Press.  See my posts here and here.

What does this suggest about the Worcester Diocese and most especially its official newspaper?  Is there really an appreciation at the diocesan level as to the seriousness of child abuse?  Such would not appear to be the case.

Meanwhile, another of Fr. Slavinskas' sisters has left comments at this Blog singing the praises of Fr. Joseph Coonan, even though the Worcester Diocese removed him from ministry years ago because the accusations against him were found to be credible.  Beth Slavinskas left three comments.  In these comments, she asserts that, "Father Coonan was a great priest who revitalized a lot of youths faith in the Catholic Church."  And she adds, "I am saying that Fr. Coonan's time at Saint John's was positive."

Positive?  For whom?  As Dr. Germain Grisez reminds us, "In a loose sense, scandal refers to bad publicity; in the strict sense, it refers to leading others into sin (see CCC, 2284-2287).  Jesus warns: 'If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea' (Mk 9: 42; Mt 18: 6; Lk 17: 1-2). Since clerical sexual abuse not only injures its victims as sexual abuse always does but poses a threat and obstacle to their and others' faith, the Church is injured far more by its scandalousness in this strict sense than she is by bad publicity about it."

What do you think: Do those who produce the "Catholic" Free Press really understand the gravity of child sexual abuse?  If so, why would they publish comments praising a disgraced priest who was removed from ministry because the accusations that he abused children were found to be credible?  The photo below is that of Fr. Jonathan Joseph Slavinskas.


ACatholicinClinton said...

I don't think they do. The comments were insensitive at best and totally inconsiderate toward the victims.

I am very concerned about Fr. Jonathan Slavinskas because of his remarks. This puts his ministry in question as far as I'm concerned.

1921Diner said...

The CFP cannot be trusted any longer. Years of dissent and questionable articles and features have destroyed the paper's credibility in my view. Boycott the paper. Subscribe instead to the National Catholic Register or another trusted paper which is Catholic in more than name.

jac said...

From St Pius V:
"That horrible crime, on account of which corrupt and obscene cities were destroyed by fire through divine condemnation, causes us most bitter sorrow and shocks our mind, impelling us to repress such a crime with the greatest possible zeal."

The Fifth Lateran Council [1512-1517] issued this decree:
"Let any member of the clergy caught in that vice against nature, given that the wrath of God falls over the sons of perfidy, be removed from the clerical order or forced to do penance in a monastery" (chap. 4, X, V, 31).

"So that the contagion of such a grave offense may not advance with greater audacity by taking advantage of impunity, which is the greatest incitement to sin, and so as to more severely punish the clerics who are guilty of this nefarious crime and who are not frightened by the death of their souls, we determine that they should be handed over to the severity of the secular authority, which enforces civil law.

Therefore, wishing to pursue with greater rigor than we have exerted since the beginning of our pontificate, we establish that any priest or member of the clergy, either secular or regular, who commits such an execrable crime, by force of the present law be deprived of every clerical privilege, of every post, dignity and ecclesiastical benefit, and having been degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, let him be immediately delivered to the secular authority to be put to death, as mandated by law as the fitting punishment for laymen who have sunk into this abyss."

Site Meter