BY MICHAEL MULLINS
Guest blogging at The Washington Post, James Martin SJ addresses last week’s much talked about parallels between the horrific sexual abuse cases at Penn State University and those in the Catholic Church. This leads him to recall the comments of a fellow speaker at a conference on church sexual abuse.
“A psychiatrist [described the] two main characteristics of the sexual abuser: narcissism and grandiosity. The narcissist is almost entirely focused on his own needs and personal gratification… The grandiose person is often the ‘Pied Piper’, the one who easily gathers around him students, football players, altar boys… Often a larger-than-life character, he may be the charismatic founder of an organisation. …
After the conviction or removal from office or ministry, those two qualities merge in the person with terrible consequences… The grandiose narcissist now focuses almost exclusively on his own suffering… This is the ‘Poor Me’ Syndrome. Even more dangerous: he draws others into his net, and the suffering of the real victims… is overlooked.”
In another context, Fr Chris Ryan MGL blogs at Seeing Swans at Night on the solo lay youth minister.
“The solo youth minister model of youth ministry looks a lot like the lone priest in a parish doing all the ministry himself. Its just been transferred to this (largely) lay context. In other words, it’s a problematic ecclesiology that is undoing us here. Instead of Vatican II’s vision of the Church which has everyone contributing their particular gifts for the sake of the Church’s mission our current practice actually reflects an ecclesiology that concentrates all ministry into the hands of the ‘professionals’, be they priests (clericalism) or employed laity (pseudo-clericalism).
The Catholic Herald asks why Catholics lapse.
“Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York spoke to his fellow bishops about the ‘chilling’ rates of lapsation among US Catholics… [He said fewer] are convinced that Jesus and His Church are one. So they drift from her, get mad at the Church, grow lax, join another or just give it all up.
But Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton [in the UK] has suggested that people are lapsing because they are simply too busy to go to Mass. [He said] the cause was
‘More likely to do with laziness and children’s extra-curricular commitments than controversies surrounding the pope or clerical sexual abuse scandals.”
Sentire Cum Ecclesia reports on last Tuesday’s Intelligence Squared Debate at Melbourne Town Hall on the topic “The Catholic Church is a force for good”. The negative won, 59% to 34%.
“I found the experience deeply disturbing… [David] Marr was really caustic. [He] asked the ‘For’ panel point blank ‘Put up your hand if you think it is a sin for someone who has AIDS to use a condom.’ Of course, the phrasing of the question was designed as a trap…
I was very, very uncomfortable at some points. It is not a nice thing to be among a crowd of people loudly cheering and jeering against your community…. If next year’s ‘Year of Faith’ is to achieve anything, then… the Catholic Church from top to bottom – will need to embark upon the ‘New Evangelisation’ with a vigorous determination, and without any illusions about the battle before us.
Australia Incognita raises the question of whether official Catholic newspapers and websites should be permitted to challenge the positions of the bishops. She cites the example of the Perth archdiocesan newspaper The Record. She speculates on whether it was censured after it “defended the Pope’s decision” on the Bishop Morris Case in a manner critical of the Australian bishops.
“One of the sadder features of modern Church life is the suppression of legitimate debate… The the demise of the online presence of The Record [which] had, once upon a time, a very vigorous online presence, updated weekly. Through its medium we were able to access the excellent thoroughly orthodox, thoroughly practical advice of Father Flader for example, on questions like whether or not there are people in hell….
Could this all be due to that editorial and reporting on the Morris dismissal? Pretty sad that articles which actually defended the Pope's decision seem to have led to the effective demise of the Record online… Some liberals did argue at the time that it is inappropriate for anyone to deviate from the line agreed by the Bishops Conference.”
More generally, Incognita argues that
“official websites of dioceses, their newspapers and such like outlets do need to take particular care in the line they tread. Few of them do of course; most, including the Canberra-Goulburn Voice for example, regularly promote at best dodgy modernist theology.
But there is no reason, it seems to me, why they shouldn't in principle at least, have some editorial independence from their bishops, provided they stay within the bounds of orthodoxy and propriety...
Our bishops should be defending those who speak out for the Church, not penalising and suppressing them.”
Valerie Schultz at America Magazine’s blog fears the new Mass translation will “have the effect of showing a whole new generation the door”, but does see some positives.
“Much as I dislike the awkwardness of the new Missal, changing it up made me ponder and see in a new light the responses I have been saying by rote all my adult life. What was I actually saying I believed? What is the true intent of a certain phrase? The discomfort of no longer having the Mass memorised was an invitation to rediscovery.”
The Tablet’s online editor Abigail Frymann comments on Pope Benedict’s visit to Africa by recalling a 2009 conversation she had with a West African bishop.
“Priests having wives or mistresses happens a lot, he told me with a tired look in his eyes. ‘You can't treat men like children; you have to trust them,’ he said. Another, also West African and Francophone, told me he hoped that the  synod would help the Pope understand Africa better.”
Damian Thompson at The Telegraph defends Padre Pio from skeptics whom claims he faked his stigmata with carbolic acid.
“That's the claim made by Italian historian Professor Sergio Luzzatto, who says he has discovered documents including a letter from a pharmacist who supplied carbolic acid for Pio, canonised by Pope John Paul in 2002.
Pio sceptics insist that Pope John Paul was yielding to pressure from devotees when he declared him a saint – St Pio of Pietrelcina. But that's not necessarily a good argument: the acclamation and petitions of the faithful have been a factor in saint-making since the earliest days of Christianity.”
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every Monday.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.