The Catholic Church At A Crossroads

5 04 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

When my father’s ancestors first came to America from Rottweil, Germany in 1849, they consisted of a husband and wife who had sixteen children, and were Catholics.  Sometime early in the 20th Century, the family moved away from the Church because of tithing—or so I was told—and became Lutherans.

On my mother’s side were Scots, Irish and English, many of whom were Catholics too.  My mother was an Episcopalian and my father sang in a Lutheran choir in Minneapolis where they met in grade school, but I grew up with kind feelings toward the Catholic Church.  My first two girlfriends were Catholics, which has been true of others since.

Fast forward to April of 1983, and I met a lovely Irish woman in Dublin, and we spent many years together.  She had attended Catholic schools, but would not set foot in a Catholic church in Ireland because of what she had witnessed as a young girl, and because of what she described as the “hypocrisy” of the Church (e.g., a high ranking Church official had a “wife” and child).  Later, I met another Irish woman whose closest friend had been impregnated by the local parish priest, and she had given birth to his child.

When the reports of pedophilia and other child abuses began to surface dramatically in the US and Ireland, I was not surprised.  Obviously the victims had suffered more than any of us can fathom.  I discussed the issue with someone who was much more knowledgeable than I was; and the person emphasized that being a Gay priest was different than being a pedophile.  Also, nuns committed child abuses in large numbers, certainly in Ireland.

One of my close Catholic friends pointed out some years ago that the Church had taken steps to remove pedophiles from its ranks, which was long overdue.  Also, I believe the Church-made rule of celibacy has outlived its usefulness and should be jettisoned.  The earliest Christian leaders were largely married men; and the Church’s hierarchy today should include the married and unmarried, both men and women.

Some people argue that the latest crises might bring down a Pope.  Surely, the Church has withstood other assaults throughout history, and it will withstand this one too.  The Church’s supporters will continue, while its detractors and haters will be present too.  The larger issue is whether true reform is possible, after the latest “blood-letting” about pedophilia has passed.

In many ways, the Church is like a giant oil tanker or aircraft carrier that cannot be turned on a dime.  In a sense, this is good because it is not blown off course by the societal trends or scandals of the moment.[2] As the enormous worldwide force that it is, the Church makes changes incrementally, not dramatically or overnight.  Pedophilia and child abuses of any kind must be condemned and never happen again.  The task today is to rectify the wrongdoing and bring the wrongdoers to justice, and to institutionalize lasting reforms.

The hard-earned monies of parishioners should not be used to pay the Church’s legal fees or legal settlements with the victims.  Instead, the monies should come from the Church’s vast coffers and resources worldwide, which are invested in office buildings, other real estate and the like.  When I attend Catholic churches regularly—which I do, even though I am not a member of the Church—I see Hispanics and other devout worshippers contribute what little money they have.  To use such monies to address the Church’s wrongdoing seems morally wrong and repugnant.

Next, there are vast numbers of child prostitutes in the US and throughout the world[3], who are victims of human trafficking[4].  Just as pedophilia must be stopped in its tracks, so too must human trafficking of all types, and child prostitution and pornography[5].  The Catholic Church can take a leadership role worldwide with respect to all of these issues—which is long overdue.  Its moral obligation to do so is clear.[6]

Lastly, one’s religion is very personal, and mine certainly is.  I do not want anyone telling me how to worship or what is important; and most people feel exactly the same way.  Any thoughts I have about the Church represent an effort to move beyond the scandals of today, and to seek a brighter future.

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele

[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g.,

[2] I have been drawn to the Church more and more over the years because among the American churches, at least it stands for issues in which I believe, such as the sanctity of life and family values.  We live in a society today that is guided too much by secular values, with which I do not agree.  If it feels good, do it—or so many people believe.  God has been driven out of our children’s classrooms and elsewhere in society. and I do not agree with that.

Until Ronald Reagan focused public attention of the right to life as opposed to abortions that were often a matter of convenience, I had never given much attention to the issue.  If anything, I just went along with the idea that abortions were OK, as well as a woman’s right.  Then, I saw a film about the birth of a human being, from almost the moment of conception to when it emerged from the womb.  How it was filmed, I do not know, but I will never forget it.  At about the same time, I read an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times (as I recall), written by a doctor who had performed lots of abortions, many of them late-term.  He gave up his medical practice because he was having nightmares and other reactions, and I was stunned by his words.

I defy anyone to define with precision when a human life begins, and when an abortion constitutes something other than the taking of a human being.  For me, life begins with conception; and thereafter, I believe this life is taken if an abortion occurs.  Should that act be criminalized, or does a woman have the right to have it done?  These are heady issues, with respect to which people disagree, sometimes violently.  I side with the Catholic Church, and feel that adoptions are preferable to abortions.  A cousin of mine and his wife found it almost impossible to adopt in the U.S., and were forced to adopt two children from Asia, whom they love unconditionally.  Clearly, there are many loving American couples who would welcome the chance to adopt someone else’s child.

[3] See, e.g.,

[4] See, e.g.,

[5] See, e.g.,

[6] Former President George W. Bush took a leadership role in dealing with the issue of human trafficking; and the Catholic Church must do the same.  See, e.g.,



11 responses

5 04 2010
Frankie Pintado

On abortion:

I agree with you about when a life begins, and I am completely against abortion as a form of birth control. Adoption is a much more responsible choice. While I personally feel that it is never right to abort a pregnancy out of convenience, there are certain extreme circumstances when even I would consider it, incest for example, or rape.

As much as I feel that 99% of abortions are simply taking a life out of convenience, I believe that it should be kept legal. History has proven that people will have abortions, whether they are legal or not. So to me, it is a question of which is a lesser evil, a properly preformed abortion? or a black market abortion?

When it comes to their own bodies, humans will make their own decisions regardless of law. Look at Eve and the forbidden fruit, or the”war on drugs”.

What I propose is a fairly lengthy class, educating women on abortion, fetal development and anything else that would make them reconsider. That, at the very least, should be a mandatory condition of receiving a legal abortion. Maybe there should even be some financial incentive to keeping the child. And here’s the part that people may find pretty controversial: I think that If a woman wants to abort a healthy fetus, then as a condition they should also receive a hysterectomy.


6 04 2010

I really enjoyed this post! Somethign must be done to change our country on this issue!

I stand on Christian principles and want to protect the sanctity of life and I believe that abortion is wrong.

If you agree and want your voice to be heard, join me and 400,000 other Americans in signing the Manhattan Declaration.

You can check it out at


17 04 2010

The Hypocrisy Of Peggy Noonan


In her latest article about the Catholic Church, Noonan is sanctimonious and pompous as always, and one of the most narcissistic people in American media. Just watch her on TV sometime, if you have any doubts. She is divorced, so presumably the family values of the Catholic Church were not meaningful to her.

She asserts that she wrote about the “American church scandal” involving sexual abuses by priests eight years ago; and she cites her article as if it were a seminal tome on the subject. Later this year, she will be 60 years old. Surely she knew of such abuses long before she wrote about them, yet she consciously chose to remain silent until it was politically opportune for her to discuss the issues. If she did not know, then she closed her eyes to what was happening, and was complicit.

As stated above in my article, I first learned of the Church’s problems in Ireland 27 years ago this month. They had been ongoing for ages before that.

Apropos of Noonan’s narcissism, she makes a point of saying:

At the end of the piece I called on the pope, John Paul II, to begin to show the seriousness of the church’s efforts to admit, heal and repair. . . .

She even takes credit for the sale of the cardinal’s mansion in Boston. What is abundantly clear is that this woman’s narcissism knows no bounds.

Again, pontificating from high atop Mount Olympus, she states:

I know this from having seen it: Many—not all, but many—of the men who staff the highest levels of the Vatican have been part of the very scandal they are now charged with repairing.

If she felt so strongly, why did she remain silent until eight years ago? The word hypocrisy rings loud and clear in much of what Noonan writes and says, and her latest article is no exception.


29 04 2010

Will The Catholic Church “Be Honest” And “Do Good”?

It has been said that these are the important questions, which must be answered. My response is:

Being honest and doing good are in the eye of the beholder.

When Barack Obama ran for the presidency, he denied that he and and Weather Underground co-founder Bill Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. were truly his “soul brothers.” However, one need only read his book, “Dreams from My Father,” to realize that they were.

See, e.g.,

Obama and his political handlers put out what they wanted the American people to believe, pure and simple; and they lied to us. Similarly, John F. Kennedy’s life was pure fraud, but the weavers of the “Camelot” myth told us otherwise, and it took years for the truth to come out. Even after it did, the Kennedy myths continue to this day.

See, e.g., ( review of “The Dark Side of Camelot”) and

Would it help if the Catholic Church did a mea culpa with respect to every wrongdoing done by those who have acted in its name? Maybe, maybe not.

Pedophilia and child abuses of any kind must be condemned and never happen again. The task today is to rectify the wrongdoing and bring the wrongdoers to justice, and to institutionalize lasting reforms. Human trafficking of all types, and child prostitution and pornography must be ended too. The Catholic Church can take a leadership role worldwide with respect to all of these issues—which is long overdue. Its moral obligation to do so is clear.

To this, it might be said—and has been said—that any notion of being honest and doing good are in the eye of the beholder is “bull,” because “we know what is right and wrong. Using excuse[s] like Obama is not good enough for the Church. . . . [T]he church [must] . . . have higher moral[s] than politicians.” Also, it has been said: “Don’t use lawyer talk on us. Be honest in your heart.”

My response is:

I am not a Catholic, as my blog article [above] indicates.

. . .

Hence, I find it interesting that one is criticized in seeking fairness for the Catholic Church. I believe only God is perfect—no church or other religious institution is. Also, throughout history, many have purported to act in the name of God or in the name of various religions, including the Catholic Church.

Lastly, as Jesus said: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:1-11 (King James Version)


8 06 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

The Catholic Past In Ireland: The Bodies Of 800 Babies

As I wrote in the article above:

I met a lovely Irish woman in Dublin, and we spent many years together. She had attended Catholic schools, but would not set foot in a Catholic church in Ireland because of what she had witnessed as a young girl. . . .

The UK’s Daily Mail has an article by Martin Sixsmith that is worth reading by anyone who cares about the Church and its future:

In nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent, I covered stories of mass graves in far-flung locations in Eastern Europe and Russia. The thought of them has remained lodged in my memory.

But never did I expect to be covering a mass grave from modern times on my own doorstep; I thought Western and Northern Europe was immune from such horrors.

Yet that is exactly what I came across in January this year in the small Irish town of Tuam in County Galway, an ugly place with its rundown streets and council estates.

On a grey, rainy afternoon, I was taken to a patch of land in the centre of one such estate. Surrounded by houses built in the 1970s, on the edge of a scruffy playground, I found a plaster statue of the Madonna on a pile of stones, incongruously sheltered by an old enamel bathtub. Beneath it were the bodies of nearly 800 babies.

The remains of a forbidding 8ft wall nearby were a clue to the place’s history. Until 1961 this had been the site of a Catholic religious community run by the Sisters of Bon Secours.

They had bought the workhouse in the 1920s and converted it into a home for unmarried mothers. For the next 36 years, the nuns took in thousands of women. In those days, sex outside marriage was proclaimed a mortal sin.

The Church said the girls were ‘fallen women’ and degenerates. Their crime had to be hidden, their babies delivered in secret behind high walls, and their children taken away.

News of the mass graves at Tuam finally made the newspapers last week, but I had heard of the site and visited the shrine five months ago while researching a BBC TV documentary about the estimated 60,000 babies that the Church took for adoption in the 1950s and 1960s, many of them sent to America in return for large payments disguised as ‘donations’.

I had written about one such case in my book Philomena, later made into a film starring Judi Dench.

The hundreds of letters I received from mothers and children forcibly separated by the nuns, and still seeking each other even now, made me painfully aware of the full human tragedy behind Ireland’s mother and baby homes. But Tuam had other, even darker secrets.

I talked to local residents and met John, now in his 80s and one of the first to move into the estate in October 1972, who told me how children made a grim discovery on the grassy area. He said: ‘Not too long after we came here they were playing football and they saw something they thought was a ball or something. They kicked it around, but when we looked at it we saw it was a child’s skull.’

Worse was to follow. ‘The local lads used to go fishing in the river’, John said. ‘They needed to dig for worms and one day they lifted up some old slabs that had been lying since before the estate was built. . . .’

What the boys found was horrific. The slabs concealed the entrance to a Victorian septic tank built for the workhouse. Its original function had ceased in the 1930s when mains sewerage came, but the nuns had seemingly put it to a new and grisly use.

Barry Sweeney, one of the boys there that day, says: ‘It was a concrete slab, but there was something hollow underneath it, so we decided to bust it open and it was full to the brim with skeletons. The priest came over and blessed it. I had nightmares over it.’

Like all the mother and baby homes run by the Church, conditions in Tuam had been primitive. The girls were denied basic medical care and refused painkillers for even the most difficult birth because the pain was ‘God’s punishment for your sin’.

Their babies were neglected, crowded into communal nurseries where infection and disease ran unchecked. The result was a shamefully high death rate, with measles and dysentery killing hundreds.

Infant mortality was often five or six times worse in the Church’s homes than in the rest of Ireland, and judging by accounts of what went on there it is hardly surprising.

‘Nellie’, a former inmate in Tuam, spoke to me on condition that I would not use her real name.

‘I came in pregnant and was put to work in the nursery,’ she said. ‘It was awful. There was no medicine and the babies were always getting sick. When one of them caught something, they would all get it and nuns did nothing about it. The worst was the green diarrhoea. It just poured out of the little things. It was so bad that you couldn’t even put nappies on them. They just lay there in it.’

Nellie’s daughter survived, but many didn’t. ‘There was nothing you could do. Their diet was terrible, there was overcrowding and disease, and no doctor to call on. There were babies dying every day.’ The Tuam home was demolished in 1972 and the nuns departed without any mention of the dead babies.

But rumours continued to circulate until two local people, Catherine Corless and Teresa Kelly, set out to uncover the truth. ‘We all knew about the “home babies”,’ Catherine told me. ‘But the place was behind 8ft walls and nobody was allowed in.’

Catherine and Teresa consulted old maps and documents, gathering whatever information they could. The stories about the sewage tank began to make sense. ‘Some locals do remember,’ she told me, ‘that grave diggers would be seen late at night bringing out children and putting them in there. They were without coffins, just wrapped in white shrouds.’

Catherine went to the records office in Galway. ‘There was a nice girl there. I’m not sure she was supposed to, but she dug out the old records of all the children who died, with their ages and what they died of. . . .’

By collating the data, Catherine calculated that nearly 800 babies were buried beneath the housing estate. ‘I was utterly amazed when I realised that I had the names of 796 babies. The causes of death were measles or septicaemia, abscesses, convulsions, tuberculosis or pneumonia; lots were aged three to six months, and then quite a lot of one and two-year-olds. It’s heart-breaking reading through all the names.’

An inspection report from 1944 reveals the sorry state of many of the 333 babies then at Tuam. Most, aged between three weeks and 13 months, are described as ‘fragile, pot-bellied and emaciated’, 31 are listed as ‘poor babies, emaciated and not thriving’. There is a ‘miserable, emaciated child with voracious appetite and no control over bodily functions’; a ‘delicate’ ten-month-old ‘child of itinerants’, and a five-year-old with its ‘hands growing near its shoulders’.

A nine-month-old is described as ’emaciated with flesh hanging loosely on limbs’, and the child’s mother is said to be ‘not normal’.

The report concludes that the mortality rate was ‘high’, with 300 deaths between 1943 and 1946. With so many babies perishing, the nuns had used the septic tank as a convenient depository, turning it into a mass grave. Catherine Corless believes that what is now the playground also conceals buried remains.

A Church that sets such store by the sanctity of human life and its opposition to abortion showed very little respect for the young souls in its care, and that rankles with Teresa Kelly.

‘The nuns left without doing justice to those children’, she says. ‘They walked away and left the babies there. I don’t understand how anyone could just cover over all that and forget that all that happened.’

When the story of the grave began to emerge, a local couple took it on themselves to keep the burial site tidy; it was they who put up the makeshift shrine with its bathtub. But Teresa says she won’t rest until a proper memorial is erected. ‘We want to put those children’s names on a plaque and get them up on the wall. They deserve to have a name, the day they were born, the day they died. Their mothers don’t know where they’re buried. People will be looking; they deserve to know.’

Now people are looking. A relative of a child born in Tuam has made a formal complaint to the Irish police that could trigger exhumations at the site. William Joseph Dolan was born on May 21, 1950, to a young single mother called Bridget Dolan. The institution’s records carry the scribbled word ‘died’, but no further information. Bridget reportedly told her family that William had been sent for adoption in America. His relative, who does not wish to be identified, says: ‘I just want to know what happened to him. There is no death certificate. He could still be alive or he’s in the grave.’

Pressure is growing for a proper investigation. The Irish Minister for Children, Charlie Flanagan, has called the revelations about Tuam and other mother and baby homes ‘deeply disturbing’ and ‘a shocking reminder of a darker past’.

The Dolan case may force the government to take action, but it is unlikely Tuam is an isolated case.

Catherine Corless says: ‘I know there are other mass graves and there are people wanting to recognise them. There are mass graves all over Ireland. Unrecognised, unnamed children. Here in Tuam we hope to have some justice for them.’

Sadly, from my own experience working on Philomena, I know justice is not easy to come by.

Church and state have repeatedly failed to help mothers whose children were sent for adoption in the 1950s and 1960s; some accuse them of operating a ‘deny until they die’ policy of stonewalling.

And there are similar signs of buck-passing in this case. The Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, said he is ‘greatly shocked’ by the news, but he is quick to blame others.

‘As the diocese did not have any involvement in running the home, we do not have any material relating to it. There exists a clear moral imperative on the Bon Secours Sisters to act upon their responsibilities.’

But when Catherine Corless approached the Sisters, they told her: ‘We haven’t got one single record. We gave everything over to the county council and then it went to the health board, so we have absolutely nothing on the home.’

When I phoned a spokesman for the Bon Secours Sisters, she was charming, but said that the nuns were old now; they aren’t able to talk to the media and there is really nothing they can do. ‘Through the passage of time, the sisters who would have served at the home are now deceased. Unfortunately, I cannot take the matter any further.’

It is a statement that puts me in mind of the final scene of the film Philomena when Steve Coogan, playing a semi-fictional version of me and furious at being fobbed off by the Church, storms into a convent and threatens to throw the old nun who ran the mother and baby home ‘out of that f***ing wheelchair!’ Melodramatic perhaps, but sometimes that’s what it takes.

See (emphasis added)


19 02 2016
Timothy D. Naegele

The Pope Attacks Donald Trump [UPDATED]

Pope Francis

AP has reported:

Thrusting himself into the heated American presidential campaign, Pope Francis declared Thursday that Donald Trump is “not Christian” if he wants to address illegal immigration only by building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump fired back ferociously, saying it was “disgraceful” for a religious leader to question a person’s faith.

The rare back-and-forth between pontiff and presidential candidate was the latest astonishing development in an American election already roiled by Trump’s free-wheeling rhetoric and controversial policy proposals, particularly on immigration. It also underscored the popular pope’s willingness to needle U.S. politicians on hot-button issues.

Francis’ comments came hours after he concluded a visit to Mexico, where he prayed at the border for people who died trying to reach the U.S. While speaking to reporters on the papal plane, he was asked what he thought of Trump’s campaign pledge to build a wall along the entire length of the border and expel millions of people in the U.S. illegally.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” he said. While Francis said he would “give the benefit of the doubt” because he had not heard Trump’s border plans independently, he added, “I say only that this man is not a Christian if he has said things like that.”

Trump, a Presbyterian and the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, responded within minutes.

“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” he said at a campaign stop in South Carolina, which holds a key primary on Saturday. “I am proud to be a Christian, and as president I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened.”

Trump also raised the prospect of the Islamic State extremist group attacking the Vatican, saying that if that happened, “the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened.”

Francis, the first pope from Latin America, urged Congress during his visit to Washington last year to respond to immigrants “in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.” He irked Republicans on the same trip with his forceful call for international action to address climate change.

Immigration is among the most contentious issues in American politics. Republicans have moved toward hardline positions that emphasize law enforcement and border security, blocking comprehensive legislation in 2013 that would have included a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally.

Hispanics, an increasingly large voting bloc in U.S. presidential elections, have flocked to Democrats in recent years. President Barack Obama won more than 70 percent in the 2012 election, leading some Republican leaders to conclude the party must increase its appeal to them.

However, the current GOP presidential primary has been dominated by increasingly tough rhetoric. Trump has insisted that Mexico will pay for his proposed border wall and has said some Mexicans entering the U.S. illegally are murderers and rapists.

While Trump’s words have been among the most inflammatory, some of his rivals have staked out similar enforcement positions. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are among those who have explicitly called for construction of a wall.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of the few GOP candidates proposing a path to legal status for people already in the U.S. illegally, said Thursday he supports “walls and fencing where it’s appropriate.” Bush said that while he gets his guidance “as a Catholic” from the pope, he doesn’t take his cues from Francis on “economic or environmental policy.”

Marco Rubio, another Catholic seeking the GOP nomination, said that Vatican City has a right to control its borders and so does the United States.

Rubio said he has “tremendous respect and admiration” for the pope, but he added, “There’s no nation on Earth that’s more compassionate on immigration than we are.”

Cruz said he was steering clear of the dispute. “That’s between Donald and the pope,” he said. “I’m not going to get in the middle of them.”

The long-distance exchange between the pope and Trump came two days before the voting in South Carolina, a state where 78 percent of adults identify as Christian, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study. Of that group, 35 percent identify as evangelical and 10 percent as Catholic, the survey found.

It’s unclear what impact, if any, the pope’s rhetoric will have, here or in other states. An October poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that most Americans had no strong opinion on the pope’s approach to immigration issues, though he was overall viewed favorably.

Even before Thursday, Trump had been critical of Francis’ visit to Mexico. He said last week that the pope’s plans to pray at the border showed he was a political figure being exploited by the Mexican government.

Francis glossed over Trump’s assertion that he was a pawn of Mexico, telling reporters on his plane that he would “leave that up to your judgment.” But he seemed pleased to hear the candidate had called him a “political” figure, noting that Aristotle had described the human being as a “political animal.”

See (“POPE VS. TRUMP: ‘NOT CHRISTIAN’ TO ONLY BUILD BORDER WALLS“) (emphasis added); see also (“After branding Trump ‘not Christian’ for his plans to build a wall on the Mexican border the Pope heads home to Vatican City… which is surrounded by a wall“) and (“PHOTOS: Pope’s border wall around Vatican“) and (“Pope Francis is more than head of the Catholic Church — he’s also the head of state of the Vatican, which as a government has possibly the most restrictive immigration and citizenship policies of any nation in the world“) and (POPE NOW SAYS BIRTH CONTROL OK) and (“[Pope] embraces Raul Castro but calls Donald Trump anti-Christian!”)

Trump responded by saying:

If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened. ISIS would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politicians.

The Mexican government and its leadership has made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope, because they want to continue to rip off the United States, both on trade and at the border, and they understand I am totally wise to them. The Pope only heard one side of the story – he didn’t see the crime, the drug trafficking and the negative economic impact the current policies have on the United States. He doesn’t see how Mexican leadership is outsmarting President Obama and our leadership in every aspect of negotiation.

For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith. They are using the Pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant.

See (“TRUMP RESPONDS TO POPE FRANCIS ATTACKS – ‘Pope Will Wish I Was President If ISIS Attacks Vatican’ (VIDEO)”) (emphasis added); see also (“After Mollycoddling Castro[,] Pope Francis Blunders In Attack on Trump”—”The Pope’s ill-considered comments about Donald Trump are of a piece with hysterical overreactions to him and his candidacy in this and other countries. No pope has ever overtly intervened in an American political campaign before”—”Pope Francis allegedly said, as he ended his visit to Mexico, that someone ‘who thinks only about building walls and not building bridges, is not Christian.’ This was an outrageous comment and is not the first time this Pope has blundered into dangerous secular territory”—”[T]here is no doubt that Mr. Trump is a Christian, he proclaims himself to be so, has been married in Christian ceremonies and his personal habits (he does not drink, smoke, touch drugs, and rarely swears or blasphemes), and the manner in which he has raised his children, are all in entire conformity with middle-of-the-road Christianity”—”Pope Francis’ mollycoddling of the decrepit and oppressive Castro regime, and especially his avoidance when in Cuba of the representatives of the political victims of the regime, is a good deal harder to excuse than Donald Trump’s sometimes inelegantly expressed but well-founded criticism of an immigration ‘policy’ of decades that has simply turned a blind eye to the illicit, undocumented arrival in the United States of 12 million largely uneducated peasants who clog the American justice, education and welfare systems at immense cost, though they do the menial work that Americans of all pigmentations won’t touch”—”[The Pope] puts himself in the same category of imbecility as the Vancouver aldermen who want to take Mr. Trump’s name off a prominent building (whose builders paid Donald handsomely for the use of his name), and the cretins of the British parliament who want to bar him from entering the U.K.”—”[T]he present Pope’s fraternization with the antichrist and flippant trespasses in the presidential selection process of the traditional leader of the Western countries is, unfortunately, as Donald Trump describes it”)

I have cared about the Catholic Church for a long time, and agree with many of the things that it stands for. Ancestors on both sides of my family have been Catholics for hundreds of years; and I attend its churches (including California’s lovely and historic Missions) much of the time.

See (“The Catholic Church At A Crossroads“); see also (“Abortions And Autos Kill More In America Than Guns“)

However, the Church is not perfect, by any means. Wading into American politics is unseemly for the Pope, especially days before an important election.

With all due respect to his Holiness, he is another foreign naysayer who might wish to keep his mouth shut at times. Surely he has bigger issues to deal with, such as pedophile priests.

Also, why isn’t he “housing” all of the migrants at the Vatican? Of course I am being facetious. But the immigration issue is ripping Europe apart; and it is very contentious in the United States—which is a nation of immigrants, and the greatest “melting pot” of cultures on the face of the Earth.

The Pope has been an outspoken believer in so-called man-made “global warming” or “climate change,” which is fraudulent, a hoax and the “Great Green Con”—so at the very least, his judgment is not infallible.

See (“A $34 Trillion Swindle: The Shame Of Global Warming“) and (“America: A Rich Tapestry Of Life“)

Lastly, it has been reported that the Pope has backed down, and “retracted” his comments about Trump.

See (“Trump’s victory over the Pope: Francis backs down over ‘not Christian’ claim as Vatican says it was not a ‘personal attack’ or attempt to influence presidential vote“)

Donald Trump


11 07 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

Bogus Catholic Web Site Attacks Trump

Baby at 12 weeks
[Baby at 12 weeks]

Whoever heard of the National Catholic Reporter?

Speaking for the Web site, its “Political Columnist” Michael Sean Winters has written:

With the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, the nation is about to be consumed, again, by a debate about abortion. As I discussed on Monday, the pro-life movement seems to me to be in a bind. Ever since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade was rendered in 1973, the debate has become ever more dominated by the most extreme activists on both sides of the issue. Zero-sum debates, when the terms of debate are cast in categorical terms, and when the country is more or less evenly divided on the issue, can become a cancer on our political life.

So, it seems today. How to proceed? Where to find an opening for rational and ethical discussion?

First, the pro-life movement is at a crossroads. Many of us who believe Roe was wrongly decided and who want some legal protection for the unborn have watched in distress as the pro-life movement became an arm of the Republican Party. A key tipping point came in 2010 when the Indiana Right-to-Life Committee decided it would not endorse any Democrat, even pro-life Democrats, because of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which they labeled a pro-abortion law.

Now, the Republican Party has been taken over by President Donald Trump and pro-life conservatives have, like most other conservatives, declined to stand up to the president. As long as he gives them what they want, and they wanted Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and a reversal of the Mexico City Policy, they have been willing to overlook the president’s obvious flaws. The Susan B. Anthony List even hosted the president as their keynote speaker this year.

How can a man who is so demeaning to women, who stands accused of sexually harassing over a dozen women, who mocks the #MeToo movement, who separates immigrant mothers from their children and whose inaction in the fight against climate change could prove to cause more death and destruction to the poor of the world than any positive government action in history, how can this man be a champion of life? It was always shortsighted to tie the movement to one political party, but to align with this man is morally repulsive and politically foolhardy. When he is booted from office, either by a free vote of the people or by a vote of the Senate in an impeachment proceeding, the official pro-life movement will be overwhelmed by the tsunami that awaits everything Trump has touched.

I don’t suspect The SBA List or the National Right-to-Life Committee is likely to take my advice. But, everyone in the pro-life movement who shares my concerns about the danger of aligning the movement with Trump needs to come together and, as loudly and conspicuously as possible, distance ourselves from Trump and from those pro-life groups that have decided to become his collaborators.

The tale on the Democratic side of the aisle is just as woeful. The power and influence of Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood and NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) Pro-Choice America on Democratic Party politics is stunning and it is funny how leftists who complain about the influence of special interest money never seem to complain about the cash flow from these special interest groups. A new generation of pro-choice leaders frowns even on the “safe, legal and rare” stance articulated by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s: They feel that “rare” stigmatizes a choice that they are increasingly proud of. Watch NARAL President Ilyse Hogue’s address to the Democratic National Convention in 2016. Getting an abortion was an applause line. It was appalling, a nonstop libertarian screed.

Hogue’s speech reminded me of the warning about moral coarsening Daniel Callahan predicted in Commonweal in the weeks after Roe was decided:

“I am willing –no, well prepared – to give her that right [to an abortion] under law. I only ask that the society that grants this right be prepared to look with unblinking eyes at just what it is doing, not deceiving itself for one moment about even one aspect of what a granting of that right does. . . . [I predict] in the best 1984 tradition, a reconstruction of history. This is done by creating a highly charged mythology of male repression, or religious persecution, or puritanical fanaticism (i.e. whichever one serves best at the moment to induce popular frenzy . . . and, not incidentally, values are reconstructed by making the value of a potential human being dependent upon being wanted by its mother.”

In Hogue’s speech, her moral compass never reached beyond consideration of what she wanted, what she thought was good for her.

Among other things, Hogue said, “It’s not abortion that bothers them, it’s empowering women to live our own lives.” Sorry, Ms. Hogue, but I am all for empowering women, and it has never been clear to me how abortion “empowers” women. It is obscene that a working poor woman with no health insurance, and who finds herself pregnant, has the choice of paying thousands of dollars to carry the child to term, or $400 for an abortion. Her circumstance is the opening I propose for pro-life Democrats. Why can’t we encourage our pro-choice Democratic friends to become pro-choices, in the plural? Why can’t the Democratic Party stand for empowering women to be able to not have an abortion? Why can’t Democrats work for laws that guarantee a woman’s right to advance in her career, regardless of whether she takes a pregnancy leave?

Don’t kid yourself. We all know that in some high-powered work places, the fact that a woman colleague can get an abortion becomes the expectation by those with whom she is competing for advancement that she will get an abortion. “What is more important, this case or your personal life?” you can hear it said. This passes for women’s liberation. I don’t see it.

Pro-life Democrats can also embrace the consistent ethic of life espoused by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Indeed, most pro-life Democrats already do this. We oppose the death penalty. We supported the Affordable Care Act. We are suspicious of war and dedicated to addressing climate change. Pro-life Democrats can also go one step further and embrace the consistent ethic of solidarity that Bernardin’s successor, Cardinal Blase Cupich has commended. One more thing: Cut a check to pro-life Democratic candidates for office or support Democrats for Life of America.

The bishops of the Catholic Church are, in large part, in the same bind as the Republican Party. Does anyone doubt that the downplaying of their recent visit to the border — little advance notice to the media, only inviting a handful of bishops, going to Catholic Charities and not to a detention center as proposed, and starting the press conference with the observation that “there are no villains here” — does anyone doubt that this downplaying was the result of a desire not to anger the president?

But, the bishops are in a yet deeper bind. They have badly misplayed their hand for 45 years, focusing on abortion as a moral issue, not a social justice issue, and focusing on abortion and a few other conservative causes so intently that their public witness is circumscribed and suspect. Look at this bizarre press release from last week about the forthcoming Supreme Court nomination. The only issue raised? Abortion. In the debate about Kavanaugh, who is going to focus on his anti-labor record? The U.S. bishops’ conference looks like the Republican Party at prayer. Their language about President Trump does not even come close to the moral language they used against President Barack Obama. And, now, on the issue they care about, is their position that the abortion issue be kicked back to the states? Is that really a moral stance?

To be sure, the Catholic Church and her bishops can never cease defending the right to life. We would cease to be Catholic if we did. But, manifestly, they have not succeeded even in convincing their own people and it will require the bishops to actually practice the humility they promote to begin to learn how to witness in the public square to this and other important issues facing our nation.

So, as dark as things are, there are some small steps that a conscientious Catholic can take, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum. The abortion issue will become more divisive before anything improves. The Kavanaugh confirmation fight will be ugly. But, when asked what she does at her Catholic Charities center in McAllen, Texas, Sr. Norma Pimentel says “I am restoring human dignity.” That we can do. That we must do. The day we stop doing it is the day we surrender our baptismal vows.

See (“Amid Kavanaugh nomination, both sides of abortion debate face crossroads“) (emphasis added); see also (“Abortions And Autos Kill More In America Than Guns“) (see also the extensive comments beneath this article) and (“Donald Trump’s New Pick For The Supreme Court“) and (“A $34 Trillion Swindle: The Shame Of Global Warming“) and (“Is Barack Obama A Racist?“)

Winters’ unhinged editorial is pure Leftist tripe.

Clearly, the National Catholic Reporter Web site does not speak for Catholics, nor does Winters; and neither should portray itself as doing so.

Lots of us began as Democrats, but will never vote for one again.

. . .

It is worth repeating:

When a woman gets pregnant, she relinquishes her rights over the fetus. It has a life and rights of its own from the moment of conception.

Any woman who has an abortion is a killer, period. The argument that she has a right to do with her body as she sees fit is true, but it does not apply to the fetus.

An abortion is a criminal act: infanticide. Each of the mothers and the doctors and others who have participated—or participate in the future—in the taking of human lives should be arrested, tried, convicted and . . .

Abortion is the taking of a life!

. . .

IF any exceptions are to be made, they should only occur in the case of rape, incest or where the life of the mother is at risk.


15 08 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

The Sexual Abuse Scandal In The Catholic Church Will Not Go Away [UPDATED]

Jesus' feet

This is the title of an editorial in the UK’s Economist, which notes:

CATHOLIC America was already in shock, and then another hammer-blow fell. Two weeks after one of the country’s best-known prelates handed in his cardinal’s hat, amid allegations of molesting young men, a report has documented in sickening detail the sexual crimes that were perpetrated by over 300 priests in Pennsylvania over 70 years.

More than 1,000 children, and probably several times that number, were victims of clerical abuse that was systematically swept under the carpet, according to a judicial document of nearly 900 pages which was published on August 14th, as Catholics prepared for one of their cherished annual feasts, the Assumption of the Virgin.

The report was prepared by a grand jury that took around two years to investigate six of the eight dioceses in the state. They heard from dozens of witnesses and used their power to gain access to 500,000 pages of church documents.

The American Catholic church has struggled to cope with historical sex-abuse allegations since they exploded in the archdiocese of Boston two decades ago, and it has paid billions of dollars to victims. But the grand jury’s investigation, focusing on a state long seen as a heartland of blue-collar Catholicism, was the broadest fact-finding exercise to date.

The jurors’ grim findings follow a decision by Pope Francis to accept the resignation from the status of cardinal, pending a church trial, of Theodore McCarrick, an American cleric who is now 88. As Washington, DC’s archbishop, he is remembered as a familiar, affable figure in the corridors of power. Not since the 1920s has a cardinal been stripped of his rank.

The Pennsylvania report struck an emotional note for a legal document. The jurors began with the words: “We . . . need you to hear this. . . . There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic church. But never on this scale. . . . Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”

The jurors gave grisly examples. A priest in the diocese of Erie had confessed to the rape of at least 15 boys, some as young as seven, only to be hailed by his bishop as a “person of candour and sincerity” who deserved praise “for the progress he had made” in controlling his “addiction”.

The jurors agree that much has changed in the past 15 years, and that the church seems far quicker to report abuse to the police. They hailed as “forthright and heartfelt” the testimony they had received, in person, from the current bishop of Erie.

Still, they found it regrettable that thanks to cynical cover-ups and a statute of limitations, it had been left too late to prosecute in the vast majority of cases. They urged Pennsylvania’s lawmakers to remove time limits for criminal cases of this sort. A recent change has made it possible for victims to come forward up to the age of 50, but that still seems too restrictive.

In their response to the report, bishops mixed deep regret for the wrongs of the past with an insistence that things had improved, especially since 2002 when new guidelines for dealing with sex offenders were adopted. Cardinal McCarrick helped shape that new approach, but fell foul of it himself.

See (emphasis added); see also (“Oral sex, then holy water: Report documents abuse by priests“) and (“Grand Jury Report Into Sexual Abuse In 6 Pa. Dioceses Released“) and (“Church helped former priest accused of abuse get Disney job“)

Yes, there are those who hate the Catholic Church, as well as Christianity and organized religion, and who would do anything and everything to destroy all of it.

Some are atheists. Others are agnostics. Others are nihilists and anarchists who seek to destroy everything. Still others believe in abortions on demand, and hate the Catholic Church on that basis alone.

There was never any justification for child abuse or pedophilia, or any other abhorrent, deviant behavior—much less on the part of those who have held themselves out as spreading God’s Word and the teachings of Jesus. Many of us have multi-hundred-year Catholic heritages, on both sides of our family, and we are sickened by what has happened.

Perhaps Jesus’ words will echo throughout eternity:

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

See Luke 23:34 (

It is worth repeating what I wrote in the article above:

I met a lovely Irish woman in Dublin, and we spent many years together. She had attended Catholic schools, but would not set foot in a Catholic church in Ireland because of what she had witnessed as a young girl. . . .

. . .

Next, there are vast numbers of child prostitutes in the US and throughout the world, who are victims of human trafficking. Just as pedophilia must be stopped in its tracks, so too must human trafficking of all types, and child prostitution and pornography. The Catholic Church can take a leadership role worldwide with respect to all of these issues—which is long overdue. Its moral obligation to do so is clear.

Lastly, one’s religion is very personal, and mine certainly is. I do not want anyone telling me how to worship or what is important; and most people feel exactly the same way. Any thoughts I have about the Church represent an effort to move beyond the scandals of today, and to seek a brighter future.

See also (“What And Where Is God?“) and (“Human Trafficking“) (see also the comments beneath the article) and (“Smiling Pope Francis steps off his plane in Dublin for papal visit to Ireland“) and (“Litany of Catholic abuse scandals in Ireland“) and (“In Ireland, Pope Finds a Country Transformed and a Church in Tatters“) and (“Pope Francis knew of abuse by ex-Cardinal McCarrick, claims former Vatican official Archbishop Vigano in calling for resignation“) and (“Remembering The Comfort Women, Victims Of Human Trafficking And Slavery“)

Indeed, Christianity is the world’s largest religion with more than 2.4 billion followers; and the Catholic Church is the largest Christian demonination, with almost 1.3 billion followers.

See (“Largest religions“) and–_1.285_billion (“Catholic Church – 1.285 billion“)


26 08 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

What Needs To Be Said, And Done

Three crosses

Today, I attended a Catholic Church, which I often do. With its printed announcements came the following statement from a high official of the Diocese:

Last week was an especially painful one for our Church. Even as the continuing accusations against Cardinal McCarrick brought ongoing pain to us all, the revelation of the history of abuses in Pennsylvania brings fresh anguish to the entire Church. The abuse of even one of God’s children is a crime and a sin against God.

We recognize that children and vulnerable adults are a sacred trust, given to us by God to protect and to nourish. Abuse of a child or vulnerable adult is never acceptable. It violates the dignity of the human person that comes to them as a child of God and will not be tolerated in our Church.

It is important to remember that the Diocese . . . has taken positive steps to prevent abuse from happening here. The diocese has strong policies in place to protect the children and vulnerable adults entrusted to our care. Our policies require that every person working with or around children, be they clergy, staff or volunteers, must pass a criminal background check and be trained on proper boundaries and behavior with children. All parishioners are encouraged to learn the warning signs of potentially abusive situations and to speak up when they see something inappropriate. Any volunteer, staff, or clergy who is accused of inappropriate behavior will be removed immediately from ministry until the accusation can be resolved. The diocese will cooperate fully with the police and other authorities to investigate allegations of abuse.

We have a Victims’ Assistance Coordinator to respond to victims of sexual abuse. Please contact her at 800-___-___ if you believe that you are a victim of sexual misconduct involving anyone associated with the Diocese. . . .

We also have an Independent Review Board to review and advise the Bishop about allegations of sexual misconduct.

We must pray for the victims of abuse and their families. May God lovingly grant them peace and healing. We must pray for our own clergy, staff and volunteers. May God graciously strengthen their resolve to serve His people through these most difficult times. May they grow in holiness and devotion to service. Finally, we must pray for each other. May God grant us the wisdom and courage to persevere through all adversity.

And it was signed by the official of the Diocese:

Sincerely in Christ’s love,

See also (“The Sexual Abuse Scandal In The Catholic Church Will Not Go Away“)



1 09 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

A Cancer On the Papacy?

Pope Francis

Pat Buchanan—an adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, and a former GOP presidential aspirant himself—has written:

This summer, the sex scandal that has bedeviled the Catholic Church went critical.

First came the stunning revelation that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington and friend to presidents, had for decades been a predator-priest who preyed on seminarians and abused altar boys, and whose depravity was widely known and covered up.

Came then the report of a Pennsylvania grand jury that investigated six dioceses and found that some 300 priests had abused 1,000 children over the last 70 years.

The bishop of Pittsburgh, Donald Wuerl, now cardinal archbishop of Washington, defrocked some of these corrupt priests, but reassigned others to new parishes where new outrages were committed.

This weekend brought the most stunning accusation.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Vatican envoy to the United States under Pope Benedict XVI, charged that Pope Francis had been told of McCarrick’s abuses, done nothing to sanction him, and that, as “zero tolerance” of sexual abuse is Francis’ own policy, the pope should resign.

In his 11-page letter of accusations, Vigano further charged that there is a powerful “homosexual current” among the Vatican prelates closest to the pope.

What did the pope know and when did he know it?

Not unlike Watergate, the issue here is whether Pope Francis knew what was going on in the Vatican and in his Church, and why he was not more resolute in rooting out the moral squalor.

Orthodox, conservative and traditionalist Catholics are the most visible and vocal demanding an accounting. Progressive and liberal Catholics, to whom Pope Francis and Cardinal McCarrick were seen as allies on issues of sexual morality, have been thrown on the defensive.

Now, accusations alone are neither proof nor evidence.

Yet there is an obligation, an imperative, given the gravity of the revelations, that the Vatican address the charges.

When did Pope Francis become aware of McCarrick’s conduct, which appears to have been widely known? Did he let his close friendship with McCarrick keep him from doing his papal and pastoral duty?

This destructive scandal has been bleeding for decades. Too long. The Church is running out of time. It needs to act decisively now.

Priests who prey on parochial school children and altar boys are not only sinners, they are criminal predators who belong in penitentiary cells not parish rectories. They ought to be handed over to civil authorities.

While none of us is without sin, sexually active and abusive clergy should be severed from the priesthood. There needs to be a purge at the Vatican, removing or retiring bishops, archbishops and cardinals, the revelation of whose past misconduct would further feed this scandal.

For too long, the Catholic faithful have been forced to pay damages and reparations for crimes and sins of predator priests and the hierarchy’s collusion and complicity in covering them up.

And it needs be stated clearly: This is a homosexual scandal.

Almost all of the predators and criminals are male, as are most of the victims: the boys, the teenagers, the young seminarians.

Applicants to the seminary should be vetted the way applicants to the National Security Council are. Those homosexually inclined should be told the priesthood of the Church is not for them, as it is not for women.

Secular society will call this invidious discrimination, but it is based on what Christ taught and how he established his Church.

Inevitably, if the Church is to remain true to herself, the clash with secular society, which now holds that homosexuality is natural and normal and entitled to respect, is going to widen and deepen.

For in traditional Catholic teaching, homosexuality is a psychological and moral disorder, a proclivity toward acts that are intrinsically wrong, and everywhere and always sinful and depraved, and ruinous of character.

The idea of homosexual marriages, recently discovered to be a constitutional right in the USA, remains an absurdity in Catholic doctrine.

If the Church’s highest priority is to coexist peacefully with the world, it will modify, soften, cease to preach, or repudiate these beliefs, and follow the primrose path of so many of our separated Protestant brethren.

But if she does, it will not be the same Church that over centuries accepted martyrdom to remain the faithful custodian of Gospel truths and sacred tradition.

And how has the embrace of modernity and its values advanced the religious faiths whose leaders sought most earnestly to accommodate them?

The Church is going through perhaps its gravest crisis since the Reformation. Since Vatican II, the faithful have been departing, some leaving quietly, others embracing agnosticism or other faiths.

“Who am I to judge?” said the pope when first pressed about the morality of homosexuality.

Undeniably, Francis, and the progressive bishops who urge a new tolerance, a new understanding, a new appreciation of the benign character of homosexuality, have won the plaudits of a secular press that loathed the Church of Pius XII.

Of what value are all those wonderful press clippings now, as the chickens come home to roost in Vatican City?

See (emphasis added)

The man-made vow of celibacy must be eliminated. It is anachronistic and sexist. Moreover, Jesus did not teach this.


24 10 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

Issue Of Married Catholic Priests Gains Traction Under Pope

Jesus' feet

Nicole Winfield has written the above-entitled article for the Associated Press:

As the Vatican copes with the growing clergy sex abuse scandal and declining number of priests worldwide, it is laying the groundwork to open formal debate on an issue that has long been taboo: opening up the priesthood to married men in parts of the world where clergy are scarce.

Pope Francis has convened a meeting of South American bishops next year focusing on the plight of the church in the Amazon, a vast territory served by far too few priests. During that synod, the question of ordaining married men of proven virtue — so-called “viri probati” — is expected to figure on the agenda.

This week, a two-hour documentary on Italian television is likely to contribute to the conversation. “The Choice: Priests and Love” profiles more than a dozen men in four European countries who are either living clandestinely with women, have created their own unsanctioned church communities where married priests preside at Mass, or left the Catholic priesthood altogether to marry.

The documentary, to be aired Wednesday on Discovery Italia and previewed to The Associated Press, makes the case that many of these men would gladly return to the priesthood and offer their pastoral services.

Their plight has found a sympathetic ear in Francis, who has long expressed a willingness to consider “viri probati” to address pastoral needs in the Amazon. He has also expressed sympathy for priests who have made the anguished choice to leave.

Vocatio, an Italian association of these “married priests,” wrote Francis earlier this month pledging their solidarity as he copes with the global fallout of the sex abuse scandal, and once again offering their services in ministry.

“We would like you to take into consideration — without prejudice or pretense — the opportunity of allowing us an active presence in diocesan activity, given our experience and competence in the sacraments we have lived: ministry and matrimony,” the group wrote.

The head of Vocatio, former priest Rosario Mocciaro who married civilly in 1977, estimates there are about 5,000 men in Italy alone who have left the priesthood, a third of whom would seek a return to married ministry if allowed. He said he was hopeful for progress under Francis and some sympathetic Italian bishops, saying they brought “a new air and atmosphere” to a long-standing problem.

“The possibility of having ‘viri probati’ would be a great opening, a great step forward,” he told AP, adding it would begin to sensitize the church and public opinion to the prospect of both a married and a celibate priesthood.

The celibate priesthood has been a tradition of the Latin rite Catholic Church since the 11th century; no doctrine requires it, and many eastern rite Catholic Churches allow married men to be ordained. In addition, the Catholic Church allows married Anglican clergy who convert to remain in priestly ministry.

Francis has long said he appreciates the discipline of celibacy, but that it can change given it is discipline, not doctrine.

History’s first Latin American pope has been particularly attentive to the argument in favor of the “viri probati” in the Amazon, where the mostly indigenous faithful can go months without seeing a priest, and where Protestant and evangelical churches are wooing away Catholic souls.

While the situation is particularly grave there, overall the number of priests worldwide has dropped for another consecutive year — down 687 to 414,969 — while the global Catholic population has grown by 14.25 million, according to recent figures from the Vatican’s Fides missionary service.

Opening the priesthood to married men, even in limited and localized places, would open the question of providing financially for the priests’ families — an expense long cited as a key reason for the imposition of celibacy in the 11th century: The church didn’t want its assets to pass down to priests’ heirs.

The issue of providing for the children of priests, however, is already on the agenda at the Vatican and in bishops conferences and religious orders around the world, given the cases of priests who violate their celibacy vows and have children secretly.

An Irish psychotherapist and son of a priest, Vincent Doyle, has founded an online resource, Coping International, to offer assistance for priests’ children, who often endure depression, anxiety and other mental health issues blamed on the silence imposed on them by the church.

Doyle has successfully petitioned the pope’s Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors — his hand-picked sex abuse advisory committee — to consider the issue of priests’ children to be part of its mandate, given some of these children are born to minors.

“Our expectation is that from this process will emerge initiatives that can contribute to the healing of those impacted by this issue,” wrote commission member Neville Owen, who heads the commission’s committee on guidelines.

See (emphasis added)

As I wrote in my article above:

One of my close Catholic friends pointed out some years ago that the Church had taken steps to remove pedophiles from its ranks, which was long overdue. Also, I believe the Church-made rule of celibacy has outlived its usefulness and should be jettisoned. The earliest Christian leaders were largely married men; and the Church’s hierarchy today should include the married and unmarried, both men and women.

And I added:

The man-made vow of celibacy must be eliminated. It is anachronistic and sexist. Moreover, Jesus did not teach this.

I know of one very fine young priest at a California mission, in particular, who fell in love and left the priesthood with his wife, which was a great loss to the church and its parishioners.


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