Fr. Longenecker on whether we should forgive Bishop Conry

Of course we should forgive Bishop Conry, but welcome him back into ministry?  Not until there are signs of massive repentance.  Fr. Longenecker does not seem to think that’s apparent.

Kieran Conry said he was sorry for the “shame he brought on the diocese” and that he had “broken his vows”. He also said  that he “didn’t dwell on sexual morality” in his sermons and he didn’t think he was a bad bishop because of what he did. What kind of double think is that? All it indicates is that he knew he was flagrantly breaking his vows and flaunting church discipline. Because he didn’t preach on sexual matters was he giving himself and all his people a pass on that area of Catholic life and teaching? He didn’t think this made him a bad bishop? Am I the only one to think that this sounds arrogant and self deluded in the extreme?

-snip-

Here is the most interesting and disturbing part of the affair: Bishop Conry doesn’t say that sexual relations outside of marriage are wrong. He doesn’t say that adultery is wrong. Did he not consider his actions to actually be wrong or did he just regret getting caught and was just sorry that he “broke his vows”? I don’t wish to rub the poor man’s nose in it, but it does make one think.

If a priest is having an affair with a woman or a series of women over the years, and he has no qualms about becoming a bishop then one must conclude that he has justified this action in his own mind. He’s good with it. How do liberal priests do this? As part of my research for my book on married priests I have discovered that they do this in various ways. One way is that they interpret the vow of celibacy as “I will never get married.” Stories abound of priests who are sexually active but still claim they are keeping their vow of celibacy.

-snip-

Don’t get me wrong. I’m well aware of the difficulties our celibate priests experience and I’m very sympathetic. Sexual morality is difficult for everyone and few there be who do not stumble, and when we stumble going to confession is the right thing to do. What disturbs me, however, is when anyone justifies the sin, pretends it is not a sin and skirts the issue. I am not saying Bishop Conroy does this because I do not have all the facts, and one should always give the benefit of the doubt. However, his lack of naming sin and repenting publicly for a public sin does have the whiff of liberal watered down Christianity– a Christianity without a cross and forgiveness without repentance.

My concerns exactly.   Also, Fr. Longenecker writes a little about the Magic Circle.

Bishop Conry was part of what Damien Thompson calls “the magic circle.” This is the “inside circle” of mainstream, moderate or liberal priests and bishops who govern the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

After our conversion to the Catholic Church I spent seven years working for a small Catholic charity in England visiting parishes each weekend, and through this job I learned what life was really like in the trenches in England’s Catholic Church. It was a complex network of contacts and contacts within contacts through which, in the usual English Machiavellian way people and situations were manipulated while a polite and diplomatic facade was maintained at all times.

For example, one bishop decided that he would not ordain any former Anglican priests. He didn’t say why. It was just one of those autocratic rulings made by the type of bishop who thinks he is a “man of the people”. Then you would discover that over there in another diocese a bishop was not making an outright refusal to ordain, but was simply sabotaging the process of a former Anglican priest’s ordination at every turn. Then guess what? You discover that Bishop A was an old seminary buddy of Bishop B and Bishop B was a protege of Archbishop C who went to school with Bishop A who used to be the vicar general for Bishop B who was once the communications director for Bishop D.

 

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6 Responses to Fr. Longenecker on whether we should forgive Bishop Conry

  1. EPMS says:

    Plenty of “old boys” around to form networks to protect and promote their members, of both liberal and conservative outlook. Bernard Law, described by the Globe and Mail as the “architect of the conservative revival” in the American Catholic Church was forced to resign as Archbishop of Boston over his role in the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests, then landed on his feet with a cushy assignment in Rome. These are sad stories but I think the attempt to frame the discussion as Traditionalist vs Progressive will not stand up to close inspection.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: Bernard Law, described by the Globe and Mail as the “architect of the conservative revival” in the American Catholic Church was forced to resign as Archbishop of Boston over his role in the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests, then landed on his feet with a cushy assignment in Rome.

      Well, not quite. After some months living as a guest and ostensibly functioning as a chaplain at a convent that takes in undesirables, Cardinal Bernard Law was appointed to a position in Rome that merits a red hat but that has little real influence.

      But there was never any evidence that Cardinal Law had any personal involvement in the sexual abuse scandal here in the Archdiocese of Boston. In a large archdiocese like this one, there’s a large bureaucracy that handles matters so the cardinal who serves as archbishop can focus his attention elsewhere — the business of the various dicasteries of the Roman Curia to which he belongs, for example — between major ceremonial matters and schmoozing major donors to the archdiocese. Routine matters fall to the auxiliary bishops (we normally have six — one for each of five geographical regions and one who serves as Moderator of the Curia overseeing the central administration), and correspondence that bears a “pen and ink” signature is likely to have been signed by an autograph machine rather than by the archbishop himself. Further, it’s likely that the “good ol’ boy” network of diocesan clergy that protected the sexual abusers among their ranks also kept the details from an archbishop whom they did not trust because he was not one of their number.

      Of course, a leader cannot delegate responsibility. The archbishop is personally responsible for the actions of those to whom he entrusted administration of the archdiocese, even if he had no knowledge whatsoever of their actions. His resignation from the office of Archbishop of Boston thus was completely appropriate.

      Norm.

  2. EPMS says:

    The Boston police who repeatedly deposed Bernard Law in building their case against the actual perpetrators of the sexual abuse clearly did not share your views on his ignorance. And if resignation was merely the appropriate sign that “the buck stops here” the wave of episcopal resignations in the US hierarchy would have been considerably larger than it has been.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You said: The Boston police who repeatedly deposed Bernard Law in building their case against the actual perpetrators of the sexual abuse clearly did not share your views on his ignorance.

      I don’t know how “repeatedly” the Boston Police deposed Cardinal Law, but I DO know that he was not indicted for any wrongdoing — and I do think that he would have been indicted if there was enough evidence to support it.

      You said: And if resignation was merely the appropriate sign that “the buck stops here” the wave of episcopal resignations in the US hierarchy would have been considerably larger than it has been.

      I’m not aware of any other situations in which (1) clerics who were accused of sexual misconduct with minors were simply shuffled off to new assignments or (2) a cleric who had been involved in dozens of cases of molesting adolescent boys was returned to active ministry after a few sessions of therapy based on the psychologist’s or psychiatrist’s recommendation that he was healed and fit for unrestricted assignment to parish ministry. (In at least one of the cases here in the Archdiocese of Boston, it subsequently came to light that the psychiatrist who made that recommendation was himself involved in molesting minors and regarded that behavior as perfectly normal. It seems likely the “good ol’ boy” network that controlled both the archdiocesan clergy personnel office and the archdiocesan seminary probably picked that psychologist because they knew that he would do their bidding to rehabilitate one of their own.)

      Norm.

  3. Richard Grand says:

    “All it indicates is that he knew he was flagrantly breaking his vows and flaunting church discipline.” The word is FLOUTING, not flaunting. An important difference. This mistake is becoming common, but he certainly wasn’t “flaunting” church disciple-just the opposite.

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