Matt C. Abbott
February 7, 2014
The Holy See and the unholy UN; Pope Francis and usury
By Matt C. Abbott

In typical pot-calling-the-kettle-black fashion, the morally corrupt, Antichrist-stage-setting United Nations – specifically, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child – has blasted the Holy See for its handling of the clergy abuse scandal. And it has blasted the Church for being, well ... Catholic.

I write this as a (practicing) Catholic commentator who has, over the last nine years or so, covered various aspects of the clergy abuse scandal. It hasn't been pretty, to say the least. My head is definitely not in the sand.

But no, the U.N. is not your friend.

Two respected priests are among a number of Catholic voices speaking out on this latest development.

Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, noted in his weekly reflection (excerpt):
    The last century saw the unprecedented growth of governments and ideological systems that suppressed religious truth and human dignity. Yet, in the midst of such turmoil there were some willing to witness for truth and freedom of conscience – even at the cost of their lives. Martyrs give the ultimate witness and force humanity in every age to consider the truth placed before them and the seriousness of the duty to seek the truth. When man's law is unjust, God's law still demands our assent. 'It is necessary to obey God rather than men.' (Acts 5:29) Sadly we are seeing a new era of martyrs in Africa and the Middle East, as Christians are targeted by Muslim mobs and forced to convert or be killed.

    Although we are not yet facing martyrdom following the U.N. committee's offensive and unjust demands, it is wise to remember history. We have ample reminders today and in recent history of what faith, hope, love and courage demand of Christians in times of persecution, much of which was preceded by blatant rhetorical attacks on the Church from political powers. The Church has seen many centuries and has weathered many storms. She will as she has always done speak and witness the truth no matter the cost.

    We pray that the committee's overreach may serve as a wake-up call to many inside and outside the Church about the radical direction being taken by some at the U.N. But let's be aware of the moment we're in, and prepare accordingly.
Father John Trigilio Jr., author, theologian and president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, wrote in an email (edited):
    What is most irksome is that the report ignores the progress made by the late Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in response to the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy. Any act of child abuse is reprehensible and inexcusable. All crimes against innocent children should be vigorously prosecuted and justly punished. That applies to all perpetrators, however.

    While the press gives front page coverage to every priest who sexually abuses a child, they do not give equal publicity to ministers of other religions, to scoutmasters, coaches, teachers and family members, especially parents and siblings, who commit the same disgusting acts.

    Government reports show that 81.5 percent of child abuse is perpetrated by one or both parents. Twelve percent is perpetrated by persons not biologically or legally related to the victims. Jerry Sandusky was not a celibate Catholic priest. He was a married man and a football coach who was indicted on 52 counts of molestation. Is the U.N. going to investigate and dictate to colleges and sports programs what should be done to prevent abuse?

    Clergy of all denominations have committed abuse against minors, as have other public figures, such as teachers, coaches, scoutmasters, and so on. It is not a Catholic phenomenon, nor is it even primarily limited to one religion, career or vocation. Statistically, an overwhelming number of schoolteachers have abused children in comparison to members of the clergy. Will the U.N. now speak to our neighborhood schools and educational facilities? What about sexual misconduct in the military, or among politicians?

    The second egregious part of this report – next to the unjust presumption that sexual abuse of children is mostly a Catholic crime – is that the report seeks to redefine and remake the Catholic religion in its own politically-correct image and likeness. Suggestions (exhortations at times) pervade the document, such as changing Catholic doctrine and canon law to allow abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage. Yes, as incredulous as it sounds, this U.N. committee recommends that children be taught and given access to 'reproductive health measures,' namely, abortion and artificial birth control, with the insinuation that to deny such access is a form of abuse. Unbelievable. Preposterous.

    Marriage should no longer be limited to just one man and one woman in a sacred, permanent and faithful covenant, according to the U.N. Having children out of wedlock should be completely acceptable, according to this report. The sexual inclination of parents and children is inconsequential. The report promotes a modern myth that sexual activity is a right rather than a sacred gift from God entrusted to those united in matrimony for the exclusive purpose of unity (love) and procreation (life).

    If sex is a right, then any and all forms of sex are also guaranteed, if you follow this logic. The sixth commandment applies equally to those of a homosexual orientation as to those with a heterosexual orientation. There is just one set of commandments, one natural moral law and one human nature. There is not a separate 'straight' morality and a separate 'gay and lesbian' morality. The U.N. report, however, sees things differently.

    Gender equality seems to eclipse person equality. Catholic morality teaches that all human persons have equal dignity and worth. Gender equality, however, attempts to convince people, mostly children, that there are no significant differences between men and women. The Church never said one gender was better than the other. She does say men and women are different – and that difference complements the human species. That's why marriage is restricted to a man and woman; the complementariness is signified with the two becoming one flesh.

    The U.N. report wants the Catholic Church to instruct our children that gender means nothing, especially since one can 'change' or 'redefine' your sex at will. You can also smell the odor and aroma of bias against Church doctrine restricting ordination to males alone. Ironically, the U.N. does not go after the Eastern Orthodox Church or Islam, both of which have an exclusively male clergy.

    The document scorns the practice of rescuing abandoned babies, as adopted children may never know their biological parents. In an obscene inference, the report seems to prefer to offer unwanted or unplanned pregnant mothers the option of abortion to save their unborn children the possible inconvenience of not knowing their blood relatives. How diabolical!

    Finally, the document condemns any all forms of corporal punishment, be it parents or teachers. Physical discipline is forbidden and considered a form of child abuse. While common sense and reason should discern the distinction and difference between legitimate corporal punishment and authentic physical abuse, it is the parent who decides what kind of legitimate discipline, not the state and not the U.N.

    We've already seen a few places in the U.S. where hospitals discriminated against Jewish parents who sought to have their infant sons circumcised according to the Hebrew religion. Political correctness sees religion as superstition and as having no rights whatsoever. Church and state are both natural institutions that depend and rely on the first institution: the family, which is built on marriage, the cornerstone of the other two.

    The U.N. wants canon law amended to give women, even girls, abortion as a reproductive health right. The right to life of the unborn totally escapes the minds of those who wrote this idiotic document. Does the U.N. condemn the state-enforced abortions of female babies in Communist China? What about the denial of school education to girls in countries run by radical Islamic fundamentalists? No, the U.N. prefers to attack the Catholic Church.

    Adolescents should be given contraceptives rather than be taught the value of abstinence and chastity. That is the thinking of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of Children (no. 57). Sexual promiscuity is perceived as a right. Avoidance of sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, requires 'protected sex' instead of 'no sex' before marriage. Take the same logic and distribute cigarettes, alcohol and drugs to teenagers to prevent them from getting them from notorious and seedy sources. Let them experiment. Let's go back to the hippie era. One must ask if the writers of this document have children of their own and, if so, how did they raise them?

    It would be laughable were it not so pathetic when the document asserts that accusations and allegations be treated the same as convictions and confessed crimes. Our American jurisprudence prides itself on the primary principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. That applies to every man or woman who has ever been charged with a crime. We use the term 'accused' and 'alleged' on purpose. If someone is proven guilty, then justice demands just punishment. Justice also demands that everyone be treated equally under the law. If the state wants to dissolve the statute of limitations on the sexual abuse of children, it should apply to all cases, be it a member of the clergy, a teacher, coach, scoutmaster, parent, neighbor, and so on. Bishops were not the only ones guilty of cover-ups. Principals, administrators, and others in all lines of business and enterprise have had their share of criminal silence.

    The sad reality is that the initial intention is good, i.e., child welfare. Protecting youth is not an option but an obligation that society shares with the family, for the youth are our future. Prosecuting all perpetrators is a necessary component, but persecuting a religion is just another injustice. Pope Benedict XVI was accused of being lax on the issue, yet just recently it was disclosed that he defrocked (technically, laicized) nearly 400 priests who had been convicted of, or had confessed to, abusing minors.

    As the majority of abuse took place during the late 1960s, '70s and early '80s, you see the parallel with the so-called sexual revolution when Humanae Vitae was being trashed by dissenters and when the sex and drugs of the counter-culture reached an all time high. It is no excuse for this heinous and reprehensible behavior, but it does give it context. Bad people, clergy and laity alike, used bad theology to justify their bad behavior.

    What the U.N. could and ought to do is work for the end of the abuse and persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Many of these communities lived in those places three hundred years or more before Mohammed ever established Islam. The gospels of Jesus Christ were read and proclaimed long before the Koran, yet instead of peaceful coexistence, we see bombings, murders and terrorism against men, women and children whose only crime is their faith and religion. There's a job this committee could spend their time and effort on.


In his general audience on Jan. 29, Pope Francis denounced usury as "a dramatic scourge in our society [that] harms the inviolable dignity of the human person." (Source)

I asked Catholic attorney-professor-scholar Brian M. McCall, author of The Church and the Usurers, to comment on the pope's remarks.

Professor McCall wrote in an email:
    The Holy Father's statement is typical of many statements about Catholic social doctrine in recent pontificates. It states a correct conclusion – usury is to be condemned – but muddles the reasons behind the conclusion. According to Catholic teaching, usury is condemned as a sin against justice. A usurer demands more than is permitted by commutative justice and thereby commits a grave sin. The Holy Father, however, condemns usury as harming the 'dignity of the human person.' This ambiguous phrase is vapid and meaningless in this context and thereby undermines the strength of clear Catholic teaching rooted in justice.
© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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