Thursday, April 8, 2010


As you may have noticed, the Catholic Priest Sex Abuse tornado has circled around and blows through town for – by my count – the fourth time now.

I have already Posted on that curious phenomenon on my other site and you can read that here if you wish. This phenomenon is a sub-variant of the general Sex Offense Mania and I look at it as the result of a synergy of all sorts of larger and deeper forces in American society.
My concern in this Post on this site is a bit more specific.

I came across an article today about a priest from India – now back in India – who, years later, is charged with “sexually assaulting” a “teenage parishioner”. Or, at least, the charges are just now being publicized.

As always, I hold no brief for anyone who takes liberties with another human being, especially when that anyone is in a position of trust or authority.

I also don’t like stampedes. And while they’re physically dangerous when you’re talking about Texas Longhorns, they’re politically and morally dangerous when you’re talking about people, especially Citizens responsible for a Constitutional Republic.

That being said, and meant, there are some other points.

First, of course, is that “sexual assault” – the trusty vague phrase that can mean anything from something approaching Attempted Rape to something like a pat on the behind (or, for that matter, on the head, since as I noted in my last Post it seems acceptable in Sex Offense jurisprudence now to infer a ‘sexual’ motivation even if it isn’t actually there).

The parishioner is a 16 year-old female, which while it certainly does not excuse improper behavior indicates that this is not the Lindbergh Baby case either.

Curiously, there isn’t too much of a timeline given. But what there is indicates that he came to this country in 2004, worked in a small parish in northern Minnesota, and then in 2005 returned to India – the article says – because his mother was ill.

Half a decade later and the case is part of the 4th Wave.

There is no reason given by the local prosecutor as to why it has taken half a decade to bring the case to light, or why the US government has not yet moved for his extradition.

An ecclesiastical official in India said that in light of the public criticism that has arisen, the priest “has a duty to establish his innocence”. I’d like to point out a couple of things about that comment.

In the first place, in the context of the Catholic Church, with the priest being an official representative and the matter receiving – as it now is – wide publicity, then the publicity itself now creates its own variable in the equation: there is the matter of “scandal”. In Catholic organizational and legal usage this term means that there is an event or action which might subject the faithful to unnecessary and unwarranted doubt as to the integrity of the Church.

When a matter which had been previously dealt with without such a publicized dimension is suddenly raised up by publicity, it is not so much a matter of the American popular usage of the word ‘scandal’ (something bad had been ‘hidden’ or ‘swept under the rug’ and has been finally brought to light); in theory – and in this case – official Church procedures were deployed and the priest in this case was sanctioned by his bishop –in this case, the priest is no longer working in parishes but rather in a special-ministry with alcoholics (where, presumably, he will be working with few if any children).

Rome – the Vatican – had apparently wanted the priest removed from all ministry, possibly ‘defrocked’ – although the article is not quite clear on this. Whether Rome did it because what the priest was determined to have actually done after ecclesiastical investigation and adjudication was serious enough to justify defrocking, or whether Rome made its recommendation to the priest’s ‘home’ bishop in India simply because the general atmosphere of Mania in the US would pretty much guarantee a situation of probable ‘scandal’ for the faithful … this is an interesting question, not dealt with in the article.

At any rate, in the Catholic system, the ultimate decision was in the hands of the local bishop. This is contrary to a popular impression that the Church functions much as the US military – where ‘Washington’ or ‘the Pentagon’ can issue a definitive order to any forces and local commanders anywhere in the world. In this sense, Catholic organizational practice is actually similar to the American State-rather-than-Federal arrangement, where the ultimate authority rests with the ‘local authority’ – the State – rather than with the Federal authority. (Although in the SO Mania over here we have seen a consistent effort by the Feds to horn in on the States’ Xth Amendment authority – as evidenced in the AWA and other legislation.)

The local bishop in India made his decision that the priest would no longer be allowed to work in parishes; but that he would be allowed to continue exercising his calling in other ministry settings where ‘children’ are not present, nor where the assorted ‘home’ or other ‘informal’ or ‘domestic’ settings organically arising from parish ministry would arise; the priest would work in a setting that by its nature was structured to preclude such informal interactions with the alcoholics.

In this way – in the Catholic view of things – the erring priest (to the extent – one must always say in matters of the SO Mania – that he had indeed erred) was removed from a setting that would place him in occasions of ‘temptation’, and the faithful and the Church would both be preserved from ‘scandal’ and not deprived of his actual services while the priest himself would be allowed to fulfill his calling.

This is – if you take a look at my Post on the other site – a pretty standard example of the Church’s overall ‘patience’ and ‘prudence’ in such matters of priestly weakness, seeking both to maintain the integrity of the ministry while allowing a priest with a demonstrated weakness (to the extent that applies here) to continue to carry on his life-calling.

It is, most certainly, an approach that is hell-and-gone from the more radically ‘impatient’ American approach – so similar to the general Fundamentalistic approach (see my Post on the other site) – whereby ‘evil’ must be immediately rooted out and destroyed vividly. This Fundamentalistic approach, the ‘impatient’ approach in my terminology, informs the SO Mania over here.

As does the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, which actually includes not only an absolute intolerance of ‘evil’ but also the vivid and utter erasure of the offender’s life possibilities.

While nobody can accuse the Church of not being interested in ‘evil’, it has always been rather interested in ‘good’ as well – and the Catholic (as opposed to Fundamentalistic) approach has always been to salvage whatever good is possible from a situation.

This is premised upon a rather common-sense awareness that ‘evil’ does not exist in the abstract, but rather manifests through the lives of individual human beings, and you want to try to avoid creating more damage with your solution than existed with the problem in the first place (and can you say Iraq War?).

Also, the Church has always realized that ‘sin’ is more relevant an operational concept than ‘evil’, since the concept of ‘sin’ includes the human life through which ‘evil’ manifests itself in the world. If you simply grab an edged-tool and start scything away in the field seeking to immediately inflict zero-tolerance on the tares, you are going to wind up cutting up a lot of still-growing wheat.

Which, also, does not mean to imply that some people are ‘tares’ (or weeds, and therefore totally evil) and other people are wheat (and therefore totally good). In the ‘field’ of each human individual, there is some amount of weed (evil) among the wheat (good) … that has always been the Catholic approach.*

And again, to the Fundamentalistic** mentality that has proven so crucially formative in the SO Mania, this can easily be spun into the more sensationalistic ‘script’ of ‘corruption finally uncovered’ that – nicely –also appeals to America’s increasingly sensationalistic media.

In the second place, I’d note that the comment of the ecclesiastical authority in India that it is the priest’s “duty to prove his innocence” must be taken as an expression of this Church requirement that the faithful not be scandalized. As an official representative of the Church, he must respond actively to such accusations – since not doing so (human nature being what it is) would lead the average person (in the American setting, anyway) to assume that the government charges are accurate and that the priest is therefore guilty as charged.

But I would not at all accept this comment as reflecting traditional Western legal theory, especially as it is woven deeply into the fabric of the Constitutional vision and ethos: one is innocent until proven guilty, and it is the government’s responsibility to prove guilt.

It is hugely regrettable, I think, that in 2002 the American bishops chose to ‘settle’ in civil courts (for sums in ‘damages’ that now total in the billions of dollars) rather than accept the route of defending priests in criminal trials.

Yes, sound legal advice from the Church’s organizational legal advisers might very practically have justified that approach: the sight of dozens or even hundreds of criminal trials involving priests as defendants might itself have provided ‘scandal’. And in a time of Mania Law – especially given the deformations introduced into such classic jurisprudential protections as Rule of Evidence and Statutes of Limitations, and the monstrously selective and hostile ‘reporting’ done by most of the media – a seasoned legal professional might have decided that it would be impossible to guarantee the possibility of an uncontaminated trial-process.

But the result of choosing the ‘civil settlement’ route has been equally disastrous. Such a surrender merely engorged and further inflamed the appetite for financial gain. And many accused priests were deprived of a chance to defend themselves. And many of the faithful, confronted with the jaw-dropping sight of the American Church truckling so quickly and shelling out billions without – as it were – a fight, led many to believe that the nightmare scenarios limned by the accusers and their representatives were largely accurate (which has not been established).

Only a little less so, I am going to imagine, have been any plea-bargains made. Yes, seasoned defense counsel now take it as given that a defendant in the current climate and in light of the assorted deformities that have now been formally introduced into the American legal system has a poor chance of establishing innocence in a rational and traditionally Constitutional way. But most Americans still operate on the assumption – now utterly outdated by events – that only ‘guilty’ people make plea-bargains; whereas many defendants now accept plea-bargains imposed by prosecutors who know that the defendant’s only other option is to face a trial on a greatly skewed field.

And that further reinforces the ‘scandal’ of many of the faithful presuming that priest-defendants are indeed almost always ‘guilty as charged’. Which may well not be the case at all.

Most interestingly, of course, the idea of guilty-until-you-prove-yourself-innocent is precisely the anti-Constitutional presumption woven into the very core of the SO Mania legal approach.

And that stems from the very fundaments of so-called ‘feminist’ law or – to use my term – its further enshrinement in ‘victimist’ law. Which is demonstrated clearly in a comment in the article made by the (female) prosecutor up in Minnesota: “We want justice for the victim here and we want to do whatever we can to protect potential future victims everywhere”.

This is an almost pitch-perfect encapsulation of the frakkery of this ‘new’ type of legal thinking.

In the first place, nobody is formally a ‘victim’ until they are proven so in a court. It has been a great conceptual trick – ‘rhetorical’ in the classic sense – of feminist/victimist law that anyone who makes the claim to be a ‘victim’ must surely indeed be a victim.

And from that flows the further frakkulent assumption that to ‘question’ the victim further or to ‘doubt’ the victim’s allegations or ‘story’ constitutes a further ‘re-victimizing’ of the ‘victim’. Recently one Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and now second-tier law school ‘victim’ maven, opined that she’s glad victims no longer are ‘denied justice’ just because there’s no evidence. (Yes, she’s a lawyer – and a law professor.)

Instantly, the entire process of formally establishing guilt or innocence is utterly undermined. Because then if there is a ‘victim’, and that ‘victim’ must be assumed to be truthful (and ‘good’), then whomever the victim has accused must indeed be cast as a ‘perp’ (and therefore utterly ‘evil’). At which point the necessary elements for a melodramatic, soap-opera type ‘script’ are in place. And let the games begin.

The legitimate insight underlying this dynamic of feminist/victimist law is that many crimes can thus remain hidden because there is insufficient evidence to prove that they actually took place.

This however is hardly a new observation. You may recall that in the film version of ‘Camelot’ – now almost half a century ago – one of the old-school barons approaches King Arthur, who had just established the fundaments of evidentiary law against the old Medieval concept of ‘intuition of guilt is enough to justify the presumption of guilt’. The baron reproaches Arthur for such a new-fangled approach: “So, no evidence no crime, then?”

But the position Arthur takes in the film is actually the (pre-feminist/victimist) Constitutional approach enshrined in Western and American jurisprudence: you cannot permit the police power of the government (or the ‘sovereign’) to impose its awesome capacities against any individual unless you make the government/sovereign authority clearly prove that such a deployment is justified. And you can only establish that by making the government demonstrate that its evidence is beyond any reasonable doubt.

So – alas – what feminist/victimist law has done (and continues to do) since its espousal by the government (no surprise there) in the 1970s is to re-introduce the old Medieval concept that ‘intuition of guilt is proof of guilt’. Or to put it less formally: if it feels like he’s guilty, then he is guilty. This is not progress and it is not ‘progressive’. It is regress and it is frakkulously ‘regressive’. (And again, you can see what has happened not only in the SO Mania but also in the ‘justifications’ put forth for the invasion of Iraq after 9/11.)

It’s not hard to understand the frustration built into the classic post-Medieval Western legal system: a crime can indeed be ‘hidden’ in the sense that there is not sufficient evidence to clearly justify the deployment of the government police power against the alleged perpetrator.

But the only alternative is to have the government police power deployed merely on the basis of ‘feelings’ and ‘intuitions’ – and that is death to the post-Medieval Western political concept of limited government. And this is not essentially resolved by the government raising up the ‘victim’ to ‘front for’ the engorgement and un-limiting of its police power. (And again, you can see the lethal effects of this ‘new’ development in other areas of government activity, including the invasion of other sovereign nations, whether on neocon or neoliberal grounds.)

Further, this prosecutor’s comment touches the ominous but oh-so-Correct base of ‘preventing’ further harms to “potential victims”. Which boils down to the government deploying its police power against non-existent criminal actions. And this constitutes a core dynamic motivating and sustaining the Regulatory-Preventive State, whereby the police power can now be deployed even where no crime has yet been committed.

Because, built into the post-Medieval Western concept of limited-government is the assumption that there is only so much a limited-government can do. Beyond which boundary a government escapes its ‘limits’ and you are hell-and-gone from the classic Western genius and into some other, far more ominous, form of government.

I add that such a development – as I have said before – is virtually guaranteed if you take Carol Gilligan’s 1982 mommy-at-the-breakfast-table vision (Mommy knows best and must provide whatever she feels is best to calm her squalling, immature children) and try to erect it into a philosophy of government.

But with the hugely-dangerous adoption of the Gilligan insight by the vote-addled Beltway, the most indispensable basis of Constitutional vision and ethos is thoroughly undermined. The government will deploy its police power a) on the basis of feelings and intuitions about b) what may happen and c) its intentions are so ‘good’ or the ‘emergency’ created by ‘pain’ is sooo great that it may not be effectively questioned.

If it is not clear just where this must lead, then folks have really and truly lost touch with the fundamental genius of Western and American government.

And if that is so, and it is not widely considered worthwhile to reverse this trend, then this country is indeed no longer in touch with its Founding genius and it is truly ‘decadent’ in the most basic (and ominous) sense of that term.


* And – I say again – you can imagine how Iraq might have turned out had the Catholic rather than the Fundamentalistic approach had been taken; in a sense the Catholic view would support the ‘diplomacy’ approach and the Fundamentalistic approach demands the ‘military’ approach.

Thus also, you can see why the Fundamentalistic Ascendancy in American politics (and most surely in the military chaplaincies and senior leadership) was so dead-set against the Catholic vision and the Catholic approach. Neither the neocon militarization approach nor the neoliberal ‘humanitarian intervention’ approach (equally militarized) are looking for the obstructions to the imposition of their will and the fulfillment of their ‘visions’ that a Catholic ‘patience’ and diplomacy would present.

**I also point out here that the Fundamentalistic 'impatience' and impetus toward the 'radical rooting out and punishing' of 'evil' is itself very similar to the Leninist and Maoist 'revolutionary' impatience with in-Correct thinking. This is not so surprising, for two reasons.

First, the late-19th and early-20th century 'revolutionary' approach was a secularized version of the Fundamentalistic approach always latent, and often not-so-latent in Reformation-era Protestant thought.

Second, the radical 'revolutionary' approach very greatly informed early, radical feminist thought and praxis as it came to then be espoused by the political 'elites' over here starting in the early 1970s.


The article adds a second report of a priest who was accused of “fondling” a 12 year-old altar server (female) at her apartment in 2003, for which a New York court sentenced him to four months “in prison”. The priest served the time, returned to his native India, and is now working with alcoholics and is not in parish work. Which the article seems to consider more or less outrageous.

It’s odd that in 2003, a full year after the 3rd Wave began on Jan. 2, 2002 with the ‘Boston Globe’, an American court – and in New York, no less – would give such a short sentence for a substantive sex offense charge against a minor. And so short a sentence usually means ‘jail time’ in a county lock-up, not full-scale ‘prison time’ – which usually indicates a sentence of at least a year.


As if by inadvertence, the 'Boston Globe' - whose 'reporting' enabled the 3rd phase of the Mania in 2002 (it also supported the invasion of Iraq) and now fuels the 4th - today 'reports' on its own stunning marvelousness in a front-page, above-the-fold story.

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