He who places his hope on thee, O Virgin all-glorious, will prosper in all he does.

Inscription on Byzantine coin during reign of Romanus III

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who's Surprised?

The Vatican's letter forbidding Irish bishops to report clerical sexual abuse to secular officials shouldn't surprise anyone who's studied religious history for longer than, say, thirty seconds.

I'm sure that Old Rome was convinced that it was following a higher moral law.


M. Jordan Lichens said...

The letter raises a lot of questions, and makes me sick to my very core. However, could you perhaps expand on your opinions? Nothing you said is objectionable, in the least, but I would appreciate a clearer analysis of this situation from an Orthodox point of view (especially in light of North American Orthodoxy's own issues of sex abuse).

M. Jordan Lichens said...

Whoops, I came off as way more confrontational then I intended in the above post! Sorry about that.

However, for many of us Catholic who read Orthodox blogs it always feels like salt is being ground into the wounds. You're blog is rather good at analysis and I'd love to get more of a perspective. Pardon me for the tone of speech.

Visibilium said...

I wouldn't worry about your tone; I've dished out my share of confrontational tones.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that your and my perspectives differ regarding the Latin church. You regard it as characteristically good and holy, and I regard it as characteristically corrupt and graceless. Now, I'm not ignoring the good things that that church does, but I'm saying that it has a natural propensity to act badly in important ways, you know, such as persecuting Orthodox and treating civil authorities as its footstool. The propensity to act badly stems from its graceless separation from the Church, usually dated around 1054.

I'm not rejoicing at the prospect that the Vatican could undergo significant liquidations to pay judgments and settlements, but I do view such a prospect as a somewhat merited comeuppance. I'd regard my view as a substantially middle-of-the-road Orthodox view.

I'd be interested in knowing how you think that the Church's "issues with sexual abuse" parallels the Latin church's experience. Frankly, I don't see any kind of parallel, but I remain open to being persuaded otherwise.

M. Jordan Lichens said...

Sorry it's taken me so bloody long to respond to your post. By the way, I do consider you middle of the road Orthodox, and have no problem that you don't necessarily see the Vatican as a "good". As I say to most Orthodox men and women, I appreciate your honesty and that you don't fall for that annoying Western inclination to speak as if there are no differences and problems.

I think the recent issues posted on such sites like pokrov.org show that there are as many problems in the Orthodox church as in the Catholic church. However, I do have to say that I don't think it's the same problem for, at least withing the OCA, the churches are actually dealing with the problem head on and not making the mistake of covering it up or sending people to counseling. So, in that, there is no direct parallel.

However, I still maintain that it is happening in the Orthodox Church and I start to wonder if it's time to start throwing stones. Then again, I look at your blog and remember blog comment conversations in the past and see that you are far from being in denial about corruption that might be in Orthodox organizations. With that, I'm going to have to re-examine a few things.

Thanks for giving me the forum to rant a bit.


Visibilium said...

I'd agree with your qualified observation that the two situations aren't parallel, but I'd go further in saying that I don't see any parallel at all. The simple reason why is that the parallel wouldn't be found in the existence of pedo, even predatory pedo, since every religion has such cases. The parallel would have to lie with what happens next. I'd focus on the RCC's bad habit of thumbing its nose at secular authorities. The RCC traditionally has considered itself apart from secular power and part of a higher calling. Therefore, its keeping its wayward clergy away from the clutches of the criminal justice system--through transfers, counseling, stonewalling--is simply part of its normal operating ethic.

The Orthodox, on the other hand, have no mechanism for a concerted and systematic evasion of secular justice. Indeed, one of the ways in which the RCC has ridiculed Orthodoxy's attempt at a Gospel-commanded Church/State synergy is by calling such an arrangement "caesaro-papism"! Fitting into whatever secular State in which it finds itself, Orthodoxy's routine mode of operating requires it to cooperate with secular authorities.

That's why I think that the two situations aren't parallel--Old Rome's clergy-only "magisterium" is unchecked by lay power--including secular authority.