Joe Paterno


Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Patern...

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It is with regret that I must withdraw my earlier version of this post. I suggested that before all the facts came out, people should not prejudge Joe Paterno. Now the facts are coming out, and sadly, tragically the facts apparently reveal that Mr. Paterno’s actions allowed Mr. Sandusky to continue to abuse young boys for years after Mr. Paterno and the administration knew about the abuse.  Mr. Paterno did more than fail to report Mr. Sandusky to the police—that is a sin of omission. E-mails strongly suggest that the administration was going to contact Child Welfare until Mr. Paterno suggested otherwise. This is a sin of commission, requiring an active effort to circumvent the process that would have, had Mr. Paterno not intervened, stopped Mr. Sandusky in his tracks.  I do not know why Mr. Paterno would do such a thing. Was it friendship with Mr. Sandusky? Was it an attempt to protect the football program? Was it an attempt to protect his own reputation? If the latter, why would Mr. Paterno have so little common sense that he forgot the Bible verse, “Be sure, your sin will find you out.” I have my disagreements with Augustine, but he was correct, I think, in holding that evil is utterly irrational since it marks turning away from the highest good due to pride. It may be that Mr. Paterno’s pride in the football program and his accomplishments, along with his friendship with Mr. Sandusky, led him astray. Ultimately only God knows a man’s motives; we humans can make our best guesses. Mr. Paterno made a grievous error, and due to the horrific consequences of his error, the abuse of God knows how many young boys, his legacy is permanently tarnished if not destroyed. No one should be seduced by one’s achievements, by one’s job, by one’s legacy, or by loyalty to a friend, in a way that the preservation of such requires ignoring evil actions that harm the innocent.

The Sexual Abuse Scandal in the Roman Catholic Church

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I do not remember who said that “Anti-Catholicism is the antisemitism of the Left,” but that is an accurate assessment of liberal opinion leaders in the United States and Europe. The media has taken full advantage of the sex abuse scandal to bash the Roman Catholic Church as whole. This is not to say that a significant number of bishops did not adequately oversee the priests under their authority. To reassign a priest to a parish after credible allegations of sexual abuse by that priest is unconscionable. That happened in some dioceses. Those bishops who failed in their oversight should be held accountable for their actions, just as priests who violate the laws of God and man by abusing altar boys should be punished for their actions.

The problem is not with blaming where blame is due; the problem is condemning the entire Roman Catholic Church or the entire Roman Catholic hierarchy for the actions of a few perverted priests and a few irresponsible bishops. Liberals do not have problems with liberal Roman Catholics, who believe almost nothing of traditional Roman Catholic doctrine. If you put a liberal Roman Catholic, a liberal Protestant, and a Reform Jew side by side you see triplets–all three believe the same vacuous creed of tolerance but little else other than a quasi-Marxist conception of “social justice.” These Roman Catholics are no threat to liberalism. But traditional Catholicism is a threat to liberals, and if they can successfully place blame on the entire church for what a small minority of priests and bishops have done (or failed to do, in the lack of action shown by some bishops).

Another fact liberals ignore about this controversy is that most of the altar boys were older teens–sixteen or seventeen-years-old, at the time they were abused. The problem with the priests who abused them was not as much pedophilia as it was old-fashioned homosexuality. But liberals do not want to hear that since it goes against their view that homosexuality is benign and harmless, merely a different “orientation.” Calling what the guilty priests did “pedophilia” protects liberals in their support of the homosexual agenda, and it also makes the priests look as if they are guilty of even more perversion than they actually were, thus making the Roman Catholic Church look worse. What the priests did was terrible–there is no excuse, given power disparities between altar boys and priests, for priests to violate their oath of celibacy with those who may have felt powerless to resist. But for the most part, unless a priest were extremely perverted, priests were not sexually abusing eight-year-olds.

Liberals are experts in selecting only the facts that strengthen their attack on the Roman Catholic Church. They attack Rome’s position on clerical celibacy, which is issue Rome must deal with, not non-Roman Catholics. I am Anglican and believe in married deacons, priests, and bishops. If I were Roman Catholic I would encourage the Pope to rethink the rule requiring clerical celibacy, a rule that is a matter of order and not a matter of essential doctrine. But I am not Roman Catholic and am hesitant to tell that church’s leadership what it should do. Overall, despite the fact that there was failure of leadership and discipline in some dioceses and parishes, I highly respect the Roman Catholic Church. Like any institution with human beings as members, it will be not be perfect–the same follows for all other religious bodies. But humans with flaws are found in nonreligious institutions–nonreligious bodies, such as civic organizations and quilt guilds, have members who do very bad things. Christians should do better–and the Roman Catholic Church should have done better in screening potential priests, in hiring, and in assigning–that is not being an arrogant outsider, but a common sense approach that may have avoided the problems from which Rome is now suffering.

The Roman Catholic Church will get past this scandal. Bishops will be told firmly to meet stronger discipline against clergy who sexually abuse church members (this can occur with female members as well as with male members). The RC Church is a large, slow operation, lumbering around like a giant turtle, but it must (and I believe will) take steps to improve its handling of accusations of sexual misconduct by priests. I am sure the liberals will say whatever Rome does is not going far enough–and once this scandal fades into memory they will find another way to attack the Roman Catholic Church as a whole.