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Tom Dewey wrote:

Mr. Humphrey,

I came across your address when looking for a Vatican email address.

Here's a question I sent to Pope Benedict. Since you are an apologist, I thought you might be interested.

Dear Pope Benedict,

I have a very basic question for you and your earthly colleagues.

  • If the Catholic Church will not protect the most vulnerable among us from predation by priests, why should anyone take seriously the claims of the Roman Church as God's appointed authority on earth?

The Church has covered up these horrific acts for hundreds of years, and abandoned the victims.

Perhaps you should use your substantial riches to alleviate suffering.  Spend them all, and go about in simple garb, trusting the Lord for daily bread. Kind of like Peter did! Now that would be Apostolic, wouldn't it?

Never mind protecting the institution. Protect the children. Defrock these monsters.

Tom Dewey

  { How would your Pope reply to this? }

Mike replied:

Dear Tom,

I'm not the Holy Father but your e-mail at least deserves a comment.

You said:
If the Catholic Church will not protect the most vulnerable among us from predation by priests why should anyone take seriously the claims of the Roman Church as God's appointed authority on earth?

No one in the Church will EVER officially defend the horrific acts (if they are true; some aren't) that have happened to many of the faithful in our Church. No one!

What the main stream media, who has been bashing the Holy Father recently, has to remember is that the Pope's free will is not one free will with all the bishops he has appointed.

This is a childish, uncatechized view of free will.

Each PERSON has their own free will that they will be responsible for at their particular judgment.

Your reply: But the Pope is infallible!

My reply: Infallibility does not mean that the Pope's choices for bishops will always be the best. He could make some terrible choices or more probable, bishops that started off as holy bishops could be brought down by that bastard, the devil; someone the national news media doesn't believe in.

Infallibility is a NEGATIVE safeguard. It guarantees to the faithful that the faith Jesus entrusted to St. Peter and his successors to defend and safeguard, will never change. Example:

  • Our belief in the Trinity
  • Our belief in the sacraments
  • Our belief in the male priesthood
  • Our belief in a proper understanding of salvation and justification
  • Our belief in a proper understanding of "No Salvation Outside the Church."
  • Our belief in Heaven, Purgatory and Hell

will never change. Could they be clarified? Sure! but not changed. We want people to understand our Lord's Teachings correctly.

Infallibility DOES NOT guarantee that the Pope will always make the right choices on any 
non-theological issue, like the assignment or appointment of new bishops.

He will always strive  to make the best choice, but he is not infallible on these issues. Infallibility just guarantees he will be prevented from teaching doctrinal error, not that he will always teach the best that can be taught, even theologically!

You should take the claims of the Roman Church seriously only if you want to take Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ Himself seriously.

Matthew's Gospel states:

And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew (RSV) 16:17-19)

There is only ONE Church that existed back then, that also exists today: the Roman Catholic Church.

In addition: Surprise!: It's not the Pope's Church; he is just the Prime Minister of the Church just as Mr. Gordon is the Prime Minister of England.

Queen Elizabeth reigns over the Prime Minister, just as [Jesus|the Holy Spirit] reigns over the Popes, guiding them, YET respecting their free will do stupid, non-doctrinal things that can sometimes hurt the Church.

You should really read some Church history Tom. My favorite papal case was back in the sixteenth century. Pope Sixtus V had planned on officially publishing a [botched|heretical] version of the Latin Vulgate Bible.  This was the ONLY version Catholics were to use.

From Pope Fiction by Patrick Madrid:

By now, expectation was at a boiling point. The news in Rome had it that the official promulgation would happen any day. Advance copies of the new Vulgate had been bound and delivered to all the cardinals in Rome along with advance copies of the bull officially publishing it. Everything  was now ready for the pope to promulgate the new version. Nothing could stop him.  All he had to do was take the last fateful step.

BUT, the next day, they found him dead in his bed due to a brief illness : )

He had been in excellent health, and was one of the more vigorous and active pontiffs in the history of the papacy. But as the last moment, it seems the Holy Spirit fulfilled, once again, Christ's promise that He would guide the Church into all truth. Advanced copies of the version were quietly withdrawn by the cardinals.
The bull announcing it, was never issued. At the request of the new pope, Gregory XIX, under Cardinal Bellarmine's supervision, a new commission was formed to carry out the revision of the revision.

Pope Fiction, Pages 250-251

Let me put it another way. I remember hearing about some Protestant observers who were overseeing the events of Vatican II.  One observer thought the Church was falling apart and appeared chaotic. He questioned a Catholic Cardinal on this and, paraphrasing, the Cardinal said:

We've been trying to destroy this Church [by our sin] for about 2000 years and can't; it's got to be divine.

For short:

  • each person has their own free will
  • Infallibility is:

    • a negative safeguard that nothing heretical will be officially taught and
    • does not guarantee the best appointment of new bishops

  • you have to separate bad behavior of the members of the Church from its official teachings

You said:
The Church has covered up these horrific acts for hundreds of years, and abandoned the victims.

There is no denying that the Church's handling of cases of sexual abuse and pederast priests was for years more than deplorable. The acts of these priests have been criminal. Changes in the manner of handling these tragedies have come far too late.

Objectivity and intellectual honesty require us to insist, however, that those changes have nonetheless come. Example you won't heard from the T.V. or news media:

Charter to protect children by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Nevertheless: Hundreds of years? No, this problem started back in the 60's and 70's. Bishops allowed bad seminary professors into the seminary. Once the Devil gets hold of the culture within Catholic seminaries, the spirituality in the Church will decline among ALL the faithful.

I would disagree with your view that the Church has abandoned the victims; it has helped many since 2002.

You said:
Perhaps you should use your substantial riches to alleviate suffering.

  • Who says the Pope doesn't?
  • Do you want to take a guess at what the largest charitable organization in the world is?

The Catholic Church! You're just not going to hear it on the national news.

You said:
Defrock these monsters.

  • Who says they aren't?

Once again, you're just not going to hear it on the nightly news with Diane Sawyer, Brian Williams or Katie Couric.  I have yet to hear one good piece on the GREAT work the Catholic Church does on the nightly national news.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Eric replied:

Hi, Tom —

The fact that politicians routinely engage in corruption, cover up, and so forth does not negate the fact that they have authority. No one questioned the authority of President Clinton when the Lewinsky scandal broke. They might have questioned his fitness for office, and they impeached him, but the presidency itself and our form of government retained its authority. So it is with the Church. (The fact that it is a divinely-granted authority doesn't change the argument at all.)

The alternative is frightening.

  • Do you suggest that somehow leaders can commit sins sufficiently grievous as to destroy what God has put in place?
  • Or else to demonstrate that there is no authority?

Preposterous!

These men will be paid the due recompense for what they did, according to the dispositions of their hearts. That I can assure you, but we must not use their sinfulness as a pretext for rejecting authority. As Jesus said to the people,

"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach."

(Matthew 23:1-3)

Eric

Tom replied:

Mr Humphrey,

Thanks for your prompt and impassioned response. You've raised a number of interesting issues. Neither of us is likely to change the mind of the other, but there is always the possibility of improving one another's understanding of our own interpretation of facts.

Tom Dewey
Minneapolis, MN
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