The Shifting of the Moral Ground – by Brian Mark Hennessy
The Art of Telling Lies
I begin with a question. Do clerics have a monopoly of the “Truth” simply because they wear a white collar around their necks? For some, we would hear the riposte, “What is “Truth”? The answer to that is complicated – because there are ways, of course, apart from telling direct lies, of avoiding the truth. Language skills can achieve this by adding a simple word of condition such as “if”. Silence is another tactic that is disingenuous to the “truth” by suggesting “innocence” or “unaccountability”. Semantics – the art of analyzing the subtle shades of the meanings of words – is widely employed to find an alternative that adeptly conceals the “Truth” – or suggests that another man’s sincerely attested “Truth” can be doubted. Sadly – I should say regrettably – I know priests who use these ploys of ambiguity repeatedly. However, in the moment of their shameful utterances, most observers will see through them, their pious disguise will be undone – and the character of their “priesthood” will dissolve into a murky, meaningless morass. Any outward hint of the china-white charism they once appeared to have possessed is then shattered to the degree that it cannot be reconstructed without all the stained and dirty cracks offending the eyes of their beholders. Despite the linguistic skills which some clerics engage to disguise their subversive purposes, even the most common of men will recognize their deceit at a glance. The white collar around their necks is no badge of “Truth”!
This blog has related so many incidents of clerical duplicity that it is pointless to reiterate them again. Suffice it to say, that, amongst others, the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona, Italy, has deployed spokespersons with all the refined devices of denial in the repertoire to avoid admitting the truth of allegations of child sexual abuse that took place at their “now notorious” St Peter Claver College Mirfield Seminary in England. Such is the blind, inept folly of their cloak of self-righteousness – that they are unaware that their keen observers espy from afar their moral vacuousness through the fickle façade of their ecclesiastical robes. Nevertheless, the Comboni Missionary Order remains steadfast in committing themselves in perpetuity to their deliberately vague, but unconvincing denial of “Truth”. Those clerics of the Order that engage in this activity at the London Provincial and Roman Curia levels betray Christ Himself who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light. No one comes to the Father except through Me” – words which demand that they both acknowledge and represent Christ as the “Way” to the Father and the Defender of “Truth”. Thus a dishonest priest plays a deadly game of charades. Deadly for themselves that is, for if they believe in what they profess, then they risk forfeiting their souls.
Hostile Litigation versus Honest Dialogue
Unfortunately, the Comboni Missionary Order is not alone amongst the clerics of the Catholic Church in their belief in unaccountable silence and the perversion of the “Truth” by any means. Most probably, the cause for their adoption of this tactic has a mixture of elements – which include clerical narcissism and arrogance – both of which conceal an inherent fear of disgrace and humiliation. To obviate the resultant unpleasant degradation that might ensue, therefore, they adopt the process of litigation which has an inherent, endemic posture of hostility – rather than straight forward humility and honesty which are the moral signposts to closure, healing and reconciliation. Litigation requires, ultimately, that they seek to destroy the reputations of the very victims that they themselves know to be telling the “Truth”. How much they expend in the preservation of their self-perception of dignity matters not – for the sole aim is not to admit the guilt of their knowledge of the abuse and their failure to prevent further abuse. It seems that they do not put a price tag on that. The sky is the limit. A simple example of this is that the Comboni Missionary Order were quite happy to ex-spend almost half a million pounds sterling (and much more by the time litigation has been completed) in legal fees without any admission of guilt in order to retain an aura of innocence of the claims of sexual abuse laid against them. Yet, all the claimants wanted was an apology foremost – moderate reparation and a dialogue that led to reconciliation. What the clerical establishment of the Catholic Church does not understand, due to their elitist isolation, is that their observers – the canny parishioners in the pews and the man in the street – can see through the bellicose smokescreen of litigation to the underlying act of damage limitation in which the Church is involved. That man in the street abhors and detests the vilification of victims of clerical abuse by the Church to a degree that equates to repugnance – and they will side, unsurprisingly, not with the Monolithic Conglomerate which is the Catholic Church, but with the hounded and wounded underdog – the victim.
The Man in the Street Gains the High Ground
The result of this clerical predilection for the expensive and hostile legal option is that the moral ground of the Catholic Church appears to have shifted away from its clerics in the former Christian, but very local heartlands, that were once typified by small communities living and working around their parish churches and religious communities. In the new media inter-related world, where news spreads globally faster than any ferocious forest fire ever could from one field to the next, it is now universally manifest that it is not the clerics, but the lay people in every walk of life that have sustained the righteous, moral outcry about the sexual abuse of children. Those lay people are horrified with the extent of the clerical abuse that has been endemic and unseen for so long in Catholic dioceses, institutions and Religious Orders. Moreover, what they have witnessed is that the abuse was and has remained largely unchecked, unreported and covered over by Bishops, Religious Leaders and the Vatican even when they had full knowledge of it. The huge scale of the Vatican’s comprehension of clerical sexual abuse is not a myth. The Vatican’s very own UN Ambassador, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, reported in 2014 that, in the previous decade, 3,400 incidents of clerical abuse (of whom 848 ended in defrocking) were reported to the Vatican. That is almost one case a day – and it is only the tip of the icebergs seething in the turmoil of Diocesan, Religious and the Curial murky seas of denial and cover-up.
Moreover, there is no point in the Curia Cardinal Muller at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith using statistics to point out that the percentage of paedophile clerics is no greater than that in civilian populations. We accept, albeit most reluctantly, that in the secular world there are many people with disturbed natures who, for either psychiatric or immoral reasons of self-gratification, target the innocents of the world. In comparison, Ordained clerics and Religious under vows, by virtue of their vocation, have always been set apart from that secular world and have been considered to be in a unique place of trust. The white collar and cassock were once akin to their badges of honour. They were often treated as members of the family and they were perceived, historically, to be utterly dependable. That trust is no longer there. The current, clear evidence for this lack of trust is that recent research in the United States, meticulously undertaken by eminently qualified economists and statisticians, demonstrates that, because of clerical child abuse, Catholic parishioners have stopped contributing to the Church and have walked away from its doors. Many have joined other religious denominations for worship. Some have withdrawn their children from Catholic schools – which has resulted in many school closures.
It is both undeniable and sadly unconscionable that the Catholic Church is in the distant “rear guard” in leading the fight to protect children from harm – and that the lead forward comes from the civil institutions at local, national and international levels. Despite some very creditable work (such as the Nolan Report, Cumberlege Report in the United Kingdom, and, in many countries, the establishment of Catholic Safeguarding Organisations) the Catholic Church, as a whole, continues to deny the full and hidden scale of abuse. It appears impervious to the “Truth” uttered by the voices of Victims and remains in denial and determinedly belligerent – even when the evidence is overwhelming and fully substantiated. Most grievously, as in the case of the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona Italy, clerics who have admitted historically that they were aware of the “Truth” of the abuse – because it had been reported directly to them by witnesses, now deny any knowledge of it. They do so on the instructions of their unscrupulous lawyers or superiors. By perpetrating their lies, they fail the “truthfulness” test of their priesthood. The laity, thought that priests were different – that they were always caring, straightforward and, ungrudgingly, downright honest. We were wrong.
Against this background, this erring Catholic Church is in disarray. It has already lost the moral high ground – and it is now fighting a confused, uphill, rearguard action of inept denial, pious rhetoric and blame shifting. It insinuates that survivors have false memories, vague recall due to the length of time since the event in the past or are abject liars. The Vatican issues edicts which are not followed. Nobody appears to know who is really in command. Its Cardinal and Bishop ranks do not agree nor act in a concerted way. Few individuals amongst them know who to follow – or they choose the leader that most accommodates their individual objectives or preferences. Some miscreant clerics who step out of line are hung, drawn and quartered. Others are given a pat on the back for the same offence. It is a game of “Lucky Dip” with awful consequences for the losers – who are sometimes those who part ranks with their derelict and depraved superiors and endeavor to choose an honest, humble and moral way out of the quagmire. It is not a pretty picture. You do not need a prophet to foretell the outcome. A brief perusal of the very recent press demonstrates the ongoing confusion.
Bless Me Father – For I am Confused
A few weeks back in June, Pope Francis decreed in an edict that Bishops and Religious Leaders guilty of looking the other way or covering up child abuse by priests within their congregations had committed a “crime” and would be removed from the clerical state.
The National Catholic Reporter stated this week that Archbishop Bernard Hebda, the newly appointed head of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese in the United States maintains that his diocese, which protected a paedophile priest who is now in prison, was guilty only of “failures” and not a “crime”. His precise words were: “A failure isn’t the same as a crime. That is a legal question, not a moral question. Committing a crime implies a criminal intent and is something altogether different from failing.” The Archbishop neglected the fact that in civil terms a “failure” to report a known paedophile is a crime in some jurisdictions, albeit I accept it may not be in others. More to the point, Pope Francis has stated quite clearly that he regards that such “failures” are “crimes” in both the Vatican State Jurisdiction and in Canon Law – which applies also in Archbishop Hebda’s diocese, presumably. As to the matter of intent – failure to take reporting action, whether to the civil and/or Church authorities, against an individual who sexually abuses a child (which is a criminal offence in all jurisdictions that I know of) cannot be said not to have been done without some degree of “intent”. Such a failure is a most serious moral issue and this year, canonically, has become a criminal issue also within the Catholic Church. Why does Hebda split hairs? A crime is a crime – not a spade.
At the same time as the above, it was reported in the Associated Press and NCR that Msgr. William Lynn, the first U.S. church official convicted for his handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations, has been released from prison on $250,000 bail. Lynn, 65, served as secretary for clergy for the Philadelphia archdiocese from 1992 to 2004. In the case, originally held in June 2012, a jury found Lynn guilty on a charge of child endangerment by not taking appropriate action in the case of the former priest Edward Avery. At the bail hearing, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams confirmed that his office will retry Lynn on the child endangerment charge. The civil courts in this case clearly believe that Lynn had intent – and his action to protect Edward Avery could not be construed as a “failure”, but must be understood as a “crime”. Clerical understatement has lost out in this case it seems?
Archbishop Hebda has also indicated that he considered that the separate issue of his predecessor’s alleged sexual behaviour was not a diocesan matter – but it was a canonical matter of the Roman Curia, (despite that it occurred within the diocese), and, therefore, any action should be taken not by him, but by the appropriate Vatican Congregation. It appears that despite his Civil and Canonical law degrees and whilst it is true that Canon Law does not allow a cleric to criticise his superiors in a hierarchy, he has not heeded the Vatican Guide to Canon Law that places responsibility for the original report on allegations and the initial investigation clearly on the shoulders of the Diocesan Bishop – which is now Hebda himself. If it were otherwise, how would the previous Bishop be held to account? Archbishop Hebda ignores also that his predecessor was not his superior anyway, but his equal. He is scrubbing his hands, somewhat vigorously, of the responsibility he has to ensure that his predecessor accounts for his grave sexual misbehaviour.
To add to the confusion and contradictions in the above passages, NCR recently reported that Bishop James Johnston Jr., head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese since last November, was forthright in acknowledging charges of abuse by his predecessor, Robert Finn, the resignation of whom, Pope Francis accepted in April. The incident followed reports of sexual abuse in the diocese and Finn’s failure to report the abuse and remove priests from their parishes. No washing of hands there! All done and dusted!
Also reported in NCR was that the Vatican envoy to the United States quashed an investigation into alleged sexual activity on the part of Archbishop John Nienstedt, and ordered a piece of evidence destroyed. Fr. Dan Griffith, then-Delegate for Safe Environment for the archdiocese concerned, stated that in April 2014 Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., ordered two auxiliary bishops to have a law firm quickly cease its investigation – and later that month instructed the law firm to destroy a letter they had sent to Vigano in an effort to resist his request. At a subsequent press conference, attorney Jeff Anderson said the documents show the presence of a cover-up and urged Pope Francis to take “definitive action” against the officials involved, (presumably, Vigano, Nienstedt and the auxiliary bishops) by putting them in jail and removing them from the clerical state. Anderson said, “So Pope Francis, if your words mean anything, just do it. You have the power and the evidence is before you. Do it!” No action has been taken to date against the offending clerics!
The French press, Associated Press and the National Secular Society have all reported about the civil legal case concerning the most senior cardinal in France, Lyons’ Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. The charges against him were that he had failed to report suspicions of child abuse by a priest under his control, as is required by French law. The Pope, controversially, said publicly before any court decision on the case, that it would be “nonsensical and imprudent” to seek the archbishop’s resignation – despite the fact that Cardinal Barbarin, had already admitted to his errors in the management of certain priests who were alleged to be paedophiles. In other words, Cardinal Barbarin took no action against them and failed – with intent – to report them as he should have done – and the Pope was aware of this situation. Is this a case of double standards or not? Moreover, soon after the Pope’s comments, on the very day of an important court hearing in the charged cleric’s case, the Pope gave Barbarin an audience! Was this a deliberate act of intent by the Pope to put pressure on the French Court to save a friend – or pure coincidence? Subsequent to the events described above, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin was informed by the prosecutor, that the charges that he had failed to report suspicions of child abuse by a priest under his control, had now time expired. This “grand poisson” has got clean away!
In strange contrast yet again, Catholics in the northeastern Brazilian state of Paraiba woke just a few weeks before to find that Archbishop Aldo di Cillo Pagotto was stepping down after having his resignation accepted by Pope Francis. The Vatican said the pope accepted his resignation in accordance with Canon 401.2 of the Code of Canon Law, which covers “ill health or some other grave cause”. In a letter about his resignation, the archbishop said he always tried to give the best of himself and admitted he made mistakes. “I gave shelter to priests and seminarians, in order to offer them new chances in life. Among those were some who were later suspected of committing serious derelictions. I made the mistake of being too trusting,” stated the letter. In fact, some of the priests taken in by Pagotto had been accused of pedophilia! The case was precisely the same as that of Cardinal Barbarin of Lyon, but the result was diametrically the opposite.
As late as 2015, Bishop Accountability wrote to the Philippine Government’s Council of the Welfare of Children regarding 12 specific priests, amongst a much larger number of about three dozen, for whom they had information of worrying, urgent, creditable allegations of child sexual abuse. Several of these dozen priests worked at some point in the United States, but were banned from U.S. dioceses following serious allegations of child rape and molestation. Apparently the priests sought refuge in the Philippines where they or their superiors believed they would escape either notice or the “arm of the law”. The letter further states that Filipino bishops appear to have legal impunity in retaining credibly accused priests in the service of the church and working in pastoral duties (and lists the specific locations of four of these priests). It is a matter of grave significance that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ document, “Pastoral Guidelines on Sexual Abuses and Misconduct by the Clergy”, categorically stated at that time that the Philippine Bishops, quite specifically, are not to adopt the practice of reporting accused priests to the law enforcement agencies. Bishop Accountability requested that the Government agency begins formulating legislation that would hold church officials accountable for preventing child sexual abuse by clergy. However, to date it appears that most, if not all of the specified priests are still active in the Philippines in parishes or institutions where they have uninhibited access to children.
Furthermore, the Monsignor Canonist for the archdiocese of the smiling Cardinal Archbishop of Manilla, Luis Antonio Tagle, pipped by some hopefuls to be the next Pope, stated in the Catholic Press that the parents of children abused by Catholic Clerics and their lawyers should “stop meddling in Church Affairs”. In others words, once you have reported the abuse, “butt out – because what action the Church takes against the cleric after that is nothing to do with you”. Cardinal Tagle skilfully explained this lapse in another way – “I think for us (in the Philippines), legal action, exposing persons, both victims and abusers, to the public, either through media or legal action, (just) adds to the pain.” The latest that I have heard about a solution to the Philippine Church’s diametrical variance with what is now decreed to be the categorical, universal Catholic practice of an “obligation” to report sexual abuse to the civil authorities – is that the Vatican has rejected the new draft proposals put before it by the Philippine Catholic Church – because it still contains the provision allowing priests to father one child in ministry – in what is scathingly called locally as the “one child per priest quota system.! (A check, before going to print, of the current Guidelines prepared by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines details two fundamental principles: “the protection of children and the preservation of the integrity of the priestly ministry. Through these Guidelines, the bishops commit themselves to transparency, accountability, and cooperation with civil authorities when handling cases of sexual abuse of minors committed by the members of the clergy”. I am unsure, however, how these principles are carried out in practice ).
Cardinal Luis Tagle, until a few weeks ago anyway, was still smiling profusely and, despite the grave inaction of his Bishops in the matter of child sexual abuse for decades, he has been rewarded by Pope Francis with the Presidency of Caritas International – the global charity of the Catholic Church – which presumably provides funds for children in need – possibly even for children who have been sexually abused by clerics or those fathered by Filipino bishops and priests. Currently, however, the Filipino Cardinal Tagle is not in the mood for rejoicing and has stopped smiling totally. The reason is that the new President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, claims he was abused as a child by a Jesuit priest in his Philippine Province of Mindanao – and he appears to be no friend of clerics. Recently, he insulted the Pope as a “Son of a Whore” on the latter’s visit to Manila – and has asked his supporters, “You know the most hypocritical institution? It is the Catholic Church! Even some bishops”, he stated, “were secretly married and forever begging favours from politicians”. “You sons of whores,” he said, “aren’t you ashamed?” Quite what will happen next, I am not sure. Will Cardinal Tagle offer the new President Duterte help to overcome the impacts of the sexual abuse that may have affected his psyche since his childhood – and has, perhaps, provoked the President’s current, unbridled rage – or will President Duterte, when he has solved the Philippine drug problem by extra-judicially eliminating and burying all drug users and sellers, turn his attention to rounding up and jailing abusive priests? Eventually, I suppose, what goes around – then comes around! So, perhaps Cardinal Tagle had better start to get his house in order – rapidly.
Nearer to home, in the Republic of Ireland, reports of rife homosexuality and abuse of junior seminarians by both clerics on the staff and senior seminarians (some of whom can be spotted in Gay Website photographs) has left the Irish Bishops in a flummox – apart from Archbishop Dairmund Martin it seems – who has sent his seminarians to Rome (another known hotspot for top to bottom rampant clerical homosexuality – I am told by an ex-Comboni Missionary Order scholastic who studied at the Vatican’s Gregorian University). The stories of abuse and abandonment of celibacy have been in the Irish press for an age – but there is, as yet, no sign of any action at all. Silence reins in the Conference Hall of the Irish Catholic Bishops regarding Maynooth. They appear to be content for the time being with their inaction! Perhaps those are grounds enough for Pope Francis to fire the lot of them. We do not expect anything so startling very soon, however. Nevertheless, those readers interested in spotting and questioning these twenty-five bishops about their apparent satisfaction with things as they are – and who continue to send vulnerable and immature young men to the institution in Co Kildare, Ireland, now known as the “Maynooth Gulag”, where they are “experimented on and turned into sex addicts” – according to Bishop Buckley (?) – can contact the latter’s “Wise Catholic Blog” and check out their photographs and the last place that the bishops were spotted. Reports can be made direct to the Vatican – who should by now, be on their tails also! Nevertheless, drawing on my personal experience – do not expect an answer soon – if ever.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is, most seriously, that within the Catholic Church, despite all the rhetoric, many known and, no doubt, many undisclosed, paedophile clerics remain protected in its midst and are often working with children and minors in the full knowledge of and acquiescence with the Prelates of the Church. The Pope himself openly appears to fail to act upon his own edicts with any uniformity whatsoever – and the offending Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and Religious Leaders are not uniformly brought to account as the Vatican decrees that they should be. The Vatican Congregations, with many competing views, that may well be the result in some cases of “turf wars” for greater influence between their Prefects, are routinely at odds with each other and with those Prelates appointed to chair Papal Commissions. As a Consequence, there are unending contradictions in interpretation of edicts between these individual prelates and the hierarchies of diocesan Bishops and the Religious Superiors of the hundreds of Church Orders of men and women. A civil corporation would either be intolerant of such disorder – or go rapidly out of business.
The Vatican Curia has neither opened up and nor published the archives of its carnal history of child abuse despite United Nations claims that it should do so. Vatican Courts continue to determine the guilt and innocence of clerical sexual crimes in secret and without reference to Victims, instead of being openly informative for all to see. Moreover, the Catholic Church traditionally follows a blatant preference for this secrecy and silence in order to “avoid scandal’. I know it is thus depicted – for I have seen the word “scandal” written brazenly on 19 occasions in a Religious Order’s Code of Conduct which is authorized by the Curia Congregation to which it is subordinate. What is at the root of this secrecy? Simply, it is to continue a Medieval system of coercion and control – to hide truth and shame – to maintain arrogant clerical elitism – and to ensure ignorance of the laity by intellectual subjugation. What you do not know, hear or see cannot be questioned. Cloistered secrecy in trials of clerics, in some instances on pain of excommunication, has been a widespread practice in the history of the Church – even in the recent 20th century Church. Clerics from Rome to the ends of the earth have corrosively inherited this archaic mindset. Such practices amount, in their totality, to living the lies that they seek to conceal and refuse to confess. In stark contrast, all but the dictatorial and despotic Civil regimes of justice, are utterly transparent with their evidence, defence statements, deliberations, verdicts and the punishments of their judicial processes. In civil proceedings both claimant and defendant are present – and the outcomes are published unhesitatingly.
Globally, the Catholic Church expends not hundreds, not thousands, but millions in attempts to deny justice, reparation and rehabilitation to those who have been so grievously harmed by clerics when they were children. Through litigation the Catholic Church routinely provokes hostility within its ranks towards those that their clerics have so unjustly treated and victimised. What they have got so totally wrong – grossly wrong in fact – is that their misplaced pride rejects anything other than the meanest and most minimal admission by them of the disgraceful facts of their historical errors. Moreover, they still fail today, shamefully, to address their need to care, with universal, meaningful, Gospel-driven, contrition and humility, those that their wayward clerics have abused and abandoned. Whilst they claim to be the proponents of “Justice and Truth” – which are, according to their teachings, “Divine Attributes”, they fight a rear-guard action to deny those very same tenants of their religion to the victims of clerical sexual abuse. That is manifestly unjust and discreditable. This combination of denial and indifference is a sign of abject arrogance, which hypocritically appeals for exemption and earthly impunity to an unearthly extraterrestrial authority – even in the most prosaic and universal earthly matter of a right of victims to processes of common justice. These are both gross moral failures and a spectacularly ridiculous and divisive lost opportunity to be seen to be occupying the high grounds of the very Justice and Truth that they preach. Their failure to be decisive, uniform and visible in the matter of the offending clerics is the Vatican’s new millennium “own goal” and a sensational media gift to its detractors. It is no wonder, universally, that congregations are walking out of church doors – never to return!
The title of this “tome” is “The Shifting of the Moral Ground”. There is a strong case to allege, however, that the moral ground may never have shifted. History suggests that this sophisticated, secretive, canonical, dogmatic, fabulously wealthy conglomerate – the Catholic Church has, as the rigidly hierarchical Curia-led “institution” of the Vatican – never occupied the high ground of morality since the days of the early Christian Church. That was before Emperors usurped the Church for its own purposes of Imperial security, legal domination and population control – and instituted a metamorphosis of the humble, enlightened, biblical bishops of local churches into the wealthy, worldly and politically motivated princes of an Empire. Before and since those days, the true moral high ground was “always” occupied by the uncomplicated believers who are the hard-working and unstintingly humble, dedicated preachers, laymen and women in the pews, fields, factories, offices and streets of every continent of this world!
The Pride of Lucifer
The Catholic Catechism proclaims that the sacrament of ordination “configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ’s instrument for His Church. By his ordination the priest is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office as Priest, Prophet and King. The Priest is the Defender of “Truth”, who stands with Angels, gives glory with Archangels, causes sacrifices to rise to the altar on high, shares Christ’s Priesthood, refashions Creation, restores it in God’s image, recreates it for the world on high and, even greater, is divinized and divinizes”. For me, as a layman, this tract from the Catechism projects a surrealistic image of priesthood that I neither recognize and nor, in anything like its fullest extent, can rationally equate to any priest that I have met. I am not saying that I have not met priests whom I have admired – for I most certainly have, but they were and remain today men of exceptional charism. Undoubtedly, there are more such men out there. Notwithstanding, if you push me, I am happy to go along with the Catechism definition of the ordained priest to the point that he most certainly “should” be a “Defender of Truth”. Yet, having said that, every person should have “Truth” as one of the fundamental building blocks of their character. Not all do, of course, but certainly, for a priest it must be an intrinsic quality. The priest owes that to himself and his vocation, his God, his Church and his flock. In essence, the priest should always choose the uncomplicated “Truth” when they know it – and with all the humility that it sometimes takes – and leave hostile litigation to the worldly realm of purely civil matters.
The Prophet Ezekiel tells us that there once was an Angel who held himself to be greater than his God – and he was banned from Eden – and his sin was pride. If “Truth” fails a priest in any circumstance for want of humility, his ordination is nothing more than a charade. If “Truth” fails a whole Church due to arrogance, then that Church becomes the corrupted ‘Betrayer’ of the Christ about whom it preaches – and it becomes the cataclysmic embodiment of the ‘Antichrist’. The Catholic Church must fear, lest by neglect, they bring that judgement upon themselves.