Back in 2012 newly-promoted Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York admitted the clergy have been scared to speak on matters of sexuality morality.
If you want to know what went wrong with the USCCB (and beyond), Cardinal Dolan gave a pretty good explanation to James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal. In an article titled, “When the Archbishop Met the President,” the now-former President of the USCCB gave some surprising, and yet refreshingly honest, admissions of guilt for he and his fellow clergymen.
The following is a quote from Taranto’s interview of Cardinal Dolan.
“What about the argument that vast numbers of Catholics ignore the church’s teachings about sexuality? Doesn’t the church have a problem conveying its moral principles to its own flock? ‘Do we ever!’ the archbishop replies with a hearty laugh. ‘I’m not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical challenge—-a towering one—-in convincing our own people of the moral beauty and coherence of what we teach. That’s a biggie.’
“For this he faults the church leadership. ‘We have gotten gun-shy . . . in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality.’ He dates this diffidence to “the mid- and late ’60s, when the whole world seemed to be caving in, and where Catholics in general got the impression that what the Second Vatican Council taught, first and foremost, is that we should be chums with the world, and that the best thing the church can do is become more and more like everybody else.’
“The ‘flash point,’ the archbishop says, was ‘Humanae Vitae,’ Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical reasserting the church’s teachings on sex, marriage and reproduction, including its opposition to artificial contraception. It ‘brought such a tsunami of dissent, departure, disapproval of the church, that I think most of us—and I’m using the first-person plural intentionally, including myself—kind of subconsciously said, ‘Whoa. We’d better never talk about that, because it’s just too hot to handle.’ We forfeited the chance to be a coherent moral voice when it comes to one of the more burning issues of the day.’
“Without my having raised the subject, he adds that the church’s sex-abuse scandal ‘intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality, because we almost thought, ‘I’ll blush if I do. . . . After what some priests and some bishops, albeit a tiny minority, have done, how will I have any credibility in speaking on that?’’
“Yet the archbishop says he sees a hunger, especially among young adults, for a more authoritative church voice on sexuality. ‘They will be quick to say, ‘By the way, we want you to know that we might not be able to obey it. . . . But we want to hear it. And in justice, you as our pastors need to tell us, and you need to challenge us”” (all emphasis is my own).
What do you make of Cardinal Dolan’s admittance that the clergy have been scared to speak out on matters of sexual morality?
What do you think it will take for the bishops to get over being scared to speak?
Please leave your comments below.