Catholic priests gathering for prayer
The event will take place behind closed doors, leading to charges that the Church is more concerned with covering up abuse than with transparency.

Catholic bishops from across the U.S. are meeting in Chicago beginning today for a week-long retreat that will focus on the clergy sexual abuse scandal that continues to plague the Church. Sounds promising, right?

Well, there's a catch. According to reports, the bishops' agenda will primarily be comprised of just one activity: prayer. Although the retreat could potentially be used to formulate concrete strategies for reversing ongoing cycles of abuse, apparently the Vatican has rejected that idea; the Associated Press reported yesterday that Vatican officials have been consistently blocking U.S. Catholic leaders from enacting any new policies relating to clergy abuse. Apparently, the Vatican is worried that new U.S. proposals could wind up being legally problematic for the Church.

This concern seems especially dubious in the wake of yet another shocking report about a clergy abuse cover-up in Illinois. Yet, the bishops are obligated to obey the directive against policy changes.

Thoughts and Prayers

Without the Vatican's blessing, it seems that U.S. Catholic bishops attending the conference will be limited to prayer sessions. How successful will prayer be in combating future clergy abuse? It's hard to say, although a brief glance at the Church's past "responses" to the scandal (heavy on prayer, lacking in tangible solutions) certainly doesn't inspire much confidence.

Understandably, few are less optimistic than members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). In the words of SNAP's executive director, Zach Hiner, "a week spent in silent prayer is not the response the public is looking for."

"If church officials truly want to do what is best, then they should be spending this week discussing how they can best comply with independent investigations by law enforcement, or how they can compel law enforcement officials in their state to act if no such investigation has begun yet," Hiner said. "At this point, regardless of what bishops decide to do in the first week of January, we are placing our hopes for reform in the hands of secular, not church officials."

Behind Closed Doors

But that's not the only thing critics of the conference have taken issue with. Prayer concerns aside, the whole gathering will also be happening behind closed doors. With privacy a high priority, priests from other denominations, members of the public, and media members are all barred from participating reinforcing the notion that the Church is more concerned with covering up abuse than transparently working to solve the problem.

However, some supporters say this could actually be a good thing. Among them is Notre Dame researcher Timothy O'Malley, who thinks taking public pressure out of the equation may result in a more honest discussion:

"When the bishops meet in public to discuss these procedures, there is a danger that it's less an act of contrition and more an occasion for scoring political points. Part of the corruption is based in a certain clerical culture where bishops pursued self-interest, whether their own or their diocese's, at the expense of listening to lay victims. This retreat is a first step toward a renewal of the (church leadership) as a whole in the United States."

Effecting Change

That said, it's going to take a whole lot more from the church than contrition and honesty if these crimes are to stop. Without some concrete steps to root out abusive priests and change the culture of silence within the Church, how can one possibly expect any progress to be made?

To that end, there is a small glimmer of hope on the horizon; Pope Francis is set to meet with Catholic leaders from around the world next month, and the express intent is to tackle the clergy abuse plague head-on. At this point, most everyone including the Catholic community is hoping the meeting will produce something more tangible than "let's pray on it."



  1. Katelynne Victoria Shouse's Avatar Katelynne Victoria Shouse

    LOL Laugh Out Loud!!!!!

  1. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

    Heh! Heh! "Erecting Change (in) behind(s) closed doors"! Seems like that's what caused the problem in the first place!

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    That’s a brilliant idea! Why didn’t I think of that? Let’s all speak to an imaginary friend, or nod at a sacred wall and ask it for help, or ask it to give perpetrators inspiration to stop being very naughty. That should sort out the problem very nicely.

    After the great success, let’s adopt the same philosophy to reduce, or eliminate altogether, the prison population, and stop those naughty gang members from doing very naughty things, then we can all live happily ever after, unless you are a Democrat. It might take a lot more to cure those than speaking to a wall or an imaginary friend. We might have to hug a tree, or speak to a flower, or wave a magic wand to cure those.

    1. flugo's Avatar flugo

      One can pray 'til they're blue in the face, but unless concrete action takes place and the will to enforce it . . . . . . NOTHING will change!

  1. George's Avatar George

    All those that have been named as a sexual pervert should go to trial and if found guilty have the book thrown at them.

  1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

    Everyone that is wise knows the Evil sect of the Jesuits run Vatican church and they themselves have been implacated in child trafficking for years to the highest bidder. The Roman catholic church should be brought down or do what Jesus did when he entered the temple and flipped the tables and ran the money changers out and said, " My father's house is a place of worship you den of Vipers, be gone from here".

  1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

    If it was you or I, we would already be in jail, but these men seem to always subvert the law in their favor. Justice never comes to these Evil men. Rev:"For behold I heard many voices crying out for justice and the Angel said to me," the ones crying out seek justice and those evil men will receive their own reward". Those Evil men might escape justice here, but The son of God will judge them. The lake of fire is their reward.

  1. Beth K's Avatar Beth K

    Yes, this should work well. EVERY theistic/Christian/Catholic child who was ever abused prayed fervently for it to stop - which it didn't. Those priests who abuse at least go through the motions/say the words of prayer at mass, and God does not stop it. Now, it's more out-in-the-open, better known by the common person, and they're still recommending prayer - behind closed doors, I might add. This won't go any farther to stop the abuse than the prayers of all of those abused children.

    What will stop it? Arrest, indictment, trial, conviction, and prison. In prison, at the very least, these child rapists will no longer have access to children.

  1. Minister Dave's Avatar Minister Dave

    My feelings here are directed at the demographics of the people whom truly believes in the catholic way is harmed

  1. Clayton Beardmore's Avatar Clayton Beardmore

    While prayer is a powerful thing, I don't believe it will work (by itself) in this case.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Please explain how talking to no one is a powerful thing.

      1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

        Maybe they think that Catholic priests have a special connection to God. And when two or more pray together it is amplified.

    2. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

      Faith without works is dead.

      1. James's Avatar James

        Faith? Walk the talk... EXACTLY. (Thou shall not have false god / love / faith B4 thee).

  1. Kitty's Avatar Kitty

    It should be very clear to see the Catholic Church has no intention or desire to stop behaviors like this. Like any position of power, there are only select individuals that long for that kind of control. There are many many rituals preformed in the Catholic Church -unfortunately not all of them in the name of Christ. We must be aware and open our minds and hearts to truths that may be obscure and offensive. Like the uncomprehensable love of God, the opposite does exist. We must prey for and with the high priests. We may not know the spiritual plane they challenge these demons at.

    1. James's Avatar James

      Opposite exist? There is love... All else is the absence there of.

  1. Ben's Avatar Ben

    At the barest minimum the church should defrock and excommunicate these priests and the Government should publicly crucify these pedophiles. Unfortunately Christian clergy appear to approve/support this behavior; so it won't change. Time to ban Christian clergy.

  1. Mark's Avatar Mark

    I don't believe that we should take the time to gossip but to give you my two cents about the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic assembly it is very sad it's a different type of love that's an abomination anybody under 18 needs to have the right to privacy anybody over 18 needs to make a commitment

    1. James's Avatar James

      Different kind of love? It sure is a different love. Egotistical love...

  1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

    Far be it from me to try to see what is in another person's mind, but if this group of men says they are going there to pray, I would assume they are going there to PREY upon more children, swap stories about preying upon children, discuss how to get away with preying upon children.

    Catholic parents, ALL parents, need to stop trusting other adults with their children, unless those adults are truly above suspicion, and obviously, priests and coaches, doctors, even, are not above reproach unless you know them very very well, and even then, trust and verify.

    1. Rev. John D. Partin's Avatar Rev. John D. Partin

      "Far be it from me to try to see what's in another person's mind, but if this group of men says they are going there to pray, I would assume they are going there to PREY upon more children, swap stories about preying upon children, discuss how to get away with preying upon children". If that is your idea, John Owens, of "something's being far from you to do", I would really hate to see something that was very easy for you to do and was very close to your heart to do because it would have to be really vicious and despicable!! If you had had the idea already near to you to disparage and broadbrush all priests as "pedophiles", you couldn't have done a better job of that than you did here with that, as you say, "being far from you" in your intention. I'm not the Catholic Church's biggest fan, either, but a few priests here and there molesting children doesn't reasonably make all of them pedophiles or validate all of them being suspected of that sickness. Yes, check out all adults to whom you are entrusting your children, but if medical conventions or police conventions or gatherings of men in all other fields aren't accused by you or others of "swapping stories about child molestation and discussing how to get away with doing more of that and going there to PREY upon children", it is purely antiCatholic and antipriest stereotyping for you or anyone to suggest that that must be the purpose and activity in a priests' gathering. There are, after all, just a few pedophiles in all of these other professions, too, and so why not make that claim about their groups, too, to be consistent about it? I said that I would hate to see what you would have said in your post if priest bashing and "seeing what is in another person's mind" were really close to your "heart", but I believe that I just saw it here in your post!

      1. James's Avatar James

        Unfortunately it only take a select few hijackers of planes to make us all get a pat down, irradiated and searched in ways my partner not even touch. Ok we have a few nasty ppl in the lead of any given organization. Does that make them all bad? Maybe not.. but it sure puts a bitter taste in ones experiences related to the "collective" they belong to. Are all blacks from the ghetto bad? NO, all whites form the mainland bad? NO. are all Gods / Allah's bad? No.. whos is to know what is bad / good? Good / bad is all about personal phaneron. Now, lets cover it up, hid the "doings", down play, have the activity continue... That makes the entire hive / collective bad in the views of most.

        1. James's Avatar James

          Addendum... Most we read today is "lets pray on it" w/ minimal / no follow up of Materialistic, Spiritual or Emotional corrective measures implemented. Be it environmental pollution, mental pollution or corrupt spiritualism. The world (and its inhabitants) are sick, corrupt and falling way short of the glory of god / love. Crimes against themselves, the environment and humanity as a whole is a serious trajectory to the end of humans rein as we know it.

    2. James's Avatar James

      Trust? A term we employ sparingly... We see it as "calculating the odds". Kinda like asking "Do you have a temper". Every one does. Even Jesus tipped the $$$ changers tables over. The question to be ask is. What is ones temper thresh-hold. Trust.. On a side note. Altho it may be unsafe to "trust" in many situations, understand one should not distrust either. Similar to driving on the highways & byways of the lands. Calculate the odds & think positive. What one dwells on shall be.

  1. Secretary3rd's Avatar Secretary3rd

    That retreat is a fence in compound. Large heavy guards keep a lid on that place. Know the place. It has a nice lake in the middle of it where swimming is one of the pleasure of living there. It used to be co-ed and the lake was a mutual place where both sexes could enjoy the pleasure of midnight swims. Beer would flow. The moral codes that were on the outside of that compound never would happen inside of the place.As one priest I did know did say about swimming at night in the moon light with nuns. He understood why certain nuns are fully clothe after seeing them without their robes at night. "Thank God for night"! That happen back in the 1970's before the AIDS virus put a huge dent in the Catholic Church.

  1. John A Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON's Avatar John A Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON

    While I can understand the frustration apparent in these comments, do you honestly think that they ONLY thing at this retreat will be prayer?? There will be some discussions, guaranteed. The problem is that the discussions will be off the record, and nothing may come of them. If they do things publicly, there is the distinct problem of them setting a precedent which the church might have to follow as a whole. Therefore, the discussions which happen might bring up ideas as to how to deal with these individuals, which can then be forwarded up the chain of command, to the Pope, who then makes the announcement of what will happen. Granted, the history IS against them

  1. Peter Johnson's Avatar Peter Johnson

    The best solution to the church's sex scandal is for priests to tell people to get on their knees?? Brilliant

  1. A druid's Avatar A druid

    Looking at this problem from the viewpoint of the catholic chutch: The business of the church is to sell forgiveness for transgressions. The sin of child molesting, from the viewpoint of the church, is more serious in the priest breaking his vow of chastity than victimizing the children. Now if the chutch is unable to erase the sins of it's own priests, how can the laity expect the church to forgive their transgressions? Add to this the civil problem of lawsuits draining the vatican treasury and the church is in a position of being unable to end this situation. Therefore do not expect any action from this council. Just a thought.

  1. Bill Fox's Avatar Bill Fox

    The Church did clear up the problem of nude young boys jumping out of cakes. Nothing is impossible!

  1. Friar Tuck's Avatar Friar Tuck

    You can bet that between the prayers, there will be a lot of networking going on. The Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is not monolithic, despite centuries of "press releases" to that effect. There'll be Politickin' Goin On, Left, Right and Center. Opus Dei will be represented, but so will other viewpoints as well. I can only hope that that "dissenting" views will not be entirely suppressed.

    An intolerable situation, exacerbated by the Ecclesiastical Folderol we've seen during the entire history of the Church to date. Progress and change cannot come fast enough to suit any person of conscience. Too many of the Laity are waiting for the fix to come from the Top Down, instead of agitating from the pews.

    Not that their actions will bring them much beyond condemnation from the "My Church, Right or Wrong" crowd. One must hope that the idea may take root that the Church is supposed to serve the Congregation, not the other way 'round.

  1. James's Avatar James

    The marquee / banner at the top of the main image appears mis-spelled. I (ego) feel it should read... "I am the res-erection and the life".

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