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THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S EUPHEMIZATION OF POWER

20190214T1128-24545-CNS-POPE-LITURGY-SACRAMENTS

Feb 15, 2019
by Michele Dillon Accountability/Opinion NCR on line
Pope Francis speaks to members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments during their plenary meeting at the Vatican Feb. 14. (CNS/Vatican Media)
Leaders of the national conferences of Catholic bishops will soon convene Feb. 21-24 in Rome to collectively confront the scourge of clerical sex abuse that failures in leadership have allowed to fester over several decades. Concrete action outcomes are urgently needed and impatiently awaited.
Any emergent policy, however, if it is not built on church leaders’ recognition of how sacramental power (ordination) may contribute to the fermentation of abuse, is unlikely to be effective in eliminating clerical sexual activity and its cover-up. This task requires Pope Francis and his fellow bishops to actively choose to get to the truth and to outline it.
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The great late French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu wrote in his book Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action about how word games, including euphemisms, are a crucial strategy in the Catholic Church’s reproduction of inequality between the hierarchy and the laity. Euphemistic language is not simply jargon or the pragmatic shorthand of insiders. It is used rather to mystify and to distract from and, especially, to deny a given reality. Church officials use euphemistic language, Bourdieu argued, to inoculate themselves from acknowledgement of the real truth of church practices and to convince the laity (and others) that there is nothing arbitrary about hierarchical power and the clerical privilege it embeds.
I thought about Bourdieu in August 2018 as I read the findings from the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sex abuse in Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses. The report documented multiple instances of euphemization in action. And indeed it called out euphemization for what it is.
Summarizing the analysis of the diocesan sex abuse files conducted by the FBI, the grand jury wrote: “It’s like a playbook for concealing the truth: First, make sure to use euphemisms rather than real words to describe the sexual assaults in diocese documents. Never say ‘rape’; say ‘inappropriate contact’ or ‘boundary issues.’ … When a priest does have to be removed, don’t say why. Tell his parishioners that he is on ‘sick leave,’ or suffering from ‘nervous exhaustion.’ Or say nothing at all.”
Euphemisms, as the grand jury noted, conceal the truth. But what is the truth being concealed? Most obviously, a truth being concealed is that some Catholic priests (and some bishops and cardinals) are having sex with children (and with adults). This truth should not be glossed over. It reveals a blatant violation of a child’s personhood and dignity; a violation that, notwithstanding its criminality and irrespective of any psychologically benign assessment communicated to church officials, would and should be seen as a violation of Natural Law, the thesis anchoring Catholic moral reasoning.

This truth also reveals behavior that is, of course, a violation of the vow of celibacy obliged by ordination to the priesthood. Euphemization thus serves to conceal the double truth or the “coexistence of opposites” that, Bourdieu maintains, is necessary to sustaining the church’s power.
This is the truth that although, as the Second Vatican Council affirmed, the church comprises the whole People of God — the laity and the ordained — in practice, the church is structured by inequality that is sanctioned and consecrated by priestly ordination. The fact that clerics engage in sex and the fact that such clerics are protected by the church both materially and symbolically (through euphemistic language) illuminates the double truth of celibacy and sexual activity. It also conveys the truth that the priesthood, as the Vatican argues, is different — it “is of another order,” bound up with “the mystery of Christ” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Women in the Ministerial Priesthood,” in Origins) — but nonetheless concretized in particular ways by the church. Indeed, its concretization reveals the double truth in the church’s claim that “priesthood is a service and not a position of privilege or human power over others.”
Francis repeatedly denounces clericalism and expresses concern lest “sacramental power [become] too closely aligned with power in general” (Joy of the Gospel). And he emphasizes that the church “is not an elite of priests, of consecrated people, of bishops — but that everyone forms the Holy Faithful People of God.” In reality, however, power in the church is inextricably bound to ordination, and which, by definition, consecrates a clerical culture as well as exclusionary practices toward the non-ordained. Language, no matter how deftly employed, cannot obscure this reality.
Unless church officials can come to recognize the standpoint of privilege and power that they occupy, and how it might be distorting their understanding of priesthood, of equality, of sex and sex abuse it is hard in the current moment to see a way out of the crisis they have created. Euphemization has enabled the hierarchy to mask the double truths — celibacy/sexual activity and priestly service/power — that have sustained its consecrated status for many generations of Catholics.
But the effectiveness of that strategy may be waning, as suggested by the laity’s declining confidence in church leadership found in a Pew Research study. The February summit provides an opportunity to forge a different strategy.
[Michele Dillon is professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire. Her latest book is Post-secular Catholicism: Relevance and Renewal (Oxford University Press). The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of the University of New Hampshire. Follow her on Twitter at @MicheleDillon15.]

PAT SAYS

Yes. Catholic laity have been trained for many centuries to regard the bishops and clerics as gods and themselves as vastly inferior.

This meant that these gods could swindle their inferiors out of money and possessions and property

It also meant the gods could use men, women and children to satiate their lusts.

The RC organisation is probably the biggest con in the history of mankind.

And all done in the nsme of God and with Gods approval.

Thankfully the scales are fast falling from the eyes of the plebs and inferiors.

We are in the throes of a great revolution.

It is a new anti clerical liberation theology.

Te Deum.

THE IRISH CATHOLIC

I cannot publish comments on the Irish Catholic article referring about me as legal action has begun.


REGISTER OF SOLEMNISERS

3RD FEBRUARY 2019

76 replies on “THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S EUPHEMIZATION OF POWER”

Pat, like you I desire a true CHRIST like church community. This will not be achieved through a clericalist culture as we are fast discovering. Yet, in the ruins of much sinfulness and brokenness great charity and compassion is evidenced through the lives of many good religious and priests and many genuinely committed lay people. We must not forget this. You speak about a new anti clerical liberation theology which is a complete misnomer because groups that rebel, like the Oratory are not presenting anything radically new, aspirational nor inspirational. You do not attract radical people like the proohets of Old who rouse up the people of God to walk yet again in his ways. We await such hope and new life to flow out of your Oratory. Don’t you believe that perhaps you too find it difficult to effect real change and renewal? I believe that a culture of anti religious sentiment is rooted deeply in the minds of many that the church, however it tries, even with break away groups, is almost irrelevant in its present expression?

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A nice read. I would just change the description of the church as “structured in inequality” to “structured inequality”. Hierarchy in itself is not a bad thing. What make’s it bad is the culture of hierarchy with privilege. It ought to be hierarchy with responsibility.
Sadly the clergy are all too often the ones who are brainwashed. An example of this will be seen soon when the church presents itself as having renewed anti-child abuse strategies and expect us all to be grateful. The truth is that the required changes are not things to be proud of; they are things that are coming far too late.

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Knowledge is power. The clergy will lie, withold information and deflect questions. Anything to keep the laity in a position of vulnerability. Then they can bully and manipulate them for their own purpose. The laity are not human. They are a cash crop. Merely breeding stock. The clergy can do what they like with them…… and the laity are daft enough to accept this.

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7.17: I don’t entirely agree with you. I believe, from experience, that people are much more discerning than ever before. They will respond reasonably generously at a local level if they witness good leadership from their priest. It is becoming more difficult for the Church to recreate itself in such a way as to be attractive to the many who seek a spiritual home. There have been too many crises which have broken the trust if people; too many deceptions, criminal behaviour, cover ups and a fractured leadership that we seem incapable of being renewed. Therefore, while I hate the bigger picture and seem both entangled in it and paralysed to respond, I focus on my own self renewing in Christ and hope that I may effect similar in others. For the many of us who believe in the essence of being Church – the people of God – the challenges are very difficult but I keep trusting in God to get us through it all. It is a huge prayer of hope and trust and will be for the remainder of my life!!

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The laity have no choice of a role except to hope God provides or to walk away. The clergy, by keeping the laity in the dark, merely undertake damage control to limit the number of people who walk away completely.

I ask anon 9.27; is a priest a good person if he knowingly encourages good men to sacrifice their lives to serve within an organisation that he knows is corrupt to the core?

And what does it mean to say you trust God will get us through it all? What if we get to the Gates if Heaven to be told God gave us multiple avenues to get “through it” but we ignored them all in order to cling onto the one institution he wanted us to let go of?

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@ 9.27
Once I hear expressions like ” being Church” and “called to priesthood” I just cringe and think this must have been the claptrap talked in seminaries this past number of years. A certain quality of priest goes round the bushes every Sunday talking in cliches and saying nothing. Cool man! Right on!
Sanctimonious waffle.
In fact, there is a subset who have the audacity to say to those in the pews, ” if you’re not happy with the Church look at yourself.” And this while totally ignoring that week’s clerical scandals!
There is something really wrong with formation.

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Many astute and valid observations, but look at the picture of Francis addressing the bishops and how these men are dressed: this is an imperial court nothing to do with what Vatican II described as “our time”. Part of the problem with priesthood is that it attracts guys who love dressing up; this is no small fad but indicative of their desire to join a privileged cast. Around the time of the Council a group of around 40 bishops formed the Catacomb Pact eschewing all outward forms of privilege status and entitlement. The fact that never became normative demonstrates that as with Humane Vitae the possibilities opened up at Vatican II have never been realized.

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9.54 I am a lay contemplative and quite a good preacher. For years they tried to get me to work for the diocese. I didn’t like what I saw there and felt a duty of care not to encourage people to trust them.

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10:24am
I’m also a contemplative. Your post doesn’t surprise me. An old monk,
(a confessor for many many years),
often remarked to me,
the faith was far stronger in the laity then
in many of the clergy.
(surprise surprise).
My own confessor
(a monk,called by the Lord) was a very good friend of Ralph Martin.
Check out Ralph’s book,
( if you haven’t already), ‘The Fulfillment of All Desire.’
Ralph’s website is
renewal ministries. net.
Another good book is Fr. Thomas Dubays, ‘Deep Conversion Deep Prayer.’ His books are very good, particularly, ‘Fire Within’.
A true Christ like church community will only be achieved via the action of The Holy Spirit and NOT via a clericalist culture, regardless of ontological anything, nor via pow wows in the vaticano.
The clergy DO NOT possess a monopoly of the Spirit.
Keep the Faith and hold fast to what is good!

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It is exactly a medieval court.
The other thing about pictures of groups of modern bishops or Cardinals is the uniformity of their appearance. The non verbal implication is that this group is about conformity and compliance.
Not that you wouldn’t always have had to conform to get to the top, but the reason I say modern bishops and Cardinals is there was an older tradition of prelates who were religious wearing their episcopal get up in the colour of their habit. Now that would have stopped such conformity!

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What are you on about? You clearly have not read the Vat II documents. They said that priests were to wear distinctive clerical dress and said nothing that would contradict that which was taught by HV. The spirit of Vatican II and what it actually said are very different.

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1. McCarrick is now Mr McCarrick, removed from the clerical state today. How the mighty are fallen. I guess, however, that his ontological, sacramental character is not changed- ‘you are a priest forever’ – but he just can’t practice as a priest. Bit of a nonsense, really, isn’t it ? These clerics do like to hang on to their ‘specialness’.
2. I do still worry a little bit about a seemingly indecent haste to get this done by Francis in time for his upcoming synod – ‘pour encourager les autres’. Things done in haste usually have loose ends, and then need revisiting.
3. Francis himself should be wary. There are a lot of questions about him and his actions in the past – in Argentina, in the McCarrick case (what did he know, when, and did he removed restrictions on him ?), and in the CMOC case (allegedly telling Mueller to pull the investigation in to CMOC, near mind about the mishandling of the complaint contrary to process by the Westminster diocese). Francis could, conceivably, find himself the subject of action, being forced in to retirement etc. etc.
4. I see The Tablet is reporting that the Nuncio in Paris is being investigated for sexual assault on a young waiter at some diplomatic reception ! You couldn’t make it up !

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9.28 “You couldn’t make it up”. It’s a never ending horror movie. I am just so glad that my mother is not alive to see this.

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It’s a never ending horror movie of a horror which has been hidden. Personally I’m very glad that my own mother is alive to see this, because she didn’t believe me when I told her I was abused by a priest. Not that I am sure she will read it, as we haven’t spoken for some years – the real horror is the damage inflicted on people’s lives.

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The old pulpit pooftah in Paris is 74.
According to the Telegraph, the Nuncio repeatedly let his hands wander,” according to a City Hall source.
A source close to the case said: “This is a complicated matter because Archbishop Ventura is a diplomat and he will want to invoke his right to diplomatic immunity from prosecution.”

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It’s okay for Francis to talk tough and enforce zero tolerance and make an example of people like Ted McCarrick. But, when it comes to his Nuncios and diplomatic privilege and immunity, I think the Vatican will stand on its dignity and rights and keep the French Nuncio away from the course of French law by invoking diplomatic immunity. As they appear to be doing in the UK by refusing to provide documentation that has been requested by IICSA from the UK Nuncio, claiming diplomatic privilege. Zero tolerance only goes so far and the Vatican will want to make sure that it only applies to others (and especially lower forms of clerical life like priests who can be accused and sidelined with impunity, alacrity and with no due process at the slightest accusation without any protection and presumption of innocence) and not to themselves.

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He has gone from being a priest without faculties living in a Franciscan monastry to being a lay brother living in a Franciscan monastry… nothing changed except that he cannot be prosecuted in the US due to double jeopardy.
The RC church is revolting.

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Not as revolting as people who make claims about Maynooth priests without naming them, thereby putting the finger of suspicion on all the clerical staff.

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9.54: To answer your question: I would not presently encourage any man to join the priesthood. I began priesthood almost 42 years ago with huge idealism, confidence and courage. I had wonderful opportunities to “evangelise” and to make some difference to the parish communities where I worked. From the mid 90’s onwards huge changes began to happen as revelations of sexual abuse unravelled. The cascade of information and experiences of abuse within the Church, the cover ups, the totally inadequate response has defeply fractured the relationship between priests and people. There is a suspicion about every priest. It is more difficult to be relevant. We are almost reduced to the fringes. In the present climate of mistrust and hostility and because I believe priesthood in its present existence is broken, I would not encourage a vocation to Diocesan priesthood but I would try to find some suitable area of service for that individual. Religious life community living may offer some hope of real change, support and opportunity. I have always known that I cannot be a true priest or follower of Christ or work effectively without God’s grace through prayer. Now more than the past 42 years and forever more, I definitely need that gift to simply care for any parish entrusted to me.

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Holy Goat did, claiming that they made unwanted advances, even at his seminary bedroom door. Challenged to name names he said “move along, there’s nothing to see, just adults were involved.
Though if what he said is true it was an abuse of power over sems by Maynooth priests and a flat contradiction of Vatican II’s call that the best priests should be assigned to seminaries.

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The appropriate forum for naming them is to the bishops, not Anonymous people on here. I did that. Neither men are currently in ministry in Ireland.
Outing men for being actively gay on the internet is not appropriate. Outing active gay priests in the correct forum is correct. The cause for these men not currently being in ministry in Ireland has nothing to do with my complaint. The Bishops did not care, but I have no guilt to carry on the matter.
If you want further info then name yourself.

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Sorry to use this blog for information however weeks ago a Scottish guy was saying about two gay clergy in paisley and in Glasgow having an affair and I said to him to email Bishop John Keenan direct and I am curious if he did.
As the new Catholic Directory for Scotland (2019) has two c/o the diocesan offices and I understand one has left but other one is hanging on but looks like Bishop John Keenan will remove both.
I am curious if that is the swift action Bishop john Keenan has done in response if that guy sent him an email.

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You’ need to ask him that surely, otherwise it’s just speculation.
Are they the two on the director maked C/O the Diocesian office the same individuals named to you?
Also be weary of hearsay. This is not something you actually know; merely something said to you which you have chosen to repeat without any declared supporting evidence.

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D’ya no hi I remember my Uncle letting out a calf for the first time with me on th end of th rope. It jumped and bucked because there were no walls to hold her in. Same with Clergy and people. The invisible temple is coming down but not a buck or lep between them caus they are two scared. A new dose of God’s Grace is needed but

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12.08: What claptrap from you! Just wonder what you are ‘actually’ doing yourself to bring about a renewed way of being God’s peeople, apart from tour nasty cynicism? You sound like an ignoramus….Criticism is necessary but not your type – pure crap cynicism. Nothing to offer.

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2:00

You could learn from 2:08 if you weren’t so stupid.

If ever anyone used such moronic, vacuous catchphrases to me (‘being Church’, and so on), and especially if done while mimicking quotation marks with crooked fingers, he is at risk of bone breakage.😠

😆

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3.19: Magna, what brought you to the surface so late in the day? And to utter such a vacuous comment? Your own ability at the keyboard doesn’t always produce inspiration. Indeed, your words are usually putdowns or nasty, poisonous rants. Since you, pitiable creature, carry so much baggage of past rejections, your constant vitriol against others is a psychological disorder.

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Magna at 3.19. What a most enlightening observation! You don’t give a damn about the Church, so what you think or believe is irrelevant to me or to most people. Did you have a late night on the piss that your comment is so utterly inane?

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4:04;
Josie and the gals are back,…guffaw, guffaw,…guffaw…!,
aka,….Willow Watchers Anonymous. I’m thrilled!
Jo, I know you’re not a true man, but a real women. 👩
Don’t be pretending luv.
Jo, don’t go gaslighting! You might be sayin’ more about yourself than your realize, hun.

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4:08
And you couldn’t wait to tell me how irrelevant my words are to you, could you?😕
You don’t quite ‘get’ the irony of your self-contradictory behaviour, do you?😅
Ya moron!😆

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4.16: Magna, yo auld looper, go back to your bed. You’re shaming yourself trying to be smart. Your words are indeed irrelevant to me and to most of us but I know that the only relevance you may experience is when you are being vitriolic on this blog. Not a very noble aspiration.

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Poor old Magna at 4.16: gets narky when outsmarted…..😁😥😄😊🤣😉😉 guffaw, guffaw, guffaw…to use your own words…

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4 16: Magna, we certainly get your self contradictory behaviour all too frequently. One moment you appear kind and considerate, but mostly you are a vicious and abusive thug in the way you treat people in this blog. Your nasty arrogance is boundless and your ignorantly expressed judgment if others is morally reprehensible. So, when you are sober, you might search your own conscience and admit your horrible bullying and abuse of others through language.

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@ 2.00
Glad you took the criticism so well. Such an erudite response.
Calling someone ” an ignoramus” and labelling their comment ” crap cynicism” is your ” renewed way of being God’s people,” I take it?
If I had looked for an example of modern clericalspeak I couldn’t have found a better one. You, Father, are the David Brent of the pulpit.
I console myself – this too will pass.

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Pat, the magazine of today’s Times (the London one) has a big interview with Frederic Martel, the author of the new book “In the Closet of the Vatican” together with an excerpt.

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5:03;
Magna’s post @ 4:16,
obviously went way over
the willie watchers anons heads!
They’re too busy trying to be nasty😝.
Guffaw….guffaw…guffaw!😆
Gals, inspire us, come on gals!
Give us some inspiro! 🥰
Set us on fire! 🔥

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7.11: Magsi my darling, the troll are out fir yiu today mimicking your guffaw. Remember what I told you all those years ago sitting on my knees in the hayshed – don’t let anyone bully you even if that meant being one yourself. We, Cartas always mind one another. Though you’ve grown up a little since then – just a little – you still need minding. Your mum is always ready to help you. I know we’ve fallen out many times but you’re still my wee little man. So, come home anytime.

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8:51
I am going to say to you what thon priest in The Exorcist, Fr Damien Karras, said to the demon 👹 posing as his mum:
‘YOU’RE NOT MY MOTHERRRRR!!!! 😬
😆

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Theodore McCarrick is the first cardinal to be dismissed from the priesthood in modern times.
Who will be the second one, Bp Pat, Amy, perhaps, or Elsie? Probably Pell I imagine.

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I’m not so sure about Pell. He’s not very simpatico, I know, and has enemies. But, my intelligence is that his conviction is deeply flawed and will in all likelihood be thrown out on conviction. So, I think we should wait a bit and see what happens. It’s a strange case, and I think it has as much to do with scores being settled in Australia from his time there as it has to do with anything suspicious or illegally abusive. I would counsel caution and patience in Pell’s matter and wait until the matter has been finally settled.

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“His conviction…….and will be thrown out on conviction…”
Is this the level that the blog has descended to?
What exactly do you mean Anon@6.59: or do you even know yourself?
And don’t excuse with reference to typos. If you’re so stupid as to write/submit this without checking…..well I simply despair at such continuing degradation of contributions to the blog.

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Leitrim Len @7:51 pm….just do a bit of background reading and you will see what I mean about his conviction being somewhat questionable, okay? You know exactly what I was saying, so stop being such a priggish arse. Okay ?

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It’s obviously possible to deduce what you meant: just a pity you were either too lazy or stupid to say it.

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Magna, may I ask what’s the likely effect, if any, of the cardinal’s defrocking on those currently leading dioceses. Will this situation be simply murmured away or is any new proposal going to be aired on the foot of it? Thanks

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6:19

McCartick’s defrocking is likely to have very little effect on any of them and, ominously, will become a nine-days’ wonder to all of them, unless Pope Francis and his merry men can accept substantive and executive power ceded, (wholly and irrevocably ceded mind) to a tribunal of mostly lay arbiters authorised to adjudicate on bishops who fail to implement any of the protocols on child-safe-guarding that may emerge from this forthcoming episcopal conference.

The starting-point for any kind of speculation on this matter is the absolute and unassailable fact that neither the defrocking of McCarrick, nor anything else these hierarchs have done in wake of the burgeoning sexual criminality in the Church, has been motivated by troubled conscience, but driven by relentless pressure from the media.

Collectively, these men do not care so much for the welfare of the people they would claim to lead, but for themselves, such is the depth of their self-regard and their overweening sense of self-importance.

Among them there is the unconscionable belief that God has their back, and that all really is well. This is what we are up against: men with a near-psychotic inability (as Rabbie Burns might say) to see themselves as others see them.

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Thanks, Magna, that sounds about right to me. When it suits them a convicted clergyman can be spirited away out of sight and out mind. It’s sad to think that there is no real reform likely. They seem to be still taking their cues from each other.

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@ 7.51 Leitrim Len
It’s more than obvious the poster meant ” thrown out on appeal.”
Glad it’s not the substance of anything you’re concerned with, but simple mistakes!
Should you not be calling yourself Leonard? No shorthand allowed!

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I agree that it’s obvious: …..to you, me, and most of us. But when individuals post such patently obvious stupid stuff without seemingly checking?
S/He refers to his/her “intelligence.” I assume ‘knowledge ‘ is being referred to for intelligence appears lacking.

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Pat, re: Irish Catholic. I’ve searched the 2017 list if civil and religious solemnisers as provided by department and your name us not on it. Just check the list. I may have overlooked but I searched very carefully.

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@ Len 12.45
Of course the use of the word, ” intelligence” in this instance is in the sense of ” information” – as in ” the intelligence services.” We know it doesn’t refer to how smart the agents are!
Surely if you knew what the poster meant you could overlook a simple error? Have you always achieved 100% in maths papers? Have you never made a simple error in calculation and not noticed it even when checking over your paper? Then well done, you.
1st world problems.

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I like the bit of Punderson being sent to Rome because the allegations were true and the bishop needed to get him out of the country…
… so Rev.President we have this minor chaplain job in Paris…

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Pat, I just noticed your addition at the end of today’s blog the list of authorised Solemnizers for the Irish State. That clears up all the ambiguity and thank you for clearing that up.

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Bishop Pat, I’m not the most educated. I don’t understand what your title means about the euphemisation of power. What is that in simple terms please?

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Diocesan and Parish management needs lay personal in lead positions. When one looks at the Church of Ireland structures it surely has to be a learning curve and a model for us all.
Let the people find and employ their Priest’s and only then will change take effect for the good!
We still have some good Priest’s, our Bishops are blind to choosing them through no fault as they have been appointed as ‘men of power’ and in the process get lost with God’s calling.

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No need for an apostrophe in priests. If you can’t get a simple thing like that right why should we listen to you on anything.
As for the Church of Ireland, why is it called that, because it isn’t in any sense at all. “The CofE [another misnomer] planted by force in Ireland and attracting few ” would be a more apt description.

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12:32 That’s a rather chauvinist comment. Anglican Communion churches are usually designated by their country/state unit. It’s not a claim to be the main or the only church within a country – as it is clearly not so.

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