My parish, St. Dominic's in San Francisco, performed Bruckner's Requiem Mass in D Minor for All Souls Day last week. I wasn't at all familiar with the piece, but it was beautiful, and beautifully done by the outstanding choir.
Less than a month ago, I said I would stop talking about Roman Catholicism, and I had every intention of sticking to that. But I am going to break that promise to talk about the release of the report of the Royal Commission in Australia about clerical sexual abuse. The results are shocking--if the reports are correct, the scope of the problem in Australia was even worse than in the United States or in the UK/Ireland. To give an example, there was a reference to a Benedictine monastery in Western Australia in which 17.6% of the monks had an abuse allegation lodged against them at some point in the 1950s. Think about being in a room with a group of monks in which one out of every six of them had someone in the 1950s accuse them of committing a sexual violation on a minor. Think of how many complaints were not made in the culture of the 1950s. One in six. My God.
I had a twitter exchange last night with Maureen Clarke about the report, focusing on what is the obvious question--how…
Perhaps you are not familiar with the liturgical clothing item called an amice. If not, here is a definition, courtesy of Wikipedia: The amice consists of a white cloth connected to two long ribbon-like attachments, by which it is fastened around the shoulders of the priest. Before the liturgical reforms of 1972, its use was mandatory for all Roman Catholic Masses, but it is only required today if the alb does not cover the priest's ordinary clothing. Many priests choose to wear the amice for reasons of tradition or to prevent damage to their other vestments due to perspiration.
For the more visually inclined, here is an example:
I have never seen a Catholic priest wear an amice. I had assumed that it was basically a completely archaic item, joining such exotica as the fiddleback chausable.
Why am I bringing this up? Two Sundays ago, the rector at the Episcopal Church I attend began a sermon series on the liturgical vestments and their meaning. As part of that, he showed of…
In the previous post, I framed question #2 of "how did this sex abuse crisis happen?" as "how did it come to pass that the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church covered up the fact that some number of Roman Catholic priests had and were sexually abusing children, either actively or passively, thus facilitating the abuse?" The answer to that question, in my view can be answered in a one sentence response--"because the culture of the Roman Catholic priesthood is sick and broken, and the sex abuse crisis is the most visible manifestation of that pathology."
It is extremely important here to emphasize the word "culture." While people contribute to cultures in which they are a part, a culture is a conceptually distinct entity from any particular member of that culture. There are deeply decent and honorable men who are Roman Catholic priests. But the culture in which they swim is not decent and not honorable in the main. And, in what is perhap…