(Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently paid a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. His Eminence graciously allotted time in his demanding schedule to grant The Wanderer an extensive interview and provided many illuminating insights. Among the topics he addressed is the troubling situation in which the Church finds herself and how the faithful can best respond. Part one of this important interview appeared in last week’s Wanderer.)continue at The Wanderer
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Q. High-placed members of the hierarchy, including Pope Francis, seem to attribute the underlying cause of the clerical sexual abuse crisis to “clericalism.” It seems as if the findings of the 2002 John Jay Study commissioned by the Dallas Charter — which found that over 80 percent of clerical abuse cases were related to homosexuality — clearly indicates otherwise. [Note: Even Gerhard Cardinal Mueller was recently quoted to reaffirm his position that “homosexuality and clerical abuse are clearly linked.”]
Can you explain exactly what the term “clericalism” means? Do you think it can accurately be portrayed as the underlying root cause of the clerical sexual abuse and cover-up problem that plagues the Church?
A. Clericalism is the using of the clerical state for other than its true purpose, namely, to teach correct doctrine and to lead the Church in her correct discipline. Clericalism is typically present when a person uses his authority for his own personal gains or to exercise undue power over people.
I do not think it is accurate to say that the sexual abuse of minors is owed to clericalism. That would be to give the impression that there is something about the clerical state that involves the sexual abuse of minors. The problem lies in the fact that over 80 percent of these acts are committed with male adolescents or young male adults, a fact that is very clear from the John Jay Study.
The root cause is sin, lust, disordered sexual desire in which one indulges to the great harm of the one who suffers this abuse.
I just do not see where it has anything to do, in particular, with clericalism. You could say that it is related to an abuse of authority because a young person would be more susceptible to think that a priest is doing something which can be justified that clearly cannot be.
But I do not think it has anything to do with clericalism at all. In fact, the more firmly and solidly a priest is identified with being a cleric, the more sense he has that he belongs to Christ. In former times it was signified by the tonsure, the cutting of the hair of a young man prior to receiving the Sacrament of Orders, to show that he belongs totally to Christ.
This is diametrically opposed to any kind of abuse of others.