Cardinals Reject Zero Tolerance
Vol: 7 Issue: 25 Thursday, April 25, 2002
American cardinals, summoned to an emergency meeting in Rome with the Pope, spent several days debating how to best deal with the growing sexual abuse scandal among its priests.
The Pope issued a statement saying, “The abuse which has caused this crisis is by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society; it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God.” The Pope went on to express his “profound sense of solidarity and concern.” The Pope went on to say, “People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.” Having summoned the thirteen cardinals all the way to Rome to state the obvious, he evidently went back to sleep.
In the end, the cardinals agreed to streamline rules on defrocking sexually abusive priests but said the only automatic dismissals would be for “notorious” serial abusers of children.
The cardinal’s final statement stopped short of a zero-tolerance policy demanded by American Catholics, whereby any priest caught molesting minors would be thrown out of the Church on his first offense.
According to the statement, it should be up to the local bishop to decide what to do in “non-notorious” cases.
This is a dangerous topic. As a former Roman Catholic, I know. I’d like preface it by restating the Omega Letter’s doctrinal position that salvation is not dependent on church membership.
Sitting in church no more makes one a Christian than being in a garage makes one a car. Salvation is dependent upon a personal relationship with Christ. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith,; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
The contrary is also true. There are many born-again heaven-bound Catholics. I have no wish to offend them, or to be offensive in general. This is an offensive subject, but the offense wasn’t committed by me.
I offer the counsel, “Great peace have they which love thy law and nothing shall offend them.” That being said, the topic demands open examination illuminated by the Bible the cardinals claimed played a role in their decision. And how it connects to Bible prophecy.
In carefully examining the statement, three salient points jump out immediately. First, it reads like something drawn up by Bill Clinton’s lawyers defining what constitutes ‘sex’. The Pope identified “the abuse which caused this crisis” as an “appalling sin” but then spoke of “the power of Christian conversion, that radical decision to turn away from sin and back to God.”
One would hope that one would have experienced that power of Christian conversion before entering the priesthood.
There is something off-key, here, despite the careful wording. Jesus forgives sins. But He does not shield the forgiven from the consequences of that sin. You might confess embezzlement, but that doesn’t mean Jesus will keep you out of jail. Just out of hell.
A Distinction Without a Difference
The Pope said that there was no place in the priesthood for those ‘who would harm the young’. No mention of moral accountability of those involved. Individual morality is evidently not at issue. The cardinals had little to say regarding the corrupt nature of a system that would hide the molesters of children behind the veil of the Catholic Church.
A second point that leapt out, albeit related to the first point, is the fact that automatic dismissals are called for only in the case of ‘serial sex abusers’ and ‘notorious’ cases that focus unwanted attention on the church. Again, no mention of any moral standard of conduct.
Instead, the Prime Directive is to protect the Church first, the molesters afterwards, if possible. Unless there is a serial sexual abuse case [much more difficult to coverup] or a ‘notorious’ [high-profile] case, it remains as it was — in the hands of the local bishop.
In other words, a guy like Geoghan who molested hundreds of kids would still get kicked out — and even get prosecuted — provided he did it enough times and angered enough people. How was the much-anticipated Statement of the American Cardinals materially different than the status quo?
And third, instead of a definitive policy in keeping with the stated mission of the Catholic Church to represent Jesus Christ, the cardinals offered a statement outlining a distinction without a difference.
Spiritual Wickedness in High Places
For centuries, there have been dark whisperings about sexual immorality in the priesthood. Pope Alexander VI, Roderigo Borgia was noted for his vast sexual appetites and immoralities, including fathering a number of children, several of whom he made cardinals. Another became famous in her own right, Lucretia Borgia.
Alexander became known as the first of the “Borgia Popes.” The Vatican denies many of the details of its history, unless they have no choice. Even then, it can take centuries.
The list is long, but my purpose is to make a point, not deliver an indictment. History is what it is.
The point is, the system, at its heart, is corrupt. Historically, it has always been corrupt. Church excesses, like the Spanish Inquisition, the various European wars it started, financed and fought [the Pope once had his own army] are ignored or denied. If pressed, the Vatican traditionally falls back on the ‘power of Christian conversion’ argument.
It’s an effective argument. Disputing it puts one on the edge of disputing the foundational principle of Christianity — that salvation is open to all men and no man is too depraved to be beyond Christ.
Who’s Who On the List
The Apostle John tells us much about the religious system of the antichrist. We know it is linked to the economic system [Rev 13:17]. We know that it is an apostate form of Christianity. [Rev 13:11]. We know it is of global reach and influence. [Rev 13:15] We know that the religious system has a long political history [Rev 17:2. 18:3, 18:9]. We know the system is located in a city on seven mountains [Rev 17:9]. We know that it will be a system headed by a single corrupt apostate religious leader.That’s what we know from Scripture.
Here’s what we know from history. For more than a thousand years, Europe was essentially ruled by the papacy. They installed kings, deposed kings, invaded countries and conquered armies — in the name of the church. They persecuted the Reformers, burnt Protestants at the stake, [including those who translated and published Bibles in common language instead of Latin], and is without question of global reach, even to this day.
The power of the Church is such that even today, the government of the United States defers to the Vatican on issues such as whether or not the Vatican will allow the US to prosecute priests. That, my friends, is power!
Is the present Roman Catholic Church the Church of the False Prophet? The answer is no. The Christians will no longer be members.
But the system as it exists wasn’t built for nothing. As the war against terror progresses, it is increasingly a war against religions and religious fundamentalists — Muslim fundamentalists, at the moment. But fundamentalist Jews and fundamentalist Christians are taking stands their governments would prefer they kept to themselves.
It is not too much a stretch to expect a global declaration of war against fundamentalism in general. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, it makes no difference. A case can be made against fundamentalists in all three camps. All that is necessary is the correctly defining a ‘fundamentalist’.
After the Rapture, there are no more Christians. The Church Age is over. The Tribulation Period has a two-fold purpose. To judge a lost and Christ-rejecting world and to fulfill the outlined goal of Daniel’s 70th Week [Daniel 9:24]. There is no place in that equation for those who are neither lost nor rejecters of Christ.
But it is not hard to imagine that the Vatican system itself will survive, together with a significant portion of its hierarchy.
The kind of hierarchy that can’t quite bring itself to deny its members their little perqs. Even if they are a bit kinky.
Boys will be boys, after all. “And I beheld another beast coming up our of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” [Revelation 13:11]