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Artificial scandals in Rome, and real ones

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    Artificial scandals in Rome, and real ones

    If he knew, Fr. Coughlin would turn over in his grave. Like Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Williams of the Legionaries of Christ, the late Fr. Charles E. Coughlin of Royal Oak, MI, was a motivational speaker and author in the United States. [Am I an Anti-Semite? Condon Print, 1939] Unlike Rev. Dr. Williams, the once phenomenally popular and vehemently political Fr. Coughlin was never known to have a secret life.

    Rev. Dr. Williams is now in trouble with his order--which is in even more trouble with the Vatican--for sexual relations with adult women, with one of whom he has admitted to fathering a child in Rome. [ Rym Momtaz, Legion of Christ rocked by more sex charges, ABC News, May 15, 2012, available at ]

    If Rev. Dr. Williams were instead an Anglican priest and free to marry, there might never have been scandal in his life. As a Roman Catholic priest, he has violated a religious vow. To much of the public, however, his principal sin is hypocrisy. According to his personal Web site, now disabled but cached by Google, he gives "lectures and speeches on...Christian spirituality [and] media ethics," and he "has published 14 books and more than 100 articles." [From, searching on "Father Williams holds degrees in theology, philosophy and business administration"]

    A favorite at National Review, Rev. Dr. Williams wrote the book, Knowing Right from Wrong [Hachette Book Group, 2008], to explain "how the conscience is formed through our training and experiences and informed by the Holy Spirit." Among its provocative question topics: "Is the Christian moral life an exciting adventure or a necessary burden?" [ quoted at ]

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    Conservation of spiritual energy

    The administration of Pope Benedict XVI has only a little time to police sex abuses of minors rampant among the Legionaries of Christ, but its primary police force, Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei--the Holy Office in Rome--has plenty of time to concentrate on nuns who speak out about social issues. Formerly headed by Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy Office--sponsor of the medieval Inquisitions--is now headed by William Cardinal Levada, previously archbishop of San Francisco. [ Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, Vatican criticizes U.S. nun's book on sexuality, Boston Globe, June 4, 2012, at ]

    Most Rev. Levada is currently embroiled in sex-abuse scandals from his past. As often entreated by our most righteous contributor in these parts, the Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal advocacy group in New York City, together with another organization, has petitioned the International Criminal Court, situated in The Hague, Netherlands, to investigate Cardinal Levada and other Church officials for "protection of perpetrators, hiding of crimes and the enabling of rape, sexual assault and torture." [ Ari Burack, Former San Francisco archbishop named in sex abuse complaint, San Francisco Examiner, September 16, 2011, at ]

    According to the complaint, crimes of sex abuse by priests of the Roman Catholic Church are international, compounded by the movement of suspected abusers from country to country to avoid investigations and prosecutions. The complaint charges, in particular, that "two...victims...say the priests who sexually abused them simply moved to different countries and are still in ministry working with children, with the knowledge of church superiors" including Cardinal Levada. Thus far, the International Court has never taken jurisdiction of such a case, and the scope of its mandate to prosecute "crimes against humanity" remains unresolved. [ Laurie Goodstein, Abuse victims ask Court to prosecute the Vatican, New York Times, September 14, 2011, at ]