What Do Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein and Theodore McCarrick Have in Common?

COMMENTARY: To an unprecedented extent, the reigning secular religion of our time enables sexual abuse, disarms victims and empowers predators.
First published at the National Catholic Register, July 10, 2019. 
FROM L TO R: Jeffrey Epstein (New York State Sex Offender Registry/AP; Theodore McCarrick (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Harvey Weinstein (David Shankbone/CC BY 3.0/Wikimedia Commons
Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein and Theodore McCarrick operate(d) in different sectors of society, have different marital statuses and sexual preferences and profess different religions. What do these disparate men have in common? A belief system that claims that sex is an entitlement. They operate according to the tenets of the most powerful ideology currently at work in the world: the ideology of the sexual revolution.

Epstein, the millionaire financier and admitted sex offender who pleaded not guilty July 9 to charges of sexual trafficking, allegedly got away with sickening crimes for a long time. But it would be a serious mistake to succumb to cynicism. “What do you expect? Wealthy guys like him have always gotten to do what they want. It is not fair to blame the sexual revolution for their abuses.”

That is, at best, a partial truth. The rich and powerful have always been able to buy their way out of problems that would crush an ordinary person. But the widespread acceptance of the sexual revolutionary ideology smooths their path. To an unprecedented extent, the reigning secular religion of our time enables sexual abuse, disarms victims and empowers predators.

“You don’t want to be a prude, do you?”

“You want to be ‘sex positive,’ don’t you?”

“Sex is nothing to feel guilty about.”

“You just have to take off your clothes and let him look at you. It is nothing be ashamed of.” (That’s one of Epstein’s contributions to the pick-up-line genre.)

“You were born this way.”

“God made you gay.”

Of course, the rich and powerful have always been able make promises to entice a sex partner into giving “consent.”

Harvey Weinstein

Hollywood mogul Weinstein promised his victims that he’d make them stars. Epstein offered modeling careers. McCarrick promised advancement in the Church. The sexual revolutionary ideology provides the predator added advantages, including aborting unwanted pregnancy and undermining nosy neighbors and other witnesses.

Epstein’s alleged network spanned the globe. It must have been supported and propped up by numerous people, some who actively participated and benefited. Others looked the other way, such as the superintendent of the apartment building where he housed his teenage “models” and the “modeling agency” staff and the pilots who flew his private jets that were fully decked out for his orgies.

The sexual revolution conveys the unmistakable message that everyone is entitled to do whatever they can get away with. Prosecutors say Epstein has three active U.S. passports and owns multiple jets and houses around the world, including his own private island. Witnesses and victims feared Epstein’s retaliation and blackmail. This is a man who appears to get away with a lot.

This ideology relieves people of nagging consciences. Epstein’s conscience is malformed, to put it mildly.

In 2011, he told the New York Post, “I’m not a sexual predator; I’m an ‘offender.’ It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.” He once allegedly received three 12-year-old girls as a birthday present. He doesn’t need an ideology that justifies or excuses his actions.

However, the sexual revolutionary ideology weakens the already vulnerable. The Miami Herald’s investigative report into Epstein’s activities showed:

Most of the girls came from disadvantaged families, single-parent homes or foster care. Some had experienced troubles that belied their ages: They had parents and friends who committed suicide; mothers abused by husbands and boyfriends; fathers who molested and beat them. One girl had watched her stepfather strangle her 8-year-old stepbrother.

One of Epstein’s victims who was 14 when she was first recruited said, “We were stupid, poor children. We just wanted money for school clothes, for shoes. I remember wearing shoes too tight for three years in a row. We had no family and no guidance.”

Yes, rich and powerful men love this concept that sex is an entitlement.

The magisterium of the Catholic Church stands in direct opposition to the sexual revolution. The secular #MeToo movement is trying to combat sexual abuse. But the movement’s advocates do not seem to want to surrender the intellectual framework that enables it. They seem to be counting on a combination of legal action and periodic public shaming to stop predatory behavior. I believe this will never be enough. The power imbalances are too many and too severe.

The Catholic belief system tells us no one is entitled to sex. Children are entitled to a relationship with both of their parents. Women and men are entitled to the love and loyalty of their spouses.

Every human person is entitled to be born as the result of an act of love between their mother and father. This act of love is an icon of the love of God and that God’s love is the ultimate source of everything that exists. All of Catholicism’s prohibitions (for which we are ridiculed) are aimed at protecting these positive values.

Yes, our belief system makes us Public Enemy No. 1 of the sexual revolutionaries. We are a big problem for those who believe they are entitled to unlimited child-free, problem-free, guilt-free sex. Not only do we tell them they are wrong, but also our belief system equalizes people. The poorest girl from an unknown family is encouraged and supported in refusing sex to any man of any station, in the same way a daughter of a billionaire would be encouraged likewise.

Faithful Catholics despise clerical sex abusers not only for their crimes, which are bad enough. We hold them in contempt because they disgrace the one philosophical system that has a prayer of finally combating this toxic ideological soup in which we are all swimming.

The Epstein Network, surrounded by enablers or those who turned a blind eye, sounds all too much like the network of clergy abusers. Society does not yet have a full accounting of either system. As faithful Catholics, we want the same kind of reckoning for both kinds of abuse. We want a full investigation of both Epstein and clerical abusers. We want punishment for the guilty and restitution for the victims. We want protection for the innocent and the whistleblowers.

Be not afraid, believers! We are on the right side of history on this issue.

Continue reading “What Do Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein and Theodore McCarrick Have in Common?”

EWTN interview: I’m on with Fr. Mitch about The Sexual State

This is the link to my interview with Fr. Mitch Pacwa on EWTN LIve on May 1, 2019.  Fr. Mitch had actually read the book, and did a very good interview with me!

Keep your grubby ideological mitts off the Catechism!!

This post is not what you think it is… 

UPDATED FOR CLARITY

A friend sent me a concern about someone doing some internet hanky-panky with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Here is the gist of her note:

There is a revised version of the Vatican’s Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2358 on homosexuality floating around. If you search Catechism of the Catholic Church Homosexuality on Google, you find the top two links are to Vatican pages which look nearly identical. The only difference is paragraph 2358.

The second link is the revision. A web-savvy friend found it does belong to the Vatican and was created in 2015. It is indexed which means “they” want it to come up in searches. It comes up as number two: a problematic acceptance of pop theory on homosexuality and the removal of the words intrinsically disordered. The correct version of CCC 2358 is first on google searches. Verbal engineering is afoot!!!  Continue reading “Keep your grubby ideological mitts off the Catechism!!”

Secular Arguments for Marriage are Not Enough

My latest at Crisis

“The Marriage of the Virgin” 1644 Phillipe de Champaigne

Scott Hahn is a prolific Biblical scholar with a huge fan-base among orthodox Catholics. He doesn’t need my help promoting his new book, The First Society: The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Restoration of Social Order. But I need some help from him. I need his help convincing my pro-marriage policy-wonk friends that our defense of marriage needs spiritual and theological arguments, along with natural law arguments. What we are doing isn’t working.

Losing the Public Policy Argument
No serious person can deny it: marriage, the institution of one-man-one-woman-for-life, is getting clobbered in public policy debates. I’ve been involved in pro-family debates for a long time and I’ve used plenty of social science data and logical reasoning. I’m convinced the secular world needs more than secular arguments.

We have lost the male-female requirement for marriage. We have Continue reading “Secular Arguments for Marriage are Not Enough”

Denigrating the Priesthood

Cardinal Kevin Farrell

It is bad enough that Queers in the Church use their positions as cover for their sexual exploits. (See Cardinal McCarrick.) It is bad enough that the “progressives” make bad arguments for Church teaching “evolving.” (See John Gehring’s long-winded NYT whine. Absent from Gehring’s NYT’s bio, is his association with the Soros-funded Faith in Public Life.)

As if all that is not bad enough, Francis-appointed Cardinal Kevin Farrell takes a swipe at priests doing marriage prep. Their celibacy disqualifies them, says Farrell, channeling The Ghost of Jack Chick, and other anti-Catholic screed-writers for centuries.

Sheesh. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Where’s the Hate? Thanks for asking.

Being dumped by Vanco, our credit card processor, has given the Ruth Institute a huge amount of free publicity for our mission of dealing with family breakdown: understanding it, healing it, ending it. It has also shown why no sensible person should take the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hate Map” at face value.

My favorite article along those lines is this one, from Megan McArdle, writing at Bloomberg. She actually looked at the materials used as “evidence” that we deserve to be labeled as so anti-LGBT that we should count as a “hate group.”

“I spent a day diving down the rabbit hole of one of the listings on the hate group, for the Ruth Institute, a small nonprofit that thinks the sexual revolution was a giant mistake. The Ruth Institute does seem to have a couple of marginally attached figures who have at some point theorized an unsupported connection between homosexuality and pedophilia. But however wrongheaded and insulting this may be, by itself, it hardly merits branding the whole organization a “hate group.” And a lot of the other “evidence” for this designation is simply … well, fully deserving of those contemptuous quotation marks.”

Upon examination, she finds a big nothing-burger: “misspeaking in a radio interview, quoting the Vatican and promoting (rather tame) articles.” that I didn’t even write. 

One link presents the Ruth Institute’s president, Jennifer Roback Morse, as having offered the “race-baiting” comment that President Barack Obama was “more gay than he is black” — an assertion that turns out to be an out-of-context quotation of an obvious verbal slip during a radio interview. That link also asserts that the Ruth Institute “reprinted a column blasting the LGBT movement’s ‘mythology of grievance and sexual oppression’”; in fact, the column is on the broader topic of the sexual revolution, not just LGBT activism, and the “mythology” refers to the (true) fact that many of the landmark legal cases that paved the revolution’s legal path, including Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas, were not entirely what they seemed. …

The SPLC also criticizes Morse (a Catholic) for calling homosexuality “intrinsically disordered,” which I grant does sound gratuitously insulting to non-Catholics. But this is in fact a technical term in Catholic theology which also covers things heterosexuals frequently get up to. Disagree with it (and Catholic sexual teaching) as you will, it is not by itself evidence of a special animus toward homosexuals.

And so on. I really appreciate the time and effort that Ms. McArdle took to read for herself, and discover the flimsy basis for our designation as a “hate group.”

Catholics don’t pray to Mary, and why it matters

I asked all my readers to say the Rosary every day, in the last Ruth Institute newsletter of 2016. (You are not a subscriber? Easily corrected.) I gave my non-Catholic readers a non-Rosary suggestion for stepping up their prayer lives.

mary-at-st-matthews
Statue of the Mother of God at St. Matthews Cathedral in DC. She reaches out to the viewer, pointing us toward her divine Son in heaven.

 

 

 

 

I got one very charming note from a non-Catholic who was very concerned that I was praying to Mary. I would like to clarify this bit of Catholic teaching.

We do not pray to Mary or any saint. We ask dead people to pray for us, just as we ask living people to pray for us. That is all.

If it is coherent to ask a friend to pray for me (and of course, it is) it is perfectly ok to ask a deceased friend to pray for me.

We do not worship Mary. (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) #971.) We do not worship the saints. (CCC #956). We do not worship statues. (CCC# 1670). We never have.

This is important, whether you are Catholic or not because it illustrates how factual errors, constantly promoted, can take on lives of their own. I do not know who started these rumors about Catholic belief. I do know that they took on political and economic importance around the time of the Reformation. Ambitious people had an incentive to spread these rumors, promote these rumors, feed these rumors. No matter how many times we say, “we do not worship Mary or the saints or the statues,” they kept insisting that we did. This has been going on for at least 500 years.

No doubt someone will write to me and tell me I am mistaken and that in fact I do worship Mary. I issue this challenge: if you can find me any definitive magisterial statement by a competent Church authority to the contrary, I will listen to what you have to say. But I don’t think you can find such a statement.

Today, we have ambitious people promoting flat out lies about the human condition, such as: Kids don’t need their own parents. All differences between men and women are socially constructed. A fetus is not a person. Bruce Jenner is a woman. And so on.

Just because these statements are false does not mean that they will die out. The people who benefit from them will keep promoting them, no matter how many times we correct the record.

We have to call this out for what it is: lying. It won’t go away on its own. It could go on for 500 years. I, for one, am not going to sit by quietly while such a thing gets started.

A Critique of the Critique of the Critics of Amoris Laetitia

Austin Ivereigh has another critique of the critics of Amoris Laetitia. This time, he tells them they should look at concrete cases. In case they can’t think of any, he supplies one. (I utilize the Fr. Z protocol of placing my own commentary in color.) austin-ivereigh

To take an obvious example, a woman abandoned by her abusive husband who remarries to provide for her children might be in the same legal category as the philandering playboy who ditches his wife for a younger model, but no one could claim that both are in the same moral category.  Ah, that distinction between legal and moral. 

Imagine that the woman in the first case, over time, experienced a radical conversion in her life, and is today an active member of the church community. I remember when I appeared before a tribunal seeking an annulment. I was asked, “are you a practicing Catholic?” I said, thinking myself clever, “That is what this hearing will decide.” Father was not amused. “Are you going to Mass?” “Yes, Father,” says I. So much for cleverness. Let us suppose she cannot, for technical reasons, obtain an annulment (these are rare cases), and the first husband has long since remarried.

Apply Canon 915, and she is an adulterer obstinately persisting in sin who must be barred not just from the sacraments but from taking part in the life of the Church as a reader or catechist. But, you just said she is an “active member of the church community.”  One has to be a reader or catechist to be an “active” member? 

At no point does Amoris say – as Burke puts it – “that’s all right, go ahead, and you can live that way and still receive the Sacraments.” It says that many such cases require an individual discernment because they cannot simply be lumped together as ‘adultery.’ But wait: she is having sex with someone to whom she is not validly married: what is that, if not adultery? 

What Amoris says is that a pastor approved by his bishop should arrange for, in effect, a long retreat involving an examination of conscience, a facing-up to truth, a light-and-shadows discernment, applying the truths of Catholic doctrine on indissolubility and the Eucharist to this particular, unique, concrete situation. Really? Where, Austin, does it say that? I don’t remember Amoris proposing a new procedure. Wouldn’t that amount to a new round of legalism? But I digress.

dustbowl-motherAs it happens, my father once told me about a case very much like this. In his Polish coal mining/farming community in Southern Ohio, he knew a woman with many children whose husband had abandoned the family. My father: “The priest made it so she could get married again.”  I didn’t think to ask him what the priest did, but I assume that back in the 1930’s or thereabouts, he helped her get an annulment.

What I did ask my father was, “Why did she want to get married again?” My father looked at me like I had lost my mind. “She couldn’t make it on her own.” Alot of small children. A farm. Grinding poverty to begin with. No social assistance state. No employment opportunities for mothers.

The priest accompanied her through the annulment process.

cardinal-burke
Cardinal Burke at work.
cardinal-carraffa
Cardinal Carraffa, founder of the JPII Institute on Marriage and the Family

Our poor moderns imagine they are the first ones to think of these cases, the first ones to find humane and truly moral solutions to them. It strains the imagination to think that a canon lawyer of Cardinal Burke’s stature has never considered any concrete cases. Cardinal Carraffa, another of the Four Cardinals, was the founding president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. He has no doubt, considered numerous difficult cases. Rather than find ways to redefine terms to accommodate modern life, he chose to teach the fullness of the Catholic faith on marriage.

This is the essential point that the redefiners of doctrine refuse to face: the solution to our problems is to teach the Catholic faith. As St. Paul said to Timothy, “preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.”  (2 Tim 4:2)

So what if it is currently out of season?