Cardinal Napier, Catholic Archbishop of Durban, South Africa
Cardinal Napier, Archbishop of Durban, South Africa, has issued a statement rightly defending the Church and himself in the aftermath of a BBC interview wherein he was misunderstood, mischaracterized and otherwise mistreated, and where afterward his comments were further mischaracterized in some media reports. He was invited to be interviewed on the BBC’s Stephen Nolan Show in regard to the election of Pope Francis. Very little time was spent on this topic before Mr. Nolan jumped into an attack on all the bishops (writ large) in regard to sexual abuse cases.
Via Catholic blogger Mark Cogitates:
Read or listen to the interview with Cardinal Napier.
Read Cardinal Napier’s official statement in response to the mistreatment and mischaracterization.
After listening to the interview and reading Cardinal Napier’s follow-up statement, I will have to say that I agree with Cardinal Napier’s remarks in both. Any clumsiness that might be perceived in his interview performance can surely be attributed to being caught off guard. I think this was the entire point of the interview. In political reporting, we call this a “gotcha” interview, where reporters surprise the person being interviewed with a question not expected and then try to trip him up in his answers through distortion.
In other words, Cardinal Napier suddenly and unexpectedly found himself as the lead witness in a secular media inquisition against patriarchy and hierarchy in the Catholic Church.
Mark Nel, of Mark Cogitates, writes his thoughts about the interview here.
If a person is found by professionals to be incapable of being held criminally liable for their actions due to them suffering from paedophilia and the court agrees, who is he to decide that they must be punished and held criminally liable.
Stephen Nolan knows exactly what Cardinal Napier means and understands exactly what Cardinal Napier is saying.
True. Nolan expects something of Cardinal Napier that has no basis in logic, but there are a lot of misunderstandings that need to be cleared up in this. Cardinal Napier is doing a wonderful job of bringing clarity and we all need to pray for him and for Mr. Nolan, that truth may prevail in our public discourse on these matters.
Mr. Nolan, I would ask that you please try to see what I see in Cardinal Napier: a kind person who is trying his best to explain to you the Church’s position and record on this matter, and it is a position and record that is far superior to your misinformed or misguided opinion of it. When I say that it is the Church’s position, it is also my position, as a Catholic mother of four. Cardinal Napier is not merely explaining “the opinion of the bishops today” but, in reality, the clear practice of the Church for a long period of time which is today regarded by professionals who have reviewed it as being among the best practices, if not the best, among institutions worldwide for protection of children from sexual abuse. It is the opinion also of a mother of children; a mother who is a member of the Church along with her children. When you attack a bishop, particularly on this point, as if our bishops are all corrupt and are not protecting children, you attack me, because the safety of my children is paramount to me, and because I care deeply about what our bishops are doing to ensure that. They have not disappointed me in their response. Continued attacks on them through the secular media are attacks on me. When you accuse our bishops thusly, you simultaneously accuse me of being either a nitwit or of being a mother who does not care about the safety of my own children.
Unfortunately, some have the propensity to put the proverbial ear plugs into their ears whenever a bishop speaks as if he is speaking only for himself and other bishops rather than speaking in his proper role. The bishop of a diocese speaks for all in his diocese as their shepherd. As a cardinal, Cardinal Napier’s role is to be an elector of the Pope. It is in this context, his role as an elector of the Pope, that it is appropriate to ask him for an interview outside of his diocese on that topic. Otherwise, his concern is for his own diocese. Cardinal Napier, as Archbishop of Durbin, is responsible for the people of Durbin. He is not the bishop of London, Chicago, Sydney, Cairo, etc. To bring him onto your show which is based outside of his diocese, outside of his country, and even outside of his continent, under the pretext of asking him about the election of Pope Francis, and then to bring up things that have nothing to do with his particular diocese, is out of bounds in and of itself. Unfortunately, Nolan seems to have no clue about this reality. He sees only a cardinal and, apparently, blames any and all cardinals for everything bad that happens in the Church, particularly child sexual abuse by a priest in any diocese around the world.
That is delusional, folks.
If Catholics in the Archdiocese of Durbin do not agree with Cardinal Napier on matters dealing with faith and morals, and if they believe that what he is saying or doing is detrimental to the Church as such, then it is their right, and sometimes even their duty, to say so. This is provided for in Church law. It is not the role of “reporters” in Britain to bring on an Archbishop of Durbin to rake him over the coals over sexual abuse cases which are somehow perceived as being an inherent problem of all in the Catholic hierarchy simply because they are Catholic hierarchy.
Since Nolan (of Britain) thinks himself the appropriate person to indict Cardinal Napier and/or all Catholic bishops on his Ulster platform, then all who are the sheep (yes, sheep), in the Church should speak out in defense him. Reporters may believe themselves to have authority over our Catholic clergy, but they are sadly mistaken, if so. The authority of the bishops on matters of faith and morals is certainly true in the minds and hearts of faithful Catholics. Unfortunately, these days, reporters often consider themselves to be the voice of truth against the “corrupt” hierarchy of the Church and are only too happy to interview a cardinal anywhere and everywhere under false pretenses only to ambush him with attacks on this issue. The “enemy” to such people is not Cardinal Napier, nor of any other individual clergyman. The enemy is clearly the ideas of patriarchy and/or hierarchy, things that are central to our Catholic Faith. Nolan would have done the same thing to any cardinal who agreed to come onto his show because Cardinal Napier is not the enemy to him. Patriarchy and hierarchy are the enemy.
Such as that is what we mean when say that there are people who have an “agenda” against the Church in the context of the sexual abuse of children. We mean, when we say “agenda,” that when a cardinal, bishop or priest makes a statement that makes perfect sense and is backed up by the facts, and the attacks continue, it becomes clear to us that the intention was not to learn the facts nor even to consider them, but rather is something “sinister” as Mark says. It indicates that the reporter is not interested as much in the truth, or even of patiently considering the point of view of the particular clergyman speaking, as he is interested in confirming that his own anti-Catholic, anti-clerical, anti-patriarchy, anti-hierarchy bias is somehow correct or reasonable.
This is akin to blaming public education for the existence of rampant sexual abuse in public schools that has been shown to be a far greater problem, at least here in America, than what we have seen in the Catholic Church. People who are homeschooling their children in America due to widespread corruption in public schools do not believe public education is to blame. To the contrary, they generally will tell you that the march in society toward acceptance of evil, including acceptance of virtually all sins against chastity, is to blame for their not being able to send their children to public school. They have no problem with the existence of public schools, per se. Rather, they object to sending their own children into what has become a lions’ den in recent years which has become so because of widespread acceptance in the culture-at-large of sexual deviancy. In some cases, the practice of teacher’s unions to protect tenured teachers has led to covering up sexual abuse cases. We hear very little about this in the secular media who see public education, certainly not Christ the King, as the great hope of our time now and of our future.
Cardinal Napier has made many important points, both in the interview and in the follow-up statement, that are being completely ignored by some in secular media who appear to fancy themselves to be the heralds of truth serving you, the “ignorant masses,” in “exposing” hierarchy and patriarchy as inherently corrupt, using the Catholic Church, the hallmark of both, as Public Enemy Number One. This is tantamount to a witch hunt. It is an inquisition such as the Church herself is often falsely accused of.
Such people do not really care about sexually abused children except inasmuch as these victims may be used as tools in their attack on what they view as the “larger” problem: patriarchy and hierarchy. An example of this became evident when Cardinal Napier made the point that people who are sexually abused as children sometimes grow up to be sexual abusers of children, and that pastoral care for the sexually abused child extends into adulthood in those cases, as well as with the sexual abuse victim who does not grow up to be an abuser. He offered the example of one priest in particular who had been sexually abused as a child and who then became an abuser himself. Mr. Nolan was appalled that such a person should be treated with any sense of compassion whatsoever. We can gather from Nolan’s reaction in this context that he believes that once a sexually abused child grows up, the person who abused him is responsible for every damage that occurs EXCEPT the damage which led to his becoming an abuser himself. This makes no logical sense. Whereas Cardinal Napier pointed out that a sexually abused child deserves pastoral care even after he becomes an adult, Nolan demands only revenge, revenge, and more revenge. It is not that he cares about damage to victims, even after they grow up, but that he cares about revenge against any priest who has abused a child. The “priest” aspect appalls him more than the abuse does. In this, we see clearly an example of sexually abused children being used only as tools through which an anti-Catholic can attack patriarchy and hierarchy.
Nolan seems to desire a Church that operates in the same Inquisition style that we see in anti-Catholic cartoon tracts, but only in regard to child sexual abuse cases and not in any other way. He appears to want the Church to treat sexual abusers the way heretics were treated by the Spanish monarchy who worked through some bishops to bring out the still-despised “Spanish Inquisition.” Meanwhile, many secular anti-Catholic reporters are claiming that the very legitimate inquisition in regard to women’s religious institutes in the Church is somehow akin to that Spanish Inquisition of old and that, as such, it is wrong.
You cannot have it both ways. You cannot paint the Church as being like the Spanish Inquisition in regard to women religious (and therefore wrong) and then complain that it is not like the Spanish Inquisition in regard to priests who have sexually abused children (and therefore wrong.) It makes no logical sense other than to believe you are simply engaged in your own inquest into the Church because it is an institution that values patriarchy and hierarchy.
I ask you all to pray, not only for Cardinal Napier and all the clergy who must endure this sort of thing on behalf of all of us who are faithful members of the Catholic Church, but also for those who are attacking the Church, for the victims of sexual abuse, and for those who have abused them. There are no Catholic jail cells to put Mr. Nolan into, for very good reason, and for which I am thankful, and there are no inquisitions for the secular media at all, with jail cells or otherwise. We are the Church, not the Spanish Inquisition. As a faithful Catholic, I must say that I see more “Spanish Inquisition” behavior on the part of the secular media toward any they disagree with than can be found within any other institution in the world, with the possible exception of universities and their treatment of the freedom of conscience of students who are Jewish or Christian.
God help us in these trying times.