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Church posts names of Boston clergy accused of child sex abuse
Cardinal Sean O'Malley made public the names of 159 clerics accused of child abuse.
August 25th, 2011
09:10 PM ET

Church posts names of Boston clergy accused of child sex abuse

By Tom Cohen, CNN

(CNN) -
A total of 250 clerics in the Boston Archdiocese have been accused of child abuse in recent decades, according to information made public Thursday by Cardinal Sean O'Malley in an attempt to help resolve an issue tearing at the core of Catholicism.

O'Malley said the archdiocese posted online the names of 159 accused clergy members, while there were 91 others who also faced some level of accusation but were not named for various reasons.

An investigation that began after the crisis over sexual abuse of children in the Boston Archdiocese fully emerged in 2002 has pored over records dating back more than 60 years, with subsequent decisions on who to name based on the nature of the accusations and other factors, according to O'Malley.

The disclosure by the Boston Archdiocese represented a shift in policy in a further effort to reach out to victims and their families harmed by the sexual abuse scandal, O'Malley said in a seven-page letter accompanying the announcement.

"My deepest hope and prayer is that the efforts I am announcing today will provide some additional comfort and healing for those who have suffered from sexual abuse by clergy and will continue to strengthen our efforts to protect God's children," the letter concluded.

However, the director of an advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse by priests called the steps announced by O'Malley insufficient and irresponsible, saying only one of the named priests was new to public information.

"We're disappointed with this very belated and begrudging and incomplete list," said a statement by David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Alleging that the names posted by O'Malley deliberately omitted "at least a third of predator priests," Clohessy's statement added that "some kids will be spared some abuse, because some predator priests are now more easily identified, and some victims will feel validation."

"But, many, many more would take comfort if O'Malley released new names instead of continuing the secrecy," the statement said.

O'Malley wrote that the policy change he was announcing "represents the first time that names of accused clerics have been compiled by the Archdiocese in a central location and a readily accessible format."

The letter noted that the searchable lists posted on the website http://www.bostoncatholic.org included what he called "pertinent information" about each member of the clergy listed, such as the individual's year of birth and year of ordination; whether the cleric is alive or deceased; their current status within their church; the date of any disciplinary action, dismissal or criminal conviction; and a link to their assignment history.

"I am acutely aware of the harm that the abuse of children by clergy has caused in the lives of so many," O'Malley wrote in the letter. "And while I know there will be some who believe our policy changes should go further, after careful consultation and consideration of views expressed by many people and groups, I believe that the changes we are making are appropriate."

According to the letter, one list posted includes the names of all Boston Archdiocese clergy who have been found guilty of sexually abusing a child by the Catholic Church or under criminal law, as well as any accused individuals who voluntarily requested removal from the clergy.

In addition, the list also names archdiocese clergy still facing public accusations of child sex abuse, as well as those who died before public accusations of sex abuse against them could be fully investigated or were leveled in the first place.

A separate list includes the names of clergy eventually cleared of public accusations of sexual abuse, O'Malley's letter said. Some of the priests on the second list have returned to active ministry, he noted.

"In the present environment, a priest who is accused of sexually abusing a minor may never be able to fully restore his reputation, even if cleared after civil or canonical proceedings," the letter added.

The 91 accused priests not named on the lists include 62 deceased clergy who were never publicly accused or fully investigated, O'Malley's letter said.

"I emphasize that our decision not to list the names of deceased priests who have not been publicly accused and as to whom there were no canonical proceedings conducted or completed (most were accused well after their death) does not in any way mean that the archdiocese did not find that the claims of particular survivors who accused those deceased priests to be credible or compelling," the letter said. "Indeed, in many of those cases, the archdiocese already has proceeded to compensate the survivor and provides counseling and pastoral care to those individuals."

Of the other accused clergy not named, 22 faced unsubstantiated accusations, four were not in active ministry and face preliminary investigation, and three were already out of the ministry by their own volition or dismissal and never were publicly accused, O'Malley's letter said.

The archbishop's letter pointed out that most of the sexual abuse cases and allegations involve misconduct, real or claimed, from decades earlier, "before the Church adopted its current child protection policies."

It noted that the "vast majority" of complaints to the archdiocese before 2004 involved alleged incidents from 1965 to 1982, and that more recent data showed that only 4% of the 198 accusations received from 2004 to 2010 were alleged to have occurred after 1990.

"I do not say this in any way to minimize the abuse of minors by Boston priests, which is heinous, or the serious mistakes made by the Church hierarchy in responding to it," O'Malley said in the letter. "Nor do I seek to ignore the harm caused to survivors by these historical incidents, harm which is both current and the subject of our ongoing pastoral response.

"Rather I simply seek to place the problem in context and to give the faithful some confidence that the policies adopted by the Church to protect its children starting in the early 1990s have been effective," O'Malley wrote.

–CNN's Samantha Stamler contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Church • Sex abuse • United States

soundoff (442 Responses)
  1. HappyMeal

    HappyMeal on this page are all fakes.

    August 27, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • HappyMeal

      I mean on the previous page. I didn't write that much on this news section. To atheists, acts of lying, cheating and disguising are nothing since they have no working conscience.

      August 27, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • HappyMeal

      If I were a houseware object, it would be a tool.

      August 27, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • The Original

      The third HappyMeal is a fake.

      August 28, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • The Original

      So is the first The Original. The west is for lollipops and coffee-drinking barbarians. Thank God I'm the most humble, intelligent human being to ever exist. I'm also the most righteous. Ye, unto me ye must listen, for I hath seen all wisdom, and the answer is LSD and Happy Meals. Praise be to me, Amen.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  2. HeavenSent

    You folks trying to analyze Jesus' teachings with today's concept of intellect (LOL). None of you will get it until you shelve your egos and learn to go humble and stop paying attention to the ways of the world.

    Amen.

    Too funny who you think you are.

    August 26, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • The Original

      @HeavenSent, atheists needing to be humble is true. To realize how evil it is not to acknowledge the Creator God – that will the first step of salvation for them.

      August 27, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • i get it

      Oh, I see, Heaven Sent, shelve your brain and go stupid, eh? You have done well at that.

      It sounds just like what the molesting priests might have said to their victims..."Just go humble, my son, it is God's will"

      August 27, 2011 at 4:11 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      'stop paying attention to the ways of the world'...is there another way that we're not aware of? please enlighten us all oh great one...lol

      August 27, 2011 at 6:00 am |
    • jimtanker

      You are not aware that, while your ego has bloated like space blob, your brain has simultaneously shrunk to the size of a quark. By believing no other gods except yourself.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  3. HappyMeal

    Hi everybody, I smoke crack and I just got released from the looney bin. Please excuse my schizophrenic excuse for making dialogue, I just need a fix real bad.

    Signed, HappyMeal (for real)

    August 26, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  4. Reality

    As noted on p. 5:

    Another nail in the coffin of the RCC and its "holier than thou" priesthood!!!!

    But to be fair about the situation:

    Why did today's pope, prelates, preachers and rabbis, so focused on society's se-xual sins, lose sight of clerical se-xual sins?

    FEAR, SHAME and GUILT and COVER IT ALL UP!!!

    Obviously ordination in any religion is not assurance of good behavior !!!!!

    Neither is coronation!!! e.g. Henry VIII, King David.

    Neither is marriage as 50% of those men convicted of pedophilia are married.

    Neither is being elected president of the USA!! e.g. Billy "I did not have se-x with that girl" Clinton, John "Marilyn Monroe" Kennedy"

    Neither is possessing super athletic skill!!! e.g. Tiger "I am so sorry for getting caught" Woods.

    Neither is being an atheist or pagan since pedophilia is present in all walks of life.

    If someone is guilty of a crime in this litany of "neithers" they should or should have been penalized as the law dictates to include jail terms for pedophiliacs (priests, rabbis, evangelicals, boy scout leaders, married men/women), divorce and alimony payments for adultery (Clinton, Kennedy, Woods), jail terms for obstruction of justice (Clinton, Cardinal Law, B16?) and the death penalty or life in prison for murder ("Kings David and Henry VIII).

    August 26, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  5. HappyMeal

    Wake up Westerners take back your country for Jesus. You were once a Christian nation and now you do the Devil's bidding. You allow filthy Atheists to distort your children and turn them into perverts.

    August 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Laughing

      Hel.l yeah! We infiltrated the church first, which is why all those perverts are showing up in churches before anywhere else. Don't worry though, Ond day Faith/HappyMeal/Adelina/Justina ect.... ect... when you come to the USA you'll see all we do is fu.ck in the streets, degrade god constantly and live in general debauchery. WOOOOOOOOO PARTY!

      August 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • HappyMeal

      I have seen clips of your gay parades and you do those pervert things you talk about. Filthy nasty Atheists disgust me. You make a mockery of Jesus and the Christians need to wake up and fight back. Christians fought and killed murdering pervert Atheists before.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Laughing

      Like I said,

      Just wait till you come here, we do more than what you've seen of clips from gay pride parades. Usually we get a child and sacrifice him (it's an atheist ritual, I don't really want to go into it). Afterwards when we're drinking blood, having se.x with animals and occasionally kill the errant christian in the corner we all just sit around the TV and talk about how great we are.

      I think you'll really like it here.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Wordsmith

      Yay @Laughing!

      (pssst: just keeping you sharp - it's etc., for et cetera (not ect., and I sure hope you don't say ec cetera in real life).

      August 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • HappyMeal

      You are trying to be sarcastic to hide the truth. You do those things but secretly.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Wordsmith

      It's funny, I always mix up ect and etc, usually it autocorrects.

      @HappyMeal

      You're right, cats out of the bag, we do all of these secretly and more, but I've never been much of a secret keeper. Really though, I would love for you to visit the US, it would be great. You could tell me about jesus, i could tell you about how satan is such a swell guy (Being an atheist that worships the devil, because thats how atheism works right?) Really, I think it would be a great cultural experience for you. Then after you're done (if we haven't sacrificed you yet that is) you could take me back to Asia and show me around, I hear they're alot more civilized over there.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • gerald

      Laughing,

      What makes you think there is greater prevelance of perverts in churches? Atheists peds do exist you know.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Reality

      HappyMeal, the "red neck" lady of many names, continues spouting from her cloud of inanity !!

      August 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • HappyMeal

      Thinking is for the masses, way too mainstream. I live on the edge and say whatever garbage the gnome in my back pocket tells me. I live so far from the West that I actually don't have a home, I just keep moving East, that's how much I hate the west. Learning is for fools, so I don't learn.

      Signed, HappyMeal

      August 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Bridget

      @ HappyMeal calling people filthy really isn't cool ,and I'm Catholic I have a few atheist friends they aren't evil or bad or anything sure they can claim some not true offensive things but it's all good , please keep your peace

      August 27, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • HappyMeal

      Stupid, fat Hobbits! Get it? Because I sound like Gollum? Yeah, I'm great.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  6. Barry G.

    To HappyMeal:

    You said: With your name Barry I am guessing you are just another Westerner. You are beyond hope and need to leave the West to real Christians. Western Christianity is dead, make room for non-white Christians from around the world.

    Didn't Jesus command us to not judge, lest we ourselves be judged?

    Didn't Jesus himself say that he did not come to judge the world, but he came so that the world might be saved through him.

    Doesn't the Bible teach us that God will judge.

    By what authority do you judge another person?

    Didn't James also teach this in his New Testament epistle?

    As Jesus said: Let you who are without sin cast the first stone.

    August 26, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • HappyMeal

      Your acts speak for you. You Westerners have made a mockery of Christ.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • HappyMeal

      My act speaks for me, I have made a mockery of anything and everything.

      August 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  7. HappyMeal

    Has anybody else found themselves rubbing Jesus's groin on their crucifix while they praying? I have and kind of like it.

    August 26, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Barry G.

      I will pray for you, for Jesus said: He came to call the unrighteous, not the righteous.

      When asked why he associated with notorious sinners, Jesus said:It's the sick who need the physician, not the well.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • HappyMeal

      Above HappyMeal is a fake and no doubt a dirty atheist

      August 26, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • HappyMeal

      On second thought, first time, real. Second guy, not so much.... Just who AM I??

      August 26, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  8. TruthPrevails

    The RCC should be disbanded and never allowed to be tax free again. If they want to act like common criminals they should be treated like common criminals. Anyone who still follows this organization needs their head checked...you only promote the abuse by being in their presence. Anyone who takes their children inside one of these churches should be charged with child abuse.
    Walk a mile in a victims shoes before supporting the pigs!

    August 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Fred1

      How dare you insult common criminals by suggesting the RCC acts like them. Common criminals don’t bugger little boys.

      August 26, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Fred1

      Common criminals may steel your money; but, they don’t bugger you into a life time of psychological hell

      August 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Fred1

      Ask yourself, would you rather be robbed by a criminal or violated by a priest?

      August 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      sorry to have used the term 'common'...you're so right, there is nothing common about pedophiles especially when they use their delusions to cover it up and hide it behind a church

      August 27, 2011 at 6:05 am |
  9. HappyMeal

    You Westerners need to cut off your filthy pervert hands and cut your eyes out the way you look at women.

    August 26, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And you should cut out your hateful, condemning tongue.

      August 26, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So given the topic of this article – which is about Men of God diddling little boys – is the way priests look at children better than they way us filthy westerners look at women?
      What about how gay western men look at women?

      But you're probably right.
      We really should look at women in the way the bible commands us to.
      As creatures created inherently inferior from a male's rib to server males' needs, but who are evil to core for forcing Original sin on humanity and forever barring us from Eden.

      August 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Barry G.

      Are you saying that all males in "the West" (wherever that is), look at women lustfully and with unholy thoughts?

      You know that's not true.

      Do you suggest that we cover and hide women?

      Do you suggest that we keep women hidden under burkas and in homes, and let males roam freely.

      We in the West think more highly of women than that.

      August 26, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • HappyMeal

      Guys, I say all sorts of things that are nuts, but I don't mean any of it. I actually love Westerners and wish deep down in the bottom of my pretty little heart that I was a Westerner just like you. Please ignore my lunacy and never take what I say seriously ever again. It's just my alternate personality–don't let it fool you! 😉

      August 26, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  10. HappyMeal

    Western Christians ake me laugh. You know nothing about Jesus.

    August 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Barry G.

      Perhaps you could enlighten us about Jesus, being as you have such superior knowledge.

      Such an arrogant statement isn't worthy of the name of Jesus, who was meek and lowly in spirit.

      Incidentally, as I understand it, Jesus loved and accepted everyone, regardless of how little they knew or understood. I'm sure he even loves those who are arrogant and filled with hatred and contempt for others.

      Those who followed Jesus were called disciples (or students) for a reason. We should always be learning, as we follow and walk with Jesus.

      By the grace of God, I'm learning.

      August 26, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • HappyMeal

      With your name Barry I am guessing you are just another Westerner. You are beyond hope and need to leave the West to real Christians. Western Christianity is dead, make room for non-white Christians from around the world.

      August 26, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • HappyMeal

      I take it back Barry. I secretly love you and am jealous of how awesome you are. Will you forgive me?

      August 26, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Fred1

      If only your priests were as dic-kless as your god

      August 26, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  11. Octobersan

    Until you see the insanity of our spieces in yourself, you will blame something called god or the church or whatever.

    Wake up and understand your thoughts are not real.

    And words are only thoughts....pretty simple.

    August 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "Wake up and understand your thoughts are not real."

      Interesting. What is the exact opposite of a Tautology?

      August 26, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Octobersan

      Useless argument gets you nowhere.

      Be still.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  12. Barry G.

    Stizzle,

    You asked: Who was God "working through" during the 20+ years of covering up these incidents?

    My answer: God was working through those who truly cared about these individuals, who were being abused. He certainly was not working through the priests, who were abusing and harming these innocent victims.

    In the Fourth Gospel (also known as the Gospel of John), Jesus said:
    I am the good shepherd. I go in the sheep pen through the gate. I do not climb over the fence, and I don't steal from the flock, as others do.

    Jesus said: All who came before me were thieves and robbers. I am the good shepherd. I lay down my life for the sheep.

    What Jesus said about the evil shepherds and other individuals, who were using the flock for their own selfish gratification, could also be said today of many of our religious leaders and our political leaders. (In these days the leaders were both their religious and political leaders.)

    Finally consider what is said about Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew:
    Jesus looked and had compassion on the crowd, because he saw that they were harassed, as sheep without a shepherd.

    The people of Jesus' day had leaders, but they were worthless, like many of our leaders today, who use their position to gratify their own selfish desires.

    I believe this is largely why the US and the world is experiencing such terrible economic conditions. Our leaders led us here, because of their greed and corruption.

    Believe me, you're preaching to the choir, when you ask the question you posed.

    August 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Fred1

      So where was this good Shepherd during the 60 years of child ana-l violation that the story talks about? It’s almost like he doesn’t care or maybe doesn’t exist.

      August 26, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Fred1

      “My answer: God was working through those who truly cared about these individuals” is your god so impo-tent that he can’t protect children on his own?

      August 26, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  13. miniex13

    Does this list include Most Precious Blood Church, Hyde Park, MA in the 1980's? Does anyone have any info?

    August 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  14. geraldh

    By the way hell is the absense of God or at least where his prescence cannot be known and so it being "created" is like darkness is "created" only in that it is the absense of light.

    August 26, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Stevie7

      And how do you know this? Because CS Lewis told you so? I must have missed that passage in the bible – I guess I was too busy reading the parts about wailing and gnashing of teeth and fire and whatnot.

      August 26, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • geraldh

      So now I give you one of the keys to your claim God is a monster and you switch your arguement. It has been spoken of long before CS Lewis and there are scriptural illusions to it.

      August 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • A Theist

      There's some serious issues with the filter on this blog. Working on a reply...

      August 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • A Theist

      *allusions And if you attempt to say that it is context based, the immediate reply will be, "so you can mold the words to mean whatever you want them to mean?" I'll skip the dialogue from these points and jump right to, "No, that's not how it works." This is a debate across all forms of literature, not just the bible. Interpretation from an author to an audience is a part of the com.muni.cation process.

      August 26, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • A Theist

      If I say, "He was with her for a while, but she finally left him." You can infer I may have been discussing a relationship, even if no words of "dating" or "relationship" were spoken. Literally it means she hung out with him and then left. Now if we had some background (history, context) we could draw further conclusions about what this quote means. Somebody could come up and say, "it means a sky-fairy rides unicorns and battles Dr. Pepper babies" but from an analytical perspective, this interpretation is simply nonsense. The assumption that Hel.l is a place where there is no God is supported contextually and historically. That is why it is a commonly accepted notion.

      August 26, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "So now I give you one of the keys to your claim God is a monster and you switch your arguement. It has been spoken of long before CS Lewis and there are scriptural illusions to it."
      -
      You give me an argument based on allusions, I give you an argument based on actual words.

      August 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Stevie see my point about context.

      August 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Stevie7

      I get the context argument, I just don't buy it. Jesus specifically references his angels rounding up bad people and throwing them into the fire. Still, it seems a lot like splitting hairs because even the CC describes this sepearation from god as eternal punishment. So really, we're just arguing the form of torture.

      Of course, I don't think it exists at all...

      August 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Biblical Context for Hell:
      "But the fearful, and unbelieving ... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."
      Revelation 21:8

      "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
      Matthew 13:42

      "...hell delivered up the dead which were in them...And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
      Revelation 20:13-15

      In order for brimstone to become molten, it must reach a temperature above 444.6 °C. Ergo – hell is HOT!

      While some of the 150 + references can be interpreted in the way you mention, it is hard to see how the above statements could be metaphor for the absence of God.

      August 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • A Theist

      You're right, I won't debate that it is punishment, and an unpleasant punishment at that. Accepting contextual background is definitely a matter of opinion, and there are many who will only read the Bible in it's utmost literal form–or else they will take portions that are meant to be literal and call them metaphorical. I'm not a biblical scholar, but from what I've researched the essential difference has to do with when Christ is speaking in parable or being direct.

      The difference between a hel.l where there is fire and gnashing of teeth and a hel.l where there is an absence of God is that one portrays God in a light synonymous with the rest of the Bible, and the other reveals a bully which contradicts the idea of a God of Love. In the fiery hel.l, it portrays a punishment where God has set up a place for nonbelievers to suffer for their actions while God delights in it. Scripturally speaking, nothing could be further from the truth! To paraphrase, it says that God intends that none should perish, but all would come to know Him. In regards to the absence of God, the idea behind it is that the individual chooses a life apart from God (essentially anybody who does not follow now). God allows for a lifetime of decision making, and if the person still chooses no God, then God respectfully grants that desire and allows for an eternity away from him. The gnashing of teeth is a symbol for the frustration non believers will have when they realize that there is a God but that they may never commune with Him.

      To be honest, it's quite a dense discussion and I can't really do it justice in the brief space allowed for commenting. but I'll do what I can.

      August 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "The difference between a hel.l where there is fire and gnashing of teeth and a hel.l where there is an absence of God is that one portrays God in a light synonymous with the rest of the Bible, and the other reveals a bully which contradicts the idea of a God of Love."

      That all depends on which god of the bible you're looking at. Is it the god that John describes, the god that is love? Or is it the god who murders infants to try and persuade a few Egyptians and murders the whole world so that he can have a do-over. god, at least the god of the bible, seems rather bipolar to me. god is described as both a god of love and a god of wrath and vengeance – and there are far more references that describe the latter.

      August 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Stevie
      Is the God in Genesis the same one as in Leviticus?
      Is the God in Leviticus the same as the one in Matthew?
      How does a deity go from sending bears to maul 40 + kids for making bald jokes to an all forgiving, meek and mild ent.ity?
      I guess once He had a kid, genocide just didn't seem as much fun....

      August 26, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • A Theist

      @ Doc, again you can't take a single verse out of context. If you'll note the verse in Matthew, it's taken from a parable concerning weeds. It was common practice in that time to burn the weeds and bushes that were of no use, and the people of Jesus's time would have understood this to mean that God was sending them out of His presence. As for the book of Revelation, I think it speaks for itself. It was a vision given to John, a dream if you will. The majority–if not all of Revelations–is intended to be taken symbollically, just as the prophetic visions of Daniel are.

      @ Steve Yes at times it can appear that God is not a God of love, but again context is the key to the passage. Keep in mind that all of Jesus's followers were Jewish, meaning they knew Judaism quite well and were very familiar with the Passover. It would be complete nonsense if Jewish people of the time believed in an angry, unforgiving God, but then called him a God of Love. In regards to the Passover specifically, I'm concerned my answer won't do it complete justice, but as I said, I'll do my best. From a Christian standpoint, the entirety of the Old Testament is the story of God setting the scene for the Messiah to come on stage. The "absurd" laws that we see today (such as no pork) were instilled in Jewish society in order to protect the Jewish people (diseases from foods like pork were much more common). In an attempt to keep the Israelites separated (literally what Holy means) God sought a nation where they could preserve their culture and prepare the way for Christ to come. Pharoah, after REPEATED refusal to adhere to God's will to free the Israelites, with clearly divine plagues included, suffered the consequence for his nation as God killed the first born of every house. It was out of insitance more than blind wrath. Put plainly, God desired to bring a Messiah->So he created a covenant with a people who would honor him->they found themselves enslaved by the Egyptians->God (through Moses) reasoned with Pharoah but to no avail->God unleashes the Passover Spirit-> Pharoah releases the Israelites and they continue on their way to make the way for the Messiah.

      I'm not sure how similar current Jewish beliefs are with this story, but the I'm fairly certain both faiths agree that it is not a simple story of God suffering from a hormonal upswing and unleashing His fury on the humble Egyptians.

      I'm also aware that some may contest this interpretation as wishful thinking, etc. But like all works of literature or books, a context must be taken on both a granular and broad perspective.

      August 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • A Theist

      If you observe most stories of the Old Testament in this context, you will find that they also fit the filter of God desires a separated (Holy) people and a nation that honors His will.

      In regards to Doc's story. The actual word for kids in that passage is better translated as "youths," as in young men. And they weren't playfully calling him bald, in that time it would be understood that it was a threatening remark. Essentially, Elisha was getting ganged up on, and God sent the bears for his protection.

      Again, I'm no biblical scholar, these are just some of the things I've gathered from my understanding of the Christian faith. I'm certain experts on the subject can give better explanations than I can, and perhaps in a better context than through blog comments 😛

      August 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @A Theist,
      "The difference between a hel.l where there is fire and gnashing of teeth and a hel.l where there is an absence of God is that one portrays God in a light synonymous with the rest of the Bible, and the other reveals a bully which contradicts the idea of a God of Love. "

      Isn't this just a 'begging the question' fallacy in the sense that it is only "synonymous with the rest of the Bible," if one already accepts the "God of Love" interpretation of "rest of the Bible." If however one takes the punishing God interpretation of the rest of the Bible, then a "hel.l where there is fire and gnashing of teeth." is "synonymous" with that Bible.

      "And they weren't playfully calling him bald, in that time it would be understood that it was a threatening remark."
      What is this based on? Why would this wording be seen as more threatening "in that time" than it is now?

      "Essentially, Elisha was getting ganged up on, and God sent the bears for his protection."
      Regardless of whether his is being playful chided about his lack of hair or threatened, does God offer no better protection than mauling by bears? ... say drop a bunch of frogs on them or something? I've heard pillars of fire are handy for protection. Sorry, a bit snarky, but my point is that God still chooses a really brutal and violent method of protection when other options would seem to be available.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • gerald

      "The difference between a hel.l where there is fire and gnashing of teeth and a hel.l where there is an absence of God is that one portrays God in a light synonymous with the rest of the Bible, and the other reveals a bully which contradicts the idea of a God of Love"

      There is no difference because without the prescence of God one lives the worst miseries that one can imagine here on earth and even worse because here we are in God's prescence. Anything in the afterlife is just metaphoric for the reality which is outside our time and space and can only be described in terms we understand. I disagree with the distinction you make A Theist.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • A Theist

      @ Nonimous It would appear to be a begging the question fallacy if that didn't apply to all cases of literary interpretation as well. What you're bringing up has to do with coming in to a text with a presumed bias and therefore validating that bias by what you read. That wasn't my point though. The perception that God is a God of Love is supported by consistancy in the text throughout the Bible, including the Old Testament. Stories beyond those of the "violent wrath" of God take up a much larger percentage of the Bible than those that do, and each one gives testament to a benevolent being. From this standpoint, the logical conclusion is that an "act of wrath," even if not fully explained, is done in character with the rest of the God we see. God claims he is consistent and fair. If we analyze the majproty of the Bible, we would have no problem with this statement. The problems arise when we read stories like the Passover, and then don't take it into full context. I'm not saying anything is absolute or that all Christians believe even what I do. I'm just saying that both contextually and logically, it makes more sense to perscribe to a God of Love perspective than a God of Wrath perspective. A facet of faith is trust, so if you're looking for infallible proof I can't give that to you, nor can anyone or anything. I just suggest you read the stories with an open mind, in consideration of the rest of the Bible, and under both forms of interpretation. I've attempted to read the story as a God of Wrath, but it got complicated quick because I had to pick and choose verses and have a rather myopic view of who God is. My two cents, anyway.

      @gerald You disagree with the distinction of hell or the distinction of God that I make? My point of the distinction on hell was made because earlier someone had brought up a literal hell–that is, when people die, their bodies actually are sent to some place where there's lots of fire and burning and weeping. Both are indeed metaphorical because it is true that the unpleasantness is beyond comprehension or understanding, but I drew the distinction to indicate that Jesus was clearly not speaking literally. And if the disagreement was about my distinctions of God, then I stand by my argument. The distinction is a connotative one. If we interpret hell as a place of fire and torment, then God has set it up with the intention of causing pain and sorrow–i.e. a bully. However, a hell where there is an absence of God is a place where God simply is not. That is, He allows a person to freely choose Him or reject Him, and if rejected, He will gracefully step out and allow the person to live with the decision forever, because God cannot be in the presence of sin. The former hell is a torture room, the latter is more of an eternal break-up. I'm not saying it's a less painful hell (it's arguably just as bad), but it isn't God's intended purpose for those people. Does that make sense? Simply put: one's a sadist, the other is a gentlemen adhering to man's free will and politely bowing out.

      August 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Nominus No, not snarky at all. All perfectly valid questions. It's interesting you brought that up, because culturally there IS a clear difference between calling him bald then and now. Did you know that showing someone the bottom of your foot (this still exists somewhat today) in their culture is equivalent to flipping someone off, if not worse? It adds a whole new level of meaning when Jesus decided to wash his disciples' feet, or when George Bush had a shoe thrown at him! In context of the bear maulings, yes to us it seems quite extreme for it to happen. But these young men weren't just being disrespectful, they were making an aggressive attempt to attack a prophet of God, including discrediting him. I'm not God and I would never claim to be Him, so I can't give you a perfectly straight answer as to why he chose to allow Elisha to send the bears after the young men. But my point was really more to bring up that reading the Bible in the western mindset isn't enough. Otherwise you get wives literally submitting (not what it means in Greek) to husbands and people taking stories like the Passover and Elisha's defense at face value. Just like any other historical or literary text, there's a lot more to uncover when context is accounted for. In fact the art of literary analysis requires some form of literary perspective (Deconstuctionist, etc.). In my opinion, analyzing the bible in as many perspectives as possible paints a better picture of God than a single one–especially purely literal or symbolic!

      August 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Casey

      @A Theist, @geraldh, @Nominus: Thank you all for this excellent discussion. I very much enjoyed reading the questions and the debate. This is what this message board is supposed to be about... I think. BTW... I agree with A Theist in that understanding the Bible requires a full context of the author, the audience, and the times/society that is was written in. Thank you all again. Well considered, and intelligently written discussion.

      August 26, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @A Theist,
      As for using a context of a loving God, I haven't seen any statistics on loving examples being the majority of God's behaviors in the Bible, versus brutal, but it seems to me that you may be cherry picking which examples/contexts to base your "logical conclusion" on because that is the context you want to be true, i.e. a confirmation bias.

      In addition, why pick the majority and then say all others examples are in that context? It is just as "logical" to say that God is brutal and view the "loving" examples in that context. If God is brutal in the long run, then the "loving" examples will eventually be shown to be brutal. Perhaps it is just another lesson that God is brutal even when we think He is being loving, therefore we should fear Him and obey Him. The very fact that there are more examples of him seeming to be loving (if that is the case) would itself be another lesson in His brutal nature.

      However, I would posit that instead of one or the other, that the true context is that the God portrayed in the Bible is both loving and brutal, because both examples are plainly evident in the Bible. Based on that context, perhaps the thing that needs to be figured out is how it can also be claimed that God consistent and fair – within that context. Why assume that the Bible is deceptive in its descriptions? Why try to figure out the loving meaning behind Passover or Job, if God, through the Bible, meant it to be loving, why wouldn't He just say it that way?

      "...because culturally there IS a clear difference between calling him bald then and now."
      What evidence is there that jeers of baldness were any more threatening in that time and place than any other kind of jeers *in that time*? Regardless, the point I was trying to make is, was a mauling by a bear the appropriate response. In fact it seems to me, because the incident was out of *context* with the rest of the story (it had nothing to do with Elisha's journey or tasks as far as I can tell,) that the purpose of the story was primarily to reinforce the idea that Elisha had indeed received "a double portion of [Elijah's] spirit." And it was reinforced with a brutal, almost whimsical, display of power.

      "I'm not God and I would never claim to be Him, so I can't give you a perfectly straight answer as to why he chose to allow Elisha to send the bears after the young men."
      In effect, despite all the explanations about context, shoes, submission, baldness, "little children"(KJV)/"young lads"(NASB)/"boys"(NIV)/"little boys"(DRA) really being young men, statistics on loving versus brutal behavior by God, it seems that you are saying that you can't justify "a curse on them in the name of the LORD," even within your own contrived context.

      August 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Nonimus I think that is a valid perception and indeed one that can be supported by textual evidence. I guess my explanation of context wasn't entirely thorough. As for your question about the "baldness," I read that information from a Biblical Scholar. A text called "A Case for Faith" might be an interesting read for you. Keep in mind that the author is Christian, but the book is about his interviews with scholars and academics who have derived logical conclusions about God. I'm afraid I can't do the explanation proper justice.

      In addition, your question about cherry-picking verses is indeed true. I can no more say this supports a God of Love than a God of Wrath because it depends on one's interpretation. My point was more that it is possible to read even the wrath stories as a God of Love, these are not pas.sages that prove that God is necessarily a bully. As you have pointed out, however, the pas.sages of love do not necessarily prove that He is a God of Love either. I guess what helps me draw conclusions about the nature of God has to do with the question of "why" which is really what religion is all about. If God is a God of love, *why* would He attack 40 youths or send the Pas.sover plagues? These questions can never be fully answered, and it is indeed possible that you can believe either one. Keep in mind, however, that if you accept that God is a bully, you are also accepting that He is real, and therefore must account for that. You can say, the Bible makes God out to be a bully, even though God isn't real, but then the question is why do authors of the Bible, including Moses, insist that God is a God of Love even when they tell of these stories of brutality? Another interesting thing to consider is, do you think the authors believed in the God they were writing about? If not, then why would they include these potentially perceived inconsistencies? If so, then doesn't it make sense that they would feel compelled to tell the whole story, even if it doesn't always make complete sense?

      Again, I don't aim to lock anybody into a logical box where the answer must only be, "the Christian God is real" because, in truth, there is simply no way to do that. My point was merely to show that both a God of Love or a God of Wrath can be perceived from the text, and ultimately it is up to the reader to decide if the perception of what they know the world to be like and what they assume God–if He is real–to be like. Regardless, the question becomes one of faith: do I or don't I believe in something that cannot be fully proven, considering the evidence for and against the case. In truth it is much more like a trial than a scientific experiment, and each of us is the judge of what is presented before us.

      August 27, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • jimtanker

      I see cats and dogs getting a long. Gotta get the hel.l outta here before they bore me to death.

      August 28, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  15. RightTurnClyde

    Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me,
    Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me,
    Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me,
    Must have been the hand of the lord.

    While I was praying, somebody touched me,
    While I was praying, somebody touched me,
    While I was praying, somebody touched me,
    Must have been the hand of the lord.

    Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me,
    Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me,
    Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me,
    Must have been the hand of the lord.

    Well, it was on a Sunday, somebody touched me,
    It was on a Sunday, somebody touched me,
    It was on a Sunday, somebody touched me,
    Must have been the hand of the lord.

    Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me,
    Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me,
    Glory, glory, glory, somebody touched me,
    Must have been the hand of the lord

    August 26, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • geraldh

      My aren't we creative this morning. I bet you have a big headache after using your brain that much. The peanut gallery always likes these threads.

      August 26, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  16. All Powerful Wizard of Odd

    Idiots everywhere. Out the guilty, hand them over to the justice system, and move on. Why play this childish game Pope and the Super Clergy Friends? Pope, you're making all Catholic priests look like giant d-bags.

    August 26, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • geraldh

      How do you figure. The Pope has nothing to do with prosecution of priests in the US.

      August 26, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • evolvedDNA

      Geraldh.. did the pope get involved in any persecutions of his rogue priest any where? he is your top man and should have done some thing when these cases came up... his attempt to keep the mantle of infallibility has cost your churches legitimacy dearly..

      August 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • gerald

      These cases have nothing to do with his infallibility. Benedict XVI has been a leader in bringing reforms to the Church. That is his job. He has changed the rules by which preists are removed from duty and it happens much more frequently now. Legal prosecutions are a matter of the state.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Real Deal

      gerald,

      If a secular day-care boss knows that his employee is molesting children, it is a legal, moral and ethical duty for that boss to notify the civil authorities. The self-proclaimed Grand Poobahs of morality, the Cardinals, Bishops, and a couple of popes did not comply, nor did they even deal with it effectively themselves.

      So Benedict is shaping things up now - whoop-de-do - he's been finally FORCED to do it by others.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Real Deal

      gerald,

      If a secular day-care boss knows that his employee is molesting children, it is a legal, moral and ethical duty for that boss to notify the civil authorities. The self-proclaimed Grand Poobahs of morality, the Cardinals, Bishops, and a couple of popes did not comply, nor did they even deal with it effectively themselves.

      So Benedict is shaping things up now – whoop-de-do – he's been finally FORCED to do it by others.

      ------–

      Don't bother pointing out the obvious to Gerald. Gerald's position now is only because the church was forced to change its direction. Gerald supports the cover up etc and he is just being a good catholic.

      August 26, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      gerald

      .....Legal prosecutions are a matter of the state.
      ------------------–
      And what did the church do to bring the ra p is ts to justice? How do you view the Catholic Church as a whole knowing that it knew and protected the ra p ists for HOW MANY YEARS? This is your blessed church and leaders...and my gosh what integrity they have. At least you know where you stand with the Devil.

      August 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      The more the catholic church has to spend, lose and sale it a good thing. To see a For Sale sign in front of a catholic is a blessed thing.

      August 26, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  17. StrongStanding

    To those condemning the church and calling for shut down of organized religion....why are you so hateful? As a Catholic in my late 20's, NOT a Bible pusher(none of my churches have ever promoted that), an open minded and respectful human- You all that are shouting for closure are just as bad as the Evangelicals/Extreme Christians that cram religion down throats. Just because YOU don't like something, doesn't mean that what some people value/believe should be REMOVED from them. You are no one to take away something from anyone. Let people worship the way they want. They inflict no harm on you. Do not be the person who lashes out because you are spiteful. Be a GROWN UP and ignore what bothers you, such a another's religion/faith. I can not stand how Atheists think they are so superior than everyone. I see you as small-easily intimidated people who don't know how to handle it, so you become bullies. I respect you and listen to your hateful/condemning talk yet you can't do that for people of faith. You cry about our faith's infringing on your space. Get over it. We co exist with you and tolerate your actions and protests. There are times when I get so sick you your incessant actions. It's tiring and pointless. Try being humble and accepting that the world is diverse in all ways religious or not. Leave people alone to pray how they want. Many of us have person reasons why we are so devoted. Remember, you are not better than anyone else, just as I am not better than anyone else....but I do not condemn/throw a fit over how someone lives as you do. It is not my place to do so.

    August 26, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • All Powerful Wizard of Odd

      The problem here is that you're asking the masses the be logical and understanding. I commend your efforts though and completely empathize with you.

      August 26, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      SS wrote in his ending post stating, "Remember, you are not better than anyone else, just as I am not better than anyone else....but I do not condemn/throw a fit over how someone lives as you do. It is not my place to do so."

      Really SS you do not or have not made a condemning statement? Half of your parenthetical statement was so written as a subtle liberalized bias. I for one can see through the clouds of shallowmindedness regarding those who Liturgically make soothing moderated emphasis in "pebbling" animosities instead of rock-hard accusastionals by leftist and ring-winged extremists. Your grammaticals were yes concise but a wee bit off-key.

      SS, your stating that, " I do not condemn/throw a fit over how someone lives" is a proof positive that you are either a liar or one who fails to see one's own wordives before one makes such a blasphemous allegory. Read before you seed StrongStanding, For Christ's sakes read before you seed!

      August 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • JT

      So, showing our contempt and disgust for child r@pists within your pedophile infested cult is hateful? Well, someone has to since you and your fellow sheep would never do it. We in the secular world have too high morals to allow anything like this to go on for decades as your cult has protected child r@pists. Grow a brain...you're still young.

      August 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  18. facts

    Provide number of clergy found guilty.

    August 26, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      He did

      August 26, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • facts

      Accusation is not equal to guilty. It can be found innocent.
      Guilty decision is what matters.

      August 26, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • facts

      Accusation is not equal to guilty. It can be found innocent.
      Guilty decision is what matters. So I would wait and provide number of guilty.

      August 26, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  19. Dean Blake

    It doesn't end with the priests; teenagers who were abused turned around and did the same to their siblings and neighborhood children. The priests are only the original source.

    August 26, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Jo

      I wish more people would understand that, how it sets up more innocents, how it can murder your soul. If I hear, "Get over it" one more time... It's a vicious cycle.

      August 26, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • geraldh

      The priests are the original source? What does that mean?

      August 26, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • The Original

      Humans are depraved. Repentance and Christian educatin is necessary for everyone.

      August 27, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • The Original

      Proper spelling is WAY too mainstream for me. I spell "education" without the 'O' to indicate how empty I think Western values are. I know everything about the West, because I actually live there. I'm actually a closeted West-lover though. Please encourage me to come out! Every time I think about how much I love the west, I giggle... tee-hee!

      August 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  20. Dean Blake

    Where's the list and their parishes? Does it include St. Clements, Sommerville, Mass. in 1954 ?

    August 26, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Bridget

      "It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.

      It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, makng the world more human and more fraternal."
      — Pope John Paul II

      August 27, 2011 at 11:31 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.