More Catholic strategy

I’ve given up reading blogs for Lent, but not writing, so rather than respond to the provocations of the moment (whatever they are), I shall continue with my own monomania.

Overall, Pope Francis is responding admirably to the terrible predicament he is in.  However, having said as much of it as was demanded of him, he needs to drop this “clericalism” nonsense.  The clericalism rathole is even more to be avoided than the lavender mafia rathole.  A crusade against clericalism is a crusade against clergy, because it invites laity to make a fuss over anything a priest does that annoys them.  Clericalism is the microaggressions of the Catholic world, whereby a high moral status majority is invited to scrutinize a low moral status minority* for subtle signs that the latter secretly think themselves superior.  Priests will never be able to grovel to the satisfaction of the laity, any more than whites can to blacks.

On the other hand, “synodality” was a stroke of genius.  One of the things that is desperately needed in the Church is a way to minimize legal liabilities.  The Church makes records of everything, then sends them up the chain to the Vatican, whose scarce personnel usually never read them.  “What did the Pope know, and when did he know it?”, the conservatives keep repeating because it makes those idiot baboons feel clever.  The Holy See must be protected, and for its own protection, it must have no more information than it can actually process and use.  Anything else only makes it legally vulnerable.  There is absolutely no reason why Rome should even be informed about local disciplinary issues–and worse, unsubstantiable rumors–especially now that we’re a synodal Church.  Now if only an excuse can be found to destroy the CDF’s existing records.

In a bishop, I can forgive every sin but stupidity–the one sin the world also will not forgive.  So, their Excellencies have decided they want episcopal accountability, which will certainly lead to an unprecedented reign of terror against priests, because no bishop would dare judge a priest innocent of even the most absurd charge of sexual misconduct lest he later himself be condemned for “covering up”.  As soon as this is widely known, every priest in America will be accused of sexual abuse.  This is easy enough to anticipate.  In addition, their Excellencies have been for about two decades implemented a system of extreme vetting and arduous training in the seminaries, with the result that we probably have the most elite (certainly in terms of dedication, but also presumably in whatever personality qualities they have been discriminating for) cohort of new and upcoming priests that it is possible to have.  Now, if only they would try to put these two thoughts together for once.  How do they intend to protect this enormous investment?  They are like a team of generals whose idea to win a war is to train an elite cadre of warriors and then set them up to be mowed down by enemy machine gun fire.  The injustice doesn’t bother me half so much as the waste of precious human material.

Your Excellencies, your job is not to be holy, not to be faithful or merciful, not to pray or fast, but to anticipate the enemy’s moves and preemptively counteract.  You need to be thinking now about how to make sure that every priest in America is monitored (say, by some sort of body camera) every minute of every day.  These recordings must be impossible to tamper with (because, remember, the whole world thinks that we’re a giant conspiracy to molest children, but they will give us no help with viewing or storing these tapes), timestamped, and long-lasting, the latter because they must be stored forever because there is no reliable statute of limitations for Catholic priests in the public realm and ecclesiastic courts don’t even seem to have the concept.  Current priests are doomed; I can’t think of any way to save them.

The above, involving enormous amounts of data, will seem like a terribly impractical idea.  Give me an alternative.  I don’t want to hear any conservative nonsense about praying and fasting; that’s just an excuse to refuse to serve God with one’s brain.  We must anticipate.  We must counteract.


  • In the case of microaggressions, this fact is obscured by our calling the high status group “minorities” and the low status group the “majority”.  However, heterosexual white men are a minority in every country on Earth.

7 Responses

  1. every priest in America is monitored (say, by some sort of body camera) every minute of every day

    what about confession? if you leave a regular hour-long gap in the records, it kinda defeats the point. If you don’t leave the gap, then the confessional seal no longer exists.

  2. One would have to turn off audio. Video would still be going and marking time. Even outside the confessional, priests might sometimes turn off audio and conceal their face when someone wants to confide in them.

    It’s a terrible thing to be thinking about this. Give me an alternative.

  3. Your Excellencies, your job is not to be holy, not to be faithful or merciful, not to pray or fast, but to anticipate the enemy’s moves and preemptively counteract.

    You seem to be criticizing fellow conservatives for taking an innocent as doves approach while ignoring the wise as serpents part. However, you seem to be taking a wise as serpents approach while ignoring the innocent as doves part.

    It is absolutely a Bishop’s job to be holy; he is in a state of perfection, one higher than even the religious. It is only through holiness that he will have the wisdom and virtue to deal with this problem.

    You want an alternative, but I don’t think there is one; I don’t even think video surveillance will work. Cardinal Pell had several witnesses to give evidence that he could not have done the crime he was accused of because there were always people around. He was being “surveilled” and he was still convicted. If they want priests in jail or discredited, I don’t think any amount of surveillance will stop them, and having so much surveillance might just give them the opening they need to scrutinize their every action. If they can’t get them on one charge, they’ll get them on another.

    That’s not to say nothing can be done; windows on confessionals and in offices that make sure the priest can always be seen, doing altar boy training with the presence of fathers, making sure not to receive more information than can be processed, taking measures to protect the church from expired accusations, etc. are all helpful and ought to be done. But we ultimately need God’s protection, and it will require prayer, fasting, and sanctity. And I think if we pray, fast, and practice the virtues, God will provide us with the practical answers you are looking for.

  4. at 16kbit/s video quality (very bad quality) you’re only storing 172.8 MB of video each day. a 1 TB hard drive costs ~$50 so that’s 0.0001728*50=$0.00864 or rounding up to $0.01 of data storage cost per day.
    even the low-bitrate wifi transmitting cameras you’d want arent very expensive in bulk.
    The real financial cost is in labor to maintain this system of endless recording and archiving of video.
    The real spiritual cost is in admitting that priests cant be trusted, which destroys the laity’s inclination to listen to them.

  5. And what priests will be affected by this most? Liberal or trad?
    novus ordo or tridentine?

  6. tenari, thanks for looking into this. The cost per second is much lower than I would have initially guessed from my experience with high-resolution images.

    Regarding spiritual costs, are not all reform efforts, indeed the practice of both Church and state, already predicated on the belief that priests are uniquely dangerous people? Everyone already seems to believe this. In fact, it’s the laity I don’t trust, and the main difference between my suggestion and all others is that mine provides priests some protection against false accusations while all others seemed designed to encourage false accusations.

    Here’s another suggestion: priests should be kept chained in dungeons except when being brought out handcuffed by armed guards to celebrate mass or hear confessions. How could reformers object? Wouldn’t this give them all they’ve wanted: a rebuke to clericalism, no priests having gay or underage sex? As a thought experiment, if we did this, would it finally dawn on the laity that they are responding disproportionately to an arbitrarily circumscribed problem? No, it wouldn’t. People would just start worrying that the priests are whispering perverse and clericalist things to each other when their guards aren’t paying attention.

  7. reform in principle is not predicated on the belief that priests are uniquely dangerous. However in practice, since 99.9% of those calling for reform are liberals of the right or left variety (in zippy-parlance (RIP)) practically all reformers operate from the assumption that authority in general, and Catholic priests in particular are uniquely dangerous and evil. See liberal (both republican and democrat) views on the police for a very similar situation. The solution there being tested/adopted now is basically the one you’ve proposed here (bodycams) which makes me assume you’re already aware of the similarity.

    chained in dungeons

    lol. It would also give them a dearth of priests.

    No, it wouldn’t

    I’m not used to being the optimistic one, but I think it might for some.

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