VIRTUS® is not excellent.
VIRTUS® does not build trust.
Monsignor Edward Arsenault — h/t to New Hampshire Union Leader
I published this article last year, but it is ever more relevant. Note that Monsignor Stephen Rossetti and Monsignor Edward Arsenault have everything to do with VIRTUS®, The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, and the Saint Luke Institute. Everything, from start to finish. They are the life and soul of VIRTUS®, TNCRRG, and Saint Luke Institute.
One may wish to note their extreme advocacy for normalizing homosexuality and therefore homosexual acts via the active and public promotion of their pet project, VIRTUS®.
Monsignor Rossetti and Cardinal Dulles, who had very different ideas.
If any member of the VIRTUS® crowd were to have applied for admission at the last seminary I taught — where I also evaluated applications of candidates — they would never have been admitted. Those not admitted would be the likes of a Rossetti and Arsenault. The rule is that no militant homosexualists need apply. I agree with that ruling of the Holy See.
My question is why so many (Arch)dioceses hold up these guys and VIRTUS® as the be all and end all of all that is Catholic and necessary. What’s the message there? When is their being discredited ever going to be enough for it to be considered that such (Arch)dioceses won’t lose face if they dump the likes of Rossetti and Arsenault and VIRTUS® and TNCRRG and Saint Luke Institute?
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I was looking up the name of a key “player” in the sex abuse crisis — Monsignor Rossetti — when I came across a paper delivered at the Pontifical Gregorian University during a symposium in February, 2012, recently put up on the web, called “The True Cost of the Crisis – Piercings to the Heart of the Church.” The VIRTUS® team chose to stay anonymous on paper. I suppose we could find out who they were. Sometimes it’s useful to know the backgrounds of those making the kinds of comments they make.
I recently went through all the police checks and the VIRTUS® program as part of the process of being admitted to the formation and teaching faculty at the Pontifical College Josephinum. During the question and answer session I noted a number of grave difficulties (among others) that I had with the “logic” behind VIRTUS®. Here are a few:
(1) An actual admitted, incarcerated male sex offender of youngsters in the film was highly praised because of the great concern he supposedly had for the welfare of his teenage victim, whose emotional progress he had closely been following from prison. The message of VIRTUS®, say, for instance, for priest chaplains of prisons (where you’ll also find minors serving adult sentences), is that the chaplains should encourage incarcerated sex offenders of minors to follow the progress of their victims, convinced of the great concern of sex offenders for their victims. This, in fact, might be considered criminal sexual stalking in some, if not all, jurisdictions, all encouraged by VIRTUS®, the “child protection program” from hell. Get it?
(2) A number of suspicious behaviors characteristic of sex offenders were listed as a way to determine if someone might be a pedophile, but it was said that two behaviors or more regarding the same person were necessary for someone to be concerned that a person is a sex offender, so that, for instance, showing porn to youngsters would not, on its own, raise any extremely grave concerns. And that, friends, is just so very wrong on so very many levels. Is the message here that a priest, for instance, should overlook, say, a fellow priest showing porn to youngsters, that is, until he notes a second red flag? As I say: VIRTUS®, the “child protection program” from hell.
(3) There was no presentation of the fact of the strong statistical preponderance of homosexual interest in youngsters. What was it? Something like 81-82% of offenses were homosexual in nature? Yep. This non-mention is a travesty. Are priests to labor under the lie that there is no homosexual preponderance regarding sex offenses against youngsters? Oh, did I mention this: VIRTUS®, the “child protection program” from hell?
So, I already have an axe to grind against VIRTUS®. That axe is pretty sharp, as you will now see:
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THE 2012 VIRTUS® PRESENTATION IN ROME
[[HSH emphases and [comments] ]]
Before we proceed with our analysis, it is necessary that we dispel any lingering misapprehensions associated with one or more of several myths born of the crisis. These include: 1) the crisis is an American problem [I’m very happy they insisted on this, as I’ve met so many clergy from all over the world who think that this is strictly an American problem since, they say, no one outside of America would ever do anything so wicked. Sigh.]; 2) the crisis has been exaggerated by a Godless media that is antagonistic to people or institutions of faith [We’re not talking about the facts being reported, but the exaggeration, such as the premise that priests are guilty until proven innocent, such as the exoneration of priests receiving little or no coverage, etc. All that and more is the normal modus operandi. The VIRTUS® team is not dealing with reality. Is there an ulterior motive?]; 3) the crisis has been instigated by avaricious attorneys whose only objective is to enrich themselves financially [Let’s rephrase that, shall we? How about: “capitalized upon by groups like SNAP and some attorneys.” Let’s not forget that the U.S. Attorney General is doing some investigations on just this point.]; and 4) homosexual orientation causes men to be sex offenders. [This is an ideological overstatement of the case. Those with homosexual tendencies must not think that their tendencies are an excuse to rape youngsters, but has anyone ever made this kind of overstatement? Their bracketed note follows in the main text:] [Nota Bene: Sexual offending is not about sexual orientation. [O.K. ... ] The logical corollary to the proposition that homosexual orientation causes men to sexually offend against males, is that heterosexual orientation causes men to sexually offend against females. [Ooops. They stepped into the deep end with that one. Homosexual dis-orientation is a perversion of normal sexual orientation. There is no analogy to be made between homo- and heterosexual on this point.] The reality is that neither homosexual nor heterosexual orientation is a risk factor, but rather, disordered or confused sexual orientation is a risk factor [And there we have it. For VIRTUS®, homosexuality is not disordered. This is a rejection of the fundamentals of Natural Law, and is a direct rejection of the teaching of the Church on sexuality. Note well, dear readers, that homosexuality is a disordered sexuality according to Natural Law and the Catholic Church. That which is disordered does not follow that which is reasonable, which is why it is in error and disordered. That which is already disordered is more likely to fall into that which is always more disordered. But VIRTUS® explicitly denies this. It think it is criminal that VIRTUS® is allowed to vomit their perverted perspective on priests and laity. Their footnote (1) follows:].] (1) [(1) Terry K, Smith M, Schuth K, Kelly R, et al. The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, 38, 62, 63, 64, 74, 100, 102, 119. [Note well, dear readers, that the John Jay study is not charged with commenting on whether homosexuality is good in and of itself. Nor is the John Jay College of Criminal Justice charged with child protection training. This is an entirely fraudulent citation on the part of VIRTUS®. How very Kafkaesque of VIRTUS® to use the John Jay study to promote homosexuality as that which is naturally good, thus promoting a reason why homosexual activity is a good, all the while ignoring the importance of the fact that 81-82% of cases of sexual abuse among clergy have been homosexual, that is, according to the same John Jay study.]]
In fairness[!], it should be noted that there are, indeed, elements of truth related to each of the foregoing propositions, but none on its own, nor all of them combined, can even begin to explain and fully describe the misconduct crisis. [This “fairness” statement is a misstatement in that objections to such purposed skewing of the facts by VIRTUS® are not answered in this way. Also, this is misleading in that no one has ever claimed that these few points explain everything. This is a disingenuous sidetracking of real concerns. Don't think that VIRTUS® didn't work hard on this presentation.]
Given our theological tradition of understanding sin and grace [This is code in the VIRTUS® understanding of psychology prevalent in perpetrator treatment centers, a relativism which takes whatever traditions and understandings as starting points, whatever they happen to be, with all of that, however, being quite irrelevant to the salvation that this type of psychology purports to bring. The statement of “Given...” is not a given, as we have seen with their total rejection of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, and, therefore, also on sin and grace.], we also know the crisis as a failing of human nature [Actually, that statement is a rejection of original sin and a blaming of God for creating human nature in a faulty manner, for it fails in itself, according to them. Instead, original sin has much to do with why anyone falls. The same ideology of holding a badly created human nature at fault was prevalent at the Rulla institute of the Gregorian, where this conference took place. That institute, and, say, the Saint Luke Institute, have worked hand in glove.] and the ever present reality of [personal] sin and temptation [the provenance of which, for VIRTUS®, can range from God’s faulty creation, to other factors in society, etc.]. The negative consequences of the crisis that the Church has endured have certainly been affected by the four myths previously identified; but they are not at its heart. [Overstating the myths, and misrepresenting human nature as VIRTUS® has done and continues to do, certainly does affect the abuse crisis, and for the worse, considering the huge role that VIRTUS® plays. To state that myths are not the provenance of the abuse crisis is tautologous. Note that tautologous statements are sarcastic and serve only to distract one from the non sequitur “logic” being presented.]
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MORE HSH COMMENTARY: That VIRTUS® presented more papers than all others in the Gregorian’s abuse symposium does not mean agreement with the content of their papers, though it could. The conference seems to have simply been a platform for VIRTUS® to promote the program it sells. It is surely an indication that VIRTUS® is an important player in the child protection program business (and make no mistake, it is big business, with lots of money involved).
The politics of the Holy See in welcoming the existence of such a symposium and wishing the studies well has to be understood with a bit of romanità. Commissions of adversarial parties are frequently made with the end of letting the offending parties hang themselves. Then, perhaps, the Holy See may wish to publish a rather more judicious statement. An example of that would be the outrageous Humanae vitae commission, which was totally contradicted by Pope Paul VI.
So, VIRTUS® team, don’t get your hopes up to think that you’ve won a battle for your promotion of active homosexual behavior by the clergy. Bishops who promote VIRTUS® should think twice about their support for the program and its anti-Catholic premises and instructions so dangerous to those who are vulnerable. If any bishops have been requiring VIRTUS®, it would be good to reconsider that, don’t you think? Yep. Do it now, before more children are hurt by VIRTUS®. For the entire VIRTUS® paper: HERE.
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UPDATE: Some essential reading: