Free speech and federal dollars

Grant Addison writes on the White House’s proposed executive order “requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars:”

Most major colleges and universities, including the majority that receive federal research funds, maintain speech codes and other restrictive policies that are unconstitutionally overbroad, hopelessly vague, enable viewpoint discrimination, or otherwise threaten academic freedom and First Amendment principles. For example, Middlebury College’s general conduct standards state that “behavior that … demonstrates contempt for the generally accepted values of the intellectual community is prohibited.” Such nonsensical language means that any view a campus bureaucrat deems to violate “generally accepted values” may be officially banned. These censorious policies have created a chilling effect on campuses. In one survey conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, for example, 54 percent of students reported they “have stopped themselves from sharing an opinion in class at some point since beginning college.” …

Thanks to the efforts of the organizations such as FIRE, Speech First, and Heterodox Academy, there’s been some small improvement of late in the state of free speech and academic freedom on campus. But a slight amelioration doesn’t mean the problem has been solved, and there’s no reason not to think that, absent a different incentive structure, situations on campus couldn’t again worsen. After all, as FIRE often points out, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech at public colleges and universities, and plenty of those still restrict speech and expression every day with impunity. Moreover, none of this changes the fact that the conditions for high-quality research and academic learning are those grounded in First Amendment principles and academic freedom and should be expected at a university. 

At least in theory, then, an executive order tying federal research funding to free speech could have a healthful effect on higher education. …

While individual institutions are and should be free to set their own ideological compasses, the size and nature of the federal investment gives taxpayers a clear stake in ensuring that colleges and universities that accept federal research funds take free inquiry seriously by respecting academic freedom and protecting free speech. Therefore, executive action should center on protecting and promoting these principles. 

In general terms, this means an executive order stipulating that, to be eligible for federal research funds, colleges and universities must commit to free speech and academic freedom and, as a contractual requirement, must uphold this commitment or else risk losing funds or eligibility status.

I’ve been supportive of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education since learning about them ten or so years ago. What is needed is more than an executive order.

Latin heard, written, and spoken

John Byron Kuhner writes that “for the first time in at least a century, Princeton teaches Latin in Latin:”

The campus of Princeton University has been designed to produce an impression of timelessness. The collegiate Gothic buildings, which resemble 16th century buildings at Oxford, might belong to the late 19th century — or to the 21st, like Whitman College, a lavishly beautiful Gothic ensemble named for the eBay magnate and built in 2007. To obscure Whitman College’s newness, Princeton planted full-sized trees next to the buildings. To hide the age of other buildings, a small army of repair crews descends upon the campus every summer, to head off any possible sign of decay. And yet they strive never to make anything look refurbished: everything is carefully left to appear as it was. The leaves color and fall in autumn, snow piles up and melts, spring grows into summer: but the buildings appear immune to time’s vicissitude. In old pictures, the students and their fashions come and go like the changing apparel of nature, but the buildings, the physical manifestation of the university, do not change.

Princeton’s Latin 110 course might appear to be more evidence of this changelessness. If you pass by its open door before class begins, you will hear students laughing and joking — in Latin, the language so associated with student life that it gave its name to Paris’s “Latin Quarter,” home of the Sorbonne. When the instructor arrives, he lectures to students solely in Latin, the language of Cicero’s orations and quondam Oxford dons. Student work is submitted daily — exclusively in the language of Horace and Vergil. The impression is of cultural continuity, another example of Princeton’s enduring character. But this obscures the innovative spirit behind the course. LAT 110, offered for the first time in fall 2018, is almost certainly the first course at Princeton ever taught entirely in Latin. And it has happened not because of some madcap eccentric professor, but due to undergraduate demand. Students calling for instruction to be conducted in Latin — and getting it, no less — struck me as something new and unexpected. I thought it was worth a trip to Princeton to investigate.

That’s an incredible thing, that Latin 110 is at Princeton due to undergraduate demand:

Kevin Duraiswamy and Gabriel Parlin from the class of 2019, realized there was another way to learn the language. Duraiswamy had been following the world’s most proficient Latinists, to learn their secrets. Parlin found the keys to language acquisition while studying German and Russian. Working together, they felt they could speed up the language acquisition process for Latin and Greek — reducing the “cost to acquire them,” and thereby perhaps opening them up to a new group of students, even in the age of the dollar-quantifiable return.

There is something about Kevin Duraiswamy that suggests California. He’s tall, fit, and healthy-looking, the way we imagine Californians (he’s from Silicon Valley); he speaks gently and wins people over with a warm smile. But more than anything else, he’s an optimist and innovator. When he found that Latin was hard, he didn’t just think, “Latin is hard.” And he didn’t give up either. He thought, “There has to be a better way.” … Duraiswamy turned to the internet, where he found stories of people who had mastered Latin only after they began to treat it as a language: something to be heard, written, and spoken.

Memory and repentance

Hans Boersma writes on Lent and the relationship between memory and repentance:

Memorization is underrated. But it’s understandable that contemporary society puts it down: Why worry about mental storage when we have digital storage?

One answer is that repentance depends on memory. Thus, memorization is a Lenten practice, a repentant turning back to the memory of God. The link between memory and character formation was recognized long ago. Cicero insisted in the first century b.c. that we can only make prudent moral choices by consciously drawing on past experiences. He linked memory to prudence as one of its three constitutive elements. Memory, he explains, is the faculty that “recalls what has happened.” It deals with the past. Along with intelligence and foresight, memory allows us to make prudent decisions.

Thomas Aquinas also recognized the close link between memory and prudence. In the Summa Theologiae he deals with the topic of memory as part of a broader discussion of prudence. Aquinas thought of memory as an intellectual virtue that allows us to make practical moral decisions. “Experience,” he explains, “is the result of many memories…and therefore prudence requires the memory of many things.” …

Ordered thoughts make for ordered lives.

We may be tempted to think that digitization makes memorization redundant. The truth is, rather, that digitization yields distraction. I can select whatever I want from online storage at any time. The possibilities are endless, and so the order, steadiness, and peacefulness to which Hugh alludes consistently escape us. …

Memorization is a Lenten practice, reshaping our memories to be like God’s. When our memories are reshaped and reordered according to the immutable faithfulness of God in Christ, we re-appropriate God’s character—his steadfast love, his mercy, his compassion. Repentance, therefore, is a turning back to the virtues of God as we see them in Christ.  Being united to him, we are united to the very character of God, for it is in the God-man that God’s virtue and human virtue meet. The hypostatic union is the locus of our repentance: In Christ human memory is re-figured to the memory of God.

Because the internet is a messaging system, not a library, it is also in some sense a tool for forgetting, in the sense that the ephemeral is the inverse of the perpetual.

What traditional life aims for

Randall Smith distinguishes acts and practices of virtue from often-deficient and generationally-specific norms and attitudes. We think of both the former and the latter as “tradition,” in a sense, but Smith conveys why only the former constitutes a traditional way of life:

Gentlemen, it has become very clear from the responses I’ve heard repeatedly from bright, beautiful, devoted Catholic women that you would be making a big mistake were you to announce you wanted a “traditional Catholic wife.”

What young women hear when you say a “traditional” Catholic wife is that you want a woman who will stay home, cook, clean, and take care of the babies, while you work all day. To put this another way, you want your mother. And the one thing most bright, devoted Catholic women don’t want (especially the ones who want plenty of children) is to be some grown man’s mother.

There is also a nagging historical problem as well. What do you mean by traditional? …

The “traditional Catholic family” where the husband worked all day and the wife stayed home alone with the children only really existed – and not all that successfully – in certain upper-middle class WASPy neighborhoods during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Working in an office all day is not necessarily evil (depending upon how it affects your family). It’s just modern. There’s nothing especially “traditional” about it. …

I don’t think this sort of life [woman and man living their vocation together, both working to raise a family in as intimate a way as possible] would have appealed to young Jane Austen, as it rarely appeals to her modern-day Catholic equivalent. But it has an undeniable beauty and involves a “tradition” in the sense that it is bound up with very definite practices and virtues.

Let me suggest, therefore, that a “traditional” Catholic wife is one whose life is bound up with a tradition constituted by virtues and practices – in this case, let’s say the Catholic intellectual tradition and the life of the intellectual, moral, and theological virtues. That’s the key “tradition” you should care about. It would be foolish to define “traditional” by one particular arrangement at a narrowly circumscribed point in time.

Tough, smart virtuous women want a tough, smart virtuous man, not a boy looking to replace his mother. So man up. Accept it. You’re going to have to raise those kids along with your wife. If you think you can “offshore” that task and dump it on your wife or the teachers at the school, you’re not doing the traditional Catholic thing. You’re just doing the traditional stupid thing.

A tough, smart wife who challenges you will make you a better man.

To cultivate the “intellectual, moral, and theological virtues” is a better way to think of living “the traditional life”, not only because it focuses on the point of life and family but also because it could be instantiated in any number of apparently unconventional places and ways.

‘Sainte-terre-ers’

As winter nears its end I’m thinking about spring, especially after seeing this beautiful little tree start to blossom near my office. What is best to do in springtime after being generally cooped up in winter? Saunter:

“Hiking—I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains—not hike! Do you know the origin of that word, ‘saunter’? It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,” ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.” —John Muir, as quoted in The Mountain Trail and Its Message, 1911

HIST 148: History of Penn State

I wrote two years ago about Penn State’s “HIST 197: History of Penn State” course, which was debuting as a “special topics” (temporary) course for the Fall 2017 semester as an undergraduate elective. A handful of Penn Staters had started talking about the need for a course that would formally introduce Penn Staters to their own history, and in both Professor Michael Kulikowski and Professor Mike Milligan we found kindred spirits who believed in the importance of such a course. Penn State News reported on the launch of the course at the time.

This morning when I opened my inbox, I saw a note from Penn State letting me know that the University Faculty Senate has approved the course for permanent status, and with that comes a change in its number to “HIST 148: History of Penn State”. Here’s the newly-listed course in Penn State’s LionPATH course catalogue:

What makes “HIST 148: History of Penn State” even more special is that the permanent course number itself refers to some of Penn State’s earliest history:

When President Lincoln called for 300,000 more troops to quell the rebels from the South [in advance of the Battle of Gettysburg], Centre County produced 700 able-bodied men who would largely fill the roster of the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry regiment. Later tagged the Centre County regiment, it was led by Col. James Beaver, who would go on to become the 20th governor of Pennsylvania as well as acting president of Penn State after the death of George Atherton.

Matthew Swayne puts a bit more color on the portrait of the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry regiment:

Robert M. Forster (spelled Foster in some records), who served as the Farm School’s first postmaster, actively recruited students to join Lincoln’s call for an additional 300,000 soldiers in 1862. Several students left with Forster, joining the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. …

While dozens of Farm School students fought to keep the Union together, the institution’s president, Evan Pugh, struggled to hold onto enough students to keep the new institution from fading into oblivion. …

As Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia marched north, war fever and war fears spread throughout Pennsylvania and into the Farm School. Lincoln and Pennsylvania Gov. Andrew Curtin called for 50,000 volunteers from the state. Students, often without consent from their parents or from school officials, left to join the hastily formed militias. …

The battle of Gettysburg had less to do with the Confederate Army’s hunt for shoes — a common explanation of why the two armies decided to fight it out in the southeastern Pennsylvania community — and more to do with the town’s position as a transportation hub in the mid-1800s, according to Carol Reardon, George Winfree Professor of American History at Penn State. The town was at the center of several roads, or pikes, as well as a rail line, that connected to the cities of Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Harrisburg. …

On July 2, 1863, Postmaster Forster, now a captain of the 148th’s Company C, and his fellow soldiers, including several former Farm School students, were positioned near the Union’s vulnerable left flank [at Gettysburg] in a wheatfield that would be transformed into, as Reardon describes it, “a horrific no-man’s land covered thickly with the dead and wounded from both armies.” …

[Captain Forster] was listed as one of the many casualties during the bloody fighting in the Wheatfield on July 2. … A nearly daylong series of charges and counter-charges ensued. While leading one of those charges to maintain the Union position, Forster was shot in the head. He was initially buried near the remains of Confederate Gen. William Barksdale on a Gettysburg farm. Forster’s brother-in-law later retrieved the captain’s remains and re-interred them in Centre County’s Spring Creek Presbyterian Cemetery. …

While Pugh struggled to stop students from leaving the school to fight in the war, he also considered joining the Army. Pugh wrote in a letter to Johnson, “Prof. Wilson and myself have been helping to raise a military company at Boalsburg. He is elected captain and will go if called upon. I would have gone if I could have left. Walker, Buner, Stoner, and Rich have gone.” He added, with uncharacteristic venom, “I would leave my quakerism at home till we could give those traitor scoundrels such a thundering thrashing as no people ever got before.”

Instead, Pugh fought the war by wielding a pen to write letters, campaigning endlessly for the Farm School in Harrisburg and enduring batteries of meetings with government officials and bureaucrats to shore up its land-grant status. Pugh, though, had an almost prophetic belief that while the war would be won on battlefields, the peace and the reconstruction that would follow would be won on the campuses of universities like Penn State.


If you want to support this course, consider a gift to the Stephen D. Garguilo Nittany Valley Society University History Endowment in the College of the Liberal Arts, which specifically supports HIST 148: History of Penn State.

I’ve made a habit of visiting Penn State to sit in on the course for a lecture each semester it’s been offered so far (Fall 2017 and 2018), and am planning to do that again sometime this autumn.

Forward Operating Base Shank

J.P. Lawrence writes on what we’ve left behind in the form of ex-American military base in Afghanistan, and what it reveals about our approach to our presence there:

Limping as he climbed the stairs of a watchtower, the general turned his gaze south toward a once-sprawling base the Americans handed over to Afghan forces here in late 2014. Today much of it lies in ruins.

“Everything went to pieces,” Brig. Gen. Abdul Raziq Safi said of the base, which the Americans dubbed Forward Operating Base Shank. “Everything fell apart.”

After more than 17 years and $80 billion to build them up, Afghan security forces still struggle to secure their country, while corruption and other challenges strain their ability to maintain equipment and facilities provided by foreign forces, largely the United States.

FOB Shank’s fate — left to rot in the hands of overwhelmed Afghans — illustrates those challenges…

Roaming packs of feral dogs now bed down at what was once Shank’s busy helicopter landing pad. Crows pick over scrap heaps amid metal tent skeletons whose torn plastic skins whip in the wind. Snow blows through collapsed walls of wood huts that once housed military offices.

As more Americans have been pushed out to Dahlke to advise front line units in the past year, U.S. troops have forayed into the wasteland to reclaim abandoned equipment, such as heaters and generators.

“You drive through and it’s like the ‘Walking Dead,’” 1st Lt. Tom Kopec, 26, a soldier in the 1st Cavalry Regiment, said in December. …

Even with a base full of troops, Safi couldn’t afford to maintain it, he said, claiming the facilities are too costly to run. Everything the Americans left requires power, he said, even bathroom door locks his troops have replaced with ordinary padlocks.

Despite $2 billion in U.S.-funded power projects, Afghanistan’s grid remains underdeveloped and unreliable, and bases often depend on electric generators to power lights, heaters and other equipment.

For just one of the big tents now rotting in Zombieland, the Americans would burn about 80 gallons of fuel a night, said Safi, who spent hours one January morning searching room to room in his headquarters for a working heater.

“Where are Afghans supposed to get that much fuel?” Safi asked. He said later: “The Americans, money has no value for them.” …

“We were being less than truthful with ourselves that the Afghans would be able to take care of these bases,” [retired General Richard P.] Mills said.

Thinking back on our most recent September 11th.

Inspiration from Morehouse College

Eric Stirgus writes:

Morehouse College visiting professor Nathan Alexander said he was just trying to help when he not only allowed a student to bring his infant daughter to his class on Friday, but volunteered to hold the child as he taught.

Pictures of the unconventional situation have garnered such attention on social media, with many hailing Alexander’s efforts to assist the student, Wayne Hayer, when he couldn’t find childcare.

“I’m not an exception,” Alexander said in a telephone interview Saturday afternoon with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We have teachers who (assist students in similar ways) every day.”

Alexander said he initially discussed the idea of the student bringing the child to class a few weeks ago when Hayer said he couldn’t stay for office hours because he needed to pick her up.

To the professor’s surprise, Hayer took Alexander up on his offer. Hayer arrived to Alexander’s algebra class with the baby girl dressed in a pink outfit. The professor said he was “gleeful.”

Alexander, though, noticed Hayer was distracted watching the child during the beginning of the 50-minute class and offered to hold her.

“Hey, I’ll take her so you can take some good notes,” Alexander recalled saying.
Alexander said he rocked the child with his left hand and lectured with his right hand. The child, the professor said, was quiet through the class and fell asleep near the end of his lecture. …

Alexander, who joined the Morehouse faculty in 2017, said this was not his first experience allowing a student to bring a child to class. He recalled a student once brought a child Alexander believes was 8 or 9 to his class.

Alexander said such allowances, to him, are part of the mission of colleges such as Morehouse, the nation’s lone college for African-American men  — men finding ways to help other men. The Atlanta college’s most famous graduate is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

When I’ve written about the need for a broader, authentic spectrum of choice, this is the sort of thing I have in mind beyond law and policy reforms. We should be able to respond in better ways to the natural needs of mothers and fathers than to promote extreme choices like abortion or expensive childcare, both of which are sometimes impossible or anathema to many people—and both of which, by the way, are economic in nature.

We want more Americans to feel more able to thrive in the world, with children regardless of particular circumstance. Professor Alexander provides a good model for what sort of response contributes to a more humane culture. It’s the little things that make the big differences.

Cuba introduces mobile internet access

When Americans think about Cuba, nostalgia often points to things like the island’s 1950s American cars that continue to line city streets and occasionally coast along Cuba’s mostly-empty highways. But more than nostalgia for particular things that have remained in a sort of amber in there due to Community captivity, there has been something like a nostalgia one feels for a way of daily life that existed prior to globalization, commercialization, the internet, and mobile devices. It wasn’t just that being in Cuba felt isolating when I visited in 2010, rather it was that the ten days I spent there felt like something close to time travel. Andrea Rodriguez reports on how that is changing, specifically on the impact of mobile internet access:

In the 2 1/2 months since Cuba allowed its citizens internet access via cellphones, fast-moving changes are subtle but palpable as Cubans challenge government officials online, post photos of filthy school bathrooms and drag what was one of the world’s least-connected countries into the digital age. Communist authorities, in turn, are having to learn how to deal with more visible pressure coming from outside of party-controlled popular and neighborhood committees.

“Life has changed,” said Alberto Cabrera, 25, who is part of the team that developed the Sube app. “You see it when you walk down the street. The other day, looking from the roof of my house I could see that a neighbor had mobile internet service, as did the person in front and the person beyond him. You never saw that before.”

In the first 40 days after Dec. 6, when people could start buying internet access packages for 3G service, 1.8 million Cubans on this island of 11 million purchased the services. A government report last week said about 6.4 million residents use the internet and social networks.

Previously, nearly all Cubans could use mobile phones to link only to their state-run email accounts unless they connected to the internet at a limited number of government-sponsored Wi-Fi spots.

“We are in a process of learning about how to use the data” packages, said Claudia Cuevas, 26, a university professor and member of the Sube team. “Before you went to the park (with Wi-Fi zones) once a week to communicate with your family.”

The history of the internet in Cuba has been rife with tensions and suspicions since it began in the 1990s. Cuba’s government accused Washington of blocking its access to the fiber optical cables near the island, forcing it to use an expensive and slow satellite service. It was only in 2011 that Cuba got access to a submarine cable with the help of Venezuela. And it wasn’t until 2015 that the general population gained access through the opening of Wi-Fi points in hundreds of parks. …

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel opened a Twitter account prior to December and recently ordered all his ministers and senior leaders to do the same. But many of them only retweet official messages or propaganda slogans without providing their own content or answering citizens’ questions.

McCarrick

Hannah Brockhaus reported on Saturday that 88 year old former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been laicized, stripped “of all the rights and privileges of a cleric” and is now unable to function or refer to himself as a priest:

He was publicly accused last year of sexually abusing at least two adolescent boys, and of engaging for decades in coercive sexual behavior toward priests and seminarians.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith conducted an administrative penal process which found McCarrick guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power,” according to a Feb. 16 Vatican communique. …

Because Pope Francis personally approved the guilty verdict and the penalty of laicization, it is formally impossible for the decision to be appealed. …

The allegations of sexual abuse against McCarrick became public in June 2018 when the Archdiocese of New York reported that it had received a “credible” allegation that McCarrick sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s, while serving as a New York priest. McCarrick stepped down that same month from all public ministry at the direction of the Holy See.

In July, Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals, ordering McCarrick to a life of prayer and penance pending the completion of the canonical process concerning the allegations. Since the end of September, McCarrick has been residing at the St. Fidelis Capuchin Friary in Victoria, Kansas.

It’s worth committing to memory the gravity of McCarrick’s crimes and their inevitable effects on the faith and fortitude of those who were near to him, first from a legitimate concern for the spiritual wellbeing of those concerned, and second for the healing and strengthening of Christians and communities corroded by the nature of McCarrick’s mendaciousness. In July 2018, J.D. Flynn wrote:

A new allegation of child sexual abuse was leveled against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick last Thursday, one month after the June announcement that he had been suspended from priestly ministry following an investigation into a different charge of sexual abuse on the part of the cardinal.

Along with emerging accounts from priests and former seminarians of sexual coercion and abuse by McCarrick, those allegations paint a picture of McCarrick’s sexual malfeasance that may be among the most grave, tragic, and, for many Catholics, infuriating, as any in recent Catholic history.

From all corners of the Church, questions are being raised about those who might have known about McCarrick’s misconduct, about how the Church will now handle the allegations against McCarrick, and about what it means for the Church that a prominent, powerful, and reportedly predatory cleric was permitted to continue in ministry for decades without censure or intervention.

Because McCarrick was a leading voice in the Church’s 2002 response to the sexual abuse crisis in the United States, and an architect of the USCCB’s Dallas Charter of the same year, the credibility of that response has also, for some, come into question.

…when a bishop behaves with sexual immorality, the effects ripple across his entire diocese. Priests and seminarians who object to that sexual immorality leave quickly, or find themselves marginalized. Those who rise to leadership positions are those who are left: those who are willing to accept the bishop’s sexual immorality, those who are complicit in it, or those who are too naive to notice it. Those in the first two categories, being willing to accept some rejections of Catholic teaching, are usually also likely to accept other rejections of Catholic teaching. That can be reflected in their pastoral leadership and catechesis, and consequently, an entire diocese can be formed with a theological perspective framed by relativism, tolerance of immorality, or compromise. The effects of a bishop’s sexual immorality can lead to spiritual and catechetical decline across an entire diocese.

Matthew Schmitz highlighted the words of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a Doctor of the Church, who lived from 1090 to 1153:

“When such men are protected, supported, honored, cherished, many are greatly amazed and scandalized; since they most surely know of that in their characters and lives, which in any of the laity, to say nothing of a Bishop, should be severely censured and execrated. What it is I should be ashamed to write, and it would not befit you to read. Be it so, that without an accuser they cannot be deposed, yet why should those whom common rumor accuses be honored, and yet further exalted, with the special favor of the Apostolic See?”

Sohrab Ahmari called for the return of “sackcloth and ashes:”

McCarrick’s depravities–and the culture of laxness in the Church that enabled them–made it that much harder for Catholics to speak moral truth in a secular world starved for it. They defile the Church. They scandalize the faithful. They invite God’s wrath. …

Writers wiser than I have offered important policy recommendations for moving forward. But the first step is, as I say, sackcloth and ashes. I mean that quite literally. Following ancient Israel’s footsteps, the early Church adopted ashes as an expression of sorrow for sin. Depending on the sin, public penitents were required to wear ashes and sackcloth. The Church should bring back such practices. Whatever criminal and civil consequences await McCarrick, he should also be called to Rome and forced to circle Saint Peter’s Square in sackcloth and ashes, perhaps while the pope observes from the steps of the basilica. Or how about having McCarrick spend hours kneeling at a prie-dieu while Pope Francis looks upon him with anger and contempt? Others have proposed corporal punishments. I’m not opposed to these, either. The point is that the old apologies and settlements won’t do.

Ryan Scheel offered further context and described past practice:

…in the ancient Catholic Church, the punishments for clergy who sexually preyed on victims were not as relatively urbane as these modern approaches.

Saint Basil the Great, a Doctor of the Church, writing in the 4th-century, described how the early Catholic Church dealt with those guilty of sexual abuse among the clergy.

“Any cleric or monk who seduces young men or boys, or who is apprehended in kissing or in any shameful situation, shall be publicly flogged and shall lose his clerical tonsure. Thus shorn, he shall be disgraced by spitting in his face, bound in iron chains, wasted by six months of close confinement, and for three days each week put on barley bread given him toward evening. Following this period, he shall spend a further six months living in a small segregated courtyard in custody of a spiritual elder, kept busy with manual labor and prayer, subjected to vigils and prayers, forced to walk at all times in the company of two spiritual brothers, never again allowed to associate with young men.”

Ross Douthat called for a formal investigation into the scope of McCarrick’s influence and impact:

In 2013, when Pope Benedict XVI resigned, McCarrick was too old to vote in the conclave but was active in the politicking. When Pope Francis was elected, he became an eminence grise, whose lobbying helped elevate several of the new pope’s choices for high office in the American church — including the new cardinal archbishop of Newark, Joseph Tobin, and the head of the Vatican dicastery for family life, Kevin Farrell, both of whom considered McCarrick a mentor.

In other words, two decades after McCarrick should have been removed from his offices, defrocked and handed over to the civil authorities, he was instead wielding remarkable influence in the church … right up until the moment when a lifetime’s worth of crimes were finally dragged into the light.

I think this long and sickening narrative should clarify why the McCarrick case, though “only” about one abuser, merits an expansive and public accounting of the facts. Over the course of multiple decades, across a period in which not just crimes but cover-ups devastated the moral credibility of the church’s hierarchy, many important figures in Rome and the United States must have known that a man who embodied the official response to the scandal was as guilty as any of the priests whose conduct he pretended to deplore.

Someone, or indeed many someones, needs to be held accountable for this disaster. And that accountability requires more than self-exculpating statements from the cardinals involved. It requires judgment — which requires more certain knowledge — which requires investigation — which probably requires an investigator with a mandate from the pope himself.

R.R. Reno connected McCarrick to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on Catholic abuse:

In one sense, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report tells us nothing we didn’t already know. But it spells things out in inescapable detail, in a series of case studies complete with diocesan memos and letters from bishops.

The lurid details of the actions of predatory priests are troubling. But still more troubling are the evasions of responsibility by those in charge—including, in some instances, secular authorities, who in the 1960s tended to cooperate with Church leaders in keeping things quiet. Well into the 1980s, bishops and their staffs were still employing the old techniques: shuttling malefactors to remote dioceses, stonewalling civil authorities, and working hard to “avoid scandal,” which means keeping secrets and minimizing accountability. …

The current culture of the American episcopacy makes even good men incapable of rooting out the corruption in their midst. One can’t help but cringe while reading the Grand Jury Report, the way one does in a car spinning slowly off the highway.

In memo after memo, bishops and their assistants downplay and cover up misdeeds, and evade doing the hard but right thing. …

…the episcopal establishment has been failing for a long time, and in many phases. It failed to secure the theological loyalty of Catholic colleges and universities. No diocese has systematically implemented the reforms of the liturgy encouraged by Pope Benedict. The American episcopacy oversees parochial school systems in decline, and sponsors social justice ministries run by people who reject the Church’s teaching on many moral matters. In recent decades, the bishops’ conference has made feeble efforts to recover the electoral influence it had when archbishops and cardinals were part of the Democratic party’s urban machines.

Despair says, “Nothing will change.” But that is false. Many of us have long known that we cannot trust Catholic schools run by the established system to teach our kids to be Catholic. Our response has been to found lay-run schools. The Neo-Catechumenate Way, Opus Dei, Communion and Liberation—like the religious orders founded in earlier centuries, these movements seek to do what the chancery-dominated, establishment Church can’t.

These movements are not anti-clerical. They don’t reject the bishops. But they don’t wait around for the episcopal establishment, which is so often unable to meet the challenges of our time. …

Collectively, the American bishops lack moral and spiritual authority. That does not make them irrelevant. They will need to get their act together and address their obvious failures. But the sources of renewal will come from elsewhere, from determined, energetic, and faithful men and women who don’t wait around for bishops to act. That’s how the gospel has been well served so often in the past.

And Michael Brendan Dougherty calls for “better men” and investigation:

Fifteen years ago Frank Keating, the former governor of Oklahoma, resigned from a panel called the National Review Board, set up by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to monitor compliance with the Church’s new anti-abuse politics. He was under intense pressure to resign because he had offended bishops when he said some of them were acting like “La Cosa Nostra,” a reference to the Sicilian Mafia.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles and other prelates made a great show of detesting Keating’s remarks. Keating refused to apologize. “My remarks, which some bishops found offensive, were deadly accurate. I make no apology,” he said. “To resist grand-jury subpoenas, to suppress the names of offending clerics, to deny, to obfuscate, to explain away; that is the model of a criminal organization, not my church,” Keating said in his resignation statement.

Keating was dismissed as a crank. …

Of course, Keating was right. Mahoney was later exposed as having engaged in an energetic attempt to cover up the truth about his own diocese. He shielded predators from law enforcement and even argued that the personnel files of the archdiocese were protected by the seal of the confessional. …

The Pennsylvania grand-jury report names hundreds of predator priests across seven decades of life in six Catholic diocese in the state. Some of the details in the report are so vile and lurid they would have been rejected from the writer’s room of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. They include priests “marking” their preferred boy-victims with special crosses, priests trading and compiling their own homemade child pornography. At one point in the report, a large redaction is made over what appears to be, in context, a ritualized and satanic gang-rape of a young boy by four priests. …

Other state attorneys general should do investigations like Pennsylvania’s. As a Catholic, I’m tired of waiting for the next red slipper to drop. If the Church cannot govern itself from within, then it will be governed from without. That’s not a policy, but the iron law of history.

“We are deeply saddened,” they say. Spare us this fake public-relations drivel. We don’t need your sadness, we don’t need new policies. We need better men.