The motto of the Roman Catholic Church is Semper Idem which, when translated, means “Always the same.” Those who remember the way things were done before Vatican II might wonder why their church continues to use this motto. There have been, for example, a number of changes in how Mass is celebrated under the Novus Ordo scheme.
Some might argue that changing the way the faithful participate in the Mass is not big thing. I imagine that quite a few older Catholics are relieved that the stand-sit-kneel-stand dance that could be very hard on old, arthritic knees has been almost completely eliminated. Some might say that being able to look their priest in the eye, at least some of the time, is a positive thing; as is hearing the Mass performed in a modern language.
I have noticed a few changes, however, that do not seem at all minor to me. When I was Catholic, half a century ago, the SIX Precepts (or Commandments) of the Catholic Church were drummed into my head by priests and nuns who were seriously concerned that we kids were fully aware of the Precepts and the grave penalties that could result from violating any one of them.
I recall that the Sixth Precept not infrequently was a topic of conversation between we students and those charged with inculcating the foundational operating rules that governed lives of the Catholic faithful. Here is how one catechism treated that Precept:
Thus was the way Mama Church looked at marriage in the good old days. I remind readers that the above 'commandment' was the sixth and final Precept of the Catholic Church prior to Vatican II. The "Marriage Precept" does not appear in the new Catechism, which defines Precepts of the Church in these words:
There you have it, the Catholic hierarchy made the Precepts in order “to guarantee for the faithful the indispensable minimum in prayer and moral effort.” I suppose the old commandment concerning marriage is no longer considered necessary in order to guarantee…blah, blah, blah. Off hand, I'd say that eliminating the precept concerning marriage, though the subject is addressed at length in paragraphs 1601 through 1654, constitutes a pretty considerable change—thus giving the lie to Semper Idem.
However, the motto certainly does appear to hold true as concerns the way the Catholic Church in America handles charges of sexual misconduct, alleged and/or proven, against priests and religious. A case in point was reported in a number of newspapers on Halloween., 2005. How appropriate!
According to the Hartford archdiocese, six of the accused priests are dead. Four others are retired. Three of the alleged sex offenders are still on the job, but not in what was termed “active ministry.” Does that mean, I wonder, that they are working as crossing guards near Catholic elementary schools or, perhaps, they have jobs dusting books in the chancery.
The 14th accused priest is still on the job as pastor of a parish. This guy, William Przybylo by name, stills holds his old post as pastor of Saints Cyril and Methodius Church in Hartford.
“How could it be,” one might ask, “that a priest alleged to be a sex offender and who is a party in the settlement agreed on by the archdiocese and lawyers for the victims continue to shepherd Catholic faithful?” Here's what Przybylo had to say:
Some less than charitable readers might suspect that reasons other than the search for justice motivated the accusers to act after decades of apparently doing nothing. Another source informs:
What kind of stuff was going on that might have bothered parents? One of the accusers had something to say about that:
Father Glynn died a dozen years ago and, aside from spiritual methods perhaps available to Catholic mystics, is not available to answer the charges against him.