Posts Tagged ‘Dorothy Day’

Beethoven and Pope Francis

Monday, March 10th, 2014

On the afternoon of 3/9/14, as a recipient of gift tickets from kind co-workers, I attended a recital in Chicago given by the masterful Mitsuko Uchida of Schubert’s Sonata in G Major, D. 894, and Beethoven’s 33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120.

During the recital, a few rows behind me I heard a continual wheezing sound, and eventually realized that it was an oxygen device used by a man in the audience. By intermission, half the row in front of the gentleman with the oxygen device had left the concert, along with a scattering of the nearby audience, and through the concert people continued to depart the area nearby the man with the oxygen device. Many pianissimo passages in the Schubert were fuzzed by the wheezing oxygen.

Throughout, I reflected on how a Christian should best respond to the situation, and literally, what Pope Francis would have done. Obviously, the best response was to let the gentleman with the oxygen device enjoy his concert in peace, and that the remaining audience did. And as it turned out, the Beethoven Diabelli Variations had many loud passages, so the wheezing device did not conquer Beethoven as it had disturbed Schubert. When a broken string banged out during the performance, I recalled that Beethoven was known for having an assistant stand by to remove the several broken strings that were known to be regular casualties of his performances. Beethoven is quite capable even today of generating his own disturbances!

When pondering about Pope Francis I recalled the news stories of that Saturday of June 22, 2013 when Pope Francis skipped a concert of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony scheduled to be performed by the RAI National Symphony Orchestra, directed by conductor Juraj Valcuha of Slovakia. When Giampiero Sposito’s picture of the throne-like empty white chair flashed around the world, I reflected that the Pope might have made a different point if he had simply sat in the audience, and put, say, a man with an oxygen device on the throne.

Source: Giampiero Sposito / Reuters 6/22/13

When Pope Francis released his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel, on 11/24/13, I immediately recalled that he had skipped a concert of Beethoven’s setting of Schiller’s Ode to Joy.

It is safe to say that Beethoven’s (and Schiller’s) Ode to Joy and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis will be heard by more people–and move more people–than ever will read or be moved by all the encyclicals of all the popes in history.

(Yes, I’ve been taking my second spin through Evangelii Gaudium, and have read and taught dozens of papal writings, but I’ve heard the 9th Symphony and the Missa Solemnis hundreds of times).

Certainly, one can look on classical music as the music of the rich–and read through the list of wealthy donors in the programs–but that would be to misunderstand the universal gift of music, itself a world-wide natural language of peace, a gift in no small part the gift of Catholicism itself.

Beethoven was the Catholic son of a poorly paid (nothing new here) church musician, driven by his desperate father to learn all ninety-six preludes and fugues of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier by the age of eleven, to be another Mozart (at almost 63, after over 52 years of study, I’ve not mastered half of these pieces). Mozart before Beethoven, and Schubert after Beethoven, were also Catholics. There was a time when one could enter almost any Catholic church and hear Mozart’s sublime motet, Ave Verum Corpus. And that is a telling point about music and Catholicism: Catholicism brought the most beautiful music of the world–from the chant to the symphonic masses–to the common everyday people in thousands and thousands of parishes around the world.

And we must understand who musicians are: Yes, a few of the elite musicians are wealthy and influential. But almost all master musicians are common people who work their keasters off for little pay for long hours and days and weeks practicing and learning and perfecting so they can bring the gift of beauty to others. And many people sacrifice–save up–to go to concerts. Each concert is a celebration of generosity: Behind every classical concert are multiple stories of gifting, from the often poorly-compensated work of the musicians to the sponsors of the concert to those who share tickets with others. My co-workers took the Christmas money I gave to them, and gave it back to me by buying me tickets. Music has never been more accessible than it is today, via Youtube, iTunes, and other portals. But never has truly great music been so precious and overlooked amidst all the din and thumping.

I recall that when I was about twenty years old and still in the seminary over forty years ago, I drafted and signed an open letter with a friend reflecting on whether it was a just act to hire professional musicians for a seminary liturgy when there were people suffering who needed our help. It was my later friend and teaching colleague, the late Fr. Stanley Rudcki, who was the conductor! Years later, I’ve realized that I had been spiritually tone deaf: we are called to bring both justice and beauty into the world, and that we have to find a way to keep doing both. As Dostoyevsky said, and Dorothy Day often quoted, “The world will be saved by beauty.”

I well understand that the Pope was rejecting the throne and not the music when he skipped the concert. But I suspect that while the press will sooner or later desert the Pope, Beethoven never will. The melody of the Ode to Joy has been put to hymnody the world over. While the Church is indeed a hospital for sinners, it is also the concert hall of everyday people.

Therefore, I think it would be a great idea for Pope Francis and Beethoven to team up on that joy thing, especially if the Pope puts a poor child on the throne, and takes a place for himself in the nosebleed section.

Perhaps there’s another open date on the calendar of the RAI National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Juraj Valcuha of Slovakia for a little Beethoven. . . this time with the Pope in attendance.


I noted on the way to the 3/9/14 recital that the lovely little Chicago restaurant, Russian Tea Time, had apparently had its windows and glass door vandalized, presumably over the Russian incursion into Crimea. But Russian Tea Time is not exactly the headquarters of Mr. Putin, and could have easily been spared the damage.

I also packed about a half-dozen Clif bars (meal bars) in advance to give to the many people who beg outside the Chicago Symphony Center. All the bars were given away by the time we departed the parking lot (but $40 to park!), one block from the recital. For many reasons (I would rather spend the money on someone else, and the seats hurt!) I rarely go to Symphony Center any more. But I am thankful for the gift of great music. . . and am especially grateful to Ms. Uchida for her artistry. . .

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Betty J. Schneider 1918-2013

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Betty J. Schneider, born July 21, 1918 in rural Minnesota, hailing from a family chicken farm near the town of Austin, passed to her eternal reward from Chicago on Christmas Day, 2013, after a lifetime of commitment to racial and social justice within the Roman Catholic tradition.

Betty was the first to volunteer at Catherine de Hueck Doherty’s Friendship House in Harlem, New York City, in 1938, having traveled from her southern Minnesota farm for adventure during a college summer.

Thereafter Betty was continuously involved in the Friendship House apostolate as a volunteer, staff member, or board / adviser, becoming the Friendship House National Director in the 1950s when FH maintained five houses (now closed) throughout the United States.

A 1939 graduate of the College of St. Benedict at St. Joseph, Minnesota, which recognized her in recent years with a President’s Award, Betty also earned an MSW from Fordham University.

After her 1950s Friendship House directorship, Betty worked for the Chicago Public Schools, and for many subsequent years was the college placement counselor at the University of Chicago Lab School. In retirement she worked as an educational consultant, while residing throughout her latter Chicago days in St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Besides recognition from the College of St. Benedict, Betty received several other awards, including a citation in the early 1990s from the Council for College Attendance.

When Chicago’s Friendship House ran a day shelter for the homeless on Division St. during the 1980s until closing in 2000, Betty still served food at FH meals following regular liturgies and contributed much at FH Chicago Board meetings.

In her final years Betty assisted Chicago historians in identifying photographs brought to her from the Chicago History Museum’s collection on racial justice efforts in Chicago.


The following are excerpts / paraphrases from my U.S. Catholic Historian article on Friendship House and from the 1978 40th anniversary issue of FH’s Community Magazine (see page 38):

Betty’s 1937-38 year of college, saw visits from four now noted American Catholics: Catherine de Hueck, Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, Fr. Paul Hanly Furfey, sociologist and author of Fire on the Earth, who had lectured and then given a retreat. Betty and friend Jo Zehnle decided to write Dorothy and Catherine and see if they could work with them that summer. Dorothy did not write back but Catherine did. Betty recollected in the Friendship House oral history Catherine’s message as:

“Well sure, come and I’ll get you a family to live with in the neighborhood. There’ll be good days and bad days but you can come share whatever we have.” And so that was the summer of 1938, and I went to work in Harlem.

Betty Schneider brought two African American female students, Kathleen Yanes and Gertrude Danaval, with her when returning to the College of St. Benedict in the Fall of 1938, thus beginning the racial integration of that college. This direct personal action was the Friendship House pattern established by Catherine de Hueck, which Betty typified.

Friendship House staff and volunteers Betty Schneider, Bill Flynn, Monica Smith Cox, and Ed Adams were beaten in Chicago by bigots after they walked down a Chicago street together in 1946. Ed, the lone African American male in the group, was arrested.

In one memorable incident in the 1960s, Betty asked the donor of the Lewis Towers building on Loyola University’s campus why she did not allow African Americans to swim in the donated swimming pool.


But Betty Schneider should have the last word. Here is a reminiscence she wrote in 1978 of her days with Friendship House:

My prayer at nineteen was “I don’t care what you do with my life, Lord, but please, don’t make it dull.” Its answer, I can see now, was Friendship House.

From that summer of 1938 when I boarded a bus with a college friend to spend two months of what I thought would be hardship in Harlem, New York City, it has been a constant influence. It has given me highs and lows that make the Psalms come alive, Psalms I learned at F.H. in the daily Prime and Compline. It’s challenged talents I never knew I had and some I didn’t have and it has brought an over-riding theme to my life and my work. Whether within or outside the staff circle of Friendship House, I’ve always been involved, one way or another, in black-white relations.

Hundreds of memories jumble together to make a mosaic of what Friendship House is to me. There are the little in-house phrases, often humorous, sometimes profound- “I would I could a bourgeois be;” “being before doing” which an occasional staff-worker would facetiously interpret as avoiding work of a morning while prone, he was striving “to be;” “Work is love made visible,” “Joy is the echo of God’s life in us.” Most were not original with us, but they became a part of us.

There was the pain and the heartwarming notes of trying to be a “civil rights movement” before the civil rights movement, the agonies and the joys of living in community, the anxieties of rent to pay and typewriters that almost seemed to walk out the door, and the sense of security that came when, providentially and often at the last moment, money or substitutes were provided.

The smell of Harlem of an early morning; singing through a requiem from the front pew at Saint Elizabeth’s, all alone when a delegated partner didn’t hear her alarm; traveling by bus, by train, by plane, and most of all with donated cars that managed to break down at the most inopportune times- all are part of a nostalgic mix with a strong meaning for me.

On food alone, I could wax eloquently, strange in so far as we talked of detachment but understandable, nevertheless, for feast and famine related to donations. Never to be forgotten for all of F.H. in the forties and early fifties was Teevie [Elizabeth Teevan], our greatly loved house mother, who, believe it or not, fed us well on $2.50 per week. Her dedication to Blessed Martin (now St. Martin de Porres) probably named our array of soups, salads, and casseroles for him. All were combinations of leftovers, prepared by as many different cooks as there were workers, and differing primarily in kind through the addition of water, mayonnaise, or a baking dish. There were the successes and there were the disasters. Who could forget sauerkraut, beets, and tangerines all in one soup?

There are the funny and the poignant tales of trying to live poverty or identify with poor only to find that the people who left and married often began to do both. We built courages in the strains of programs that failed, problems that loomed insurmountable and perplexities that were inevitable in the comings and goings of hundreds of young idealists. The greatest of these for me has been the “courage to re-organize.” Sometimes at very low ebb, it revives itself at crucial times in my work or in volunteering at F.H. through the years. It comes, I think, because basically, I learned, as we used to say, “God is a friend of the family,” and trying to serve is His work.

Friendship House gave me contact with a great variety of life styles, and a realization of the need for change. It offered opportunities to work for that change and helps to deal with it when it came suddenly in the church, in race relations, and in my life.

Most of all, it gave me friendships that stretch across the country and farther. Built on working, struggling, playing, and praying together, they remain. Their joys are renewed-in a visit to the B and Combermere, a chance meeting with a Casita “kid” twenty years later, and F .H. weekend or party-for I share a vision and a common experience with a circle of people. God grant that I can give to them a little of the confidence and security I feel in those sharings. They bring a height and a depth to my life and a sense of expectancy. They’ve brought the adventure I so glibly sought in my teens.

Betty Schneider, from Community, Vol. 37, No. 3, 1978, pp. 21-22.

As of this 1/6/14 writing, due to the holidays and to the extreme cold in Chicago, memorial arrangements are still pending for Betty Schneider. I’ll post something here as soon as details are known. May she rest in the Lord’s peace!

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


79 Years Later, Big Media Discovers, Dr. Donohue Hammers, the Catholic Worker

Monday, May 28th, 2012

For the better part of fourscore years, major media did not generally refer to the Catholic Worker movement (1933- ) by its proper name when it caused a ruckus, but as the generic “radical group.” This changed on 5/14/12, when Catholic Worker activists staged a nonviolent protest at Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago just prior to the 5/20 – 5/21/12 NATO Summit, and thereby garnered some of the first international media attention prior to the Summit.

Man in Catholic Worker T-Shirt with Chicago Police, Source:

This action also drew the interest of media commentator Glenn Beck, who like many others over the past eighty years (and many Catholic Workers themselves) wondered what the heck the Catholic Worker movement was. He therefore turned to Dr. Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, for background on the Catholic Worker movement.

As one who supports both the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and also contributes to the Catholic Worker, I was disappointed in Dr. Donahue’s rant on the 5/15/12 Glenn Beck show against some Catholic Worker activists (see about halfway down the linked page) for their demonstration against war at Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago on 5/14/12. Here are some excerpts from the exchange between Mr. Beck and Dr. Donohue:

G. Beck: Tell me about this group.

B. Donohue: Yes, the Catholic Worker Movement began in 1933. A woman by the name of Dorothy Day–she was fairly radical at the time, and she traveled in some kind of left-wing circles. However, in fairness to her, she made some mistakes, I mean, at one point she had an abortion which she later regretted very deeply. She did reach out to the poor and she did include drug addicts and prostitutes and others, she took in people others would not.

GB: [uncertain reading] And so did Jesus. . .

BD: She was a strong opponent of the New Deal. She believed that Catholics had to go out and help each person personally, and not depend on the government, which would in fact would create a state of dependency. So to that extent by today’s markings she would be regarded as being somewhat conservative, quite unlike the ragtag band today that has slapped the name Catholic on their anarchism.

GB: OK, Dorothy Day is kind of a tough one because, I mean, I read the book [holds up Dr. Donohue’s book], and you know, you find out that she is against New Deal and you find out that she has a problem with it because it is government dependency, but she also married an anarchist and she is–I believe–I didn’t have a chance to check today–but I think that Obama and everybody else has done a big deal on Dorothy Day, and she’s a hero of the Uber Left. Is she just a, has she just been co-opted? — kind of like Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been co-opted by the Left–and he’s not a Lefty.

BD: No, she’s definitely been co-opted. Listen, the late John Cardinal O’Connor was a great man–and he was hardly some kind of screaming socialist–and he put her on the cause to sainthood. She was a good woman. She admitted she had made mistakes in the past. She wouldn’t be too happy, in fact, she’s got to be turning over in her grave to see that these people who are out there with the Occupy Wall Street people: they have no organization; they stand for nothing.

As a matter of fact–Glenn, just pick it up from here–They want a week without capitalism. The old Marxists would have said we want an eternity with socialism. They can’t sell socialism because it’s failed all over the globe. So all they want to do now is, like nihilists, they want to annihilate. They want to rip down capitalism. They don’t have a single blueprint to put in its place.

She actually did pay her dues. She went out there one-on-one to help the poor. These people all they do is they throw up their tents, they sing, they dance, they take over buildings and the like. They have nothing in common with Dorothy Day. They are a disgrace. And on top of that they’re in the wrong religion. We are not a pacifistic religion. They’re against NATO. I’m a veteran and the president of the Catholic League. I’m glad we have NATO, and I want a stronger NATO.

GB: OK, so, here’s the problem, Bill, and I’m so glad to have you on because you’ve got to go to the source, instead of, you know, you don’t, you don’t talk to the Chevy dealer about a Ford. Let’s talk to the Catholics about the Catholics. I see this, and I think the average non-Catholic sees this and says, What are the Catholics doing?

It’s just like, you know, you have the nun, I don’t remember her name, but she came out–was it Sr. Jean, or something–and she came out and she said, Hey, Obamacare is great, and you’re like: What are the Catholics doing now? But there is a real split in the Church. Do you know anything specifically about this group because, these guys, they’re communists.

BD: Yeah, they’re, I would call them more like anarchists, communists, whatever. A communist at least had a blueprint–they were totally flawed–but at least they had some idea where they thought [we] could take it. These people just want to tear down. They’re more like brats who see the Erector Set and they just want to destroy it, they don’t want to put up anything in its place. There’s nothing Catholic about them. They’re a ragtag group. They don’t have any board of directors. They have no headquarters. They could just slap the name Catholic on there and the media will give them that attention.

And you know what? They have a bipolar age distribution. In other words, there’s the very young, the ones in their twenties, who are very angry, they don’t want to get a job, and then the others who are about maybe six to twelve months away from assisted living.

GB: OK, so (laughter) you don’t mince any words. What you’re saying is that they’re the 60s hippies. . .

BD: That’s right.

GB: The radicals, and the twenty-somethings that they have co-opted. . .

BD: That’s right.

GB: Which is what, which is exactly what what we’re seeing in the universities.

BD: That’s exactly right. Everyone else has a job, they’re normal, they go to work. You have a generation of young people obviously in their twenties who don’t seem to want to, you know, get in step with the rest of us and get a job, or maybe they can’t get a job. And then you’ve got the old hippies who are out there, some of them are Catholic, some of them are Protestant, or Jewish, whatever they might be. They have more in common with each other certainly than the rank and file Catholics who go to church on Sunday and pay the bills for the Catholic Church. I guarantee its been a long time since these people ever went to church–and gave any money.

Which, take a look at the work of Arthur Brooks and others, the people on the Left are the ones who give the least amount of money to the poor. And there’s a reason for that. They think they have a right to pick the pocket of the rich and that’s the way to help the poor.

Dorothy Day knew better. You have the help them out one-on-one, and not just rip off the poor and say, My job is done. These people are a disgrace.

Source: Glenn Beck Program, 5/15/12, posted at, viewed 5/16/12

Now Dr. Donohue has a tough job fending off misleading SNAP attacks on the Catholic Church, defending good popes past and present against vicious slander, standing up for religious freedom especially on the HHS Mandate, and responding to a general cultural war against Catholic teaching and values–all this from the epicenter of New York, New York–and I support him and the Catholic League in his defense of the faith–but this time on the Catholic Worker he got it wrong.

Almost everything that Dr. Donahue said of the present-day Catholic Workers could also be–and was–said of Dorothy Day in her own time. She embraced both a form of Acts 2: 42-47 communism, an anarchism inspired by Peter Kropotkin, and a form of personalist pacifism. Each May for the past several decades, the Catholic Worker newspaper has republished its “aims and means” describing these positions.

As for whether Catholicism is a pacifistic religion, consider the famous words spoken by Servant of God Pope Paul VI on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, October 4, 1965 at the United Nations. The original French conveys some of the emotional power of Paul VI’s statement:

Il suffit de rappeler que le sang de millions d’hommes, que des souffrances inouïes et innombrables, que d’inutiles massacres et d’épouvantables ruines sanctionnent le pacte qui vous unit, en un serment qui doit changer l’histoire future du monde: jamais plus la guerre, jamais plus la guerre! C’est la paix, la paix, qui doit guider le destin des peuples et de toute l’humanité!

It is enough to recall that the blood of millions, countless unheard-of sufferings, useless massacres and frightening ruins have sanctioned the agreement that unites you with an oath that ought to change the future history of the world: never again war, never again war! It is peace, peace, that has to guide the destiny of the nations of all mankind!

Paul VI’s very historic speech, one of the first by a pope outside the Vatican in the modern era, is especially notable for the pro-life language in the final paragraphs. Some day Paul VI will be recognized as the visionary he was. Although the Catholic Church teaches a just war theory in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2307-2317, the Church on a daily basis preaches, like Paul VI, to end almost every war.

It is therefore not surprising that some Catholics, especially young adults, take this message of peace literally.

Although doing so for often different reasons from those of the socialists or communists, Dorothy Day as a Catholic Worker attended many demonstrations that outraged the Catholics of her day as much as Dr. Donahue is outraged by the Catholic Workers joining with the Occupy movement in demonstrating in Chicago during the May 20-21, 2012 NATO Summit.

And as for being ragtag, believe me, the 5/14/12 demonstration Catholic Workers were no more nor less ragtag than Stanley Vishnewski, Dorothy Day’s first fabled ragtag disciple of thousands to follow.

For more background on the particular Catholic Worker group involved in the 5/14/12 demonstration, here’s an earlier article from Loyola Magazine on the White Rose Catholic Worker community in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Here’s also information from the Nuclear Resister pacifist blog on the 5/14/12 demonstration.

I have my own criticism of the Catholic Worker philosophy, and it is one shared with the late Msgr. Paul Hanly Furfey (1896-1992) of Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, the pioneering dean of Catholic priest sociologists (Full disclosure: Fr. Furfey and I corresponded for many years beginning in the late 1970s). While he is often considered a “Catholic Worker theologian,” in his Love and the Urban Ghetto, Fr. Furfey offered a sympathetic, balanced, but also unstinting critique of the Catholic Worker movement based upon his then 44 years of interactions with and support for the people in the movement. His critique is so important, with his book out of print, that I offer the bulk of it here:

Limits of the Catholic Worker Movement

by Fr. Paul Hanly Furfey, from Love and the Urban Ghetto, 1978, Maryknoll, NY, Orbis Books, pp. 119-130.

In 1934 and subsequently, many of us in the Department of Sociology at the Catholic University, both faculty and students, came to know the Catholic Worker rather well. We were all deeply impressed. The movement seemed to represent a giant step beyond Catholic liberalism. However, as time went on, we began to evaluate it as social scientists.

In one important respect the Catholic Worker went far beyond the liberals, who were swept off their feet by the government’s officially generated enthusiasm during World War II. Even though the Selective Service Act provided for conscientious objectors, the Catholic hierarchy made no move to cooperate. It was the Catholic Worker group that took the initiative and provided Catholic COs with opportunities for alternative service in forestry camps and elsewhere. All during the war the paper provided a forum for anti-war criticism. The entire present Catholic pacifist movement has its roots in the Catholic Worker. This has probably been the group’s proudest achievement. However, this is beyond the scope of the present book, which focuses on a different problem: the misery of the urban ghetto.

In some ways, however, the Catholic Worker group merely reinforced the work of the liberals. Thus their paper spoke strongly and to a wide audience in favor of racial desegregation and the rights of labor, often by means of excellent, on-the-spot reporting.

The chief day-by-day activity at Catholic Worker houses has always been feeding the derelicts, the outcasts, the homeless men and women who wander about the city streets without hope, often without any regular income or at best with a very inadequate income. That the free meals thus provided constitute a great act of Christian charity is beyond argument. It is a very necessary good work and one that tends to be neglected by the standard social agencies. However, by concentrating on a tiny fraction of the poor, one may distract attention from the vastly greater number of the other poor.

The social outcasts who are fed in bread lines or in other similar ways do indeed constitute only a tiny fraction of the poor. It is difficult to estimate, for any large city, the actual number of those to be classified as social outcasts. It is hard to define this category precisely and still harder to count the actual number who should be thus classified. For Washington, perhaps Maurine Beasley’s guess is as good as any. She gave an estimate of one thousand. This is well under 1 percent of the city’s poor as reported by the census. [Recent scientific surveys have increased estimates of the size of the homeless population in major cities, but they still represent a relatively small percentage of the poor in general–A. Schorsch, III]

By concentrating on a minuscule fraction of the poor, Catholic Worker groups tend to overlook the major problems of the slums as described in earlier chapters. Of course the aged poor, the sick poor, are also problems. Yet the chief problem of these areas is the problem of average residents, the normal boys and girls who find that local schools do not meet their needs, who drop out at the minimum legal age, functionally illiterate and untrained for any job. They may marry, but they usually find that normal family life is beyond their means. They are usually undernourished. They fall an easy prey to sickness. A few do, indeed, become the sort of outcasts that attract the love of Catholic Worker groups, but by that time their lives are wrecked. The great majority continue to suffer until they meet an early death, having been aided perhaps by our tragically inadequate welfare system, but probably not otherwise. By focusing on a tiny fraction of the poor, the Catholic Worker may even be doing the average slum dweller a disservice, as they distract attention from the less dramatic, but very tragic plight of the latter.

The social philosophy of the Catholic Worker looks toward an ideal society. As stated in the May 1977 issue of their paper, this will involve “a complete rejection of the present social order and a nonviolent revolution to establish an order more in accord with Christian values.” It is disappointing to find that the ideal proposed is Distributism: “We favor the establishment of a Distributist economy wherein those who have a vocation to the land will work on the farms surrounding the village and those who have other vocations will work in the village itself. In this way we will have a decentralized economy which will dispense with the State was we know it and will be federationist in character as was society during certain periods that preceded the rise of national states.”

A clear and quite obvious objection against this proposal is that it has been tried out rather often and has never worked. As stated in the preceding chapter, there was a wave of enthusiasm early in the last century for experiments of this sort, both in France and here in the United States. The Brook Farm experiment is perhaps the best known example. In spite of the commitment and enthusiasm of the participants, such ventures never succeeded.

It is surprising that Catholic Worker followers should still advocate Distributist communities after their own experience. Various groups among them have bought land in rural areas with these ideals in mind. Houses located on these farms have been pleasant places for rest, quiet work, and spiritual exercises. Yet they never developed in the direction indicated in the position paper quoted above.

One might even ask whether a society of the type described would be desirable, even it if were feasible. Is it really a good idea to turn back the clock? Do we really want to discard modern technology and restore life as it was before the machine age? Granted that many of the fruits of so-called “progress” are illusory, yet some of these fruits are good. Consider modern medicine, for example. It depends on an enormously intricate technology, the manufacture of drugs, the use of complicated equipment. It depends further on medical schools, on continuing research, on large medical libraries. Do we want to give up this complex technology for the sake of the simple life? In the United States the expectation of life at birth rose from 47.3 years in 1910 to 72.5 in 1975. Is Distributism worth the sacrifice of a quarter of a century of life?

[ASIII: In the next section, Fr. Furfey described the “Washington Experiment” in which ultimately two houses were set up in Washington DC–Martin de Porres House “to serve the derelicts,” and Fides House, “a large and formal settlement house. . . . to concentrate on the remaining 99 percent.” Fr. Furfey recounted many “individual successes”:]

All such successes were heart-warming. Yet gradually the staff began to realize that they were doing nothing, and could do nothing, to solve the essential problem of the ghetto. That problem was inherent in the very organization of the U.S. socio-economic system. Ghetto dwellers were excluded from any real participation in that system. Their voices were not heard. Few jobs were open to them, and those few jobs were menial, poorly paid, uninteresting, dead-end jobs. And without stable employment, stable family life is not possible. Ghetto people simply do not belong. Their needs are not taken seriously.

In the Fides House neighborhood a family usually undertook to support a child to the age of sixteen. It was difficult to do that much, and it was usually impossible to do more. At sixteen a boy or girl would drop out of school, this being the minimum age for doing so legally. At that time the child would probably be functionally illiterate and untrained for any job. It is extremely difficult for a poorly prepared boy or girl of this age to get any job in Washington. If one is lucky enough to get some sort of a job, it will surely be poorly paid.

There were many heart-rending cases. the bright, playful youngsters had made Fides House a joyful place. Then, after a few short years, they had become hopeless cases. One boy turned to robbery and spent ten years in prison. Another was murdered in a gambling dispute. Still another, after prison and a marriage break-up, killed his wife, her uncle, and himself on the street. Such cases dramatized for the staff the bitterness of ghetto life. And there was little Fides House could do. One might indeed, hope to get a decent job for this or that boy or girl. This would be an individual triumph, But it would not alter the economic system with its built-in sector of unemployment. The ghetto would remain as it was.


Only one conclusion seems possible. Radicalism on the Catholic Worker model could indeed ease the pain of an individual needy neighbor. Personalism provided a most beautiful Christian lifestyle. But this, unfortunately, was not enough. It is not genuine Christan love if one helps some individual and suffers an unjust social system to exist. For it is the system itself that make our neighbors suffer. To tolerate the system is to tolerate their agony. Christian love is inconsistent with such toleration. To help one’s neighbor in need requires a frontal attack on the evil system itself. There is no alternative.

Paul Hanly Furfey, Love and the Urban Ghetto, 1978, Maryknoll, NY, Orbis Books, pp. 119-130.

Fr. Furfey, the sociologist, did not see the Catholic Worker program of societal change through agrarian distributism likely ever to succeed. But Fr. Furfey, the peacemaker, with John C. Ford, SJ (1902-1989) one of the very few priests in America to contemporaneously decry the mass bombing of cities during WWII–finally condemned two decades later as “a crime against God and man himself” by the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes–continued to support the Catholic Worker movement because of his objection to war and his belief in the “Worker’s” individual efforts at charity following Matthew 25:31-46.

With these critiques I agree, but with a further concern about the Catholic Worker: I learned in hundreds of different ways through twenty years working with the homeless at Friendship House in Chicago that alcoholism is a disease, and those who work with alcoholics must study this disease and work with medical facilities and professionals in order to get the best possible care for the homeless alcoholic and addicted, who will surely die without adequate treatment. If one is not assiduously working to get treatment for the ill, there is always a danger of keeping ill homeless people as “pets” in some strange moral fantasy-land.

Like the monastic movements, the Catholic Worker is an attempt at Christian perfectionism. Since the world continues to remain imperfect, such lifestyles pose particular challenges, yet continue to attract the young and the old. And since the Catholic Worker is a movement, it has indeed evolved since the Fr. Furfey’s 1978 critique (which echoed his similar 1930’s critique of the agrarian utopianism of the Catholic Worker within its own newspaper).

“The Worker” has also evolved by not only multiplying greatly in many cities and rural areas, but it has schooled itself in the techniques of nonviolent action, influenced by more senior activists like Kathy Kelly (full disclosure, my teaching colleague friend at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, 1980-82), who appear now and again within Catholic Worker ranks and publications despite their own personal wrestling with the beliefs of Catholicism.

As a movement with a strong anarchist influence, the Catholic Worker varies from place to place in its Catholic orthodoxy and religious practice. Dr. Donohue is right: The “Worker” has no board of directors, no headquarters, but this allows for dozens of different initiatives to spring up in Kropotkin-style “organic” fashion based upon Catholic Worker tradition built over the past 79 years. Some Catholic Worker houses continue Dorothy Day’s own Eucharistic piety, and attend daily Mass, pray the Liturgy of the Hours, pay great attention to Catholic teaching, philosophy, and literature, and hold to Catholic consistent ethic of life principles. Others are in danger of pursuing their own perfectionist cult of personality, and, as Paul said to the Corinthians (1 Cor 13), they might hand their bodies over to be burnt (with zeal), but they do not have love, the love of God.

In addition, the Catholic Worker has also taken up the challenge posed by Fr. Furfey, who saw “no alternative” but to “help one’s neighbor in need” by “a frontal attack on the evil system itself” by nonviolent direct action in addition to personal acts of charity.

And in an odd sort of way, outside of some sci-fi post-apocalyptic scenario, it is ironically a technological advance–in wind turbine energy production that one sees spreading throughout the American farmland–that actually makes a distributist agrarian solution seem more feasible.

American Catholic intellectuals take the Catholic Worker _very_ seriously, because the “The Worker” is much more radically countercultural than mainstream American Catholicism, and from time to time threatens to tip American Catholic culture away from the strategy of being both loyally American and loyally Catholic that has been the “Americanist” heart of established (read, academically tenured) American Catholic thought, and one of the principal cultural stances of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. Witness the 1997 tenure denial at Notre Dame University of then Congregation of the Holy Cross priest and peace activist Michael J. Baxter, often also called a “Catholic Worker theologian.”

(History does have its ironies, in this case a double or perhaps even triple irony. Quoted in the 1997 National Catholic Reporter article just cited on the Baxter tenure controversy taking the establishment “Americanist” view was the theologian earlier barred from Catholic University of America teaching, Charles Curran, who said “The Catholic church in the United States has the biggest hospital system, social service system and educational system under private auspices, which serve not only Catholic but all kinds of folk. How can you be countercultural and still do that?” Who would have guessed, other than the likes of Fr. Furfey and Prof. Baxter (and Francis Cardinal George) perhaps, that fifteen years later Catholic institutions are being forced, because of the HHS Mandate on abortifacients, artificial constraception, and sterilization, to act in the very opposite direction of Prof. Curran’s supposition, and _take_ a countercultural stance?)


I’m sure that Dr. Donohue knows much more about the Catholic Worker than the hyped-up cultural cartoon balloon format of the Glenn Beck show allowed him to say.

But I also have my own opinions on Dr. Donahue and the Catholic League. When the situation–as it often does–calls for loud, in-your-face confrontation filled with spike and vinegar, he gets the job done, e.g., Dr. Donohue’s response to Jon Stewart’s 4/16/12 “vagina manger” outrage. But the Kaplan-Maslow Law of the Instrument applies here: when all you have is a hammer, you treat everything else like a nail. The Catholic League needs other media voices, and a much more comprehensive, interactive web page that captures hundreds of anti-Catholic statements and leads readers to some kind of responses to them on a dynamic basis.

And with so much apparently riding on Dr. Donohue’s heroic, individual efforts, what will remain of the Catholic League when he retires? Will there be chapters in other cities to carry on, as Catholic League founder Fr. Virgil Blum, SJ once envisioned? Or will it continue as a mostly one-person show? There is also danger of mission-creep in such a position, wherein the spokesperson begins commenting on all manner of things Catholic, in self-appointed Catholic hall-monitor fashion–to borrow and credit my seminary friend Ken Trainor’s memorable phrase–similar to the Nobel scientist in physics who begins commenting on politics, diet, and art no sooner than the award is in hand and the awardee is securely in media space.

Also–and I’m glad it appeared to be a one-time thing–but the apparent display announcement of Patrick J. Buchanan’s book Suicide of a Superpower probably didn’t belong on page 2 of the December, 2011 issue of Catalyst, the Journal of the Catholic League, unless it were to be cited as a paid advertisement. One does not have to subscribe to Mr. Buchanan’s views in order to support the Catholic League, or at least I hope not.


As for Glenn Beck, DJ turned historian and social philosopher: he has taken Friedrich A. Hayek’s useful and insightful critique of social justice as an economically undefinable phrase in The Mirage of Social Justice to the limit of making the words “social justice” absolutely suspect in some circles.

Never mind that if we, say, follow the Fifth Commandment not to kill and the Seventh Commandment not to steal, and thereby act in a personally just manner, that we might be able to measure in a rudimentary way the “social justice” of a society based upon the degree to which there is neither murder nor theft.

In this way it is possible to operationalize somewhat the social justice question, and to a degree answer Hayek’s critique. But this is no easy matter once economic measures are considered, and Hayek’s insights and criticisms must not be dismissed out of hand, because Hayek stands with those who realize, contra absolutist thinkers like Plato and his heirs, that human freedom should not be sacrificed for anyone’s utopia. Therefore, anyone who cares about the social justice question should read Hayek–especially Catholic Workers!

But I don’t agree that the words “social justice” should be banned or mark those who use the words as suspect. Is not a society without murder and theft desirable? If so, we should have a phrase to describe it. “Social justice” is one such phrase.

Now if Glenn Beck and his audience would just read the entire text of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica!

Peter Kreeft’s A Summa of the Summa, or as I like to call it, Some of the Summa, is a good place to start. . .

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Dorothy Day’s Therese

Monday, October 17th, 2011

In recent years many faiths have educated their clergy and religious to be brilliant, well-educated, entertaining speakers and socially committed individuals. But these qualities do not in and of themselves earn trust.

Nothing inspires, and is so quickly recognized by believers, as is authentic holiness or godliness. Few have won as much trust in the years since her death as has the holy saint, the Little Flower, discussed in the following lines.

During the height of her active maturity in the Catholic Worker movement, Dorothy Day made time over several years to research and to write a biography of the “Little Flower,” St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face, or St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Happily, this book, originally published in 1960, reissued 1979, reprinted 1985, is still in print through Templegate Publishers. This book represents Dorothy Day’s decades-long education in the school of the Little Flower.

Therese is a book about a saint by a likely saint. Despite Dorothy Day’s occasional repetition of phrases due to Day’s busy life, Therese is one of the most thoughtful and inspiring books generated within American Catholic literature. Because its subject is the Little Flower, who has been declared one of the soon-to-be thirty-four Doctors of the Church, it is likely to remain known centuries longer than some of Day’s currently more popular books.

Almost half of Day’s Therese is about family love, whether that of the author, or that of the subject, christened Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin in 1873. But the whole book is about love, divine and human, for love was the means, the end, and the transcendent purpose of Thérèse’s life. Thérèse discovered in her final years that her vocation was to be love.

The arresting first two paragraphs of Therese display Dorothy Day at her spiritual journalist best:

“The first time I heard the name of St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face (to give her whole title), also known as Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, was when I lay in the maternity ward of Bellevue Hospital in New York. Bellevue is the largest hospital in the world, and doctors from all over the world come there. If you are poor you can have free hospital care. At that time, if you could pay anything, there was a flat rate for having a baby–thirty dollars for a ten day’s stay, in a long ward with about sixty beds. I was so fortunate as to have a bed next to the window looking out over the East River so that I could see the sun rise in the morning and light up the turgid water and make gay the little tugs and the long tankers that went by the window. When there was fog it seemed as though the world ended outside my window, and the sound of fog horns haunted the day and the night.

As a matter of fact, my world did end at the window those ten days that I was in the hospital, because I was supremely happy. If I had written the greatest book, composed the greatest symphony, painted the most beautiful painting or carved the most exquisite figure, I could not have felt more the exalted creator than I did when they placed my child in my arms. To think that this thing of beauty, sighing gently in my arms, reaching her little mouth for my breast, clutching at me with her tiny beautiful hands, had come from my flesh, was my own child! Such a great feeling of happiness and joy filled me that I was hungry for Someone to thank, to love, even to worship, for so great a good that had been bestowed upon me. That tiny child was not enough to contain my love, nor could the father, though my heart was warm with love for both.”

(Day, Dorothy. 1985. Therese. Springfield, Ill: Templegate, p. v.)

Thanks to the World Wide Web and the University of Toronto it is now possible to read the same English translation of Thérèse’s autobiographic A Little White Flower that Dorothy Day read in 1928, to retrace Dorothy Day’s steps in her discovery of Thérèse, and also to find the book that eluded Day’s grasp at the time of her writing Therese, The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life, by Fr. Charles Arminjon, which was an influence on the young Thérèse prior to entering the Carmel at Lisieux.

Dorothy Day’s initial rebuff and later embrace of Thérèse’s spirituality is a familiar story among Catholic intellectuals and men and women “of the world.” Thérèse inspired several twentieth-century generations to enter religious life, and whether in religious life or not, to adopt her “Little Way.” But as Day matured in her day-in day-out tasks of Christian love and charity seeking justice, she returned to Thérèse definitively. Day concluded:

“It was the ‘worker,’ the common man, who first spread her fame by word of mouth. It was the masses who proclaimed her a saint. It was the ‘people.'”

(Day, Dorothy. 1985. Therese. Springfield, Ill: Templegate, p. 173.)

On first glance, Thérèse appears too pious, too simple. To this I respond, “Simple, all right. Simple like Mozart is simple.” A genius of the first rank makes the difficult appear straightforward and sublimely clear. Thérèse’s spiritual genius was recognized almost immediately after her death in 1897 with an intensity that spread as quickly as did the translations of her autobiography across dozens of languages and countries.

On the last page of her book, Day quotes Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII, speaking on the occasion of the blessing of the Basilica of Lisieux in 1937:

“The dazzling genius of Augustine, the luminous wisdom of Thomas Aquinas, have shed forth upon souls the rays of an imperishable splendour: through them, Christ and His doctrine have become better known. The divine poem lived out by Francis of Assisi has given the world an imitation, as yet unequaled, of the life of God made man. Through him legions of men and women learned to love God more perfectly. But a little Carmelite who had hardly reached adult age has conquered in less than half a century innumerable hosts of disciples. Doctors of the law have become children at her school; the Supreme Shepherd has exalted her and prays to her with humble and assiduous supplications; and even at this moment from one end of the earth to the other, there are millions of souls whose interior life has received the beneficent influence of the little book, The Autobiography.”

(Ibid., p. 176.)

Thérèse promised “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.”

Day lists but a bit of the shower of love from Thérèse:

“So shortly after her death the rain of roses began: cures of cancer, tuberculosis, nephritis, and all manner of painful and mortal diseases. Nuns in need of money to pay off the mortgages on their schools, hospitals and orphanages found it appearing, sometimes in the form of gifts, sometimes carefully placed in a desk drawer. When Therese healed a little Irish child, she appeared to her as a little child in her First Communion frock, and shook hands with her as she left, and radiant little patient who had been unconscious and at the brink of death, sat up and told her mother to bring her her clothes, and food because she was starving. Soldiers saw Therese at the battlefield; she walked in Paris; she appeared to the sick. ‘After my death I will let fall a shower of roses,’ she had said, and sometimes the roses appeared literally, and sometimes just the fragrance of them.”

(Ibid., pp. 172-3)

The persistence of Thérèse’s appeal is surprising. In 2009, Thérèse’s relics were brought on a tour throughout Wales and England in the UK. To the surprise of a highly secularized society (and some of the secularized clergy), hundreds of thousands of people visited the relics, with many confessing their sins and returning to faith after decades.

Here are some of the pilgrims’ stories:

Over 100,000 faithful visited Thérèse’s relics in Westminster Cathedral, with ceremonies ending 10/15/09:

The Carmelite Sr. Patricia Mary of Jesus speaks about St. Thérèse of Lisieux:

Finally, a thoughtful homily by Westminster Archbishop Vincent Nichols:

In 1997, in a document called Divini Amoris Scientia, the Science of Divine Love, John Paul II proclaimed Thérèse a Doctor of the Church. I highly recommend close reading of this important document for those seeking for truth in the Spirit.

Although Thérèse, like John Paul II, had read and mastered the foundational Carmelite literature, the complete works of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, Thérèse read primarily the Gospels during her final illness, to listen directly the Word of the Lord Jesus whom she loved so dearly in a very direct, straightforward, and completely committed way. As a Carmelite, Thérèse wore a wedding gown at her “clothing” as a nun, focusing all her possible love on Jesus.

To the post-Christian imagination, this kind of spiritual commitment has a scary, terrifying aspect. But for Thérèse and her Carmelite sisters (among whom were three of her own sisters, and a cousin), nothing could have been more joyful.

Dorothy Day may be best known for her phrase, a “harsh and dreadful love,” but no one searches the life of Thérèse without searching for the source of joy, our Blessed Lord, to whom Thérèse is one of the supreme guides.


As a boy, I was taught at St. Priscilla School in Chicago by several Franciscan Sisters (from Rochester, MN) who were inspired by Thérèse among others to enter religious life. Years later, I visited my music teacher, Sr. Catherine Cecile Dwerlkotte, OSF, who past the age of 100 told me of the joy that was shared among contemporaries as they agreed together in college to enter the Franciscans as a group. Many of these Franciscan Sisters shared with us the tales of the Little Flower, and Sr. Catherine, to the end of her days, cultivated roses in Thérèse’s memory. She was a woman of high intelligence and wit, but joy and simplicity, and I might add, holiness. May she rest in peace!

Here is a 2010 post by blogger Kathy Riordan in thanks of the still-remembered witness of Sr. Catherine Cecile and her Franciscan sisters.


A few very useful resources on St. Thérèse:

As usual, the Houston Catholic Worker can be relied upon for a thoughtful review, this one by James Allaire.

Here’s some information on the National Shrine of St. Therese, in Darien, Illinois.

EWTN put together a number of web pages during St. Thérèse centenary, here, and here.

Also, please see Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway, which mentions the recent visit of the relics of Thérèse to Peru.

Presently, I’m reading St. Thérèse of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations. More on this when time permits!

© Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Dorothy Day meets John Courtney Murray: Cardinal George’s farewell to USCCB presidency

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, gave the speech of his life on 11/15/10 during his farewell to the presidency of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In this wide-ranging and stirring address, which covered health care, the connection between social justice and life issues, church unity, public Catholicism, and religious persecution, from “empirical,” “ecclesiological,” and “practical” standpoints, Cardinal George especially called for an end to religious persecution in Iraq, telling the story of a little three-year-old boy named Adam killed by terrorists after he told the terrorists, “Enough,” upon their killing of his own parents.

During the USCCB Conference, Cardinal George also read a letter to President Obama, appealing for US aid to Christians in Iraq.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Spirit and Truth, Chicago

Monday, September 13th, 2010

On 9/2/10, I was privileged to be invited to speak to the Spirit and Truth gathering at St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in Chicago.

The practice of Spirit and Truth is “Young Adults meet for Eucharistic Adoration and fellowship afterward at a local restaurant.”

The format of the evening I attended was that the group, Catholic young adults aged 18-39, gathered for some refreshments, listened to a talk and shared in discussion, then went into the adjoining church, the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy, which contains the dramatic tabernacle, “Our Lady of the Sign, Ark of Mercy,” for quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, rejoined together for Night Prayer (at which the Salve Regina was chanted), with a few going together to carry on the conversation at the local restaurant, in this case the Blue Star Wine Bar, which has good Mediterranean food in addition to being very welcoming to these Catholic-themed gatherings.

Spirit and Truth events happen almost every Thursday evening at St. Stanislaus Kostka from 7-9PM, with usually between two dozen and five dozen people attending. The St. Stanislaus Kostka Spirit and Truth group meets in the rectory at 1351 W. Evergreen, Chicago, and other Illinois Spirit and Truth groups are listed at their website.

I was touched by the stories a number of the Spirit and Truth participants told me about how their journeys of faith brought them to a practice of authentic Catholicism that includes Eucharistic Adoration, and how the isolation many of them felt from their peers before was met by the friendship of others in the Spirit and Truth group and in their practice of prayer. In these cases, all roads have led to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

The practice of Eucharistic Adoration of Spirit and Truth is very close to the same practice of Servant of God Dorothy Day, and Servant of God Catherine de Hueck Doherty, and many other Catholic holy ones, of whom I spoke in my talk, a summary of which I will share in a later post.

Young adults 18-39 can find out more about Spirit and Truth at their Facebook Page and in this background article from the Catholic New World.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


On a just God, justification, and social justice

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

The teachings of Jesus are attractive in and of themselves, because they manifest a radiant kindness and love, and urge us to treat each other with an unselfish, humble, or just regard that calls upon us to love others as we would love ourselves.

The Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, the Parables such as the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son, the incidents such as the Woman Caught in Adultery, the Priestly Prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper, and especially Christ’s Passion profoundly touch both believers and unbelievers, and have inspired many visions of a just society based upon basic human kindness and love, and upon an attempt to see God’s Kingdom come “on earth as in heaven.”

It is therefore relatively easy to love and admire Jesus the man, as millions from all backgrounds of belief and unbelief have done for centuries, and will continue to do.

This love and admiration for Jesus the man, for his teachings and example, has had an unfathomable power in shaping civilization and human history. When one considers the cruelty of law and daily life in ancient empires and cultures, one has to admit that Christian ideals, once introduced into cruel society, have literally reshaped these cruel civilizations and have thus to an important degree changed the world. There is therefore a link between the permeation of Christian ideas of kindness, love, and justice throughout cultures in history, and the slow growth of social justice, or of a just society.

That the world is not a peaceful or just place by any means of course indicates that the Christian mission is incomplete. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which include Christians themselves. In our attempts to love and to shape a just society, we Christians continue to miss the mark, or literally, to sin.

A modern Christian can accept and love Jesus the man, and form his or her life within a Christian ideal of love, kindness, and justice toward others, without ever believing in Jesus the God. In their ethic, those who follow only the human side of Jesus in a quest for social justice, appear for all the world to be Christians. But in a very deep and meaningful way, because they have not trusted, or believed, in Jesus both God and man, they do not live as Christians as Christ called them to so do.

It is therefore possible to “live a Christian life,” but at the same time not to “believe in Christ.” It is possible to strive to be “the perfect Christian” socially, but to deeply doubt or reject the salvation narrative, that for some important reason Jesus had to be both divine and human, to die, and rise, so that a new and eternal life would be available to us.

Many of us modern Christians thus stop short at the Cross, and at the Christian Mystery, the transcendent act of Christ in showing us, by his Incarnation, Life, Teachings, Sufferings, Death, and Resurrection, what perfect and eternal love is.

It is for this reason that “social justice” Christians who are not believing Christians continue to “miss the mark” by not witnessing to Christ’s love in all its perfection. The very purpose of Christ’s birth and subsequent witness, and His mission in establishing a Church, can thereby be lost. It is only by accepting the Cross, and all that led up to it and followed it, that the fuller meaning of the “Greater Love” as lived by Christ, of laying down his life for his friends, can be received. It does less good to accept only the social justice implied by Christ’s mission, than it does to accept the very stated purpose of His mission, which includes all true manifestations of justice.

Social justice attempted without “loving one another as I have loved you” risks building a society without leaving room for the transcendent calling of the human person in Christ to live not just for today, but for forever. This transcendent, eternal dimension accepts Christ as a friend, because only if we accept eternity can we know Christ as he eternally is now, as our friend. Friendship with Christ teaches us in ever more deepening ways to become friends to each other, since we share in adoption by the Father. Human friendship, the basis of any just society, is diminished when Christian friendship is incomplete.

When the human person is seen in an eternal dimension, a life ethic is not only possible, but necessary. When human life is seen as potentially eternal, then the entire span of human life requires our sacrificial respect and friendship, our love. Without belief in the Christian Mystery in addition to acceptance of the Christian ethic, there is no firm connection between life ethics and social ethics. Modern “social justice” Christians often reject the connection between life ethics and social justice ethics. But by rejecting this connection, they reject the very message and mission of Jesus Incarnate, Jesus in his true dimension of both God and man. They reject, often without knowing it, the very reason Jesus is Who He Is. They risk rejecting Salvation, life complete and abundant.

For anyone who has struggled with the questions—

“Why was it necessary for God to become man and die?” or

“What was accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross?” or

“Why was it necessary for Christ to found a Church?” and

“From what do we have to be ‘saved’?”

–the notion of a just God, of justification, and of social justice seem to clash. Modern Christians often accept a quest for social justice, but are perplexed by a just God, or why justification is even necessary.

Yet in searching and listening for a connection among these three concepts of just-ness, we can ever more discover their very meaning, learn more deeply what Christ teaches us, receive healing and therefore integration of our very selves, and gain deeper insight into the steps necessary to improve human life in general.

Outside the Scriptures, there are perhaps no more profound, beautiful, and compact summaries of the salvation narrative than are to be found in the Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo.

St. Augustine ended the famous Tenth Book of his Confessions, a meditation on memory, with an eloquent summary of the role of Christ as Mediator between a just God and imperfect and mortal human beings.

For the past several days I have been carefully reading, re-reading, and meditating on this passage, which also appears in the Office of Readings for Friday of the Sixteenth Week.

I first list the Latin original, then two different English translations:

Verax autem mediator, quem secreta tua misericordia demonstrasti hominibus, et misisti, et eius exemplo etiam ipsam discerent humilitatem, mediator ille dei et hominum, homo Christus Iesus, inter mortales peccatores et inmortalem iustum apparuit, mortalis cum hominibus, iustus cum deo, ut, quoniam stipendium iustitiae vita et pax est, per iustitiam coniunctam deo evacuaret mortem iustificatorum inpiorum, quam cum illis voluit habere conmunem. hic demonstratus est antiquis sanctis, ut ita ipsi per fidem futurae passionis eius, sicut nos per fidem praeteritae, salvi fierent in quantum enim homo, in tantum mediator, in quantum autem verbum, non medius, quia aequalis deo et deus apud deum et simul unus deus. In quantum nos amasti, pater bone, qui filio tuo unico non pepercisti, sed pro nobis inpiis tradidisti eum! quomodo nos amasti, pro quibus illi non rapinam arbitratus esse aequalis tibi factus est subditus usque ad mortem crucis: unus ille in mortuis liber, potestatem habens ponendi animam suam et potestatem habens iterum sumendi eam, pro nobis tibi victor et victima, et ideo victor, quia victima, pro nobis tibi sacerdos et sacrificium, et ideo sacerdos, quia sacrificium, faciens tibi nos de servis filios de te nascendo, tibi serviendo. merito mihi spes valida in illo est, quod sanabis omnes languores meos per eum, qui sedet ad dexteram tuam et te interpellat pro nobis: alioquin desperarem. multi enim et magni sunt idem languores, multi sunt et magni; sed amplior est medicina tua. potuimus putare verbum tuum remotum esse a coniunctione hominis et desperare de nobis, nisi caro fieret et habitaret in nobis. Conterritus peccatis meis et mole miseriae meae, agitaveram corde meditatusque fueram fugam in solitudinem, sed prohibuisti me et confortasti me dicens: Ideo Christus pro omnibus mortuus est, ut et qui vivunt iam non sibi vivant, sed ei qui pro omnibus mortuus est. ecce, domine, iacto in te curam meam, ut vivam, et considerabo mirabilia de lege tua. tu scis inperitiam meam et infirmitatem meam: doce me et sana me. ille tuus unicus, in quo sunt omnes thesauri sapientiae et scientiae absconditi, redemit me sanguine suo. non calumnientur mihi superbi, quoniam cogito pretium meum, et manduco et bibo, et erogo et pauper cupio saturari ex eo inter illos, qui edunt et saturantur: et laudabunt dominum qui requirunt eum.

The above passage is taken from Book 10, 43 68 of Augustine’s Confessions at:

An alternative text is at:

The Maria Boulding, OSB translation:

In your unfathomable mercy you first gave the humble certain pointers to the true Mediator, and then sent him, so that by his example they might learn even a humility like his. This Mediator between God and humankind, the man Christ Jesus, appeared to stand between mortal sinners and the God who is immortal and just: like us he was mortal, but like God he was just. Now the wage due to justice is life and peace; and so, through the justice whereby he was one with God he broke the power of death on behalf of malefactors rendered just, using that very death to which he had willed to liable along with them.

He was pointed out to holy people under the old dispensation that they may be saved by faith in his future passion, as we are through faith in that passion now accomplished.

Only in virtue of humanity is he the Mediator; in his nature as the Word he does not stand between us and God, for he is God’s equal, God with God, and with him only one God.

How you loved us, O good Father, who spared not even your only Son, but gave him up for us evildoers! How you loved us, for whose sake he who deemed it no robbery to be your equal was made subservient even to the point of dying on the cross! Alone of all, he was free among the dead, for he had power to lay down his life and power to retrieve it. For our sake he stood to you as both victor and victim, and victor because victim; for us he stood to you as priest and sacrifice, and priest because sacrifice, making us sons and daughters to you instead of servants by being born of you to serve us.

With good reason there is solid hope for me in him, because you will heal all my infirmities through him who sits at your right hand and intercedes for us. Were it not so, I should despair. Many and grave are those infirmities, many and grave; but wider-reaching is your healing power. We might have despaired, thinking your Word remote from any conjunction with humankind, had he not become flesh and made his dwelling among us.

Filled with terror by my sins and my load of misery, I had been turning over in my mind a plan to flee into solitude; but you forbade me, and strengthened me by your words: To this end Christ died for all, you reminded me, that they who are alive might live not for themselves but for him who died for them.

See, then, Lord: I cast my care upon you so that I may live, and I will contemplate the wonders you have revealed. You know how stupid and weak I am: teach me and heal me. Your only Son, in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge, has redeemed me with his blood. Let not the proud disparage me, for I am mindful of my ransom. I eat it, I drink it, I dispense it to others, and as a poor man I long to be filled with it among those who are fed and feasted. And then, let those who seek him praise the Lord.

From: the Confessions of St. Augustine, Maria Boulding, OSB, translator, New City Press, 1999, pp. 220-222.

Office of Readings translation:

The true Mediator was he whom you revealed to humble men in your secret mercy, and whom you sent so they might learn that same humility by following his example. This was the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who intervened between sinful mortals and the immortal Just One, himself mortal like men, and like God, just. Thus, since life and peace are the compensation for righteousness, he could, by a justice united with God, annul the death of sinners now justified, since he willed to share death with them.

Good Father, how you loved us, sparing not your only Son but delivering him up for us sinners! How you loved us, for whose sake he, thinking it no robbery to be equal with you, was made subject to death on the cross. He alone, free among the dead, had the power to lay down his life and the power to take it up again. For our sake he became in your sight both victor and victim – victor, indeed, because he was victim. For our sake, too, he became before you both priest and sacrifice – priest, indeed, because he was a sacrifice, changing us from slaves to sons by being your Son and serving us.

Rightly then have I firm hope that you will heal all my infirmities through him who sits at your right hand and intercedes for us. Otherwise I should despair. For great and numerous are these infirmities of mine, great indeed and numerous, but your medicine is mightier. We might have thought your Word remote from any union with man, and so have despaired of ourselves, if he had not become flesh and dwelt among us.

Crushed by my sins and the weight of my misery, I had taken thought in my heart and contemplated flight into the desert. But you stopped me and gave me comfort with the words: Christ died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them.

Behold, Lord, I cast upon you my concern that I may live and I shall meditate on the wonders of your law. You know my ignorance and my weakness; teach me and heal me. Your only Son, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, redeemed me with his blood. Let not arrogant men speak evil of me. For I meditate on my ransom, and I eat it and drink it and try to share it with others; though poor I want to be filled with it in the company of those who eat and are filled and they shall praise the Lord who seek him.

Catholic Church. 1983. The office of readings: according to the Roman rite. The divine office, revised by decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and published by authority of Pope Paul VI. Boston, MA: St. Paul Editions, pp. 912-913.

(I suggest that you read the above several times until you begin praying or contemplating, then slowly consider the great mysteries Augustine attempts to communicate. Then repeat!)

The words of Augustine above, as always, are completely permeated with Scriptural phrases and concepts. Maria Boulding cross-referenced twenty-six of these, especially from the letters of Paul (1 Tm 2:5; 2 Tm 1:10; Rom 4:5; 1 Tm 2:4; Phil 2:6; Phil 2:6,8; Gal 4:7; Rom 8:34; 2 Cor 5:15; Col 2:3; 1 Cor 10:31, 11:29), Letter to the Hebrews (Heb 9:28; Heb 7:27), the Gospels (Jn 1:1; Jn 10:18; Jn 1:14; Jn 6:55,57; Lk 16:21), and the Psalms (Ps 87:6 {88:5}; Ps 102 {103}:3; Ps 54:23 {55:22}; Ps 118 {119} 17-18; Ps 68:6 {69:5}; Ps 24 {25}:5, 6:3 {2}; Ps 118 {119}:22; Ps 21:27 {22:26}). The 1927 Cambridge edition of the Confessions also lists a number of other passages echoed in this text (Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:55, and more). One could spend weeks reading these Scripture references and meditating on their meaning, and on the interplay between these passages and Augustine’s text.

What I have drawn from meditating on these readings so far, both from Augustine and Scripture, is that we call God just because of God’s perfection, God’s holiness. We humans are not perfect as God is, but we are called to be as God is. Jesus, as Mediator, makes it possible for us to grow closer to God in perfection, to be made perfect and just like God is, in other words, to become justified, so that in seeing us, God would see the intended perfection of creation.

The path to justification is humility, the conformance of our persons to Christ the Mediator and thus to God, just as Christ was humble in following His Father’s will.

In order to make us just, Christ had to break death itself, otherwise, we humans would continue to miss the mark—to sin—in our quest to become just. Sin and death stand between us taking on the justness for which God calls us, and indeed, created us. Christ, the Mediator, both Victim and Victor, both Priest and Sacrifice, calls us to become the free children of God, and to no longer be slaves, or victims, and no longer miss the mark—by sin—and by death. Christ is the Mediator of our adoption by the Father, a gift of loving grace. By partaking in the Eucharist, the sacrament (an oath to the death), both meal and sacrifice, we associate ourselves most intimately with the Mediator, the Christ, and hope, or trust in, a life both just and eternal, by celebrating the Eucharist in a real time and a real place to join us with the living and eternal sacrifice of Christ, in eternal communion with the saints. This trust and hope take place in a real time and in a real place, and in eternity, and empower us to act. Since “the wage due to God’s justice is life and peace,” we follow Christ in respecting life and peace.

This sacramental aspect has powerful implications. Just as Christ physically was born, lived, died, and rose in order to teach His message of the Greater Love, so also we do as He asked in memory of Him by partaking in the Eucharist, which inextricably links Christ’s act of salvation and our own. We accept, affirm, partake, and participate in this eternal act of justification by celebrating this Eucharist.

Christ linked us to his life of sacrifice by the Sacrament of the Eucharist. By partaking in the Eucharist, we accept the same friendship that he offered to the Twelve at the Last Supper. Without this Eucharist, there can be no full friendship with Christ in this world, because only in the Eucharist, do we enter the same place and time—the no-time of eternity— with Christ.

Without the Eucharist, a just God is hidden, justification is impeded, and social justice is denied an eternal ethic of life, thus reducing our vision of human justice to utilitarian or worldly calculations alone. By accepting an eternal dimension to human life, we grow to respect human life’s most subtle, most invisible, most vulnerable, and most dependent manifestations, and we thus can approach social justice in a total, wholistic way, not rejecting any dimension of humanity from our considerations, and therefore, from our love.

Great progress has been made since the Second Vatican Council in achieving a shared Christian understanding on justification. The historic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church of 1999 affirmed that good works follow justification.

Now that so many historic theological difficulties have been resolved in such a spiritual and fruitful Declaration, and the Christian basis for good works has been reaffirmed, why not enter the door to Christ in the Eucharist? When such a gift of grace as the Eucharist has been given to us by Christ Himself, why refrain?

I therefore urge my readers who wish to know the just God, to be justified themselves, and to work for social justice, to meet Christ in the Eucharist, and to acknowledge his real and eternal presence. Who knows where He will lead you next.

It is not an accident that Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day attended the Eucharist frequently, and spent many hours praying before the Divine Presence.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


The scientist who shielded and enabled pedophiles

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

If you ever wondered how criminal penalties in the US for pedophilia transitioned for a time from extreme sentences to relatively short sentences, and how pedophiles from the late 1950s up until recent years were given revolving-door sentences only to target children again, you might wonder whose work guided those who drafted the Model Penal Code in 1955 that advanced the reduction of prison sentences for pedophiles and other sexual criminals.

If you guessed that it was the bishops of the Catholic Church, you guessed wrong. The recommendation to reduce sentences for pedophiles and other sexual criminals was made along with civil libertarians by an atheist and an Indiana University scientist, Alfred C. Kinsey (1894-1956), the same Kinsey lionized in the eponymous 2004 film produced by Francis Ford Coppola, directed by Bill Condon, and starring Liam Neeson, the same Kinsey funded for years by the Rockefeller Foundation and by Hugh Hefner, the same Kinsey with a 1953 Time Magazine cover picture, the same Kinsey whose faulty science has been cited for decades by uncritical jurists in numerous major court, including US Supreme Court, decisions.

The Kinsey film in 2004 marked the zenith of Kinsey’s reputation. It has since fallen:

  • Recent scholarship revealing Kinsey’s role in shielding pedophiles who carefully reported to Kinsey hundreds of victims,
  • a growing scientific consensus reaffirming the noted humanistic psychologist Abraham H. Maslow’s original 1952 criticism of “volunteer bias” in Kinsey’s studies,
  • the development of federal and professional ethical regulation, policies, and practices for research with “vulnerable populations” such as children and prisoners, along with “mandated reporting” of pedophilia in many states–especially in Indiana–which have provided a modern contrast to Kinsey’s unethical scientific practice,
  • and in addition the compilation of biographic information on Kinsey that indicated his personal depravity involving his sexual harassment/coercion of members of his circle to participate in sexual film-making in his attic, and his particular topical interest in adult sex with children,

–have all served to permanently undermine the standing of Kinsey’s personal character and scientific work among those whose knowledge extends beyond watching films and comedy skits or flipping past the “redeeming social content” citations of Kinsey in pornographic magazines, to scholarly reading and to scientific inquiry.

To some among the community of civil libertarians, with whom Kinsey worked closely on the revision of the 1955 Model Penal Code, Kinsey has been propped up for years, as “too big to fail.” But, as the tide has turned world-wide against pedophilia, so too has Kinsey’s reputation been irreparably tarnished.

The change in perspective on Kinsey has been slow in coming, but has been aided first by the globalization of media, and then by the visualizing power of the Internet.

Among the first major public blows to Kinsey’s public reputation in the English-speaking world came with the 1998 BBC television program, Secret History: Kinsey’s Paedophiles, which portrayed an interview with an Indiana woman who claimed as a child to be victim of Kinsey’s pedophilia research. With the advent of YouTube, this BBC program can now be viewed world-wide–

For similar material, see–

A second chink in Kinsey’s armor came with the revelation of Kinsey’s correspondence with Dr. Fritz Von Balluseck, a Nazi and notorious convicted pedophile investigated by the German police after the murder of a young girl in 1957, the year after Kinsey’s death. While knowledge of Kinsey’s connection with the beastly Dr. Von Balluseck was confined to German-speaking world for years, it broke into the English-speaking world when the dogged work of Kinsey’s independent scholarly nemesis, Dr. Judith Reisman, was prominently reported in the New York Times movie section in 2004–

More bad news for Kinsey’s reputation followed, when it was revealed that he had protected the anonymity of an American pedophile named Rex King who claimed hundreds of victims over several decades. The section entitled “Pedophilia” in the Wikipedia article cited shortly below contains further information on the Rex King connection.

Regarding Kinsey’s reputation as a scientist, the scholarly criticism directed at Kinsey’s penchant for “volunteer bias” in his scientific methodology by the eminent Abraham H. Maslow in his 1952 article–

Maslow, A. H., and Sakoda, J. (1952). Volunteer error in the Kinsey study, Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 1952 Apr;47(2):259-62.

–has never been effectively refuted by the Kinsey circle.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead, in the following article–

Margaret Mead, “An Anthropologist Looks at the Report,” Problems of Sexual Behavior (New York: American Social Hygiene Association, 1948)

–famously remarked that Kinsey’s 1948 report “suggests no way of choosing between a woman and a sheep.”

Wikipedia summarized the scientific assessment of Kinsey’s work–

A 1991 edition of the The Lancet medical journal noted:

The important allegations from the scientific viewpoint are the imperfections in the (Kinsey) sample and unethical, possibly criminal observations on children … Kinsey has left his former co-workers some explaining to do.[39]

And in a 1993 journal, the Archives of Sexual Behavior, J. Gordon Muir and Edward W. Eichel accused Kinsey of using and deliberately concealing disproportionate samples of subjects including 25% prisoners, additional sex offenders and several hundred male prostitutes, against the advice of Abraham Maslow, and lying about the nature of his work.[40]

39–The Lancet, (Vol. 337: March 2, 1991, p. 547).
40–Archives of Sexual Behavior Volume 22, Number 5 / October, 1993

* Page name: Alfred Kinsey
* Author: Wikipedia contributors
* Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
* Date of last revision: 1 March 2010 13:54 UTC
* Date retrieved: 28 March 2010 05:27 UTC
* Permanent link:
* Primary contributors: Revision history statistics
* Page Version ID: 347089233

[I note that a Wikipedia user later on 3/28/10 deleted a large portion of the Kinsey Wikipedia article, including much of the Pedophilia section, leaving the denials of the Kinsey Institute in place without their surrounding context. On 3/29/10, a second Wikipedia user deleted the references in the Wikipedia article to research ethics. The archival Wikipedia address above will yield the Kinsey Wikipedia article version prior to these editors’ biased deletions.]

Perhaps the most telling scientific critique of Kinsey’s statistics from a purely scientific perspective came from the American Statistical Association, when an eminent group of statisticians, including the foundational Scottish statistician William Gemmell Cochran, the eminent Harvard statistician Frederick Mosteller, the noted American scholar W. O. Jenkins, and the distinguished American statistician and foundational computer scientist John W. Tukey (Tukey invented the computer term “bit,” and was the first person to use the word “software” in print) edited a critique of Kinsey’s 1948 report on the human male, in which they stated:

“Critics are justified in their objections that many of the most interesting and provocative statements in the [Kinsey 1948] book are not based on the data presented therein, and it is not made clear to the reader on what evidence the statements are based. Further, the conclusions drawn from data presented in the book are often stated by KPM [Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin] in much too bold and confident a manner. Taken cumulatively, these objections amount to saying that much of the writing in the book falls below the level of good scientific writing.”

Cochran, William Gemmell, W. O. Jenkins, Frederick Mosteller, and John Wilder Tukey. 1954. Statistical problems of the Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. American Statistical Association, National Research Council (U.S.). Committee for Research in Problems of Sex – Psychology

Kinsey biographer James H. Jones noted in his 1997 portrait of Kinsey (Jones, James H. 1997. Alfred C. Kinsey : a public/private life. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton, pp. 656-665) how Kinsey’s team finessed the first 1952 critique by these eminent statisticians with the press, how the press paid little attention to the statistical critique, and how it was John W. Tukey who insisted that the American Statistical Association publish the report almost two years later in 1954 for the record, when again the press largely ignored it.

John W. Tukey; Source:

Due to the present world-wide integration of information media, such a major critique by a prominent scientific professional association of a famous scientist’s work would not be ignored today, nor would jurists have so freely quoted Kinsey in their subsequent opinions. But in 1952 and 1954, it was even easier to “spin” the press than it is today.

Now, since the 1954 statistical critique of Kinsey’s work produced by some of the world’s best statisticians is known and available, there is absolutely no excuse today for any journalist, scientist, or jurist to quote Kinsey’s statistics at face value.

A recap of further scientific, ethical, and legal criticism of Kinsey’s work, along with a summary of how Kinsey influenced the 1955 revision of the Model Penal Code, is contained in the following 2005 Zenit article summarizing the work of Susan Brinkmann, the coauthor with Judith Reisman of The Kinsey Corruption: An Expose on the Most Influential Scientist of Our Time, a short book from a religious perspective that was published soon after the release of the Kinsey movie in 2004. The Zenit article summarizes–

The good news is that in April of 2004, after five years of study, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of 2,400 lawmakers from 50 states, concluded that the work of Kinsey was a fraud and contained “manufactured statistics.”

The report outlined the influence these bogus numbers had on the weakening of 52 sex laws that once protected women, children and marriage. Methods for undoing the damage to America’s social and legal systems are presently being studied.

Jurists and legislature after legislature bought Kinsey’s flawed research in the 1940s and 50s that pedophiles and other sexual criminals were not a grave danger, so instead of keeping such dangerous individuals segregated from society, many were released after only a few years. The Catholic Church, too, among many other religious organizations, through a number of diocesan bishops and other leaders, listened to psychologists influenced by Kinsey, and took the counsel from professionals that relatively brief separation and therapy was the answer for pedophilia.

Uneducated in the methodologies to criticize bad science, religion and law (not to mention the military) in general have taken Kinsey and other bad psychological research far too seriously.

As as scientist, we might liken Kinsey to those early pioneering archeologists who discovered important historical sites, ruined them for future generations of scientists by their sloppy methodology, and placed into the popular mind their false conclusions which take generations for more rigorous researchers–if ever–to correct and undo.

Just as Kinsey’s work does not stand up to today’s standards for scientific rigor, it certainly does not stand up to today’s scientific ethics.

Scientists preparing research on human subjects in the US are required to attend training in research ethics to gain knowledge of federally-mandated requirements under applicable federal regulations, so when they submit their human subjects research protocols to be reviewed by their own Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) for approval prior to taking human subjects research into the active phase, a strong rubric for ethical research is established.

During these trainings, scientists review a number of great ethical misdeeds in American scientific research, including the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-1972) in which infected African-American men were not treated for their illness, and the Milgram experiments on obedience to authority, first reported in 1963, in which scientific subjects were manipulated into thinking that they were harming others with electric shocks that they were commanded by the experimenters to administer. The Milgram experiment was famously parodied by comedian Bill Murray’s character Dr. Peter Venkman in the film Ghostbusters.

That Kinsey’s unethical conduct in his study of pedophiles and prisoners is still not included along with the Tuskegee Experiments on standard lists of famous scientific ethical violations as part of ethical training at some universities and research hospitals for those preparing to protect the rights of human subjects indicates the last reluctance on the part of the final cohort in the scientific community blindly loyal to Kinsey to officially recognize that Kinsey’s work with these vulnerable populations was unethical in the extreme.

Were any scientist at Indiana University to attempt today to repeat Kinsey’s pedophilia research in the same unethical manner he practiced in not protecting research subjects, all research at that University would be shut down by the US Department of Health and Human Services until the University came into full compliance with federal regulations. Modern scientists know that Kinsey’s research ethics are indefensible. Hence the mute silence on this subject among his devotees.

Acknowledgment that Kinsey’s infamous tables 30-34 on children in his 1948 Sexual Behavior in the Human Male clearly exceed the boundaries of research ethics is tacit in current research behavior, which prohibits such research reporting on the behaviors of children without providing for legally enforceable informed consent, and which under state laws mandate reporting of child abuse to authorities. In Indiana especially, today all citizens are “mandated reporters.”

For some of the applicable federal and state regulations, please see–


The deeper one reads into the biographies of Kinsey, the more one discovers a professor who violated most of the ethical tenets within the present-day Faculty Handbook of almost any major research university. Imagine what today’s research university would do with a professor who violated guidelines on–

  • Scientific Integrity
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Protection of Research Subjects
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Mandated Reporting?

As I myself continue to read further into the Kinsey record and add to details within this blog by giving examples of the above infractions, I would not be surprised to find just about the only major ethical violation not listed on the above “hit parade”: Plagiarism from students or from colleagues.

None of the above violations are protected by academic freedom. A famous, or even-not-so-famous tenured professor who committed as many of the infractions above as Kinsey appears to have done would cause a major crisis of integrity within a given university. Administrators and faculty committees would be called into session, and mandated reports to federal sponsoring and regulatory agencies would have to be filed. Federal monitors might visit. Fines might be imposed. Funds might also have to be returned. In the end, the faculty member would be disciplined and/or fired, and with these multiple infractions, not quietly.

Is it fair to evaluate the behavior of a professor of the 1940s and 50s by today’s standards? It is certainly instructive to do so. If we are willing to evaluate clergy of the 1940s and 50s by today’s ethical standards, it is fair and consistent to evaluate scientists similarly. Today’s research university would not abide by a Professor Kinsey. Kinsey’s professorial behavior appears today not only inappropriate, but abhorent.

Several years ago, after prominent child psychology writer Bruno Bettelheim’s 1990 suicide, it was revealed that he mistreated children at his Orthogenic School associated with the University of Chicago–when previous to these revelations the literary, scientific, and media community had Dr. Bettelheim walking on water. Despite the herculean efforts of civil libertarians, artists, and erstwhile scientific colleagues of Kinsey, his reputation–on all fronts–is taking a similar fall.

Whether Kinsey is given a permanent “pass” as a cultural icon, similar to that of Elizabeth I of England, who despite her torture and persecution of her Catholic subjects persists as a beloved figure, remains to be seen. Among many in the civil liberty and sexual freedom community, Kinsey is held as a foundational, albeit flawed, sexual emancipator, something of a sexual Lincoln. Memorializing Kinsey in arts and letters will probably help him to secure his “pass.” Kinsey in 2005 already received his own PBS special, and in addition to the Kinsey film, there have been several plays and novels. Whether history and culture transmit the ugly truth about Kinsey’s work depends on whether victims’ advocates against pedophilia–and many other crimes of sexual violence–realize how central to the development of lax penal codes on pedophilia and sexual crimes in general Kinsey actually was, and how unethical by today’s and any day’s standards was Kinsey’s scientific practice.

If the records of interviews or correspondence with pedophiles claiming hundreds of victims were stored, say, in a Roman Catholic chancery instead of a university research center, media satellite vans would be camped outside by the dozens, not to mention a gathering mob of townsfolk with with the modern equivalent of torches and pitchforks–iPhones, Droids, and Twitter accounts–led by victims’ advocates.

Indeed, if the rationalizations for Kinsey’s shielding of the privacy of pedophiles offered by his scientific colleagues and supporters were to be put, say, into the mouths of the clergy, these scientists would sound positively episcopal, and perhaps these scientists would then be eligible for a major see. The “scientific” rationalizations offered for Kinsey’s unethical behavior in pedophilia research are as equally unacceptable as those earlier offered by clergy before they began to commit to “zero tolerance” on pedophilia.

Furthermore, Kinsey’s defenders ask us to make the same naive mistake in accepting their defense of him as made by generations of clergy and jurists in assuming that there is such a person as an inactive pedophile, and that somehow only inactive pedophiles–yet in excruciating pseudo-scientific detail timed in some instances by stopwatch–reported to Kinsey. Apparently, scientists can be just as gullible about the capacity of pedophiles to change their ways as can clergy–and as can judges.

If and when all the statutes of limitations on the crime of pedophilia are abolished, it will be interesting to see whether the pedophilia records of the Kinsey Institute are also included in the round-up, or whether only religious institutions will feel the full force of the law, and whether the victims of Kinsey’s Table 34 will ever see justice, even in the eyes of history.

Just as critics of the Vatican have called for the Vatican to open its archives–to which the Vatican has been steadily complying with a lag of 50-80 years–so too should the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University commit to appropriately release the Kinsey archives and data at some reasonable point in the future. At that point, the real scientific assessment of Kinsey’s work and ethics can begin.

Prof. Kinsey’s bad science led to bad laws that released dangerous criminals who caused–and continue to cause–untold human suffering among countless innocent victims. This proliferation of sexual violence is Prof. Kinsey’s true legacy, and it is not something for which Indiana University should be in any way celebratory or proud.

Universities would do well to devote more of their research resources to test and to develop strategies for the reduction of sexual violence, and less time on the solipsism of sexual identity politics, in other words, the funding of faculty to talk mostly about themselves. Indiana University might consider taking the lead in this shift of research agenda, which at least in some way might reverse some of the damage that Kinsey wrought upon the innocent in society.

The more that is known about Kinsey, the more the Kinsey “brand” is damaged. What does not add value to a university is first quietly forgotten, then eventually erased.

The more that is known about Kinsey, and the more his shadow interferes with the work of his center, the more likely it is that whatever center for Sex, Gender, and Reproduction that exists at Indiana University will remove the name Kinsey from its marquee. This name-change is only one major donor away from becoming a reality. It is now only a matter of time, and of the truth inevitably finding its way forward.

For a recent lecture by American psychiatrist Miriam Grossman, MD, to the UN Commission on the Status of Women touching on Kinsey’s negative influence on public health, see–

Every educated person should learn something about statistics. Here’s a good place to start–

I also highly recommend the following meditation by Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day on her first encounter with the ideas of Kinsey in 1948–

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved