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I do this not to elicit sympathy. It is possible that having experienced what seemed to be the worst of times, and now experiencing them again, I might be able to collect some thoughts and shed some light on ways forward. Sitting in my small living room in the rectory I shared with another priest in the summer of , I spent one sweltering evening surfing all the news channels. If ever priests had been on a pedestal, it had now been quickly kicked away, and with some glee.

The anger, revulsion, and desire for change were all justified. There was, and is, no excuse — and no suffering that was not deserved, even by the majority of priests who were living faithfully.


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The U. The scandals ebbed and flowed in subsequent years and the U. Catholic Church, according to many external auditors, became of a model of safe practice. Ministry changed — Church employees, including all priests, had to undergo all kinds of training, courses, lectures.

Still, that barely concealed veil of suspicion over the priesthood was ever present. Yet there was no suffering that was not deserved, even by the innocent, because of the betrayal of the few. Jump forward to this summer of This time it appears, on the surface, to be quite different, but appearances can be deceiving. Although there are allegations that minors were abused, most of the scandal is now centering on three related issues: abuse of power, homosexual abuse and the failure to observe celibacy, and the failure of the bishops to police themselves.

The elephant in the sacristy, then and now, is the conflation of those three issues. Make no mistake, it was most certainly abuse, it was often a crime, and it deserved serious and life-changing penalties. I know of one famous cleric, now dead, who boasted and it turns my stomach to think of a priest living so brazen a lie of a male friend with whom he had sex regularly. Failure to live vows, which are promises freely made — seminarians have six or seven years to decide on their commitment, engaged couples often have only a year or less to decide — is at the heart of the abuse crisis.

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That failure has been fed and nourished both by external oppression from the sexual revolution and by internal pressure in the form of the unwillingness by many in the Church to be formed by the timeless moral teaching of the Church instead of by the secular culture of our day. Many priests with same-sex attraction, just like heterosexual priests, practice chastity and live exemplary lives. A related fundamental question is whether those called to leadership in the Church, both bishops and priests, believe the defined teaching of the Church on human sexuality. There is a feedback loop: Illicit behavior allows and encourages illicit power structures, which in turn allow the illicit behavior.

The behavior cannot continue without the connivance or tacit acceptance of those in command of the structure.

A Priest Responds to the Catholic Church’s ‘Summer of Shame’

The darker explanation is that some, certainly not all, were practitioners of the very things they were called to condemn. Bishops are assumed to be in essence high-level bureaucrats and are chosen usually because they have proved themselves by being efficient lower-level managers — a vicar general, perhaps, or the head of a curial dicastery.

To regain some credibility, and to avoid the mob mentality that always emerges in times of crisis and is driven to tear the whole structure down — a difficult proposition for Catholics who, like their Orthodox brethren, believe that bishops are the successors of the Apostles — the bishops need to do some considerable soul-searching. That is not an excuse, but the reality is that bishops have become less successors of the Apostles and more like senior management at a large bank. In my experience, that is at the very heart of the problem.

So often it is the confirmation of the ecclesiastical Peter Principle, the theory that members of a hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence. Faithful and good Catholics, the kind I have been blessed to have served over the past quarter-century, want their bishops to be real spiritual fathers, more at home in the confessional or before the altar than in the boardroom or the banquet hall.

They want their priests to be fearless in the proclamation of the complete teaching of the Church and faithful in their personal vows and promises. True reform always begins with personal reform, with fidelity to the truth and with a desire for holiness. The Church does not need a tearing down by the mob. It needs a building up by saints. On the other hand, physics stays exciting, regardless whether a higgs boson is found or not — in both cases there will be enough exciting work in the future.

Then how difficult would it be to have this disk seen — and made available by — an ftp server? Nothing fancy, just the basics would be a huge improvement over nothing at all. Free riding on data Why would any scientist or group do the spadework of generating data, if others could have access to to before the creators of the data had published? Everyone would just wait for someone else to do generate the data, and the net result would be noone would do it, and science would be the worse.

Similar argument to patent and copyright. This assumes government funding agencies are behaving much like private entities, ie acting in their own interests. But surely the whole purpose of government funding of science, is to commission work that is beneficial to society as a whole. If funding agencies are not doing this, they are not doing their job, and need to be replaced or reformed.


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  8. Once funding agency does commission some data research work, it will surely not be a problem finding some scientists to carry out the work. To make this all universal is further development work. Furthermore, the documentation of these data is run-by-run databases concerning the response of the millions of channels of a particular subsystem is also problematic.

    There is no way that making this all universally accessible and up-to-date for the whole world would not be a significant expenditure. The LHC experiments are probably the most complex scientific endeavours in history.

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    They form collaborations and go to the funding agencies to beg and sell their idea and they fight off other researchers who also want to get a slice of the pie. As pointed out, you need several thousand scientists to get together to do this. They must all be supported by their universities etc. Under your scheme you may not get those several thousand scientists to do this since many would prefer to avoid the hard preparatory work and focus on other more short term research in the meantime.

    Furthermore, some universities would prefer this as their staff would get more immediate returns and the uni would improve its league table rankings.

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    Like everything in life, its complicated and proposing changes to successful working practices is rarely a good idea unless it is absolutely necessary. On another note, it is extremely unlikely that someone like Steve could come in and do with LHC data what he did with climate data. It is simply too complicated and one typically needs a run-in time of around a year. Furthermore, even with the code, he would need powerful computers to process and strip the data.

    Data Yes I do take on board hugeness, complexity, need for documentation, etc. But as a starter idea, nothing says all the data needs to be on one single ftp server. A basic reform we need then is to get some strategists employed by funding agencies, who then put out some jobs that scientists tender for.

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    A bit of a role-reversal, akin to senior public prosecutors and lawyers becoming judges later in their careers. Free riding With your proposal you are violating a fundamental principle of how science is done i. In the UK, this is known as the Haldane principle. This model has worked fantastically well in particle physics. Scientists on the ground disagree but have less or no power to put forward their own strategy. Roger Cost Would running a number of ftp servers on the machines where the data already exists, really impose a significant cost?

    Strategy Yes ok, bottom up, those with the knowledge less likely to be political. Except look at the IPCC cadre — could anyone be more political? Are scientists looking to their own careers and ideologies any better guardians of the common interest than policos on the funding agencies? But nowhere near as complicated as the science underneath surely.