Speaking of which…
Lotsa feedback on Fr. Doyle’s contention that the majority of abuse cases are adult women. Can’t post it all, so will post the most succinct argument I’ve gotten against being too quick to change my stance:
I agree that this is a neglected topic; however, it is OK to talk about consent issues with adults (perhaps Fr. Doyle has never had a woman make a pass at them, but many of us have). And since we are now talking about adult abuse situations, what about coercive gay relationships (perhaps from counseling situations like the women)? Or are all adult gay relationships involving priests consensual (or are we so chary of judging gay relationships as abnormal that we could ignore this possibility)? Notice Fr. Doyle’s preemptive strike-“To even entertain the erroneous belief that adult women somehow are partially responsible when they are sexually abused is infuriating to victims and holds the bishops or anyone who purports such an idea up to ridicule.” Is every cleric in a consensual relationship with a woman an abuser? Certainly there is a problem of clerics (and ministers of Protestant faiths) taking advantage of women in counseling situations (as there also is with secular therapists, where it is considered unethical, but is rampant nonetheless). This is a whole new can of worms, and I believe it’s being thrown out there, partially at least, to obscure the present crisis of blatant homosexual chicken-hawking practices in the priesthood. I wouldn’t be too quick to drop your former positions; certainly the big problem is a seeming inability to keep vows, among both homosexual and heterosexual priests, but the attacks against children are still my main concern, and the vast majority of these attacks are perpetrated on adolescent boys. The problem with blogging is sometimes we blog before we think a situation through.
The failure of the bishops to enforce moral teaching and adherence to vows is reprehensible; the failure of adult priests to serve their people, children and adults, instead of taking advantage of them, is equally reprehensible. The response to both situations is the same initially-enforce our laws on chastity and celibacy with our own priests and weed out the guys who can’t cut it. But I believe, after all is said and done, to protect children, as well as the integrity of the priesthood, that gay men should be excluded from formation; they carry a much higher risk of acting out, and acting out with minors.
Please do not use my name with this if you must blog it; I have enough problems running my parish without enemies downtown.
The problem we laypeople face, of course, is that we are at the mercy of experts. Up till six months ago, when our bishops thrust the problem into our faces, most of us were not aware there was this huge problem and our first impulse in getting up in the morning was not to ask, “Are abusive priests more likely to abuse adult women or male adolescents and, if so, how much of this problem is the American episcopacy likely to lie about, cover up, oppress victims to hide it, and participate in?” So we’re all still struggling to play catch up. I agree that Fr. Doyle does appear to be trying to characterize every sexual liaison as “abuse”, which is a cheapening of the term. Consensual sex with an adult is a sin for a priest, but not necessarily a crime. Sex with minors is a crime and a grave sin.
That said, I thought most of Fr. Doyle’s points are well-taken. At the end of the day, the bishops who created this Frankenstein’s Monster are saying “Trust us” and putting Clinton’s lawyer in charge of holding them to account. I’m not fussy about laicizing a priest so long as he a) is kept away from potential victims and barred from doing priestly work and b) subject to the same civil penalties as the rest of us hoi polloi.
That said, the policy enacted was hugely flawed. The bishops gave us the normal blah blah of empty Clintonesque contrition, but did not tender their own resignations for formal cooperation in the sins they enabled. Several of them yawned their way through the thing and it was obvious that the “crisis” is, for them, the press at the door and not the victims they created. There was little thoughtful deliberation, just a bone to the press. As Fr. Doyle points out, the interest was directed solely to what the press was clamoring about, not to sexual abuse in all its forms. Likewise, there was zero interest in examining the culture of contempt for chastity and orthodoxy they have permitted and even participated in, hence the quick death of Bruskewitz’ proposal. And now, I think they are crossing their fingers, returning to their dioceses, and hoping it will all blow over. It reminds me of the Missouri Compromise.
And they want us to trust them. Heh!