Doug Sirman on Fr. David Jaeger

You’ve made several references to this case. I think you ought to read it if you haven’t already.

People can make appalling errors in judgement. Errors which may be understandable given a full comprehension of the context. However, those errors can lead to equally appalling consequences. I think of falling asleep at the wheel.

This case is sounding more and more like someone who is willing to take responsibility for his actions, but wants to distance himself from the consequences. That doesn’t make him evil, that makes him human. Cynics would say it makes him “bishop material.”

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t much like Fr. Jaeger, who did some sort of gay ministry here in Seattle, whose writings always struck me as an apologia for homosexual rejection of Church teaching and whose presentations always angered and irritated serious Catholics whose judgment I trust. I can’t say I was stunned when he was one of the first people out of the gate to be fingered for abuse. Nor am I stunned that our lavender press in Seattle, after the first orgy of rejoicing over this scandal is now waking up to the fact that the main result will be gay priests getting kicked out for past abuse. However, as I’ve said before, I am highly skeptical about the merits of this particular case. Much as I dislike Fr. Jaeger, I really wonder whether Zero Tolerance is the Catholic response to a stupid act (a back rub!) committed 25 years ago. Is this really the equivalent of rape or pederasty? Does this really justify obliterating his priesthood? Believe me, if there’s a priest in this archdiocese (and unhappily there are many) who I’d love to see just go away, it’s Fr. Jaeger. And yet, I question the justice of the archdiocese’s approach, as I question all Zero Tolerance thinking.

Update: After reading the article more closely, I’ve changed my mind. Jaeger needs to go, I think. Prolonged “Hey! I didn’t do anything serious. See how much people love me!” stuff in the press simply gives him a forum and allows him to prolong the abuse of his victim in another form. As I read the description of what happened, this was more than a backrub thoughtlessly given.