Jimmy Akin Attempts to Speak Common Sense…

…to a ravening mob in a combox. About 50% are capable of grasping analogies and reasoned discourse. The other half are thoroughly ginned up hysterics. You’re a better man than I am, Jimmy.

Old and Busted Conventional Combox Wisdom: The Church is dragging its feet laicizing priests with all this canonical process jazz. It’s just a good ol’ boy scheme for keeping abusers on the payroll and bleeding the laity white! Burn them!

New Hotness Conventional Combox Wisdom: The Church cares only about expedience and money when it gets abusers out of the priesthood speedily by settling with them at much lower cost to the laity who were being bled white. Burn them!

The Interwebz: where a cleric weighs as much as a duck and is therefore made of wood and thus proven to be a witch.

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  • Jimmy Akin’s argument from prudence (that the diocese of Milwaukee satisfies its obligations to justice for the victims, potential victims AND the priest by incentivizing a problem priest’s quiet departure) seems sound enough to me.

    His semantic argument over the word “payment” seems strained and uncharacteristically weak. The word “pay” and its derivatives are extremely broad and could even encompass the examples he gives. I think it would be better for Akin to acknowledge that the situation is complex, difficult and hard to simplify or label with a word that would meet Akin’s vague standard for not being “loaded.” I mean, what would a better word be than “payment?” Donation? Severence package? Gift? Alms giving? Each carries its own dark subtext or, simply, smacks of spin.

    Better to say that the situation does not lend itself well to quick explanations and that while, perhaps, the journalist in this case is biased, that it’s hard to argue that, in the heat of the moment, a good man like Cardinal Dolan may have erred in his impassioned denial.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    About 50% are capable of grasping analogies

    Quite a few years ago the College Boards dropped the analogy questions from the aptitude tests because too many people were getting them wrong.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Which is, naturally, a problem of the tests and not of the education of the test-takers. If I recall, there have been discussions of cutting word-based math problems from the tests, too, haven’t there been?

      • Ted Seeber

        As a lazy computer programmer, I always preferred word based math problems to number based ones, because I understood the concept of area and realized that you could fit fewer word problems on a page and therefore a worksheet of word problems took significantly less work than a worksheet of number problems.

    • Rachel K

      To be fair, part of the issue may be that the vocabulary on the analogy questions can get ridiculous; you’re required to not only understand the basic analogy, but also five sets of words that frequently include terms students have never encountered. I used to teach eighth-grade English, and my kids had no problem with the concept of analogies when we were preparing for the HSPT. Their problem was with words like “vindictive,” “despondent,” “goad,” “sham” and, Heaven help them, “vexillology.” Easy enough words for us (well, except “vexillology”), but it’s one heck of a well-read eighth-grader who knows “vindictive.”

  • James Isabella

    Wow, I tried to read through that mess but gave up.

    I do have a question, though. Diocesan priests receive a salary. When a priest is removed from ministry, do they continue to receive their salary? I assume that even if they do not, they are being supported in some other way (room & board). If an appeals process takes awhile, the diocese is footing the bill for an abuser either way. $10,000 does not seem like a lot of money to cut ties with an abuser quickly, especially when the alternative is spending quite a lot more than that on them.

  • sbark

    It seems to me that only one solution would make many of these activists happy: whenever a priest is accused, with or without evidence, the Church immediately turns that priest out on the street. I think at least one issue is that they don’t understand that draconian punishment without any attempt to determine guilt or innocence cannot be just.

    If these activists had their way, any accusation would be met by immediately ruining the life of the accused and presenting a large check to the accuser, no evidence needed. Unfortunately, we live in a world where some people with an axe to grind would see the possibility of a check and make false accusations. Sadly, it is often difficult to get to the truth in these cases of clerical abuse. That doesn’t mean that the Church should throw up its hands and not even try to get to the truth.