Rod Dreher at American Conservative - frosted me this morning:
First, I think we have to always remember that priests are in the
business of forgiving sins. It’s a constant in pastoral life, whether in
the confessional or not, that people tell you things they’ve done
wrong, and reveal their dark sides to you. You learn to suppress your
judgement, and always to offer hope and the possibility of a new
beginning. If, as a priest, a layman came to me as a sex offender of the
most horrible kind, I would swallow my disgust, and try to find some
way to help him move forward. It’s part of the job description.
I think this dynamic is at work in bishops dealing with priest
offenders. They have in front of them someone who, for all the rotten
things he’s done, is still a broken child of God.
The second factor that’s important is that priests generally don’t
grasp the seriousness of the offense, and the damage it does. We see
this in Cardinal Mahony, but it’s not just him. I wish I knew why this
was so. It seems to me common sense that assaulting children sexually or
otherwise damages them.
The attitude lingers, largely, because even now most clerics haven’t
heard a victim’s story. I was revolted by these things from the first
moment I heard of them, but it wasn’t until I dealt with a victim that
my reaction became visceral. Abp. Myers probably hasn’t had a real
conversation with a victim, or a victim’s parent, and so the damage done
is still abstract.
It’s a matter of proximity. A broken priest directly in front of you
vs. a victim who you perceive as somebody who’s just angry and
demanding, but not somebody you have daily contact with.
To which I reply: Oh, REALLY? Try to help an offending priest "move forward"? Would that include turning himself into the authorities and removing him immediately from his priestly duties? And Cardinal Mahoney isn't grasping the "seriousness" of the offense? Again: Oh, REALLY?? Sex abuse doesn't register as serious. And trust me, there is no such thing as damage done "in the abstract" and any priest who has spent more than five minutes hearing confessions knows that.
Not buying it. Shame, shame, shame.