Father Neil McNicholas (Yorkshire Post):The moral evil of child abuse casts a shadow on my Church

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I think it's important to remember that even though instances of abuse continue to surface, it still only involves a very small proportion of priests and that the vast majority in no way deserve to be tarred with the same brush – and yet we find we have to defend and justify ourselves and our ministry all because of the actions of a few bad apples.

Some priests have even experienced being called a child abuser in the street simply because they are a priest. It goes without saying that people have a right to expect better of their priests, a higher moral standard, and that the trust they place in their clergy should be well-founded and hopefully it is.

But it has to be said that we are currently labouring under a cloud of suspicion that we really don't deserve. When we were first experiencing that cloud, I will always remember the occasion when, at the end of a diocesan celebration, the late Bishop Kevin O'Brien spontaneously spoke up in support of the priests of the diocese. His words, and the priests who were present, received a very moving and prolonged ovation from a packed cathedral. It was just what we needed at the time and it's probably just we need again now.

It was St Paul who said that we are only earthenware vessels holding the treasure of the gospel, an image that reminds us how vulnerable we are and how easily we are broken. His point was that when we act out of our humanness, our fragility, our imperfection, thankfully it is God who holds things together despite ourselves.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexuality* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

Posted March 30, 2010 at 8:43 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Larry Morse wrote:

But they are being tarred with the same brush, and for good reason. They may have no unseemly taste for young boys, but they almost certainly know those who do. And they have said and done nothing.
As to the “numbers” cited, I wonder why it is always the case that the offenders are a tiny minority, when [the evidence is that the numbers are rather large, if we consider the public cases against the probably cases that will never become public. And especially if we consider the sheer number of homosexuals now in the RC priesthood who, if they have no taste for boys, nevertheless have the usual homosexual tastes and thereby violate every church standard.
  The data here of the number of homosexual priests is fairly convincing. Just after the first scandal broke in Boston, a variety of books appeared and the evidence in them all was the same: The seminaries were hothouses of homosexual activity. I can no longer remember the names of the books, but I know they are there and
what they say.

  A cloud of suspicion they don’t deserve? When even the pope is in some real sense complicit?  This is a human enough response, I suppose, but it hardly deserves our sympathetic support. If the RC will not clean its own stables, then it cannot expect anyone else to use its empty stalls. 

March 30, 4:57 pm | [comment link]
2. Agast wrote:

Well, since the Catholic Church in the U.S. is something like 33 times larger than the Episcopal Church, and world-wide Catholicism something like 16 times larger, yes, the numbers are large. The rates are comparable in all religious groups.

As to unknown cases, well, how many Episcopal ministers offend against children and we don’t know it, mostly because the Episcopalians are media darlings. In fact, all across the board, most sex offenses are hidden by denial and moving kids around. Oh, yes, most sex abuse of children occurs in the family. If only parents could marry…

The pope’s alleged complicity is, we are learning a New York Times lie. He is, in fact, the one most responsible for cleaning up things over the past few years. But the pope, whoever he is at any given time, is always the perfect scapegoat. If he acts, he’s a tyrant - OH THE ENORMITIES! If he doesn’t act, he’s negligent.

Bearing false witness is a violation of the commandments. Funny that people who condemn Bishop Gene Robinson for his sins feel free to violate other commandments.

March 31, 12:04 am | [comment link]
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