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Sunday, March 4, 2012

More on Conduct Amidst Accusations

What Are We Waiting For carries on the discussion we've begun on the matter of Sylvia's Site with some very good observations.


  1. You and Anonymous Housewife express your reservations well, but as a Catholic I have to say I really like Sylvia's site. It's the antidote to the abuse - don't hide it at all. It makes children in the future much safer. It is interesting. I wish my parish had had a Sylvia back in 1965!

    1. Susan,
      Thank you for the compliment. :) I'm wondering if you could expand upon your point about Sylvia's Site being the antidote to the abuse?
      Personally, one of the things that bothered me about the site was that I discovered that two of the accused were American canon lawyers whose articles I had read during my studies. Emotions aside, I just wonder whether I really needed to know this and how it helps the Church in general.
      Do you think it will help prevent abuses? In what ways? By virtue of the fact that it's publicized? Are you thinking in terms of it being a deterrent?
      Then I wonder, what of the innocent who are accused? I know a priest who was falsely accused. If his name were posted, his reputation would have been destroyed.
      Looking forward to further discussion!


    2. The abuse was able to thrive for a weirdly long time. I was a child in the 50s,60s and I think my friends and I 'knew' that certain priests were moved around because they had done bad things with children (maybe my memory is just faulty, but that's the way I remember it). We didn't know any details at that age. But if I am correct about what I remember, I have to really wonder: how did my parents generation not know? Somewhere down in their hearts, how could it be that they did not question some goings on? It was not totally hidden.

      I think it was because of the general tone of life in those days. People did not share suspicions. People had no one to talk with. People knew that they, as one person, would be thought nuts if they said outloud: "something troubling is going on with Father Soandso". There was no framework for them - and so they hid their misgivings.

      It wasn't just the Catholic church. In my town, years ago, there was a house of ill repute - they got the girls (children, really) from a home for wayward girls in the big city. Can you imagine? Everyone sort of 'knew' and yet no one complained.

      One person alone (or even a few people together) can't figure out what to do with suspicions like that. So they stay silent. And the abuse can thrive.

      A blogger with a big mouth and no holding back can do a marvelous thing!

      Unfortunately, yes, some priests may be unfairly treated. And some will, of course, say they were unfairly treated. But they, like us, have to allow the cleansing to take place as the greater good. An abuser could be found out quickly nowdays. That makes us all safer.

      Nosy, loudmouthed, fearless ladies can best do God's work in this. When they sweep up, they might accidently get a lost earring in the dustpan, but they do get the floor clean! I'm all for the clean floor.

    3. Of course that method might be self-defeating in that people will begin to not take 'bloggers with big mouths' seriously. That would be unfortunate. You can also find yourself in for a world of legal hurt. We would all like to be on the right side in this, but it's not as easy as it sounds. For as much as we can criticize the legal system, it is the best that we've come up with so far in regard to victims' and defendants' rights. We need to attend to how hard it really is to prove wrong-doing.
      Now I think the big difference between now and the previous generation(s) is that we understand that pedophilia is not merely a sin it is a deep psychological problem. It is not akin to any other kind of indulgence and cannot just be confessed, as they thought. A priest who falls in love with a woman is parish X is likely not going to fall in love with another woman in parish Y, so it makes sense to move him. That is not the case with pedophilia. But how were our forebears to know this? They treated it like sin, not like a permanent psychological disease.

    4. Our forebears also missed the main point (and perhaps you are too?):
      Whether it is a sin, a psychological problem, needs confession, or needs sympathy, or whatever PALES in the face of: it hurt children.

      Sylvia is actually looking at this more correctly than you are. And the reason I mention that is because I can see you are very open minded and I think you will see what I mean.

      Any thinking that focuses on "pedophilia is/is not a sin" (forebears, listen up!) is not able to concentrate enough on "we must protect children from harm".

      (And I must say if I had been in my parent's generation I would have kept my mouth shut just like they did. I would have done it wrong. I want other people to correct my thinking - it's why I'm glad I live now. People like Sylvia clarify my priorities.)

  2. Publicity wouldn't keep an abuser from abusing, but would help with the cover-ups.