A priest's view: Media and others are overly focused on sex scandals among some Catholic priests
This is not intended to justify or excuse any of the scandal caused by some priests. My only purpose is to give some clarity and balance to the way these things are reported. I am not a scholar, and, unlike most of today's priests, I do not have ...
This is not intended to justify or excuse any of the scandal caused by some priests. My only purpose is to give some clarity and balance to the way these things are reported. I am not a scholar, and, unlike most of today's priests, I do not have any academic degrees. I am just a bystander who cares about fairness and sanity.
Let us start with numbers. Considering all the priests, only a very few are abusers. And I readily agree that even one who's abusive is far too many.
So let us try to learn how some get into the priesthood. Let us realize there are many seminaries in the country, some diocesan and others run by religious orders. Let us assume for lack of knowing the exact figures that the average class ordained each year is 30 men. On average, some of these men began their studies in the ninth grade and were in the minor and major seminaries for 12 or fewer years before ordination.
The role of a seminary is to help a candidate determine, under guidance, whether he has a vocation and, if so, to acquire the education needed to live that vocation along with the spiritual formation.
Each candidate has his own personality, background, motivation and degree of internal honesty in pursuing the priesthood. Some of this may show itself and often then the candidate may be advised either to leave or to shape up. Some may never seek out a spiritual director for help and advice along the way. What an individual keeps hidden within himself may be known only to God. And what the man hides may well be the source of future scandals he may cause.
It is proper to assume that each seminarian is rightly motivated unless and until he gives outer evidence otherwise. And thus, some future criminals may get through, and some do.
As an aside, we know that both Stalin and Hitler sent men into seminaries in order to cause later trouble for the Church.
Let us also look at the media. Scandal sells newspapers, attracts advertising-consuming viewers to TV and radio, and makes big money.
There also is big money for lawyers who are not truly concerned with the good of society but primarily with their bankrolls, no matter from whom they might grab the money. Some lawyers even go after honest and often-struggling parishioners who support their parishes and institutions. Some even exploit the victims of sexual abuse by bribing them to help dig up more cases.
Finally, there are the victims of priestly sexual abuse. They deserve our prayers and help in dealing with their trauma. But they only hurt themselves more if motivated by revenge or lawyer-prompted greed.
Jesus died for all of us because of our sins. As He died most shamefully and painfully, He prayed, "Father, forgive them."
Let the law take its course, but let its motivation be noble.
The Rev. Richard Partika is a priest in Duluth.