A reader writes:
So now you want the pope to resign? You begin by linking to Ross Douthat's column and then you completely ignore every point he made. You would rather keep repeating the words "tied up and raped two boys" in the same paragraph as the pope. Kiesle is clearly a disturbed criminal. The story uses the word "molest" and while either are terrible things you seem to relish using the harsher word.
The timeline you listed shows that Kiesle left the active priesthood soon after his arrest. Don't you also find it strange that this crime was a misdemeanor with 3 years probation and the record expunged? So his later volunteering as a youth minister seems to me the result of a nimble prosecution. Have you gone after the DA, the judge, and the probation officer yet?
You have posted some pretty uninformed emails from non-Catholics berating the time it takes for laicization. But you never bother to explain that to Catholics, Holy Orders is a sacrament. It is the equivalent of the marriage sacrament, and we know how hard it is to get an annulment. In fact, a good friend of mine was a Catholic priest and it took 10 years for the Vatican to approve his laicization after he left!
Moreover, your frequent comparison of the African archbishop Emmanuel Milingo to priests defrocked for abuse is somewhat misleading. The church took 5 years to act after Milingo married and his excommunication had more to do with his illegally ordaining priests. This had everything to do with Ratzinger's office (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). You admit yourself that the pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, did not have authority over abuse cases until 2001.
With your constant "How long has this been going on?" postings, how about just one "how long has this not been going on" by a former altar boy and youth ministry member like me, who went on overnight ski trips, watched TV at the rectory, and nothing untoward went on? Just one posting about the 96% of American priests who have not been accused of abuse would be some welcome balance.
These stories are horrifying and sad. But you have become a muckraker of sorts with this and talk out of both sides of your mouth. First you say gays can certainly be celibate and should be allowed in, then celibacy should be abolished. You say that pedophilia/pederasty has nothing to do with being gay, then that gay priests committed pedophilia/pederasty because of the oppression of a Catholic home and the church teaching. The church made me do it!
How exactly do you believe you are helping? You have called for the end of celibacy in the priesthood, the admission of openly gay men and women, more "democracy" in the Vatican, and for the current pope to resign (when you're not insinuating he's a closet case himself). If you truly believe this, then maybe it is time for you to leave the church.
It is not a contradiction to say that you believe mandatory celibacy should go but, if it exists, that gay priests can handle it as well as straight ones. I understand there is no "democracy" in the church as such, but greater power for the laity, as proposed by Vatican II, could have helped avoid these crimes (a few parents or simply a few women could alter the cocoon dramatically). Yes, pedophilia is utterly separate from homosexual orientation, but attraction to young post-pubescent teens, common to straight and gay men, can be controlled by most responsible adults. Psychologically damaged and emotionally arrested tortured gay Catholic priests could, however, be more likely to molest this group because they are at the same emotional development as their victims. That's one attempt at understanding one aspect of this complex and horrifying situation I have made.
But, yes, I think the ubiquity of these crimes necessitates a thorough review of how a system came to enable, and then hide, these pathologies and crimes. It's impossible to do that when the current Pope is himself integral to the problem, and has no better a record on this in the past than many, many others in the hierarchy.
I stand by my every word on this subject, however uncomfortable these words are for those who do not see the full extent of the corruption in front of us.
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