Action Alert!

A mile in their shoes

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Jul 01, 2004

Last week Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News faced a decision: Should he call attention to a priest who was helping out in a local parish? That priest, Dreher had learned, was suspended by his own diocese, on sexual-misconduct charges.

It looks at first like an easy call, especially for someone like Dreher, who has a deserved reputation for putting the heat on clerical abusers. But there was a problem: The problem was in Dreher's own parish, and exposing the suspended priest would mean causing a disruption and hurting innocent people there.

In his column today, Dreher explains that now, having been through the experience, he's beginning to understand why some clerics have been reluctant to discipline abusers, and preferred to "handle things quietly."

The difference is: Dreher did the right thing.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 03, 2004 12:12 AM ET USA

    Jashu, I agree as far as the anguish goes. Yet for the protection of the young, a person who has abused a child or teenager should be viewed as high risk. Parents and Church administrators should be very much afraid. A pastor who is too compassionate to such an offender is failing in his duty and shows extremely poor judgment.

  • Posted by: westcoast subscriber - Jul. 02, 2004 7:08 PM ET USA

    You should post Fr Hawkins' response. I found it at Father writes: "Bishop Timlin (the now-retired Bishop of Scranton) ended Fr Clay's "removal from active ministry" by appointing him parochial vicar at St Thomas More parish in Lake Ariel, PA - and I have Bishop Timlin's letter to this effect, dated February 4, 2003, before me as I write," and "The outcome of this investigation was that no charges of any kind were brought against Fr Clay." Time will tell. Pray.

  • Posted by: Coco - Jul. 01, 2004 7:30 PM ET USA

    The NT would be useless if its writers omitted the truth about the sinful behaviour of themselves and their fellow desciples--a truth that would make them look bad when Christians were already disliked by the world (Peter denying the Lord, Judas double-crossing Jesus) But tell the truth, they did, and to the greater glory of God! Fear born of Satan makes us keep the truth in darkness to fester. Courage born of God shines light on the truth, transforming even evil too good. Bravo, Rod!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 01, 2004 5:14 PM ET USA

    And how many other Fr. Clay's are there out there? It is gut-wrenching to come across a good man who made one mistake, and he, and all potential ministerees suffer because of it. I rack my brain for a solution, as I know one of these good men. Jashu