Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $40,415 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on


By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 03, 2004

The Diocese of Evansville temporarily has relieved a priest of his duties and sent him to counseling after he allegedly was caught viewing pornographic material. The Rev. William A. Traylor left a letter to be read to parishioners at St. Joseph and St. Theresa last weekend explaining he was seeking treatment. It said he had been viewing "inappropriate" Web sites and that the diocese had urged him to undergo an evaluation -- after which he could return to service.

Suppose you're shifting some books on the dresser of your 13-year-old boy when out from between the pages of the Columbia Encyclopedia drops a raunchy photo from Penthouse. Do you send him away for counseling? Of course you don't. If it's the first occasion the topic has arisen, you sit him down and give him a stern talking-to about the relation of sexual curiosity to Christian morality. If he's already heard that speech a year earlier, you smack him.

Why don't you send him to therapy? Because he's not broken. He sinned.

On the other hand, we can equally well imagine circumstances in which we'd want therapy for the boy -- if, e.g., the photos were of a kind that ordinary people using ordinary language call "really sick." By using the word, we intuitively acknowledge that there is something seriously disordered that needs to be healed, something that goes beyond penance, beyond a kick in the pants.

By a vexing irony, the majority of church officials, together with the majority of health care professionals that they rely on, have made therapy the nearly universal response to sexual misconduct, even as they heatedly deny that there is a pathology in the appetites that entice one toward the "really sick" pix. Small wonder the laity are not reassured by the counseling directed at the likes of Fr. Traylor:

"Of course, we're not getting any answers from the bishop (Gerald Gettelfinger) which doesn't surprise us," said Sherri Musgrave, a parishioner at St. Theresa, who heard Traylor's letter Sunday. "Our biggest concern is: Is this a cover-up?"

She said parishioners tried to ask questions but answers were short. Parishioners were told if Traylor's evaluation and treatment were effective, he could return as an active priest. ... "We want to know what kind of treatment there is for (viewing pornography)," she said.

Sherri has a point. Traylor is no teenager but a 54-year-old man -- meaning he's had 40+ years in which his libidinal promptings and habitual vices have settled into their streambeds and deepened them. It's grotesque to think that a couple dozen 50-minute counseling sessions are going to remake the man. If Traylor's indulgence in porn was a mere sin, what's the point of six weeks' therapy? If it's more than a mere sin, what's the point of six weeks' therapy?

Predictably, the diocese has refused to discuss the nature of the pornographic material, the circumstances of Traylor's removal, the name and location of his treatment center, and the reason the incident was referred to Child Protective Services. Trust restored yet, gang? Should any hesitations remain, Traylor himself assures us the websites were simply "inappropriate" -- and as an ordained Catholic priest he must be telling the truth.

[Footnote to the Goodbye Good Men debate: "In 1992, Traylor served as a pastor of Our Lady of Mercy in Brussels, and as a staff member of The American College of Louvain, Leuven, Belgium."]

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($128,102 to go):
$150,000.00 $21,897.70
85% 15%
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Aug. 06, 2004 12:33 PM ET USA

    St. Luke Institute must be getting pretty crowded about now. Soon they'll be sending out begging letters because they need to build larger facilities to house all the bishops and priests undergoing "therapy" and "evaluation." I suggest that to view pornography once or twice is a sin but when it becomes compulsive it is a sickness. It is in such sickness that we will find the root of the scandal we witness every day.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 06, 2004 12:50 AM ET USA

    Off with his head ... before some fool gives him a miter.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 04, 2004 3:41 PM ET USA

    Yes, I caught the Louvain 'connection' also. Hmmm. No smoke without fire... Connect the dots...

  • Posted by: - Aug. 04, 2004 10:59 AM ET USA

    Altar Boy’s suggested translation: Fr. Traylor, a homosexual, was caught accessing homosexual web sites. His bishop (and long-time “acquaintance”), anxious to cover his own butt, has hidden Traylor away for a while while he decides what to do with him. The counseling sessions Traylor is undergoing are actually interrogations to determine if he knows of anyone outside the chancery who might have the "goods" on him. Traylor’s “friends” from Louvain are praying a novena for him.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on

Recent Catholic Commentary

When Catholics are less Catholic than non-Catholics 18 hours ago
Cardinal Kasper's nose is growing again October 18
Challenge Grant Begins as Synod Ends October 17
What's wrong with this Synod, IV: Unprepared for marriage October 17
No, mainstream religious orders aren't attracting vocations as fast as younger traditional orders October 17

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6