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Goodbye, St. Paul. Hello, Mr. Yuck.

By Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. (articles ) | May 09, 2003

Thanks for the Talking About Touching, link, Fr. W. Two aspects grate on me. First, there's the implicit notion that, in the clergy abuse crisis, the failure rests -- even in part -- with the children. Think of a corrupt police force that shakes down innocent motorists and then, in response to public outcry, introduces a course in motorist etiquette.

Worse, these programs point to the baffling inability of the Church make use of her own moral doctrine in dealing with the problem. One of the teaching-scenarios cited presents for the children's consideration a "funny uncle" who proposes an indecent touching game:

Alex knew this game wasnt safe. So, in a strong voice he said, 'No, I dont want to do that.' Then he got off the couch and left the room. When he got home, he told his mom and dad what had happened. Alex's parents were glad that he said 'no' to his uncle. They were also glad that Alex told them what his uncle asked him to do.

But this is simply false. It teaches an untruth. The game may or may not be "safe." It is unquestionably wrong -- and almost all children will intuitively sense that it is wrong. Their native moral revulsions need to be affirmed by parents and teachers, not confused and weakened by putting in their stead a fuzzy notion of "wellness." The irony is that the program addressed to remedy moral failure reflects its creators' unease with moral discourse.

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