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seek ye the higher gifts

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 16, 2003

Blogger Amy Welborn raises a good point about the Diocese of Winona's response -- or non-response -- to the arrest of Fr. Edward McGrath for groping a policeman in a park.

In a statement released Thursday, Bishop Bernard Harrington said he "is saddened by the news regarding the charges against Father Edward McGrath. "Father McGrath has been an excellent and much loved priest, serving the people of our diocese well in both administrative and pastoral capacities." If necessary, the diocese will see that he is provided professional counseling, the statement said. [Spokesman Ivan] Kubista said the charges against McGrath do not fall under the diocesan sexual misconduct policy.

"This involves his personal life," Kubista said, explaining that this is a civil matter, not involving McGrath's conduct while he was "engaged in the mission of the church."

Can anybody recall reading of a gay clergyman -- in any context -- who was not acclaimed as an "excellent and much loved priest"? More to the point, since when is clergy misconduct exclusively a civil matter, and a priest's sexual recreations irrelevant to the mission of the Church? Perhaps these folks took their instructions in celebrating diversity and civil law from the California Jesuits:

[Fr. Angel Mariano, S.J.] was arrested about midnight Sept. 21, 1998, in Campbell, Calif., near San Jose when a police officer caught him in a sex act with a 17-year-old student in a parked car. According to police reports, Mariano arranged to meet two teenagers by posing as a 25-year-old woman on an Internet chat room. He wore lipstick and rouge when he met the boys. ... Mariano was removed without any explanation. Asked why parishioners at Holy Trinity were not made aware of the reasons for Mariano's departure, [Provincial Fr. Tom] Smolich said: "Why should they? This is an Internet cruising thing. This is anonymous sex. This doesn't involve people at the parish. It wasn't a priest thing. He wasn't dressed in a collar."

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