Winona (MN) priest Edward McGrath, pastor of Pax Christi Church, was arrested three weeks ago for criminal sexual conduct directed at an unreceptive police officer. The local paper reports that the Winona diocese immediately placed McGrath on a leave of absence, though the diocese does not feel his choice of recreation runs afoul of the misconduct policies in place.
Ivan Kubista, spokesman for the Diocese of Winona, said last week the criminal charge against McGrath does not violate the diocesan sexual misconduct policy because it involved McGrath's personal life and not his church life.
Of course most enlightened layfolk don't mind if Father relaxes with an abomination or two after a hard day at the rectory -- "when the church stuff is over," in Bishop Cawcutt's lapidary phrase -- but there are still a few suspicious minds out there, according to layman Jim Allaire:
Allaire said parishioners have told him they want more details about the church's handling of McGrath, and it's "not terribly clear what the intent or the thrust was" of the diocese's response.
It's a sad reflection on the renewal of parish communities that Catholics want to blur the distinction between the professional and personal lives of their full-time ministers. The policeman in question was an adult, was propositioned outside of church property, and wasn't even enrolled in RCIA at the time! Thankfully the Diocese has identified what went wrong and is determined to fix it:
The diocese is offering counseling to Pax Christi parishioners and will hold listening sessions this weekend in Rochester, Allaire said.
Let's see if I have this right: I'm a layman. My pastor gropes a cop in the park. I donate a portion of my wages to the bishop. The bishop hires a psychologist with my money. The psychologist helps me over my irrational fears of sodomite clergy. Who can argue with that?
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