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... and more counseling

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 10, 2003

Father John Keller gave a 16-year old boy too much wine, summoned him to his bed, and failed to conduct himself in a manner reflecting the dignity of his sacerdotal office. Here's how his bishop puts it:

Questioned by the diocese, Father Keller denied abusing the youth but acknowledged he "crossed a proper boundary by holding you in a manner inappropriate for a priest," Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza wrote the deacon's now-grown son in January.

So what happens to Father when he crosses a boundary ...? You guessed it.

For his actions, Father Keller would have to undergo counseling "to ensure he is not at risk for any future inappropriate behavior," the bishop wrote.

But was Father's boundary crossing a free action (willed) or a compulsive act (unwilled)? If free, then there's no question of reducing risk; in the realm of the human will, risk is a synonym of freedom. If compulsive, then we have to able to identify the disorder that enchains him, name it clearly as a disorder, and (to remove the risk) eradicate the disorder. Eradicate the disorder.

Of the parties involved -- priest, bishop, counselor -- would any of the three seriously believe that Father's inclinations were intrinsically disordered or that his counseling was aimed at eliminating them? You make the call.

A few years after the trip, the mother said she discovered in her son's room "love letters" from the priest. She said she confronted Father Keller and told him to stay away from her son, who was still in high school, and to get therapy. The priest responded "he was dealing with his 'problem' in therapy," the mother wrote in a letter she sent Bishop Fiorenza last fall.

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