Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

Like, why the fuss?

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 13, 2003

The Crosiers are scaling back their workload in Michigan, according to the Detroit News:

The reorganization comes a year after the Roman Catholic religious order announced that eight of its priests or brothers had been removed from public ministry and are living under restrictions for sexually abusing minors. David Kostik, a spokesman for the Crosiers, said Thursday that the misconduct and publicity surrounding it was not an overriding factor in the decision to consolidate.

"I can't say they are totally unrelated," Kostik said. "But clearly, when we look at the number of Crosiers available for active service, it's smaller today. Aging is the primary factor for that. But we also do have men on restrictions. It's there. But it's not the driving factor."

More than 225 Crosier priests and brothers served parishes in the United States in the 1970s. Today, the number has dwindled to 87, about a quarter of whom are retired, Kostik said.

Got that? There are 87 Crosiers, a quarter of these are retired, and eight are barred from ministry because they sexually abused minors.

Suppose the same group of 87 religious had eight men incapacitated because of emphysema. Can you imagine the response? There'd be a full-throttle anti-tobacco program in force from the novitiate onwards, mandatory for all, with quarterly workshops, weekly mailings, a lecture series, adult ed courses for re-offenders, non-stop homilizing, and every kind of effort brought to bear on the total and final eradication of the problem. Those who objected to the draconian rigor of the campaign or protested that an occasional cigar was not risky would be told that zero-tolerance measures were a simple matter of responsible governance. Individual appetites must give way to the general norm for the good of the apostolate, period.

When the crisis is sexual in origin, however, the official response is ... puzzlement. First, there's the pretense that sexual anarchy is not such a big deal. If that fails to convince, the pretense is that sexual behavior itself is a mystery, only just coming into focus among a few experts in the scientific community. Should the pressure to act increase, the pretense is that the same men who ignored or abetted the developing crisis can be relied on to cure it -- not through an overhaul of the system from the ground up, but by means of micro-adjustments in training and management technique.

If one out of every eleven members of your religious community has a sex problem with kids, it's close to ipso facto evidence of corruption. But most of us who insist that the U.S. episcopacy and religious orders are corrupt are basing our judgment, not on the number of offenders, but on the unwillingness or inability of superiors to fix the problem -- or even to take a convincing stab at fixing it. Kostik's blasé announcement above can be paralleled by the languid expressions of mild surprise issued by dioceses when seminary faculty are arrested in porn stings and raids on public rest-rooms. What is shocking is not merely that the chancery fails to share one's shock, but that it fails to stifle a yawn.

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