Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

"Now this will probably sting a little bit..."

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 12, 2003

Vision Book Cover Prints

The bishops are already jittery about next February's release of a report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice cataloging sexual abuse cases since 1950:

"This is going to be devastating, from what I'm hearing on the inside,'' said Bishop Raymond J. Boland of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. "People will look at these raw statistics and say, 'This is a large number.' But I'm hoping we can say, 'OK, if they're large and damning in many ways, how do they compare to the country at large?'"

Bishop Boland is the man who, three years ago, told the Kansas City Star's Judy Thomas:

"I would never ask a priest how he got [AIDS], just like nobody asked me two years ago how I got cancer of the colon. But I would provide for him. I would not write him off and say, 'Because you've got AIDS and because there are doubts about how one can acquire it, therefore you're not a good priest.'"

A bishop who consciously binds himself to the pretense that an AIDS-infected clergyman has been a good priest obviously does not want to know the truth of the matter. And he doesn't want to know the truth of the matter because he is terrified of having to act on the truth. Boland's concern for a sick man is laudable, but it comes at no cost to his popularity. Squaring up to the problem of predatory gays -- networked who knows how deeply into the episcopacy as well as the presbyterate -- would take real guts. Better to make nice noises about non-judgmental health care.

His anticipatory spin on the John Jay report is very much in character and very discouraging. A man who had started to tackle the problem would say, "Well, if the appalling discoveries we made in my diocese are any indication..." But he doesn't. Instead Boland refers to murmurings "on the inside," which shows his head is still planted firmly in the sand. At least he was kind enough to preview next March's smoke-screen for us: "Put in its true perspective, the incidence of child rape and deviant sexual assault among Catholic priests is no higher than it is among welders, tractor mechanics, and taffy-apple vendors -- clear evidence of the workings of sanctifying grace in the Sacrament of Orders!"

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