the learning curve

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 25, 2004

The newly-released personnel file of Davenport priest James Janssen has been studied by the Des Moines Register and organized into a timeline of successive revelations, admonishments, and reassignments that almost defies belief. Father Robert Silva warns us that the "bishops' actions should be placed in the cultural context of the United States at the time," and insists "The trauma caused by child sexual abuse was not known," but this is blowing smoke. In terms of protecting children, everything that was necessary to know about Janssens was known when Leviticus was written.

One of the ironies of the story is that, in the course of Janssens's priestly career, both the YMCA and the Boy Scouts banned him because of his misbehavior with youth. Why did they -- who were part of the same "cultural context" that Silva mentions -- manage to exhibit concern for children that the Diocese did not?

It's both sad and touching to learn how many people -- parishioners, therapists, brother priests and seminary staff -- clearly saw Janssen as a disturbed man and urged that he be defrocked and given help. The Church had a large reservoir of good will to work with. And then that eerie vacuum at the center ...

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - May. 25, 2004 7:26 PM ET USA

    I don't see why we are unable or so reluctant to connect the dots. Both in Boston and Newark parishes are shutting down. Boston, I believe, was considered the original "epi-center" of the Catholic priest sex-scandal. Newark, of course, is the former arch-diocese of the ultra-permissive now Cardinal McCarrick. It has also been demonstrated that seminaries run by Catholic leaders who enforce Catholic orthodoxy are flourishing while those that do not are withering.Many bishops stand condemned.

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2004 5:33 PM ET USA

    It appears that Iowa has a disproportionate share of proportionate theology being practiced by one of its priests, one James Janssen.

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2004 3:36 PM ET USA

    Just think ... if there was a "one strike and your out" rule back in the 1940's and 1950's .... This should be instructive to those who feel these perverts can be "rehabilitated" and returned to ministry. An adult man who has completed a course in the seminary can be assumed to know right from wrong. This guy knew what he was doing was wrong and did it anyway. Sure he's sick - but not just in his head. A penal monastery would have been a good place to send him in 1948.

  • Posted by: Jim E - May. 25, 2004 3:34 PM ET USA

    Every time I am prepared to "move on" another revelation occurs. Can the Silvas of this world really be this stupid or corrupt or both? When will the bishops and their cohorts really take a stand for truth, instead of equivacation and relativism. No excuses allowed... Please. Do they really care about Christ and HIs truth. Very doubtful.

  • Posted by: shrink - May. 25, 2004 2:25 PM ET USA

    It's also eerie that a single phrase in the first entry in a 52 year saga states the following: March 26, 1948 - Letter from Kendrick Seminary director of students warns Bishop Ralph Hayes that Janssen must be placed under supervision because he has "a dangerous spirit of duplicity." The 'dangerous spirit of duplicity' kinda says it all.

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2004 1:09 PM ET USA

    I guess it was because "he did good ministry." But that's all "history" now, and so is Canon Law 915, from what I hear.

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2004 1:07 PM ET USA

    Let's see...Fr. Silva says that the trauma caused by adults' fiddling with children's genitals was not known? Would that mean that if there were no trauma, it would be acceptable? And what, pray tell, is improved in the present "cultural context" of the US? Can't some idiot use our present slide into Sodom as an excuse for more fiddling around with kids?