man to man

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 09, 2004

Tasmanian Father Green availed himself of the St. Poelten Protocol in reaching out to a young man during grief counseling. The young man failed to see it as innocent horseplay, and 30 years later found a judge to agree with him.

Justice Underwood said a significant aggravating feature of the crime was that it was committed while Green was ministering to the man and his family, all traumatised by the death.

"You, as an ordained priest of the Catholic Church, held yourself out to this young man and his family as a custodian of moral values and a person in whom trust could be placed when in need," he said.

"Your public humiliation is complete for your former high standing has been transformed to disgrace and odium from which you are unlikely to recover."

Sleazy as the situation is, it's almost bracing to read words -- words aimed at the chest -- that state the simple moral facts about sexual abuse. No palaver about Father's alcohol dependency or his "regrettable mistake" or his many years of effective ministry sadly impaired by illness. Instead, we have one adult talking to another adult as if they were both free and rational beings capable of morally significant choices for good or ill. You'd almost think it mattered.

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  • Posted by: Sterling - Dec. 10, 2004 10:34 PM ET USA

    This question is theoretical, not necessarily about Fr. Green of whom I know nothing, but one that comes to mind as I think of the 30-year space between commission of sex abuse and pronouncement of "odium." Can there be spiritual regeneration for a priest like this, and, if yes, what might that spiritual regeneration look like to you? Would it be the priest lying on the bottom of the sea with a great millstone around his neck? Or does Christ offer any other possibilities?

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Dec. 09, 2004 5:44 PM ET USA

    The unfortunate thing is that the words of one syllable come from a judge, not from a bishop. But then, that's why altar boy is right.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 09, 2004 2:51 PM ET USA

    "He was not ever about destroying the Catholic Church, he wanted to right a wrong that was done to him," The Church can never be destroyed by these revelations of depravity & immoral behavior, but churches can be, and that is exactly what is happening in America. If the Vatican doesn’t act soon—and with certainty—to purge homosexuals from its clergy, then destruction, one parish & one diocese at a time, is exactly what will happen. (In fact, it's already in progress.)

  • Posted by: - Dec. 09, 2004 1:38 PM ET USA

    Comments aimed at the chest only matter if some men have chests. In this case, pace CS Lewis, I wonder.