Victorian secrets

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 20, 2007

Columnist Jean Torkelson of the Rocky Mountain News offers a balanced appraisal of the damage done by a local priest with a penchant for nude jogging. But some of the people interviewed for the Torkelson piece have more pronounced views.

"This isn't the Victorian age," one woman snapped. "Nudity isn't an issue in our family."

Nudity has never been an issue in my family, either, but I think that's because there wasn't much of it. We generally showered in the nude, but then reached for towels and robes, and put on a layer or two of clothing before venturing out of the house-- which was, I concede, built in the Victorian style.

A non-Catholic neighbor takes a different attitude…

Berger, a non-Catholic, figures it shows how Catholic priests tend toward weird sex stuff.

… and Torkelson rightly comments:

So it goes in the popular imagination-- though statistics show 96 percent of Catholic priests are free of any such accusations.

Exactly so. I wonder whether 96% of the residents in a typical small town would be free of complaints about "weird sex stuff." But if you learn that Mr. Smith down the street enjoys some strange forms of entertainment, you tell the kids to keep their distance and you probably avoid his company. Nobody asks you to accept Smith as a moral authority. Nobody expects you to be satisfied with a vague explanation about "inappropriate behavior," and assume that he's harmless.

Father Whipkey has some issues. Too bad, but that sort of thing happens. Some priests are weird. So are some schoolteachers, lawyers, housewives, truck drivers, and internet commentators. What makes l'affaire Whipkey memorable is not the misconduct by one mixed-up individual, but the effort by others-- who should know better-- to convince us that it's no big deal.

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  • Posted by: - Aug. 26, 2007 9:03 PM ET USA

    Cops don't smile when they give warnings. They scowl and tower over you. They read you the riot act, put dread fear into your soul, make you promise never, ever to do it again. And you don't. It's a perfectly legitimate course of action when no harm whatsoever has been done. To anyone. Another alternative would be to have the person's reputation ruined throughout the entire CNN-viewing world. Apparently that seems like a fair punishment for this crime, in the minds of many.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 25, 2007 2:06 PM ET USA

    Kathy's right on. It's no big deal. The cop should have smiled to himself and driven on. Give us a break.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 22, 2007 6:31 PM ET USA

    Pullleeese!!! Kathy, this nutter was not just some flaky exhibitionist! He has a history! And - He is a priest! He ought not to allow himself to surrender to such flagrant impulses! That's part of the suffering cross he should bear! Like his name! Dickens couldn't have come up with an exhibitionist priest with a name like "Whipkey".

  • Posted by: - Aug. 22, 2007 2:43 PM ET USA

    The thinking of these nudists ccarried out to is ridiculously sublime conclusion would be that since we all come into this world sans clothing, we should all be burried in the nude. The clothing normally worn by the dead person could be donated to the needy poor. A final act of charity for sure.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 21, 2007 2:46 PM ET USA

    No one goes to a priest, takes his advice, or cares what he says except that he represents the Holy Roman Catholic Church. He represents something bigger than himself. Priests cannot just do whatever they like. That is the public result of the ontological change that occurs at ordination. Priest cannot seek self - fulfillment they must be team players. But then self-abnegation, asceticism and penance are not in the vocabulary of the modern seminary. Psycho-babble has replaced wisdom.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 21, 2007 6:54 AM ET USA

    Night patrolmen see a lot of things: the schoolteacher getting high on the weekend, a married social worker making out with a friend in a van in a parking lot. That's what warnings are for. Public nudity, in the dark--you might as well patrol the beach and haul in all the skinny dippers.This is not an international incident. It's not a sex crime. And one wonders who made it such a big deal, and what they have to gain.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 20, 2007 9:09 PM ET USA

    Unum in his comment expressed the sad reality very well. My comment: Archbp. Sheen said in one of his wonderful sermons that we in America have too much tolerance - of evil. If he were alive today, what would he say?

  • Posted by: - Aug. 20, 2007 6:09 PM ET USA

    I know of no institution that has more wierd behavior, less accountability, and less supervision than the U.S. Congress ... followed closely by the Catholic Church. Of course there are many more dedicated people in the Church than in the Congress, but there is a significant percentage that are "doing their own thing" and the bishops have little interest in making them accountable.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 20, 2007 2:55 PM ET USA

    If this priest really like to 'work out' in the nude, and was not an exhibitionist, you think he would have purchased a treadmill and run naked on that. Otherwise, the conclusion that he is an exhibitionist is unavoidable. Sometimes when it's really hot, my wife and I will sleep in the nude. But to keep our children from seeing us, we are sure to lock the bedroom door. It's the difference between freedom and licentiousness. Freedom considers the morality of actions, licentiousness does not

  • Posted by: - Aug. 20, 2007 2:37 PM ET USA

    That's strange; it's almost like they've been taught that it's no big deal by their priest.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 20, 2007 2:35 PM ET USA

    I have thought for some time, Diogenes, whoever you are, that you picked the wrong psuedonym. You might better have called yourself Joseph, because one presumes that if God picked Joseph among all other carpenters to teach His Son carpentry, he must have been the best of all carpenters. Hence able to hit the nail squarely on the head and drive it home with a single blow every time. It would have made an apt pseudonym for you.