By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 21, 2003

Earlier I expressed skepticism about the claim that programs and policies, in default of a conversion of heart in the men to whom they apply, might remedy the clergy abuse crisis. My betters, it must be admitted, are of another opinion. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops provides us with links to some model prevention programs currently in service. My favorite is that posted by those internationally recognized masters in the art of abuse prevention at the Diocese of Dallas. Some excerpts:

All clergy, staff and volunteers of the Diocese will observe the following guidelines for dealing with minors:

*No minor child may reside in any church rectory or other living quarters of priests other than a son or daughter of the resident priest.

But what if Father's wife is still a minor? Texas law permits women to marry at 16.

*Touching should be age appropriate and based on the need of the minor and not on the need of the adult.

Based on the need?

*Avoid physical contact when alone with a minor. If a minor initiates physical contact, an appropriate, limited response is proper.

This "limited response" language gives me the creeps. The libidinal beast is to be restained, clearly, but is presumed to be straining at the leash. It doesn't do to contemplate what an "unlimited response" would look like.

*Do not be alone with a minor in a residence, sleeping facility, locker room, rest room, dressing facility, or other closed room or isolated area that is inappropriate to a ministry relationship.

Put that way, most Reconciliation Rooms are inappropriate to "a ministry relationship."

*Do not take photographs of minors while they are unclothed or dressing (e.g., in a locker room or bathing facility).

But he was 18 next Tuesday, your honor!

Do not permit minors to cross a road by themselves while they are in your custodial care.

Good point. You never know when there's a busy bishop in a Buick on the highway.

Moral: First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 22, 2003 3:09 PM ET USA

    Exelauno, You're kidding, right? For one thing, no CWN contributor has said that eating, drinking, and smoking are immoral; just one subscriber commenting on this post. That's his own opinion, not that of CWN. And for another thing, the last thing any of would be accused of is anti-clericalism. More often the opposite, in fact. We value the priesthood so much we want it to see it treated as the holy vocation it is, not de-valued and defamed.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 22, 2003 2:10 PM ET USA

    Since when are drinking, smoking, and "eating plenty" immoral for priests or anyone else? CWNews and its commenters have been so anti-clerical that I am starting to think that it is a front for fundamentalist protestants. Moralizing about drinking and smoking tend to confirm my suspicions.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 21, 2003 2:39 PM ET USA

    I wonder what would happen if the bishops issued a document that instead rhetoric said: sexual immorality in any form-fornication, adultery, contraception, masturbation, homosexuality, pedophilia, beastiality, pornography-with a an adult or minor whether consenting or forced is grave matter and mortal sin. If you receive Communion in the state of mortal sin, it is sacrilege. If you die in mortal sin, you go to hell. Of course, hell for many is as much of a fantasy as my wonderings.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 21, 2003 1:59 PM ET USA

    Priests and lay alike; we need to go back to Christ. Our Church has hundreds of millions of nominal Catholics, people who identify as Catholics culturally or ethnically, but who have not met the Lord Jesus in a conversion of the heart. Many of our priests and bishops are worldly men who have a very peculiar view of their faith; they drink, smoke, eat plenty, tell dirty jokes and take their occupation as a job, rather than as a vocation or calling from Christ to be his representatives. Many other are so deep in Liberation Theology, Liberalism, Revisionism, Modernism that they en up despising the faith of the Fathers and becoming these morally deformed priests of a New Age Church. We need Christ