Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

sporadically authentic priests

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 06, 2003

Vision Book Cover Prints

Q: How can you tell your pastor's an arch-conservative?

A: He wears a collar even when he's not on the way to his arraignment.

An article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch discusses the controversy caused by priests who are alleged sex-abusers turning up in court wearing clerical garb.

Richard Waites, a lawyer and psychologist who heads a nationwide jury consulting firm, said that more often than not he recommends that defendant priests wear their collars to court.

"In general, jurors are looking for any person to be as genuine as possible," Waites said in a telephone interview. "And since the defendant is under a great scrutiny, he needs or she needs to be as genuine as possible and as authentic as possible."

By "as genuine as possible," of course, Waites means the opposite. He knows perfectly well the odds that some jurors -- enough to acquit, at any rate -- may respond to the uniform covering the defendant instead of the genuine article inside. One of my favorite examples comes from the U.K. Telegraph (20 October 2000), regarding a priest from Wales, who confessed to six counts of molesting a 12-year-old before he became a priest, and to indecent assaults on two 9-year-olds after ordination. His game was to get little boys to join a soccer club he had started:

Fr Joseph Jordan was a modern priest, always dressed in baseball cap, tracksuit and trainers. One mother remarked that the only time she had seen him in clerical garb was in the dock at Cardiff Crown Court.

Love these guys. When it's a matter of bar-hopping, or going to restaurants, or taking in a movie, they're invariably in civvies ("I find the collar to be a vestige of an antiquated clerical caste system that puts a barrier between me and the people I serve"). When their recreations finally catch up with up and they end up facing a five-to-eight for conducting underage Listening Sessions, what emblem of 1950s piety and propriety do they hide behind?

Why, how did you guess?

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