Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Budding Clerics and Budding Clericalists?

From an article at Religion News Service, Mark Silk writes ...

A decade ago, I heard a Catholic lawyer who’d made a career of representing religious institutions in sex abuse cases describe the difference between reporting a wayward clergyman to a Methodist or Episcopal bishop versus “one of ours.” In the former case, he’d sit down in the Protestant leader’s living room, with the photos of children and grandchildren on the mantle, and the man’s sympathy would at once go to the abused. In the latter, the meeting would take place in a chancery conference room and the first words out of His Excellency’s mouth would be, “Poor Father.”

And a seminarian comments ...

Desmond Drummer

As a Catholic seminarian, I know well that the “poor father” (and “poor bishop”) syndrome is alive and well within the next generation of priests. It’s sad — VERY disturbing. Some seminarians feel that their pursuit of ordained ministry in the Catholic Church is some sort of culture war, a sort of resistance against all that is wrong with the world. With such a worldview, any press coverage of sexual abuse allegations and cover-ups becomes a “mainstream media attack on the Church.” At that point, even a bishop who has failed to abide by civil and canon law becomes a victim. In that they may sympathize with a given bishop’s effort in the so-called “culture war,” they automatically attribute reports of cover-up and negligence to an effort to undermine the credibility of said leader or the Church at large. Not a few seminarians have difficulty accepting the fact that their church leaders exhibit gross moral failure.
I lament that such problematic thinking goes unchecked.
I try to keep the topic of the ongoing sexual abuse scandals in the discussions I have on campus. Some seminarians simply cannot handle even talking about it because it exposes a shadow side of our Catholic clerical systems and structures.
I hate to say it, but if a Catholic seminarian is perceived as docile and pious, nobody checks what’s going on in his head in response to these and other critical issues. In my experience, it’s the pious/devotional guys who are completely unable to grapple with this reality and accept the facts as they are.

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