One involves Fr. Riedlinger in New Jersey. Riedlinger was a favorite of Msgr. Rossi, who is the rector of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC - enough of a favorite that Riedlinger claimed he would "vacation" with Rossi (who is a much older man). Riedlinger would be introduced by Rossi to young seminarians, and Riedlinger would then proceed to hit on these guys and turn the talk around to gay sex. Some of the young seminarians would complain about this, and their complaints would go unheeded.
Eventually, two of them instituted a "sting" operation against Riedlinger. Timothy Schmalz and his roommate Ryan posed as a 16-year-old boy on Facebook, and "friended" Fr. Riedlinger, who soon turned the conversation toward sex.
Riedlinger, not so incidentally, was teaching sex ed to middle school students at St. Aloysisus. He would often brag to Schmalz and Ryan that the boys he was teaching were "phyiscally mature", some even having "facial hair". "It raised alarm bells," noted Ryan.
Dear readers, I can understand sexual crimes and perversions. I really can. Many abusers were abused themselves as children, and if there's anything all of us should be humble about, it's the trouble our gonads can get us into. Few of us can throw stones at someone who behaves in a sick or reckless way sexually. Yes, child abuse is over the line, and horrific. But there is something worse.
And that is not the sin of the flesh - awful as it is; but the sin of pride, the spiritual sin of those who cover up this stuff, who place kids in harm's way, and who smugly defend their own actions by attacking not only whistle blowers, but also normal people who want this nonsense to end.
Case in point: the way the pastor at Fr. Riedlinger's church handled the situation. Instead of telling the parishioners that Fr. Riedlinger was trying to have sexual contact with someone he thought was a 16-year-old boy, and letting his flock know that the middle school sex ed students might have been victimized by a priest who liked to talk to 16-year-olds about the size of his penis and who brags about being a "sick (expletive)", Pastor Kevin Keelan ...
chastised parishioners for asking questions about Riedlinger’s removal, saying in the church bulletin that "blabbing" was a sin and that they were not entitled to more information.
Now, friends, if I were to doubt the story in the Star Ledger about Fr. Riedlinger, the sting, Bishop O'Connell, etc. - that one sentence would convince me the whole thing were true.
That kind of moral bullying (used more typically by female Catholic parochial school principals than by pastors) is so completely characteristic of what happens in the day-to-day operations of the Catholic Church that it confirms the whole scenario. This is exactly how authority figures act in the Catholic Church and this is exactly why so many people are losing their faith.
Rod Dreher writes (my emphasis) ...
And so, fellow sinners, we can't change our bishops or our priests.
But we can change ourselves.
We can make reparations for the sins of these men - and we can "testify to the truth of Christianity by the integrity" of our OWN lives.
I, for one, have not been very good at that. I suspect that neither have you.
Let us pray for one another, and let us realize that even though personal sanctity is hard to achieve, one thing is within our grasp.
Basic human decency.
Let's begin with that. And let's pray our priests and our bishops do, too.