Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nutty Times

Here Ross Douthat writes the best piece I've yet read on Fifty Shades of Grey.  He points out that sexual anarchy, like political anarchy, devolves not so much into chaos, but into a world where the strong prey upon the weak.  He writes ...

This is the sexual revolution of Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt and Joe Francis and roughly 98 percent of the online pornography consumed by young men. It’s the revolution that’s been better for fraternity brothers than their female guests, better for the rich than the poor, better for the beautiful than the plain, better for liberated adults than fatherless children ... and so on down a long, depressing list. 

This is because lust (as opposed to sex in general - sex is a good thing, but lust is a desire for sex without any resrtaint) is all about power.  Lust is not about physical pleasure, it's about physical, emotional and psychological control.

Which brings me to a real Nutt case.

Fr. Maurice Nutt, Redemptorist

After my wife and I were received into the Catholic Church, back in 2000, our parish priest suggested that we prepare for Confirmation by attending RCIA, the "Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults".  Foolishly I agreed.

It was nine months long and a total joke.  It was run by a liberal nun in a pants suit and her cadre of parish supporters, and it made sure that absolutely nothing Catholic was taught to any of us.  It was a shocking wake up call that the Church so lovingly described by Chesterton and Belloc had taken quite a few steps backward.

One of the things Sister Liz (that was her name, God rest her rebellious soul) made us do was go to a Mass at "the Rock" church on the near North Side.  The only difference between what went on in RCIA at our parish and what was going on at the Rock church was, while the latter made me just as miserable, it didn't last nine months, but only for about two or three hours.

That's right.  The Mass went at least that long, because the pastor, a certain Fr. Nutt, a charismatic preacher, was working the crowd for all the "amens" he could get, and took about a thirty minute recess for "the sign of peace" in the middle of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  The "sign of peace" became a party with high fives and shouts of laughter and Fr. Nutt traveling all over the nave, visiting every single parishioner and yukking it up.  While the consecrated host sat patiently on the altar.

In my opinion, he was clearly and obviously an egomaniac.  Had I still been an atheist, and had Fr. Nutt been given a TV show where he was shouting at people and "faith healing" them, I would have chalked him up as just another brash and shallow phony, like the televangeslits of my youth who so turned me off to the Christian Faith.

Not long after that, Fr. Nutt disappeared in one of the first sex scandals to hit the archdiocese of St. Louis.  (See details below).

Now, fifteen years later, he's worming his way back to respectability.  He was recently invited to speak at McKendrie College in nearby Lebanon, IL.

SNAP has issued an open letter to McKendrie's president, James M. Dennis.  It's worth quoting in full ...

Feb. 19, 2015
Dear President Dennis:
We are appalled that a priest who’s been accused of sexually harassing at least three young men was allowed to speak at your university last month. We believe you owe your students, staff, alums and the public an apology and an explanation. And we believe you should punish those who are responsible.
Please keep in mind these undisputed facts about Fr. Maurice Nutt:
--Fr. Nutt was sued by at least three adults (not kids, whose memories may be more suspect),
--Fr. Nutt’s accusers were police officers (presumably somewhat more credible than just any adult),
--Fr. Nutt was also accused in at least one lawsuit of inviting an officer to watch child pornography, and
--At least two of sexual harassment lawsuits settled out of court,
--Fr. Nutt resigned his post as a St. Louis Police Commissioner,
--Fr. Nutt took “an extended sabbatical from St. Louis and his parish after the officers' allegations were made public,”
--Fr. Nutt kept a very low profile for several years,
--Fr. Nutt was later sent to work next in a low income minority community in Memphis, and
--though he’s a St. Louis native, Fr. Nutt has not been allowed to work in St. Louis since.
Now, consider these serious and credible allegations against Fr. Nutt (as reported by the Associated Press):
--One officer said Fr. Nutt “assaulted him by touching and trying to kiss him,”
--Fr. Nutt threatened to have an officer fired if he reported the sexual harassment,
--At least two officers alleged that Fr. Nutt had made unsolicited intimate overtures to them,
--One officer accused Fr. Nutt of boasting that his power on the police force could positively influence the officer's career,
--Fr.  Nutt told one officer “to begin meeting regularly with him at the church for priestly counseling sessions,”
--After the first meeting, the lawsuit claims, “Nutt took (him) from the church's meeting room to Nutt's home, where (he) was invited to watch pornographic movies showing sex acts involving men and boys,”
--After he "refused Father Nutt's overt sexual advance," the lawsuit alleges, Nutt "became increasingly aggressive" in later meetings, inappropriately touching and trying to kiss (him), and
--"All of these advances were unsolicited and unwelcome," the lawsuit said.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reports that Fr. Nutt “made more than a dozen late-night phone calls to two officers, touched one of them on the thigh and made overtures to both. The officers reportedly made charges without knowledge of the other's complaints.”
Yet this man was held out as last month a decent man and acceptable speaker at McKendree University? Why would you endanger your staff and students like this? What if, now or years from now, Fr. Nutt sexually exploits or harasses an 18 year old McKendree student or a 22 year old McKendree staffer he meet and befriended on last month’s visit to your campus?
Don’t pull the “forgiveness” claim here. Forgiveness is a private choice. Giving a speaker a forum at a college is a public act. And when that opportunity is given to a man who allegedly sexually harassed his underlings – and invited one of them to watch child porn - that’s an irresponsible act. (We can forgive a drunken school bus driver. But it’s morally wrong to give him keys to another school bus. And we can forgive Fr. Nutt. But it’s morally wrong to give him access to young people who are uninformed about his past misdeeds.)
No one’s claiming Fr. Nutt should be hungry, homeless or unemployed. But neither should he be given chances to be around vulnerable young people or held up as some sort of role model for them.
Fr. Nutt had no business being on your campus, much less in such an exalted role.
And please don’t try to chalk this up as some sort of “slip up” or “oversight.” This decision involved either deceit or recklessness.
Either there was deceit - a college staffer knew about Fr. Nutt’s past and kept it hidden. Or there was recklessness – a college staffer didn’t bother to “google” Fr. Nutt before bringing him to campus.
In either case, apologies and explanations, by you, the president, are in order. You can’t “un-do” Fr. Nutt’s visit. But you can ameliorate the harm and danger caused by it. The best way to do this – and to prevent future similar actions that endanger your students – is to publicly discipline those responsible for bringing Fr. Nutt to your campus.
We look forward to hearing from you.
David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790,
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003,

Fr. Nutt's website is here.

And no matter how you slice it, sex can not be compartmentalized.  It is an expression of who we are and how we relate to God and to others.


Kevin O'Brien said...

By the way, here's a link to another case, not detailed by the SNAP letter. Nutt admits to is actions in this case. How the Redemptorists have the gall to keep a man like this active and traveling is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

So...Nietzsche was a sort of prophet after all! He always gets right what is wrong, and where the wrong is heading to.

Christi pax,


Sebonde said...

The police are presumably more credible than just any adult? What, pray tell, justifies this presumption?

Scott W. said...

Fair enough. Not a particularly compelling comment in and of itself itself by SNAP.

Anonymous said...

Redemptorists are a disgrace. I had to deal with them in the US, Ireland and Rome. With one exception, all were active homosexuals and major dissidents. One very frightening exception was a large, aggressive womanizer assigned to parish mission preaching.