Sunday, April 14, 2002

There is a interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle today that details three priests' take on the current scadal in the Catholic Church. One priest left to get married, another is still active in ministry and a third has because of a nervous breakdown.

The first priest, ordained in 1962, left in 1970 to marry.

"It was staggering," he said. "You left and no other priests called to see if you were dead or alive. The people in the parish were great. We got an apartment, and they would drop off notes, bring by food. But not the priests."

His comments on the current scandal are:

"It's a bigger scandal than it looks," Andre says. "These are priests, and if you can't trust these guys, the trust just goes. What has protected the church for so long is people think this stuff is unbelievable. Now it's not."

There has been lots of discussion recently about the culture of secrecy and loyalty in the Catholic priesthood. Andre has worked with cops and clergy, and says the code of loyalty is stronger among police than it is among priests.

"It's not just secrecy. They (priests) don't have that kind of loyalty to each other," he said. "It's more like distancing than covering up."


The second priest was ordained in 1975 and is a pastor: He says:

"My faith is not in the institution of the Catholic Church, but in Jesus Christ," he said. "I'm part of the institution, but if I were to rely on my faith in the institution, it would have been destroyed a long time ago."

And:

"It's not a new problem," Genovese said. "It's been so prominent in the media for so long. For (Boston's) Cardinal (Bernard) Law to not even follow the guidelines of the bishops conference -- that was disturbing."

Then there are the rising numbers of bishops, archbishops and cardinals around the world who are being forced to resign over their own sexual misconduct.

"The church has been so clear about other people's moral standards -- then to see it in the top ranks," the priest said. "It's the hypocrisy. If it hadn't been for the media, the church would have kept quiet. We are a flawed community, but they are concerned with the image of the church."


The third priest also ordained in 1975, suffered a nervous breakdown and has retired for medical reasons. He says:

"When I was in the church, I was so oblivious. I was in total denial about everything when it comes to sex," he says. "In retrospect, I see there was lots of sex among my fellow seminarians. I passed up a lot of opportunities and never even realized it."

HIs view on the church's view on celibacy is:

"The policy of mandatory celibacy in the Catholic Church is institutionalized sexual harassment," he says. "Somebody says, 'If you want this job, you have to have sex with me.' Somebody else says, 'If you want this job, you can't have sex.' If sexual harassment is about coercion, and not sex, then it's the same thing. These rules don't stop priests from having sex. It just stops them from being honest about it."