The Pastoral Problem of Priests in Prison

April 2008

Sexual abuse is a horrific crime. Sex-abuser priests, especially pedophile priests, are criminals of the lowest order. They should be punished as such.

Sex-abuser priests have indeed squandered their inheritance. But the tried-and-found-guilty priest, especially the defrocked priest in prison, presents a unique pastoral problem. It is a problem that led Charlene C. Duline to wonder, "Does the Catholic Church remember its fallen priests who molested children and are now serving time in prison?" (National Catholic Reporter, July 20, 2007).

Duline was herself a victim, as a child, of sexual abuse by a priest. "Rape," she says, "is a vile, violent act. I weep for the children who were abused by priests. I know their pain." Yet, over time, she has come to "feel sorry for these fallen priests, despite the desire for revenge that still burns deep in my heart." And she "wondered if our church ministered to them in any form."

So she went searching for imprisoned sex-abuser priests, to find out about their state in life. "Most of the priests I heard from indicated that they had no access to Catholic chaplains or materials." Many of the priests told her of being constantly mistreated by other inmates. "From the start," said one, "I was subjected to foul comments and slurs related to my crime of indecent liberties with a minor." (Indecent liberties? That's putting it rather mildly, and goes a long way to uncovering the attitude many sex-abuser priests have toward their soul-murdering crimes.) "I've had feces spread on my blanket and pillowcase, etc. Sex offenders are at the bottom of the ladder in prison."


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New Oxford Notes: April 2008

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I think that forgiveness is imperative for we cannot expect to be forgiven if we do not forgive. The pain of sexual child abuse, and I speak from experience, is comparable to no other pain. The destruction wreaked upon the child and his/her future is indescribable. The ramifications of such abuse are unspeakable. Many end their own lives as they cannot live with themselves as they think themselves to blame and "dirty;" not worthy of existence.

And yet, what did our dear Lord ask His Father from the cross? "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

As Catholics, we are called and compelled to emulate the Christ on the cross. We must forgive or our own salvation is imperiled.

I suppose that we must keep in mind that anyone who abuses a child in such a foul manner must be mentally sick and/or possessed by evil. I am NOT taking away accountability, for to do such a....
Posted by: gespin3549
June 03, 2008 10:38 AM EDT
thing has got to be the most abhorrent offense to God and our own humanity possible. To defile innocence is to defile the child Jesus. But yet, I remind the reader..."Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." And it was not, "Father, forgive this one, but not that one," nor, "Father, forgive them if they repent." It was, in my humble opinion, the most powerful lesson in the entire Bible; the most powerful directive to us as to how we must conduct ourselves. It bellows to the four corners of the earth, a complete self-abandonment to the Will and Mercy and Justice of the Living God. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Posted by: gespin3549
June 03, 2008 10:43 AM EDT
Forgiveness has to do with Hell, not jail. I do pray that my childhood pastor is not now in Hell for abusing me and many other girls, but it was proper for the bishop to retire him to a private life of prayer and penance, sending him to a group home from which he was not allowed to leave, and stripping him of all public ministry. The abusive priests need the worldly punishments to reinforce the need for them to repent. Reassigning them to other parishes, sometimes for decades, did not help them to repent; the bishops neglected their priests' souls by sending them back into temptation.

How many fewer lawsuits would there have been, how many fewer ex-Catholics would there be, how many fewer priests would be in prison, if bishops had assigned the abusive priests to homes, not allowing them to leave? I was relieved to read that Timothy McVeigh repented before his execution, and I pray that Frs. John Geoghan, Arthur Sego, Marcial Maciel, and the other child-molesting priests, repented before their deaths. I pray also that their victims were better able to heal after their abusers were punished here on Earth.
Posted by: jeannette
May 16, 2008 11:40 AM EDT
BEING A PRIEST GAVE THOSE BOYS AN EXTRA MEASURE OF GRACE TO HELP NOT AN EXTRA MEASURE OF FREEDOM TO HARM-THEY ARE A DISGRACE AND SHOULD SOME NOBLE THUG BEAT THE PEANUT BUTTER OUT OF THEM IN PRISON, THEY EARNED IT---------DO NOT WRING YOUR HANDS OVER THE CLERGY- Posted by: dinipoo98@charter.net
May 03, 2008 10:45 AM EDT
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