A Bigger Sin Than Buggery?

September 2003

Este artículo: en español

Writing in his regular column in Our Sunday Visitor (Feb. 24, 2002), Msgr. Owen F. Campion addressed the issue of priestly pedophilia. The title of his column was “A Public-Relations Problem We Can Fix.” We commented on it in our New Oxford Notes section (June 2002, pp. 15-16, 18), noting that it’s not just a “problem,” but a disaster, and that PR wizardry will not fix the “problem.”

We hoped that since then, Msgr. Campion had wised up.

But no.

Now Campion weighs in with a column in the Visitor (June 1, 2003) with the no-brainer title, “Priests, too, Have Rights.” Campion, the Associate Publisher of the Visitor, complains that “several American dioceses spontaneously have released — either to law enforcement officials or to the press — confidential records about priests who have been accused” of sexual misconduct. Of course, the vast majority of cases involve some sort of buggery.

Campion does admit that “Laws all across the United States now require employers, including religious denominations, to notify law enforcement if an employee is accused of abusing a minor,” and that “The U.S. bishops, in a policy approved by the Holy See, have pledged to inform civil authorities promptly if any employee — even any priest — is accused of molesting a child” (italics added). But Campion doesn’t like this. But before we get to that, note the words “even any priest.” That appears to be the rub. Priests are being held to the same standard as lay employees. What indignity! A good number of priests, being accustomed to clerical privilege, would prefer to be held to a lower standard than the laity. And Msgr. Campion, an arch-clericalist, seems to want to be their spokesman, for he is not only the Associate Publisher of the Visitor but Editor of the Visitor’s sister periodical The Priest, which is marketed mostly to stand-pat, middle-of-the-road priests.

Sorry, Msgr. Campion, but priests are held to the same standard as lay employees. Get used to it! If anything, they should be held to a higher standard, for as Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. And from the one trusted with much, much more will be expected” (Lk. 12:48).

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New Oxford Notes: September 2003

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