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“Honor Among Thieves”

Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Mt. 18:6). That’s pretty rough language, if you think about it. In Jesus’ day, drowning by millstone was saved for the worst criminals. Could it be that Jesus was calling for capital punishment for pedophile-priests who violate young believers? That would be a stretch, for our Lord’s point, we think, was that it would be better to be drowned with a millstone than to be cast into Hell (vv. 7-9). Still, such an interpretation would not be entirely implausible.

Inmate Joseph Druce murdered the jailed John Geoghan, a notorious pederast-priest. We do not believe in murder, and we have many doubts about capital punishment. In no way can the murder be excused.

But the murder puts in bold relief the behavior of many of our bishops. It is not unusual for pedophiles, and especially pederasts, to be murdered in jail. Why? Because ordinary criminals — murderers, thieves, embezzlers — seem to retain at least some sense of moral outrage. Among them, a pederast is an utterly despicable and vile creature, the lowest of the low. Among them, pederasty is almost instinctively understood to be hideously evil. Amazing — isn’t it? — that they should grasp that.

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