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Priestly Pedophilia: Soul-Murders or Merely “Incidents”?

An intriguing op/ed piece showed up in The Post-Standard of Syracuse, NY, by Marianne Trent and Charles Bailey Jr. (Oct. 23, 2003). Both authors are local representatives of SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests). The authors quote Bishop James Moynihan of the Diocese of Syracuse as recently saying, “It has been difficult to learn the diocese has not been immune to incidents of child abuse” (our italics). Moynihan has been the Ordinary of Syracuse since May 1995. Are we to believe that the priestly sex scandals in his Diocese have come as a bolt out of the blue? That he knew nothing about them?

The authors zero in on the Bishop’s gentle term “incidents.” They say: “The definition of ‘incident’ is, ‘liable to happen, an event, an episode.’ An incident would be a shouting match, a blackout, a fender-bender, a shooting star, the emptying of a dugout during a baseball brawl.” Rather, the authors say, priestly pedophilia is “better defined by words like ‘sexual assaults,’ ‘ritual abuse,’ ‘horrors,’ ‘terrorism,’ ‘murders of the soul.'”

Incidents! Your Freudian slip is showing, Bishop Moynihan.

There’s also Bishop Moynihan’s gentle term “difficult.” Why couldn’t he say, “It has been outrageous to learn….” Maybe because he doesn’t consider it outrageous.

The authors also quote Moynihan as saying, “The sexual abuse policy in place was too harsh, too tough for the accused priests….” Well, of course, if they’re only “incidents” and they’re not outrageous. Yes, let’s feel sorry for priests accused of perversion. The only thing they did, in many cases, was to commit soul-murder. Strange — isn’t it? — that a successor of the Apostles doesn’t seem to understand what soul-murder is.

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