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November 17, 2005

Comments

midwestmom

"Yehling and others noted that engaging in consensual sex at the seminary and molesting minors were hugely different things, and said no link between them should be inferred."

Consensual sex....in a seminary....would be, uh....sodomy. Is it really such a huge leap to suggest that a person who is 'okay' with sodomy may also be 'okay' with child rape? I don't think so. Both are manifestations of a disordered sexual appetite.

 Touchy Technician

Of interest in the story is the fact that all of those still in active ministry who are interviewed for the story swear up and down that they never saw anything, never heard anything and never picked up on any untoward vibe. Amazing.

I know a two priests that went through that place, and although neither of them told me about any untoward activity (I didn't ask), I was told that the moral theology curriculum was rather odd, particularly as the sexual branch of that subject was covered by that infamous text (I can't recall its title) that justifies doing "it" any which way you can.

Gee, I wonder if *that* has anything to do with these stats...

thomas tucker

Touchy- that's interesting. I wonder if the seminary visitation looks at the textbooks used in each seminry's curriculum. Maybe a top down mandate on curriculum, and assurance of only orthodox texts, would help with seminary edication.

joe

There is no connection between seminarians having sex with each other and seminarians having sex with teen aged boys.

Keep repeating this until you believe it.

anon

I have to be anon here. If they had said anything they would have been ran out of the seminary. The lavender mafia does not take it kindly when they are exposed. Anyone who is a threat to them can have real trouble getting ordained. If they are ordained they can find themselves exiled or in some kind of trouble. These guys can be vicious. Will the Church ever address this problem?

Suibhne

I attended a polyphony concert at St. John's about ten years ago. (Yes, at St. John's. Can you believe it?) The place just had a "bad vibe." It was empty, like a ghost town, or more aptly, like a devasted vineyard.

Suibhne

That should read devastated vinyard.

Sara

I know a man who went to St. John's. He complained about all the homosexuality at the school and got kicked out. He had a hard time finding another who would look past his expulsion, but now he is a priest in the Midwest.

Dale Price

"...particularly as the sexual branch of that subject was covered by that infamous text (I can't recall its title) that justifies doing 'it' any which way you can."

Kosnik's Human Sexuality, by any chance?

Old Zhou

I asked this question on this blog some time ago: What was going on at St. John's Seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in the 1950's and 1960's, where Mahony, Levada and others were "formed"? I'm glad the LA Times is catching on. Apparently the seminary website has crashed or been taken offline.

I personally know some preists who went there. Some are gay and having a hard time with the current environment in the Church. Some are of no apparent orientation (good!) and doing fine jobs. And I believe Prof. Paul Ford is there, and I have some respect for his liturgical music.

I'm up to page 141 of Peter Manseau's "Vows" (Link on Amy's "Current Reads" over on the right hand margin. Peter's father (the Priest of the title) went to another infamous St. John's Seminary, the one in Boston, along with famous priests like Geoghan (ordained 1962) and Shanley (ordained 1960), and Bp. McCormack (ordained 1960). So far, the story has not mentioned any "overt homosexual activity" in the seminary. But a lot of sick and twisted preists in the Archdiocese who helped the "boys" realize the vocations in the 1950's (often by paying much special attention to them, even if not overtly sexual), and some clearly tormented but well-closeted gays in the seminary. It looks like a large part of the clerical community in Boston was having lots of issues with sexuality, but being discrete (but not totally secret) back to the end of World War II. The author's mother also had too much contact with a priest who was bounced around parishes like a ping-pong ball, probably for sleeping with the girls. This also matches my experience as a Catholic youth in Los Angeles in the 1960's. It was an "open secret" that you did not spend "private time" with clergy.

The obviously biased message from the book is that at least in the pre-Vatican II period, preists were "formed" to serve the Church, keep the rules and public image, privately dissent and grumble, and treat people as objects to be used for a "higher good."

I suspect that in the social upheaval of the late 1960's and 1970's, many clergy felt it was now alright to be "open" and "honest" about their feelings, and what went on for 20 or 30 years in secret was now more open. Hence the scandal.

This is the formation of most of our current American bishops.

Fascinating book.

Palatine

The current head of the CDF taught there. Let me repeat that: the current head of the CDF taught there -- at the seminary that produced accused clerical molesters at two and a half times the national rate.


Anybody care to hazard a guess as to the extent to which the Holy See will hold Archb Levada's homeboy Roger Mahony responsible for the human and financial disaster in the archdiocese of L.A.?

Is this a church, or a mafia?

Clayton

This is particularly interesting in light of some presentations I heard last Saturday at the Archdiocesan conference on "Issues in Human Sexuality."

Clayton

Just a taste of what the 30 or so catechists received in the presentation on Gay and Lesbian Catholics:

Dr. Bill Mochon (gay Catholic, aspiring permanent deacon for the archdiocese, and co-director of the Ministry to Gay and Lesbian Catholics) told us that the Bible has nothing to say about homosexuality. The OT passages were related to hospitality, and St. Paul's references were vestiges of the OT habit of avoiding all similarities with pagan practices. So am I supposed to conclude that the Bible's stance on homosexual activity is similar to its stance on eating shellfish? Ah, but all is holy under the new dispensation, right!?!

Joseph D'Hippolito

There's only one way to destroy the Lavender Mafia: Encourage married men with children to become priests. That would mean eliminating mandatory celibacy. It's a discipline, not a doctrine. It also becomes irrelevant when married Protestant clergymen who convert retain their clerical status in the Church.

The effects of having increasing numbers of married men with children in the priesthood will, I believe, intimidate enough homosexuals to the point where 1)gay bishops will find it increasingly difficult to play either sexual or political games 2)fewer homosexuals will consider the priesthood as a vocation.

I understand that the Anglicans have a gay clergy and don't have mandatory celibacy. I also understand that a married clergy would present all sorts of problems with which the Church must come to grips: divorce, spousal abuse, the "preacher's kid" syndrome, financial support from congregations not used to tithing and from strapped dioceses, etc.

But if the Church doesn't do something drastic, this situation will continue. We need men in the priesthood, real men who aren't afraid of the testosterone God gave them. Can we truly say that about this bunch of hapless bishops and their bureaucratic subordinates?

Stephen

Joe, I gotta ask, are you implying that homosexual men that have sex with adults are more apt to have sex with boys? I sensed irony, so I assume that you're making this correlation.

Are men that have sex with women more likely, therefore, to have sex with little girls?

Are men that prefer contact sports more likely to beat someone if given the opportunity?

Yes, homosexuality is intrinsically disordered, I know and agree with this. But, being attracted to men does not a pedophile make. I know far too many priests that have "same sex attraction", or whatever euphemism, who are decent, dedicated and holy men. One priest friend, who used to self-identify as homosexual, moved out of a priory because there were too many gay men. He told me that if he wanted to live like a gay man, he would have never entered his order.

So, it's not black and white. Not all homosexually-oriented (or insert your favorite label here) priests or religious are stereotypical gay men or women. And definitely not all of them are pedophiles.

Joe, here's a task for you: research on the internet how many of the men that are arrested for possession of child pornography are single. I am suggesting here that possession of child porn is a more apt indicator of the probability of committing a sexual assault against a minor rather than homesexual orientation. You'll be very surprised to find that a large percentage are married. Scary, I know.

Child rape is a crime. Homosexuality is a disorder. The two don't always go together.

Stephen

thomas tucker

Clayton- that is simply outrageous.
And so sad that people are not being fed Truth under the auspices of the archdiocese.

Minn-Ray

Old Zhou knows "some preists [sic]who went there [the LA seminary]. Some are gay and having a hard time with the current environment in the Church. Some are of no apparent orientation (good!) and doing fine jobs. And I believe Prof. Paul Ford is there, and I have some respect for his liturgical music."

If a priest is celibate, why would he be having a hard time "with the current environment of the Church?"

Does writing liturgical music preclude the possibility that someone might also be a non-celibate homosexual?

JP

Stephen,

Hetro men who have sex with underage teen girls are called rapists.

Yet
Homosexual men who have sex with underage teen boys are called pedophiles.

What you are in effect saying is homosexuals cannot commit rape. That is, homosexual men who prey are teen boys are not homosexuals, but pedophiles. Therefore, the problem isn't with predatory homsexual men.

I seriously doubt if the the predators were hetrosexual men preying on 15 year girls, that everyone would say the problem is pedophilia.

 Touchy Technician

Stephen,

Danile aint just a river in Egypt!

Susan Peterson

All gay men are not pedophiles. Of course.

However, a large part of the abuse in the church was of adolescents. Legally minors, but more or less sexually mature.

Now the world has a long history of relationships between older gay men and very young men. Some societies legitimized this. you can read about it in Plato. Some of these young men were probably what we call minors, and some weren't.

Furthermore, youth is sexually attractive.
Certainly heterosexual men know that 14,15,16,17 year old girls can be and are often devastatingly attractive. Some men do act on this. Most do not.

So are gay men more likely to approach young men of this age than heterosexuals are to approach young women of this age? I am thinking the answer to this question is yes. First of all, there is that long standing gay cultural tradition of this sort of relationship. Second, since acting on homosexual orientation is already somewhat transgressive in this culture, it is less of a distance for a person to go to be transgressive regarding the age of the object of the attraction. Third, if one accepts that homosexual attraction is intrinsically disordered, this means that there are defects in the personality, in the psychological development, of persons with this orientation (always, to a greater or lesser extent, and coexisting in many cases with fine qualities)and some of them will have boundary issues and fewer internal controls than those with normal psychosexual development.

Now, is this true of all gay men? No. Are there gay priests who are chaste and who are good priests? Yes. But if there is homosexual activity going on in the seminary, among men who are supposed to be preparing to take a vow of celibacy, it shows that some of them are not serious about that vow, or don't have the ability to live up to it. Of those, again, perhaps only a small percent will be exclusively attracted to adolescents or unable to find other partners, and become abusers. But it only takes a small percent to harm young people and cause all kinds of problems for the church.

Clayton, that is just what those people do say, that the Old Testament strictures against homosexuality are similar to those against eating shellfish. And Paul, you see, didn't understand that there exists a kind of people called homosexuals for whom homosexual attraction and relationships are normal; what he was condemning was for heterosexual people to engage in homosexual relationships. In the Episcopal church those who take this view are basically in charge of the machinery of the denomination and of many dioceses, and are called "reappraisers" because they have reappraised the previous Christian understanding of homosexuality. Those who disagree are called 'reasserters' because they are reasserting the traditional teaching.

We have re-appraisers among us also.

Susan Peterson

Clayton

What he was condemning was for heterosexual people to engage in homosexual relationships.

Susan, you're right. This was also offered as an explanation at last Saturday's session.

Poppi


Joseph D. writes:

"There's only one way to destroy the Lavender Mafia: Encourage married men with children to become priests. That would mean eliminating mandatory celibacy. It's a discipline, not a doctrine. It also becomes irrelevant when married Protestant clergymen who convert retain their clerical status in the Church.

The effects of having increasing numbers of married men with children in the priesthood will, I believe, intimidate enough homosexuals to the point where 1)gay bishops will find it increasingly difficult to play either sexual or political games 2)fewer homosexuals will consider the priesthood as a vocation."

Joseph, wouldn't simply ordaining normal, straight men to the priesthood accomplish the same thing without the obvious and significant down-sides to married priests? There's no guarantee that a non-celibate clergy would have even the slightest effect on the problems associated with gay priests, and the headaches it would cause would more than likely have us wishing to go back to the days when all we had to worry about was the "Lavender Mafia". The Church doesn't need to do something "drastic", it needs to do something correctly.

JP

Susan,

You made excellent points. It should also be pointed out the St Paul was exposed to the promiscuous libertine culture of Greece. He encountered a society not much different than our own.

Clayton

Well, it looks like the courts are going to have access to the Archdiocesan records after all...

midwestmom

"However, a large part of the abuse in the church was of adolescents."

Has it ever occurred to anyone that these sexually deviant priests preyed on boys rather than approaching other adult males solely for the purpose of hiding their indiscretions? It should be obvious by now that most of those young men kept their nightmare to themselves for years. Adults can't be manipulated quite as easily as a child.

First and foremost, the vast majority of sexually abusive priests were homosexuals. Kids just became the easy target for satisfying their degenerate sexual addictions.

Stephen

I figured that my comments would stir up some folks.

JP: Men that have sex with teenage girls are charged with the same crime as men that have sex with teenage boys. Morally, the two are different if one ascribes to Aquinas' differentiations. However, a raped boy goes through just as much terror as a raped girl.

What I object to are the posters on this board that imply, if not directly say, that homosexual men should not be priests based on the fact that they believe such men are more likely to be pedophiles. Yes, I agree that the vast majority of priest cases of sexual assault are against boys. Taking the approach of not allowing homosexuals to be priests is really absurd. By this logic, I would say that we should bar men from being priests because men, as a group, are more likely to commit larceny i.e. steal money from the parish and gamble it away.

Yes, child rape is much more serious than larceny.

And Touchy Technician, it's spelled d-e-n-i-a-l. And I don't recall denying much of anything.

I liked what I read earlier: label jars not people.

Stephen

Paul Pfaffenberger

The money quote from the story for me ...

"It was like shooting fish in a barrel to seduce somebody there," he said of the college, a gateway to the graduate theology school. "You learned to hide what you do."

Some learned that very well. Glad to see that this reporter followed the string back to one of the starting points of this problem, at least here on the left coast.

BTW, founder of Lifeteen and currently "not in ministry pending investigation of allegations" Msgr. Dale Fushek is also a product of the Camarillo seminary.

Marie

"Joe, here's a task for you: research on the internet how many of the men that are arrested for possession of child pornography are single. I am suggesting here that possession of child porn is a more apt indicator of the probability of committing a sexual assault against a minor rather than homesexual orientation. You'll be very surprised to find that a large percentage are married. Scary, I know."

Stephen, here's a task for you. Research on the internet the number of men arrested for or convicted of sexual assault against adolescents or teenagers. Calculate the percentage of those men who assaulted boys rather than girls. Then compare to the percentage of men in the general population who are homosexual. You'll be surprised to find that the first number is larger than the second number. Scary, I know.

craig

Poppi writes: "wouldn't simply ordaining normal, straight men to the priesthood accomplish the same thing without the obvious and significant down-sides to married priests?"

I don't know. The important thing is to change the clerical culture away from narcissism, and children are one of God's ways of making a lot of people grow up and get over themselves. Perhaps there are more effective ways to inoculate unmarried straight men against narcissism? (Discuss, class.)

joe

Stephen,

I don’t know if I could give you a better answer than Susan’s comments above.

Here is a true story for you. At my high school there was a case of a thirty-something football coach who had an affair with a 16 year old cheer leader.

Do you think it would be accurate to classify him as a child rapist/molester?

You raise an interesting point about the pornography. Do you know that the most popular internet porn sites for both heterosexual men and homosexual men advertise ‘nude teens’?

I hear what you are saying and realize you are trying to be charitable and sensitive to priests with SSA. However, if we want to make our churches safe we should be honest about what’s going on with these men who are being accepted into the seminaries.


Joe

Clayton,

"Well, it looks like the courts are going to have access to the Archdiocesan records after all..."

I hope this is finally it and the truth starts to come out.

Jim

Hope persists. Rumor is that the Vatican will forbid the ordination of any seminarian who has engaged in homosexual activity within 12 hours before his ordination. Deo gratias.

Stephen

Jim: Ha! Excellent!

Actually, Joe, you are correct in your assumption. My goal IS to be charitable to homosexual priests. As I said, I know quite a few of them, and most are quite amenable to the Church teaching on homosexuality. What we must remember is that the Church teaches that these mean are ontologically disordered: they are not lesser persons or even mentally disordered such as a paranoid schizophrenic or someone with severe bipolar personality.

But, Joe, I would say that a football coach that has sex with a 16 year old girl is a pedophile. And the state law enforcement agency where I live would agree. He would be prosecuted. Speaking in terms of semantics, the football coach would be an ephebophile. However, he would also be a felon...

Stephen

Joe

Stephen,
"But, Joe, I would say that a football coach that has sex with a 16 year old girl is a pedophile"

You apparently have a different conception of pedophilia than most people.

Pedophilia (American English), pædophilia/paedophilia (Commonwealth English), is the paraphilia of being sexually attracted primarily or exclusively to prepubescent children. The ICD-10 (F65.4) defines it as "a sexual preference for children, boys or girls or both, usually of prepubertal or early pubertal age." The word comes from the Greek paidophilia (παιδοφιλια)—pais (παιδί, "boy, child") and philia (φιλια, "love, friendship").

The term pedophile is often also used to describe any person who has perpetrated sexual crimes against children; this use, however, is seen as erroneous by some individuals, especially when viewed from a medical standpoint, as the majority of sex crimes against children are perpetrated by situational offenders rather than people sexually attracted to prepubertal children.

In the United States and some other countries, the term is sometimes used to describe people attracted to adolescents, especially in regards to sexual activities. However, most medical definitions of pedophilia limit it to adults with a sexual attraction to prepubescent children. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophile)

Marie

"But, Joe, I would say that a football coach that has sex with a 16 year old girl is a pedophile."

But you would be wrong. Pedophiles are sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children.

brendon

Can I get a sitation on "ontologically doisordered"? Because that sounds all kinds of wrong. I would really need to see a well argued presentation, or at least the citation of an authoritative source, before I give credence to the idea that a homosexual inclination is a disorder on the level of being.

Stephen

Joe, the coach is an ephebophile b/c the victim is 16. The next to last sentence of my previous post states this. Look it up in wikipedia.

Regardless, in my state of origin (Texas), he would be prosecuted for the crime of statutory rape and/or indecency with a child. If he had sex with a 16 year old boy, he would be prosecuted for the same crime. This would happen even if the victim provided what he/she termed consent. Minors can not consent to sex with adults.

Stephen

Paul Pfaffenberger

The DSM-IV, the professional diagnostic tool in the U.S. for such things, lists pedophilia as “the sexual attraction and/or acting out with children, (typically 13 or younger).” It does not mention ephebophilia.

Stephen

Not in the DSM IV? Well, then, it must not exist!

---------------------------------------------

Ephebophilia is a term that applies to that subgroup of minors who are teenagers. It’s from the Greek, it means love of teens. But it’s not a diagnosis. It doesn’t appear in DSM-IV. When it occurs, it’s what we call a non-paraphilic sexual disorder if it has compulsive traits to it. By non-paraphilic I mean a sexual compulsion or addiction that is not diagnosed by DSM -IV. It’s just simply illegal. And it’s immoral, unprofessional. These are children; their minds haven’t developed yet. In the state of Connecticut, a 15-year-old is considered incompetent to enter into informed consent.

Joe

"But, Joe, I would say that a football coach that has sex with a 16 year old girl is a pedophile"

"in terms of semantics, the football coach would be an ephebophile."

Here we go round the mulberry bush. The mulberry bush.(Me humming the song)

David Morrison

Actually, if the law of consent of the State in question is over 16 then the Coach in question is, if found guilty, a (statutory) rapist.

And once again folks, lets not lose sight of the forest for the trees here. I commend whichever reporters at the Times who woke up won day (maybe because of the visitation?) and started to ask questions about the seminary. It's very difficult to start laying blame at the level of temptation when it seems clear that this seminary really wasn't in the business of forming priests commited to chastity and to living out a priestly vocation. I mean its not like you had a strongly orthodox Catholic formation process in which some men with some degree of same sex attraction were out defying the seminary, having sex with other seminarians anyway and risking being sent down for it.

No, it sounds like you had a situation in which the seminary leadership simply never taught any expectation of chastity from seminarians (much less anything about it, or about holiness) and instead may have actually taught to undermine that as an ideal.

That situation, it seems to me, goes a good deal deeper than whether or not some seminarians today live with a degree of same sex attraction.

Lee Podles

Some of the sexual abuse of minors was done by gay priests who were sexually infatuated with teenage boys. The priests were narcissists who loved the teenage boy because he was a youthful, idealized version of themselves. A clerical culture that demands a type of obedience that keeps priests immature both attracts and forms such men.

But many of the priests who molested teenage boys also went after girls and pre-pubescent boys, and occasionally adults and dogs.

I suspect that the root of much of the abuse was not homosexuality or heterosexuality, but a desire to do something perverse. This desire would explain who so much of the sexual activity involved a sacrilegious use of the sacraments.

This desire for the perverse is even worse than sexual disorder; it is closer to the demonic.

Father Todd Reitmeyer

Stephen,
The church does not teach that these men are ontologically disordered. That would mean that at they are disordered in their substance or being. This is not the case. It teaches that SSA are intrinsically disordered desires. It is speaking about the desires themselves.

In fact SSA is a psychological disorder. For those who want to read good material on it I suggest the first 5 chapters of the book The Battle for Normality. Another excellent resource, and free of charge, is the Catholic Medical Associations paper entitled Hope and Homosexuality.

austin

I think getting married and having children helps a person not be narcissist, and I was a novice in a religious community. ALthough I know that religious life objectively can bring a higher state of holiness than married, in reality most religious I met needed as much 'down' time as married folks, and saw their life as a career. We really need a married priesthood.

Fr. J

Oh yes, no married people are narcissists. That never happens. Having married clergy will not solve the problem of child abuse.

Joe

To suggest that a married clergy would bring as many problems as the current gay clergy is mind-boggling. Gay clergy are not a "problem," but a scandal. And if celibacy is merely a discipline, does it not stand to reason that if there is a dire shortage or priests, and a serious infection of homosexuality, then for crying out loud the discipline needs to be re-examined. The Bishops can pronounce on the death penalty at decible-level but cannot come together on the issue of homosexuality in their midst? Diocese after diocese is going bankrupt. Preaching is a joke. parushes are empty, vocatons minimal... and we are worried about logistical problems if we have a married clergy. Talk about denial. Celibacy wold be great if the Church had ven sort of managed to carry the ball on their teaching and preaching about sexuality. But after fumbling that for generations, you are not going to bring back a healthy sexual orientation when even talking about clearly stating the priesthood is not for gays crates the ruckus that it has...

End the discipline. Why is that so hard to consider when he church nowadays has a hard enough time be clear on doctrine, much less discipline?

Marie

"Some of the sexual abuse of minors was done by gay priests who were sexually infatuated with teenage boys."

Change "some" to "most," and you'd be right.

kathleen reilly

Fr. J, it's a matter of frequency of finding narcissism among married people versus celibate clergy, not whether there are ANY narcissistic married people. Being a priest lends itself to narcissism, full stop. Without the check that the marriage and family can provide (and trust me, the effect is huge), such narcissism can run rampant and ruin the clerical institution itself. as we have seen.

thomas tucker

Father Todd- a question for you. Why would the archbishop of Los Angeles allow a speaker at the archdiocese's conference who disagrees with Church doctrine, and who spreads false teaching?

midwestmom

"To suggest that a married clergy would bring as many problems as the current gay clergy is mind-boggling." -Joe

And it sounds like you're suggesting that if priests could only marry, all the child- abusing gay priests would suddenly turn hetero, marry a woman, have 3 great kids, and the scandal would be over!

Marc

Stephen,

Your stalwart support towards the disordered nature of our priesthood promotes the existence of a homosexual priest.
Of coarse you think its a tolerable issue to have a man with a identified disordered nature as a shepherd to a faithful flock,
but rest assured good fathers/men will steer very clear of any environment where they detect such a defect.

It is pathetic that you confuse a father figure
with a disordered nature. It's unacceptable
as a golden rule.
You are suggesting that we use 'case by case' methodology to what disordered nature means.
(e.g., It depends what you mean by disordered nature - aka Bill C.)
I am not hateful of homosexually oriented men, but reject their validity and influence as priests.
Please consider the sanctity of the holy family.

reluctant penitent

'Being a priest lends itself to narcissism, full stop.'

What a foolish claim. How can giving your life to the Church be a narcissistic act? In my experience narcissism among married people is more common than it is among priests. Of course if you have a gay sex house like this seminary appears to have been you're going to get priests who are narcissistic and disordered in all sorts of other ways. But that's evidence of the narcissism of the lavender mafia, not the priesthood.

jane M

Don't forget that it is those "non-narcissistic" married people who practice birth control and abortion.....

Desert Chatter

"How can giving your life to the Church be a narcissistic act?"

Next time you hear a really dreadful homily at Mass, take the time to watch and see how many people tell the celebrant "Great homily, Father." After a while, these guys believe all the false flattery they hear about themselves. I have seen it at every parish I've ever been acquainted with.

How many of you would say that parishioners routinely discuss matters openly and frankly in the presence of the pastor?

They live in a bubble. And narcissism is rampant. Many of them have gotten their ways on issues big and small for years.

Mag

"Don't forget that it is those "non-narcissistic" married people who practice birth control and abortion....."

Good one, Jane.

Lee Podles

The clergy (Catholic and Protestant) attracts narcissists because 1. The cleric is the center of attention at the service. This is even more true of the reformed Catholic liturgy than of the old Catholic liturgy 2. Many of the laity adulate clerics, giving them unearned respect. Catholics were told the story of the saint who said that if he saw and angel and a priest, he would venerate the priest more.

Narcissists are often sociopaths. They are so self-centered that they cannot see the harm and pain that their actions are causing to other people. This was the attitude of both abusers and bishops.

Narcissism is not confined to the clergy, but the clerical life both attracts narcissists and is a special danger to them

Father Todd Reitmeyer

Thomas Tucker,
That is a question you would need to ask him. I am not accusing him of that. You need to reread my post and the references I provided you.

Kathleen Reilly,
The frequency of narcissistic married people is directly purportional to to the frequency of those who use contraception. Fill in your own percentage.

I will agree with Kathleen on a point though: that there are particular temptations that come about from being a priest. As Desert Chatter says there is a lot of false flattery. (I strongly disagree with him that priests live in a bubble).

I think with fidelity to the sacraments, frequent confession, and spiritual direction that a lot of these can be avoided. My spiritual director told me never to believe any of those comments that people tell you after the mass. They are simply trying to be polite. He said the people that come back to you weeks later telling you how something you said in such and such a homily really helped them are the ones you can believe.

But at the core of all that, the priest must firmly remember that it is God that changes hearts not him. All his gifts and talents come from God and unless you build on the foundation of Christ you labor in vain. True humility is knowing and accepting what you truly are.

I think frequent confession and spiritual direction are the two biggest helps to me. The antidote to pride is humility and confession and spiritual direction are very humbling.

Bob

My spiritual director told me never to believe any of those comments that people tell you after the mass. They are simply trying to be polite. He said the people that come back to you weeks later telling you how something you said in such and such a homily really helped them are the ones you can believe.

Father Todd,

With all due respect.

On several occasions I have been deeply moved/deeply changed by a sermon. Sometimes I say so to the priest immediately after Mass, so you shouldn't disregard all such comments. Sometimes I say so later. Same remark. Sometimes I never say so. Shame on me.

But you're not preaching to please me, surely? You preach because you are compelled, as St. Paul was. The Lord is your master, as He is mine.

Quo Vadis

Stephen,
80% of the clerical sexual abuse victimes are male. It would appear that gay men are more likely to abuse minors since they were a minority of priest in the last 40 years and yet appear to have committed 80% of the abuse. Unless you want to argue that females are under reporting abuse or there are more false cases of abuse of males.

Father Todd Reitmeyer

Bob,
Your last point is the most important. Preach the Gospel to the best of my ability. As St. Paul reminds us there is only one judge we need to please.

anonymous seminarian

I have met priests who are extemely selfless and some who are some extremely narcissistic. The latter often tend to be activists of one sort or another. This activism can cut both ways: that is, some are crusaders for particular heterodox social and ecclesial causes and some are crusaders for particular orthodox social and ecclesial causes. Let me make it clear that I'm not equating the two. Better to be narcissistic and orthodox than narcissistic and a heretic. Moreover, there is nothing wrong with strongly supporting certian causes. However, one must always be vigilant against temptations toward activism in the spiritual life.

In regards to a married clergy getting rid of narcissism, I think that is wishful thinking. I am a convert from Protestantism. If you want to experience some of the most nausiating and narcissistic preaching possible, spend some time at a liberal protestant church. In other words, this is a clergy problem- not necessarily a celibacy problem. If Catholic clergy truly understood the role of their vocation vis a vis the overall mission of the Church they would be less inclined to self-infatuation and more inclined to self-abnegation.

Jim

Good insight, anon.sem.

It's the elitism of the clergy that spawns the narcissism.

Same is true of physicians or lawyers. In cultures in which these are elite professions, the practitioners tend to be narcissistic pretty boys.

HA

Let me – foolishly, perhaps – try to bridge the gap here. Gay advocates (e.g. Sullivan, Kramer) can be quite frank in admitting that gays are more likely to engage in behavior that mainstream society finds deviant (i.e. more so than homosexuality itself). Their own outcast sexuality, so the argument goes, leads to an eroticization of forbidden sexuality in general. (That’s one of the reasons they favor gay marriage and other efforts to mainstream homosexuality.)

Also, I’ve seen repeated citations in the web of studies indicating that around a quarter or so of male homosexuals 30 years or older have admitted to “chickenhawking” boys 16 and under, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen comparable numbers for heterosexual men looking for underage girls, so to what extent a priesthood that is almost exclusively heterosexual would curtail pedophilia is an open question. That being said, if anyone is arguing that it wouldn’t be a step in the right direction, they should state so plainly and realize that they’re pushing it.

In any case, when it comes to seminary formation, it should go without saying that it is indeed the homosexual activity that is the main problem. And putting a stop to that, by whatever means necessary, would help in curtailing the promiscuity that occurs in the parish setting, whether it is occurs with boys, or the many women that a typical parish priest comes into contact with.

I.e. perhaps we could all agree that stamping out homosexual activity in the seminaries would be a very worthwhile endeavor.

bobnd

Well it sounds like we have an unhealthy clergy. Regardless of orientaion, there are problems. However, the church sets up priests to fail. I am going to the funeral of a priest who was set-up and hung out to dry by his own diocese. Remember it is not just the priests alone, it is also within the Heirachy. The biggest pedophile was the late Most Rev. James Rausch. Cardinal Spellman paid for his and Cody and Bernadin were also involved, so don't go blaming the priests for their shortcomings, blame their superiors who allowed their shortcomings to be hid. Most Rev. John Kinney said this infamous quote, "We do not have any pedophile priests in this diocese." That is a lie. The Rev Don Rieder was convicted of sexual misconduct at the age of 76 and was shuffled from place to place around central minnesota. This scandal is not just in LA or Minnesota or Boston, it is all over like an infestaion of lice.

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