ANONYMOUS PRIEST SPEAKS OUT
Recently Archbishop Tom Collinsís sermon to the dioceses spoke of the decades of sexual abuse of children by priests that has brought about scandal and public scorn in the community.
When Tom was in London he was the Principal of St Peterís Seminary responsible for the education of young men who wanted to be priests.
In order that we donít paint all of the priests with one tainted brush I contacted a long time friend of mine who is Roman Catholic priest even though the Bishop had a gag order that priests were not to speak to the press.
I promised Father Anonymous to keep our conversation private. He speaks for himself and his views are not church doctrine.
The public perception of priests over the past decade has changed. The image of the perfect priest like that portrayed in the movies starring Bing Crosby singing and dancing was more Hollywood then reality.
In the past there was no forum to discuss the concerns of young men. Many who were sexually confused felt that if they entered a safe vocation the question of their sexual orientation would disappear.
The priesthood allows access to youngsters and unwavering, unquestionable trust from parents. Children can be trusting/gullible while adults are supposed to be more discerning. No parent should abdicate their role to others without questioning their true intentions.
Often times the most vulnerable of our children are from troubled homes and can be easily victimized.
In the past the role of priest was an exalted prestigious persona who automatically commanded obedience. They wielded great moral political power which has evaporated over time. Respect for priests in the past was a given. Parishioners now give due diligence to those who have earned it.
To-day the church spends a lot of time/resources to ascertain that candidates for the seminary are socially, psychologically comfortable with the vows of the priesthood.
When there is suspected abuse that is reported to the diocese the priest is now immediately removed from his post. Where warranted all information is passed on to the police/Childrenís Aid Society.
Paul Ledroit,a lawyer for many of the plaintiffs of sexual abuse in London informed me that in the last decade the London Dioceseís compliment of 216-300 priests we had eight priests convicted of sexual abuse of minors. There is no evidence that being a priest (gay or straight) puts you at risk of being a sex offender.
I asked Father Anonymous if celibacy was the raison díetre for some priests offending. The problem with the vow of celibacy is loneliness not sexually acting out against minors he told me.
Father Anonymous is deeply ashamed & saddened by the abuse of a few priests. He reminded us that there are lots of good, hardworking, genuine priests who want to sincerely help people and serve God.
The stats show us that 4-6% of priests in Canada have been charged with sexual exploitation of young people. Every occupation has issues of sexual abuse. Few have the ability to try and conceal it like the church did in the past by moving the offender to another unsuspecting parish.
Society no longer tries to protect those who hold positions of authority. Men of the cloth such as Fathers Glendening/Sylvester and most recently Bishop Lahey can not hide behind their cries of mea culpa. If you commit the crime you have to be willing to do the time.
The vast majority of Londoners are hard working individuals worthy of our trust; then there are the bad seeds who take away our childrenís trust and future.
The movie "Spotlight" is an excellent description of how the church hierarchy in Boston were able to hide the sexual priest predators despicable behavior to the children in their parishes.
P.S Father Anonymous after our interview spoke to his Bishop and declared that he was a homosexual. The Bishop subsequently stripped him of his collar and declared that he was persona non grata. He was no longer able to administer the holy sacraments to his parishioners who loved and respected him. Father Anonymous is still pious about his faith but the church that he loves sadly has no room for a gay priests who openly admits his true feelings.