Odd Attempts to 'Explain' the Pedophilia Crisis

In the wake of church scandals, leaders have lost their balance and said things out of tune with their ordinary statements.

(RNS) Sensational news stories send earth tremors through the culture, causing fissures to open up that allow passage into the real world for people normally denied a public voice to proclaim theories they patched together in the dark.

"I did it," one says; "I confess," another one tells us; "I can lead you to the murderer under a full moon," yet another proclaims.

The earthquake also causes some people with public voices to lose their balance and to say things that lack the tune and the timing of their ordinary statements. They may be confessing what they really feel, versions of the murders they would like to commit, perhaps, but usually have the good sense to keep to themselves.

That explains the Rev. D. George Spagnolia, the pastor from Lowell, Mass., who claims he has been falsely accused by the Boston archdiocese of sexually molesting a teen-ager 32 years ago. "You want to play in the legal ballpark, your Eminence, I'll see you in court and I won't move out of the rectory. Unless, of course, I do when I confess that, during my 20 years off from the priesthood, I had two homosexual affairs." Had the earth not split open, Father Spagnolia would never have found his voice and we would never have heard of him.

>And it may explain how Father Richard John Neuhaus, the Catholic convert and publisher of First Things whose carefully chosen words often appear in the Wall Street Journal, could have been so shaken by the revelations about pedophilia in Boston that he explained their origin in a voice so unlike his own as to seem like bad and distracting dubbing in a foreign movie.


He is quoted in the Boston Globe, in effect, as blaming liberal theological teaching at the Boston seminary for producing the pedophile problem among priests in that area. He claims seminarians "were led to believe ... the rule on celibacy would soon be abandoned .... a kind of wink and nudge attitude -- everything is up for grabs ... dissent in one area encourages dissent in other areas, including sexual ethics."

Neuhaus has probably thought better of this statement because not one of its clauses is based on fact. First, there is no evidence the Boston seminary was ever a setting for the kind of dissent and loose moral convictions he ascribes to it. This slanders the faculty members and makes inferences about the causation of pedophilia so peculiar and unfounded as to be filed with Flat Earth theories.

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