This wasn’t an affair. This was a powerful priest sexually exploiting a vulnerable woman, and callous, reckless church officials deceiving the public and their parishioners by their continuing secrecy.
We grieve for this dad and his three kids. Their family has been devastated because a priest took advantage of his power and of a devout, wounded parishioner. Then, his church supervisors took advantage of their power and of other devout, trusting parishioners, while ignoring their moral duty to protect others at risk and breaking their pledges to be “open and transparent” about clergy sexual misconduct.
An educated, allegedly holy and celibate man who holds the revered title of priest cannot ever have truly consensual or healthy sexual contact with a parishioner. It is always morally wrong and psychologically harmful.
Catholics have been raised since birth to believe priests are God's representatives on earth, can forgive our sins, can turn wafers and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Priests always hold an exalted position, and when they have any sexual involvement with parishioners, it is always hurtful.
There is ahuge and inherent power imbalance between clergy and church members. It is like a doctor-patient or therapist-client relationship, where any sexual contact is expressly forbidden. And for good reason: because it almost always results in devastation, with individuals and with congregations.
It's always the duty of powerful official – doctor, therapist or priest - to maintain boundaries and refrain from any sexual contact with the radically less powerful person – patient, client or parishioner.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)