A response to a response
By Rod Dreher
February 28, 2002
As a longtime admirer of Fr. Groeschel, I appreciate his remarks, though
we ultimately cannot agree on certain points. I will keep my response
a brief as I can.
1. How many cases of shuffling pederast priests from parish to parish
will have to come out before Fr. Groeschel and others acknowledge that
bishops have been grossly negligent? He says that bishops "have spent
immense amounts of time and agonized over this issue," and that's
no doubt true. But as the saying goes, "A long face is not a moral
disinfectant." It's better to look at what the bishops have actually
done, not what they've said. Each day's newspaper brings further evidence
of the failure of the bishops' policies. I also do not accept the dodge
that the bishops were only following the best medical opinion available
at the time. The secret 1985 report issued to the bishops by the Rev.
Thomas Doyle and others told them in no uncertain terms that pedophilia
was untreatable. The report was ignored. In Boston, Fr. John Geoghan was
shuffled around throughout his entire career, even into the 1990s. In
any case, does it take a psychiatrist to tell a bishop that a serial child
molester like Geoghan had no business in the priesthood? The first 500
people in the Boston phonebook could tell you that without having to consult
2. I do not accept that bishops "often had little choice" but
to have their strategies for dealing with accusations of child abuse dictated
to them by lawyers. I have personally spoken with sex-abuse victims and
their families, who have told me that they only filed suit in court when
it became obvious to them that their local bishop wasn't going to do anything
to remedy the problem. It pays for a bishop to be wary when dealing with
plaintiffs' attorneys, but over and over one hears stories about Catholic
children and their families being treated as enemies from the very beginning.
It makes legal sense, perhaps, but it has proven to be a spiritual disaster.
3. Regarding Richard Sipe's research, one does not have to agree with
the conclusions he draws about the Church's teachings on sexuality and
celibacy to recognize the validity of his research. I checked with orthodox
Catholics I know, including at least two priests, who are hostile to Sipe's
views on priestly celibacy, but who vouched for his credibility as a researcher.
4. I have no doubt that false charges are made against priests. That
said, seeing the unholy mess many bishops have made of handling these
allegations, and the risk to which children have been put by the episcopal
cult of secrecy, I maintain that the best solution is to involve the secular
authorities from the beginning. The alternative — secrecy, denial,
cover-up — has proven far, far worse.
5. Ah, yes, blame the media. If Fr. Groeschel is implying that I am trying
to undermine the Church's position on abortion and sexuality by reporting
and commenting critically on the bishops' response to the pederasty crisis,
he is not familiar with my work. I am an orthodox Catholic who has defended
the Church's teachings in print and in private on many occasions, and
will continue to do so. What's more, to imply that "many in the media"
wish to attack the clergy on this matter to discredit the Church is a
clumsy way of detracting from the truth of what has been reported. I have
no doubt that the Boston Globe, for one, does not wish the Church well
on any number of moral issues, but that in no way takes away from the
fact that much of what the Globe has reported about the evil in the Archdiocese
of Boston is true, and important. Indeed, the actions of Cardinal Law
and others in the Catholic hierarchy have done more than anything to obviate
the Church's moral authority to speak out against the society-wide corruption
through the media that Fr. Groeschel so rightly decries.