Priest Says Erickson Part of 'Clerical Culture'

KSTP [Minneapolis MN]
February 4, 2006

A new book written by a Minneapolis priest is helping shocked parishioners examine the clerical culture Father Ryan Erickson was a part of.

Father Michael Papesh’s book, “Clerical Culture”, recounts his own sexual assault as a young seminarian nearly four decades ago.

“I evidently passed out and woke up to find the priest on top of me,” said Papesh. “The priest himself drunk, never admitted it.”

Papesh said the obviously disturbed Erickson was ordained as a priest because of a lack of priests and the church’s need to provide them.

Papesh says the clerical culture promotes a power structure that perpetuates itself.

He also says that bishops aren’t open to criticism of troubled priests. “Bishops,” he says, “are not used to being questioned, and they don’t feel obligated to answer.”

He also attributes silence of abuse allegations to the paternal nature of the church. “Ministry in the church is a family business, and it’s kept within the family.”

Papesh also says a male culture makes addressing abuse allegations awkward.


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