The Hypocrisy of Bishop Soto

Lobdell's OC
September 29, 2008

Mi amigo, Gustavo Arellano, wrote another insightful commentary about the Diocese of Orange and, in particular, one of its former rising stars, Bishop Jaime Soto (who now heads the diocese of Sacramento). Gustavo couldn't be more correct in his analysis.

Soto is one of the Catholic Church's rising stars because he's -- how to put this delicately? -- an ass-kisser. He delivers to his bosses what they want: silence on most of his sexually abusive brothers, a passionate defense of the fellow priest convicted of 46 counts of child molestation, and now a stinging rebuke for those who engaging in same-sex sex.

Among those commenting on Gustavo's post was Richard Sipe, a former monk who's an clergy sexual abuse expert and has long been ahead of the curve on the scandal. He writes:

You are absolutely right. Priests do not speak up about the abuse they know about. The reason: Most, I repeat most, have had or are having some kind of sexual contact, experience, relationship, or habit. They run the risk of exposing themselves, or in some cases superiors or bishops with whom they have had sex-play, experience, or a relationship. Even temporary involvement of priests in sexual relationships with other priests or sexual experimentation puts them in a fearful state. Celibacy is not a common or persistent practice among the clergy. Homosexual contact, and slips (or what the Vatican has labeled "transitional homosexuality") are so common—especially in seminaries and religious orders that many clergy who subsequently or eventually strive to establish a celibate practice are caught in the circle of secrecy that covers even sexual abuse of minors (often indulged by newly ordained priests with only a few victims) or by other priests who continue the practice. This is a "scarlet bond" of secrecy that is inculcated from the top down (Vatican) and preserved by bishops and superiors for fear of exposure; The system in which all clergy are caught demands cover up at any cost to save themselves (the Church) from scandal. Truth, honesty, transparency, accountability, and people (non-clerics) be damned. I am working on a study of the "genealogy of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic priesthood." Clergy are taught the dynamic of abuse and secrecy from their first days in training. And their teachers are often promoted to the ranks of bishop and superior.

Soto, bilingual and well-regarded with his superiors, is rumored to be in line to be the next archbishop of Los Angeles. Before he gains the post, this question should be answered: What prevented Soto for acting more courageously (or just with common decency) to protect child from being raped by priests in Orange County -- or at least to make sure his criminal brothers were punished? Does Soto, like so many priests, have a sexual "scandal" in his past (even masturbation is a scandal in the priesthood, not to mention relationships with fellow priests, parishioners or prostitutes)? I'd love for him -- and his fellow bishops -- to take a lie detector test to clear the air. (BTW, I'd be more empathic to a personal scandal; it would be more disgusting if he was just a career man who didn't want to rock the boat.)

Until then, it's really between the Lord and the career bishops. And if they truly believe in God, most should be on their knees begging for forgiveness and the courage to do the right thing.


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