The placement of 21 priests on leave shortly after the Philadelphia Grand Jury’s report on the outrageous child abuse by two priests has had a severely damaging effect upon the reputation, good name and future priestly ministry of these priests. This is because the majority of people in the Philadelphia area and around the country believe that all 21 priests were guilty of the same heinous acts as the two priests identified by the Grand Jury.read the entire article here.
In fact, the majority of the 21 priests identified for further evaluations of accusations made against them previously went through such an intensive process in the past conducted by competent professionals without any new charges being filed against them. The result of the investigation was that the charges were not substantiated against many of those 21 priests. Then, these priests were notified and there was no disruption of their priestly ministry.
The failure of the Archdiocese to communicate these facts to the public is difficult to understand. The public falsely believes these priests are guilty.
Priests and Catholic laity who know these priests were cleared earlier and deemed victims of false accusations are justifiably incensed and believe this deserves further investigation.
It is important to understand that false accusations occur regularly against employers, co-workers, spouses in divorce cases, parents, educators, and members of the clergy. Such accusations have led often to reputations and careers being ruined, family relationships destroyed, and both professional and religious lives shattered.
False accusations are made for a number of reasons, including a desire for financial gain, excessive and misdirected anger, jealously, mental instability, prejudice, a sociopathic personality disorder and, in regard to priests, a hatred of the Church.
In the Church false accusations have related recently to confusion in regard to what is referred to as “boundary issues” which are buzz words arising from the post-crisis programs in the Church. Boundary violations are behaviours that are viewed as being suspicious, but are not directly sexual. Priests are being increasingly accused of so-called boundary issues and of grooming minors while engaging in completely appropriate priestly ministry and behaviour toward youth in Catholic schools, on playgrounds and in parish centres or rectories.
In our professional opinion the failure to address clearly the basic causes of the crisis, described in 2005 by a member of the first National Review Board, Dr Paul McHugh, former chair of psychiatry at John Hopkins, as the homosexual predation of adolescent males, in the post-crisis programs led instead to a focus on ambiguous boundary conflicts.
In our clinical experience many of the priests accused of so-called boundary violations were strong in faith and in loyalty while their accusers often harboured resentment toward them. While accusations of specific sexual behaviours need to be immediately addressed, caution needs to be exercised in regard to the evaluation of so-called boundary violations. Certainly such priests should not be removed from ministry while an accusation is assessed, nor do they necessarily need a mental health evaluation.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
What Is Going On?
The following is an exerpt from Abuse allegations: true, false and truthy by Richard Fitzgibbons and Peter Kleponis. They ask, "21 Philadelphia priests were recently stood down, even though most of them are clearly not abusers. What is going on?" A good question.