Who is correct, you or Cardinal Law?

Fr. Bloom:

I read your review of Priests and Pedophiles. My interest came about as a result of listening to a talk show program in Spokane today about the problem of pedophile priests in Massachusetts. Cardinal Law has admitted to covering up the immoral acts of priests in his diocese, and he apologized for this. There have been many claims paid for pedophilia among several priests in the diocese. Who is correct, you or Cardinal Law? Is he lying when he apologizes? Were there no cases of pedophilia? Were the priests lying who have admitted to pedophilia? Is Cardinal Law's diocese different from the study of priests you quoted from the book?

My sense from reading your review and the devout Catholic who called into the show is that this is a non-problem. The claims of abuse are false. All the supposed victims are really the abusers. All the claims paid by the church were done to reduce risk, but in fact there has been no proof of guilt. I see this as a grand case of either DENIAL or cover-up.

Does it ever bother you to use arguments that justify immoral actions. First you say pedophilia among priests is so rare that we should accept that it doesn't happen. Then you say the press has it all wrong. Then you try to justify the problem in your church by saying that the priests are no more likely to engage in pedophilia than doctors or teachers. (President Clinton's apologists used the same arguments to justify his behavior which they said, initially, did not occur.)

I find it fascinating that I do not read about any other Cardinals, bishops or priests being critical of Cardinal Law or other church officials for permitting priests engaging in pedophilia to remain in contact with children. Could it be priests do not value children the way parents do?

Ed Parker
Puzzled in Spokane


Dear Ed,

Thank you for your email. In the review of Jenkin's book I was not attempting to defend the indefensible (pedophilia, pederasty, fornication, adultery, etc.) The book, however, is based on extensive research and makes some distinctions which I believe are important, for example between pedophilia and pederasty. Pedophilia, strictly speaking, involves an exclusive sexual fixation on pre-pubescent children, while pederasty is sexual contact between an adult and a post-adolescent boy. The latter is both sinful and repulsive in my book (and I am sure yours) but it is something different than the former. As far as I could determine from press reports, the cases in Boston involved pederasty, not pedophilia.

Now I know, Ed, that there is a tendency in the press to use the word pedophilia in a very broad sense, to apply to any sexual contact between an adult and a minor. That is OK. I do not own the word. But if used in that sense, an 18 year old who gives an impure caress to a 17 year old is guilty of pedophilia! The problem with using the word in this expanded sense is that for most people pedophilia still conjures up the image of older man forcing a small child and thus creates an extreme hysteria.

A lady from the Boston Archdiocese wrote me about how this hysteria affected a priest in her parish. He was one of the 70 or so who were suspended from priestly duties and told to pack up and clear out within four hours. The previous week someone accused him of something he had supposedly done 27 years ago. His picture was shown on local and national news. The lady who wrote me has known the accused priest for almost twenty years. She is totally convinced of the man's innocence, that he is a "good and faithful priest" of whom "there was never the slightest hint of any sexual misconduct." The priest is an elderly man who has had two bouts of cancer and, according to my friend, does not deserve to have his repuation ruined. Ironically this happened not too far from Salem.

I value children, Ed. Much of my work involves maintaining a parish elementary school and I want the children in it to have every possible protection and opportunity. I also have nephews and nieces and now, grand-nieces and nephew. While I naturally cannot claim the same degree of affection for them as their parents have, still I would be outraged if they were abused in any way. But I also hope my desire to protect children would not lead me to commit an injustice against another human being.


Fr. Phil Blom


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