It was two weeks ago, on I-35 north of Oklahoma City on a barren stretch of road when I ran into a traffic jam; an unlikely place for a tie-up given the day and hour. After ten minutes the flashing lights of police and ambulances could be seen, obviously an accident of some sort. As my car pulled nearer, no scene of wreckage or carnage unfolded, rather the police, about six of them, were speaking with someone sitting in tall weeds. Suddenly they stood a gentleman up, who by comparison with the cops, looked to be 6’4″ tall and about 300 lbs. He was handcuffed behind his back and stark, as a jay bird, naked. The police were probably asking him “Is your parish around here somewhere Father?”
Given the ongoing sex abuse scandal and cover-up by clergy, perhaps it’s time that solid advice be given to seminarians and young priests involving sex. Praying for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary is ALWAYS a good idea, but I’m saying it’s also time for some other guidance. When I was in the chancery, many years ago, a young priest would come into the office to meet the staff and find out who is where. I always sat the young cleric down and said, “If you’re going to do something sinful and stupid that has anything to do with sex, do it outside the diocese, preferably the state. If you do anything sexual with a minor I will hunt you down and kill you.” This was a very meaningful and uplifting moment for the young men.
It is noteworthy that a threat of violence will produce much fruit where the moral invective, theological disputation and the Socratic method fail. Even in this politically correct environment, people talk about suspending priests for wrongdoing. Isn’t this the same as promising an extended time out? It’s more effective for the miscreant to know that while God may punish him in the hereafter, his superior will make his life a living hell in the here and now. Knowing that certain actions will bring terrible consequences has kept many a young lad out of most trouble.
Yes, I know, Father you’re mean/nasty/violent/all of the above. Can’t be helped, child abuse brings out my pre-redeemed nature. While killing the perpetrators may not be the best answer let’s remind ourselves of the words of Jesus,“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” [Matthew 18:6] These are words you won’t see as an episcopal motto any time soon.