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February 22, 2005

Church Corruption in Practice and Doctrine; Protecting Homosexual Priests

The Catholic Church continues to amaze me with its tolerance of homosexual and pedophile priests. The latest I see is a report that convicted pedophiles in at least one diocese are not defrocked and continue to get paid and a report that in another diocese a priest has been removed from ministry (though not defrocked) for whistleblowing. The first story is from this New Hampshire article.

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Last week, the Archdiocese of Boston defrocked four more priests who'd been accused or convicted of child sexual assault. There's no harsher punishment because it eliminates a priest's financial support from the church and his right to minister to people.

Here, the Catholic Church has retired or suspended accused and convicted priests, but it has not defrocked them. And some priests put on administrative leave or forced into retirement continue to receive pay and benefits from the diocese. Bishop John McCormack asked his staff in 2001 to increase the monthly allowances sent to incarcerated priests. As recently as 2003, the diocese was sending retirement pay for one suspended priest to New Mexico, where he lives with a woman who was his lover in Keene.

The second story is in Virginia.

Bishop Loverde has lodged several charges against the priest for sexual misconduct in a case that began in the fall of 2001. He ordered Father Haley silenced and removed him from parish ministry.

The priest denied the sexual-misconduct charges, then revealed in a July 24, 2002, deposition filed in Arlington County Circuit Court a lengthy account of adultery and homosexual affairs among certain priests in the Northern Virginia diocese.

Bishop Loverde then charged Father Haley with wrongfully revealing information to the press, and turned over the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

I recognize that it is not inconsistent to believe that the Church is infallible in doctrine even if it is corrupt in practice, but it does weaken the argument, doesn't it? Applying the usual economic analysis of organizations, I would conclude that an organization whose primary interest is to protect its management (i.e., the priests) would pervert doctrine to achieve the same end. Thus, I would predict that a corrupt church would teach the importance of hierarchy and the special status of priests--which, indeed, the Roman Catholic Church does. Papal infallibility fits the same pattern. To avoid the corrupt members of the Church from using their positions to pervert doctrine as well as practice would require continual supernatural intervention, something I think implausible, especially since nobody claims the supernatural extends to prevention of corrupt practice.

Posted by erasmuse at February 22, 2005 09:24 AM

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