Saturday, November 13, 2010


What I post below is from "Catholic Culture" quoting Biship Kicanas who clarifies remarks that appeared in the National Catholic Register.

My Comments first: When I was vocation director for the Diocese of Savannah,(between 1986 to 1998), we were taught at the various national workshops we attended on our "art" of discerning who would be an appropriate candidate for the priesthood, that same sex attraction should not disqualify a candidate immediately; just as heterosexual men can be chaste and celibate for spiritual and religious reasons, so too could homosexual men. The key was to discern or discover what their attractions were, which included if these were directed toward children or teenagers, and to discover what their history was as well.

In addition, we had to discern their "sexual maturity." Just because someone is a virgin in this regard doesn't mean they are mature sexually. Have they lived isolated lives; have they dated; have they matured in their own sexual self-awareness? Are there issues of the lack of "impulse control" when it comes to sexuality including masturbation. Part of the problem with those who have abused is that they were and are "developmentally" immature sexually and otherwise and have little of no "impulse control" meaning they are compulsive in sex and other areas of their lives. If this is combined with a drinking or drug problem, disaster looms.

In addition, we were taught that if a candidate had been sexually active, either in regards to a heterosexual orientation or same sex one, that they should prove their call to celibacy by having lived chastely for at least five years prior to being accepted as a candidate. One night stands, versus a more mature and self-giving relationship needed to be taken into account as well. How does a heterosexual man treat women? How compulsive is he in his relationships with them and how respectful? Is he promiscuous? I don't recall having accepted any heterosexual male who was compulsive in his sex life and disrespectful toward women in this or any other area of his life.

I must add,that in the discernment process that I led candidates through, that if I learned through that process of an active homosexual or same sex lifestyle in the past, that I would not recommend to the bishop that this man be accepted as a candidate. I do not recall having accepted any candidate for the Diocese of Savannah that had been in an "active" same sex relationship previously. As well I tried to be scrupulous in the "five year" living as a celibate for those with heterosexual inclinations.

What many seem not to be aware of when it comes to same sex attraction between two males is the following wisdom I learned from one of my deacons in Augusta concerning the nature of sexuality between men and women. He gave this advice to those preparing for marriage. Men are like microwave ovens when it comes to sex. It can be instant and quick. Women, however, are normally like crock pots, if you would pardon the simile. They need to warm up to it in marriage. They like affection, flowers, sweet words and this might take all day to bring them to the point that they are willing, grateful partners in the marriage act. In this area, if the art of sexuality between a husband and a wife isn't developed by the husband, the wife might well feel that she is being used only as an object for the husbands gratification needs.

In other words, it doesn't take much for men to get in the mood whereas for women it does take some nurturing. That's the complimentary nature of heterosexual sex that is lacking in male same sex attraction and instant gratification at any time and any place.

With that said, please judge the good bishop's clarification below for yourself.

Bishop Kicanas defends his handling of McCormack case
November 12, 2010

The vice-president of the US bishops’ conference has denied that he ignored evidence of sexual abuse while he served as rector of a Chicago seminary.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tuson, Arizona, told the National Catholic Register that he had never heard reports that Daniel McCormack had been guilty of sexual abuse when he supervised McCormack’s study at Mundelein seminary. After his ordination, McCormack would face charges of molesting more than 20 boys.

Because Bishop Kicanas is a heavy favorite to be elected president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops at the upcoming meeting of the episcopal conference, Tim Drake of the National Catholic Register questioned whether the bishop’s support for McCormack’s ordination, in spite of early evidence of sexual misconduct, would cause embarrassment for the US bishops. Responding to queries from Drake, Bishop Kicanas said:

At no time while McCormack was a seminarian at Mundelein did I receive any allegation of pedophilia or child molestation against him.

The bishop did admit that he had received reports of McCormack’s involvement in homosexual activities, but an inquiry concluded with the judgment that these episodes were “experimental and developmental,” and would not affect McCormack’s ability to live a celibate life.

Bishop Kicanas said that his words had been taken out of context in a November 2007 Chicago Sun-Times story about McCormack, in which the bishop had been quoted as saying: “It would have been grossly unfair not to have ordained him.” He insisted: “I would never defend endorsing McCormack’s ordination if I had had any knowledge or concern that he might be a danger to anyone, and I had no such knowledge or concern.”


Anonymous said...

The Bishop's clarifying statement does not help his position. It appears to this layman that the leadership did not understand the various sicknesses that possessed the young men and women that were candidates. In an effort to apply faith and good will to people who were both sick and desiring help, they unwittingly understated the strength of the sickness.

The Bishop, in defending himself, still misses the point of the sex abuse crisis: that it was allowed to continue for so long and was actually aided by the various Bishop's actions. We already know that he deduced the position that these people posed no threat and we now know that position was in error. More to the point it is difficult for the laity to understand how the Bishops came to the conclusion that is it was more important to retain clergy who sexually abuse parishioners than to prevent it from happening again.


Gene said...

When you try to rationalize aberrant behavior or an aberrant lifestyle, even if the behavior is only in prospect, you are asking for trouble. "Yes, I know it is a rattlesnake, but it is really quiet and it hasn't bitten anyone yet..."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

RCG, you hit the nail on the head. Prior to our "social awareness" of the phenomenon of abuse that has only really developed in the Church in a broad fashion since the scandal erupted in our country in 2002, I think many bishops and others in authority bought into the secular message concerning homosexuality and it being on an equal plane with heterosexuality. This of course has now led to the establishment of same sex marriage, etc. To secularists, the description that homosexuality is a "disordered" condition that one may well be born with, is anathema. Yet, since the 1980's the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith has called the homosexual orientation "disordered" in the sense that it is not on an equal footing with heterosexuality. This was being blurred in the seminary and religious life of the 1970's, '80's and 90's.
In fact, many bishops simply thought that a priest or a seminarian acting out sexually, whether in a homosexual way or heterosexual way, were doing so out of temptation and sin, not a "disorder." If drinking was involved, then the drinking must have been the "tempter" not the disordered behavior. Now keep in mind in the Catholic Church scandal abuse of teenagers has primarily been with males whose body looks like an adult. In fact the males in some cases could have been sexually active to begin with. I think many bishops simply saw a seminarian or priest acting out with someone who was a teenager as being consensual and not abusive. While there may have been some consent from the partner, what we do know now is that there was unequal authority, not only in age, but in what the priest or seminarian represented--God. So the victim may have been seduced into thinking this was okay by the unequal nature of the relationship and the authority that the priest or seminarian had as God's representative. That's why clerical abuse is so despicable because the cleric represents God and His Church to the one being abused. Bishop Kicanas defense of his actions falls terribly short. Once again I say that you can see from his perspective how bishops all over the world dealt with disordered behavior and how we are in the place we are with a scandal that has wounded the Church for which we'll need a full generation to overcome if only the bishops follow what Pope Benedict has laid out. Subsidiarity is important in our Church and if the local Church doesn't do what is needed, then the whole suffers, but it has to happen in the local diocese. The pope can't supervise or micro manage every bishop in the world. But I think some bishops depending on the nature of the scandal in their diocese should be laicizied in terms of guilt and the disgrace they have brought to Catholics throughout the world. Just my opinion.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I would like to add that while homosexuality has been the primary nature of abuse in the Catholic priesthood that abusers of teenagers are not just homosexuals. In Protestant Churches it is primarily girls that are molested or abused, not males by their clergy. For some reason, I society seems to find more abhorant the abuse of boys by men rather than girls by men. The disorder is in the immaturity of the act of abuse on the part of the one abusing, but it is out of a heterosexual or homosexual inclination. What many in the Catholic Church who go ballistic when the fact that in our priesthood, the nature of the abuse is homosexual primarily (although not exclusively) is that they bury their head in the sand and do not realize that we've been to liberal in allowing homosexual candidates to proceed to ordination, like the example of Fr. McCormack in Chicago whose "disorder" is simply described as developmental and alcohol related.
The other issue is true pedophilia which must be distinguished from the abuse of teenagers. Most pedophiles are heterosexual men. It's the smoothness of the small body that approximates in many ways the female body that excites the disorder of this heterosexual. It is a pathology and not on the same footing as a man who abuses a teenager whether male or female. But the effects on the teenager are still traumatic. The focus should be on the abused and helping them rather than making excuses for the abuser and trying to save him for ministry later on.
In the Catholic priesthood too, many parents at one time allowed unlimited access of their teenage boys to priests, but no parent in their right mind would have allowed the same access to their teenage daughters. The priests who abused took advantage of this naive trust of parents of priests to whom they entrusted their teenage boys. But they weren't naive about doing so with their teenage girls.

Henry said...

"what we do know now is that there was unequal authority, not only in age, but in what the priest or seminarian represented--God."

Surely, father, nothing along these lines is known now that wasn't even more obvious before, when the sense of equality was even greater, with priests virtually idolized by typical Catholics.

It's just terrible to hear bishops cover-up actions in the past explained by saying that they didn't know as much about this sin and its effects as they do now.

What they know now that they didn't know then is simply that they can't get away with it. Thank God.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry good point, but I do think we know more now about the effects of this type of abuse on the abused. I think in the past, even in families, people thought it would be easy to get over and that there wouldn't be any long term effects. The power angle, in terms of the abuser representing God and the Church magnifies the trauma of abuse (killing the soul). I'm not sure anyone thought of it in that way until relatively recently. But what I think is even more insidious in terms of our Catholic faith is that no bishop ever seems to what to use the term "mortal sin" and the "fires of hell" when describing what took place. They prefer psychology and psychological terms. I think we priests and bishops should not play psychologist and just call it for what it is a damnable mortal sin!

Anonymous said...

Father, may I just add something a little something. I was not a victim of sexual abuse by a priest, my abuser was a family member. It took so much for me to remain in the Church when the news first hit, it was as if it was all happening again. I knew the shame and horror and pain that the abused felt, unless you have ever been that child you can't even begin to understand how just a tiny piece of your humanity gets snuffed out.

I guess that I am just your average joe, but if the Bishop could only understand how this is causing hurts all over again. Other than being a PR disaster for the Church, it is causing wounds to be ripped open and healing to be set back. Trust is going to be lost, is being lost.

Someone told me the other day that it was a grave sin for me to not be charitable and forgive, but I have to say that any forgiveness for the crimes inflicted on the abused is going to have to come from God. At least for me. For most of us, we are still in the everyday dealing with the aftermath, and I can't tell you how hurtful it is that a Bishop just does not get it.

Hurtful doesn't even come close. I love Christ, I love my Church, but it is very hard. Just very very hard, and stuff like this just makes it harder. If this has caused my memories of the abuse to be at the forefront of my thoughts and spend the last night in turmoil I cannot imagine what it was like for the victims of abuse by priests.Please pray for them.

I mean no disrespect, so if anyone is offended by anything I have written I am sorry.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I appreciate your input and your perspective. I think it is hard for many people to understand what a child who was sexually abused feels as an adult and sometimes these feelings are magnified much later in life. The focus should be on the victims and their healing and finding ways to help the Church in particular and society in general to protect the young from such predation.

Gene said...

Fr, with regard to your very astute comments on the penchant for psychological language: The best scene in the movie, "The Exorcist," was when the conflicted Priest (Fr. Damien, I think), a psychiatrist, was explaining to the old Priest his account of the girl's possession. He began, "So far, there have been manifested four personalities..." The old Priest interrupted passionately by saying, "There is only one!"

For all the "Catholic kitsch" in the movie, that was a great line.

Bill said...

I think that if Bp. Kicanas is elected, it will be a major setback for the Church with respect to the scandal. And while it may be argued that to hold this against the Bp. is unfair, his attempted clarification, as already noted, does nothing to improve his position.

The Church has, as shown in the John Jay study, acted to substantially reduce the incidence of the problem. That's wonderful, but if the Church does not appear to take the matter seriously, then we all suffer. It is the appearance of impropriety which the election of Bp. Kicanas would represent.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Bill, agreed!

Anonymous said...

For some time, after the Crisis broke, I contemplated this situation for some time as part of my meditation and prayer. On that path was an examination of forgiveness, what it actually is, and how it would be used to help me, and possibly the Church, with this issue.

It might derail this thread so I ask that Father may lead that conversation in another entry.