Minnesota has just added two more names to a growing list of Catholic priests who have been found as credibly accused of sexually irresponsible behavior. Early in December the list was announced to have 34 names. Today they added the Rev. Joseph Gallatin and the Rev. Mark Wehmann to the list. These priests will be taking a leave of absence, according to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis referring to the two names just added to their list.
In an attempt to be responsive and dutiful, a third-party consulting firm was hired to make evaluations. In this investigation the Minnesota firm, Kinsale Management Consulting, has sustained allegations of sexual misconduct among priests going back decades. This activity is a response to allegations that the Archdiocese has been slow to act once misconduct has been uncovered.
It is all part of a never-ending series of sexual misconduct allegations, most of which involve adolescents and young teens, that has begun to seem like the veritable unraveling of the Catholic clergy as an institution in western culture.
Moreover, it’s not as though we have had a questionable, small body of evidence surfacing after much investigation. Rather, it is as if there is no end to the rampant child sexual abuse, pedophilia, and disturbingly unethical behavior we keep hearing about on the part of priests.
The Catholic church hierarchy has always maintained that media coverage of these issues among priests is excessive, unbalanced and disproportionate. However, they have not been able to indicate what proper, balanced and proportional reporting of priest pedophilia scandals would look like. Nevertheless, the Archdiocese in many parishes throughout Minnesota are attempting to name names and clean up the ranks. These latest two cases simply confirm there is no dearth of pedophilia and related violations among Catholic priests in Minnesota, or apparently anywhere there is a Catholic church.
This has become a center-stage issue in the 21st century. Court cases from the U.S. to Ireland, and Europe have appeared on a seemingly endless basis. The issue was allegedly covered up before, and supposedly now it has seen the light of day. However, there is one question that is begging to be asked. Namely, how much deeper is this going to go, and how much longer are people going to put up with it?
The issue bubbled up in the last half of the 20th century. It took center stage throughout the first decade of the 21st century. Now, nearly halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, there is still no end in sight. The Catholic church is even getting denied by insurance companies who do not want to carry them for liability insurance. It’s that bad.
What else do we need? It seems like enough ought to be enough. Everybody has a limit, a person can only take so much. Why is it that some of the people we should be able to trust the most with our children, our spiritual leaders, are letting us down? Catholic clergy have ceaselessly and repeatedly been shown to be engaging in behavior that is more than a pattern, more than a theme, it constitutes a veritable phenomenon of institutionalized human behavior.
One cannot even begin to name another notable social institution in any western society that is replete with pedophiliacs among the ranks, as is so obviously the case with the Catholic clergy. Furthermore, this kind of rampant sexual misconduct would simply not be tolerated among any other social institution. Why do the Catholic clergy continue to receive a get-out-of-jail-free-card on this issue year after year, decade after decade?
This is not to imply that no one has been punished. It’s the other way around. The Catholic clergy has not stopped being punished and shows no end in sight when it comes to being found guilty and punished for targeting young teens with sexually deviant behavior.
Would we let firefighters get away with it? Would we say, ‘Let’s forgive all of them’?
Would we let police or school teachers get away with it? If we found there was not just a wave, but a veritable tsunami of pedophiliac activity among these professionals, would we look the other way, too?
For some dark and mysterious reason, there is this tendency to protect the abuser. It’s the only reason people get away with abuse in the first place.
Q: When a person decides not to tolerate sexually abusive behavior in their life from anyone in their life, what happens?
A: That person becomes rid of sexually abusive behavior in their life.
As a society, there is nothing to wait for, and nothing to hope for, when it comes to the Catholic priests and their legendary history of pedophilia. It’s not a matter of timing, and it’s not a matter of patience. As a society, all that is required is for people to refuse to tolerate it anymore, ever again.
Editorial By Alex Durig, Ph.D.