Was Percy ever involved in the debate on molestations by Catholic priests?

Steve Dye sldye at bluegrass.org
Tue May 7 14:46:55 EDT 2002

My own feeling about percy's reaction to the scandal is that, even though he
was a great "realist" and "stoic", I think he would have been absolutely
appalled at the scandal, the scope of it - and its effect on the Church. I
also think he would have "counseled" - poor choice of words, maybe - GRACE
and forgiveness....of course along with making priests accountable.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Wade Riddick" <riddick at mail.la.utexas.edu>
To: "Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion"
<percy-l at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Saturday, May 04, 2002 11:21 PM
Subject: [percy-l] Was Percy ever involved in the debate on molestations by
Catholic priests?

> My father tells me about twenty years ago, he remembers that a pair of
> lawyers representing the Catholic Church in an Abbeville sexual abuse suit
> made an interesting statement to the press.  Dad thinks the case was the
> first of its kind which started the ball rolling into today's crisis.  The
> two lawyers encouraged the church to adopt a more aggressive policy
> molesters and predicted that if it didn't then it would mushroom into a
> billion dollar problem.
> Today that estimate looks unrealistically low.  My father and I think once
> the Catholic Church actually starts selling its properties, this could
> a globally depressing effect on real estate prices.  (Yeah, I know.  You
> guys think I'm nuts.  After all, the suggestion that people who work in
> skyscrapers ought to buy parachutes is nutty... except that's exactly what
> they ran out and did after 9/11.)
> I'm curious as to what light Percy's friends might shed on his role in any
> internal church debates at the time, given that it happened in our
> I'm also curious about the reaction of Catholics on this list to the way
> the church scandal has recently blossomed.  While it's true that molesters
> gravitate to any profession that involves children, there appear to be a
> unique combination of infelicitous circumstances which have come together
> in the Catholic hierarchy.
> 1)  The hierarchy looks unresponsive on the scale of the 24 hour news
> cycle.  I'll skip remarks I've made before on the modern media machine.
> Appearing unfriendly is the only capital sin.  (For a list of other sins,
> you can visit www.mediawhoresonline.com).
> 2)  While school administrators often transfer suspected molesters with
> glowing recommendations just to get rid of them, schools are mostly
> controlled and there isn't a global hierarchy that links them together.
> Schools act this way precisely because they're not closely linked
> In the case of the Catholic church, the tendency to bury the problem
> coupled with a global and quite rigid chain of command has got people
> understandably wondering if there's some sort of conspiracy at work in the
> church.
> 3)  The Catholic Church in particular has a recruitment crisis of epidemic
> proportions.  Parishioners are right to ask if celibacy requirements are
> unnecessarily narrowing the pool of candidates for the priesthood -
> although wrong to suggest "straight" family men are less capable of
> molestation.  Recruitment problems pressure administrators to retain even
> suspect priests on staff.  I remember a graph in Canada showing that most
> nuns were older than 50 and only one nun was in her twenties (I don't
> she was native, either).  By muddying the issue with homosexuality and
> claiming that priests are really happy with celibacy (conveniently leaving
> out of all statistical surveys those men AND WOMEN who wanted to be
> but never applied) this adds to the view that the Catholic Church is
> deliberately avoiding the real issue by trying to apply a layer of Norman
> Rockwell paint to the problem.
> It's not my church.  It's not my flavor of the faith and I really have no
> particular dog in this fight.  I suppose I see churches everywhere being
> adversely affected by falling membership, so I don't expect answers to
> these particular problems in the Catholic Church to shed light on this.  I
> wish I knew what button to press to turn it around.
> I also wish I knew what causes child molestation.  I suspect it's partly
> chemical/genetic, partly moral choice and partly bad upbringing (e.g.,
> prior abuse).  Because of the stigma, it doesn't look like we're going to
> apply much money understanding and preventing it.  Maybe if it was covered
> by HMOs...
> People like to think that pills can't cure your problems.  They can sure
> hell help.  If you never get the opportunity to make a moral choice, how
> can you?  There's pretty good scientific evidence indicating that
> everything from the increase in our sugar intake to the decline in Omega-3
> oils in our diet has indeed been affecting our cognition.  This is
> something I can speak about from personal experience.  How much it affects
> others out there is anybody's guess.
> I have no doubt that molesters have committed a horrendous crime of
> terrible proportions and deserve isolation from society in a prison cell.
> Wouldn't it be nice, though, if we knew in advance who the alcoholics were
> before we started setting up the drinks?
> I applaud this current Pope for his rapprochement with Jews and for
> tackling a number of other tough issues in the Catholic past.  The
> current approach on molestation, however, is abysmal.
> Finally, could we please turn off the HTML?  Parsing the code by hand
> my eyes and since it's a security hole I'm never going to turn it on in my
> email reader.
> Wade Riddick
> --
> An archive of all list discussion is available at
> Visit the Walker Percy Project at <http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy>.

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