Pharyngula

Priests and their evil ways

It’s odd, but several of the major sex abuse cases involving the Catholic church involve deaf kids. I didn’t understand why, until I heard this song. And now I have to get some q-tips and sulfuric acid and scrub out my ears.

For a not-quite-so entertaining story, read this account of Father Oliver O’Grady, a despicable monster who committed all kinds of depravities.

O’Grady has admitted abusing many children of various ages, boys and girls, and said he slept with two mothers to get access to their children. He was convicted of child sexual abuse in 1993 and spent seven years in prison.

Now here’s where the Catholic church simply doesn’t get it. The few priests who didn’t like this fellow, who wanted to get rid of him, are making excuses for their inaction even after his criminal conviction. It was too hard to defrock a priest, they say, it took a long time and lots of paperwork, and there was no guarantee the process would even come to a successful conclusion, which says to me that there are some serious problems of the institution of the church, and that maybe they should be working on fixing it so the kind of moral turpitude involved in molesting five year old girls would be sufficient grounds to swiftly eject someone from the priesthood. But no! Institutional change in the church is not a goal to which they aspire.

But still, they didn’t like having O’Grady around: he smelled bad to the press, and he probably spooked off some of the less gullible marks in the pews. They had to get rid of him, but simply finding him morally unfit does not get you out of the priesthood. So what to do?

They bought him off. They got him to voluntarily leave the priesthood for the price of a monthly annuity for his retirement. It wasn’t a lot — $788 a month — but there’s a principle involved. Father O’Grady raped small children for 17 years, was convicted of his crimes by a secular court, but the Catholic Church is paying him money. And they don’t see the problem with that.

“Yes, he did a terrible thing,” Doerr [associate director of the office of Child and Youth Protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] said, but a bishop has a responsibility to take care of priests in any case — he can’t just kick them to the curb.

I guess the Bishop didn’t see his responsibilities to the innocent church-goers of O’Grady’s diocese as very important; they can be kicked to the curb. Once a priest, always a priest, though, and no heinous crime against children is sufficient to warrant stopping the payment of hush money.