Friday, February 17, 2006

Standards and the priesthood

Commenting on my post, Robinson acknowledges alcoholism, enters rehab Scott of Hybla says
So the 'first openly gay' bishop is held to a different standard than your run-of-the-mill straight bishop? Either way, I can appreciate the Bishop's recent disclosure as encouragement to the alcoholics among us, gay or straight.
He's right of course. Fear of the consequences of disclosure compounds the problem of alcoholism in the priesthood. It also causes those of us know priests with vices - whether we are their bishop and their friends - to participate in a conspiracy of silence. I might understand the fear of disclosure (but not the lack of guts to do so anyway; see next para) in the case of a pedophile or a womanizer. But I truly believe that when it comes to alcohol or drug abuse we in the pews are more than happy to support rehab and a full return to the work of an ordained member of the church.* If Bishop Robinson suffers any consequences due to his revelation it won't be because he disclosed, but because there is at least the appearance of playing games with the timing of the disclosure.

And where does that silence lead? It leads to bishops shipping problem priests off to defenseless Native American congregations. Or to the priest being told to go find a congregation in another diocese - where the cycle of womanizing or whatever it may be continues. Even the alcoholic is a victim - most of us know of priests and bishops who would have been a lot better off if someone had blown the whistle. When will it all stop? When someone has the guts to speak out.

Bishop Robinson's closest supporters knew of his problems. But it was inconvenient to point them out when the only end was to bust down the barrier to openly gay priests serving as bishops. It was all strategic. They knew that once there was an openly gay bishop those of us who preferred a more deliberate approach would have no moral alternative but to support Robinson. It's pretty sick manipulation when you think about it.

*On this point, the treatment of the story at Titus One Nine may be an example - report, no commentary and comments were not open. Of course it could be a reflection of the notion that when the other side is self destructing your side gains most by not piling on.

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