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  Priests...A Tough Spot to Be In
by J. Grant Swank, Pastor
20 October 2002

Where is the middle ground between protecting children from priests who are child molestors, and keeping false accusations from running out of control?

So the Vatican has spoken. And will continue to speak. And the
interpretations will fly from right to left.

Reality check: a high percentage of priests are homosexuals. Priests
themselves admit that.

Reality check: too many priests who have molested and received treatment go
on to molest.

Reality check: higher ups in the system have knowingly protected priests
who have molested, protecting the system more than truth and the children.

Reality check: molesters in secular employment lose their jobs and go to
jail.

Reality check: realizing all the above, there are malcontents in every
congregation who would give their eyeteeth to crucify a non-molesting
priest. Therefore, there are those mean folk in pews who would accuse a
non-molesting priest of molesting.

Consequently, there is a lot of complication at the point of dealing with
undercutting laity who act out a lie by ousting an innocent priest.

The same occurs to clergy, Catholic and non-Catholic, worldwide on a
variety of issues.

Some parishioners don’t like something about the cleric. They go to the
higher ups and complain. The higher ups are politically
anti-the-local-cleric. The higher ups bond with the lay complainers and see
to it that the local cleric loses his job, salary, health coverage, housing
and senses.

I know. I have been counseling the above clerics through
WoundedShepherds.com. I over 40+ years have prayed and cried with such
friends in my home.

So. . .the churchly pond can get quite murky.

I have been one who has written far and wide pro-children articles in this
priest molestation mess. I believe the Roman Catholic Church has been far
afield when it comes to genuinely caring for the children; they have cared
more for image, system, politics, money in the plate and property than they
have cared for the flock.

That in itself is a gross sin and answerable to God at the judgment; it
should also be answerable to secular courts in the here and now.

But with all that said, there is still this sticky problem focusing on mean
parishioners who despise the local cleric for unsound reasons and thereby
see that he is ousted on trumped up charges.

God help us find the middle ground on this one—without compromising either
on the side of the children or on the side of innocent priests.

Email J. Grant Swank

BIO

Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., Pastor, New Hope Church, Windham ME

Graduate of accredited college (BA) and seminary (M Div) with graduate work at Harvard Divinity School.

Married for 41 years with 3 adult children.

Author of 5 books and over 2000 articles in various Protestant and Catholic
magazines, journals and newspapers. Writer of weekly religion column for
PORTLAND PRESS HERALD newspaper, Portland ME.

Hobbies: Traveling to So American, Europe, Middle East, Canada; writing;
watercolor painting; meeting new friends.

Current occupations: Pastor; Teacher at Alternative Learning School for
at-risk youths.

Pastorates: Calgary, Alberta; Indianapolis IN; Akron OH; Fishkill NY;
Manchester CT; Walpole MA; Windham ME.

Winner of First Prize Writing Contest which yielded a three-week guided tour
of the Middle East.