The Zero-Sum Clergy Abuse Game

I feel like I spend all of my time talking and writing about clerical abuse. This weekend, I met with a group for three hours to discuss the recent paper published by the Ruth Institute on homosexuality and clerical abuse of minors, after which I concluded that every Catholic should have a working knowledge of statistics (and perhaps this should be a seminary requirement). Continue reading “The Zero-Sum Clergy Abuse Game”


Writing and Disfigurement

Let’s be very clear. My writing grew up under intense insecurity. I grew into a writer in no small part because I have had a very strong fear of rejection, a need to have others on my side and to receive approval. My writing didn’t flourish simply under the spark of virtue; its development was nourished by the vice of pride and its attendant, fear. And there are the fears you learn as a writer, as you see the things that come from writing.

Every writer struggles with the weight of unspeakable things, and most of all their unspeakable selves. Continue reading “Writing and Disfigurement”

A Doctrine that Bends and Sways

This beauty doth all things excel,

By faith I know, but ne’er can tell

The glory which I now can see

In Jesus Christ the apple tree.


I am not a cruise person. You’re stuck in the middle of the ocean with no churches, no wifi, only one suitcase’s worth of books, and the select group of people of whom you’ll surely be sick by day three. But somehow I ended up on the Diamond Princess with my family that summer, the summer after I got kicked out of my dorm (a story for another time).

As part of our Alaskan cruise, we stopped along the shore of a small town. And a little ways away from that town, I ended up in a tree.

Not a little tree. Continue reading “A Doctrine that Bends and Sways”

Fatherless in a Church of Fathers

“So, something that you should know about me… is that I’m gay… or same-sex-attracted, ummm, whatever you want to call it…”

Father looked at me. We’d been chatting for about twenty minutes in the coffee shop, as a follow-up to my request to explore possibly doing spiritual direction together. He said, “You don’t need to share that with people as soon as you meet them. Continue reading “Fatherless in a Church of Fathers”

You won’t find it here

It always comes back to that Richard Sipe study for me, the one where the (recently deceased) ex-priest surveyed the sexual lives of American clergy. He found that the vast majority of priests weren’t so great at the celibacy thing. He found this in a world where clericalism was in full swing, where Catholics looked up to and admired their priests simply for being priests, and assumed they were all good at it. This wasn’t actually the case.

But some did live full lives in accordance with their vows, and even happily. According to Sipe, the ones who had achieved a “mature adjustment to celibacyContinue reading “You won’t find it here”

The woman under the bus: sexual violence and legal liability

“The way that we predict other people’s behaviors, most of the times, is that we ask ourselves, ‘Well, what would I do? What have I done?’ And then we project that onto other people.” -Adam Grant

“I decided to report.” I didn’t know she’d been thinking about it, but I think the recent news emboldened her. She’d been sexually abused on multiple occasions as a child. I don’t know her chances of legal success. She probably has about as much evidence as Dr. Ford. But she doesn’t want to get blamed for the passage of time, and she doesn’t want to be silent either.

As a legal matter, sexual violence is an incredibly complex issue. The law can’t accommodate for perfect justice. Continue reading “The woman under the bus: sexual violence and legal liability”

Can we drink this cup? Nouwen and the abuse crisis

In his brief text by that title, Henri Nouwen asks: “Can you drink the cup?” He reflects on Matthew 20:20-23, where Jesus speaks with the mother of Zebedee’s sons and then asks them, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” They reply, “We can.” And Jesus responds:

“Very well; you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.”

Nouwen reflects on the question posed by Christ, exploring what this cup consists of, and how to drink of it. He writes that this cup is the cup of life, and the cup brought before each Catholic in communion. Continue reading “Can we drink this cup? Nouwen and the abuse crisis”

A Gay Catholic Apologist in the Scandal

I feel like I’ve been in a relationship with a controlling spouse. He’s criticized every little thing I do and say, especially around others I might find attractive, and I just discovered that he’s been cheating on me. His family and friends all knew this was happening, even while they encouraged his control over my life. I feel like I’ve been in an emotionally and spiritually abusive relationship with a cheating husband. That’s what the clergy abuse crisis means to me as a gay Catholic.

But I don’t just see duplicity among the clergy who have abused and protected abusers. I also see it in many lay responses.

When considering clergy who have been caught in the recent scandals, Continue reading “A Gay Catholic Apologist in the Scandal”