Crossing the boundaries

Crossing the boundaries

Diogenes reports today that Fr. Donald Turlick, the priest-psychologist connected to Paul Nolin, the alleged murderer of Jonathan Wessner on Cape Cod in September, allegedly had a homosexual relationship with the convicted child molester while he was in prison and under Turlick’s care. This isn’t news. We already knew that Turlick had allowed Nolin to move into his home after he recommended his release from a sex offender treatment center.

For those keeping score, we are now told that both priests involved in the case allegedly had sexual relationships with the man charged with murder, and who had already been convicted of molesting a child.

Diogenes asks the obvious question: Why didn’t those working with Turlick in the treatment center report the obvious conflict of interest and violation of rules?

Remember to keep telling yourself, “Homosexuality isn’t the problem. It is not a deviant lifestyle. The priesthood is not affected.”

  • David, I know we have disagreed on this before and we will probably continue to disagree on this. I respect you and your viewpoint, but it is my firm belief that homosexuality itself, or same-sex attraction, is disordered. It is a condition of being in an occasion of sin, or tempted to sin, that the person so afflicted must work against.

    Let me be clear: I am with the Church in saying that homosexual temptations themselves are not sinful. But I do believe that one who is tempted must work to fight those temptations, just as someone afflicted with an addiction to alcohol or even heterosexual sex needs to fight the temptation.

    I don’t think one should try to “live with” SSA, but should instead seek to be healed of it. That’s my opinion, not the Church’s authoritative teaching, so you can take it for what it’s worth.

  • I disagree with the contention that it can’t be cured. But even if it can’t be, it is no different than the alcoholic who can’t be cured of his addiction but must fight against it every day. He doesn’t embrace his alcoholism or claim that it has no bearing on how he conducts his life.

    To claim that SSA has no bearing on the Scandal is like saying that alcoholism has no bearing on drunk driving statistics. Not everyone with SSA molests someone else, just like not every alcoholic drives drunk. And not ever drunk driver is an alcoholic, just like not everyone who molests another has SSA.

    But one aspect of the fight against drinking and driving is the recognition that alcoholism plays a major role.

    David, I’m not condemning people who fight SSA—I’ve had friends who fought it—but neither do I excuse it.  It is a disorder, a mental disease, and I see it that way.

    I am no less a sinner than anyone else and condemn no one for their struggles. I would hope not to be condemned for the temptations to sin that I live with. I certainly agree that someone fighting SSA has a chance to become a saint, just as someone fighting any other kind of temptation does.

    I think there’s also a tendency for you to assume that when I write “homosexuality” that I mean everyone with SSA, including those who are fighting it. I don’t. When I say homosexuality, I mean those who don’t. Just like if I were to write about alcoholics, you couldn’t assume I meant those who are sober and in AA. Don’t go looking for offense where none is given.

  • Good questions, Colleen. It was because Turlick has been on leave of absence from his diocese since 1970! Here I was thinking we had a shortage of priests. And the diocese told me that Turlick is still in good standing.

    Turlick was released from his obligations to the diocese to go study psychology and get his degree and then go work as a psychologist, first in institutions and then in private practice. Why didn’t he just leave the priesthood? Why keep the collar?