A disturbing report about a late bishop from Washington state and a 16-year-old police report of an incident that appears to have been hushed. The bishop was apparently accused of choking a male prostitute while they having sex and almost killing him. The police investigating the claim were told by high officials to drop the case. During the investigation, before it was dropped, the bishop admitted to most of the relevant facts, except for the amount of violence against the victim.
Archbishop Hunthausen of Seattle, when contacted by the police, had promised counseling and that the bishop was sorry for what he had done, but the policeman’s gut instinct was the nothing would come of it.
But the best/worst quote of the whole article comes from the bishop’s successor, Bishop William Skylstad:
- Bishop William Skylstad, who on Wednesday publicly named six priests accused of decades-old child sexual abuse, commented on his predecessor’s behavior. “Obviously, he had a very serious drinking problem,” Skylstad said. “Certainly, it’s very sad behavior associated with that drinking. That would be my observation.”
The article doesn’t mention alcohol being part of the incident although it likely was. But for Skylstad, the sodomy and violence was secondary to the drinking problem. It’s as if the assumption is that when a man lowers his inhibitions with alochol it’s only natural that he turns to sodomy and violence.
We heard something like this from Bishop Lynch of Palm Beach, Florida (himself now resigned after a sex scandal) in 1998 after his predecessor Bishop Symons had to resign after disclosures of sexual misconduct. “We almost have a hang-up with sex,” Lynch said. “We expect people to live up to such a high ideal of sexual conduct and we don’t allow any failure.” As if the natural temptation of sex was molesting a 13-year-old boy. That sodomizing a boy is only an indiscretion and not worthy of forcing a resignation. It sounds like the Clinton defense.
There is a cancer in the ranks of the US bishops. How big is it? We don’t know, but it’s not small to judge by the events of the past 10 months. The question is how to remove it and how quickly before it kills the Church in America.