Last week, I mentioned an apparent case of blackmail against a priest by a strange couple. Now, a local newspaper provides a little more background on the story. These two people, who it looks like belong to a schismatic sect, allegedly met the priest online, the guy posed as a priest, eventually took the conversation into sexual matters, and then threatened to expose the real priest if he didn’t turn over some money.
It goes to show the danger you can put yourself in. Talking to someone online is not the same as knowing them in person, but the impersonality can lead to detachment and complacency and you say things you ought not to. Of course, that you’re harboring such things in the first place is a problem, too, but in that case they can be dealt with in spiritual direction privately. But once you put it online, it becomes potentially public.
By the way, how much of the Scandal is directly the result of blackmail? How many bishops were extorted into silence because of their own misdeeds? I don’t have any evidence, but my sense is that the number is not zero.