Making the victim a suspect

Making the victim a suspect

A Seattle priest dropped a bombshell on his parishioners last weekend. He informed his parish that he had been abused by a priest as a child, which is shocking enough, but he also said that he is leaving the priesthood rather than be forced to undergo an intrusive psychological evaluation ordered by the archdiocese.

Excuse me, but what exactly did Father Lawrence Minder do wrong? Well, nothing. But by coming forward with his accusation, he has made the jittery legal-types and head-shrinkers at the archdiocese say to themselves that since most current abusers were themselves abused as children, then Fr. Minder must be a potential abuser, too. I’m sorry, but as logical as that may sound, it’s also lacking in compassion or Christian charity. The fact is that it’s not automatic. On that pretense, since just about any adult could have been abused as a child, they could all be potential abusers and should have intrusive psychological exams performed on them too.

There’s a bit too much of the reflexive CYA mentality involved here. It seems to me that Fr. Minder’s good isn’t the first priority here, but that of certain Seattle archdiocese officials. So once again the victim of abuse is abused again and made to be the bad guy, and the priest-victim is guilty until proven innocent. Is that any way to treat a priest?

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
18 comments
  • No, it is not the correct way to treat a priest. 

    Something tells me there is more to this story than what appears on the surface.  I think Minder could refuse to submit to the testing and he would have a case under canon law if they tried to remove him.  Instead he resigns and makes a big deal about it.

  • Whoaaa!  There IS more to the story.  Read the Seattle Times reporting at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002022029_priest01m.html
    “According to parishioners who attended Saturday evening or Sunday morning Mass, Minder said he had been   ually molested when he was a teenager. He also said Brunett had asked him to undergo a psychological assessment, results of which would be available to the archbishop. Minder objected, saying he would resign, parishioners said.

    According to court records, Minder was arrested in 1999 for drunken driving and paid a $1,115 fine. Magnoni said the archbishop had talked with Minder as late as last week about undergoing a psychological assessment over his alcohol use.

    At one point Minder had apparently agreed to the assessment, Magnoni said, and church officials were not expecting his public objections to it. “

    It appears the psychological evaluation was about his drinking problem.

  • That does make some difference. The original story said the archdiocese refused to say why they asked for the assessment. If there is a prior behavioral problem, especially one resulting in legal problems, then there is justification. Still, there are other priests being subjected to intrusive tactics based on nothing other than the fact that they are priests.

  • Well big deal – what’s the problem? He was asked to do something by his bishop and he would rather LEAVE the priesthood than obey? Sounds weird to me.

  • Imagine your boss walks into your office, puts a cup down on your desk, and tells you to pee in it. Then he says that you already have an appointment in the morning with a shrink who will pass his report on to your boss when he’s done. By the way, you haven’t violated any company policies or regulations.

    The first thing you should do is get on the phone with a labor lawyer because you’re about to earn a very large settlement. And if such things are unacceptable in the the business world, they shouldn’t be acceptable in the Church.

    The duty of a priest to obey his bishop does not mean that the priest gives up his rights, those enshrined in either civil or canon law.

    Now, in this case, the priest had apparently done something wrong, i.e. being arrested for drunk driving, although I wonder why they waited five years to seek a psychological assessment. But the reality is that priests in some dioceses are being subjected to intrusive treatment and being treated as guilty until proven innocent, even when no accusations have been made against them.

    That’s not healthy for the Church in the long or short term.

  • Imagine your boss walks into your office, puts a cup down on your desk, and tells you to pee in it. Then he says that you already have an appointment in the morning with a shrink who will pass his report on to your boss when he’s done. By the way, you haven’t violated any company policies or regulations.

    The first thing you should do is get on the phone with a labor lawyer because you’re about to earn a very large settlement. And if such things are unacceptable in the the business world, they shouldn’t be acceptable in the Church.

    The duty of a priest to obey his bishop does not mean that the priest gives up his rights, those enshrined in either civil or canon law.

    Now, in this case, the priest had apparently done something wrong, i.e. being arrested for drunk driving, although I wonder why they waited five years to seek a psychological assessment. But the reality is that priests in some dioceses are being subjected to intrusive treatment and being treated as guilty until proven innocent, even when no accusations have been made against them.

    That’s not healthy for the Church in the long or short term.

  • I don’t think there is a valid comparison here. I can quit my job and look for another because after all – it’s just a JOB. AND I can take that boss to court if I so desire. We are talking about the vocation of being a priest for God’s sake. Please don’t think that I think our poor overworked much maligned priests deserve to be harassed anymore than necessary to weed out the baddies. But let’s face – we have a problem here – a big one that’s not going away anytime soon. A priest who would leave the priesthood because of something like this is like a parent abandoning his child for a similar reason.

  • I don’t think there is a valid comparison here. I can quit my job and look for another because after all – it’s just a JOB. AND I can take that boss to court if I so desire. We are talking about the vocation of being a priest for God’s sake. Please don’t think that I think our poor overworked much maligned priests deserve to be harassed anymore than necessary to weed out the baddies. But let’s face – we have a problem here – a big one that’s not going away anytime soon. A priest who would leave the priesthood because of something like this is like a parent abandoning his child for a similar reason.

  • Not necessarily, Nan.  There are certain things that a priest should not do, even if asked by his bishop.  I can think of several specific cases that were reported in the national media.

    And everyone has the right not to be forced into a psychologist’s office by their employer.  Especially a psychologist chosen by the employer.

  • Not necessarily, Nan.  There are certain things that a priest should not do, even if asked by his bishop.  I can think of several specific cases that were reported in the national media.

    And everyone has the right not to be forced into a psychologist’s office by their employer.  Especially a psychologist chosen by the employer.

  • Although Illi]]>
    dom@bettnet.com
    https://www.bettnet.com
    192.168.1.1
    2004-09-02 15:33:37
    2004-09-02 19:33:37
    It’s not the bishops’ conference uses it. The St. Luke Institute, to which many malefactors were sent then released with a clean bill of health, only to offend again, is known to have used the device.

  • Although Iomment_author_IP>
    2004-09-01 16:10:54
    2004-09-01 20:10:54
    Well big deal – what’s the problem? He was asked to do something by his bishop and he would rather LEAVE the priesthood than obey? Sounds weird to me.

  • ‘..the on and the two meds have been interacting. He said because of his abuse he is susceptible to misuse of pain killers, so had planned to take September to get those problems sorted out.
     
      Fr. Lawrence is much loved and deeply respected here. The media information is vague because for now any information at all about this issue is vague. So don’t jump on anything you hear for a while. Fr. Lawrence is a wonderful person and we hope he comes back to us, he has enormous support here. He’s one of the best priests I’ve ever known.
       
      The Archdiocese is sounding very cautious so far, saying we should pray for Fr.‘s healing and return to us. I heard their brief presentation at Mass last Sunday and hope they’re not going to make it sound like HE has the problem. We all do – it amounts to how the bishops are dealing with abuse cases, amongst other things. They are supportive of him, as well, and he has personal friends in the diocese offices.  The Archbishop was extremely supportive of Fr. Lawrence’s action in supplying a site for the homeless group, Tent City 4. The Archdiocese and parish stood firmly behind him all the way in the face of some of the town’s (Bothell) extreme narrow-mindedness, vitriolic at times, and the city council’s shameful attacks and bullying over Tent City.
       
      As far as the psychological testing goes, Fr. Lawrence has been in therapy for 20 years because of being abused. Seems a little redundant to me to put him through testing; but I can see where they’re going with that.  I would also object to being treated as the one at fault. He has degrees in counseling (and has worked as a counselor) and spiritual direction and knows, I’m sure, how tests can be manipulated. I have more faith in this diocese, though, but we shall see.
     
      This is a GOOD, good man, highly and unusually intelligent, incredible memory, writes deep, constructive sermons that are presented with a gentle but commanding manner. The congregation turns and watches him as he speaks, no drifting off into space. He brought a great sense of peacemaking to us, a very gentle and friendly presence. God is holding him in His hands, I have no doubt. He’s part of this purification the Church is undergoing and is already part of the new Church: one of right relationship where problems are handled appropriately (amongst other things). Please pray for him, his parish, and the cooperation of the diocese in this, I think there’s a possibility there. This is a great opportunity to make a link between the abused and someone inside the Church who was abused himself and is speaking out on behalf of the abused.

      He said in his announcement to us to not direct our anger (sadness, actually) over his resignation at himself or at the Archbishop but “at the abusers who robbed people of the ability to trust and be in good relation” with their priest.

     

  • I’m a member of Fr. Lawrence’s parish. He is NOT leaving the priesthood, he only resigned as pastor. I’ve been told the drunk driving episode is not true, I tend to believe that, knowing the source, but can’t verify that for you (and if true: one drunk driving ticket 5 years ago, with no repeats – I’d like more information on that one, what were the circumstances?). He takes meds for arthritis in his back and thyroid medication and the two meds have been interacting. He said because of his abuse he is susceptible to misuse of pain killers, so had planned to take September to get those problems sorted out.
     
      Fr. Lawrence is much loved and deeply respected here. The media information is vague because for now any information at all about this issue is vague. So don’t jump on anything you hear for a while. Fr. Lawrence is a wonderful person and we hope he comes back to us, he has enormous support here. He’s one of the best priests I’ve ever known.
       
      The Archdiocese is sounding very cautious so far, saying we should pray for Fr.‘s healing and return to us. I heard their brief presentation at Mass last Sunday and hope they’re not going to make it sound like HE has the problem. We all do – it amounts to how the bishops are dealing with abuse cases, amongst other things. They are supportive of him, as well, and he has personal friends in the diocese offices.  The Archbishop was extremely supportive of Fr. Lawrence’s action in supplying a site for the homeless group, Tent City 4. The Archdiocese and parish stood firmly behind him all the way in the face of some of the town’s (Bothell) extreme narrow-mindedness, vitriolic at times, and the city council’s shameful attacks and bullying over Tent City.
       
      As far as the psychological testing goes, Fr. Lawrence has been in therapy for 20 years because of being abused. Seems a little redundant to me to put him through testing; but I can see where they’re going with that.  I would also object to being treated as the one at fault. He has degrees in counseling (and has worked as a counselor) and spiritual direction and knows, I’m sure, how tests can be manipulated. I have more faith in this diocese, though, but we shall see.
     
      This is a GOOD, good man, highly and unusually intelligent, incredible memory, writes deep, constructive sermons that are presented with a gentle but commanding manner. The congregation turns and watches him as he speaks, no drifting off into space. He brought a great sense of peacemaking to us, a very gentle and friendly presence. God is holding him in His hands, I have no doubt. He’s part of this purification the Church is undergoing and is already part of the new Church: one of right relationship where problems are handled appropriately (amongst other things). Please pray for him, his parish, and the cooperation of the diocese in this, I think there’s a possibility there. This is a great opportunity to make a link between the abused and someone inside the Church who was abused himself and is speaking out on behalf of the abused.

      He said in his announcement to us to not direct our anger (sadness, actually) over his resignation at himself or at the Archbishop but “at the abusers who robbed people of the ability to trust and be in good relation” with their priest.

     

  • Sorry to break the news to you.  But your priest is as queer as a $3 bill.  There is a very good reason he has been so elusive and carefully worded while adamantly working to suppress all information and facts.  When they do come out, you will realize he was not “raped as a child” but consensually participated in a homosexual relationship from the age of 16 to 17 (Lawrence Minder was born 1-1-61) and Richard Scully served in the Diocese (originally as a priest in training starting in 1977 – you do the math).  That diocese’ own lay advisory chair is scratching his head over what Minder is now claiming, saying it doesn’t even line up with when and where the people allegedly involved were at.  Minder is an extremely brilliant, deceptive and manipulative man.  He is someone you want to do your own investigative work on.  He has shown an unbelievable ability to contort and manipulate the truth until it is barely recognizable.  He is not someone you want to follow blindly (as some have chosen to do).  Let he who has ears…. 

    I’ll save a copy so we can look back in a couple of years and say, “You were warned.” 

  • Yes, by a couple of years from now, or less, we probably will know what the truth is. It would be interesting to know what kind of trails this investigative work follows. Whatever the outcome, everyone involved needs prayers. There’s nothing better than that.

  • There is nothing more effective in the world than prayer.  The older I get, the more and more aware I become of its power.

    Prayer in particular for Father Minder for there is obviously a great deal of pain and conflict he is dealing with.

    I’m not sure I want to hear all the details.  They really are irrelevant to any of our lives.

    Truth is relevant as an overall principle in all of our lives.  Prayer that Father Minder would feel compelled and comfortable to tell the truth to whoever it is that needs to hear it (which is probably less people than he is speaking to currently).

    I believe a man who has been given great strength, power or wealth also has great responsibilities.  Father Minder has obviously been blessed with superior intellect.  Prayer that he use that intellect to bless those that come into contact with him.

    Let me start a related train of thought.  The Catholic church has made the news alot lately for child molestations.  I really don’t think the priesthood has a problem (widespread/epidimic) with pedophilia.  Pedophilia is a sexual attraction for prepubescents.  And that’s not what’s happening in most of these cases.  I don’t believe Father Minder is a pedophile, nor Richard Scully.

    These are young men.  They over six feet tall and driving. And becoming involved in sexual relations.  And able to make conscientious and moral decisions.

    I know this is not a new debate, but I believe at some point we need to re-visit and evaluate the ban on marraige for those who want to dedicate their lives to the service of God in the priesthood.  I am in no way condoning homosexuality among the clergy.  But wondering if we would allow priest to participate in Holy Matrimony, if it would solve alot of the problems the church leadership is focusing their resources and efforts on today.

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