Sacraments for the laicized molesters

Sacraments for the laicized molesters

What rights do priests laicized for abusing kids have with regard to the sacraments? Should they be allowed to attend Mass in a parish, go to confession, pray in a chapel?

This isn’t exactly the same case, but a laicized priest in Toledo is at the center of a controversy. Chet Warren was laicized with credible evidence of his molesting some kids. He is now the member of a local parish. He wants to pray in the church’s Blessed Sacrament chapel, but in order to ensure that he’s not in there unsupervised, he agreed to come only during specific hours, but violated that agreement. The Diocese of Toledo has subsequently filed a lawsuit seeking to bar him. Okay, so he agreed to certain conditions and allegedly violated them.

But what about a different scenario, that of the credibly accused molester, now laicized, who just wants to receive the sacraments. I can imagine that if parents and even SNAP find out, they will complain and want him out. After all, it’s not much different from sex offenders on a public registry moving into a neighborhood. So what do we do? The Church says that every Catholic has a right to sacraments and if the offender has gone to confession and received absolution, then he is properly disposed. If he’s not wearing a collar, but is just another guy in the pew, can we keep him out?

Would it be right to deny the sacraments to someone who seeks them out, especially someone so evidently in need of them? If we believe that the sacraments are a conduit of grace shouldn’t we want such men to have access to it so that they can be strengthened to overcome their sinful compulsions?

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  • Domenico:

    While we can imagine what objections might be raised, I’d like to know what objections actually have been raised—i.e., I don’t want to assume certain folks “will, of course” say or do something; I’d rather wait and see if they actually do, and then respond.

    Of course even molesters have the right to seek the grace of God, because we believe God’s grace seeks them, do we not?

    So, as to the adoration question, one solution might be that the individual simply cannot come without an escort who is meets the approval of the parish and diocese.

  • Fr. Fox: I have seen such objections in the past, but don’t recall where so I can’t point you to them. Sorry. If I find them again, I will post links to them.

    Infanted: If you read the linked article, it says that parents are concerned because there are often children nearby. I suppose they think he’s a ticking time bomb that will explode without notice. Nevermind that’s not how the vast majority of the molesters cultivated their victims.

    I’m sure the parents here would be able to tell you how much the knowledge of his presence around their children, supervised or unsupervised, creeps them out.

  • Not every place has nearby monasteries or religious houses. I’m also concerned that we keep offering them as places to ship off molesters. Is it fair to the religious communities?

  • What rights do priests laicized for abusing kids have with regard to the sacraments? Should they be allowed to attend Mass in a parish, go to confession, pray in a chapel?

    Should the critically ill be allowed to go to the hospital?

  • Another vote for the “no brainer” camp.  Tony said it best.  But I think restrictions are entirely warranted…including that they be required to go to a parish other than the one in which they harmed children.

  • I see no problem with them attending as laypeople.  And if they wish to receive Holy Communion, I would expect they have to be in a state of grace, the same as any of us would.

    It would be preferable for them to be in a parish where they had not abused anyone, but I’d think they’d have the sense to arrange that for themselves anyway.  But maybe not.  Not everyone has much common sense or sensitivity nowdays.

  • The early Church also required that those who committed certain mortal sins be required to confess them to the whole community before they could be absolved, too.

    The Church fathers had a much tougher perspective on sin across the board, which I’m sure helped to keep in check.

  • Domenico:

    When you spoke of objections in your original post, I thought you were speaking hypothetically. I didn’t realize anyone actually had raised the protests you mentioned.