Sin treated with counseling

Sin treated with counseling

A priest in the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., was suspended after getting his housekeeper pregnant. A couple of thoughts come to mind. First, is it wrong to be thankful that it was a consensual relationship between the priest and an adult woman?

Second, I’m not buying that “the emotional abuse she endured from the pastor, the Rev. Gary Dailey, while working in the rectory of St. Mary Mother of the Church Parish in Lee left her vulnerable to the sexual advances of the other priest in the rectory.” Oh you were so mean to me that I leapt into the arms of another man against my will. This seems like an attempt to avoid responsibility for your own actions and to give you a reason to sue the Church.

Not that the pastor’s alleged behavior is anything to write home about.

Dizoglio, 34, alleges that after she learned she was pregnant, Dailey fired her, had her evicted from her apartment, barred her from church property, and refused to allow her to speak with Laflamme, even threatening her with a restraining order at one point.

He also allegedly told her to “fix the problem.” Gee, I wonder how many homilies he’s ever given about the sanctity of life and the evil of abortion?

Third, the automatic reaction of the diocese to the other priest’s sin of breaking his vows and having sex with this woman is strange.

A statement released yesterday by Bishop Thomas Dupre confirmed that Laflamme, who was ordained in 1998 and held the title of parochial vicar at St. Mary, did not deny having a sexual relationship with Dizoglio.

‘‘While the paternity has not yet been established through medical tests, Fr. Laflamme has admitted to the relationship,’’ said the statement, which was released yesterday afternoon by a church spokesman. ‘‘Therefore, acting on the recommendation of the Diocesan Misconduct Commission, Bishop Thomas Dupre has immediately placed Fr. Laflamme on an indefinite administrative leave. He will undergo counseling while his long-term status as a priest is determined.’‘

Counseling? What is counseling supposed to do? It goes to show the typical view of sin as a defect of the intellect or a personality disorder to be fixed by self-knowledge and therapy, rather than a moral defect to be overcome by repentance and penance. I think a stay in a monastery would do him more good than a stay in a treatment facility.

It seems that we have a reflex reaction on the part of diocesan bureacracies now. While sending someone to a treatment facility for homosexual conduct or pedophilia is warranted under Catholic moral teaching since both are deviant mental disorders, lumping them in with heterosexual consensual fornication diminishes them as disorders and may have the intended effect of saying that homosexual and heterosexual acts are equivalent and require the same treatment and that one isn’t worse than the other.