Too Decent to Be Self-Serving

There's been an enormous amount of coverage of this annual bishop's conference. The New York Times seems to put it on the front page every other day. That must mean there are a lot of abusive priests out there. More than 300 we hear have already been brought up on charges over the last decade.

But stop right there. More than 300 -- many of whom are "former" priests, already long defrocked -- out of, are you ready for this, more than 60,000 priests currently in service in this country.


300 out of 60,000-plus. That's less than one-half of one percent.

Surprised? You shouldn't be.

Now, I'm not hear to minimize a problem. And God literally does know the charges here go beyond the pale. But so does some of the media coverage. It's gotten so bad, some priests remove their collars when they go out to dinner.

"I'm tired of getting laughed at," says one.

Still another, "It's the sneers that bother me the most, Neil."

These are good, decent and compassionate men. Men who want to make a difference in this world by pursuing a vocation that goes way beyond this world.

It's not fair to penalize the flock for the defrocked. The vast majority of good guys for the few bad guys.

Now, if someone claimed all Italians were stupid, or all the Irish drunk, could you imagine the uproar? Yet we let this priest stuff go.

Not because the media can't cause a fuss. But precisely because the vast, vast majority of good and all too modest men in this profession won't cause a fuss.

They are too decent to be too self-serving.

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