Catholic clergy molesting boys and girls in the confessional. Abusing them in the sacristy before or after Mass. Abusing them in company with fellow priests. Molesting young men studying for the priesthood. Buying their victims’ silence, or threatening them in various ways.

Serially abusive priests and prelates faking their way through their daily ministrations, performing baptisms, saying Masses, counseling the bereaved, etc. It beggars belief.

I recognize that most priests are men of integrity. But I wonder: How many secretly unbelieving men enter the priesthood with the very aim of abuse? How many enter with the right dispositions, but then fall away through an inability to resist sexual temptation, eventually despairing and becoming sexually abusive apostates? How many have the right intentions on entering, remaining believers despite frequent lapses from chastity later on, hoping they’ll achieve self-mastery through perseverance in prayer and recourse to all the rest of what the Church maintains are spiritual remedies?

The recognition of a growing number of biblical scholars that the “Christ of faith” (as distinguished from the barely-there “Jesus of history”) is a phantom and that the Bible is rife with error, contradiction and myth must be a powerful impetus to disbelief for some priests mired in unchastity.

It is inconceivable to me that any priest, supposedly representing the person of Christ (according to church teaching) could be a chronic abuser and not also an apostate. How else can anyone make sense of the molestation, say, of a perfectly defenseless first-grader in the confessional?
William LaRochelle, Lewiston

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