It doesn’t get much worse than Fr. Robert Meffan. He’s unrepentant and thinks what he did was right. Read the details for yourself, but in summary, he had sex with teen girls thinking of the religious life “to show them … that Christ is human and you should love him as a human being.” He didn’t just say that 35 years ago, he said it to a reporter yesterday. Of course, he added, he didn’t have intercourse to protect his vow of celibacy.
Don’t tell me that no one noticed his flawed—no, deeply deranged—theology before the allegations. He couldn’t have been getting into the pulpit and preaching orthodox Catholicism every Sunday. Don’t tell me he was an effective preacher of chastity.
It seems the only bishop who actually tried to prevent any of this was Bishop John D’Arcy, an auxiliary at the time who was promoted to South Bend, Indiana, probably to shut him up. With Shanley, Geoghan, Meffan, and others, the records show that he repeatedly tried to get everyone else to recognize what a danger they were.
The roll call of perverted priests in this latest document dump is staggering. Sure, it’s only nine men this time, but you have a drug abuser who was blackmailed by his dealers into making a porno tape with a boy, a guy who sends his housekeeper to the hospital with a beating, a guy who admitted to being gay and then saying he hated himself and all gays for it, the aforementioned sicko who had sex with girls to show them what the love of Christ is like, and so on. And in every case, they received heartwarming letters from Cardinal Law when they were finally removed.
In the best case scenario, the only reason I can think of for the letters is that Law was truly trying to live the ideal of Christian forgiveness, that he didn’t want to condemn but only encourage. If so, it was very naive of him. Sometimes correction can only come from condemnation and conviction. Just because someone expresses regret doesn’t mean that it’s time to let bygone be bygones. Forgiveness often needs a stern face, not mushy sentimentality.