Matt C. Abbott
April 22, 2015
Bishop Robert Finn; Reparative therapy
By Matt C. Abbott

First, please pray for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Francis George. I always appreciated his politeness – he would address me by name at various Catholic events over the years – and he obviously was a prayerful and intelligent man. Requiescat in pace.



Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-Saint Joseph, Missouri, is the latest casualty of the clergy sex abuse scandal, which has cost U.S. dioceses and religious orders close to $3 billion since 2004.

Esteemed Catholic journalist/commentator Phil Lawler once again hits the nail on the head. The following are excerpts from his latest commentary at Catholic World News (click here to read it in its entirety).
    Bishop Finn had to go. When he was convicted on criminal charges, he became the poster boy for the American bishops' mishandling of the sex abuse crisis. He was an irresistible target for critics of Catholicism: a walking, talking symbol of episcopal negligence....

    For the many Catholics who admire Bishop Finn's strong defense of Catholic teaching, including myself, his case is tragic. For others who opposed his pastoral initiatives – such as the National Catholic Reporter, which, Bishop Finn had confirmed, had lost the right to describe itself as a 'Catholic' publication – his departure has provided an occasion for unseemly delight. But the bishop's staunch orthodoxy is not the issue here.

    Nor has orthodoxy been the primary problem through the whole long, sad history of the sex abuse scandal. Bishops from both the 'liberal' and 'conservative' wings of the U.S. hierarchy have been exposed as negligent, or worse, in their handling of abusive priests. It is true that sympathetic reporters in the liberal secular media have spared a few prelates (Cardinal Mahony, Archbishop Weakland) from the grilling they deserved, while savaging others like Bishop Finn. Still, the bishops' malfeasance was not caused by the media coverage; they brought the problem on themselves. And in the process they brought the problem on the faithful, on the universal Church....

    Many questions remain to be answered. Will other prelates follow Bishop Finn out the chancery doors? Will the critics of Catholicism pick a new target of opportunity? Will retired bishops whose negligence has been demonstrated still be treated with deference, as if nothing happened? Will Pope Francis continue to defend his appointment of a Chilean bishop accused of ignoring abuse, even as lay members of his sex abuse commission threaten to resign?


Regarding the controversy surrounding reparative therapy – particularly for minors – I asked Father Richard Perozich of the Diocese of San Diego to weigh in.

Father Perozich's comments are as follows (slightly edited):
    Depression and mental anguish have numerous causes, some biological, some psychological or emotional traumas based on the perceptions of the individual who suffers them. Often that individual's response is to blame out: parents, society, the doctors, anyone who does not accept so easily the facile solution proposed by the one who suffers the anguish.

    Gender dysphoria, dissatisfaction with the gender God has given to a person at birth, is one expression of an unconscious attempt to deal with some mental or psychological anguish as are strong homosexual desires. Responsible psychology and psychiatric practitioners are frustrated in their attempts to study and share research in these areas by a political movement whose ascendancy in western culture has legalized sexual disorders as normal behavior, frustrating and penalizing disagreement with the assertions of those with urges to use sexuality to try to satisfy needs of safety, belonging, acceptance, and integration into society of their behaviors and lifestyles.

    Despite society's growing tolerance of these sexual behaviors, the underlying anguish and pain seem to remain. Government studies of obesity in women who have sex with women, STDs in men who have sex with men, high incidences of substance abuse, suicide in persons with non-traditional sexual urges, all show that the conspiracy of factors of the underlying pain have yet to be identified and addressed in a way to help an individual come to real inner peace, rather than a momentary fix through a sexual encounter or an attempt to appear to others as a person other than one's birth gender.

    The political insistence of the 'right of the individual to self-determination,' to remove all language that might frustrate the anguished person's attempt to determine identity, sexual practice, or societal acceptance, continues the pain in the individual.

    A person is an integration of the biological, psychological, social, ethical, moral, emotional and spiritual being, all of which need to be nourished with truth that is discovered in faith and science without the interference of politics.

    Despite the political tolerance and interference to promote sexual dysfunction as normal, the anguish for the individual continues. Until the politics retreats and allows truth in faith and science to love the person without agreeing with their decisions, and to seek real solutions other than the mere expression of such urges, the compulsions will continue to steal the sufferer's peace.

    If blame is to be placed, it is on those who encourage the behavior – such as President Obama – rather than a true love for the person suffering; and allowing that person real treatment of the underlying causes of their pain.
© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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