Bishop: Abusers have 'no place in church ministry'
By Albdert de Zutter
Catholic Key Editor
ST. JOSEPH - Praising the priests of his diocese, Bishop Raymond J. Boland said in his Chrism Mass homily that pedophile priests "have no place in church ministry."
Albert de Zutter/Key photo
Bishop Raymond J. Boland blesses the oils at the Chrism Mass in the Cathedral Parish in St. Joseph March 21.
"The priest who is a pedophile uses his priesthood to destroy the innocence of children, often stunting their emotional life and frequently alienating them from the faith," he told priests and faithful gathered in the Cathedral of St. Joseph, the co-cathedral of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
The March 21 evening Mass brought priests and people together for the traditional blessing of the oils used in anointing people in Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination to the priesthood and Anointing of the Sick.
Worshipers broke into applause as Bishop Boland concluded his homily by telling his priests, "I am proud of you and I am convinced that Christ is even more proud of you. You may not want to believe it, but you are good priests and the people you serve are proud of you."
Bishop Boland began his homily by referring to Pope John Paul II's annual message to priests in which he exhorted priests to fulfill their role as ministers of the Eucharist and of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
He read in full the paragraph from the pope's statement in which he said:
"As priests we are personally and profoundly afflicted by the sins of some of our brothers" which have cast "a dark shadow of suspicion" over "all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity and often with heroic self-sacrifice."
Bishop Boland said the sexual abuse scandal rocking the church "has aroused a plethora of emotions - anger, disappointment, depression and the urge to hide."
"Truly, as the pope said, a shadow of suspicion has fallen on all of us," the bishop said.
"The problem exists," he continued. "The numbers are few, but even one is one too many."
Bishop Boland said the pedophile "is a very sick person possessing an aberrant personality trait which impulsively and addictively directs his perverse behavior."
He said priests with that diagnosis need therapy, "sometimes lifelong therapy."
Bishop Boland, who in 1993, shortly after his installation in the diocese, proclaimed a "zero tolerance" policy for sexual abuse by priests, said, "This is what we mean by 'zero tolerance': For the sake of our children, for the sake of our families - my dear priests, for the sake of your nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and even for their own sakes (the pedophile priests) must never be reassigned to a parish."
He said the church must do "everything possible to help those who have been harmed, to help them rebuild their lives, restore their self-confidence and assist them to distinguish between the actions of a rogue priest and the church which is the continuation of Christ's love in the world."
Speaking directly to his priests, Bishop Boland said, "Remember your ordination. You are more than a witness to Christ. In many ways you are Christ, alter Christus. You stand in his place. Our culture often needs 'a sign of contradiction,' and if you do not provide it, maybe nobody will."