On distracted drivers and malingering priests

As an urban father and a (slow) runner, one of the things that I take very seriously is teaching my kids about traffic safety. “Cars can hurt you”, I hear myself saying now and again as I encourage them to look both ways, use crosswalks, etc. “Most drivers are really careful, but sometimes they might not see you.”

Enough cars are being driven by distracted, hurried, or poorly trained people that it is prudent to be wary of all cars, just in case. Throw in cell phones, dashboard GPS’s, and loud stereos, there are a lot of things that can take a person’s mind momentarily off what they are doing. As a pedestrian, not knowing what’s going on inside the car, you sometimes can’t tell whether a car will stop or not, so you play it safe.

Oddly enough, I see a parallel between drivers and priests. In the same way that sometimes drivers are paying attention and sometimes they are not, sometimes priests are pedophiles and sometimes they are not. And what’s more,  often enough from the outside you can’t tell which priest is a pedophile and which isn’t. (That said, who can look at a picture of Raymond Lahey and not see it screaming “pedophile”, at least, now.) I wouldn’t hazard to guess what the percentages are of distracted drivers or malingering priests, but it’s safe to say that there are good ones and there are bad ones in each lot.

That said, have we had enough cases of pedophile priests now to simply assume for the sake of safety that maybe they all are? Just to be on the safe side?

As an aside, there was mention on the radio this morning of Pope Ratzinger’s offer earlier in the week to Anglicans disenchanted with their church’s refusal to punish women or homosexuals as mandated in the Jewish Book of Folk Tales. On hearing this, my wife suggested the Archbishop of Canterbury respond with an offer to Catholics similarly disenchanted with the Mother Church’s treatment of women and gays and their apparent tolerance of pedophilia in their own (diminishing) ranks.

I knew I married the right woman.


5 thoughts on “On distracted drivers and malingering priests

  1. Well, I know two people from my high school class who became Catholic priests. They chose to do so after attending some church camp out in BC (the same one, summer of ’86, IIRC). Before going to the camp, they were both very intelligent, liked teh girls (and I don’t believe either was repressing anything pedo-ish). So there’s two Catholic priests out there who most likely aren’t pedos. As for the rest of them, I’ll assume the worst.

    Then again, I was in the same class and briefly university room-mates with the infamous Roger Mercier, and I never guessed at his criminal deviancies, so I’m probably not the best person to judge future molestors.


  2. I wasn’t saying that *all* priests are pedophiles any more than all drivers are distracted fools. Rather, I feel that there are enough distracted fools behind the wheel on the streets that it’s wise and cautions to assume all drivers are distracted just from a safety standpoint. Similarly, there seem to be enough pedophiles with collars that if only out of caution it’s best to assume the worst with priests.


  3. It’s always easier if they wear uniforms.
    The way I see it, you are placed in a position of trust, but not much prestige (at least now) in the community, and denied the opportunity to explore normal, healthy sexuality – what do they expect will happen? The temptation to exploit more vulnerable parishoners would be overwhelming – the maintenance of the medieval concepts of celibacy combined with the ‘bat-phone to god’ concept seems to me, at least to be to be a couple of proximate causes of priest pedophilia.


  4. You seem to have glossed over the distinction between child pornography and pedophilia. The implication that Lahey was in possession of child pornography is overwhelming. And perhaps conflating the two issues is irrelevant to your point. But I believe the distinction is worth making. Which level of hell should we assign Lahey to? Dunno, I’m glad I am not a member of that jury.

    A second point, and I agree with you on this as a driver, a pedestrian, and a bicyclist. Most drivers are trying to pay attention. Most drivers have no intention of harming you. Most drivers would be horrified if they ran into you. Assume as a working hypothesis that drivers are at least willing to follow the rules. But the person most responsible for your safety is you, so be ready to adapt to the occasion.


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