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.