Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fr. Raymond Gravel rides again -- his surprising comments on Church sex abuse

Yesterday, Fr. Raymond Gravel gave an interview on a CHOI-FM, a Quebec City radio station regarding the Church and sex abuse.

I wish I could transcribe and translate the whole interview, but with me breastfeeding, that's just not going to happen. It would take many days to finish.

But I'll bring to you some highlights.

The interview starts at about 1:55, if you want to skip the commercials.

In sum, Fr. Gravel tries to set things straight with regards to the sex abuse crisis. Here is some of what he had to say:

* At the time of the abuse, many of the clergy did the best they could to deal with it, considering that it was very much a taboo subject at the time.

* After the Congregation of Ste. Croix reached a settlement of 18 million dollars, he said that many victims called up to say that they had been abused. By that he implied that the victims were looking for a payday. It's not by offering them a settlement that these victims will be truly helped through their trauma. He says they need to be supported and treated. Not paid off.

And here's the really outrageous part--

* By paying them off the victims, we're giving them money for "services rendered"-- in effect, prostituting them.

(Is this a case of it takes one to know one?)

* The Pope doing all that is possible to deal with the pedophilia crisis.

* The radio host was rather taken aback by Fr. Gravel's comments and said: but the Church is sorry because it got caught and it takes time to settle. Gravel replies: many times relatives were abusing their children and there was no media coverage back in the day. That's the way society was in those times. Sexuality was taboo and secretive. He implies that since relatives were doing this and it was never reported, it was only natural that priestly pedophilia was not reported on or dealt with.

* The subject then turns to priestly celibacy. There is a well-known sister in Quebec, Sister Marie-Paule Ross, who also happens to be a sexologist who estimates that 80% of priests do not practice celibacy. The interview continues that it is a given that large numbers of priests don't observe celibacy.

The radio host asks Fr. Gravel: what has been your experience with this?

After explaining the secular priests do not make vows of chastity, Fr. Gravel says that he knew priests who had romantic relationships that were quite "okay", implying that it was proper, and he has nothing against those relationships. He said that he knew priests who observed celibacy properly, and he knew priests who lived a promiscuous lifestyle, hanging out in bars and saunas.

Then Fr. Gravel pleads for priestly marriage.

Then the subject turns against to compensation for sex abuse victims:

* When relatives get caught abusing their family members, the victims don't get monetary settlements. He gives the example of his relatives who are in the religious life who worked very hard for their orders and turned their money over to these orders and now these orders must pay settlements, money that would otherwise be used to pay out pensions for the retired religious. They're paying for this sex abuse crisis.

The female radio host says that whether you pay in settlements or in psych services, it's money that has to be paid out anyway. Fr. Gravel replies: but at least it will be real victims who will be healed. He says that when he went to school, people knew which teachers were pedophiles and some of the students tried to get some action from them. He says those are not real victims. He implies that some people do get over their sexual experiences and that some of these people are really looking for a payday from the Church, not actual healing.

* Later on, Fr. Gravel relates his experience of having lived with five priests in a rectory, one of whom was known to sexually assault women. He says that the priests made every effort to get this man treatment. They even got him three months of rehab.

So the radio host asks him: did you call the police?

And Fr. Gravel says: before you call the police, you try to help the person.

The host says: but it's a crime! Sexual assault on a child is a crime.

And Fr. Gravel says: twenty-five years ago, it was not a crime. (I suspect he means longer than that, but anyhow...) It was not perceived as a crime, so we tried to help the abusers. Then he says: check out your own family. There are some in every family, implying that no one dealt with it the way people are demanding it be dealt with today. His point is that the secretive culture was everywhere, not just the Church.

* He concludes that the Church did the best it could under the circumstances. He said that bishops shuffled abusive priests around in good faith. He says that the criticism of bishops and clergy on this file is an attempt to destroy the Church.