Sunday, October 18, 2009

True: Catholic Priests Have Girlfriends

The headline for this post is based on a NYT article about an Illinois woman who had a long affair with her priest, a child with him, and, because of the young man's cancer expenses, is now breaking her confidentiality agreement with the Church.

The story is interesting in its own right, especially when the boy's mother, Pat Bond, talks about the her feelings about the affair and what attracted her to the priest in the first place, but WNL is including it on this blog because of the research on priests and their girlfriends that reporter Laurie Goodstein included as background for the piece. Here's an extended quote -


Ms. Bond, meanwhile, got help from a support group for women and priests involved in relationships. The group, Good Tidings, was founded by Cait Finnegan and her husband, a former Catholic priest, originally with the idea that they would help priests who had fallen in love to discern whether to leave the priesthood and marry, or remain in the priesthood and end the relationship.

A landmark study in 1990 by the scholar A. W. Richard Sipe, a former Benedictine, found that 20 percent of Catholic priests were involved in continuing sexual relationships with women, and an additional 8 percent to 10 percent had occasional heterosexual relationships.
“We were na├»ve,” Mrs. Finnegan said. “We quickly discovered that many of these priests were playboys. They weren’t looking for any discernment, they were simply staying and playing. It was the women who needed the support. Unfortunately, many women accept the kind of abuse from a priest that they would never accept if they were dating another man.”She said that in 25 years, Good Tidings had been contacted by nearly 2,000 women who said they were involved with priests, many who had signed child support and confidentiality agreements like Ms. Bond’s. There are similar support groups in at least seven countries.
“It’s not so much that people don’t know it happens, but they don’t know how much it happens,” Mrs. Finnegan said.

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