Frankly, I am surprised I need to tweet this, but here goes. Cardinal "uncle Ted" McCarrick didn't abuse minors. He abused grown men. The sex abuse crisis in the church is much, much bigger than abuse of minors. It's about a culture of secrecy and mutual protection.
Sex abuse takes many ugly forms, including harassment and pressure, at its root is habitual unchastity. The fact that a priest engages in egregious sexual misconduct isn't suddenly something private bc it didn't involve minors. "No minors" doesn't tell us much and isn't a cover.
A high ranking RC cleric specifically charged with addressing sexual misconduct and secrecy in the church has been exposed as living a secretive double life, using hook up apps for anonymous sex.
He is doing this in a deceptive way, bc he knows it is at odds with his role. But as anyone who has thought about virtue for two seconds will tell you: deception breeds deception. Unchastity breeds unchastity, desires only grow stronger when indulged frequently.
And I don't mean once or twice on the app, we are taking near daily use here, very often when on the job (did I mention his job is responding to sexual misconduct in the church?), on the church's dime. Set aside the rank hypocrisy, it's the least of the troubles here.
In response to these revelations, clerics and laity have been on this site begging everyone to leave this high ranking cleric alone, to let private sex matters be private, as if this whole crisis all along wasn't about just that: keeping clerical sexual misconduct private.
Now the truth is we don't really know exactly what happened every time he was on that app. Presumably we'd rely on his self-reports. But we do know that a bit insignificant amount of predatory stuff happens on those apps and no priest should ever be on it, ever, it's never ok.
We also know that these apps are very toxic. People are on this site acting like it's Spare me. They are creating sex addicts and it has nothing to do with orientation. Sex addicts can and do get predatory, has nothing to do with minors per se.
The church's response was that this revelation was a "distraction" since it didn't involve minors. That's not an ok response by a long shot. How is this not clear?!
And no, I'm NOT saying this guy is another McCarrick, so back off with that accusation. I am saying the institutional response was terrible, all too familiar, and should upset us. It upset me. The church doesn't act unless forced to, we know this.
Many have cried detraction, as if nothing but curiositas could drive two catholic journalist to care about secrecy and double lives in the church. As if there are no proportionate reasons to expose secrecy and double lives in high ranking clerics in the RCC.
So, to repeat, the guy in charge of responding to sex misconduct in the church is, by the church's own lights, engaging in sexual misconduct all the time, and the REAL immorality is the invasion of his privacy. He's the real victim of a witch hunt run by nasty laypeople!
As if historical appeals to clerical privacy about sexual misconduct have served us well. This is a dead end, down a path strewn with victims, minor and adult alike. Anyone asking us to trust the hierarchy to tidy itself has been asleep at the wheel. You must be joking.
It doesn't matter if this cleric didn't abuse anyone. What matters is our institutional response to sexual misconduct from high ranking clerics and what I'm saying is that it just can't be calls for privacy and trust in the hierarchy and demonization of concerned laypeople.
I realize that here I am at odds with a great many Catholics who seem to have no real problem with priests on hook up apps or they have a much greater problem with invasion of privacy or failure to live up to journalistic standards. To me, that's weird given the past 20 years.
To these people, I can only urge that you see this in the wider context in which it absolutely exists. The sex abuse scandal has many dimensions, but trust, and loss of trust, was at its core. Laypeople don't trust the hierarchy to clean their own house. Can you blame them?!
Does any right minded person capable of basic inductive inference really think the hierarchy was on top of this and ready and willing to deal with it? On what evidence?!
The recent revelations do raise important questions about journalism and privacy. But my complaint is about the first reaction of so many: downplay the sin, defend privacy, and protect clerics. This, again, is a dead end--we've tried this path, we know this.
Finally, people have tried, and will continue to try, to make this about homophobia. No. It's about an institutional culture that needs to change and hasn't changed nearly enough. It's still about protecting clerics and preserving secrecy.
I would have the EXACT SAME concerns about a priest on Tinder. Most of the bad behavior I've seen in my lifetime has been hetero, but in every case an addiction to sex was at the root of it.
As to the offending insinuations in the pillar, I didn't read it as saying anything more or less than I've said here. Sex apps create sex addicts. Porn sites create porn addicts. Dangerous stuff for priests; disqualifying for anyone in charge of handling the sex abuse response.
I'm leaving it open whether the Pillar went about this in the right way. I have many unanswered questions. But the reactions on this site have really disappointed and disturbed me. That's just where I am.

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More from @jennfrey

9 Jul
Im not sure I'm a centrist (politically, I've been in exile for some time in this country), but I'll take a stab at a good faith response to Chris.
Chris has exposed a great deal of toxic crap about "whiteness" being taught in public school. I'm glad he has done that. There's been a ton of gaslighting from folks who know better about CRT, pretending it never left the academy or has no influence outside it. That's a lie.
However, I don't look favorably on what Chris has done politically with this. The legislative bans will do more harm than good. They are far too broad and will make teaching far more difficult. I'm also allergic to censorship and McCarthyism.
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8 Jul
I've had some issues with what my kids were being taught over the years. In every case, whether the school was public or private, I addressed it by talking to other parents first, and when necessary, approached the teacher or principal.
In some cases I was able to get folks to agree that an assignment was problematic and in other cases I was allowed to opt my kid out or have an alternative assignment for my kid.
My experience working with schools, public and private, has not always been terrific but on the whole pretty good. If you are upset by what's taught, talk to the teacher or if that seems too confrontational the principal.
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14 Feb
Whenever people call me an elitist, I am flummoxed. I am from a working class background, I am a product of public education my entire life, and I spend my free time creating a podcast that aims to make great books accessible to all for FREE.
I am called an elitist because I believe there's a difference between literary art and plain fiction. I believe some books are more worthy of your attention than others. Lots of books are like junk food: pleasurable but not nourishing.
My podcast is dedicated to the idea that great books are for everyone and everyone deserves a chance to learn to enjoy them. This is not an elitist enterprise. It does, however, suppose that some books are truly worthy of your attention and that I have some capacity to judge.
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Hi everyone! I wrote an essay about Marilynne Robinson and my trip to Yale to visit the famous happiness professor there.
I argue that the famous happiness professor is wrong, and gravely so, and I try to use Robinson's The Death of Adam to explain why.
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9 Nov 20
As someone who has taught medical ethics for the past seven years, the appointment of Ezekiel Emmanuel to the the virus task force is is both not surprising and basically horrifying. 😳
Basically a slap in the face to elderly and disabled Americans.
I've taught his work multiple times. It really is *something* that they'd put him on a task force for a disease that has wiped out the vulnerable on such a dramatic scale.
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8 Nov 20
I really hope Joe Biden will move on student debt. I will finally have paid mine off next year, when I'm 43!!! Student debt has been a tremendous burden for so many and higher ed is absolutely complicit in it.
But helping to ease the debt burden isn't enough. We need to ask ourselves why/how higher ed has become impossibly expensive and how we can in good conscience continue to create this burden for our students.
The ranks of overpaid admins continues to expand while student tuition soars. Biden assures is that "one of us" is in the White House now. But who is the "us" in higher ed?
Read 7 tweets

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