Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 19 September |
Our Lady of La Salette
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Was the Catholic Church’s Sex Abuse Scandal Caused by… Alcoholism?

Richard Roche

William Van Ornum - published on 05/09/14

A statement from the Winona, Minnesota diocese said: “Bishop Quinn is disappointed that the Guest House Rochester will be closing but is very grateful for the years and years of service to the Catholic Church and our religious.”

In another denomination, within the past eight years or so, an infamous diocesan bishop acknowledged publicly his problem with alcoholism and the manner in which he sought out treatment. I don’t think this particular bishop’s name or his activities are particularly relevant – the main point is that he was brutally honest about himself having a problem. The church denomination, while not at all denying or glossing over the problem, gave him the support he needed to face this serious condition.

Somehow a public analysis and study of the presence of alcoholism within the priesthood and of the prelates in the hierarchy does not seem to me at first glance to be a step to take. The diagnosis of such a problem is extremely sensitive. Even making an effort to learn more about it could make those experiencing alcoholism much more sensitive to it being uncovered by someone else. They would hide the problem and go even further underground.

I don’t think shrill voices, blaming, or finger-pointing belong in such a process. The 1972 Loyola study may be impractical for 2014.

But the ideas I presented above would, I think, help better understand why there is “denial” and would improve “accountability”–two major words used by Cardinal O’Malley at the Vatican meeting, May 1-3, 2014.

Perhaps someone reading this now can think of even a small way to implement these ideas and quietly to help a Church leader who may have an alcoholic problem. In doing so, further progress would be made toward creating a long-term environment that is safer for children.

William Van Ornum is professor of psychology at Marist College and director of research and development/grants at American Mental Health Foundation in New York City. He studied theology and scripture at DePaul University.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Tags:
AddictionCatholicism

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
2
ARGENTINE CHILDREN
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
3
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
4
RESURRECTION
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
5
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
6
Mathilde De Robien
How a lost masterpiece of sacred art was discovered thanks to chi...
7
communion
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.