CCount me among those grateful for the work of the Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal (CLCR). A fresh one washington post office The article reports that this Denver-based nonprofit has been working to inform bishops and seminary rectors of potential problems in the clergy, particularly behaviors that strongly suggest individual priests are regularly violating their vow of celibacy. .
The techniques used by CLCR are unique in our digital age. Although the search engines, websites, and apps we download appear to be free, they actually pay for them with targeted ads based on our online history and location. For example, if you navigate with Google Maps and open another window on your smartphone, you can receive ads from nearby shops or restaurants.
The same goes for dating apps like Tinder (popular with both men and women) and Grindr (which caters to gay men). These apps are even more interesting because they are designed to connect with people nearby who want to have sex. There are data marketplaces where advertisers can buy bits of location information from tech companies and use it to target ads.
Well-designed data analysis programs are needed to zero out some of the location data on individual phones. That’s exactly what CLCR did—to discover priests and seminarians who chronically use hookup apps. Once these individuals have been identified, the CLCR will approach those with ecclesiastical responsibility and present evidence of serious clerical misconduct.
THE washington post office The article cites anonymous sources in the Catholic bureaucracy who disapprove of these efforts to bring official misconduct to the attention of those in charge of the Church. One says: “It is a crime to disclose information that harms a person’s reputation without objective reason – even if it is true.”
Right in principle, but wrong in this situation. All Catholics have “objectively sound reason” to be concerned about the integrity of the clergy, even more so after revelations of priest sexual abuse that bankrupted dioceses and severely damaged the church’s mission.
If you or I have seen our parish priest stumbling around drunk several times, we would be remiss if we did not pass this information on to the chancellery. The same would be true if we saw him enter a gay bar with behavior that suggested anything other than a heroic evangelistic effort among sodomites. Or if we noticed that you have the Grindr app on your smartphone.
CLCR conducts due diligence. This group does not entice priests into sexually compromising situations. It analyzes publicly available data to uncover patterns of sexual abuse among men who have vowed to remain celibate. This is useful and important information. I don’t want to be led by men who make a mockery of their celibacy, any more than I want to be led by couples who routinely break their marriage vows.
Others have warned that the CLCR is pushing an “anti-LGBT” agenda. If “pro-LGBT” means affirming the legitimacy of gay sex, then I hope it’s true. Whatever our pastoral judgments about ministering to the victims of the sexual revolution, we must all be “anti-LGBT.” But let’s be clear: Monitoring clergy for breaking their vow of celibacy is primarily about the integrity of the church’s leadership and its ability to stay true to its own standards and obligations.
Bishops have long been culpably negligent in overseeing priestly behavior in sexual abuse cases. They have recently become aware of their responsibility. The CLCR provides important information to assist bishops in their oversight duties, the most important of which is determining who is fit and who is not fit to serve among those ordained to the priesthood.
Priests are not perfect. We have all fallen. But our vulnerability to sin doesn’t mean we don’t need standards. In my opinion, a priest who gives in to temptation and violates his commitment to celibacy can be forgiven and healed by his sincere cooperation with the grace of God. In such circumstances, the appropriate remedy for discipline must be determined by the bishop. But no one should serve God’s people who regularly uses Grindr—a clear sign of premeditated and persistent sin.
RR Reno is the editor First things first.
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