I say, just be thankful it’s a joint…

…and not something else he wants his lips around. Google has enough links devoted to that kind of immoral business.

Cops caught a priest with pot in Charleston, West Virginia on Sunday.

As Miller recounted in a telephone interview with the Daily Mail, strange smells can make their way into vehicles through windows and air vents, but the odor of marijuana is distinct.

With no other cars around except for the silver Chrysler mini-van in front of him, Miller turned on his lights and siren at Kanawha Turnpike and Elm Street. It was 10:35 p.m.

The mini van pulled over, and inside were Jim O’Connor, the pastor at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in South Charleston, and one of the parishioners, Michael Joseph Deegan, also well-known in the community as a substance abuse counselor.

Miller said the two were smoking marijuana while driving with the windows of the van rolled down. That’s why the smell had been so prevalent, the officer said.

Miller wrote in a criminal complaint later filed in Kanawha Magistrate Court that he could still smell marijuana as he approached the van. The officer says he searched the mini-van with O’Connor’s permission and found a black bag in the back of the van containing 73 grams, or about 2.5 ounces, of a leafy material that wound up testing positive as marijuana.

O’Connor’s parish was stunned by this news, that a priest they look up to as a community leader turned out to be as human as the rest of them.

The release also said, “An internal investigation is being conducted by diocesan officials, as is undertaken in all such incidents. Meanwhile, Father O’Connor is now suspended from his priestly responsibilities and has been removed as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in South Charleston.

“In the diocese, a priest under suspension may no longer publicly celebrate the sacraments. The personnel policies of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston prohibit the use or possession of illegal drugs.”

Bryan Minor, spokesman for the diocese, said for the short-term a deacon at the church may administer some sacraments and area clergy will fill in as well until there is a permanent replacement.

Minor said that O’Connor is “in the prayers of the clergy, the diocese and our bishop. We hope he makes this transition peacefully and moves on to the next step in his life.”

I expect it’s the usual across careers that a crime conviction leads to loss of job. So why has the Church quietly moved priests accused of pedophilia to other parishes rather than give them the boot? Why is smoking pot somehow a worse offense than molesting children?

There’s this link to “The Myth of the Pedophile Priest” that looks like interesting reading, written in an attempt to disprove the belief that pedophilia is rampant in the Holy See. l’m just going to quote this part:

“Pedophilia” is a psychiatric term meaning sexual interest in children below the age of puberty. But the vast majority of clergy misconduct cases are nothing like this. The vast majority of instances involve priests who have been sexually active with a person below the age of sexual consent, often sixteen or seventeen years old, or even older. An act of this sort is multiply wrong: it is probably criminal, and by common consent it is immoral and sinful; yet it does not have the utterly ruthless, exploitative, character of child molestation. In almost all cases too, with the older teenagers, there is an element of consent.

Also, the definition of “childhood” varies enormously between different societies. If an act of this sort occurred in most European countries, it would probably be legal, since the age of consent for boys is usually around fifteen. To take a specific example, when newspapers review recent cases of “pedophile priests”, they commonly cite a case that occurred in California’s Orange County, when a priest was charged with having consensual sex with a seventeen year old boy. Whatever the moral quality of such an act, most of us would not apply the term “child abuse” or “pedophilia”. For this reason alone, we need to be cautious when we read about scores of priests being “accused of child abuse”.

So a priest, who makes a promise to his bishop and his god to preach the word of said god, and remain celibate as part and parcel of his agreement to follow the rules of his doctrine, can still sleep with teenage boys, so long as they’re past puberty and somewhat willing?

I don’t know about that “element of consent” idea. Isn’t that what people have said when girls say they’ve been raped? It’s an abuse of trust. People are trusting their priests to be doing the right things, following the Bible to the maximum, encouraging others by being a good role model for proper Christian behaviour, right?

I agree that it isn’t fair to paint all priests with the pedophile brush, though. There are plenty of good people doing good works for good reasons.

I’ll also agree that people need to be cautious not to read too much into statistics and news reports. There’s bias everywhere and people are often pushing their own agenda rather than aiming for balanced journalism. Some types of stories get more airplay than they perhaps should.

But when people are in a leadership position and abuse their powers over people, and get caught doing it, it’s news worth reporting, regardless of whatever job the person holds.

EDIT: Oct 1, 2008

Because you just can’t go a day without hearing about another priest with pedophile problems. (H/T to irReligion.org)

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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