Thursday, October 19, 2006

What say the church?
Foley's priestly nemesis tells some

Were any further evidence needed of the spiritual bankruptcy of 21-century America, one might look to the Mark Foley scandal, where the vicissitudes of secular politics -- a realm in which the Roman Catholic Church wields no small measure of power -- have rubbed up against the sanctimony of the church in a most unbecoming way, reviving a scandal of its own that church fathers likely thought they had put to bed with a flood of money paid out to the victims of sexually predatory priests.

Mr. Foley, you'll recall, sought to, at best, explain his sexual harassment of young men (or, at worst, to excuse it) by revealing, through his attorney, that in his teen years Foley himself had been molested by a Catholic priest. This week, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune tracked down a priest who admitted to having a sexual relationship with the young Foley who was, at the time, an altar boy. The church has yet to comment.

Most telling in the the Herald-Tribune's interview with Foley's former confessor is the priest's own sense of victimization by the scandal.

Father Mercieca said he taught Mr. Foley “some wrong things” related to sex, though he wouldn’t specify what he meant. He also said they were naked together in a sauna twice.

Father Mercieca said that, at the time, he considered his relationship with Mr. Foley innocent. But he now says he sees that his actions may have been inappropriate.

Father Mercieca said his encounter with Mr. Foley was an aberration, and that the Catholic Church never had to send him for counseling during his 38 years in the priesthood in Florida.

“I have been in many parishes, and I have never been” accused, he said.
He apparently did not say that he had never committed other such acts.
Father Mercieca said during his two years in Lake Worth, he ate dinners with Mr. Foley’s family and that Mr. Foley’s grandmother “was delighted to see me all the time.”

Father Mercieca said he is confused about why Mr. Foley has decided to come forward after almost 40 years.

“Why does he want to destroy me in my old age?” Father Mercieca said.

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