Friday, February 4, 2011

Continued Discussion of Euteneuer Story: A Sampling of Commentary

Commentary on the Euteneuer story continues.  I cited Matt Abbott's "final word" at the RenewAmerica site earlier today.  Here's a sampling of other statements, with a hat tip to the wonderful Abuse Tracker site at*:

At Daily Beast, Michelle Goldberg focuses on the profound (and profoundly negative) effect that Euteneuer's former employer, Human Life International, has had and continues to have on women around the world.  Goldberg explains how HLI has managed to make such inroads in so many places: 

It was and is a radical organization; its spokesman, Don Treshman, once praised the shooting of a Canadian abortion doctor as a "superb tactic." Such rhetoric made it hard for the group to work on Capitol Hill or in international forums, so in the late 1990s, it created two spin-off organizations. One, The Population Research Institute, is devoted to dogging international family planning organizations like the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA. The other, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, or C-FAM, lobbies inside the United Nations.

Goldberg also zeroes in on the "ministry of exorcism" Euteneuer began developing in 2003, which permitted him to travel around widely in the U.S., conducting exorcisms and giving lectures at leading right-wing Catholic venues about exorcism and the link he claims to see between abortion and demonic possession and devil worship--a link he explains in his book Demonic Abortion.

As I read Goldberg's analysis, I continue to ask: who has been funding Human Life International and its initiatives?  Who has been funding Euteneuer and his many exorcist jaunts?  These seem to me significant questions to ask, because HLI has functioned for some years now as virtually an arm of the Republican party.  As with other right-wing think tanks in the beltway area, it has done all it can to undermine Democratic administrations and to promote Republican politicians, in a blind partisan way which equates being a faithful Catholic with being a Republican.

At Huffington Post, Dan McDermott summarizes Sean Hannity's response to the Euteneuer story.  Readers will recall from my previous postings that Euteneuer went toe to toe with Hannity on Hannity's program several years ago, pushing him on the question of contraception and whether Catholics using contraception should be denied communion.

Some commentators are noting that Hannity's encounter with Euteneuer has brought out Hannity's "inner liberal"--i.e., Euteneuer's "orthodoxy" was so extreme that it pushed even conservative Catholics like Hannity in the opposite direction.  McDermott sums up Hannity's response to the latest revelations about Euteneuer: 

The host then noted the priest's admission of violating his vow of chastity due to human weakness, which Fr. Euteneuer said "did not involve the sexual act."

"Bill Clinton would be proud of that," Hannity joked.

"Look, I don't want to make a situation worse. Apparently something happened -- pretty severe -- and he's been taken away from his position," Hannity said.

But Hannity still seemed upset at at having his faith questioned and the priest's conduct after the appearance on Hannity & Colmes.

"He's so self righteous. He spent years raising money off this exchange with me and building his name recognition," Hannity said.

Again--I want to keep stressing this, as new commentary appears--these are comments coming from a leading American conservative who, under normal circumstances, would be in Euteneuer's camp.  The willingness of many of Euteneuer's ideological fellow travelers to come out and talk about what he has done is a remarkable part of this story.

And finally, here's P.Z. Myers at the Pharyngula blog, focusing on some of the shameful  special pleading being made right now by some Catholics on Fr. Euteneuer's behalf:

Which brings me to the really weird part. Everything I'm reading about this situation contains these insistent declarations that the act involved an ADULT! WOMAN! Even the Catholic bishop's statement about the case emphasizes this.
Euteneuer has been undergoing intensive evaluation and counseling to address admitted inappropriate crossing of adult heterosexual boundaries on the occasion of carrying out his priestly ministry.

This bugs me. It's like they're saying, "At least it wasn't gay sex, and it didn't involve a child." They're trying to reduce the magnitude of whatever perversity was committed. And it's as if they're reassuring everyone that it wasn't that awful homosexuality was committed.

And weirdest of all, it's as if they're saying that because a woman was the victim, it wasn't so bad. Women are the designated victims; oh, sure, it's not good that he was abusing a woman, but it would have been even worse if a man was hurt.

And then there are the people rushing to defend this priest…by attacking the victims.

And I predict that this story isn't going to go away simply because the usual folks shout the usual slogans to try to stop the conversation.  The goal of church officials and church organizations will, of course, be to keep the lid on the discussion and hope people will simply stop discussing this story when another case du jour comes along.

And if we've learned anything about the Catholic church in recent years, it's that another case is drearily predictable down the road.  Meanwhile, there are aspects to this story--the extensive influence of Euteneuer and HLI, the high profile Euteneuer has had in the American Catholic church in recent years, the truly bizarre fixation on the demonic and exorcism, and the fact that revelations offered by Euteneuer's former friends and fellow travelers are driving the story--that make me think it will continue to be discussed for some time.  No matter how much the apologists try to shut down the discussion.

*And special thanks to Tim at the Following the Voice Within blog (which I see I need to add to my blog list!) for first sending me the Michelle Goldberg story.

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