Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Arkansas News: Priest Removed for Slapping Child

A little nugget of information about which I'm reporting today since it's from my own backyard. And, obviously, it connects to the much larger picture of abuse of children by religious (and other) authority figures emerging as our society pays more attention to such abuse:

The Catholic diocese of Little Rock announced this week that it has removed a priest, Father Laurent Demets of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, from his position as chaplain of the St. Pio de Pietrelcina Latin Mass community in Cherokee Village, Arkansas.  The diocesan statement about this action says there has been a credible report that Fr. Demets abused a child by slapping the child.  Mass for the community will be in English until F.S.S.P. supplies another chaplain.

Barbara Dorris at SNAP released a press statement yesterday that I haven't yet seen on the SNAP website, but it's published by Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times blog site.  As it notes, the diocese chose to investigate the reports of abuse prior to involving law enforcement investigation.  SNAP continues to urge anyone reporting abuse of children by religious authority figures to go first to the police, rather than to officials of religious communities, because there's strong reason to believe that many religious leaders cover up situations of abuse and destroy or withhold evidence, prior to outside investigation of the abuse.

I have to say, this particular Latin Mass group of priests (i.e., F.S.S.P.) hadn't been on my radar screen at all until this slapping incident made the news.  As I look for information about them, I find they were established in 1988, apparently to give the schismatic St. Pius X group a run for its money by creating an enclave of traditionalist Latin Mass Catholics akin to S.S.P.X. within the Catholic church--and therefore not in schism from the Catholic church, as the St. Pius X group is.  Their website says that when they began in 1988, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) asked the bishop of Augsburg to provide a home for them.

And I gather that their refusal to leave the Roman fold and condemn the popes who set Vatican II into motion does not play well with their S.S.P.X. brethren, who believe their faith is purer and truer than that of the F.S.S.P. traditionalists--or so this article by Rev. Anthony Cekada at the website suggests to me.*

Laws-a-mercy.  Slap-happy priests and Latin Masses with Ratzingers in the wings: this story inevitably evokes for me memories of the report last year that the current pope's brother, Fr. Georg Ratzinger, also admits to having slapped children in the face when he was head of the cathedral choir in Regensburg in the 1960s.

What Catholicism is coming to be thought of in the public eye is not very pretty at all, is it?

(And these reports of physical abuse of children should give us concern, when there's increasing evidence that some religious right figures who promote child-beating may be--whether they intend this or not--pushing some parents to beat their children to death.)

*Note Kathy Hughes' correction in the first comment below: it appears Cekada belongs to yet another Catholic splinter group that touts itself as theologically and liturgically purer than the S.S.P.X. group.  I very much appreciate the correction.  I confess I find it very hard to keep up with the purest of the pure in the Catholic world--with each group now competing for the title of the one, true, holy, catholic church in its purest and truest incarnation.

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