Jackson Priest on Leave Following Sexting Scandal – Have You Given Up on the Church? [POLL]
Truth be told, I occasionally attend Mass on Sunday.
It gives me a certain peace of mind.
However there’s always the thought running through my head that the Church either doesn’t do or hasn’’t done enough when it comes to priests accused of sexual misdeeds.
Or perhaps not done due diligence in rooting out the potential abusers before they become priests!
While each case is different, I can’t help but be reminded of incidents like the one involving Fr. Michael Fugee recently, who was under a court order not to have any contact with children following a trial where he’d been accused of grouping a boy with whom he’d been wrestling.
The latest incident of an allegedly wayward priest involves Fr. Matthew Riedlinger, a priest at St. Aloysius in Jackson, who’s been placed on leave after s reported sexting scandal.
Father Matthew Riedlinger preached at St. Aloysius Church in Jackson until August of 2012, when he entered counseling following complaints of inappropriate cell phone text conversations with other adults, according to church leadership.
While in out-patient treatment, Riedlinger continued having sexual conversations, prompting the Diocese of Trenton to remove him from St. Aloysius Church.
Timothy Schmalz, 23, of Washington D.C. complained to the Diocese in 2011 about Riedlinger’s behavior, saying the priest sexually harassed him, according to The Star-Ledger. To expose Riedlinger, Schmalz pretended online to be a 16-year-old boy and recorded text message conversations between himself and Riedlinger, and later forwarded them onto the Diocese, according to the newspaper.
The Diocese of Trenton did not address details of the complaints in its statement, but said last week: “There was no sexual contact, assault or abuse referenced in the complaints.”
The Diocese also reported the matter to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Prosecutor’s Office, said no criminal action was taken.
“The undercover sting that they did was done by a non-law enforcement person. There was nothing we were able to do,” Della Fave said.
After his removal from St. Aloysius, Riedlinger entered a residential treatment center where he was supervised, according to the Diocese. He was also not permitted “to minister in a parish or school setting.
Father John Bambrick, St. Aloysius’ administrator, said perpetrators as well as victims of sexual crimes need treatment to stop the cycle of abuse.
“This is a compulsive behavior,” said Bambrick, who himself was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest when he was a teenager.
Bambrick serves on various organizations to help halt sexual abuse. He is a member of the Catholic Whistleblower Network; SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and formerly served on the board of New Jersey’s CASA (Coalition Against Sexual Assault).
Bishop David M. O’Connell, who leads the Diocese, personally escorted Riedlinger to a residential treatment program after learning that Riedlinger continued to communicate sexually with people during his initial out-patient treatment, Bambrick said.
“You have to treat the victim always, but you also have to treat the abuser,” said Bambrick. “Otherwise you just perpetuate the cycle of abuse… The key is to break the cycle.”
As I stated above, while each case is different, do you feel priests who allegedly commit these acts should be dealt with more harshly?
Fr. John notes that the abuser must be treated as well as the abused. How effective is the treatment, and once a priest has been treated, could he ever regain the trust of the faithful?
Given all that, have you totally given up on the Church?