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No Touch Left Behind

The case of Father Varghese Pereppadan in Boston raises some interesting questions about priestly interactions with the faithful in a post-abuse world.

Fr. Pereppadan, from India, was accused of improperly touching the chest of a girl he knew over her clothes. He has no prior history of abuse, but he was given a one year probationary sentence and had his faculties revoked in the Archdiocese of Boston.

I haven't been able to drum up any details of the specific incident, so perhaps the punishment was merited, but I can imagine many a scenario in which an innocent touch on the part of a priest could be construed as inappropriate. For example placing a comforting arm on a woman's shoulder could be construed as grasping for a bra strap. And I would have to imagine hugs are out altogether. With one's faculties on the line all the time, a priest can't be too careful.

In this zero-tolerance world, reason is being replaced with a new legalism that sets up our priests as potential perpatrators from whom our children must be protected. It definitely gives new meaning to the gospel passage, "Let the children come to me and do not hinder them."


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 23, 2004 9:35 AM.

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