When From An Exile

How long does it take one to rehabilitate from a public scandal? When is enough exile enough? When can a person start up their life again, minus, we hope, the trappings of serious sin? Does something have to change post-rehab, and if so, how drastic must it be?

On an America thread one commenter wished that the Deal Hudson quotes and links would go away and stay away. Several years ago when that scandal broke, I blogged a similar opinion about Mr Hudson. Also Archbishop Rembert Weakland, whose own earlier sex scandal, unearthed many years after the fact, had deflated many of his admirers.

I don’t have an answer on this one; that’s why I’m opening it up to the commantariat. I will share that my recent exchanges with Deal Hudson on the site InsideCatholic were a source of consternation, less it seems for the two of us, and more for our editors. Was I picking on him more than others? Wouldn’t that be because he writes a plurality of posts on the blog and on the main page? Would I be operating from disproportionate resentment of him? Or do I just find his (more numerous) essays disagreeable?

Who gets to say, “The scandal was a long time ago. It’s time to move on.” The penitent? The victim? The followers or detractors? The spiritual director or pastor? Or some combination of these?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to When From An Exile

  1. Liam says:

    I believe that the positive dimension to these expressions of outrage over premature rehabilitation is that they are testaments that the sense of sin lives yet, despite 2000 years of rumors of its demise to the contrary. Clerical child abuse, prelatial coverups, and rape appear to be at least three types of grave sin over which there is little audible dissent these days.

    I find it helpful to remember these when I encounter people (not least including clergy) say or imply banalities that people merely make mistakes, and that our concept of sin is the problem, et cet.

    It’s also a reminder that, however oppressive we think the Catholic Church is regarding its lists of grave matter, where we are today in how we approach sin and sinners is actually more illustrative of the triumph of moderation over rigorism over the past, say, 1700 years….

    Another thought that comes to mind is merely rhetorical rather than moral: Mr Hudson’s public writings will likely fail in their purpose unless and until his rhetoric appears from his audience’s perspective to come into alignment with the reality of his situation. (And that audience doesn’t get the privilege of comprehending how God sees that reality, so it will of course be mistaken to that extent.)

    Yet another reason to be careful when employing rhetorical pugilism in the present – it may well haunt your efforts in the future.

  2. Tony says:

    Good question. I’d ask the same with regards to Cardinal Law.

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