OUR VIEWS: Priest paranoia

May 30, 2012


These leaders and educators are now afraid to show affection toward the children they take under their wing. The fear of getting sued over completely innocent actions is all too real. Even parents are now uncomfortable if a teacher or priest hugs their children.

Adults in leadership positions are constantly under the scrutiny of suspicious parents. Yes, parents should be aware of potential dangers. Yes, parents should make their children aware of what constitutes improper actions. Yes, parents should protect their children from predators.

But parents should not let normal safety measures grow into paranoia that prevents their children from living a carefree life. Don’t unjustly rob them of their innocence.

This widespread paranoia stems from the actions of the horrible individuals who have abused their positions of power and taken advantage of children. But we should remember that not every priest, teacher or coach is a predator. Most of them care deeply about helping children reach their potential and grow into happy, productive adults. Painting all mentors with a scarlet letter is absurd.

And what effect does this stranger-danger paranoia have on our children? Will the children of our community understand why they can no longer receive hugs from Father Bill?

Father Bill, by all accounts, plays an integral role in their spiritual upbringing. The children used to rush the alter to get their hug.

Now he will have to hold his congregation at arm's length. What message does this send to the children? That Father Bill no longer wants to hug them? That he no longer loves them? Or that he's afraid of hugging them? That a simple hug is inappropriate?

How sad to see this fear take over as we say goodbye to an era when natural displays of emotion went unquestioned. How sad our children and grandchildren may never experience the freedoms of affection many of us remember fondly. How sad that innocent people must stifle their feelings and keep a distance from those they care for.

How sad.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Right on the money. But there's one thing here that just makes me cringe, because I've seen it so much in recent discussions. It's ALTAR, not "alter"!!!


Has anyone considered whether the hugs are a disruption to the Mass? I attend St. Mary's so I haven't witnessed when the hugs take place, but if it's during the mass then the bishop can insist that the hugs not take place as they are not an official component of the liturgy. Priests take an oath of obedience and must follow church law when it comes to the Mass and the liturgy. He can give all the hugs he wants outside of the Mass.


That's basically what happened. The hugs were taking place during the collection, so it wasn't too disruptive to the liturgy, but not liturgical nonetheless. Fr. Bill did announce last Sunday that, with permission of the parents, he will resume the hugs right after Mass.


My 11 year old looks up to Fr Bill, and looks forward to the offering. I think it is way too late to try and change the perception of priests. As a parishioner, I find the Catholic church hierarchy to be hypocritical.It is OK to to profess love, and care...but please don't show it with a hug !
We are talking about a universal way of expression. If this drives away people from the faith, decreasing the $$$ brought in to the Diocese, you can be sure the Bishop will change direction on this. We have a hard enough time keeping our young I retested and involved with Mass. Fr Bill engages the children, trying to express caring, and the bishop takes it away. Pathetic. I worry about my child's well being... Everywhere BUT church.
The Catholic church needs to be brought into the 21st century, if they can change the wording during mass, give exemptions for lent, put up little crosses in the front of the church opposing abortion ( not being bothered by whom it might offend), they can surely allow a child to be hugged by their Pastor.
Punish the innocent because of a small portion of the clergy did bad things...kinda "childlike" really...maybe THEY need a hug


Thats the problem with the catholic system. Church Law... What is Gods law? Thats what is important. The catholic church has too many Church rules and rituals.


I think the problem with the Catholic system is too many non Catholics passing baseless judgement. The media plays a huge role in how the Catholics are looked down upon. If its not for you, simply move on. Unless you have facts against this particular church and have proof its practices are ill intended.. please stop with the accusations.


Thank you newsblogger. It's always the non-Catholics who think they can bash Catholicism without the taking least bit of effort to obtain the correct information.


WWJS=What Would Jesus Say?


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