Monday, July 05, 2010

Father Emile "Mike" Boutin of the Boston Archdiocese and the Roman Collar

"Father Angel Mariano, S.J. was arrested about midnight Sept. 21, 1998, in Campbell, Calif., near San Jose when a police officer caught him in a sex act with a 17-year-old student in a parked car. According to police reports, Mariano arranged to meet two teenagers by posing as a 25-year-old woman on an Internet chat room. He wore lipstick and rouge when he met the boys.... Mariano was removed without any explanation. Asked why parishioners at Holy Trinity were not made aware of the reasons for Mariano's departure, [Provincial Father Tom] Smolich said: "Why should they? This is an Internet cruising thing. This is anonymous sex. This doesn't involve people at the parish. It wasn't a priest thing. He wasn't dressed in a collar." [Glenn Bunting, "Lawsuit Ends Silence on Abuse at Jesuit Retreat," Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2002

The Directory for the Ministry and Life of Priests, prepared by the Congregation for the Clergy and approved by Pope John Paul II on January 31, 1994, says:

"In a secularized and tendentiously materialistic society, where even
the external signs of sacred and supernatural realities tend to be
disappearing, the necessity is particularly felt that the priest-man
of God, dispenser of His mysteries-should be recognizable in the
sight of the community, even through the clothing he wears, as an
unmistakable sign of his dedication and of his identity as a
recipient of a public ministry. The priest should be recognizable
above all through his behavior, but also through his dressing in a
way that renders immediately perceptible to all the faithful, even to
all men, his identity and his belonging to God and to the Church.

For this reason, the cleric should wear 'suitable clerical clothing,
according to the norms issued by the Episcopal Conference and
according to legitimate local customs.' (Canon 284) This means that
such clothing, when it is not the cassock, should be distinct from
the manner in which laymen dress, and in conformity with the dignity
and sacredness of the ministry.

Apart from entirely exceptional circumstances, the non-use of
clerical clothing on the part of the cleric can manifest a weak sense
of his own identity as a pastor completely dedicated to the service
of the Church
(# 66).

Father Emile "Mike" Boutin of the Boston Archdiocese disagrees. In a Blog post entitled "Sitting by the pool in my Roman collar....another myth debunked!," the priest who was just recently arrested and charged with indecent assault and battery, wrote: "Honestly, I don’t wear my Roman collar all that often even when I’m not on vacation. I wear it when I go to wakes or to the hospital to visit the sick or when I’m going to an official Archdiocesan meeting or event, but almost never when I’m in the office, or even when I celebrate Mass on Sunday. Now, I know I’m opening myself up to a whole lot of criticism from a whole bunch of folks, including my bishop, but I find today that sometimes the collar “gets in the way.” It represents a lot of things to a lot of people, and at least some of those things aren’t so helpful…and since there are plenty of priests who wear their collar all the time, I figure they have me covered! Seriously, it seems to me that if they can’t tell I’m a priest from what’s on the inside, what I wear on the outside doesn’t make one bit of difference…I'm getting back to the pool...without my Roman Collar." (August 6, 2009).

Pope John Paul II stressed the importance of clerical dress. In a September 8, 1982 letter to Ugo Cardinal Poletti, his Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, instructing him to promulgate norms concerning the use of the Roman collar and religious habit, the Holy Father observed that clerical dress is valuable "...not only because it contributes to the propriety of the priest in his external behavior or in the exercise of his ministry, but above all because it gives evidence within the ecclesiastical community of the public witness that each priest is held to give of his own identity and special belonging to God."

The propriety of the priest in his external behavior. Reflect on that. How many priests shed the collar to hide their identity in order to engage in behaviors which are hardly Christ-like? Such as "sex games"? This is all the more troubling when the priest argues against celibacy.
Related reading here and here.


Ellen Wironken said...

Just as the snake sheds his skin, so too certain priests shed their clerical dress in order to engage in illicit activities. When the priest is wearing his clerical dress, he is far more likely to demonstrate propriety and to refrain from conduct which is ungodly.

Ann Duclos said...

"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." (John 3: 19-21).

Those who do evil hate the light. They accomplish their deeds in darkness.

Paul, your blog is a source of light. Which is why some hate it so much. Keep up the good work.

In Christ,
Ann Duclos

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