Recently a 19-year-old young man came to us seeking food. His story is tragic. He is homeless, living in the woods behind a department store. He is dirty, an ex-con, without family and seems to also have a mental problem. He is also a registered sex offender. The circumstances of the hows and whys of that were not disclosed to me. Because he is a registered sex offender he is unable to procure a job hence can not house or feed himself. Because he is a registered sex offender there is very little that the state will offer to help him. Because he is a sex offender he must disclose that information to get housing even in a hotel or motel on a temporary basis. Because he is a sex offender he gets denied even temporary housing in a hotel or motel. If he lies about being a sex offender by omission and gets housing and then the truth is discovered he will go back to jail.
Here is the rub. There is no way that I as a priest, or any member of the clergy, can do anything for him, not even become an advocate. The reason for that is the fall out from the horrific, Church driven, clergy sexual abuse issue. Why? Because we would be suspect and nothing we said or did would be taken seriously as genuine. Who do we have to thank for that? Do I really need to answer that question? We all know who to thank/blame.
Now a Penn State Football abuse of minors sex scandal has hit our consciousness. Will that effect all college football programs? Will the plethora of coaches and assistants at all colleges across the nation be suspect? Will it be impossible for anyone that is connected to college football to start non-profit organizations for at risk youth when their motives are pure and magnanimous?
As a victim of sexual abuse my ability to trust others has been shattered. (I might be at a point now that my ability to trust is just very severely compromised.) All sex abuse scandals are having the exact effect on the public. There is no trust by members of the public in the Church. Trust in college football personnel has just taken a huge hit and could very possibly go the same way as trust in the Church but I highly doubt it. Coaches are held to a higher standard than the general public but not as high as members of the Church. Shouldn’t everyone be held to the highest possible standards?