Would you call it murder?

SPECIAL UPDATE: The priest has answered my queries by email, and the story is even more horrifying than I had imagined. Readers can find out the latest news by scrolling to the end of my OP.

STOP PRESS: I have just been sent a copy (which I won’t be publishing, for privacy-related reasons) of the complaint filed by the wife. The priest’s story is true. Readers can find out more in the comments section.

People have various opinions about end-of-life decisions. The issues are complex, and reasonable-sounding arguments can be marshaled on both sides. However, few people would deny that a doctor who not only refuses to treat a patient with a life-threatening condition, despite his and his family’s explicit request for treatment, but administers a lethal dose of a drug to the patient, with the intention of hastening the patient’s death, is morally guilty of murder. Recently, I read of a case in Canada which might fit this description, if the account given is accurate. In this case, the account comes from the blog of a Catholic priest, Fr. X, a parish priest in Quebec. Catholic writer and social activist George Weigel, author of a best-selling biography of Pope John Paul II who also happens to be a member of Fr. X’s congregation during the summer months, has written an article in the religious journal First Things which discusses the case (It’s a Culture War, Stupid, August 22, 2017). Here’s an excerpt from Fr. X’s blog entry. I would invite readers to weigh in with their opinions on whether this case is morally equivalent to murder:

Tonight I am preparing to celebrate a funeral for someone (let’s call him ‘H’ to protect his privacy) who, while suffering from cancer, was admitted to hospital with an unrelated problem, a bladder infection. H’s family had him admitted to the hospital earlier in the week under the assumption that the doctors there would treat the infection and then he would be able to return home. To their shock and horror, they discovered that the attending physician had indeed made the decision NOT to treat the infection. When they demanded that he change his course of (in)action, he refused, stating that it would be better if ‘H’ died of this infection now rather than let cancer take its course and kill him later. Despite their demands and pleadings, the doctor would not budge from his decision. In fact, he deliberately hastened ‘H’s end by ordering large amounts of morphine ‘to control pain’ which resulted in him losing consciousness as his lungs filled up with fluid. In less than 24 hrs., ‘H’ was dead.

Again let me make this point abundantly clear: It was the express desire of both the patient and his spouse that the doctor treat the infection. This wish was ignored by a doctor who believed he alone and not his patient possessed the authority to determine whether or not he deserved to live or die.

Fr. X supplies a few personal details about the patient:

Let me tell you a bit about ‘H’. He was 63 years old. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters who are both currently working in universities towards their undergraduate degrees. We are not talking here about someone who was advanced in years and rapidly failing due to the exigencies of old age. We are talking about a man who was undergoing ongoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. We are talking about a man who still held on to hope that perhaps he might defy the odds long enough to see his daughters graduate. Evidently and tragically, in the eyes of the physician tasked with providing the care needed to beat back the infection, that hope was not worth pursuing.

Let us assume that the patient was slowly dying of cancer, and that his cancer treatment would have at best delayed his death. A doctor’s deliberate refusal to treat a man who is slowly dying of one disease, and who has suddenly fallen ill with another disease which will kill him quickly if left untreated, could certainly qualify as murder, if the doctor thereby intends to bring about the death of an innocent human being. But if the doctor’s refusal of treatment is motivated instead by a desire to direct scarce hospital resources (staff, equipment, money etc.) at those patients who are most likely to benefit from medical treatment, then one might sympathize with the doctor’s plight, and it would be inaccurate to describe his/her behavior as murder.

In this case, however, the doctor went further, according to Fr. X’s account. He openly declared that it would be better if the patient died of an infection now, rather than dying of cancer later. In other words, he thought the patient would be better off dead, despite the fact that the patient and his wife vehemently disagreed. (And as far as I can tell, the cost of the treatment, even in the most severe cases, would have been no more than $20,000.) I call that medical arrogance. Even worse, the doctor then proceeded to administer “large amounts of morphine,” which killed the patient within 24 hours. I’ve spoken to nurses about morphine treatments, and believe me, there is a real difference between a dose given to alleviate pain and a massive dose which brings on death quickly. So I have to say that I find it hard to believe that the morphine was administered in order to “control pain,” when I read that the dose was a large one, and that the patient was dead one day later. And for those who are still inclined to doubt, here is what Canadian Virtual Hospice has to say in response to the question, “Does morphine make death come sooner?”:

If a person has never received morphine, the initial doses given are low. They are gradually increased to relieve the person’s level of pain or shortness of breath. After a few days of regular doses, the body adjusts to the morphine…

There is no evidence that opioids such as morphine hasten the dying process when a person receives the right dose to control the symptoms he or she is experiencing…

There’s a difference between natural dying and dying from too much morphine. When someone has received too much morphine, he or she usually can’t be woken up

In the case described above, Fr. X appears to claim that there was a single, massive dose of morphine, and he adds that the patient lost consciousness and died within 24 hours. What’s more, the doctor who administered the drug had previously declared that the patient would be better off dying quickly of an infection than dying slowly of cancer. If the claim is correct, then it may well be the case that the drug was deliberately administered in order to hasten the patient’s death. What should we call that?

I stated at the beginning of my OP that a doctor who not only refuses to treat a patient with a life-threatening condition, despite his and his family’s explicit request for treatment, but administers a lethal dose of a drug to the patient, with the intention of hastening the patient’s death, is morally guilty of murder. I may be wrong in my facts, but I have to say that if Fr. X’s account is correct, that may well have happened here.

But we shouldn’t just blame the doctor for what happened. Canada’s health care system also has a lot to answer for. “Why so?” you ask. George Weigel explains:

Canada’s vulnerability to the culture of death is exacerbated by Canada’s single-payer, i.e. state-funded and state-run, health care system. And the brutal fact is that it’s more “cost-effective” to euthanize patients than to treat secondary conditions that could turn lethal (like H’s infection) or to provide palliative end-of-life care. Last year, when I asked a leading Canadian Catholic opponent of euthanasia why a rich country like the “True North strong and free” couldn’t provide palliative end-of-life care for all those with terminal illnesses, relieving the fear of agonized and protracted dying that’s one incentive for euthanasia, he told me that only 30 percent of Canadians had access to such care. When I asked why the heck that was the case, he replied that, despite assurances from governments both conservative and liberal that they’d address this shameful situation, the financial calculus had always won out—from a utilitarian point of view, euthanizing H and others like him was the sounder public policy.

(Are the bean-counters right here? For the record, I would like to note that a 2014 Fact Sheet on Hospice Palliative Care in Canada put out by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association states that “[d]epending on the estimate, expanding access to quality palliative care would have saved between 40 dollars and 345.5 million dollars between 2003 and 2011 in the province of Ontario,” adding that “[p]rojected savings from 2012 to 2036 range from just under 247 million dollars to just over 2.1 billion dollars, again depending on the estimate scenario.” The same report also claims: “Hospital-based palliative care reduces the cost of end-of-life care by 50% or more, primarily by reducing the number of ICU admissions, diagnostic testing, interventional procedures and overall hospital length of stay.”)

Weigel makes a telling comment in his final two paragraphs:

To reduce a human being to an object whose value is measured by “utility” is to destroy one of the building blocks of the democratic order — the moral truth that the American Declaration of Independence calls the “inalienable” right to “life.”…

When we lose sight of that, we are lost as a human community, and democracy is lost…

Sadly, that is what seems to have happened here. A health care system regulated by utilitarian bean-counters deemed a 63-year-old man’s life not worth saving, and the doctor then administered the man with a massive dose of a drug, after having declared that he would be better off dying sooner, of a quick death, rather than later, of a slow death. 24 hours later, the man was dead. Were the man’s rights violated? If the evidence presented is correct, it would appear that they were.

So I would like to invite my readers to weigh in. Would you call it murder? Why or why not?

I would ask readers on both sides to conduct their debate in a spirit of charity, free from rancor. And above all, I would urge readers to respect the privacy of everyone involved in this sad case – especially the doctor and the patient. When we don’t have all the facts at our disposal, any conclusions we arrive at should be provisional, and whatever our viewpoint may be, we should always acknowledge that we may be mistaken in our judgment of a particular case. And now, over to you.

FEEDBACK FROM READERS (see below for the latest update)

Hi everyone,

I’d like to summarize readers’ feedback on this story.

(1) A number of readers expressed skepticism as to the veracity of the story, on account of the sources: a Catholic priest and a grieving family, which has chosen not to take the case further. Fair enough. There are two sides to any story, and we’ve only heard one side. And as I said in my OP, “When we don’t have all the facts at our disposal, any conclusions we arrive at should be provisional.”

(2) Speaking purely hypothetically, some readers felt that if the facts as presented were accurate, and if the physician acted against the express wish of the patient, then what he did would be morally equivalent to murder. Others felt that criminal negligence and recklessness, a violation of trust and malpractice would be better ways to characterize the alleged act.

(3) Many readers felt strongly that end-of-life decisions should be left up to the patient. I was going to add “and his/her family,” but Alan Fox’s link to the Guardian article about the death of George V should give us all pause. In any case, this is not a post about voluntary euthanasia. The question at issue here is whether legalizing euthanasia paves the way to other practices which violate the patient’s consent. So far, no proof has been submitted that this actually occurs in Canada.

(4) One reader felt that I should have completely anonymized the story, so out of respect for all parties concerned, the name of the priest in my OP has been suppressed.

SPECIAL UPDATE: News from Fr. X.

Last night, I contacted Fr. X by email, and he responded almost immediately. I had three queries.

First, I asked Fr. X why the family had not made an official complaint. Fr. X told me that the family DID complain as soon as they realized what was going on. It turns out that H (the man who later died) was in hospital with a bladder infection for THREE DAYS before the family finally found out that his infection was not being treated. H’s wife then complained to FOUR different doctors, but none of them was prepared to countermand the order of the physician of record. By the time the family tried to move the complaint to a higher level, H had died. The family has now started going through the official routes for lodging a complaint. However, no response has been received to date, other than an acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint.

Second, I asked Fr. X how much morphine had been given to the patient, and on how many occasions. Fr. X replied that he didn’t know the exact size of the dose, but that ANY dose would have been too large, as the patient was wearing an ALERT BRACELET stating that he was ALLERGIC to morphine.

Finally, I asked Fr. X if there was any INDEPENDENT CORROBORATION for his account. He answered that the family could corroborate his account, and that they had been interviewed earlier this week by a reporter from the Catholic Register. Fr. X added that there had recently been a second, very similar case that resulted in the death of another person last Sunday morning. In that case, Fr. X told me, the wife was so frustrated with the hospital and the doctor for their refusal to treat her husband that she went to the police in an attempt to have them intervene. Eventually a courageous nurse decided to ignore the doctor’s standing order, and she wheeled the patient down to the Emergency/ICU, even though she said it might cost her her job, because she couldn’t accept the morality of not treating him. Sadly, it was too late and the patient died about 12 hours later, as his kidneys had already shut down due to sepsis, which had spread through his body from the untreated bladder infection. And what was the doctor’s excuse? He said that the patient (who was in his late eighties) had been a resident in a nursing home for a few years, and that he wouldn’t have a ‘sufficient quality of life’ if he were to return there. Fr. X tells me that this family has also initiated an official complaint.

To all those readers who were skeptical of my account, and who thought that Fr. X was just making stuff up: I hope this answers your questions. The slippery slope of euthanasia is all too real.

192 thoughts on “Would you call it murder?

  1. vjtorley: Do you have reading problems, dazz? My latest update states quite clearly that the family is going through the official routes for lodging a complaint. And it was a doctor (not doctors) who gave the man morphine.

    An “official complaint” means a lawsuit? because that’s what I was talking about

  2. Mung: Perhaps you live in a country where a person’s health records are not protected by law.

    Exactly, the doctor is bound by privacy ,the family is not . We have a one sided view the doctor’s actions. Actions which are the point of the post.

  3. Acartia,

    Of a Priest, who it just so happens to also have a blog, where he writes all about this topic!

    Its a miracle!

    I guess that’s also how VJ knows what his readers will say, BEFORE he evens posts.

    Its a miracle!

    What’s so hard to believe about flying Priests?

  4. vjtorley:And it was a doctor (not doctors) who gave the man morphine.

    Nitpicking much? It still looks like an outrageous negligence, if not downright criminal if it’s true.

  5. vjtorley: Believe me, it’s real, people. Get your heads out of the sand, and stop putting doctors on a pedestal.

    Stop putting families under the duress of the death of a loved one on a pedestal as well.

    A healthy dose of reserved judgement seems in order,

  6. From Vincent’s update to his OP:

    The slippery slope of euthanasia is all too real.

    Hmmm! We all should have the right to life. I think we should also have the right to die if we choose, and have at the very least some input into the circumstances. The problem is how do we make our wishes known and how do we prevent others from over-riding them.

    My suggestion would be a living will, where I could record what actions I request doctors to take or not take depending on circumstances where I was incapable at that moment of making my wishes clear.

  7. Alan Fox: Hmmm! We all should have the right to life. I think we should also have the right to die if we choose, and have at the very least some input into the circumstances. The problem is how do we make our wishes known and how do we prevent others from over-riding them.

    Is the choice not to prolong life the same as euthanasia?

  8. newton,
    It’s a slippery slope!
    There’s not treating, withdrawing treatment, withdrawing sustenance, administering painkilling drugs in such doses they become lethal, and there’s cutting to the chase.

    The key for me is consent. I want to be able to record my wishes regarding what happens in various circumstances regarding terminal illness or trauma. I’d like those wishes to have some force of law so that nobody carrying out my wishes would be subject to legal action.

  9. Hi everyone,

    I have just been informed by Fr. X that the reason why this tragic incident hasn’t been in the papers is that the parties involved were more concerned with preventing such an incident from happening again in the future than with attracting publicity for themselves. He says it’s a Canadian thing.

    Alan Fox,

    Your proposal of a living will sounds fair, from a legal standpoint. It would certainly have prevented this tragedy. Cheers.

  10. vjtorley: I have just been informed by Fr. X that the reason why this tragic incident hasn’t been in the papers is that the parties involved were more concerned with preventing such an incident from happening again in the future than with attracting publicity for themselves. He says it’s a Canadian thing.

    A Canadian thing? Concealing a potential crime is a canadian thing? And how is that a good way of preventing it from happening again? If these doctors get away with it once, what prevents them from doing it again?

  11. vjtorley,

    The Priests name is FATHER TIM DOYLE! Why do you keep acting like this is a secret? You gave a link which names him. You said read his blog, which is under his name, he wrote it on a public blog, and now you want to act like he wants to remain anonymous???

  12. phoodoo:
    vjtorley,

    The Priests name is FATHER TIM DOYLE!Why do you keep acting like this is a secret?You gave a link which names him.You said read his blog, which is under his name, he wrote it on a public blog, and now you want to act like he wants to remain anonymous???

    Vincent removed the reference to the priest after someone here suggested that no names should be mentioned unless all of them are (the doctors)

  13. That is not a second source by any stretch of the imagination. It is someone who heard a rumour.

    The individual left his name. I think you’ll find he’s in an excellent position to know the facts.

  14. vjtorley: Your proposal of a living will sounds fair, from a legal standpoint. It would certainly have prevented this tragedy. Cheers.

    Only if the man had been unable to make an informed decision, as I understood the story, the patient requested the treatment in the first place.

  15. vjtorley: But what did this priest do? He replied within just two hours, and added a wealth of detail to his account. He also stated that the family had complained to four different doctors, and that it has now started going through the official routes for lodging a complaint. To cap it all, he added that added that there had recently been a second, very similar case that resulted in the death of another person last Sunday morning, and that in this case, the family (which has since lodged an official complaint) had gone to the police in an attempt to get them to intervene. Now, does that sound like the sort of thing a liar would say?

    Yes.

    I can only ask: why do you have such a hard time believing the priest’s account?

    Because it doesn’t make sense. To believe his tale, you must assume that the evil Dr Death was willing to brag about committing murder, and that he and the hospital nursing staff were also incompetent: if one wishes to kill someone with an opioid overdose, you would not use an opioid to which they are allergic, FFS!

    I am trying to preserve the family’s privacy, but the information that you did provide was sufficient to allow me to find out plenty of details about the family, including the fact that some of them are PISSED at Fr. X.
    In the course of my research on the family, I found that there is absolutely zero independent corroboration of Fr X.’s tale, and Fr X is being very coy with his details.
    My best guess is still that any pain-killers were administered at the patient’s request.
    I am curious though – did Fr X. name the doctor in his email to you?
    Did he name the patient?

  16. vjtorley:
    Hi everyone,

    I have just been informed by Fr. X that the reason why this tragic incident hasn’t been in the papers is that the parties involved were more concerned with preventing such an incident from happening again in the future than with attracting publicity for themselves. He says it’s a Canadian thing.

    Then what Father Moyle did was unethical. The surviving family didn’t want it publicized yet he proceeds to blog about it. Aren’t priests supposed to maintain confidences?

    Father Moyle’s story is springing more leaks with every comment you post. On one hand Father Moyle says that they didn’t go public because they were more interested in it not happening again. On the other hand he says that they talked to the Catholic Register about it. So, which one of these is true?

  17. DNA_Jock: I am trying to preserve the family’s privacy, but the information that you did provide was sufficient to allow me to find out plenty of details about the family, including the fact that some of them are PISSED at Fr. X.

    If it’s in the interwebz already, what’s wrong with posting a link?

  18. DNA_Jock,

    I am curious though – did Fr X. name the doctor in his email to you?
    Did he name the patient?

    No. And until Fr. X or someone from the family goes public with a name, I would strongly urge readers not to post any names, either. That would be unethical. I am glad you agree.

    I might add that the post which George Weigel quotes from in his article for First Things dates from June 17. The blog post which you quoted from above (and which I had not read) dates from June 27. Fr. X is quite a prolific blogger, by the way, although most of his blog entries are from various sites on the Web.

    Fr. X told me that that the family could corroborate his account, and that they had been interviewed [note the passive voice] earlier this week by a reporter from the Catholic Register. I didn’t say that the family approached the Catholic Register.

  19. I read on another blog that Fr. X is a pedophile, and that one of his former altar boys committed suicide. What would you expect from a pastoral care system that demands celibacy of caregivers, but sexual exploitation of the most vulnerable in the system?

  20. Tom English: I read on another blog that Fr. X is a pedophile, and that one of his former altar boys committed suicide.

    It must be true. It was written in a blog. What motive would they have for lying. Surely nobody would make accusations based on unnamed victims, unnamed perpetrators, unnamed locations, uncorroborated “facts”. That is just crazy conspiracy theory that ranks up there with Pizzagate.

  21. Hi Tom,

    I was wondering when you’d show up.

    I read on another blog that Fr. X is a pedophile, and that one of his former altar boys committed suicide.

    I’m going to channel Acartia here. Sources, please? News stories? Official complaints? Sounds like hearsay to me.

    That’s not all. Have a look at these two links. I won’t say who they’re by.

    Canadian Summers

    Does that sound like the writing of a sexually repressed man, who couldn’t control himself when children were around? (I consider the “celibacy explanation” for priestly pedophilia to be crassly insensitive: what it basically says is that celibate males are unable to control their sexual urges. If that’s true, then rape becomes excusable, if it’s committed by a celibate male: he couldn’t help it. Do you really want to defend that position, Tom? I don’t think you do.)

    And now, have a look at this piece:

    Mattawa is owed an apology (2009)

    Ask yourself this: would a priest facing allegations of child abuse make a public stink about false accusations against another priest? Highly unlikely. The safe thing to do would be to lie low.

    And now, I’d like you all to have a look at this comment, written just six months ago:

    The adult is ALWAYS the culpable one. As an adult they are supposed to be responsible enough to ‘resist’ a sexual advance from a moral, and moral enough not to make such an advance to a child. A minor, no matter how precocious or promiscuous is always a victim. There cannot be any grey area in these matters.

    Ask yourself whether a pedophile would have written that. I rest my case.

  22. Tom,

    There’s more. Would you say that a priest who had previously gone to the police on two occasions to dob in a sex offender was likely to be a pedophile? I think not.

    http://www.theinquiry.ca/wordpress/accused/charged/flaherty-tim-flaherty-phd/

    I simply want to do my part to ensure that predators are removed from the priesthood…

    I am a former Children’s Aid Society social worker who became a RC priest (Diocese of XXXXXXXX) .I have more first hand experiences at dealing with victims of abuse than anyone would want to witness in a lifetime. These experiences fire my passion for protecting children from wolves in sheep’s clothing. I find it absolutely amazing that so many folks here are more concerned with questioning my motives and intentions than they seem to be with trying to rid the Church of such clerical perverts. (May 14, 2011)

    Is this the man you’re accusing of being a pedophile? I certainly hope not.

  23. vjtorley: Does that sound like the writing of a sexually repressed man, who couldn’t control himself when children were around? (I consider the “celibacy explanation” for priestly pedophilia to be crassly insensitive: what it basically says is that celibate males are unable to control their sexual urges. If that’s true, then rape becomes excusable, if it’s committed by a celibate male: he couldn’t help it. Do you really want to defend that position, Tom? I don’t think you do.)

    How do you go from the crimes of pedophilia and rape to them being excusable because a person is celibate. Where did Tom say that these are excusable?

  24. Tom English: Having made the trap obvious, I am all the more delighted to see you fall into it.

    And you didn’t even cover it with grass or otherwise camouflage it. Even after my sarcastic comment that highlighted your trap, he didn’t get it. Or maybe he has me on ignore.

  25. Hint: Single-payer insurance leads to doctors killing patients, but the requirement of celibacy does not lead to priests raping children? Really? Come up with some good anecdotes. I am absolutely sure the way to understand stuff like this is with carefully chosen anecdotes.

  26. Acartia: It must be true. It was written in a blog.

    Allan Miller says we can’t trust what anyone says at this blog. I think we should rename it to Honestly Ignorant.

  27. Tom,

    Single-payer insurance leads to doctors killing patients…

    Did I claim this? In my OP, I quoted Weigel, who wrote that Canada’s health care system exacerbates “Canada’s vulnerability to the culture of death.” But the real culprit, as identified by Weigel himself at the end of the excerpt I quoted, is utilitarianism: cost/benefit analysis dictates end-of-life decisions. Don’t think I’m here to defend America’s health care system, whether it be its present one or its previous one.

    Having made the trap obvious, I am all the more delighted to see you fall into it.

    Nice try, Tom. I’ve seen you make mistakes before about people’s identity (see also here), so I had to consider the possibility that you’d done it again. And no, I didn’t fall into your trap. Look at the last two posts of mine. See any names? Nope. See any statements about Fr. X? Nope.

    While it occurred to me that you could be just making stuff up to get a rise out of me, I had to also consider the virulent anti-clericalism of some readers of this blog, who would believe any accusation about a Catholic priest (even one made tongue in cheek and without a source). My previous two posts were addressed to you, but written for their benefit, not yours. I also had a man’s good name to consider.

    You also wrote:

    What would you expect from a pastoral care system that demands celibacy of caregivers, but sexual exploitation of the most vulnerable in the system?

    And here’s what a leading New Atheist wrote about clerical sexual abuse, back in 2010:

    Can blame be laid, too, at the door of religion? I think so. After all, these crimes are due to a combination of faith-based moral sanctity, inspiring parents to turn their children over to priests for guidance and education, and the twisted Church policies of celibacy and sexual repressiveness, which undoubtedly promoted sexual predation.

    In other words, the line you were pushing (even if you say it was only tongue-in-cheek) was one which some atheists actually take quite seriously.

  28. Acartia,

    Where did Tom say that these are excusable?

    If something bad is inevitable, then it’s excusable.

    After making an “accusation” of pedophilia, Tom commented: “What would you expect from a pastoral care system that demands celibacy of caregivers…?” The logic here is simple enough: celibate priests are ticking time bombs, saddled by the Church with the obligation to live up to an impossible demand, so they’re bound to “blow up” sooner or later. That kind of logic would excuse rape. Please note that I’m not accusing Tom of holding this absurd view: even in my post above, I wrote: “Do you really want to defend that position, Tom? I don’t think you do.” I’m just saying that the “clerical-pedophilia-is-caused-by-celibacy” meme has a nasty implication which its peddlers don’t appear to grasp.

  29. vjtorley: And no, I didn’t fall into your trap. Look at the last two posts of mine. See any names? Nope. See any statements about Fr. X? Nope.

    While it occurred to me that you could be just making stuff up to get a rise out of me, I had to also consider the virulent anti-clericalism of some readers of this blog, who would believe any accusation about a Catholic priest (even one made tongue in cheek and without a source). My previous two posts were addressed to you, but written for their benefit, not yours. I also had a man’s good name to consider.

    Hence the second part of the trap. It amazing me that you do not see the irony. Tom makes an unsubstantiated accusation against an anonymous priest with an anonymous victim and you question the validity of his claim. Rightfully so, in my opinion. Yet you make an unsubstantiated claim against an anonymous doctor(s) with an anonymous victim in an anonymous hospital in an anonymous town, with no sources other than the priest who told the story, and you expect us to believe you. How do the two stories differ?

  30. The Catholic Church surely has a problem with pedophilia, but I can’t see how it has anything to do with celibacy per se. We would need evidence that pedophilia is more common among celibates than it is among non-celibates. Is there any such evidence?

    I would think, in my own naivete, that the problem in the Catholic Church has much more to do with hierarchy and secrecy, and a culture whereby pedophiles are protected by their superiors, than with the demands of celibacy.

  31. Acartia,

    Tom makes an unsubstantiated accusation against an anonymous priest with an anonymous victim and you question the validity of his claim. Rightfully so, in my opinion. Yet you make an unsubstantiated claim against an anonymous doctor(s) with an anonymous victim in an anonymous hospital in an anonymous town, with no sources other than the priest who told the story, and you expect us to believe you. How do the two stories differ?

    I quoted from my source, and linked to an article (which contained the quote) by a respected Catholic author with 18 honorary doctorates, who personally knows the source. I also emailed the source twice, and received replies on both occasions. On top of that, I identified a second source, who corroborated the account given by my original source, and whom I am currently trying to get in touch with. Tom has done none of the above.

  32. vjtorley:
    Hi Kantian Naturalist,

    Well said.

    And even more damning for the Church. The cost of damaging children vs the benefit of avoiding bad publicity for the Church.

  33. Holy crap, VJ!
    Not only did you fall into the uncamouflaged trap, you are now flailing around in it.

    Gee, I have one source, “DD” : “Fr. Tim has a history of posting nonsense that is easily proven to be false. It’s called confirmation bias.” and “Other than a club for pedophiles, why do we need the Catholic Church? It’s a business, and nothing more.”
    So my evidence is as good as yours.
    That is, nil.
    I did particularly enjoy this screw-up

    vjtorley: Ask yourself this: would a priest facing allegations of child abuse make a public stink about false accusations against another priest?

    False accusations? Huh? Monsignor Robert Borne (the priest in question) was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.
    Fr. X made a public stink about the fact that the North Bay Nugget referred to Borne (accurately) as a “former Mattawa priest”. What upset your correspondent was the guilt-by-association, rather than the sexual assault of a teenager.
    Niiiice.

  34. I don’t think that anybody with half a brain thinks that celibacy leads to pedophilia or ephebophilia. It’s just that men who are aroused by kids are likely to find the priesthood rather appealing; men with normal urges are likely to find celibacy unappealing. This latter fact is the main driver behind the push to get rid of celibacy: recruitment.
    Everybody knows that celibacy leads to alcoholism.

  35. Mung: Allan Miller says we can’t trust what anyone says at this blog. I think we should rename it to Honestly Ignorant.

    I see your point ,you are the most prolific contributor to the blog.

  36. vjtorley: If something bad is inevitable, then it’s excusable.

    Who said anything about inevitable? It is not inevitable that a person with sexual urges will act on them. They remain responsible for their actions. If you put a hundred people with pedophile urges in close proximity to and a position of authority over children, the risk of a sexual assault increases. But the fact that the risk is higher does not release the individual of any legal or moral responsibiliy.

    I don’t want to put words in Tom’s mouth, but I think what he was saying is that the church’s position on the celibacy of priests, a requirement that was not always the case, will tend to attract people with pedophile urges. Whether out of guilt and an effort to keep these urges in check, or for more nefarious reasons, doesn’t really matter. It has the affect of putting people with pedophile urges in close proximity to children. This is just a recipe for disaster. But as reprehensible as these acts by a few priests is, the more reprehensible act was the cover-ups that occurred further up the church hierarchy. But this is a discussion for another day.

  37. vjtorley: I quoted from my source, and linked to an article (which contained the quote) by a respected Catholic author with 18 honorary doctorates, who personally knows the source. I also emailed the source twice, and received replies on both occasions. On top of that, I identified a second source, who corroborated the account given by my original source, and whom I am currently trying to get in touch with. Tom has done none of the above.

    VJT, it still comes down to a story told by a single person. The fact that it is retold by others does not constitute additional sources. This reminds me of KF’s oft related claim that there were 500 independent corroborations of the resurrection. When, in fact, it is based on a single line in the bible of there being 500 witnesses to the resurrection.

    It still comes down to the word of a priest who is on record of opposing doctor assisted suicide and of using alarmist rhetoric to do so. A priest who refused to provide any corroborating evidence to support his claim.

    Again, if what you say is actually true, this doctor would be charged with criminal negligence causing death, all doctors involved would be charged with malpractice, and it would be all over the news. The wishes of the grieving family members would not, and should not, come into play in the decision to investigate and lay charges. If the good priest is absolutely certain about the facts, which he appears to be, he has a moral obligation to contact the police directly and provide them with everything he knows. Why has he not done so?

  38. Acartia: the church’s position on the celibacy of priests, a requirement that was not always the case, will tend to attract people with pedophile urges

    Is there any evidence to suggest that this is actually true?

  39. Acartia,

    We could argue all day about this case, but in the end, it all comes down to further corroboration. I’m currently trying to get some, and I shall keep you posted, when I learn more.

    DNA_Jock,

    If the evidence I presented above didn’t convince you that the priest is an innocent man, then I guess nothing will. I’m glad to see you acknowledge that celibacy doesn’t lead to pedophilia; you claim, however, that the priesthood tends to attract people with that depravity, because of the opportunities it affords them to be in contact with children. If that explanation were correct, then removing the celibacy requirement for priests would make no difference at all.

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