January 28, 2013
Catholic-bashers worldwide have new reason to bask in schadenfreude at the recent arrest of former Connecticut pastor Kevin Wallin, AKA “Monsignor Meth,” on drug-trafficking charges.
Except for pedophilia, the alleged details in Wallin’s sordid saga combine nearly all the elements that tend to please such blood-sniffing unbelievers. Wallin’s case is a clerical version of Breaking Bad where the antihero vends huge quantities of crystal meth, attempts to launder money through a sex shop called The Land of Oz & Dorothy’s Place, and engages in sexual trysts with “odd-looking men” while dressed as a woman. These details inevitably lead to lascivious headlines such as “The Kinky Priest Who Sold Meth” and “Cross-dressing priest indicted for dealing meth liked sex in rectory.”
(Oh, I’ll bet he liked it in the “rectory,” all right!)
As expected, the snark and smarm are bulging thick, veiny, and purplish on comment threads, as Christianity’s ever-emboldened naysayers use the story to indict Christianity generally and Roman Catholicism in particular. There are LOLs, LMAOs, and ROTFLMAOs in abundance, as well as entirely unconcealed glee at the Catholic Church’s ongoing public-relations self-immolation.
But it would seem to be a severe case of overreaching to indict the entire Holy Roman Church here. In Wallin’s case, Church officials appeared to act swiftly the moment there were allegations of impropriety. He was asked to resign in June 2011 soon after accusations of his rectory-rump-wranglin’ started to surface, and officials only found a bag of “sex paraphernalia” in his room after he officially left his post. And his acts of meth-dealing all appear to have occurred after he was suspended from public ministry in May of last year.
(Full disclosure: I was raised Catholic”including a dozen years at Catholic schools”but I now describe myself as agnostic, because I feel the only truly honest thing to do is admit that I have absolutely no idea why I’m here on Earth. I also strongly suspect that I may simply be too dumb to ever understand why. I didn’t have quite the best experiences with the Catholic clergy, and when stories of priestly sex abuse were gobbling up headlines ten years ago, my main objection was that no one seemed to be paying attention to the grievous and exceedingly sadistic sexual misdeeds of nuns.)
Still, as someone whose only training at a non-Catholic school came in college while obtaining a journalism degree, I often find myself wondering why our popular media tend to create an impression that clerical malfeasance is almost exclusively the domain of white Christians. One occasionally sees headlines about high-profile black pastors who allegedly molest boys or choke their own daughters, but they never seem to be reported with the same degree of triumphant lasciviousness as when the press catches a goyishe man of the cloth with his pants down.
Bloggers quickly compared “Monsignor Meth” to Protestant minister Ted Haggard, who also showed an affinity for sucking schlong and snorting crystal. But I’m reasonably sure I’m the first person on Earth to compare him to Baruch Chalomish, a “millionaire rabbi” who traded cocaine for sex in his “synagogue of sin.”
During a new millennium in which the term “Catholic priest” has been rendered synonymous with “pedophile,” there have been scads”scads, I tell you!”of stories involving Rabbis Behaving Badly, but somehow our modern media milieu has generally overlooked them.
As someone who takes his four years of journalism training far more seriously than his 12 years of Catholic indoctrination, methinks there are multitudinous sins of editorial omission afoot.