A Catholic priest who had served time for having a sexual relationship with a woman...
A criminal offence?
I wrote about Fr. Wenthe before - without checking back on what I wrote, I think I was sad, mad, and self-righteous to some degree. I was disappointed in the failings of another priest. I assessed matters on what was reported in the news as well as what was reported to me by those who 'knew' him. I said I knew him, but only as a priest, not a friend or a colleague. That said, Wenthe is slated for a new trial on grounds his constitutional rights were violated. It is good news. Why? Because the punishment doesn't fit the crime - if in fact, a crime was committed at all.
Both parties appear to be consenting adults. No one was raped. I know of similar stories of women, spiritual directees, who had sex with their priest. Unethical, immoral, sinful, to be sure, but in the few cases I know about, the women consented - although they could possibly be considered vulnerable adults, having issues with depression and so on, thus seeking direction and counsel from the priest. Like a doctor or psychiatrist, the priest is considered to possess 'enormous power and influence' over the victim. The law in Minnesota was designed to protect victims from such influence. I understand all of that. But...
I'm very happy Wenthe has another chance. The story here:
A Catholic priest who had served time for having a sexual relationship with a woman, allegedly while he was meeting with her for spiritual counseling, will get a new trial because his constitutional rights were violated, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Monday.
Christopher Thomas Wenthe, 46, was convicted last year of one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct during a religious-advice meeting. He maintained that it was a consensual relationship and that no crime was committed.
Monday, the appellate court ordered a new trial for Wenthe in Ramsey County. - Finish reading here.We'll see what the court says. I think 'consenting adults' may be the key - we are not talking minors here. As Fr. Benedict Groeschel once said: "on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime." Naive as that statement may be, and though he was mistaken as regards minors, it just might be applicable in Fr. Wenthe's case.