When Doctor K Became Doctor No

Growing up as a Mets fan there was nobody more dominating that Dwight (Doc) Gooden in the 80s.

In 1984, Gooden became the youngest player to appear in an All-Star Game. He struck out the side in the 5th, as AL batters: Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon, and Alvin Davis grabbed the pine. Fernando Valenzuela had already struck out the side in the fourth, as future Hall of Famers Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson, and George Brett all fell victim to him. The two pitchers’ combined performance broke an All-Star game record, that stood for 50 years (Carl Hubbell’s five consecutive strikeouts in 1934).

He threw much of his career away to cocaine but then one last spring evening in May Doc Gooden grabbed the spotlight.

It was 16 years ago today at Yankee Stadium that Doc Gooden threw that no hitter. I covered the game for WOR Radio. The final out as you saw was a high pop up that seemed like it would never come down. Afterwards we asked Jeter what he was thinking as he hovered under the ball.

“Don’t drop it.”

Gooden was asked by my esteemed colleague, Jack Curry, then of the NY Times if this made his comeback complete. He thought so and thanked all of those folks who believed in him, especially George Steinbrenner who gave him a second chance.

He had a few good moments in his career but never regained that old late 80s form.

He ran afoul of the law again and again. Eventually he ended up on celebrity rehab.


Doc was always a nice guy in the locker room and knows he clearly is an addict, someone who has no control over his demons. People often don’t understand addiction. So today let’s pray for all those caught in that trap of addiction and for those who try to help them recover.

For news on Doc Gooden and his continued recovery—follow him on twitter @DocGooden16

Who’s To Blame for Clergy Sex Abuse?

Over the years since the height of clergy sex abuse in Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego and now Philadelphia, people are quick to blame one or another group of people for clergy sex abuse. David Gibson, has an excellent piece in the National Catholic Reporter today that details that the usual groups that get scapegoated don’t deserve the blame and that conservatives and liberals (for lack of better terms) both take one on the chin here.

Let’s look at some individual groups who often get blamed and cite Gibson’s piece in debunking a few myths:

1) Pedophile Priests: Generally defined as “male priests who abuse children,” in essence these are only 5% of the men who were defined as abusers in the study. Gibson doesn’t mention this but clearly it can be derived from the study (and as mentioned here before), the real problem is Ephebophilia (men who abuse teens because their own sexual growth got stunted at that age for themselves). A quick example to extrapolate.

Take a 14 year old boy, who begins to notice that he has a same-sex attraction. (As a crude further example: A friend I have who is gay said that the first time he saw pornographic pictures, he noticed the men more than the women.) However, knowing his family or his religion’s stance on homosexuality, he also begins to repress these urges, or more accurately, ignore them altogether. Essentially what happens is that they remain at that age sexually, where they start ignoring those urges. This doesn’t mean that they even have to act on those urges. But they do have to admit that they have them, because sooner or later those feelings will need to be addressed and they will act them out in a “more than unhealthy” way.

2) Homosexuality: From Gibson’s article:

“…the researchers found no statistical evidence that gay priests were more likely than straight priests to abuse minors—a finding that undermines a favorite talking point of many conservative Catholics. The disproportionate number of adolescent male victims was about opportunity, not preference or pathology, the report states.
What’s more, researchers note that the rise in the number of gay priests from the late 1970s onward actually corresponded with “a decreased incidence of abuse—not an increased incidence of abuse.”

So if you think being a homosexual and a priest is the problem, then you are sadly mistaken–an all too frequent refrain from some. In fact, gay men are LESS likely to be abusers as you can note in the decrease of incidence and the rise of the so-called lavender priesthood.

3) Celibacy: Wrong again:

Celibacy remained a constant throughout peaks and valleys of abuse rates, and priests may be less likely to abuse children today than men in analogous professions. As a result, liberal Catholics who advocate a married priesthood, or those who are convinced that committing to a lifetime without sex must lead to perversion, may not have the abuse crisis to leverage their arguments.

4) The seminary system: A yes and a no answer here. It seems that those who were trained in the 60s and 70s didn’t receive all the tools they would need to prepare for a life of celibacy. I would note that many here would note that gay men were most likely closeted at this point in their lives and there wasn’t an openness about sexual preference at that point in history, never mind in seminary culture. Assuming that at least some of the priests in seminary at this time had a homosexual preference, that would most likely mean that they sublimated their sexual integration at the preference for ordination. If found out, they would have been weeded out of the seminary. The failure of the seminaries to weed out men with an unhealthy sexual integration seems to be the primary cause of the scandal in the 60s and 70s–which would account for most of those found to be abusers.
Gibson also notes well the improvement in seminary training and in psychological standards. He notes:

Better preparation for a life of celibacy is key, however, and improved seminary training and education in the 1980s corresponds to a “sharp and sustained decline” in abuse since then—a dramatic improvement that has often been overlooked.

The huge spike in abuse cases in the 1960s and 1970s, the authors found, was essentially due to emotionally ill-equipped priests who were trained in earlier years and lost their way in the social cataclysm of the sexual revolution.

There is also a “situational” aspect of the problem, meaning the stress of parish work, isolated lifestyle and the fact that many priests work without much oversight all contribute to raising the levels of “deviant behavior.”

Some good news. It looks as if several solutions in helping with the issue of keeping priests healthy are boons that many of us would well welcome.

1) Lay Ministry Assistance: With the dearth in the number of priests, lay ministers will be needed to support priests and to help them avoid overwork. As a lay minister, I think I can say that has been the case in the many jobs I’ve held. The work is stressful on us all, but still, the more people that are working the less the stress on the parish, pastor and church at large.

2) The need to combat clerical culture that fostered and concealed abusers is key. Gibson notes:

(Clerical culture) is remarkably similar to the law enforcement culture that allows police brutality. The church, like the police, is a hierarchical organization that operates in a decentralized way, with each department (or diocese) an authority unto itself and not inclined to open itself to oversight.
On Monday, the Vatican told bishops around the world to establish clear policies for dealing with clergy abusers; they issued a number of “guidelines” to convince bishops to comply with civil laws of reporting abuse accusations—if there are any. But the new Vatican policies also reiterate that each bishop will have the final say in any process, and that each bishop remains ultimately answerable only to the pope.
That approach is not likely to convince a flock that has learned by hard experience to be skeptical of their bishops—most recently in the wake of a recent grand jury report in Philadelphia detailing appalling lapses in dealing with abuse allegations.

And so, while we look for something or someone to blame, it seems that the blame is all too widespread. A healthy and integrated sexualty for priesthood and a more forthcoming attitude by the hierarchy with regards to abusers seems to be clear cut as a panacea.

Keeping Fr. Corapi in the Headlines

Staying in the news cycle has to be good for profits. I hate to sound so jaded but this statement that Deacon Greg posted today from Santa Cruz Media sounds awfully self-serving.

We are a secular corporation and not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. As such, we are not under the jurisdiction of any bishop or other official in the Catholic Church, although we have the utmost respect for Church authority.

We fully support Rev. John Corapi in this terrible trial, not surprisingly having begun on Ash Wednesday. Through the sacrifice and struggle of the desert and all of the dark moments that this entails, we are confident that the glory of the risen Lord will shine forth from the power of the Resurrection and Easter.

We have consulted with a number of canon lawyers. They have assured us that the actions of the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas are, on several points of canon law, illicit. It is our fervent hope that The Dallas Charter will be changed because of false accusations like this. There is no evidence at this time that Fr. Corapi did anything wrong, only the unsubstantiated rant of a former employee, who, after losing her job with this office, physically assaulted me and another employee and promised to “destroy” Father Corapi. We all continue to pray for this person, and we ask you to do the same.

There’s more at Deacon Greg’s link. For a so-called “secular company” they sound awfully religious in tone. It seems awfully strange for a secular company to go so far in denigrating the reputation of another employee in order to serve another client. Any lawyer I know would probably advise against that.

Sounds like there’s a lot more here than meets the eye. This former employee either has enough dirt to bring the entire company down along with Fr. Corapi or has done enough damage to the company already that the President of the corporation feels like there’s nothing to lose here.

Either way, I don’t think that Fr. Corapi needs the money that’s being provided. I would think that his religious superiors would still be on the hook for his legal expenses even while under suspension. It also seems weird to promote a priest under suspension, no matter how popular he is.

But it sure is good for business.

MLB: Understands Addiction

From MLB Fanhouse:

In a display of team unity, and deference to Josh Hamilton’s well known past struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, the Texas Rangers celebrated their American League Division Series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays with a shower composed of Canada Dry ginger ale rather than the customary one of champagne and domestic beer.

Nice! Some will quickly say that “just a little bit wouldn’t hurt him.” But those are the folks who just don’t understand addiction. Hamilton is powerless over his alcohol addiction (admitting that is the first step). And in a world where drinking is often linked with celebration, that can be a dangerous place for someone who is a recovering alcoholic.

Hamilton is one of the people who has been pretty public about his struggles and I commend him for that. This celebration should be a signal to many of us to be mindful of those who might not be able to control their drinking at parties, celebrations, social occasions, etc.

It’s also an opportunity for us to ask us if we know enough about addiction? Do we really understand it? Or do we shove the addicted person off to the side and say “He did it to himself?”

Today let’s pray for all those caught in addiction’s grasp and may we be able to reach out to others when they need a friend to help.