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A response from Father Jenkins

| Monday, November 19, 2018

In a Nov. 12 letter to The Observer, Deion Kathawa was sharply critical of remarks I made in an interview for an online publication, Crux. Although Mr. Kathawa quoted only three of my words from that relatively lengthy interview, he saw my statement that it is unhelpful to cast clerical abusers simply as monsters as a disgraceful attempt to excuse or mitigate the enormous evil clerical abuse causes in the lives of victims, their families and the Church. Nothing could be further from my intention nor, I believe, from a fair reading of my words.

My point was that parts of the lives of many of these men are, to all appearances, good and generous, and so it is difficult for others to detect or perhaps even imagine the evil they do. Indeed, the more positive aspects of the man’s life may enable him to convince himself that his life is worthy and rationalize away the evil of the abuse.

The most dangerous lies are those we tell ourselves, for they blind us to the evil we do. The good a priest does can blind him to the evil of his actions, and make it hard for others to detect or even imagine the darker areas of the man’s life. If we fail to acknowledge the complexity of such a life, we will be less able to understand and identify perpetrators and prevent future abuse.


Fr. John Jenkins

President, University of Notre Dame

Nov. 18

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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