Saturday, May 17, 2003

It's reassignment time, including in Virginia , where..

A Norfolk priest who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor sex offense last year is among the Roman Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Richmond who have been reassigned, effective June 2. The Rev. Wayne L. Ball, 42, who formerly served at St. Gerard parish in Roanoke, will move from Holy Trinity church in Norfolk to St. John Catholic Church in Highland Springs. Ball pleaded guilty to a charge of frequenting a bawdy place in Norfolk General District Court in December. He and a 41-year-old man were both charged after police found them in a parked car in a Norfolk park. Ball was sentenced to 80 hours of community service, to be completed by June 3. The case was continued until July 8, at which time the charge will be dismissed if Ball has no other criminal charges filed against him.

It struck me as I read this that in decades past, the end result of this would be exactly the same - the priest would be given his pastorate. The intervening events, though, would have been quite different. The police would have dropped charges and destroyed files. The newspapers would not have reported it, and no one would have known, and the next parish would get its new pastor.What's changed? Everyone knows about the sin (and particular weakness) of their new's kind of strange, and I'm trying to figure out a way that strikes a more appropriate middle ground, one that encompasses justice and compassion, but at the same time doesn't seem to minimize the situation, as this solution does, by rewarding the offender with a new pastorate a mere five months after the offense...