Time moves with incredible speed as one gets older. It accelerates especially as one’s children advance into adolescence and begin to move off into the world, carrying with them whatever strengths and weaknesses we have imparted. A few years ago our eldest son left for a minor seminary. He fought hard to be allowed to go, and he had an amazing array of arguments to support his desire. The only thing my wife and I had against it was his age. Fourteen is a short number of years to have lived. Is it enough time to outfit a boy to meet the modern world? Has he been sufficiently formed in the hurly-burly of family life to believe in the truths which we are called by God to live, and to know that we shall sometimes fail in the attempt? Has he learned mercy as well as justice? Truth as well as compassion? I stayed up many nights talking the matter over with my wife, praying, thinking — and worrying, as fathers are prone to do in these times.
Articles in the media have reported on my presentation at a conference on sexual abuse in the Church, held in Ottawa this past March… The criminal abuser in my own past, a man who had damaged the lives of so many boys, was convicted under law as a “dangerous sexual offender,” was released after nine years in prison and then went on to apply to enter a Canadian seminary. He was accepted by the then-archbishop with full knowledge of the man’s past, a fact which came out during a later civil trial, after the man had been ordained a priest. Now the full story is a matter of public record.