Les Femmes


Dear Readers,

My son does a great imitation of a comedian named Emo Phillips. One of Emo’s routines has a great punchline, “Ambiguity…the devil’s volleyball.” I recalled Emo recently during an e-mail exchange with Fr. Stephen Rossetti, CEO of St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, a treatment center for priests with problems, or one might call it a problem treatment center for priests. St. Luke has a troubling history. We cover a little of it in The Twilight Zone and there’s more on our website and in a thickening envelope in my filing cabinet.

Trying to pin down Fr. Rossetti on the truth about St. Luke is like trying to nail jello to the wall. Father claims St. Luke is Catholic through and through. But can his word be trusted? Or are we playing a volleyball match? He sent me a glowing three-page “visitation report” by the Archdiocese of Washington. I couldn’t help wondering if it has the same value as the Vatican-required 1981 seminary visitations described by Chuck Wilson of the St. Joseph Foundation as a “total sham.” Cardinal McCarrick is not himself an icon of trust for orthodox Catholics.

I wasn’t raised to be a critical thinker and it got me into trouble as a young person, because I trusted everyone in authority. Blindly. Every doctor was Albert Schweitzer. Every priest was Jesus. Every teacher was Annie Sullivan. I was easy to fool. My moral theology teacher propagandized for situation ethics. I bought the lie. On a college retreat a priest convinced me my Church was “outdated.” My ob/gyn did abortions on the side. I found it out many years after he convinced me to allow him to induce my second child for his own convenience.

What opened my eyes and made me a critical thinker? The pro-life movement. Abortion is a black and white issue if there ever was one. No shades of gray. No ambiguity. Murdering the innocent is immoral. Period! If doctors could be Joseph Mengele, then teachers could be Joseph Goebbels. Priests could be Martin Luther. It should have been obvious. But I was a starry-eyed idealist, a naif who wanted to believe the best of everyone. Disillusion made me grow up and realize that some people don’t deserve trust. How do you know? One measure is clarity. Truth is like a glass of distilled water – crystal clear. No impurities, no ambiguity, no beating around the bush. Say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. How does Fr. Rossetti measure up on the clarity scale? The glass is cloudy. How does he measure up in the volleyball game? He’s playing both sides of the net. Serve: “One of my first acts as President of Saint Luke Institute was to discontinue using the penile plethysmographies.” Volley: he apparently allowed the immoral test for years. Serve: “I believe everything the Church teaches about human sexuality.” Volley: His silence indicates he used the gravely immoral test with his own patients and he has downplayed the homosexual nature of the sex abuse crisis and denies homosexual abuse is a problem. Serve: “I am grateful for the witness of the great saints.” Volley: But he quotes secularists, an occultist and a heretic in his presentation – not a single saint.

Father’s words and actions set him squarely on both sides of the volleyball net. So who is he? The devout Catholic priest in total conformity with the teaching of the Church? Or the homosexualist who sees no problem with “age-appropriate” sodomy? I wish I knew.

It pains me to say it, because I would like to trust everyone, but I have no reason to trust Fr. Rossetti and a growing number of reasons to distrust him. When someone won’t give you a straight answer to a direct question you wonder what he’s hiding. But I have promised Fr. Rossetti prayers and I urge our readers to pray for him as well.

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