WORCESTER, Mass. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis has now defrocked a Massachusetts priest who was accused of sexually abusing a teenage male.
Peter Inzerillo was a priest in the diocese of Worcester. He has now been laicized at his own request, according to an announcement the diocese made on Thursday. The diocese stated, "As a result of the laicization, he may not function in any capacity as a priest or be referred to as a priest or as 'Father' in writing such as in event announcements or obituaries."
Inzerillo sexually abused a 19-year-old male in 1985. He was not criminally charged. But in 1999, he was named in a sex-abuse lawsuit against the diocese of Worcester. The suit ended in the diocese's largest-ever priest sex abuse settlement of about $300,000. Inzerillo was removed from public ministry in 2002 and has remained without public faculties ever since.
Inzerillo served as vocations director in the diocese of Worcester from 1983–1994. It was in that capacity that he perpetrated the abuse.
A 19-year-old boy told Inzerillo he was interested in the priesthood but had been sexually abused by a priest when he was 13. Then-Fr. Inzerillo responded by making the young man again a victim of homoerotic abuse.
Critics of the Catholic Church say the age-old discipline of priestly celibacy contributes to priest-sex abuse. But evidence suggests that abuse is no more common among Catholic priests than among teachers, coaches or other professions that involve interacting with children and teenagers. These are the types of positions that pedophiles often use as cover for their abuse.
Furthermore, 80–85 percent of priest-sex abuse victims were boys and young men — most of them post-pubescent. This leads some to argue that allowing men with same-sex attraction into the priesthood is the real problem.
In recent years, Vatican authorities have put out a series of rules barring men with same-sex attraction from entering priestly formation. In December 2016, the Vatican loosened restrictions to allow for seminarians with so-called "transitory" issues of sexual orientation.
Some seminaries in the United States flat-out ignore the Vatican's rules on the matter and admit same-sex-attracted men en masse.
In June 2017, Time magazine published a piece on the current generation of Catholic seminarians. Titled "The God Squad, the Next Generation of Catholic Priests," it noted that young men in priestly formation speak openly with their spiritual directors if they fail at chastity and/or have issues of sexual orientation.
This approach fails to distinguish issues of chastity from issues of sexual orientation. It suggests that heterosexuality and homosexuality are not as different as they are.
Furthermore, it is traditional practice to bar a young man from priestly formation if he lacks the virtue of chastity, regardless of any good qualities the young man might have in other matters.
The reasoning goes that a priest's job is to lead souls to God so they can be healed of their wounds, and a priest cannot be effective in that mission if he is busy dealing with his own wounds.