Child Sexual Abuse and Father Flynn
Catherine Pierce Dr.Lyon English Composition 10 October 2012 Guilty Conscience It’s safe to say that the Catholic Church does not have the best reputation when it comes to sexual harassment and child molestation accusations.Cases such as these have been coming up for years but all seem to have similar outcomes.
The priest typically gets a slap on the wrist, gets moved to another parish, and the issue is never spoken of again.
In some of the more controversial cases, the priest is removed from the priesthood simply to get his name away from any association with the church because the church is known to do anything it can to cover up such accusations and rumors. This is no different for Father Flynn in the book Doubt, where he is accused of making sexual advances on an eighth grade boy that attends the school that he works in. He is accused by the principle of the school, Sister Aloysius, who is convinced he is guilty of giving the young boy wine from the sacristy and making inappropriate advances on him after doing so.
Sister Aloysius may not have real evidence but based on Father Flynn’s behavior, his interest in boys with little to no friends, and his guilty conscience, it is easy to see that he is in fact guilty. Father Flynn, on the outside, seems like a very caring man that wants nothing more than to make everyone in his community feel welcome and comfortable. This would be all well and good if his behavior around the young boys did not so closely resemble that of a pedophile. Pedophiles typically gain the trust of their victims which is exactly what Father Flynn does with the eighth grade boys that he coaches in basketball.
He likes to have bull sessions with the boys inside the rectory and talk to them as if he is one of them. They are also said to have a good standing within their community which he clearly has since he is the communities priest (Ruggles). Father Flynn is very good at making the boys feel comfortable around him, especially when he talks to them about things such as getting girls to like them. In Act III, he says to the whole basketball team, “You try to talk to a girl with those filthy paws, Mr. Conroy, she’s going to take off like she’s being chased by the Red Chinese! ” (Shanley 16).
He likes to joke around with the boys to make them feel comfortable around him and to make himself seem more relatable. This is not exactly the behavior that someone in his position during that time should have with young boys. He should be much more authoritative and guiding since he is a clergyman. Another component to Father Flynn’s guilt in the fact that he chooses the young boys that do not have many friends to have a deeper connection with. Father Flynn sees that Donald Muller is very isolated from the other kids that attend the school because he is the first and only African American child to go there.
In Act VIII, Father Flynn says to Sister Aloysius, “I am trying to do good! ” (Shanley 51). One of the number one characteristics of a pedophile is that they will try to “court” the children and lavish attention and concern for their well-being upon them (Pedophilia). He has it in his mind that by showing this extra attention to the boy that has no friends, that he is actually doing a good deed. He shows extra attention towards Donald because he is vulnerable and does not have friends to turn to in order to explain his problems to.
Father Flynn also knows that Donald has a troubled home life and is beaten by his father. He sees this as an excuse for Donald’s behavior instead of the obvious fact that he has been sexually abused. The third and final reason that proves Father Flynn’s guilt is the fact that he became overly defensive when Sister Aloysius told him that she had gotten in contact with one of the former nuns that he worked with at his previous parish. Father Flynn has an extremely guilty conscience in this case because he becomes frustrated when Sister Aloysius did not go straight to the Pastor of that parish.
He says to her in Act VIII when he realizes she spoke to a nun, “That’s not the proper route for you to have taken, Sister! The Church is clear. You’re supposed to go through the pastor. ” (Shanley 53). Father Flynn sees that Sister Aloysius has not followed the typical protocol of finding out information about his past which makes him nervous because he knows that a nun would know the real story. He knows that a nun would not be allowed to say anything that pertained to the case but he also knows that she would be honest with a fellow sister like Sister Aloysius. It is known hat when a priest has been accused of molestation or rape, the church has been very adamant about covering it up and being very easy on the accused clergyman. ABCNews. com posted a story about a Boston priest that was repeatedly accused of molesting children over a 30 year period. The site was quoted as saying the priest, “was treated leniently and sympathetically by the highest officials in the Boston Archdiocese, who continually re-assigned him as a parish priest. ” (Claiborne). Since Sister Aloysius did not go to the higher authority, Father Flynn knows that this fellow nun would not lie and that she would tell her everything.
Many skeptics and people that are taking Father Flynn’s side will and say that he is a genuine man that cares for the children of his parish and only wants what is best for them. This can easily be refuted by simply talking about his discussion with Sister Aloysius and how as soon as he found out that she supposedly spoke to another nun, he called for a transfer like she told him to. He has an extremely guilty conscience because he knows that the nun from his former parish know what he did.
Although it may seem that Father Flynn is just trying to show everyone the compassion they deserve, his behavior resembles that of a pedophile much too closely and he seems to shows even more interest in the boys that don’t have friends. If Father Flynn was an innocent man he would have fought harder for himself instead of believing Sister Aloysius when she said she spoke to another nun and leaving their parish. After compiling all the evidence against him, it would be hard for anyone to disagree with the fact that Father Flynn is indeed a guilty man. Work Cited Shanley, John Patrick. Doubt.
New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2005. Print. Ruggles, Tammy L. “Profile of a Pedophile. ” MHMatters. N. p. , 13 Feb. 2009. Web. 3 Oct. 2012. <http://www. mental-healthmatters. com/index. php? option=com_content&view= article&id=519>. “Pedophilia and Child Sexual Molestation. ” Pedophilia and Child Sexual Molestation. PSC, n. d. Web. 3 Oct. 2012. <http://www. crisisconnectioninc. org/sexualassault/pedophilia_and_ molestation. htm>. Claiborne, Ron. “Pedophile Priest Protected by Church. ” ABC News. ABC News Network, 23 Jan. Web. 03 Oct. 2012. <http://abcnews. go. com/WNT/story? id=130474>.