When you have a moment, look up the definition of the word hypocrite. When you find it, do not be surprised to see, next to it, a picture of James Jackson. For those unfamiliar with the goings-on in the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, Jackson is the now-suspended pastor of St. Mary’s Church who was arrested recently for a range of criminal offenses related to the possession and distribution of child pornography.
While despicable beyond words, what makes Jackson’s case even more breathtaking is his penchant for writing columns decrying sex abuse scandals perpetrated by “psychosexually dysfunctional” priests, and then publishing those works in the weekly bulletin at his church. He even wrote about former Cardinal Timothy McCarrick, describing him as a “creep” who, while engaging in public good works, simultaneously led a sinful private life.
As it turns out, Jackson knows more than a little about that sort of thing.
Needless to say, every person facing criminal charges deserves the presumption of innocence. Jackson’s defense attorney, though, has his work cut out for him. First, a police task force Identified the IP address of a computer at St. Mary’s rectory as being actively engaged in viewing and sharing videos consistent with the sexual abuse of children. Second, a search warrant at that rectory found a two-terabyte external storage device containing multiple videos of young children engaged in various sexual acts. That device belonged to Jackson.
To assist with his legal bills, a group of parishioners set up a web site to collect funds and share their views about Jackson’s situation. Many posts on that site are disheartening, as they suggest some sort of plot to discredit Jackson, going on to describe him as a someone they trust unreservedly. One hopes these assessments are accurate, for that is what countless other Catholic families said about their own parish priests only to learn, far too late, that they were sexual predators. In case after case, those awful men ingratiated themselves into families while, at the same time, sexually abusing the children of those who trusted them. Who, after all, would ever think that a Catholic Priest would commit such evil acts.
For our purposes, hypocrisy is defined as the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another, or the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. By extension, then, a hypocrite is someone who practices hypocrisy.
In addition to being a disgraced Catholic Priest criminally charged with moral turpitude, James Jackson is, by definition, a hypocrite.