February 10, 2005

A crisis at Calvert

The attributes of a good priest are perhaps too many to name in a single editorial. However, most people on campus seem to agree that Father Michael Yaikatis possessed more than his fair share of them. In the fallout from this week's scandal, the greatest casualty appears to be the Catholic community's loss of a great priest.

Rather than expressing feelings of anger and betrayal, students on campus who attend Calvert House, and who know Father Yakaitis, have responded overwhelmingly in support for their former priest. The fact that Yakaitis committed an indiscretion, however grave, in his past is not grounds for concluding that students have been saved from a predator. Given Yaikatis' statement and the response of students, there is no reason to believe that he repeated the sort of behavior that has blemished his career. Nevertheless, a career has been further damaged, Catholic students have lost a figure they respected, and the Catholic Church has another scandal to weather.

The blame for the events must ultimately rest on the lack of prudence exercised by both the Archdiocese of Chicago—in appointing a man with Yakaitis' past to a position in a university community—and Yakaitis himself for accepting the position. Regardless of his gifts as a priest, Yakaitis and the Archdiocese compromised his credibility as a priest by placing him in a setting where his behavior would be ineluctably suspect. When all is said and done, it is a shame to realize that with Yakaitis' considerable talents, he could have substaintially improved his former congregation; instead, he caused them hurt and distress.