Bishop Anthony Taylor of the Catholic Church’s Little Rock diocese has published counsel in the Arkansas Catholic about the identification of people as paying customers of the Ashley Madison website. It promoted itself as an outlet for people seeking adulterous affairs.
The bishop notes the possibility of impersonation in the records, whether malicious or by prank, and that some users didn’t necessarily engage in affairs. He says each case should be viewed individually. Some charges occurred long ago, he notes, perhaps before families encountered and resolved fidelity issues. But:
The effects of the recent Ashley Madison data breach are widespread and the names revealed include people of all walks of life, including members of the clergy, Church employees and volunteers in our parishes. Some of the people involved simply paid an entry fee to visit this pornographic website in a time of weakness, viewed the options and did little else. Others paid far larger fees to avail themselves of a broad range of far more troubling “services,” even including arrangements for the adulterous liaisons for which this site has become notorious.
He suggested pastoral and family services for those affected, concluding:
Knowing our own weakness and sinfulness, let us treat all involved with the same love and compassion that Jesus extended to sinners and those wounded by the sins of others. I imagine that for some people, publicity surrounding the Ashley Madison data breach may also open old wounds from past adulterous affairs, for which healing is still needed. Let us pray in a special way for the spouses and marriages of those whose names have been revealed. They are now dealing not only with bitter feelings of betrayal, but also with public humiliation. They need our love and support most of all.
On a related topic: Ashley Madison is trying hard to maintain its business, claiming all the publicity has spurred new signups included tens of thousands of actively participating women. (You may have noticed if you perused the hacked data how they nearly all seemed to be men.) Some 30 million people should be saying at this point: “Fool me once …”