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I hate to post from Salon but this just torqued my ass!
January 10, 2002 6:36 AM   Subscribe

I hate to post from Salon but this just torqued my ass! "The Vatican has come up with new guidelines for the Roman Catholic Church to handle pedophilia accusations against priests, ordering church officials worldwide to inform it swiftly of such cases and declaring them subject to secrecy..."

Since when does being a Catholic priest exempt you from the law? Vatican II was supposed to bring Catholicism to the people and that included allowing man's laws to permeate the pontifical sphere that has protected so many priests for centuries. We expect holiness from these men, allowing for human failing and error; however, no one should be above the law!
posted by gloege (26 comments total)

 
We expect holiness from these men

We do?
posted by rushmc at 6:56 AM on January 10, 2002


Quote from article:

The guidelines, which are apparently aimed at centralizing Vatican control over such cases, are intended for use by Catholic dioceses and religious institutions and do not apply to government inquiries or prosecutions.


You actually read beyond the headline, right?
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:56 AM on January 10, 2002


Pedophilic priests should go to jail, if they commit criminal acts. If you read the article, this Vatican rule doesn't preclude that:

The guidelines, which are apparently aimed at centralizing Vatican control over such cases, are intended for use by Catholic dioceses and religious institutions and do not apply to government inquiries or prosecutions.

The Catholic Church still has to obey the law, this is just their way of dealing with the problem, additional to any government prosecution.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:00 AM on January 10, 2002


This seems like it has the potential for abuse. If the government has not yet taken action, it seems like the Catholic Church will do its damnedest (pun intended) to make sure that the priest won't get caught.

Sure, they'll do their own thing, ostracizing, perhaps excommunication (thought I doubt that), but it seems like it won't give the person up to the government.

It also allows the potential to keep conclusions secret. So only a few religious judges and investigators know about the allegations. They decide that the perpetrator is guilty, and he gets removed from the clergy. SFW? Where's the retribution?

I guess, on the whole, this could be good. There was a post on MeFi the past few days about how feminism might be out of hand. What I got from that is that even rape ALLEGATIONS hurt people..mostly men. This doctrine allows the Church to perform their own investigations without the child abuse allegations leaking out and people ostracising the priest....which helps if he didn't do it in the first place.
posted by taumeson at 7:07 AM on January 10, 2002


I think Catholic Priests accused of wrong doings should be subject to secret military tribunals. That'd lern 'em!
posted by bob bisquick at 7:14 AM on January 10, 2002


they'll do their own thing, ostracizing, perhaps excommunication
Or, really, just move them to another parish...
posted by mimi at 7:15 AM on January 10, 2002


So help me out here - is it actually true that there is an inordinate amount of Catholic Priests who molest children? Or is this just a media-exageratted thing? Or what?
posted by glenwood at 7:20 AM on January 10, 2002


A timely article from Salon considering what's going on in Boston.

Another Catholic priest was just outed for molesting children in the Boston area.

The standard archdiocesan practice here has been to relocate the priest once the molestation comes to light. Sometimes, there are several relocations, which is astonishing if you consider how many children are victimized for the sake of "secrecy".

Yesterday, Cardinal Law came out and apologized, but you know, it's too little, too late for the victims and seems to be a reoccuring pattern around here.
posted by jerseygirl at 7:22 AM on January 10, 2002


My personal favorite Vatican quirk is that it has a seat in the UN. It's a vocal and influential opponent of family planning/contraception, especially in developing nations. Gah.
posted by acornface at 7:33 AM on January 10, 2002


Yes I read the article and yes I read the statement on Vatican II. Did you read the article? Technically, you are accurate - they are NOT precluding secular law. Frankly, the Vatican is unable to preclude man's law with spiritual law. However, what they are doing is trying to impose pontifical secrecy on something that should not be kept within the church and under wraps.



Catholicism, like most Christian faiths, teaches that if a member of the faith has wronged you, you go to that person for reparation. If something cannot be worked out, you go to the church for absolution and reparation. The church will mediate. The Catholic Church does believe and has always believed that matters within the church remain within the church, including criminal wrongdoings.



Vatican II guidelines are basically lip service to the Catholic community and nothing more. It is an encouragement to the people to allow the Church to handle matters of pedophilia and thereby control its own PR. I suggest you stop being naive and read the article again.



Regarding the question from glenwood: "So help me out here - is it actually true that there is an inordinate amount of Catholic Priests who molest children? Or is this just a media-exageratted thing? Or what?" -> I think (and note think here - I could not find statistics on this) given the type of service the church has, the number of acolytes and laymen, and the secrecy behind so many closed doors while "training" these young men (and now sometimes women), that they are given more opportunity to abuse children than other Christian religions. I limit this comment to Christian religions because I am not well-read or versed enough in other religions to feel free to comment. I think the opportunity is abundant for priests to have alone time with kids, they have the authority and can certainly use their "holy" status to manipulate and abuse these young kids. Hence, why I feel that Vatican II's guidelines are neither stringent enough NOR deal with the real issue.
posted by gloege at 7:45 AM on January 10, 2002


jerseygirl: what gets me is that Law announced an official "Zero Tolerance" toward child molesting priests. My reaction: it was officially tolerated before?

glenwood: that depends on your definition of "inordinate". These cases are out there--more than I can count. The media isn't making them up.
posted by jpoulos at 7:48 AM on January 10, 2002


Gloege: I wonder how much Catholic mandated priestly celibacy contributes to these problems..

And it must be a fairly big problem, because the Vatican is giving it attention like this (I'm no Catholic, so I have no idea), and keep in mind, there are thousands and thousands of churches and priests where this could occur. Too bad there aren't any statistics.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:59 AM on January 10, 2002


Gloege: I wonder how much Catholic mandated priestly celibacy contributes to these problems..

Good point. Lord knows if I wasn't getting laid on a regular basis, I'd be molesting kids like crazy. Maybe investigating the root of why these people are drawn to the priesthood would be more effective.
posted by yerfatma at 8:05 AM on January 10, 2002


I don't think it's that "celebacy leads to molestation"....the more probable correlation is that many male child molesters are drawn towards preisthood, because they think they are sinful creatures, and hope that the life of preisthood will stop their thoughts and transgressions.
posted by jennak at 8:13 AM on January 10, 2002


My personal favorite Vatican quirk is that it has a seat in the UN.

Permanent observer status. They don't have a vote.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:14 AM on January 10, 2002


Is it actually true that there is an inordinate amount of Catholic Priests who molest children?

No, there is likely no truth to this claim. Statistically speaking (Damned Lies and Statistics), the number of priests that are pedophiles is no greater than the number of high-level corporate executives, bus drivers, janitors, fast food employees, doctors, and day care workers who are pedophiles. The reason you hear more about pedophilic priests is twofold: first, they are "public" servants and therefore subject to more public speculation; second, being men of the cloth, they are supposed to lead more virtuous lives than the common folk, inspiring that much more outrage when a spiritual leader commits these crimes.

Keep in mind, also, that the word 'pedophile' implies only that the person is sexually attracted to a minor; not that they have sex with minors. I'm sure that there are plenty of the former who never act on their feelings. Some of those are probably priests.

My reaction: it was officially tolerated before?

"Zero Tolerance" laws are often enacted to give more teeth to existing laws. Stronger punishments, etc.

As far as the so-called "secrecy" goes: how many organizations, businesses, and groups do you know of that, when forced to discipline one of their members/employees/etc., make their disciplinary proceedings and subsequent actions a matter of public record? Does your company announce to the world all of its internal business? Are there press releases being sent out when someone receives a reprimand, or is fired? The answer is 'no'. Just like any organization, the Catholic church has the right to mete out its own punishment towards members without interference from the public if this doesn't preclude legal justice, and it doesn't. End of story.
posted by Danelope at 8:14 AM on January 10, 2002


hope that the life of preisthood will stop their thoughts and transgressions...but of course, it doesn't. They need help, obviously.

In Washington, DC, there's a man with a sign who is always standing on Massachusetts Avenue, right outside of the Naval Observatory (where the Vice President lives, and near a Catholic church). The sign reads something like, "Catholic Seminaries Breed Pedophiles."

I really like being a Catholic, but I always cringe when I see that sign.
posted by jennak at 8:16 AM on January 10, 2002


Perhaps they should go the route of other religions and allow them to wed the children into their private harems. That should solve the problem.
posted by HTuttle at 8:20 AM on January 10, 2002


jerseygirl: what gets me is that Law announced an official "Zero Tolerance" toward child molesting priests. My reaction: it was officially tolerated before?

By defensively covering it up, moving priests around and exposing them to other children and generally turning a deaf ear on any accusations... I guess that's a yes.

Does your company announce to the world all of its internal business? Are there press releases being sent out when someone receives a reprimand, or is fired?

Respectfully, if I may point out a slight difference in what you just said... If someone was raping people at work, it would be unheard of for the company to urge the victims (and their families) to keep it quiet and then move the alleged rapist to a different department.

But yes, if someone was stealing computers out of the cubicles, it wouldn't make the news.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:30 AM on January 10, 2002


Since when does being a Catholic priest exempt you from the law?

You have much to learn, my child. From coast to coast in Canada cases of sexual, physical and mental abuse that happened decades ago in residential schools run by churches have been coming to light. And every time, the church first denies it, then tries to get the priest/minister/whatever off the hook, then decries the media and public for conducting a witchhunt, then either completely abandons the guilty or appeals to the congregation for money to pay off the victims. Utterly disgusting.
posted by holycola at 8:39 AM on January 10, 2002


I'll just quote from my blog... The argument for married priests is a good one, even the pope has weighed in. There's some little-known history there, and a touching letter from a married priest to his son. Very interesting stuff, especially for a recovering catholic. All this from a site called Rent-A-Priest!
posted by revbrian at 8:53 AM on January 10, 2002


It's not just the Catholics.

"Like its predecessor, the new lawsuit alleges church leaders knew Curtis was a pedophile but failed to protect church members from him."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:02 AM on January 10, 2002


Anyone, priest or no, that abuses my kid gets delivered to the police station on a gurney. After, the Vatican and the Police can do whatever they want with it.

I have my own set of Zero Tolerance laws when it comes to this sort of thing.
posted by UncleFes at 9:57 AM on January 10, 2002


Revbrian: I was wondiner if you can somehow get a full link to what JPII said from the NYT sinse i don't subscribe to it or anything. I'm always cautious of taking one-sentence quotes at face falue w/o any context.
posted by jmd82 at 4:16 PM on January 10, 2002


I don't think it's that "celebacy leads to molestation"....the more probable correlation is that many male child molesters are drawn towards preisthood, because they think they are sinful creatures, and hope that the life of preisthood will stop their thoughts and transgressions.


Actually, I think neither is true, I think more likely peodophiles are cunningly putting themselves in positions of trust which gives them access to children. It's happened before with day-care workers, teachers, scoutmasters and the like, why not become a preist to get next to kids? who would parents, Catholic parents at least trust more?

As for the latest from the Vatican, as someone raised Catholic, I don't believe it means they'll be silent about these bastards, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
posted by jonmc at 4:34 PM on January 10, 2002


If you hate posting from Salon, why do it when the story is AP?
posted by RobertLoch at 6:41 PM on January 10, 2002


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