No zero tolerance for ass hunting priests !!
April 25, 2002 4:22 AM   Subscribe

No zero tolerance for ass hunting priests !! "...the group of cardinals and top bishops stopped short of developing a zero-tolerance plan to punish abusive priests" Attention all catholics ! Be sure to ask your priest if he has already used his one free, get out of jail for sexually assaulting an unsuspecting child card, before you send your kid to Sunday school. It baffles me how they cannot have zero tolerance for this.
posted by a3matrix (52 comments total)

 
It baffles me that this is an issue now. There's been both substantiated reports and undependable rumors that abnormal sexual activity has occurred among catholic clergy for centuries. Probably since the dawn of the Roman Catholic Church. It's an illusion that catholicism tries to perpetuate. Humans are capable of indefinitely denying their sexual nature. Many religions convince followers to deny their animal instincts in search of a higher concept of unprovable spirituality. It is inevitable that some will fall from such unattainable grace. The more strict the pressure, the more abnormal or deviant the eventual rebellion. If they'd just let these guys marry, or at least pick up a hooker now and then, we wouldn't have these problems. However, the Pope would have to allow priests to have penises, and I don't think that's going to happen for another couple centuries or so.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:45 AM on April 25, 2002


I'm not baffled. Accept Christ. Sin. Confess. Sin again. Confess again. (Still accepting Christ now...) Sin again. Confess one more time for the road. Last rights. Heaven.

Yeaaaaaaah.
posted by Dick Paris at 4:56 AM on April 25, 2002


Rob your first bank for free!! All you need is to be a "man of the cloth." More hypocrisy. Is this the Friends of Falwell Club? :)
posted by nofundy at 4:58 AM on April 25, 2002


Oops. Forgot to throw in some penitence. Hail Mary et al.
posted by Dick Paris at 4:59 AM on April 25, 2002


what really pisses me off is that they claim a moral high ground, do not adopt zero-tolerance for felony activity on the job that harms children, then have the audacity to blame "immoral america" and it's support of those evil homosexuals, even though time and time again it's been shown that homosexuality and pedophelia don't correlate well if at all. grr!
posted by rhyax at 5:40 AM on April 25, 2002


If they are to remain celibate, how about voluntary chemical (or otherwise) castrations? They don't need 'em anymore, right?

Seriously, forgiveness for these sickos is nice to talk about, but letting one remain in the church's service is simply ridiculous. Go ahead, destroy any remaining credibility you have.
posted by adampsyche at 5:45 AM on April 25, 2002


If they'd just let these guys marry, or at least pick up a hooker now and then, we wouldn't have these problems. However, the Pope would have to allow priests to have penises, and I don't think that's going to happen for another couple centuries or so.

ZachsMind, I think you are wildly incorrect here. Priests don't become pedophiles because they are trying to remain celibate. That is ridiculous.

Don't confuse chickens and eggs here. How long could you go without sex before raping a child? I think I could most definately go my entire life.
posted by glenwood at 6:18 AM on April 25, 2002


The church simply doesn't get it. Here in Boston, the local news grabbed Cardinal Law in the airport on his way to Rome. They asked him if the Church was capable of making the changes necessary to stop the abuse. He said (and I paraphrase) "I think we already have. The changes we've put in place should do the trick." I've been scouring the papers, and I can't find reference to any specific changes.

The state legislature is about to pass a law requiring clergy to report suspicions of sexual assault--with exemptions for communication received "in a confession and any similarly confidential communication."

The church is simply incapable of making changes on the scale that would be necessary to stop the abuse. A zero tolerance policy, which won't happen anyway, would only be a first step. They need to root out these bastards before the abuse happens.

But the church doesn't work that way. Their whole philosophy is based on not changing. That's how, they would argue, they've stayed around for so long.

Our local paper had the following headline two days ago: "Harsh Words From Pope: Sex Abuse a Crime". No irony intended, mind you. That's about as extreme a statement you'll get from the Vatican.
posted by jpoulos at 6:28 AM on April 25, 2002


Re: Zach's comments, what glenwood said.
posted by jpoulos at 6:29 AM on April 25, 2002


This is truly unbelievable. These people are supposed to be WAY above the rest of us in piety and goodness, yet they have even lower standards for punishing this behavior.

"They will only go after repeat offenders.." Is this some kind of joke? Will their following swallow this? One time offenders (which don't exist) will simpy be ignored?

I'm not religious, and I couldn't care less about the church, but I am absolutely astonished by this.

"attention was drawn to the fact that almost all cases involved adolescents and therefore were not cases of true pedophilia."

This is good stuff.
posted by eas98 at 6:34 AM on April 25, 2002


Will their following swallow this?

Having grown up a Catholic, I can tell you that yes they will.
posted by jpoulos at 6:50 AM on April 25, 2002


Oh what the hell??? "The American church leaders said in cases that are 'not notorious' they would leave it up to the local bishop to decide if such a priest is a threat to children and should be defrocked. " So they will only pursue cases which receive attention from the media and the public???

"But the final statement was less than the blanket order for the dismissal of all abusive priests that some had sought, nor did it make specific proposals for the reporting of sex abuse crimes to authorities. Several cardinals had suggested they had wanted stronger language about the need to turn over offenders to civil authorities, indicating major battles lie ahead when all U.S. bishops gather in Dallas in June."

I am not sure why the church refuses to allow outside authority (aka the police, social services etc.) to have a hand in this. Beyond that, how can they deny due process when one of their own has abused a child. Surely they are not exempt from mandatory child abuse reporting. Yes I know this is a state by state requirement; however a Google Search shows that many states DO require all suspected child abuse to be reported by teachers, school administrators, clergy, doctors, etc...

This particularly disgusted me: "It also drew a distinction on the age of those who suffered sexual abuse, saying 'attention was drawn to the fact that almost all cases involved adolescents and therefore were not cases of true pedophilia.'

Pedophilia is defined as the act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children. Unfortunately, child is then defined as a person between birth and puberty. However, what they do not mention is that the average age of consent is still 17. That leaves 5-7 years in there in which the clergy should still be held culpable for their actions. Hello - shall we define statuatory rape for the Catholic church?
posted by gloege at 6:54 AM on April 25, 2002


On another issue troubling the American church following the wave of scandals, the church leaders declared that "a link between celibacy and pedophilia cannot be scientifically maintained."

since when has the catholic church used science to prove anything. how convenient....they have finally found the need for scientific evidence.
posted by m@L at 7:12 AM on April 25, 2002


I can't imagine trusting that children will be safe in an environment that does not treat pedophilia as a crime in all circumstances.
posted by mmm at 7:14 AM on April 25, 2002


The church is simply incapable of making changes on the scale that would be necessary to stop the abuse.

You're absolutely right. Especially because the change they need to make is to accept that homosexuality is completely normal and not a sin, and to accept having gay priests.

For a long, long time, when being gay was something no one spoke about, becoming a priest was the major way gay men could hide. Either they hoped being a priest would drive out the evil gay thoughts, or they just knew it would be a good cover story for never marrying. Either way, it gave them an excuse for never really dealing with their sexuality...and now we're finally seeing what this has led to.

No, I'm not blaming the abuse on gay priests, exactly. I'm blaming it on priests so in denial about being gay that they end up acting out their problems with teenage boys. Which I do believe is a separate thing than actual pedophilia (sexual interest in younger children).
posted by dnash at 7:21 AM on April 25, 2002


Rob your first bank for free!! All you need is to be a "man of the cloth."

"Benefit of Clergy" actually did act as a one-shot, get out of jail free card for hundreds of years in England and the American colonies, from the Norman conquest through the mid 1700s -- though it ended up benefiting laypeople more than the church. Clergy were supposed to be tried for their crimes in ecclesiastical courts, so the secular courts had to let them off the hook. The original test was whether the defendant could read: if he was literate, he was almost certainly 'of the cloth', so would be set free (or, presumably, transferred to the church which would mete out its own punishment). But as literacy increased among the secular population, the literacy test didn't work anymore... so rather than bothering with background checks on everybody, the courts just took to branding people on the thumb who claimed benefit of clergy: if someone's thumb was alreay branded, they'd already used their get out of jail free card.

Thus Endeth the Somewhat Irrelevant History Lesson
posted by ook at 7:35 AM on April 25, 2002 [1 favorite]


This is truly unbelievable. These people are supposed to be WAY above the rest of us in piety and goodness, yet they have even lower standards for punishing this behavior.

First of all, Christians are not above the rest of the world in piety and goodness. Christians try to live a different life following Christ, yet they are still made of the same flesh and blood as the rest of the world.

Second, the Christian worldview is upsidedown from the rest of the world. Read the parable of the Prodigal Son, which is a story that Christ told to reveal part of God's nature. A revelation of his expectation that everybody may return to a father-son relationship with him, including those who waste every chance they had. The story depicts a son who demands his inheritance from his father, so he can go out and live in the city. He wastes all of it on a wild life, until he has to begin feeding pigs for work. Eventually, he is taken back to his father whom is overjoyed to see him and throws a big party for him. His older brother is rather upset as he never received treatment like that even though he obeyed his father's every word.

It does not sound fair and neither is the Christian God fair in our sense of the word. His judgement is fundamentally different than our world's judgement.
posted by crog at 8:06 AM on April 25, 2002


First of all, Christians are not above the rest of the world in piety and goodness. Christians try to live a different life following Christ, yet they are still made of the same flesh and blood as the rest of the world.

Thanks for the testimony, brother crog, but I don't believe we're discussing Christians in general, but priests and their ilk. By taking up the collar they are indeed volunteering to answer to a higher standard.

Yes, they are human and as vulnerable to "sins of the flesh" as the rest of us, but the issue is not whether or not they can be forgiven by God, but rather if they should be allowed another chance to prey on the innocent.

I have no idea why you want to throw the parable of the prodigal son into this discussion. Trust me, this is not the appropriate time and place for attempts at evangelizing.
posted by norm29 at 8:27 AM on April 25, 2002


The dilemma for the Catholic Church is that, while a "zero tolerance" policy would sound great in the press, what would it say to all the sinners seeking absolution for their sins? The church, if it is to have any theological backing, has to say that humans can be forgiven of their sins and can truly repent. Yet priests cannot?

Trust me, I'm not convinced. But I see their dilemma.
posted by argybarg at 8:31 AM on April 25, 2002


I forget what the religious term for it was, but I remember reading in the papers a few years ago ('98,99?) that for the first time the Catholic church officially acknowledged that God didn't really "live in the clouds". So, I think it's safe to say that policy change is a slow process at the vatican.
posted by stifford at 8:33 AM on April 25, 2002


"attention was drawn to the fact that almost all cases involved adolescents and therefore were not cases of true pedophilia."

(eas98) This is good stuff.


I don't see why people keep claiming this is irrelevant. I think it is probably the crux of the matter and makes Zachsmind's comment much more accurate than I'd thought. Yeah, you could be celibate forever without raping a child. But how long could you go without fantasizing about the gorgeous 15 year old you saw every week? I'm not saying you'd act on it, and maybe you personally could force a clear distinction between what is legally sexual and what is legally innocent and asexual, but the thing is, bodies, hormones, nature may very well disagree.

Some people honestly and truly feel that celibacy is beautiful and important to being a priest; others just try to hide or suppress their sexuality, and I'm not the least bit surprised that they would fantasize about attractive teenagers they see regularly. It's disappointing that they would act on those fantasies instead of leaving the church & confronting their sexuality, but people find change difficult.

First of all, Christians are not above the rest of the world...

dude, ever heard of the protestant reformation? That was their point. (Priests are meant to answer to a higher calling)
posted by mdn at 8:33 AM on April 25, 2002


"attention was drawn to the fact that almost all cases involved adolescents and therefore were not cases of true pedophilia."

The Catholic Church, especially the Vatican, tends to have a very international perspective. In many (most?) countries, people get married much younger than in the US (sometimes even 12 or 13). So it's not surprising that Vatican officials would see a big difference between having sex with a 14 year old and sex with a 5 year old. Otherwise, they'd have to denounce a lot of marriages in other countries as pedophillic.

But that ought to be beside the point. Whether the priests were having sex with 8 year old or 48 year old parishoners, they were abusing the power of their office. This is at least as bad as a doctor or a psychiatrist having sex with a patient. Even if you think a 16 year old is old enough to consent to some sexual relationships, the power and authority of a priest make it a totally different situation.

On the gripping hand, I'm of two minds about the "zero tolerance" thing. If a priest was found to have done this, you'd want to immediately see that he doesn't have the opportunity to do it again. But on the other hand, I'd hate to see a priest who did this once 30 years ago, has since repented, gotten some counseling, and has been living celebately since be defrocked.
posted by straight at 8:36 AM on April 25, 2002


Christians used to draw a distinction between crimes forgivable by man and crimes only forgivable by God. And they used to also draw a distinction between "forgiveness" and "no punishment." It is perfectly legitimate to suggest that the priest may seek forgiveness from God while doing jail time for his transgressions against the innocent. As it happens, it is God's forgiveness that should be of importance to the Christian--not man's. The latter makes life more bearable, but the former is required for salvation, no? A "no-strikes law" does not say anything about God's forgiveness and Christ's mercy; if anything, one could just as well interpret it as a cross of humiliation for the truly penitent to bear.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals (and the Vatican) appear oddly clueless--or perhaps deliberately clueless--about the real problem here, which happens to be them and not the priests. (And their use of passive voice in some of their speeches has been astonishing--"Mistakes may have been made..." How about "I screwed up"?) As they seem to think that "dissent" is part of the problem, it is unlikely that much of anything is going to change. Since, as it happens, some of the Cardinals involved are not taking responsibility for their actions and are not being penalized for them, it is hardly "un-Christian" to suggest that, perhaps, they do not meet anyone's requirements for "forgiveness" at this particular juncture.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:38 AM on April 25, 2002


The church, if it is to have any theological backing, has to say that humans can be forgiven of their sins and can truly repent. Yet priests cannot?

As norm29 said, just because you are forgiven doesn't mean you don't face the consequences for your crime.

If I had murdered someone and confessed to a priest, he would almost certainly insist that true repentence would include turning myself in to the police.

I'd think part of repentence for a pedophillic priest would be to do everything possible to make sure he was never in a tempting situation again. If he were truly repentent, that's what the priest would want.
posted by straight at 8:42 AM on April 25, 2002


the group of cardinals and top bishops stopped short of developing a zero-tolerance plan

I'm not a real big fan of the Catholic church (even before all these allegations of abuse started cropping up), but zero-tolerance policies in general are a bad idea, IMHO. They tend to be reactive rather than preventative, a license to punish without thinking in order to appease critics. Not to say that the church shouldn't be more strict about punishing pedo priests, but as jpoulos pointed out, they haven't even said what policies they've actually put in place yet, so ragging on them for not instituting a zero tolerance policy is premature.

That said, I think priests who've been found guilty of molesting a child should be not just defrocked, but excommunicated, and tried and punished by temporal authorities with the harshest punishment possible (not including the death penalty, of course). Setting aside the whole "should priests be able to marry/have sex" argument, if a priest diddles a kid, he shouldn't be a priest anymore, not as a matter of penance or forgiveness, but because he can't be trusted not to abuse his position and authority. That seems utterly self-evident to me, I don't understand where the forgiveness angle comes in at all.
posted by RylandDotNet at 8:57 AM on April 25, 2002


Sin can be forgiven in the eyes of God and people can be cleansed before their final judgement - that's a Christian belief from the beginning.

But.

The Bible, and centuries of Christian tradition, also support believers submitting to lawful civil authority besides their spiritual concerns ("Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's," Jesus was quoted as saying, in reference to proto-Christians' questions about whether they still had to pay the tax man.)

The Catholic Church ought to turn over the investigation of sexual abuse allegations to appropriate civil authorities, and stop playing detective. It's what's expected of any other organization (school systems, etc.).

Let the pedophiles get right with God if that's the church's real concern (as opposed to squelching scandal, protecting pedophiles and supplying them with fresh victims). But let them do it in a prison cell if that's where the justice system put them.
posted by sacre_bleu at 9:09 AM on April 25, 2002


not just defrocked, but excommunicated

That sums up the difference between forgiveness and accountability. A priest who diddles a kid should probably be defrocked (or at least sent to a monestary away from kids), but if he repents, he should not be excommunicated.
posted by straight at 9:13 AM on April 25, 2002


Zero tolerance = Zero intelligence.

They should be harshly dealt with, but with due process. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Even child molesting pieces of crap.
posted by Dillenger69 at 9:19 AM on April 25, 2002


[blasphemy] Maybe the Pope likes little boys too? [/blasphemy]
posted by mmesker at 9:22 AM on April 25, 2002


Zero tolerance = Zero intelligence.

They should be harshly dealt with, but with due process. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Even child molesting pieces of crap.


I guess what I don't understand is this idea that zero tolerance precludes due process. The zero tolerance policy is in contrast to the current policy that permits priests who have committed these crimes to be transferred and returned to the ministry after making an appropriately contrite admission of guilt and remorse. Under a zero tolerance policy the priests would not be able to return to the ministry in a capacity that would permit them to commit the same crime again.

There is quite a bit in the language of the policy that really bugs me. One of them is the keyword "notorious". This ignores the fact that one of the reasons why child abuse is so pernicious is that the abusers are frequently quite successful in convincing their victims to keep the abuse a secret. The notorious clause seems to support the current practice of dealing with child abuse simply by keeping quiet about it and paying off the victims in exchange for secrecy clauses. In addition the notorious clause seems to indicate that the bishops are more concerned about the church's image rather than the rights of the victim. In fact, this was something that I saw coming with the response to the Pope's statement when key members immediately started looking for loopholes to return child abusers back into the ministry.

But one of the things that I found frustrating is that the focus is on punitive rather than preventative measures. For example, many youth groups have a long-standing policy where no adult is left alone with children.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:38 AM on April 25, 2002


eas98: "Will their following swallow this?"

jpoulos: "Having grown up a Catholic, I can tell you that yes they will"


Well, as nice as it is for jpoulos to speak for the entirety of all catholic congregations (and more than a little pretentious). Let me offer my opinion. First some back-story. My mother was a nun for 20 years, left the church, and had three boys with my father. We were raised devoutly catholic. Attended mass at least once a week, usually twice. Did not eat meat on Friday's (the entire year), were all altar boys for several years, attended Catechism twice a week. I have a son who has been baptized, and my wife and I regularly attend mass.

I believe that while there will be less people attending mass because of this, the hardest hit areas will be Catholic schools. I know my wife and I had always talked about sending our children to a Catholic school. Now we have some serious thinking to do. The callous attitude displayed by the church towards children really rubs people the wrong way. It will not however make many religous people stop going to church. At least that's my opinion.
posted by patrickje at 10:30 AM on April 25, 2002


Well, as nice as it is for jpoulos to speak for the entirety of all catholic congregations (and more than a little pretentious). Let me offer my opinion.

It will not however make many religous people stop going to church.


do you realize you agreed with him?
posted by mdn at 10:42 AM on April 25, 2002


It will not however make many religous people stop going to church.

So, in other words, you agree with me.

From my experience (I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I was a Vatican official or something, and that my words represent those of the Church), while a majority of catholics are appalled and horrified at what's gone on, a sizable percentage are really just waiting for this to blow over. Every day the small local papers feature letters to the editor saying we should "give Cardinal Law the benefit of the doubt" and we "have no business questioning" him and accusing the victims of making it all up.

The callous attitude displayed by the church towards children really rubs people the wrong way.

It is rather annoying how they helped those priests fuck those little boys, isn't it? That's exactly my point. The level of real outrage on the part of practicing Catholics is, as far as I can see, far less than that of the general population. You might not send your kids to Catholic school? Wow. That ought to really shake things up.
posted by jpoulos at 10:54 AM on April 25, 2002


they just don't realise that jesus's saying "suffer little children" was not an instruction.

now, could someone please explain exactly why priests are above the law? suspected cases should be investigated by the police.

and don't get me started on african priests........
posted by quarsan at 11:11 AM on April 25, 2002


Of course the Pope likes little boys. Anyone with a little humanity likes little boys.

o<

!taht ekil gniht a fo *maerd* d'I !!syob erom tselom dlouc I ylno fI
posted by Settle at 11:15 AM on April 25, 2002


I don't see how going to church, means that I agree with you. The problem is that you equate 'Catholic Church' with 'Priest'. What would you suggest I do? Protest by becoming a Jehovah's Witness? I think that the Catholic church is shooting themselves in the foot with this. Most congregations live on a razor's edge with the budget. The recent actions will cause many parishioners to not donate. People pulling their children out of school, will mean more lost money.

The decisions about our children's schooling is not an easy one. My wife and I have been planning for about 8 years. The decision to involve our children less in the church, dramatically changes how we had seen our life, our children, our future. I'm glad that it's easy for you to dismiss this decision as a trivial one.
posted by patrickje at 11:20 AM on April 25, 2002


You might not send your kids to Catholic school? Wow. That ought to really shake things up.

it could really hurt. catholic schools in the area are desperate for new attendance; many are closing due to lack of funding.
posted by moz at 11:29 AM on April 25, 2002


Wow, this thread is fun reading! Especially the first half, where everyone gets to voice their outrage and witty condemnations.

Seriously though, I think this is great in one way: it tarnishes the catholic church's reputation as an institution in a more effective way than I could ever imagine, and in a way that appeals to the general populace much stronger than it appeals to me. And I'm all for that. In my book, the more people become atheist/agnostic/religiously passive, the better.

Many other churches I have a gripe with do not get damaged by this crisis, though. But oh well.

*whips out fire extinguisher*
posted by azazello at 11:46 AM on April 25, 2002


I'm sorry if I don't understand, but isn't sexually assaulting a child a felony? Don't these priests have to be arrested, tried, and then convicted like everyone else?

I don't get it. Does this mean a priest is above the law?
posted by zanpo at 12:14 PM on April 25, 2002


it could really hurt. catholic schools in the area are desperate for new attendance; many are closing due to lack of funding.

don't worry moz. i'm predicting a government bailout in the form of school vouchers, orchestrated and pr finanaced by groups who are thrilled the catholic church is demonizing gays.
posted by lescour at 12:24 PM on April 25, 2002


azazello: No need for a fire extinguisher in my opinion.
posted by a3matrix at 1:35 PM on April 25, 2002


I'm sure this is a huge decision for you, as I can see you take your faith very seriously. I'm sorry if I appeared to dismiss it as trivial. As a catholic school alumnus, though, let me tell you: they won't miss much. :-)

I don't equate the Church with just 'Priest', but also with Bishop, Cardinal and Pope--the majority of whom are now all but fighting against the kind of major changes necessary to combat the problem. The extraordinary inaction we've seen this week, while the scandals are at their hottest, is nothing compared to how little the Church will move once John Geoghan and Paul Shanley have been replaced in the headlines.

This is an institution whose most radical move of the last hundred years was abandoning a language that had been dead for a thousand years. The only way it will come close to making the necessary changes is if demand comes from within the church itself, from its own members. It couldn't care less what the rest of the unwashed masses have to say. That's all I'm saying.
posted by jpoulos at 2:12 PM on April 25, 2002


i'm sorry, but may i repeat:
"could someone please explain exactly why priests are above the law? suspected cases should be investigated by the police."
posted by quarsan at 2:21 PM on April 25, 2002


ZachsMind, I think you are wildly incorrect here. Priests don't become pedophiles because they are trying to remain celibate. That is ridiculous.


Not really, if priests were allowed to do as they wished the the position wouldn't be such a magnet for perverts. It provides pedophiles with a job and free access to children.

Personally, I couldn't care less about defrocking or enxcommunications. I'm not a christian mythologist. If these guidelines do not include strict rules to reporting any abuse to the real secular authorities then the church itself is obstructing justice as usual.
posted by skallas at 2:21 PM on April 25, 2002


it could really hurt. catholic schools in the area are desperate for new attendance; many are closing due to lack of funding.
Kinda' off topic, but i think it depends on where you live. DOwn here in the Bible Belt (Atlanta to be exact), it had become very hard to get into the Catholic High Schools. Up untill 3 years ago, we had two Cath. Schools for the entire city, only 1 of which was a part of the Archdiocese.
One point i got stuck on is how this would stop one from sending their kids to the Cath. Schools? If it because of the Priests, most only have a limited number of Priests who rarely, if ever have the time for one-one talks...or is it because of the loss of morality that could be a result of this whole scandle. Seeing as i was raised in Cath. Schools, i'm (in my own nieve kinda' way) curious about how this affects a parent's view
posted by jmd82 at 2:36 PM on April 25, 2002


Let's clear a couple of things up:
  • I don't believe that priests should get any protection, they should be prosecuted like the criminals they are. I think it's despicable that the church actually protects these losers. The 'hierarchy' of the church is so out of touch it's laughable.
  • I myself am agnostic, I don't believe in God, but I can't disprove it either. My wife, mother, in-laws, et al. however are religous, and I respect their views. I've always went to church with my wife, and since we were both raised Catholic, we agreed to raise the children Catholic, at least until they were old enough to decide for themselves.
  • Of all of the people that you interact with when you go to church, the priest is such a small part. The nuns play a bigger part in day-to-day life.
The main point I wanted to raise in the first place was that it may look on the surface that Catholics are simply accepting this, but silently they are making changes that will greatly impact the church years from now.
posted by patrickje at 2:58 PM on April 25, 2002


Wow, this thread is fun reading!

Except for the "ass-hunting" part. That was a bit gratuitous and off the point, wasn't it?
posted by mediareport at 5:19 PM on April 25, 2002


*thanks self nth time for leaving cathoilic church and never looking back*
posted by will at 5:32 PM on April 25, 2002


It provides pedophiles with a job and free access to children.

I think it's equally likely that true pedophiles (as opposed to those who pursue post-pubescents, which is a separate issue) are attracted to the preisthood not because of what it permits but because of what it denies. I imagine that religious celebacy is very attractive to people who are trying to deal with strong desires they know are wrong -- it must seem like a way to shut those desires down by offering them up to God. The problem, of course, is that it doesn't seem to work.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:58 PM on April 25, 2002


There can never be a good enough reason to have "zero tolerance" policies. (I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance.) Of course, if someone does something that is wrong, they should be dealt with in some way: preferably to make amends, probably to be punished, definitely in such a way that it reduces the possibility of the same occurring again. That is justice.

What zero tolerance is, is the opposite of justice. Zero tolerance policies don't constrain or affect criminals in any way: they constrain the judiciary, or the police, or the school principal, or somebody else whose job it would be to assess circumstances and dispense justice if it were not for the stupid zero tolerance policy. They state that if someone does something whether it is wrong or not, they should be punished.

Obviously in the case of pederasty there are extraordinarily few circumstances in which it would not be considered wrong. So, the perpetrators should and would be punished. So, zero tolerance is actually unnecessary. But the odiousness of a particular crime, and pederasty for some reason seems to be considered particularly odious in Western society right now, is no reason to call for 'zero tolerance policies'.

Zero tolerance policies have a way of spreading from circumstances in which there is no actual need to have them, as above, to circumstances in which they can cause injustice by mandating the punishment of people who don't actually deserve punishment.

I wonder whoever came up with 'zero tolerance'. Such a catchy, catchy name for such a horribly unjust concept.

Ash.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:00 AM on April 26, 2002


To me, opposition to zero tolerance implies some form of "tolerance." So what form of child abuse do you tolerate among the priesthood?

Zero tolerance simply says that IF a person is found to be guilty of child abuse, they no longer have the privelege of serving as a priest. That is it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:59 AM on April 26, 2002


The US media seems to be doing an extremely poor job of reporting on the actual comminque from the cardinals. Instead of looking at the whole document, they've fixated on zero tolerance. The full statement is available from the Vatican: Final Comminque.

The full document includes mention of firm guidelines and regulations from the Holy See as well as reiteration of the Pope's condemnation that "there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young."

Two of the most telling pieces are the immediate investigation of the seminaries and the development of guidelines to properly handle sexual abuse and sexual predators within the priesthood. They are most definitely working towards some solution.

It should also be noted how much the church depends on local judgement and authority. The Pope and cardinals are not absolute monarchs that can make demands at will. They require the participation of the bishops and parishes. Having discussed the matter (and condemned the practice) they are pushing it down to the local levels to solve the problems. They will continue to guide the process through the investigation of the seminaries and setting up formal guidelines.

What happens at the bishop's conference in June will be very telling about where this is headed. I think there will be a certain amount of shakedown, especially with the seminaries being seriously investigated. The last Apostolic Visitation of the seminaries was severely hampered by the US bishops. I'm sure the Vatican remembers this and I don't think they'll be able to get away with that this time.
posted by ahughey at 8:41 AM on April 26, 2002


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