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View Diary: Ratzinger and Pedophilia in the Church (29 comments)

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  •  Any formal policy (4.00)
    that advocates secrecy around the molestation and rape of children is unethical irrespective of the Church's views on the sanctity of the confessional.  The entire notion is ludicrous and does not withstand scrutiny in respect to criminal law.  

    The policy also states that bishops are to deal with complaints of abuse in utmost secrecy and that has nothing to do with the sanctity of the confessional and everything to do with protecting pedophilic priests.

    It simply does not matter where the abuse takes place or whether that abuse becomes known through the confessional.  The Catholic Church has a moral responsibility to protect children from child molesting priests, and it has consistently and systematically not only failed but also declined to do so.  

    Deval Patrick for Governor of Massachusetts

    by lightiris on Tue Apr 19, 2005 at 05:18:30 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Outrage (none)
      that advocates secrecy around the molestation and rape of children is unethical irrespective of the Church's views on the sanctity of the confessional.
      The policy isn't about children, specifically. Ignoring the sanctity of the confessional, the secrecy of the process is intended to protect the victim. It does not prevent the victim from going public with the abuse. It prevents people who learn of material presented by the victim under the seal of the confessional during the proceedings from publicizing them.
      It simply does not matter where the abuse takes place or whether that abuse becomes known through the confessional. The Catholic Church has a moral responsibility to protect children from child molesting priests, and it has consistently and systematically not only failed but also declined to do so.
      This I agree with, and I agree that that is an outrage. Depriving victims and witnesses of the secrecy of the confessional seal would, however, do nothing to advance the cause of correcting that problem, rather, it would further harm those already harmed. The problem is not the formal policy, the problem is that instead of following the policy, people were shuffled around without investigation and punishment. That is the outrage. Ratzinger factually reporting the law in effect at the time is not an outrage; and I would maintain that even if the law itself were an outrage, but in this case I don't even see that as a defensible position. The outrage wasn't the law, but the lawlessness.
      •  Well, we can disagree. (none)
        From a viewpoint firmly grounded in criminal law, I have no use or respect for the secrecy or sanctity of the confessional when it comes to crimes against minors.  And the church shouldn't hide behind it when it comes to the abuse of children, either.  Any information--no matter where it is gleaned--that relates to the molestation of a child should be reported, the sanctity of the confessional notwithstanding.  Period.  The Church fails repeatedly to put the needs of children first, and for that it will remain a reprehensible organization.  

        Deval Patrick for Governor of Massachusetts

        by lightiris on Tue Apr 19, 2005 at 07:05:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I See Your Point (none)
        The original document itself, in PDF, is a little difficult to parse for one (like myself) not well-versed in canonical law. My point with the diary, however, is not merely to point out that this law (which was kept secret until recently) is part of a long tradition of silence and secrecy designed to protect priests, not parishoners (which I'll explain in a second), but also that Ratzinger's timing was telling. In the midst of a storm of controversey and media attention, reiterating the church's arguably callous stance on sexual abuse sends a very clear message: don't air our dirty laundry or you can be kicked out. It's the spirit of the timing with which I quibble as much as the letter itself.

        The reason I don't believe, from my layman's reading, that the law itself is designed to protect the sanctity of the confessional is that it refers to the conduct of church officials at all levels. An alleged victim making a complaint against a priest would not be, in many cases, confessing to the Bishop in ritual fashion. It is my understanding that parishoners don't often get the opportunity to confess to those of Bishop level and above. Unless the sexual activity itself took place in the confessional, this law enacts new restrictions on the conduct of the victims, and uses the threat of excommunication to back them up. Were the law designed simply to protect the sanctity of the confessional, it would be a different (although still arguable) matter.

        "So much thinking in our society has been replaced by following. I know God didn't make us for that." --Keith Olbermann

        by Irony on Tue Apr 19, 2005 at 07:28:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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