Sunday, March 14, 2010

About Canon Law Prosecution of Priest/Pedophiles

There's plenty of un-informed yappaflappa going on about the Church's procedures regarding priest pedophiles.

If the facts would help, here are a few which are relevant from an interview with the chief Church prosecutor of such crimes:

It may be that in the past – perhaps also out of a misdirected desire to protect the good name of the institution some bishops were, in practice, too indulgent towards this sad phenomenon. And I say in practice because, in principle, the condemnation of this kind of crime has always been firm and unequivocal. Suffice it to recall, to limit ourselves just to last century, the famous Instruction "Crimen sollicitationis"....

A poor English translation...has led people to think that the Holy See imposed secrecy in order to hide the facts. But this was not so. Secrecy during the investigative phase served to protect the good name of all the people involved; first and foremost, the victims themselves, then the accused priests who have the right – as everyone does – to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The Church does not like showcase justice. Norms on sexual abuse have never been understood as a ban on denouncing the crimes to the civil authorities.

[Q]: ...that document is periodically cited to accuse the current Pontiff of having been – when he was prefect of the former Holy Office – objectively responsible for a Holy See policy of covering up the facts.

A: That accusation is false and calumnious.

Now follows a very humble (and embarrassing) admission which SHOULD force Rembert Weakland (among dozens of other US Bishops) into a desert community of monastics:

Between 1975 and 1985 I do not believe that any cases of paedophilia committed by priests were brought to the attention of our Congregation.

Things changed when Ratzinger, well-nicknamed "God's Rottweiler" got a chance to make things happen.

...Only with the 2001 motu proprio did the crime of paedophilia again become our exclusive remit. From that moment Cardinal Ratzinger displayed great wisdom and firmness in handling those cases, also demonstrating great courage in facing some of the most difficult and thorny cases, "sine acceptione personarum." Therefore, to accuse the current Pontiff of a cover-up is, I repeat, false and calumnious.


If the accusation is well-founded the bishop has the obligation to investigate both the soundness and the subject of the accusation. If the outcome of this initial investigation is consistent, he no longer has any power to act in the matter and must refer the case to our Congregation where it is dealt with by the disciplinary office.

So. How many?

Overall in the last nine years (2001-2010) we have considered accusations concerning around three thousand cases of diocesan and religious priests, which refer to crimes committed over the last fifty years...

Here's the breakdown:

...We can say that about sixty percent of the cases chiefly involved sexual attraction towards adolescents of the same sex [ephebophilia], another thirty percent involved heterosexual relations, and the remaining ten percent were cases of paedophilia in the true sense of the term; that is, based on sexual attraction towards prepubescent children. The cases of priests accused of paedophilia in the true sense have been about three hundred in nine years. Please don’t misunderstand me, these are of course too many, but it must be recognised that the phenomenon is not as widespread as has been believed.

On trials and punishments:

Currently we can say that a full trial, penal or administrative, has taken place in twenty percent of cases, normally celebrated in the diocese of origin – always under our supervision – and only very rarely here in Rome. We do this also in order to speed up the process. In sixty percent of cases there has been no trial, above all because of the advanced age of the accused, but administrative and disciplinary provisions have been issued against them, such as the obligation not to celebrate Mass with the faithful, not to hear confession, and to live a retired life of prayer. It must be made absolutely clear that in these cases, some of which are particularly sensational and have caught the attention of the media, no absolution has taken place. It’s true that there has been no formal condemnation, but if a person is obliged to a life of silence and prayer, then there must be a reason


In the other 20% of the cases, half of the priests were dismissed from the clerical state ("defrocked" is the inaccurate but usual term), and in the remaining half, the priests themselves asked for formal dismissal from the clerical state.

The US accounted for 80% of the 3,000 cases...

What is the obligation of Bishops regarding reporting to civil authorities?

In some English-speaking countries, but also in France, if bishops become aware of crimes committed by their priests outside the sacramental seal of Confession they are obliged to report them to the judicial authorities [Under civil law. But remember that Church law does NOT obviate this requirement]. This is an onerous duty...

HT: Father Z


Anonymous said...

[Moved from discussion below]

"Wrong. The Church wants heterosexuals who can control themselves.

"And 'controlling oneself' may not be YOUR norm, but it's norm for 95% of married people."

Ah, when the going gets tough, DaddyZero reverts to form: insult the one who cornered him.

Yet again you miss the point: The Catholic Church solicits as priests men who are willing to abandon the possibility of having normal marital relations. That's a far cry from looking only for men who can "control" their natural urges -- it is looking for men who are prepared to ABANDON their natural urges.

When you put such a qualification on the job, you attract a skewed pool of applicants. That's my guess as to why it apparently is such a "draw" to gay men.

And the priesthood IS a draw to gay men. This isn't a problem to the same degree in any other religion, apparently. In the Protestant religions, the main problem is the minister screwing the unhappy wife who comes to him for "counseling" and not the minister seeking out the little boys. Big difference!

And no, DaddyZero, it hasn't been a problem for me to "control myself" during my nearly 40 year marriage to my beloved wife. I don't see a problem in that regard during the balance of my life, either.

Anonymous said...

What is SO "wrong" or "sinful" with having a married couple running a RCC congregation?
Just because tradition dictates otherwise?

Dad29 said...

it is looking for men who are prepared to ABANDON their natural urges

Wrong, Obtuse One.

It is CONTROL, not "abandon." So long as it is "natural," one cannot 'abandon' it any more than hunger or thirst. Think for a moment--there's a difference.

(And, by the way, "natural" does NOT include homosex.)

Sure, the all-male thing will attract homosexuals. The task is to weed them out before ordination, as I've said (and you've ignored.) Lotsa Bishops and sem-rectors screwed that up royally.

Anonymous said...

We agree. The Bishops and seminary directors didn't weed them out. Why? Because in the seminary, historically, homosexuality isn't abberant behavior.

Game, set, match.

Dad29 said...

Sorry, but you get a qualified ZERO.

If homosex were all that accepted, then homosex priest percentage would be FAR MORE than it is today, which is around 10% (worldwide)--more than double the homosex population.

In SOME Dioceses that number is greater than 10%.

Try again--your last volley was out of bounds.