PopeWatch: Culpa


Pope Francis met with some alleged victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clerics and asked for forgiveness.

“Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you,” Francis said during his homily, according to a text released by the Vatican. “And I humbly ask forgiveness. I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves.”

In his homily, Francis also vowed “not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not,” and declared that bishops would be held accountable for protecting minors. He said the abuse scandals had had “a toxic effect on faith and hope in God.”

Go here to read the rest.  The only involvement any Bishop should have when hearing someone complain about misconduct by a priest of a criminal nature is to tell them to go to the police.  Bishops are not cops or detectives and they get into trouble when they take on such a role.  Many allegations of priestly misconduct are not provable and it is best to let the police make that determination.  The Bishop can take action against any priest he believes is guilty of misconduct, but that is no substitute for getting the police involved quickly in an alleged criminal case, scandal be hanged.  While the priest is undergoing an investigation by the police he should be suspended from his duties.  Bishops and Cardinals protecting criminal priests over the years now requires putting into place mechanisms which may well tarnish the reputation of honest priests, but sadly there is no help for that.

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  1. Reporting of all alleged offences to the police or prosecuting authorities is vital, because the requirement of corroboration (Testis unus, testis nullus – One witness is no witness) can only be met by applying the Moorov doctrine: namely, that where an accused person is charged with a series of similar offences closely linked in time, character and circumstances, the evidence of one witness implicating the accused in one offence may be taken to corroborate the evidence of another witness implicating the accused in another offence, each offence being treated as if it were an element in a single course of conduct. Judges sometimes speak of “a unity of intent, project, campaign, or adventure.”

    That is why it is essential for the authorities to provide a central clearing-house for such allegations and why the police often have to delve into the background of alleged offenders, extending back over many years, in an effort to identify other victims.

    Bishops are not magistrates and they lack both the investigative resources to conduct investigations and the power to cite and precognose potential witnesses.

  2. The state of Louisiana has just passed law to force Catholic priests to divulge what is heard in the Sacrament of Penance. The seal of the Sacrament of Penance cannot really be broken simply because of anonymity, the veil, the screen. No names may be mentioned, so there is no proof of who is confessing. Perhaps the sin is child abuse is confessed, privileged information as with doctors, lawyers and other professionals, even reporters is required.
    If the sin of child abuse is confessed and the abuser does not intent to avoid the near occassion of sin as is stated in the act of contrition, there is no Sacrament of Penance. There is only a sacrilege.
    In Louisiana, the church is being sued because a victim of child abuse claims she confessed the abuse in confession and the priest did nothing to stop the abuse, or report the abuse to local authorities. The priest could only counsel the victim to tell her parents or local authorities. Not having witnessed to the cirme, the priest is not able to do much else. What would the victim want for the priest to do, besides pay out damages for another person’s cirmes?

  3. There has been so much harm done in the Church [however, it needs to be said, it is not unique to the Catholic Church!] by the sexual abuse of minors [of children, and of teens]. It has grievously harmed the minors, their families, the parishes (and schools) in which these grave crimes-sins took place, their dioceses and the wider Church. While the Church in the United States, and in some other countries such as Germany and Ireland, have begun to come to terms with this grave scandal, the whole Church (in terms of the Church in various countries). That is why this needs to be addressed by the popes [St John Paul did, in shock, while actually dying], Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis. Pope Francis has further set up the Commission (not sure of the exact title) led by Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

    I totally agree that the ‘case’ ought to be handed over to ‘the police’. However, that does not solve everything. Statutes of limitations could prevent a real case to be brought forward and the perpetrator go scott free. That’s why the Church needs to address (and does) all ‘credible cases’. In some countries, of course, (not the West) the police are either a joke, totally corrupt, unprofessional etc or mere extensions of the government enforcing the particular governments’ agenda. That being said, in the West all cases need to be brought to/ handed over to the police and dealt with (while the priest is taken out of active ministry), before the Church investigates and deals with the accusation(s) brought against the priest.

    There remains the issue of false allegations however, Some are ‘faulty memories’ [getting priests’ names mixed up etc.] ‘false memories’ in which the ‘victim’ has a ‘memory’ of something that literally did not take place or worse, has been ‘suggested’ to them by some ‘counselor’. There is the further dimension of false accusations from those who have an ax to grind-perhaps for flunking the person in a class, perhaps for not submitting to their own whims and desires [anyone ever read or seen the Crucible?] or the so called victim is simply angry, raging really-either at that the falsely accused or just raging at life and this is a way of venting this anger.

    This being said, and work does need to be done in the area of false accusations, the Church is absolutely going in the right direction of dealing with these heinous crimes and horrendous scandals.

  4. Here’s a simple solution.

    Make it SOP that a confessor will require in a penitent’s penance that he/she turn her/himself in, or report the crime to the police, FBI, NSA, New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, DNC, OFA, etc.

    Anyhow, this gay.priest.sex.with.minor.boys/girls thingie is a scandal because the liberal/progressive powers that be want it to hurt the Church, which they see as a major obstacle to their evil agenda.

  5. Legislators want state law changed so officers can’t have sex du – Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL
    Police like these to be entrusted with investigations?

    CCC 1467 Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, the Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents’ lives [ Cf. CIC, can. 1388 § 1; CCEO, can. 1456.]. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the “sacramental seal,” because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains “sealed” by the sacrament.

    No exceptions.
    All these nothing but mounting attacks on the Church.

  6. Botolph wrote, “There remains the issue of false allegations however”
    Here the rule of corroboration is a great safeguard. The presence or absence of a financial motive (has any civil claim prescribed?), whether the witnesses are known to each other, whether they are ultroneous or have responded to investigators, their character and so on are all matters any half-decent defence lawyer will explore, as will any prosecutor, before making a fool of himself.
    Purging a witness of malice and partial counsel means exploring four questions
    1. If he bears any ill-will, malice or prejudice against the panel
    2. If he has got any good deed, or promise of good deed or reward, to depose or swear against him
    3. If he has been directed, informed or told what he is to swear
    4. If he has directed or advised the prosecution.

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