Does anyone know why the College of Cardinals didn’t back the ‘no tolerance’ stance toward priests committing pedophilia?
The statement of the cardinals was that they did not support the idea that a priest should be automatically thrown out of the priesthood for a single act.
The more cynical depict this as saying that the cardinals did not want to be forced to take any action.
The more generous suggest that the cardinals did not want to set up rules similar to the idiotic U.S. drug laws that do not allow for any possible circumstances to determine their action.
For example, a young priest who “falls in love” with a teenager may or may not have an actual tendency toward pedophila (or ephebephila)–he may simply have gotten stupid with one person on one occasion. Any civil laws that the priest breaks should invoke the legal punishment for their violation, (including jail), any future assignments for that priest should be careful to avoid allowing him to repeat that act. (And if the priest ever attempts to repeat that situation, he ought to be hung out to dry in the courts and thrown out of the priesthood.) However, he might be quite capable of living the rest of his life without ever entering a similar situation, so why should he be removed from the priesthood? (A priest who is caught molesting a small child has given evidence of a much different situation, and I hope that no bishop will ever give one of those guys a “second chance.”)
The general statement by the cardinals has not yet been expounded upon by them and we do not yet know whether the cynics or the more cautiously generous people are more accurate in their interpretation, yet.
Another argument I’ve heard is that a “no tolerance” rule is too dangerous a political weapon. Don’t like the priest assigned to your parish? Just yell “Molester”, and he’s out of there! The cardinals don’t want this sort of situation, and want to leave room to judge both sides of a claim.
It’s worth pointing out, by the way, that most U. S. dioceses already have no tolerance rules, and have for years.