While I recognize the tongue-in-cheek humor this situation permits…
There are serious issues. Mainly: should the Church adopt a one-strike-and-you’re-out position?
At first blush, it seems the answer is, “Of course!” Anyone that molests a child deserves no role in priestly ministry!
But in my view there’s a huge gulf between fondling an eight-year-old boy with planning and forethought, and succumbing to a kiss initiated by a seventeen year old girl who thinks she’s in love with you.
Neither is to be admired, and both should involve some sort of reaction from church leaders. But I cannot make myself believe that they should be treated the same way.
So what the conferees have to determine now is will there be a “zero tolerance” policy, how will it be crafted, where will it draw the line, and what standards of proof will be required?
Again, I’d certainly argue against immediately firing a priest, permanantly removing him from active ministry, based on one unverifiable complaint. Last year, in my area, a gym teacher was accused by several girls of inappropriately touching them. He was suspended and criminally charged; the case began to unravel after inconsistencies in the girls’ stories began to surface, and eventually the girls admitted they had made up the stories to get back at the teacher for making them run laps.
On the other hand, I am absolutely against transferring the priest, quietly, to another parish and sealing the records.
So - what’s the middle ground. It has to err on the side of the kids, but it has to protect the priests from false accusations as well.
THAT, gentlemen, is what the results of the conference will be - developing that policy.