Results of the Pope's conference with the Cardinals

Apparently, the conference is over and the pope is going go announce the new guidlines on pedophylia and priests. One quick question:

Was it really necessary to 1) have a conference with all the cardinals and 2) have any more guidelines than simpley

All me silly, but I figured that would be a simple rule to pass down. God, sometimes I’m embarrassed to associate myself with the Catholic Church.

Evidently it took a conference to determine that:

A) Pedophilia is bad; B) Yup, it’s bad; C) Don’t do it.

Dizzying logic, truly.

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.

  • Rick

I have a wild and crazy idea about where to draw the line. How about when it’s illegal. 17 is past the age of consent in most states, so the church can decide on it’s own what punishment is best. When thay hear that a priest has performed an illegal act with a minor, turn the case over to the police. If he’s guily, kick him out.

Do I get my free trip to Rome now?

Trion, kissing a 17 year old isn’t illegal.

That’s what I was saying Munch. When I say:

"17 is past the age of consent in most states, so the church can decide on it’s own what punishment is best. "

What I mean is that the Church may not be happy with a priest kissing a 17 year-old and they may take whatever Church action they deem appropriate. They may put the priest on probation, send him a strongly worded letter or say “no soup for you!” But when the act is illegal, then it is no longer simply a church matter. Then it’s time to turn it over to the cops.

Yes, yes. But what they’re deciding is exactly what the Church action should be in these cases.

My original post was simply meant to deflate the over-simplification of, “These guys need a conference to decide that pedophiliac acts are wrong.” It goes beyond that.

Even your line isn’t as easy to implement as you might think. Are you saying that any accusation of an illegal act, no matter how flimsy or impossible the evidence, should be reported to the police?

Here’s the problem. Making a false police report is a crime. If a priest is accused, falsely, the accuser has a motive not to make a report to the police. It’s no crime to make a false report to the Bishop, but to make a false report to the police is a criminal action. Why? Because it engages police resources for no good reason, and it stains the reputation of the one accused.

If the Church must report every accusation, even those that are patently impossible (“He molested me last Sunday” “Really? He was in Rome last Sunday!”) then the accuser can dodge the bullet of being criminally liable for making a false report to police.

That said, I agree that any accusation of criminal conduct that has even a scintilla of credible evidence to support it should be forwarded to the police. And until a determination can be made, the priest in question should be restricted in his ministry to situations involving groups of adults only.

  • Rick

Doesn’t seem to me that we need to re-invent the wheel here. If you want guidelines on how to proceed in suspected cases of child-abuse, how about using those all ready in place for Social Workers or other Mandated Reporters?

Those Conference Minutes In Full:

Item 1. Child Abuse. - bad thing.

Item 2. Pope. - catholic.

Next Meeting In The Woods. Delegates reminded to bring own bear.

From which state, Trion?

And… why that state, and not, say, my state?

  • Rick

From which country?

I like my plan better: abolish the church! (and all others, too!)

Im living in an age of reason, surrounded by Witch Doctors.

Somebody’ll just make another one.

Maybe they should follow the guidelines of whatever state the crime was committed, like any other crime?

*Originally posted by gatopescado *
**I like my plan better: abolish the church! (and all others, too!)

…and school teachers

…and nurses

…and prison guards

…and psychologists

and all other professions that have a minority of members who abuse their clients…right?, unless…that was…umm… a cheap shot at religion in general (gasp)

Because the Catholic Chuch has one set of guidelines. It’s easy for you to say “Just do whatever everyone else does”, since you don’t have to live with the consequences of that decision.

The cardinals went to the Vatican so they can feel more comfortable blaming the situation they got themselves in on “them faggots”.

So does the National Association of Social Workers. It’s simple - you report cases of suspected child abuse based on the laws of your state. I’m willing to bet that the American Medical Association has similar guidelines. That’s what being a Mandated reporter is all about.

Are you suggesting that, as a private citizen, I can’t report a crime? I thought that law enforcement officials encouraced people to come foreward if they had knowledge of a crime?

According to the Norfolk Ma District Attorney’s Office Webpage:

As far as the consequences go, I feel comfortable stating that I would be willing to pick up the phone and make that call if I was reasonably sure a crime was commited. And I don’t think it’s crazy to expect that same behavior from a Bishop or Cardinal.

. . .there are a fair amount of false accusations out there. I personally know a priest who was falsely accused, and I have a relative (not a priest, a high school counselor) who was also falsely accused.

With the priest, they were able to get things settled before the accusation went out to the community at large. As a result, he was able to keep his position.

My relative was not so lucky. Word of the accusation against him reached the entire school. Even though the student eventually recanted his accusation, he still couldn’t work at the school anymore. There was too much attatched to his name. And, yes, I am 100% sure he didn’t do it, and was even before the student admitted it.

The problem with going out with every single accusation is that, unless the priest is like Cardinal Bernadin or something, the fact that there’s even an accusation is going to hurt his reputation, possibly to the point where he can’t continue to work in the parish. IMHO, having the church use their own system which’ll take out some of the false accusations would be a good thing.

Angel, I’m not talking about responding to every baseless claim that comes along. I was very careful to state “I would be willing to pick up the phone and make that call if I was reasonably sure a crime was commited.” If you need some symptoms of child sexaul abuse before you can feel reasonably sure a crime has been commited, check out the web page I’ve linked to.

Under those conditions, are you saying I shouldn’t report a crime?