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Handling (and Hiding) Pedophile Priests

John on September 1, 2006 at 10:12 am

The NY Times has an interesting story on the Catholic Church’s handling of pedophile priests who have not been convicted of any crime.

[O]thers — because they are elderly, because of the nature of their offenses, or because they have had some success fighting the charges — cannot be defrocked under canon law. These priests occupy a sort of shadow world, stripped of most duties but still financially supported by the church and fairly free to move about, both angering the critics of the church and exposing the diocese to further liability.

Cardinal Edward M. Egan, head of the New York Archdiocese, is trying something new. Since June, he has offered seven priests that the archdiocese believes have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children a choice.

They can spend the rest of their lives in closely supervised housing, where, in addition to receiving regular therapy, they must fill out a daily log of their comings and goings. Or they can leave the priesthood and the lifetime security net that comes with it.

So far, five of the seven priests who received the letters have resigned rather than submit to monitoring. One priest has moved into the retreat house, and the other is on his way, Mr. Zwilling said.

The story goes on to note that because the priests in question have not been convicted of any crime, they can not notify neighbors about these men’s whereabouts. They do notify the State AG, though what good that would do I’m not sure.

This seems like a far too easy way out for these men. If they are old, so what. They’d have been younger if the church hadn’t covered up their crimes for so many years. If they had success in fighting the charges, let them fight the charges in a court of law. The church should have long ago turned over every bit of evidence to state prosecutors and let them handle it. Canon law is no substitute for criminal law. These men deserve prison and, if it comes to that, to die in prison. They do not deserve our sympathy or the chance to walk away from their crimes, their names hidden from the public scrutiny by a church complicit in their crimes.

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Category: Religion & Faith |

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