Saturday, March 23, 2019

DUE PROCESS FOR ACCUSED PRIESTS BE IT CIVIL OR CANONICAL LAW


Fr. Thomas Reese has a National Chismatic Reporter (NCR) article that by most standards would be judged mediocre although with some noteworthy content despite a major but politically correct blind spot exacerbated by a false accusation himself due to him having drunk the kool-aide. You can read the article HERE and tell me the politically correct statement therein.

But this excerpt caught my eye:

There is some disagreement about what to do if the abused child is now an adult. All agree that the survivor of abuse should be encouraged to report the crime, but if the victim does not want it reported, what should the diocese do if the state does not require such reporting? Some dioceses will report it anyway; others will respect the views of the victim who is now an adult.
If the statute of limitations has expired, the priest will not be prosecuted, but the church would need to remove the priest from ministry in any case.
Let me get this Fr. Reese. A person makes an accusation some 40 years after an ALLEDGED abuse occurs and the person wants anonymity. The civil statues of limitations has expired and there can be no civil trial for the accused priest who is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Nonetheless, based on that anonymous accusation, without a canonical trial with witnesses called, the priest is to be presumed guilty and removed from ministry by a bishop and review board!
And what about dead priests who have accusations hurled against them by living “victims” and the dead priests are automatically condemned as guilty and publicly named with no canonical process!

9 comments:

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"Nonetheless, based on that anonymous accusation,..."

The accusation is not anonymous. The accuser is known to authorities, ecclesial and/or civil. The name of the accuser is withheld from public release.

"All agree that the survivor of abuse should be encouraged to report the crime, but if the victim does not want it reported, what should the diocese do if the state does not require such reporting? Some dioceses will report it anyway:..."

I'm not sure what the civil law requires in such cases. Are there circumstances in which, "...the state does not require such reporting?"? For a "fresh" accusation by a minor, I think the law requires reporting. For an later accusation, made decades after the alleged crime, I am not sure.

"...without a canonical trial,"... "...with no canonical process!" The review process that bishops follow when an allegation is made is a canonical process. No, it is not a canonical trial, but that's not the issue.

We still struggle with understanding what constitutes a "credible accusation." Are there universal guidelines for those engaged in the review? If there are, are these available to the public?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

What is implied in Reese’s quote I print is the accuser, now an adult wants anonymity and does not want to report it to civil authorities. Some dioceses respect the accuser’s wishes others don’t, which is problematic.

But my point is that the priest so accused according to Reese must be removed from ministry if stilll living. I think a canonical trial, not a lone bishop or review board should be the process to remove a priest permanently from ministry short of laicization.

And removing all financial support for said removed priest? Isn’t a priest’s pension his money not the church’s money? Can the state take away social security from an accused person?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"But my point is that the priest so accused according to Reese must be removed from ministry if stilll living. I think a canonical trial, not a lone bishop or review board should be the process to remove a priest permanently from ministry short of laicization."

I don't agree. I leave that decision with the "lone" bishop. I don't think any bishop would act without recourse to and advice from review boards or canonical advisors. But the decision is, and, I think, should be, his.

Priests laicized are, I think, supported financially by their dioceses or religious orders. (I didn't read the article - does it discuss remuneration?)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Reese simply suggests that many think priests accused and removed from ministry should receive to money which implies being thrown out into the street, a form of revenge for crimes not prosecuted either canonically or civilly.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

"should receive "no" money, not to money.

TJM said...

The Church and the clergy are paying a terrible price for its past failures to do the right thing. I read the Anderson Report and note in many, but not all cases, there was thin gruel to sully a priest's reputation and in many of those cases the priest was not alive to contest the charges brought post mortem. I also note that in those cases, you had only one accusation which is curious because in the vast majority of the cases where a priest was charged and later laicized, it seems there were always dozens if not hundreds of accusations. Whether civil or canon law is employed, the presumption of innocence needs to be maintained and a standard more akin to a criminal case needs to be employed, either clear and convincing evidence or evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. In my archdiocese a priest was temporarily removed as a pastor based on one accusation when he was in ministry for over 30 years and at the end of the day, the local prosecutor threw out the charges and the priest was restored to his position as pastor. The accuser, shall we say, was less than credible.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

From the article: "Most people want abusive priests not only removed from ministry but also dismissed from the clerical state (laicized) and want them to lose any financial support from the diocese. Others fear that, if an abuser is kicked out on the street without any supervision, he will continue to be a danger to children. They would argue that it is safer to have the church continue to support him in a setting where he would not have access to children. The threat of losing such support might keep him in line."

I don't think laicized priests will be left penniless and on the streets.

TJM said...

Father McDonald, leave it to the Democratic Party's deep thinker, Barbra Streisand, to come up with a strategy that might help some priests:

https://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/ny-barbra-streisand-michael-jackson-accusers-thrilled-sexual-needs-20190323-7z3b2dqgbzh7jfs4yyhqhdfjyi-story.html

From the article: "they were thrilled to be there, and his sexual needs were his sexual needs."

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Fr. McD said: "Let me get this Fr. Reese. ... Nonetheless, based on that anonymous accusation, without a canonical trial with witnesses called, the priest is to be presumed guilty and removed from ministry by a bishop and review board!"

Hey, this sounds like a handy way to get rid of some of the lefty progressive priests that annoy me! I'll simply claim, anonymously of course, when I was a kid I was visiting relatives and I went to a parish where priest was assigned and he molested me when I asked him to bless my rosary after Mass. Fantastic!

(I hope you know I'm being facetious. The above is why Fr. Reese's suggestion is not a good one.)

God bless.
Bee