Due Process a Sham?

Clergy witch hunt? – Due process for accused priests is a sham, critics say.

Is it surprising? A system for which authority is a critical value, and authoritarianism the modus operandi, is going to behave in predictable ways.

In previous decades, lay people who complained about abusive priests were slapped down and the priests were coddled and moved. In recent years, bishops fight to hold onto files and slap down lawyers who demand them, or they pay out exorbitant sums in hush money and slap down the faithful in the pew who complain, or they come down hard on priests accused, even if there is no evidence, or they refuse to hear complaints about liturgical or theological abuses and slap down those who bring them.

In previous centuries interdict, excommunication, the rack and the stake were tools used to the same end–to intimidate, to silence, to control. The faces may change, the tools may change, the targets may change–but does the system at its heart?

Contrast with the spirit of Jesus:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

One thought on “Due Process a Sham?

  1. Joseph Ratzinger identified the scandal as a problem of faith. Unfortunately it is transformed in our society into a legal and PR problem, which leads to further perversions. The faith crisis is a problem for the perpetrators, but is also a problem for those in charge who have “mishandled” it–while acknowledging it to have been a thorny problem not readily given to being solvable by mere humans.

    The scandal of course is also, unfortunately, a problem of faith for many of the “faithful.” I’ve known priest-victims of false accusations too, and they go through a kind of hell. In one prominent case, thank God, a good friend and long-time priest in another area of the country was exonerated and restored to the parish from which he had been yanked. But not before the bungling of his superiors put him through a miserable trial.

    In the end, though, despite all this the question we ask is that of Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go?” The answer, the only honorable reason to belong to any religion, is that it be true to the Truth.

Comments are closed.