Church

Priest Sex Scandal: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

I was thinking about this the other day… What if someone pops up and says this or that happened in the sacristy (or wherever) way back in 1980/81 when so and so was the then pastor. That priest, dead or alive, would forever be tainted and immediately presumed to be guilty, whether the allegations are even remotely true, or not. That is the sad state of affairs as they currently stand…

There’s no quick fix when clergy abuse cases are dismissed. Many priests cleared of allegations ‘retire’ in good standing rather than go back to working with children.

The National Catholic Register has more:

In 2002, the U.S. bishops’ groundbreaking “zero tolerance” policy for clerical perpetrators won broad support, but the new era of aggressive accountability has made it tough for accused priests that have been cleared of abuse charges and seek to return to parish work.

Fresh allegations of abuse and curial negligence, incomplete media coverage of new and historical cases, the difficulty of establishing guilt, the drumbeat of outrage from victims’ rights groups, and ongoing financial settlements have led the public, and some Church leaders, to question whether any priest linked to a “credible allegation” — whatever the outcome of subsequent investigations — should be allowed further access to children.

While Church law and the criminal justice system stipulate that the accused are “innocent until proven guilty,” media coverage of last week’s clergy abuse scandals in Philadelphia and Los Angeles gives credence to an opposing principle: The accused are guilty until proven innocent

… Under canon law, a cleric is entitled to protection of his good reputation and restoration if it is damaged. In addition, an accused priest or deacon who is not laicized is entitled to decent financial support from his diocese or religious order.

Yet amid the glare of headlines marking another round of clergy abuse scandals, canon lawyers and various groups that defend the rights of accused priests contend that their clients don’t always obtain justice

… “This is detrimental to the morale of the priesthood: One accusation and you’re done,”…

Which was my point. And this is not a healthy situation, at all.

Read the rest here.