Friday, April 02, 2010

Secular Authority and the Priest Scandal

Every Roman Catholic should be at least a little disconcerted that the church hierarchy enabled and hid the abuse of children at the hands of it's priests. In
case after case throughout the US and the world, priests were protected by their supervisors, making the Church perhaps the safest haven for child molesters in history.

To me the larger question is why police and other law enforcement looked the other way when complaints were brought. As a taxpayer and a non-Catholic, I would like to know why secular authorities have given such wide latitude to religious participants of the Catholic church. If these priests were members of some doomsday cult, do you think that such deference would have been granted?

The citizens of the Wisconsin jurisdiction, indeed citizens of all localities, need to ask these important questions. Given the tolerance the Church has for such misbehavior, one viable scenario is that pedophiles and rapists purposely join the priesthood for the sole reason to have unencumbered authority over the vulnerable. If the Church cannot police its own workplace, then the burden should fall upon the civil authorities.

Sadly, the Roman Catholic Church has tarnished its brand, but that does not exculpate the institutions within our secular society from protecting children from predators.

Practicing Catholics, such as Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, obviously cannot think rationally about the abuse scandal. They are emotionally invested and, like many practitioners, do not use higher brain functions when contemplating their religion. This is evidenced by Mr. Donohue who defends serial statutory rape performed by Roman Catholic priests just so long as the boys are "post-pubescent"! ... Ah, the fever of faith.

But Bill Donohue, perhaps unwittingly, makes an excellent point: the Church cannot be relied upon to do the right thing. They have been shown to be incapable of screening their employees and policing their actions. When complaints are lodged, the Church hierarchy enables and obscures crimes. Most unbelievably, practicing Catholics-- their customers-- accept these crimes as normal procedure and continue to support the hierarchy. None of this is rational behavior.

In the recently publicized Wisconsin case, more than 200 deaf boys were serially raped over two decades by a known pedophile. When the church bishops ignored the accusation, complaints were brought to the police. "A criminal priest was an oxymoron to them," is what one boy's father said. As responsible members of civil society we must all disabuse ourselves of the notion that priests-- or any such authority-- should be treated differently solely because of their status within a sect. The same can be said of physicians and others who garner deference based on their profession.

We need to have these religious organizations start paying tax in order to defray the necessary cost of enforcing our laws.

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