Friday, April 16, 2010

The Church Cannot Hide Behind a Right

Wading through all the information about pedophiles masquerading as priest in the Catholic Church is troublesome. While each side disputes who knew what and when, no one, at least from what information is available, denies that molestation and raping of children took place. This blog post is not meant to be an assault on the Catholic Church or the great majority of good people that labor for it. The church is a valuable asset to any community. It is directed at the people committing these crimes who are suppose to protect the most vulnerable in the community.

The church is defending itself on the confidential relationship between a member of the clergy and someone confessing their sins. This has been a long standing right in common law. The thinking is that religion holds a very special place in any community, perhaps above the law of man, therefore the clergy and the confessor are granted special rights. But the people who are confessing these most horrendous of crimes are Priests. They are leaders that not only set the moral code for the community, but by the special status granted them are to be above reproach. Victim’s have said that just saying a priest has done something immoral feels like inviting the wrath of God.

The right of confidentiality should be respected, but no right is absolute. There are other rights that must be kept in balance. There is the right of the victims to have the crimes visited on them validated and there is the responsibility of the community to protect them and punish those that committed the crimes.

No argument can be made that any right shields someone from responsibility to directly harm someone else. It also does not shield someone who knows about the act but does not report the crime. This is especially true when the victims are just children, who have a limited capacity to understand what has happen to them.

As a community we must ask that the people that have committed these crimes come forward to take responsibility. Those people that know what has happen and have kept their secrets, must also come forward.

With every right comes the responsibility to use it in good faith. When that good faith is violated, a community cannot allow a dark evil to hide behind it.

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