Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Churches must police priests

Published:Friday | January 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM


The Church, especially the Catholic Church, has always proclaimed that it is the determinant of appropriate sexual behaviour. It seems to have forgotten the saying, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." (John 8:7). Having established itself as the standard bearer of sexual mores, by vowing to lives of carnal abstinence, its own priests are being identified as frequent violators of society's basic morality, and as perpetrators of child sexual abuse.

Are the churches policing themselves? Applicants to church positions should have their references checked out. Are churches carefully monitoring day-care centres, field trips, crusades, etc? Hardly.

The Church is reluctant to change, moved to do so only when its pocket books are threatened and unfavourable publicity. It often chooses remedial steps for dealing with identified violators and victims, thus allowing their abusers to continue their crimes.

Perhaps the healing must begin with the laity. Full disclosures of the behaviour and punishment of both priests who lied and conspired to keep the conduct of the violators hidden, and the violators themselves. For starters, we await the outcome of a new Vatican tribunal in 2016 approved by Pope Francis to investigate and punish child abusers in the Catholic Church.

But this is not enough. The widespread child abuse of the Church needs - no, not divine revelation - to be investigated through legal channels. What are the legal implications? Nothing less can be expected from those who would follow the footsteps of Him who said, "Suffer the children to come unto me."