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Edward D. Reuss
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Editor’s Note:

With the news of the resignation of Pope Benedict  XVI,  this article previously published in 2010 now has renewed importance.   Those in the global media who offer their sophomoric comments about the internal affairs of the Roman Catholic Church reveal just how unschooled they are in history . 

Many in the Media would have us believe that the Church is in decline and must therefore “modernize”  official  teachings on matters such as homosexuality,   gay marriage, abortion, and contraception, as well as celibacy and women in the priesthood.    I was listening to a radio  talkshow host who interviewed the editor of the National Catholic Reporter.    The editor sounded very supportive of such changes.    I will be reading the editorial pages of that publication with a jaundiced eye in future.

In my humble opinion,  when the new Pope is elected by the Conclave,  he will have the rare opportunity of the support of Benedict XVI who can assist him greatly in a “purge” or cleansing if you will, of the Roman Catholic Church.    As a “cradle Catholic”, I pray for the success of such an undertaking.   I think that members of the clergy of all ranks,  who are pedophiles or pederasts should be searching the employment ads.   Perhaps they will find positions  in the many liberal so-called “Catholic” universities around the world.   I am sure that their liberal ideas will be welcomed at many of those institutions of higher education.  

The winds of change are coming to the Church,  but they won’t  be the changes that the World wants.  God be with Pope Benedict XVI  and God be with the new Pope as he takes up the burden of the Papacy in this period of history. 

First published in 2010:

I take pen in hand and write this article with a great deal of trepidation,  because although I am a practicing Catholic, I do not think of myself educated enough in the Roman Catholic Church to presume to offer advice to a two thousand year old Institution that I believe to be founded and guided by a Person of Divine Origin.  That being said, I do have credentials of a sort that may assist the Church leaders to purge the criminals that have infiltrated their ranks.

The present scandal that has been revealed in recent years has been a long time in coming. The victims of pedophiles and abusers of adolescent boys and girls by criminals who happen to have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders are coming forth from their anonymous years of suffering.   We are learning just how destructive and predatory these criminals have been.   The facts surrounding these crimes against children are mindboggling. 

The members of the Church Hierarchy are ill-equipped to deal with the criminals that engage in pedophilia and child abuse.  Their clergical instinct is to look upon the actions of these predatory priests as “sins”  by sinful priests.  As churchmen, they view sins as acts that the sinner may receive forgiveness for. Therefore, the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession is the vehicle by which such sinners receive absolution for sin.   The priests and bishops are members of a Church that teaches Redemption of sins and that will not change even for sinners who commit horrendous crimes.  The problem is that pedophile priests and child abusers who happen to be priests must be treated as criminals, not “sinners”.   Canon Law and ecclesiastical courts cannot be used to prosecute “criminal” priests, they must be tried in Criminal courts. Just as we would not recognize the jurisdictiion of Islamic “Sharia” law or Rabbinical Courts of the Jewish Faith in similar cases.

As a retired Captain of Police,  I know that the Church can benefit from some of the experience of the NYPD in dealing with corruption by members of their organization.
Such experience is not from the world of Academia.   The investigation that was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice did little to help the Church.  The investigative results of that study are available online http://www.usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/index.htm
Perhaps professional police can be of some assistance.

For instance,  if and when the Holy See proceeds to refer such cases to civil authorities,  the
action of the Church could be similar to the NYPD in dealing with corruption.  That is, once the Church leaders have conducted a preliminary investigation and found that there is probable cause to believe that the accused priest may be guilty of criminal conduct,  then the police and district attorney could be notified of the facts.  If after a presentation to the Grand Jury by the District Attorney,  the accused is Indicted for his acts,  then the Church could do as the NYPD does in such cases involving police officers who have been arrested and indicted for crimes.

Just as police officers who have been arrested and indicted,   no indemnification should be offered for the accused priest.  Nor should an attorney be provided by the Church.  Just as police officers who commit crimes are not indemnified nor counsel provided,  so the same procedure should be in place for accused priests.

When the mainstream media discovers what the Church procedure will be,  be prepared for the shedding of “Crocodile Tears” by liberal columnists and commentators for the lack of support from the Church in defense of the indicted priests.   The very same critics of the Church who lamented the fact that the church “covered up” the actions of pedophiles and abusive priests in the past, will make a 180 degree turn to criticize the Church for abandoning its priests to the court system.   There will be a very good reason for their position. They will see this as an attempt by the Church to escape the liability for the actions of such priests.    Recent critics of the Church have lamented the fact that the secrecy of the Confessional prevents the Church from revealing the facts that will lead to the defrocking of priests.  The privileged communication between a Priest and confessor during the Sacrament of Reconcilation is a sacred trust .  It will never be violated.   I can only suggest to such critics that they have the same attitude towards attorneys and their defendant clients, and doctors and psychiatrists and their patients.    Any change in those privileged relationships will occur,  I assure the reader,  on the day of the crack of doom.

However, just as the City of New York and the NYPD refuses to support corrupt police officers in courts,  the Church may find it the way to proceed to rid itself of the criminals hiding behind their positions as priests.    Police Officers who are “acting within the scope of their employment and in the proper performance of duty” are indemnified and are defended by the NYC City in Criminal and Civil actions.  

The possibility of false accusations against priests is very likely in the future.   With this in mind,  If the Church finds that an accused priest has not acted improperly,  then a lawyer should be provided to defend the priest in court.    The Church should also vigorously defend priests who have been falsely accused.  

The City of New York and the NYPD can be found liable for the actions of their police officers,  and these are usually for actions involving some degree of culpablility such as criminal negligence.   However, for corrupt actions, the NYPD can defend against suits by the obvious defense that the training that police recruits receive in the Police Academy and in- service training does not include encouraging officers to commit crimes against the citizens of the City of New York.  The liability is attenuated by these facts.

In like manner,  the Roman Catholic Church and the Seminaries that train men for the Priesthood has a curriculum that includes Theology and other subjects that prepare such men for a life in the Church.    The curriculum does not include how to commit crimes against children and seduce adolescent teenagers.    This must be part of the defense of the Church to liability for the actions of predatory priests.

The Roman Catholic Church needs to have a purge.   It must rid itself of the criminals who have chosen a life in the priesthood as a cover to commit their crimes. They must be driven from the ranks of the Priesthood .  Such a purge is appropriate in this Year of the Priesthood.  To start anew,  the church should ensure that the seminaries are safeguarded from these predators.   Just as the NYPD places “field associates” in  patrol precincts and units of the NYPD,  such “field associates” could be placed in the classes of the seminaries to detect and screen seminarians who may well be such predators.

Whether or not a priest is by nature a heterosexual or homosexual is not the question.   Only behavior is the determining factor .  Whether a heterosexual priest preys on underage male or female children or a homosexual priest preys on an underage male or female child, such acts are of the same criminal character.

The fact that such actions constitute a Crime necessitates a policy of “ZERO TOLERANCE”
and the Church needs no apology for such a purge.  The abuse scandal effecting the Catholic Church first came to light in the United States.  The US Conference of Catholic Bishops held a Conference in Dallas and released their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002.  I wonder if the secular world has even read this Charter?  The Charter provides a working model for the Roman Catholic Church in dealing with this problem.  The Charter is available to be read online at the following website:

A recent program on HBO featured the interview of a well-known writer who angrily suggested that the Vatican should not have diplomatic immunity and that the Pope should be subpoenaed to appear before the attorney generals here in the US and cross-examined as a criminal because of the alleged cover-up of pedophile priests.  The Archbishop of Canterbury also made statements that the Catholic Church has lost all credibility in Ireland due to the scandal there.  Should the Queen of England who is the head of the Anglican Church also be made to testify in court if any of the pastors of the Anglican Church are accused?   Such critics should not make a fire so hot that they burn themselves. 

The Holy See now has the son of a police officer as the Pope.  Perhaps the apple will not fall far from the tree?

Copyright © 2010 Edward D. Reuss



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