Friday, June 24, 2016

Another feel-good announcement that will accomplish nothing . . .

. . . except to add another burden to the lives of good priests who don't deserve it.  The Guardian reports:

Catholic priests in Montreal will be banned from being alone with children to provide a “safety net” against allegations of abuse.

. . .

Implementation of the policy is to begin with a pilot project involving a dozen parishes from September, and will subsequently be rolled out across the diocese.

The policy would cover anyone “in the orbit of the church” to create a “safety net”, Canon Francois Sarrazin told the Canadian Press.

“Imagine if you are alone in a room and a child accuses you of hitting them, how will you react?” Sarrazin said. “Whether it’s true or not, you need a witness. Not being in the room alone with someone who is vulnerable is simply being prudent.”

. . .

The policy was dismissed as “window dressing” by David Clohessy of the US-based Snap (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) ... “We’ve literally seen hundreds of policies, procedures, protocols and pledges like this that sound good on paper but are virtually never enforced. So we are extremely sceptical.”

There's more at the link.

Mr. Clohessy is exactly right.  This is nothing more or less than pious window-dressing.  Bad priests will be able to avoid detection and get around this prohibition without much difficulty - just as they always have.  If they're not obeying the commandments of God and refuse to heed Christ's explicit warning, what makes the Archbishop of Montreal think they'll obey him?  Moreover, good priests will now have their lives made much more difficult.  How, precisely, are they supposed to provide confidential counseling, or sacraments such as reconciliation (i.e. confession), to younger people if they aren't allowed to be alone with them?  It also tars them with the same brush as priests guilty of child abuse;  in other words, they're regarded as guilty until proven innocent.

Those are two of the bigger reasons why I walked away from the priesthood in 2005.  Celibacy had nothing to do with it;  nor did doctrinal disagreements with the Catholic Church.  I simply refused to accept being regarded, officially, by my religious superiors, as 'guilty until proven innocent', merely because of the fact that I was a priest.  Furthermore, I refused to lie to the faithful, and tell them (as I was instructed to do) that the bishops were handling the child sex abuse scandal in an orderly and proper manner, and that the people of God could trust their leadership.  I knew at first hand - and had evidence to prove it - that this was false.

It's absolutely tragic that nothing seems to have changed.  The people of God deserve better . . . but they're not getting it.  If this is an example of the official attitude of the Catholic Church, I fear they never will.


EDITED TO ADD:  From a reader, via e-mail:
What was especially disturbing was the self-serving rationale offered by Sarrazin:
“Imagine if you are alone in a room and a child accuses you of hitting them, how will you react?” Sarrazin said. “Whether it’s true or not, you need a witness. Not being in the room alone with someone who is vulnerable is simply being prudent.”
His main motivation is the protection, not of the children, but of the priests. How sadly typical.
Quite so.



Anonymous said...

I am not sure if this is a bad idea. It should be tested out to see if it works or not.

A better solution would be to allow marriage, as is allowed in some Catholic sects for priests. Allowing marriage for Protestant priests does not seem to have caused major issues...

Another anon

Glen Filthie said...

Good grief, Anon... Are you friggin stupid? And you, Pastor! Jeez Louise!!!

How in the bloody hell did the church get smeared for this? Dontchya think the bloody QUEERS and the gay community should hold the bag for the kiddie-diddling priests that went after the choir boys? And the ********** liberals - those ******** have made it clear that their next big feat of social engineering is going to be the mainstreaming of pedophilia - they're already sending up the trial balloons!

It may be politically incorrect but gays have a long and sordid history of attacking children. The reason they turn up in the clergy is because that is where they have it all: access to children to feed their habit, and the spiritual means to absolve themselves of their perversion and crime.

So you, Pastor... You bailed out on the few kids that make it to church these days. At the same time all kinds of otherwise good men - just like you - have bailed out of minor hockey, minor baseball, the Boy Scouts etc etc ad nauseum... And who can blame you? Meanwhile, the perverts find other means of attacking kids and the liberals enable and encourage it. But it's only a sin and a crime if it happens in a church!

This whole business makes me want to spit.

Anonymous said...

The boy scouts have been using this methodology for several years now, and it seems to have greatly reduced the problems with pederasts in leadership positions taking advantage of vulnerable young boys.

As far as the problem of personal counseling, sight distance is all that is required, not hearing distance.

No system is perfect, but this is a step in the right direction for some problems, and shows some attempt to make misbehavior more difficult for those inclined in that way.

Jonathan H said...

I know of churches who have a similar policy about male pastors and women congregants; it helps them avoid even the possibility of problems.
Of course, it depends on how the policy is carried out - as the saying goes "the devil is in the details"!

Peter said...

@Glen Filthie: There's a lot more to it than you appear to understand. See my four-part series of articles examining the issue in detail for more information. Also, bear in mind that while good priests are placed in impossible situations over this, their bishops continue to sit in their ecclesiastical ivory towers, remote from the scandal and pontificating about it while expecting others to bear the brunt of its consequences. It's sickening. Witness the fact that most of the bishops and archbishops who covered up the scandal, moved priests around rather than deal with them, and allowed the situation to fester for years and decades, have not been punished at all. Some are still in office. Others have been permitted to retire on full pension, retaining all the privileges of their position. They've gotten away with their crimes.

Bear in mind, too, that the problem became as bad as it was precisely because bishops abdicated their responsibility to select good candidates for the priesthood and ensure they were appropriately screened and properly educated, and received spiritual formation that would equip them for their responsibilities. In the USA in particular, their track record is abysmal. See the book 'Goodbye, Good Men' for the details: .

Glen Filthie said...

I'm new to the faith Pete, and more a friend to the church than an adherent. I was raised by progs that hold the church in utter contempt because of incidents just like this. I do not doubt for a second the guilt of the clergy leadership - they should be flogged for what they did.. But not you. I get it.

What sticks in my craw (along with that stuff you brought up) is that when some crazed femcnut over at Salon starts yammering about the unfair victimization of pedos... and I am supposed to sit there and treat that idiot like a rational adult while she tries to shame me for my contempt for pedos. But if a priest does the exact same thing... THEN it's acrime and a sin! Oh, those eeeeevil Christians!!!!! Why do liberals get a pass on this and not the church...?

Who is the biggest sinner? The pedo? The bishop that swept that stuff under the rug? Or the liberal morons actively pushing for Pedo accetance and tolerance like Salon and NAMBLA? The only debate in my mind is - who should be shot first...

Scott H said...

I fail to see the problem with a policy designed to protect good men from false accusations. This policy will do that. True, it will not protect the kids from a bad person, but it is not designed to do that.