Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: Solutions?

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I'll refer specifically to Australia, given that I don't know much about how this issue is going in other countries, but I believe Ireland is looking into things as well.

So we're currently in the process of establishing a royal commission into the abuse of minors by members of religious sects, and the response of the church hierarchy, primarily priests from the catholic church and its various orders. In case you are unaware, it is widely alleged that the church hierarchy has engaged in a large-scale cover up of such abuse, by moving some abusers from parish to parish, simply not reporting cases, etc.

Amongst just about everyone I know, the opinion that all this occurred is almost unanimous, and as much as George Pell denies it and claims that there is a smear campaign against the church, it looks like the church will have to face a lot more trials and convictions than it already has.

But this is not simply a thread bashing George Pell and the catholic church, as much as I think they deserve it, but rather a discussion on how to deal with the church following the royal commission, particularly if all or most allegations are found to be true.

While we have not seen such a large system of abuse and coverup in a private organisation before (at least not to my knowledge), I imagine if it were to happen there would be cause for the organisation to be forcibly disbanded, and responsible parties be tried. The problem with the catholic church, is that the actual act of going to church is very important, and if there were no churches, it may qualify as prohibiting the practice of a particular religion, which is not good enough for a secular nation. Also, the religious still have a strong grasp on politics in australia, so I doubt it would happen even if it weren't discriminative.

Another solution that springs to mind is to, in some way, monitor confession booths (chambers? I'm not sure of the right word here) and force the hierarchy to report any crimes. This runs into problems though, because of the belief in the confidentiality of confession. Pell himself said in the middle of all this, that "the seal of confession is inviolable", and that priests who had confessed to abuse would not be handed over to police, and that the priests who HEARD these confessions, should not answer questions during the royal commission. Now, this smells of bullshit to me. Because we live in a secular nation, religious laws gain no superiority over civil laws, and the church does not have the right to obstruct the legal process in this way. However, if you have a large group of people who do believe their religious laws are more important, like the people in charge of the church, I doubt much would stop them from continuing to prevent the correct reporting of crimes.

Discuss!

Pell's comments: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/confessions-stay-secret-says-george-pell/story-e6freuy9-1226516197623

TL;DR: What solutions are there to the behaviour of the catholic church (and other churches) with regards to child abuse?

I offer no solutions.

I would like to comment on the confessions bit though, I was theoretically raised Catholic (practically Atheist though), and the inviolability of the confessions is paramount. No inviolability no confessions.
However I was taught a 'good' confessor will tell you to go to the police as part of your penance. And I assume that if you go to confession you actually believe this is nescesary to be a good Catholic and that you will be Hellbound if you don't do penance... lots of asumptions there though...

Simple; Refer all allegations of abuse to the local police and let them investigate.

The church may be the authority on the next world, but the magistrate is the authority in this one and should determine the guild or innocence of the accused.

The confession shouldn't be inviolate, they should follow the same laws everyone else does.

As for fixing the problem, hard to say, but an end to ignoring the problem and coming down on those involved seems like a good step.

But, the Catholic Church doesn't seem to want to deal with the issue, it'd rather keep sweeping it under the rug. That attitude has got to change.

The inviolability of confession thing is pretty much similar to doctor-patient confidentiality, isn't it? And do you think anyone would confess to a priest they knew were willing to talk to the police? I say keep the inviolability; getting rid of it doesn't really help, and it's something that millions of people probably treat as an equivalent of psychological support anyway.

Just have the police investigate, talk to witnesses, gather evidence, etc, like they do for other crimes. Also, punish people for covering up the abuse, just like for other crimes.

Fair disclaimer: I'm Protestant, and I think a lot of these Catholic traditions are pretty strange, but I can understand why confession should be secret...

dyre:
The inviolability of confession thing is pretty much similar to doctor-patient confidentiality, isn't it? And do you think anyone would confess to a priest they knew were willing to talk to the police? I say keep the inviolability; getting rid of it doesn't really help, and it's something that millions of people probably treat as an equivalent of psychological support anyway.

Just have the police investigate, talk to witnesses, gather evidence, etc, like they do for other crimes. Also, punish people for covering up the abuse, just like for other crimes.

Fair disclaimer: I'm Protestant, and I think a lot of these Catholic traditions are pretty strange, but I can understand why confession should be secret...

I guess you could compare it to doctor-patient confidentiality, as that's confidentiality when caring for someone's health, and catholics see confession as taking care of one's "spiritual" health. Obviously I think actual health is more important, but that's just because I'm an atheist.

The thing is though, that I'm pretty sure doctor-patient confidentiality only applies with testimony, and doesn't prevent the doctor from alerting the police. And in the case of domestic abuse on a minor, they're required to alert the police. That's based on conversations with my sister, who's a med student, so it may not be perfect. If there are any lawyers around I welcome your corrections.

If they were devout catholics, which I assume most catholic priests to be, I imagine they would still go to confession, because that's what catholics feel the need to do.

captcha: words of wisdom. awww. I love you too captcha.

madwarper:
Simple; Refer all allegations of abuse to the local police and let them investigate.

The church may be the authority on the next world, but the magistrate is the authority in this one and should determine the guild or innocence of the accused.

I agree completely, that is what they should have already been doing. But for some reason they haven't been, and so we need to do something that ensures they aren't able to perform such a large coverup again.

CAMDAWG:

dyre:
The inviolability of confession thing is pretty much similar to doctor-patient confidentiality, isn't it? And do you think anyone would confess to a priest they knew were willing to talk to the police? I say keep the inviolability; getting rid of it doesn't really help, and it's something that millions of people probably treat as an equivalent of psychological support anyway.

Just have the police investigate, talk to witnesses, gather evidence, etc, like they do for other crimes. Also, punish people for covering up the abuse, just like for other crimes.

Fair disclaimer: I'm Protestant, and I think a lot of these Catholic traditions are pretty strange, but I can understand why confession should be secret...

I guess you could compare it to doctor-patient confidentiality, as that's confidentiality when caring for someone's health, and catholics see confession as taking care of one's "spiritual" health. Obviously I think actual health is more important, but that's just because I'm an atheist.

The thing is though, that I'm pretty sure doctor-patient confidentiality only applies with testimony, and doesn't prevent the doctor from alerting the police. And in the case of domestic abuse on a minor, they're required to alert the police. That's based on conversations with my sister, who's a med student, so it may not be perfect. If there are any lawyers around I welcome your corrections.

If they were devout catholics, which I assume most catholic priests to be, I imagine they would still go to confession, because that's what catholics feel the need to do.

captcha: words of wisdom. awww. I love you too captcha.

Hmm, really? That seems kinda useless... "I won't testify against you, but as soon as we're done here, I'm calling the cops!"

Why would anyone tell a doctor they're abusing their children anyway though? That doesn't make sense.

I dunno man, if they were devout Catholics, they shouldn't be raping kids. Moment of weakness, I guess? :P
They'd probably just find the "right" priest to confess to anyway. Black market priests, or something. And in the meantime all the Catholic petty thieves and pot users are suffering for the loss of their inviolability.

CAMDAWG:
TL;DR: What solutions are there to the behaviour of the catholic church (and other churches) with regards to child abuse?

Well, moving forwards, I'd suggest growing the fuck up and letting their priests get married and have sex. It can't be a coincidence that there are such high levels of child abuse within a group of men who are supposedly celibate; just my opinion here, but I think it unlikely that all of these priests are paedophiles in the technical sense. More likely that lifelong celibacy is too much of a burden to put on someone of normal sexual appetite, and this leads to sexual abuse once the chance arises.

Do what the western powers do with the other religious groups that displease them - Invade all countries where catholics are present, ship the leadership, clergy and randomly selected bits of their congregations to prisons in Guantanamo, Egypt, Pakistan etc. Easy.

Destroy the primitive institution and put its mass wealth to practical use.

Sue the Pope, invest the money in solar panels.

dyre:

Hmm, really? That seems kinda useless... "I won't testify against you, but as soon as we're done here, I'm calling the cops!"

Not really. It's kind of just like you said earlier. The police would investigate and find witnesses etc. they just couldn't use the doctor as a witness in court.

Why would anyone tell a doctor they're abusing their children anyway though? That doesn't make sense.

Well of course they wouldn't, but there are signs, and types of injuries that might tip a doctor off, or the kid might say something. Again, it's nothing to convict the parents on, but it will alert the police to a potential crime, and they'll look into it.

I dunno man, if they were devout Catholics, they shouldn't be raping kids. Moment of weakness, I guess? :P
They'd probably just find the "right" priest to confess to anyway. Black market priests, or something. And in the meantime all the Catholic petty thieves and pot users are suffering for the loss of their inviolability.

I don't think anyone knows. Especially when you consider that most abuse victims are young boys, and the church has a fairly firm "is gay, is bad" stance at the moment.

Also, I think that the whole forgiveness aspect of the confession is a little off as well. The thought that you can just go in, confess, then leave absolved of everything because you happen to believe in a specific higher power doesn't sit right with me, and I think doesn't do anybody any favours when it comes to learning how to deal with consequences of your actions.

Everyone realizes that religion is silly and stops going to church, and sending their children to church. Remove any authority or respect from religious institutions.

That's my solution.

CAMDAWG:

Also, I think that the whole forgiveness aspect of the confession is a little off as well. The thought that you can just go in, confess, then leave absolved of everything because you happen to believe in a specific higher power doesn't sit right with me, and I think doesn't do anybody any favours when it comes to learning how to deal with consequences of your actions.

That's not how it works. You confess to a sin and the priest tells you hwta you need to do as penance. For small sins ("I took an extra cookie", "I lied to my mom") it's usually something like 'say 30 hail Mary's and never do it again', but for major sins (crimes), it should include 'go turn yourself in to the cops'. Of course this depends on wether or not your confessor is any good at his job, but still...

No penance, no forgiveness.

CAMDAWG:

dyre:

Hmm, really? That seems kinda useless... "I won't testify against you, but as soon as we're done here, I'm calling the cops!"

Not really. It's kind of just like you said earlier. The police would investigate and find witnesses etc. they just couldn't use the doctor as a witness in court.

I mean, the assurance seems kind of useless. If I killed someone, I wouldn't tell a priest if the only assurance is that the priest wouldn't personally testify. That really doesn't help me at all, since the only testimony the priest could give would be hearsay anyway.

CAMDAWG:

Well of course they wouldn't, but there are signs, and types of injuries that might tip a doctor off, or the kid might say something. Again, it's nothing to convict the parents on, but it will alert the police to a potential crime, and they'll look into it.

That's true, I guess.

CAMDAWG:

Also, I think that the whole forgiveness aspect of the confession is a little off as well. The thought that you can just go in, confess, then leave absolved of everything because you happen to believe in a specific higher power doesn't sit right with me, and I think doesn't do anybody any favours when it comes to learning how to deal with consequences of your actions.

Of course you would think that, you dirty atheist!

j/k, but I'm sure there's a reasonable-sounding explanation for the confession thing, and different ways it's supposed to deal with the "don't do it again" aspect. I don't particular care to learn what that explanation is, but in the past, there were lots of Catholic thinkers, and I assume they grappled with the problem and came up with a decent explanation.

Eleuthera:

That's not how it works. You confess to a sin and the priest tells you hwta you need to do as penance. For small sins ("I took an extra cookie", "I lied to my mom") it's usually something like 'say 30 hail Mary's and never do it again', but for major sins (crimes), it should include 'go turn yourself in to the cops'. Of course this depends on wether or not your confessor is any good at his job, but still...

No penance, no forgiveness.

That's all well and good, but it's still not enough. There is nothing forcing the confesser to answer to actual justice, and if they tell the person to go to the police, why couldn't they report it to the police as well, as insurance?

But more importantly, it is clear that priests have not been told, or have refused, to go to the police.

This royal commission thing sounds like too much BS. The cops themselves need to step in and do investigations like they'd do for any regular crime(unless the RC is the police and I'm missing something). The word of the victum and a trial should be enough there as it is here.

Though, I'd be against monitoring confession. As much as I've never agreed with the Catholic way of handling that, those need to be kept private.

Personally I think if priests are found to sexually abuse minors, they should be thrown in prison. Easy as that.

But as a Roman Catholic who just recently went to confession, I find the very act, the very concept of taping confessions to be disgusting and an utter invasion of privacy and disregard of my religious rights. Priests are allowed to report "criminal confessions" if they believe the criminal is attempting to gloat or plans to do so again, but if someone's genuinely trying to redeem themselves the call to confidentiality still stands.

Considering the Vatican is technically it's own state, I say that there should be an order, separate from the main branch of the church, that works to uncover corruption and has the power to both interrogate (lawfully and free of torture, of course) priests, block transfers of priests they suspect of committing the crime, and report those priests to the police with evidence they've gathered to back up police investigations. A "Neo-Inquisitor" kind of order (minus the torture and executions) you could say.

Witty Name Here:
Considering the Vatican is technically it's own state, I say that there should be an order, separate from the main branch of the church, that works to uncover corruption and has the power to both interrogate (lawfully and free of torture, of course) priests, block transfers of priests they suspect of committing the crime, and report those priests to the police with evidence they've gathered to back up police investigations. A "Neo-Inquisitor" kind of order (minus the torture and executions) you could say.

That's all very well and good inside the Vatican, but outside it they have no jurisdiction, they are supposed to abide by local laws.

Witty Name Here:
Personally I think if priests are found to sexually abuse minors, they should be thrown in prison. Easy as that.

But as a Roman Catholic who just recently went to confession, I find the very act, the very concept of taping confessions to be disgusting and an utter invasion of privacy and disregard of my religious rights. Priests are allowed to report "criminal confessions" if they believe the criminal is attempting to gloat or plans to do so again, but if someone's genuinely trying to redeem themselves the call to confidentiality still stands.

Considering the Vatican is technically it's own state, I say that there should be an order, separate from the main branch of the church, that works to uncover corruption and has the power to both interrogate (lawfully and free of torture, of course) priests, block transfers of priests they suspect of committing the crime, and report those priests to the police with evidence they've gathered to back up police investigations. A "Neo-Inquisitor" kind of order (minus the torture and executions) you could say.

I doubt anyone will argue that the priests SHOULDN'T be punished. Only the most extreme of the extreme would suggest that.

That's exactly where the problem lies, in my opinion. Most "solutions" would see either regular catholics get dicked over, or leave a system that's capable of being abused again. There needs to be some sort of middle ground, but I've got no fucking idea what it is.

I disagree that priests should keep confidentiality if the criminal is trying to reform though. Obviously it depends on the crime, but for the most part, they shouldn't get let off to some extent simply because they believe they've confessed to their deity, and taking steps to forgiveness, when think the religion should not be granted any special privilege.

As for an independent order, didn't they have that already? Wasn't Ratzinger in charge of it at one point? That's not rhetorical by the way, I'm genuinely asking. I think the problem there is that the order would still be associated heavily with the church, and would still suffer if it were revealed that the extent of the coverups were greater, and so could easily become corrupt itself.

CAMDAWG:

Eleuthera:

That's not how it works. You confess to a sin and the priest tells you hwta you need to do as penance. For small sins ("I took an extra cookie", "I lied to my mom") it's usually something like 'say 30 hail Mary's and never do it again', but for major sins (crimes), it should include 'go turn yourself in to the cops'. Of course this depends on wether or not your confessor is any good at his job, but still...

No penance, no forgiveness.

That's all well and good, but it's still not enough. There is nothing forcing the confesser to answer to actual justice, and if they tell the person to go to the police, why couldn't they report it to the police as well, as insurance?

But more importantly, it is clear that priests have not been told, or have refused, to go to the police.

Yeah, that's a problem. I think religious personnel should be put in the same category as other paraprofessional personnel and be treated as mandated reporters. They're not now, is that correct? If a priest has knowledge of abuse, they are not mandated to report it to authorities? If so, that should be corrected immediately. Hell, therapists are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality, but they're still mandated reporters-- if they have knowledge that their client is committing a crime or will commit a crime, IIRC they must report it.

In all things like this, I favor sunlight as the best disinfectant. This problem isn't specifically religious, it's specifically what happens with a powerful, entrenched, opaque institution. You might argue that football in the US is a religion, but Penn State isn't religious, and look what happened there, same coverup. Opacity + power is a problem.

CAMDAWG:

I doubt anyone will argue that the priests SHOULDN'T be punished. Only the most extreme of the extreme would suggest that.

That's exactly where the problem lies, in my opinion. Most "solutions" would see either regular catholics get dicked over, or leave a system that's capable of being abused again. There needs to be some sort of middle ground, but I've got no fucking idea what it is.

I disagree that priests should keep confidentiality if the criminal is trying to reform though. Obviously it depends on the crime, but for the most part, they shouldn't get let off to some extent simply because they believe they've confessed to their deity, and taking steps to forgiveness, when think the religion should not be granted any special privilege.

As for an independent order, didn't they have that already? Wasn't Ratzinger in charge of it at one point? That's not rhetorical by the way, I'm genuinely asking. I think the problem there is that the order would still be associated heavily with the church, and would still suffer if it were revealed that the extent of the coverups were greater, and so could easily become corrupt itself.

From what I recall, Ratzinger was in charge of an order that was, in a sense, a "descendant" of the Spanish Inquisition, but I believe it has a different purpose and is directly under Papal rule now. (The actual Spanish inquisition was mostly under control of the monarch of Spain and functioned more a "secret police" then a purely Church Sponsored inquisition).

Although most priests heavily recommend penance for certain sins, while a great deal of penance involves saying a certain prayer several times, in other cases they offer more... Well, you could call it "powerful" advise. For example writing apology letters to anyone you can remember being rude to, giving a certain amount of your finances to charity, or in cases of crime, turning yourself in and paying back every thing you stole/damaged.

The true issue we have to focus in is balance, finding a way to insure those that abuse the positions in the church they should have been thankful to have are punished, and that regular Roman Catholics aren't screwed over.

Hell, maybe just a "division" of regular police officers who happen to be catholic (and can prevent the transfer of priests with proper paperwork) can handle this?

One thing that needs to be remembered is that, in many MANY cases, Catholicism is as much a "culture" as a true religious belief. In the same sense that Judaism can be seen as "cultural" many Catholics, especially Catholic immigrants in the united states, see the church as a major part of their identity. In a sense, regular Catholics may be the best to go to when it comes to finding a solution to this issue that doesn't screw regular Catholics over.

I'm absolutely opposed to observation/spying on confession booths. But sanctions on an organization that provably and repeatedly shuffles abusers around, protects them from investigation and so on? Yeah. Absolutely. Of course do the priests need to be punished, but it should be obvious that you can't allow an organization to - in an organized fashion - shield these priests, either.

Honestly when the pope did help protect pedophiles I felt he should've gone to jail. A strict no tolerance policy would help, when they commit sexual abuse we lock them up. I don't think hurting the innocent is very christian (yes I am saying the pope isn't very christian).

Couldn't they just let priests marry again like the days of old? It would mean the priesthood would attract a lot less weirdos.

Fraser Greenfield:
Couldn't they just let priests marry again like the days of old? It would mean the priesthood would attract a lot less weirdos.

It's time for a history lesson from the Bentusi. For you see, I travel the space lanes and listen to the tales so that they may never be lost.

Catholic priest were originally allowed to marry, as you pointed out, because there isn't actually anything in the bible forbidding it. Rumors of Jesus' own marriage aside, there just wasn't anything about their priest not being allowed to marry, and in the Jewish faith Rabbis are allowed to marry.

Soooo for a long time everything was cool, and then an issue cropped up in the catholic church; priest were getting married, having kids, and then leaving the church land that they lived on to their heirs rather then having it go back to their church at their death. So the catholic church went 'ahhh nope!' and banned all marriages. That means even if a priest was having a sexual relationship with a woman, the child of that relationship would be considered a bastard and by most ancient laws not have the ability to inherit land.

Anyway! That's the story.

On the more original topic: The fact is that catholic church did something bad and have been moving to correct it. While perhaps they are only doing it because they got caught, and that's Bad, they are moving to do it, which is something. Frankly they should break out the papal inquisition on this one (it's a real thing and it still exist).

No organization, I think ever, will drop it's own people in the cacky. It's a code of conduct that's gone on for thousands of years among humans. You just don't do it, for even political gain unless you're really damn sure it's not going to get back to you or you know you're above it, because no one will ever trust you again if you do and you'll have a line of people with daggers at your back. Perhaps we hold the catholic church to a higher standard because of what it's supposed to represent that we treat it so harshly for this. And we should hold it to a high standard.

Holy men are not above the law, so any priest committing the crime should be tried within the legal system of the country they committed it, like you would anyone else, really. As for the pope himself? While he is the ultimate authority, these sort of things are usually handled by someone in middle management; the head authority rarely actually RUNS anything. Anyone who's worked in a major organization will tell you that the people with the real power are several ladder rungs lower then the people at the top. The real people that should be scrutinized are the bishops, as they're the ones that would probably be directly informed about what's going on within their territories and would have direct authority to move a priest.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_hierarchy#Patriarchs

Start prosecuting those who protect the offenders, strip the entire Vatican if you have to. Place should be turned into a museum anyway.

Bentusi16:

Fraser Greenfield:
Couldn't they just let priests marry again like the days of old? It would mean the priesthood would attract a lot less weirdos.

It's time for a history lesson from the Bentusi. For you see, I travel the space lanes and listen to the tales so that they may never be lost.

Catholic priest were originally allowed to marry, as you pointed out, because there isn't actually anything in the bible forbidding it. Rumors of Jesus' own marriage aside, there just wasn't anything about their priest not being allowed to marry, and in the Jewish faith Rabbis are allowed to marry.

Soooo for a long time everything was cool, and then an issue cropped up in the catholic church; priest were getting married, having kids, and then leaving the church land that they lived on to their heirs rather then having it go back to their church at their death. So the catholic church went 'ahhh nope!' and banned all marriages. That means even if a priest was having a sexual relationship with a woman, the child of that relationship would be considered a bastard and by most ancient laws not have the ability to inherit land.

I already knew that... Thanks for writing a laymans version of history down for me. And it wasn't just land; positions and infiltration of family 'houses' was rampant within the Holy Roman Empire's branches of the church and indeed in many other nations as well. Somewhat ironically the churches decision to ban priest marriages was directly tied to their desire to keep State and Church separate.

Easy as pie: always do a background check on the priest and found if they are pedo. If the church find out that any of their priest are porking some kids, they should turn over him to the police.

dyre:
The inviolability of confession thing is pretty much similar to doctor-patient confidentiality, isn't it? And do you think anyone would confess to a priest they knew were willing to talk to the police? I say keep the inviolability; getting rid of it doesn't really help, and it's something that millions of people probably treat as an equivalent of psychological support anyway.

Just have the police investigate, talk to witnesses, gather evidence, etc, like they do for other crimes. Also, punish people for covering up the abuse, just like for other crimes.

Fair disclaimer: I'm Protestant, and I think a lot of these Catholic traditions are pretty strange, but I can understand why confession should be secret...

Doctor patient confidentiality does not extend to protection from serious crimes. A psychiatrist must still inform the police if a patient tells his doctor that he has been molesting children or fantasized about hurting someone.

MacNille:
Easy as pie: always do a background check on the priest and found if they are pedo. If the church find out that any of their priest are porking some kids, they should turn over him to the police.

It's rarely that easy though, a background check only reveals an abuser if they've been caught and convicted, which is only a small percentage of their total population. There's a strong argument that CRB checks might not help protect children as much as people think as it provides a false sense of security, many people will erroneously assume that everyone who passes is "safe" and will then let them into potentially risky situations, such as being alone with a child for long periods of time.

There are two things that truly need to change in the Catholic church system in order to reduce sexual abuse.

1. Priests should be allowed to marry, have families and in general be more normal. It bugs me when people say they go to a priest in order to get marriage counseling or other counseling that they have no understanding of whatsoever. Really? You go to someone who has no concept or idea of what it takes to maintain a long term relationship with another human being? That's a head scratcher. Another point of interest that should garner the most positives is that married men are much less likely to commit sexual abuse. Hopefully his wife is enough action for him to leave the little ones alone. Now this doesn't eliminate it but it would reduce it significantly. Also, you would most likely have many more people enter into priesthood if they are able to marry. As we all know, becoming a priest is much less likely now than ever before.

2. Women should be allowed to be priests. We aren't living in the medieval days anymore. All positions and rank should be made available to women with the exception of being a brother. Same as a man should never be a nun. I'm okay with keeping those two the way they are. This would also reduce the likelihood of sexual abuse do to the fact that women in general are less likely to be sexual predators.

These are things that can actually be done without disrupting things too much. For too long sexual predators have headed to the order of the priesthood knowing full well they would be protected by the church in order to simply avoid a scandal and the easy access they have to kids.

CAMDAWG:

Witty Name Here:
Personally I think if priests are found to sexually abuse minors, they should be thrown in prison. Easy as that.

But as a Roman Catholic who just recently went to confession, I find the very act, the very concept of taping confessions to be disgusting and an utter invasion of privacy and disregard of my religious rights. Priests are allowed to report "criminal confessions" if they believe the criminal is attempting to gloat or plans to do so again, but if someone's genuinely trying to redeem themselves the call to confidentiality still stands.

Considering the Vatican is technically it's own state, I say that there should be an order, separate from the main branch of the church, that works to uncover corruption and has the power to both interrogate (lawfully and free of torture, of course) priests, block transfers of priests they suspect of committing the crime, and report those priests to the police with evidence they've gathered to back up police investigations. A "Neo-Inquisitor" kind of order (minus the torture and executions) you could say.

I doubt anyone will argue that the priests SHOULDN'T be punished. Only the most extreme of the extreme would suggest that.

That's exactly where the problem lies, in my opinion. Most "solutions" would see either regular catholics get dicked over, or leave a system that's capable of being abused again. There needs to be some sort of middle ground, but I've got no fucking idea what it is.

I disagree that priests should keep confidentiality if the criminal is trying to reform though. Obviously it depends on the crime, but for the most part, they shouldn't get let off to some extent simply because they believe they've confessed to their deity, and taking steps to forgiveness, when think the religion should not be granted any special privilege.

As for an independent order, didn't they have that already? Wasn't Ratzinger in charge of it at one point? That's not rhetorical by the way, I'm genuinely asking. I think the problem there is that the order would still be associated heavily with the church, and would still suffer if it were revealed that the extent of the coverups were greater, and so could easily become corrupt itself.

I think you really don't understand how confidentiality works, or why is it in place.
Doctor-Patient confidentiality has nothing to do with ones health, you health is not effected in any way. It's there so your personal health information cannot be used against you, and so people would feel comfortable going to a doctor even for "humiliating" not to mention potentially life changing conditions.
The same lines go for most other confidentiality agreements, such as lawyers, social workers, psychologists, and priests.
That said in most countries if you tell some one that you are about to commit a crime, or they believe that you pose a danger to your self or society, they can report you with out "violating" any laws.

Also i don't get whats the obsession with the Catholic church, beyond the fact that even atheist expect more from a priest than from a regular Joe they are not doing any thing other organizations are not doing.
Schools, Summer Camps, Mental Hospitals and countless other organizations are also covering abuse cases when possible, every now and then you read some expose about some school, hospital or what ever covering abuse cases for years if not decades. The only thing that the Catholic or any other type of religious organizations have to their "benefit" is that they can more easily relocate the person in question any where in the world.

That said any society which restricts healthy sexual behavior is prone to these problems, people need to relieve their sexual desires, when it's taboo they will be conditioned to do so in more controllable and "secretive" scenarios not to mention the longer those desires are bottled up the more time they have to be distorted from the norm.
Personally i don't see how any "investigation" by an outside organization would solve this problem, if any thing it might aggravate it in the long run by forcing the Catholic church or any other organization to close up even more.
The only real solution is an open dialog to reform the Church and other organizations, clerical marriage is accepted by many(Today i would say even most) religious sect, even some Catholic ones. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches need to just get with the program too..

MacNille:
Easy as pie: always do a background check on the priest and found if they are pedo. If the church find out that any of their priest are porking some kids, they should turn over him to the police.

As mentioned, background checks aren't that helpful.

And yes, obviously the church should inform the police if their priests are committing crimes, the problem is that they won't.

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