May 13, 2010
When Pope John Paul II was still living in
By the early 1980s, Wojtyła, now ensconced in
Today in post-communist
While church pedophiles may still enjoy a safe haven in
Protecting the Perpetrators
As everyone now knows, for decades church superiors repeatedly chose to ignore complaints about pedophile priests. In many instances, accused clerics were quietly bundled off to distant congregations where they could prey anew upon the children of unsuspecting parishioners. This practice of denial and concealment has been so consistently pursued in diocese after diocese, nation after nation, as to leave the impression of being a deliberate policy set by church authorities.
And indeed it has been. Instructions coming directly from
Rather than being defrocked, many outed pedophile priests have been allowed to advance into well-positioned posts as administrators, vicars, and parochial school officials---repeatedly accused by their victims while repeatedly promoted by their superiors.
Church spokesmen employ a vocabulary of compassion and healing---not for the victims but for the victimizers. They treat the child rapist as a sinner who confesses his transgression and vows to mend his ways. Instead of incarceration, there is repentance and absolution.
While this forgiving approach might bring comfort to some malefactors, it proves to be of little therapeutic efficacy when dealing with the darker appetites of pedophiles. A far more effective deterrent is the danger of getting caught and sent to prison. Absent any threat of punishment, the perpetrator is restrained only by the limits of his own appetite and the availability of opportunities.
Forgiving No One Else
The tender tolerance displayed by the church hierarchy toward child rapists does not extend to other controversial clergy. Think of those radical priests who have challenged the hierarchy in the politico-economic struggle for liberation theology, or who advocate lifting the prohibitions against birth control and abortion, or who propose that clergy be allowed to marry, or who preside over same-sex weddings, or who themselves are openly gay, or who believe women should be ordained, or who bravely call for investigations of the pedophilia problem itself.
Such clergy often have their careers shut down. Some are subjected to hostile investigations by church superiors.