How long is long enough?

How long is long enough?

A Franciscan friar who had admitted to abusing kids decades ago was found to be living at a parish with an elementary school. He had only been there six weeks, was not preaching or giving the sacraments and did not have interaction with the schoolkids. But parents were outraged, especially that they hadn’t been told of his history, and he was removed.

The article asks how long it would take for a parish to accept a priest “tainted by sexual misconduct” (he molested kids; “tainted” is a bit too circumspect to be used properly here). For one thing, the people at the parish and parents of the schoolkids should have been told, especially in the current environment.

But the question remains and it applies to all of society, not just the Church. Can a child molester or sexual predator ever get beyond his crime? Bank robbers don’t have to notify all banks when they move into their neighborhood. Murderers don’t have to be listed on a “murderer registry.” But sex offenders have to be listed and everyone they live near automatically knows who they are.

I don’t have an answer. On the one hand, when it’s the safety of your kids on the line, you don’t want to take any chances. On the other hand, can somone like that ever be rehabilitated?

The doctrine of forgiveness doesn’t really come into play, since you can forgive someone, but it doesn’t mean you have to forget their sin and pretend they’re not a danger to you. That’s simply not prudent in every case. So how long is long enough?

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli