The Vatican has streamlined the process of laicizing priests against whom there is overwhelming evidence of criminal conduct even if the priest objects. In fact, the erring priests can be removed without a trial by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Previously only the pope could do that. In addition, lay people will also be allowed to serve on the tribunals of priests who do have ecclesiastical trials.
Sounds like something for everyone to be happy about, right? Wrong.
- But victims groups disagreed, saying the change would likely have little effect in bringing molester priests to justice. “It’s irrelevant. What is needed as we’ve known all along is transparency,” said William J. Gately, regional co-coordinator of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “The only people who should have the ability to determine guilt or innocence are the legal and civil authorities, and not some board appointed by the bishop and serving at his pleasure, regardless of who is on it.”
I would give a lot more credibility to these victims’ groups if they appeared to even take the time to understand what they’re commenting on.
The laicization of a priest has nothing to do with the criminal or civil process in the jurisdiction where the abuse occurred. If a molester isn’t removed, it doesn’t mean that he can’t be tried in a secular court. It just means that it will be easier to get these out from the protection of their collars and get them off the diocesan pension funds. You’d think everyone would be happy about this, but it appears that some people are so convinced that the Church is evil and everything she does must be wrong, that they can’t recognize a good thing when they see it.
Oh, and as for this statement:
- David Clohessy, SNAP’s national executive director, elaborated, saying, “How many lay people are canon lawyers?”
You obviously don’t know, David, but it’s more than you think. Right, Peter Vere?