You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2012.

It seems to me that in order for the Catholic Church to make any kind of meaningful recovery from the current dismal situation of international moral turpitude, there will have to be an overhaul of the Code of Canon Law, and a re-education of the bishops in the inappropriate use of “mental reservation” which has been used to avoid telling the truth to civil authorities and to victims.  It is pointless for reforms to be written in country after country if the priests and bishops can ultimately still lie while they assuage their consciences by recourse to Canon Law and archaic Catholic Moral Doctrine. Bishops are still instructing victim’s advocates to never admit there has been other accusations against, or other victims of, a particular priest. It has to stop. The dishonesty and denial has to stop.

Canon Law.

We need to have the Vatican remove Canon 1728.2. To quote Sr. Maureen Turlish:

While possible victims of childhood sexual abuse and other lay witnesses are asked to take an oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth etc.” during a canonical trial concerning the public good, an alleged priest-perpetrator is not. Canon 1728.2 says, “The accused is not bound to confess the delict [crime] nor can an oath be administered to the accused.”

The Scandal of Secrecy

It is time to open all the secret archives, and have an independent non-Catholic committee review the documents for records of criminal behavior. The privacy of priests should be upheld except in cases of written record of criminal behavior such as the sexual abuse of minors.

… canon law encourages — and even requires — church leaders to engage in secrecy so as to prevent scandal. If a bishop suspects a cleric has committed sexual abuse, for instance, canon law requires the bishop to conduct an investigation (or delegate the investigation) and then place the results into a secret archive. Those privy to such investigations swear secrecy and risk excommunication for violating that secrecy, note the authors.

From a review of Sex, Priests and Secret Codes, Thomas P. Doyle, A.W.R. Sipe and Patrick J. Wall, Volt Press.

Mental Reservations

We also need to remove the option of “mental reservation” from the bishops play book. Because despite its “official” rejection it continues to be implemented. Why? Because it serves a useful purpose.  To refer to the same review quoted above:

Then there’s the technique of mental reservation, which, say the authors, is used by a person who is caught between an obligation to keep a secret and a duty to tell the truth. Furthermore, Catholic moral theology allows a person caught in such a dilemma to use misleading words to deceive another so long as a deliberate lie is not told. This is commonly employed in order to avoid a greater harm.  Justification for mental reservation is built into the oath cardinals take to never reveal to anyone whatsoever has been confided in me to keep secret and the revelation of which could cause damage or dishonor to the Holy Church. This might go a long way toward explaining why church officials lie about scandal when, as the authors contend, honesty is the best policy.

From a review of Sex, Priests and Secret Codes, Thomas P. Doyle, A.W.R. Sipe and Patrick J. Wall, Volt Press


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 43 other followers

Traces of Hope

From Faith to Doubt to ... Hope? A search for meaning after tragedy and loss.

The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

Michelle Lesley

Discipleship for Christian Women