Comments: Briefly

Actually, a long, long time ago, separation of church and state did mean that you couldn't put churchmen in jail: It doesn't necessarily mean that anymore, though there is quite a bit of resistance to the thorough investigation and prosecution of priests.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at May 28, 2004 11:57 AM

You know, right after I posted that, I thought I remembered that there was some kind of clerical protection issue that colonists brought over originally from Europe.

But I think it's time and past time that it was put to rest. A criminal is a criminal, even if they wear their collar backward.

Posted by Anne at May 28, 2004 12:10 PM

I agree, though confessional confidentiality is still worth preserving, within the current limits.

The problem is that members of a church are often unwilling to press charges against it, allowing it to be handled internally. Then they find out nothing was done, and different lawyers get involved.....

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at May 28, 2004 02:34 PM

I'm not sure I agree about the confidentiality thing.

If you commit a crime and confess it to a psychiatrist or doctor (or if you confess you're about to commit one), aren't they required to report you? I don't see why archaic practices of religious orders should be treated differently than that.

If someone has a long history of child abuse and I know about it and help them cover it up, then I'm liable as an accessory after the fact. As as an accessory before the fact when I put them in a position to commit the same crime again and again.

I'm not religious, okay? In spite of my rants on the subject, I don't really care if other people are religious (as long as they don't use it to persecute me or others), but there are things I do object to and being able to use religion to shield yourself and other criminals from prosecution is one of them.

Posted by Anne at May 28, 2004 03:34 PM

Technically, I think they are only required to report an imminent crime, not a past one: nothing they can do about the past, the theory goes, but they have an obligation to prevent further harm to another. And yes, I think serial child abuse qualifies, and the Roman Catholic Church has been hiding behind technicalities for too long.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at May 28, 2004 11:07 PM