Clergy Must Be Held to Same Standard As All

The Troy Record [Troy NY]
March 8, 2003

Is it "Catholic bashing" to insist that the church hierarchy be responsible to the same set of laws that govern all society?

We don't think so, but we do think those are charges that will be leveled at Albany Democrat Jack McEneny - himself an Irish Catholic - and Republican Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie.

Each is introducing a bill into his respective house of the state Legislature that would mandate that church officials report all instances of child abuse by clergy members.

The scandal that has embroiled the church internationally for well over a year now, it must be granted, paints a grim picture that could lead to the perception that the clergy is a hotbed of deviation.

For every one priest who has perversely twisted his power over a child, there are thousands of priests who have helped youths reach their spiritual and life goals.

That alone is reason enough to demand the church root out the disturbed individuals responsible for the abuse.

All the bill asks is that when the church becomes aware of an incident of abuse, it report that incident for investigation by the proper authorities.

The bill would also mandate a lifting of the statute of limitations, only fair given how long it can take for instances of abuse to wreak the full damage of which they are capable.

We all know about and criticize the "blue wall," which is the unspoken agreement among police officers not to report criminal behavior by fellow officers.

The same code exists in many medical circles, where most doctors would rather cut off their own arm than testify against a colleague who cut the wrong arm off a patient. That, too, is an unwritten code that the general public rightfully criticizes and fights.

Should priests not be held to as high a standard as we expect of police officers and physicians?

The collar is sacred, but the man behind that collar is sometimes profane.

A bill mandating investigation of alleged instances of abuse is an attack on the man who would pervert the mission of the church, not an attack on the church itself.


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