Saturday, 30 January 2010

sleight of hand

One of the ways the churches have tried to deal with offences by members of the clergy is by moving offenders away from the scene of the crime. It is a pretty draconian and certainly cynical strategy.
It assumes that the church can be saved embarrassment not by bringing offenders to (ecclesiastical) justice but by some sort of sleight of hand which moves offenders out of the public eye.
As a strategy it has worked quite well, from the church's point of view; those who have committed offence, say, in Melbourne might be moved to Perth where they were not known. And have begun again.
The only problem is that what often they have "begun again" is more of the same. The Church (and here I refer to the church of all persuasions, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Uniting Church...you name it) has discovered that they have granted forgiveness, moved people on but they have continued with their manipulation, exploitation and humiliation of individuals.
Even if they have not offended in the same sort of gross way this moving-people-on has denied those have been "sinned against more than sinning", the right to confront an accused and, as it were, have their day in court.
That the Churches still think they can do this sort of cheap sleight of hand is reprehensible. I suspect that in the next little while we shall hear of yet another priest who has been moved from one jurisdiction to another in the Roman Catholic Church. To what purpose?
I make no comment on said priest's guilt or innocence, though only months ago he was claiming he would cooperate fully with local enquiries, and now would appear to be moving himself outside the purview of the local scene.
It is astonishing that the Roman hierarchy would cooperate or encourage this sort of practice in the modern day.
If said priest has been found to be without fault then let that be declared, do not try to just shuffle him to another part of the pack in the hope that he will escape detection. He deserves nothing less than a declaration of his innocence if he is such.
His victims deserve nothing less than justice and compassion if he is not.

2 comments:

Leith Mudge said...

Agree wholeheartedly. There is also a need to remove the secrecy related to allegations in some way that doesn't effect natural justice for both the alleged perpertrator and their alleged victim. Don't know how this could be done. Maybe making sure things are investigated correctly and in a timely fashion and that all allegtions are taken seriously (at least initially.)

stephen clark said...

At the very least!!