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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 12, 2003 2:19 AM. The previous post in this blog was It's not about you. The next post in this blog is Shutupshutupshutup. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Our Lady of Chapter 11, pray for us

A few years ago, while I was in the midst of a neighborhood dispute, I had occasion to look up the real property records relating to some Roman Catholic Church facilities down in Southeast Portland. I noted in passing that they were all titled in the name of the Archbishop of Portland. It's been that way since the days of Stark, Pettygrove and Lovejoy. You got something to say to the owner of your neighborhood Catholic church? You go straight to the Archdiocese, because the real estate belongs to the Archbishop. I was told it was that way all over.

But I guess that was true only until the Archbishop started getting his chasuble sued off in the awful child sex abuse scandals that plague the church here in Oregon, as well as around the rest of the country. Now all of a sudden the church lawyers have a new theory: the property belongs to the individual parishes, rather than the whole Archdiocese. So if you get molested by a priest and sue the Archdiocese, there's nothing for you to recover because the Archdiocese is broke. The parishes, you see, have all the property -- it's "canon law."

That's one name for it.

Can the church do this? A court down in Klamath County is being asked to decide, as the Bishop of Baker (right) has been called out on this novel interpretation of the debtor-creditor laws.

If it weren't to the church's financial advantage to stage this maneuver, would it be suddenly discovering that church law puts the local parishes in charge? Of course not.

God help me, I'm a practicing Catholic, but I'm rooting, even praying, for the plaintiffs on this one. You can't serve God and mammon.

Comments (3)

You know, I’d have a lot more respect for the Catholic church if the Pope would start to excommunicate some of these pedophile priests.

It is one thing for the priests to rape these kids. It is worse when the regional church covers it up and shuffles the priest around. It is highly damaging to the whole church when the Pope turns a blind eye to this and lets the priests slide, even after everything has been exposed.

It is time for the Pope to be a stand up guy and send these priests to Hell.

My comment on excommunication is not outside the realm of reality. The Church already has a structure for doing this within a canonical court system and due process.

When a priest is accused of child molestation, simply turn the case over to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (a.k.a. The Holy Office). The Congregation is already charged with “promot[ing] and safeguard[ing] the doctrine on faith and morals in the whole Catholic world; so it has competence in things that touch this matter in any way. (Pastor Bonus, 48).”

As can be seen by the gay bishop uproar in the Anglican Church, the faith is going to be hit with a series of fundamental questions in the following years. It would be a good time for the Pope to dust off the Holy Office, give them an easy case (pedophile priests), and build some credibility into the organization. That way when politically contentious questions (e.g. openly gay priests) comes up the Holy Office has a track record of “doing the right thing” at least according to the faith.

Even if the Holy Office is used, it would be well to remember they are a tool of amputation, not a magic antibiotic pill. Sending them into battles that have already been lost (e.g. pre-marital sex and that silly “condoms don’t stop AIDS” announcement) would just weaken their authority in the eyes of the public. Use them only on priests/nuns and only when the congregations are in rebellion (e.g. when the priests rape the congregation’s kids).

Ignoring the problem just makes it look like the Church has no credibility even within their own set of rules.

You know, most of the Catholics I've known have been pretty decent people. Just because a few have gone bad doesn't mean every Catholic has to undergo deep soul searching.

Yes, I've had discussions with Andrew about this and I'm glad he moved from Chicago to Tucson. Why does Andrew talk so funny?


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