John Lilburne's journal about an editorial in The Age newspaper "Child abuse is a sin and a crime".
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1111 L Sat 12 Jan 2002
Today The Age newspaper has an editiorial on the issue I have been writing about for the last few days. It has the headline: "Child abuse is a sin and a crime". As with The Australain's suggestions yesterday, I disagree with the proposed remedy of mandatory reporting.
The Age has a suggestion: "Priests who are being investigated should be suspended from duty". If that were followed then there could be no investigation without the suspect being alerted to it.
I will concentrate on a part of today's editorial:
This seems based on the interview with Archbishop Hart I discussed on 18 December 2001. Is this really what Canon Law says and is it unreasonable?
The Code of Canon Law provides a procedure for the removal and transfer of Parish Priests, in canons 1740 to 1752. This "removal" is not about them ceasing to be priests, but going to another job or parish. When it happens the parish priest is to "leave the parochial house free as soon as possible, and hand over everything pertaining to the parish" (Canon 1747). So it is similar to an eviction.
What is the time delay imposed on the bishop to do this? According to canons 1742 - 1745 he needs to:
This stability of residence only seems to apply to those a bishop has appointed as Parish Priest. I expect an administrator or assistant priest can be told to be somewhere else the next day.
This removal does not require a particular offence by the Parish Priest. The reasons are given in Canon 1741. It includes "a manner of acting which causes grave harm or disturbance to ecclsiastical communion; ineptitude or permanent illness of mind or body ...".
Canon 1395.2 deals with having sex with children:
The penalty of "dismissal from the clerical state" is completely different to removal of a priest to somewhere else. It effects are explained in Canons 292:
A removed priest continues to be paid, receive "remuneration" (in accordance with Canon 281). But according to Canon 1350:
There is no waiting period for one dismissed from the clerical state to be removed from the house.
The Australian Catholic bishops, in their Statement of Repentance of 7 March 2000 included:
Rather than blaming Canon Law, which in the Oath of Fidelity they have sworn to "insist on the observance of", they should be working to implement it properly.
Copyright J.R. Lilburne 12 January 2002. Canon Law extracts from The Code of Canon Law, HarperCollins, 1997.
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