John Lilburne's journal about reactions to the changes to Canon Law for dealing with priests accused on pedophilia.



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1253 L Thu 10 Jan 2002

There is a lot today about changes to Canon Law by the Pope's recent Motu Proprio.

Part of the challenge is that the Church's public relations people have tended to give the impression that those accused of pedophila simply stop being priests. In fact, this requires quite complex Canon Law procedures. These changes to the law highlight that there are laws about this.

Hopefully with this publicity more will be done to inform people about the Church's laws. As the Pope wrote in 1983 in the Apostolic Constitution of the Code of Canon Law:

... The new Code of Canon Law is published precisely at a time when the Bishops of the whole Church are not only asking for its promulgation but indeed are insistently and vehemently demanding it.

And in fact a Code of Canon Law is absolutely necessary for the Church. Since the Church is established in the form of a social and visible unit, it needs rules, so that its hierarchial and organic structure may be visible; that its exercise of the functions divinely entrusted to it, particularly of sacred power and of the administration of the sacraments is properly ordered; that the mutual relationships of Christ's faithful are reconciled in justice based on charity, with the rights of each safeguarded and defined; and lastly, that the common initiatives which are undertaken so the christian life may be ever more perfectly carried out, are supported, strengthened and promoted by canonical laws. ...

I have been thinking about a line I know from the movie JFK: "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." Yesterday in The Australian I was in agreement with a lot of Roger Sandall's article "Back off, Tony Abbott is right". But I think that stopped with the following:

... intellectuals notoriously pusue the politics of conviction, not the politics of responsibility. The politics of conviction admires moral goals, regardless of consequences. "Let justice be done, even if the heavens fall" is its favourite slogan. It is also the average intellectual's favourite moral stance.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes justice as one of the four cardinal virtues, in CCC 1807. In CCC 1778 it teaches:

... In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. ...

Copyright J.R. Lilburne 10 January 2002.

Links to other sites:

8 Jan 2002 EWTN "New Rules" "Papal letter announces new norms for clergy sex abuse cases" of 9 Jan 2002

The Age newspaper of 10 Jan 2002: Church to keep trials 'in-house' "Church says Vatican not above law on pedophile priests"