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Tag Archive | "clerical abuse"

British Court: Catholic Priests Are Employees of the Catholic Church

Who is the boss of Catholic priests? The layman and the laity would answer without hesitation: the Catholic Church. But for the Catholic Church — and the lawyers that defend them in abuse cases — the answer is not so obvious. Are they self-employed? Or maybe employed by a higher power?

Whatever the case, the Church’s lawyers are sure of one thing: Catholic priests are not employed by the Catholic Church.

Because if the abusive priests are employed by the Church, then the Church as employers can be held liable for crimes committed by priests. The we’re-not-the-boss argument has been the foundation of the Church’s defense in sex abuse cases all over the world. Refute this and you break down the walls that protect churches from prosecution — all the way up to the Vatican.

And this is precisely what happened on Tuesday:

A British court has ruled that Roman Catholic priests are equivalent to employees, a decision that could pave the way for victims of sexual abuse to win damages from the church…

Tuesday’s ruling involved a 47-year-old woman who says she was sexually assaulted by the Rev. Wilfred Baldwin when she was living in a Catholic children’s home in Portsmouth, in southern England.

The church argued that Baldwin was not an employee, an argument rejected by Justice Alistair MacDuff.

The judge noted that Baldwin was appointed by and on behalf of the diocese to do their work. “He had immense power handed to him by the defendants,” the judge wrote in the ruling. “It was they who appointed him to the position of trust which (if the allegations be proved) he so abused.

The woman’s case is being tried in December, when another judge will have to make a further decision about the church’s liability, MacDuff said. “I only have to decide whether the nature of the relationship is one to which vicarious liability may — I emphasize ‘may’ — attach,” he wrote.

Vicarious liability is a legal doctrine that holds employers responsible for the actions of employees in some circumstances.

Proving that priests are employed by the Church is just the first step. But if vicarious liability is attached, it will completely demolish the we’re-not-the-boss defense in this case, setting the precedent for hundreds of sex abuse cases all over the world, paving the way for prosecutors to face the final boss: Pope Benedict XVI.

Until then, victims of clerical sex abuse will continue to suffer, the public will remain ignorant of the covered up crimes, and the Catholic Church will continue denying responsibility, blaming its employees and their victims (like a boss).

Posted in ReligionComments (1)

African Priests Rape Nuns to Avoid AIDS

As pro-choice and anti-choice advocates continue to debate the morality of contraceptives, some priests have discovered a way of avoiding HIV and AIDS — and it has nothing to do with condoms. Their solution? Raping nuns.

The Catholic Church in Rome made the extraordinary admission yesterday that it is aware priests from at least 23 countries [Philippines included] have been sexually abusing nuns.

Most of the abuse has occurred in Africa, where priests vowed to celibacy, who previously sought out prostitutes, have preyed on nuns to avoid contracting the Aids virus.

Who says priests can’t practice safe sex?

In some African countries, nuns respect priests so absolutely that disobedience is not an option. They readily trade sex for favors such as providing accommodation or tuition, writing theological essays, and giving “certificates of good Catholic practice that were required for them to pursue their vocation.” In other words, sex for education.

According to Sister Marie McDonald, mother superior of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, the clerical sex abuse problem is partly due to the “conspiracy of silence.” Sisters felt that speaking about the issue was disloyal. And for those who did speak up, things didn’t end up well:

Sometimes they were not well received. In some instances they are blamed for what happened. Even when they are listened to sympathetically nothing much seems to be done” One of the most tragic elements that emerges is the fate of the victims. While the offending priests are usually moved or sent away for studies, the women are normally chased out of their religious orders, they are then either to scared to return to their families or are rejected by them. they often finished up as outcasts, or, in a cruel twist of irony, as prostitutes, making a meagre living from an act they had vowed never to do.

But there is a hint of hope hiding in all this hypocrisy. Aside from granting favors for sex, some priests would ask nuns to take birth control pills. Some priests would even encourage the nuns they impregnate to have abortions. They may have been hypocritical rapists, but at least they’re progressive.

As the Pope’s official spokesman has said, we should focus on the bright side:

The problem is known and involves a restricted geographical area. Certain negative situations must not overshadow the often heroic faith of the overwhelming majority of religious nuns and priests.

Too bad not a single nun was spared from sexual abuse by this “heroic faith.” Maybe it’s time to try heroic action instead. Until the “overwhelming majority” speak up against the evils of its own church and demand accountability, all they’ll get are more abuses, excuses, and apologies.


Posted in Religion, SocietyComments (18)