23 March 2018

Openness (2)

In the recent Times obituary on Cardinal O'Brian, the following passages occur: "Pope Francis dispatched the Vatican's leading sex abuse investigator, Bishop Charles Scicluna, to meet the victims and start an official enquiry.  ... [The victims] were angry that the findings of the Vatican enquiry, said to be 'hot enough to burn the varnish off the pope's desk', had not been divulged."

I think such reports of such enquiries, probably redacted, or certainly at least their conclusions, should be published. Not to do so, frankly, indicates an ecclesial culture which infantilises the laity, not to mention the clergy.

I am not aware that even a redacted version of the conclusions of the enquiry commissioned into Kieran Conry's womanising was ever made public.

It is not sufficient to say (as Conry did) that his misconduct had not involved minors. When a very well-connected Anglican Bishop was belatedly charged after a long career of sexual abuse of young men, the Crown Prosecution Service, doubtlessly for sound legal reasons, did not proceed with the allegations concerning minors. The man was deservedly sent to prison for abusing his public office to secure sexual favours from vulnerable or impressionable individuals above the age of consent. I think they called it "Abuse of Public Office" and, rather amusingly, defence counsel (unsuccessfully) argued that being an Anglican bishop did not count as holding a public office!

In Conry's case, there is also the question of who knew about his lifestyle before he was consecrated bishop. Reports about it, after all, appeared in print very soon afterwards. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor is dead, but there may still be others (or documentation) who could throw light on this question.


Alan said...

The charge was "misconduct in a public office". Apparently it's a common law offence and has been around for a very long time, but it does seem to me that it has been used a lot in recent years as a catch-all offence. I suppose that I'm a liberal in an old-fashioned sense, and generally incline to the view that sexual morality is not an area in which the criminal law should routinely intervene. Little point is served by throwing a 24-year-old woman prison officer in the slammer for falling in love with a 26-year-old inmate.

What I do find disturbing about the "public office"aspect of the Ball case was the deafening silence from the Anglican episcopal bench when a judge in a court of first instance - a life form quite low in the judicial food chain - effectively reduced its members to the function of dole clerks or police constables.

I fear that we are heading inexorably towards a damnatio memoriae of that admirable prelate, the late Eric Kemp, with +Cantuar: throwing him to the wolves. The paradox about Bp Kemp is, I think, that he is being posthumously condemned on the one hand for being a man of his time and going with then received opinion about the psychological effects of sexual abuse and on the other for being a Christian, believing in repentance and amendment of life.

Tony V said...

One wonders what shape we'd be in if, back in the 1960s and 1970s, the powers that be had busied themselves with rooting out sexual perversion from the among clergy, instead of expending so much energy imposing upon us liturgical changes which (with the sole exception of a bit more vernacular) nobody but 'professional liturgists' was remotely interested in.

Anita Moore said...

This is the kind of news item that convinces me more and more that the majority of priests and bishops in our time are as lacking in faith as they are in charity. By their conduct, they seem not to believe that there is a hell.

Jonathan said...

It is certainly a very good thing that O'Brien and Conry lost their positions. Would it be Christian to set up a fund to investigate and expose other clerics who are behaving like this? Friends have told me that these cardinals have a right to their good name. Does that principle really mean that we have to close our eyes to all the wrongdoing?
The Scottish priest who wrote a book exposing the homosexual harassment in seminaries there is still being persecuted and silenced. That suggests to me that O'Brian's collaborators and enablers are still in power.

Mike Cliffson said...

No justification but Rotherham etc have been two ? three? four ? decades , 12 and younger, murders arson police collusion arrests of protesting family - the public square ?

Banshee said...

A guard imposing upon an inmate is an offense against human rights. An inmate imposing on a guard is an offense against public safety. But even a mutual relationship is basically a case of a guard failing to protect fellow guards, and an inmate getting special privileges and favors. (And does anyone believe that such a guard would not be providing her lover with drugs, alcohol, contraband, a blind eye to attacks against other inmates, a lookout, and other traditional gangster moll services?)

So of course sexual morality can be the state's business, if the individual immorality is creating problems of survival.