Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Due process and the presumption of innocence

Father Gordon MacRae writes a blog called “These Stone Walls.” He deals with a side of the clergy sex abuse scandal that the major media refuses to provide, I have quoted from him before on this blog; I find his writing to be informative, thoughtful, and inspiring.

In the midst of the furor and righteous anger provoked by sex abuses perpetrated by clergy I think it worthwhile to visit These Stone Walls in order to reconsider if need be the one-sided hysteria we have heard in the media for the past two decades. I am not suggesting this in order to deny the existence or the gravity of the crimes committed by many members of the clergy, including the founder of the Legion of Christ who I write of in “The Monk Who Stole The Cow.” Nor is it my intent to deny the claims of his victims.

Rather, I think the case of Fr. MacRae should give us pause to reflect on the untold “other side” of the reality of contemporary celibate priesthood. As William Donohue, Ph.D., President of the Catholic League for Religious & Civil Rights has said, “There is no segment of the American population with less civil liberties protection than the average American Catholic priest.” (NBC’s “TODAY,” 10/13/05.)

In his most recent post, Sex, Lies, and Videotape: Lessons from the Duke University Rape Case,
Fr. Gordon says, “The cold, hard fact is that many of those who accused priests have surfed the wave to commit fraud and larceny. There is no crime for which more guilty men never face justice, and there is no crime for which more innocent men are falsely accused and wrongly convicted.”

This point was made in a recent comment on his blog from a police officer of over 25 years who wrote that she has “dealt with more false allegations of sexual abuse than real cases.” This shouldn’t be news to anyone. But it is a point we shouldn’t forget.

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