Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Clergy And Crime

Clergy and crime has been a much debated topic, in particular: should clergy report crime to civil authorities? This issue especially came to the fore when it became known how certain Churches had dealt with sexual abuse -- but not only that. On the one hand, it is (or was) said that there is the honour of the Church to think of, there is the assumption of confidentiality in counselling and confession, and there are criteria which the Church uses to judge things which differ from those of the world (and occasionally, crimes in the world may be virtues in the Church). On the other hand, from experience I think there are great risks involved in not reporting crime: clergy may overlook the motives of the crime (what is really going on), they may not guess the extent of it, they may not see the consequences (the big picture), and they may not be equipped to deal with that crime. Further, if clergy do withhold a matter from civil authorities, they themselves may become suspect. Nowadays, the law has caught up, so as to make certain reporting mandatory by clergy. OBSERVATION: Ideally, I think that civil and ecclesiastical (Church) processes should run parallel. Personally, I have tended not to report crime against me as minister -- but I am not sure I can recommend that. I have, too, received serious confessions and revelations -- an issue which may be more complicated than it seems. I have written about it elsewhere on this blog. There are some interesting considerations over at FCPEI.

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