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Reduced to the Status of Minor

Atila Sinke Guimarães
Bird's Eye View of the News, July 26, 2003

3monkeys.jpg - 21288 Bytes America magazine (March 24, 2003, p. 4) describes the come-and-go of bills in the Legislatures of Maryland, Kentucky, Nevada, Florida, and New Hampshire that are trying to oblige the Catholic Church to report any case of pedophile abuse by priests to the civil authority. The bills ask for every priest to report any information he receives on a potential pedophile case, even if it would be revealed under the seal of confession. That is, the civil power is trying to oblige the priest to break the seal of confession.

The proposal is obviously absurd, and deserves the complete rejection of all Catholics. I don’t understand how so obtuse an error could be made by civil representatives.

Card. Keeler being fingerprinted by the police
Baltimore's Card. Keeler is fingerprinted by the police - America, December 2, 2002
Don’t they see that this puts the Catholic Church in the position of victim? If so, why are they doing this? Is it to begin a real religious persecution? Or could it have been indirectly suggested by the Catholic religious authorities themselves in order to win some sympathy and make their situation more comfortable in the pedophile scandal? I don’t have the answer to these questions.

But let me put aside this attempt to violate the seal of confession and go further to analyze the ongoing effort of the civil authority to put order inside the Catholic Church. With the pedophile scandal revealing her position of constant complacency with the guilty priests, the Catholic Church sent an unwritten message to society, implicitly saying that she is no longer able to maintain the moral standards of her own members. In other words, she obliges the civil power to step in to tend to the moral standards of her priests. Because of her incapacity, she de facto receives a legal guardian to take care of her. In juridical terms this situation characterizes reduction to the status of a minor.

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