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Thou Shalt Not Bear Embarrassing Witness Against Monsignor

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 05, 2004

From the Full Disclosure of What We Have Unilaterally Determined You Need to Know Department comes the following shell game from Syracuse:

Bishop James Moynihan said Sunday he released a report on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse's history of clergy sexual abuse in an effort to rebuild trust. But he remains firm in his refusal to reveal the names of priests accused of -- or found guilty of -- sexually abusing minors. "You'll never have names," he said...

Moynihan cited the Eighth Commandment -- "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" -- to explain his refusal to reveal names. The moral code that commonly refers to lying also forbids revealing a person's hidden faults or making a false statement that hurts a person's reputation, he said.

"Please God, I'm not going to be guilty of either of those sins," he said.

First, there's a morally important difference between revealing the name of an accused man and a guilty man. Second, it is sinful to reveal the fault of another without an objectively valid reason (Catechism 2477); if protection of the vulnerable from recidivist sex abusers isn't such a reason, nothing is. Third, a priest's commitment to chastity is a public and not a private undertaking, made in full view of the community; crimes against innocent persons -- committed in contempt of his solemn oaths and reckoned as felonious acts even under civil law -- hardly count as "hidden faults."

So this is (episcopally rebuilt) trust. If your 15-year-old is groped in the sacristy, are you going to ring up the chancery or the DA's office?

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  • Posted by: shrink - Jan. 05, 2004 9:46 PM ET USA

    Can a man who thinks that the 8th commandment = "Thou Shalt Not Bear Embarrassing Witness Against Monsignor", be competent to teach basic catechism? Is Bishop Moynihan certified to teach the catechism? Does Bishop Moynihan certify others to teach the catechism? Does Bishop Moynihan write catechisms? Does he publish a catechism? Has he given an imprimatur or nihil obstat to a catechism? Hmmm... I suppose we can assume he is a certified bishop!

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