now where do I go to get my reputation back?
The Boston archdiocese has reinstated Father James Power, who was suspended nearly 7 years ago because of sex-abuse allegations for which, in turns out, the archdiocese cannot find supporting evidence.
What do you say to a priest who's been barred from pursuing his vocation for 7 years, if you realize there's no substantial evidence to support the disciplinary action taken against him? Oops? Sorry?
There's no reason to think that the case of Father Power is unique. There are other innocent priests out there, waiting for vindication. They were deprived of their rights because-- let's face it, the American hierarchy panicked. The US bishops weighed two factors: due process for ordained ministers on one hand, and the pressure of media attention on the other. We all know which way the scales tipped. The Dallas Charter let bishops escape from the glare of the headlines. Priests who were falsely accused could escape seven years later-- if they were to escape at all.
Oh, and there was one more thing about the reinstatement of Father Power. The Boston Globe reports:
The ruling came 12 years after the church had already settled a $35 million* civil lawsuit brought in 1993 by an alleged victim of the priest.
That's $35 million* spent from archdiocesan funds-- from the sacrificial offerings of the faithful. The archdiocese, which agreed to that outlay, cannot find evidence to support the charges. But what the heck. It's only money. You can always take up another collection. Or close another parish.
* Correction: The Globe has corrected its original report, noting that the 1993 settlement was $35,000, not $35,000,000. The difference is significant. In an uncertain case, a $35,000 payment may be a prudent way to avoid the costs of litigation. In a way, the reporting error is significant as well. Unfortunately, after years of reading about such lawsuits, many journalists-- both at the Globe and at CWN-- have come to see multi-million-dollar settlements as routine.
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