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Bishop raps British court ruling on diocesan liability for priest's misconduct

November 15, 2011

A British bishop has criticized a court decision allowing for a diocese to be held liable for sexual abuse by a priest. Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth acknowledged that a bishop should be held accountable for abuse if his negligence was a contributing factor in the case. He went on:

However, this case was not concerned with negligence, it was concerned with whether a bishop should be automatically liable for the actions of a priest simply by virtue of the fact that he or one of his predecessors appointed the priest. The diocese is aware of no other organisation which can be held liable for the actions of its office holders in this way.

Bishop Hollis also pointed out that the priest accused of sexual assault, the late Father Wilfred Baldwin, has had no opportunity to defend himself against the charge.


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  • Posted by: koinonia - Nov. 19, 2011 9:01 AM ET USA

    The bishop does appeal to the law with regard to other "office holders" in suggesting unfairness. But the Church is set apart. Child abuse by priests is going to elicit more anger than the norm. The pervasiveness of the negligence has been problematic for the Church- particularly for the faithful and their pocketbooks- and has resulted in a "let's make 'em pay" attitude. It is human nature. It's not much of a stretch for this sentiment to seep into the law in today's political environment.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Nov. 15, 2011 5:44 PM ET USA

    I was unable to determine from the articles on what basis damages were proved. The priest in question is dead. This looks like open season on Catholic churches in the home of modern Western jurisprudence. Sad.