Some canon lawyers say due process limited for accused priests
By Agostino Bono
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As U.S. dioceses prepare to evaluate the cases of clerics accused of sex abuse of minors, several canon lawyers defending accused priests have complained that the procedures limit due process for their clients.
"Under church law you are innocent until proven guilty," said Oblate Father Frank Morrisey, a canon lawyer who is defending several U.S. priests.
Yet, once a cleric has been accused, he is suspended from public ministry before being able to mount a defense, he said.
Critics say that this amounts to punishment without a proof of guilt.
Father Morrisey said that the accused has to wait months for the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has overall authority in sex abuse cases, to review the diocese's preliminary investigation and tell the diocese how to proceed in the case.
Another canon lawyer, Father Nicholas Rachford, said this delay puts accused priests in a state of "suspended animation."
Father Morrisey said to expect a six- to eight-month delay after a bishop sends the case to the doctrinal congregation.http://www.catholicnews.com/data/charter/chtr02.htm
To all the legal wonks out there,
I came across this article while googling for something else. It mentions a Byzantine rite Catholic clergyman it.
The canon lawyers are complaining about the length of time for cases of accused priests to be handled by the Doctrine of Faith at the Vatican. The article states only months are involved.
I know a Catholic couple who are contemplating marriage. They are middle aged. The gentleman was previously married in the Catholic Church, but got a divorce after he caught his wife cheating on him. He has to wait for maybe two years (this is the average time in his diocese) for his annulment to go through. The process involves hoops and jumps. Now, his future wife (a Catholic who was never married) isn't getting younger; her biological clock is ticking and she wishes to have children (in this life). But she must wait two more years.
It seems that both celibate clergyman involved in sex scandals (accused, not proven) and men who are contemplating remarriage in the Catholic church (but who must wait a longer period of time) demonstrate that the *process* is broken. Accused priests and their canon lawyers must wait for the Vatican, while men who want to marry, but must have an annulment, must wait for their bishops.
What can make these processes better?