Protect the children…except when it’s priests harming them.

In 33 states, clergy are exempt from any laws requiring professionals such as teachers, physicians and psychotherapists to report information about alleged child sexual abuse to police or child welfare officials if the church deems the information privileged.

That’s so interesting in the light of the fact that the Catholic church has a long long long and very full history of looking fixedly in the other direction while priests rape children.

This loophole has resulted in an unknown number of predators being allowed to continue abusing children for years despite having confessed the behavior to religious officials. In many of these cases, the privilege has been invoked to shield religious groups from civil and criminal liability after the abuse became known to civil authorities.

The very people most likely to take advantage of people’s trust to molest their children are the ones who get to tell the cops to take a hike.

Over the past two decades state lawmakers like Romero have proposed more than 130 bills seeking to create or amend child sex abuse reporting laws, an Associated Press review found. All either targeted the loophole and failed to close it, or amended the mandatory reporting statute without touching the clergy privilege amid intense opposition from religious groups. The AP found that the Roman Catholic Church has used its well-funded lobbying infrastructure and deep influence among lawmakers in some states to protect the privilege, and that influential members of the Mormon church and Jehovah’s Witnesses have also worked in statehouses and courts to preserve it in areas where their membership is high.

In Maryland a successful campaign to defeat a proposal that would have closed the clergy-penitent loophole was led by a Catholic cardinal who would later be defrocked for sexually abusing children and adult seminarians.

Hail Mary, eh?

“They believe they’re on a divine mission that justifies keeping the name and the reputation of their institution pristine,” said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, speaking of several religious groups. “So the leadership has a strong disincentive to involve the authorities, police or child protection people.”

Or to put it another way, they want to get away with it, and they use religious privilege to bully lawmakers into letting them. I don’t believe they believe it’s anything to do with any divine mission. They just want to protect themselves and their racket.

9 Responses to “Exempt”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting