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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Sat. 12/14/02 07:16:19 AM

More on the "Previous Condition"

Re: New York Post Defames Pope John Paul II.

Bradley G. Kaiser writes to an e-mail list to which I am subscribed:

The facts of the case are that the molesting priest in question was doing various forms of wickedness (and getting transferred for it), back in the late 80's, early 90's timeframe. He ended up in New Hampshire, where he was arrested and *convicted* by a court of law of child sexual abuse in 1996. JP2's decree *forcibly laicizing* him dates from 1999. IOW, nothing was being "hidden" or "covered up" here; it was well known to everyone concerned, including the civil authorities, by the time the Pope was involved.
Far from "telling church leaders to keep known molesters in place," as some wrongly claim, the decree was REMOVING a known molester from his "place" -- the priesthood. As is apparently customary in such decrees, the decree also ordered him to move away from that geographic location, but permitted the local ordinary to exempt him from that portion of the decree if his "previous condition" (that of being a priest!) would not cause scandal.
(That's obviously not an order the Church could actually enforce physically, but that's beside the point.)
No "smoking gun" here, not even a water pistol.

BTW, "scandal" in Catholic jargon does not mean juicy gossip: it means something that might cause a Catholic to have doubts about his faith — to cause him to stumble, coming from the Latin scandalum, a stumbling block. (See Matthew 18:6-7.)

The whole "previous condition" thing is, I guess you could say, standard boiler-plate for a rescript removing a priest from the clerical state — and, I'm sorry to have to say, from more innocent times when a man having been removed from the priesthood would more likely have been a cause of scandal. Nowadays, at least in the USA, that's among the least of our worries.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Sat. 12/14/02 07:16:19 AM
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