Wednesday, 25 July 2007

A question of due process

Baroness Cumberledge's Report about the Church's policy on child protection and its implementation in the UK has recently been made public. The Baroness' report highlights what has been the principle concern from day one over the Church's reaction to the scandals and which persists today- a lack of respect for due process.

The report highlighted two things in particular, both of which fail to respect those processes established by civil and canon law.
  1. Some dioscean bishops have delegated their personal responsibility in the matter to COPCA (the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and vulnerable Adults). COPCA is an office meant to support the bishop in his role as pastor- not substitute him in his office as ordinary. In an era of delegation and outsourcing it must be difficult for the bishops to recall that Christ never gave them the option of backing out of their responsibilities. After all, if I remember my Bible correctly, Christ did not come down from the Cross when they asked him too. Apparently COPCA was not around then to offer an alternative.
  2. The second is that there is an ever increasing rift between the bishops and their priests as it would appear that bishops are far too ready to offer up their priests as victims on the secular altar of sacrifice. The report states that there is an apparent lack of respect for the most basic of human rights- the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty (and those rights associated with that most basic one). Again it takes real courage to stand behind a man accused of such crimes, especially when the flashes start going off. What is important to remember as they bay for blood, that the accused man is innocent until proven guilty, despite what the BBC may say. 
Basically it amounts to the bishops doing a better jobs at protecting themselves rather than the innocent. It is little wonder that we have such difficulties in defending the unborn and the weak. The first thing sacrificed in an age of godlessness are always the innocent.

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