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Catholic Church Defies the Law of the Land

November 13, 2002

Much has been written about separation of church and state. But I fail to follow the latest edicts of the Catholic Church, particularly well discussed in "In Facing Evil, the Vatican Blinks" by Jason Berry (Opinion, Nov. 10). If a Protestant minister or one of his assistants were accused of sexual abuse, he would receive the sheriff in his church or parsonage and be handcuffed, taken to police headquarters, fingerprinted and jailed. In 24 to 72 hours he would be arraigned and (probably) have bail set. He would then stand trial as provided for in the U.S. and every state. Somewhere I may have missed something, but I don't understand why the Catholic Church is able to tell the various agencies it will handle it (it doesn't) and its abusive priests remain outside our legal system.

Robert S. Mosser



Berry calls the Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law "an archaic standard of justice" simply because it does not always square neatly with our civil laws. He essentially is faulting the church for its independence from state governments (the principle of separation of church and state) and its possessing an ancient system of bylaws for the purpose of self-regulation -- something an institution as old and as large as the Catholic Church cannot do without.

Bronwen Catherine


Policy Analyst, Catholic

League for Religious

and Civil Rights

New York City

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