The Vatican has a problem. A pedophile priest in Chile named Rev. Fernando Karadima, who they removed from active duty and forbid to perform public Masses, hearing confessions or offering spiritual direction and from having contact with his ex-parishioners, has started to do all of that anyhow. The Vatican is pissed, but what can they really do? After all, they hardly own the copyright on religious rituals, if Karadima wants to go doing a pseudo-Catholic Mass and he changes it 10% so that it’s no longer exactly the same, what can they do to stop him? Of course, he can’t claim to be a Catholic ordained priest but he could hop online and get an ordination from some other organization with no hassle and still be practicing his trade no matter what the Vatican wants.
That’s really why I don’t get that the Vatican doesn’t put these people in prison when they can. Sure, in some cases, the statute of limitations has expired and in those cases, I think the Vatican should be pushing harder than anyone to get it extended, but for the most part, we see a lot of abusers being essentially forgiven by the Catholic Church and given administrative sanctions rather than being prosecuted through both church and criminal courts. The problem is, once the Vatican strips these pedophile priests of their active priesthood, they’ve really done all that they can. They can’t stop these men from preaching Christianity, even Christianity that is virtually indistinguishable from Catholic dogma. They can’t stop these men from wearing the collar, after all, they’ve only stripped these men of their priesthood in name only, they never did anything official. It’s not like they can copyright the Bible and command people not to teach out of it. So what are they left with? The Catholic Church is the ultimate paper tiger, they have no actual power to do anything, all they can do is sit and whine and moan, they have no legal power to stop their problem children from actually doing anything.
So why bother, except to save face? Even then, what’s the point? After all, if I wanted to wear a clerical collar around town and bless people, I could. There’s no law against it, there are no copyrights or trademarks that I’m infringing. Could the Catholic Church get mad at me if I don’t actually claim that I’m a Catholic priest? They really have nothing to go on, any more than they have anything to go on with Father Karadima. Now yes, he’s a reprehensible sex abuser who used his position of religious power to get close to children so he could molest them, but so long as he’s not doing it today and the statute of limitations is up on his former crimes (whether I like that or not), why not preach? He could just be a freelance non-Catholic Priest, saying the same things he would say as an actual ex-Catholic Priest and the Vatican can’t do a damn thing to stop him. What could they do, send in a Vatican ninja hit-squad team?
Actually, that would be pretty damn cool, wouldn’t it?