Let's Hope God Offers A Liberal Statute Of Limitations genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Making A Confession

Over my many years of contact with the Catholic Church, one of its more detestable and defining traits has prevailed…deniability. Despite a history checkered with inconsistency and intolerance, the Church has maintained its air of institutional intransigence couched in the notion of infallibility. In its latest demonstration of doctrinal hypocrisy, the Church is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to allow the Church to invoke worldly law…the statute of limitations…in order to avoid redress for its own sins.

A Cincinnati woman will ask the Ohio Supreme Court today for the right to sue the Catholic Church, which she claims pressured her to put her baby up for adoption to protect the priest who got her pregnant.

She says the priest, Norman Heil, had sex with her several times in 1965 when she was a 16-year-old student at Regina High School in Norwood.

Church officials say the lawsuit should be dismissed because the statute of limitations, the deadline for filing lawsuits, passed decades ago.

But the woman's lawyer said the case should proceed because church officials broke the law 42 years ago when they coerced her into giving up the child and any potential claims against the church.

"She figuratively had a gun up to her head," said her lawyer, Marc Mezibov. "And the gun was their threats of eternal damnation."

He said the priest and a nun told the pregnant teen that the church would cast her out and her child would not be baptized if she did not give up her baby.

Mezibov said church officials succeeded in pressuring the girl because of her "reliance on, vulnerability to and belief in Catholic doctrine."

An appeals court in Cincinnati concluded the lawsuit should be allowed to continue, but the archdiocese appealed.

The lawsuit also claims a nun told the teen in a letter that the pregnancy was her fault and she should "suffer in silence."

The Catholic Church is no stranger to the court system when it comes to protecting its worldly assets. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the statute of limitations did in fact apply to allegations against the Church in relation to the many instances of sexual misconduct by its clergy.

The distinction being made by the attorney for this unnamed claimant is that the Church used the woman’s "reliance on, vulnerability to and belief in Catholic doctrine" to prevent her from asserting her right to legal recourse within the established time frames. Essentially, the claimant argues that the Church illegally prevented her from filing a claim.

First, let me state that from a strictly legal perspective, I accept the Supreme Court ruling and I also accept that the Catholic Church has the legal right to ask the courts for protection from claims outside the statute of limitations. The courts are simply acting to apply established legislative and constitutional law in adherence with their mandated duties and obligations…all of which is as it should be.

However, with regards to the Church’s obligations and duties in relation to the doctrines they espouse and apply to their followers, one can only conclude that the Church prefers to use whichever authority best serves its own self-serving interests.

An example is warranted. The Catholic Church has made it known that politicians…people who are simply carrying out their legislative and constitutional duties in the same manner as the judges the Church is asking to protect them from the types of claims noted above…are being denied communion and threatened with excommunication if they do not place their religious principles above their legislative and constitutional duties.

Again, I accept that the Church has the right to apply its doctrinal principles to its followers apart from the auspices of the state (of course there are legal limitations…they can no longer burn people at the stake). In other words, the Church can excommunicate or ostracize those who they believe have failed to honor the mandates of the Church.

The inconsistency and the hypocrisy are palpable. When the Church feels that the laws of the land are inconsistent with its teachings, they invoke the superior authority of the Church (the application of gods law) to compel its followers to alter the states laws and make them conform to Church doctrine. At the same time, when the Church seeks to avoid remuneration for its own breech of Church doctrine, it asks the state to intervene by applying the limitations mandated by the state…and god’s law becomes secondary to the state mandated legislative and constitutional rules.

Such actions are not only despicable, they are evidence that the Church is adept at employing the concepts of situational or relational ethics…the very weapons they so forcefully use to assail their secular adversaries…when they serve to protect the Church.

When the Church seeks to avoid the legal claims of those victimized by representatives of the Church…representatives frequently believed to have more authority than the state with regards to giving moral guidance to its followers…then the Church, like so many of those it criticizes, is simply demonstrating the concept of do as I say, not as I do.

Let me offer my own litany. The Catholic Church’s efforts to avoid recompense for its transgressions are in direct conflict with its history of selling indulgences. At that time, the Church argued that it wasn’t enough to repent one’s sins in privacy…one needed to make one’s sins known and by making a recordable payment, repentance was both an internal reflection and an external event.

Frankly, the Church has a long history of equating sacrifice and forgiveness with the relinquishing of material possessions. Unfortunately, the relinquishment of worldly wealth has been a one way street with regards to the Church…money and sacrifice flow from the parishioner to the parish.

In fact it’s even more egregious than that…while the Church is first and foremost enamored with those things that connote worldly wealth and power…they routinely sell the snake oil of salvation to those whom they have fleeced of their dollars, their dignity, and their right to self-determination. That, my friends, is undeniably disgusting.

I’m no expert on god’s law…however, neither is the Church. Nonetheless, one thing does seem certain…the Church hierarchy had better hope that god, like the state, has a liberal policy with regards to statutes of limitations. Otherwise, I’m afraid the discarded concept of Purgatory will not only reemerge…it will be the prime destination for the clever and crafty clerics who had a prevailing propensity for playing a fast and loose game of moral mix and match.

Image courtesy of www.fisheaters.com

Daniel DiRito | June 5, 2007 | 9:13 AM
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