19 January, 2010

Moral/Mental Reservation

Earlier today, someone offered a series of comments in which were pasted a document that explains 'moral/mental reservation', a religious teaching that has been (mis)applied by some Churchmen to keep abuse cases secret. I decline to publish such a long series of comments, but I offer here the link to the Wikapedia article on the subject. I trust that this will honor the intentions of the poster.

Here is my response to the implicit question posed by the posting of this material.

In essence the practice is founded on the concept of the 'greater good' ie: it is for the greater good of the faith to keep offenders protected rather than to report the abuse. While there are evident cases where this is practiced in everyday life ("No, those pants don't make you look fat" jumps to mind), it very clearly is not appropriate in matters as grave as the sex abuse scandal.

I believe this to be so for two simple reasons:

a) it is not proper to protect those who are guilty, irrespective of the motivation, if doing so results in the sacrifice of the faith/lives of innocents.

b) it does not work! In country after country, diocese after diocese and church after church, the attempts to keep victims silent or offenders compliant have failed. As I often say, it is the very definition of crazy to believe that one will get a different result by doing the same thing over and over again.

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