12 April 2010

For the good of the Church?

Today Fr. Ray Blake has a very fine post on the "for the good for the Universal Church" that Cardinal Ratzinger used in a letter regarding the Kiesle case.

Here is a snippet:

Once a priest is reduced to the lay state a bishop has no more authority over him than he does over any other lay person. He cannot restrict his movement, to another part of the country where he would be unknown, or restrict his involvement with secular organisations, such as youth groups or schools, neither can a bishop order to him to undergo therapy, or to co-operate with an ecclesiastical trial. In the Kiesle case granting his petition for laicisation would have placed him not only outside of the bishop's jurisdiction but also given him the opportunity of moving out of the jurisdiction of the civil authorities who were aware of his crimes, which were in the Oakland area in the public domain.

Thus the phrase for "the good of the universal Church" far from being a dereliction of duty and cover-up on the part of the future Pope, as so many secular commentators have suggested, is the complete opposite.
Be sure to read the rest of it.


  1. Father, I had the impression this past weekend that many of the Pope's defenders were assuming (or impyling) that Bishop Cummins may not have revealed to the CDF the details of Kiesle's convictions for child molestation. Now I'm reading, on Fr. Blake's blog and yours, that Card. Ratzinger and the CDF may very well have demonstrated great wisdom in trying to keep the dangerous Kiesle subject to Cummins' authority, perhaps because the CDF realized that Kiesle was dangerous and needed to be controled.

    Which is it? Was Card. Ratzinger (author of the signed letter to Cummins) ignorant of Kiesle's crimes, and therefore not in a rush to laicize him and send the message that what he had done was beyond the pale (regardless of Kiesle's being under 40 years of age)? Or was Card. Ratzinger aware of Kiesle's crimes and that's why he didn't want him to become a wandering free agent, as Fr. Blake's post seems to suggest? Doesn't seem to me that one can argue that Card. Ratzinger was both ignorant of the crimes AND concerned about the man's dangerous nature at the same time.

    Also, if the CDF/Card. Ratzinger WERE delaying laicization out of concern for the danger Kiesle posed, why would they resort to a "form letter," as Fr. Blake suggests? Surely they did not regard Kiesle's case as routine? He tied up two boys and assaulted them. On church property, no less.

  2. Good questions, Steve; thank you. The more I read about the case the more I understand; the timeline at first was a bit fuzzy, especially from the AP article.

    To your last question first: a form letter was likely used because Cardinal Ratzinger had only been at the post for a week.

    If the CDF had known the seriousness of Kiesle's crimes at the time, it did not laicize him immediately because it did not have the "compentence" (aka jurisdiction) to do so; it was not until 2001 - at Cardinal Ratzinger's insistence - that the CDF was given this authority.

    To your earlier questions, let me do another post on the timeline of the documents in question; that should clear things up.