Ecclesiastical trials need to be transparent and follow due process


The handling of cases involving clergy must be “completely transparent, just like in the state system” says a missiology lecturer at the Catholic School of Philosophy in Maumere on the island of Flores in Indonesia.

Father John Mansford Prior’s opinion piece specifically addressed the resignation of Bishop Hubertus Leteng of Ruteng on Flores.

It was published in the October 29 edition of Hidup, the Jakarta Diocese’s Weekly magazine.

Prior subsequently told UCAnews the church’s way of handling these cases is not credible because “priest investigates priest, bishop investigates bishop, and it is done in private.”

“Who can really believe in the results of such a process?”

He pointed to a case in Flores where a priest was rumoured to have a mistress, prompting a probe by his provincial.

“The result, it is said to be gossip. The problem is, the investigation process is not transparent.

Even worse, the results were not announced from the pulpit. So, gossip continues,” Prior said.

Prior said by promoting transparency, the church “acts fairly with the accused bishop or priest, as well as the lay people who are surrounded by gossip.”

With the present model, he said, the church also just focuses on the perpetrator and not the victims.

“Victims should have sufficient counselling and receive compensation according to state rules, while the perpetrator is treated as a perpetrator,” he said.

Pope Francis approved the Leteng’s resignation on October 11 after an investigation into allegations of misappropriating more than US$100,000 of church funds and an illicit relationship with a woman.

In its official announcement, the Vatican did not give a reason for  Leteng’s resignation.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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