Church officials not above the law
Trust that Roman Catholic Church officials will do the right thing about allegations of sexual misconduct by members of the clergy is in question in many countries, not just the United States. What Pope Francis and others in the Catholic hierarchy do about the matter is watched closely throughout the world.
An announcement by the Vatican that its ambassador to France no longer enjoys diplomatic immunity is welcome, then.
As a diplomat, Archbishop Luigi Ventura normally would have enjoyed immunity from investigation or prosecution involving many crimes. Several men have accused him of touching them inappropriately. Ventura denies the allegations.
But French authorities had said the archbishop’s diplomatic immunity had stalled their investigation into the men’s accusations.
That ended Monday, with the Vatican’s announcement. Now, Ventura can be investigated — and, if appropriate, charged — just like any other visitor to France. Let us hope the matter is cleared up, one way or the other, expeditiously.
Sexual predation by members of the clergy is bad enough. Adding to the outrage over Roman Catholic church handling of such crimes has been a pattern over decades of protecting predators. Instead of reporting them to law enforcement authorities, church officials often transferred guilty priests away from locales where they had abused both children and adults, and to new locations where they sometimes committed the same crimes.
Outrage over that practice led to reforms in which many bishops and archbishops have said their first call after hearing of a predator in the clergy is to the police.
Good. Concern lingers, however, over whether that policy will apply everywhere, to everyone. The Vatican’s decision on Ventura — and let us be clear, it must have involved Pope Francis — is reassuring. It should be the template used in all similar situations.