The accusations – based on a repressed memory of something 40 years ago – about Fr. Eduard Perrone in the Archdiocese of Detroit continue to raise questions. Dark questions.
Something is not right about this.
Michael Voris is digging in. He attends Fr. Perrone’s parish, but this case is far far bigger than allegiance. It concerns how accusations against priests are being handled everywhere, according to or not according to Canon Law the the Dallas “Norms” (which infamously don’t apply to bishops).
Voris has posted a couple of video commentaries at Church Militant.
In today’s video – “Anatomy of a Takedown” – there is something that everyone should listen to or read. He provides transcripts of his videos. Voris remarks today on the phrase “credible allegation”.
What he says should raise red flags and alarm bells in every Catholic everywhere in these USA.
Here’s the text. If you want, you could swap out the proper names. It seems to me that this could be applied pretty much everywhere right now, not just in Detroit. My emphases:
The word “credible” which Msgr. Bugarin bandies about freely is, for all intents and purposes in American diocesan chanceries, a very dangerous word because it is being commonly employed in alleged clergy misconduct cases in an entirely different way than authorized by canon law.
In regular usage, it means exactly what it sounds like: “worthy of belief.”
But in the arcane language of canon law, it is a higher standard than what canon 1717 of the Code of Canon Law actually requires as a criterion to be used: “semblance of truth.” That is a positive determination, not a negative one. This gets a little into the weeds here, but allow us to explain because it’s important. God is, after all, in the details.
Currently, American diocesan officials are using the terminology “unless an allegation be manifestly false or frivolous” as the definition of a “credible” allegation.
This non-canonical definition actually shifts the burden of proof to the accused priest to demonstrate, not just allege in his defense, that any allegation made against him was “manifestly,” “obviously,” “evidently” false or frivolous, as opposed to the diocese actually having positive or affirmative evidence in support of a claim of sexual abuse.
That is a vast difference between common chancery Orwellian “newspeak” and the official canonical criteria legislated by the popes over many centuries.
When Abp. Vigneron and his non-independent review board and Msgr. Bugarin approved the use of the language against Fr. Perrone that the charge had a “semblance of truth,” that is grossly misleading.
In reality, the term, “semblance of truth,” according to the AOD itself in its own documents, is defined as “it is not manifestly false or frivolous” or “serious” or “substantive.” That’s from the AOD’s outdated Sexual Abuse of Minors Policy dating back to 2007.
Again, the phrase “semblance of truth” in canon law carries a vastly different meaning. It does not mean that any allegation is credible unless it can be rebutted as
“manifestly false or frivolous” by the accused priest.
However, according to the AOD’s and most diocesan sex abuse policies currently in effect, the practical bar that needs to be crossed in a case like this is extremely low — so low in fact that it’s almost laughable.
So for Abp. Vigneron to approve a press release with language like “credible” and “semblance of truth” is massively disingenuous and dangerous and a misleading account taken of what those terms actually mean, in the context of the AOD’s own actual policies, practices and posted Q&As found online on its website.
In short, they deliberately let the public think they mean something that they themselves say they don’t mean.
Did you get that?
I would very much appreciate comments of canonists on this.
Here’s how I read that. The way “credible” is being used lowers the bar and results in placing the burden on the priest himself to disprove the allegation. Meanwhile, a diocese/bishop, in effect, throws the priest to the wolves and has circumvented due process. The are attending to secular advisers (lawyers, insurance companies) and worrying about the press more than the advise of sound canonists and in the interests of truth.
But it’s an efficient way to get rid of a troublesome priest. And, these days, we know what “troublesome” means.
Here’s the video, which I have set to start just before the part I quote, above.