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5 Bumps

This is a messy one!

Basics: clergy sexual misconduct is the same as a doctor or counselor who has sex with a patient/client. This case is being retried, because the prosecutor focused more on the priest violating his vow of celibacy than he did on the state of their relationship (clergy and congregant) during their sexual relations.

No idea how it will go the second time around, but it has me wondering. The priest is claiming the relationship was consensual and he wasn't acting as clergy while they were having sex. But, if iit was a doctor or a psychologist, there's no such thing as "off duty so it's ok". At 3AM, if the other person is in an accident and the hospital needs to call someone, they're still calling that doctor or psych, even though it's after office hours. In that same vein, is a spiritual advisor (the specific faith is irrelevant) ever truly off the clock, either? If the same accident happens at 3AM, and the family needs comfort, the priest or gothi or rabbi or whoever, is ALSO going to get that call.

Answer Question
 
NotPanicking

Asked by NotPanicking at 4:50 PM on Nov. 28, 2012 in Religious Debate

Level 50 (417,861 Credits)
Answers (13)
  • IMO, I don't believe that a priest, rabbi, minister or gothi ever take off their proverbial collars at a certain time each day. They are no different from the psychologists, counselors, doctors etc. I don't stop being mom just because, my kids aren't with me all of the time. The congregation of a church still belongs to the church and the ministers who are there as well. The ministers don't stop just because, they are asleep or busy with other things.
    blondie805

    Answer by blondie805 at 3:21 AM on Dec. 2, 2012

  • The doctor/patient; atty/client thing is not as airtight as you think- my pals husband is a total pig-top ranked surgeon, had an affair with a patient that lead to their divorce and guess what- now he is dating his divorce atty- none is it was illegal, none of it had any bearing on their divorce proceedings or settlement, none of it threatened anyones professional career- (yuck!)
    soyousay

    Answer by soyousay at 12:58 PM on Nov. 30, 2012

  • If by the way, and it is, what you tell a priest is protected under the law....then they are in a special category. No gray area. Pretty clear. Who you have sex with has no protection if they know you committed a crime. Some random dude still has to fess up in court. But a priest does. This makes him legally unique.
    frogdawg

    Answer by frogdawg at 10:59 AM on Nov. 29, 2012

  • It is illegal because you confide in your minister the same way you have a relationship with your therapist. If you want the same recognition of confidentiality and privilege that other professionals do then you have to have legal and professional boundaries. As a therapist I operate under a code of conduct that is held up by both state and federal government. That is the framework I chose to operate under for the unique privilege of assisting individuals. If I had a sexual relationahip with a patient I would be taking advantage of their vulnerable state. Highly unethical.
    frogdawg

    Answer by frogdawg at 10:56 AM on Nov. 29, 2012

  • That's the law he's being tried for, actually - not Catholic priests and congregants cannot have sex, but clergy sexual misconduct, which has no denominational condition, it simply states it's an abuse of power for a spiritual leader/clergy/etc to have sexual contact with a congregant while providing those spiritual services.

    I didn't know there was such a law. If that exists, then I guess he should be tried under it and if found guilty, sentenced accordingly. As far as I knew, though, there wasn't a law like that. I stand corrected.
    wendythewriter

    Answer by wendythewriter at 7:41 PM on Nov. 28, 2012

  • but as far as I know, there is no law that says "priests and congregants cannot have sex."

    That's the law he's being tried for, actually - not Catholic priests and congregants cannot have sex, but clergy sexual misconduct, which has no denominational condition, it simply states it's an abuse of power for a spiritual leader/clergy/etc to have sexual contact with a congregant while providing those spiritual services. Same way a psychologist cannot have sex with someone they are life coaching.
    NotPanicking

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 7:36 PM on Nov. 28, 2012

  • He should be treated the same as any other therapist or counselor.
    RyansMom001

    Answer by RyansMom001 at 6:08 PM on Nov. 28, 2012

  • Krist, I can see your point about the ordination on line thing. A priest is different. He has to go to seminary for years before he is ordained.

    You are going to a Priest for guidance and he is someone you SHOULD be able to trust. Yes you are vulnerable because you are supposed to be able to beleive what the Priest tells you. If you are going to a Priest you are on shaky ground somewhere in your life, be it spiritual or temporal. He should be held just as a counselor of any type should be.
    Dardenella

    Answer by Dardenella at 5:30 PM on Nov. 28, 2012

  • I don't know. I agree a priest is a priest 24/7. But I don't think it's the same situation as a shrink. Shrinks clearly have power over their patients, and it's clear that their patients are coming to them because they're mentally fragile - even if it's something minor, they wouldn't be seeing a shrink if they didn't feel they needed the help. But you can talk to a priest about all kinds of things and "spiritual aid or comfort" could be as simple as "gee, Father Bob, I'm thinking maybe I don't wanna be a Catholic anymore, but a Baptist instead." That's not necessarily something that would make a person weak or easily coerced.

    I don't really think he broke any laws. He broke his vows to the church, which obviously is wrong morally - but as far as I know, there is no law that says "priests and congregants cannot have sex." That's a church issue, and this would fall under separate of church and state to me.
    wendythewriter

    Answer by wendythewriter at 5:15 PM on Nov. 28, 2012

  • There's a very large grey area in this one i feel. For example how much training/dertification/whateveritis does a bishop/priest/rabbi/religious leader need before taking a "position of power". They aren't exactly Licensed like doctor's and psych's etc.(Especially since in many cases you can ge an "Ordination" online. IT's more on level with the owner of a small restaraunt chain having sex with a regular customer. (Maybe not exactly but closer).
    I'll just agree this is messy.
    KristiS11384

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 5:11 PM on Nov. 28, 2012

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