November 20, 2012 In Australia, the Royal Commission on Child Sexual Abuse recommended that victims have the right to sue the main Roman church structure. The Royal Commission stated that its findings “may extend to ensuring that there are no obstacles to the making of claims and that there is sufficient support for victims of abuse in pursuing those claims.”
Currently, the Roman church is considered non-legal entity for purposes of compensation claims, that is, victims cannot sue. The Royal Commission secretariat stated that, “The commission will be able to refer matters to the relevant police authorities. This could be done during the course of the royal commission, but investigation and prosecution would ultimately be a matter for the relevant authorities to pursue.”
It was noted that this would involved years and thousands of individual cases. Perhaps some bit of earthly justice will be done to the victims of the Roman clergy. Yet, the overall corruption of the Vatican and its dependent agencies and branches throughout the world is endemic to the organization which calls itself the ‘Catholic Church’. From an Orthodox Christian perspective, we obviously cannot consider the Vatican to be the ‘Catholic Church’ in any sense other than name; the true Catholic Church is the Orthodox Church.
We can learn something important from the horrific abuse scandals in the Papal communion (scandals which far surpass anything we have seen in Orthodoxy in the Western world, though, obviously, the crimes of Sergianism are another case entirely). The Papal communion is an highly centralized agency, whereby power flows from the pope, in theory, at least, and, often enough, in practice. Its bishops are thought of as mere branch managers. In Orthodoxy, on the other hand, the Church is centered around the local Bishop, with the Bishops being in communion with each other, and certain bishops having prerogatives by canons, customs, etc. No one Bishop has supreme power. This means, that, one bishop can only do so much good in his own diocese, and by his words and examples, set a character example for all of his brother bishops to follow. The laity and clergy of other dioceses may see this and encourage the same activity in their own dioceses. However, if a bishop is a bad bishop, he can only do so much harm.
The Romanists, on the other hand, have a completely different system. There’s involves shifting bad priests and even bad bishops who permit unconscionable things to transpire or engage in. There is no stop measure without endlessly appealing through an horrifying red tape bureaucracy, and hoping finally to reach the Vatican, which, may or may not consider their plea.
On the other hand, in Orthodoxy, people would just begin to rightly cry ‘Anaxios’, and make such a big stink about things, that the Synod would have to act. And, even if this doesn’t work as properly as it should, there is still a great chance organizationally of having an effect. The Papists often speak about the laudable principle of subsidiarity (i.e., decentralization), yet, they have no use for it, it appears in ecclesiology.