Diocese abuses in Louisiana constitute state takeover

Shea Dobson, Views Editor

Following the release of a list of priests accused of sexual assault by the Diocese of Baton Rouge, a case against several Louisiana dioceses and administrative divisions of the Catholic Church has been rapidly building. In turn, the dioceses of New Orleans, Alexandria and Houma-Thibodaux have released similar reports.

Hanson Dai | Associate Artist

These cases in Louisiana reflect the results of a nationwide blacklight being shined on the underbelly of the Catholic Church, showing results far worse than what could have been inferred by decades of rumors and allegations. While some have commended the handling of the cases by Louisiana’s dioceses, including some of the victims, the results show priests, bishops and other clergymen getting away with disgusting acts of abuse against children for decades, until recently. With such criminal activity taking place, the state of Louisiana should seize operations of all dioceses in the state until a thorough investigation can be completed.

On surface level, this may sound like a violation of religious freedoms granted to all Americans in the First Amendment. To an extent, this does hold truth. Despite this, the freedom of religion, while inalienable and unspeakably valuable to hundreds of millions of Americans, is limited, just like any other constitutional freedom.

The Supreme Court ruling in the 1879 case Reynolds v. United States established that religious groups have the right to practice however they wish to, unless their actions are criminal. This means that while the U.S. cannot regulate the beliefs of an individual or group, they can punish said individual or group for behavior which violates criminal law. There is no denying that the actions of many of the accused clergymen within these dioceses constitutes reasonable suspicion of multiple felonies, both in the sexual assaults committed and subsequent attempts to cover them up.

Religion is an important part of many people’s lives, and the hesitance of people to see the state enter such a private, personal space is understandable. What is at stake, however, is something which must be considered. Dozens of abusers have been uncovered, but this does not mean that more do not remain.

In a church where illicit and inappropriate behavior by clergy has gone on for so long, some outside intervention is needed. For those who fear for the sanctity of the church, consider the fact that the church’s sanctity has already been completely violated by the actions of these men. In order to restore said sanctity, the church must allow the state to intervene in its affairs and comply with a full investigation.

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