Forgiveness is biblical and you can find numerous verses that extol the necessity of forgiving others who have sinned or committed a wrong. You likely have heard someone say we should forgive and forget. Yet, if we look in the Bible there is not a single verse that supports forgetting. Understand, though it is clear you should not hold a grudge it is equally clear you should not abandon reason.
Recently, a convicted priest in the Roman Catholic Church was to be reinstated after only 5 years of a suspended sentence. Ironically, during the 5 year period the Priest struggled to comply with the restrictions placed on him by the court. He was instructed to have no contact with minors but was found to have sought contact with a 13 year old boy on a social network site. Surprisingly, not one legal penalty was given. Even more shockingly, prior to this incident the Priest had been allowed to continue working as a chaplain and was permitted to teach children in preparation for their Confirmation.
Despite all of this, last week the church announced that the Priest has been “rehabilitated and appointed to another parish.” When asked about the legality of this decision, the Bishop of Bruges said the courts restrictions were only for five years. Never mind that the pedophilic priest was unable to follow those restrictions for even that period of time. Yes, this appears to be a direct contradiction of the court’s order to have no contact with young people. So, how did the Church react to the discovery that while already violating the courts order, the priest went further and sought contact with a 13 year old boy? The church cancelled his pastoral tasks…but only temporarily.
The good news is that when the reappointment was made public, the entire community protested. Because of this, the Pedophile Priest declined to take the post. The Mayor of Middelkerke, Janna Rommel-Ostaele said she was pleased with the decision, and the Bishop of Burges (Monseigneur De Kesel) also “suddenly realized” that his decision was wrong. A spokesperson said the Bishop offered his “sincere apologies” for the “hurt victims of sexual abuse.”
Unfortunately, it’s also worth noting this only came about because the people protested–not because the Bishop used good judgement.
A question to ask is why the Roman Catholic Church was going to allow the priest back into the church in the first place. Proverbs 14:16 comes to mind: “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with great confidence.” The Bishop initially replied to concerned citizens that he has “full confidence in the man” and will take full responsibility for anything that may go wrong. Sounds like the words of a fool to me, and something to carefully watch in the future.