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(RNS) A lawyer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton told justices that the Rev. Terence McAlinden was not "on duty" -- or serving in his capacity as a priest -- when he allegedly molested Chris Naples on trips to Delaware.


    • Only an ostrich with a buried head would believe that convictions leading people to ethical behavior, behavior that is good for others and themselves, comes only from religion. Consider the history of evil in religion and its churches. Consider the good behavior of people who have nothing to do with religion or churches. I think history proves that goodness (good morals or good ethics) is not the exclusive province of religious people or non-religious people. In short, goodness is not intrinsically related to religion.

      There are these four, faith, hope, charity, and honesty, and the greatest of these is honesty!

  1. When I steal money, I’m not liable because when I steal money I’m not a citizen on-duty because citizens can’t break the law. Therefore, I’m not really a citizen and only citizens can be held responsible for obeying the law.

  2. Actually, as a manager, the claim makes sense to me. If I send one of my staff with a group of kids to an event my company sponsors, in a bus we hired, eating food we chose and paid for, doing things we planned, then, if my staff preys on one of the kids in some time when they should have been acting on the planned agenda, and got away with it, I could be said to be liable, I didn’t manage the person properly, I should have known where he was and what he was doing.

    But if my staffer takes one or two kids on vacation with him, not on my dime or my time, outside of his working hours (where I could expect his presence), not using his company car or his company credit card, then how could anybody expect me to know what the hell he was doing? He was not “on duty” as my employee, he was acting (sickeningly) on his own.

    This makes some sense to me now. Legally, he acted on his own, not as my employee. I’d fire his ass as soon as I found out, and they don’t sound like that happened fast enough. But that’s a different problem….

    • But the Catholic Church isn’t a company. If it were, it would be paying taxes. Priests are not employees. They’ve taken vows, not simply salaries. Everything they do is on “company” time.

  3. I a retired priest (not RC, but a priest is a priest, regardless of flavor).

    When you’re a priest, you’re on duty 24/7/365. This is not a “job;” this is a covenant between you and the gods and you’re stuck with it. :) You don’t ever get to take the priest hat off, because you’ve sworn oaths to the deity(s) you hold above all else to serve.

    Trying to say “Oh, this guy wasn’t a priest” is dishonorable and demeaning to the idea of priestly service. It is a fatuous argument that should be mocked for the cheap legalistic trick that it is.

  4. I’m trying to think of all the other venues of life where institutions can wash their hands of any responsibility for the people who work for them.

    Police departments, for example, can claim not to be responsible for any brutality incidents, because the cops all swear to uphold the law, and police brutality is illegal, so all cops are automatically “off the clock” if the pulverize someone.

    It’s almost mind-boggling to think how far this principle can be applied. However, the Delaware Supreme Court approved it, so it must be law (in Delaware, at the very least).

  5. Isn’t that just the ultimate “No True Scotsman” fallacy? Redefine “priest” so that a priest CAN’T molest a child by definition.

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