Self-Regulation and the Catholic Church

Is it possible to have honest to goodness self-regulation in the Catholic Church and what about that whole Enron thing?


Authorities within the Church made it their responsibility to self-regulate sexual offenders during the latter half of the 20th Century. However, the self-regulation that occurred was not looked favorably upon in that it often brushed matters under the carpet by relocating offenders and/or not reporting molestation to authorities outside of the Church. So, in essence, self-regulation in this case failed-at least initially. That’s not to say that self-regulation cannot be beneficial or yield better outcomes. The key is having those involved in the regulation be upstanding figures that require clergy to uphold civil and moral laws. A no-tolerance policy must be instated in order to protect youths within the Church as well as sustain the Church for centuries to come.

The victims of the crimes did not readily report the incidents of molestation typically around the time that they happened. Oftentimes, reporting did not occur till years later when the victims were much older and/or no longer practicing Catholics. So, it is difficult to say what type of strategy could have been best employed early on. Now, however, knowing the prevalence of sex crimes against children, law enforcement agencies can strengthen their efforts to make sure this doesn’t continue to happen. Still, this has to be done in assistance with vigilant parents, guardians, educators and other members of the Church. For example, if abuse is suspected, everyone should be aware that they are mandated reporters and law enforcement agencies must take all concerns and complaints seriously even if it is against a supposed reputable church official.

Internal investigations are crucial when any type of crime occurs. That is not to say, however, that external investigations shouldn’t take place. They should and they must to ensure that all avenues are covered, angles reviewed and rights protected.

Anderson Accounting Firm (think Enron) is another example of corrupt and criminal activity that should have been reported. Although, the greatest difference between the Church scandal and Anderson was the religious factor, the two had plenty else in common. Both organizations held a position of trust and both were highlighted scandals in the 1990’s and early 21st Century. Perhaps Anderson shocked the public the most (similar to the Church) because they were a company that audited other companies and should not have been involved in fraud of any sort. Anderson was a financial regulator of sorts and the Church was a moral regulator, but the two organizations needed regulation themselves. It goes to show that no one or no company is perfect, and every agency needs a little checking in on.

Could Anderson have been handled differently by law enforcement agencies? Again, this is a case of only if reports were made. However, it can be expected that in the future companies like this won’t be free from regulation in that they have demonstrated they cannot be responsible enough to always act appropriately, even if they can make a case for lacking mens rea. In conclusion, the victims of Anderson could have best been served by a stronger case against the company. Given that the case was overturned, a precedent could not be established to protect future victims in similar situations. This is probably the most disheartening thing that can happen to victims of any crime.