Letter to the editor: You shouldn’t endanger kids by shielding criminals

St. Louis Post Dispatch

May 12, 2020

By Steven Spaner

Regarding “Chaminade clergy abuse case challenges First Amendment protection for church officials accused of negligence” (May 6): In the United States, you can believe anything you want, but you can’t do anything you want. Religious freedom protects all belief, not all actions.

That’s why a case before the Missouri Supreme Court involving Chaminade College Preparatory School is so important. If the alleged victim in that case prevails, our state would help prevent and punish child sex crimes and cover-ups without infringing on spiritual beliefs.

A man alleges that Brother John Woulfe molested him at the school and that administrators knew or suspected Woulfe had hurt other youngsters before. In any other private school setting, such a case would move forward. But Catholic officials say no court can touch these allegations without infringing on the church’s First Amendment rights. That’s baloney.

Church figures can believe that child molesters should be forgiven. They can believe that predators can reform. But they can’t negligently put kids in harm’s way by ignoring or concealing known or suspected molesters and stop every judge or jury from even questioning their actions.

For the safety of our children, I hope our state’s highest court soon makes the church’s limitations crystal clear.

Steven Spaner • Marthasville

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