Editorials: Accusation against a Priest

Sun.Star [Philippines]
February 14, 2006

People can mine a number of reasons not to believe the allegation of an 18-year-old woman that a priest raped her a number of times, the first one in 2005.

Conspiracy theorists, for example, have already presented one line, the socio-political angle: the priest has been vocal in his opposition to some proposed government projects and the allegation is both payback and a way to ease him out of the scene.

Others have been simplistic: maybe the girl wanted money.

Conspiracy theory

For those who believe in the socio-political angle, however, the allegation presupposes the following:

One, that those behind the government projects consider the priest a major stumbling block, are incensed at him and are so devious they cannot stop themselves from plotting the cleric's fall and implementing it.

Two, that the woman was daring enough to accept being used as pawn, does not have any qualms about how people may perceive her and consider herself wily to be able to withstand the subsequent interrogations she would have to endure.

As for the money theory, there's also this standing argument for the accuser: whether any woman would risk tangling with a member of a powerful institution and open herself up to public ridicule for all the money in the world.

Believable spins

What this means is that, at this stage, supporters of both the accuser and the accused can come up with their own spins on the case and be believable, at least, to a certain degree.

But opposing sides voicing arguments and counter-arguments won't serve the interest of the truth; allowing the judicial system to roll with the least interference may.

It is good that the Cebu archdiocese, through its presbyteral council, has started investigating the accusation, although there are fears the probe's report might end up contradicting whatever the prosecutors, and eventually the court, would come up with.

But it would be even better if the faithful, especially in the diocese where the priest is serving, also rein in their emotions and not demonize the accusation even before all the facts are in.

Moving back

Social pressure can also scuttle the search for truth as it can push the accuser to give up the fight even if she may really have a case against the priest.

The wheels of justice, in this instance, have not even turned; the best thing to do, as of the moment, is maybe to move back and allow it to start rolling.


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