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By Janet E. Smith, Crisis Magazine, March 3, 2022

Janet E. Smith, Ph.D., is a retired professor of moral theology.

 

Imagine how you would feel if you were a priest nearly 70 years old and, out of the blue, you learn that a very disturbed adult male has accused you of an act of sexual abuse some forty years ago, an act that you know you did not commit. Suddenly, you are removed from ministry and your name is placed on the archdiocesan website because a review board has judged that there is a “semblance of truth” to the accusation.

Few know that “semblance of truth” means that it is not impossible that the act has taken place, though no one has provided a shred of evidence beyond the person’s accusation. Indeed, you have an impeccable record of service and of indubitable fidelity to Church teaching. …

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