Wednesday, June 23, 2004

TT: RC Church subject to suit if priest found to be rapist

SPECIAL prosecutor Israel Khan SC, yesterday charged that the Roman Catholic Church would be slapped with a civil lawsuit if the State is successful in the prosecution of a priest accused of raping and assaulting a woman.

Khan, who was granted a fiat to prosecute the priest, made the submission yesterday before Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls in the Port of Spain Magistrate's Court.

Khan also asked for a review of conditions of the priest's $60,000 bail, requesting the accused to surrender his passport and report to the Central Police Station twice weekly.

The attorney said the allegations against the priest were extremely serious, that the matter was beyond the accused and that the church had a duty to care for its followers.

The priest allegedly raped the victim on March 19 and assaulted her on March 16, in Port of Spain.

In his application Khan also reminded McNicolls of the case involving Anglican priest John Sewell (now deceased), who was also charged with committing a sexual offence over a decade ago, was granted bail and absconded.

Attorney Ian Brooks, who is representing the priest, argued that Khan's application was based on "rhetoric and emotion and on no substantial law".

McNicolls ordered that the priest surrender his passport to the Clerk of the Peace II within 48 hours and that he report to the Central Police Station every Monday and Friday during the hours 8 a.m. to noon.
The answer to the problem is a married priesthood. The celibacy of priests is not a Biblical requirement. Those who can, should; those who can't must be free to marry. Moreover, the man who desires the office of a bishop must be the husband of one wife. That is the NT's position on celibacy and the marriage of those in the Office of the Holy Ministry. Therefore, the Roman Church has no Scriptural standing for its doctrinal position which forces celibacy on its priesthood.

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