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Catholic doctrine of 'mental reservation'

U.N. Report: Vatican Policies Allowed Priests To Rape Children

For over seven hundred years there has been a doctrine within the Catholic Church called mental reservation.

The idea of mental reservation harkens back to a time when there were two separate court systems - ecclesiastical courts run by the church and civil courts run be the state.

Over seven hundred years ago the idea of mental reservation was forged to protect the Catholic Church in civil court.

The doctrine of mental reservation claims that it is morally justifiable to lie in order to protect the reputation of the institutionalized Catholic Church.


The doctrine has been used quite extensively in modern times to protect the Catholic Church from civil allegations that the institution of the Catholic Church allowed recognized pedophiles to continue to work with children.

When a priest or nun is questioned about acts of clergy that would be considered heinous, such as pedophila, the priest or nuns are counseled by the institutionalized Catholic Church that lying is morally justifible, not a sin, under the doctrine of mental reservation.

"I'm certain there are many Catholics who have never heard of the doctrine of mental reservation. Let's call it what it truly is. It is standing in a public forum, swearing to one's God to tell the truth and then lying." - Victoria Martin


"Over the years, it has been clear to the Roman Catholic hierarchy that anything that undermines the confidence of the faithful in the church risks driving people away, thereby dooming them to hell.

Therefore, the best thing to do about the misdeeds of priests is to cover them up.

As the reasoning goes, the harm done to boys through molestation is far less than that through eternal damnation." - Rory Johnston


"Lying to protect the church's reputation in sex abuse cases is a moral issue. Victims of sexual abuse by priests suffer lifelong trauma. Mental reservation to protect the church is immoral." - Marie Pietrasant

2007 Los Angeles Archdiocese agrees to pay $660 million to settle claims of sexual abuse committed by priests on children.

"I am horrified and angered to tears at the hypocrisy and enormity of the sexual abuse that took place in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles over the last 70 years: 570 victims abused by 221 priests." - Jerry Mazenko

"Priests don't emerge from a vacuum; those growing up from the 1950s on have been exposed to a mass media culture with its pervasive "sex sells" mentality.

I visited a Catholic monastery in Big Sur a few years ago and was impressed with its film library - it looked like a small Blockbuster.

Watching these movies was among the monks' favorite pastimes, one monk said.

"How can people steeped in television and sexuality from childhood turn off basic human needs and desires for their entire adult lives?" - Laura Brown

"Evidence doesn't line up with the ideology that it's always harmful for kids to have sexual relationships with adults and a boy's sexual experience with a priest could be positive.

When I was a minor, I had sex with an adult.

I'd say on balance that it was a perfectly good experience." - Judith Levine*, Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex, Minnesota Star Tribune, March 26, 2002

The Roman Catholic Church paid out more than $1 billion in claims to victims of sex abuse by clergy in the 1990s alone.

And then there was Dagoberto Valle Arriaga who killed his son in the hope that church authorities would not discover that he sired a child.




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