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Word Smith: Calumny

Noun: the making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone’s reputation; slander.
slander, defamation (of character), character assassinationlibel
  • a false and slanderous statement.

Any time you have to quote the Founding Fathers (e.g. Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, Franklin) of this country and need that quotation to explain a vocabulary word, you know it is either out of fashion or worse, out of step with thinking in the modern day. Lately the word CALUMNY has come up from conversations with Pope Francis, as he defends the behaviors of his fellow bishops.

How is it that the Pope called all of the accusations against priests in Chile to be calumny? How is it that the Pope, without speaking to victims, called the priests as having had their character assassinated. Days later, once he had spoken with the victims and read the thousands of pages or reports, he asked for and received resignations for all of the priests in Chile. Why exactly did they resign? Who has actually been slandered? Who has been abused? Who have been the ones to boldly defend and hide the behavior of criminals in the church? (1)

Seems that the church is losing it’s way.

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Pope Francis, photo by Stefan Relandini (2)

As a result of the problems in Chile and Argentina, the Pope has regressed to asserting Church Law as the method of trial, exoneration and/or punishment. Church Law, not civil law, not Canon Law? What is Church Law anyway? Seems secretive and dangerous to have any system of accountability that holds the criteria of behaviors that are only judged by the Church. Since when is behavior of the clergy, or the laity for that matter, beyond the civil courts? Why not rely on the civil courts in various countries to bring trials against any and all priests who have broken the law? When is abusing a child, a parishioner, or a seminarian beyond the legal courts of a country? Seems the church is losing its way in more ways than one. What would those attuned to higher powers say or do in these matters of abuse?



(1) https://www.telegram.com/news/20180120/dianne-williamson-calumny-yes-but-right-object 

(2) Pope Francis leads Mass on Holy Thursday at Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 29, 2018. (Reuters/Stefano Rellandini)