Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Justice in the News

In the news today, two crimes that happened a generation before are moving forward to closure.

In the first case, Baby Doc Duvalier is heading to trial from his crimes as dictator of Haiti.  Tried by Haitian courts, he will most likely be executed, but they may decide on life imprisonment.  Fifty-nine now, Duvalier must have been much younger than I realized when he ruled Haiti.

The second case involves the uncovering of an order from the Vatican instructing bishops and priests not to take suspicions they may have about child molesting priests until the police ask for them.  Victims rights groups are calling this the "smoking gun" they've been waiting for and expect major moves in the case to come from it.

There is almost nothing to prevent either of these case from playing out to their logical conclusion.

In the instance of Duvalier, I don't see how his death will help the thousands of people he injured or give his country any sense of closure, or even help prevent the same thing from happening again.  It's possible that there simply is no justice to be had in that case.

Of the Vatican though, that's a systemic problem, and these types of civil justice cases are pretty good at improving, if not resolving, systemic problems.  Some people are worried about what such a judgement will do to the church financially, but I'm not.  The Vatican has over a thousand year's worth of accumulated wealth and can pay pretty much any judgement brought against them. 

They may have to drastically restructure the church, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  The church's role in the world is dramatically different from what it was 500 years ago, but it's structure remains the same.  It's possible the painful restructuring this case may result is the only possible way to reform the church to fit its current role and purpose in the world.

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