I find it odd how, though they're always emphasizing how the priesthood is for the good of the Church and therefore "no one has a right to be ordained"...once the priest is ordained, they act like he has some sort of right to remain in the clerical state (and on the payroll) and therefore require all this "due process" to laicize him.
But I don't think any process is due in order to simply revoke something that you never had a right to have in the first place. If it's for the good of the Church, priests should be expected to accept removal whether it is "fair" or not. It is fair, by definition, even if the reasoning behind it isn't true, because you have no right to expect something that's a privilege in the first place.
I mean, people always emphasize "obedience" and the "learning to do things even when you don't like it" aspect of seminary formation. And yet, once the priests are ordained...it certainly doesn't seem like they were required to "obey" their bishop when he, you know, wanted to laicize them for child molestation! When it comes to something like that, oh, then they apparently had this "right" to refuse what their bishop wanted and challenge him in canon court!
So you've really got to wonder about the priorities of this whole ridiculous system. Given that the "obedience" that so many people romanticize and extol doesn't seem to actually be invoked much in practice in many dioceses...it seems like it's really designed just to screen for people who will keep their heads down.
"The petition in question cannot be admitted in as much as it lacks the request of Father Campbell himself," Ratzinger wrote in a July 3, 1989, letter to Bishop Daniel Ryan of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill.
"The whole idea was that the priesthood was so sacred you couldn't kick these guys out," said the Rev. Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer who reviewed the Campbell case and who has advocated for abuse victims. "It wasn't that it wasn't possible — it was possible — but the practice had been not to accept the petition unless the priest accepted."
I fear the infliction of further pain upon the victims of his criminal activity and their families," Ryan wrote. "I fear that the diocese will suffer further pastorally and in public relations, to say nothing of greater financial damage."
Ratzinger refused, citing Vatican policy, and told the bishop to proceed with a church tribunal.
...Ryan, who lives in a nursing home outside the diocese, was unable to respond to questions. He retired in 1999 under a cloud of accusations of sexual relationships with male prostitutes and at least one priest; his successor found that he had engaged in "improper sexual conduct," allegations Ryan denied.
John Paul "certainly, I would say, is more culpable than Benedict," said Lasch.
The Vatican previously accepted involuntary laicizations, but turbulence of the 1970s, in which the Catholic Church suffered a huge worldwide loss of priests, helped push John Paul to revise the policy and promulgate the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which emphasized more due process rights for priests and discouraged penal sanctions.
"It didn't have any provisions in it for involuntary laicizations," said Msgr. John Alesandro, a canon lawyer and professor at Catholic University. "But I think most canonists believed that whether it was in the Code of Canon Law or not, the pope could do it."
John Paul did not, and as the abuse crisis exploded in the Catholic Church in the United States, bishops grew frustrated.