Penal Law-just Don't Get Caught!

 During the 1960 Presidential election, many thoughtful and apprehensive Americans were tarred with the brush of bigotry, narrow-mindedness, intolerance and anti-Catholicism because they pointed out that the Roman Catholic Church considers itself above all countries and its laws above all civil laws.  This is such a simple incontrovertible fact that one need merely read any commentary on Canon Law or textbook of moral theology to be convinced.

Examples of this self-assumed privileged status are Canons 118 through 123, under the heading: De juribus et privilegfis clericorum" (concerning the rights and privileges of clerics).  The most autocratic of these is the "Privilegium fon"' (the privilege of the court), according to which a I courts of law in the world are forbidden to try officials of the hierarchy without the consent of the pope, or to try any ordinary priest without the permission of the local bishop.

 Without consulting any government, Canon 121 announces to all lands that priests are exempt from military service.

Canon 122 assures all priests that they cannot be forced by any civil law to pay their just debts unless they are permitted to retain money enough for a decent living.  This amount is to be determined not by any civil judge but "by the prudent decision of an ecclesiastical judge."

This claimed superiority of Roman Catholic law is formally recognized by the Vatican concordats with predominantly Catholic countries.  They usually include the canons referred to above, the provisions of Church law on marriage, the financial support of the clergy, and the teaching of the Catholic religion in public schools.  Mussolini had a concordat with Rome (signed in 1929), when he murdered the Ethiopians, with the blessings of the pope and the hierarchy.:,

Adolf Hitler, who at one time proclaimed himself a member of the Catholic Church while planning and carrying out the slaughter of six million Jews, likewise was functioning under a concordat with the Vatican, which had been negotiated in 1933 between Von Papen on the one hand and none other than Cardinal Pacelli for the Church-he who was soon to become Pius X11.  Although Hitler looked upon the concordat as just a scrap of paper when it suited his purpose to take this attitude, the fact of the matter is that never did the Church abrogate, denounce or declare the concordat no longer in effect 12

 I have never heard of the excommunication of a mass murderer, but a Catholic priest, if he marries, is subject to the most severe penalties.

Another peculiar and far-reaching concept of Roman Catholic moral theology that actually promotes lawlessness is the teaching regarding "penal' law.

As the Church understands it, penal law does not refer to penitentiaries.  It means a law that obliges "subpoena" -under punishment-meaning under civil punishment, and not under divine punishment.

In other words, it means a law, the violation of which is not a sin, a moral crime or a moral transgression, but rather merely a sinless offense against the secular government.  A person is not bound by his conscience to obey the law, but is bound in conscience or morality to take his punishment, be it a fine or a jail sentence, if he is caught by the police.

This phase of the Church's concept is completely useless, because if a person is convicted ' the judge does not consult the culprit's conscience, but throws him into jail or takes his money through the state's police power.

Several quotations from official documents will illustrate this point:

 Purely penal laws impose an obligation in conscience to accept the penalties incurred for their violation, not to omit or perform the action prescribed by the laws?  

This point is again emphasized by another writer:

 A penal law binds the transgressor to submit without resistance to the just penalty when it is inflicted.-,

 The world-famous Jesuit theologian, Noldin, heads this discussion.  "De lege poenali, quid sit" (regarding penal law, what it is):

 To the legislator who wishes that a certain act be performed or ornitted, two courses are available, one spiritual, i.e. through an obligation in conscience; the other material, i.e by imposing a punishment if the act is not performed or is omitted.  Very often through this second method the aim of the legislator is more effectively obtained.  If this latter choice is adopted, it is called a "lex mere poenalis"-"a pure penal law"; if both, a "lex mixta"-"mixed law."

Pi-ire civil penal laws are in general all those, the observance of which can be assured through the fear of punishment, unless the legislator stipulates otherwise.  Specifically the following are penal laws: (a) statutes establishing the maintenance of order ("die Polizeiverordnungen"-laws enforced by the police-federal, state, county or city); (b) laws regarding denuding the forests, hunting, fishing, grazing, in public forests, pastures or swamps when it is forbidden .5

 If Catholic venial sin provides an insufficient deterrent to prevent wholesale stealing, cheating and lying, certainly the reduction of the general laws of the country to mere "Penal" laws furnish even less deterrent.  The violation of these laws is, in themselves, no sin at all.

The traffic safety laws, so laboriously and carefully developed and so widely advertised, mean nothing to a Catholic-unless he is caught!  This covers speeding, passing on curves and hills, running through red lights and stop signs, jay-walking, leaving the scene of an accident, driving a truck over ten consecutive hours and disregarding weight loads, and driving without a license.  Hunting or fishing without a license or out of season, observance of building codes or zoning ordinances, violating postal laws and regulations, defiance of quarantine and other health department rules, bootlegging or selling liquor to minors or smuggling liquor into a monastery or an Indian reservation or selling liquor after hours -these all are without moral guilt-so long as you dont get caught!

Catholics are taught that tax laws are mere penal laws; therefore it is no sin to cheat the state or federal government through income tax evasion or any other tax fraud.

This explains a phenomenon that had puzzled me for years.  I was in the office of Senator Carl Hayden in Washington .  He is the dean of the Senate and the chairman of the extremely important Senate Appropriations Committee.  We were discussing income taxes and the large segment of those taxes that was going to the southern European countries through the foreign aid program.  I asked why those countries could not do more to rehabilitate themselves if they had tax laws as heavy as ours.

His answer, and he is in a position to know, was a tribute to the American people: "The American people," he said, "are by far the most honest people in the world.  For the most part they pay their taxes.  Those European countries are broke simply because their people don't believe in paying taxes and the nations can't hire enough people to force collection."

Later a real estate man was trying to interest me in buying land in Brazil at eighty-five cents an acre.  Brazil had always fascinated me as one of the outstanding world examples of a nation stagnating as a result of the stiffing of freedom of thought, initiative and progress.  It has approximately the same land area as the United States , is as rich if not richer in natural resources, and after 400 years of Catholic domination has only one-third the population of the United States .

The real estate man showed me the alluring pictures of San Paulo and Brasilia, waxed eloquent over the development of the Amazon area, and told me the nation was almost bankrupt-which I knew.  "If the landowners pay their taxes, why is Brazil in such a mess?" I asked.  "Most of them don't pay their taxes," he answered; "occasionally the tax collector catches them, and then they bribe him and coast along until they are caught again."

The Brazilians are following acceptable Church doctrine.  The obligation of financial support of the Church binds under mortal sin.  The obligation to pay civil taxes does not bind at all, as Jone points out.

 (a)   Indirect taxes are commonly held to be levied as penal laws.  Indirect taxes are the following: duties, custom and the excise taxes, e.g., revenues levied on alcoholic spirits, tobacco, etc.; and, according to some authors, inheritance taxes.

(b)   Direct taxes are probably not levied by legislation which obliges in conscience prior to a judicial sentence.  Customary interpretation and the intention of the lawgiver would seem to render an obligation in conscience highly questionable in our country.

Such taxes are personal taxes, real estate and property taxes, industrial taxes and those that are levied for carrying on a trade or business.  From this obligation there arises the duty to make a corresponding declaration for assessment.  A person need not be scrupulous, however, in the appraisal of his possessions.  One may follow the general custom and declare his property in a manner similar to that of the majority of taxpayers.  The reason for this is that the authorities make allowance for such a procedure in their assessment.  Should one deviate considerably from the customary usage in appraising or declaring his goods he is guilty of disobedience to the law, but does not sin against commutative justice and therefore has no obligation of restitution.  This, however, would apply only in the supposition that the law is not merely penal."  

This teaching on penal law inevitably makes priests consider civil law as absolutely insignificant when compared to the awful, binding force of the laws of the Church.  It leads subconsciously to a contempt for the laws of the land.  The police of every city know of many violations that are arrogantly performed by priests and then covered up by Catholic higher authorities.

Traffic violations and drunkenness are the most common.  But even more serious infractions by the clergy are committed with impunity and usually covered up.

On November 24, 1960 , the F.B.I. in Phoenix caught a priest, Rev.  Dukind, in a motel living with a seventeen year-old girl, whom he had abducted in Superior , Wisconsin and driven across the country.  He admitted living with her as husband and wife in various motels.  The following is from a letter I wrote on this case to a past grand master of the Masonic Lodge of Nebraska:

   Mr. J. C. Tye, Past Grand Master Pratt Building

Kearney , Nebraska

 Dear Mr. Tye:

 I am enclosing an extra copy of this letter so that you may pass it on to your friend, Mr. Beatty, and let him investigate for himself the loyalty of attorneys to their oath to the United States and to their state.  Mr. Wilson, the United States Commissioner, who put the priest, Rev.  Dukind, in jail, according to the newspaper clipping that I sent you, arranged for me yesterday afternoon to go to visit this priest in the local county jail.  This I did.

I asked him if he wanted to get out of the Catholic Church and marry this girl that he had taken across the country.  He said that be did not, that he was a Catholic priest and believed in the Catholic faith and intended to remain a Catholic all his life.  He told me that he would probably have to do a stretch of penance at "Via Coeli" near Albuquerque , New Mexico .  I reminded him that his offense is a Federal offense, that he is being charged with kidnapping and with violation of the Mann Act several times.

Mr. Wilson was under the impression that 'he belonged to the Franciscan Fathers and that they had refused to raise the $5,000 bond.  He told me himself that he belonged to the S.V.D.s, which is the Society of the Divine Word.  He knew who I was because one of the Negro girls we had trained in the past as a nurse had come from his parish in the South and had gone back there after we had trained her.

He objected vigorously to the idea of being confined in the county jail and said that it was certainly unbecoming to the dignity of a priest.  He complained that there were fifteen other men in the tank in which he was confined and said that the Commissioner should have allowed him to stay in one of the local monasteries until his Provincial Superior arrived here to take him back, which he expected to be Monday or Tuesday (this is being dictated on Sunday, the 27th).  It does not enter into his bead that he may have to go back to Wisconsin in the custody of an officer of the law.  He stated to me that he had worked hard in Superior but that be had become an alcoholic and had spent some time in an alcoholic institution in Michigan, the name of which I have forgotten as I could not very easily take notes while he was talking, which institution is for the rehabilitation of Roman Catholic priests only.

He blamed this whole offense on the girl.  He said that her father is an alcoholic and has had incestuous relations with her many times and that she escaped from her home and made her way through the snow and bad weather to the hospital and begged him to take her away from it all.  He said he was drinking at the time and started out without realizing where he was going but claims that it is all her fault.  He admitted that he expected to be caught but thought that he would be turned over to the Church for punishment, because of the supercedence of Canon Law over the laws of the State.

Here now is the joker. The priest told me that he expects this case to be turned over by the federal agencies to the District Attorney in Superior , Wisconsin .  He did not mention the name of the county, I but I assume you can find that out.  He said that the attorneys name was Chisholm (suppose this is the spelling).  He stated that this district attorney was a very close friend of his, presumably a Catholic, and that he had worked with him in the past and, as he himself said, he had "done a very good job in Superior.' He expects the attorney, Mr. Chisholm, to have the case quashed and to have him turned over to the Church for punishment.  He says that he is willing to take whatever punishment the Order and the Bishop give him (the thought of the federal government punishing him doesn't seem to enter his thinking at all), and that he intends to remain a good Catholic because he. Wants to save his soul and it is only in the Catholic Church that he can do so."

I hope that you can contact somebody in Superior who will follow this case and see what happens.  I would appreciate hearing from you as to the further development of it.

 The priest was picked up a few days later by a county sheriff from Superior , not by a federal marshal.  His trial was held immediately and in secret.  Here is a letter from the Wisconsin Masonic past grand master:  

Mr. Joseph C. Tye, Past Grand Master

Grand Lodge F. & A. M. of Nebraska

Omaha , Nebraska

 Dear Brother Tye:

 I am glad you wrote me about the recent episode in Superior , Wisconsin , when the Catholic priest ran away with a seventeen-year-old girl and took her to Arizona , where he was arrested.

He was duly taken back to Superior , where he was originally charged with the crime of kidnapping.  Kidnapping, when the victim is held for ransom, is punishable by life imprisonment; when the victim is not held for ransom and is returned without permanent injury before the first witness is sworn, by imprisonment not to exceed thirty years.

The District Attorney of Douglas County is John C. Cbisholm, who as I am informed is a Roman Catholic.  After he had interviewed the girl, the charge was changed to the crime of abduction, which is a lesser offense.  The difference between the two crimes is that kidnapping requires the use of force, threat or deceit, while abduction is enticement for illegal or immoral purposes of a child under eighteen years of age from her home or the custody of her parents or guardian.  Abduction is punished by a maximum of fifteen years.

The girl evidently stated that no force was used and no threats made and that she knew what was happening and consented thereto.  This seems to be borne out by the facts as I have heard them.  Therefore, it was probably necessary to change the charge.

The Circuit Judge in Superior ( Douglas County ) is Carl H. Daley.  I believe that he also is a Catholic.  His sentence was imprisonment in the State Prison in Waupon for three years.  Probation or parole was evidently denied.

The warden of the State Prison is John C. Burke, also a Roman Catholic.  His reputation is good, but be is certainly being put to a real test of impartiality in this case.  I shall Watch with interest what happens next.

Possibly the fact that the officials were all Catholic has he1ped in this case, for certainly after the Kennedy election everyone is watching for some overt act along religious lines.

 Sincerely and fraternally,

 Orrin H. Larrabee,

Past Grand Master

 In San Diego , California , a few years ago a priest was driving while drunk and killed a man.  Criminal charges were not filed, but the dead man's family sued the priest and the diocese.  A friend of mine helped the family lawyer in screening the jury panel.  He stayed in the courtroom through the trial.  When the bishop was ushered in, the judge declared a recess and ordered the courtroom cleared.

The judge and the bishop greeted each other warmly, and the clerk then called the jury back to the courtroom.  The trial was resumed.  After two days, one of the jurors (the prosecuting attorney had been warned that this juror was married to a Catholic) got up and said that he had gone by himself to view the scene of the accident.  The judge thereupon announced that this was an illegal action, although done with good intent, and he dismissed the jury.

The family appealed for a change of venue, but in vain, and the judge who had abruptly ended the trial was the same one who denied the change of venue, refusing even to disqualify himself.  The family saw that one obstacle after another was being put in its way, that they had already spent a thousand dollars in pursuit of justice, and that they just could not afford to fight the Catholic Church.  So the case was dropped.

In Phoenix a couple of years ago a Catholic pastor developed the habit of indulging in love trysts with a teenage girl of the parish.  Through his thoughtlessness she eventually became pregnant.  Her father went to court.  The bishop came to Phoenix and pleaded with the judge to dismiss the case.  His argument was that an open trial against a priest on a charge of statutory rape would produce a scandal far more harmful to devout Catholics than the mere impregnation of one girl.  He promised to punish the priest according to Church law.  The charges were dropped.  The girl was spirited out of town.  The amorous pastor was punished by being transferred from one section of Phoenix to another where be was made the pastor of a new parish.

Ex-priests, their wives and many of the laity can recount by the score such instances of clerical evasions of civil law.

I can recall that, when I was first married, my wife had to remind me constantly that speeding, failure to observe stop signs and running through red lights were against the law.  I still had the hangover about the lack of moral obligation to observe "penal" laws.

The laity are usually not seriously taught the Church doctrine regarding penal laws.  They are taught very little at all about the obligation of observing civil laws.  Again, as in the case of venial sins, Catholics worry only about the sins that will send them to hell.  Priests do not emphasize the malice of violating traffic laws, or hunting out of season, or not paying taxes.  When Catholics go to, confession, they are. quizzed about fornication or adultery -47%aA thoughts," but it never occurs to a priest to ask the penitent if he has been speeding, keeping his bar open after hours or selling a can of beer to a teenager.

The average devout Catholic considers a St. Christopher medal on the ceiling of his car or a statuette of Jesus or the Virgin Mary on the dashboard much more important than careful driving according to law.  I can recall a devout Catholic in Santa Barbara who attended Mass daily and confessed regularly.  He enjoyed taking us, the students, for long rides.  He would always drive very slowly to start with as he and the passengers recited the Rosary aloud.  Then he would tip his hat to the St. Christopher medal, rub it and step on the gas.

A story about President Kennedy appeared in a popular publication :

 In the pre-Secret Service era, he drove swiftly, even heedlessly.  In his Oldsmobile-a gray convertible with red leather seats-he hit seventy on the highway. In town, he challenged the speed limit, frequently ran caution lights and sometimes red lights. Hed still rather drive than be driven.'

 The Church's universal neglect of insistence upon the observance of civil law as a spiritual obligation has its extreme fruition in the lawless attitude of the members of the Mafia:

 Above all else, one viewpoint characterizes the Mafiosi.  They believe, with the same conviction that led their ancestors to fight the Arab invaders 1,100 years ago, that they have a God-given right to sell dope, trade in bootleg liquors or run a gambling joint, and they profoundly resent any effort to prevent them from going about their business. . . . Almost without exception the deportees in Italy feel deeply wronged and bitterly resentful-mainly against the United States which threw them out."