An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.
During the same-sex marriage court case and at public hearings preceding the adoption of the Civil Union Act, the South African Catholic Church was one of the groups that vehemently opposed the extension of full marriage rights to same-sex couples. The Church in effect argued that the law should not recognise the equal dignity of gay men and lesbians as we are sinners who, if we act on our emotional and sexual desire, are nothing more than perverts.
Now the Pope, the very head of the Catholic Church, has been directly implicated in mishandling the case of a paedophile priest in his former archdiocese of Munich. According to the New York Times, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was copied in on a memo from his deputy in which the priest was transferred to parish duties in Bavaria that brought him into contact with children. As a result of that decision by the then vicar-general, Father Gerhard Gruber, the priest was able to continue abusing boys, for which he was later tried and convicted.
One suspect the authority of the Catholic Church to confidently condemn others who have not abused or exploited anyone but have merely decided to stop living a lie and to follow their hearts, have been fatally compromised. As is often the case, Zapiro captures the hypocrisy of the Pope in a stark visual image.
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