November 3, 2009

When monks go bad… (Speak up!)

The Phnom Penh Post reports that “Buddhist intellectuals and civil society groups have called on the government to address a recent outbreak of offences ranging from drunkenness to rape and a deadly beating all allegedly committed by monks.”
Tep Vong, supreme patriarch of Cambodia, said he was aware a monk had been charged with killing a nun earlier this week in Banteay Meanchey province and welcomed the legal action.

“I do not have any particular advice on the issue because Buddhism already takes a clear position against killing animals and human beings,” he said, adding that anyone who committed a crime should be brought before the courts.

He also insisted that his adviser, Kiet Chan Thouch, chief monk of Wat Leu in Preah Sihanouk province, was not guilty of getting drunk and attacking fellow monks in his pagoda, as was recently alleged.

“I already investigated [Kiet Chan Thouch’s] case, and the accusations against him are untrue,” he said. The supreme patriarch is now pursuing legal action against Kiet Chan Thouch’s accusers, who he said had deliberately set out to damage the man’s reputation.
A previous post here cited a UPI article, which addresses this very case. It’s important to understand the context surrounding these episodes—not just regarding the near annihilation of the Khmer sangha in the late 70’s, but also regarding who exactly today’s saffron-robed perpetrators are. Erik W. Davis wrote a thoughtful piece on this topic at his (former) blog. Nevertheless, a little more enforcement of the Vinaya might be overdue.

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