"It is better for eight innocent men to suffer than for millions to lose their faith."
Allegedly, this was spoken by a lawyer involved in trying to get the Catholic church to investigate the crimes of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ. Maciel brought a lot of money into the church, was beloved by thousands of followers, and recruited hundreds of priests. He was also a monstrous criminal who raped dozens of young men (including the eight priests who brought the complaint), had at least two wives and several children and, it has been creditably reported, sexually abused his own children. Despite the gravity of the charges against him, and a huge weight of evidence, it took the Vatican a decade to finally get around to removing him from office. It is hard for outsiders to find out what is happening inside the Vatican, but all the evidence points to Pope John Paul II as the one who held up serious investigation of Maciel's crimes.
Maciel seems like a clear case to me, because he was such a vile man. But I was just wondering, should we always, in every case, expose and prosecute all wrongdoing? Are there cases in which we should just leave criminals alone, and tell victims to keep their mouths shut? Should honesty be the basis of all reputations, or does the need for heroes, or the need for people to have faith in institutions, ever justifying suppressing unpleasant truths?