On Cleaning House

Russell Shaw writes on the notion of bishops resigning. I always pay attention to his essays when I see them. He’s one of the few commentators from the Catholic Right who’s respectful of bishops, but not fawning toward them. Russell Shaw is not Eddie Haskell, in other words.

I’m not sure that mainstream laity are interested in a Napoleonic replacement as much as a coming clean. What goes on in the hierarchy is Bill Clinton-esque or Nixonian, if you’ll pardon the crude comparison. Don’t tell the truth. Cover up for the greater good. Not all sleaze gets detected later, but when it does, it seems ten times as worse.

To be sure, my mother didn’t find out everything I did wrong as a kid. But we got the message that if we were under scrutiny, deception was not an option. Her motto was, “Lying is worse than stealing.” And she exacted her most dire consequences when any of us kids broke her trust.

From Mr Shaw:

But even supposing that wholesale changes in the hierarchy effected by papal intervention would have been a good idea eight years ago in America, or is a good idea now in Ireland or Germany or other countries racked by scandal, how realistic is the proposal as a general rule? In fact, it’s based on very dubious ideas about the relationship between popes and bishops.

The popular image of this relationship widely shared in pre-Vatican II days depicted bishops as something like branch managers reporting to a home office — the Vatican — headed by a CEO called “pope.” But that was never the case.

In theory, this is true. But there’s one glaring example of how both bishops and popes get both the theology wrong and, in practice, have fully embraced the CEO model:

Bishops need permission to resign.

It’s as simple and transparent as that.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to On Cleaning House

  1. Good broom pic. Saved on my PC. Going to put this as my title pic for my new post.

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    “Bishops need permission to resign.”

    I’ll be glad to mail my permission to an ever-increasing list of episcopal names.

    Lo antes posible.

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