Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

The discussion on Pope Francis, negligent bishops, and what the former can or should do about the latter continues in the blogosphere (like here) and offline. The Holy Father has named a commission. I think we continue to wait and see.

It becomes like a broken record for me, but yes, we need to maintain vigilance in the protection of our children and teens. This is the job of parents, parishioners, volunteers, ministers, staff members, clergy, and bishops. And even children themselves. That last bit may be underestimated. I know that young people talk amongst themselves, and often have good instincts about creepy adults. Children are part of the company of the vigilant.

For the institutional Church, the most grave concern should be bishops. Bishops in large numbers have aided and abetted sexual predators. This happened before the Charter, and somewhat afterward. It happened after Vatican II, and occurred almost surely on the same scale before.

My sense is that the general lay public will perceive predators as working outside of the parameters of the Body, the Church. We don’t discredit fathers, teachers, coaches, athletes, scout leaders, and ministers in general because an outed predator is one of their number. The problem with the institutional church is the identification of people with it as a leadership body of responsibility. It takes authority–broad authority. And with that authority comes responsibility.

Pope Francis is aware of the dynamic, even if he may be unsure about the specifics of these circumstances. Eventually, he will have to provide leadership. But his leadership is not one-hundred percent of the solution. Other bishops and clergy will need to begin to speak of the need for transparency and accountability of bishops, especially the wayward ones. We know lay people will continue to bother, heckle, protest, and make a mess for bishops who have yet to get it. Until they do get it.

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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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