Other blogs are covering the stunning publication from Sydney Bishop Geoffrey Robinson deeply critical of the Church’s approach to power and sex. I trust readers to be able to find and ferret out their own links to this story, but I’m going to focus on just one thing Bishop Robinson mentioned in his interview with Barney Zwartz of The Age:
Abuse is most likely when three factors come together to create a “murky” climate: an unhealthy psychological state, unhealthy ideas about power and sex, and an unhealthy environment, according to Robinson.
The bishop’s assessment is dead-on.
In many places, bishops got serious about the psychological fitness of seminary candidates. Despite whining from some commentators, bringing psychological methods to bear has screened many unhealthy men from doing damage to themselves and others.
It’s heartening to see Bishop Robinson identify power and its misuse as part of the core problem. Sex doesn’t quite cover all the sins of the clergy and bishops. Other problems: substance abuse, misogyny, and even immaturity all hearken back to the abuse of authority.
Too many bishops have been careless in the care of their clergy. Cardinal George and Cardinal Egan are two prelates who seem to be over their heads. Are they ready for the job of being an archbishop? Or are their dioceses just too darn big?
The incongruity of most seminaries training clergy in a communal setting only to set them loose on what is usually a lonely job doesn’t seem to get through to too many bishops. I know many priests value support groups and regular associations with each other. I’m sure many bishops support this. How many are willing to take the plunge themselves and build true bonds with their priests?
I’m looking forward to reading Bishop Robinson’s book. I’m sure the mainstream of the hierarchy will dismiss it. It might help their comfort zone, but not their cred.