I can’t get news at this time if Cardinal George has been elected USCCB president today. Jason Berry’s editorial in yesterday’s LA Times has some pretty damning stories–some, but not all circumstantial. A few days ago I said I didn’t think George was a significantly worse option than other names on the table. Now I’m not so sure.
Members of the National Review Board made a second trip to Chicago nearly a year later to consult with the cardinal. George celebrated Mass for them, but then, according to three sources present at the meeting, he issued a warning over coffee and doughnuts: “You will be the downfall of the church!”
The group was dumbstruck. “The bishops and priests have failed to deal with this [scandal],” (NRB member Leon) Panetta said he told George. The healing process could not begin, Panetta said, unless the church acknowledged the problem.
The arrogance is not a shocker, really. Cardinal George ignored his own review board’s advice in 2005, permitting an abuser to remain close to potential victims after a credible accusation had been made.
Cardinal George has a history of being petty with diocesan liturgy personnel. The dots draw themselves dangerously for the cardinal on this one:
The archdiocese did take action against Barbara Westrick, the school’s principal, who had called the police after she learned of the complaint against (now-convicted abuser Daniel McCormack). She was fired in June. Although the archdiocese denies it, it seems likely that her criticisms of the church’s response cost her her job.
You’d think a guy with a reputation for being brilliant wouldn’t be bothered if the pressure his laity are bringing to bear was empty wind. But power does strange things to warp a person’s mind and morals.
The USCCB president won’t be rubbing shoulders with laity much in his role. If the office is more about herding his brother bishops and banging the gavel at meetings, maybe there’s no harm. But if the intent is to give some measure of leadership to US Catholics as a body, I think the cardinal has some questions to answer before he takes his position.