Disclaimer: this is not about the pope and his pets.
NCR’s Tom Fox groups the revered Cardinal Bernardin with the once and present clerical culture now on headhunts against homosexuals and women religious. Maybe he’s got a point about American women religious not being sufficiently “orthodox.”
Considering one of the investigations of U.S. women religious sponsored by the Vatican, against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, one of the areas of stated Vatican concern is the women’s teachings on “homosexuality.” It appears the women have not been judgmental enough, have not taught openly that, according to the bishops, homosexuality is a “intrinsically disordered” state.
A few of my readers have dissented from my premise that clergy sex abuse and episcopal cover-ups tie closely together if you consider tham as two aspects of an addictive system. My sense is that addiction to power is the root here. Sexual dominance is one way to assert power–it happens in the animal kingdom (heck, my neutered alpha-male cat (imaged upper left: he’s a sweetie, but not without issues) has made a practice of jumping on the other household cats, a male and female, for over ten years). Roman Catholic clergy have power issues up and down the line. So it’s not a surprise to me that both addiction and clerical brotherhood would allow a cardinal to say this to a sexual criminal:
May I take this opportunity to thank you for your fine work. As you look forward to this important transition in your priesthood, please know that you have my support and prayers.
Power addicts may find their problem surfacing in sex, but it may also be in other areas: money, anger and other emotions, or even spiritual counsel. I’m sure that some young men enter into seminary with certain addictions already in place: substances, food, and sex, certainly. My sense is that social factors within the seminary and diocesan priest cultures work to reinforce, or at best, hide the limitations brought into the community.
I have no doubt that if a bishop were to walk in on a priest having sex with a minor, he would almost always do the right thing. Hearing conflicting reports, however, and being the likely target of the grooming process … I can imagine how a bishop would have doubts stirred by the addict, and concede a large benefit to the offender.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that some women religious are ignoring the Vatican investigation. I wouldn’t be inclined to cooperate, and I’d probably go public with my opposition, if it were me. Given the nature of scandal, and how the laity at large perceive it, suppose we Americans were polled–all of us; I don’t mind including the bishops and clergy. Suppose we were asked which group needs investigation for the good of the Church. Do you suppose it would be bishops or sisters?
I’ve been looking over the instrumentum laboris issued for the investigation. I’m not usually in the practice of rewriting stuff to spoof others, but I confess I was tempted to rewrite this document’s questions for bishops and offer it for your input. There are a lot of questions Catholic would like to ask bishops. Some answers would be very interesting, don’t you think?