Not a good week for the Roman Catholic hierarchy. There is a bright side, however. In a way, it’s a good thing the new English translation wasn’t rushed into action by tonight, like the earliest timetables were suggesting. Can you imagine? One of many Irish dioceses in turmoil, and American women religious (with support around the world and at home) now in open non-compliance with Cardinal Rodé’s investigation. Asking the lay people to go on about fault, fault, grievous fault? If it weren’t so scandalous, it would turn the penitential rite into a laughfest.
I wasn’t aware the Irish report was just a sampling from one diocese. Just imagine what the report would hold if it were like the Jay Study: numbers derived from everybody abused in the country who is still alive. And that still wouldn’t include women, adult men, or those who have been abused in a non-sexual way.
This is one time that I actually feel badly for the institutional church. I really do. I think there is a valid and spiritual place for leadership in Christendom. In the best of times, leaders are chosen with openness to the Holy Spirit, and are part of an ordered ministry of the Gospel. What some cheer as a “JP priesthood” would seem to be a curial notion of human loyalty. I find it quite sad that otherwise sound and sensible commentators actually celebrate the culture of ego intruding on what should be a culture of service.
Now, we will see if a suitable culture of penance will take root among the Irish episcopacy. Almost eight years and billions in legal settlements later, the American bishops are still trying to spin this as a priest problem. Pass the buck. Play the blame game. I suspect this Irish situation is somewhat more white hot than what hit the US in 2002.
Personally, I think we need to see some serious shuffling in the upper hierarchy. Red hats taken back from some individuals. Expectant sees denied them in the future. Down with Boston, and up with another New England city. Down with Dublin and up with another Irish city. Not every nation has a cardinal, and perhaps some have too many.
Amid calls from some stateside Catholics to disband the USCCB, my suggestion is to dismantle the Congregation for Bishops. It wouldn’t guarantee better bishops necessarily, but I’d say there are many Catholics around the world who can rightly question the competence of Rome-picked appointees. It’s a sad day when we have good reason to question the very moral orthodoxy of some prelates. Lacking a confession of fault, fault, grievous fault, and a suitable period of reconciliation, I’m not sure certain select prelates have anything at all to say or offer in terms of religious leadership. It’s one thing to wax on about skulls of bishops and road pavement. That’s the afterlife, as it were. There are good Catholics thinking far worse today about prelates who aren’t even dead yet. And who’s to say any of it is wrong?
I had hopes for the election of Pope Benedict in 2005. But I think through his appointees the man and curia are losing their grip on the Church. Some may well celebrate the end of authoritarianism, but jeez: this is an outright embarrassment.