Fault, Fault, Grievous Fault

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.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Fault, Fault, Grievous Fault

  1. Brendan Kelleher svd says:

    Writing as someone whose formation as a missionary and priest was all done in Ireland, including Theology at the Pontifical University of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Maynooth, I read the news of the abuse report with great sadness. Discussions and conversations during visits back to Ireland in 2000 and 2004 revealed there were far more abuse cases than those then surfacing. Until Archibishop Diarmuid Martin’s appointment to Dublin, apart from one or other Bishop, little was being done to face the problem head on. I came away feeling very sad.
    There certainly have been some episcopal appointments of questionable quality, and some who had shown promise ultimately disappointed. Perhaps the biggest disappontment was Archbishop Desmond Connell, who is the only Archbishop of Dublin to be given a red hat in the past century – Armagh is the traditional “Cardinatial” see in Ireland.
    Archbishops Ryan and McNamara were both scholars and teachers, the former a specalist in Semitics at University College Dublin, part of the National Unversity of Ireland, not the most obvious place to look for a pastoral leader, and the latter, a Professor of Theology, specalizing in Ecclesiology at Maynooth. As one of my former teachers I had great respect for him, but he really was never one I would see as a natural candidate to head a diocese, particularly one like Dublin. Comment on other Irish or UK dioceses I leave to others who are in more regular touch with the situation.
    Some would call for a clean sweep of the whole Roman Curia, for now Congregation of Bishops would definitely seem a good place to start. Following that, I would say the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacamemnts, but that is another story….

  2. ed gleason says:

    An easy start would be for the Irish government to declare the Vatican nuncio, persona non grata.. easy justice and a message is sent world wide,,any complaining bishops should be forced to resign.. and some will complain..

  3. Jimmy Mac says:

    We are told that the church is not a democracy and any input from the unwashed masses as to the people being put into positions of leadership would lead to politics, blah blah blah.

    We are told that we need to rely on the wisdom and judgment of our clerical betters who have the ontological upscale whoopees since their ordination.

    Oh, yes.

    Blessed are those from whom you expect nothing: you shall not be disappointed.

    “Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.” W. F. Shakespeare.

    “Never ascribe to malice what can be sufficiently explained by stupidity. “ Mark Twain

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