Lots of ink and tap type expended on the confluence of women’s ordination and sex abuse in the Vatican’s get-tough “revised norms” this week. Agreed with those who think the confluence is clumsy. After all, haven’t women already been getting excommunicated for ordination? Haven’t those ordaining them already placed themselves outside the Church? I mean: this is not news. The hierarchy speaks with crystal clarity on the subject.
What is not clear to many in the Church and most outside of it is the clarity brought to bear not only on clergy who sexually abuse others, but also on the bishops who, through direct action or inaction, enable perpetrators to continue not only in ministry but also in criminal and immoral acts.
It is likely that these norms have been in the pipeline for months or years, and their release within a month of Belgium, Austria, Germany, and other bad news is accidental. Maybe the Vaticn needs to take a clue from Archbishop Hart. Talk is cheap, but if you’re going to talk tough, at least you can get the priorities straight. If the recent cardinal-on-cardinal dust-up is any clue, maybe it’s the pope who needs to come out publicly and tell it straight: any bishop found harboring a sex predator or stonewalling victims will be retired.
Otherwise, why aren’t these new norms quietly passed to chanceries worldwide and Fr Lombardi assigned some feel-good moment with the pope preaching somewhere?