Cardinal Rigali: Unpopular Across the Board

The NCReg calls out Cardinal Justin Rigali for suspending priests with credible abuse allegations. The “equal treatment” protest rings hollow to me. People who misbehave should be treated differently than the virtuous.

Many of the men who were placed on administrative leave were accused of boundary violations, not sexual abuse. However, because they were lumped together with those who were accused of sexual abuse, the public automatically assumes that these men are also accused of sexual crimes.

Many, but not all. And some of the accused were likely accused of both boundary violations and abuse.

And because I don’t think the public has ever seen what these priests are accused of, I’m not sure reasonable assumptions can be made of them. People are accused of misconduct every day. Some are innocent and they work hard to become exonerated.

What’s happening in Philadelphia is different. A highly influential cardinal and his predecessor(s) have been found to cover up sex crimes. The heat is on the cardinal, most of all. This is as it should be.

Ms Desmond tries to play the shell game with her readers:

I don’t want the Church to go on a “witch hunt” for homosexuals among the clergy, but the Church needs to do a better job of identifying homosexual men before they enter the seminary. While having same-sex attractions should not disqualify a man from seeking holy orders, it should be determined whether the attractions are deep-seated or transitory. A man with deep-seated same-sex attractions identifies himself as a “gay man” and sees nothing wrong with homosexual activity. This type of man is more likely to present a risk.

The Church indeed needs better discernment, but the problem is with those who are forwarded for consideration to the Congregation of Bishops. There is no way that every abuser can be purged from every group of believers. But lay people have lost faith in the ability and the will of the bishops to reform the system–starting with themselves.

All the suspended Philadelphia clergy had sound allegations brought against them. What is hinted at is that these suspensions were overdue. Recent history has shown that other high-profile bishops in Chicago and Santa Rosa (among other places) have dithered and allowed abusers access to children in spite of serious and professional assessments that would indicate separation, suspension, and other actions.

Apologists who insist on deflecting the issues to teachers, Scout leaders, homosexuals, and priests, simple don’t get it.

Ms Desmond is on the right track in criticizing the Philadelphia archbishop. Too bad she has the wrong cause.

But it is illustrative that Cardinal Rigali has landed in a position where the second-guessing is coming fast and furious from critics on all sides. How long do you think the pope will let him continue to twist in the wind? Or is it just that no other bishop wants to succeed him? You can bet that if it were liberation theology instead of moral mismanagement, they’d be chopping up the archdiocese or appointing a coadjutor right quick. That this doesn’t happen is yet another symptom of the toxic bureaucracy that has metastasized under Pope Benedict. I’m sure all those uppity German bishops and theologians are drawing lots of attention right now. My advice to the pope if he has to choose between attending to people who want a conversation or people who are hiding predators and trashing episcopal credibility: ignore the first group, attend to the latter.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Cardinal Rigali: Unpopular Across the Board

  1. Jimmy Mac says:

    What he heck is a “boundary violation?” Sounds awfully touchy-feely to me. Are these theocons losing sight of their need to be Totally Orthodox At All Times and reject these modern-day fads?

  2. Liam says:

    Unfortunately, Jimmy, there are erstwhile progressive priests who also try to wave off “boundary violations” and “indiscretions” and who, I fear, got a bit too much of the thoughts of André Guindon on the resilience of teenagers who are the objects of such attentions.

  3. John Drake says:

    Todd, you frequently fault those who don’t seem to want to see every accused priest swinging from the noose for also noting that many adults in other positions of responsibility (scout leaders, teachers, parents etc.) abuse children and teens. The point is that it is not ONLY priests who offend, and not ONLY bishops who cover it up, while 99% of the media coverage would make one think that is the case. No one denies that guilty perpetrators should be punished. What some of us object to is the impression – from the media and others with a clear ANTI-CATHOLIC agenda – is that the Catholic Church is the only place where this transpires.

  4. Liam says:

    The impression is somewhat exaggerated by the likes of professional umbrage-takers. While individual pundits and commentators have their anti-Catholic axes to grind, generally news institutions are known for going after abuse and coverup cases regardless of provenance (my local Y has been harried for 2 years now over a case of a coach and the girls he coached and the failure to supervise -heads rolled more quickly there than with the local archdiocese, I should hasten to add). The problem for the Catholic Church is that its global reach, the length of institutional chains of command, and its habitual allergy to transparency make it much more likely to be the focus of news stories in national and international level media. That’s completely natural, not a conspiracy. It serves the Church very ill to try to deflect it as a conspiracy.

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