Gag order off, and Philadelphia review board member Ana Maria Catanzaro’s story is out. Her summary of episcopal incompetence:
Cardinal Rigali and his auxiliary bishops also failed miserably at being open and transparent. Their calculated public statements fueled speculation that they had something to hide. Since the release of the February grand-jury report, their carefully scripted statements led laity and clergy alike to wonder whether the archdiocese had told the whole truth. As a result, many Philadelphians believe the archdiocese kept child molesters in ministry. Other Catholics think the cardinal simply allowed accused priests to be convicted by the media. As a result, many priests are disheartened. After all, they were not given any explanation about the thirty-seven priests mentioned by the grand jury until Cardinal Rigali and his auxiliary bishops met with them a month after the grand-jury report was released. Some priests continue to fear they could be falsely accused and hung out to dry by the bishops. Despite that, they continue to minister faithfully.
Apparently Philadelphia’s bishops don’t fully grasp that by failing to speak openly from the outset they will continue to pay a higher price, in terms of both credibility and cash. If only they would have followed the example of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago. Confronted with an accusation against him, Cardinal Bernardin openly, humbly, and without a prepared text, answered all the questions he was asked. That’s the sort of response the people of Philadelphia expect and deserve.
To be compared with Bernardin. Heck, Cardinal Law didn’t like him either. And we all know where his parachute landed.
What do you want to bet that Cardinal Rigali and all of his lieutenants will be pink-slipped? With the Bishop Morris news out and flapping in the breeze, I’d have to concede Pope Benedict and his Congregation of Bishops are pretty much caught with their cassocks down. I’m sure they don’t realize how very, very bad this is. Another John 9:41 moment for Rome.
You know, I don’t get to talk to bishops that much. And maybe with one or two exceptions, I’m not sure I want to. But if I ever meet one in an airport or hotel lobby or at a hockey game, there’s only one question I’d offer:
Why the hell are you ruining the Church?