I’ve been dropping in daily at the blog covering the Philadelphia cover-up trial. Yesterday’s post included coverage of a sister’s testimony. Speaking of Msgr William Lynn when pressed by defense counsel to admit the priest had no power to influence clergy assignments, the rape victim testified:
He [Lynn] had the power to suggest it.
(Instead of going along with the power structure), you can also say, I cannot do this.
Blogger Ralph Cipriano:
It was a simple, but powerful declaration coming from a nun who herself was an administrator down at archdiocese HQ, and also as a young woman, a victim of sex abuse from a pervert priest.
More from the witness:
I would think that his [Lynn’s] recommendation would be heard. (And if it wasn’t, Lynn could have told the cardinal,) “I cannot go on; if it isn’t done that way, I can quit.”
More from Mr Cipriano:
The nun’s firm but understated conviction about the need to simply do the right thing sent a ripple of excitement through courtroom spectators, which included victims of sex abuse, and activists hoping for the impossible, reform in the Roman Catholic Church. It also raised an age-old question, namely why do the women in the Catholic church usually have more balls than the men?
I’d say it’s a tendency, not a hard fact. Some women are indeed weaker than men. But among church leadership, I’d say the majority of comparisons do not come out well for the bishops. I think there are some reasons for this.
One-hundred percent of the sisters of the LCWR are in religious life. A minority of clergy are. There’s a different quality in one’s faith life when you are responsible to a community, and when you are responsible to a chain of command. In a community, or even a family, one is responsible for and to a number of others. There’s a mutuality that forms an adult in a different way of life. To their detriment, most diocesan clergy live a life of a hermit. The best priests turn that to their advantage. Others wallow in isolation. What community is left but to play the games of careerism?
A lay person in a family or a sister in a community is involved in a give-and-take that generally involves more mutuality. We know the meaning of sacrifice. The kind of sacrifice involved in the burial of secrets is to one’s soul. The anonymous sister on the witness stand understands this a bit better than a well-placed cleric in a chancery.
This is likely why many of us lay people find ourselves outraged at the turn of events with the LCWR and the bishops. I actually feel more sorry for the bishops than I feel angry at them. The Gospel: they don’t get it.