My boss, Philip Lawler, writes an op-ed in Newsday today. In it, he says that the new Charter is fine as far as it goes, but it really does not address the root of the problem. Sure it defines the sin and speaks of rights and remedies, but it doesn’t really get to the heart of why we’re in the fix we’re in.
- But sexual abuse by priests could not have continued without the tacit acquiescence of their bishops. And while only a tiny minority of American priests have molested children, a clear majority of American bishops – two-thirds, according to The Dallas Morning News – have covered up the abuse, or shuffled the offending priests from parish to parish to avoid complaints.
While bishops can’t force one of their own to leave his office, the least they could do is censure one who has done wrong:
- When Omaha’s Archbishop Elden Curtiss suggested that the bishops’ conference should be prepared to censure those prelates who cover up sexual abuse, his proposal was quickly voted down.
In all the cases of perverts being shuffled around, not one bishop has resigned. Okay, some have resigned because of their own sexual misconduct, but even then they are lauded for their service to the Church, just as Cardinal Law lauded the pedophiles in his charge as they left the ministry. And not one bishop has admitted to misconduct that has not already been made public. Not one has come clean with the public. Not one has acted to come clean before the scandal hit the courtrooms and the airwaves.
As Phil says, the new charter is fine as far as it goes, “but a new set of policy guidelines is no substitute for a willingness to exercise authority. And a new set of promises will not be enough to restore the bishops’ shattered credibility. The crisis in American Catholicism will not end until the U.S. bishops recognize their own side of the scandal.”