Bishop John McCormack of Manchester, NH, spoke on the attorney general’s release of 9,000 pages of documents related to sex abuse. There’s not a whole lot new in his statement. Plenty of talk about how we were all on a learning curve (well, some of us weren’t) and now we know better than to allow a guy who has molested kids not once, but multiple times, to be sent back to parish work.
The key to understanding his thinking is this final sentence: “To succeed, we need to work together to make and keep our Church safe and holy.” That’s not how a good bishop should have put that declaration. It should simply be: “To succeed, we need to work together to make and keep our Church holy.” That’s all that needs to be said. If the Church—and by extension, her bishops, priests, and laypeople—were holy, it would be safe. It would also be many other things. There is no tension or even complementarity. Holiness is the one thing the Church needs and all else follows.