Peter Steinfels, one of two laypeople chosen to address the bishops conference in Dallas last June, says the media is distorting the truth and being unfair to the bishops. Gee, I wonder if there is a connection between the fact that Peter and Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, who aren’t exactly known for being conservative, were selected apart from all others to address the conference, and then months later they both come out with defenses of the bishops.
Peter Steinfels stretches credulity with his comment, “a small number of priests and bishops have done wrong.” As Phil Lawler said in the blog I mention below, a small minority of priests may have committed abuse, but perhaps two-thirds of bishops shuffled pedophiles around and covered for their sins. See that blog below for a fuller take on the bishops’ responsibility.
- Steinfels said the media were right to take the story on, but generally too often have been imprecise in specifying that incidents and allegations were years old, handled when the church and society as a whole had different views and laws on the crimes involved.
So the Church and society ten, 20, 30 years ago thought sexual abuse of minors wasn’t a horrible act? Yes, we’ve heard the whole “we-thought-it-could-be-cured” argument, but it doesn’t hold water. Even if that were the case, they would yanked the guy the first time he exhibited the tendency after his first trip to treatment. But they didn’t—they moved the pervs from place to place and then acted to obscure their abuse and actively ignored those who would complain.
I’m not saying that the media isn’t hostile to Catholicism and that some in the media aren’t happy to attack the Church. But the fact is that the bishops themselves provided the opportunity and means for them to do so and avoiding responsibility for their actions—and us helping them to do so—will not fix the problem. In psychological parlance, we can’t be enablers for their bad behavior.
Correction: I had a brain cramp when I wrote this. It was Margaret Steinfels and Scott Appleby who addressed the bishops, not Peter Steinfels. But it is still interesting that both Steinfels are now trying very hard to excuse some bishops’ misconduct.