The Vatican-revised norms were approved yesterday, which wasn’t exactly a surprise. Still, some of the reactions are interesting. The media still doesn’t understand that the Church only has so much power to actually stop someone from abusing another person; it can act retroactively after bad conduct and it can try to weed out unsuitable candidates for the priesthood, but other than that there’s not a lot it can do.
- “The church doesn’t have police powers. The church doesn’t have jailing powers. The church can do what she can do,” [Cardinal Bernard Law] told the Herald. But he declined to comment on what should be done about priests stripped of their ministry whose cases are not prosecutable by civil authorities.
What can be done? You can’t brand them on the forehead with a scarlet letter.
This statement seemed a bit odd:
- Archbishop Francis Hurley, the former head of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, opposed the norms because priests were not included in the deliberations. “We have not invited the priests to come in and be part of what we are doing here,” he said, adding that lay Catholics also should have been part of the process.
Um, aren’t bishops priests, too? Why the need to include non-episcopal priests in the deliberations? Maybe bishops go through some strange transformation during episcopal ordination—removal of the spine, perhaps?—and can’t put themselves in the shoes of parish priests anymore. Seriously, why is so hard for the bishops to determine what is the right thing to do?