"Four years ago, the National Review Board of laity, established by the American church to investigate the scandal, declared that “there must be consequences” for the bishops, not just for the more than 700 pedophile priests hurriedly dismissed after the scandal broke in the secular press. Some board members called for dismissal for prelates who instead of protecting children protected the abusers, denying the crimes and moving the abusers on to another parish. There has been no diocesan resolve to lay bare the hierarchy’s guilt.
The review board also found the Vatican’s response ineffective, which underlines Benedict’s opportunity to confront his bishops. There is a lot on the papal agenda, from immigration to world poverty. But the American church remains deeply wounded. By the church’s accounting, more than 4,000 priests, or 4 percent, across two generations, were reported to have committed abuse. Five dioceses have gone bankrupt as payouts to victims total $2.4 billion and counting. " NY Times
It is surprising that the New York Times should have something this interesting to say about religion.
I find it difficult to summon up much enthusiam for the pope’s visit to the US in the context of the unfinished business of the clerical abuse of children. It does not seem that "the Church" yet comprehends how badly renegade priests wounded the "Body of Christ" in this country. In that context It is not edifying to witness the spectacle of an army of bishops processing in vestments so splendid that they can only be a reinforcement for the vanity of men who should be humbled. This is a group of men who have failed in their duty, and the pope refers to them as his "brother bishops?"
As an example of their failure, the Catholic Church’s system of parish schools has been a mighty force for good in the United States. The poor and the ignorant have found food for the mind and the soul in those schools. Now the Church is forced to close schools across the country because of a shortage of funds. Money is a fungible commodity. There is only so much of it available for the various functions of the Church. Money paid out in settlements for the crimes of churchmen is not available to be used for other things, like parish schools.
The bishops collectively are responsible for a failure in this pastoral responsibility and in so many others. The bishops of the Catholic Church are quite autonomous in their territorial "rights." They are also a kind of self-perpetuating "club," rather like generals and admirals. They will do nothing to discipline each other. It is the pope’s responsibility to do that.
Benedict the Sixteenth likes to think about liturgical details and the symbolism of the renewed use of old forms of vesting? Maybe he ought to think about the opinion of all those people out there, the "people in the pews," or the people who used to be in the pews. It is heart warming to hear Spanish used in his homily today, but the trend in the English speaking majority of Catholics in this country is to vote with their feet against the Catholic Church.
Maybe he ought to think about whether or not the hierarchy here is really going to do anything about that. pl