‘Catholics Have Lost Patience’

Ponder the optics of expedited retirements for compromised bishops

NOR readers who follow our daily news links are no doubt up-to-the-minute on the clerical sex abuse crisis. But for anyone who needs a one-article summary of said crisis, I recommend Emma Green’s “Why Does the Catholic Church Keep Failing on Sexual Abuse?” in The Atlantic (Feb. 14). Besides a summary, she quotes at length Cardinal O’Malley’s take on the entire situation.

For those already informed, the following two paragraphs say enough:

The common theme in all of this is the inadequacy of Church processes in the face of the moral demands of pain and sin. The Church has not provided quick, satisfying, commonsense resolutions to long-standing sexual-abuse allegations because it is not set up to move fast or to make sense. Because of this, the Church is constitutionally unable to provide full justice to all of its victims.

In August, shortly after the Pennsylvania grand-jury report came out, O’Malley released a stark video statement. “The clock is ticking for all of us in the Church leadership,” he said: “Catholics have lost patience,” and the public has lost what remaining respect it had for the Church. Soon, O’Malley will once again head to Rome, to make another attempt at fixing the Church from within.

The judgment that the Church “is not set up to move fast” is true. However, the maxim “personnel is policy” points to the one area in which the Vatican, especially the Pope, can move quickly: appointments and removals of bishops and cardinals. A handful, nay a bouquet, of expedited retirements would speak most directly to abuse victims, their advocates, and common pewsitters. How about accepting the resignations at age 75 of all bishops in dioceses tainted by scandal? How about earlier retirements for clerics that were close to McCarrick? The removal of a few key players, those who rose through the ranks in the decadent ’70s and ’80s, could do wonders, at least in wealthy countries like the U.S.

Dear reader, I see you shaking your head now, saying it’ll never happen. For you know that the most compromised prelates, at least in key areas of the Church, are the very ones that push the Pope’s progressive agenda for him. But these same fellas say they want more input from women in the Church. This is my input. And I haven’t even mentioned my extreme proposals.


Barbara E. Rose is Web Editor of the NOR.

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