Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to get back to "business as usual?"

What to do to put out the fires on the Cover-Up Scandal that has engulfed the U.S.A., Europe and now Latin America? How can confidence be restored in the pope and he be permitted to continue to reign both serenely and as an absolute monarch? Here's part of the game plan:

The U.S. norms, which are being held up as a model for others, bar credibly accused priests from any public church work while claims against them are under investigation. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.
Victims advocates have demanded the Vatican take stronger action and remove the bishops who shielded known abusers, shuffling them from diocese to diocese rather than reporting them to police.

For the full story, read the jump. That second step of holding bishops accountable is the rub. The truth is that the pope does not have the moral authority to ask his brother bishops to resign for having participated in the Cover-Up Scandal, because the pope himself was guilty of such behavior when he was Archbishop of Munich and later head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

This also posits an additional problem for the hierarchy. They see themselves as answerable only to God. To whom would bishops be held accountable? The pope? Well, yes but the pope cannot practically monitor each an every bishop. The Vatican Curia can and does do so, but to restore trust transparency would have to be incorporated into current practices. Transparency would have to include objective norms and prescribed consequences for the violation of those norms.

The pope and the Curia are resistant to make such accommodations, because they fear that it might be the proverbial “camel’s nose in the tent” if external pressure forces, or perceives to force; the pope to take action a dangerous precedent is set. Beyond that disturbing precedent, the thought of transparency (and accountability) totally violate the Vatican culture of secrecy and absolute autonomy.

In the meantime, the pope will make all sorts of promise of action. That action now will be aimed at the priests, who are pawns in the Vatican’s estimation. The hope here is that seeming to be “tough” on priests the public will be appeased. The news cycle will move on to some other topic and the pope & Vatican Curia can quietly continue business as usual.


FreeRangeK said...

The horse has left the barn; or, if there be any credibility left the Holy Father, he must accept all resignations and perhaps even offer up his own; if, when he was bishop, the buck stopped with him, and he let it slide.

Sebastian said...

Priests are now, and have always been, pawns. We are expendable. We can be blamed, used, reassigned, and generally insulted and abused because we have few, if any, options. The scandal is not that some priests misbehaved - that is wrong and awful, but not surprising. The scandal is that the bishops and the Vatican itself has been dishonest, mendacious, venal, craven, and that these men have tried to act as managers and not shepherds - and that they have been bad managers at that. The scandal is that the institution is being run by men who have acted like 7th grade class presidents - part bully, part naif, part egotist.

barbarab said...

This is so depressing. And, with all these issues, the Vatican is investigating American sisters:

I don't know why this depresses me so; I left the church decades ago. I guess I still have hope of being able to return. Fat chance.