I began today posting an excerpt from Richard Sipe's latest article at NCR, analyzing the roots of the abuse crisis.
And now as the day moves on, I have just read at Frank Douglas's Voice from the Desert blog that Richard Sipe has called on Pope Benedict to resign. Voice from the Desert says that the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) newsletter published the following op-ed statement by Sipe today:
Pope Benedict XVI is a good man. He has served the Church long and well. It takes nothing away from his goodness to suggest that he should resign his office. Nine of his predecessors have resigned, most for the good of the Church. The clerical sex abuse crisis that now exposes a corrupt pattern and practice of a system has escaped and confused many good, brilliant people and left generations paralyzed. There is no need to point fingers.
However, the Roman Catholic Church is in a period of Reformation as profound (and breathtaking) as any its history has ever recorded. The voluntary resignation of Pope Benedict XVI would be a gesture that would match the epic challenge that faces Catholicism today. Such leadership would break the pattern and practice that holds the church hostage to a past that no longer serves the Christian message. The monarchy that rules the church has outlived its service in the evangelization of peoples, an evangelization that Paul the apostle taught and that Pope John Paul II championed. The People of God, hierarchy included, are shackled by a secret system designed to control rather than free them.
The problem is the system. And it can be addressed only by systemic reform. I agree with Sipe: that can begin only with substantive change at the center. Benedict's resignation would be a significant step in the right direction, towards such substantive change.