Saturday, March 12, 2011

In the News: Jamie Manson on Consistent Ethic of Life, Nicholas Cafardi, NCR, and CNS on Philadelphia

From my file of articles published in the last several days that I find well worth reading:

Jamie Manson at National Catholic Reporter, commenting on the damning irony of some Catholics' wish both to curb abortions and to cut social support services that help economically distressed women choose some option other than abortion, in crisis situations:

The greatest irony, of course, is that many of the loudest voices crying out in horror at the high abortion rate are also the strongest voices proposing severe cut backs in entitlement programs -- not to mention union busting and tax cuts for the wealthiest.

Nicholas Cafardi at Commonweal, surveying the situation in Philadelphia and noting its implications for those who now argue that the zero-tolerance policy of the Dallas charter is unfair:

What was wrong with the Philadelphia review board and the bishops who signed off on their decisions? Who instructed board members on the standard of proof? The fact that bishops approved the board’s mistaken recommendations doesn’t mean they committed a crime. The grand jury would have indicted those bishops if it had come to that conclusion. Still, their failures ought to give pause to critics of zero tolerance. As should the admitted failure of Cardinal Francis George, who—three years after lobbying for zero tolerance in Dallas—refused the advice of his own review board and allowed an abusive priest to remain in ministry. Until there are no more Bostons, no more Philadelphias, no more Chicagos, any talk of softening zero tolerance remains premature. Without that policy, we’d be asked simply to trust such bishops’ judgment. As any Philadelphia parent would ask, Why should we?

And, finally, staff of NCR and Catholic News Service writing at NCR about how the Philadelphia situation calls into question the bishops' reporting system:

Asked what Rigali’s move might reveal of how sex abuse allegations are being treated in other dioceses, [Terence] McKiernan [of BishopAccountability] said “we have no reason to think that Philadelphia is unusual in all this.”

Said McKiernan: “No doubt there are priests who remain in ministry in other dioceses and no doubt review boards there are doing pretty much what they did in Philadelphia, which is protect priests in the system instead of protecting the children.”

It's going to be a long Lent, indeed.  The question I'm wondering about: how many Catholics will be using this period of prayer, reflection, and penance to begin understanding and taking responsibility for the mess that their church has become?  In 2002, we could perhaps validly say that the bishops were primarily responsible for the mess.

It's now 2011, and we're way too far down the road to say that we haven't known all along what most bishops are capable of, when it comes to truth-telling (or its opposite), scapegoating and diversionary tactics, and downright ethical sliminess.  We're now responsible, if we permit ourselves to continue to be made fools of.  

And it's our church every bit as much as it is theirs.  We provide the money that oils and fuels the machine.  If we expect any kind of machinery at all to remain functioning in the years ahead, we're going to have to start thinking long and hard about our ownership of the machine.  And our responsibility to clean up the mess.

Because the bishops aren't going to get their hands dirty.  That is, not any dirtier than we keep finding out their hands have already gotten.

No comments: