John XXIII, when confronted by problems, at a certain point famously said, "Sometimes I just kneel down and say, Lord, it’s your Church, I am going to bed".
Much of what is going on today involves Christ being crucified once again. Anti-Christian, anti-Catholic secularists simply have to attack the Catholic Church. In doing so, they attack Christ. Others are probably working from the more reptilian part of their brain stems. Still others are seeking justice, often in pain. And another group, seems to be attacking, but are actually like the ancient doctors to whom St. Augustine referred in saying "The doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop."
There is an interesting piece by Rod Dreher writing on BeliefNet. I wonder what you think.
My E and C.
How does Benedict fix this mess?
Tuesday April 6, 2010
Here’s a story about how complicated the whole abusive priest situation is . Indian priest serving in Minnesota allegedly abuses girl, [for a change] who goes to police after he is back in India. Charges are filed. Extradition is sought. The Minnesota bishop in charge of this priest does the right thing, warning Vatican that girls back in India are at risk from this priest. Then:
In 2006, the Vatican recommended that the priest simply be monitored, a document shows. An attorney for the Holy See said in a statement that the Vatican had recommended that the priest be defrocked, but that canon law specifies that the decision rests with the local bishop. The bishop in India sentenced the priest to a year of prayer in a monastery rather than seeking his removal from the priesthood, according to documents and interviews.
When a second victim came forward with more serious allegations against the Indian priest, the American bishop wrote to the Vatican twice more, trying to make them understand what a menace this priest was. Reportedly the Vatican is now cooperating with prosecutors in Minnesota. [This leads you to wonder, even conclude, that the Holy See’s recommendations to the bishop were probably pretty severe and pointed. That would be my guess.]
OK, look. There are over 400,000 Catholic priests on the planet. Do you know how many priests are on the staff of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has oversight in these matters? Something like 40. It is inevitable that the Vatican will have to rely on local bishops to attend to most of these matters. I can’t think of another church or religious organization that has comparable global reach, and which is centrally administered. I’m not trying to let the Vatican off the hook here, but I am trying to understand how difficult it is for the CDF to do proper oversight with such paltry resources. If it’s true that canon law reserves the right to defrock to the local bishop — and I don’t know that that’s true, given how we’ve read many stories about American bishops who wanted to defrock allegedly problematic priests, but who weren’t allowed to because the CDF didn’t think the bishop had proved his case — then there is quite possibly a problem with canon law that needs reform. [I am pretty sure it isn’t simply "up to the bishop". But the bishop does have to be involved, of course. It is a priest of the diocese entrusted to his care, after all. There is supposed to be a relationship between priest and bishop, of co-worker, a paternal rapport. In fact it is often more like indentured servant. But in theory… well… you get the idea. The bishop has to be involved in the process, though the Holy See always can move on its own.] In any case, this is yet another example of how the Vatican sees clerical sexual abuse as a moral problem requiring moral reform measures (e.g., prayer) and not a criminal problem. [I think that if a guy broke the law, then he should be subject to the process of the law.]
Serious question: how is the Vatican, with its extremely limited resources, supposed to handle this problem? Again, I’m not trying to excuse Vatican inaction, but I don’t see how Rome is going to get a handle on this at the level of monitoring particular priests. [Rome can’t.] The pope has to be able to trust local bishops to do the right thing. It sounds like the American bishop in question did, but the Indian bishop, following Vatican advice, did not, and doesn’t intend to.
The Catholic Church faces an unprecedented problem, one particular to its global reach, and an era of globalized media. Four years ago, The Dallas Morning News published a shocking investigative series showing how priests accused of sex crimes in the US were fleeing abroad, where they were being sheltered by religious orders, and even in one case, a prominent cardinal. The stories get really complicated, in part because bishops in dioceses half a world away miscommunicate, or possibly deliberately deceive each other. [Quite the allegation.] The news didn’t make nearly the splash it should have, because by 2006, when the story appeared, the American media had long since gotten sick of the abusive priest story. [It’s not sick now… though its consumers may be.] But the reports the DMN published were substantial and scandalous, revealing how clerical sex criminals could count on an international church network to evade accountability and continue to work with children.
How Benedict fixes this, God only knows. He theoretically has the power to order wholesale reforms. In truth, it’s far, far more complicated (what’s he going to do if bishops refuse to obey him, [THAT, friends, is the problem.] send in the Swiss Guards?). The quandary he’s in is that he’s got responsibility for all of this stuff, without the practical means to police it effectively. It is an administrative nightmare.
But the Pope is not without a special resource: those who are willing to pray for him.