Trust issues

Trust issues

Fr. Wilson, at CWN’s Off the Record comments on the new row between Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Gov. Frank Keating of the National Review Board, and I’m struck by something he says about the US bishops.

  • People in the inner city of Boston saw Cardinal Law on the street so much that he was a regular. Homeless and former homeless folks still stop me and others, ask me how he’s doing, telling me to tell him they miss him and still pray for him. It’s not my blog, so I’ll spare you the countless times he was present, and extremely helpful, at disaster sites throughout the world.

    Please spare me in return (or not, it’s up to you) the litany of his sins.  That’s not what this post is about.

    Father Wilson might label himself as a “parish priest,” which is fine. I’m sure he’s an admirable man (as well as an amazingly prolific web-guy…he’s all over the place on the Internet…perhaps that’s his “ministry.”)

    But his “bishop bashing” is growing as wearisome as “Catholic bashing” has become for me. No longer agonizing. Just boring.

    (As was his championship of VOTF’s “First Priest of Integrity Award Recipient” Father Thomas Doyle, parenthetically.)

    When are we going to stop blaming the bishops, demanding their mea culpas, and instead start taking some responsibility ourselves?

    “Let’s blame the bishops” is becoming, at best, rather lazy thinking…at, at worst, a really easy way to excuse ourselves and scapegoat “the guys with the pointed hats.”

    It just doesn’t wash. Since our first pope denied Christ (not once, not twice, but three times), and ran away (along with his brother priests) from God, we’ve had a “bishop problem.” And a “priest problem.”

    This is not a “new thing.” It’s as old as the Church Herself.


  • Kelly,

    I’m aware of our collective culpability for the state of our society, but I don’t think it’s just bishop bashing to point out that the biggest part of the current problem we’re in is not just that kids were abused, but it was most bishops’ reaction to that abuse, which was to dismiss concerned parents, shuffle about the pervs, and protect the institution, something which continues to this day.

    It might be off the mark if we were collectively blaming all the US bishops for the sins of a few, but by some accountings two-thirds of them are complicit.

    I agree with you that some of the complaints go too far. Cardinal Law was not an evil man nor arrogant or lacking in Christian charity. I’ve seen him in action. I know firsthand, as do you. He has both virtues and failings. In other words, he’s human.

  • Thanks, Dom. I appreciate that.

    The thing is, though, is that Cardinal Law has become The Sinful Man in the eyes of many, on both the left and the right. And that’s not, forgive the pun, right.

    The biggest, or bigger problem, in my opinion, is that kids were abused. That’s sin, plain and simple.

    As for complicity of all, or even two thirds of the bishops?  I don’t know. That’s the key: I _don’t_ know.

    To me the greater issue is simply this: adults (priests or otherwise…and mostly otherwise) have abused kids.

    It simply doesn’t make sense anymore to me, anyway, to place the blame on Catholic bishops for a society that has figured out that, somehow, it’s okay to abuse kids—either by raping them, or, by the way, killing them.

    Yes, bishops are supposed to be our leaders in morality. The thing is, more—far more—than two thirds are just that.

    For openers, the USSB has insisted—to a man—that we’re not supposed to _kill_ children.

    Polls—‘way before the “crisis”—have told us that we don’t, many if not most of us, believe them.

    What does that mean?

    I’m sorry, but this whole thing is confusing to me. We get up in arms because some human beings who happen to be bishops try to protect—rightly or wrongly—the priests in their charge.

    But we yawn when the majority of lay folks shrug off these same human bishops when they try to protect us from the sin of killing children.

    I don’t have the answers. I do have questions, though.

    One, and then I’ll let you go: how come one of the greatest and most outspoken champions of unborn kids is now the “disgraced one”…even—especially!—in the eyes of Catholics?

    I don’t get it.  I smell a rat, I’ll admit that, though.