Action Alert!

the episcopal Catch-22

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 24, 2009

Having tendered his resignation, Bishop James Moriarty issued a public statement pointing out that he did not set sex-abuse policies for the Dublin archdiocese during the period covered by the Murphy Commission report. Fair enough. He went on:

"However, with the benefit of hindsight, I accept that, from the time I became an Auxiliary Bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture.”

Exactly. If you didn't challenge the prevailing culture there was something terribly wrong with your judgment: something profoundly defective about your understanding of what was good for the Church. Bishop Moriarty now sees that point, evidently. If he hadn't seen the point, he wouldn't have stepped down.

The result, unfortunately, is that the bishop who realizes he should have "challenged the prevailing culture" resigns, and the bishops who don't understand that point remain in office. The danger for Ireland-- the sad reality for the US-- is that the prevailing culture remains unchallenged.


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Dec. 24, 2009 2:15 PM ET USA

    Right on the spot, Mr Lawler, and tragically I may add. What you say is the sad truth in our Church. The ones who finally react as we understand is needed are the ones who go out thus leaving the guidance in the hands of the ones who insist in covering up problems and issues and doing nothing. The late great Northrop Frye reminisced in his writings that the ones who decide to act suffer from guilt and that's a prerequisite for all Chistians if we are to act as such. Church is doing Church.