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higher laws, and lower

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 15, 2004

Amen to Phil's enthusiastic commendation of Stephen Galebach's Washington Post article. The first sentence -- a quote from Bob Bennett -- provides the key:

"If the bishops don't manage the problem, the government will."

Chesterton says somewhere that if we refuse to obey a higher law, we will perforce be obliged to obey a lower: a man walking on an icy sidewalk, if he doesn't obey the law of prudence, will find himself obeying the law of gravity. The bishops have failed catastrophically to hold themselves accountable to the highest law -- the law of charity -- or even to the full sense of canon law (though they sporadically made use of the latter in order to discipline, not their own number, but their subject priests). The disconnect between their preaching and their praxis is as eerie as it is outrageous. There are no Daniels among them. When it's a case of Susanna versus the elders, and the elders are bishops, Susanna gets the chop -- not half the time, not 95% of the time -- in every instance, exceptionlessly (unless she calls in the cops or the Action News team).

Now it's almost inevitable that we'll see more bishops pushed into the back of a police cruiser after sentencing -- constrained by the state to undergo the punishment that should have been meted out by the Church.

That doesn't mean justice will be done -- at least not comprehensive justice. Prosecutors bring to trial not the most blameworthy offenders but those most likely to be successfully prosecuted. What can we say? If you won't follow the higher law, you get the lower forced on you.

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 15, 2004 5:23 PM ET USA

    Many prosecutors, as I am, chose this particular aspect of a wide-ranging profession because we LIKE doing to the right thing. Prosecuting these episcopal and priest criminals will be done by me at least with relish -- and exhibiting the same mercy they displayed for their victims. We'll let them rationalize their conduct before the sentencing judge, who's heard it all before and will find their breach of "trust" an aggravating factor.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Mar. 15, 2004 1:37 PM ET USA

    Imagine, if you will, how popular it will be to be a Catholic in 20 years. Accused of being cannibals and participating in blood sacrifices in the past (this is my body, this is my blood...) picture for a moment the most powerful Global Media conglomerates, headquartered in New York, using their customary nuance to dissect these Michael Jackson style moments night after night on such philosophical programming as The Larry King Show. Those who are praying to be martyrs may soon get their wish.

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