Ed Peters, a canon lawyer whose blog offers sound perspectives on the more interesting developments in that field, thinks that he might see a trend:
Maybe it's just me, but I sense today a rather different mood among American bishops facing outlandish behavior by their clergy; problem-priest cases seem much less likely now to drift along year after year in unresolved, canonically ambiguous states. Ecclesiastical justice is never swift, of course, but at last its wheels seem to be turning again.
If Peters is right, and the US bishops are acting a bit more decisively, could it be because they're getting more encouragement in that direction? Pope Benedict has been sending clear signals, encouraging diocesan bishops to tackle the tough issues themselves, rather than postponing decisions (thus letting the problems fester) or passing the buck to Rome. It's possible that the message is getting through.
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