Why Archbishop Sean O’Malley makes me see red, and I don’t mean hats.

By Leila Marie Lawler (articles ) | Mar 19, 2006

At the end of a long interview with the Boston Globe, Archbishop Sean O’Malley says, 'One of the greatest tragedies of the sexual abuse crisis is that it undermines our capacity to teach the hard points of the Gospel.”

The grammatical structure of this statement hides the ambiguity of its meaning. The subject – the crisis – and a predicate – our capacity to teach the hard points of the Gospel – leave the listener with the impression that this operator, the crisis, has been able to act in a way that prevents those who teach the hard points of the Gospel from doing so.

But the truth is that the crisis is a result of a prior defect in teaching the hard points of the Gospel; and the teachers, by commission of that same Gospel, are the bishops, of whom he is one of the most tippety-top. (And I just wonder what he means by "our".)

His statement resembles one coming from a car manufacturer whose faulty inspection procedures have resulted in fatal accidents: “One of the greatest tragedies of the engine failure crisis is that it undermines our ability to sell cars.” Such a statement would be worth a snort of derision from the world at large if it came from an uninterested third party; coming from the executive himself it can only be described as boggling the mind.

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  • Posted by: DrJazz - Mar. 21, 2006 10:35 PM ET USA

    I believe what he meant, if you read his comment a bit more charitably, is that "the crisis" has undermined the willingness of the average person (Catholic or non-Catholic) to be taught by the Church. Yes, some were just looking for an excuse to ignore the Church, and yes, there was a "prior defect" in teaching; but the crisis has made it so that anyone teaching the "hard points" is going to get bashed. That is not an excuse to avoid teaching them, but it has a negative impact nonetheless.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 19, 2006 8:00 PM ET USA

    The more bishops and priests are carried away by error and bad behavior, the more incumbent it is upon those faithful clergy who remain to speak loud and clear in the defense of Truth. The crisis makes it harder for bishops to be taken seriously ... unless they are seen as serious bishops, men in love with God and laboring for the salvation of souls.