Action Alert!

Does this sound like a consensus?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 24, 2008

Ideological allies? Absolutely not. But although they disagree on many other things, these voices are singing in tune on one topic. See if you can pick out the dominant note:

  • Voice of the Faithful press release:

    Voice of the Faithful has publicly called for the Holy Father to ask for the resignations of all bishops who put the interests of the institutional Church before the safety of Catholic children.
  • Sister Maureen Paul Turlish (writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer):
    Not one bishop has been removed from office because of his own complicity, collusion or cover-up of the church's continuing sexual-abuse problems. Nor has anyone been forced to resign for violating Canon Law or criminal or civil laws.
  • Victims' lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (quoted in the Boston Herald):

    Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who has represented hundreds of clergy abuse victims, said Benedict needs to do more than meet with victims. He needs to remove the notorious bishops and supervisors who knowingly shuffled pedophile priests from parish to parish, allowing abuse to continue for years.
  • CWN editor Phil Lawler (quoted in a Dallas Morning News editorial):

    Mr. Lawler, a conservative Catholic and Benedict supporter, told us yesterday that he's comforted by the pope's admission of shame over abusive priests but that it isn't enough. Said Mr. Lawler: "It would be truly liberating to hear him acknowledge that he is also ashamed of the bishops whose negligence – and even complicity – allowed the scandal to fester and undermined public confidence in the church."
  • Victims' spokesman Peter Isely (quoted by AP):

    "It's easy and tempting to continually focus on the pedophile priests themselves," said Peter Isely, a board member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "It's harder but crucial to focus on the broader problem - complicity in the rest of the church hierarchy."
  • Bishop Accountability project (quoted in the New York Times):
    Anne Barrett Doyle co-director of Bishop Accountability, a Web site that documents the sexual abuse scandal, expressed similar skepticism. She said that what the pope did not say is more important that what he did. “Rather than shifting attention to pedophile priests, he needs to focus on the culpability of bishops,” she said. “The crisis occurred because many U.S. bishops were willing to hide their priests’ crimes from the police with lies.”

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 25, 2008 9:19 PM ET USA

    The sickest rationalization given for the defense of bishops was that they did not have a employer-employee relationship with offender priests. It was more like a "father-son" relationship and there's a greater need for confidentiality in that relationship. Bishops failed to react with the natural human outrage that real parents have for real children. Rather they saw an "attack" on the reputation of the Church that needed to be defended at all costs from abused children and teens.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 25, 2008 12:12 AM ET USA

    The divorce analogy doesn't hold up. An abused woman is allowed to leave her husband. She can even get a divorce -she just can't remarry, because she will always be her husband's wife. Parents are often forcibly separated from their children when they are a threat to them. A bishop CAN be removed from his office. He doesn't cease to be a bishop, nor is the integrity of his office undermined; but for the safety and scandal's sake he needs to be separated from his children.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 24, 2008 9:22 PM ET USA

    At times like this, I often think of Our Lord, the money changers in the Temple and what his reaction would have been if, instead of debasing the Temple, they had committed a sacrilege. I then read the English translation of Josef Pieper's German text Zucht und Mass and reread his splendid essay on The Power of Wrath. I have little doubt.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 24, 2008 6:18 PM ET USA

    Certainly bishops have been removed when they themselves were too fond of other gentlemen. The names Weakland and Zieman spring to mind. What the people Diogenes quotes and others of us think is that it is, if anything, worse to have transferred a predatory priest from parish to parish than it is to have committed the sexual sin (and crime, if with a minor) oneself. And that there should be consequences beyond a vaguely wagged Pontifical finger.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 24, 2008 5:31 PM ET USA

    So WVCatholic, is Justin Rigali a bigamist or a dead beat dad because he abandoned St Louis for Philadelphia? A bishop in both practice and canon law may be transferred, unwillingly retired, or removed from his position for many reasons including crimes, malfeasance, or doctrinal failures.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 24, 2008 4:23 PM ET USA

    Actually a Bishop must be a Bishop of someplace - even if that place does not currently exist. This is the case for auxiliary Bishops, as well as Bishops who work at the Vatican. These are given a titular see, which is usually a diocese (typically in the Middle East) that is currently defunct. There is an important theological relationship between a Bishop and his diocese - for better or for worse - that cannot be easily set aside and which many today do not fully understand.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 24, 2008 4:05 PM ET USA

    There were times and places in the early Church where clerics were removed from their office due to failure to live a celibate life (see Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy published by Ignatius Press). Thus, there is a historical precedence regarding removing a cleric from office due to personal behavior rather than doctrinal error.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 24, 2008 3:21 PM ET USA

    So how seriously should we take the pope's apologies, when there are no consequences for the crimes of men like Mahoney? The pope reminds me of a parent whose idea of punishment is the threat of punishment, and no more. To quote Hamlet, "Words. Words."

  • Posted by: - Apr. 24, 2008 3:01 PM ET USA

    wvcatholic - hardly. A Bishop does not have to have a see in order to be a Bishop, anymore than a priest has to have a parish in order to be a priest. You can't be "fired" from being a Bishop, as valid consecration to those orders is permanent.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 24, 2008 2:51 PM ET USA

    The fundamental question is do these views embrace a correct theology of the episcopal office? The dominant images used to explain this office are "spouse" and "Father." As a result, in the early Church, a Bishop leaving his diocese (even to become Bishop of Rome) was seen as completely incompatible with the nature of the office. If a Bishop can be removed for a crime, then it would necessarily follow that a Catholic woman should be able to divorce her husband in a similar situation.