Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

Time to hold prelates accountable at the Vatican, too

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 13, 2018

John Allen of Crux remarks that if the universal Church seeks to make prelates accountable, it’s unfortunate that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who has a deserved reputation for trying to protect abusers and conceal evidence remains the Dean of the College of Cardinals. To be fair, Allen was asking the same question back in 2011—as was Edward Pentin, in Catholic World Report. And I myself have asked the question again and again and again and again and again and again.

Since Cardinal Sodano is now more than 90 years old, it would seem a natural thing to announce his resignation. In June, Pope Francis announced that four more cardinals would have be given all the privileges of cardinal-bishops—from whose ranks the dean is chosen. That might have been an opportune time to name a new dean. Still Cardinal Sodano, the former Secretary of State, retains his title.

And while we’re on the subject… Pope Francis created the Council of Cardinals in April 2013, and named the original eight members of the group to 5-year terms. A quick mathematical calculation shows that those terms expired in April of this year. Again, it would have been a convenient time to replace any cardinals who had been tainted by scandal. Four of those eight cardinals have now been accused, rightly or wrongly, of either engaging in sexual abuse or covering up the evidence of abuse. Three of those four have passed the age of 75, the normative retirement age for active bishops, so in their cases there were two handy reasons for replacing them. But all four remain in place.

If Pope Francis wants to send a clear message, the opportunities are still open. On the other hand, if all these cardinals remain in place—when it would have been so easy to replace them—that sends a message, too.

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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