A few weeks ago, referring to the exploding sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Chile, I wrote:
The Catholic Church, as an institution, and its bishops acting as a collective, have lied, are lying, and will continue to lie to the people of God about this problem. They have no interest whatsoever in resolving it - only in protecting their own power, and the institution of the Church as a whole, and its power and prestige in society. They do not care about the individuals involved, or the victims . . . or the good clergy who have been tainted with the stench of this scandal.
How can I say that? It's very simple. Actions speak louder than words - and lack of action is, in itself, an action. The Church, in the United States, in Chile, in the Vatican, and elsewhere, has taken little or no effective, meaningful action against those who were ultimately responsible for this scandal - namely, its bishops and administrators, who routinely concealed the extent of the problem, shuffled offenders around among themselves, and allowed them to continue to offend, rather than deal with the matter. Even after the scandal blew up, many leaders of the Church continued to try to defend their offices and the institution of the Church, rather than admit that the situation was absolutely indefensible.
There's more at the link.
Now comes the news that one of the Catholic Church's former (now retired) most senior leaders has been accused of sexual misconduct. His punishment, however (at least so far) amounts to little more than a public slap on the wrist.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who led the Archdiocese of Washington and was a political force in the nation's capital, said on Wednesday that he has been removed from public ministry by the Vatican because of a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse.
The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, "at the direction of Pope Francis," told McCarrick that he is no longer to exercise his priestly ministry in public, said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, whose archdiocese led the investigation.
McCarrick was also accused three times of sexual misconduct with adults "decades ago" while he served as a bishop in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey, the current bishops of those cities said on Wednesday. Two of those allegations resulted in settlements, the bishops said.
Again, more at the link.
Cardinal McCarrick is hardly the first prelate to have indulged in sexual sin while in office. The former Archbishop of Milwaukee, Rembert Weakland, was hardly a shining example of probity, and displayed what appears to have been callous indifference to clergy sex abuse in his archdiocese. Bishops Symons and O'Connell of Palm Beach diocese both resigned due to their personal involvement in scandal. They are not alone.
Having been a priest myself, until I withdrew in disgust over the gross mishandling of the clergy sex abuse scandal, I've been informed by clergy in several other dioceses of suspected or alleged misconduct by other bishops, some still in office. For obvious reasons, I can't name them here, because that would be regarded as hearsay rather than legally admissible evidence, no matter how holy or trustworthy the clergy providing it. However, I daresay the truth will come out sooner or later. In fact, I guarantee it will.
The Roman poet Juvenal asked, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?", meaning "Who will guard the guardians?" Since the Catholic Church sees bishops as the successors of the Apostles, one might reword that as "Who will guard the guardians of faith?" - or, at least, their consciences and conduct. It seems some of them certainly need someone to do so!
EDITED TO ADD: Tom Dreher has a lot more fuel to add to the fire. Go read it.