The leading national church reform group has issued a release calling on five U.S. bishops to step down from their job, and for former Boston archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, to resign his various ecclesial offices in Rome.
The reform group Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) issued the list to mark the seventh anniversary of the first Boston Globe stories that led to the unmasking of the sexual abuse scandal that has continued to rock the church.
The bishops named by are:
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago;
Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles;
Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre (Long Island);
Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester (NH);
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati.
VOTF bases its arguments for these five on “records from public documents, court testimony, and multiple survivor accounts [that] clearly indicate ‘culpable negligence’.” Given this evidence, the organization says, these five have “a clear obligation to the Body of Christ to resign.” If they do not, “Pope Benedict XVI should request their resignations.”
Why is this new or noteworthy? Many victims groups and lay leaders have called for bishops to resign, but the calls were either so sweeping and indiscriminate (“Throw out the whole lot!”) that they had little impact or credibility, or they were ad hoc reactions to various news stories. Problem is those stories were so plentiful that people became inured to the news therein; “There they go again” and “What are ya gonna do?” became the fatalistic refrians.
So in terms of making a case, this call by VOTF is well done. Pressure applied in a focused way is usually most effective–witness Law’s forced departure. But does VOTF make the case against these particular bishops?
Read this document (pdf file) for their brief for the prosecution.