Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Bishops behaving badly

No doubt about it, the Vatican’s latest missive has laid an egg. Styled as an encyclical to assist national bishops conferences in developing guidelines for dealing with clergy accused of sexual abuse, the letter utterly ignores what everybody outside the Church hierarchy itself acknowledges to be the central problem: the bishops themselves.

Take Philadelphia, please. The U.S. bishops conference didn’t merely have guidelines, it had Vatican-approved norms–which were ignored by Cardinal Justin Rigali and his henchmen. As for the archdiocesan review board, tasked with reviewing all cases, it was kept in the dark and then used to provide cover for episcopal misbehavior, according to its chair, Ana Maria Catanzano. That’s the problem in a nutshell.


Always eager to safeguard its prerogatives, the Vatican insists that if the conferences want to go beyond guidelines and actually establish “binding norms,” then “it will be necessary to request the recognitio from the competent Dicasteries of the Roman Curia.”  OK, let’s go with that.

To deal with the problem of recalcitrant bishops, the conferences should be obliged to establish binding norms, which norms must include a zero tolerance policy for bishops, comparable to the American zero tolerance policy for priests. That is to say, if there is credible evidence that a bishop has covered up a case of clerical sexual abuse, he will be suspended from office by Rome, and removed if the case is proved. Assuming Rome wants to get the bishops’ attention, that’s the two-by-four that would get it.

Comments Post the First Comment »
post a comment

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

Another Blog To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Religion and Public Life. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Latest News Story on Beliefnet Happy Reading!   ...

posted 3:10:11pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

The Ayn Rand Republicans
I confess to feeling a little bit queasy about the American Values Network's new video hoisting Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh, and other GOP luminaries on the petard of Ayn Rand and her atheistic philosophy of objectivism. Take a ...

posted 7:13:30pm May. 24, 2011 | read full post »

Whither evangelicals?
I'm fully prepared to believe that Mitch Daniels' family proved to be the unleapable hurdle in his abortive run-up to the GOP presidential race. Imagine yourself as wife Cheri, having split for the coast to marry on old flame, your husband and ...

posted 9:19:56am May. 23, 2011 | read full post »

No more "social conservatives"
With the presidential election cycle getting up to speed, it's time for reporters and yakkers like me to stop writing about "social conservatives" as if they were an identifiable segment of the voting population. I say this as someone who has ...

posted 8:25:11am May. 20, 2011 | read full post »

So clerical celibacy was not the problem?
Those on the Catholic left are not very happy that the Jay Report declines in no uncertain terms to blame clerical celibacy for the sexual abuse crisis. As the report puts it: Factors that remained consistent over this time period, such as ...

posted 9:50:34am May. 19, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.