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I grant you that it isn’t every day that the authorities hold a country’s bishops for questioning for nine hours, confiscate their computers and cell phones, and drill into the sarcophagi of a couple of their deceased number. But when Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone protests that the Belgian bishops had been held without food and water when they haven’t, and the Belgian bishops have to issue a correction, that’s tells you the wheels are coming off the popemobile.
Then there was today’s meeting between between the pope and his erstwhile protege, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, who has among other things denounced Angelo Sodano, head of the College of Cardinals, called for a reform of the Curia, and suggested that the church take another look at clerical celibacy, divorce, and committed same-sex relationships. Sodano trooped into the meeting at the end with Bertone–on hand to mediate?–and a wacky press release ensued that claimed that 1) Schönborn might have in unspecified ways spoken out of turn; 2) Sodano didn’t really mean it when he denounced press chattering about priestly sexual abuse on Easter Sunday; and 3) only the pope gets to criticize a cardinal.
The public perception by members of the Church is that somehow thebishops engaged in a cover-up of crimes in the past or even in the
present and were unresponsive to the needs of victims. We must all work
to change this perception since it is not accurate.
Golly, how could Catholics possibly have arrived at so colossal a misperception? Evidently it’s because the bishops heard no evil and saw no evil that they reported no evil. Or as DiMarzio put it, “the term ‘cover-up’ is inappropriate to describe the phenomena because
in most instances the abuse was unknown and never reported.”
The next time Bishop Nick is in Rome, he might want to trek over to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and ask Bernie Law about that.