Religion & Public Life With Mark Silk

Another document that reveals a Vatican official urging a bishop to be, ah, less than forthcoming with the civil authorities about a priest sex offender has inspired reflections from the NCR’s veteran Vatican hand, John Allen. Like a lot of reporters who have been on the beat a little too long, Allen has gone a bit native. He knows where all the bodies are buried, or most of them anyway, but his preference is to step back and clue everyone in to The Right Way to Make It Better.

Let’s stop focusing on particular documents or even particular bad actors (i.e. Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos), he urges:

Here’s the reality: In the main, it’s not that local bishops wanted
to cooperate but were barred by a secret Vatican edict, and neither is
it that Rome, aside from a few troglodytes such as Castrillón Hoyos,
always believed in full transparency. Until quite recently, the culture
in institutional Catholicism, at all levels, put a greater premium on
the church’s independence and its right to privacy than on seeking
justice for the victims of sexual abuse. Everyone helped create that
culture, and everyone must share in reforming it.

Enormous progress has been made, but it’s still a work in progress, and a hunt for smoking guns and scapegoats won’t help.

Won’t help whom? The papacy, one presumes. In Allen’s view, the object of the exercise is for all of us to enable Rome to get its house in order in as smooth a way as possible. We should understand that there was enough blame to go around–even to relative good guys like then-Cardinal Ratzinger–but certainly not expect the Vatican to issue a collective mea culpa. This is journalism?