..is up, with much of interest

First, an interview with Cardinal Stafford, on the philosophy of Curial leadership:

To put the point differently, the logic in appointing non-specialists is to ensure that Vatican departments are run according to the moral and theological principles of the Catholic church, rather than the codes of the American Medical Association or the National Association of Trial Lawyers. If you have a man who understands the big picture, this theory runs, he’ll be able to acquire (or subcontract) whatever expertise he needs.

In a Jan. 28 interview with NCR, Stafford, who despite being American is thoroughly familiar with the cultural tradition of the Vatican, endorsed this view.

“I think that the church has relied too much on experts. That’s one of the great problems we’re having in the United States,” he said. His argument is that bureaucrats, therapists and social scientists, among other classes of experts, have sometimes played too strong a role in determining the American church’s policies, one factor he sees contributing to the sexual abuse crisis.

“The basic necessity for leaders within the church is prudence ­– a virtuous life and an ability to make discerning judgments from common sense, based on the common good,” Stafford said. “Our reliance upon experts is one of the great faults of the post-modernist society.”

And more fascinating details of the work of the Penetentiary, the office Stafford heads:

The Penitentiary deals with the so-called “internal forum,” meaning issues known only to a penitent and his or her confessor or spiritual director. These can include five latae sententiae, or automatic, excommunications reserved to the Holy See: a priest breaking the secrecy of the confessional; a priest absolving his accomplice in a sexual sin; physically attacking the pope; a bishop consecrating another bishop without the permission of the Holy See; and a person desecrating the Eucharist. In these cases, a confessor may absolve someone of the sin itself, but the penalty (i.e., excommunication) can be lifted only by the pope acting through the Apostolic Penitentiary.

A confessor or a spiritual guide who feels stumped by any conflict of conscience, however, can submit the case to the Pentitentiary. Occasionally a petition can come directly from the individual.

So…how would you explain this to a puzzled Protestant? Why the need for all of the layers, they might wonder.

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