NEW YORK TIMES
July 16, 2010
Fiddles, We Burn Rome
By MAUREEN DOWD
The Catholic Church continued to heap insult upon injury when it revealed its long-awaited new rules on clergy sex abuse, rules that the
The church still believes in its own intrinsic holiness despite all evidence to the contrary. It thinks it’s making huge concessions on the unstoppable abuse scandal when it’s taking baby steps.
The casuistic document did not issue a zero-tolerance policy to defrock priests after they are found guilty of pedophilia; it did not order bishops to report every instance of abuse to the police; it did not set up sanctions on bishops who sweep abuse under the rectory rug; it did not eliminate the statute of limitations for abused children; it did not tell bishops to stop lobbying legislatures to prevent child-abuse laws from being toughened.
There is no moral awakening here. The cruelty and indecency of child abuse once more inspires tactical contrition. All the penitence of the church is grudging and reactive. Church leaders are merely as penitent as they need to be to protect the institution.
Can you imagine such a scene in the confessional?
“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I am as sorry as my job or school requires me to be.”
“But my daughter, that is not true penitence. That’s situational penitence.”
After the Belgian police bracingly conducted raids on the church hierarchy, inspired in part by the horrifying case of a boy molested for years by his uncle, the bishop of Bruges, a case that the church ignored and covered up for 25 years, the pope did not applaud the more aggressive tack. He condemned it.
In a remarkable Times story recently, Laurie Goodstein and David Halbfinger debunked the spin that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been one of the more alert officials on the issue of sexual abuse:
“The future pope, it is now clear, was also part of a culture of nonresponsibility, denial, legalistic foot-dragging and outright obstruction. More than any top
If Roman Polanski were a priest, he’d still be working here.
Stupefyingly, the new
On Beliefnet, Mark Silk, a professor of religion at
Letting women be priests — which should be seen as a way to help cleanse the church and move it beyond its infantilized and defensive state — is now on the list of awful sins right next to pedophilia, heresy, apostasy and schism.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, the chairman of the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, asserted, “The Catholic Church, through its long and constant teaching, holds that ordination has been, from the beginning, reserved to men, a fact which cannot be changed despite changing times.”
But if it was reserved to celibate men centuries ago simply as a way for the church to keep land, why can’t it be changed? If a society makes strides in not subordinating women, why can’t the church reflect that? If men prove that all-male hierarchies can get shamefully warped, why can’t they embrace the normality of equality? The
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs