Monday, September 24, 2018

This is a Good Start?

The Administrative Committee of the USSCB released a statement outlining steps the Administrative Committee has taken to address the crisis.

Boy I feel better. Don't you?

Everybody got that?  Remain calm.  

The Bishops have released a policy and procedure paper. 

If only we’d had a statement outlining the steps of how to handle when someone behaves in an illegal and/or immoral way.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly certain the criminal abuse of minors and cynical abuse of power with respect to seminarians and others of age, wasn’t the consequence of a lack of policy.   

But wait, there's more.  As a bonus feature, we’ve been told how powerless this governing body is, to do much beyond the four steps they outline.  

If that's the case then what exactly does the outline establish which holds weight? Where is the weight?

Here are the four points the USCCB held out as signs of progress:   
1) Establishing a third party reporting system, where laity can go to report misconduct by a bishop so that it will be directed to the appropriate ecclesiastical authority. 

No.  I’m sorry, that’s saying, “Trust us. We got this.”  No. That’s how we got to the point of having this seventy years of cover up from the grand jury of Pennsylvania.    (There already is one, it’s called the police).   It’s one and done now, because there should be no difference between how we handle reporting an abuser in the laity, and in the clergy.   As optics go, it looks like “we’ve drafted a policy so we can keep this in house.”  

2) Instructions to develop proposals for addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations. 

Could we sound more mealy-mouthed? Instructions to develop proposals?  What in heaven’s name does that mean?   How about, specific policy regarding the consequences for bishops removed because of allegations?  

How about naming the consequences, in duration and type, so it’s clear, this is a severe breach of moral leadership, of moral behavior, it’s wrong, it’s always wrong, and it carries the gravest of consequences for those convicted.    

It’s not that I think the bishops have bad hearts, but is this seriously the best they can do in light of the crisis? 

Do I hope not? Do I hope so?  I'm at a loss. 

3) Develop a code of conduct for Bishops…I had to stop, I couldn't quite give this recommendation because I think it is silly. 
We don't need to develop a code of conduct. That already exists.  It’s what each and every person who received the sacrament of Holy Orders agreed to live out.

Theoretically, if you're a bishop, you've lived this, you know this...or should.  One would hope no one goes into the priesthood or holy orders looking for the loop hole of how they can hoodwink God and obey the letter of the law.  Well, that's the code for priests...but not Bishops's above/below my pay grade.      

This scandal is about breaching that code of conduct, whether by commission or omission, ignoring the lost sheep for the benefits of comfort or promotions, and ignoring the devouring of the flock because facing the wolves would be hard.   The code is be men of courage, men of faith, shepherds who lay down their lives for the flock. 

What is lacking in these proposals is a unified voice of courage declaring what will be done. 

How about, you propose a public form of penance to be conducted by each and every bishop and perhaps also by the priests, in reparation for the grave injustices done, and as a reminder to all that for one sin, we lost Eden, and for these sort of sins, we’ll damn ourselves if we don’t repent.

4) The USCCB declares it supports a full investigation…here we agree, but not just of former Cardinal McCarrick. This isn't just about one man abusing his position. 

You believe in a full investigation.  Great. Lay bare the bones of the institution.  Be unafraid to look at the wounds, to recognize them for what they are in each and every occurrence, nails in Christ’s body.  

That you fled the problem up to now, it's understandable in a way.  The apostles fled at His Crucifixion. The full investigation is beyond a single man, it’s the collective result of a bureaucratic organizational structure which sought to protect the reputation of the Church, at the expense of a few souls being damaged. If you really want to show the laity how sorrowful you are for the corruption and abuse and cover up, support a full investigation to root out all who sold everything for Wales.

Reform must happen, but for it to take hold, the Bishops need to stop hiding in committees that draft policies and stand as men of faith, as true shepherds who will seek out every lost sheep and fight off every wolf.

Personal Note:

I don't want to stay mad, but we can't let this go or be swept past by the comforting reassurances of a position paper, committee or future policies. This is the Church, these our our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

We don't want to lose any Bishops or priests or seminarians or laity to sin, by omission or commission.  So we will keep bringing this up, until they recognize, we need a better response than this...

So I'm praying.  Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.   

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