I predict that in the coming decade, bishops will no longer limit themselves to turning on their priests, but will begin to turn on one another.
I was quite shocked, to be perfectly honest, that no one else would even link to this news. But here is what has happened since.
Those of you who followed events related to the recent Pontifical Mass at the National Shrine here in DC, are aware that His Eminence Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos was originally slated to be the celebrant. Then a letter was disclosed to the press from 2001, wherein Cardinal Castrillón commended a French bishop for refusing to turn a priest over to authorities, who had been engaging in impure behavior with children. The outcry from both victims advocates and the press was sufficient, that in the space of less than one week, a decision was made for another prelate to come in his place. (Father Zuhlsdorf at WDTPRS has already reported extensively on this story.)
Now, John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter (the only journalist in that rag worthy of the job title) has discovered an unsettling trend.
Over the last two weeks, the rush among church leaders to distance themselves from Castrillón has turned into a mini-stampede.
First up was the Vatican itself. In a rare case of "rapid response," the official Vatican spokesperson, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, had a statement out to reporters almost immediately after stories broke in France.
The letter, Lombardi’s statement said, offers "another confirmation of how timely was the unification of the treatment of cases of sexual abuse of minors on the part of members of the clergy under the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." ...
After Castrillón’s appearance in Washington became a bone of controversy, Archbishop Donald Wuerl likewise put space between himself and the Colombian cardinal. Through a spokesperson, Wuerl let it be known that he would not attend Saturday’s Mass due to a scheduling conflict. There was no statement of support for Castrillón, no complaint about unfair media coverage ...
It may not be happening quite as I had predicted, but it is happening.
This is not my occasion to assess the Cardinal's judgment in the matter, nor do I approve of anything less than that clerics engaging in pederasty must be removed from ministry and brought to justice. There is also the broader context of such decisions to consider, as is explained beautifully in the Allen piece. Yet I find it troubling that, as little old ladies who have been teaching catechism for their entire adult lives, must now be fingerprinted as if they were common criminals, many of our shepherds continue to blame everyone but themselves.
Even at the expense of one of their own.