Doing good, but a bad career move
This can’t go well for one’s ecclesiastical career. In his Sunday sermon last week, Fr. James Scahill said this,
If [Pope Benedict] can’t take the consequences of being truthful on this matter, his integrity should lead him, for the good of the church, to step down and to have the conclave of cardinals elect a pope with the understanding that the elected pope would be willing to take on this issue, not just in promise.
I’m thinking it’s pretty rare for a Roman Catholic priest to call for the Pope’s resignation in a sermon. But this is a rare condition: the Pope has very little moral credibility remaining. Most of time, even those who may not agree with papal policy would allow that the papal office is invested with some serious moral high ground.
I’ve resisted writing about all this, partly because coverage is ubiquitous and partly because I try not to criticize other branches of the Church. But this crisis is getting so out of hand that we risk spillover which will bring harm to all of Christianity.
Interestingly enough, Archbishop Rowan Williams, in a rare burst of blunt honesty, recently spoke the truth about the sexual abuse crisis and its effects in Ireland. The church, said Williams, had “lost all credibility”. The hierarchy in Ireland was stunned. Williams apologized a couple of days later, with “deep sorrow and regret”. He was right the first time. While the truth sometimes hurts, we should not apologize for speaking it.
It’s hard to believe that this will blow over, but I will be surprised if Benedict resigns. No one can say how this will turn out, but each day seems to bring more outrageous news and the crisis seems to be moving closer to the Vatican. Things are not helped when the church hierarchy compares their situation to Jewish persecution )at the hands of Christians). That one really stings. For centuries, Christians made a habit of rounding up and killing or beating Jews on Good Friday. Then this year, on Good Friday, the Pope’s personal preacher made the shocking comparison between Jewish persecution and media scrutiny of the church. Of course, this is outrageous on any number of obvious levels. I’ll leave it here: media scrutiny over cover-ups of child molestation is not persecution. It is accountability. It is truth rearing its head again.
We should all pray for the victims of clergy abuse, for those who abused others, and for church leaders. And we should pray that the truth may be widely told. The truth will set us free.