The Associated Press is running a story today which reveals an obvious flaw in canon law that required a priest to willingly request removal from the priesthood following accusations or criminal prosecution. But it also highlights a more profound problem: the callous disregard of bishops for our children.  A few examples: 

  • Bishop Mattiehsen of Amarillo hired a priest who was on parole for abuse of two boys.
  • Bishop Hoffman of Toledo appointed a convicted child molester, upon his release from jail, as a pastor to one of his parishes.
  • Bishop (now Cardinal) Theodore McCarrick of New Jersey appointed a convicted rapist to a parish with an elementary school.
  • Archbishop Justin Rigali of St. Louis retained a priest who had pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a child during the Sacrament of Confession.
  • Bishop John McCormack of New Hampshire lied about his knowledge of the sexual misconduct of now infamous accused multiple rapists Fr. Shanley, a public supporter of man-boy sex.

In none of these cases were the parishioners made aware of the convicted offenders who were ministering to their children. These and many other cases were listed in an article in the Dallas Morning News, June 12, 2002 and are available on the Bishop Accountability web site if you search “Catholic Bishops and sex abuse.” 

This is the most offensive aspect of the abuse scandal: the behavior of our bishops. And it is becoming clear that such behavior was sanctioned, even encouraged, by the Vatican authorities. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who served for 16 years from 1990 to 2006 as the Vatican Secretary of State (like a Prime Minister) was recently accused by Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna of having a documented track record of covering up and covering for abusive priests

However, one could view this accusation as Schönborn’s attempt to ride the crest of public outrage into the position of next pope, which would make it simply a political maneuver and “government as usual” Vatican style. I want to believe it is more altruistic, I do.  But?