“Our Shepherds Have Drafted a Memo to the File” writes one of my readers. He continues:

That’s the only conclusion I can come to in the wake of the Cardinals’ Roman Roundtable Retreat just ended.

A father of one of Shanley’s victims described it more pithily as “hitting the snooze bar.”

It’s hard to blame the guy, though it’s worth noting that McCarrick’s entirely common sense “Zero Tolerance” policy is not really dead, simply delayed till a June meeting. I’m hoping the American episcopate will get a clue by then.

Can someone actually imagine reading this? Not without being paid, and certainly not without Maalox in the Sam’s Club container within easy reach. I wonder if it was originally printed on legal size paper? That would be very appropriate, and would be the perfect size for actual physical butt-covering (how symbolic!). The only other uses I can think of for such documents have no applications for me, because (1) I don’t own caged birds, and (2) I switched to clumping cat litter years ago.

BTW, if JPII states that there should be no tolerance for abusers in the ranks, saying something as unambiguous as this:

“People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young. They must know that Bishops and priests are totally committed to the fullness of Catholic truth on matters of sexual morality, a truth as essential to the renewal of the priesthood and the episcopate as it is to the renewal of marriage and family life.”

How does that direct statement–potentially “a checked swing and you’re out”–get translated into the ambiguous mush that TWO OF THEM (way to flee, gentlemen!) tried to defend today. Mush that could be translated as “if nobody’s looking, there’s no strike zone.”

It’s a question worth asking, especially by laity–and loudly. “No place” sounds very much like “no place” to me. Somehow the American episcopate heard “a negotiable place”. It’s hard to take them seriously when they pull this stuff.

And this from a group that is by and large supposed to be made up of the Holy Father’s men. If there were any questions about what he meant, you might have thought that the Cardinals would have…I don’t know…perhaps…just maybe…walked all of 200 yards over to ASK HIM FOR CLARIFICATION? Vatican City’s pretty small, fellas–you ought to be able to find him fairly quickly. Instead, right under his nose, his Cardinals eviscerate his words. They took his ample cover–relying on experts, etc.–but tossed aside the yoke of responsibility. There you have the problem with the Church in America–in a cracked nutshell.

The only conceivable scenario in which I can see this “notorious, serial” abuse clause as a justifiable one is for some hypothetical priest with a 30 year old accusation whose record is absolutely clean since then. It is arguable that somebody who gave into temptation once, long ago, and has obviously made good since then shouldn’t have to suffer for it forever. But as a policy for dealing with an abuser discovered today? It’s a formula for either insanity or, as seems more likely, further episcopal lies and cover-up.

Sorry, your eminences, but you have to earn trust here, not chatter Clintonisms, bite your lip, and “hope it worked”. Give some clear signal that you have some intention not to evade and water down the Pope’s clear words as you have evaded and watered down everything from the language of the Mass to the last attempt to clean up the seminaries to implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesia and then–very important, dear fathers, so pay attention–act on your words . It will do wonders toward getting you out of the mess you’ve put yourselves in. This is not rocket science, it’s Catholic theology: sorrow, contrition, firm purpose of amendment.