A friend writes to say:

I don’t see any evidence of trauma. In priests who’ve been accused, whether accurately or falsely, certainly; but not on the part of the bishops. Consternation, yes. “Oh, shit!” sure. But trauma, no. Their behavior is changing, but not because of the conviction that they did something wrong, but due to the fact that their reputation is suffering. This isn’t redemption, it’s a frantic effort at damage-control. Witness the vaunted policy: no where do they even countenance the very idea that they might have had something to do with this. To do such would appear to be intolerable to them. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t think they’re monsters, I just don’t think they’re real men.

They do NOT comprehend the damage that has been inflicted. They do NOT comprehend the vile, detestable nature of this crime. They obviously regard their parishoners with a mixture of condescencion and contempt, particularly those who are children. They REFUSE to accept their responsibilities as citizens and priests in this regard.

I think that the policy as currently worded appears to be a textbook example of denial of responsibility. However, I also think that (if my theory about what the Pope is up to is right) this is not terribly difficult to predict. We’re looking at a career-long pattern for the guilty guys, and such patterns ain’t broken overnight. Remember? Denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance. That’s the way we die.

In return, I offer Exhibit A in evidence of my theory about why the Pope is leaving these guys in office and even (apparently) refusing resignations in cases where no criminal act is involved. Got this from a friend in Boston:

I saw Cardinal Law at a First Friday event tonight.

Some people said afterward that he looked awful, and, true, he did: worn, weakened, diminished. But I was thinking something else. He’s been on the Cross lately, and I like him better this way. He’s less pompous and more real. Maybe he’s arriving at what the AA folks call the First Step: he’s getting to experience some area of life in which he’s “powerless.”

He’s not perfect, to be sure: a little suggestion of self-pity showed up once in his homily, and the old urge to dominate appeared a little

when he interacted with people up-close: but I’ll give God credit for demonstrating some improvement on him.

Pauline Damascus Road conversions are the dramatic exception to the mundane rule of plodding Petrine dullness that takes years to learn and, even then, denies Christ when the pinch is felt (till the Holy Spirit intervenes). It’s the clay JPII has to work with, and I continue to suspect it’s the clay he is trying to work with.


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