A reader writes:

I think several bishops in America should be removed immediately because they have failed to shepherd their people well (a gross understatement.) I appreciate your take on the Pope’s “strategy,” and agree that it may be best for the bishops if they have to clean up the mess they’ve made. Dealing with this crisis may well be an occasion of sanctification for them.

Having admitted this, I say “To Hell with what’s best for the bishops!” They can try to be sanctified working a crummy job and living in a cheap apartment. The Pope should do what’s best for the flocks the bishops were supposed to be serving. That means giving them good shepherds as soon as possible.

I go to Franciscan U of Steubenville and often hear homilies by Fr. Ray Ryland downtown at St. Peter’s. I’ve also lived in NYC and gone to daily Mass at St. Agnes. I’ve been to Blessed Sacrament in Seattle. I’ve visited the Oratories in London and Toronto. I know what good liturgy looks like and what sound catechesis is because I’ve experienced it and it has made me a better person, a holier person than I otherwise would be. (Not that I’m very holy; I’ve been blessed with so much and have squandered most of it.) I’ve also witnessed the decay of the faith of people whom I love because they’ve been subjected to three decades of banality (and outright ugliness and lies), nice people who’ve followed Father to lukewarmness, exchanging the Catholic faith for political correctness. They deserve better. If a bishop can’t or won’t or doesn’t see to it that they get it, get him the Hell out of there and replace him. Repeat as necessary.

Well, there’s my rant. I guess my point is that the people in charge should consider what is best first for the victims, next, for the laity as a whole, then for the good priests, penultimately for the abusers, and last of all, for the people in charge. It is right that our Holy Father consider the needs of the abusers and of failed bishops before his own. It is wrong that anyone in authority place the needs of abusers and others in authority above the needs of the abused and of the simple faithful.

Judging from the feedback I’m getting, it appears a number of people are under the impression I think bishops should be above the law or that their exquisitely sensitive feelings must take priority over the children they have allow to be victimized or the flock they have so badly ruled.

But that’s not what I think. My point is not that I (or the Pope who I am trying to understand here) think that Rank Has Its Privileges but rather that Rank Has its Cross. Bishops who have done criminal things should, I think, face criminal charges (I have no idea of the legality of their actions, that’s for a lawyer to decode). But bishops have two ways of living their office now: they can take a powder and leave the mess they’ve made for some equally clueless (because trained by them) protege or they can shoulder the cross and start to learn their office. That won’t happen in a day. Much mess must be cleaned up. But precisely for the good of the Church and not for the comfort of the bishops, that cross must, I think, be shouldered. It remains to be seen whether it shall be (a good sign will be if the bishops take some responsibility for the mess they made in Dallas and avoid oblique, passive voice, “accidental outbreak of bad priests, don’t know how it happened” language. Their drafft is, so far, unimpressive in this regard. But I’m willing to give them some time (and input).

But please don’t think I’m saying the bishops need to have their needs put before the needs of the people they allowed to be victimized. The bishops needs must be put dead last behind those they have harmed. But the way the bishops are going to learn this is by carrying their cross, not taking a powder when it gets hot.

As to the other, less pressing matters, of stupid liturgies, dumb catechesis, etc.: One thing at a time. We’ve got a lot of old dogs trying to learn some very painful new tricks.