Much talk about JPII “gambling with our children” etc.
… by leaving in place bishops like Law or Mahony. I think the whole “endangering kids” thing is not going to be much of an issue in future. I think it far more likely the bishops will put in some sort of draconian overkill policy that will cut priests adrift on the slightest provocation (“they’re private contractors, not my problem”), than that anything like the previous regime of reshuffle, abuse, coverup and payoff will ever obtain again. Those days are gone forever. I would not be surprised by (and would favor) a one strike yer out policy. So I sincerely do not believe that JPII is “gambling with our children” or anything like that. I do think he is gambling that the American Church (that’d be you and me, not just the bishops) will learn to bear the cross. I do not think he is motivated by a fascination with perks and power. Nor with some bizarre notion that the bishops must continue in their offices merely for the sake of continuance. His entire life tells against this. He may be given to over-optimism (but then when you’ve seen the Iron Curtain fall without a shot you might have a rather more sanguine view of the power of God than comfortable Americans who prefer to “fix” problems rather than approach them supernaturally), but he is not given to cynical politics.
Really, folks. We have to catch our breath here and stop hyperventilating. A few months ago, everybody was dead certain JPII was going to cart Law off to Rome in the dead of night because they just knew it was a good old boys network etc. Didn’t happen. Now, in the twinkling of an eye, JPII goes from being one of the champions of the human person to a heartless lab technician gambling with our children in a grand ecclesial experiment that thinks only of the comfort of ecclesiats and cares nothing for the screams of abused kids who are–somehow–endangered. When such voices whisper in our ears it’s always a good idea to splash cold water on our faces and ask if this is really terribly likely given what we know of him.
The danger to our kids is past, by and large. Yes, there are still a bunch of skeletons to be uncovered (perhaps literally, judging from the headlines today). And they will be. Bad priests and bad bishops will be and are being thoroughly outed. The old regime of shuffling, cover up, etc is gone for good. Now we have the problem of what to do with the bad bishops who did this stuff. We do not have the problem, I think, of any future risk that the will ever be dumb or wicked enough to do it again. Pavlov is in the driver’s seat on that score and they have learned–really learned–that lesson.
Now they must learn to take responsibility for what they’ve done and they must learn their office. It may well be that some are taken out or resign. Then again, maybe not. But I don’t believe, whether they go or stay, that another child will be endangered again. They will far more likely be draconian toward their priests than toward the victims. That’s a step up, though it’s still not putting the spotlight on the main authors of this crisis: themselves. To do that requires grace and that, I think, is what the Holy Father is hoping will be given them as they bear the cross.