Rod Dreher replies:

The comments function is on the fritz again, so Rod writes to say:

I think a lot of people are overreacting to what Keating actually said. Where does it say he has, or thinks he has, the actual power to get bishops to resign? All he has is the bully pulpit, and he knows it. From what I’ve read, if he and his team find that bishops have engaged in covering up and facilitating sexual abuse, then they will say so, and recommend to the Holy Father that he ask those bishops to resign. What’s wrong with that? I think some folks must assume that because Keating is a state official, that he must have some sort of state powers to dictate to the Church, which isn’t so. If he proves to be a “paper tiger” – that is, someone who is there only to make it seem that the bishops are serious about policing themselves – then that will be obvious in short order. Anyway, the commission’s mandate is defined narrowly, so you won’t see them going around recommending that bishops be sacked for doctrinal disorder (if they were to do that, they’d lose credibility at once). I, for one, am sick and tired of the argument that faithful lay Catholics have no choice but to shut up and trust the bishops – yet again! – to handle things. They have had numerous chances, and failed utterly. The Keating commission is imperfect, but it’s the best thing we have going right now, and it deserves the support of the faithful, until and unless it shows itself to be untrustworthy. Anybody got a better idea? Trust the USCCB to act like Christian men? Been there, done that, got the lawsuits and the ruined lives to show for it.

I don’t disagree. I’m simply made very nervous by this weird and unnecessary (that is, unnecessary if the bishops were, in fact, governing as they should) bureaucratic invention. The bishops are, in effect, saying “Please tell us how to govern” to a theologically ill-informed layman. It’s a ridiculous spectacle and one which testifies far more to their incompetence than to anything wrong with Keating (who strikes me as a good man). It’s just that history is a river, not a lake, and once it begins to flow down the channel of bishop ceding their governance of the Church they may find it harder than they suppose to get it back. That’s my problem. I don’t trust the bishops, for the most part. I think it downright imprudent to trust them. And yet, I don’t trust the people they appoint either. Ah the fun of ecclesial politics. How I hate it.


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