Only the pope can request a cardinal’s resignation, and John Paul II’s personal bias undoubtedly leans against doing so. The pope himself, it should be remembered, has faced calls for resignation, albeit for very different reasons — on the grounds that he is too old and weak to govern. He has consistently spurned those suggestions. “Jesus did not come down off the cross,” he recently said. Hence his inclination would doubtless be that Law should stay put and clean up the mess he’s made. That view is widely held in the Vatican. Seen from Rome, the life of a retired cardinal seems fairly sweet. One enjoys the privileges of high ecclesiastical office with few of the burdens. Staying on the job in the midst of crisis, on the other hand, is a daily ordeal. (Recall that the Vatican never removed Cardinal Michele Giordano of Naples, even when he was facing a criminal trial for loan-sharking in 2000 that could have landed him in jail. Privately, several curial officials opined that resignation was too good for him). Hence keeping Law where he is, which can look from the United States like letting him off the hook, seems instinctively to a certain Roman way of thinking like the most fitting sentence possible.
I’ve always thought my priest friend’s analysis of why JPII leaves these guys to face the music was the most convincing one. Now, in one of those weird ironic moments, I find the Reporter, of all things, offering rather persuasive confirmation that he’s right. No doubt that’s cuz they are sinister orthodox sycophants of the heirarchy who believe bishops never do wrong and the Pope is always right.