One big point of confusion for me…
…is the relationship of Rome to O’Brien. Rod remarks in a comment down below:
I find it astonishing that Rome would not want O’Brien to go, for fear of appearing to give in to civil authority, but then turn around and let this disgraceful bishop sign away what isn’t his to sign away. It only makes sense if you consider that the Church hierarchy believes that self-preservation, as distinct from the interests of the Church universal (which include justice and accountability), is the point of its existence.
Actually, that’s just what *doesn’t* make sense. My problem is that I don’t even know *that* “Rome would not want O’Brien to go, for fear of appearing to give in to civil authority”. Oh sure, “sources” tell me this is their motivation for keeping O’Brien there. But what reason have I to trust them? I know that Rome’s not letting him go. Rome hasn’t let any bishop go, no matter how big a nincompoop, if they weren’t directly involved in sexual sin themselves. But if Rome’s reason for doing this is that it is so all-fired bent on keeping Caesar’s mitts off the Church, then the first thing they *would* do is accept O’Brien’s resignation, since O’Brien appears to be handing over to Caesar precisely the power that “sources” claim Rome wants to hold on to. Since they aren’t doing that, one reasonable conclusion is that Rome is *not* thinking as “sources” claim they are, much as they were not just about to call Law to Rome last April in order to preserve him from prosecution, despite what “sources” were certain of.
From what I can see, Rome appears to be doing what I’ve thought they’ve been doing: forcing the American Church to live through and clean up its own mess. This would appear to include allowing for a fair amount of free will choices for evil (such as O’Brien’s craven ass-saving maneuver). But I’m not seeing a lot of “Rome clutching to power” in this willingness to stand back while O’Brien tries to hand over the administration of the Church to Caesar in order to save his sorry butt.
Rod is right about this, though: change will have to come from lay pressure. The DA (a layman) demonstrates one form that pressure can take. There are others. Till laity cease to be more or less content, we shall have the leadership we settle for.