…because the BBC, which absolutely *loved* the Scandal in the Catholic Church is now confronting its own massive institutional failure in preventing a Beloved Personality from being a predator.
I think that the main thing to do here is to keep the focus on two things: 1) the victims and their need for help and 2) the emerging sociological question of how the same results keep happening across a broad spectrum of human institutions, secular and religious. In other words, it’s becoming apparent that there wasn’t something peculiarly Catholic about the Church’s response, but rather there was something depressingly human about it. The problem is not that the Church was more evil that other institutions in its cowardice, coverups and failure to address the problem. The problem is that the Church was average.
Seen sociologically, that’s to be expected, I suppose. The average Catholic is average, and the Church is, among other things, full of average people–including among its clergy. So it’s to be expected that you get an average institutional response to the presence of a grave threat to institutional integrity.And yet, how depressing to be reminded that we are indeed jars of clay. Saints remain a rare thing in the Church, and the mystery is, “Why?” I don’t have an answer for that. But I am assured by revelation that it does not *have* to be so. The net catches bad fish as well as good, to be sure. But we have it available to us to be extraordinary by the grace of God.
One good thing that has come out of this–perhaps a providential thing–is that the Church, by being the first institution to really be confronted in a massive and global way with this phenomenon, has been forced by Providence to pioneer institutional responses that actually seem to be effective. No, it’s not all perfect yet. But it’s a lot better. So perhaps one of the ironies of this tragedy is that other institutions–the Beeb among them–will come to learn from the Church’s experience and profit from it. It would be humbling work of grace for all involved, not least the Church herself, to truly be in the position Paul says we are always in, of not being able to boast. If such humility comes of this terrible trial, it will be a redemptive fruit our arrogant culture could certainly stand to display.