Over the past few weeks, we at Sick Pilgrim have watched with unease as the Church has responded to the allegations of scandalous and predatory behavior on the part of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. We have seen bishops offer bland platitudes and assurances that they will improve “procedures.” We have seen bishops blame contraception, or deflect blame by talking about Church abuse scandals in other countries. We have seen the bishops talk about their anger, and their shame, and their betrayal by Cardinal McCarrick.
Yesterday, the Grand Jury Report on the Church in Pennsylvania was released.
We ask that the bishops please stop talking about how they have been betrayed, how they are angry, and how they are ashamed.
Despite our doubts, despite our occasional frustration with certain teachings, we are Catholics and we have loved our church. And yet, at this point, none of us believes that this is a problem local to Pennsylvania or Boston or Ireland or Chile. None of us believes that the church hierarchy has the will to address this systemic problem.
How many people have contacted their dioceses about troublesome things at their parishes, and never heard back, not even a form letter? How many people have only known that their messages were received because the problem was punted back to the pastor or priest with whom the problem originated? Who does a layperson contact when there is a problem with the bishop himself? For all that there is a hierarchy in the Church, the hierarchy is not accessible. The hierarchy serves itself. The laity, and the average parish priest, are on the bottom rung. We can safely be ignored, and we are.
To the bishops, we say this: get out of our way. You have harmed the Church enough. You have harmed people enough. Turn the administrative functions of the Church over to the laity. We do not want you running so much as a yard sale.
It has often been said that the Church is not a democracy. That should not give its administrators justification to be cruel, abusive, or incompetent, but that is precisely what has happened.
The bishops have failed. We want not only investigations, not only resignations, but a whole new system of administration in which the bishops are answerable to the laity.