The Personalist Project

I was glad to hear of two things this morning:

1) The Vatican has established a tribunal for investigating bishops accused of covering up sex abuse.

2) The Archbishop of Minneapolis and his auxiliary bishop have resigned following charges that the Archdiocese endangered children by ignoring numerous signs and warnings about a priest who is now serving time in jail for molesting two boys.

Both seem to me good steps in the direction of justice. But, apropos of the ongoing discussion of "dysfunctional forgiveness," I couldn't help noticing that in none of the news reports I read about the case does the Archbishop admit responsibility or confess wrong. Instead he presents himself as selflessly concerned with the good of the Archdiocese.

In his letter to Pope Francis, the Archbishop says his leadership became a distraction from the good works of the church following investigations into alleged priest sex abuse.

This sounds depressingly like a secular politician. He apparently went so far as to claim that he "leaves with a clear conscience knowing that my team and I have put in place solid protocols to ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults".

I've seen this before. The offender pretends that putting policies in place to prevent future misconduct counts as doing justice. It doesn't.

Another great moment in The Winslow Boy: Catherine tells her father that things are looking bad in their effort to get justice for their son and brother. The Admiralty has declined to hear the case, while promising that "in future" such incidents will be handled differently.  

Father: "What about our case? What will they do about that?"

Catherine: "Apparently nothing."

Father: "But that's iniquitous."

A concrete wrong isn't set right by protocols preventing future wrongs, just as a hungry person isn't fed by a food bank opening next year in somebody else's town.

Nor can new protocols wash away guilt. There is only one way to clear a conscience: by repentance and amends. 

A friend who lives in Minneapolis today linked an article about the resignation then said, "Let the healing begin." I hope the Archdiocese will find a way to heal. But I'm afraid it will be harder and take longer than it should, because of the ongoing denial and obfuscation.

Comments (1)


#1, Jun 15, 2015 1:30pm

Indeed, Katie!  Are our bishops more admins of corporations?  Or shepherds of communities?

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