Friday, May 3
Thanks to Brian at Kairos for bringing this to my attention. I'm still not impressed with the Bishop's explanations for his actions in Boston:
I did see a letter in 1985 from a woman who complained about a talk Fr. Shanley gave that she found offensive because he seemed to advocate homosexual activity.
As I have reread that letter, I see a reference to sexual relations between an adult and a minor. I believed then and do now that sex between an adult and a minor is wrong and is also a crime. Sex between an adult and a child is never the fault of the child. It is always the adult who bears full responsibility for that horrible act. Why I did not focus on that reference in 1985, I don't know. I'm sorry I didn't. I wish I had.
Oh. That's reassuring. You're either dense, illiterate or corrupt. What we want in our bishops.
The first thing he does is quickly and with great efficiency, dispense with the fantasy that laity, especially gathered in clerically-appointed boards and such, are any magic solution to any problem:
Being relatively innocent of clerical politics and the inner workings of dioceses, laypeople are far too easily shown exactly what they wish to see, and told exactly what they want to hear, while diocesan officials sweep the true problems into that increasingly-crowded space under the rug. Any advisory or supervisory board of laypeople that the diocese had any hand in selecting and training (something I don't see any way around) would, as a result of the selection and grooming process, be as heavily populated with allies of the chancery office radicals as any conference of DREs.
And then, his rather provocative solution: A Deparment of Internal Affairs responsible to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
My envisioned Internal Affairs department would have no power whatsoever over the vast majority of Catholic laypeople. Its moral investigations would be limited to three types of cases: priests and religious who publicly violate fundamental moral precepts, widespread debauchery within Church institutions such as seminaries, and credible allegations of abuse lodged against any employee of the Church who is in regular close contact with minors. I believe it is reasonable to discipline priests and religious who openly flout their solemn vows before God, to shut down dens of iniquity operating on Church property, and to protect the young by thoroughly investigating all credible complaints of abuse. As for theological investigations, these would only apply to those who are employed by the Church (or who serve in diocese- or parish-sponsored lay ministries) and have responsibility for teaching and propagating the Faith. I believe it is reasonable for the Church to expect that people charged with teaching its doctrine will do so in an accurate and orthodox manner (widespread disdain for Ex Corde Ecclesiae notwithstanding).
Go read the whole thing. An interesting idea, eh?
On another note, here's an interesting tidbit from
the tail end of Joe Sobran's column in the May 2nd
Wanderer (in case you haven't seen it):
"I once saw a vulgar actor on a talk show lecture the
great Bishop Fulton Sheen on the moral failings of
the Church. Bishop Sheen, taken aback by his rude
insolence, bore it all with serene and saintly
patience. You may have heard of this righteous
actor. His name was Robert Blake."
Bigger Surprise: Said laypeople were married to each other.
Biggest Surprise of all: Married laypeople did not a)agree to live "as brother and sister" or b)move into a convent and monastery, respectively.
They did die, though. So I guess that makes it okay.
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