Regarding the latest clergy abuse scandal we hear some bishops say that they are ‘deeply saddened.’ That’s not enough, writes Michael Brendan Dougherty.
The problem of sexual abuse and blackmail in the Church isn’t reducible to “policy,” and the promises made by bishops to make policy changes should be greeted with extreme cynicism.
The problem is personnel. For a number of reasons, the Catholic priesthood has selected for sexual deviancy. Bishops have been selected for their ability to manage legal and social risk, rather than their ability to govern and lead a religious organization. As one smart canon lawyer put it, men don’t rise through the ranks of the Catholic Church, they are pulled upward by those above them. High-ranking churchmen select for men who make peace with this sexualized culture in the priesthood. They prize collegiality rather than exacting holiness, or even competence.
Cardinal Wuerl was selected by the pope to sit on the powerful Congregation of Bishops, which helps recommend to the pope new candidates for the office of bishop. It’s time we ask why he was deemed suitable for this task….
“We are deeply saddened,” they say. Spare us this fake public-relations drivel. We don’t need your sadness, we don’t need new policies. We need better men.”