Deacon Greg Kandra posts on his blog an informative article on the process of choosing Bishops. Given the example offered in the face of the Irish Bishops who have resigned in the wake of revelations that showed their complicity in the recent scandals that have recently come to light via a government inquiry into the scandal, this may become an increasingly relevant issue for Canadian Catholics.
I am left to wonder if the Irish episcopal experience of the Dublin Inquiry does not provide a positive example for Canada in the face of its ongoing scandals. Insofar as the Canadian Church is suffering what seems to be a 'death by a thousand cuts' as year after year a few more cases are discovered and made public, would now not be the time for the Parliament of Canada to follow the path of their fellow Irish politicians and launch an inquiry into the issue of sexual abuse of children here in Canada?
I believe that there is nothing for the Canadian Church to lose by participating in such an inquiry. After all, if the American experience teaches us anything, it is that civil litigation has pretty well eliminated any protection previously used by the Church to shield its private documents. Thus given that the information is eventually going to make its way into the public square anyway, (with all its concomitant deleterious consequences). Would it not be better to "rip the bandage off" quickly in the cleansing light of an independent investigation into the issue than continue to rip it off one painful bit at a time with various corners of the Church suffering the fever brought to them by the misdeeds of some of its priests and the subsequent legal actions? It's just a thought for consideration if the Church fathers in Canada are serious about standing behind their commitment to reach out to victims of its own clergy.
Further there is no reason to limit the investigation into just the Catholic Church. The subject of the inquiry could be framed in terms of all forms of child sexual abuse. This would provide a greater societal perspective from which to understand the numbers and small percentages of clergy who have offended. This would certainly at least serve to paint the church in a better light than it is current held by Canadian society, Catholic, Protestant or other. The good achieved by cooperating with such an objective investigation most certainly cannot be denied (in my opinion) either morally or politically given the antiseptic effect of a 'truth and reconciliation' exercise such an inquiry would offer the Church, and strengthen its voice of the Church in the great debates of today (abortion, euthanasia, parental rights to name just a few).
It seems that the only arguments presented to me from within the Church against such an inquiry are firstly, the concern of the intrusion of the State into the Church's internal affairs. Concern was also raised that the public witness of a priest presuming to stand 'in opposition' (as my blog sometimes is accused of doing) to the episcopacy is oft times maliciously spun by the Church's opponents, with grievous harm to the Church. It is an example of a 'good intention' bringing unintended negative consequences to the faithful. Yet, is the pain that is being experienced now by the Canadian faithful any more damaging than the results such an investigation might expose if the Irish path were replicated in Canada? Is it wrong to raise these questions when they are posed respectfully, and without any intention of impugning in any way upon the Bishops authority to chose the best path and manner in handling such matters (as in this case)? I have no illusion that they would act in any other manner, no matter what I might write in these pages.
The call for the Irish Bishops to resign in the wake of the Dublin Inquiry came from within the Irish hierarchy and the Vatican. If a similar institutional response were to follow any potential revelations that might come to light with such an inquiry, then I would trust the Canadian episcopacy to also respond just as faithfully to their superiors as did their Irish brothers.
Just a few interesting thoughts brought to mind by the articles linked on this blog.
Don't forget to check out the latest links and offer your own opinion in the comments of this post. I would very much appreciate gathering a virtual "sensum fidelium" on these questions. The goal of this blog is to facilitate a conversations on such issues, and your remarks are always appreciated.