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I'd Like to Visit Cardinal Mahony in Prison | Bad Catholic's Bingo Hall

A most interesting article. I appreciate it because it highlights an argument that I made in the earliest days of this blog: that it has been the actions (or inaction) by the Bishops who covered-up the malfeasance of predator priests which has done the greatest damage to the faith in the wake of the priest sexual abuse scandals.

People understand that there are perverts in every field and profession. It's because of these predators that every kid today is 'street proofed' by parents and schools. It is a horror that they can be found among the priests of the Church - for we are called to be 'holy' individuals - but people understand that some wolves made their way into this clerical troop just as they have made their way into every other metier.


What cannot be understood is why the Bishops (who are to be chosen from among the 'best of the best' among the clergy) would fail to properly respond when predators are found among their priests. They were not 'perverts' or 'predators' themselves. They were not operating with the clouded conscience and criminal hearts of those who first inflicted such harm. They possessed (or so the faithful thought) the clarity of grace and intellect to recognize the evil that was revealed. They knew that their first moral responsibilities were to the issues of justice... to ensure that no one else could be harmed so heinously by removing predators and turning them over to the proper authorities... to ensure that immediate, effective, and sufficient support was given to guarantee that victims were healed and received recompense for their sufferings... to ensure the safety of the flock from ravenous wolves. But they didn't do any of this 

Instead, they chose the path of becoming enablers rather than act as a proper pastor to his flock. They have shielded predator priests from the police rather than working to bring the antiseptic light of a criminal investigation to make certain that all the victims were accounted for and that predators were removed from their servants, the priests of their diocese. Their fecklessness in rooting out this blight from their diocese has been proven in numerous other criminal and civil trials since these scandals began across the globe. +Mahoney is just the latest in a long sorry line of bishops who failed in protecting their flocks. His failures in these scandals hardly comes as a surprise, even if we find them shocking.

Why did Bishops act this way? The answer is simple and sad. They did so because they deluded themselves with the same logic that was wielded against justice in biblical times. They believed that more harm would come to the faithful if these scandals became public... and so they utilized some sort of mental calculus which led them to believe that, 'for the greater good' of the Church justice was to be denied innocent victims. They were wrong.  In the eyes of man and God, they failed to their role as leaders and shepherds. They failed to in the most fundamental obligation of all Christians: they failed to love the least among us, the child victims of these horrific crimes.

To prove it, I would challenge them to answer this question: Even given that the reputation of the Church would have been sullied if they had immediately turned over all such cases to the authorities, do they honestly believe that the damage would have been worse than what the Church faces today? 

Had they acted properly, at least their moral authority as pastors and shepherds would have been preserved. They would have been demonstrated to have acted justly as clerics and citizens and been able to use their moral suasion to aid and soothe those whose faith in the Church would have been disturbed. They would still possess a voice of leadership that would have been listened to because they would have acted properly.

+Mahoney's failings were hardly unique. This is the greatest tragedy that has brought the Church into such disrepute. We will not recover until the Bishops step forward and actually act in a manner accorded to their office, demonstrating to the faithful that they have changed their ways. Hopefully those men chosen to be their replacements have heeded the lessons of this tragedy and will more faithfully imitate the Good Shepherds (the Apostles) whom they represent as bishops.  

I'd Like to Visit Cardinal Mahony in Prison | Bad Catholic's Bingo Hall


  1. Fr. Tim - I agree with you that a minority of priests (about 5% according to some) have tainted the majority of priests with the spectre of Child abuse. But I feel it was the majority of bishops who were complicit in non reporting of abuse, moving priests to other parishes and outright cover-ups in some cases that have done the most harm.

    I find it ironic that in a time when non believers are accused of being moral relativists and lacking in moral absolutes. But perhaps the one transgression that all people of good character would undoubtedly elevate to a moral absolute would be the protection of children from abuse. This is an action that no moral calculus could seek to justify in hiding yet these bishops did, for decades.

    I've know many priests, a number of bishops, and even one cardinal in the past and from my experience the best priests are certainly not elevated to the episcopacy. Rather bishops are the men you would choose to run a corporation, which Catholic diocese are, rather than run a collection of parishes.


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