|A photo from back in the day when their friendship hadn't gotten quite as complicated as it is now and will be in the future if Cardinal O'Malley pushes the issues of clerical abuse victims.|
We have the first general reports about the just recently concluded meeting of Pope Francis's clerical abuse commission. Boston's Cardinal O'Malley gave a press conference which also included abuse victim Marie Collins. The AP report included more back ground story about the commission than actual news from the press conference. The following is an excerpt which includes statements from the press conference dealing with the bishop accountability issue:
......Briefing reporters Saturday, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said current church laws could hold bishops accountable if they fail to do their jobs to protect children. But he said those laws hadn't been sufficient to date and new protocols were needed.
"Obviously our concern is to make sure that there are clear and effective protocols to deal with the situations where superiors of the church have not fulfilled their obligations to protect children," O'Malley said. That could include an effort toward creating an "open process" that "would hold people accountable for their responsibility to protect children...." (I'd love to know more about this 'open process'.)
.....Marie Collins, a committee member and Irish survivor of sexual abuse, said she came away from the inaugural meeting of the commission "hopeful" primarily because the issue of accountability was addressed straight on.
"I know there are many survivors around the world who are hoping, and have great expectations of this commission," Collins said. "And what I can say so far is you can't make concrete promises. But as a survivor myself, I am hopeful that we are going to achieve what is hoped for. It's very, very important."
The AP article is upbeat and sounds pretty hopeful for the Church to finally have some accountability for bishops who failed miserably in protecting children. The coverage from Religion News Service covered a different issue and does not come across quite so hopeful as both Cardinal O'Malley and Marie Collins have strong statements about curial denial of the extent of the problem.
.......“Many don’t see it as a problem of the universal church,” said O’Malley who heads the Vatican’s new commission for the protection of minors.
“In many people’s minds it is an American problem, an Irish problem or a German problem,” he said. “The church has to face it is everywhere in the world. There is so much denial. The church has to respond to make the church safe for children.....”
........ Collins, who was sexually abused by a priest at age 13, said she, too, had been “shocked” by the denial she had witnessed among some Catholic bishops about the extent of clerical sexual abuse.
“…They truly believed it only happened in certain countries,” she said.
This commission has some serious work to do, especially if it has to mount a 'lets' face some truth' campaign for bishops who are in total denial about the extent of clerical abuse. No, it is not an Anglo/German problem. It is a systemic problem with in the global clergy. Just because there is still a deafening silence from some parts of the globe doesn't mean there was and is no abuse. Given the human rights abuses against women and children in these still silent areas, it is a sure bet that there is clerical abuse. One can double down on that bet when the clergy in these areas are trained by the same system that produced abusers in the older Anglo/European Church.
Clerical abuse is part of the clerical tradition because, and here comes the accountability issue, the clerical caste is way way more important to the Institutional Roman Catholic Church than it's laity. This is why the laity and our children always come last when it comes to accountability. We don't count in the sacramental scheme in which Grace, the fuel to propel us to heaven, is a virtual monopoly of the priesthood. It is on this system that the Church is now founded. Priests count. Laity pay.
Maybe it's time the laity got out of their own denial about this fact of traditional Catholic ecclesiology because this power differential is exactly the reason all the abuses are possible. In that sense this commission may have another 'let's face some truth' campaign, and this one, aimed at laity, will be much harder to manage if the whole idea of this commission is to keep the current clerical system in tact.