‘The World [REDACTED]‘
The June 16 episode of The World Over starring Raymond Arroyo featured an interview with Robert Bennett, one of the original members of the USCCB National Review Board (2002-04). The two discussed the bishops’ revisions to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The whole interview is worth watching (it begins at minute 8:45).
The Charter was not — pace Catholic News Service — extensively revised. Instead, the USCCB simply changed the document to conform to recent Vatican instructions, so that the possession of child pornography and the sexual abuse of adults with mental disabilities are now considered no different from abusing a minor. The revised Charter also obliges bishops to report allegations against bishops to the papal nuncio as well as to civil authorities. Not meaningless revisions, but hardly responsive to news out of Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Gallup, New Mexico — where it was revealed that the bishop has never met with his review board. (I offered some suggestions for the bishops and the National Review Board here.)
Bennett is right to point out that, while “zero tolerance” is a blunt instrument, it was adopted because the bishops “lost credibility on this issue.” He cites Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, who has never complied with the Charter, and continues to refuse audits of abuse allegations in his diocese. Bennett calls that “arrogant” and “outrageous.” Also outrageous is the failure of bishops to fraternally correct Bruskewitz in a public venue.
At the USCCB meeting, Bruskewitz submitted twenty-eight amendments to the revision of the Charter. None was accepted. (Bishop Blase Cupich, chair of the Committee for Child and Youth Protection, explained that his committee would accept only those amendments that strengthened the Charter.) Bruskewitz said: “It is fundamentally dishonest to tell the faithful and the general public that the USCCB has any authority whatsoever to bind dioceses…to obey the charter. The more commitments, the more grounds for lawsuits.” Emcee Arroyo thinks that makes some sense.
It does not. First, as noted by Bennett — an accomplished lawyer — the idea that the Charter exposes the bishops to lawsuits is “nonsense.” Second, no one is lying to anyone about the authority of the USCCB. No bishop has ever given the impression that the conference has governing authority over U.S. bishops. Rather, what seems fundamentally dishonest to the faithful is a bishop who says he’s committed to protecting kids from abusive priests but can’t manage to forward obviously worrying allegations to his review board.
Near the end of the interview as it was originally broadcast, while discussing the screening of seminarians, Bennett made a startling admission. Acknowledging that Arroyo would probably get letters from viewers, Bennett said that he supports women’s ordination. “You’ll get a letter from me!” a visibly shaken Arroyo replied.
Not that you’ll see that exchange in the YouTube video above. Apparently EWTN purged it from the online video. (You can see some editing oddities at 26:32 and 27:22.) I know this because a colleague caught the episode when it first aired. Did EWTN deem the material too scandalous for its sensitive viewers? Or does the network have a policy against broadcasting the words “support women’s ordination” unless they’re preceded by “do not” or followed by “at your soul’s peril”? Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear that EWTN is operating in Alabama, in the United States of America — not in China or North Korea.