More on Benedict, Abuse
Tim Rutton at the LA Times chimes in, noting that Benedict’s tough talk to the Irish bishops, if applied closer to home, well….
A couple points:
1. The core of the really corrosive moral problem is the cover-up by bishops and, perhaps, the Vatican. Positions that offer access to vulnerable people will draw those who want to victimize them. Simple as that. The question is what you do with them. When the scandal broke in MA, someone from another, much smaller, denomination (I’m sorry I forget which,) was asked “Do you have pedophiles among your ministers?” The response was “Yes, two–they’re in jail.” Only now, with the resignation of one Irish bishop, are we beginning to see anything like real accountability. (Or will that Irish bishop also get a comfy sinecure in Rome like Cardinal Law did? Remember, most or all of Cardinal Law’s enforcers were promoted to their own dioceses.)
2. Andrew Sullivan draws an indirect connection to celibacy as a part of the problem, arguing from a psychological stance. But this is a matter of the priestly culture, afflicting the group, not just the individual.
But these indicate the need for a systemic approach to a systemic problem. I think it would involve real reform of the power structure, maiking it less unidirectionally top-down.
I think it would involve re-thinking our theology of ordination from one of ontological change, construed as elevation of the priest above the status of mere mortals, to one of functionality, wherein a priest is a person who does what a priest does, not a special, more Christ-like person.
What else would need to change?
I’m not talking procedural change here, (things like better screening of seminarians, windows in doors where priests are alone with people,) but structural, institutional change. People are calling for accountability, and structural change seems to be the key. So….what’s needed?