Lawless

The following sidebar is part of the longer article Fabricating Bernardin, by Peter Steinfels.


Weigel’s strangest omission of all is any reference to Cardinal Bernard Law. Much like those of disgraced leaders in Stalinist party histories, Law’s name is missing at every point where it might be expected. Weigel celebrates O’Connor’s appointment as a step in the decline of the “Bernardin Machine.” He does not mention the simultaneous appointment of Law to Boston. Weigel celebrates the Catechism of the Catholic Church as another blow against the “Bernardin Machine.” He does not mention Law’s role in proposing it at the 1985 synod or his difficulties in overseeing its translation into English. Weigel traces the sexual-abuse crisis back to the style of the “Bernardin Machine,” the “Truce of 1968,” and a consequent “turn to psychology.” Leaving aside the knotty question of what is or is not the appropriate (or unavoidable) role of psychology in dealing with sexual abuse, Weigel does not mention that Law as readily turned to psychology as anyone associated with Bernardin. Of Law’s failure to deal with the sex-abuse crisis as urgently and forthrightly as Bernardin did at the time, Weigel says not a word, preferring his fantasy about the “Truce of 1968” to all those inconvenient details. Having attributed the growth of the “Bernardin Machine” to Bernardin’s success in...

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About the Author

Peter Steinfels, co-founder of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture and a former editor of Commonweal, is the author of A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America.