The results of the meeting between Pope John Paul II and the U.S. Cardinals are in and they aren’t very impressive. The Catholic community should expect more and deserves better. This “holier than thou” and “holier than the law” attitude has to end.
U.S. priests will remain celibate. Sex-offenders will now only have one chance (rather than hundreds) to get away with hurting innocent people. And in “quiet” abuse cases, defrocking of priests is still left up to local bishops like Cardinal Bernard Law. You know, the one who just kept ignoring those pesky abuse rumors.
According to an Associated Press report, U.S. clerics had a pleasant lunch with Pope John Paul II and then answered questions about the conference that turned out amazingly apathetic results. When questioned about whether U.S. priests will remain celibate officials said, “a link between celibacy and pedophilia cannot be scientifically maintained.” But that also means that it cannot be disproved and many would rather be safe than sorry.
Also, priests are now allowed to be accused of one sexual offense without danger to their career, but once another victim comes forward, that’s it, they’re out of there. Too bad about that second victim.
Individual cases do need to be investigated and each priest given a fair opportunity to defend himself against allegations, but a zero-tolerance policy that involves removing the accused from duty is justified. Too many times abuse cases go unsettled and meanwhile, others are hurt.
No one is above the law, and to expect the Catholic Church to protect the flock before the shepherd isn’t exactly unreasonable. The Pope’s reluctance to give administrative power to local bishops in deciding priests fate is also understandable, but this is an epidemic, and drastic action is justified.