American Bishops Buckle
It’s almost as if they’re pushing us out of the pews. Daring parishioners to walk out and not come back. Spitting on the shrinking number of the faithful who still drag themselves to Sunday mass every week.
That was my thought when I read The New York Times Tuesday and learned that in a “last-minute surprise” the Vatican ordered American bishops, who are gathered in Baltimore, to put off until next year any action on a code of conduct concerning the church’s sex abuse scandal.
Then again, what’s another year when you’ve been playing hide-the-perverts for about half a century?
Apparently the 350 American bishops planned to tackle this catastrophic crisis of confidence in the church. They were going to rein in bishops who have been accused of misconduct and the ones who simply protected weirdos for years.
Once word came down from Rome, they stalled.
No doubt Francis was too busy penning another indictment of capitalism or a speech lecturing sovereign nations about the evils of border enforcement to worry about criminals in Roman collars.
Yes, I know. American churches have recently pledged to work with states’ attorneys general who are investigating clerical sex crimes. We had an announcement in my parish recently that all reports of misconduct should be handed over to law enforcement, not church officials.
Big deal. Church officials get no credit for that. That should have been happening all along. Priests and bishops are subject to the law just like everyone else.
“This is a disaster, and I think it’s a dark day for Catholics, especially victims and survivors,” Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a research and advocacy group based in Boston told The New York Times. “When the Vatican intervenes, regulations get weaker, not stronger.”
A Gallup poll released last spring showed that only 22 percent of American Catholics go to church every week.
That percentage will plummet. When it does, blame the bishops.