Should Cardinal Law Resign?
Dear Catholic Exchange:
Excellent article in response to the anti-celibacy crusader. I'm still unconvinced about the call for Cardinal Law's resignation. Question: Were he to resign, where would he go? I suppose they could use help on the WWII archives project. Should it not be the decision of his superiors to remove him? I know your motives, and sitting at my keyboard, see them as just and reasonable.
I also see Catholics and anti-Catholics just relishing this scandal. I am saddened by it all because I'm a lapsed Catholic that just caught fire.
I don't know if you've been watching the Olympics, I have and I'm just tickled by so many athletes blessing themselves in full spectacle. I even saw a German speed skater do it.
Keepin' the faith in the troubled Northeast corner,
The Cardinal Should Pray, Not Resign
The many reports of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is certainly
heart-breaking. What I am not hearing is that this is a direct attack from Satan. He has been at war with our beloved Church since Vatican 2. I do strongly believe that Cardinal Law should stay in office, as he has the insight and experience to deal with this scandal and to assist other Bishops in doing so. When our parish priests no longer prayed the Hail Mary and the prayer to St Michael at the close of Mass…when they no longer encouraged the praying of the Rosary …. no more Novenas, etc., the Devil found fertile ground. What happened to the priests retreats? When did they lose their effectiveness? The United States Bishops MUST communicate with their people, i.e. the laity, a call to return to greater spirituality. And they must also communicate with all their clergy on their own return to greater and deeper spirituality and how to be good shepherds to their people. Our faith is being greatly tested. Through prayer, and guidance from our clergy, we can become an even stronger Church; a greater influence on the world.
The demonstrators need to get this message and, rather than protesting, show a force of strength by public prayer. Satan cannot exist in a prayer environment.
Regarding Catholics who are leaving the Church.. we had this same defection after Vatican II! It's obvious these peoples' faith is rather shallow. Yes, they do need ministering to; this would probably be accomplished most effectively by someone outside the parish, e.g. a lay-person well trained in theology and presentation.
I REPEAT: PRAY PRAY PRAY….. I send a heart-felt request to the Cardinal: Begin a Novena… let the people of Boston see it …(our dear Mother Mary passionately loves priests). Bring back some of the pageantry of pre-Vatican II. Teach the people what our Lord meant by “Forgiveness”…(forgiveness does not mean that we say whatever was done to us is OK … forgiveness means we give it to Jesus, we let go).Your Eminence …prayer will lead you in the direction our Lord wants you to go. You already know that. Keep your eye on Jesus.
What if Someone Worse Came In?
Dear Catholic Exchange:
Sticky subject, to be sure. My prayers are with all who are so devastatingly affected by this whole matter. My comments in regard to the Cardinal resigning are these:
He is very pro-life. Wouldn't the pro-choice population have a party were he to resign and a more liberal Cardinal be put in his place?
For him to resign his office is sort of like a father leaving his family in times of trouble – even if the father was the cause of the trouble in the first place. He needs to take responsibility for what he has done and try to make it right. That is what, from what I understand, he is trying to do. Pedophilia was not understood in the past the way it is understood now. He was, supposedly, making his decisions based on the then-current psychology. Now if it were me, I would have a really difficult time letting someone with a drinking problem tend bar, no matter how much they claimed to be reformed. I might let them do it once, but if they fell off the wagon, that would be it for bartending. That is common sense, if you ask me. No psychological research necessary. Maybe he was taking the words of Christ about forgiving one's brother “7 times 70 times” to the extreme, at the cost of many young lives, unfortunately. But as we all benefit from good merits, we also all suffer the effects of sin.
I don't at all mean to make excuses for what has happened. I just don't know if him resigning is necessarily the right thing to do. Like I said, he is a very strong pro-life presence in a very pro-abortion community (think of Ted Kennedy). I would hate to see a more liberal man take his place.
The Church's hierarchy here in the US needs a really loud wake up call. I was not aware (being a new Catholic) of the magnitude of this problem. But I guess it is really nothing new in the course of history. I think we Catholics need to keep sight of that during this scandal. We don't want history to repeat itself. Did other popes and cardinals resign who were involved in scandal? If so, what was the effect? Positive or negative? I think that would be worth looking into.
I agree whole-heartedly with the comments about not abandoning the Church. As I say so many times; these scandals are not proof that the Church is corrupt. They are proof that human nature is fallen and that man sins. And the Truth of God transcends the sinfulness of man.
Mark Shea Responds
I quite agree that the enemies of the Church are having a party over this. It's tailor-made for them and, as Rod Dreher's article pointed out, it has already given every whacko in the Church and the media who hate the Church the perfect excuse to bash Catholic faith. It is precisely because of this that the criminally irresponsible bishop(s) involved in lying to victims, covering up, paying off, and re-endangering still more victims have got to go. The trust they had with their flock is gone, the credibility they have in witnessing to the world is shattered. Yes, Cardinal Law has been ardently pro-life. But I am reasonably confident that there are other pro-life Catholics out there who can do his job. He cannot do his job anymore and needs to find another job.
I frankly do not accept the common excuse (offered whenever a leader in the Church does something stupid and/or sinful) that they were hapless men operating under “bad advice.” What conceivable “bad advice” could make a grown man think that endless multiple re-assignments of priests to further contact with children, plus lies to past victims, plus payoffs, plus shielding pedophiles from the consequences of their actions was the right thing to do? Leadership in the Church means the buck stops there–with the Cardinal–not in the office of some nameless “advisor.”
Part of the problem is that this does not appear to be a problem limited to the Boston Archdiocese. There are cases coming up in several other states as well and it's going to get a lot uglier before it gets better. The problem, ultimately, is not the pedophile (heinous as that is!). Sheer demographics suggests that in any large population (including the priestly population) you are bound to get a certain number of people committing this particular sin. However, when the hierarchy whose sworn duty is to “feed my sheep” instead takes a clericalist attitude which sees the clerical guild as “our guys” and the laypeople–and their children!–as insignificant compared to the comfort and happiness of “our guys,” there's a huge problem. It is this policy of clericalism and the bureaucratic structure ordered toward protecting priestly sins and perversions that is the problem. The only way that structure is to change is for laypeople and uncompromised clergy to scream “Enough!” Those who have enabled that system have to go. And those who seek reform must seek reform, because if they don't, the whack jobs and dissenters who hate the Church will surely seek, not reform, but revolt. It is our duty, therefore, to call for the resignation of Cardinal Law and others like him who have participated in these acts.
I do not know what the history is on this and whether other Church officials have resigned over scandal. I presume so, but I don't know the consequences. I would assume it was specific to the situation and the man. In this case, however, I can see no credible alternative for the Church than for Cardinal Law to do the honorable thing and resign or, failing that, for the laity to demand his ouster. Either we who love the Church reform the sins of its members and the bureaucratic structures that have, for too long, coddled gross sin, or we should not be surprised when the enemies of the Church use our neglect of duty as a pretext for revolt and destruction of the Faith we hold dear.
I urge you, write the Boston Archdiocese (www.rcab.org) and ask Cardinal Law to do the right thing and step down. Don't forget to cc your local bishop. This is the message that needs to be heard by the whole American hierarchy: ENOUGH!
Thanks for your thoughtful letter. It's a pleasure hearing from engaged Catholics who are really grappling with this difficult issue.
Senior Content Editor
Note: Mr. Shea's comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the writers or advertisers of Catholic Exchange.
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