Cardinal Wuerl, no bishops investigating bishops won’t do


This morning comes breaking news out of NCR, that Washington DC’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl has proposed a “national panel” to investigate any serious allegation made against Bishops.

And the panel would be comprised of, wait for it…bishops.

“Would we have some sort of a panel, a board, of bishops … where we would take it upon ourselves, or a number of bishops would be deputed, to ask about those rumors?” he suggested.

“It seems to me that’s one possibility, that there would be some way for the bishops, and that would mean working through our conference … to be able to address the question of sustained rumors,” said the Washington cardinal.

To that I would respond, “Well, your Eminence, yes and no.”

Yes, there should be a panel– there should be panels in every diocese and every deanery, ready to look into serious allegations made against any representative of the Church.

But with all due respect, sir, no, there ought not be a bishop residing on a single one of them.

There is an old Roman saying, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will guard the guards?)

In a sense that needs to be asked, now.

The suggestion that the laity and the priests who trusted the bishops to do the right thing before — and have been amply burned for it — should just trust the bishops to do the right thing again would be farcical if it were not so insulting.

Wuerl’s remarks suggest that he really has no idea how catastrophic the revelations about Theodore McCarrick’s long-standing abuses (about which too many Cardinals and Bishops profess themselves “Shocked, shocked” as they slouch toward Eternity via Casablanca) have been to the trust of the laity.

Let me spell it out: That trust has been shattered. It no longer exists.

The McCarrick story, joined to other tales now emerging about mistreatment of seminarians and lay folk, have effectively worn us out.

We look at stories coming out of the United States, out of Chile, Honduras, and Australia, and we are finally — as perhaps never before — understanding the worldwide nature of the corruption that has taken hold within the depths of the Church, and we’re saying no more.

Your Eminence, Esteemed Bishops, please listen: Don’t give us another paper; don’t give us another bloodless statement about policies and procedures that somehow manages never to admit to failing, never offers a mea culpa, never uses the words “sin” or “Gospel” or brings forth the name of Christ Jesus.

Forgive me, but it feels very much like our bishops and “princes” have lost the plot. Continue reading

  • Elizabeth Scalia (pictured) is a Benedictine Oblate who blogs at The Anchoress and is the award-winning author of Strange Gods, Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life and Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bad Habits Before They Kick You.
  • Image: Word on Fire
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